spirit of humanity

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30 June 2009

For more information contact:
Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 081 767 /

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 077 820 /

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] – Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We’re asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel’s December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.

“The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of “Cast Lead”. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone” said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: “No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry  medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters.”

Arraf continued, “Israel’s deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release.”



CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367

CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354

CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights workers and help in securing their immediate release!

Red Cross Israel
tel: +972 3524 5286
fax: +972 3527 0370

Red Cross Switzerland:
tel: +41 22 730 3443
fax: +41 22 734 8280

Red Cross USA:
tel: +1 212 599 6021
fax: +1 212 599 6009

Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief=2 0worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a=2 0former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.



One dead and three injured as war-damaged house collapses in Gaza

Katherine Orwell

A Palestinian under the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza – by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi

A house in Eastern Gaza, that had been damaged by shelling during Israel’s offensive in Gaza in the beginning of this year, collapsed on Monday killing one Palestinian and injuring three others.

According to witnesses the house collapsed while workers were doing repairs.

It has been reported that there might have been three more people missing in the house.

The three injured sustained moderate injuries and were taken to the hospital.


Updates from the ‘Spirit of Humanity’

Most recent update…..

We need your help to get to Gaza

Tuesday, 30 June 2009 13:23 Written by Free Gaza Team

Dear Friends, We’ve just received word from the Spirit of Humanity. They are 24 miles off the coast of Gaza, and are still surrounded by Israeli warships. Israeli Occupying Forces have threatened to take violent action against the small boat unless it turns around. They will not turn around.

Our people on the boat have slowed their speed significantly and are telling the Israelis that they must not fire on unarmed human rights workers and journalists, including Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Regardless of Israeli threats, they will not turn around. They continue, slowly, sailing toward Gaza.

PLEASE immediately call Israeli Occupying Forces and demand that they STOP threatening the Spirit of Humanity.

CALL & FAX the Israeli Navy at:
tel: +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
fax: +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office at:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264

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CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defense at:
+972 33697 5339 or +972 50629 8148

Update on the Spirit

Tuesday, 30 June 2009 03:03 Written by Free Gaza Movement

Dear Friends,

We just spoke again with our people aboard the Spirit of Humanity. The Israeli Navy is continuing to try and intimidate the ship, and is actively jamming its radar, GPS, and navigation systems in direct violation of international maritime law. This jamming is extremely dangerous and directly threatens the welfare and safety of everyone aboard our civilian ship.

Because their instrumentation is being jammed, they are using compass & paper to attempt to navigate. They are in international waters & they believe their location is approximately 110km off of the town of Hadera. Everyone is tired but determined. They are not being deterred by the Israeli aggression & are continuing toward Gaza. Please help them.

Please CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it // <![CDATA[// <![CDATA[
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CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it // <![CDATA[// <![CDATA[
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Free Gaza Movement
357 99 081 767

Call off your attack dogs – Cynthia McKinney

Tuesday, 30 June 2009 01:15 Written by Free Gaza Team

We just spoke to the passengers. Everyone is OK, but the situation is still very tense. They continue to be surrounded by Israeli warships which are threatening to open fire. The Israeli Navy is actively jamming all navigation systems in violation of international maritime law, endangering the people on board.

Former U.S. Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, speaking from on board the SPIRIT, stated, “I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God’s name would Israel want to attack us and threaten our safety and welfare. I call on President Obama and the international community to intervene now to prevent this situation from escalating with potentially drastic results to the civilians on board.”

Since the boat’s navigation equipment is being jammed, it has turned westward in order to stay in international waters.The Captain and crew are working from the most ancient of navigation equipment…the compass to stay clear of Israeli waters.
Read more…

URGENT ALERT – Israeli Navy surrounding SPIRIT and threatening to open fire

Monday, 29 June 2009 23:57 Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 00:07 Written by Free Gaza Team

At 1:40 am, the Israeli Navy surrounded the SPIRIT while in international waters off the coast of Israel as it is on its way to the Gaza Strip. We got a call from the boat saying that they were being threatened, told to turn back or they would be fired on.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders, was on the phone with the Israeli gunboats, and we could hear her saying, “You Cannot Open Fire on Unarmed Civilians” several times. At this writing, they are surrounded by several ships shining bright lights into the SPIRIT.

CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
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CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148

All of the above VIA …… watch this site for updates

DATE & TIME: Tuesday June 30, 2009 12PM

PLACE: Front of 250 Broadway Avenue (across from City Hall)

Councilmember Barron Calls on President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton to Call off Israeli Warships which are threatening the life of Fmr Rep Cynthia McKinney and those aboard the Spirit of Humanity

New York, NY, June 29, 2009—Councilmember Barron will hold an emergency press conference to call on President Obama and Secretary Clinton to demand the Israeli navy stand down its military activities against the Spirit of Humanity, a humanitarian aid ship carrying Cynthia McKinney and aid workers from Cyprus to Gaza. The Spirit, which is caring medical and other aid to the Gaza Strip, was in international waters heading to Gaza when the warships surrounded the unarmed ship and is threatening to open fire.

Councilmember Barron denounces the Israeli Blockade of Gaza and is calling on our elected leaders to stand up against the inhumane treatment of the peoples of Gaza. “I am asking President Obama to back up his speech in Egypt with some action! Tell Prime Minister Netanyahu to allow the ship to pass and to assure the safe return home of Cythina McKinney and all aboard. It is in international waters and is on a mission of peace.”

The Free Gaza boat the “Spirit of Humanity” departed Cyprus July 29th with Twenty-one human rights and solidarity workers representing eleven different countries aboard. The passengers include Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The ship also carries three tons of medical aid, children’s toys, and rehabilitation and reconstruction kits for twenty family homes.

“I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God’s name would Israel want to attack us and threaten our safety and welfare. I call on President Obama and the international community to intervene now to prevent this situation from escalating with potentially drastic results to the civilians on board.” -Cynthia McKinney, aboard the spirit of humanity

As a show of support to the peoples of Gaza, Councilmember Barron will accompany MP George Galloway, Fmr Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Ron Kovic, and many others on this humanitarian mission to Gaza. The mission will included hundreds of volunteers who will deliver millions of dollars worth of medical aid to the Gaza Strip. The trip will began to leave on July 4th.

Fresh from the success of the Viva Palestina: Lifeline from Britain to Gaza aid convoy – which took over 100 vehicles to Gaza from the UK, Member of Parliament, George Galloway has linked up on his US tour with the Vietnam veteran and peace campaigner, Ron Kovic, to launch a similar venture from the States. “There’s a new atmosphere in the US over Palestine,” says Galloway, “the phenomenal response to this tour demonstrates that.”

Viva Palestina USA is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, but individuals and groups from across the nation have organized locally to generate support for the convoy, which has raised millions of dollars for humanitarian aid and will use several hundred volunteers and vehicles to deliver the aid into Gaza.

Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former United States Representative and was the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States. She is the first African-American woman to have represented Georgia in the House.

George Galloway is an outspoken British politician, author, and broadcaster, who has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1987.

Ron Kovic, whose story was immortalized in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, will be one of the co-leaders of the convoy.


A Dairy form Gaza

Ayman Quader

Gazans aspire peace & stability, Israel aspires killing & instability

Photo by Sameh H. Habeeb

6 missiles hit save area of Al Buraij camp, Middle of the Gaza Strip today noon (terrifying voice) Recalling the scene of the WAR on Gaza….. unhumanity.

Today, at 3 pm in Gaza time, horrendous sounds heard in Jouher Al deek, east of Al Buraj Refugee of the middle area of the Gaza Strip. There were about 6 missiles fired form the Israeli side toward the people of Al Deek district causing dreadful feeling for all the people of the middle area as the voices were extremely high and audible and took them back 6 months ago.

The 23 nights of war haven’t been forgotten form the Children memory, specially the children of camps. Consequently, I saw some children started running to get a save place in their home recalling back the same sound of missiles during the while of war (27 Dec. 2008). Ghdeer is a young girl (10 years old) living in Al Buraj Refugee Camp couldn’t control herself when she heard the sound of missiles, I found her dramatically confused. I directly pointed out the reason but I wanted to ask her WHY???!!!! . she immediately replied it was the GAZA WAR coming back again. I took her aside and started talking to her as I always like to here from children. She told me her own experience in the day and in the nights of the war. She narrated her experience as if it is a play and needed to be dramatized. acutely I am younger than her but I have become assured that those days will never be forgotten from the children memory. IT WILL NEVER!!!!!!!!

