IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ MOURNING WITH THE FANS OF BRAZIL

Image by Carlos Latuff

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BELLA CIAO FIDEL

Images by Carlos Latuff

Comandante Fidel Castro

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Remember these?

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Bella Ciao with much love and admiration

TRUMP ~~ UNIFIER EXTRAORDINAIRE

What you are about to witness is historic; it is the will of the people to act collectively and in the service of the public good.

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Thank you Mr. Trump, the unifier

IN PHOTOS ~~ IMMIGRANT SOLIDARITY DAY

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On IMMIGRANT SOLIDARITY DAY, 11/13, thousands of New York City’s citizens poured into the  street in front of Trump’s International Hotel singing and chanting with an anger and a militancy that resounded off the walls of the hotel.

“ No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here”

“Muslim rights are human rights”

“F**k white supremacy”

“This is what democracy looks like”

“Black lives matter”

“Queer and proud”

“Women’s rights are human rights”

 

 They marched through the streets on route to Trump Towers on 5th Avenue.   Thousands of people filled the street from curb to curb. All traffic was stopped. The demonstrators turned on 5th Avenue to  pass Trump Towers where they would inform Trump of their resistance to his bigotry.   Police barricades were set up to prevent the thousands from reaching Trump Towers.  The demonstration was organized by immigrant rights groups. Nonimmigrant allies joined them in solidarity. This demonstration was one of many, involving thousands of people throughout the United States on a daily basis .

Photos and commentary © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ TRUMP SUCCEEDS IN UNITING THE COUNTRY — AGAINST HIMSELF

‘Not Our President’: Protests Spread After Donald Trump’s Election

Thousands of people across the country marched, shut down highways, burned effigies and shouted angry slogans on Wednesday night to protest the election of Donald J. Trump as president. (Full article HERE)

Here are photos from the protest in New York

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS (THAT THE MEDIA DOES NOT WANT YOU TO SEE) ~~ STILL STANDING WITH STANDING ROCK

Demos continue in New York City in support of Standing Rock Sioux … here are photos from the latest ones that the mass media deemed unfit to cover

 

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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TOON AND PHOTO OF THE HOUR ~~TRUMP’S VICTORY

Image by Carlos Latuff

Trump shocks the world. What comes next?

Trump shocks the world. What comes next?

Meanwhile, from cell block 101 …

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SOLIDARITY WITH STANDING ROCK GOING VIRAL ~~ NY DEMO IN PHOTOS

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“Street by street, block by block, New York stands with Standing Rock.”

 

Early this morning a group of about 200 people, most youngish, gathered at Grand Central Station in NYC to express solidarity with the Native American people and their allies who are fighting against a pipeline being installed on their ancestral land.  Not only are sacred sites being destroyed but a rupture in the line threatens their only source of clean water.  Thousands of Native Americans and those allied with them, which includes aboriginal people from all over the globe, have been non-violently resisting for several weeks now.  They have been attacked and bitten by guard dogs, shot with rubber bullets and other projectiles, maced, gassed, tased, hit and arrested.  Still, more people arrive at their encampment.  In honor of their ancestors and their children they are standing their ground.

The demonstrators remained at Grand Central Station for about an hour with their chants, signs,  banners, and a simulated flowing stream made of blue fabric.  Then they walked along 42nd St. to the huge Bank of America Tower where they filled the lobby and spoke of the role of the banks which are funding the pipeline for financial gain but are jeopardizing the lives of the people living along it’s path as well as the ecology of the whole earth.

Everyday groups are announcing their support for the Sioux Nation and their stand at Standing Rock.  Support is coming from many human rights groups and aboriginal groups.  The Palestinian flag is flying among the tents and teepees at the encampment.  Now labor groups have joined in.  Black Lives Matter and the Dream Defenders have made strong statements of solidarity, as has Jewish Voice for Peace.   Environmental groups are joining in also.  While this struggle is being led by Native Americans many have come to realize that all of humanity has a stake in this fight and working together we are strong.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer ~~ Commentary by Chippy Dee

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‘THE FROZEN CHOSEN’ ~~ A JEWISH STATE IN ALASKA

The novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union should come with a large, bold warning label affixed to the outside cover, like those labels on cigarette packs. WARNING: READ WITH CAUTION IF YOU ACTUALLY LIVE UNDER A JEWISH ISRAELI MILITARY OCCUPATION.

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“THE FROZEN CHOSEN”

