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.

lesson_a_02
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.

IN PHOTOS ~~ GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE Vs NYC COUNCIL

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On Abraham Lincoln’s birthday-2/12/15, a cold snow shower day,  the NYC Grannies Peace Brigade demonstrated in front of NYC Hall protesting 15 members of the City Council, going to Israel in February, on an all -expenses paid junket sponsored by Zionist groups. Banners were displayed and leaflets distributed  to passerby’s explaining the protest.

Photos and commentary © by Bud Korotzer

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ETHNIC CLEANSING: ISRAEL’S ULTIMATE STRATEGY TOWARD THE PALESTINIANS

The ubiquitous proliferation of Jewish settlements in the West Banks has simply made the establishment of a Palestinian state, one that is worthy of the name, quite impossible.

Ethnic cleansing: Israel’s ultimate strategy toward the Palestinians

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

In a farewell speech, outgoing UN Special Coordinator for the so-called “Middle East peace process” Robert Serry has warned the apartheid state of Israel that continued settlement building in the West Bank was killing any remaining chances for the two-state solution.

Serry said the killing of the two-state solution strategy would transform Israel into a bi-national state.

Israeli leaders, with the exception of some isolated voices, scoffed at Serry’s remarks, with some spokespersons calling these remarks “stale and stupid.”

It is widely believed that Israel has already killed any remaining chances for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, especially one with Jerusalem as its capital.

The ubiquitous proliferation of Jewish settlements in the West Banks has simply made the establishment of a Palestinian state, one that is worthy of the name, quite impossible.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has met virtually all Israeli demands, including putting tens of thousands of Palestinian security personnel in the service of Israeli security whims.

Moreover, Abbas’s Gendarme has killed, tormented and repressed Palestinian citizens on Israel’s behalf. Moreover, PA security agencies seriously violated Palestinians’ human rights and civil liberties in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from Israel and her guardian-ally, the United States.

In fact, on numerous occasions, Abbas humiliated himself and his people by pandering to Israeli insolence and arrogance, in the hope that this would make Israel relent and come to terms with legitimate Palestinian rights.

However, every time Abbas made a concession to Israel, without any Israeli reciprocation, of course, the Israelis would humiliate him even further.

For example, for many weeks now, Israel has adamantly refused to transfer to the PA coffers hundreds of millions of dollars of Palestinian customs’ revenues levied by Israel pursuant to the hapless Paris Protocol of 1994, which effectively enabled Israel to hold the Palestinian economy hostage to Israeli whims and blackmail.

As a result, more than a hundred thousand Palestinians have not received their meager salaries for the third consecutive months, causing a virtual widespread suffering to tens of thousands of Palestinian households.

The Israeli message to Abbas and his people is amply clear: Either you do what we order you to do or else you will suffer, you will starve.

For their part, the Americans know the facts very well. But they feel too week to even rebuke Israel, thanks to the overwhelming domination of the Jewish lobby over the American government, especially Congress.

One Israeli commentator told this writer recently that Binyamin Netanyahu had more clout in Washington D.C. than did Barack Obama.

Ethnic cleansing

A few days ago during an acrimonious Tel Aviv debate involving Israeli intellectuals on the various platforms presented by Israeli political parties contesting the upcoming elections, slated to take place on 17 March, a leftist college professor tried to challenge the mostly right-wing audience on the issue of bi-national statehood. One right-wing leader from a settlement near Hebron in the West Bank responded to the leftist’s remarks. And without patting an eyelash, he said Israel would eventually expel the Arabs.

“We will expel them when the time for that comes. We will never allow the perceived Arab demographic advantage to destroy Zionism. Call this apartheid or even Nazism, I don’t care.”

“Do you think the world would allow you to get away with this,” retorted the leftist.

“The world would be furious initially, but eventually it would come to terms with reality. The world is hypocritical. Eventually, the world would side with the strong, and we are the stronger side in this conflict.”

I believe I wouldn’t exaggerate much if I claimed that the settler leader’s remarks more or less encapsulate the ideology and political program of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Yes, Netanyahu doesn’t spell out his views publicly. But all his actions and behaviors, including the seizure of huge areas of West Bank territory, vindicate the view that Netanyahu and peace are an eternal oxymoron.

As a Palestinian who has been observing Israeli conduct since 1967, I am inclined to believe the above-mentioned settler leader rather than the leftist intellectual.

Yes, the world probably wouldn’t move to rein in Israeli Nazism. Yes, it might issue strong-worded condemnations, but it wouldn’t go any further.