“All we aspire is the prevail of peace and security not killing and fear” Ghadder ended her speech with me and she has left me thinking of the great sin that those young kids committed to merit the way they treated. What they needed was to grow up safely and in happiness.


FOOD is now confiscated by those operating these sites. FOOD!!!!

Anyone that has ever visited a Palestinian village or city knows that mealtime is not necessarily just a family event, it is a community event. Especially on Fridays, it is not unusual to share your meal with relatives from both sides of the family, their children, and neighbours. It is a way of life in Palestine, a way of life that the Israelis apparently have a problem with…. a way of life that Israelis do not want us to know about.

A dear friend of mine just spent some time in Ramallah, one of her observations (in part) follows….

It is ILLEGAL for Israeli citizens to go into the West Bank (the occupied Palestinian territories) or Gaza. Illegal. They are not supposed to go there. Even Israeli Arabs are not supposed to go there. Israeli settlers are evidently the exception to this rule, as they LIVE in the occupied territories.

It’s important to understand that Arab family lines cross these arbitrary boundaries. It is illegal for Israeli (Arab) citizens to visit their families if they live in the occupied territories!

This is merely an attempt to keep Israelis from ‘knowing’ the truth of what is happening in the territories. The official government line would be that they don’t want Israelis to be abducted and then have to work to free them. Sounds reasonable, but what if there could be a waiver that Israelis could sign saying they would not hold the government responsible? I think that’s a great idea.

The law is being used to engender fear – Don’t go there… you might not come back. It is also being used to hide the truth from good people who might question their own government if they ‘get to know’ the people on the other side of the wall and the conflict.

You can read the rest of her views HERE.

Amira Hass reported the following today: “The typical Palestinian laborer in Israel has a 12-hour workday, including travel time and checkpoint delays. Many leave home as early as 2 A.M. in order to wait in line at the checkpoint; tardiness to work often results in immediate dismissal. Workers return home around 5 P.M. The wait at the checkpoint can take one to two hours in each direction, if not longer.

The food quantities allowed by Modi’in Ezrahi do not meet the daily dietary needs of the workers, and they prefer not to buy food at the considerably more expensive Israeli stores”

The above was selected BY

The article by Ms. Hass is at the end of this post.

This post is not about food. This post is about the government of Israel systematically destroying the very nature of the Palestinian Nation. Destroy the culture of a people, limit the movements of a people, in reality….. destroy the people!

You might now understand why it is illegal for Israelis to see this. We are led to believe that Palestinians are terrorists. We are led to believe that Palestinians hate us. NOTHING is further from the truth on both counts…… BUT, Israel seems to know that ‘the truth will set us free’, so they will continue hiding it from us.

Israel wants you to believe that it is dismantling the illegal checkpoints…. the reality check is that more are being built….now operated by private companies.

Below is the article I mentioned by Amira Hass…..

Privately run checkpoint stops Palestinians with ‘too much food’
By Amira Hass

A West Bank checkpoint managed by a private security company is not allowing Palestinians to pass through with large water bottles and some food items, Haaretz has learned.

MachsomWatch discovered the policy, which Palestinian workers confirmed to Haaretz.

The Defense Ministry stated in response that non-commercial quantities of food were not being limited. It made no reference to the issue of water.

The checkpoint, Sha’ar Efraim, is south of Tul Karm, and is managed for the Defense Ministry by the private security company Modi’in Ezrahi. The company stops Palestinian workers from passing through the checkpoint with the following items: Large bottles of frozen water, large bottles of soft drinks, home-cooked food, coffee, tea and the spice zaatar. The security company also dictates the quantity of items allowed: Five pitas, one container of hummus and canned tuna, one small bottle or can of beverage, one or two slices of cheese, a few spoonfuls of sugar, and 5 to 10 olives. Workers are also not allowed to carry cooking utensils and work tools.

MachsomWatch told Haaretz that Sunday, a 32-year-old construction worker from Tul Karm, who is employed in Hadera, was not allowed to carry his lunch bag through the checkpoint. The bag contained six pitas, 2 cans of cream cheese, one kilogram of sugar in a plastic bag, and a salad, also in a plastic bag.

The typical Palestinian laborer in Israel has a 12-hour workday, including travel time and checkpoint delays. Many leave home as early as 2 A.M. in order to wait in line at the checkpoint; tardiness to work often results in immediate dismissal. Workers return home around 5 P.M. The wait at the checkpoint can take one to two hours in each direction, if not longer.

The food quantities allowed by Modi’in Ezrahi do not meet the daily dietary needs of the workers, and they prefer not to buy food at the considerably more expensive Israeli stores.

MachsomWatch informed the Israel Defense Forces about the new bans but received no response, the organization said. Modi’in Ezrahi issued a statement saying questions should be directed to the Defense Ministry’s crossings administration.

MachsomWatch activists said a security guard on duty told them the food restrictions were imposed due to “security and health risks.” However, at the nearby Qalqilyah checkpoint, which is still run directly by the IDF, workers have been allowed to carry through all the food items banned at Sha’ar Efraim.

However, responsibility for the Qalqilyah checkpoint is supposed to be transferred to a private company this week, and workers voiced concerns that similar restrictions might be imposed there.

The IDF Spokesman’s office said in a statement: “There are no limits on food quantities. They may take through food necessary for personal consumption during a day’s work. When a worker arrives with a large quantity of goods intended for sale rather than for personal use, he is asked to pass through the goods crossing instead, where the goods are handled appropriately and with the appropriate customs checks. This crossing is intended for pedestrians and not for goods.”


Both images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
Click on images to enlarge


Just who is pulling those strings?
Can we say that President Obama is the first President with ‘strings attached’…. or were there others before him?

Photo found on Uruknet’s site


Israeli ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children – a report

Defense For Children International (DCI-Palestine) released a report which documents the widespread ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children at the hands of the Israeli army and police force – Palestinian Child Prisoners: The systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities.

The release of the report came just days after an article was published in The Independent newspaper reporting the testimonies of two Israeli soldiers which detail the deliberate abuse of Palestinian children. One soldier is reported as saying that in an incident that occurred in a Palestinian village in March, he saw a lot of soldiers ‘just knee (Palestinians) because it’s boring, because you stand there for 10 hours, you’re not doing anything, so they beat people up.’

The report published contains the testimonies of 33 children, one as young as 10 years old, who bear witness to the abuse they received at the hands of soldiers from the moment of arrest through to an often violent interrogation.

Most of these children were arrested from villages near the Wall and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. There is evidence that many children are painfully shackled for hours on end, kicked, beaten and threatened, some with death, until they provide confessions, some written in Hebrew, a language they do not speak or understand.

Following are some excerpts from this chill-shocking report. It is a must-read report and worth saving for your reference in the future. It can be downloaded from here and here (both PDF format):

Executive summary

The Israeli military court system in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has operated for over 42 years almost devoid of international scrutiny. Each year an average of 9,000 Palestinians are prosecuted in two Israeli military courts operating in the West Bank, including 700 children.

From the moment of arrest, Palestinian children encounter ill-treatment and in some cases torture, at the hands of Israeli soldiers, policemen and interrogators. Children are commonly arrested from the family home in the hours before dawn by heavily armed soldiers. The child is painfully bound, blindfolded and bundled into the back of a military vehicle without any indication as to why or where the child is being taken. […] Most children confess and some are forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew, a language they do not comprehend. These interrogations are not video recorded as is required under Israeli domestic law.

Children as young as 12 years are prosecuted in the Israeli military courts and are treated as adults as soon as they turn 16 […] In 91% of all cases involving Palestinian children, bail was denied. […] With no faith in the system and the potential for harsh sentences, approximately 95% of cases end in the child pleading guilty, whether the ofence was committed or not. […] Many children receive no family visits whilst in prison and limited education […]

Some examples of torture

What amounts to torture or ill-treatment will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. However, it is useful to list some of the types of circumstances that have been held to amount to torture and ill-treatment by the Committee as a general guidance:

– Restraining in very painful conditions;
– Hooding under special conditions;
– Playing loud music for prolonged periods of time;
– Threats, including death threats;
– Violent shaking;
– Kicking, punching and beating with implements;
– Using cold air to chill;
– Excessive use of force by law enforcement personnel and the military;
– Incommunicado detention (detention without access to a lawyer, doctor or the ability to communicate with family members);
– Solitary confnement;
– Sensorial deprivation and almost total prohibition of communication;
– Poor conditions of detention, including failure to provide food, water, heating in winter, proper washing facilities, overcrowding, lack of amenities, poor hygiene facilities, limited clothing and medical care.

