Maya Angelou reciting her poetry

Maya Angelou
American Poet, Author and Actress

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

This poem was written and delivered in honor of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

To Robin


A quiet man…. never uttering a word…. that was the trademark of the world’s most famous Mime…. the man that turned silence into an art. When one thinks of Marcel Marceau, one thinks of a funny little man with a painted face going through all sorts of body movements to make a point… bringing joy to millions while doing just that..

But once he spoke; in 2001 he granted an interview to a freelance journalist named Jeremy Josephs… what he said are words to be remembered… especially the last ones in the interview… “All wars are criminal”…… those words are from a holocaust survivor… a true believer in ‘NEVER AGAIN’—– TO ANYONE!

An excerpt from the interview mentioned follows, courtesy of The Forward

Marcel Marceau Remembered

Marcel Marceau, the legendary master of mime, died September 22 at age 84. Born Marcel Mangel to a Jewish family in Strasbourg, France, Marceau escaped the Nazis, joined the French Resistance and worked as a liaison to General Patton’s army. In 1946 he began studying acting in Paris, where he quickly established his career. The following excerpt was taken from a 2001 interview with Marceau by freelance journalist Jeremy Josephs:

I was once asked about my “Jewish sensitivity,” to which I replied that I would prefer to discuss human sensitivity. Jews are sensitive, like other people, but in the modern world religion should not be so high up [in] the order of the day. I was brought up in a Jewish home, but I was brought up to be human, not fanatical, which is something that I don’t appreciate at all. I learned to become a humanist, and not to dwell on the differences between Jews and Christians.

I must be honest and tell you that I do feel slightly uncomfortable with people dwelling on this Jewish aspect of my life. I have the greatest respect for the sufferance of the Holocaust — my father died in Auschwitz — so I am perfectly well aware of what happened. But this did not make me superior to other people.

I don’t want to be part of a community. I want to be part of the world. I have never been a victim of antisemitism — if you put to one side my war-time experience. That said, I am lucky not to have been sent into a concentration camp. I produced false papers, I took Jewish children to Switzerland when I was a teenager… and [after the war] I went to drama school with Etienne Decroux. But I never denied that I was Jewish. I wanted to give my art to the people.

The memory of the Holocaust is so important though. The 20th century was the most criminal century. Despite this, it has been a great century too. There is a balance between good and evil. But I am happy that the memory of the Holocaust is kept alive, so that such a tragedy can never begin again. But I would not put a Jew who died in the Holocaust above a Catholic soldier who died in the trenches of the First World War. All wars are criminal.


Image by David Baldinger
OK…. it’s time to start worrying… It seems every time the Bush administration starts looking into things, it usually costs millions of lives, not to mention destruction of infrastructures leading to other costs.

This time it’s Global Warming they want to look into…. Get ready for a real hot summer next year if they start meddling in this.

The following from AlJazeera deals with the situation…

US ‘serious’ on climate change

Melting glaciers are creating frequent
floods and droughts worldwide [AFP]

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, has opened a conference of the world’s 16 biggest emitters of greenhouse gas, saying the United States was taking the threat of global warming “seriously”.
“The US takes climate change very seriously for we are both a major economy and a major emitter,” Rice said on Thursday.

The two-day conference aims to kick off a 15-month process during which the world’s biggest emitters will chart targets for reducing their emissions and check pollution.
George Bush, the US president, will address the meeting on Friday.

Significant meet

The conference, chaired by Rice, is being attended by representatives from leading industrial and emerging economies, the United Nations and European Union.

Four more meetings will be held in 2008, culminating “tentatively” in a leaders’ summit.

The 16 nations taking part are Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States, which together account for more than 90 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Other participants are Portugal, as current EU president, and officials from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Rice pledged the aim of the Washington talks was to “accelerate the broader process under the UNFCCC”.

“We want this year’s climate change conference in Indonesia to succeed,” she added.

Emissions cap

Key talks under the UNFCCC take place in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3-14, aimed at setting out a timetable for negotiations to restrict carbon gas after 2012, when current commitments under Kyoto Protocol run out.

The core of any UNFCCC deal will be a mandatory cap on emissions by rich countries, a principle that Bush has fiercely opposed since 2001.

At a UN summit on climate change on Monday, Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned the crisis was accelerating.

Glaciers and Arctic sea ice were retreating rapidly and “major precipitation changes” – droughts and floods – were occurring, according to the UN’s top scientific panel on climate change.

On present trends hundreds of millions of people faced worsening water scarcity as a result of glacier loss in the Himalayas, which fed key rivers in China and South Asia.

Water scarcity would affect the growing of key crops.


Image by David Baldinger

Can you picture it?? Most Americans have a hard time understanding the US President when he speaks (stammers) in America…. can you picture the audience listening to him at an Iranian University?? Is this Ahmadinejad’s idea of a joke?? If it is, it’s a pretty good one… It wouldn’t take much to make Bush look like a fool…. all he has to do is act natural.

Read about it in the following AP report from HaAretz…..

Ahmadinejad invites Bush to speak at university in Iran

By The Associated Press
TEHRAN – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has extended an invitation to U.S. President George W. Bush to speak at an Iranian university if the American leader ever traveled to the Islamic Republic, state-run television reported Friday.

As part of his controversial trip to New York, the Iranian leader spoke Monday at Columbia University, where he faced hostile questioning and a combative introduction by the university’s president, who said Ahmadinejad exhibited all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.

“If their president plans to travel to Iran, we will allow him to make a speech at a university,” Ahmadinejad told state TV before leaving New York to travel to South America earlier this week.

His comments were aired on state TV Friday and signaled an unusual readiness by Iran to receive an American president after more than a quarter century with no diplomatic ties.

The harshness of Monday’s introduction at the Columbia University forum prompted complaints in Iran and elsewhere that Ahmadinejad had been blind-sided by his host. Ahmadinejad complained that Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s speech had contained many insults and amounted to unfriendly treatment, but he otherwise appeared to take the comments in stride.

Back home, Iranians also were dismayed by Bollinger’s introduction and said his words only added to their image of the United States as a bully.

Tensions are high between Iran and the U.S. over Washington allegations that Tehran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and supplying Shiite militias in Iraq with deadly weapons that kill U.S. troops. Iran denies both claims.

Iran and the U.S cut off diplomatic relations in 1979 after Iranian militant students seized the U.S. Embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Ahmadinejad left New York on Wednesday and traveled to friendlier ground in South America, first stopping in Bolivia – where he pledged $1 billion in investment – and then visiting Venezuela to meet his ally President Hugo Chavez on Thursday.


I was absolutely shocked to read the following article on Ynet a few minutes ago… Abbas urges Security Council to ‘stop Israel’!!!

Is this the same Abbas that has been literally kissing the backside of Olmert (and his wife) since he set up an illegal government in Palestine? And why is Ismael Haniyeh, the ELECTED Prime Minister of the Palestinian people not addressing the General assembly? ‘Inquiring minds need to know’… One can’t help wonder if Israel put their ‘Kapo in Chief’ up to this to demonstrate the ‘independence’ of the Palestinian Authority, or has there been a ‘change of heart’ in an otherwise heartless person.

Below is the Ynet report….

