A RESOLUTION GERMANY OWES HISTORY

If the Bundestag chooses to refuse Palestinian statehood when called to act on it, this would be totally out of synchronization with the long-standing German position for two-states as a model to resolve the conflict. Germany’s political integrity is at stake.

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A Resolution Germany Owes History

By Sam Bahour

One way or another, Germany’s Bundestag is about to make history with the upcoming vote on the issue of recognizing Palestinian statehood. A positive vote for Palestine would finally strengthen the European Union’s weakest link in contributing to Middle East Peace. A negative vote for Palestinian statehood would leave the Palestinians with no political horizon, which can only lead to more violence and/or a strategic shift where Palestinians drop their bid for statehood and convert their struggle to a total civil rights struggle: in essence, forcing a one state reality politically to match the military one state reality that Israel has had the luxury to construct, with nearly 50 years of its military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem.

Palestine did not fall into a historic crisis due to a natural disaster. Dispossession, discrimination and prolonged military occupation was the result, to a great extent, of the colossal tragedy that befell Jews in Europe. We Palestinians are still paying the price for those acts today. It is long overdue that this manmade nightmare should end.

If the Bundestag chooses to refuse Palestinian statehood when called to act on it, this would be totally out of synchronization with the long-standing German position for two-states as a model to resolve the conflict. Germany’s political integrity is at stake.

Fear-mongers have unleashed their venom against Palestinian statehood in the discourse in Germany. By now, their mode of operation is well-known, and has failed over and over again. It failed with all 138 countries that voted overwhelmingly in favor of the 2012 Palestinian bid for observer state status in the UN (Germany abstained) and it is failing in country after country, where bilateral recognition (over 130 countries to date) of Palestine is growing by the day. With the newly re-elected Israeli prime minister winning on a campaign rally of no two-states, the burden of action now squarely sits on the lap of the international community.

Allow me to take a brief issue with the arguments made by those who urge Germany to not join the global momentum toward recognizing Palestine.

THEY SAY Palestinians never missed an opportunity for peace. The fact of the matter is that the boot of Israeli occupation was never, ever removed from the neck of Palestinians to give them a fighting chance to create a new reality—not in Oslo, not in the West Bank, not in East Jerusalem, and surely not in the Gaza Strip. The unrelenting extent of Israel’s effective control over all the occupied territory is no longer an issue for debate; historical record is clear.

THEY SAY the Palestinian political body promotes extremism and violence. The fact of the matter is that it is a miracle that the Palestinians have been able to maintain any sense of a political system at all, given Israel’s systematic, forced fragmentation of the Palestinians’ geographic reality, campaign of targeted assassinations and continued policy of imprisoning Palestinian political leadership, including over a dozen democratically elected members of the legislative council. In light of this reality on the ground, the Palestinians still beg the international community to uphold international law and UN resolutions, themselves bringing the two-state solution to the podium of the UN General Assembly for approval. What is clear is, now that the majority of the world accepts Palestinian statehood, that if key international players, Germany being on the top of the list, drop the ball of bringing Palestine into existence on the ground, no one should complain if the younger generation of Palestinians drop statehood once and for all and we are back in a cycle of never-ending violence.

THEY SAY the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom and independence is linked to the horrific events unfolding in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The fact of the matter is that even the Israeli security establishment has acknowledged that regional events are very different and detached from what Palestinians are requesting. Actually, it is the Palestinian movement, not to mention the Palestinian refugees stuck for 60 years in the region due to Israel refusing to allow them to return home, who have the most to lose with the region engulfed in domestic and regional chaos.

THEY SAY Palestinians must be put through a test to prove our worthiness of freedom. The fact of the matter is that in the world of global governance there are no teachers and classrooms, only international law which applies to all. No excuse under the sun can justify one more day of military occupation, especially one that does not view itself as an occupation and continues to facilitate its citizens’ squatting on Palestinian lands.

In the Oslo Peace Accords, over twenty year ago, Palestinians recognized the state of Israel, in writing. In reply, Israel merely recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of the Palestinian people. This lopsided starting point may have contributed to the failure of the entire Oslo exercise. Today’s Germany has the opportunity to correct that historic mismatch and save the region from future violence, let alone saving Israel from itself.

The previous UK Consul General in Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean, addressed his country’s upcoming debate on Palestinian statehood in The Sunday Herald(Scotland) on 19 April 2015 in an article titled, “We can restore hope in a just peace for Palestine and Israel.” He wrote, “Palestinians have the right to statehood, peace with justice and hope. Israelis have the same right to live in safety, with good neighbours and shared hope. We can do what is right for both peoples. Our next Government should recognise the State of Palestine alongside Israel, to preserve the two-state solution. Failure to resolve this conflict fairly remains the best recruiting sergeant for violent extremism. We regain our balance by upholding the international law we helped to write.”

The Bundestag has a choice to make. It can continue looking backwards in history on this issue and ignore its leading role in securing peace in the Middle East, or it can courageously look forward, maybe even recognizing something it owes history, and assume leadership in this debate. The choice is yours. We hope you will make the choice for peace. 

 

German Version

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS DEMAND MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

No commentary necessary …. the 2,000 Plus demonstrators say it all on their placards … 

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Related Article from CounterPunch

Wage Gains Won’t Last, Unless Fight for 15 Builds Worker Power

by ARUN GUPTA

When fast-food workers first took the streets in New York City in November 2012 to protest for higher wages and a union no one could have imagined how successful the campaign would be. Since then the low-wage workers movement, known as Fight for 15, has helped spureleven states and numerous cities to raise the minimum hourly wage. It’s enabled campaigns in Seattle and the Bay Area to pass citywide measures for $15-an-hour minimum wage. Fight for 15 and a separate campaign called Organization United for Respect at Walmart has also pushed companies like McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart to announce in early 2015 that they would raise the minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of employees.

The success of the organizing is due to everything from the abysmal recovery from the 2008 economic crisis to Occupy Wall Street’s role in shifting the national dialogue from austerity to economic inequality. But Fight for 15 is due primarily to the Service Employees International Union, which initiated the campaign in 2011 and has poured tens of millions of dollars into growing waves of protest that are battering the image of the fast-food giants.

As the protests have grown, the campaign has become both broad and narrow. SEIU has linked the plight of fast-food workers to that of retail and convenience-store workers, home healthcare aides, childcare workers, and adjunct professors. At the same time Fight for 15 is focusing its fire on McDonald’s. One SEIU insider says the strategy is, “Pummel them until they come to the table.” Another organizer outlined the thinking back in 2013: Fight for 15 was trying to cause enough problems for McDonald’s image and stock price that SEIU could say to the company, “We can make this all go away” if it agreed to a deal on wages and unionization.

Using the National Labor Relations Board, SEIU has filed charges of unfair labor practices and wage theft against McDonald’s franchises. The strategy paid off after the NLRB general counsel ruled in July 2014 that McDonald’s has joint employer responsibility, opening space for SEIU to pressure the corporate parent, rather than dealing with 3,100 U.S. franchisees. SEIU is also raising the heat overseas. The European Union is investigating McDonald’s for allegedly dodging more than $1 billion in taxes and labor federations in Brazil are suing McDonald’s largest franchisee in Latin America for wage and workplace violations. A participant in a recent strategy session held with Scott Courtney, said to be SEIU’s mastermind for Fight for 15, says the next step under consideration is to create trouble for McDonald’s on the property front, which is as much a titan of real estate as it is of hamburgers.

McDonald’s claims the campaign has had no effect on its operations and that it could not afford to raise wages. Over the last year its internationalsales have been flat and its profits have fallen sharply. So its announcement on April 1 that it would raise pay for workers at corporate-owned U.S. stores was widely viewed as a concession to Fight for 15. That move backfired, however, as the raise is only 89 cents an hour on average and affects just 10 percent of its U.S. workforce. Plus, sources say McDonald’s has quietly approached SEIU and is looking for a deal. For nearly two years there have been rumors that SEIU was considering some alternative to a union for the fast-food sector, such as a workers association.

