55 YEARS OF DREAMING

WE HAD A BEAUTIFUL DREAM …

… BUT IT TURNED INTO AN UGLY NIGHTMARE

It was 55 years ago today that Martin Luther King delivered his famous ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ at the Great March on Washington for Peace and Freedom. 

I was there along with a quarter of a million fellow Americans. It was the most gratifying day of my life as I was on the organising committee for that March the entire summer. To witness such a success was most rewarding. To hear the words of the great Dr. King, spoken live, were most encouraging. The last paragraph of his speech is the part that has stayed with me every day of my life since then…

“And when this happens, When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

‘DEEP IN MY HEART, I DO BELIEVE, WE SHALL OVERCOME ONE DAY.’

(From Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Concert (Clearwater Concert), Madison Square Garden, 5/3/09. Featuring: Pete Seeger, Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez, Toshi Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Billy Bragg, Keller Williams, Ani DiFranco, Ruby Dee, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New York City Labor Choir.)

BELLA CIAO URI AVNERY ~~ A TRUE FRIEND ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv.

The Gush Shalom founder was one of the first Israelis to actively seek a Palestinian state as a peaceful solution to the conflict: ‘The difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective’

Uri Avnery, Veteran Peace Activist and Among First Israelis to Meet Arafat, Dies at 94

Ofer Aderet

 

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv. A founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, Avnery was also one of the first Israelis to actively advocate for the establishment of a Palestinian state, more than 70 years ago.

As a youth he fought with the Irgun pre-state underground militia and later in life moved to the left of the political spectrum. He was also editor-in-chief of the iconic liberal weekly, Haolam Hazeh, for 40 years.

The eternal peace activist never shirked controversy and was involved in fateful events in the country’s history, some of which he documented and others he actively took part in shaping. But while Avnery’s supporters saw his ideas as groundbreaking, detractors denounced him as an enemy of the people.

Avnery asked to be cremated, for his archives to be donated to the National Library, and his money toward peace activism. He summarized his life by noting that while his ideals “won a resounding victory” theoretically, in practice they “were defeated politically.”

Avnery was born in Germany in 1923 as Helmut Ostermann. He grew up in Hannover as one of four offspring of a comfortable, bourgeois family. The family immigrated to British Mandatory Palestine in November 1933, a few months after Hitler rose to power. After a few months at Nahalal in the north, the family moved to Tel Aviv, where he lived until his death.

Avnery started his political career on the right side of the political map. He said that as a youth he admired Zeev Jabotinsky and saw himself as a Revisionist. In 1938, when he was 15, he joined the Irgun to fight the British forces “for the right to our own state,” as he put it. “I was convinced that we deserved independence, just like everyone else,” he recalled.

In an interview with Haaretz in April 2014, Avnery said of his activities with the Irgun: “I distributed leaflets [during a period when the Irgun killed many people], and as such I bear responsibility. The Irgun planted bombs in markets in Jaffa and in Haifa, which killed dozens of women and children, and I supported that.”

Vocation in life

In his Hebrew-language memoir “Optimi” (“Optimistic”), Avnery wrote that his service with the Irgun taught him political lessons for later on his career: “We were freedom fighters,” he wrote. “In my eyes, the British authorities were a terrorist organization. Back then, I learned that the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective.”

Three years later, he dropped out of the underground militia. “The Irgun’s war against the Arabs bothered me a great deal. I was very much opposed to their anti-Arab line,” he said. He later explained he believed that, just as the Jews had the right to a national life, “The Arabs in the country have the same right.”

His older brother, Werner, joined the British army at that time and committed suicide during his service. Afterward, Uri adopted the name “Avnery” as his surname for its resemblance to the name “Werner.”

From a young age, Avnery saw himself as a politician. As someone whose life had changed completely as a result of politics – Hitler’s rise to power in his homeland – he saw it as the most significant vocation in life.

Initially, Avnery favored the idea of a single state, one in which a new people would arise as a union of two peoples – the Arabs and the Hebrews. The idea was espoused by the movement he established in 1946 which was called Bama’avak (“The Struggle,” aka The Young Israel).

He believed at that time that the national Hebrew movement was a natural ally of the Arab nation, and advocated cooperation between both movements under a joint name. “This is an ideal built on a culture partnership of homeland and history,” he said.

Accordingly, Avnery was disappointed on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations ratified the UN Partition Plan. “I couldn’t accept the partition of the country. Tul Karm, Hebron and Nablus were my country,” he said, adding, “The joy over carving up the country into pieces angered me a great deal. I dreamed of a joint national movement based on a common love of the land.”

This ideal didn’t withstand the test of reality. During the War of Independence in 1948-49, he discovered that “the vision of joint life in the country had died.” He later said: “I was a peace activist before the war, but the war was existential – a matter of life and death.”

Avnery served in the “Samson Foxes” commando unit. He was seriously wounded during the final days of the war, while fighting in the Kiryat Gat region. The worldview he adhered to until his dying day was formed during the period in which he was hospitalized for his wounds. One of those beliefs was the two-state solution.

In his memoir he wrote: “The war totally convinced me there’s a Palestinian people, and that peace must be forged first and foremost with them. To achieve that goal, a Palestinian nation-state had to be established.”

In this sense, Avnery was a groundbreaker. “During that period, there weren’t even 10 people in the world who believed in that,” he declared. “But today, it’s a global consensus. Even Netanyahu – who doesn’t think of realizing it – has been forced to say he supports it,” he wrote, referring to the prime minister’s “two-state speech” at Bar-Ilan University in 2009.

Avnery published his impressions of the war in Haaretz and Haaretz’s evening paper, Yom, Yom, while the fighting raged. At the end of the war, he compiled them in his first book, “In the Fields of the Philistines, 1948,” which became a best seller and briefly made Avnery a national hero.