SAM BAHOUR
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A Jewish state in Alaska (still) results in the burning of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon should have known better than to gift me his novel. Michael visited our home in Palestine this past summer and after spending the day giving him a tour of the Palestinian cities of Al-Bireh and Ramallah (central West Bank) and Nablus (northern West Bank) we settled down, along with Palestinian writer Fida Jiryis, for dinner at Darna Restaurant, located in the heart of historic Ramallah. By the time dinner was over, not only had we learned about this author’s amazing professional career and life journey, but he casually mentioned a note about this novel that he wrote back in 2007 that was based on a real historic fact in U.S. politics related to the issue of Palestine and Israel. I was puzzled and asked if he was joking. He wasn’t. I’m sure it showed that I was embarrassed to have never heard of this fact, given I’m rather well read on the topic. Before parting, he passed me a copy of the novel as a thank you gift.
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I must make a confession here. Reading fiction does not come easy for me. I guess, while living under a military occupation, there is too much non-fiction pounding at our lives to allow us to get happily lost in fiction. Reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union may have changed that. No wonder this novel received a ton of awards; it takes fiction to new levels. Not only does Michael have a truly amazing command of the English language (proof being that my dictionary accompanied me in turning each of the 414 pages), but it turns out his Yiddish is not so bad too. Add to that a true historic premise to base his plot on, and linking the story to a few themes that are alive and well, albeit repulsive (think murder, racism, substance abuse, and more) in today’s real world, and what comes to life is something that you’ll be reflecting on long after the book takes its well-earned place on your bookshelf.
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When I was about half way through the novel, a New York Times article came across my desk that made me burst out laughing. The article was titled, How Do You Say ‘Email’ in Yiddish?, by Joseph Berger (Oct. 4, 2016). It was about a new 826-page Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary published in June by Indiana University Press. How’s that for synchronicity? Given every other word in Chabon’s novel that I was looking up was not in my English dictionary—because it was Yiddish—I almost wrote the New York Times to tell them that they missed mentioning a major contributor to keeping Yiddish alive, the novel I was reading.
I must say Michael is a bold writer. If The Yiddish Policemen’s Union was written by a non-Jew, it could well have marked the end of the author’s career, if not worse. But coming from a Jewish-American, a member of the tribe, if you will, he can take readers where others would not dream of going. He does this with an all-so-delicate balancing act that would afford him a lifetime membership with the Palestinian Circus School.
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The historic U.S. political fact that took me off balance was, as I have come to learn, the very real 1940 Slattery Report, officially titled The Problem of Alaskan Development, which was produced by the United States Department of the Interior under Secretary Harold L. Ickes in 1939–40. It was named after Undersecretary of the Interior, Harry A. Slattery. The report recommended the provision of land in Alaska for the temporary refugee settlement of European Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis during World War II.
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Ickes proposed the use of Alaska as a “haven for Jewish refugees from Germany and other areas in Europe where the Jews are subjected to oppressive restrictions.” The plan was introduced as a bill by Senator William King (Utah) and Democratic Representative Franck Havenner (California), both Democrats. The Alaska bill won the support of theologian Paul Tillich, widely regarded as one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century, the Federal Council of Churches, and the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers). The plan was dealt a severe blow when Franklin Roosevelt told Ickes that he insisted on limiting the number of refugees to 10,000 a year for five years, and with a further restriction that Jews make up not more than 10% of the refugees. Roosevelt never mentioned the Alaska proposal in public, and without his support the plan died. (Reference Jewish Standard)
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This is where Michael leaves reality behind.
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A Wikipedia entry summaries the setting concisely, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is set in an alternative history version of the present day. The premise is that, contrary to real history, the United States voted to implement the 1940 Slattery Report […]. The novel’s divergence point from real history is revealed in the first dozen chapters to be the death of Anthony Dimond, Alaska Territory delegate to the U.S. Congress, in a car accident; Dimond was one of the congressmen responsible for preventing a vote on the report. It imagines a temporary independent Jewish settlement being created on the Alaskan coast.”
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The New York Times published a book review of the novel titled, The Frozen Chosen, by Patricia Cohen (April 29, 2007). You will understand why the New York Times and I both use this same title (although my use of capitalization is more accurate) after you read the book and if you have any knowledge of the real Israel. Cohen writes that Chabon attempts to answer the questions, “What if Jews had poured into a frigid island instead of the Middle Eastern desert, and the state of Israel had never been created? What if the small settlement of Sitka had grown into a teeming Jewish homeland, a land not of milk and honey but of salmon and lumber?”
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The Jews in the novel who settled in the Alaskan city, Sitka, are anxious throughout the novel because the “Reversion” is nearing. The “Reversion” is the date when the orderly return of Sitka back to the State of Alaska is supposed to take place.
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The Wikipedia entry continues, “In the novel, the State of Israel is founded in 1948, but is destroyed after only three months in an alternative version of the Arab-Israeli War. Without Israel, Palestine is described as a mosaic of contending religious and secular nationalist groups locked in internecine conflict; Jerusalem is described as “a city of blood and slogans painted on the wall, severed heads on telephone poles.” The United States president believes in “divine sanction” for neo-Zionism, a movement seeking for Jews to reclaim Israel once again.”
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All this while the main character, Yiddish policeman Meyer Landsman, seeks to resolve several murder investigations, and he and his partner stumble upon a paramilitary group that wants to build a new Temple in Jerusalem after destroying the Dome of the Rock, hoping to speed the birth of the Messiah. An evangelical Christian Zionist American government supports the group. As the novel nears the end, news reports are heard of the Dome of the Rock being bombed.
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Chabon writes these words which made me stop to rethink if I was reading fiction or the daily news, “…they [U.S. Government] think the idea of a bunch of crazy yids running around Arab Palestine, blowing up shrines and following Messiahs and starting World War Three is a really good idea.” Elsewhere, Meyer Landsman contemplates the meaning of a “promised land” by saying, “I don’t care what is written. I don’t care what supposedly got promised to some sandal-wearing idiot whose claim to fame is that he was ready to cut his own son’s throat for the sake of a hare-brained idea.”
Now, why should this novel come with a warning label? Because between the seriousness of the political premise, the gut-wrenching humor, the community involved, the concept of a collective return of land as even being imaginable, the real, day to day stories—love, death, addiction, work, relationships, etc.—interspersed, and the burning of the Dome of Rock, which already happened once in reality and is being threatened again these days, it’s just too much for a person living under an actual Jewish (or so believed)-inspired military occupation to handle.
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After coming away from the book feeling that my mind had just come out of a washing machine, I recalled this poster that I found a while back:
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Thanks, Michael! I truly enjoyed this read. We are all looking forward to your and Ayelet Waldman’s upcoming book, Kingdom of Olives and Ash, from Harper Collins Publishing, addressing 50 years of the very real Israeli military occupation of Palestinians. The dozen or so award-winning, world-class authors contributing to this upcoming book will offer a sincere cry from the mountain top for this human-made tragedy called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to come to an end. Unlike in your novel, we Palestinians do not seek Reversion; we seek peace based on justice and equality for all, in a land not divided by walls, fences and checkpoints, but whose people are joined in harmony.
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Written FOR