The above list is by no means exhaustive and in every case, the particular vulnerability of the victim, such as his or her young age or medical condition should be taken into consideration.

Case Study No. 15

Name: Islam M.
Date of arrest: 31 December 2008
Age at arrest: 12
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 31 December 2008, 12-year-old Islam from a village near the West Bank city of Nablus, was out hunting birds in an olive grove when he and his friends were arrested by Israeli soldiers and accused of throwing stones. The olive grove was located about 500 metres from an Israeli settler bypass road.

At around 4:00pm we decided to go home. We collected the nets. Our houses are about one kilometre away. After walking 20 metres we heard a gun shot from the bypass road. We began walking faster towards our houses in the opposite direction to the bypass road. When we reached the edge of the village, we were surprised to see Israeli soldiers, about 10 to 20 metres behind us, with their guns pointed at us. They were shouting at us to stop in Hebrew. We stopped where we were. […] One of them approached me and grabbed my hand. Another soldier grabbed Hasan’s hand. They then tied our hands together with the same plastic cord. They tied my right hand to Hasan’s left hand. The soldiers then pushed us and forced us to walk towards our house. The soldiers did not tell me why they were arresting me […] When we reached the jeep, the soldiers blindfolded me and Hasan with a piece of cloth that the soldiers had. They pushed me inside the jeep. I fell on the ground. I was seated on the floor of the jeep. I lifted the blindfold using my untied left hand and looked around. I saw six soldiers inside the jeep, sitting on seats. Hasan and I were seated between their legs.

Twelve-year-old Islam was arrested by Israeli soldiers while out hunting birds. He was transferred to an Israeli military base for interrogation. Ten minutes later a soldier asked me […] whether I threw stones at the soldiers. Three minutes later a captain called Hasan, wearing a military uniform, came to us … He took me to a pine tree and made me sit on the ground. ‘Have you seen kids throwing stones at the soldiers?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘Do you know them?’ He asked. ‘No,’ I said. He threatened to pour hot water on my face. ‘I don’t know who threw stones,’ I said. Five minutes later he took me to a place full of thorny bushes. He ordered me to sit in the bushes. I refused. He pushed me and I fell in the bushes. That really hurt me. They placed me inside a jeep […] Captain Hasan approached me and asked me to confess to throwing stones. I refused. ‘We’ll put you in jail, patriotic boy’ he said. […] A policeman in blue uniform came and took me to interrogation. I was still tied and blindfolded, but managed to see things from beneath the blindfold. In the interrogation room, there was one policeman with a solider sitting next to him. ‘You threw stones. You were photographed while throwing stones’ the policeman said. I denied it […] I asked the soldiers for food. They brought me an apple, one half rotten. I ate the good half and gave the rotten half back to the soldier […] They seated me on a chair for about five hours without asking me anything.

A policeman in blue uniform came and took me to an office. He allowed me to watch a DVD that had children throwing stones at soldiers. ‘See yourself throwing stones?’ He said. I did not see myself because I had not thrown stones. He then took me out of the room. I was kept alone, tied and blindfolded, sitting on the ground for three hours. (2 February 2009)

Islam was charged with throwing stones and fned NIS 1,000 (US$ 250) by a military court after entering into a plea bargain. He spent three days in detention in Ofer.

Case Study No. 22

Name: Afaf B.
Date of arrest: 5 February 2008
Age at arrest: 16
Accusation: Contact with a wanted person and the intention to carry out a suicide bombing

On 5 February 2008, Afaf and her father voluntarily went to the Israeli intelligence headquarters at Ras al-Amoud, Jerusalem, after being ordered to attend. Afaf was immediately taken for interrogation where she was accused of having contact with a wanted person and intending to carry out a suicide bombing. Afaf’s father was not permitted to remain with her during interrogation. Afaf was then interrogated for 59 consecutive days and then sentenced to 16 months imprisonment inside Israel.

The interrogator began asking me general questions about myself and how I was doing. I asked him to stop asking such questions and get straight to the reason why they brought me here. He said that I had committed some security ofences […] he then asked me about a young man called Murad … I agreed that I had never seen Murad but I used to talk to him on the phone […] The interrogator did not charge me directly with any wrongdoing, and he did not accuse me of a specifc accusation. He only said that I had committed some security ofences without giving any further details […] An hour later, the interrogator came back to the room and told me I was under arrest and that they would transfer me to Al Mascobiyya Interrogation and Detention Centre in Jerusalem. […]

Two interrogators named Arsan and David were already in the room. They had a typed paper written in Hebrew. They told me that this paper was sent via fax from the same interrogator who interrogated me earlier in Ras al-Amoud, and that I had confessed to doing many things. I told them that what was in the paper was a lie and that I did not confess to anything and no specifc accusation was made against me. They said that the paper says that I knew a young man named Murad and I knew that he was wanted by the intelligence … This interrogation lasted until midnight. […] In the morning of 6 February 2008, they came and took me to Jerusalem’s Magistrate’s Court. My hands and feet were tied. A lawyer hired by the State was waiting for me, but none of my family was there […] In the court, the prosecution asked for my detention to be extended for 10 days, relying on a secret file submitted to the judge. My lawyer objected and asked for my immediate release. However, the judge decided to extend my detention […]

Israeli Military CourtIsraeli Military Court

My interrogation lasted for several hours for 59 consecutive days. In one of the interrogation rounds, a tall interrogator told me that I should confess that I had asked Murad to help me carry out a suicide bombing. I denied that of course, and he slapped me so hard that I fell over to the ground and my mouth began bleeding.

On the seventh day of my arrest […] the interrogator told me that Murad had been arrested, and he had interrogated him. He added that Murad confessed that I asked him to help me to carry out a suicide bombing. […] After 10 days of interrogation […] I came back from the court and I was put in a room inside the Centre with another detainee named Nisreen Z. She was detained on a theft case. On the same day I had a stomach ache. Nisreen handed me a white pill, which turned out later to be a narcotic pill. I fainted for some time. When I woke up, Nisreen told me that I had said many things and confessed to many things and that it was recorded. I was then removed from the room and taken to the interrogation room. The tall interrogator asked me to confess to everything but I refused […] the interrogator played the recording. I heard myself speaking with Nisreen who was asking me many questions about Murad and carrying out a suicide bombing, and I would answer her ‘yes’ without giving further details […] I did not sign any confession papers. (23 December 2008)

Afaf was charged with contact with a wanted person and the intention to carry out a suicide bombing. She was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment by a military court after entering into a plea bargain. She is currently detained in Telmond Prison inside Israel. Afaf was released on 7 May 2009.

Case Study No. 33

Name: Ezzat H.
Date of arrest: 11 June 2008
Age at arrest: 10
Accusation: None

On 11 June 2008, Israeli soldiers stormed Ezzat’s family’s shop in a village near the West Bank town of Qalqiliya, situated near the Wall. The soldiers said that they were looking for a hand gun.

At around 10:30am, I was sitting in my father’s shop selling animal feed and eggs. I was wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans. My brother Makkawi (7) and sister Lara (8) were sitting with me […] I was surprised by the arrival of two Israeli soldiers to the shop. One of them had dark skin, wearing khaki jeans and a black T-shirt with a blue vest on top. The other one was in green clothes. Both of them were wearing helmets and carrying black weapons. The soldier with the black T-shirt was carrying a pistol around his chest in addition to the assault rife.

They suddenly walked into the shop. Once they entered the shop, the soldier with the black T-shirt began shouting at me, telling me: ‘your father has sent us to you and we want the pistol your father has.’ I became terrifed and said: ‘my father has nothing. He doesn’t own such things.’ He slapped me hard across my right cheek and he slapped my brother on the face too. He then asked my siblings to get out of the shop. He asked me all over again and I told him we had nothing. He asked me to get out the pistol from the animal feed sacks. I answered him we had no pistol. He slapped me again and this time it was on my left cheek. […]

A group of locals gathered around the store and some of them tried to enter and help me, but the soldier standing by the door prevented them from doing so. When the other soldier did not find anything, he asked me again to tell him where the pistol was. When I answered him back saying: ‘we don’t have anything’ he punched me hard in my stomach and I fell over onto the empty egg boxes. I was crying and screaming because I could not stand the pain and I was terrified too.

The soldier with the black T-shirt made fun of me and imitated my crying. He spoke very fluent Arabic. He kept me inside the shop for 15 minutes. He then grabbed me by my T-shirt and dragged me out of the shop. I asked him to let me close the shop but he said leave it open so that it would be robbed. Some of my friends who were at the scene closed the shop.