A workers association, however, would mean fewer rights and protections for workers than a traditional union. This points to the question that’s been hanging over Fight for 15 since it caught fire. What is SEIU’s end game? I asked one organizer if the campaign is building working power, and the response was blunt: “The goal is not worker power. It’s a contract.”

Since a traditional union contract with McDonald’s or any other fast-food company remains unlikely, the campaign goals need to be better aligned with reality. Fight for 15 has been remarkably successful on wages, but unless it is trying to increase worker’s power on the job, any wage and benefit improvements won through public pressure, negative publicity, and community-based protest activity will be hard to sustain in the absence of ongoing workplace organization or networks of some sort.

Now, many Fight for 15 organizers point out SEIU is the only big union gambling on trying to organize an industry with millions of unorganized workers, and it’s putting thousands of workers in motion. Organizing low-wage workers is a long overdue response to the neoliberal turn that dealt a historic defeat to organized labor during the 1980s. Millions of new jobs are projected to be in occupations like food prep, retail, and healthcare aides that pay $9 to $12 an hour. The jobs have few benefits, schedules and hours are erratic and there tends to be high turnover. This is the base for Fight for 15, OUR Walmart and a broader campaign known as 15 Now, initiated by the Seattle-based Socialist Alternative.

A fundamental goal of labor organizing is to take labor out of competition with itself. But that is nearly impossible when low-skilled, low-wage workers have few rights and number in the tens of millions. Fight for 15’s approach is unorthodox, but it is constrained by organized labor’s history. Class-struggle unionism has been abandoned by labor leaders who act as junior partners to corporations, like SEIU and Kaiser Permanente, the UAW and auto companies, the machinists union and Boeing, and the building trades and real-estate developers. Many union leaders are also in the pocket of the Democratic Party despite it being in the pocket of Wall Street.

Fight for 15 trying to make trouble for global corporations, but it’s not pursuing a working-class struggle. (Few unions are interested in that; that’s the job of the organized left.) Fight for 15 is more of a legal and public relations campaign, as I explain, than an organizing campaign. It is bearing fruit, but mainly as a spillover than in the fast-food sector. This includes adjunct professor organizing, which with the assistance of unions, especially SEIU, have notched many victories since 2013. Thousands of healthcare workers, who make up about half of SEIU’s membership, are agitating for $15 an hour, which is also in response to the 2014 Supreme Court ruling that imposed limits on union membership for home-care aides. There are also linkages with the Black Lives Matter movement, which is significant given Fight for 15 is the biggest mobilization of African-American workers since the 1960s. While these are inchoate forms of solidarity and social-justice unionism, they remain underdeveloped because of the top-down nature of Fight for 15.

The most intriguing outcomes of Fight for 15 are citywide campaigns for a raise in the minimum wage, which has opened up organizing space for the left. Fifteen dollars an hour is now reality in Seattle, albeit it with loopholes, with most low-wage workers expected to earn that by 2017. San Francisco’s ballot measure for $15 an hour was spearheaded by SEIU Local 1021, which one observer calls a model for a worker-run union. Fight for $15 campaign helped legitimize the idea in Seattle. The local SEIU affiliate’s biggest contribution was a $15-an-hour ballot measure that won in the SeaTac suburb. But the heavy lifting was done by Socialist Alternative and its inside and outside political approach, aggressive reporting and support from The Stranger, a well-regarded newsweekly, and incoming Mayor Ed Murray’s decision to back the measure and establish a committee to shape, for good and bad, the final bill. 15 Now is currently pushing $15 an hour statewide in Oregon and according to sources is encountering resistance from some unions that are reluctant to challenge Democratic politicians.

In terms of Fight for 15, its efforts have been more effective in the digital realm than in the real world when it comes to fast-food workers. One Fight for 15 organizer says, “SEIU would like the public to perceive this as a large and growing movement creating a crisis. They are creating the perception of a wave.”

But the campaign is also hamstrung, and SEIU’s media-centric strategy inhibits it from making hay from it. The organizer explains, “Workers are afraid to stand up. The number one problem is fear. I would say less than 4 percent of the workers we contact stay on board. They jump on and jump off [Fight for 15] all the time.” Workers have every reason to be afraid. One study from 2005 estimated 23,000 workers a year are penalized or fired for legitimate union activity, making a mockery of laws meant to protect workplace organizing.

A rich account of the difficulty and potential of worker-run, shop-based organizing in the fast-food industry is provided by Erik Forman in New Forms of Worker Organization. He recounts an IWW campaign in Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in Minneapolis, which narrowly lost a union vote but gained many concessions, wage increases and most important, worker consciousness, solidarity and power. Provocations and illegal acts by the bosses were used to build organization and militancy, not shunted over to law firms and P.R. agencies as in Fight for 15. But the campaign was dealt a serious blow by the mass firing of six organizers. (Forman’s scathing critique of a complacent union bureaucracy as an outcome of labor law and how labor law proved to be a dead end is also important to consider.)

SEIU has far more resources to confront employer threats of firing and retaliation, but creating a shop-by-shop base of power would still be a monumental task. Fight for 15 could nurture worker power other ways, but it has forgone a bottom-up struggle. Its worker leaders serve to energize other workers, relate a compelling personal story and act as a media spokesperson. In other words, they provide the image of a leader rather than the substance of a leader who can organize the workplace, engage in shop-floor warfare against the boss, develop worker solidarity, and force concessions while building a militant rank and file.

The site of worker power in Fight for 15 is supposed to be the organizing committees, but within the staff-driven campaign participants say workers have little power. Strike votes are usually not held unless the staff leadership is confident it will win. Meetings are for pumping up workers and feeding them information, not democratic debate and decision-making. The annual Fight for 15 conferences, with the next one reportedly set for this summer in Detroit, are described as heavily scripted. I asked one organizer if it was true that worker leaders made decisions during weekly national conference calls. The response was, “That’s bullshit, and I know because I participate in those calls.” Plus, a one person says during a strategy session Scott Courtney was introduced to workers as “the reason you are all here.” Compare this SEIU’s claim in 2013 that it is following the lead of fast-food workers and “We don’t yet understand the scale of it” when in fact it gave birth to the fast-food workers campaign.

Where there is organizing in Fight for 15, it is more in the streets than in the workplace. The big days of action are vital for the sense of momentum. Allies from community groups, students and union staff swell numbers, add to the festivity, make a more favorable media impression, sway public opinion, and make it look as if the campaign is growing.

One can make the case that SEIU made a sound decision in forgoing a worker-centric campaign for a P.R. and legal strategy. But then it can no longer said to be a worker-driven movement. If SEIU admitted workers’ fear of being fired or disciplined by employers leads to high turnover in Fight for 15, it would undermine the perception that more and more fast-food workers are joining and staying with the campaign. A lack of power also means workers follow the dictates of paid organizers, who in turn say they get their marching orders from SEIU leaders.

A few organizers have mentioned SEIU’s P.R. firm, BerlinRosen Public Affairs, is involved in the strategy. In fact, a 25-page document entitled “Strike in a Box,” which bears BerlinRosen’s logo, is presented as a how-to-guide for building a successful strike. This and other documents provide more evidence for the top-down management of Fight for 15, which is logical given the enormous effort devoted to organizing just one protest in one city. The fact that Fight for 15 staged more than 200 protests in U.S. cities on April 15 indicates how many resources SEIU has committed.

For example, one fast-food protest in 2013 was run like a military campaign. The staffing plan included the local organizing leadership, four different media workers, half-a-dozen “defusers” to soothe any trouble, a photographer, videographer, police liaison, chant leader and energizer, a supply team, drivers, onsite legal, a criminal lawyer on standby, breakfast and lunch coordinators, and people designated to hand out signs, flags, t-shirts, and water. A spreadsheet mapped out protests by the minute, noting times and location for loading vans, picking up workers, talking points for press conferences, skits, prayers, dancing in the streets, and “walk backs” of workers the next day to minimize retaliation. Insiders say to maximize turnout, Fight for 15 will sometimes rent hotel rooms for workers the night before a protest, rent vans to drive them to the start point, and provide meals.