60th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF PALESTINE

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

The Almighty Military Order

Forty-eight civilians, 1 fetus and 10 pennies

By Sam Bahour

If your Palestinian neighbors and friends seem slightly on edge today, please excuse them. October 29th brings back horrific memories to Palestinians everywhere, young and old. It was 60 years ago today that a scene of cold-blooded murder fell upon the hill-top Palestinian village of Kafr Qassem (also written Kfar Kassim), located in Israel about 20 km east of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line (1949 Armistice Agreement’s demarcation line) separating Israel and the West Bank. It was in Kafr Qassem on this day in 1956 where the Israeli military literally mowed down in cold blood 48 innocent civilians, one being a pregnant woman whose fetus is counted as the 49th victim. It was said that all of this was done in the service of the almighty Israeli “military order,” which no one dared to challenge.

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

There were other massacres prior to Kafr Qasssem, such as the case of Deir Yassin in 1948. Since that dark day in Kafr Qassem there have been numerous other incidents, too many to list. One that comes to mind is 13-year old Iman al-Homs who, in October 2004, was walking home from school in Gaza when an Israeli soldier emptied his magazine into her after she was wounded and lay on the ground. The soldier was caught on radio communications saying he was “confirming the kill.” The most recent example that comes to mind is the Israeli soldier caught on camera in Hebron this past March as he executed a wounded and immobilized Palestinian man lying on the ground by firing a bullet into his head as his fellow soldiers casually watched on.

Unlike today, decades ago Israel did undertake more serious investigations of actions of its military. This is not to say that justice was ever served—it rarely is. Such a landmark investigation was the Israeli Kahan Commission, established by the Israeli government on September 28, 1982, to investigate the Sabra and Shatila massacre (September 16–18, 1982) where 1,000-3,000 (exact number is disputed) Palestinians were slaughtered over three days.

The Kahan Commission was chaired by the Israeli President of the Supreme Court, Yitzhak Kahan. Its other two members were Israeli Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak and Major general (res.) Yona Efrat. The Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was found to bear personal responsibility. Sharon’s negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control, resulted in a recommendation that Sharon be dismissed as Defense Minister. Although Sharon grudgingly resigned as Defense Minister, he remained in the Cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio. Years later, Sharon would be elected Israel’s Prime Minister.

Back to Kafr Qassem.

The Israeli English newspaper, Haaretz, reported in a story by correspondent Ofer Aderet (60 years after massacre, Kafr Qasem doesn’t want an apology from the Israeli government, October 28, 2016) that, “In the 60 years since the [Kafr Qasem] carnage Israel’s attitude has been complicated. Those involved in it were court martialed, convicted and some sentenced at first to long prison terms [these “long terms” were less than what the law stipulated for premeditated murder]. [Israeli] Judge Benjamin Halevy coined the phrase “a blatantly illegal order” in his verdict. The instruction to Israel Defense Forces soldiers that they are obliged to refuse an order “that has a black flag flying over it” has become part of the Kafr Qasem legacy.”

The Haaretz story goes on, “But the convicted parties’ sentence was soon commuted by the chief of staff, they were pardoned by the president and released from jail. The most senior defendant, Col. Issachar Shadmi, commander of the brigade in charge of the area, was sentenced to a symbolic fine of 10 pennies for exceeding authority. Major Shmuel Malinki, commander of the Border Patrol battalion, testified at the trial that Shadmi had ordered him to enforce the curfew with gunshots. Asked what would happen to those who return to the village after the curfew, Kedmi said Shadmi had said “may God have mercy on their soul.””