Abbas urges Security Council to ‘stop Israel’

Palestinian president condemns IDF strikes in Gaza Strip which left 11 Palestinians dead, asks Security Council members in New York to intervene. Abbas expected to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Ali Waked

var agt=navigator.userAgent.toLowerCase();var is_major = parseInt(navigator.appVersion);var is_ie = ((agt.indexOf(“msie”) != -1) && (agt.indexOf(“opera”) == -1));var is_ie5 = (is_ie && (is_major == 4) && (agt.indexOf(“msie 5.0″)!=-1) ); function txt_link(type,url,urlAtts) { switch (type){ case ‘external’ : if( urlAtts != ” ) {var x = window.open(unescape(url),’newWin’,urlAtts)} else {document.location = unescape(url);} break; case ‘article’ : urlStr = ‘/articles/0,7340,L-to_replace,00.html’;url=urlStr.replace(‘to_replace’,url); if( urlAtts == ” || !urlAtts) {document.location = url;} else {var x = window.open(url,’newWin’,urlAtts)} break; case ‘yaan’ : urlStr = ‘/yaan/0,7340,L-to_replace,00.html’;url=urlStr.replace(‘to_replace’,url); if( urlAtts == ” || !urlAtts) {document.location = url;} else {var x = window.open(url,’newWin’,urlAtts)} break; case ‘category’ : urlStr = ‘/home/0,7340,L-to_replace,00.html’; url=urlStr.replace(‘to_replace’,url); if( urlAtts == ” || !urlAtts) {document.location = url;} else {var x = window.open(url,’newWin’,urlAtts)} break; } } function setDbLinkCategory(url) {eval(unescape(url));} Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday harshly condemned Israel’s operations in Gaza Strip, which left 11 Palestinians dead.
Abbas, who was in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, held a series of talks with elements in the Security Council, asking them to bring about a halt in Israel’s activities in the Strip.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee, said that Abbas would meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in order to brief him on the developments in Gaza and ask him to help halt Israel’s operations there.
Abbas’ condemnation came on the backdrop of harsh criticism from Hamas directed at the Palestinian government in Ramallah.
Criticizing the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for not responding to recent incidents in the Strip, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said earlier, “It is as good as cooperating with the occupation. The PA’s silence proves that it is cooperating in order to eliminate Hamas in the Strip.”

The spokesman continued to urge the international community to put an end to the Israeli aggression and said Israel “does not give much importance to the November peace conference”.

Israel will pay a hefty price for its aggression in Gaza,” Abu Zuhri said, adding that Palestinian organizations would do everything in their power to resist Israeli attacks in the Strip.

Series of incidents

The most recent IDF airstrike took place around 2 am Thursday, when IAF jets attacked gunmen who were spotted near Beit Hanoun at a site from which Qassam rockets have been launched into Israel.

Palestinians reported that two Hamas gunmen were killed in the attack and that five others were injured.

On Wednesday afternoon, sources reported that five members of a small terror group linked to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier last year were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Strip.

Missiles fired by an Israeli aircraft slammed into a jeep as it traveled in the Zeitun neighborhood carrying members of the Army of Islam, the terror group implicated in the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit and BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

Palestinian sources said one of the gunmen killed in the blast was Khatab Al-Makdisi, the group’s spokesperson, whom Israel accuses of links to al-Qaeda.

In a seperate incident, four Palestinians, including a child, were killed and 20 others were injured when a tank shell hit a house in the Beit Hanoun neighborhood in northern Gaza.

Eyewitnesses said 20 IDF tanks and bulldozers entered the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon. The incursion appears to be in response to rocket from the area earlier Wednesday.


Both images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Click HERE to find out the answer…..
Courtesy of Mark Fiore


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

To many, Mahmoud Abbas is (still) the President of the Palestinian Authority. In actuality, that is a myth…in reality he is actually a puppet of the Israeli and American governments, having little or no support from the Palestinian people that he is responsible for dividing… a division which is resulting in untold suffering on both sides of the Palestinian nation.

Below, you can read the views of one very outspoken Palestinian, Khalid Amayreh… what he has to say about the situation is most interesting.

Abbas: Don’t cross the red-lines
Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem

Like most Palestinians, I don’t count much on Mahmoud Abbas to put up a meaningful resistance to Israel’s persistent attempts to obtain a formal Palestinian recognition of it as “a state of and for the Jews.”

This is why it is extremely important that the Palestinian masses tell this man that he is already going too far in sacrificing vital Palestinian national interests in order to appease the explicitly fascist government of Israel.

A few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters that he had already received a commitment from Abbas to recognize Israel as “a state of the Jews.”

If true, this means that Abbas has committed an unforgivable strategic blunder affecting millions of Palestinians in the Diaspora and in Israel proper. To be honest, it is even more than a mere blunder, it is a grand treachery of immense historical proportions.

Does Abbas understand what it means to recognize Israel as a Jewish state? Does he understand the implications, the ramifications and direct and indirect repercussions of such an irresponsible feat?

In case he doesn’t, he must read the following: Recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state,” let alone “a state of and for the Jews,” implies that the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians citizens of Israel have only a “temporary” or “transient” but not “permanent” right to live in their homes and towns, and that sooner or latter, these “goyim” would have to either emigrate, willy-nilly, or be brutally expelled because they are not Jews.

A third “choice” for the unwanted non-Jewish citizens of Israel would be to accept the status of “wood hewers” and “water carriers” in the service of the master race, the Jews. (This outrage is already advocated by hundreds of fascist-minded but influential rabbis in Israel and north America.)

Indeed, it is amply clear from studies conducted by Zionist research centers and think-tanks that the task of neutralizing Arab demographic growth and preventing it from reaching the 30% threshold, is already one of the most strategic preoccupation boggling Israel’s collective thinking.

Of course, the inherently deceitful Zionist leaders would always seek to cajole naïve Palestinian leaders, such as Abbas, into believing that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic” state and that it would never entertain the idea of expelling its non-Jewish citizens.

But experience teaches us that such assurances have no credibility whatsoever, and that they ought to be treated as rubbish and nothing but rubbish because Zionism is based on the concept of Jewish supremacy just as Nazism was based Aryan supremacy.

After all, Zionism and Nazism came from the same East European fascistic traditions that emphasized bellicosity, racial supremacy, expansionism, megalomania, militarism and hegomonism.

Needless to say, a Palestinian recognition of Israel as “a state of and for all Jews” would effectively imply that Israel, at one point in the future, would have the right to expel large numbers of its Palestinian citizens to an prospective Palestinian entity in the West Bank on the ground that “this land belongs to the Jews and you are not Jewish.”

Then Israel would likely issue an ultimatum to the Palestinians: Either you convert to Judaism and accept Shulhan Aruch as the Law of the Land (in other words accept an inherently inferior slave status) or move to the “Palestinian state!!.”

And in case of protests by the Palestinian leaders of that time, Israel would confront them with a golden document showing that the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas had actually recognized Israel as an exclusively Jewish state.

More to the point, in an ensuing crisis, the international community or much of it, would side with Israel, citing Abba’s or probably Fayad’s “recognition of the Jewish nature of Israel.”

Then, like stupid and ignorant kids, the future Palestinian leaders would seek to remind Israel that “the peace treaty also states that Israel will be Jewish and democratic.”

But Israel would swiftly refute this “wild interpretation,” by asserting that “Jewish” always comes before and overrides “democratic” and that in case there is any incompatibility between “Jewish” and “Democratic,” there should be no illusion as to which comes first.

So, does the great Rais now understand the serious implications of recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state”?

Does he understand now that “recognizing Israel’s Jewish identity” amounts to recognizing that Israel has the right to effect ethnic cleansing of its Palestinian citizens? That it has the right to be racist and discriminatory against non-Jews in general and Palestinian who are Israeli citizens in particular?

