Gaza Corner Archive: Jan 2014-Present
(links to 2010-2013 entries at bottom of page)
Heard live Sat. nights 11p on Tangents, 91.7 fm, SF, kalw.org
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weekly feature includes news and opinion from the Middle East (and beyond) often ignored by the
mainstream media followed by music from the relevant country or culture.
Kurds as far as the eye can see demonstrating solidarity
was originally conceived to focus attention on relieving the
humanitarian crisis in Gaza which has been under a severe blockade
imposed by Israel since 2006. Gaza Corner has evolved to include the
Middle East, Magreb, Kurdistan and Turkey.
Smoke, dust and debris rise over Gaza City after an Israeli strike on August 8, 2014,
during the 51-day Operation Protective Edge. Photo by AP
(mostly from Gideon Levy opinion piece)
What a huge diplomatic achievement:
Israel has succeeded in getting the Canadian law professor William
Schabas to resign from his post as head of a UN inquiry panel into
potential war crimes in Gaza.
Through persistent surveillance, Israel’s intelligence and propaganda
branches revealed that Schabas had once received a $1,300 fee from the
PLO. Conclusion: he sold his soul to the devil.
Professor Schabas, regarded as an authority on international law, said
it had not occurred to him that having been paid $1,300 by the P.L.O.,
for consulting on the statute of the International Criminal Court,
would be an issue. “I wrote a small paper of a technical nature,” he
said. “I do this all the time. I’ve acted for all kinds of governments
and organizations and individuals.”
The professor also said that he had been subjected to a stream of vulgar and violent emails and several death threats.
One needs a great deal of chutzpah and arrogance to dig anew into the
pasts of Israel’s critics in an effort to assassinate their character,
as in the case of Richard Goldstone, merely because they dared to
criticize the state. As far as Israel is concerned, the fate of anyone
who criticizes the country is sealed. He’s an anti-Semite,
anti-Israeli, greedy or driven by ulterior motives.
In Israel’s eyes there’s no such thing as conscientious individuals who
are genuinely and truly shocked by its acts. As far as Israel is
concerned, there are no justice-seeking people of law, or simply decent
ordinary people, who were aghast at what it did in the Gaza Strip last
But the truth is just the opposite.
It was impossible not to be
appalled by what the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did in Gaza last
summer — unless you’re a propagandist, a liar or a racist. In any case,
it’s impossible to support Israel in view of what it is doing to the
Palestinians. Nor is there a way to be an international law expert and
sympathize with what Israel is doing.
Professor Schabas, the commission and a 12-member staff proceeded with
their work, albeit forced to hear witnesses and experts in Geneva and
Jordan because Israel refused to allow the investigating teams to visit
Israel or the occupied West Bank. They could not enter Gaza from Egypt
because of the deteriorating security situation in northern Sinai.
report (click for 49 pg PDF file report)
released last week (“Black Flag: the legal and moral implications of
attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014”)
recounted what had so rapidly been forgotten: war crimes.
B’Tselem investigated 70 cases of bombarding residential buildings, in
which 606 people were killed in their homes or near them, over 70
percent of them children, women and elderly people. The mind boggles.
The most moral army in its most immoral spectacle yet, with the
missiles aimed at buildings’ rooftops and all its “warnings.”
The victims’ blood is crying out. But not in Israel. Here the
propaganda and media have done their job. In the election campaign
there’s no mention of the most important event in the outgoing
government’s term. Even the opposition dares not mention it. The
(centre-left political alliance ) the Zionist Camp
it would have done the same (“in the war on terror there’s no coalition
and opposition,” Zionist Camp candidate Isaac Herzog said last week).
Even the fate of 20,000 people who still remain homeless, about half a
year after the bombardment, in Gaza’s winter, is of no concern to
anyone here. They’re Palestinians.
Soon the report of the panel without Schabas will be released. It won’t
be “balanced,” as Israeli propaganda is demanding, because the
situation is far from being balanced. The five Israeli citizens and 67
soldiers who were killed will likely be mentioned in it, as will the
thousands of rockets fired at Israelis. But even with the panel’s new,
“balanced” head, the report will mention that in the summer of 2014
Israel committed atrocities beyond all proportion in the Gaza Strip.
There’s just no other fair way to describe it.
Professor William Schabas’ resignation from his post as head of the UN
panel to investigate the war in Gaza is seen in Israel, inexplicably,
as a huge diplomatic achievement. Now, Israel believes, it will be
treated in a more balanced way by the panel’s new head, Mary
McGowan-Davis, who once wrote a more agreeable report about Israel.
But what is the importance of a more balanced inquiry leader, as long as Israel refuses to cooperate with the inquiry panel?
Israel’s main argument is against the United Nations’ double standard
in investigating its deeds. The state claims that as long as the United
Nations is not investigating states like Syria or North Korea, it
should not make demands of Israel.
But a state that frequently compares itself to European states and to
the United States cannot hold both ends of the stick. A state that
wants to be treated like a Western state must respect the international
institutions, rather than place itself in line with the most abominable
states to demand “justice.”
Israel’s position regarding the UN inquiry would have gained more
legitimacy had it tried to speed up its own investigations into
Operation Protective Edge, including those launched by the Knesset’s
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the state comptroller. But
the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee suspended its inquiry.
Geerdink: Dutch journalist facing five years in prison in Turkey for
'terrorist propaganda' after highlighting the struggle of the Kurds
(Chris Green, The Independent UK, 2/3/15)
Dutch journalist says she is doing her job. Turkey says she is helping terrorists
includes audio interview w/ Frederick Geerdink
(PRI's The World, 2/6/15)
Turkey indicts Dutch reporter
over PKK 'terror propaganda'
(Umut Uras, Al Jazeera, 2/3/15)
In Washington, Turkish minister highlights
press freedom, bans critical journalists
(Mahir Zeybnalov, Today's Zaman, 2/6/15)
combined excerpt from above headlined stories:
Frederike Geerdink, a Dutch
journalist based in southeastern Turkey has been officially indicted by
Turkish prosecutors for spreading "terrorist propaganda" on social
media. The charge refers to tweets
posts as well as her weekly column on Diken
, an independent Turkish news website.
Geerdink is charged with spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
that has been fighting against the Turkish state since mid-1980s. She is facing one to five years in prison.
In the past years, many local journalists, mostly ones with Kurdish origins, have been arrested under the same law.
Dore note: According to the Comittee to Protect Journalists, Turkey was the world’s worst jailer of journalists in 2012 and 2013. China was number one in 2014.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently claimed “there is no
freer press, in Europe or elsewhere in the world, than in Turkey”.
Geerdink settled in Istanbul in 2006
before moving to Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s predominantly
Kurdish south-east, where she has documented the Kurds’ struggles.
Geerdink says she's essentially being charged for doing her job as a
President Erdogan claims press in Turkey
To date, the long-running insurgency by PKK militants demanding greater
autonomy in Turkey has left an estimated 40,000 people dead. A
ceasefire with Turkey was agreed in 2012, but talks have stalled in
recent months. Ms Geerdink said that as a journalist, the subject was
too important for her ignore.
“I’ve always been interested in identity issues – I think that’s
eventually what human rights boil down to,” Geerdink said. “The Kurdish
issue is the biggest that Turkey has, it is the country’s biggest
problem, so for a journalist it’s very relevant.
"For the Kurds, they have not been able to live their identity for more than a century now, being suppressed.”
The rub is in how Turkey views Kurdistan. "Now, 'Kurdistan' is not an
official country," Geerdink notes, "but Kurdistan is known for a
struggle for human rights that is going on here. And this struggle is
framed in Turkey as 'terrorism.'"
Geerdink claims she's the first Western journalist since the 1990s to face this kind
of government action. Part of the problem, she says, may be that she
started writing in Turkish in the past year, and not just in English
and her native Dutch. "And that is getting on the state's nerves."
Some might be tempted to return home rather than face the prospect of
spending years in a Turkish jail. But Ms Geerdink said she has no
intention of leaving and intends to fight her case – which may drag on
for more than a year – as a matter of principle.
“I hope it will draw more attention to the Kurdish issue,” she said.
“Everybody is supporting me, but today 16 Kurds were taken into custody
for putting a table on the street and starting a signature campaign for
the freedom of [the jailed PKK founder] Abdullah Ocalan.
“This is happening every day in the south-east of Turkey, and it
doesn’t get a lot of attention. This anti-terrorism law is being
misused on a very, very big scale.”
is freer than anywhere else in the world
(Ben Tufft, the Independent UK, 12/14/14)
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, claimed “nowhere in the world is the press freer than it is in Turkey”.
Mr Erdogan defended his regime's record on press freedom stating that
"the press is so free in Turkey that one can make insults, slanders,
defamation, racism and commit hate crimes that are not tolerated even
in democratic countries."
Recently a 16-year-old boy was arrested when he read a statement
critical of the ruling AK party and the president, implicating him in
corruption. It was claimed the teenager had "insulted" the president.
The boy was released pending a trial, but could face up to four years in jail if convicted.
Johann Bihr, a spokesman from Reporters Without Borders
, (pdf file, see pg 8)
said "Turkey ranked 154 out of 180 in our 2014 Press Freedom Index.
Kurdish victory in Kobane defeat for Turkish policy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressly
ruled out the northern Iraq model for Syria's Kurds.
(comprehensive analysis by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor.com, 1/29/15)
People gather to celebrate in the Kurdish-dominated city of Diyarbakir
in southeastern Turkey
after Kurdish forces took control of the Syrian
town of Kobani, Jan. 27, 2015.
(photo by Reuters/Sertac Kayar)
Rift between PM, President grows
following Kobane statement
(Today's Zaman, 1/26/15)
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's recent
praise for Kurds who resisted an armed siege by the Islamic State
in the Syrian border town of Kobani has been taken as a sign of a
growing conflict with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who claims that
any sympathy and assistance for Kurdish groups fighting in Syria amount
to support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Kobane is liberated from Islamic State Siege
(Opinion by Dore Stein, 1/27/15)
(Spelled Kobane in Kurdish regions and Kobani in the West)
Tom Bowmans's report on Kobane
(3:55, click above to listen)
During September and October of 2014 Gaza Corner
focused on the siege of Kobane where the Islamic State was poised to commit a genocidal Kurdish massacre.
After a 134 day siege, Kobane was liberated on January 26. This
was a result of sustained US air strikes and determined resistance from
the disciplined Kurdish forces.
The Syrian Kurds practice an egalitarian society unlike any place I
know. People are treated as equals. There are no gender or class
distinctions. There is religious tolerance. This victory is a watershed
moment in Kurdish history. The Kurds are one of the indigenous peoples
of this region and the largest stateless people in the world.
The destruction in Kobane resembles what happened to Gaza over the
summer. Refugees cannot return to Kobane in meaningful numbers because
of a lack of food, medicine, housing, electricity etc. World powers and
humanitarian agencies are needed to assist the rebuilding of
Kobane. Turkey should not block humanitarian corridors as it has
done in the past.
Contrary to a report from NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman
during All Things Considered on January 27, the significance of
Kobane surviving as a Kurdish canton cannot be overstated.
At the end of the interview, Tom Bowman concludes with the statement: "...hundreds of air strikes for a small town."
Is Bowman suggesting this 'small town' did not justify the large commitment of US air strikes?
This 'small town' Kobane had served as a last refuge for Syrians of all
faiths fleeing IS and the Syrian military. Its population more
than doubled to a half million as desperate Syrians from Raqqa, Homs
and elsewhere sought safe haven in Kobane.
