US IS FUELING ISRAEL’S CIVIL WAR

Israel is a very special country. Its history is like no other. Maybe that’s why its civil war, which is well underway, is almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye from a stable country. Upon closer inspection, Israel is a powder keg already in the process of the most significant societal and political implosion of its history. While a total meltdown is not inevitable, the US continues to provide the fuel for Israel to continue driving drunk on power.

An Israeli UAV Hermes 500 flies over the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert, near the southern  city of Beer Sheva, on June 30, 2016 during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ  File photo of an Israeli drone (AFP)

An Israeli UAV Hermes 500 flies over the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert, near the southern city of Beer Sheva, on June 30, 2016 during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
File photo of an Israeli drone (AFP)

US should withhold military aid until Israel recognises Palestinian sovereignty

US fueling Israel’s civil war

Sam Bahour

Israel is a very special country. Its history is like no other. Maybe that’s why its civil war, which is well underway, is almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye from a stable country. Upon closer inspection, Israel is a powder keg already in the process of the most significant societal and political implosion of its history. While a total meltdown is not inevitable, the US continues to provide the fuel for Israel to continue driving drunk on power.

On one side of this civil war is the elected government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and a bunch of the most extremist politicians one can find, several illegal settlers themselves. Aligned with the government are a cohort of settlers in the West Bank, which have surpassed their widely acknowledged role as the largest impediment to peace and have become an electoral consistency that is hard to reckon with.  Supporting this camp in Israel are party faithful that in any other country would be called outright racists. You can find some of them at Israeli soccer games chanting “Death to the Arabs.” A few have actually made that chant a reality.

On the other side is everyone else, albeit unable to see themselves on the same political side. In this camp are many Jewish Israelis who voted for Netanyahu, some more than once, and have watched their candidate move Israel to the most isolated position it has ever witnessed. These Israelis do not feel any safer today than they did when Netanyahu first ran for office. Added to this group are the second, third and fourth class Israeli Jewish citizens who traditionally vote Likud, against their best interests, and they make up the bulk of Israel’s poverty-stricken class; they sometimes are referred to as Mizrachi Jews, Ethiopian Jews, and the like. Then there is the 20 percent block of Palestinian citizens of Israel. This Palestinian constituency comprises the third largest elected block in the Knesset, but no other Israeli Jewish party deals with them; thus is the extreme state of racism inherent in the Israeli political system.

These two warring sides are fiercely at each other’s throats to claim the nature of Israeli society. The government has embarked on a tragic course to complete the process started in 1948 when Israel was established, to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its Palestinian Muslim and Christian inhabitants. The other camp, however fragmented, understands that Palestinians are never going to disappear into thin air and seek their government to end the nearly 50-year military occupation so Israel can reenter the community of nations with some sense of normalcy.

We are told to believe, ad infinitum by Israel’s most senior officials and an endless stream of flashy media clips, that Israel is a “light upon nations,” and brought the world high-tech, modern agriculture, and even cherry tomatoes. Israel brags that it is a “start-up nation” and Intel, Microsoft and HP, just to name a few multinationals, have all enthusiastically setup shop in the country. What these exaggerated quips and polished marketing tools do not tell us is that Israel is at a point where it is at war with itself.

The social inequality in Israel has reached epic proportions. As reported in Haaretz in 2015, as of 2013 “Israel remained at the bottom of the OECD rankings for measures of inequality and poverty.” Added to this acute class strata, indigenous Palestinians who make up one-fifth of Israel’s population are dealt out of the Israeli melting pot. Jewish Israelis are divided to the point where physical altercations frequently occur across race divides in the streets of Tel Aviv. Additionally, imported foreign labor, brought to replace the traditional Palestinian labor force from the West Bank and Gaza, are tearing Israel at its already fragile seams.

The “start-up nation” started up because Israel acquired, by the use of brute military force, land and water, the two key ingredients to statehood in the Middle East. Israel thrives because the US has chosen to relieve it from its full financial burden as a nation by granting it over $120 billion since its founding. Furthermore, all of this start-up buzz is a result of research and development spending by the military, without which there would be no start-up sector to speak of. This external budget support frees Israeli funds to do other business.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently negotiating President Obama for a 10-year military aid package to the tune of $40 billion. This new package follows President George W. Bush’s administration’s generous 10-year aid package of $30 billion. Historically, the bulk of these funds have been earmarked for Israel to purchase US weaponry, but the current package under negotiations allows Israel to spend the money in Israel. These monies are Israel’s slush fund. With these funds at its disposal, no wonder Israel can afford to offer multinationals 10 and 20-year tax incentives. In 2014 alone, it was reported that “Intel, the US chip giant, will invest $6bn in the upgrade of its main manufacturing plant in what will be the biggest single investment by a foreign company in the country [Israel]. The company will receive a grant of $300m over five years and will pay a corporate tax rate of only 5% for a 10-year period.” With that kind of financial underwriting, I can make the roof of my house a start-up nation.

Part of that other business that the US indirectly funds allow Israel to pursue its continuation of repressing by military occupation 4.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The US Department of State registers in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – the Human Rights Reports – year in and year out how Israel violates human rights. US human rights attorney Alice Lynd, with the assistance of her husband, Atty. Staughton Lynd, documented these report’s human rights violations in a pamphlet for the Palestine-Israel Working Group of Historians Against the War (HAW). Yet, US policy remains uninformed by these reports. Israel laughs all the way to the bank as they continue to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied territory and entice multinationals to come to Israel to do business.

Don’t do it President Obama. This is an unwise use of US tax dollars. If for some unorthodox political reason, you must agree to this (which I do not buy into), then make sure today’s fundamentalist, right-wing Israeli government finally walks up to the plate and takes the move that is inevitable, recognising the State of Palestine, not to mention ending their occupation. Actually, the world is awaiting the US to make the same recognition. Better yet, take Israel’s hand and head to the UN Security Council and pass the pending resolution which upgrades Palestine’s status at the UN to a full member state. Later, both countries, Israel and the US, can decide when to extend direct recognition.

If Israel refuses to accept recognising the State of Palestine, the ultimate act to save the rapidly vanishing two-state paradigm, then hold the military aid package and take bold political action before you leave office, grant US direct recognition of Palestine. When the incoming president is faced with the wrath of Israel and the pro-Israeli lobby for this US recognition, the new administration will have a $40 billion card to subdue them. Maybe by then, these funds can be leveraged to get Israel to end their military occupation once and for all.