But he felt the book did not provide a full description of the war, so in 1950 he published a follow-up, “The Other Side of the Coin,” which described the war’s darker side. Its publication stirred outrage and turned Avnery from “a popular man to top of the list of hated people; from a beloved person to someone who smeared Israel’s name,” as he put it.

In 1949, at the young age of 25, Avnery was appointed chief editorial writer at Haaretz. He left soon after, though, citing political differences with the newspaper’s then-editor, Gershom Shoken.

In 1950, Avnery and his friends purchased the Haolam Hazeh weekly news magazine from its founder, Uri Cesari. Avnery became its editor-in-chief for the next 40 years, and under his stewardship Haolam Hazeh became antiestablishment, subversive, sensationalist and a consensus-breaker. It operated under the legendary slogan “Without Fear, Without Prejudice.”

Avnery expressed his worldview in a number of areas: Opposition to worship of the military; religious coercion; the absence of a democratic constitution; discrimination against ethnic groups; and David Ben-Gurion’s anti-Arab policy.

The weekly sought to crusade against establishment corruption. It published a list of hard-hitting investigative pieces and exposed public and political scandals. Then-Shin Bet security service head Isser Harel defined Avnery at the time as “Government Enemy No. 1.” Ben-Gurion dubbed the magazine “that certain weekly.”

Alongside its political and social agenda, Haolam Hazeh also dabbled in tabloid journalism, publishing trashy gossip stories and photographs of naked women. This combination was seen by many as a journalistic revolution, in terms of both writing style and the magazine’s approach. The weekly also proved controversial, with its editorial offices being bombed on several occasions and its archive completely destroyed following an arson attack in 1972.

Avnery received belated recognition for his journalistic endeavors in 2004 when he won the Sokolov lifetime achievement award.

Political movement

In addition to journalism, Avnery increasingly became more political. In 1965, after the Knesset passed a law against defamation – which Avnery saw as specifically targeting his news magazine – he established a radical protest movement called Haolam Hazeh – Koah Hadash (New Force).

The movement’s political platform incorporated the values of liberty, equality and peace. Avnery was elected to the Knesset on this platform in November 1969 and was reelected four years later. His parliamentary activities included tackling religious coercion, promoting civil marriage, denuclearizing the Middle East and gay rights.

In his eyes, his biggest political mistake was voting in favor of the unification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967. He subsequently explained his vote as an attempt to prevent the restoration of East Jerusalem to Jordanian rule, based on the hope of realizing a two-state solution and turning a united Jerusalem into the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

Avnery later returned to the Knesset in 1979 as a founding member of the Sheli party (aka Left Camp of Israel). In a speech that year in favor of ratifying the peace treaty with Egypt, he said: “They say we will have a small country, but there is no greater mistake than this. Peace doesn’t reduce the size of the country. It enlarges it exponentially. In another year, we’ll get in our cars and drive on the weekends to Cairo and Alexandria. Two days later, we’ll take the train to Damascus and Aleppo, we’ll fly to Algiers and Baghdad, we’ll sail to Casablanca and Sudan. When you wake up in the morning to the sight of the pyramids outside your hotel window, as happened to me, it will be like a dream. Is this a utopia? That word doesn’t frighten us.”

In his valedictory Knesset speech in 1981 (as he relinquished his seat to an Arab lawmaker), Avnery was the first lawmaker to present the Palestinian flag alongside the Israeli one. “Those who couldn’t believe yesterday that Sadat would ever speak here will not be able to believe that someday Yasser Arafat will speak here,” he said.

Avnery was one of the first Israelis to have contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He had his first contacts with an Arafat envoy in 1974, which led to his founding the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in December 1975.

In July 1982, at the height of the first Lebanon war, Avnery met with PLO chief Arafat in Beirut – the first time Israelis had met with the Palestinian leader. Avnery said at that meeting: “The fact that we are sitting here together in the middle of this terrible war is a sign that in the future our two peoples will find a solution to coexist. Palestinians and Israelis. I believe there will be a Palestinian state alongside Israel and both sides will live together in peace in two countries that, little by little, will develop good neighborly relations, and even better.”

Several cabinet members called for Avnery to be put on trial for high treason, but the attorney general decided no crime had been committed.
Avnery and Arafat met a dozen more times in the years that followed.

Human shield 

In 1993, months after then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin expelled hundreds of Islamic activists to Lebanon, Avnery established Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) – a movement that supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, making Jerusalem the capital of both countries and dismantling the settlements in Palestinian territory.

A year later, when Arafat returned to Gaza, he invited Avnery to his reception and sat alongside him on the podium. In 2003, during the second intifada, Avnery spent time at the presidential compound in Ramallah, operating as a “human shield” for Arafat – for fear Israel might attempt to assassinate him.

Avnery had many critics who opposed his politics and ideology. Extremists labeled him a traitor and slanderer of Israel. While editor of Haolam Hazeh, he was subjected to physical attacks and once had both his arms broken after being ambushed. In 1975, he was seriously wounded after an assailant stabbed him on his own doorstep.

Avnery, and many in his circle, admitted he had some difficulties when it came to people skills. A friend once said: “Avnery is disabled like Trumpeldor was. Trumpeldor lacked an arm; Avnery lacks feeling.” The activist wrote in his memoir: “There’s something wrong with my emotional relations with people. And the worst thing about it is, I don’t really care.”

He said he only ever told his wife, Rachel, he loved her when she was on her deathbed, and that he had never cried – not even during funerals for his comrades in arms. His rivals would delight in highlighting his deficiencies as expressed in his mother’s will. She left him no inheritance “since he didn’t take care of me and instead went to visit that murderer Yasser Arafat.”