When he dragged me out of the shop, he ordered me to walk in the street in front of him. He and the other soldier, who was pointing his weapon at me, walked behind me, and some people gathered around. While walking, the soldier in the black T-shirt would slap me hard on my neck now and then … I was slapped three to four times on my nape while walking towards the house. When we reached the house, 100 meters away, I saw many soldiers around the house and a number of dark green military vehicles. The word ‘Police’ was written on an olive coloured jeep. When I entered the house […] the soldier with the black T-shirt made me stand in the yard and asked me to get the pistol out of the flower basin. When I was about to answer him and say we had no pistol, he slapped me so hard that I fell down on my face in the fower basin. […]

My father was standing by the door of the guest room, where my family was held. The soldier slapped me on my nape in front of my father and I fell to the ground. He slapped me again on my nape and I fell to the ground after I stood up. All of this was in front of my father. He then lifted me in the air after he grabbed my T-shirt. He told my father that he was going to take me to prison […] He threatened to arrest my older sister who was 19 years old […] he then pushed me into the guest room where my mother and siblings were held. My mother was crying. When she saw me crying, she asked me why and I told her that I had been hit. She asked them to leave me alone and hit her instead. They told her that they would take me to prison. […] The soldier with the black T-shirt took me to the bedroom and slapped me at the door. He then brought my older sister to search and interrogate her while forcing me to stand by the kitchen door. They then moved me to another bedroom.

Torturing Ezzat HTorturing Ezzat H

While passing me, the soldier with the black T-shirt slapped me so hard on my face that I fell on the ground. He asked me to stay there in the room. He would go for five minutes and then come back to slap me on the face, and punch me several times in my stomach. I would shout and burst into tears. He would imitate me and make fun of me. He continued coming to the room around six times where he would hit me and slap me. […] I spent about one hour in the room all alone with the soldiers. During this hour, the soldier with the black T-shirt ordered me to stand on one foot and lift my hands up in the air with my back against the wall. This lasted for about half an hour. I was exhausted but I did not dare to put my foot on the ground because he ordered me not to. […] The soldier with the black T-shirt […] then brought my older sister and asked me whether I cared about her or not. I said: ‘yes I do.’ He then asked me to tell him where the pistol was and he would not tell my father. I said we did not have a pistol, so he took my sister out, and then came back and hit me all over my body. He left the room and after a while he came back and ofered me 10 Shekels if I would tell him where the pistol was. I told him I did not care about money. He really became so angry that he took of his helmet and hit me with it from two metres away. He asked me to bring him the helmet and when I did, he threw it again at me, but this time he missed. He again asked me to bring him the helmet but this time he did not hit me with it. Instead, he left the room for five minutes and came back and slapped me on the face and stomach without asking me anything. Once again he left the room and was gone for a while, and I was all alone in the room. He then came back and asked me about the pistol and I answered that we did not have any pistol. He slapped me twice on my face and pushed me back. He then left the room for a while and came back to repeat it all over again. […]

Afterwards, a soldier wearing black sunglasses came into the room where I was held and pointed his rife at me. The rife barrel was a few centimeters away from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me and said: ‘shivering? Tell me where the pistol is before I shoot you.’ I replied by saying that we had nothing. He lowered his rife and took out the bullets […] (21 June 2008)

After initially wishing to file a complaint against the soldiers involved, Ezzat’s father changed his mind for fear of retaliation.

Since DCI-Palestine last published a report on Palestinian child detainees (April 2008), the practice of ill-treatment and torture has continued unabated. During the course of the reporting period DCI-Palestine continued to receive numerous testimonies from Palestinian children speaking of their ill-treatment and torture at the hands of Israeli soldiers, policemen and security operatives. This abuse occurs from the moment of arrest, and continues during transfer, interrogation and detention. The ill-treatment documented by DCI-Palestine appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalised, suggesting complicity at all levels of the political and military chain of command. This abusive system operates with the knowledge and assistance of some doctors, and is overseen by a military court system that ignores basic principles of juvenile justice and fair trial rights, whilst willfully turning a blind eye to the presentation in court of one coerced confession after another. This system imposed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory operates beyond international legal norms and within a general culture of impunity.DCI-Palestine continues in its eforts to bring this situation to the attention of the international community which is itself bound by a number of legal obligations to ensure that these violations are fully investigated, and where appropriate, prosecuted and that such conduct is not rewarded.

Without some measure of accountability, it is unlikely that the situation endured by Palestinian children described in the pages above, will improve.

* Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-Palestine) is a national section of the international non-governmental child rights organisation and movement, Defence for Children International (DCI), established in 1979, with consultative status with ECOSOC. DCI-Palestine was established in 1992, and is dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as other international, regional and local standards. As part of its ongoing work to uphold the rights of Palestinian children, DCI-Palestine provides free legal assistance, collects evidence, researches and drafts reports and conducts general advocacy targeting various duty bearers.

Thanks to Sabbah for this


Photos © by Bud Korotzer


“……. it made no mention of Israel’s extraordinary efforts to avoid civilian casualties.”

Israel envoy blasts UN report on Palestinians as ‘biased’
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent

The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday blasted a report on Israel’s conduct vis-a-vis the Palestinians, put together by the UN Humanitarian Affairs chief John Holmes.

In a strident letter addressed to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Gabriela Shalev accused the UN of political bias, ahead of a special Security Council session devoted to “the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.”

“I sincerely hope that future reports in the name of the secretary general will avoid politically-charged semantics, accusations and omissions,” she wrote.

Holmes’ report is likely to be discussed in great detail during the Security Council session. The report implicitly accused Israel of human rights violations, and blasted the impact of Israel’s policy on the Palestinian civilian population.

“I write to express my deep concern regarding the report on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts,” Shalev also wrote. “The portion of the report regarding the situation in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip is deeply disturbing. They not only embrace flawed terminology but reflect a distorted reality that wholly fails to address the situation on the ground in an accurate manner.”

“The report completely ignores the context in which Israel’s defensive actions were taken, while it made no mention of Israel’s extraordinary efforts to avoid civilian casualties. Equally alarming is the failure to mention the thousands of missile fired by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip into Israel,” Shalev concluded.


Jon Stewart, Daily Prophet? By David Waters

In the July issue of Sojourners magazine, the Rev. Jim Wallis calls the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart a prophet. “The Hebrew prophets often use humor, satire, and truth-telling to get their message across, and I feel you do a combination of all three,” Wallis told Stewart. “I think you are a little like a Hebrew prophet after all.”

Stewart, who deflates big egos for a living, would have none of it. “It may be true that the Hebrew prophets used humor in that regard, to create social change, but it was also used by Borscht Belt social directors. We’ve got a lot more in common with them than the prophets.”

Stewart is more than a comedian. He’s the Will Rogers of our time, laughing with us as he sharply and satirically mocks the absurdities of politics, media and popular culture. But a prophet? Seems like quite a stretch, at least in the theological sense of the word.

“Prophecy is born precisely in that moment when the emergence of social political reality is so radical and inexplicable that is has nothing less than a theological cause,” wrote Christian theologian Walter Brueggemann, whose scholarship on the Old Testament prophets is prophetic in its own right.

In Stewart’s world of real people and fake news, cause and effect are clearly comical, not theological.

Brueggemann’s description of of prophetic tradition could also be used to describe the tradition of social satire from Voltaire and Swift to Twain and Vonnegut: “The prophetic tradition is basically to create a mode of public discourse that exposes establishment commitments as phony and self-serving … to create a way of speaking publicly that shows how our ordinary discourse hides and trivializes the power questions.”

Stewart spends plenty of time exposing the phony and self-serving powers that be, but he told Wallis he doesn’t think people should see what he does as social activism.

“Because we’re in the public eye, maybe people project onto us their desires for that type of activism coming from us, but just knowing the process here as I do, our show is maybe the antithesis of activism, and that is a relatively selfish pursuit. The targets we choose, the way we go about it — it’s got more of a personal venting aspect than a socially conscious aspect.”

Real prophets aren’t venting on their own. “God is raging in the prophet’s words,” wrote Abraham Joshua Heschel, the great 20th-Century Jewish theologian.

I don’t think Jon Stewart qualifies as a prophet, but who’s to say God doesn’t also send us court jesters?



It might take another generation before we see peace in this region, but we will see it. As long as the following type of activities are taking place among our youth, there is HOPE that there will be CHANGE.