As to the US, the most it would probably do is to call on the two sides to show self-restraint.

PALESTINIANS HAVE A VOICE BUT NOT A VOTE

Jewish Israelis living in perpetual denial should take note when they head to their polling booths this March, for their sake if not for ours. The looming fork in the road for us is signposted “Palestinian Statehood” or “Civil Rights for All.” While the idea of the former is dispensable, the coming of the latter is inevitable.

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NO CHOICE:

THE PEOPLE WHO CANNOT VOTE SPEAK

Israel pretends its society is a normal, US-style melting pot, but there are only two problems – there is nothing remotely “normal” about Israeli’s societal composition and, furthermore, the pot’s ingredients, by policy design, have yet to melt. The destructive societal divisions amongst Israel’s population shines through during every election; this time around is no different. While Israel’s nearly five-decade military occupation of Palestinians is slowly, but surely, ripping Israel out of its global comfort zone, not one electoral contender has peeped a word about how the occupation will come to an end.

Likewise, while racism inside Israel against Christian and Muslim Palestinians—full Israeli citizens—has reached levels provoking even some Jewish Israelis to call it fascism, Israel’s political parties are acting as if it’s business-as-usual. The only bold and somewhat refreshing electoral move, thus far, is Avraham Burg’s joining of the Hadash Political Party, and even there the debate immediately focused around Palestinian political parties running in a single slate, or not, instead of the seismic shift that Burg’s move represents amongst Israel’s Zionist personalities.

Bottom line for us Palestinians ‘living’ under Israel’s boot of occupation: Historically, in the USA and many other places, when a population is long disenfranchised, unrest ensues, forcing greater equality.

Jewish Israelis living in perpetual denial should take note when they head to their polling booths this March, for their sake if not for ours. The looming fork in the road for us is signposted “Palestinian Statehood” or “Civil Rights for All.” While the idea of the former is dispensable, the coming of the latter is inevitable.

~Sam Bahour

Originally appeared in Hebrew AT

LATUFF’S SPOOF ON ISRAELI BOTTLEGATE SCANDAL

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Read about it in THIS post

Read about it in THIS post

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THE STOLEN DREAMS ON MLK DAY

There were several marches – the one we went on had about 2,000 people.  Then we went to Grand Central Station where about 200 of us held up the names of unarmed Black citizens, mostly young men, who were killed by the police.  People read about them, who they were, how they died.  After each story people said their name, all together, and raised their fist in the air.  People passing through stopped to listen.  Some family members of those killed were there.  After 3 hours someone read King’s last speech and we repeated it, one line at a time (Occupy style) and then everyone sang We Shall Overcome and Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On.  Actually, we did the same thing for 24 hours last week.  It is a very powerful experience.

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We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet …

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

Marching through the streets …

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At Grand Central …

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FINALLY A VOICE OF REASON FROM THE POPE

In short, We Muslims cannot and don’t understand why questioning the holocaust or castigating Israeli crimes is anti-Semitism whereas mocking the Prophet of Islam is freedom of speech.

A voice of reason from the Pope

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

On Thursday, 15 January, the Associated Press quoted Pope Francis as saying that there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith.

Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one’s mind for the sake of the common good.

However, the Pope said there were limits to freedom of speech.

By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side aboard the papal plane. “If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said, throwing a pretend punch his way. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

The Pope’s words show that Muslims are not being unreasonable when they demand respect for their religious symbols, especially the Prophet of Islam, Muhammed (May peace and blessing be upon him).

As an American-educated journalist who is thoroughly versed in western liberal heritage, from Milton’s Areopagitica to the American First Amendment, I really fail to understand why some circles in the West are hell-bent on embracing the misleading notion that insulting Islam (but not Talmudic Judaism for example) is an indispensable aspect of freedom of speech. (I mentioned Talmudic or Orthodox Judaism because it doesn’t even ascribe mere humanity to non-Jews).

In Matthew 5:29, it is related that “if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.” I know there is a strong metaphorical dimension in this verse. However, we all know that allegories do communicate certain messages that we are called upon to implement or live by in our life.

It is therefore hard to buy the concept that provoking people by offending their religious sensibilities is the right way to achieve peace and human fraternity.

On the contrary, provocation breeds alienation and alienation produces conflict…and conflicts do kill.

Western intellectuals, especially those exercising some rectitude, don’t lack the brain power to understand these timeless truths.