And maybe most shocking of all coming from an Israeli newspaper is that, “The comparison between the Kafr Qasem massacre and the Holocaust was first made at the trial, when the [Israeli] judge asked one of the defendants if he would have justified a Nazi soldier who was obeying orders.” The Haaretz correspondent continues, “In 1986, 30 years after the massacre, Shalom Ofer, one of the convicted soldiers, said in an interview to Ha’ir: “We were like the Germans. They stopped trucks, took the Jews off and shot them. What we did is the same. We were obeying orders like a German soldier during the war, when he was ordered to slaughter Jews.””

Many, especially those in the Jewish community in Israel and abroad, will rightfully find the above words hard to swallow. I don’t blame them. This horrendous act was revolting and when undertaken in “your” name it makes one sick to their stomach.

Aderet’s article offers but a glimpse into the legal proceedings surrounding Kafr Qassem. One of the first people to document those proceedings wasattorney Sabri Jiryis in his landmark book, The Arabs in Israel, published in Haifa in Hebrew in 1966. A fuller account of the testimonies recorded by the Israeli commanders and soldiers who took part in this killing spree can be found printed here [with the author’s permission] in English. Warning: it’s a disturbing read.

And this, my friends, is the buried past and not so buried present, of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), “the most moral army in the world.” It is imperative that we all redouble our efforts to not make it its future as well, military order or not.

 

Originally posted AT

Related Post (Click on link)

Commemorating Kafr Qasim Massacre at its 60th Anniversary

FACING LIFE IN PALESTINE ~~ A POEM

A wonderful and touching poem about facing life in Palestine by Mazin Qumsiyeh

IN PHOTOS ~~ PROTESTING U.S. MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM [THAAD] IN SOUTH KOREA

Over one hundred people gathered in Manhattan’s Korean business on October 21st to protest  the American missile “defense” system [THAAD] in South Korea.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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A POEM OF RESISTANCE FROM AND FOR PALESTINE

During travels, one gets little sleep and much time to catch-up on
emails, read, grade student papers, and even to think and reflect.
Last week in Palestine was very hectic, harvest of olives, teachings,
meeting with bureaucrats, research, mentoring students, receiving many
international and local delegations plus many local ones including
students from 4 schools) and much thus meaning a second night with
little sleep. We also lost a close friend of us and of Palestine:
Vincenzo Tradardi of Parma. We will really miss him. Other setbacks
happen daily but we are gratified by the goodness of people around us.
Volunteers, staff, students, and dedicated activists for peace and
justice. Most are struggling to grow amid the madness. I really do not
like to travel and I already miss Palestine where I feel much more
alive than anywhere else on earth. The poem below is written in
reflection.


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The Struggle Within

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Facing life’s challenges and insecurity
The heart yearns for serenity

How can we ignore the oppressor’s meanness
And simply understand his weakness

With so much deception
What is to change perception?

We struggle to see the positives
Even as we are flooded with negatives

A child hungers amid flies and vultures
While billionaires invest in ventures

Zionists steal our lands
And profit from our raised hands

Tossing and turning in their dreary night
Their biggest fear is truth coming to light

The corrupt rule in Ramallah
The weak put faith in Allah

Within you feed the good wolf more
If you do not want the bad one to score

Does the struggle within have winners
Or is it only in the case of the sinners?

The righteous are also struggling
Their caring hardly a blessing

In darkness, creating, and sheltering light
Is not a life of ease or of delight

burden hard to carry in sickness or in health
the (good) struggle goes on till the last breath

“joyful participation in the sorrows of world”
Buddhists had it right – participation a key word

From good will and good deeds
We are counseled that joy springs seeds

We are advised to take time
To appreciate the sublime

For us Palestinians, it is harder to reason
After decades of colonization and treason

though words easy to say, we still struggle to understand
and even harder to plan: How we continue to withstand?

How we have resilience
How we create persistence

Perhaps what sustains us is goodness all around
And the beauty of this hallowed ground

Perhaps we see divine in all of us
not just Palestinian baby Jesus

we see it in birds singing early mornings
even bats hunting insects evenings

we see it in poor honest unemployed
in families and children when joyed

we see it in smiles and stretched hands
in the rythm of seasons in ancient lands

we see it in memories of Karameh victory
and all those who are symbols of bravery

we see it in forgotten graves of massacred
and in the hunger strikes of the incarcerated

we see it in a smile of dabka girls who carry genes
of their ancestral Canaanitic queens

we hear it in the rhythm of tabla and oud *
 the call of the athan**, church bells, and even silent sumoud

we smell it aroma of tabboun za’atar ***
taste it apricots, guava, figs, and loz akhdar****

we taste it in zibda baladiya***** with mountain honey
and in herbal medicines curing the worst agony

Countless generations passed in the arms of mother Palestine
babies from Issa to the Ahmed of maddonnas divine

Our clock will end soon and we are no more
As we join all those departed who struggled before

We bequeeth to our children beauty and burden
Thoughts pass as the plants leave their seeds in the garden

the secret to life is love and suffer grandfather told us
yet, the dust of billions of forgotten ancestors remind us

as we breathe it and eat it that we mortals must have humility
and that humility added to struggle and love equals serenity

the old country song says: in the end matters only kindness
this old country man says: humility and love can conquer our madness

*tabla and oud: eastern musical instruments corresponding to drum and guitar
**athan: muslim call to prayer
***tabboun za’atar: bread of traditional kiln with thyme
****loz akhdar: green almonds
*****Zibda baladiya: A country butter made from goat milk

CARTOONS OF THE DAY ~~ COLD WAR IN SYRIA AND DEMOCRACY IN TURKEY

Images by Carlos Latuff

The "Cold War" in Syria

The “Cold War” in Syria

 

Meanwhile in Turkey ….