Out of all of my sources, it was the Jerusalem Post that published three reports this weekend which should be read.

The first one can be found HERE….

A Kids4Peace summer camp in...

A Kids4Peace summer camp in the US.
Photo: Courtesy

Also see THIS report on the latest endeavors of Jason Alexander (George Costanza)

Jason Alexander, the US actor...

Jason Alexander, the US actor, speaks to reporters about the Imagine 2018 project at the capital’s American Colony Hotel on Wednesday.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

The third report is a short one…. but still offers hope.

Ramle kids put on play together


A group of 50 five and six year olds, Arab and Jewish, will stage a play this Thursday in Ramle’s public library that they created together. The children were involved in each step of the production, including casting, settings, costumes and invitations to the play. They will act in Hebrew and English for a mixed audience. Two kindergartens, Gan Oranit and Gan Amirim, worked together to help bridge the social gap between the city’s Arab and Jewish populations, under the leadership of the From Story to Theater program.

I always maintained that a Just Peace will come to our countries from the people rather than from the governments. One cannot talk about Peace and hope to achieve it…. one has to live it!


Exclusive: Leonard Cohen to perform in West Bank as well as Israel By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent

International music legend Leonard Cohen will perform in the West Bank city of Ramallah two days after his upcoming performance in Israel, Haaretz has learned.

The concert in Ramallah is set to be held on September 26, in the Palestinian city’s Cultural Palace; about 1,000 fans are expected to attend.

Cohen’s decision came after pro-Palestinian activists attempted to dissuade the singer from performing in Israel.

The activists had urged supporters to “apply pressure during his tour by local groups along his path,” in an appeal circulated on various pro-Palestinian mailing lists.

The sponsor of Cohen’s concert in Israel, Discount Bank, confirmed the event on Wednesday; it is scheduled to take place at Ramat Gan Stadium on September 24.

The announcement put an end to the persistent rumors circulating in the past few months that the Canadian singer-songwriter’s visit would be cancelled.


Mohammed Omer (photo by Norsk Folkehjelp)

A Journalist Beaten — One Year Later

by Mohammed Omer Released: 26 Jun 2009

June 26, 2008 is a day I will never forget. For the events of that day irrevocably changed my life. That day I was detained, interrogated, strip searched, and tortured while attempting to return home from a European speaking tour, which culminated in independent American journalist Dahr Jamil and I sharing the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize in London — an award given to journalists who expose propaganda which often masks egregious human rights abuses.

I want to address the denials from Israel and the inaccurate reporting by a few journalists in addition to requesting state of Israel to acknowledge what it did to me, prosecute the members of the Shin Bet responsible for it and put in place procedures that protect other journalists from such treatment.

Since 2003, I’ve been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip for a number of publications and news programs ranging from The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to the BBC and, Morgenbladet in Norway as well as Democracy Now! These stories exposed a carefully-crafted fiction continuing control and exploitation of five-million people. Their impact, coupled with the reporting of others served to change public opinion in the United States and Europe concerning the dynamics of Israel and its occupation of Palestine .

After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain — and a search for justice.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the agency responsible for controlling Israel’s borders in an June 29th article by Mel Frykberg for the Inter Press Service stated, “the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.”

The statement is wholly inaccurate and impossible on two counts. First, because I’m Palestinian, I am unable to enter Israel or leave Gaza , even through the Rafah border with Egypt , without Israeli permission, something quite difficult to get. Each time I’ve left Gaza for speaking tours required substantial lobbying and political maneuvering by several governments. In 2006, it was the American governments who ultimately won my visa. In 2007 the Dutch Parliament invited me back to speak to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and in 2008 when it was announced I won the Martha Gellhorn Prize, several European countries requested Israel grant me a visa but it was MP Hans Van Baalen of the Netherlands who, with great efforts, secured and guaranteed my passage out of Gaza and Israel, as well as the return for both the 2007 and 2008 trips on the condition I travel and be escorted by members of the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv while within Israel or the occupied West Bank. Therefore I was under diplomatic escort with the full knowledge of the Israeli government when I arrived at Allenby on June 26th. In fact Israeli security had blocked my re-entry for four days, causing me to miss a family wedding and wait in Jordan .

Secondly Dvir’s claim that the IAA didn’t know I was a journalist is proved false by the actions of the Shin Bet and border police. During the interrogation an Israeli security personnel searching my belongings repeatedly asked ‘Where’s the money from the prize, Mohammed?’ The prize is only given to journalists. Not only were they fully aware I am a journalist. They knew exactly how much I received, for what and where.

Dvir further perjured herself when she claimed, “We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.” Her denial shocked a Dutch diplomat in Tel Aviv who had confirmed with the state permission for me to cross on June 26. Again, I was traveling under diplomatic escort and when I asked to phone the escort — waiting on the other side of the terminal — Shin Bet’s response was they knew and didn’t care.

While not admitting that the interrogation and torture took place, Divr then dismissed any actions by the Shin Bet as out of her department’s control: “I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behavior of the Shin Bet.” But the Israeli Airport Authority, Divr’s department, like most port authorities, is responsible for border security and those who enforce that security in Israel are members of the army and the Shin Bet.

Unfortunately Dvir’s diversions were just the beginning. In the days following my detention and torture, the Israeli Government Press Office acknowledged that despite traveling under diplomatic escort I was searched “due to suspicion that he had been in contact with hostile elements and had been asked by them to deliver items to Judea and Samaria (Occupied West Bank).” This has been mentioned and quoted in different papers. Like everyone else entering, my bags were x-rayed and cleared multiple times excluding the possibility I was carrying some type of contraband. And I was traveling in the Dutch Embassy’s car directly to Erez crossing with Gaza , as communicated to the Israeli authorities. There was zero possibility of me delivering ‘items’ to anyone.

Confronted with the medical reports and injuries including bruised ribs Israeli officials told the BBC on July 1, 2008 that, “He lost balance and fell, for reasons unknown to us,” other officers suggest, “Mr. Omer had a nervous breakdown due to the high temperature.”

Despite the attempts at denials, the emergency medical technician who sat in the back of the ambulance with me reported, “We noted fingerprints on his neck and chest,” the type bruising caused by excessive force often used in forensics to identify an attacker.

When Associated Press reporter Karin Laub called me on my cell phone for an interview after my ordeal, I detailed how I was stripped and held at gunpoint. Her reply? “Go on,” she stated. “This is normal about what we hear happening at Ben Gurion Airport . It’s nothing new.”

Torture, strip searches and holding award winning journalists or any other human beings at gun point is normal at Israel ’s largest airport? Ms. Laub’s apathy continued. In her article for the Associated Press on June 29th she wrote that she interviewed “Dr. Husseini who claims there were no signs of physical trauma.”

There’s only one problem with this. This Dr. Husseini never treated me. The Minister of Health in Ramallah confirmed that Husseini never made any such statement to the AP reporter. For reasons known only to her, Ms. Laub appears to have fabricated this comment and purposely ignored the medical reports and the statements by the attending paramedics — counter to journalistic ethics and standards upheld by the Associated Press. Despite this, no independent investigation toke place.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem correspondent for the Los Angles Times, Ashraf Khalil, conducted an investigation into my case and noted in his article on November 3, 2008, that my medical records describe: “Tenderness on the anterior part of the neck and upper back mainly along the right ribs moderate to severe pain,” and “by examination the scrotum due to pain varicocele (varicose veins in the spermatic cord) at left side detected and surgery was decided later.” Fevers and falls do not cause such distinctive marks. Kicks, punches and beatings do. Continuing Khalil explains that, “Paramedic Mahmoud Tararya arrived in a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance and said he found Omer semiconscious with bruises on his neck and chest. Tararya said Israeli security officers were asking Omer to sign “some sort of form written in Hebrew. The paramedic said he intervened, separated Omer from the soldiers and loaded him into the ambulance, where he remained semiconscious for most of the trip to a hospital.”

Khalil notes in his article that Richard Falk, the U.N. human rights official wrote to Verhagen, the Minster of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and stated: “I have checked out Mr. Omer’s credibility and narrative of events, and I find them fully credible and accurate.”

Recovering mentally and physically from torture and interrogation is far from easy. This should not happen to anyone. My objective is for my case to focus attention on universal human rights, the right of freedom of expression and freedom of movement. There are places in this world where these freedoms do not exist. Israel insists it is not one of those places, but both the government and the complicity of individual journalists in covering up what they did to me prove otherwise. Ironically, the day the Shin Bet chose to detain, interrogate and torture me — June 26 — is the date set aside by human rights groups as the International Day Against Torture.