Furthermore, the reported promise by Abbas to recognize Israel as “a country of and for the Jews” (all Jews in the world) carries with it another serious implication, namely that Israel, in order to retain its Jewish identity, has an inalienable right to permanently deny repatriation for millions of Palestinian refugees uprooted from their homes following waves of genocidal ethnic cleansing in 1948-49.

In other words, the purported recognition by Abbas of Israel as a Jewish state effectively means decapitation and burial of the right of return for Palestinians exiled in the Diaspora.

This right, for those who still don’t know, is the heart of the Palestinian issue and ignoring it would simply make any possible resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict fragile and lacking in credibility and durability.

This right (the right of return) is fundamental, authentic, and inalienable and nobody under the sun, including Mahmoud Abbas and his aides and hangers-on, has the right to compromise or belittle let alone sacrifice under the rubric of reaching peace with Israel.

Of course, Israel and its numerous mouthpieces around the world will accuse the Palestinians of using the “right of return” as an excuse to reject peace.

But the truth is that Israel’s rejection of the legitimate right of these tormented refugees to return to their homes, seized (effectively stolen) by Jewish squatters from around the world, underscores Israel’s rejection of genuine peace with the Palestinians.

We all know, or should know in case we don’t, that for peace to be real, it must be based justice, human rights and international law. And a peace that is imposed through coercion, blockades, starvation and state terror wouldn’t last long. It would be a fragile truce at best.

Hence, for the sake of real peace which we, the Palestinian people, really need and want as badly as one can imagine, must be based on real justice. And real justice can’t be done without the implementation of the right of return for these miserable refugees who have been waiting to return home for nearly sixty years now.

After all, right comes before might. Otherwise, the world would morph into a huge jungle.



Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
Bloggers heading up north please print out the cartoon and distribute it among the strikers… Tell them their struggle is inspiring people in other continents as far as Latin America…Thanks Latuff!

When Americans read about the Middle East in their local press they are ‘filled in’ with what the Lobby and their allies want them to hear about regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Dubya’s war in Iraq or the situation in Iran (according to Condi)….
Nothing, or next to it, about other areas or about the lives of the people in those areas.

For example…. how many Americans are aware that there is a strike of textile workers taking place in Egypt at the present time…. a strike involving TWENTY SEVEN THOUSAND workers… Some of the labor leaders and the activists in the factory are requesting international solidarity from labor activists, human rights campaigners, artists, bloggers, journalists… This would not be possible without information about the situation…. hence this thread.

The following, taken from the HuffingtonPost, gives a pretty good account of what has been going on with the strikers.

The textile factory at Ghazl el-Mahalla in the Nile Delta is Egypt’s largest, with over 27,000 workers. Nearly all of the factory’s workers went on strike last December to demand their yearly bonuses, which had been withheld and which provide most of their annual salary.

On Sunday, some 10,000 of those factory workers went on strike again, demanding 150-day shares of annual profits, improved industrial safety, and a raise in their monthly bonuses.

Within a few hours the number swelled to 15,000 as Egyptian police surrounded the factory.

The Egyptian government quickly declared the strike “illegal.”

“The numbers of strikers are expected to rise in the coming few hours…the factory is under police siege,” according to posts today by Egyptian blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy. His blog, 3arabawy, is one of Egypt’s most widely read in English. Along with Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger who gained international attention last year by posting (and continuing to post) videos of police brutality, el-Hamalawy is a go-to source on the rumblings of a wide scale labor movement in Egypt.

If only the American press would give factory strikes in Egypt, a real mark of social unrest and popular, often secular self-determination in the Middle East, as much attention as democracy-by-occupation in Iraq and the Fatah-Hamas schism in Palestine.

I’m typing this on Sunday night in the States and the only source for strike developments, in English, is Hamalawy’s blog.

“I called Kareem el-Beheiri in Mahalla.. He says the strikers’ numbers have exceeded 20,000.”

And Hamalawy isn’t even in Egypt; he’s in California, a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

I’m hoping when I search Google news on Monday, at least the international wires will have news from the factory in Mahalla. It definitely won’t be on the cover of the nation’s dailies; will it even be buried in the front section?

Factory workers began strikes last winter in Egypt, aimed at demanding some semblance of just wages, often in the face of privatization championed by the heavily-U.S.-backed Mubarak government and the International Monetary Fund. The U.S. gives $1.3 billion in military aid to the Mubarak government. Cairo’s is hardly an example of good governance, whether in recent crackdowns on press freedom, widely regarded government corruption, or a long history of police brutality and state-sanctioned torture.

And then there is the treatment of workers.

The official name of the factory in Mahalla is the Misr (Egypt) Spinning and Weaving Company. A similarly named Spinning and Weaving Factory in the Nile Delta city of Shibin al-Kom was the site of strikes last winter that also included other Delta cities like Kafr al-Dawwar. Withheld bonuses and salary increases drove the protests, many of which were tentatively settled last winter and spring.

Workers in Shibin al-Kom, as of last February before their factory was sold to an Indian company that planned major layoffs, brought in a salary of 8 Egyptian pounds a day — about $1.40 — for an eight hour work day, six days a week. They got paid once a month.

A worker in Mahalla, according to an article by scholar Joel Beinen and Hamalawy in Middle East Report, took home a similar basic wage of about $30 a month. “With profit sharing, his net pay is about $75 a month. His 33-year-old wife… makes about $70 a month working in the ready-made clothing division of the same firm.”

The effects of the strikes on Egyptian politics cannot be underestimated, not least because the workers offer a new source of major opposition to Mubarak other than the Muslim Brotherhood. Too often pundits in this country and elsewhere justify U.S. support for the regime as a necessary check to an Islamist opposition front in Egypt.

Clearly politics and labor in Egypt are more complex than that.

The country’s workforce is the largest in the region along with Iran’s, and so, in trying to be as uncynical as possible, Egyptian workers should be a major political force. It’s more than four years after the fall of Baghdad — we’re supposed to care about democratic sweeps in the Middle East, right?

Cairo’s leading independent newspaper, al-Masri al-Yom, estimated that around 226 sit-in strikes, work stoppages, hunger strikes and demonstrations occurred last year. 2007 included the major textile factory strikes, plus strikes at plants around Cairo, among the garbage collectors, and on the city’s Metro.

“During my phone conversations with the strike leaders and activists inside the company,” Hamalawy blogged in a busy day of posting today, “they always ask me if ‘the people in America and the world have heard about the strike?'”

Have we? Will we look outside of the story lines pressed by the major agencies — benchmarks in Iraq, Congressional hearings, eerily familiar drums for war with Iran — to more telling stories from the region?

I appeal to you, my readers, DO NOT LET THE AMERICAN PRESS DICTATE TO YOU WHAT HAS TO BE KNOWN… always look for the truth in situations and always be aware of situations not spoken of in their pages.

Only we can change the world, but we must be aware of what has to be changed. The Blogesphere is one of the best places to get your facts.

Spread the word of this strike among your fellow workers, among your friends, anywhere and everywhere. Only through International Solidarity will all of our battles be one!

The thoughts presented in this thread are not meant to be limited to events in the Middle East only…. there is LOTS happening right in your own country that you are not aware of.



Neve Shalom… An Oasis of Peace… an experiment in hope. I have written about this wonderful place before, but it is in the news again….This time in the Los Angeles Times. Here is their wonderful and encouraging article

In Israel, an oasis of peace

Bilingual education
Ilan Mizrahi / For The Times
Arab and Jewish students learn Hebrew and Arabic together, a rarity in Israel,
at a school in Neve Shalom. Residents of the village believe that they have succeeded
in creating an environment for raising tolerant children.
Half Jewish, half Arab, Neve Shalom tries to overcome mutual mistrust. Divisive pressures test the community’s resolve.
By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
NEVE SHALOM, ISRAEL — The music blared in Arabic as a knot of women twirled slowly around the bride-to-be. Well-dressed onlookers, some in traditional Muslim head scarves, clapped and swayed.