When IS captured Mosul during the summer
and acquired a vast array of modern American heavy weaponry, the
calculus changed. The US re-entered Iraq militarily and started bombing
IS which forced a strategic retreat into Syria. IS had previously tried
to capture Kobane but had been rebuffed for two years. But with their
newly acquired massive weaponry, IS set their sights on Kobane again.
Capturing Kobane was more than symbolic as it would enable IS to
control much of the Syrian/Iraqi 510 km border with Turkey.
IS faced stiff resistance once again. Because of its military advantage, IS eventually controlled a majority of Kobane.
A genocidal massacre was imminent as Kobane was nearing collapse.
The Kurds were running out of food and ammunition. The US had
turned a blind eye up until that point. But at that moment the US
strategy changed 180 degrees. An air strike campaign was initiated to
assist the tenacious Kurdish fighters. US C-130 cargo
planes also dropped desperately needed aid and weapons.
Why the change?
Remember IS had been acquiring territory at a frightening pace and had
not faced meaningful resistance. IS already occupied Mosul and Raqqa.
Yet the Kurds had fought off IS with mostly rifles against tanks,
rockets and mortars for more than a month.
The US noticed.
The US needs competent fighting forces
on the ground in Syria and Iraq. The Kurds are an obvious choice to be
part of the answer.
The US already witnessed the Syrian Kurdish militias YPG and (female)
YPJ, and the PKK secure a human corridor for the initial rescue of the
Yezidis off Sinjar Mountain in Iraq. This is something the Iraqi army
and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga were not able to do.
The US did not publicly credit the Kurds for the initial Yezdi rescue
because of not wanting to offend Turkey who considers the PKK and their
Syrian cousins terrorists. When Turkey joined NATO, the US and EU
obliged Turkey by adding the PKK to the global terrorist list. The PKK
has launched attacks inside Turkey for 30+ years due to Turkey's
oppression of the Kurds since the creation of Turkey.
The Kurdish struggle has nothing to do with the US or the EU.
'Terrorist' is a manipulated label in geopolitical linguistics.
All indigenous resistance movements are labelled terrorist by the
governments they oppose. American revolutionaries who founded the
United States were considered terrorists by the British and so it goes.
Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter & Fergusion Reps
Take Historic Trip to Palestine
The decision to assist the Kurds in
Kobane with air strikes was also helped by sympathetic Western media
coverage which is enamored with Kobane's egalitarian society and female
Turkey did nothing to prevent the fall of Kobane until late in the
siege. Tom Bowman's assertion that Turkey provided a weapons corridor
for Kobane's Kurds provides zero context. Since the start of the 134
day siege, Turkey vetoed any form of weapons being sent to the YPG/YPJ
in Kobane. Only when the US pressured Turkey did President Erdogan
finally relent and allow Iraqi Peshmerga forces to cross into Kobane
with desperately needed heavy weapons.
Turkey does not want Kurds or IS on its border. It likely wished IS and the Kurds would destroy each other. When that did
not occur, Erdogan hoped the Iraqi Peshmerga or the Free Syrian
Army would control Kobane which also did not develop. But Turkey also
knows it would face massive unrest from its large Kurdish population
(22%) if Kobane were to fall. Thus they reluctantly allowed Pershmerga
heavy weaponry to enter Kobane which was an important element in the
ouster of IS from Kobane.
Tom Bowman's piece also fails to convey the historical significance of
the liberation of Kobane. Kurds are an indigenous people of the region
and comprise the largest stateless population on earth. In 1920 The Treaty of Sevres,
signed between the Ottoman Empire and Allied forces, envisaged the
creation of a Kurdish state. The plan was annulled after the Turks won
its war for independence. In 1923 The Treaty of Lausanne
established the boundaries of Turkey and divided the Kurds among Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Kobane is part of the ancestral land of the Kurds. Kobane has become a
symbol that has unified the Kurds of Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran and
renewed hopes that its homeland, Kurdistan, ('Nishtiman') promised in
1920 is still possible.
Leaders from American racial justice movements
connect with Palestinians living under occupation
at the forefront of the movements for Black lives and racial justice
have taken a historic trip to Palestine this week to connect with
activists living under Israeli occupation.
Black journalists, artists and
organizers representing Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Black Youth
Project 100 (BYP100), and more joined the Dream Defenders for a 10-day
trip to the occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.
Ahmad Abuznaid, Dream Defenders' legal and policy director and a co-organizer of the delegation, said that the goal of the trip was to make connections.
“The goals were primarily to allow
for the group members to experience and see first hand the occupation,
ethnic cleansing and brutality Israel has levied against Palestinians,
but also to build real relationships with those on the ground leading
the fight for liberation,” wrote Abuznaid. “In the spirit of Malcolm X,
Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many others, we thought the
connections between the African American leadership of the movement in
the US and those on the ground in Palestine needed to be reestablished
Abuznaid said the trip represented a chance to bring the power of Black organizing to Palestine.
The delegation met with refugees,
Afro-Palestinians, a family that was kicked out of their house by
settlers in East Jerusalem, and organizations representing Palestinian
political prisoners, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors said apartheid is what immediately struck her about what she saw on the ground.
“This is an apartheid state. We
can't deny that and if we do deny it we are apart of the Zionist
violence. There are two different systems here in occupied Palestine.
Two completely different systems. Folks are unable to go to parts of
their own country. Folks are barred from their own country.”
Community organizer Cherrell Brown said she saw many parallels between state violence against Palestinians and Black Americans.
“So many parallels exist between how
the US polices, incarcerates, and perpetuates violence on the black
community and how the Zionist state that exists in Israel perpetuates
the same on Palestinians,” Brown said.
Brown also commented that the struggles are not the same.
“This is not to say there aren't
vast differences and nuances that need to always be named, but our
oppressors are literally collaborating together, learning from one
another - and as oppressed people we have to do the same,” she said.
Hip-hop was a unifying force
for the delegation, Pargett said, commenting that Palestinians have
been inspired by hip-hop in the US and use it as a tool to amplify
their own voices.
St. Louis-based rapper and activist Tef Poe said his experience in the camps connecting through hip-hop was the best day of his life.
Naima Shaloub Sings Ferguson-Gaza Blues
(Electronic Intifada, 1/24/15)
Naima Shaloub: This
video captures the first live performance of this song on
November 28, 2014 at The Sound Room in Oakland, as well as various
clips from moments in Gaza, Ferguson, Oakland, and elsewhere.
Written and sung by Naima Shalhoub,
Bouchaib Abdelhadi - Oud
Jeremy Mitchell - Drum kit
Timothy Wat - Piano
Video editing and music performance filming by The Pixel Pushrs
Film clips from various sources.
learned, seen and felt the systemic connections between the racial
oppression of Palestinians in Palestine, as well as the racism against
and mass incarceration of Black people in the United States for quite
August, however, when the attacks on Gaza were happening at the same
time as the Ferguson protests and the wider call to draw attention to
police brutality against Black and brown people, the grief was
overwhelming. As an artist, I couldn’t help but write a song attempting
to draw the connections between the two.
A Message From the Dispossessed
(Opinion by Chris Hedges, Truthdig.com, 1/11/15)
Both peoples experience oppression
stemming from the global prison-industrial complex. It is no
coincidence that Gaza is the largest open-air prison while the United
States has rampant incarceration rates and death rates of Black and
The histories of slavery and
colonization continue to haunt and fuel the present. I felt called to
write something that tells somewhat of a story of the deep
contradictions at present as well the lives lost in the name of
so-called “security” and “democracy.”
Being an Arab American, I have an
intimate relationship with contradictions, with living in a country
that sponsors the oppression of many. Nina Simone said that “it is an
artist’s duty to reflect the times.” I take that call seriously and
just hope to join the choir of many who came before me that really put
their life on the line with their music in the name of justice, freedom
I work weekly with a group of
incarcerated women in San Francisco county jail facilitating music
sessions in hopes to create a safe space behind bars that intervenes on
the isolation and confinement of the prison-industrial complex and
offers a place where incarcerated women can express and share their
voices and creativity. My debut album Borderlands will be intersecting
with this work. I’m currently working on it and plan to record and
release it by early summer.
The terrorist attack in France that took
place at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was not about free
speech. It was not about radical Islam. It did not illustrate the
fictitious clash of civilizations. It was a harbinger of an emerging
dystopia where the wretched of the earth, deprived of resources to
survive, devoid of hope, brutally controlled, belittled and mocked by
the privileged who live in the splendor and indolence of the industrial
West, lash out in nihilistic fury.
We have engineered the rage of the dispossessed. The evil of predatory
global capitalism and empire has spawned the evil of terrorism. And
rather than understand the roots of that rage and attempt to ameliorate
it, we have built sophisticated mechanisms of security and
surveillance, passed laws that permit the targeted assassinations and
torture of the weak, and amassed modern armies and the machines of
industrial warfare to dominate the world by force. This is not about
justice. It is not about the war on terror. It is not about liberty or
democracy. It is not about the freedom of expression. It is about the
mad scramble by the privileged to survive at the expense of the poor.
And the poor know it.
If you spend time as I have in Gaza,
Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan, as well as the depressing,
segregated housing projects known as banlieues that ring French cities
such as Paris and Lyon, warehousing impoverished North African
immigrants, you begin to understand the brothers Cherif Kouachi and
Said Kouachi, who were killed Friday in a gun battle with French
police. There is little employment in these pockets of squalor. Racism
is overt. Despair is rampant, especially for the men, who feel they
have no purpose. Harassment of immigrants, usually done by police
during identity checks, is almost constant. Police once pulled a North
African immigrant, for no apparent reason, off a Paris Metro subway car
I was riding in and mercilessly beat him on the platform. French
Muslims make up 60 to 70 percent of the prison population in France.
Drugs and alcohol beckon like sirens to blunt the pain of poor Muslim
The 5 million North Africans in France are not considered French by the
French. And when they go back to Algiers, Tangier or Tunis, where
perhaps they were born and briefly lived, they are treated as alien
outcasts. Caught between two worlds, they drift, as the two brothers
did, into aimlessness, petty crime and drugs.
Becoming a holy warrior, a jihadist, a champion of an absolute and pure
ideal, is an intoxicating conversion, a kind of rebirth that brings a
sense of power and importance. The converts believe they live in a
binary universe divided between good and evil, the pure and the impure.
As champions of the good and the pure they sanctify their own
victimhood and demonize all nonbelievers. They believe they are
anointed to change history. And they embrace a hypermasculine violence
that is viewed as a cleansing agent for the world’s contaminants,
including those people who belong to other belief systems, races and
Hamas Condemns Charlie Hebdo attacks
(Agence France-Press, 1/10/15)
When you sink to despair, your religion
is all you have left. Muslim prayer, held five times a day, gives you
your only sense of structure and meaning, and, most importantly,
self-worth. And when the privileged of the world ridicule the one thing
that provides you with dignity, you react with inchoate fury.
It is dangerous to ignore this rage. But it is even more dangerous to
refuse to examine and understand its origins. It did not arise from the
Quran or Islam. It arose from mass despair, from palpable conditions of
poverty, along with the West’s imperial violence, capitalist
exploitation and hubris.
The cartoons of the Prophet in the Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie
Hebdo are offensive and juvenile. None of them are funny. And they
expose a grotesque double standard when it comes to Muslims. In France
a Holocaust denier, or someone who denies the Armenian genocide, can be
imprisoned for a year and forced to pay a $60,000 fine. It is a
criminal act in France to mock the Holocaust the way Charlie Hebdo
mocked Islam. French high school students must be taught about the Nazi
persecution of the Jews, but these same students read almost nothing in
their textbooks about the widespread French atrocities, including a
death toll among Algerians that some sources set at more than 1
million, in the Algerian War for independence
colonial France. French law bans the public wearing of the burqa, a
body covering for women that includes a mesh over the face, as well as
the niqab, a full veil that has a small slit for the eyes. Women who
wear these in public can be arrested, fined the equivalent of about
$200 and forced to carry out community service. France banned rallies
in support of the Palestinians last summer when Israel was carrying out
daily airstrikes in Gaza that resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths.