It’s sad that tax dollars are used in such a fashion, but if that is how the US works, then let it work for peace, not to continue fuelling Israel’s civil war, which will ultimately spill over to yet another armed clash with Palestinians under occupation. As a Palestinian-American, born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, I have an obligation to my two daughters and all Palestinian children, as well as all of Israel’s children too, to speak up before we all end up paying the price, again, for US inaction, or worse.

 

Written FOR

TOON OF TODAY ~~ CELTICS MATCH THE FINE FOR PALESTINE

Image by Carlos Latuff

Match the Fine for Palestine

Match the Fine for Palestine

#matchthefineforpalestine

We, the Green Brigade, are the passionate Ultra fans of Celtic Football Club, Scotland’s most famous and successful football team. At the Champions League match with Hapoel Beer Sheva on 17 August 2016, the Green Brigade and fans throughout Celtic Park flew the flag for Palestine. This act of solidarity has earned our club respect and acclaim throughout the world. It has also attracted a disciplinary charge from UEFA, which deems the Palestinian flag to be an ‘illicit banner’

In response to this petty and politically partisan act by European football’s governing body, we are determined to make a positive contribution to the game and today launch a campaign to #matchthefineforpalestine. We aim to raise £75,000 which will be split equally between Medical Aid Palestine (MAP) and the Lajee Centre, a Palestinian cultural centre in Aida Refugee Camp on the outskirts of Bethlehem. From our members’ experiences as volunteers in Palestine we know the huge importance of both organisations’ work and have developed close contacts with them.

MAP is a UK-based charity which delivers health and medical care to Palestinians worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement. Working in partnership with local health care providers and hospitals, MAP provides vital public health and emergency response services. This includes training and funding a team of Palestinian surgeons and medics to treat and operate on those affected by the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.

MAP has publicly thanked the Celtic support and all who have donated for their support. You can read their statement and find out more about their incredible work on their website: http://www.map-uk.org/home/homepage (their statement is available here:http://www.map-uk.org/news/archive/post/43…r-palestinians).
All funds raised for Medical Aid Palestine will go to mending broken limbs in Gaza and other vitally important projects in the Occupied Territories and Palestinian refugee camps.

Aida is one of 19 refugee camps in the West Bank and has for 66 years played temporary home to Palestinians forcibly expelled from their homes in Hebron and Jerusalem. Its residents live in the shadow of Israel’s apartheid wall, cut off from social and economic opportunities by the wall and neighbouring illegal settlements and military checkpoints.

For the young people of Aida, the Lajee Centre in the heart of the camp offers hope and an escape from the realities of life under Israeli occupation. Its programme of arts, culture and sporting activities are a lifeline for its impoverished and oppressed people.

Last year, the Centre built Aida’s only football pitch. Residents had previously played on recreation ground that has now been stolen by the wall. Within months of opening, the new pitch was severely damaged by tear gas canisters fired onto it by the Israeli military. It is now protected by metal netting.

Funds raised will provide a much needed boost to this fantastic project and will allow the Lajee Centre to extend its arts, dance and football programmes. As a token of their appreciation, the Centre have committed to setting up and sustaining the camp’s first ever football club and to name it Aida Celtic.

Aida Celtic will enter the Bethlehem Youth League at the start of 2017 and will host a tournament for teams from all of the West Bank’s refugee camps in Spring next year. Your generosity will also allow the Centre to buy a minibus for use in transporting Aida Celtic to matches and its other groups around Palestine.

Salah Ajarma, the Lajee Centre’s Coordinator told us the importance Aida Celtic will have for residents of the camp: “it will mean so much to our young people to be part of an official team, to have boots and strips and to represent the camp wearing the colours of our friends. Aida Celtic will be a source of pride for all in Aida”.

You can hear more from Aida’s young people and the volunteers at the Lajee Centre here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zdm09DOieHc

We have been overwhelmed by the early response to this appeal and have set a new target of £75,000. Any money raised above this sum will continue to be split on an equal basis between MAP and the Lajee Centre, and will go some way to mending the broken limbs and damaged lives of the displaced and deprived people of Palestine.

At the end of the fundraising drive we will present representatives of both organisations with a cheque for their share in Glasgow.

Let’s #matchthefineforpalestine and show the footballing establishment the true spirit of the game.

TODAY’S TOON ~~ BIBI’S LOVE FOR PALESTINE

Image by Carlos Latuff

 Netanyahu says, ‘I care more about Palestinians than their own leaders’


Netanyahu says, ‘I care more about Palestinians than their own leaders’

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heightened his row with international charities operating in Gaza in a video Thursday where he announced, “Israel cares more about Palestinians than their own leaders do.”

“Who cares more about Palestinians.” pressed Netanyahu, “Israel, that facilitates the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, every single day? Or Hamas, that robs Palestinian children of that very same aid?”

In wake of Gaza indictments, Netanyahu says, ‘I care more about Palestinians than their own leaders’

The prime minister continued by repeating accusations that have put international organizations under scrutiny. In the last two weeks two Palestinian aid officials in Gaza have been accused by Israel of misusing resources. 

“A few days ago, the world learned that Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza, stole millions of dollars from humanitarian organizations like World Vision and the United Nations,” Netanyahu said.

On August 3, Mohammed el-Halabi, director of the Gaza branch of World Vision, was criminally charged by Israel for allegedly funneling 60 percent of his organization’s projects budget—$7.2 million annually—to support for Hamas.

World Vision has denied the Israeli accounting. ”There is a huge gap in these numbers the Israeli government is telling and what we know,” the group’s German spokesperson Silvia Holten told the AP.

A few days later a second humanitarian worker, Waheed Borsh, a contractor with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was also indicted for supporting Hamas. Borsh confessed to a list of ways that he had “aided Hamas,” according to a statement from Israel’s Security Agency.

“Last year he helped build a military jetty in the northern Gaza Strip – utilizing UNDP resources – to be used by Hamas’ naval forces,” the statement said. “Also in 2015, he acted to persuade UNDP managers to prioritize the rehabilitation of housing in areas populated by Hamas members… Borsh was acting in response to a request by Hamas.”

The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) alleged that Borsh admitted knowing the location of Hamas military facilities, and said when he found weapons stowed in UNDP facilities he allowed Hamas to “confiscate the arms and other materials.”

The actual indictment against the UN worker filed lesser charges than the offenses alleged by Israel’s security agency, a source who has seen the indictment told Mondoweiss. 

The court document indicated Borsh will be prosecuted for “communicating with a foreign agent, providing services to a foreign group, dealing with properties in an attempt to be used against Israel,” the source said, adding that the one-page indictment does not assert Borsh aided any “illegal organization,” Israeli legal-speak for terror organizations and Hamas.