Mohammed Omer has reported for numerous media outlets, including the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pacifica Radio, Electronic Intifada, The Nation, and Inter Press Service; he also founded the Rafah Today blog. He was awarded the 2007 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

Copyright © 2009 Mohammed Omer   Distributed BY


A CALL FOR ACTION…… From DesertPeace

Today,the 26th of June marks the one year anniversary of the near beating to death and torture of Mohammed Omer. He was returning to his home in the Rafa Refugee Camp in Gaza from a trip to Europe where he was the recipient of a prestigious award for journalism. A complete recap of the events that took place upon his entry to Israel on his return trip can be read HERE.         Mohammed was escorted on his return trip by Dutch diplomats of Her Majesty’s  embassy in Tel Aviv. After his torture and beatings, those same diplomats returned with him to the Erez Crossing where he continued on to a hospital in Gaza.          Kennith Ring had the following to add to the situation in a brilliant report that he wrote about the situation. He interviewed Mohammed while he was in the hospital in Gaza…. By clicking HERE, you can read the full report.
The investigation referred to still has not been launched after a complete year. Mohammed is presently in the Netherlands where he is still receiving medical treatment as a result of his injuries. He is scheduled to undergo surgery one more time in the very near future.

It is now up to YOU to do something about the situation. We ask that you write to the local representative of the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, DEMANDING that they put pressure on the Israeli government to bring the criminals involved in this case to justice. It was Dutch Government representatives that were witness to this horrendous act, it is their responsibility as human beings to help bring justice in this case and to help guarantee that this never happens again to anyone.

It is extremely urgent that residents of Israel and Palestine take part in this letter writing campaign. All contact information is available below…. worldwide.

Thank you for your efforts and watch this site for updates on the situation.

Contact info for Royal Netherlands Embassies WORLDWIDE (alpabetical)

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Edificio Porteno II
Olga Cossenttini 831, piso 3
(C1107BVA) Buenos Aires
City: Buenos Aires
Phone: (54-11) 4338-0050
Fax: (54-11) 4338-0060
Web Site:

The Royal Netherlands Embassy in Canberra, Australia
120 Empire Circuit
Yarralumla ACT 2600
Canberra, Australia
City: Canberra
Phone: +61 (0)2 6220 9400
Fax: +61 (0)2 6273 3206
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Vienna, Austria
Opernring 5/7
A-1010 Vienna
City: Vienna
Phone: +43 (1) 589 39
Fax: +43 (1) 589 39 – 265
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Road nr. 90, House 49
Gulshan II
Dhaka, Bangladesh
City: Dhaka
Phone: +880-2-8822715-18
Fax: +880-2-8823326
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Brussels, Belgium
Avenue Herrmann-Debrouxlaan 48
1160 Brussel
City: Brussels
Phone: (+32) 02 679 17 11
Fax: (+32) 02 679 17 75
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherlands in Cotonou, Benin
Avenue Pape Jean Paul II
City: Cotonou
Phone: 00-229-21- 30 04 39 / 30 21 39
Fax: 00-229-21- 30 41 50
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherlands in La Paz, Bolivia
Avenida 6 de Agosto 2455
Edificio Hilda, piso 7
La Paz, Bolivia
City: La Paz
Phone: +591 2 2444040
Fax: +591 2 2443804
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia
Grbavicka 4
71000 Sarajevo
City: Sarajevo
Phone: (+387) (0)33 562 600
Fax: (+387) (0)33-223 413

Embassy of Netherlands in Brasilia, Brazil
SES – Qd. 801, Lote 05
CEP 70405-900
Brasilia – DF – Brasil
City: Brasilia
Phone: +55 (0)61-3961.3200
Fax: +55 (0)61-3961.3234
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Bulgaria
Oborishte Street 15
1504 Sofia
City: Sofia
Phone: (+359) 02-8160300
Fax: (+359) 02-8160301
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ottawa, Canada
Constitution Square
Building 350 Albert Street,
suite 2020
Ottawa, ON K1R 1A4
City: Ottawa
Phone: +1 613 237 5030
Fax: +1 613 237 6471
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Santiago, Chile
Apoquindo 3500 Piso 13
Las Condes, Santiago
P.O. Box:
Casilla 56-D
Santiago, Chile
City: Santiago
Phone: (+56) 2-7569200
Fax: (+56) 2-7569226
Web Site:

Embassy of Holland, Netherlands in Bogota, Colombia
Carrera 13 No. 93-40 Floor 5
Apartado Aereo 4385
City: Bogota
Phone: (+57) 1-638 4200
Fax: (+57) 1-623 3020

Embassy of Netherlands in San Jose, Costa Rica
Oficentro Ejecutivo La Sabana
(detras de la Contraloria)
Tercer Edificio, Tercer Piso
Apartado 10,285
1000 San Jose, Costa Rica
City: San Jose
Phone: +506 296 1490
Fax: +506 296 2933
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia
Medvescak 56
10000 Zagreb
City: Zagreb
Phone: + (385) 1 4642 200
Fax: + (385) 1 4642 211
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus
34 Demosthenis
Severis Avenue
P.O. Box 23835
1686 Nicosia,
City: Nicosia
Phone: +357-22-873666
Fax: +357-22-872399
Web Site:

Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Prague
Gotthardska 6/27
160 00 Praha 6, Bubenec
Czech Republic
City: Prague
Phone: (+420) 233 015 200
Fax: (+420) 233 015 254
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark
Toldbodgade 33
1253 Copenhagen K
City: Copenhagen
Phone: (+45) 33 70 72 00
Fax: (+45) 33 14 03 50
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Max Henriquez Urena #50
(tussen Av. Lincoln en Av. Churchill)
P.O. Box 855
Ens. Piantini
Santo Domingo
City: Santo Domingo
Phone: (+1 809) 262-0320 (Ambassade)
Fax: (+1 809) 565-4685
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Cairo, Egypt
18, Hassan Sabri
11211 Zamalek
Cairo, Egypt
City: Cairo
Phone: +20-2-7395500
Fax: +20-2-7365249
Web Site:

Netherlands Embassy in Helsinki
Erottajankatu 19 B
00130 Helsinki
P.O. Box 886
00101 Helsinki, Finland
City: Helsinki
Phone: +358 9 228 920
Fax: +358 9 228 92 228
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Paris, France
7-9 rue EBLE
75007 Paris
City: Paris
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Berlin, Germany
Monastery route 50
10179 Berlin
City: Berlin
Phone: +49 30 20956-0
Fax: +49 30 20956-441
Web Site:
Email: nlgovbln@blnnlambde

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Athens, Greece
Leof. Vass. Konstantinou 5-7
106 74 Athens
City: Athens
Phone: +30 210 7254900
Fax: +30 210 7254907
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Guatemala
16 Calle 0-55, Zona 10
Edificio Torre Internacional
Nivel 13, Guatemala
City: Guatemala
Phone: (502)- 2381 4300
Fax: (502)- 2381 4350
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Budapest, Hungary
Fuge utca 5-7
City: Budabest
Phone: 336-6300
Fax: 3265978
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in New Delhi, India
6/50 F, Shanti Path
New Delhi 110021
City: New Delhi
Phone: +91-11-24197600
Fax: +91-11-24197710
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav.
S-3, Kuningan Jakarta 12950
City: Jakarta
Phone: +62-21-524 8200
Fax: +62-21-570 0734
Web Site:

The Royal Netherlands Embassy, Tehran
Sonbol Street #7 Farmanieh
City: Tehran
Phone: 0935 2111299

Embassy of Netherlands in Repubic of Iraq
Park Al-Sadoun
Hay Al-Nidhal 103
Street No. 38, House No.10
Baghdad, Iraq
City: Baghdad
Phone: 00-964-1-7782571 / 00-873-762953520

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Dublin, Ireland
160 Merrion Road
Dublin 4
City: Dublin,
Phone: 00-353-1-2693444
Fax: 00-353-1-2839690

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel
Beit Oz 14, Abba Hillel St
Ramat Gan 52506
City: Tel Aviv
Phone: 03-7540777
Fax: 03-7540748
Web Site:

Netherlands Embassy in Rome, Italy
Via Michele Mercati, 8
00197 Rome
City: Rome
Phone: +39 06 32286.001
Fax: +39 06 32286.256
Web Site:

Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Amman, Jordan
22 Ibrahim Ayoub Street (former name: Embassy Street)
4th Circle
(opposite the offices of the prime minister in the Alico building)
Amman, Jordan
City: Amman
Phone: 00962 – 6 – 5902222
Fax: 00962 – 6 – 5930214
Web Site:
Email: amm-info@minbuza.