Avnery published seven books and a vast number of articles in various publications, including in the pages of Haaretz. “Optimist” was published around the time of his 90th birthday. “I feel like an imposter,” he said at an event marking his birthday. “Someone wrote by mistake that I’m 90 – I feel half that age.”

Avnery ended his life with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he was convinced he had turned his political ideas – first and foremost his support for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel – into a “global consensus.” On the other, he admitted he had failed to realize these ideas politically. “Life goes on, the struggle continues. Tomorrow is a new day,” he wrote on the last page of his memoir.

His wife, Rachel, a teacher and ideological partner, died in 2011. They were partners for 58 years and chose not to have any children.

RECENTLY DISCOVERED NORMAN ROCKWELL PAINTING

This is a Norman Rockwell painting called Murder in Mississippi. It depicts the final moments in the lives of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights workers killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan 53 years ago this summer for registering people to vote. That’s not ancient history. It’s not even history. It’s current events.

Harry Belafonte These Three Are On My Mind

EYEWITNESS TO ISRAELI TERROR

Eyewitness onboard boat to Gaza says Israeli forces beat passengers and stole thousands of dollars, antibiotics during raid

Dr. Swee Ang is a medical doctor and was a passenger onboard the al-Awda, a ship headed to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla. The Israeli navy commandeered the vessel on July 29, 2018.

The last leg of the journey of al-Awda (the boat of return) was scheduled to reach Gaza on 29 July 2018. We were on target to reach Gaza that evening. There are 22 on board including crew with $15,000 of antibiotics and bandages for Gaza. At 12.31 p.m. we received a missed call from a number beginning with +81… Mikkel was steering the boat at that time. The phone rang again with the message that we were trespassing into Israeli waters. Mikkel replied that we were in International waters and had right of innocent passage according to maritime laws. The accusation of trespassing was repeated again and again with Mikkel repeating the message that we were sailing in international waters. This carried on for about half an hour, while al-Awda was 42 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza.

Dr. Swee Ang. (Photo: Blizard Institute
Queen Mary University of London)

Prior to the beginning of this last leg, we had spent two days learning non-violent actions and had prepared ourselves in anticipation of Israeli invasion of our boat. Vulnerable individuals especially those with medical conditions were to sit at the rear of the top deck with their hands on the deck table. The leader of this group was Gerd, a 75-year-old elite Norwegian athlete and she had the help of Lucia, a Spanish nurse in her group.

The people who were to provide non-violent barrier to the Israelis coming on deck and taking over the boat formed three rows – two rows of threes and the third row of two persons blocking the wheel house door to protect the wheel house for as long as possible. There were runners between the wheel house and the rear of the deck. The leader of the boat Zohar and I were at the two ends of the toilets corridor where we looked out at the horizon and inform all of any sightings of armed boats. I laughed at Zohar and said we are the Toilet Brigade, but I think Zohar did not find it very funny. It was probably bad taste under the circumstances. I also would be able to help as a runner and will have accessibility to all parts of the deck in view of being the doctor on board.

Soon we saw at least three large Israeli warships on the horizon with five or more speed boats (Zodiacs) zooming towards us. As the Zodiacs approached I saw that they carried soldiers with machine guns and there was on board the boats large machine guns mounted on a stand pointing at our boat. From my lookout point the first Israeli soldier climbed on board to the cabin level and climbed up the boat ladder to the top deck. His face was masked with a white cloth and following him were many others, all masked. They were all armed with machine guns and small cameras on their chests.

They immediately made to the wheel house overcoming the first row by twisting the arms of the participants, lifting Sarah up and throwing her away. Joergen the chef was large to be manhandled so he was tasered before being lifted up. They attacked the second row by picking on Emelia the Spanish nurse and removed her thus breaking the line. They then approach the door of the wheel house and tasered Charlie the first mate and Mike Treen who were obstructing their entry to the wheel house. Charlie was beaten up as well. Mike did not give way with being tasered in his lower limbs so he was tasered in his neck and face. Later on I saw bleeding on the left side of Mike’s face. He was semi-conscious when I examined him.

They broke into the wheel house by cutting the lock, forced the engine to be switched off and took down the Palestine flag before taking down the Norwegian flag and trampling on it.

They then cleared all people from the front half of the boat around the wheel house and moved them by force and coercion, throwing them to the rear of the deck. All were forced to sit on the floor at the back, except Gerd, Lucy and the vulnerable people who were seated around the table on wooden benches around her. Israeli soldiers then formed a line sealing off people from the back and preventing them from coming to the front of the boat again.

As we entered the back of the deck we were all body searched and ordered to surrender our mobile phones or else they will take it by force. This part of search and confiscation was under the command of a woman soldier. Apart from mobile phones – medicines and wallets were also removed. No one as of today (4 August 2018) got our mobile phones back.

I went to examine Mike and Charlie. Charlie had recovered consciousness and his wrists were tied together with plastic cable ties. Mike was bleeding from the side of his face, still not fully conscious. His hands were very tightly tied together with cable ties and the circulation to his fingers was cut off and his fingers and palm were beginning to swell. At this stage the entire people seated on the floor shouted demanding that the cable ties be cut. It was about half an hour later before the ties were finally cut off from both of them.

Around this time Charlie the first mate received the Norwegian flag. He was visibly upset telling all of us that the Norwegian flag had been trampled on. Charlie reacted more to the trampling of the Norwegian flag than to his own being beaten and tasered.

The soldiers then started asking for the captain of the boat. The boys then started to reply that they were all the captain. Eventually the Israelis figured out that Herman was the captain and demanded to take him to the wheel house. Herman asked for someone to come with him, and I offered to do so. But as we approached the wheel house, I was pushed away and Herman forced into the wheel house on his own. Divina, the well known Swedish singer, had meanwhile broken free from the back and went to the front to look through the window of the wheel house. She started to shout and cry “Stop –stop they are beating Herman, they are hurting him”.  We could not see what Divina saw, but knew that it was something very disturbing. Later on, when Divina and I were sharing a prison cell, she told me they were throwing Herman against the wall of the wheel house and punching his chest. Divina was forcibly removed and her neck was twisted by the soldiers who took her back to the rear of the deck.