Strike in a Box appears to be from an earlier stage of Fight for 15, but it is insightful. It starts with a “Legal FAQ” that describes different types of strikes under labor law. It cautions against any conduct that can be classified as picketing as “picketing is considered coercive and incurs more liability for the union,” such as forcing a union election. Instead it says to focus on unfair labor practices as “ULP strikes are the legal crown jewel of strikes.”

The document gives tips for discovering, recording and tracking unfair labor practices. Workers in various Fight for 15 chapters say uncovering ULPs became a priority nearly two years ago, with organizers regularly asking for incidences of employer retaliation or discrimination.

The link between the legal and media strategy is in the section on “Site Assessments,” which begins by asking how many active and strong ULP’s there are at a particular establishment. The section also asks if it’s a good site to focus on, the existence of strong leaders, and then shifts to questions about messaging:

“Is it an iconic brand? Does the brand help tell a story, locally and/or nationally?

“Do we have spokespeople?

Trained? Reliable? Experienced?

“Do we have stories?

Compelling worker stories

Horror stories about site practices (wage theft, sexual harassment, etc)

Connection to broader themes (cutting hours because of Obamacare, etc)”

Much of the remainder of Strike in a Box is devoted to recruiting workers with strong stories, organizing the strike vote, how to build a “pull plan” to maximize strike-day turnout, shoring up workers confidence, carrying out the actual strike, and the need for compelling visuals, stories and a narrative. Little is said about workplace organizing. This matches the experiences of many workers in the campaign who say they are not provided with any training on how to build shop-floor organization.

None of this is meant to dismiss Fight for 15. It is having a more profound effect than anyone could have hoped for when it began. But politics don’t just happen. By denying a central role SEIU leaders can deflect questions about controversial strategies and on-the-ground organizing. Likewise, analyzing strategy and tactics years from now is little use in books few people will read. There are many more questions that can and should be asked about Fight for 15.

For example, the campaign is focused primarily on wages and then on scheduling. But once they clock out, fast-food workers confront the dilemmas of childcare, healthcare, transportation, and rent. Fight for 15 talks about the difficulty of living on a poverty wage, but does so in moralistic terms: “fairness.” It avoids a deeper critique because “the goal is a contract.” As much as workers need a pay raise, $15 an hour is of little help in many cities where the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment would eat up the entire income of a full-time worker on this wage. In Seattle, Socialist Alternative has pivoted to organizing around runaway rents, but it’s rare for big unions to seriously organize around rent control or tenants’ rights despite the fact that escalating housing costs are one of the biggest burdens that workers shoulder.

Beyond issues of daily life is workers’ role in the labor process. Building worker power would stop promotional campaigns like McDonald’s embarrassing “Pay with Love” or Starbucks clumsy “Race Together” before they happen. This is not all the responsibility of one organizing campaign but without a serious debate about the strategy Fight for 15 is pursuing and shifting to worker-oriented strategies, it’s hard to see how wage gains will translate into a gain of power for workers.

The campaign has raised hopes on the left of a revival of class consciousness and a working-class movement, but will it come to fruition under SEIU? If history and current events are any guide, the missing ingredient is the organized left. It’s anarchists who made Occupy Wall Street happen, socialists who have revitalized many teachers unions, and socialists and the left that have turned $15 an hour into reality. Without a similar effort, Fight for 15 may give fast-food workers more change in their pockets, but not the power to change their lives.

Arun Gupta contributes to outlets including Al Jazeera America, Vice, The Progressive, The Guardian, and In These Times.

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORK SOLIDARITY WITH YARMOUK REFUGEE CAMP

March from Bryant Park to United Nations Headquarters

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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See THIS recent post  (Click on link)

WORLD TURNS A BLIND EYE TO ISIS’ MASSACRE OF PALESTINIANS

IN PHOTOS ~~ PALESTINE IS A ‘SELL OUT’ IN BROOKLYN

We are happy to report that yesterday was a very positive day in front of the Park Slope Food Coop, as we spent a second day offering members a taste of Palestinian olive oil and za’atar on both matzoh and pita bread. By the end of the day the Coop sold out of the Palestinian olive oil and more will have to be ordered. We will continue to put Palestinian olive oil on the table and invite people to join us in an appreciation of Palestine and it’s right to liberation.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary From We Will Not Be Silent

In the days leading up to Passover, Park Slope Food Coop members  gather outside the coop to offer free samples of the Palestinian olive oil sold inside, on matzoh and pita bread. We have handed out
Four Questions” to add to the traditional Seder questions, and encouraged shoppers to liberate the Passover story of liberation and talk about the Occupation. 

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    Click here to view more photos from this action. 

Click on link below to see our Holiday Post

DON’T PASSOVER PALESTINE THIS HOLIDAY

IN PHOTOS ~~ 5K GAZA RUN

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On Saturday morning, March 28th, the sky over Prospect Park in Brooklyn was leaden, the temperature was more appropriate to January than March, and it seemed to get worse as the hours passed.  However, that did not stop a spirited group of about 600 participants which included every race, ethnicity, and age from gathering to run, or walk, a 5K loop in the park. The event was organized by UNRWA USA in order to raise money to provide mental health services for the traumatized children of Gaza.  Buoyed only by the comradery and love for the children of Gaza, the runners took off at about 9:30 AM with the swifter among them crossing the finish line fairly shortly thereafter.  The walkers returned much later. 

The original goal was for the Brooklyn runners to raise about $50,000 but the amount collected far exceeded that.  $103,000 was raised and money is still coming in showing great support for this cause.  Races like this one have been organized by UNRWA USA in cities throughout the country.  

There was much elation among the participants because the event was so successful and because everyone felt good about being able to do something to help.  But at the same time it is very disturbing to recognize that with all the wealth in the world a UN agency has to create the equivalent of a school ‘bake sale’ to raise money to attempt to heal some of the scars that Israel inflicted on the children of Gaza last summer, destroying their bodies and their homes and murdering their families.  Also, nothing is getting better.  According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2014 more civilians were murdered on the West Bank and in Gaza then at any time since 1967. 

So, while the UNRWA  USA events are very important and should continue because they raise money and help galvanize the many people in the Palestine justice community we all have to do more.  For now, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) remains our most potent tool.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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Some of the 'older' folks called this event the 5K 'Schlep'

Some of the ‘older’ folks called this event the 5K ‘Shlep’ :)

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104 YEARS LATER ~~ REMEMBERING THE TRIANGLE FIRE AT THE SCENE — PHOTO ESSAY

Never were they forgotten!

The workers died because of the sickening greed of their bosses and the malfeasance of local officials who looked the other way. The bosses never paid for the murder of these workers but in the months and years that followed, American unionism took off and laws protecting workers and improving their conditions were established.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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NYC Fire Dept. displays the ladder they have today which they didn't have 104 years ago ... it was raised to the floor where the fire occurred.

NYC Fire Dept. displays the ladder they have today which they didn’t have 104 years ago … it was raised to the floor where the fire occurred.

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The victims were remembered by name

The victims were remembered by name

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Trade Union members and their children came out to remember the tragedy

Trade Union members and their children came out to remember the tragedy

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White carnations were left at the foot of the building .. each with the name of a victim attached to it

White carnations were left at the foot of the building .. each with the name of a victim attached to it

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And red carnations for the more recent victims in Pakistan ... see the poem that follows

And red carnations for the more recent victims in Pakistan … see the poem that follows

TriangleShirtwaist-Baldia 1911, 2012

 © By Tom Karlson

doors chained

exits blocked

!fire!

the elevator buckles,

fire-escape collapses

women roast or leap

their bodies,

smashed, shattered

sculpted by fire or the fall

charred pick-up sticks

counted, named, mourned

by lovers and family

146 six workers

laid out

on that sidewalk morgue

an unwanted mausoleum

lined with

tear and blood and a desolate dream

this mass death births law, unions,

strikes, reduced profits

the factories abandon the city

the law of maximum profit rules

riding the air-slip of gluttony, and greed

pigs after truffles

suits hunting surplus value

vampires, of the eighty-hour work week

medicated by NAFTA

union maids, law, labels, and lady liberty

are renditioned, shackled

flying Air America to points

south then east

and finally Baldia town, Pakistan

one hundred and one years from Triangle

the traveling factory, this profit making monster

with windows, doors

yes locked, barred

!fire!