On this evening of celebration, the fireworks sizzled, sweets beckoned and jubilant guests congratulated the Arab bride’s parents with a double kiss and hearty “Mazel tov!”


Mazel tov?

“It’s very normal,” said Nava Sonnenschein, one of the Jews clapping at the edge of the dance circle. “For here.”

The usual rules of the Middle East often don’t apply in Neve Shalom, founded in the 1970s as a utopian village on a hilltop in Israel’s midsection. For nearly three decades, its inhabitants have sought to defy the polarizing tugs of politics and nationalism.

Though most Jews and Arabs in Israel are kept apart by segregated communities and long years of mutual mistrust, Neve Shalom and its 250 residents — half Jews, half Arab citizens of Israel — represent a living experiment in integration.

The tree-shaded hamlet, whose name means “Oasis of Peace,” is defiantly mixed, its bougainvillea-splashed lanes a mishmash of stone Arab-style houses and boxy, modern Jewish homes.

Schoolchildren learn Hebrew and Arabic together, a rarity in Israel, and play at one another’s homes. Residents enjoy an equal say in running affairs and have elected Jews and Arabs as mayor. They also share management of the 120-pupil elementary school, which draws many students from outside the village, and a separate School for Peace, a well-known training center for activists.

The community’s name is in both languages. In Arabic, it is Wahat al Salam (though the Israeli government has never recognized that part).

“We don’t go out and protest in the classic way,” said Ahmad Hijazi, a 40-year-old Arab who moved from northern Israel with his wife in 1992 and is now Neve Shalom’s development director. “We live, and put into practice, what we want to see.”

A half-hour’s drive from Jerusalem, Neve Shalom is both a functioning community and a peace movement showcase. It has a website — http://nswas.org — and a parking lot for buses.

But this is no theme park. The affections and hurts are real, the gains and setbacks intimately felt. Alongside its taboo-breaking, the community has shown how hard it can be for Jews and Arabs to fully understand each other, even when they are trying.

Few know better than Abdessalam Najjar, a 55-year-old village leader with a balding head and pencil-thin beard tracing his jawline. Najjar, the father of the bride, moved to Neve Shalom in 1979 with a new wife, Ayshe, and a heart full of hope.

He was 27 and willing to take a chance, she 19 and in need of some persuading. Najjar, a devout Muslim, had been involved in discussion groups with Jews while studying at a branch of Hebrew University in nearby Rehovot. Clashes between Arab demonstrators and Israeli authorities a few years earlier that left six Arabs dead had generated new urgency over trying to improve relations.

The Najjars were the first Arab family to join Neve Shalom. Almost 30 years later, they are mainstays, well-liked and respected across the community. Najjar has been mayor and is working with a Jewish colleague in developing the community’s new spiritual center for interfaith conferences, lectures on peace topics and prayer.

The couple built a life and home in Neve Shalom, “slowly, brick after brick,” Najjar said. After the arrival a year later of the first of their four children, Ayshe watched over the village’s growing crop of babies — Jews and Arabs — and he turned his efforts to helping start the village’s bilingual school. He was one of two teachers.

He says residents have succeeded in creating an environment for raising tolerant children. For the grown-ups too there have been learning opportunities and innumerable debates, important and petty. Najjar, for example, has argued with his mostly secular Jewish neighbors over his right to pray at work and over whether he could keep a few sheep at home, as many rural Palestinians do. (He lost that one.)

Najjar said he once believed that conflicts break out only “between bad people.” No more.

“This conflict can be between two good guys,” he said.

Neve Shalom’s residents, mostly left-leaning professionals and academics, have been tested by two Palestinian uprisings, war in Lebanon and a steep deterioration in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. At times, the two groups here triumphed over those divisive pressures. At others, they fell prey.

To much of the rest of Israel, Neve Shalom is a harmless if worthy novelty. But Jewish extremists once declared the Jews here traitors and sprinkled nails on the road to pop tires. The village’s Arab residents, who refer to themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel, often are asked by fellow Arabs if they really believe that Jews can accept them as equals.

The village today carries tempered aspirations and scars from past political fights. Not all of these are over yet.

Jewish and Arab residents spar over whether Neve Shalom Jews should perform compulsory service in the Israeli army. Arabs in Israel are not summoned to serve, and many object to residents of a “peace village” enlisting in the army.

They disagree too on some of the issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as what to do about Palestinian refugees who fled homes in present-day Israel during the 1948 war and their descendants.

Arab residents are resentful that, despite the talk of equality, Hebrew is the village’s lingua franca. While the Arabs learned Hebrew by attending Israeli schools, few grown Jews in Neve Shalom have mastered Arabic.

Some residents from both groups, now in middle age, fear that the village has lost some of its political daring. It is perhaps telling that the burning issue these days is not potential peace talks but whether Neve Shalom residents can formalize their hold on the plots where they built homes years ago on land that was shared without private ownership.

“There are so many things we don’t talk about,” said Ayelet Ophir-Auron, 51, a Jewish special-education consultant who moved to the village with her family four years ago.

But residents say it may be success enough that Neve Shalom has managed to sustain its vision of mutual tolerance in a society with deep inequities between Jews and minority Arabs, who make up a fifth of Israel’s population.

They assert that the project still has drawing power, even if it is from the fringe of Israeli society, and point to a waiting list of potential newcomers. The village is full but hopes to begin adding 90 families in the next year or so by turning some of the vacant land surrounding it into housing lots.

“It is enough that we are here,” said Rayek Rizek, 52, an Arab former mayor who with his wife runs a cafe and gift shop at the entrance to the village. “It will never maybe bring the solution to the conflict. But there is still a small idea that maybe it is a candle in the midst of a big darkness.”

Neve Shalom, a short drive off the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, looks from its hilltop over a panorama of rural tranquillity — a sloping, rock-strewn plain turned paper-dry by late summer, and groves of almond and olive trees. The village is arrayed around an oval drive, shaded by evergreen trees and other plantings that have swaddled a once-barren hilltop.

Village business takes place in the two-story administration building. Two resident committees run the village and, separately, the elementary school, School for Peace and spiritual center. Key decisions, such as passing the budget and picking new residents, are voted upon by village members in the style of a town meeting.

Neve Shalom has no stores other than the cafe-gift shop, though it sports a 39-room guest house. Its swimming pool is frequented by visitors from as far away as Jerusalem. Most of the community’s middle-class residents commute to jobs in Tel Aviv and elsewhere.

The village is a far cry from the rough encampment that Rizek and his wife, Dyana Shaloufe-Rizek, encountered when they arrived in 1984.

Neve Shalom had been founded a decade earlier by a Dominican priest, Bruno Hussar, on a thistle-covered hill leased from a nearby Roman Catholic monastery. Father Bruno, who was born to Jewish parents, envisioned a place where people of different faiths could live together, though without a fixed political ideology.

Neve Shalom’s first young couples arrived in 1978, motivated by the chance to craft an egalitarian way of life between Jews and Arabs. The village looks out over the site of a key battle in the 1948 war that broke out with Israel’s independence.

Shaloufe-Rizek, who had been a student activist at Haifa University, was invited to teach at Neve Shalom’s peace school, which she had attended after its establishment in 1979. Newly married, she brought her husband.