The message to Muslims is clear: Your traditions, history and suffering
do not matter. Your story will not be heard.
Ali Abunimah @AliAbunimaha
"In an effort to exploit the Paris attacks for its own gain, PM Netanyahu
was deliberately misleading and inflammatory"
Hamas condemned the strike as an
unjustifiable terrorist attack
(World Bulletin, 1/10/15)
Extremists harm Islam more than cartoons
Hassan Nasrallah says Islamic extremists who behead and slaughter people have harmed Islam more than anyone else in history.
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas
condemned the killing of 12 people in an attack on French satirical
weekly Charlie Hebdo's offices by two French Islamists.
"(Hamas) stresses that its position on the latest events in Paris is in
line with the statement issued by the International Union of Muslim
Scholars which condemned the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper
and that any differences in opinion are no justification for killing innocents," Hamas said in a rare statement in French.
Hamas added in its statement that Israelis should be tried for war
crimes and condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
"desperate attempts to make
a connection between our movement and the resistance of our people on the one hand and global terrorism on the other."
The Palestinians will formally become a
member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1, when the
court could exercise jurisdiction over war crimes committed by anyone
on Palestinian territory, without a referral from the U.N. Security
Council. Israel is not a member of the Hague-based ICC but its citizens
could be tried for actions taken on Palestinian land. Palestinians
could also be liable for prosecution for actions against Israelis.
Israel's soft power boosts its diplomatic efforts
(Saleh Al-Naami, Middleeastmonitor.com 1/3/15)
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 2,100
Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the Israeli
onslaught on Gaza in August. Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six
civilians in Israel were also killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the Paris attack to
Hamas firing rockets from the Gaza Strip. Mr Netanyahu had
extended his condolences to the
people of France, adding: “If the terrorist fanatics of Hamas,
Hezbollah, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda will not be stopped here,
[the attacks] will spread all over the world."
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah group
says Islamic extremists have insulted Islam and the Prophet Mohammed
more than those who published satirical cartoons mocking the religion.
He said Islamic extremists who behead and slaughter people — a
reference to the IS group's rampages in
Iraq and Syria — have done more harm to Islam than anyone else in
history. His remarks are in stark contrast to those of Sunni
militants from the IS group and Al-Qaida who have called for attacks on
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called President Francois Hollande
to express condolences and condemn the attacks. Mr Abbas assured the
French president of "the solidarity of the Palestinian people and
leadership with France after this terrorist attack."
A rally in solidarity with France, called for by the Palestinian Liberation Organization,
will be held in Ramallah in the West Bank
on Sunday, at the same time as a huge march in Paris.
UN Security Council rejects resolution
on Palestinian state
Bid to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by 2017 garners eight votes,
one short of total needed to pass.
(Al Jazeera , 12/31/14)
Why I want Obama to veto
Abbas' UN resolution on Palestine
(Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, 12/18/14)
The UN Security Council has rejected a
Palestinian resolution calling for peace with Israel within a year and
an end to Israel's occupation by 2017.
The draft resolution called for:
• Two sovereign states living side by side; Israel and Palestine
• End of Israeli occupation and establishing the
Palestinian state within a time frame of no more than three years
• East Jerusalem as the capital of the
state of Palestine which will be established on 1967 borders
• Settle the refugees’ question according to UN resolution 194
• End settlement activities in West Bank and East
Jerusalem and to release all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails
The motion received eight "yes" votes, including from Russia and
France, two "no" votes from the United States and Australia, and five
abstentions including the UK.
Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada
, derided the resolution.
"It insists that the entire question of Palestine be reduced to the
question of the 1967 occupation and that merely ending this occupation
would effectively end all Palestinian claims."
"The resolution uses vague, deceptive and in some places outright
dishonest language that would deal a devastating blow to Palestinian
rights, particularly the right of return for refugees.
"It contained so many compromises in an attempt to avoid a US veto that it was weaker than existing UN resolutions," he said.
Contrary to what some had expected, the ambassadors of Arab countries
at the UN failed to secure the necessary nine Security Council
votes. Hearing that two African countries abstained, Nigeria and
Rwanda, should not have been a surprise. During the Security Council
deliberations during the Israeli war on Gaza last summer, these two
countries gave Israel room to manoeuvre and continue its killing and
destruction by thwarting all attempts to get a resolution to end its
aggression, again by abstaining in the crucial votes.
This is interesting because African countries have traditionally voted
in favour of all draft resolutions supportive of Palestinian rights.
The significant shift in this position is a result of the Israeli
strategy in international relations by which it utilises its
development of advanced technology as a diplomatic bargaining tool.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman formulated the simple
strategy whereby countries are offered access to Israeli technology in
exchange for diplomatic support. Rwanda has been courted by
Israel for a decade or more, spending large sums in order to improve
relations with the central African state.
Further east, there is no doubt that one
of the resounding success stories of Israel's export of advanced
technologies is that India is very keen on improving relations with Tel
Aviv. The Hind, India's most
popular newspaper, has revealed that the government in New Delhi is on
the verge of reconsidering how it votes on international resolutions
relating to Palestine.
According to the Hind, there
is growing intent among India's leaders to refrain from voting on any
issue linked to the Palestinian cause in the international arena. This
is a major turning point as India was, until recently, a leading member
of the Non-Aligned Movement,
which had a default position of supporting the Palestinians. Despite
the fact that the bloc no longer exists, the shift in India's
international positions will have an impact on the behaviour of other
countries. As in Africa, the Indian shift is a result of smart Israeli
investments including weapon sales.
Technology has also played a key role in the development of relations
between Israel and China. It is true that no one would expect the
Chinese to behave like the African countries in international votes,
but it is clear that Beijing is showing a great deal of interest in
improving relations with Tel Aviv, again due to its desire to benefit
from Israel's advanced technology capabilities.
China is interested in Israel's advanced technology to boost its
economic capability, especially in industry and agriculture. The
Israeli Minister of the Economy, Naftali Bennett, leader of the
religious far right-wing Jewish Home Party is trying to spread the
message that Israel can utilise its success and superiority in advanced
technology to improve its international standing and strengthen
relations with influential countries without having to make any
concessions to the Palestinians. The Israelis are aware that Beijing is
keen on establishing security and intelligence cooperation with Tel
In short, Israel's advanced technology
developments have become its most prominent soft power tool for
boosting diplomatic ties and improving its position in the world,
enhancing its own security in the process.
Gaza Update: Still reeling
This is almost the complete opposite of the behaviour of the Arab
countries, whose bilateral relations with foreign states are not
subject to national security requirements. Instead, some Arab countries
do not hesitate to play a functional role for the benefit of Israel,
usually at the behest of the United States. While Israel plans and
builds for its future, the Arab states are very short-sighted and
bargain away their future for short-term gains. Israel is using its
soft power to great advantage in more ways than one.
The Palestinians had warned that if the UN resolution failed they were
prepared to join the International Criminal Court to file suits against
On Friday in a move that could lead to cuts in U.S. aid the
Palestinians delivered to U.N. headquarters documents on joining the
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Washington
sends about $400 million in economic support aid to the Palestinians
every year. Under U.S. law, that aid would be cut off if the
Palestinians used membership in the International Criminal Court to
make claims against Israel.
Meanwhile Israel is delaying the transfer of $127m in taxes it collects
on behalf of the Palestinians in retaliation for their application to
join the Hague-based International Criminal Court, according to Israeli
from summer assault
(Patrick O. Strickland, Electronic Intifada, 12/27/14)
Israel violates Gaza ceasefire nearly every day
(Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, 12/22/14)
As Hamas and Fatah quarrel, Gaza is orphaned
(Amira Haas, Haaretz. 12/22/14)
photo by Christophe Gowans
Gaza: One War, One Family.
Five Children, Four Dead
(Sarah Helm, Newsweek, 12/22/14)
Israel’s 51-day offensive on the Gaza
Strip this past summer. “Operation Protective Edge”, was Israel's third
war in Gaza in the last six years.
Palestinian women walk near
the ruins of houses, which witnesses said were destroyed by Israeli
shelling during the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, in
the east of Gaza City December 1, 2014. Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Home to an estimated 1.8 million Palestinians, Gaza endured
unprecedented destruction. Unlike during the 2012 attacks, Israel
launched a ground invasion that devastated the Strip. For
Palestinians in Gaza, the war meant “a record number of civilian
casualties, the devastation of civilian buildings and infrastructure,
and large scale displacement,” according to United Nations monitoring
group OCHA (UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Afffairs).
Some 100,000 persons are still displaced, living in schools, shelters
or with host families.
All across Gaza there is rubble – areas that look like mini Dresdens,
or London during the Blitz; bombed hospitals, schools and factories
were flattened too including the famous al-Awda biscuit factory, which
once employed 400 workers.
OCHA estimates 2,257 Palestinians
were killed, including 1,563 civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 7
civilians were also killed (including 1 child).
At least 538 children were killed during the attacks (including 3000
injured of whom 1000 have injuries that have paralyzed them.) 1,500
-1800 children are estimated to have been made orphans during Operation
Israel accused Hamas of using children as “human shields” during the
war but the whole Gazan population was a human shield. Wherever Hamas
fired its rockets from, when Israel retaliated there was nowhere in
this crowded land for civilians to go – no safe havens. “Civilians were
at the eye of the storm,” said Raji Sourani, head of the Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights.
The August ceasefire deal brokered by Egypt, while never made
transparent to the public, reportedly called for the opening of Gaza’s
crossings, allowing the entry of reconstruction materials needed to
rebuild Gaza’s devastated neighborhoods, the extension of the permitted
fishing areas off Gaza’s shore and the relaxation of access
restrictions in the areas along Gaza’s perimeter fence with Israel.
These truce conditions are similar to those that ended twelve days of
Israeli bombing — claiming hundreds of Palestinian lives in Gaza — in
Like its violations of that earlier ceasefire, Israel has violated the August agreement with total impunity.
Here is a brief breakdown:
• Gaza remains sealed.
While the Israeli closure of all of Gaza’s other crossings remains in
place, travel through the Rafah crossing with Egypt — the sole point of
entry and exit for the vast majority of Gaza’s residents — has also
been strangled. On Sunday, approximately 630 Palestinians left Gaza via
Rafah after Cairo temporarily reopened the crossing — for only the
second time in two months.
Palestinians attempt to enter Egypt at Rafah Crossing
on 21 December.(Ashraf Amra / APA images)
Travel via Rafah is limited to those seeking medical treatment or
people holding permits to stay abroad; at the end of last month, there
were an estimated thirty thousand people waiting to exit Gaza via
Rafah. Amongst them were one thousand patients who include “those with
advanced cancer, renal and heart diseases, and orthopedic and
ophthalmological needs,” according to the UN monitoring group OCHA.
• Construction materials are not allowed in to Gaza.
Though $5.4 billion was pledged at a donors conference in Cairo in
October, “reconstruction of Gaza has barely begun” and “even fewer
construction materials are now entering Gaza than before the conflict,”
according to the humanitarian group Oxfam. Despite the massive scale of
destruction — it is estimated that Israel dropped the equivalent of an
atomic bomb on Gaza this summer — only one percent of the estimated
five million tons of construction materials required have been allowed
in to Gaza. “At this rate it would take more than 23 years to meet
‘immediate’ needs alone,” states Oxfam.