I was pushed back to the rear of the boat again. After a while the boat engine started. I was told later by Gerd who was able to hear Herman tell the story to the Norwegian Consul in prison that the Israelis wanted Herman to start the engine, and threatened to kill him if he would not do so. But what they did not understand was that with this boat, once the engine stopped it can only be restarted manually in the engine room in the cabin level below. Arne the engineer refused to restart the engine, so the Israelis brought Herman down and hit him in front of Arne making it clear that they will continue to hit Herman if Arne would not start the engine. Arne is 70 years old, and when he saw Herman’s face went ash color, he gave in and started the engine manually. Gerd broke into tears when she was narrating this part of the story. The Israelis then took charge of the boat and drove it to Ashdod.

Once the boat was on course, the Israeli soldiers brought Herman to the medical desk. I looked at Herman and saw that he was in great pain, silent but conscious, breathing spontaneously but shallow breathing. The Israeli Army doctor was trying to persuade Herman to take some medicine for pain. Herman was refusing the medicine. The Israeli doctor explained to me that what he was offering Herman was not army medicine but his personal medicine. He gave me the medicine from his hand so that I could check it. It was a small brown glass bottle and I figured that it was some kind of liquid morphine preparation probably the equivalent of Oramorph or Fentanyl. I asked Herman to take it and the doctor asked him to take 12 drops after which Herman was carried off and slumped on a mattress at the back of the deck. He was watched over by people around him and fell asleep. From my station I saw he was breathing better.

With Herman settled I concentrated on Larry Commodore, the Native American leader and an environmental activist. He had been voted Chief of his tribe twice. Larry has labile asthma and with the stress all around my fear was that he might get a nasty attack, and needed adrenaline injection. I was taking Larry through deep breathing exercises. However Larry was not heading for an asthmatic attack, but was engaging an Israeli who covered his face with a black cloth in conversation. This man was obviously in charge.

I asked for the Israeli man with black mask his name and he called himself Field Marshall Ro…..Larry misheard him and jumped to conclusion that he called himself Field Marshall Rommel and shouted how can he an Israeli take a Nazi name. Field Marshall objected and introduced himself as Field Marshall ? Ronan. As I spelt out Ronan he quickly corrected me that his name is Ronen, and he Field Marshall Ronen was in charge.

The Israeli soldiers all wore body cameras and were filming us all the time. A box of sandwiches and pears were brought on deck for us. None of us took any of their food as we had decided we do not accept Israeli hypocrisy and charity. Our chef Joergen had already prepared high calorie high protein delicious brownie with nuts and chocolate, wrapped up in tin foil to be consume when captured, as we know it was going to be a long day and night. Joergen called it food for the journey. Unfortunately when I needed it most, the Israelis took away my food and threw it away. They just told me ”It is forbidden” I had nothing to eat for 24 hours, refusing Israeli Army food and had no food of my own.

As we sailed towards Israel we could see the coast of Gaza in total darkness. There were three drilling rigs in the northern sea of Gaza. The brightly burning oil flames contrasted with the total darkness the owners of the fuel were forced to live in. Just off the shore of Gaza are the largest deposit of natural gas ever discovered and the natural gas belonging to the Palestinians were already being siphoned off by Israel.

As we approached Israel, Zohar our boat leader suggested that we should start saying goodbye to each other. We were probably two to three hours from Ashdod. We thanked our boat leader, our captain, the crew, our dear chef, and encouraged each other that we will continue to do all we can to free Gaza and also bring justice to Palestine. Herman our Captain, who managed to sit up now, gave a most moving talk and some of us were in tears.

We knew that in Ashdod there will be the Israeli media and film crews. We will not enter Ashdod as a people who had lost hope as we were taken captive. So we came off the boat chanting “Free Free Palestine” all the way as we came off. Mike Treen the union man had by then recovered from his heavy tasering and led the chanting with his mega-voice and we filled the night sky of Israel with Free Free Palestine as we approached. We did this the whole way down the boat into Ashdod.

We came directly into a closed military zone in Ashdod. It was a sealed off area with many stations. It was specially prepared for the 22 of us. It began with a security x-ray area. I did not realize they retained my money belt as I came out of the x-ray station. The next station was strip search, and it was when I was gathering up my belongings after being stripped when I realized my money belt was no longer with me. I knew I had about a couple hundred Euros and they were trying to steal it. I demanded its return and refused to leave the station until it was produced. I was shouting for the first time. I was glad I did that as some other people were parted from their cash. The journalist from Al Jazeera, Abdu,l had all his credit cards and $1,800 taken from him, as well as his watch, satellite phone, his personal mobile, his ID. He thought his possessions were kept with his passport but when he was released for deportation he learnt bitterly that he only got his passport back. All cash and valuables were never found. They simply vanished.

We were passed from station to station in this closed military zone, stripped searched several times, possessions taken away until in the end all we had was the clothes we were wearing with nothing else except a wrist band with a number on it.  All shoe laces were removed as well. Some of us were given receipts for items taken away, but I had no receipts for anything. We were photographed several times and saw two doctors. At this point I learnt that Larry was pushed down the gangway and injured his foot and sent off to Israeli hospital for check-up. His blood was on the floor.