Democracy? InTurkey? Turkish govt threats Twitter with legal actions due one of my cartoons about Erdogan and ISIS, published in 2015.

Democracy? InTurkey?
Turkish govt threats Twitter with legal actions due one of my cartoons about Erdogan and ISIS, published in 2015.

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The cartoon in question

This is the cartoon that Sultan Erdogan doesn't want you to see, making pressure onTwitter to remove it from social media.

This is the cartoon that Sultan Erdogan doesn’t want you to see, making pressure on Twitter to remove it from social media.

IN PHOTOS ~~ DECOLONIZING COLUMBUS DAY

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Columbus Day Oct 10, 2016 NYC

On this day the U.S. “celebrates” Columbus’s venture to the Western hemisphere in 1492. NYC celebrated with a parade down 5th Avenue, but there was another event taking place this day at the American Museum of Natural History. It was a peaceful “ANTI-COLUMBUS DAY TOUR” at the Museum.  It did not receive the publicity of the parade, but three hundred+ people came to the museum to protest the racist nature of Columbus’s venture and the ravaging of the indigenous peoples of the Americas in the centuries to come.

The participants demanded the Museum be “DECOLONIZED” and Columbus Day be renamed “INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S DAY”. They also demanded the removal of the  equestrian statue of the racist President Theodore Roosevelt fronting the main entrance to the museum. They demanded that artifacts of the indigenous peoples be returned to them.

The museum’s administration had been alerted to this event and did not place obstacles. The tour visited various exhibits and speakers were critical of the museum remaining “frozen in time, bound by nineteenth-century racial classifications that designated human populations as ‘primitive’ or ‘civilized’…”.

At the end of the tour participants gathered in front of the Roosevelt statue as the statue was completely covered to emphasize their demand to remove the statue.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer ~~ Commentary by Chippy Dee

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More of the leaflets …

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ROBERT De NIRO TO TRUMP ~~ “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?”

Image by Carlos Latuff

"You Talkin' to Me?"

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Hollywood icon Robert De Niro has a message for Donald Trump, and he’s not mincing words.

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The above is

NOT

  to be taken as a DesertPeace endorsement of Hillary Clinton!

There IS an alternative!!

Photo © by Bud Korotzer

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Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? None of the Above!

Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? None of the Above!

PALESTINIAN UNIVERSITIES FIGHTING A BATTLE ON TWO FRONTS

Palestinian universities are fighting an uphill battle on two fronts, one being the Israeli military occupation, and more recently, the other being the Palestinian government. Although each poses two very different sets of challenges, one outcome is clear. If immediate and decisive intervention is not forthcoming, the structural damage that will set back entire generations of Palestinian students will haunt Palestine’s developmental capabilities for many years to come. That is, if the damage has not already been inflicted.

On display at the Bethlehem Museum, the abacusis a simple, but yet piercing piece of art reflecting what Palestinian kids aregoing through under military occupation. Palestinian Artist Rana Bishara fromTarshiha in the Western Galilee. (October, 2016) Printed with permission ofartist.

On display at the Bethlehem Museum, the abacusis a simple, but yet piercing piece of art reflecting what Palestinian kids aregoing through under military occupation. Palestinian Artist Rana Bishara fromTarshiha in the Western Galilee. (October, 2016) Printed with permission of artist.

Palestinian Universities on the Frontline

By Sam Bahour

Palestinian universities are fighting an uphill battle on two fronts, one being the Israeli military occupation, and more recently, the other being the Palestinian government. Although each poses two very different sets of challenges, one outcome is clear. If immediate and decisive intervention is not forthcoming, the structural damage that will set back entire generations of Palestinian students will haunt Palestine’s developmental capabilities for many years to come. That is, if the damage has not already been inflicted.

Prolonged Israeli military occupation of Palestine (West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip) has caused a staggering amount of damage to the Palestinian society at large. Much of this damage is visible to the naked eye, such as land grabs, settlements, walls, fences, checkpoints, demolished airports, and bombed-out buildings, just to name a few. However, the more serious and long-term damage is hidden from view. I call it the administratively applied part of the Israeli military occupation. These invisible aspects of the occupation comprise issues such as the infamous permit system, the limiting and prohibiting of access to the electromagnetic spectrum, confiscation of water resources, severely limiting Palestinians’ access to water, and importation restrictions. The list is long.

These are the elements of occupation you cannot capture in a photo. One of the key elements Israel has routinely sought to attack is Palestine’s education system. The Israeli fixation on blocking Palestinian education is not new.

When Israel was yet in its formative years, it introduced an office of the advisor to the [Israeli] prime minister on Arab affairs. As quoted in Atty. Sabri Jiryis’ landmark book, “The Arabs in Israel” (1976), one of the most racist persons to hold this position was Uri Lubrani (1960-1963). Lubrani stated in a lecture, “It very probably would be better if there were no Arab university students. It probably would be easier to govern them if they continued to work as wood cutters and waiters.” It seems this desire has not faded away.