Laith Abu Zeyad, an advocacy officer with the Palestinian legal rights group Addameer said the language of the criminal case is typical for those charged after traveling abroad and meeting with representatives of governments at odds with Israel.

Abu Zeyad said that “spying of having connection with a foreign agent” is a “a very common accusation used by the Israeli government” merely in cases where an individual has traveled to an enemy country such as Lebanon.  

“The accusation are really vague,” he went on, saying that there are difficulties in distinguishing between a resident of Gaza interacting with Hamas as the ruling civil administration, and interacting with its military wing. 

“Even if they provide evidence, even if they provide a pictures of him shaking hands with a Hamas militant, it cannot be used as evidence because it could be his relative or something,” Abu Zeyad continued.

This is the second recorded message from the prime minister in recent weeks in which the subject was the well-being of Arabs and Palestinians. In the first he said he hoped for greater inclusion of Palestinian citizens into Israeli society. The message was timed after his government passed a series of economic-improvement programs.

The medium of goodwill clips is a staple of Israeli public relations for ceremonial greetings and religious holidays. It is far less common when the subject is the Israeli conflict with Palestinian armed groups and their backers.

EIGHT YEARS OF WAITING IN (FOR) PALESTINE

It has been 8 years since I moved back from the USA to occupied Palestine and it may be worth a brief reflection. I accomplished much since then (of course I am surrounded by good people starting with my wife and immediate family members to students and volunteers who believed in what we were doing and to hundreds of supporters around the world).

My 'official welcome back' by the occupation police

My ‘official welcome back’ by the occupation police

EIGHT YEARS

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

It has been 8 years since I moved back from the USA to occupied Palestine and it may be worth a brief reflection. I accomplished much since then (of course I am surrounded by good people starting with my wife and immediate family members to students and volunteers who believed in what we were doing and to hundreds of supporters around the world). Briefly, under difficult circumstances in 2008-2016, I (with support)

1- Published many scientific research articles including critical ones on environment and genetics

2- Wrote books (one published in 2012 on Popular Resistance in Palestine and two on the way)

3- Founded and directed a clinical cytogenetics laboratory

4- Mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students

5- Taught over 8 different courses ranging from molecular biology to anthropology to biodiversity at four colleges and universities

6- Founded and directed the Palestine Museum (PMNH) of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) including its nascent botanical garden. http://www.palestinenature.org

7- Traveled throughout occupied Palestine and collected over 8000 specimens and over 10,000 photos that are a basis of current and future research

8- Traveled and represented Palestine in over 20 countries

9- Wrote over 200 articles on issues ranging from popular resistance to the one state solution to BDS.

10- Spoke to over 5000 visiting internationals about the situation

11- Spoke to thousands of locals on issues ranging from environment to human rights

12- Created jobs and helped some students manage their financial burden with some scholarships and work-study programs

13- Organized dozens of workshops that built human capacity

14- Built working relationships with dozens of local and international groups

15- Performed a number of consultancies to local and international agencies that made a direct impact on course of human development and the environment

16- Read over 500 books and hundreds of articles that helped me change and grow as an individual

17- Built friendships with hundreds (and met thousands)

18- Challenged oppression wherever it was found (via demonstrations, media work, etc) and got arrested a few times and questioned by intelligence services of three countries😉

All of this was done while struggling against not just Israeli occupation with its repression (e.g. inability to import things normally, lack of freedom of movement) but some Palestinian societal backward culture including nepotism, patriarchy, bureaucracy, and corruption. We were learning as we go how to deal with people (including the “mental occupation”). We gave chances to some who abused them and some who benefited from the chances to improve themselves and serve Palestine. But what sustained me/us was good honest people who I met and worked with everywhere. Hundreds of individuals like you on this list who helped us in so many ways by donations, volunteerism, actions, and other kinds of support. Of course what we have done is miniscule compared to what needs to be done. And there are many millions of candles in this darkness. We are humble enough to realize that we can only continue to achieve with collective work towards a peaceful., just, and SUSTAINABLE world.

Staying in the US would have been much less demanding on my physical and psychological health (and with a six figure income would have been financially “logical”). And there was lots of activities we were doing in the US for Palestine, for global peace, and for the environment. Much remains to be done within the US as it continues to be the country that is in the words of Martin Luther King Jr “the biggest purveyor of violence”. It certainly is the most enabling and the major sponsor of apartheid Israel and the endless wars in neighboring countries (conflicts thought to serve Israeli interests). Without the US support “Israel” would fold in two weeks and would have to become a democratic country for all its people and allow the Palestinian refugees to return. However and having said all of that, the decision to return to Palestine was the best decision I made in my life and this feeling grows stronger every day. The most important accomplishment I feel will last generations is my mentoring of young people. I would like to spend more time with young people (this is part of the reason we built PMNH/PIBS) and work harder at helping people help themselves. As I look forward with optimism to the next eight years here (If I live that long), I want to sincerely thank all of you who contributed and continue to contribute your time and energy.

END OF REFLECTION. Now for other good news

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted overwhelmingly in the annual convention to set up a screen and not invest in any company that profits from Israel’s occupation. They also called to end US unconditioonal aid to Israel. The Green party of the US developed a great latform on the question of Palestine (see below) that is based on human rights and justice. Social media are abuzz after the disastrous choice of Clinton and Trump to be nominees of the “democratic” and “republican” parties. Many argue that this continuing deterioration was a predictable outcome of the permission of lobbies (like the Zionist lobby to shape elections) and/or an expected outcome of several elections where people vote for the lesser of two evils rather than vote their conscience.

Following the diminishing water supply to Palestinians in the West Bank and the severe water shortage and pollution in the Gaza Strip, a light installation was held simultaneously in eight locations: Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Boston, New York, Houston, Johannesburg, Melbourne and Perth, Australia. In an illuminating display of lights reflected in water, activists from four continents stood near lakes and beaches creating the message “WATER IS A RIGHT” in various languages.

Green Party Statement on The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Our Green values oblige us to support popular movements for peace and demilitarization in Israel-Palestine, especially those that reach across the lines of conflict to engage both Palestinians and Israelis of good will.

We reaffirm the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis, which precludes the self-determination of one at the expense of the other. We recognize the historical and contemporary cultural diversity of Israeli-Palestinian society, including the religious heritage of Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. This is a significant part of the rich cultural legacy of all these peoples and it must be respected. To ensure this, we support equality before international law rather than appeals to religious faith as the fair basis on which claims to the land of Palestine-Israel are resolved.