I was cold and hungry, wearing only one teeshirt and pants by the time they were through with me. My food was taken away; water was taken away, all belongings including reading glasses taken away. My bladder was about to explode but I am not allowed to go to the toilet. In this state I was brought out to two vehicles – Black Maria painted gray. On the ground next to it were a great heap of rucksacks and suit cases. I found mine and was horrified that they had broken into my baggage and took almost everything from it – all clothes clean and dirty, my camera, my second mobile, my books, my Bible, all the medicines I brought for the participants and myself, my toiletries. The suitcase was partially broken. My rucksacks was completely empty too. I got back two empty cases except for two dirty large man size teeshirts which obviously belonged to someone else. They also left my Freedom Flotilla T-shirt. I figured out that they did not steal the Flotilla tee as they thought no Israeli would want to wear that tee in Israel. They had not met Zohar and Yonatan who were proudly wearing theirs. That was a shock as I was not expecting the Israeli Army to be petty thieves as well. So what had become the glorious Israeli Army of the Six Day War which the world so admired?

I was still not allowed to go to the toilet, but was pushed into the Maria van, joined by Lucia the Spanish nurse and after some wait taken to Givon Prison. I could feel myself shivering uncontrollably on the journey.

The first thing our guards did in Givon Prison was to order me to go to the toilet to relieve myself. It was interesting to see that they knew I needed to go desperately but had prevented me for hours to! By the time we were re-x-rayed and searched again it must be about 5 to 6 a.m.. Lucia and I were then put in a cell where Gerd, Divina, Sarah and Emelia were already asleep. There were three double decker bunk beds – all rusty and dusty.

Divina did not get the proper dose of her medicines; Lucia was refused her own medicine and given an Israeli substitute which she refused to take. Divina and Emelia went straight on to hunger strike. The jailers were very hostile using simple things like refusal of toilet paper and constant slamming of the prison iron door, keeping the light of the cell permanently on, and forcing us to drink rusty water from the tap, screaming and shouting at us constantly to vent their anger at us.

The guards addressed me as “China” and treated me with utter contempt. On the morning of 30 July 2018, the British Vice Consul visited me. Some kind person had called them about my whereabouts. That was a blessing as after that I was called “England” and there was a massive improvement in the way England was treated compared to the way China was treated. It crossed my mind that “Palestine” would be trampled over, and probably killed.

Charlie Andreasson@Andreasson_C

We failed, we never reached Gaza. Once again Israel showed its ugly face and by force boarded our ship on international waters and stole our private belongings like watches, money, credit cards, driving licenses, etc. Once again we got to know what it’s like to be Palestinians

At 6.30 a.m. 31 July 2018, we heard Larry yelling from the men’s cell across the corridor that he needed a doctor. He was obviously in great pain and crying. We women responded by asking the wardens to allow me to go across to see Larry as I might be able to help. We shouted “We have a doctor” and used our metal spoons to hit the iron cell gate get their attention. They lied and said their doctor will be over in an hour. We did not believe them and started again. The doctor actually turned up at 4 p.m., about 10 hours later and Larry was sent straight to hospital.

Meanwhile to punish the women for supporting Larry’s demand, they brought hand cuffs for Sarah and took Divina and me to another cell to separate us from the rest. We were told we were not going to be allowed out for our 30 minutes fresh air break and a drink of clean water in the yard. I heard Gerd saying “Big deal”

Suddenly Divina was taken out with me to the courtyard and Divina given four cigarettes at which point she broke down and cried. Divina had worked long hours at the wheel house steering the boat. She had seen what happened to Herman. The prison had refused to give her one of her medicines and given her only half the dose of the other. She was still on hunger strike to protest our kidnapping in international waters. It was heart-breaking to see Divina cry. One of the wardens who called himself Michael started talking to us about how he will have to protect his family against those who want to drive the Israelis out. And how the Palestinians did not want to live in peace…and it was not Israel’s fault. But things suddenly changed with the arrival of an Israeli Judge and we were all treated with some decency even though he only saw a few of us personally. His job was to tell us that a tribunal will be convened the following day and each prisoner had been allocated a time to appear, and we must have our lawyer with us when we appear.

Divina by the end of the day became very giddy and very unwell so I persuaded her to come out of hunger strike, and also she agreed to sign a deportation order. Shortly after that possibly at 6 p.m. since we had no watches and mobile phones, we were told Lucia, Joergen, Herman, Arne, Abdul from Al Jazeera and I would be deported within 24 hours and we would be taken to be imprisoned in the deportation prison in Ramle near Ben-Gurion airport immediately to wait there. It was going to be the same Ramle Prison from which I was deported in 2014. I saw the same five strong old palm trees still standing up proud and tall. They are the only survivors of the Palestinian village destroyed in 1948.

When we arrived at Ramle prison Abdul found to his horror that he his money, his credit cards, his watch, his satellite phone, his own mobile phone, his  ID card were all missing – he was entirely destitute. We had a whip round and raised around a hundred Euros as a contribution towards his taxi fare from the airport to home. How can the Israeli Army be so corrupt and heartless to rob someone of everything?

Conclusion:

We, the six women on board al-Awda had learnt that they tried to completely humiliate and dehumanize us in every way possible. We were also shocked at the behaviour of the Israeli Army especially petty theft and their treatment of international women prisoners. Men jailors regularly entered the women’s cell without giving us decent notice to put our clothes on.

They also tried to remind us of our vulnerability at every stage. We know they would have preferred to kill us but of course the publicity incurred in so doing might be unfavourable to the international image of Israel.

If we were Palestinians it would be much worse with physical assaults and probably loss of lives. The situation is therefore dire for the Palestinians.

As to international waters, it looks as though there is no such thing for the Israeli Navy. They can hijack and abduct boats and persons in international water and get away with it. They acted as though they own the Mediterranean Sea. They can abduct any boat and kidnap any passengers, put them in prison and criminalise them.