Earlier this month, Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, a Palestinian research group which recently became affiliated with Birzeit University, held its 22ndAnnual Conference titled, “The Complex Challenges Facing Palestinian Universities: Is There a Way Out?” The conference was held at Birzeit University on September 30 and October 1, 2016. The Muwatin Conference came on the heels of a provocative student strike at Birzeit University, which witnessed a handful of students forcibly chain closed the gates of the university, totally paralyzing the university for nearly a month and delaying the start of the school year. There is no indication that the situation has stabilized to prohibit the students (or teachers’/workers’ unions) from undertaking future disruptive labor action. The backdrop of this strike made the Muwatin Conference even more timely.

The conference brought together an impressive audience of senior academics, education administrators, including several current and past university presidents, private sector concerns, and Palestinian government officials, including the current Minister of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Sabri Saidam, as well as several ex-ministers. The panels hosted some of the top Palestinian thinkers on higher education.

One panel, Higher Education: Continuation or Start Over?, offered an historical overview of the young Palestinian higher education sector. Another panel, Where Does Higher Education Stand in Palestine?, grappled with the need to educate for the sake of education, as well as to educate to serve a productive labor market, one that is extremely distressed by prolonged occupation. Other panels were titled Self-Restricting Constraints on Higher Education, University Economics and Country Economics, Higher Education Under Occupation, The Regulatory Framework for Higher Education, and Higher Education and State Building. Having listened attentively to them all, the overarching messages were loud and clear: our higher education system remains in the crosshairs of the Israeli occupation, and the Palestinian government, with its deep financial constraints and lack of legislative oversight, is unable to stop the imminent damage on its own.

From the Israeli side, the damage to the higher education sector is systemic. Physical targeting of university facilities, as was the case at the Islamic University in the Gaza Strip, and frequent incursions on to campuses, as was recently the case at the Palestine Technical University (Kadoorie) located in Tulkarm and Birzeit University near Ramallah, have brought material damage and disruption to university operations. Additionally, the heavy restrictions Israel has placed on Palestinians’ movement and access have forced universities to be established near the students, bringing the total number of universities to 15 for a population of 4.8 million with over 220,000 university students, with three new private universities in the pipeline. This forced geographic fragmenting of our community is not only draining material resources, but it is cannibalizing the shrinking pool of qualified university professors, especially those holding PhDs. Just last month, Israel denied entry into the country to UK-based scholar Dr. Adam Hanieh, who was invited by the Ph.D. Program in the Social Sciences at Birzeit University to deliver a series of lectures at the university. He is not the first case of an academic being denied access. The number of Israeli restrictions and disruptions is too long to list here.

On the side of the Palestinian government, the criticism was pointed. The inability of the government to meet its financial commitments to universities was highlighted by almost every panelist, especially given the over 40 percent budget allocation that goes toward security. Another alarming issue brought up by many was the issue that the Palestinian security forces have “infiltrated” the universities and are seen as hindering the academic freedoms students expect. This criticism was exacerbated by the fact that, as of late, the Palestinian security forces have arrested and interrogated many student activists.

The Muwatin Conference distributed a booklet titled, “Higher Education in Palestine…Beyond the Figures!!!” I think the three explanation points in the booklet’s title speak for themselves. Nevertheless, reading the set of statistics presented, from the rising unemployment rates, to the declining interest in sciences, to the inability of the labor market to absorb the nearly 40,000 annual graduates, it becomes apparent that the situation is reaching a tipping point and the spillover, when it occurs, will not remain confined behind campus walls.

It was refreshing, albeit depressing, to hear the case made by Dr. Samia Botmeh, Assistant Professor of Economics at Birzeit University, about the negative effect that neo-liberalism is having on Palestine’s higher education system. She made a convincing argument that higher education cannot merely be reduced to providing job skills to serve a market (something she called the “productization” of education), but rather must be viewed from a much broader societal vantage point where a higher education is instilling a set of values and skills to produce a life-long learner who has the ability to assume his or her role in society, be it in serving a business, engaging a philosophical dilemma, producing music, or being a homemaker.

One missing aspect of the conference that I have interest in was how to utilize our diaspora, academics and non-academics, to support the higher education of Palestinians, as well as Palestinian higher education institutes. A week before the conference, my consulting firm launched a Linkedin Group, Academic Network for Palestine (ANPs), to start to collect in one location those Palestinian academics and non-Palestinian academics who are in solidarity with Palestine to discuss ways to support the sector.

Ironically, as I was writing this article, my 11th-grade daughter, Nadine, came to me with her laptop in hand. She enthusiastically wanted me to watch something. It was this, THE PEOPLE VS THE SCHOOL SYSTEM, a YouTube clip by American rapper, spoken word artist, music video director and rights activist from St Louis, Missouri, Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince EA. Nadine’s timing was spot on.