“There was nothing. No paved roads. A lot of flies and mosquitoes,” Rayek Rizek recalled.

But it was an exhilarating place for Jews and Arabs to confront their yawning ignorance about one another.

Dorit Shippin, a Jew, arrived with her husband, Howard, the same year as the Rizeks after searching for a community that was, she said, “pluralistic enough and open-minded.” She recalled being stunned to learn that Israel’s Independence Day was treated as a historical catastrophe by her new Arab neighbors.

“My father participated in the 1948 war, and especially for this generation, the stories that they have are not stories of destruction and deportation of Palestinians, but they are stories of conquering, freeing, friendships and survival,” Shippin said. “It was quite shocking to hear the other side of the picture.”

For their part, Arab residents began to assume the burden of shared leadership and to confront a fuller portrait of Jews than the unflattering images many had grown up with.

The community’s discussions were earnest, often heated. But the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987 drove home for many residents the fundamental gap that remained in how each side viewed the world.

“The Palestinians saw it mostly as a kind of legitimate struggle of the people under occupation, and the Israelis saw it as an unnecessary kind of uprising that threatens their life, and their existence here,” Rizek said.

Some residents wonder, though, whether the community too often has steered around explosive issues to preserve neighborly harmony.

“As the years went by, it became more and more challenging to talk about the difficult issues,” said Boaz Kitain, a Jew who has been mayor and run the elementary school and School for Peace. “We stopped talking about the difficult things.”

The community was thrown into turmoil when Kitain’s 20-year-old son, Tom, an Israeli soldier, died in a helicopter collision en route to Lebanon in 1997.

The Kitain family asked to put up a memorial. But some Arab residents found it unthinkable that a community dedicated to peace would commemorate a soldier on a military mission, even one who had grown up in their midst. The debate grew bitter. To the Kitains, it only aggravated their grief.

Despite an eventual compromise — a plaque on the village basketball court saluting a “son of peace, killed in war” — the episode proved damaging. Kitain’s wife, Daniella, once active as fundraiser for the village, withdrew from community affairs. She has never rejoined.

Community relations have fared better since then, despite the buffeting effects of the second intifada, which further worsened Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, and the nation’s war against the Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah in Lebanon last year.

Both times, Neve Shalom’s residents threw themselves into common action. After the second intifada broke out in 2000, they formed a motorcade to show support for families of 13 Arabs killed during rioting and delivered medical aid to Palestinians in the West Bank, a big swath of which sits within a 30-minute drive.

“This is when residents felt even more that we have to come together and try to do something for the outside,” said Hijazi, the development director.

There is also much thinking here about the future.

The community plans to keep up its education efforts, mainly through the School for Peace, which over the years has provided training workshops for 40,000 peace and human rights activists and others. Supported heavily by foreign donations, it has served as an incubator for the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, with alumni sprinkled among important activist groups on both sides.

A planned residential expansion, which would nearly triple the number of families to almost 150, could lend the project more symbolic clout by increasing its size.

Some residents are urging a more activist role for the community in Israeli politics at a moment when polls show abysmal relations between Jews and Arabs.

“It’s time for us to go out more, even if they don’t want to hear us,” Dorit Shippin said. “We have to stop apologizing, really, and be relevant.”

The community claims a tangible accomplishment in rearing a generation of children to have friends across lines of religion and ethnic origin. Those young people have at times been unnerved by how much the egalitarian ideals of Neve Shalom clash with the stark realities of wider Israeli society.

“It’s like a dream,” said Sama Daoud, a 19-year-old Arab who lives with her parents in Neve Shalom. “It’s different from the outside.”

Tali Sonnenschein, 15, said she and her friends were well aware of the tensions and stereotypes that cleave the world outside Neve Shalom.

She sees no reason, though, why that should stop her little community from seeking some way out of the mess.

“I get to live in this place and have a different opinion — that everybody can learn to live together,” she said. “It’s a little cheesy, maybe. But that’s what I learned.”



A week long holiday in Israel called Sukkot, or The Feast of the Tabernacles, begins tonight at sundown. We eat all of our meals in little booths and the ceilings are usually made of tree branches, allowing the sky to be visible. It is a reminder of the 40 years we roamed in the desert and dwelled in such structures. It is actually quite a fun holiday and a very community oriented one, it is one of my favourites.

I had some flashbacks this morning to my Sukkot celebrations in Brooklyn. As a child, they were much different than here in Israel. Here there is a Jewish community and a Palestinian one. In the neighbourhood I grew up in, there was an Eastern European Jewish Community (Ashkenazi) and a community made up of Spanish Jews and Jews from Northern Africa (Sephardi). Both communities had their own traditions and practices, but basically both were members of the same religion. One of the major differences between the two communities at the time were language, the Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish; a language with Germanic roots, while the Sephardi Jews spoke a language called Ladino; a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish.

What I remembered this morning was the following; the Synagogue of the Sephardi community was situated very close to the home of my grandparents. They used to build a large enough booth to accommodate their entire congregation. As a child, I used to help them with the preparations. I remembered my grandmother screaming at me from her window to get away from them, not to play with their kids…. I could never understand why.

It seemed that a great part of her ghetto mentality remained with her after so many years of living in America… this mentality dictated a distrust for anyone that was in any way different. These people were different than we were, as mentioned; they spoke a different language and, for the most part, had darker skins than the Ashkenazi Jews. My generation did not see these differences as our common language was English and skin colour was never an issue with me or my immediate family. I therefore could never understand my grandmother’s logic, or lack of…. So I secretly maintained my friendships with the kids there.

Today, I started thinking about prejudice, why it exists, how to overcome it…. It seems to exist because of ignorance and fear, two very real factors. How can we overcome them? Learn about each other and the fear factor will be eliminated. Very simple! It worked in my case.Things are slightly different today, in Israel at least. The Jewish community celebrates together. We have a common language, Hebrew. There are still some remnants of the old world prejudice, but for the most part it’s gone.

Now to find ways to overcome the prejudices between the Jewish and Palestinian communities here. My way is to open my booth, as well as my home, to ALL members of the community, both Arab and Jew. The Muslims are fasting now for Ramadan, but many do join us in our booth for the evening meal. It’s the best guarantee to end the hatred… live together!

So, instead of fearing the differences of the others, my philosophy is to say VIVA LA DIFFERENCE! Let us all live together as neighbours and brothers.Shalom-Salaam!
To My Jewish Brothers and Sisters…. Sukkot Sameach!

To My Muslim Brothers and Sisters…. Ramadan Kareem!

The above was originally posted two years ago …


This is how Palestinians see the sunset….that is, those that are ‘lucky’ enough not to have the view blocked completely by the concrete wall of apartheid…..

click on image to enlarge

One of the many paintings on the wall….


I said it before…I’ll say it again…. Mahmoud Abbas is a puppet of the zionist regime!

Seems that at least one reporter from HaAretz agrees with me, following are his views….

Puppet leader

Gideon Levy


September 23, 2007

Mahmoud Abbas has to stay home. As things stand right now, he must not go to Washington. Even his meetings with Ehud Olmert are gradually turning into a disgrace and have become a humiliation for his people. Nothing good will come of them. It has become impossible to bear the spectacle of the Palestinian leader’s jolly visits in Jerusalem, bussing the cheek of the wife of the very prime minister who is meanwhile threatening to blockade a million and a half of his people, condemning them to darkness and hunger.