We cannot accept this. We have to speak up, stand up against this lawlessness, oppression and brutality. We were completely unarmed. Our only crime according to them is we are friends of the Palestinians and wanted to bring medical aid to them. We wanted to brave the military blockade to do this. This is not a crime. In the week we were sailing to Gaza, they had shot dead seven Palestinians and wounded more than 90 with life bullets in Gaza. They had further shut down fuel and food to Gaza. Two million Palestinians in Gaza live without clean water, with only two to four hours of electricity, in homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, in a prison blockaded by land, air and sea for 12 years. The hospitals of Gaza since the 30 March had treated more than 9,071 wounded persons, 4,348 shot by live fire from a hundred Israeli snipers while they were mounting peaceful demonstrations inside the borders of Gaza on their own land. Most of the gun-shot wounds were to the lower limbs and with depleted treatment facilities the limbs will suffer amputation. In this period more than 164 Palestinians had been shot dead by the same snipers, including medics and journalists, children and women. The chronic military blockade of Gaza has depleted the hospitals of all surgical and medical supplies. This massive attack on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla bringing friends and some medical relief is an attempt to crush all hope for Gaza. As I write I learnt that our sister Flotilla, Freedom, has also been kidnapped by the Israeli Navy while in international waters.

BUT we will not stop, we must continue to be strong to bring hope and justice to the Palestinians and be prepared to pay the price, and to be worthy of the Palestinians. As long as I survive I will exist to resist.  To do less will be a crime.

PIRACY … OVER AND OVER AGAIN … WESTERN SILENCE OVER AND OVER AGAIN

On Friday Israel attacked a Swedish yacht, in int’l waters exercising right of ‘innocent passage’ taking medical supplies to Gaza. All 12 people aboard kidnapped & illegally detained in Israel. Demand they be released to continue their journey.

Image by Latuff

Still little news of 12 people attacked & detained. Read account of 69yr old UK doctor, founder of re her similar experience when Israeli navy last week attacked . Their dehumanising experiences highlight what Palestinians face daily.

UPDATE ...

A second Gaza Flotilla boat named Freedom was hijacked by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) navy in international waters.  Freedom is sailing under a Swedish flag and its passengers and crew are from a number of nations. 

The whereabouts of the kidnapped participants is unknown.

Many boats in the past have been captured, however this should not be seen as normal. It is still violent and illegal. 

With your support the Freedom Flotilla will continue until the blockade ends and Palestinians of Gaza regain their full freedom of movement. Some people are doubling the size of their checks and sending them in for next year.

If you want to take action to protect the members of Freemom and future boats, you can contact the United Nations or the respective government officials from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States: https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/news/sos-just-future-for-palestine

 

Here’s an eyewitness account of the last hijacking …

The psychotic tenderness of being boarded by the Israeli navy at sea

 Yonatan Shapira

Yonatan Shapira was aboard the Al Awda boat in the Gaza Freedom flotilla when it was stopped in international waters by Israeli sailors three days ago and all on board arrested. His Facebook report in Hebrew was translated by Ofer Neiman, with the headline, “Israeli citizen and Palestine solidarity activist Yonatan Shapira on Israel’s dirty attack on the peaceful Gaza flotilla: יונתן שפירא מדווח מהמשט – עברית להלן” That translation follows.

So just as the IDF Spokesperson said: “The overtaking of the Al-Awda ship was carried out without violence and without exceptional events”.

And indeed, everything was as usual –

They slammed Herman the captain’s head against the wall again and again while threatening to take him to the ship’s belly and finish him off when no one is watching.

A fist in the face of Arne Birge the old mechanic.

And the finest tradition: Electric shocks. This time we wore life vests of the type that covers the chest well. But don’t worry, the brave naval commando combatants just electrocuted [Tasered] Charlie, the first officer, in his head. And more electric shocks to Juergen the cook and to 60 year old Mike, a chair of a trade union and a human rights activist from New Zealand.

But at the same time, things were done with a kind of psychotic tenderness.

Like in a strange play, soldiers (men and women) with weapons and vests packed with munitions and personal cameras, but wearing white shirts with the national flag embroidered in a shiny blue color and wearing white masks on their faces. Last time it was all-black.

And let’s keep in mind: Had we been Gazan fishermen or children approaching the Gaza fence, they could have simply put a bullet in the head of each of us and that’s it.

The IDF Attorney unit has also confirmed that that there’s no need for an investigation.

A MESSAGE FROM ROGER WATERS

No updates available yet on the fate of those ‘captured’ by the Israeli pirates

Gaza bound with cargo of medicine. Godspeed our hearts are with you.

You MUST join the protests to end the illegal siege on Gaza!

2nd GROUP OF YOUNG JEWS REALISE WHAT ‘BIRTHRIGHT’ REALLY MEANS

Another group of young American Jews just walked off their Birthright trip, to meet with a Palestinian family and see the reality of the Occupation for themselves, a reality Birthright actively hides

8 left-wing activists stage 2nd Birthright walkout in less than a month

Participants affiliated with IfNotNow leave trip four days early to meet with Palestinian family whose home is slated for demolition in East Jerusalem

Birthright has refused to show us the truth about the occupation’s impact on Palestinians, instead asking us to visit a site operated by a far-right settlement organization. We’ve decided instead to go meet with the Sumarin family, a family that has lived in East Jerusalem under threat of eviction for years to learn from them and hear their story.

More HERE on FacBook page

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And HERE on Twitter

I C E NOT WELCOME IN NEW YORK

Waiting for global warming to melt  I C E

New York City played host to the biggest ever gathering of homeland security officials and private security corporations. They will be coming from all over the country to plot how they can place even more of our hermanxs in cages and concentration camps — and how they can continue to profit at all of our expense.

Say it loud, and say it clear: ICE is not welcome here!