We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe. However, we oppose as both discriminatory and ultimately self-defeating the position that Jews would be fundamentally threatened by the implementation of full rights to Palestinian-Israelis and Palestinian refugees who wish to return to their homes. As U.S. Greens, we refuse to impose our views on the people of the region. Still, we would turn the U.S. government towards a new policy, which itself recognizes the equality, humanity, and civil rights of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all others who live in the region, and which seeks to build confidence in prospects for secular democracy.

We reaffirm the right and feasibility of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel. We acknowledge the significant challenges of equity and restitution this policy would encounter and call on the U.S. government to make resolution of these challenges a central goal of our diplomacy in the region.

We reject U.S. unbalanced financial and military support of Israel while Israel occupies Palestinian lands and maintains an apartheid-like system in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens. Therefore, we call on the U.S. President and Congress to suspend all military and foreign aid, including loans and grants, to Israel until Israel withdraws from the Occupied Territories, dismantles the separation wall in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, ends its siege of Gaza and its apartheid-like system both within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens.

We also reject U.S. political support for Israel and demand that the U.S. government end its veto of Security Council resolutions pertaining to Israel. We urge our government to join with the U.N. to secure Israel’s complete withdrawal to the 1967 boundaries and its compliance with international law.

We support a much stronger and supportive U.S. position with respect to all United Nations, European Union, and Arab League initiatives that seek a negotiated peace. We call for an immediate U.N.-sponsored, multinational peacekeeping and protection force in the Palestinian territories with the mandate to initiate a conflict-resolution commission.

We call on the foreign and military affairs committees of the U.S. House and Senate to conduct full hearings on the status of human rights and war crimes in Palestine-Israel, especially violations committed during Israel’s 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza (“Operation Cast Lead”) as documented in the 2009 “UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict”(“The Goldstone Report”) authorized by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

We recognize that despite decades of continuous diplomatic attempts by the international community, it has failed to bring about Israel’s compliance with international law or respect for basic Palestinian human rights; and that, despite abundant condemnation of Israel’s policies by the UN, International Court of Justice, and all relevant international conventions, the international community of nations has failed to stop Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights in Israel and the OPT, while Israeli crimes continue with impunity. We recall that ending institutionalized racism (apartheid) in South Africa demanded an unusual, cooperative action by the entire international community in the form of a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid South Africa, and that BDS can become the most effective nonviolent means for achieving justice and genuine peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and for the region, through concerted international pressure as applied to apartheid South Africa; and that Palestinian resistance to ongoing dispossession has mainly been nonviolent, including its most basic form—remaining in their homes, on their land; and that while Palestinian armed resistance is legitimate under international law when directed at non-civilian targets, we believe that only nonviolent resistance will maintain the humanity of Palestinian society, elicit the greatest solidarity from others, and maximize the chance for future reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. However, we also recognize that our appeal to Palestinians to continue to resist nonviolently in the face of ongoing existential threats from Israel is hypocritical unless accompanied by substantial acts of international support. We recall that in 2005, Palestinian Civil Society appealed to the international community to support a BDS campaign against Israel, and that in response the Green Party of the US endorsed this BDS campaign in 2005. Therefore, we support the implementation of boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era, which includes pressuring our government to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel; and we support maintaining these nonviolent punitive measures until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by

-Ending its occupation and colonization of all Palestinian lands and dismantling the Wall in the West Bank
-Recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
-Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We recognize that international opinion has been committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, we view the two-state solution as neither democratic nor viable in the face of international law, material conditions and “facts on the ground” that now exist in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Given this reality, we support a U.S. foreign policy that promotes the creation of one secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan as the national home of both peoples, with Jerusalem as its capital. We encourage a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to begin the long process of negotiation, laying the groundwork for such a single-state constitution.

We recognize that such a state might take many forms and that the eventual model chosen must be decided by the peoples themselves. We also acknowledge the enormous hostilities that now exist between the two peoples, but history tells us that these are not insurmountable among people genuinely seeking peace.

As an integral part of peace negotiations and the transition to peaceful democracy, we call for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose inaugurating action would be mutual acknowledgement by Israelis and Palestinians that they have the same basic rights, including the right to exist in the same, secure place.

THE LATEST IN TOONS ~~ PUTTING THE SCREWS TO SYRIA AND PALESTINE

Images by Carlos Latuff

Erdogan's First Day of School at Kremlin Related report HERE

Erdogan’s First Day of School at Kremlin … Related report HERE

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Google blames bug for removing ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza’ from Israel/Palestine map -

Google blames bug for removing ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza’ from Israel/Palestine map –

Google blames a malfunction for removing the terms “West Bank” and “Gaza Strip” from its map of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

“There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area,” said a Google spokesperson in an email to Mondoweiss.

The bug Google blames for the erasure of the labels set off a wave of outraged Tweets and Facebook posts in the last several days, although the deletion reportedly occurred as early as July 25th. The Palestinian Journalists Forum issued a widely circulated denouncement of the removal.

“The move is also designed to falsify history, and geography as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland, and a failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs as well as the world,” the PJF said, according to Turkish Radio Television (TRT).

Andrew Kadi, a co-chair of the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, told Mondoweiss that he feels Google is part of the problem when it comes to recognizing the occupation. Although the United States and United Nations have repeatedly in the past declared Israel’s military to be an occupying force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, that obvious declaration has fallen out of style. Google’s omission of the word makes this amnesia possible.

“I just searched Palestine on Google Maps and it brings up Israel basically. Israel is labelled like Israel, like lots of different parts of what is now recognized as Israel, but you do not have a label that clearly states that the Golan Heights is occupied. You don’t have anything that clearly states that the West Bank is occupied. Although you have the Green Line you have nothing that indicates that East Jerusalem is militarily occupied. And these aren’t my definitions, these are the international definitions, recognized by every country including the U.S. So it’s odd,” Kadi said.

The debate over Google’s alleged bug “overlooks that Google has not been correctly labelling these areas correctly anyway.”

Kadi said that for someone unfamiliar with the history of the region, then these dashed lines, labelled in fine print “1949 Armistice Line,” don’t mean anything. If you wanted to fact check whether the Palestinian territories are occupied or not, Google’s map wouldn’t tell you much.

“If they want to be treated as a geographical information resource, then they have to take that more seriously. At a minimum, of meeting the international community’s definition of the Occupied West Bank, Occupied East Jerusalem and the Occupied Golan Heights,” he added.

Kadi also expects that Google’s investment in Israel, and its purchasing of Israeli navigation app Waze, might have inspired the “bug” to happen.