If Abu Mazen were a genuine national leader instead of a petty retailer, he would refuse to participate in the summit and any other meetings until the blockade of Gaza is lifted. If he were a man of truly historic stature he would add that no conference can be held without Ismail Haniyeh, another crucial Palestinian representative. And if Israel really wanted peace, not only an “agreement of principles” with a puppet-leader that will lead nowhere, it should respect Abbas’ demand. Israel should aspire for Abu Mazen to be considered a leader in the eyes of his people, not only a marionette whose strings are pulled by Israel and the United States, or affected by other short-term power plays.

Right now power rests with the powerless Abu Mazen. Since Washington – and perhaps Jerusalem as well – badly want the photo-op otherwise known as a “peace summit” to show off an “achievement,” Abu Mazen could and should threaten to boycott the meeting to try and force some achievement on behalf of his people. Palestinians live in Gaza, too – an area controlled by Hamas, which Abu Mazen so loathes: He cannot continue to ignore the inhumane conditions in which Gazans live, caged in by Israel.

But the impression Abu Mazen makes is that he’s no more than a political survivor. He’s participating in the American-Israeli masked ball not because of naivete or weakness – for him, Gaza is just as “hostile territory” as Israel is. Therefore, he shares a shameful common interest with Israel, which will do neither side any good. Judging by his behavior Abu Mazen not only doesn’t object to what Israel is doing in Gaza, he may even agree with the twisted doctrine arguing that cruel pressure will subdue Hamas and return the people to Fatah’s embrace. In so doing, Abu Mazen proves that he’s no “downy chick,” as Ariel Sharon once put it, but a cynical rooster who cares little for the welfare of his people.

A genuine peace conference should involve all the hawks. Peace is forged between bitter enemies. The question of whether Saudi Arabia will take part in the summit or not is futile unless it includes real Palestinian representation. At most Abu Mazen represents only half of his people and could achieve, at best, half an agreement that wouldn’t survive anyhow, given Hamas’ strong opposition. It is in the interests of all the parties involved, including Abu Mazen, to drag Hamas to the negotiation table. A peace conference without Hamas and without Syria is a joke. But the short-sighted coalition of the royal triumvirate, Jerusalem-Washington-Ramallah, is trying to promote a false vision of “peace talks” without the decisive partners, while the world is busy applauding this illusion.

Obviously, it is hard to expect from Abu Mazen that he will rise above his narrow interests and call for an invitation to be issued to Hamas, the party that was democratically elected to lead the Palestinian government. But the least one could expect from the person with the lofty title of “President of the Palestinian Authority” is to strive for the greater good of all his people, especially in light of the extent of their distress. But instead of acting to bring about a cessation of hostilities and opening Gaza to the world, the triumvirate is busy formulating yet another position paper that won’t be worth the paper it’s written on and that will soon find itself in the garbage bin of history, along with its predecessors. It will only serve to impose increasingly cruel hardships on the people of Gaza. Abu Mazen must not participate in this farce.



Definition of Subtle (Webster Dictionary)

a. 1. Sly in design; artful; cunning; insinuating; subtile; – applied to persons; as, a subtle foe.
2. Cunningly devised; crafty; treacherous; as, a subtle stratagem.
It has often been said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’… The above photo speaks volumes!

In honour of Ray Charles’ 77th Birthday (today), here is a tribute to Ms. Rice…


For approximately 225 years Africans and their descendants were held as slaves in the United States. For approximately 45 years apartheid was an official part of the racist regime in South Africa. In both cases the oppressor justified their methods by not recognising the oppressed as human beings.
The same can be seen in Israel today…. with the total dehumanisation of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government. Just as slavery ended, just as South African apartheid ended, so will it end in Israel… the questions are when and how?
The following essay deals with the present situation in Gaza, a situation that has the backing of the United States, but not of the United Nations…. hopefully more will follow the lead of the UN in condemning this.
Dehumanizing the Palestinians
Ali Abunimah

The Israeli cabinet has voted to declare the occupied Gaza Strip a “hostile entity,” thus in its own eyes permitting itself to cut off the already meagre supplies of food, water, electricity and fuel that it allows the Strip’s inmates to receive. The decision was quickly given backing by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Israel is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, despite having removed its settlers in 2005 and transforming the area, home to 1.5 million mostly refugee Palestinians, into the world’s largest open-air prison which it besieges and fires into from the perimeter. Under international law Israel is responsible for the well-being of the people whose lives and land it rules.

There have been barely audible bleats of protest from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (“Such a step would be contrary to Israel’s obligations towards the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights law”) and the European Union (“The [European] Commission hopes that Israel will not find it necessary to implement the measures for which the [cabinet] decisions set the framework yesterday.”

What? It hopes that Israel will not find it necessary to cut off water supplies to 1.5 million people of whom half are children?

These statements serve only to underline that Israel operates in a context where the “international community” has become inured to a discourse of extermination of the Palestinian people — political and physical.

Yossi Alpher, for example, a former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University and once a special adviser to former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, argued coolly this week that Israel should murder the democratically-elected leaders who won the Palestinian legislative election in January 2006 — calling for “decapitating the Hamas leadership, both military and ‘civilian.'” True, he admitted, there would be a possible downside: “Israel would again undoubtedly pay a price in terms of international condemnation, particularly if innocent civilians were killed,” and because “Israel would presumably be targeting legally elected Hamas officials who won a fair election.” Nevertheless, such condemnation would be quickly forgotten and, he argued, “this is a mode of retaliation and deterrence whose effectiveness has been proven,” and thus, this is “an option worth reconsidering.”

Alpher incited the murder of democratically-elected politicians not in a fringe, right-wing journal, but in the European Union-funded online newsletter Bitterlemons, which he co-founded along with former Palestinian Authority minister Ghassan Khatib. What journal would publish a call by a Palestinian — or anyone else — to murder the Israeli prime minister? Alpher presumably does not worry that he will be denied visas to travel to conferences in the European Union, or will fail to receive invitations to American universities. History tells us that he can feel confident he will suffer no consequences. Indeed, in the current political climate, any attempt to exclude Alpher might even be cast as an attack on academic freedom!

Declarations that reduce Palestinians to bare biological life that can be extinguished without any moral doubt are not isolated exceptions. In May, as reported by The Jerusalem Post, Israel’s former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu issued a religious ruling to the prime minister “that there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings” (See “Top Israeli rabbis advocate genocide,” The Electronic Intifada, 31 May 2007). I could find no statement by any prominent Israeli figure condemning Eliyahu’s ruling.

And, in a September 6 blog posting, an advisor to leading US Republican Presidential hopeful Rudolph Giuliani argued for “shutting off utilities to the Palestinian Authority as well as a host of other measures, such as permitting no transportation in the PA of people or goods beyond basic necessities, implementing the death penalty against murderers, and razing villages from which attacks are launched.” This, the advisor stated, would “impress Palestinians with the Israeli will to survive, and so bring closer their eventual acceptance of the Jewish state.” (See: “Giuliani Advisor: Raze Palestinian Villages,” by Ken Silverstein, Harper’s Magazine, 14 September 2007) Giuliani faced no calls from other candidates to dismiss the advisor for advocating ethno-religiously motivated war crimes. Indeed the presence of such a person in his campaign might even be an electoral asset.

The latest Israeli government declaration comes as Palestinians this week marked the 25th anniversary of the massacres in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, in which the Israeli occupation army and political leadership were full participants. We can reflect that Israel’s dehumanization of Palestinians and other Arabs, its near daily killing of children, destruction of communities and racist apartheid against millions of people has been so normalized that if those massacres occurred today Israel would not need to go through the elaborate exercise of denying its culpability. Indeed, the “international community” might barely notice.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
It took the UN long enough to realise that Israel does nothing but lie to cover up the crimes they commit. They lie to the United States, they lie to the European Union, to the UN itself and even to their ‘self proclaimed partner in peace,’ Kapo Abbas…. just how long did they think they could get away with this?