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ THE FEARLESS WOMEN OF WALL STREET

Our group wanted to do something in solidarity with the Gaza Women’s March yesterday so decided to spend a few hours with the Fearless Girl statue – our Ahed – at Bowling Green because there are so many tourists there – maximum exposure.  We do this once or twice a month and there is always a very positive reaction.    

Some people respond to the little statue very affectionately with hugs, yesterday she got a kiss (from an adult).  It seems we actually manage to create the Ahed connection among some visitors.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

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ROGER WATERS PLAYS MUNICH DESPITE MUNICIPAL OPPOSITION

Roger Waters plays Munich despite mayor’s effort to stop concert over his support for BDS

I believe all people, all of us, all of our brothers and sisters, all of our fragile globe, whatever their ethnicity or religion or nationality, deserve the same basic human rights under the law,” Roger Waters told the crowd at a Munich concert last week. 

Waters performed in Munich following a campaign to cancel his concert backed by the city’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, who accused Waters of anti-Semitism. An attorney for Waters asked Reiter to retract his statement, according to the Jerusalem Post, and Waters addressed the row himself from the stage at Munich’s Olympic Hall and later posted to social media. The musician explained that the mayor was championing a petition that alleged Waters is anti-Semitic because he endorses the Palestinian movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

Munich passed a law last year that prohibits the use of public facilities to persons who support the BDS movement.

Here’s the video of Waters in Munich:

Dieter Reiter, the Mayor of Munich, has issued a press release denouncing me as anti-Semitic.

The Mayor claims I make increasingly hateful anti-Semitic remarks.

I stand for human rights...

MONTH OF PRIDE FOR BDS

First, they were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Now this;

Argentina’s Soccer Association cancels the friendly soccer match between Argentina and “Israel”, planned to be held in occupied Jerusalem soon, in response to BDS 

Image by Carlos Latuff

Argentina cancels football friendly with Israel in Jerusalem

The match was expected to be played at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem which was once home to a Palestinian village.

Argentina‘s national football team has cancelled an upcoming friendly match with Israel, Argentine news sources reported.

Argentinian sports website Minutouno reported on Tuesday that Saturday’s game in Jerusalem had been “suspended” amid an “escalation of violence, threats and criticism” directed at captain ‘Leo’ Messi.

Argentina, a major contender to win the World Cupthis summer, has made four previous pre-World Cup visits to Israel since 1986.

The fixture between the two teams was set to be played in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on June 9, which is built on land that was once a Palestinian village that was destroyed in 1948.

Israeli media reported that in light of this latest development, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak to his Argentinian counterpart Mauricio Macri by telephone.

The ambassador of Palestine in Argentina, Husni Abdel Wahed, had expressed his opposition to the friendly.

“This match would be similar to us celebrating … the occupation of Malvinas,” he told Radio Cooperativa on Tuesday, referring to the Falkland Islands.

Abdel Wahed went on to say that the match was part of the celebrations of Israel’s 70th anniversary since its establishment in 1948, after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their villages and lands by Zionist paramilitaries.

“For us, it is unacceptable to hold this game in Jerusalem because it is occupied territory, and it is painful to see that the team, which has the love and support of so many Palestinians and Arab citizens, support the violation of international law,” he said.

‘Nothing friendly about military occupation ‘

Last month, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement launched a campaign urging Argentina to pull out of the fixture.

“There is nothing ‘friendly’ about military occupation and apartheid,” the movement said, which calls for an end to the occupation of Palestine, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and equal rights for Palestinians citizens of Israel.

“Don’t play Israel until Palestinians’ human rights are respected.”

BDS criticised the fixture as “political”, and accused Israeli officials of using it to cover up attacks on Palestinians “on and off the field”.

As part of the campaign, Mohammed Khalil, a Palestinian footballer, directed a message towards Argentina’s beloved forward Lionel Messi.

“I call on the Argentinian team and especially captain Lionel Messi – because he is very popular in Palestine, particularly in the Gaza Strip – to stand in solidarity with Palestinians and to boycott the scheduled game with Israel, which is occupying our land,” Khalil said.

Khalil was shot by Israeli snipers on March 30, during the first Friday protests of Palestinians demonstrating east of Gaza, demanding their right to return.

He was shot in both of his legs, and one of his kneecaps had to be removed, putting an end to his footballing career.

Earlier this week, the head of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) Jibril Rajoub slammed the friendly as being opposite “a game of peace”.

“The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem,” Rajoub said.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS REMEMBER THE NAKBA

70 Years and counting ….

Nakba Day, 70 years, memorial demo, 5/18,  at Times Sq. NYC . According to Al Jezeera 800 people attended.


Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Related report from Al Jazeera (Click on link)

Far away from Gaza, a showdown in NYC’s Times Square

Hundreds protest in New York City in solidarity with Palestinians after another week of bloodshed in the Gaza Strip.

NEW VIDEO …. BDS, NOW MORE THAN EVER

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IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ IN GAZA THE BIRDS FLY FREE

Palestinian protesters free pigeons with messages across the fence in Gaza.

Photo By Yasser Fathi a freelance photographer from Gaza

JEWS ON THE MARCH FOR GAZA ~~ LIVE BROADCAST

Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City headed to Senator Chuck Schumer’s office telling him to break his silence on Gaza. Palestinians should be free!!

WEEK 4 OF THE GREAT MARCH IN GAZA ~~ ON VIDEO

Nice overview of the Great Return March in Gaza

Palestinians continue their 4th week of protest at the Israeli border with Gaza. Four people were killed.

HOW TO PISS OFF THE FAR RIGHT IN ISRAEL

DesertPeace and Associates congratulates David Grossman on his receipt of the Israel Prize for 2018

While people can think and say what they like, not everyone deserves to be awarded the Israel Prize. It is not surprising when a Leftist writer rages against Israel at every opportunity and speaks disparagingly about Israel’s moral bankruptcy all over the world, but if a Rightest government in Israel  awards and praises him for it, that’s even more tragic.