Bug or not, “Google is benefiting from the country that’s erased us,” said Kadi, who is Palestinian-American.

Waze, and human error, was at least partially to blame for a deadly incident this winter, when two Israeli soldiers wandered their vehicle into the Qalandia refugee camp, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, and ended up pinned down by a firebomb, Newsweek reported. In rescuing the wayward soldiers, Israeli forces killed a 22-year-old Palestinian man Iyad Amr Sajdiyeh. Citing a report in Haaretz, the March, 1 Newsweek article details how the Israeli military put in force “Hannibal” orders that allow for commanders to place Palestinian civilians in danger to prevent the capture of Israeli troops. Waze said the soldiers were not using the feature that prevents accidental navigation into Palestinian areas.

“Waze has and is continuing to work directly with the relevant authorities to decrease such mishaps from occurring, but unfortunately there is no ability to prevent them altogether as ultimately some prudence is in the driver’s hands,” Julie Mossler, a representative for the company, told the magazine.

The blindness of the tech industry to the mortal danger of occupation can endanger Palestinian and Israeli lives in other ways, the Daily Dot reports. Some roads are restricted to settlers solely. The author, Jonathan Brown, explains:

“If you’re Palestinian, to travel on Google-endorsed roads, you’ll need to secure a series of permits and agreements, which the Israeli authority now hands out less frequently with each passing year,” Brown wrote in 2014. “Exceptions might be made for a journey to Jerusalem, for prayers at Al Aqsa, but probably only during Ramadan. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) calls some roads in this network ‘sterile roads.’ For Palestinians, use [of] these are prohibited entirely.”

Imagine taking your Google Maps app back in time, to Mississippi in the 1960s, and driving as an African American person through a “sun down town,” where police would arrest people of color if discovered outside after dark. Unless Google wrote the grim reality of Jim Crow into your phone, you could be driving into a lynching. The same thing applies in for Palestinians under Israeli occupation, and living near settler neighbors who threaten them.

As Google labors to fix the bug, some observers of Israel/Palestine have noted that the erasure of the words “West Bank” and “Gaza” inadvertently reflect a reality that hardly gets mentioned in American discussions of the region: the huge degree of control Israel exerts over the West Bank and Gaza. The fact of military domination renders talk of a “two-state solution” divorced from the fact that Israel and its Occupied Palestinian Territories operate as an effectively single but deeply dysfunctional and unequal political entity.

Kadi said that one of his first reactions to seeing the words removed was how much it made Palestine/Israel look like a single country. The Oslo-mandated Palestinian Authority failing to coalesce under military occupation into a sovereign government, quelle surprise, has lead to a the popularity of a “rights-based” approach becoming more popular, Kadi said.

One prominent social media figure appeared to endorse a single, equitable state as the solution to Israel/Palestine’s woes.

Dena Takruri, a correspondent for AJ+, Al Jazeera’s digital first, Facebook news reel, reshared a previous video piece about the immensity of the Separation/Security/Apartheid Fence/Barrier/Wall, with this telling take:

“If only it was one state with equal rights for all, as Google’s maps suggest…” Takruri wrote.

FROM

Hey Google it's called Palestine not Israel ! you can remove it from the maps,but can't remove it from our hearts!

Hey Google it’s called Palestine not Israel ! You can remove it from the maps,but can’t remove it from our hearts!!

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA/NAGASAKI

President Obama neglected to apologise for the slaughter on his recent visit to Japan, But these good people did.

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  Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN TOONS ~~ WELCOME TO RIO

Images by Carlos Latuff (Direct from Rio)

The Police welcome protesters

The Police welcome protesters

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Brazil  wins its first medal in the Olympics for shooting...Black and poor people!

Brazil wins its first medal in the Olympics for shooting…Black and poor people!

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President Michel Temer lights the torch

President Michel Temer lights the torch

And the real winner is ……

Let's get the Olympics started!!!

Let’s get the Olympics started!!!

 

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORK LIVES MATTER

stop-the-hate-because-all-lives-matter

On August 1st several hundred New Yorkers, Black and white, occupied New York’s City Hall Park. They demanded an end to police brutality and killings and an end to police occupation of Black communities. Among the many speakers two were Palestinians who represented Students For Justice In Palestine. They spoke of the unity between the Black freedom struggle and the struggle of the Palestinians to end the occupation of their homeland. They reminded the people there that with the killing in Ferguson the Palestinians sent a message of unity and instructions on how to deal with the tear gas being used against the Black protesters by the police.

   Photos and commentary © by Bud Korotzer

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TOOSDAY’S TOON ~~ THE REAL CHAMPIONS OF THIS YEAR’S OLYMPICS

Image by Carlos Latuff

Syrian Refugees, Champions of the Olympics of Survival

Syrian Refugees, Champions of the Olympics of Survival

IN TOONS ~~ #InternationalFriendshipDay IN TURKEY TODAY

Turkey’s best friend @ #InternationalFriendshipDay

Images by Carlos Latuff

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At the expense of …CoodFfNXYAA0z05

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WHAT THE DEMS SEEM TO HAVE OVERLOOKED

JESUS WAS A BROWN SKINNED PALESTINIAN JEW

Image by Carlos Latuff

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Based on the following speech

Also see the following from WRH ….

(Click on link)

KILLING THE FAMILY OF JESUS

BOTH CONVENTIONS LEAVE PALESTINE OFF THEIR AGENDAS ~~ NOW WHAT?

“We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier,” the platform’s language on Israel, introduced by GOP delegate Alan Clemmons, reads. “Support for Israel is an expression of Americanism, and it is the responsibility of our government to advance policies that reflect Americans’ strong desire for a relationship with no daylight between America and Israel.”

The Democrats did not do much better. CNN reported on July 10 that “Hillary Clinton supporters rejected an effort Saturday to add an amendment to the Democratic platform which would call for ‘an end to occupations and illegal settlements’ in Palestinian territories.” The rejection of that amendment dealt a blow to any hope that the platform would reflect and address the reality on the ground, a reality of occupation approaching its 50-year anniversary.

Image by Carlos Latuff

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Both Republicans and Democrats Went Backward on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Now What?

For Americans, Israelis and Palestinians who still seek a two-state resolution to the long and exhaustive conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the platforms of the major American political parties are profoundly disappointing. Neither platform addresses the issue seriously. The failure to do so serves no one’s interests, especially not those of the United States. The disservice done to both Israel and the Palestinians is more than unfortunate; it’s laying the foundation for yet another collapse on the ground.