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kuwait
Jabriyah, Area 9, Street 1, House 76
P.O. Box 21822
Safat 13079
State of Kuwait
City: Safat
Phone: 00.965.531.2650 / 1 / 2 / 3
Fax: 00.965.532.6334
Web Site:

Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Beirut, Lebanon
Netherlands Tower
Charles Malek Avenue,
Opposite Centre Sofil
2073-0802 Achrafieh
City: Beirut
Phone: 00-961-1-204663
Fax: 00-961-1-204664/00-961-1-339393
Web Site:

Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Luxembourg
6, rue Sainte Zithe
L-2763 Luxembourg
City: Luxembourg
Phone: +352 22 75 70
Fax: +352 40 30 16
Web Site:

Embassy of the Netherlands in Skopje, Macedonia
Leninova 69-71
1000 Skopje
City: Skopje
Phone: +389 91 129-319/+389 2 3109-250
Fax: +389 2 3129-309
Web Site:

Netherlands Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
7th Floor, South Block. The Ampwalk
218, Jalan Ampang
50480 Kuala Lumpur
City: Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 00-60-3-21686200
Fax: 00-60-3-21686240
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherland in Mexico
Avenida Vasco de Quiroga 3000
Edificio Calakmul, piso 7
Colonia Santa Fe
01210 Mexico D.F.
City: Mexico City
Phone: (+52) 5552589921
Fax: (+52) 5552588138
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherlands in Rabat, Morocco
40 Rue de Tunis,
Quartier Tour Hassan,
Rabat, Maroc
Potal Address:
B.P. 329, Rabat, Maroc
City: Rabat
Phone: +212 37 219600
Fax: +212 37 219665
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy of Wellington, New Zealand
P.O.Box 840
Cnr. Ballance & Featherston Street
City: Wellington
Phone: +64 04 471 6390
Fax: +64 04 471 2923
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Oslo, Norway
Oscarsgate 29
0244 Oslo
City: Oslo
Phone: +47 23 33 36 00
Fax: +47 23 33 36 01
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Warsaw, Poland
Ul. Kawalerii 10
00-468 Warsaw
City: Warsaw
Phone: 00-48-22-5591200
Fax: 00-48-22-8402638
Web Site:

Embassy o Netherlands in Moscow, Russian Federation
Kalashny pereulok 6
131000 Moscow
City: Moscow
Phone: +7 495 7972900
Fax: +7 495 7972904
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherlands in Madrid, Spain
Avenida Comandante Franco, 32
28016 Madrid
City: Madrid
Phone: 91 353 75 00
Fax: 91 353 75 65
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden
Gotgatan 16A
P.O. Box 15048
104 65 Stockholm
City: Stockholm
Phone: (+46) (0)8 556 933 00
Fax: (+46) (0)8 556 933 11 (general)

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Bern, Switzerland
Seftigenstrasse 7
3007 Bern, Switzerland
City: Bern
Phone: +41-(0)31-350 87 00
Fax: + 41-(0)31-350 87 10
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherlands in Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Abou Roumaneh
Al-Jalaa Street
Imm Tello
City: Damascus
Phone: 00-963-11-3336871
Fax: 00-963-11-3339369

Embassy of Netherlands in Vatican
Piazza Della Citta Leonina 9/ II
00193 Rome
City: Vatican City
Phone: 00-39-06-6868044
Fax: 00-39-06-6879593

Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ankara, Turkey
Hollanda Caddesi 3
06550 Yildiz
Ankara, Turkey
City: Ankara
Phone: (0312) 409 18 00 visa: (0312) 409 18 20
Fax: (0312) 409 18 98
Web Site:

Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kyiv, Ukraine
Kontraktova Ploshcha 7
01901 Kyiv, Ukraine
City: Kyiv
Phone: +38 044 4908 200
Fax: +38 044 4908 209/267
Web Site:

Royal Embassy of Netherlands in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Hamdan Street
Al Masaood Tower
6th floor, Suite 602
P.O. box 46560
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
City: Abu Dhabi
Phone: (+971) 2- 6321920
Fax: (+971) 2- 6313158
Web Site:

Royal Netherlands Embassy in London, England (UK)
38 Hyde Park Gate
London SW7 5DP
England, UK
City: London
Phone: 0044-(0)20-75903200
Fax: 0044-(0)20-72250947
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherlands in Washington DC, U.S.A.
4200 Linnean Avenue, NW,
Washington DC 20008 – USA
City: Washington DC
Phone: (202) 244-5300
Fax: 202-362-3430
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherlands in Montevideo, Uruguay
Leyenda Patria 2880 2o. piso
11300 Montevideo
City: Montevideo
Phone: +598 – 2 – 711 2956
Fax: +598 – 2 – 711 3301
Web Site:

Embassy of Netherlands in Caracas, Venezuela
Edificio San Juan, Piso 9
Avenida San Juan Bosco
con 2a Transversal
Altamira, Caracas
City: Caracas
Phone: +58-(0)-212-276-9300
Fax: +58-(0)-212-276-9311
Web Site:
Contact info for the United States

Contact info for Great Britain

Contact info Internationally

/index.htm Contact info for the Internet challenged (easy links)       Selected areas in the United States….. all others can be found HERE

California (North)
Netherlands Consulate
San Mateo, CA
650-403-0073 (phone)
650-403-0075 (fax) (email)
Please call or e-mail us for an appointment.Jurisdiction: Consulate-General Los Angeles
Honorary Consulate: YES
Consul: Mr. Douglas J. Engmann
Vice Consul: Mr. Johan P. Snapper
California (South)
Los Angeles, CA
310-268-1598 (phone)
310-312-0989 (fax) (email)
Please call or e-mail us for an appointment.Jurisdiction: Consulate-General Los Angeles
Honorary Consulate: NO    

District of Columbia   Netherlands Embassy
Washington, DC
202-244-5300 (phone)
202-362-3430 (fax) (email)

Jurisdiction: Embassy Washington
Honorary Consulate: NO Illinois   Consulate-General Chicago
Chicago, IL
312-856-0110 (phone)
312-856-9218 (fax) (email)
Please call or e-mail us for an appointment.

Jurisdiction: Consulate-General Chicago
Honorary Consulate: NO       Massachusetts   Netherlands Consulate
Boston, MA
617-542-8452 (phone)
617-542-3304 (fax) (email)
Office hours are Monday – Friday from 10.00 am until 1.00 pm.

Jurisdiction: Consulate-General New York
Honorary Consulate: YES
Consul: Mr. Hans Gieskes       New York   Consulate-General
New York, NY
212-246-1429 (phone)
212-333-3603 (fax) (email)
Please call or e-mail us for an appointment.

Jurisdiction: Consulate-General New York
Honorary Consulate: NO

Selected areas in Great Britain …. all others can be found HERE Address:
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
38 Hyde Park Gate
London SW7 5DP
United Kingdom
tel.: 0044 (0)20 7590 3200
fax: 0044 (0)20 7225 0947.

Netherlands Consulate Manchester
Apex House
266 Moseley Road
Manchester M19 2LH
Tel: 0161 – 248 2390
Fax: 0161 – 248 2401

Israel and Palestine

Beit Oz, 13th floor
14 Abba Hillel Street
Ramat Gan 52506
Tel: +972 3 75 40 777
Fax: +972 3 75 40 748
E-mail :
The Representative Office in Palestine
Visiting Address:
12, Holanda Street
(off Nablus Road)
El-Bireh, Ramallah
Click here for a map of the location
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1899 Ramallah
P.O. Box 54706 Jerusalem
Tel.: 02-2406639 / 2409797
Fax: 02-2409638


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
‘Peace in our time on our terms’…..


Mr. Defamation himself…

Yup….. they are doing the best they could to defame one of the convoys planning a voyage to Gaza. Do they really think they can stop these determined, committed Human Rights Activists?/// Somehow I doubt that very much.

ADL seeks probe of group linked to Hamas

WASHINGTON (JTA) –The Anti-Defamation League is urging the Justice Department to investigate whether a U.S.-based group is raising money for Hamas.