David Grossman speaking at the Alternative Memorial Day event in Tel Aviv, April 17, 2018. credit Ofer Vaknin

Anti-Israel Prize

While people can think and say what they like, not everyone deserves to be awarded the Israel Prize.

This year, the Israel Prize for Literature was awarded to David Grossman, one of the heralded novelists of the Left, who has a long reputation for speaking out against the “occupation” of Palestinian land, against the “settlers’ and the “settlements”, and against the ideological decay and dying morality of the Israeli majority.

In the past, after the Gaza War, Grossman demanded an inquiry to investigate the IDF, Tzahal, which led to the infamous anti-Israel Goldstone Report. After the Flotilla Affair, he accused the IDF of acting like a “brigade of pirates.” When Tzahal was sent to clean out terrorist havens in Judea and Samaria, Grossman drove off to assist Palestinians with their olive harvest.

On Memorial Day, as a bereaved father whose son, sadly, was killed in the Second Lebanon War, he spoke in Tel Aviv at a controversial gathering of Arabs and Israelis who had lost children in battle. Among the Arabs were family members of terrorists. The Israel Defense Minister attempted to thwart the event, calling it a blatant affront to the feelings of the country on the Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims, but the Supreme Court insisted that the gathering be allowed.

Here are some excerpts from Grossman’s speech, as reported by the newspaper, Haaretz:

“Finally, we have come home. But when Israel occupies and oppresses another nation, for 51 years, and creates an apartheid reality in the occupied territories — it becomes a lot less of a home.

“And when Minister of Defense Lieberman decides to prevent peace-loving Palestinians from attending a gathering like ours, Israel is less of a home.

“When Israeli snipers kill dozens of Palestinian protesters, most of them civilians — Israel is less of a home.

“And when the Israeli government attempts to improvise questionable deals with Uganda and Rwanda, and is willing to endanger the lives of thousands of asylum seekers and expel them to the unknown — to me, it is less of a home.

“And when the Prime Minister defames and incites against human rights organizations, and when he is looking for ways to enact laws that bypass the High Court of Justice, and when democracy and the courts are constantly challenged, Israel becomes even a little less of a home —for everyone… It is a dysfunctional home.

“The people and organizations who are here today, Especially the Family Forum and Combatants for Peace, and many more like them, are perhaps the ones who contribute most to making Israel a home, in the fullest sense of the word.”

While people can think and say what they like, not everyone deserves to be awarded the Israel Prize. It is not surprising when a Leftist writer rages against Israel at every opportunity and speaks disparagingly about Israel’s moral bankruptcy all over the world, but if a Rightest government in Israel  awards and praises him for it, that’s even more tragic. Announcing that Grossman was this year’s recipient, Israel’s Education Minister, Naftali Bennet, declared:

“In his novels, books, essays, documentary writing, in his extensive creations for children, he presented a series of masterpieces that excel in rich imagination, deep wisdom, human sensitivity, a poignant moral stand and a unique and resonant language.”

Bennett defended giving the Israel Prize to a writer known for his opposition to the “settlements” and his support for European boycotts of products produced by the settlers, saying he has no regrets over his decision to award Grossman the acclaimed award.

The Israel Prize committee stated: “Since the early 1980s, David Grossman has taken his place at the center of Israeli culture, and he is one of the most profound, moving and influential voices in our literature… David Grossman is one of the most famous, admired and beloved Israeli writers in the world.”

Grossman is beloved around the world because of his unquestionable literary talent, but does this love also stem from his harsh and never-ending criticism of Israel?

Fortunately, we have the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, which awards its prizes on a far healthier basis, to builders of the Nation and not to its detractors.

Here is Grossman’s speech (Click on link)

‘Israel Is a Fortress, but Not Yet a Home’: David Grossman’s Memorial Day Speech to Bereaved Israelis and Palestinians

HOW CAN I SUPPORT THAT?

URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT for all young Jews!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile in New York …..

THESE ARE   FOTOS FRM THE ANTI-ADELSTEIN & ANTI- ZIONIST BIRTHRIGHT PROGRAM EVENT ON 4/15.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Related article ~~ Click on post

Dozens of American Jews arrested protesting Gaza violence

From Boston to San Francisco, young activists from IfNotNow demonstrate outside the offices of prominent Jewish institutions and senators, demanding they condemn Israel’s violence against Gaza protesters.

IN PHOTOS ~~ MULTI DEMOS IN NEW YORK

 DEMO @ UNION SQ. IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE RIGHT OF RETURN MARCH

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And another demo against ‘Agent Orange’

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THE HIGHEST FLAG IN THE WORLD

Jarah, a 22-year-old Palestine refugee cancer survivor and amputee, climbs Mount Everest Base Camp to save his UNRWA school in Jordan

When he was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 15, he didn’t give up.

When his right leg was amputated, he didn’t give up.

When 9 of the 11 climbers were medevaced, he didn’t give up.

When it dropped to -14 Celsius and he couldn’t feel his face, he didn’t give up.
Jarah reached Everest Base Camp on Saturday, April 14 because he never gave up.

And to mark 17,500 steps up Mt. Everest, he raised a flag.

He raised a flag to help refugees like him have the chance to get a quality UNRWA education.

He raised a flag to show fellow cancer survivors and amputees that nothing is impossible.

He raised a flag to show solidarity with 5 million Palestine refugees.

Weather permitting, Jarah will be climbing down the mountain over the course of the next week.

For live updates, follow #MyFirstStep as well as his personal posts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

 

Show Jarah that you’re willing to take your own step to save his UNRWA school and others like it.

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