Only President Obama can help us now — and only if he acts fast.

The Jewish Insider reported on July 12 that “the Republican Party’s Platform Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved proposed language that drops any reference to the party’s longstanding support for the two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the 2016 platform.” This, no doubt, reflected anything but forward movement.

“We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier,” the platform’s language on Israel, introduced by GOP delegate Alan Clemmons, reads. “Support for Israel is an expression of Americanism, and it is the responsibility of our government to advance policies that reflect Americans’ strong desire for a relationship with no daylight between America and Israel.”

The Democrats did not do much better. CNN reported on July 10 that “Hillary Clinton supporters rejected an effort Saturday to add an amendment to the Democratic platform which would call for ‘an end to occupations and illegal settlements’ in Palestinian territories.” The rejection of that amendment dealt a blow to any hope that the platform would reflect and address the reality on the ground, a reality of occupation approaching its 50-year anniversary.

Not only are these positions out of line with international law and dozens of United Nations resolutions, they are also totally out of sync with U.S. foreign policy and well-established parameters that call the reality on the ground what it is: Israeli military occupation.

Given the inability of either party platform to provide a glimpse of what it would take to bring peace to that embattled region, we can only hope that other forces weigh in.

In particular, President Obama still has time to set the record straight. Given that the United States recognized Israel 11 minutes after it declared independence back in 1948, he can finally recognize the second of the two-states, Palestine, before he leaves office. This would place a policy marker that brings the two-state solution into full focus no matter who our next president will be.

As we, along with our Israeli colleague Nomika Zion, a resident of Sderot, Israel, have noted in the past:

The failure of the two American political parties to recognize the reality on the ground in the region and to provide a platform for progress on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is shameful. It leaves no hope for forward progress and will not serve the interests of the United States, Israel or Palestine. It will exacerbate tensions in the region and thus deprive Israel, the Palestinians and the world of the leadership needed to end the occupation and enable both parties to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We hope that President Obama appreciates the productive role he can play in this regard, a role made all the more critical in light of the disappointing platforms of the major political parties.

Written FOR

IN PHOTOS ~~ PALESTINIAN LIVES MATTER

New Yorkers took to the streets yesterday in front of the Israeli Consulate to demand Freedom for Bilal Kayed and all other (7,000) Palestinians held in illegal administrative  detention.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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CARLOS LATUFF EXPOSED AS A CIA AGENT

The ‘expose’ …

According to Serra Karaçam @serrakaracam

Making you expose yourself as paid by CIA-Gulen organization to talk right behind people’s right to defend their nation

The response …

 I am a cartoonist, my job is to criticize guys like Erdogan. I’ve fun criticizing him the same way I’m enjoying to bothering you  :)  More @

And the ‘proof’ …

 I must confess, I am a CIA agent paid to make cartoons about Erdogan...HAHAHAHAHA

I must confess, I am a CIA agent paid to make cartoons about Erdogan…HAHAHAHAHA

As I said a thousand times, a day without an attack from the ‘enemy’ is a failed day.

Here’s Carlos’ latest hit against Erdogan …

Hail Your New Führer!

Hail Your New Führer!

TODAY’S TOONS ~~ THE NEW POST ‘COUP’ TURKEY

Now Erdogan wants to change from a parliamentary to a presidential system, in order to be a ruler with full powers

Images by Carlos Latuff

Hail Your New Führer!

Hail Your New Führer!

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OBAMA’S LAST GASP ON PALESTINE-ISRAEL

Palestinians should take seriously the possibility that Obama may act because of his disdain for Benjamin Netanyahu, and because of the support such a move would have from Samantha Power and John Kerry. Any initiative would likely occur after the US presidential elections; thus the window would be from November 2016 through January 2017.

President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office Thursday, May 28, 2009.  The man sitting between them is an interpreter. (  This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office Thursday, May 28, 2009. The man sitting between them is an interpreter. ( This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama’s Last Gasp on Palestine-Israel

Overview

The Obama administration is in its final few months, and talk of a narrowing “window of opportunity” in which it can act on Palestine-Israel has gathered pace. Speculation on whether President Barack Obama will take any measures has been combined with skepticism that any measure could have a positive impact on the ground.

Policymakers have put forward a number of possible options, including a strongly-worded statement to define the Obama/John Kerry parameters for a solution to the conflict and an abstention on vetoing a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that reiterates the illegality of settlements. The administration also must factor in the international peace conference that France hosted in early June and that is set to resume between the parties themselves in September.

Al-Shabaka Policy Analysts Sam Bahour, Zaha Hassan, Fadi Quran, Sherene Seikaly, and Omar Shaban offer a range of views about what, if any, step the Obama administration could take, what Palestinian responses and pitfalls could be, and what action Palestinians should consider. Their views are synthesized below, while in the final section each analyst offers their thoughts on what Palestinians should do. Al-Shabaka Policy Fellow Tareq Baconi served as the roundtable’s facilitator.

Is the Obama Administration Really Planning a New Initiative?

There appears to be high-level interest by the American government in taking action on Palestine before the end of Obama’s presidency. The first development that signaled this interest was when Obama sent feelers to political and security officials asking them what his administration should do if it were to act.

Some said he should take a step that would make it difficult for the next president – Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump – to make more concessions to Israelis. Others advised him not to get involved, saying it was not worth it. Still others said the international community is waiting for someone to take leadership on the French initiative as well as on providing cover for those Arab governments seeking to normalize relations with Israel. For Obama, the challenge lies in the concern that any measure taken might lead to the deterioration of the P5+1 Iran agreement, an outcome that would be welcomed by the Republicans and Gulf states. Obama is said to seek a legacy around Palestine-Israel, while at the same time fearing that any initiative could tarnish such a legacy.

Palestinians should take seriously the possibility that Obama may act because of his disdain for Benjamin Netanyahu, and because of the support such a move would have from Samantha Power and John Kerry. Any initiative would likely occur after the US presidential elections; thus the window would be from November 2016 through January 2017.

However, the situation in which Palestinians find themselves is not encouraging. The Palestinian Authority is very weak, and Palestinians are divided, with no prospect for reconciliation nor a desire to hold new national elections. This suggests both a lack of pressure on and an absence of reason for the Obama administration to take action, particularly as the wider Arab world is also not applying pressure on the administration. Rather, they are putting pressure on the Palestinians. Further, US support of the French initiative is lukewarm at best.

What are the Options on the Table?