• Exports are not allowed out of Gaza.
• Gaza is under
constant Israeli fire. The Israeli military, which monitors movement in
the area of the boundary fence, uses deadly force against any
Palestinians who dare approach the perimeter areas, where much of the
most fertile farmland is located.
Though the August ceasefire deal stipulated that Palestinians would
have increased access to the perimeter areas, Israel has “so far not
officially announced the boundaries of what they consider a restricted
area, thus generating uncertainty and increasing the risks to the
civilian population,” states OCHA. Meanwhile, access to fishing waters
“is restricted to six nautical miles from the coast.”
Accusations of abandoning the residents of Gaza to a miserable fate
were publicly aimed at the UN, the donor nations that still have not
transferred the money they promised at the October Cairo conference on
Gaza reconstruction to the Palestinians, and the PA.
Transferral of the donations, one Western diplomat told Haaretz,
depends on the functioning of the reconciliation government in Gaza.
The donors want to be sure the money reaches a leadership it approves
of. But the ability and willingness of such a government to function
depends on the relations between Fatah and Hamas, and they are now bad,
Last April Hamas gave up the government it led (although its security
agencies are still in control),and returned responsibility for the
disaster-stricken Strip to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. This
included the responsibility for rebuilding the enormous physical,
economic and mental destruction caused by Operation Protective Edge.
The rift between the two movements comes in addition to a split within Fatah itself.
Gazans have many reasons to despair. The blockade on the Strip, whose
removal was the first, official condition raised by Hamas in the
cease-fire negotiations last summer – has become even worse. Gaza
students who were accepted for studies abroad, for example, cannot
Brad Parker, attorney and international
advocacy officer for Defence for Children's International-Palestine,
explained that Israel’s attacks in Gaza have consistently been
“characterized by a complete disregard of international humanitarian
Explaining that an estimated half of Gaza’s total population is under
eighteen years old, Parker described the summer war’s impact: “Children
in Gaza witnessed the killing and maiming of their parents, siblings
and other family members, and experienced the systematic destruction of
their homes, schools and communities."
Parker also warned that the suffering will continue, particularly for
children, as long as Israel’s brutal seven-year blockade on Gaza
During the 51 days of Israeli bombing this summer, the unanimous cry
from Gaza was not just for the ending of the violence. A return to the
status quo of slow suffocation under siege and complete impunity for
Israel’s constant violations of Palestinian rights was not tenable.
Gaza’s staggering sacrifice — more than one in every thousand of its
residents killed — required the fulfillment of basic human rights.
Not only is the pre-ceasefire status quo of Israeli siege still firmly
in place, but the secret terms of the United Nations-backed Gaza
Reconstruction Mechanism “include onerous controls of building supplies
and intrusive monitoring of Palestinian families seeking to rebuild
homes destroyed by Israel,” as The Electronic Intifada has previously
Instead of easing its grip since August,
Israel finds that it enjoys more control over Palestinians in Gaza than ever before.
Palestinian children describe confinement
in israeli military prisons
(Samer Badawi, dci-palestine.org, 12/20/14)
Defence for Children International i-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) is
an independent, child rights organization based in Ramallah dedicated
to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the
occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in
accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
"I won't move until I say goodbye to my mother."
"For speaking these words, Diyaa was knocked to the floor of his family
home, kicked, and beaten by Israeli soldiers who, two weeks earlier,
had done the same to his two friends. It was 3 am, and Diyaa's parents
could only watch as their 16-year-old son was dragged to an army jeep,
blindfolded, and—like thousands of Palestinian children before
him—forced into a military detention center in the Israeli-occupied
What happened next, according to affidavits given by Diyaa and his
friends, fits a pattern of Israeli abuse designed to coerce confessions
from Palestinian children. Among the most troubling of their
experiences were prolonged periods of solitary confinement.
"Although it’s true that, in the United States, children and
juvenile offenders are sometimes held in solitary confinement—either as
a disciplinary measure or to separate them from adult populations—in
Israeli military detention, Palestinian children are held in solitary
confinement for interrogation purposes," said Brad Parker,
international advocacy officer and attorney for DCI-Palestine.
"Using solitary confinement in this way
is conduct that amounts to torture under international law," says
Parker. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has explicitly
found that solitary confinement, when "used intentionally during
pretrial detention as a technique for the purpose of obtaining
information or a confession" amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment.
In more than 97 percent of cases documented by DCI-Palestine between
2012 and 2013, "children held in solitary confinement were not properly
informed of their right to silence, were denied access to legal counsel
and did not have a family member present during interrogation,"
according to a May 2014 report prepared by the organization. In the
same time period, more than three-quarters of child detainees were
strip searched, subject to physical abuse, and denied access to food
Isolation, interrogation, and beatings
On the day of his detention, 16-year-old Diyaa remembers being thrown
into a windowless cell, where he was to spend the next 15 days. During
that time, he emerged only to be escorted to an interrogation room. He
estimates that he was interrogated 15 times, for two hours each—all
with his feet and hands bound to "a low metal chair."
The interrogator accused Diyaa of throwing stones, an offense that,
according to a November 2009 Israeli military order, could carry a
sentence of up to 20 years. "I kept saying I wanted to see a lawyer,"
"He asked me when I threw stones and with whom, but I did not answer.
He interrogated me for about two hours. He did the same the following
On the fifth day, Diyaa relented. "I had
to confess to throwing stones because of my horrible detention
conditions in the cell. I also thought they would transfer me to a
regular prison if I confessed." But even after his "confession," Diyaa
was thrown back into his cell. His isolation was to last another 10
days, punctuated by more interrogations and, this time, beatings.
"One of the jailers used to beat me whenever I knocked on the door to
ask for something," Diyaa told DCI-Palestine. "He would come to the
cell with another jailer, tie my hands and feet, and kick me hard while
I was on the floor, and punch me on my stomach and head without any
The aim, it turned out, was to extract
another confession—for a specific stone-throwing incident to which
Diyaa's friend had, according to the interrogator, already admitted.
Fending for themselves
But in sworn testimony to DCI-Palestine, Diyaa denied any involvement in the incident:
"The interrogator said that my friend Thabet accused me in his
statement of throwing stones with him at a settler car, that the car
overturned and the passengers were injured. I told him that was not
true, and that I was at the local supermarket when I heard about the
Diyaa's friend Thabet, it turns out, had just admitted to stoning a car
carrying residents of an illegal settlement near his hometown of
Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But the 16-year-old's
"confession" came after four days of solitary confinement and abuse.
According to Thabet, an Israeli interrogator told him: "If you
don't confess, I'll have both of your parents arrested, brought here to
this room, and killed."
"I was scared they would actually do what they said they would do about
arresting and killing my parents," Thabet told DCI-Palestine. "So I
confessed. I confessed to throwing stones several times at a settler
car, and the stones hit the car and overturned it, and that the
passengers were injured, as I [recall]."
Until their "confessions," Diyaa,
Thabet, and a third friend—17-year-old Bashar, also accused of
stone-throwing—were left to fend for themselves, deprived of family
visits and legal counsel. Parker says this, too, is part of a pattern
of Israeli abuse:
"[Child detainees] are often denied access to an attorney until after
being subjected to several days of prolonged interrogation and
isolation," according to Parker. "The apparent goal," he says, "is to
obtain a confession" at all costs.
"This pattern of abuse by Israel is grave," said Richard Falk, a former
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in
the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Falk, who is also a professor
emeritus of international law at Princeton University, called Israel’s
use of solitary confinement against children "inhumane, cruel,
degrading, and unlawful; and, most worryingly, it is likely to
adversely affect the mental and physical health of underage detainees."
According to the cases DCI-Palestine
documented in 2012 and 2013, some 20 percent of Palestinian child
detainees were subjected to solitary confinement during their
interrogations. Any "confessions" extracted by this practice are
suspect, say legal experts.
"Israeli military court judges rarely exclude confessions or other
evidence extracted from coercive interrogations," says Parker.
"Palestinian child detainees are denied access to counsel, ill-treated
and tortured, and then find themselves before a military court process
that falls drastically short of international juvenile justice
As of September, DCI-Palestine recorded 182 Palestinian children in
Israeli detention. Since 2000, an estimated 8,000 Palestinian children
have been detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.
Badawi is a freelance contributor to Defense for Children International
Palestine. Based in Washington, DC, he spent the summer reporting in
Gaza for +972 Mag. Follow him @samwithaner.
Turkish Government Refuses
Humanitarian Aid to Yezidi Refugees
(Amy L. Beam, KurdistanTribune.com, 9/21/14)
note: Amy Beame reported live during Gaza Corner 12/13/14
Conditions in 11 Yezidi Refugee Camps in Turkey
(Amy L. Beam, KurdistanTribune.com, 9/17/14)
Urgent call from Kobane Canton government
to UN and international community
(original link no longer exists)
The attacks of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) on KobanÍ, a
Kurdish town in northern Syria, have been ongoing since the 15th of
September. As a result of the war, large parts of the city and the
surrounding villages have been destroyed and devastated. The
humanitarian emergency is exacerbated due to the de facto existing
embargo. Since all routes to KobanÍ are blocked, it is not possible for
humanitarian supplies to reach the city. Due to the plight of refugees
from KobanÍ located in Turkey, more and more people are returning to
The biggest problem is the lack of clean drinking water. After the
start of the popular uprising in Syria, the water supply line to
KobanÍ, which is being centrally controlled by the state, has been
discontinued. The population in KobanÍ thereof has built an alternative
water line to KobanÍ. As a result of the attacks conducted by the
terrorist militia called Islamic State, this self-constructed water
supply line has also been destroyed. Currently, the people from KobanÍ
obtain their water from the few existing wells. However, this does not
involve potable water. It is therefore only used for cleaning and
hygiene matters. Drinking water is currently only available in closed
PET-bottles. Yet, the stocks are low and won’t be sufficient for much
longer. Similarly, there is a lack of food, especially of wheat and
flour with which at least the basic needs of sustenance could be met.
The bread production site, which was managed by the city
administration, has fallen under the control of the ISIS with all its
Another problem is the power supply. Since power supplies too are
directed by the central government, there has been a power cut for 2
years now. Until the attacks of the ISIS, the population provided
electricity via generators. However, ISIS has attacked and destroyed
the fuel depot for the generators. Also, there is a lack of winter
clothing, especially with jackets and shoes. When people fled their
villages, they had to leave all their belongings behind.
Further, medical care proves to be a serious problem. The existing
three hospitals were all destroyed. Currently, an abandoned house
functions as a temporary location for patient care and is managed only
by a volunteer doctor. However, due to the lack of medicine it is not
possible to treat many diseases. Although some medical equipment is
available, they cannot be used in important operations since the power
supply, which is required for these devices, is non-existent.
Rotting corpses and the bombing provide an acute risk of epidemics. Due
to the constantly ongoing attacks of the IS and the lack of technical
material, it is not possible to remove the corpses.
We estimate that the people of KobanÍ can only survive another month
with the existing stock of food, water and heating oil. However, the
influx of people from Turkey returning to Kobane makes it difficult to
give a detailed prognosis. Yet above all, the drinking water supply
poses a huge problem. Therefore, we aim to appeal to the international
public and community with this letter.
* The establishment of a corridor for humanitarian aid under the control of the UN.
* International delegation of experts to examine the situation in KobanÍ.
* Securing drinking water and food supply.
* Sending international teams of doctors for medical care.
* Technical equipment for the reconstruction of the city.