But, unfortunately, many in the West are guided not by moral honesty or even reason in their approach to Islam and Muslims. Their guiding motive is rather malice and ill-will. I also suspect that the freedom-of-speech they invoke is only a mendacious mantra used to mask their real morbid intentions.

No one is demanding to limit freedom of expression anywhere. In fact, no people under the sun are suffering the disastrous effects of the absence of human rights and civil liberties more than Muslims. In some parts of the Muslim world, such as Egypt and Syria, practicing one’s right to freedom of expression could end up with receiving the death penalty by a judge that is always at the tyrant’s beck and call.

Unfortunately, this happens, to a large extent, thanks to a malicious western interference in the Muslim world.

Muslims are not going to apologize for defending their faith and Prophet. Yes, it is wrong to have protests marred with violence and bloodshed. But we will continue to insist on mutual respect. Mutual respect is the simple yet magical tool to achieve peace amongst individuals, nations and cultures.

Finally, I don’t really believe that freedom of speech is the real issue at hand. Indeed, if it were, magazines like Charlie Hebdo wouldn’t have fired cartoonists depicting the holocaust and other “taboos” pertaining to Jews.

In short, We Muslims cannot and don’t understand why questioning the holocaust or castigating Israeli crimes is anti-Semitism whereas mocking the Prophet of Islam is freedom of speech.

We also don’t understand why writers and journalists critical of Israel’s genocidal criminality are hounded and promptly fired from their jobs whereas notorious haters of Islam, such as Steve Emerson, can make disparaging lies about Muslims without being even rebuked.

This is a plain abuse of the very concept of freedom of speech, which should be rectified.

I do believe that offending religious symbols should be regarded as acts of terror. Yes, people don’t get killed in the act itself. However, offending the religious sensibilities of 1.6 billion people can and often does lead to people getting killed.

To conclude, I urge western intellectuals, including media circles, to strike a balance between freedom of speech and expression on the one hand and sensitivity to offending people’s faiths and religious symbols.

This is not asking for the impossible. All you have to do is to exercise a modicum of respect for others. In the final analysis, just as you do have the right to freedom of speech and expression, others do have an equal right not to be offended.

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The zionists don’t see the Pope’s statement the same way as we do …

click on link to see their report.

Did the Pope Justify the Charlie Hebdo Massacre?

 

#NoToVisitingApartheid ~~ IN PHOTOS

 

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A coalition of more than 40 New York City community groups held a press conference outside City Hall on Monday calling for the City Council to cancel a planned delegation to Israel. A diverse group of speakers addressed the city’s progressive politicians, asking how they could reconcile their opposition to racism and state violence at home with support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And the Report FROM

Coalition of more than 40 NYC community groups calls on City Council to cancel delegation to Israel

Eamon Murphy

A coalition of more than 40 New York City community groups held a press conference outside City Hall on Monday calling for the City Council to cancel a planned delegation to Israel. A diverse group of speakers addressed the city’s progressive politicians, asking how they could reconcile their opposition to racism and state violence at home with support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians.

Around 50 people gathered in the near-freezing rain for the event, which was introduced by Brandon Davis of Jewish Voice for Peace. Davis denounced the “flagrant disregard for justice” displayed by the delegation, “in our streets” as well as in Palestine. A recurring theme of the remarks that followed was the link between the current movement to end racist policing in U.S. cities and the struggle against Israel’s apartheid in Palestine. Connections were mentioned between the New York Police Department and the Israeli security establishment, including the opening of an NYPD branch in the Sharon District police headquarters at Kfar Saba.

Organizations that have joined the campaign include the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Direct Action Front for Palestine, and Jews Against Islamophobia. The Council’s nine-day trip, scheduled to begin on February 15, is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York.

City Council members participating in the delegation to Israel are Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mark Treyger, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, Darlene Mealy, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Andrew Cohen, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich, and James Van Bramer. The trip would be Mark-Viverito’s second such junket, the speaker having made a JCRC-funded visit to Israel in 2012. “New York City and Israel share many cultural, business, and educational ties and this trip with members of the Council will help strengthen them,” Mark-Viverito told The New York Daily News. “We’re looking forward to a productive and informative trip.”

Fatin Jarara of Al-Awda New York, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, speaks at the rally. (Photo: Eamon Murphy)

Speakers at the press conference wondered how informative such a visit could really be. Would the Council tour the West Bank separation barrier, asked criminal defense attorney Bina Ahmad, or Gaza’s ruined homes and schools? How could those who have taken a stance against domestic discrimination, she demanded to know, go on to contribute to normalizing systematic racism against an entire people — “gross hypocrisy,” in her words. Ahmad, who works with the Legal Aid Society in Staten Island and represented police chokehold victim Eric Garner, analogized Israel’s occupation of Palestine to the NYPD’s presence in communities of color.