314

dead, executed

bones broken

blackened lungs never to sing

crushed skulls never to read

broken feet never to dance

three hundred fourteen dreamless bodies

Chilling Factory Fire In Pakistan Kills Over 300…Similar To The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire In The US Which Killed 146

Chilling Factory Fire In Pakistan Kills Over 300…Similar To The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire In The US Which Killed 146

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THE NAKBA AND THE WAR IN IRAQ

Remembering the Nakba

"Facing the Ongoing Nakba” tour schedule

“Facing the Ongoing Nakba” tour schedule

 

LogoBut

zion wants us to forget about it …

On the eve of an important event to discuss the Nakba* scheduled to take place this evening, the Executive Director of a tony uptown synagogue in New York City where the event was contracted to take place has attempted to cancel the event with no explanation in what can only be perceived as an effort to shut down discussion of the “ongoing Nakba” within the Jewish community.

The event was to feature the Palestinian human rights organization, Badil (whose timely recently released Corporate Complicity in Violations of International Law in Palestine [pdf] is a must read), and Israeli human rights organization Zochrot. It is part of multi-city speaking tour, and was sponsored in New York by four organizations: Jewish Voice for Peace-New York; Nakba Education Project; Jews Say No!; and the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee.

*Nakba, means “catastrophe” in Arabic and refers to the forced displacement of Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment in 1948, and continues to this day.

Read the full report at Mondoweiss

The cancellation results …

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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On the other side of town, the 12th anniversary of Bush’s catastrophe was remembered

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IN PHOTOS ~~ JEWS IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

THE POSTERS

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VIEW OF THE AUDIENCE

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IN PHOTOS ~~ ISRAELI ARMY IS NOT OUR FRIEND

'Rabbi' Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs.

‘Rabbi’ Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs.

From Twitter ~~ The smiling idiot

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New Yorkers Turn out in the Rain to Protest Fundraiser for the Israeli Army

Sixty New Yorkers weathered Tuesday evening’s downpour to protest the gala fundraiser organized and hosted by US nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at the Waldorf Astoria. Demonstrators demanded that FIDF be stripped of its current tax-exempt status, which allows it to raise funds used to subsidize the Israeli military at the American taxpayers’ expense. Last year, the FIDF’s tax-exempt fundraising was subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of at least $20 million. Signs and pamphlets at the demonstration reminded attendees and passersby that these tax-exempt millions are not supporting a humanitarian cause, but a military force with a known record of egregious human rights abuses.

Attendees in formal wear and evening gowns appeared disturbed by the chants, signs, and marching protesters, sometimes responding with taunts and curses.  As they marched, protesters read out loud the names and ages of Palestinians killed in Israel’s brutal military assault on Gaza this summer. One dinner attendee responded to the reading of the name of a Palestinian casualty with, “Thank God he’s dead!”

 Rabbi Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs. Boteach, who often has vitriolic commentary for anyone criticizing Israel’s human rights record, has recently come under fire for an ad in the New York Times where he accused United States National Security Adviser Susan Rice of turning a blind eye to genocide.

Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY thanked demonstrators at the end for braving the rain to show that organizations like the Friends of the IDF “are not welcome in New York.”

The FIDF relieves the Israeli military of infrastructure, family support, and morale building expenses by raising funds that provide for soldiers’ medical care, financially support soldiers, and cover infrastructure costs such as housing for soldiers, training facilities, and recreational facilities. During  Israel’s most recent large-scale assault on Gaza during the summer of 2014, dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the Israeli army, Israel’s military managed to drop an atomic bomb’s equivalent in explosives on Gaza, killing 2,257 people and injuring thousands more. The operation also led to the destruction of countless homes, schools, mosques, and United Nations shelters. TheGolani and Givati Brigades, for which FIDF regularly raises funds and which stand to benefit from the FIDF gala, were both involved in the 2014 assault. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others have said the Israeli military committed war crimes in Gaza. FIDF’s direct support of those brigades exemplifies the organization’s complicity in the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.

Organized by Adalah-NY and endorsed by a dozen NYC human rights groups, the action took place during Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual, international series of events designed to build awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Other New York events include panels, speakers, cultural performances, discussions, and film screenings hosted by organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at city universities.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary From Adalha NY

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More photos HERE

PHOTOS OF NEW YORK’S MULTI ISSUE WOMEN’S DAY MARCH

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In 1910, the International Socialist Women’s Congress declared International Women’s Day.

Today, March 8th, 2015, women in NYC, and from surrounding areas, marched  through Manhattan’s streets demanding equality for women in equal pay, a  $15 hr. minimum wage, jobs, health care, free quality education for all, the end of racism and police brutality and the need for peace.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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IN PALESTINE ~~ RESTORATION OF BUILDINGS Vs MEMORIES

‘Ein Siniya’s population in the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, was 114. Today in 2015, ‘Ein Siniya’s population is 885 persons strong. Given every act of the Israeli military occupation for the last five decades has been designed to get Palestinians to leave Palestine, ‘Ein Siniya is a living testament to our resilience and determination to not only remain on the land, but to grow despite all odds.

Restoration of Buildings vs Memories

By Sam Bahour

Home of Jamil Al Husseini, ‘Ein Siniya, Palestine (Photo credit: DHIP)

Home of Jamil Al Husseini, ‘Ein Siniya, Palestine (Photo credit: DHIP)

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it. I’ve lived in Palestine for 21 years and passed by the village of ‘Ein Siniya hundreds of times, but can’t recall ever actually visiting it, that is, until today.

‘Ein Siniya is a small Palestinian village in the West Bank’s Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, 10 kilometers north of Ramallah, northeast of Jifna, the village renowned for its apricots. It lies in a valley surrounded by olive and fig terraces. Its population has grown from 701 persons in 2007 to 885 today, a whopping 12% increase. It was the home of Faisal Husseini, the legendary Palestinian leader who spent his life defending Palestinian rights in Jerusalem. ‘Ein Siniya is what one would call a sleepy, laid-back village, but today it came alive and I was there to witness this refreshing awakening.

I arrived to ‘Ein Siniya driving behind a minibus from The Danish House in Palestine that was transporting people who were heading to the same venue that I was. Turning off the main road into the village, we turned right and then took the first left. The first thing I noticed is what one usually sees in all Palestinian villages, a group of children. This group was a cheerful one of young girls seemingly excited at all the odd traffic crawling up their street. A few hundred meters up the hill, on the right, was the historic home that we were coming to visit, the home of Mr. Jamil Al Husseini.

Standing in front of this huge, run-down home was actress Faten Khoury. She was oddly standing halfway in the street, not to be missed. She was frozen in a pose, staring at the long, stone staircase that hugged the backside of the building and led to the first floor of this abandoned, eerie home. She held a suitcase in one hand and a white photo album in the other. As we exited our cars and the bus unloaded, many stopped to talk to Faten, but she would not budge. She just stared up the staircase, clearly leading us to where we were to go, without saying a word.

Upstairs we entered through an old, traditional doorway, narrow and with a heavy steel door. We then walked across a sheet of metal flooring, placed on an old outside terrace that led to a large room. Along the way there were rooms to our right, the first had two young girls, in traditional costume, sitting on the floor kneeling bread dough. The next room had a young man, also in traditional dress, manually milling freshly picked olives with a stone. At the end of the terrace walkway we entered a larger room, possibly what was once the family’s living room.