And in this instance, it’s only about increasing roadblocks, rather than removing them…. makes one wonder what else they might be lying about… But, read the following from HaAretz regarding the roadblocks…

UN: Israel has added dozens of new roadblocks in West Bank

By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent

Despite repeated promises to reduce the number of roadblocks in the West Bank, Israel has in fact added dozens of new ones, according to the United Nations.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week to remove 24 roadblocks and consider additional alleviations of movement restrictions on the Palestinians. This followed a similar promise to alleviate movement restrictions that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

However, the number of roadblocks has now reached 572, an increase of 52 percent compared to 376 in August 2005, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In the past two months alone, Israel put up 40 new roadblocks, OCHA said.

Israel did remove a small fence along Road 317, in the Southern Mount Hebron region, doing away with 29 barricades. But OCHA found that 48 new roadblocks, mostly embankments preventing access to various roads, were put up.

Altogether, there are 476 unmanned roadblocks in the West Bank, consisting of concrete cubes, earthen embankments and other barricades blocking roads and exits from villages and towns.

The number of manned roadblocks has also increased, from 86 in July to 96 today, the UN found. Most of them are manned by soldiers round the clock, but some are manned only a few hours a day.

Since April, the defense establishment has refused to provide data about the number of roadblocks. In the past, defense officials said that many of the roadblocks were added to protect settlers, and not only to prevent terror attacks in Israel.

The UN figures do not include checkpoints set up along the Green Line.


Image by David Baldinger

The day has officially come. George Dubya Bush has officially lost his mind (assuming he ever had one).
His ramblings against the Democrats, against all forces opposed to his war in Iraq are proof that the man is not fit to serve in any public office. The following Reuters report is a must read for anyone that has doubts about what I am saying…. read especially the part about Nelson Mandela being dead…

Bush defends Iraq troop plan, slams Democrats

By Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush on Thursday defended his plan for limited U.S. troop cuts in Iraq and denounced Democrats for not taking a stronger stand against an anti-war group’s attack on the credibility of his top Iraq commander.

Bush was speaking at his first news conference since delivering a televised address backing Gen. David Petraeus‘ proposal to withdraw about 20,000 troops by July. But as in his speech last Thursday, he defied calls for a dramatic change of course in Iraq.

“Progress will yield fewer troops (in Iraq),” Bush said. “In other words, return on success is what I said.”

As he continued fending off pressure for a U.S. exit from the unpopular war, Bush took aim at his Democratic critics over a newspaper ad that excoriated Petraeus over his closely watched testimony before Congress last week.

The liberal anti-war group MoveOn.org drew widespread criticism from Republicans for its ad in The New York Times that mocked Petraeus as “General Betray Us” for stating that a troop build-up in Iraq was making progress.

“I thought the ad was disgusting,” said Bush, who has relied on the general’s aura of credibility in Congress to help sell his strategy. “I felt like the ad was an attack not only on Gen. Petraeus but on the U.S. military, and I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat party spoke out strongly against that ad.”

“And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like MoveOn.org, or more afraid of irritating them, then they are of irritating the United States military,” Bush added. “That was a sorry deal.”

Responding to Bush’s criticism, MoveOn.org’s executive director, said: “What’s disgusting is that the president has more interest in political attacks than developing an exit strategy to get our troops out of Iraq.”

The U.S. Senate later voted 72-25 to repudiate the ad. Twenty-two Democrats joined 49 Republicans and one independent in denouncing it.


Efforts by Democrats to force change in Bush’s Iraq policy appeared stalled for now after his fellow Republicans blocked a Senate bill that would have granted troops more leave time between deployments in Iraq. It had been seen as the Democrats’ best near-term chance of gaining leverage over war strategy.

Bush acknowledged that the Iraqi government had to do more to help bridge the sectarian divide, but he said progress was being made at the local level.

“Part of the reason why there’s not this instant democracy in Iraq is because people are still recovering from Saddam Hussein‘s brutal rule,” he said. “I heard somebody say, Where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.”

Bush was referring to the former South African leader who helped reconcile his country after decades of racial apartheid. Mandela has receded from active politics but is still alive.

Bush voiced continued confidence in Robert Gates‘ support for his war strategy after the U.S. defense secretary told a New York Times columnist, when asked if the 2003 invasion of Iraq was worth doing:

“If I’d known then what I know now, would I have done the same? I think the answer is, ‘I don’t know.”‘

Bush conceded the Iraqi security forces’ achievement of goals for taking over responsibility has been “slower than we thought.” But he insisted the goal remained unchanged.

In his speech, Bush said security improvements had made it possible to start drawing down U.S. forces. But that will only roll back troop strength, currently at 169,000, to around the same levels before Bush ordered a major buildup in January.

Democratic leaders have said that Bush is trying to obscure the fact that most of the troops being withdrawn would have left anyway under current deployment timetables.


Image ‘Copyleft by Carlos Latuff
On the 5th of September I posted a thread about what I felt was a premature victory celebration regarding the moving of the path of the wall of apartheid. It seems that there are others, directly involved in the struggle, joining me in my outlook regarding this matter.

I stated that there will be no victory until the wall is totally removed allowing free movement to the imprisoned nation of Palestine.

Read the following from ZNet to see the reality of the situation, written by Mohammed Khatib who is a leading member of Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and the secretary of Bil’in’s Village Council.

Bil’in will continue to struggle against the wall and settlements
by Mohammed Khatib

On September 4, after nearly three years of nonviolent protests by our village of Bil’in, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israel’s wall here must be moved further west, returning 250 acres of our farmland. In Bil’in we celebrated, along with our Israeli and international supporters.

But Israel’s Supreme Court demonstrated both the power of nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation, and its limits. On September 5 the court rejected our petition to stop the construction of another Israeli settlement, Mattiyahu East, on our land even further to the west. Israel, with US support, appears determined to retain major West Bank settlement blocs, including one west of Bil’in, that carve the West Bank into bantustans.

Bil’in is a West Bank agricultural village with 1600 residents located just east of “the Green Line”, the pre-1967 border between the West Bank and Israel. In Bil’in, as in tens of Palestinian villages, Israel exploited security justifications to build a wall deep inside the West Bank and seize Palestinian land for illegal settlements. Israel trapped 60% of our land behind the wall, mostly olive groves that we depend on.

In December, 2004 when the Israeli army started bulldozing our land and uprooting olive trees to build the wall, we went to our fields to protest. We learned from other West Bank villages that nonviolently resisted the wall, and we studied Gandhi, King and Mandela.

We developed creative activities for our weekly protests. One Friday, activists locked themselves inside a cage, representing the wall’s impacts. Another time, we built a Palestinian “outpost” on our village’s land located behind the wall and next to an Israeli settlement, mimicking the Israeli strategy of establishing outposts to expand settlements.

Another Friday we handed the Israeli soldiers a letter saying, “Had you come here as guests, we would show you the trees that our grandfathers planted here, and the vegetables that we grow… There will never be security for any of us until Israelis respect our rights to this land.”

We hosted two international conferences on nonviolent resistance, and many Israeli and international activists responded to our call to join us in a “joint struggle.” Palestinians, Israelis and foreigners suffered patiently together as the soldiers met our nonviolent actions with teargas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and clubs. Over 800 activists were injured in 200 demonstrations. An Israeli attorney and a Bil’in resident both suffered permanent brain damage from rubber-coated steel bullets shot from close range. Another Palestinian lost sight in one eye. 49 Bil’in residents, including some protest leaders, were arrested. Some spent months in prison.