Viva Palestina U.S. is a campaign modeled after a similar European initiative, led by British Parliament member George Galloway, that delivered money and a convoy of vehicles to Hamas representatives in Gaza in March. Galloway plans to lead a similar Viva Palestina U.S.-sponsored convoy next month, and he has been visiting the United States recently to publicize and raise funds for it.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, ADL said “it is not verifiable that this ‘committee’ will function independently of the Hamas leadership in Gaza, and Galloway — who plans to lead the American convoy — has already demonstrated his willingness to directly support Hamas.”

Viva Palestina U.S. organizers say they intend to adhere to U.S. law and will deliver the money raised to a reception committee of nongovernmental organizations in Gaza. Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.



Prisoner club: Israel uses electric shock torture against children

Palestinian Information Center


RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Palestinian prisoner club accused the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) of committing new crimes of corporal torture against children through giving them electric shocks and beating them severely.

The club said that Palestinian child Hamza Al-Za’aol, who was kidnapped on the fourth of May on a charge of throwing stones, told club lawyers that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) used electric shocks against him in Etzion prison while another child detained on the same day called Ismail Al-Za’aol said he was severely beaten especially in his broken leg.

The club revealed that the number of children kidnapped during the first quarter of 2009 rose to 443 prisoners after kidnapping 14 minors this year.

In another related context, the popular committee against torture said in a report issued Wednesday that the IOF troops and the Shin Bet security service deliberately tortured Palestinian detainees through handcuffing them in a painful manner contrary to international law.

The committee said that its report depended on 574 cases of arrest and interrogation during the last year and on testimonies collected from Israeli soldiers by the organization of breaking the silence that is concerned about reporting on IOF troops’ violations.



One of the issues sharply dividing Israelis and Palestinians is the so-called right of return to Israel by refugees from the 1948 war.

Most of the property they abandoned has been held by the Israeli government.

BTW….. the For Sale sign on the building featured is from a real estate company called REMAX….. A U.S. based company.

Watch your stolen home fly away…….


The Western media and Iran
Matthew Cassel

CNN and other Western media outlets have aired “unverified material” obtained from websites like Facebook and YouTube in their non-stop coverage of demonstrations in Iran.

Protestors, anywhere in the world, are extremely brave individuals whose reasons for demonstrating openly should be listened to and respected. Protest is democracy at work. However, too often, US and other Western-based media pick and choose which protests to cover and which to ignore completely.

The US media often celebrate themselves as the “freest and fairest” in the world, completely independent of a state unlike, for example, the media in Iran. Yet, an astute observer will notice that the US media generally choose stories and cover them in a way that play directly into the US’s global agenda.

Who decides whether or not a particular issue is “newsworthy?” One would think that this is the role of the media, to cover issues like conflict or rights abuses as they happen around the world. Although, it seems this isn’t the case. Most Western media appear to follow their government’s lead when focusing on different issues and then cover them in a way fitting with the government’s position, hence the complete domination of events in Iran in nearly every single Western media outlet and the overwhelmingly positive portrayal of the protestors and the opposition as just. The current case of Iran makes it clear that it is governments who are directing the media’s coverage, instead of the actual news organizations themselves.

There was also a noticeable shift in the US media’s coverage of foreign affairs after the attacks of 11 September 2001. Soon after, then President George Bush’s rule of “with us or against us” was applied to all, and media outlets and individuals critical of American foreign policy were immediately demonized and labeled “unpatriotic” or “anti-American.” To counter such charges, it became common for American television journalists to prove their patriotism and loyalty by wearing American-flag lapel pins.

These reasons explain why over recent weeks while the Iran elections were happening there has been virtually no coverage in most media of demonstrations numbering in the tens of thousands in Georgia or Peru. It has even been reported in Peru that dozens of persons have been killed during the protests, or “clashes” as they’ve also been labeled (since more than a dozen police have also been killed), more than the reported number killed in Iran.

Why are protests in Iran receiving more attention than those in other places? One logical explanation is that the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is a key ally of the US and NATO. Thus, the West and its media have remained largely silent about the opposition protests to not give them attention that would likely inspire the demonstrations to continue and grow, undoubtedly weakening the Saakashvili government.

Meanwhile, the situation in Latin America is particularly sensitive. Coverage of protests by indigenous groups and their supporters in Peru might further embolden these efforts and expose the unjust policies of recent Free Trade Agreements with the US and perhaps lead that country down a path like the increasingly popular governments of Venezuela or Bolivia. Of course, both nations are seen as “anti-American” for their critical positions regarding US intervention in Latin America.

However, Iran is different than both Georgia and Peru. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has probably overtaken Osama Bin Laden as the most hated individual in the US. Over the past several years, many officials in Washington have called for more aggressive actions to be taken against Iran. More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave US President Barack Obama an ultimatum that the US president better take care of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, or else Israel would. It’s no coincidence then that the protests in Iran are receiving around-the-clock media coverage and are also one of the only examples in recent years where US government officials have showed support for demonstrators like Obama did when he called on Iran to “stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.” They are certainly not the only protests that have been met with violent government repression.

For years, Palestinians have organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank. Each week protestors face the heavily-armed Israeli military and are beaten and shot at with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters, sometimes fatally. Yet, during his recent speech in Cairo to the Muslim world, Obama made no reference to these protests and instead called on Palestinians to “abandon violence” and adopt nonviolent means. Days after the speech a Palestinian was killed and a teenager wounded during the weekly protest, yet there has been no call by the US administration for Israel to “stop all violent and unjust actions” against the Palestinian people. And the media has followed and remained silent, even though covering the demonstrations would be as easy as a 30-minute drive from most Jerusalem-based news bureaus on any given Friday.

Furthermore, at the height of the Bush Administration’s call for “democracy” in the Middle East, an indigenous democratic movement arose in Egypt to challenge the corruption and failed economic policies of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Comprised of workers who organized unprecedented strikes for four years that grew in number with each successive rally, the demonstrations received little coverage in the US. An odd occurrence, considering the duration of the strikes and the size of the protests, which a number of observers believe had the potential to lead to something much bigger in Egypt, perhaps even a “revolution.” The lack of media coverage of these events can only be explained by the relationship between the US and Egypt. Mubarak, who has governed Egypt for nearly three decades, is often referred to as a dictator for his repression of opposition political figures and journalists critical of his government. Yet, he remains one of the most important US allies in the Middle East, so “violent and unjust actions” against Egyptians are tolerated by the West.

Similarly, during Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza this past winter, there were massive and unprecedented demonstrations across the Middle East in support of Palestinians in the besieged territory. Again, these received minor if any mention, likely because it challenged the media and Washington’s narrative that Israel was “fighting Hamas.”

Also in accordance with that narrative, there was scant footage broadcast in the Western media from inside Gaza. Similar to what Iran is doing now, Israel banned journalists from entering Gaza during the attacks. Despite this, there were large Arabic-language satellite stations like Al-Jazeera reporting from the ground with footage of nearly everything that was happening there.

When images were shown by CNN or its competitors, it was generally not true to the real horror faced by Palestinians in Gaza. I can’t recall seeing one video of one of the hundreds of children killed in Gaza shown in the US media. In contrast, two days ago CNN broadcasted footage of a woman who was shot and bleeding to death on a Tehran street. Most of these viral videos are taken on citizens’ mobile phones, and they even have a special logo that CNN has created for the “unverified material.”

But there is plenty of “verified material” showing violent images from the Middle East and many other places around the world in recent days, weeks, years that has never been shown. Videos and testimonials are readily available on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, waiting, indeed begging, for the US media to take notice. But coverage of certain places might contradict US foreign policy there, something much of the media are proving unwilling to do.

If the elections and demonstrations in Iran have revealed anything, it is that there are undeniably huge divisions that will greatly affect the future of the country. It’s the individual’s decision to choose which side he or she supports, if any. And it’s the responsibility of the media to be independent of the authorities and to present accurate information in context so that news consumers’ judgments will be informed and not made based off the foreign policy of Western governments.

A free and independent media is an essential part of any democracy, and something that the West is proving more and more that it lacks.

Matthew Cassel is Assistant Editor of The Electronic Intifada.



Hurry and watch this video before YouTube pulls it ‘off the shelf’….

Look carefully at the flags in this demo…. they are not the ones of today’s Iran…. they are from the days of the Shah…. America’s last official representative over there.

Is part of the ‘change’ we hear about getting the Shah’s son into power? Just the thought of that is revolting…. and not in a revolutionary sense.


This particular flag has not been used for 30 years. It is not like they were sitting in a warehouse someplace. SOMEBODY PAID TO HAVE ALL THESE PAHLAVI FLAGS MADE UP FOR THE PROTEST!

Thanks TO for publicising this

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