Emilie Simonsen (Photo credit: Mohammed Abbas)

Emilie Simonsen (Photo credit: Mohammed Abbas)

As we found our seats, more and more people flowed in, young and old. Emilie paid no attention to all the buzz in the room; she just kept doing her thing. Sitting behind me was a row of the most beautiful young girls from the village. The sat diligently waiting, trying to understand who were all these strange people who all of the sudden arrived out of nowhere. I asked them where they were from and what they were all waiting for? Without hesitation, one replied, “We are from here, ‘Ein Siniya, and we await the skit, there is going to be a skit here. Where are you from?” I replied, “Al-Bireh, near Ramallah,” thinking they would only know the larger city near mine. One of the girls, around 9 years old, answered, “I know where Al-Bireh is; it’s where the Al-Bireh Secondary Girls School is located.” I was clearly not needed for these girls to navigate their geography.The room was full of people sitting on the ten or so rows of chairs. In the front of the room was a table, with a foreign lady sitting alone. She had her headphones on and reverted back and forth between diligently typing away on her laptop and putting on a pair of white gloves, before picking up an artifact, pieces of a colorful broken ceramic dish, which she used a small brush to meticulously brush the edges of the dish pieces off. We later learned this she was Ms. Emilie Simonsen, a Danish actress visiting Palestine, playing the role of a historic restoration expert.

Not before long, there was only standing room left. Then entered an older, well-dressed man. He was ushered to sit in the first row. This was the owner of the house, Jamil Al Husseini. It was then announced that the show was about to begin. The room fell silent.

Actress Faten hesitatingly entered the room, still holding her photo album as she placed her luggage to the side. She then spent the next ten minutes thrashing around the room, talking to herself, reminiscing about days long gone. She recalled her father’s descriptions of his home back in Palestine, this home. She walked through the rooms, shocked that, although she never lived in this home, she felt like she knew every nook and cranny—the wooden window frames, the arched windows that separated the rooms, the porch, the now-broken vase sitting on Emilie’s table waiting to be logged in her laptop, the tiled floors, and so on. She spoke of the home as if she could see all its long-gone residents still there. Actually, as Faten reminisced, a group of young actors and actresses from Ashtar Theater were playing out the home’s original family members, as if they had come back to life. As Faten moved from one room to another, she slammed a door, startling Emilie, the foreign actress.

Emilie abruptly stopped bushing the artifact in her hand, threw off her white gloves and removed her headphones to jump up and scold Faten for being in the house. Emilie explained that the house was very old and is being restored and no one was allowed in. Faten replied, in vain, that this was her family’s home and she could envision all the memories as if they were alive. Emilie was unable to see this, being only privy to the material artifacts that she was brushing and logging into her laptop. As photos of past times, when the home was full of life, were displayed on the stone wall of the living room, Faten, frustrated with Emilie’s inability to feel the living past of the home, summed up the stance: “You are only interested in the restoration of the buildings, not the memories.” The audience was moved. I had a serious outbreak of goose bumps.

Emilie Simonsen (L), Ashtar team, Faten Khoury (R) (Photo Credit: Mohammed Abbas)

Emilie Simonsen (L), Ashtar team, Faten Khoury (R) (Photo Credit: Mohammed Abbas)

Following the skit, the floor was open for discussion. The first to speak, remaining true to our culture, was the owner of the home. He thanked everyone for coming and welcomed us to his home, a heavy-on-the-heart welcome given the condition of the building, but an exceedingly warm welcome taking into consideration that it was now filled, once again, by village boys and girls, adults, and everyone else, most importantly Jamil himself, the homeowner.A few minutes later, the skit ended. It took this talented team of actors and actresses merely twenty minutes to strike a deep chord in each of us. Lost homes, time passed, history maintained through oral storytelling, refugees coming home, today’s material world seeking to merely see the stones and not the families who lived in the homes or what happened to them, or where they went, or how they died. In those short, twenty minutes, a number of deep feelings that every Palestinian has was touched.

When I spoke during the discussion period, I challenged the young ones in the room. I told them I’m going to write this article about the event and want them to send me their reflections so I can include them. Immediately after the event, the entire group of young girls who were sitting in the row behind me came up to me. One of the girls, Bisan, an unquestionable future leader, garnered enough courage to speak to me on their behalf. With her red cheeks and beautiful smile, she said they wanted to ask how they can send me what they write. I gave them my business card and told them my email is listed. One of the girls asked if she can send hers to me on Facebook, or Face, as she called it. Another sign of the times. They were so excited, they made the rest of a normal day great.

I barely got home that evening when I found this message from Bisan:

‘I am Bisan Jabr Ahmed, I was in ‘Ein Siniya theater and I’m ten years old. I felt that this play expressed our Palestinian heritage and took me back to the old days, how our parents used to live, while now everyone is busy with Face. How in the old times my parents and I worked together in our home and how we cooperated and how we disagreed.’

She then asked me to let her know next time I come to ‘Ein Siniya. Bisan and her generation are thirsty to live, while the military occupation that keeps its boot on their necks make it hard for them to even breathe.

Then a few hours later, I received this message:

‘I am Sama’a Khater. I’m nine years old. I loved the skit which was played in ‘Ein Siniya. Although it was short, it expressed the feelings of people in old days, and made me feel very sad.’

The idea to bring Palestinian oral histories to life has been the passion and project of actress Faten Khoury for years. With the support of The Danish House in Palestine and many generous others, she was able to link with the professional Danish actress Emilie who works in Denmark to revive history through theater. This skit was a pilot for a much larger project that Faten is working on, the creation of a Theatrical Museum of Oral History. I support this project wholeheartedly and made it my firm’s current corporate social responsibility project. Please help bring it to life if you can by visiting www.aim.ps/aim-csr.html and making a donation.

Bottom line, ‘Ein Siniya’s population in the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, was 114. Today in 2015, ‘Ein Siniya’s population is 885 persons strong. Given every act of the Israeli military occupation for the last five decades has been designed to get Palestinians to leave Palestine, ‘Ein Siniya is a living testament to our resilience and determination to not only remain on the land, but to grow despite all odds. I, for one, commit to redoubling my efforts to ensure that Bisan and her friends will all have a future worth living for.

 

Read in Arabic HERE              Visit Sam’s Blog HERE

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ COMMEMORATING SELMA ALABAMA’S BLOODY SUNDAY

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On March 7th,1965, Black citizens from Selma, Alabama attempted to march to the state capital Montgomery demanding the right of Black citizens to vote.

At a bridge on route  to Montgomery they were confronted by a large band of Alabama state troopers armed with  rifles, whips, tear gas, clubs & dogs. They were informed their march was illegal  and they would not be allowed to cross and were given three minutes to disperse. When the marchers requested time to pray they were immediately set upon by the troopers: a brutal racist attack commenced. Beatings, blooded heads and broken bones ensued: Blood flowed freely. 

That day is known as “Bloody Sunday”. This day, March 7th, 2015,  is the 50th  anniversary of  the Alabama State terror attack. In commemoration, 1,000 people joined and walked from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn bridge to Brooklyn and then to Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to hear President Obama’s speech from Selma Alabama.

(click on link to see and hear)

Full Text of the

President’s speech

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around 

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR PEACE WITH IRAN

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On March 3rd, the day of Netanyahu’s anti-Iran speech to the U.S. Congress, a group of activists gathered at Times Sq. to protest his war oriented speech. They stood in the Square with black and white signs which have become the icon of New York City protestors, and proclaimed loudly “No war on Iran: negotiate”.  From Times Sq. they  marched through Manhattan streets, through Grand Central Station, to the Israeli Consulate chanting  for a diplomatic solution.

When the marchers arrived at the Consulate the police tried to persuade them to demonstrate across the street.