Our achievements are due to our persistence, the worldwide media attention we attracted, and the support we gained from committed Israeli activists.

We never expected much from the occupier’s courts. The Israeli official who planned the wall told the Washington Post last month that he lost only three legal challenges to the wall’s path, out of 120 appeals filed, this though the wall isolates 10% of the West Bank and was ruled illegal where it is built inside the West Bank by the International Court of Justice.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Still, Israel’s Supreme Court legalized the settlement of Mattiyahu East on our land, even though Mattiyahu East appeared to violate even Israeli law because it lacked an approved building permit.

The rush to build followed President Bush’s April, 2004 letter to then Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon stating that, “new realities on the ground, including already existing population centers” make it unrealistic to expect Israel to withdraw completely to the Green Line. Israel responded by expanding “existing population centers”, building huge apartment complexes, like Mattiyahu East, for hundreds of thousands of people, and calling them neighborhoods in existing settlements.

These expanding settlement blocs fall conveniently on Israel’s side of the wall. Strategically situated, the settlement blocs divide the West Bank into four isolated regions. Therefore, their annexation to Israel will render any Palestinian state unviable. Yet annexation of the settlement blocs is reportedly central to new Israeli government peace proposals to Palestinian President Abbas.

We will continue to challenge these expanding settlements because they threaten the futures of Bil’in and the Palestinian people. And we will put our experience at the service of other communities struggling against the wall and settlements. From Bil’in, we call on Israeli and international activists to join us as we renew our joint struggle for freedom.

Mohammed Khatib is a leading member of Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and the secretary of Bil’in’s Village Council.


Israel (once again) came under attack today in the chambers of the international body that usually turns its head to the situation at hand…. finally the not so new Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel not to consider Gaza an ‘enemy entity’…
Even Kapo Abbas, in a move to score some ‘Brownie points’ supposedly condemned Israel’s plans…
Should be interesting to see Israel’s reactions to this…. or as always will they just ignore this condemnation? Should also be interesting to see how long it takes for the US to Veto any official condemnation of Israel. I’m sure Foxman will be up late tonight working on a reply….how many ways can he call someone an anti Semite??? We will soon find out, of this I am sure….
In the meantime, read the following AP report via YNet…

UN chief urges Israel to reconsider decision on Gaza

Ban Ki-moon warns that any cutoff of vital services to Strip would violate international law, punish already suffering civilian population

Associated Press

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In one of his toughest statements aimed at Israel since taking the reins of the UN on Jan. 1, Ban said he was “very concerned” at the Israeli government’s declaration earlier Wednesday “and its announced intent to interrupt essential services such as electricity and fuel to the civilian population.”
US Support
Rice says US also views Hamas as hostile group / Ronny Sofer
US Secretary of State says during press conference with Foreign Minister Livni in Jerusalem that her country will not ‘abandon the innocent Palestinians in Gaza’
Full story

“Such a step would be contrary to Israel’s obligations towards the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights law,” he said.

“I call for Israel to reconsider this decision,” the secretary general said in a statement read by UN spokeswoman Michele Montas.

The secretary-general stressed that “the United Nations has broad humanitarian responsibilities and is mandated to provide assistance to and meet the humanitarian needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.”

“There are 1.4 million people in Gaza, including the old, the young and the sick, who are already suffering from the impact of prolonged closure. They should not be punished for the unacceptable actions of militants and extremists,” he said.

At the same time, Ban said “the continued indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel is unacceptable and I deplore it.”

“I understand Israel’s security concerns over this matter,” he said. “I call for it to stop immediately.”

Earlier Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday condemned Israel’s plan to cut fuel and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip, calling it ”an oppressive decision.”

”This oppressive decision will only strengthen the chocking embargo imposed on 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, increase their suffering and deepen their tragedy,” Abbas’ office said in a statement.


These pictures were taken by an anonymous photographer on Saturday 8/11/07 in Brooklyn, near where I was brought up… they are amazing. The sun appears to be a Star of David…


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
When Cindy announced the return from her short hiatus…. she meant it! She has been as outspoken as ever on every issue related to the illegal war in Iraq…. Below is her latest

At What Price, Safety?

I am consistently amazed at things that right-wing nut jobs throw at me to justify their support of an unjustifiable war. Seriously, when you watch Generals, Ambassadors, Senators and Congress Reps and pundits who still cheerlead for a miserable, failed and murderous policy you can almost see the skepticism in their eyes, too. They know they are lying for their masters now, if they, like George and Dick didn’t always know they were lying.

However, a measly segment of our population are still so willingly ill-informed and ignorant of the facts are grasping for straws.

At the recent “Support for our Troops” rally that was held by the Republican backed and funded Move America Forward and Gathering of Eagles (who I like to call the “Smattering of Pigeons”) groups last Saturday where they had 1/100th of the numbers of the true “Support the Troops” (and the people of Iraq) rally and march that was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, we pro-peace people were even called “Communists” several times. I have asked people what they mean when they call me that so-last century epithet and they say: “Yeah, you hate America.” Well, for all of those who have eyes but refuse to see, and ears but refuse to hear, this is what Communist means:

Someone who supports communism which is a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

I don’t see how wanting peace and wanting our government to finally quit lying to us and stop killing people to further their hegemonic goals of bringing corporate America to every corner of the globe makes us Communists; maybe Humanists, patriots or great Americans, but Communists, no. Some people in America do belong to the Communist party, which is not against the law, and it is also not against the law to be a Muslim, yet.

One of the more morally reprehensible notes from the supporters of death I receive is the one that goes something like this: “I am for peace, too, but not at the expense of my family.” These people are saying that it is okay to ruin my family and thousands of other families in the US who have been torn apart like the bodies of our loved ones to keep other families “safe.” I have news for these people, as bad as the sacrifices have been for some families in America, the people of Iraq have suffered far more for the deceptions and greed of BushCo. Think about this: America killed over a million Iraqis between Gulf I and this current occupation, and that did not keep my family safe, or the families of the people killed in 9-11. How can one sleep at night thinking that her family is safe when so many people are devastated by the policies that she thinks is keeping her family safe? Never mind the National Intelligence Estimates that have rightly showed that our transgressions in Iraq and such inhumane prison camps as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are increasing Islamic extremism.

What makes Mrs. Safety think that the Iraqi babies are less precious than her babies? Does the geographic accident of her baby’s births give them more right to be safe than the Iraqi babies? Maybe Mrs. Safety thinks that her babies deserve more protection because they are white and Christian? Or just maybe because they are hers?

I spent 24 years of my children’s lives thinking that I was doing everything I could to protect them. I guarded the boundaries of my family like a Doberman. I didn’t let anything bad in those boundaries to hurt my children until 2000 when an Army recruiter broke through my defenses to lie like a son of a bitch to my son who would ultimately be killed so Mrs. Safety’s babies could have the illusion and delusion of safety. Casey and my family paid a dear price for my thinking that my babies and my boundaries are the only ones that were precious and worth protecting. It will only be when we realize that all human life if precious and worthy of protection and know that all of the world’s children belong to all of us that war will stop being used as a tool in Satan’s tool-box of greed and destruction.

Many Muslims and American soldiers have told me that I may have lost a son, but I have gained millions of sons and daughters in my work for global peace and understanding.

They are all our sons and daughters as Casey was your son.

We have to stop giving our leaders free-passes to kill our children, anywhere and everywhere.

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