Palestine’s challenge is huge. As this video clip by Prince EA so eloquently articulates, we must deal with the same mega-challenges that the entire world is dealing with, the only difference is we must do so while the oppressive boot of Israeli military occupation is pressing on our necks. Ignoring desperately needed reforms and freedoms in Palestine’s education system levies a heavy price on students and the society at large. As Palestinian educators struggle to survive, our Israeli occupier is laughing all the way to the next settlement hilltop.

Originally appeared AT

IN PHOTOS ~~ 15 YEARS OF WAR IN AFGHANISTAN — A NOT SO HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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TIMELY TOONS ~~GAZA REMEMBERS SHIMON PERES ~~ NOBEL ‘PEACE’ LAUREATE

For those of you with the gall to call Shimon Peres a ‘peace maker’ You all have no idea what peace is – clearly.

Images by Carlos Latuff

The way Shimon Peres will be remembered

The way Shimon Peres will be remembered

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Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in Gaza, 2009

Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in Gaza, 2009

The Three Faces of Eve Evil

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Related article FROM

He was seen abroad as an urbane diplomat but at home often as an ego-driven manipulator in domestic politics who eroded his party’s identity out of a thirst for cabinet posts after election losses to Likud.

Shimon Peres Won Plaudits and Nobel Prize — but Goal of Peace Eluded Him

Shimon Peres, who died on Wednesday at the age of 93, never realized his vision of a new Middle East built upon a 1993 interim peace deal he helped shape with the Palestinians.

But Israel’s elder statesman won world acclaim and a Nobel prize as a symbol of hope in a region long plagued by war fueled by deep religious and political divisions.

Peres was hospitalized following a stroke two weeks ago and his condition had improved before a sudden deterioration on Tuesday, doctors said. In announcing his passing, family members said that he did not suffer pain, and as a last act after death, he donated his corneas for transplant.

“Don’t forget to be daring and curious and to dream big,” Peres urged first-graders at the start of the school year in a posting on his Facebook page earlier this month. The comment seemed to sum up his own credo.

In a career spanning nearly seven decades, Peres, once a shepherd on a kibbutz, or communal farm, served in a dozen cabinets and twice as Labour Party prime minister, but he never won a general election outright in five tries from 1977 to 1996.

“I am a loser. I lost elections. But I am a winner — I served my people,” Peres, who held the largely ceremonial post of president from 2007-2014, once said in a speech.

He shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Israel’s late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for a 1993 accord that they and their successors failed to turn into a durable treaty.

When a far-right Jewish Israeli opposed to the peace deal assassinated Rabin in November 1995, the torch passed to Peres.

But Palestinian suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis and an aggressive campaign by Likud battered Peres’s rating and he lost the 1996 election to Benjamin Netanyahu by less than 30,000 votes.

In 2000, the failure of final-status peace talks with the Palestinians and the eruption of a Palestinian uprising rife with suicide bombings further damaged Israel’s left and Peres’s leadership prospects.

In 2005, Peres left the Labour Party to join then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s new party, Kadima, which had spearheaded Israel’s unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip earlier that year. Following Kadima’s 2006 election victory, Peres served as vice prime minister.

FOUNDING FATHERS

Born in 1923 in what is now Belarus, Peres immigrated to British-ruled Palestine with his family a decade later.

Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion groomed him for leadership. He oversaw arms purchases and manpower in the Hagana, the Zionist fighting force, before Israel’s establishment.

Peres is widely seen as having gained nuclear capabilities for Israel by procuring the secret Dimona reactor from France while defense ministry director-general in the 1950s.

As defense minister he oversaw the dramatic 1976 Israeli rescue of hijacked Israelis at Entebbe airport in Uganda.

Peres was popular in his first term as prime minister in 1984-86 as part of a power-sharing pact with Likud. He pulled troops back from Lebanon, normalized relations with Egypt and cut inflation from 445 percent a year to below 20 percent.

Despite his key role in building Israel’s defenses, Peres never gained broad popular trust in his security credentials as Rabin, his Labour rival and former army chief, or Sharon enjoyed.

Most Israelis, hardened by frequent conflict, dismissed his vision that a new age for the Middle East was dawning hand-in-hand with peace deals.

He was seen abroad as an urbane diplomat but at home often as an ego-driven manipulator in domestic politics who eroded his party’s identity out of a thirst for cabinet posts after election losses to Likud.

Nevertheless, during his last years, the last of Israel’s founding fathers saw a rise in his popularity among Israelis. He used the presidency as a pulpit for advocating peace and maintained an active public schedule, encouraging Middle East diplomacy and technological innovation.

He is also known for his stewardship of the Peres Center for Peace, a non-governmental organization focused on building closer ties with the Palestinians, improving healthcare and developing local economies.

Earlier this month, after a series of health scares including a mild heart attack, Peres received an artificial pacemaker.

“I feel great. When can I get back to work already? I’m bored!” he told reporters at the time.

Peres wrote several books including “Entebbe Diary,” “The New Middle East” and “Battling for Peace.” His wife, Sonia, died in 2011. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.—Reuters

#JeSuisPalestinian!

“Palestinian citizens of Israel are its Achilles’ heel; they refuse to become Zionists, refuse to leave Israel, and refuse to vanish into thin air. And, increasingly, they are refusing to remain silent.”