The marchers refused to cross and proclaimed their legal- constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully at the Consulate. Meanwhile, across the street, another group, “Israelis  for a Sustainable Peace”, was also protesting Netanyahu’s polices.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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The other Demo

ISRAELIS FOR A SUSTAINABLE PEACE

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IN PHOTOS ~~ NETANYAHU’S WELCOME IN NEW YORK (NOT)

The Emporer's Nuke Clothes Image by Katie Miranda

The Emperor’s Nuke Clothes
Image by Katie Miranda

In a blinding snow fall, March 1st, scores of people gathered to protest the forthcoming speech on March 3rd of Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress.

Speakers protested the occupation and settlement of Palestinian land and  the murderous deaths of thousands of Palestinians at the bloodied hands of the Zionists with the aid of American tax dollars. They noted the unity of the Congressnal extreme right  and  the Zionist policy of  pushing the U.S. into war with Iran. The speakers said that Netanyahu does not speak for all American Jews as he pretends.  The message to Netanyahu was ‘GET OUT OF THIS COUNTRY’

The snow might have been blinding but it did not stop us from seeing the truth!

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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ASHAMED TO BE FROM OHIO

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner has made me embarrassed to be an Ohioan. His invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress breaks protocol, advances the foreign policy of an expansionist Israeli leader over that of our own president, and brings the United States closer to a war with Iran that most Americans do not want.

Now I know why I left ….

John Boehner makes me ashamed to be an Ohioan

Sam Bahour

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio defends the work of the GOP during a brief news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 31, 2014, as Congress prepares to leave for a five-week summer recess. The institutional split of a Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate has added up to inaction, especially in a midterm election year with control of the Senate at stake. Lawmakers have struggled to compromise on a handful of bills to deal with the nation's pressing problems amid overwhelming partisanship. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite)

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio defends the work of the GOP during a brief news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 31, 2014, as Congress prepares to leave for a five-week summer recess. The institutional split of a Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate has added up to inaction, especially in a midterm election year with control of the Senate at stake. Lawmakers have struggled to compromise on a handful of bills to deal with the nation’s pressing problems amid overwhelming partisanship. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner has made me embarrassed to be an Ohioan. His invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress breaks protocol, advances the foreign policy of an expansionist Israeli leader over that of our own president, and brings the United States closer to a war with Iran that most Americans do not want.

The Middle East is a powder keg, already sparking and on the verge of even further violent deterioration. How do I know? Because I live here. Actually, I live under the Israeli military occupation that has persisted for nearly 50 years due to the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Boehner has been in public office for a long time, serving since 1991. That’s longer than most of the current Arab leaders. One would think that 24 years is long enough for him to understand that Netanyahu is no friend of America’s in the Middle East. Has Boehner been oblivious to the fact that at every turn in the U.S.-sponsored Oslo peace process, Netanyahu has been politically spitting in the face of U.S. officials?

When President Barack Obama was first elected to the White House, he demanded that Israel stop building illegal settlements in order to give a chance for the failed negotiations to restart. What did Netanyahu do? He carved out huge exceptions to a partial settlement freeze and then refused to renew the freeze. Worse, the pro-Israel lobby mobilized against Obama so he would no longer press so vigorously on the illegal expansion of colonies.

When Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Israel, what did the Israeli government do? Government officials announced new illegal settlement activity while Biden was still there. He fumed, but the U.S. government did nothing.

When Secretary of State John Kerry rushed to the region last year in a last-ditch attempt to save the two-state solution, what did Netanyahu do? He refused to stop settlement building and, in fact, a new Peace Now report indicates that tenders for housing in illegal settlements were at a 10-year high in 2014.

Kerry had to walk back his use of the “A-word” in reference to Israel traveling the path to apartheid, given its refusal to end the occupation of Palestinian land. Netanyahu and his Cabinet, of course, publicly refuse to admit to occupying anyone else’s land.

With his strikes on Gaza and Syria, Netanyahu risks igniting the region and dragging the United States to places that weaken it, undercutting U.S. strategic interests.

These violent and deadly attacks are above and beyond Israel’s never-ending battering of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is also above and beyond the institutional discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel must face every day.

Now Netanyahu is about to be given center stage yet again. As Israelis prepare for theirelections this month, Netanyahu could not have asked for a better present — the chance to address all of the lawmakers of the strongest country on Earth. Even better, for him, is that he can do this while beating the war drums over Iran. For Netanyahu to be elected, like so many Israeli prime ministers before him, electioneering on a platform of fear is the only way he can win.

His browbeating of Obama for new sanctions on Iran is a disgrace to our Congress — an institution already deeply unpopular with the American public. More strikingly, for the first time in many years, Israel may become a partisan issue, with the Democratic grass roots increasingly raising concerns about Israel’s violent and discriminatory actions against Palestinians. More than two dozen brave representatives and senators have announced they will not attend Netanyahu’s speech, indicating a glimmer of integrity emanating from our legislative branch of government.

If that partisan splintering happens, Boehner and Netanyahu inadvertently will have opened the door to a long-overdue American conversation about the propriety of U.S. moral and military support to a country that for decades has oppressed Palestinians in conditions reminiscent of apartheid South Africa. This budding discussion is the silver lining, however, in an otherwise disturbing incident.

These juvenile shenanigans serve only to bring the United States closer to war with Iran right in the midst of critical negotiations to avoid such an outcome. The new Republican Congress has no business elevating a modern-day apartheid leader over its own president.

 

Originally appeared AT

THE TIME HAS COME TO RESET PALESTINE’S POLITICAL SYSTEM

We have all spent far too much time massaging a reality that we all see and acknowledge as strategically troubling, indeed catastrophic. Repairing the Palestinian political system cannot wait any longer. The most just cause in modern history is at stake.

Resetting Palestine’s political system

Repairing the Palestinian political system cannot wait any longer.

Separation wall in Bethany. Separation wall in Bethany. Mahmoud illean/Demotix, All rights reserved

Today, Palestinian political strategy is being driven in the total absence of a functioning political system. Israel’s forced fragmentation of our geographic reality mixed with internal political party divisions, disgust, despair and incompetence, the status quo tears apart Palestine’s societal fabric. If it remains on its current course, the train of national liberation is bound to derail, resulting in serious, if not permanent, damage to our bid for freedom and independence

Repairing the Palestinian political system cannot wait any longer.

Almost every week in Palestine a political personality or think tank invites a group of thinkers to hash out what can be done to halt the imminent crash of our political project. Efforts to bring us together when so many powers are trying to keep us in permanent disarray are of course welcome.

However, unlike many of those who take joy in merely being in the presence of leadership, I have been walking away from these never-ending discussions with serious concerns. Given the years of experience and high caliber of those sitting around the table, I’d be surprised if any of them was unaware of any piece of insight shared in the discussions. The thought that these meetings really launch any kind of strategic process to reverse the political deterioration is rather far-fetched.

Priorities for a real strategic track

Here are a few priorities we need to get us on a strategic track that is worthy of the time and effort being exerted. They relate directly to the need to repair the Palestinian political system as well as our national liberation movement.

Applying accountability – It is no longer acceptable that those responsible, politically or otherwise, for our current state of affairs should still be put forward as our saviors. Until the public sees more than a public relations effort to expose failed or criminal elements in our society, then whatever political strategy is chosen will have little legitimacy.

Addressing governance – This is the issue everyone speaks about but no one addresses. How can we seriously move forward with no political system in place? The gatherings organized every week by well-meaning community catalysts may have their place, but they cannot be a substitute for a functioning political system. The successful round of municipal elections that were held in the West Bank were a baby step forward and they must continue, where possible, until all municipal governments are not only elected, but also respect their terms in office.

However, municipal level government is not the arena where political strategy emerges. Every Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) level of leadership, every PLO organ, every Palestinian Authority governing unit must regain its credibility before the people, inside Palestine and abroad.

Elections may serve a purpose, but they are not a silver bullet. To drive this point home, I urge all Palestinians to watch a TED talk by the venture capitalist and political scientist, Eric X Li, who argues that China will “morally challenge” the universality claim of western democratic systems. The point is that there are many ways to reach collective leadership at every level of governance; what are we waiting for?