Donna Nevel of Jews Against Islamophobia criticized Council members for publicly opposing anti-Muslim discrimination and then visiting Israel under the auspices of the JCRC, which fervently backed Police Comissioner Ray Kelly after the revelation of NYPD spying on Muslim communities. “It is clear that the JCRC has helped undermine the basic civil rights and liberties of our city’s Muslim residents,” according to a letter from the anti-Islamophobia coalition to the Council, “and we hope that you agree with us that it is a most inappropriate organization to lead such a trip.”

Other speakers emphasized the unprogressive nature of a trip that would entail crossing an international picket line. CUNY activist Conor Tomás Reed mentioned labor groups around the world that have heeded Palestinian civil society’s call for a boycott. An official visit to Israel, with its segregated workforce and wage discrimination along ethnoreligious lines, amounts to an anti-labor stand, he suggested.

Last to speak was David Galarza, a Puerto Rican activist who helped create the solidarity group Boricuas for Palestine during last summer’s assault on Gaza. Galarza warmed up the freezing crowd with a chant “to get the blood flowing” — Puerto Rico, Palestine, / occupation is a crime — before delivering a forceful challenge to Mark-Viverito, who before her speakership was a committed activist against the U.S. Navy’s bombing of Vieques: “What has changed?” Galarza likened the four boys killed on the beach in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge to the four girls who died in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama; where, he wondered, was Charlie Hebdo-style solidarity in the case of the murdered Baker children? Photographs of the two bombings were held up as Galarza declared his identification with the eight victims, alternating Palestinian and African-American names.

The event concluded with Brandon Davis reading a statement from New York-based participants on a solidarity delegation in Palestine, organized by the national anti-racist organization Dream Defenders (full text at the end of this article). During the q-and-a, a man who identified himself as a freelance photojournalist asked Davis about Hamas’s killing of innocent Israelis, and Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration that no Jews will live in a future Palestinian state (not Abbas’s actual position). “Which is the real apartheid state?” the man demanded. After the event was over, he approached Galarza and declared that, as an experienced and well-sourced reporter who has worked in the Middle East, he knew the deaths of four boys on the beach in Gaza were staged.

The press conference began around noon and lasted until 12:30. As I left City Hall at 12:45, two dozen people were still standing and talking in the cold and the rain.

Statement from New York-based members of the Dream Defenders delegation:

For the last 10 days over a dozen artists, activists, educators, and organizers have been traveling across Palestine witnessing power, heartbreak, apartheid, occupation, state violence and grief. It is a binding grief, due to parallel experiences with state violence, that brought us to Palestine. It is also this binding grief that makes the New Yorkers on this historical delegation concerned about the nature, scope, and intent of some New York City Council member’s planned trip to Israel.

We stand in support of Palestine, in support of the international BDS movement, and against Zionist beliefs. We believe this City Council trip would be a dangerous symbolic gesture of normalizing Israeli’s apartheid state. We were able to witness this first hand at the check points in Ramallah, and in the settlements surrounding Bethlehem. It is not completely unfamiliar to us to live in a country where you can be profiled and denied humanity. We know Israeli training forces have a long mentoring relationship with NYPD, and if you stand with oppressed people and against police brutality here at home, you must stand with oppressed people and against state violence abroad.

Cherrell Brown
Carmen Perez
Aja Monet
Marc Lamont Hill

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/coalition-community-delegation#sthash.Rb7Anslv.dpuf

ALL OF FRANCE MUST SHARE THE GUILT

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I must view with utter contempt the claim that the Paris incident was an attack against press freedom and freedom of expression. We all know that the attack was actually a revenge for France’s military aggression against Muslims. Calling it an attack on press freedom and western liberalism is therefore childish and stupid.

I am against the Paris incident,

but France

is not innocent

By Khalid Amayreh

To begin with, I unhesitatingly condemn the attack on the Charlie Hebdo Satirical weekly magazine in Paris. I believe it is always wrong and unforgivable to kill innocent people. Moreover, this sort of actions, besides being morally wrong, also harms French and other Western Muslims enormously

True, the act of mocking the Prophet of Islam is not a cause worth defending. It did hurt the feelings of hundreds of millions around the world.