The most ambitious option would be Obama recognizing the State of Palestine, as 138 members of the UN have already done. The US could accomplish this by either unilaterally recognizing the state or signing on to a UNSC resolution recommending the admission of Palestine to the UN, with the possible inclusion of parameters for a negotiated resolution to the conflict. The former is unlikely, but the latter is possible, especially since the US continues to express fear of losing the chance for a two-state solution. The administration could frame such a move as merely implementing past US policy statements – starting from the George W. Bush administration and the Roadmap for Peace all the way to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. By building on these statements an Obama initiative would appear to implement what the Republicans had started. This more cautious approach may be Obama’s only option.

Obama could also enshrine new parameters through a speech or an American framework. However, a speech could be easily dismissed by incoming presidencies, and issuing a standalone framework outlining US policy might be more difficult domestically.

A localized track is another possibility. The increased presence in Palestine recently of State Department officials as well as delegations from the House Foreign Affairs Committee indicates a rising interest among high-level US officials to talk about the occupation-related obstacles to Palestinian state building and economic development. This reflects an interest in supporting Palestinians economically and determining how to end the occupation and create a Palestinian state.

The US could follow the Vatican’s example and sign a bilateral agreement with Palestine that would effectively recognize Palestine as a state. The agreement could be in the form of a free trade agreement. Alternatively, the US could take measures to enhance reality on the ground for Palestinians by putting together an economic package that supports Palestinian sovereignty and state-building priorities.

What are Potential Palestinian Responses and Pitfalls?

The Palestinian leadership is in such dire straits that it may be willing to accept any move that could seem successful, regardless of pitfalls. Indeed, Palestinian leaders may want to enshrine a new set of parameters before Mahmoud Abbas exits. In addition, by enshrining US parameters, Obama could signal to settlers that continued settlement expansion will not be accepted.

Yet setting parameters could be dangerous for Palestinians in that it could cement their weak position. New US parameters would include reference to the 1967 borders but would also include land swaps and the legitimization of settlements, as well as special arrangements for Jerusalem, which would mean less than a capital for Palestinians. The parameters could also potentially enshrine the idea of a Jewish state with very harmful consequences for the Palestinian citizens of Israel. In addition, they could be dangerous for a UNSC resolution on settlements. A resolution already exists that addresses settlements’ illegality; a new resolution could risk legitimizing them rather than reaffirming their illegality.  For instance, a document that refers to prohibiting “continued settlement construction” could suggest that what is already on the ground is permissible.

A bilateral trade agreement between the US and Palestine, on the other hand, would effectively recognize Palestine as a state and delegitimize settlements. Yet while a trade agreement may implicitly include state recognition, it would also move the Obama administration away from politics and onto an economic track. The fear here is that any movement away from the political track will legitimize Obama’s desire to shift away from political issues – a move that may be embraced by the struggling Palestinian private sector.

What Should the Palestinians Do?

Sam Bahour: In the immediate future, the Palestinian leadership must remain strictly political. While this may not immediately help domestically or upgrade daily life, it will prevent watering down the issues and potential responses from the Obama administration. The most pointed political demand is to focus on direct US recognition of Palestine in the coming six-month period. In the short term, this would embarrass the stakeholders who call for two states but are unable to accept recognition. The more we can put the key players in a corner with a call for statehood, the more we can reveal that none of them are serious about statehood. We can then move on to other political framings, if the need arises.

Zaha Hassan: The likelihood that newly adopted US parameters would cause more harm than good is very high. Any explicit US recognition of the State of Palestine would certainly include qualifications that would negatively impact the Palestinian national cause. For example, there would likely be a reference that the territorial unit in which Palestinians may exercise their right to self-determination is the State of Palestine. This would have ramifications for Palestinian refugees and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Including such qualified parameters in a UNSC resolution would elevate their status to law and be difficult to undo later. To avoid the pitfalls inherent in these options, it may be safer to encourage the US to sign a bilateral trade agreement with Palestine. Signing such an agreement would have the effect of recognizing Palestine as a state as well as delegitimizing Israeli settlements and settlement products.

Fadi Quran: Key actors within Palestinian civil society that focus on BDS and the increasing economic costs of occupation should not be asked to lend their resources to possible Obama efforts. This is long-term work that needs to remain in place. We also need advocacy from civil society that focuses on international law and presents a joint document to the Democratic National Committee or to the Obama administration that clearly states what we believe our rights are and that any parameters that do not include these rights will be unacceptable. Lastly, we need to bring back voices of people that have been missing from the conversation for years into policy decisions. This means reconnecting with Palestinian voices outside of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. For example, if Obama receives a strong call from Palestinians in Israel that establishes red lines with regard to rights, it could affect his administration’s parameters.

Sherene Seikaly: The challenge with which people like Cornel West are confronting the  Democratic Party is one indication of the tremendous gains that student activists and BDS supporters have made on campuses throughout the United States. We can take this momentum and build on intersectional, cross-sectional solidarities. These can put forward a simple call to end the siege of Gaza. Although this moment feels quite dark vis-à-vis the US political landscape – if Hillary Clinton wins, one of her first domestic targets will be activists and BDS, for example – it nevertheless has a lot of radical potential to put forth demands. The Palestinian Authority has essentially been anemic to aspirational demands; we could work to challenge them on this anemia and push them to engage the intersectional momentum we are now witnessing.

Omar Shaban: The strengthening of civil society in Gaza and the West Bank is highly needed. Funds in the West Bank have influenced the way civil society has been weakened, preventing it from pressuring the Palestinian Authority. We need to work on making civil society more independent and capable of defending Palestinian rights rather than being bought. We also need to work to get Hamas to understand what happened in Tunisia in terms of the moderation of political Islam – in essence, we need to create knowledge in Gaza about such options for Hamas.

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Sam Bahour

Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Sam Bahour does business consulting as Applied Information Management (AIM), specializing in business development with a niche focus on the information technology sector and start-ups. He is also the Chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy. He helped establish PALTEL and the PLAZA Shopping Center. Until recently, he served on the board of trustees of Birzeit University and was the University’s treasurer.  He is also a Director at the Arab Islamic Bank and the community foundation Dalia Association.  Bahour is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians (Olive Branch Press). He writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and his work is posted at www.epalestine.com.

 

IN TOONS ~~ WIKILOOKS AT TURKEY

Turkey: Wikileaks ‘to release thousands of AKP emails’

Online whistleblower site Wikileaks says it is preparing to release more than 300,000 documents related to the Turkish government in the wake of last weekend’s failed military coup that left hundreds dead, thousands injured and more than 7000 in custody.

Read more HERE

and at #ErdoganEmails

Images by Carlos Latuff

Get ready for a fight as we release 100k+ docs on Turkey's political power structure.