Akın ‹nver on Turkish Foreign Policy Challenges(Foreignpolicyblogs.com, 10/27/14)
3 key excerpts:
1) Turkey made three absolutely vital, high-risk decisions since 2011 –
Morsi, Assad and Kobani – and all of them failed colossally.
2) Ankara believed that even if it saved Kobani, the collapse of its peace process with the Kurds would be inevitable.
3) I (Akın ‹nver) still personally favor Turkish aid to Kobani; first,
because a conflict with ISIS is inevitable – and second, saving Kobani
would enable Ankara to start the next Kurdish peace process from an
Akın ‹nver is an assistant professor of international relations at
Kadir Has University in Istanbul and an energy and political risk
consultant. Dr. ‹nver is a widely recognized expert on Turkish foreign
policy and Kurdish issues.
Peter Clifford Online
Excellent blog that keeps up-to-date on developments in Syria and Iraq with focus on Kobane
1) Rojava (aka Syrian Kurdistan)
Syria's Secret Revolution
Produced by BBC "Our World"
2) Kobane: The little city that stood up to ISIS
Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, outlines the
features of the fight against Ithe Islamic State in the closely watched
battleground city of Kobane.
3) A rare view from inside Kobane
produced by independent journalist Lindsay Snell who was one of the
first of the international media inside Kobane after the Islamic State
The Unholy City
(Uri Avnery, 11/21/14)
Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer. He is a former member of the Knesset
and the founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. He writes a weekly
column published in several countries and is the author of many books,
including 1948: A Soldier’s Tale—The Bloody Road to Jerusalem, Israel’s
Vicious Circle and My Friend, the Enemy.
Born in Germany, Avnery fled Nazi Germany with his family. As a youth,
he joined the Irgun Zionist terror gang, which he later quit to become
a leading peace activist in Israel.
Rage in Jerusalem
(Nathan Thrall, 11/21/14)
Uri Avnery excerpt:
In its long and checkered history, Jerusalem has been occupied by dozens of conquerors.
Babylonians and Persians, Greeks and Romans, Mamluks and Turks, Britons and Jordanians – to mention just a few.
The latest occupier is Israel, which conquered and annexed Jerusalem in 1967.
(I could have written "East Jerusalem" – but all of historical
Jerusalem is in today's East Jerusalem. All the other parts were built
in the last 200 years by Zionist settlers, or are surrounding Arab
villages which were arbitrarily joined to the huge area that is now
called Jerusalem after its occupation.)
This week, Jerusalem was in flames -
again. Two youngsters from Jabel Mukaber, one of the Arab villages
annexed to Jerusalem, entered a synagogue in the west of the city
during morning prayers and killed four devout Jews, before themselves
being killed by police.
Jerusalem is called "the City of Peace". This is a linguistic mistake.
True, in antiquity it was called Salem, which sounds like peace, but
Salem was in fact the name of the local deity.
It is also a historical mistake. No city in the world has seen as many wars, massacres and as much bloodshed as this one.
All in the name of some God or other.
Jersalem was annexed (or "liberated", or "unified") immediately after the Six-day War of 1967.
That war was Israel's greatest military triumph. It was also Israel's greatest disaster.
The annexation was presented to us (I was a member of the Knesset at the time) as a unification of the city.
In fact, what happened in 1967 was anything but unification.
If the intent had really been unification, it would have looked very different.
Full Israeli citizenship would have been automatically conferred on all
inhabitants. All the lost Arab properties in West Jerusalem, which had
been expropriated in 1948, would have been restored to their rightful
owners who had fled to East Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem municipality would have been expanded to include Arabs from the East, even without a specific request. And so on.
The opposite happened. No property was restored, nor any compensation paid. The municipality remained exclusively Jewish.
Arab inhabitants were not accorded
Israeli citizenship, but merely "permanent residence". This is a status
that can be arbitrarily revoked at any moment – and indeed was revoked
in many cases, compelling the victims to move out of the city. For
appearance's sake, Arabs were allowed to apply for Israel citizenship.
The authorities knew, of course, that only a handful would apply, since
doing so would mean recognition of the occupation. For Palestinians,
this would be paramount to treason. (And the few that did apply were
In practice, East Jerusalem remains occupied territory.
Mayor Teddy Kollek who was elected two years before the annexation and
Moshe Dayan, then the Defense Minister, believed in keeping the
Palestinians quiet by giving them all possible benefits, except freedom.
A few days after the occupation of East Jerusalem Moshe Dayan removed
the Israeli flag which had been planted by soldiers in front of the
Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Dayan also turned the de facto
authority over the Mount over to the Muslim religious authorities.
Jews were allowed into the Temple
compound only in small numbers and only as quiet visitors. They were
forbidden to pray there. They could, after all, pray to their
heart's content at the adjoining Western Wall (which is a part of the
compound's ancient outer wall).
The government was able to impose this decree because of a quaint
religious fact: Orthodox Jews are forbidden by the rabbis to enter the
Temple Mount altogether. According to a Biblical injunction, ordinary
Jews are not allowed into the Holy of Holies, only the High Priest was
As a result, the first few years of the occupation were a happy time
for East Jerusalem. Jews and Arabs mingled freely. It was fashionable
for Jews to shop in the colorful Arab market and dine in the "oriental"
restaurants. I myself often stayed in Arab hotels and made quite a
number of Arab friends.
This atmosphere changed gradually. The government and the municipality
spent a lot of money to gentrify West Jerusalem, but Arab neighborhoods
in East Jerusalem were neglected, and turned into slums. The local
infrastructure and services degenerated. Almost no building permits
were issued to Arabs, in order to compel the younger generation to move
outside the city borders. Then the "Separation" Wall was built,
preventing those outside from entering the city, cutting them off from
their schools and jobs.
Political oppression grew. Under the Oslo agreements, Jerusalemite
Arabs were allowed to vote for the Palestinian Authority. But then they
were prevented from doing so, their representatives were arrested and
expelled from the city. All Palestinian institutions were forcibly
Then an additional disaster occurred. Secular Israelis are leaving
Jerusalem, which is rapidly becoming an Orthodox bastion. In
desperation they decided to oust the Orthodox mayor and elect a secular
businessman. Unfortunately, he is a rabid ultra-nationalist.
Nir Barkat behaves like the mayor of
West Jerusalem and the military governor of East Jerusalem. He treats
his Palestinian subjects like enemies, who may be tolerated if they
obey quietly, and brutally suppressed if they do not. Together with the
decade-old neglect of the Arab neighborhoods, the accelerated pace of
building new Jewish neighborhoods, the excessive police brutality
(openly encouraged by the mayor), they are producing an explosive
The total cutting-off of Jerusalem from the West Bank, its natural hinterland, worsens the situation even more.
To this may be added the termination of the so-called peace process,
since all Palestinians are convinced that East Jerusalem must be the
capital of the future State of Palestine.
This situation needed only a spark to ignite the city. This was duly
provided by the right-wing demagogues in the Knesset. Vying for
attention and popularity, they started to visit the Temple Mount, one
after the other, every time unleashing a storm. Added to the manifest
desire of certain religious and right-wing fanatics to build the Third
Temple in place of the holy al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the
Rock, this was enough to create the belief that the holy shrines were
indeed in danger.
Then came the ghastly revenge-murder of an Arab boy who was abducted by
Jews and burned alive with gasoline poured into his mouth.
Individual Muslim inhabitants of the city started to act. Disdaining
organizations, almost without arms, they started a series of attacks
that are now called "the intifada of individuals". Acting alone, or
with a brother or cousin whom he trusts, an Arab takes a knife, or a
pistol (if he can get one), or his car, or a tractor, and kills the
nearest Israelis. He knows that he is going to die.
The two cousins who killed four Jews in
a synagogue this week – and also an Arab Druze policeman – knew this.
They also knew that their families were going to suffer, their home
demolished, their relatives arrested. They were not deflected. The
mosques were more important.
Illustration by Sam Kalda for BuzzFeed
My Last Day In Yemen
Yemen was like a
home away from home for me — until the day I was nearly abducted in
broad daylight, and narrowly missed suffering a grim fate similar to
other journalists drawn to covering, and living in, the Middle East.
(Gregory D. Johnsen, Buzzfeed 11/16/14)
Gregory Johnsen is a Michael Hastings
National Security Fellow and author of The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda
and America's War in Arabia.
Immediately after the Synagogue killing, the Israeli choir of
politicians and commentators went into action. They did so with an
astonishing unanimity – ministers, Knesset members, ex-generals,
journalists, all repeating with slight variations the same message. The
reason for this is simple: every day the Prime Minister's office sends
out a "page of messages", instructing all parts of the propaganda
machine what to say.
This time the message was that Mahmoud Abbas was to blame for
everything, a "terrorist in a suit", the leader whose incitement causes
the new intifada. No matter that the chief of the Shin Bet testified on
the very same day that Abbas has neither overt nor covert connections
with the violence.
Binyamin Netanyahu faced the cameras and with a solemn face and
lugubrious voice – he is a really good actor – repeated again what he
has said many times before, every time pretending that this is new
recipe: more police, harder punishments, demolition of homes, arrests
and large fines for parents of 13-year old children who are caught
throwing stones, and so on.
Every expert knows that the result of such measures will be the exact
opposite. More Arabs will become incensed and attack Israeli men and
women. Israelis, of course, will "take revenge" and "take the law into
their own hands".
For both inhabitants and tourists, walking the streets of Jerusalem,
the city which is "joined together", has become a risky adventure. Many
stay at home.
The Unholy City is more divided than ever before.
Cairo was exotic but crowded and
Jordan’s eastern desert was drab and dreary, more volcanic rock than
sand. But Yemen was different. Vibrant and stark, it felt like the
underside of a rainbow. Sanaa had character and a wild, intoxicating
I was 24 years old and I was hooked.
I went back to Yemen again and again over the next several years,
neglecting my Ph.D. dissertation to write a book about the country and
cobbling together grants for visits. In late 2012, after the Arab Spring
and the uprisings that forced Salih to step down, I scheduled another
quick trip. I had lived through the revolution in Cairo, and
had seen the expectations of change and a better life inflate and then
burst leaving everyone more confused than ever. Yemen had changed as
well. No one seemed to know the rules anymore. Salih was out and
security was evaporating. There was a mad scramble for power that fall,
and for the first time I felt physically unsafe. It was just a feeling,
impossible to quantify, but I couldn’t shake it.
Western embassies issued travel
warnings, but they were as vague as everything else. Yemen was bad —
maybe not Iraq bad — but the speculation kept getting worse.
Still, earlier this spring I decided to go back one more time. I
pitched it to my editors as a three-story trip. But in my mind, it was
a final farewell. I was getting married in a few months, and I wanted
to move on.. On March 6, I boarded the plane for my last trip to Yemen.
Sixteen days later I was done. I had my three stories. But I didn’t
want to leave, not yet. Something was still missing. Instead of flying
home early, I compromised: One more story.
I already knew the one I’d do. Mine was a tragedy that started with a Guantanamo interrogation.
The detainee, Adnan Abd al-Latif, was a mentally unstable man who had
suffered severe brain damage as a result of a car crash in 1994. Twice
he had been cleared for release, but each time something went wrong and
he remained locked in his cell.
On Sept. 10, 2012, he committed suicide.
He had been in Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade.
Latif’s case seemed to get at all the horrors of that lost decade: a
handicapped man who confused al-Qaeda with a Yemeni village of the same
name, locked up as the worst of the worst.
He was a man with a history and a family, and I wanted to write about them, to tell his story.