However, murdering people is not exactly the right response to the French magazine’s blasphemy. In the final analysis, one can’t fight a crime by committing a greater crime. It is also never sufficient to have a rightful cause to respond in an uncalculated manner. It is never enough to be right; one has to be wise as well, especially in this complex world.

I realize that many writers are under an immense pressure to go with the flow, namely denounce “the evil terrorists” while expressing empathy and solidarity with France. I do sympathize with the families of the victims, but I admit I have no sympathy with the French government. In the final analysis, one must be faithful to one’s conscience and intellectual honesty and France is never innocent especially in its approach to Muslims, past and present.

In fact, I dare claim that French behavior has made this terrorist act inevitable, however outrageous it may be.

France, after all, has been murdering Muslims in droves since time immemorial.

France killed at least two million Muslims in North Africa and a third million in Sub-Saharan Africa. France, which is now complaining about beheadings by IS, beheaded thousands of Moroccans between 1920-and WWII.

In recent months, France effectively enabled barbarian Christians to carry out a shocking ethnic cleansing genocide in Central Africa.

About two decades ago, France collaborated with the Algerian military to decapitate the country’s nascent democracy, triggering a protracted reign of terror that claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent Algerians. Unfortunately, this reign of terror is yet to come to an end.

In the mid-1950s, France gave Israel the Dimona atomic reactor which enable the Nazi-like Zionist entity to manufacture numerous nuclear bombs and warheads and therefore hold the entire Middle East hostage as well as pursue a policy based on lebensraum vis-à-vis the Palestinians and other peoples of the Middle East.

Indeed, it was mainly French weapons that enabled Israel to occupy the rest of Palestine as well as the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967.

Now, as I write these words, French warplanes are raining death on Muslims in Syria and Iraq, while allowing murderous Iran-backed militias to annihilate Muslims villages.

Despite all this evil legacy, the vast majority (99%) of   Muslims are still against terror in the name of Islam or in any other name.

Today, Muslims are more or less the premier victims of terror and mass murder. They are being murdered every hour, every day, every week and all year long because they want to be free.

They are being murdered in Palestine, Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. And when some stray Muslims carry out a terrorist act here or there out of desperation, the entire west loses its composure, ignores its own mega terror against Muslims, and starts making its usual hypocritical outcries, very much like Binyamin Netanyahu does, when he calls Palestinian freedom-fighters “terrorists and murderers”, while forgetting what his own shitty country did and is doing to them.

Do not get me wrong. I am against all acts of violence and terror, especially those targeting innocent people.

However, it is an expression of utter hypocrisy and dishonesty for the French and other westerners to claim a higher moral-ground in comparison to al-Qaeda or IS, or indeed mainstream Muslims.

Nay, you have been far more evil and diabolical. You have destroyed nations and killed millions.

The Americans, who murdered 15 million native Americans in north America and called the genocide “Manifest Destiny” didn’t content themselves with murdering two million Iraqis, they saturated the Iraqi environment with depleted uranium that will continue to kill Iraqis, young and old, and even the yet-to-be be born, for 50,000 years to come.

So, please! We have had enough of your hypocrisy and mendacity.

A final word; I must view with utter contempt the claim that the Paris incident was an attack against press freedom and freedom of expression. We all know that the attack was actually a revenge for France’s military aggression against Muslims. Calling it an attack on press freedom and western liberalism is therefore childish and stupid.

Besides, since when did the West really care about human rights and civil liberties, including press freedom.

Doesn’t the West, with all its strength, stand behind states that deny their people even the most elementary human rights and freedoms?

Even in the West itself, we are very familiar with the scandalous double standards related to this false mantra.

Thus, mocking the Prophet of Islam is considered part of the sacred traditions of press freedom.

However, questioning the authenticity of Holocaust narratives or criticizing Israel’s Nazi-like crimes against the helpless Palestinians is an expression of virulent anti-Semitism, the practitioner of which must be hounded like pariahs, imprisoned or forced to resign from his job.

Well, there are always people on the Muslim side who would argue rather convincingly that if the West has the right to be enslaved by the Golem of Anti-Semitism, Muslims worldwide likewise have at least an equal right to defend their religious symbols.

Well, how about mutual respect?

INDIA/PAKISTAN BORDER CROSSING SPOOF

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Fighting intensifies before Obama/Kerry visit

Fighting intensifies before Obama/Kerry visit

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Related (Click on link)

India, Pakistan

border fighting

intensifies before

Obama visit

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