Building capacity for the UN battle – Entering the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a bold and long overdue step, but this is bound to be a long and hard process. The real impact of the new state tools available to us is how to bring the challenge to occupation down to an operational level in strategically chosen international venues. For that to happen, we need dedicated, trained and committed human resources. The quality of our current diplomatic corps leaves much to be desired. The public threat to enter 500+ international treaties and organizations rings hollow to those who know the current state of our human resources. This is a dangerous illusion. Let us take statehood seriously and mobilize human resources to rise to the occasion.

Only when we work on the three imperatives outlined above will we really be prepared to enter into a strategic planning exercise to chart our path to freedom and independence.

In the meantime, why do we waste time in dwelling on the need to choose forms of resistance? Can we not at least agree that all internationally and morally accepted forms of resistance should be supported? These include diplomatic efforts, economic resistance, civil disobedience, the ICC, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), etc. These are all tactics, not a political strategy. Once the political strategic direction is defined, then the intensity of any or all of these tactics can be revisited. But until a political strategy is defined, who is to say which tactic of resistance is valid or invalid?

The basics for a political strategy

We must go back to basics, and ask the political parties as well as the PLO leadership a few questions to be used as starting points for a new political program. For example, in 2015, do we:

  1. Accept international law and UN resolutions as our political frame of reference?
  2. Recognize the State of Israel? Not the undefinable ‘Jewish’ state, but rather the state that sits in the UN?
  3. Recognize the new State of Palestine (it’s unfortunate that we did not call it new in the UN bid for statehood, so the political distinction would be clear)? Not the State of Palestine of 1948, the state in our hearts and poetry, but rather the political state that has sat in the UN as a non-member observer state since November 29, 2012?

Seeing the answer to these and other questions, in writing, from the PLO and all the political parties would speak volumes. It would at the very least let the Palestinian people know where we are.

In addition, there are some practical steps that could immediately help restart our national liberation movement.

First, President Abbas must travel to Gaza and stay there until the reconciliation agreement is implemented. Before he goes, it is imperative that he appoint a Vice President. The issue of appointing a deputy is long overdue, but to understand the urgent need for this I urge all to read the article written by Atty. Haytham Zubi that was published in Al-Quds Newspaper on July 20, 2013 “Calm Constitutional Advice to the President” (مشورة دستورية هادئة الى سيادة الرئيس الفلسطيني).

Secondly, a PLO decision and Presidential decree must broaden the scope of the Central Elections Commission to allow them to begin the long and tedious process of registering Palestinians worldwide. It is unacceptable that there has been no serious effort to create a Population Registry of all Palestinians, not only those under occupation.

Third, a PLO decision and Presidential decree must activate a new and progressive Political Party Law to allow new political groupings to come together and legitimately enter the Palestinian political stage. We are deluding ourselves when we continue to speak of the traditional political parties as if they are all alive and well, or even exist in any meaningful way today. If political thought is not permitted to legitimately assemble and become part of Palestinians’ political tapestry, one can only expect the excluded to tear the tapestry apart.

We have all spent far too much time massaging a reality that we all see and acknowledge as strategically troubling, indeed catastrophic. Repairing the Palestinian political system cannot wait any longer. The most just cause in modern history is at stake.

The above is from Open Democracy

Read in Arabic HERE

BETWEEN STORYTELLING AND REPORTING A STORY ~~ A LONG BUT MUST READ

In oppressed communities, such as ours, stories play a crucial role in transmitting from one generation to the next a people’s history, as well as the history of their struggle for freedom. We do storytelling well.

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Between storytelling and reporting a story
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بين رواية الخبر ونقله

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By Sam Bahour

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Every culture has stories, whether for entertainment, education, cultural preservation, or instilling moral values. Many times, stories address more than one goal simultaneously. These stories are sometimes repeated so often in a family or community that they take on the characteristics of a fairy tale, but not without retaining a hint of the underlying truths. The life cycle of a story from fact to fiction is a discussion for another time, but let’s bear in mind that when a story’s main medium of travel is oral, a mix of fact, improvisation and embellishment are usually present in the final result.

News, on the other hand, is a special form of storytelling. News is an industry based on multiple professions working in tandem to produce news stories that inevitably and regrettably are filtered through a particular lens in the service of a particular set of values. Moreover, the news biz in today’s high-speed and hyper-connected digital world is more specialized than ever with deeply embedded, mutually competing agendas, whether the media sector wants to admit this or not. Objectivity in journalism is a relic of past times, rarely found and often not even sought in the production and presentation of today’s news offerings.

READ ON AT:

ENGLISH (PDF): http://bit.ly/story-AlHal-En
(for full English edition click here)

ARABIC: http://bit.ly/story-AlHal-Ar
(for full Arabic edition click here)

IS OBAMA BEING SINCERELY IGNORANT OR KNOWINGLY MALICIOUS?

My impression is that President Obama is not truly interested in telling the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead he, like most politicians, is interested in navigating his boat in safe water.

 

As visioned by Carlos Latuff

As visioned by Carlos Latuff

 

Is Obama being sincerely ignorant or knowingly malicious?

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem
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When President Obama spoke at last week’s White House Conference on terrorism, he actually regurgitated the same platitudes that we have been hearing from American officials time after time after time.Luckily, Obama highlighted the need for making a careful distinction between what a given religion says and what some of its followers do.

He was also correct in pointing out that that the so-called Jihadists were actually harming rather than serving Islam. So far so good.

But then in his analysis of the Jihadists’ violence, honesty was not Obama’s shield nor was truth part of his ammunition.

Indeed, in his analysis of the IS phenomenon, he utterly failed to present a convincing argument explaining what makes these violent people do what they do.

My impression is that President Obama is not truly interested in telling the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead he, like most politicians, is interested in navigating his boat in safe water.

Obama is not ignorant. He knows the truth about how the IS came into being. His myriad of intelligence services brief him, almost on real time, on every everything in this world.

In fact, one doesn’t have to be a great political scientist to know that the Da’esh violence, shocking and traumatic as it is, is in fact a mere boomerang effect of even the more shocking terror carried out against Muslims by the U.S., its allies and its puppet regimes, especially in the Middle East.

True, many people, including civilians, have been killed, burned and beheaded by Da’esh and like-minded groups.

However, we must have the intellectual honesty and moral courage to admit that the American war machine has killed far more innocent people than has the IS and al-Qa’eda.

So is using “hell-fire missiles” dropped from high altitudes, to reduce people on the ground to charred skeletal remains a more civilized tactic than that the gruesome images we occasionally see coming from Iraq, Syria and Libya.

But then what about the far more pornographic death and destruction in Gaza? Are Palestinian Gazans children of a lesser God?

But then what makes IS woo recruits?

I have repeatedly argued that extremist groups such as Da’esh and al-Qaeda represent the other face of tyrannical Arab regimes.

The so-called Arab spring initially gave millions of disillusioned Arab youth a hope for a better tomorrow. Some Arab and western intellectuals had predicted then  that the Tahrir Square in Cairo would eventually spell the death certificate of al-Qaeda and its sisters.

But then came Sissi, who massacred thousands at Raba’a, carried out a bloody coup against the only democratically-elected president in Egypt’s entire history, shut off all non-conformist media outlets and fabricated a “constitution” which allowed everyone – from atheists to Marxists- to take part in political life, while outlawing Muslims. This is while the Muslim Brothers, which had just won several elections, was abruptly outlawed and declared a terrorist organization.

The West, including the U.S., looked on, refusing to condemn and boycott the coup. Instead, the Obama administration helped the criminal junta attain legitimacy despite the overwhelming rejection of that junta by the Egyptian people.

And what about the Syrian scandal? Does Barack Obama really expect the slow-motion holocaust in Syria to have no ramifications and repercussions on people, especially those directly affected?

Can we really expect someone who has seen his entire family systematically slaughtered by sectarian soldiers, or exterminated by crude barrel bombs dropped on Sunni neighborhoods to display moderation?