Since arriving in Sanaa I had been working with Shuaib, a young fixer
and friend, who knew how to get things done in a country where nothing
(fast forward to later in story)
Shuaib wanted breakfast. Stepping
up onto the sidewalk, Shuaib bumped into a soldier who was coming out
of the restaurant, catching his windbreaker on the man’s rifle.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, as he reached over to untangle his jacket. The man
just looked at him, taking in Shuaib’s youth and his slight frame. And
then he saw me. I was used to it, the attention and the double takes.
Yemenis tend to stare at obvious foreigners, observing them as if they
were under glass. But this time the lack of words was disconcerting. We
were in the man’s space, inches from his face with Shuaib’s jacket
hooked on his rifle. The whole thing was too intimate for silence.
That was it, a few seconds on the street before breakfast. It was
nothing and he was no one, a soldier with a gun in a country that had
plenty of both. We were already past it.
Fifteen minutes later, the man was waiting for us. I saw him as soon as
we left the restaurant: Ten yards up the road next to another man in a
military uniform. Both of them were young, and both had guns.
The first man, the one Shuaib had bumped into, crossed the space between us surprisingly quickly and grabbed his arm.
“Who is this?”
“He’s my friend,” Shuaib replied.
“Is he a foreigner?”
“Yeah,” Shuaib said. “He’s an American researcher.”
“OK,” the man said, pulling Shuaib toward the street. “Come to the base with us. We need to ask you some questions.”
“Sure, why not,” Shuaib shrugged.
Israel bans renowned doctor and human rights activist Mads Gilbert from entering Gaza for life
Somehow the other man had circled around
behind me. Grabbing my arm, he started pulling me toward the street. My
eyes followed my body and I saw the yellow-and-white taxi: driver
inside, back door open. And then I knew.
I had played through this scenario dozens of times. Get in the car and you’re kidnapped, resist and you’re dead.
When the moment came, my body didn’t give me a choice. I couldn’t get into the car.
I jerked my arm back. The man pulled harder, and we were scuffling.
There was no punching or screaming, none of the things I would have
imagined, just a weird one-armed tug-of-war over a few yards of
asphalt. I was older and stronger, but he had a gun. His hand slipped
down past my wrist, catching on the backpack that I had slung over one
arm. For a second, I thought about dropping the backpack and running.
But it had $600, my passport, and all my notebooks from two weeks of
work. I tugged.
Dropping Shuaib’s arm, the (other) man grabbed for his gun. That’s when
I thought he would start shooting. Shuaib moved fast, escaping up the
street and scrambling for cover. The second man let go of my backpack
to chamber his own bullet, and then I was running too.
I remembered to zigzag as I ducked into a different restaurant and
headed for the back. My plan was to run through the kitchen and escape
out the back and then make a big loop back to the American Institute,
where I was staying. I made it to the rear of the restaurant, but as I
tried to go through the kitchen, one of the Yemeni workers blocked me.
“Mamnu‘a” he said.
I was trapped.
end of excerpt
note: Click here
to read the full story.
Dr. Gilbert has volunteered at al-Shifa hospital during three wars,
treating thousands of patients [AP]
Mads Gilbert, an outspoken Norwegian doctor and activist who
treated patients at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital during Israel’s assault on
the Palestinian territory this summer, has been denied access to Gaza
"indefinitely" by Israeli authorities.
Gilbert said on Friday that he was turned away from the Erez border
crossing when attempting to return to Gaza in October, despite having
all the legitimate paper work.
"To my surprise I was denied access by the Israeli military," he said.
"When I asked the reason they informed me that it was a security issue."
Gilbert said that when he asked for a fuller explanation, he was told to "leave the premises or the police would be called".
The 67-year-old, who has been involved in solidarity work with
Palestinians for decades and volunteered at al-Shifa on and off for 17
years, has been a vocal critic of Israel's military campaigns and its
occupation of Palestinian territory.
During the seven-week conflict between Israel and the Hamas movement
that left nearly 2200 Palestinians dead, Gilbert frequently spoke to
international media, including Al Jazeera and Democracy Now, about the
situation at al-Shifa hospital, which was overwhelmed with civilian
During the recent war, Gilbert accused Israel of committing "state
terrorism at a very sophisticated and very high level,” and said its
army was "using a wide variety of sophisticated modern weapons against
a basically naked civilian population.
BBC aired an interview with Gilbert, conducted at al-Shifa
hospital. The interviewer began asking him to respond to Israel’s
claims that it was not targeting civilians, that it was only attacking
Hamas militants. Gilbert called the claim “an absolutely stupid
statement” and explained that, among the hundreds of patients he had
seen at that point, only two had been fighters. The “large majority”
were women, children, and men civilians. “These numbers are
contradictory to everything Israel says,” he reported.
In 2008 and 2009, Gilbert treated Palestinians who had been wounded by
Israel’s use of experimental and illegal chemical weapons, including
white phosphorous, dense inert metal explosives (DIME) munitions, and
flechette shells. In
July 2014, in the midst of Israel’s most recent attack on Gaza, Gilbert
spoke with Electronic Intifada, revealing that he saw indications of
renewed use of DIME weapons and flechettes.
Dore note: Flechettes are described as illegal under rules of
humanitarian law. The way they’re described is they explode in the air
above a target, sending out a cone of thousands of tiny steel darts,
small darts. DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosives) weapons are
banned under international law and "kill their victims through the
amputation of limbs in a way that resembles an automated saw. As for
those who are able to survive, they are vulnerable to cancer because
[the weapons] contain carcinogenic tungsten," according to a
report by Al Jazeera.
Dr. Gilbert told Al Jazeera he was informed that the ban was "infinite without any time limit".
Medical Aid for Palestinians, a UK-registered charity, which has been
working in the occupied West Bank and Gaza for over 20 years and
supports al-Shifa hospital, called the ban on Gilbert "deeply
concerning" and reiterated that, "following the recent conflict,
thousands of Palestinians in Gaza require specialised surgical
treatment and it is imperative that the right to health is unimpeded".
Dr. Gilbert said he had been invited by the Gaza Health Ministry, which
had requested his assistance to research the impact on healthcare of
the Israeli bombardment.
Before Operation Protective Edge commenced in early July 2014, Gilbert
toured medical and health facilities and individual homes in Gaza,
researching for a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) report on the dire state of the
strip’s health sector.
He wrote of “overstretched” health facilities, widespread physical and
psychological trauma, “a deep financial crisis,” a lack of needed
medical supplies, and a “severe energy crisis.” He also noted the
“devastating results of the blockade imposed by the Government of
Israel,” with rampant poverty, a 38.5% unemployment rate, food
insecurity in at least 57% of households, and inadequate access to
clean water. All of these already extreme ills were only exacerbated by
the July-August Israeli assault on Gaza, an onslaught that left roughly
2,200 Palestinians dead, including over 1,500 civilians, more than 500
of whom were children.
Gilbert is not the only one Israel has recently prevented from entering
Gaza. In August, just after the end of its military assault, Israel
refused to allow Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the
world’s leading human rights organizations, from entering the strip,
impeding them from conducting war crimes investigations.
Denouncing his entry ban as a limitation of freedom of expression,
Gilbert said it appeared the Israeli government "doesn't want the
effects of their continuous attacks on the civilian population in Gaza
to be known to the world".
"Telling the world about the burdens of the Palestinians in Gaza is
considered a security risk," he said, adding that in a larger
perspective, the ban was not about him, but about the Gazans' right to
He vowed to continue to challenge Israel
and called for political pressure to be exerted to lift the "long overdue" siege of Gaza.
"There is no way we’re going to accept that medical and humanitarian
assistance to the people in Gaza shall be denied just because the
Israeli government has decided so. I will not give up travelling to
Gaza as long as they have medical needs," he said.
While the legislation is being justified on the grounds that prayer calls often produce "intolerable noise",
it is bound to prompt accusations of religious intolerance (Photo: Rex Features)
Israeli Right-wingers have revived highly contentious plans that could
effectively silence the Muslim call to prayer, known as the adhan.
In a move that risks stoking already simmering tensions in Jerusalem
between Jews and Arabs, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition
Robert Ilatov, a parliamentarian with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael
Beiteinu party, is sponsoring the bill with the support of Avigdor
Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister who is also the party's leader.
While the legislation is being justified on the grounds that prayer
calls often produce "intolerable noise" that disturbs many citizens'
sleep, it is bound to prompt accusations of religious intolerance and
prejudice against Israel's Muslim minority.
"Hundreds of thousands of citizens in Israel, in the Galilee, the
Negev, Jerusalem and other locations in central Israel suffer on a
regular basis from noise that is caused by muezzin [prayer caller]
calls in mosques," the bill states.
Around 20 per cent of Israel's population are Arabs, most of them
Muslim, meaning the adhan is a familiar sound five times a day -
including before dawn - despite the country's de facto status as a
Mr Ilatov suggested that freedom of religious worship was trumped by the right to peace and quiet.
"Freedom of religion and worship is a universal freedom to which
everyone is entitled in every democratic state, and of course in
Israel," he told Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. "This does not mean that
additional rights can be trampled, such as the right to conduct a
normal daily routine that includes peaceful and uninterrupted sleep
during the night."
The proposal comes against the backdrop of a clampdown by security
forces in Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem which have witnessed
almost nightly scenes of unrest in recent months following the murder
of a 16-year-old Palestinian by Jewish vigilantes seeking revenge for
the killing of three Israelis in the West Bank.
The Israeli parliament voted overwhelmingly last week to suspend
Haneen Zoabi, a legislator representing the state’s large Palestinian
minority, for six months as a campaign to silence political dissent
It is the longest suspension in the Knesset’s history and the maximum punishment allowed under Israeli law.
At a press conference, Zoabi denounced her treatment as “political persecution.”
“By distancing me from the Knesset, basically they’re saying they don’t
want Arabs, and only want ‘good Arabs.’ We won’t be ‘good Arabs,’” she
The Knesset’s confirmation of Zoabi’s suspension comes as she faces a
criminal trial for incitement in a separate case and as the Knesset
considers stripping her of citizenship.
But Zoabi is not the only Palestinian representative in the firing
line. Earlier this year the Knesset raised the threshold for election
to the parliament, in what has been widely interpreted as an attempt to
exclude all three small parties representing the Palestinian minority.
One in five citizens of Israel belong to the minority.
In addition, it emerged last week that a bill is being prepared to
outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, the only
extra-parliamentary party widely supported by Palestinian citizens.
Along with Zoabi, the Islamic Movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has
been among the most vocal critics of Israeli policies, especially over
the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem.
After Israel barred the Palestinian Authority from having any presence
in Jerusalem more than a decade ago and expelled Hamas legislators from
the city, Salah has become the face of Palestinian political activism
Zoabi was originally suspended after legislators from all the
main parties expressed outrage at a series of comments from her
criticizing both the build-up to Israel’s summer assault on Gaza,
dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” and the 51-day attack itself, which
left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians.
In particular, fellow members of Knesset were incensed by a radio
interview in which she expressed her disapproval of the kidnapping of
three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank, but refused to denounce
those behind it as “terrorists.” The youths were later found murdered.
Zoabi faced a wave of death threats and needed to be assigned a bodyguard for public appearances.
During the Knesset debate on her appeal against the suspension, Zoabi
said: “Yes, I crossed the lines of consensus — a warlike, aggressive,
racist, populist, chauvinist, arrogant consensus. I must cross those
lines. I am no Zionist, and that is within my legal right.”
In an apparently intentional subversion of Netanyahu’s recent
comparison of the Islamic State and Hamas, the Palestinian resistance
movement, Zoabi described an Israeli Air Force pilot as “no less a
terrorist than a person who takes a knife and commits a beheading.” She
added that “both are armies of murderers, they have no boundaries and
no red lines.”
Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, was among those who responded by calling Zoabi a “terrorist.”
“The law must be used to put the terrorist — there is no other word for
it — the terrorist Haneen Zoabi in jail for many years,” he told Israel
Tyranny of the majority
Ayelet Shaked, of the settler Jewish Home party, which is in the
government coalition, has introduced a bill that would allow a simple
majority of the Knesset to vote to override Supreme Court rulings.
Human rights lawyers warned that the bill would further erode already limited protections for minority rights.
Debbie Gild-Hayo, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in
Israel, warned that protections for minorities from the tyranny of the
majority would be in severe jeopardy as a result. “These proposals wish
to break down the checks and balances that are fundamental to
democracy,” she said.
Zoabi remained defiant. She noted that, while she was being hounded,
the legal authorities had ignored genocidal remarks made by Jewish
politicians against Palestinians during the summer attack on Gaza.
“They’re putting me on trial over a trivial, meaningless matter, while
ministers and MKs who incited to racism and incited to violence and
even to murder aren’t being investigated, even after complaints were
filed against them.”
She added: “If I am indicted, I’ll turn the hearings into the most political trial in Israel’s history.”
with the people of Kobane in Kiziltepe, Turkey near the Syrian border.
International Call Leads to Global Day of Action
For Kobane And For Humanity
press statement excerpt:
Nov 1 is an urgent call for action appealing to people all over the
world to show solidarity with Kobane, which is still under siege by the
Islamic State (IS) and facing the possibility of a genocide.
Prominent signatories include Professor Noam Chomsky and Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, who have both been long-time supporters of the Kurdish
struggle for self-determination, as well as Nobel Peace Prize Laureates
like Adolfo Erez Esquivel, and Jose Ramos-Horta, former President of
East Timor and Nora Cortinas, cofounder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo
in Argentina and Palestinian singer Reem Kelani.
For nearly two months, the city of Kobane has been facing an onslaught
from IS. The call for action states that the US-led coalition “has not
fulfilled their real international legal obligations. Some of the
countries in the coalition, especially Turkey, are among financial and
military supporters of IS in Iraq and Syria.”
In response to the call to action there were rallies in some 30 countries spanning 5 continents.
Watch Reem Kelani's video message
of solidarity with Kobane posted 10/20/14..
Latest info via Twitter:
First Kurdish reinforcements
cross Turkish border to Kobane
Peshmerga enters Kobane in powerful symbol
for long-oppressed stateless Kurds
(Richard Spencer and Magdy Samaan, Telegraph UK, 10/30/14)
Reinforcements Enter Besieged Town via Turkey, Raising Hopes
(Anne Barnardoct, NYT, 10/29/14)
IS controls half of Kobane, says FSA rebel leader
(Richard Spencer, Telegraph UK, 10/29/14)
The reinforcements (including
desperately needed anti-tank missiles and artillery) were the first
Turkey had allowed to cross through into Syria after weeks of tense
A Town Shouldn't Fight the Islamic State Alone;
Turkey's Obstruction of Kobane's Battle Against IS
(Meysa Abido, NYT Op-Ed, 10/28/14)
Turkey has strong reservations about helping Kurdish communities in
Syria and Iraq that are aligned with its own restive Kurdish population.
For many ordinary Kurds, the Peshmerga's arrival was a symbol of a
long-sought united front to save Kobane, which has become a symbol of
their resistance not only to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
but all the many enemies against which they have fought over the years
in all three countries.
Soner Cagaptay, a Turkish political analyst at the Washington Institute
for Near East Policy said the range of forces now in Kobane was
striking. It incorporates Syrian Arab rebels, the Iraqi Kurds, and
local Kurdish fighters from the Y.P.G., a militia affiliated with
Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., movement.
“That’s huge, the first time this has happened,” he said. “This builds
up a working relationship between these three groups, so if the goal is
to build a native, indigenous boots-on-the-ground strategy, this could
be the beginning.”
Meysa Abdo, who is also known by the nom de guerre Narin Afrin, is a commander of the resistance in Kobani.
Islamic State (IS) in Raqqa, Syria
Image by AP/Raqqa Media Center
Since Sept. 15, we, the people of the Syrian town of Kobani, have been
fighting, outnumbered and outgunned, against an all-out assault by the
army of the Islamic State, also known as IS.
Yet despite a campaign that has intensified in the past month,
including the deployment of United States (captured) tanks and armored
vehicles, the Islamic State has not been able to break the resistance
of Kobani’s fighters.
We are defending a democratic, secular society of Kurds, Arabs, Muslims and Christians who all face an imminent massacre.
Kobani’s resistance has mobilized our entire society, and many of its leaders, including myself, are women.
We had been fighting without any logistical assistance from the outside
world until the limited coalition airdrops of weapons and supplies on
Oct. 20. Airdrops of supplies should continue, so that we do not run
out of ammunition.
None of that changes the reality that our weapons still cannot match those of the Islamic State.
Turkey, a NATO member, should have been an ally in this conflict. It
could easily have helped us by allowing access between different Syrian
Kurdish areas, so as to let fighters and supplies move back and forth
through Turkish territory.
Instead, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has several times
publicly equated our fighters, who are defending a diverse and
democratic society, with the murderous Islamic State, evidently because
of the controversy surrounding Turkey’s Kurdish minority.
Last week, following domestic and international criticism, Turkish
leaders at last said they would open a corridor for a small group of
Iraqi pesh merga fighters, and some Free Syrian Army brigades, to cross
into Kobani. But they still will not allow other Syrian Kurds to cross
Turkish territory to reach us. This has been decided without consulting
As a result, the Islamic State can bring in endless amounts of new
supplies and ammunition, but we are still effectively blockaded on all
We believe that it is in the Turkish government’s interest to have a
border with the democratic administration of a western Kurdistan rather
than one with the Islamic State.
Western governments should increase their pressure on Turkey to open a
corridor for Syrian Kurdish forces and their heavy weapons to reach the
defenders of Kobani through the border.
We have proved ourselves to be one of the only effective forces
battling the Islamic State in Syria. Whenever we meet them on equal
terms, they are defeated.
The people of Kobani need the attention and help of the world.
This article was translated from the Kurdish for the New York Times by GŁney Yildiz.
Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, And These Guys Are Risking Their Lives To Document It
(Alice Speri, news .vice.com, 9/25/14)
Raqqa is a city where life under the
Islamic State is as inscrutable to outsiders as it is terrifying — a
reminder of the caliphate's brutality as much as of its bureaucratic
With open dissent all but stifled in the city — and punished with
death, when it still happens — a group of young residents has taken the
huge personal risk of documenting life under the Islamist fighters'
rule — sharing photos, videos, and stories from the city on the web.
Even after one of them was caught and executed, the group carried on,
speaking with journalists and sharing images from the city.
VICE News caught up with 22-year-old Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, a member of
the group who in the last four years went from medical student, to
activist against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, to a chronicler of the
fate of his city under the Islamic State, which he documented one
crucifixion at the time until he was forced to flee just two weeks ago.
VICE NEWS: How do you guys operate?
Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi: Our campaign is called "Raqqa is being slaughtered silently,
and it was launched in April, 2014. We wanted this campaign because
ISIS commits a lot of crimes in the city, without anyone in the world
knowing about it. We are 12 inside the city and four outside.
So those of you that are out of Raqqa, where are you?
There are three in Turkey, and I got out of Raqqa about two weeks ago,
but I'm not in Turkey and not in Syria. I got out because they want to
execute me but my family is still in Raqqa.
Were you guys fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad before ISIS came in?
We were activists against the Assad regime when we started, but after
our city was freed, and ISIS took over our freedom, we just decided to
launch this campaign to expose all the crimes that ISIS do, and not
just ISIS but all the extremist groups in the city.
Who is in charge? Mostly foreigners? Or mostly Iraqis or Syrians?
Most of them are Iraqis and Tunisians. But mostly Iraqis.
How was Raqqa before ISIS, and before the war, especially for women? Were they able to work?
It was a normal city like any other city in the world. There were
female doctors, lawyers, teachers. There were a lot of women who
weren't even wearing hijabs. It was a mixed city, there were mixed
marriages, mixed cafes, mixed restaurants. It was a normal city like
any city in the world.
Are women allowed to work at all now?
No, just the teachers, and they are not allowed to teach boys over 6 years.
Are any girls still going to school?
There has been no school or education since ISIS has taken the city. No
universities, no school, no nothing at all. They said they want to make
new, special books, and special schools, but until now there is nothing
at all, and they say that teachers must take special lessons from ISIS
to be allowed to teach and those who don't won't be allowed.
Are there any underground organizations, or groups like yours?
There are almost no activists.
Are you afraid for your family in Raqqa, because of the work you do?
Sure. A week ago, they went to the home of one member of our group
who's in Turkey, searching for him, and they said to his father, "If
your boy does not stop talking about us, that will be a big problem for
How are you protecting your family, are you trying to get them out?
It's a very bad situation for us, we cannot take them out of the city.
How do people in Raqqa feel about the US air strikes?
Gaza Corner Audio Broadcast Dore Stein 9/20/14
(click for broadcast)
Turkey closed the border
crossing w/ Kobane again as thousands of Kurds flee IS encirclement of
city. Obama remains silent and does nothing to prevent possible
I would say the people of Raqqa just split into two parts. The first
part say, "I will deal with the devil just to take ISIS out of the
city, because we are tired of ISIS. Enough of this, we want you to take
them out of the city, we want our freedom, we want our lives back, and
our sons back from prison, because there are more than 1,200 people
from Raqqa in ISIS prisons."
They just want these air strikes to kick ISIS out of the city but they
fear these air strikes, because they don't want any of the civilians or
the innocent prisoners, and innocent families to die.
The second part, including me, are against these strikes, because if
the West wanted our freedom, why didn't they bomb the Assad regime
after he used chemical weapons, and why didn't they bomb the Assad
regime when we have been begging for their help for four years now, and
they didn't do anything? They are just now doing this because of ISIS,
not for us. So they are against these airstrikes. People just split
into two parts, but both parts are fearing that air strikes will kill
photo credit unknown - taken 9/20/14
Letter to President Barack Obama - Provide Syrian Kurds with humanitarian and military support
(Dr. Amir Sharifi - Ekurd.net, 9/20/14)
Obama abandons Syrian Kurds to slaughter
(Opinion, Michael Rubin, AEIdeas.org, 9/19/14)
AEIdeas is a blog from the American Enterprise Institute
'The world cares nothing'
Syrian city under IS siege
(Opinion, Patrick Cockburn, The Independent UK, 9/18/14)
IS seizes 21 Kurdish villages in northern Syria,
close in on Kobane
(Agence France-Presses/Reuters, 9/18/14)
Massacre warnings signal
now is the time to attack ISIL
(Opinion, David Phillips, CNBC.com, 9/18/14)
On Kurds and terror lists
(Opinion, Michael Rubin, AEIdeas.org, 9/19/14)
President Obama transcript of address to the nation concerining the Islamic State (IS)
Israel jailed influential Palestinian writer
"to remove him from society"
(Patrick O. Strickland, The Electronic Intifada/al Bireh 9/12/14)
Number of Palestinians held in
administrative detention doubles
Gaza Corner Audio Broadcast
Dore Stein 8/31/14
(click for audio)
Turkish Kurds help their Iraqi brothers
to resist Islamic State (IS) advance
Female Guerillas are leading the PKK's fight against IS
in a rare display of unity with Peshmerga
(Hermione Gee, Independetn UK, 9/7/14)
Kurdish female fighters of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPJ) at a military training camp. [Reuters]
After the northern Iraqi town of
Makhmour fell to Islamic State militants last month, Kurdish forces
were gathered in the nearby village of Bazarga. Perched on the hillside
overlooking the city, it gave the Kurds a safe vantage point from which
to observe their enemy.