Get ready for a fight as we release 100k+ docs on Turkey’s political power structure.

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Coming today: The #ErdoganEmails: 300 thousand internal emails from Erdoğan's AKP - through to July 7, 2016.

Coming today: The #ErdoganEmails: 300 thousand internal emails from Erdoğan’s AKP – through to July 7, 2016.

UPS AND DOWNS IN PALESTINE TODAY

Life in Palestine moves along with its ups and downs, like the tides of the sea. Some days we feel depressed, some days more optimistic. Some of us even feel like manic depressives for the fact that we go through these cycles. The triggers are varied.

Followed by a poem written about Gaza ….

To Resist Is To Exist

To Resist Is To Exist

ups and downs

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Life in Palestine moves along with its ups and downs, like the tides of the sea. Some days we feel depressed, some days more optimistic. Some of us even feel like manic depressives for the fact that we go through these cycles. The triggers are varied. We get depressed when we heard of the murders of 84 people in Nice by a deranged lunatic. We get uplifted when we hear of how victims’ families, friends, and concerned citizens (of all religions and backgrounds) came together in solidarity. We get depressed for the bombings in Baghdad that killed over 250 innocent civilians (again by deranged lunatics) or of the innocents in Yemen and Syria. We get uplifted watching good citizens rush to help the injured and then take to the streets to demand an end to end the mayhem created by the US, Saudi, and Israeli governments (the real axis of evil here).

We get depressed to hear from friends in Gaza of the continuing hardships and almost impossible life they live under Israeli siege. That siege does not seem to end as the Turkish government “normalized” its relationship with Israel (i.e. went back to being a partner in crime). We get uplifted by the indomitable spirit of resistance of the young people who don’t give up. We hear Bernie Sanders abandon his principles and support Hillary Clinton for President (she is a Zionist war monger and will not be much better than the lunatic Donald Trump). We get uplifted to see many citizens including many of the disgruntled supporters of Sanders move towards voting for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein. The Green Party is the only political party in the US which remains consistently anti-war, anti-exploitation, and for peace and justice around the world (including in Palestine with their support of the right of return). But even within the democratic and republican parties voices of reason are raised occasionally against special interests (including of the powerful Israel lobby that has hijacked US foreign policy).

We get depressed when I heard the right wing Israeli government approved a bill that targets human rights activists and appointed a racist to be chief rabbi of the Israeli army. But then we get uplifted seeing more young people refusing to serve/be conscripted in that immoral army.  All of us discover that a person we trusted and helped went on to try to hurt us. But many of us can recall unexpected kindness from strangers. All this can be confusing! Some days I am personally at the brink of despair due to the difficulties we face in trying to build a museum and a botanical garden under a very difficult situation and without support, to recruit volunteers, and to find donors. Working 15-17 hours a day, seven days a week to accomplish what in any other civilized country could be accomplished in half the time can be frustrating. But on these same days or in days before them or after them we feel elated by what is happening. A wave of positive energy seems to descend out of nowhere on some days. Just this week we had groups of visitors and volunteers daily and we had one day in which some 25 students came during their summer camp for an environmental day at the museum. Here they learned some new skills and ideas as they volunteered to work in our botanical garden. One day I learned that one grant was rejected and the next day I learned that one of our research papers was accepted and I learned of two other grant possibilities.

This back and forth continues and it could be just as natural as the cycle of the ocean tides or the rotation of the planets. Maybe expecting life to be good is like expecting the sun up 24 hours! So am are we optimists or pessimists or pessoptimist or realist? Tragedies around us continue. We could choose to isolate ourselves from them for example by going to live in a country with less troubles but in an increasingly globalized world that might be difficult. Even if possible, that life leads to a selfish disconnect from others and a life of pain and guilty conscience. The alternative is what the Buddhists call “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world.” The trick to being content is not to fight the rising tide nor to push against the falling tide but to learn to roll with that tide while also doing your best to stay true to yourself.

‘Cousin, do not come;’ a poem by Lillian Pollak-From the Granny Peace Brigade

COUSIN–DO NOT COME
In response to a letter from my cousin in New York, he tells me he is planning a trip to Gaza. Salma, a teenage girl replies–
“Cousin, do not come.”
Do you wonder? Listen…….listen. Boom. BOOM!
The roll of thunder…
We are afraid! We are afraid all the time….not knowing when or where another Israeli drone will follow and target us with its lethal load. There is no safe place! More will die. We know not when. We are crying… What is happening to us! There is no future. All our friends are silent. GONE!
Friends and strangers walk in filthy streets, garbage and dirty water. Children play on mounds of bombed out homes….piles of rubble. The golden seaside a place of memories of children murdered while at play.
What life is there if you should come? Can you learn to be hungry?

…Will you fall asleep from weariness…staying awake with open eyes? Can you remember how to scream…Can you learn how to drown the sound of the clanging and the hammering of desperate men building doomed tunnels? We live in prison. Gaza is our prison. Our borders are blockaded. Gaza is our home; we love our home….Not this prison. We want to live! If we remain silent…We die!
A little boy sleeps holding my hand….he will not let me go….I cry,
but then I see he is dead.
A young man, happy to return home, sees the despair, and sets himself on fire beside the encrusted mattress of a moaning woman.
I am glad cousin that you are not here. You would see the suffering of the people in these days of the Gaza Siege. There is no future for us! There is no safe place where we can go. Life is centered about those who are killed for just living here. There is horror every moment. We are so lonely. Children are lonely! Children without parents….Homes destroyed. Often no lights…no electricity…darkness, cold, damp cracked walls dripping filthy water…
A cat walks the aisles of the damaged hospital, while water trucks playing tinkling tunes sell fresh water. Who destroys life in GAZA? Who is guilty? Who must answer? ISRAEL

Cousin do not come. By Lillian Pollak March 29, 2016

IN TOONS ~~ MORE ON TURKEY’S ‘COUP’

Now Erdogan is the hero of Turkey, suddenly people in Turkey  forgot about his deal with Israel. This “coup” can do magic!

Image by Carlos Latuff

Turkey's Military, before and after the "coup"

Turkey’s Military, before and after the “coup”

And the Oscar goes to ….

And the Oscar goes to... President Erdogan for the Staged Coup

And the Oscar goes to… President Erdogan for the Staged Coup

IN PHOTOS ~~ POLITICS OF INCARCERATION

Standing room only at the meeting. The attendees heard a letter written by Mumia Abu-Jamal, written in his prison cell. (See end of post for text of letter)

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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