Once again, I hope Obama will for once be honest.

The Islamist extremists, whether we like it or not, are the inevitable side-effect of the Nazi-like secular Arab regimes who have demonstrated their willingness to destroy their own countries and murder their own people in order to remain in power. This is why the IS and her sisters will not go away as long as democracy is crushed, peaceful protesters are slaughtered en masse and declared terrorists, as long as Muslims, especially moderate Muslims are not only barred from public life but imprisoned, and murdered on concocted charges.

In this case, many young Muslims, who otherwise wouldn’t be attracted to extremism, will find IS the more honorable and morally correct choice to follow. Frankly, I don’t blame them.

AMERICAN MEDIA GUILTY OF MURDER BY COMPLICITY

Western, especially American, reactions to this week’s cold-blooded murder of three innocent Muslim college students in North Carolina have been grossly inadequate.
 
Major American news networks, have, more or less, treated the monstrous crime as a passing banality. Critical questions that ought to be asked were never asked, which means the stage is set for the perpetration of the next act of murder targeting Muslims.

The media is also culprit  in the N. Carolina Triple murder

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
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Western, especially American, reactions to this week’s cold-blooded murder of three innocent Muslim college students in North Carolina have been grossly inadequate.

Major American news networks, have, more or less, treated the monstrous crime as a passing banality. Critical questions that ought to be asked were never asked, which means the stage is set for the perpetration of the next act of murder targeting Muslims.

True, the alleged murderer was detained by the police. However, the American media was also culprit in this crime and bears an important part of the blame for its occurrence.

The unrelenting Islamphobic discourse, that we keep hearing and watching in the U.S., does make the perpetration of such a crime inevitable. It would be dishonest to claim otherwise.

This is not a far-fetched analysis of an “isolated incident” as some pundits might be prompted to argue. In the final analysis, anti-Muslim racism in the United States has assumed phenomenal proportions due to the constant defamation of Islam and Muslims by a brashly hostile media.

Needless to say, this hate-mongering has caused many Americans to lump all Muslims in one basket. Thus, all Muslims, near and distant, are portrayed as carbon copies or at least potential carbon copies or prototypes of Osama Bin Laden or Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi.

But this portrayal is actually incorrect. The vast majority of Muslims, I would say 99.99% are normal and peaceful people who are, like most Americans, busy making a decent living, raising their kids, supporting their families, and trying to make ends meet.

I strongly believe that this fact is well known to most media editors who probably choose to ignore it for reasons having to do with cultural bigotry  against Muslims.

In other words, this is not an expression of ignorance of the truth but rather a malicious and reckless disregard of it. Yes, it is an expression of willful dishonesty by much of the American media. And that is a real problem.

Of course, we cannot lump all American media in one negative category. Newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor can’t be considered a carbon copy of the New York post or the New Republic.

But, unfortunately, the level-headed press has been reduced to a faint voice in a deep valley in a jungle of gung-ho media outlets where the dearth of honesty is conspicuous.

None the less, being “ignorantly dishonest” is not an excuse. In the final analysis, maligning a religious or ethnic community will sooner or later lead to murder or mass murder. We don’t have to go back many decades to demonstrate the evil power of incitement, especially when the targeted audience is uninformed, misinformed or dis-informed.

The recent genocidal episodes in Mynamar and the Republic of Central Africa are hair-raising examples of what public incitement could do. The same thing can be said about Bosnia.

We also do know that the holocaust didn’t start with Auschwitz or other concentration camps. It rather started with Mein Kampf and other expressions of hatred for Jews.

Where is the outrage?

The murderous killing of three young,  innocent American Muslims is by no means an isolated incident or thunder on a clear day. It is rather the inevitable effect of an undeniable cause and the cause is the affronting anti-Islamic messages that we keep watching on Fox News and so-called “Christian” TV programs.

That is why responsibility for spilling the blood of the three innocent victims in North Carolina doesn’t solely lie with the direct killer, but also with a morally callous media that made the killing inevitable.

I am not auggesting that press freedom ought to be restricted. However, a free press must also be a responsible press.

But a responsible press can’t be truly responsible unless it is well-informed and well-aware of the facts. Otherwise, the press, whether knowingly or unknowingly, would succumb to the Steve Emerson syndrom  whereby citizens are spoon-fed half-truths, disinformation and pure lies by charlatans presented as “experts” on Islam.

As a Muslim and journalist who, by  the way, studied and lived long in the United States, I am appalled by the lack of western indignation at crimes against Muslims in general, whether in the West itself, or indeed, in Palestine and other places.

This is moral hypocrisy in broad daylight. It is outrageous and therefore unacceptable. We are all human beings, created by the same God. We should be equal. Our blood should be equal. Our lives should be equal.

The fact that we are not equal in reality is not the result of an ineluctable fate. It is rather the result of the prevalence of an evil minset  which keeps pushing our world to the abyss.

Will we wake up before it is too late?

PALESTINE ~~ STAGE OF A MODERN DAY GREEK TRAGEDY

Life rolls on not in any monotony but in the crazy waves of ups and downs and scenarios reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedies.  We take the punches, resist the evil acts of some, act to help where we can, accept the things we cannot change and try to change those we can.  That is life.

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Greek Tragedies

Mazin Qumsiyah, PhD

Life rolls on not in any monotony but in the crazy waves of ups and downs and scenarios reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedies.  We take the punches, resist the evil acts of some, act to help where we can, accept the things we cannot change and try to change those we can.  That is life.  This week we lost several friends and neighbors (Advocate Judeh Shahwan, Professor Naseer Aruri,  Human Rights activist Kayla Mueller, Ihab Rishmawi) and we mourned atrocities committed in the US, Syria and Iraq .  The racist Zionist Debbie Schlussel wrote that she has no sympathy for our friend Kayla for being “anti-American” (actually anti-Zionist control of American Foreign policy) and called  Kayla other names so obscene to be mentioned here.  A brief on Naseer Aruri just to show you the quality of the many we mourn (all of them are candles in the darkness and remain so even after death; truly inspirational)

We were not surprised that the highest court in the apartheid regime rejected the well-documented evidence of the murder of Rachel Corrie and accepted the fascist soldier’s version that it was an “accident.” Western media ignored this travesty of justice. Time for the international criminal court.  In other news in the last few days, a hate-filled criminal terrorist killed three young Muslim students in North Carolina.  That is where I lived and worked for six years and knew intimately the Muslim and Arab community and I recognized many of the faces of the mourners at the funeral videos.  After significant protest, Mr. Obama made a brief statement but it was not even close to his statement about the Paris killings.  The media was even more hypocritical either ignoring the story or calling the executions as a parking altercation! (yes I know it is unbelievable).  See these videos about this incidence

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We find the mainstream media so distorted, so biased; they are either run by Zionist racists or afraid of backlash from Zionist racists if they tell the truth.  Otherwise how does one explain the discrepancy of extensive almost round-the-clock coverage by American media of the hate crimes committed in Paris but little or no coverage of the crime in North Carolina.  What little coverage they did was distorted claiming the guy killed those three innocent young Muslims because of a “parking space” issue!  How else can we see that a story like the French police catching a Jewish Zionist who was spray painting cars of Jews as a false flag operation to increase emigration of French Jews to Palestine (transformed to the Jewish state of Israel). Why coverage mentioning this is in some obscure website not on mainstream media?  Here is a report mentioning this.

But here is the Times of Israel interested in getting Jews to migrate out of France telling us the police arrested the guy but not saying he is Jewish and that Israel expects 10,000 Jewish French to come join the land thieves.

Such hypocrisy, such lies and countless false flag operations (billions spent on psy-ops to brainwash common people), and such evil forces are all around us.  But then again I think of goodness.  I think of those who organized vigils in Bethlehem and other towns for victims like the Jordanian pilot.

I think of 14-year-old Malak (english Angel) Alkhatib.  She is a true angel who was incarcerated in Israeli gulags (fascist prisons).  She was finally released and the video of her reunion with family and supporters is touching.

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