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Don’t Call Us ‘Israeli Arabs’: Palestinians in Israel Speak Out
By Sam Bahour

When Israel’s founding fathers removed by force the native Palestinian Arab population living where they intended to establish their state, they murdered or displaced more than 80% of that population.

This act of ethnic cleansing — to borrow one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s newly found phrases — was given a name in Arabic: the Nakba, or catastrophe. The Palestinian Muslims, Druze and Christians who remained in what became Israel have been, and are today, approximately 20% of the population. These are indigenous Palestinians and their descendants, who have had Israeli citizenship imposed upon them.

’48ers, Palestinian Arabs, ‘insiders’ – just not ‘Israeli Arabs’

For over half a century, Israel has preferred the designation Israeli Arabs, focusing on their Israeliness and attempting to obliterate any trace of Palestinian from their identity. Among Palestinians in exile or the West Bank, they’re referred to as ‘48ers, referring to the year of the Nakba, or as those living “on the inside,” meaning inside the 1949 armistice line, better known as the Green Line. Now, a new cohort of Palestinian thinkers inside Israel writing 68 years after the Nakba reaffirm that they are not just Arabs, but Palestinian Arabs, and that while they may be “in Israel,” they are not Israel’s: they are their own masters.

These Palestinian citizens of Israel are its Achilles’ heel; they refuse to become Zionists, refuse to leave Israel, and refuse to vanish into thin air. And, increasingly, they are refusing to remain a silent, or passive, player.

This increasingly assertive minority in Israel spoke out in a new think tank report published this month by The Palestinian Arab Citizens in Israel hosted by the Oxford Research Group and supported by the I’LAM Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research in Nazareth and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [Full disclosure: While completely independent, this project is also a sister project of the Palestine Strategy Group, of which I’m a secretariat member.]

Four futures for Palestinians in Israel, from chaos to a binational state

The report is unequivocal about the need for the state of Israel to wholly accept these Palestinian citizens as full and equal citizens. Israeli Jewish citizens who think they have quashed any impetus for collective action by their Palestinian neighbors in Israel would be well advised to read, not just this report in its entirety, but also the biographies of those responsible for its production. Some of the sharpest political and academic minds in Israel are exposing the historical misjudgments and internal contradictions in the Israeli state and offering a way out, if anyone is interested in pursuing it.

The report highlights three possible scenarios – four futures for the Palestinian citizens of Israel and their relationship with the State of Israel.

Scenario 1 assumes the continuation of the status quo
, which could proceed along two different paths: Israel could embark on attempting to better the quality of life of its Palestinian citizens, as individuals, without addressing the core political or collective issues, or could simply attempt to perpetuate the status quo, without the emergence of a Palestinian state, a combination that would inevitably become less status quo and more a continuous downward spiral.

Scenario 2 envisions chaos on Israel’s borders as regional Islamic fundamentalism in bordering states spills over into Israel, provoking redeployment of the Israeli military and greater potential instability.

Scenario 3 assumes the creation of an independent Palestinian state(as defined by the UN General Assembly Resolution passed on November 29, 2012) living side by side with Israel.

And scenario 4 projects Israel’s transition into a binational state, in effect a one-state solution, but with a very different social contract with Jewish Israelis: one that ensures constitutional equality between Jews and Arabs and re-envisions all of the state’s trappings, such as the flag, national anthem, etc.

Recognizing the collective rights of Palestinians in Israel

But in parallel to these high-level strategic scenarios, Palestinian citizens in Israel need tangible goals.

In the short-medium term (five- to ten-years) framing the aspirations of the collective, building and upgrading the institutional infrastructure of the legitimate minority status of Palestinians in Israel based on pluralism, democracy and equality. Specifically, the umbrella representative organizations – the Higher Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel and the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Localities – should be reformed and new associations should be considered.

A ten- to twenty-year horizon focuses on individual rights and equal opportunities in addition to the attainment of recognition as a collective. This includes efforts to revitalize existing representative bodies and create new ones to work toward achieving formal recognition at all levels of government with the aim of securing first-class citizenship rights and economic and development rights, as well as addressing the various state planning bodies.

And finally looking forward twenty to forty years: the achievement of a historic reconciliation between the two peoples in historical Palestine as part of reconciliation between the Jewish community and the Palestinians alone, or also with the peoples and countries of the wider region.

Palestinians: Accept pluralism. Israelis: Right historical injustice

Such charting of a joint future is difficult to envision today because of the vast ideological diversity with the Palestinian community, with some calling for no separation between religion and state and others calling for total separation. This major disparity in ideologies is a clear potential weakness: the report calls for the universal acceptance of pluralism as the necessary foundation on which to build, with all stakeholders accepted as part of a shared future. The report notes likewise that the need for the state to be a state for all its citizens must be a given in any future scenario.

It is true that ending the nearly 50-year-old Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, although imperative, will not bring total peace to Israel. What could finally accord Israel a normal place among nations, for the first time ever, is for it to come to terms with its history of injustice.

That means acknowledging its role in the creation of the Palestinian refugee community, taking restorative efforts to right that wrong, and finally accepting its Palestinian citizens as full and equal civic partners in theory and in practice.

Written for HaAretz

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