Volunteers had also converged on the area, offering their help to the
Kurdish army, or Peshmerga. Hundreds of parked cars lined the side of
the main road from the regional capital, Erbil, with young men leaning
against their doors. Like the security forces stationed at a camp
hidden from the road, they were waiting for an opportunity to take on
"We come here because we want to fight
terrorists. We have guns in the car; we will fight these people until
we die," explained Moukadam Aziz, who returned to Kurdistan from
Norway, where he lives, to defend his homeland from Islamic State
(formerly known as Isis).
Like Aziz, many volunteers standing around in the late afternoon heat
had returned from abroad after Islamic State took Mosul in June. Others
came to Bazarga from across Kurdistan, determined to resist the
The assortment of armed forces gathered in the area told a similar
story, with Kurdish government troops fighting alongside guerrillas
from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Within the official forces,
the battle for Makhmour saw a rare display of unity between battalions
whose loyalties are divided across Kurdistan's different political
parties and provinces.
At a military base nearby, men were milling around a central courtyard,
some in uniform, some in traditional Kurdish dress, but all sharing the
mood of restless anticipation, filling the time talking and smoking,
apparently oblivious to the intermittent artillery fire around them.
Brigadier Colonel Hejar, of the Kurdish security services, in charge of
the base, said they clashed with Islamic State the day before, killing
dozens of militants. "We brought two bodies back to the camp and buried
them this morning," he said.
The troops were defending a UN-run refugee camp in Makhmour, which has
been home to more than 12,000 Turkish Kurds for the last 15 years. The
refugees had to flee their own country because of their allegiance to
the PKK, which Turkey – like the US, EU and Nato –considers a terrorist
Founded by Abdullah Ocalan in the 1970s to fight for Kurdish cultural
and political rights, the PKK has been engaged in an intermittent
struggle against the Turkish government ever since. Ocalan is now
serving a life sentence for treason in Turkey.
The upside to the current crisis, says a
28-year-old PKK guerilla called Slaw, is that the Kurds are finally
working together. One of the PKK's many female fighters, Slaw lives in
the Makhmour camp. The battle for Makhmour was her first experience of
armed combat and the first time she had seen Kurds united.
War on Gaza:
"Now there are no borders between the different parts of Kurdistan.
Kurds from Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq are here. We've all crossed
the borders to fight the Isis. The Kurds are united to bring our land
back under our control."
Kurdish forces successfully retook Makhmour a few days later and the
PKK have now deployed to Sinjar and Jalawla, Kurdish areas in the west
and east of the country where extensive fighting continues. But
divisions between the different factions are starting to re-emerge,
with the Kurdish authorities apparently distancing themselves from the
The local media close to the government has played down the role of the
PKK in providing aid to the tens of thousands of Yazidi stranded on a
mountain after Islamic State militants overran the western district of
Sinjar, and then in creating a safe corridor that allowed them to
Unlike the recent refugee camps scattered across the Kurdistan region,
Makhmour's residents live in houses, some built out of local stone,
others out of grey cement blocks. Trees, gardens, and winding streets
give the camp a village-like feel, while pictures of Ocalan and pro-PKK
graffiti leave no doubt about where the residents' allegiances lie.
When Islamic State entered Makhmour the battle-hardened PKK fighters
are said to have volunteered to take the front line, ahead of the
Peshmerga, who had not been engaged in active combat for years.
"We thought it would raise their morale to have us in front of them,"
said Massoum, one of three PKK commanders who run the camp.
Massoum says the international community is reluctant to give the PKK
the credit they are due or the military support they could use to help
to keep Islamic State at bay. "People are blind, deaf and dumb and
don't want to strengthen the PKK. They call Isis 'jihadists' and call
us 'terrorists'. They see us as a threat when they should understand
that none of us can stand alone against Isis."
Looking Back and Forward
(editorial by Dore Stein, updated 8/31/14)
I finished writing this editorial and
was about to post it when news broke this morning of yet another
Israeli war crime, one that will not likely be reported as such in the
American mainstream press.
The pace of Israel's illegal settlement expansion has accelerated in
recent years. Israel stepped on the accelerator yet again with
what Peace Now
calls "the largest Israeli appropriation of West Bank
land in 30 years." Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank
announced the takeover of almost 1000 acres belonging to five
Palestinian villages between the Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem.
You can read the story in Al Jazeera
, Guardian UK
(Haaretz requires registration.)
According to The International Criminal Court's founding charter, the 1998 Rome statute
(pdf - under War Crimes 2b (viii), describes as a war
crime "the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of
parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
If anyone requires more proof that Israel is not interested in
seriously moving forward with a peace process, this is it. Fresh off
its latest war on Gaza that resulted international condemnation
EU leaders to even President Obama for Israel's wanton slaughter of
Gazan civilians and deliberate destruction of Gaza's civilian
infrastructure, Israel responds with its biggest illegal land
grab in three decades.
All American administrations are on record as being opposed to
Israeli settlement building but words amount to empty rhetoric as the
U.S. refuses to leverage its annual 3 billion dollars of economic and
military aid to pressure Israel. It's a joke for the U.S.
to discuss a two state solution when the West Bank and East Jerusalem
continue to be swallowed by Israel on a daily basis.
After 51 days of human carnage in Gaza an open ended cease-fire was
reached August 26 to apparently end Israel's third war on Gaza in the
past six years.
As always the biggest losers are civilians especially children.
In Gaza approximately 2150 people were killed, most of them
civilians, including more than 500 children which would equate to
88,000 American children in the name of self-defense. At least
11,000 people were injured including 3000 children of whom 1000 have
injuries that have paralyzed them. 1800 children are orphaned.
and more than 17,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Around a
third of Gaza's 1.8 million people have been displaced. Gaza's
civilian infrastructure has been destroyed. Reconstruction could
take up to 10 years, say analysts.
On the Israeli side 64 soldiers died
along with six civilians including one child. Hundreds of families
relocated from homes near the Gaza border to safer areas further north.
(Majority of the above statistics and cease fire terms below from
Guardian UK article: Gaza ceasefire: Israel and Palestinians agree to halt weeks of fighting
What did this war on Gaza achieve?
The terms of this open ended cease fire appear to be almost identical
to what was agreed to at the end of the previous Israeli assault in Nov
2012. Israel has reportedly agreed to allow humanitarian
aid and construction materials to enter Gaza, and will extend the
permitted fishing zone to six miles from 3 miles off the coast of
Gaza. The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt is
supposed to be
opened although Haaretz reports Egypt does not intend to fully open its border crossing into Gaza at Rafah.
But the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israeli
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, especially the inhuman
siege and blockade of Gaza since 2006 have not been addressed.
Until Palestinians have basic human rights and freedoms that all
people are entitled, a sustainable peace will not happen.
As Nathan Thrall said in his op-ed piece in the N.Y. Times How the West Chose War in Gaza
: “Israel is pursuing a return to the status quo
ante, when Gaza had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was
undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages caused
sanitation plants to shut down and waste sometimes floated in the
That was before the 50 days of hell.
There is agreement to have the more difficult issues deferred for
further talks in a few weeks. Specific demands include a seaport and
airport in Gaza, construction of which were permitted under the 1993
Oslo accords. Talks will also need to address Israel's insistence
on the disarmament of militant groups and the return of the remains of
two of its soldiers killed in the fighting.
Rabbi Henry Siegman who's father was one of the key leaders of the
European Zionist movement, is president of the U.S./Middle East Project
and former long time executive director of the American Jewish
Congress. In his Politico article "Israel Provoked this War,
" he points
out this latest war was triggered by Israel’s determination to destroy
the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June by Fatah
Israel was isolated in this desperate goal as the U.S. and the
E.U. backed the unity government and the unity government was committed
to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international
community for recognition of its legitimacy.
Apparently Netanyahu's biggest fear is a unified Palestinian entity.
Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors and victims from around the world
call for justice in Gaza
40 Jewish survivors of the Nazi
Holocaust and 287 descendants and relatives of survivors and victims
from 26 countries signed a letter condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Therefore he manipulated the murder of
the three young Israeli settlers as a way to whip up domestic and
international support for the invasion of Gaza thinking he'd crush
Hamas, Hamas would lose support within Gaza and the unity government
would be stillborn.
Fatah supported Hamas throughout the Israeli assault and the unity
government is very much alive. Hamas may be weakened but it
arguably enjoys more support in Gaza now than before the war due to its
resistance against one of the world's most lethal military machines.
Netanyahu's domestic approval rating which was 82% when the ground
invasion began in mid July, plummeted to 38% (source - channel 2
Israel) the day before the cease fire was announced and is likely even
The next date to look out for is September 15.
According to the Haaretz article Palestinians threaten to turn to ICC if date not set for return to 1967 lines
, the Palestinians plan to turn
to the United Nations Security Council on September 15 to demand a
deadline be set for Israel's withdrawal to 1967 borders, according to
senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath.
If the Security Council rejects the initiative, the Palestinians would open their war
crimes case against Israel at the International Criminal Court.
The Arab League will meet in Cairo September 7-9 to discuss providing
Abbas with an Arab umbrella of support. Abbas is already backed in
principle by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The below letter was posted in the Guardian UK 8/15/14 and NY Times 8/23/14):
As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and
victims of the Nazi genocide, we unequivocally condemn the massacre of
Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonisation of
historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing
Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and western states
more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from
condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.
We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanisation of
Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever-pitch.
Politicians and pundits in the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post
have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and rightwing Israelis
are adopting neo-Nazi insignia.
Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse
of our history in these pages (advertisement, 11 August; Report, 11
August) to promote blatant falsehoods used to justify the
unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder
of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children.
Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and
universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and
We must raise our collective voices
and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of
racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call
for an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza. We call for the full
economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must
mean “Never again for anyone”.
You can see a full listing of signers here.
Dutch nonagenarian returns Righteous Among the Nations medal after six relatives killed in Gaza
(by Amira Haas, Haaretz 8/15/14, requires registration)
Henk Zanoli, who
helped save a Jewish child from deportation to concentration camps,
said holding on to the medal would be an 'insult to the family.'
A 91-year-old Dutch man who was declared
a Righteous Among the Nations for saving a Jew during the German
occupation on Thursday returned his medal and certificate because six
of his relatives were killed by an Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip
In 2011, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum declared Henk Zanoli and his
late mother, Johana Zanoli-Smit, Righteous Among the Nations for having
saved a Jewish child, Elhanan Pinto, during the Nazi occupation of
Holland. Pinto, born in 1932, was hidden by the Zanoli family from the
spring of 1943 until the Allies liberated Holland in 1945. His parents
perished in Nazi death camps.
In the accompanying letter, addressed to Ambassador Haim Davon, Zanoli
began by describing the price his family paid for resisting the Nazis
and their successful effort to save a Jewish child.
Ambassador Haim Davon
Embassy of Israel
2513 AH The Hague
The Hague, August 11 2014
Subject: Return of medal of honour
It is with great sorrow that I am herewith returning the medal I
received as an honour and a token of appreciation from the State of
Israel for the efforts and risks taken by
my mother and her family in saving the life of a Jewish boy during the German occupation of The Netherlands.
My mother and her nuclear family risked
their lives fighting the German occupation. My mother lost her husband
who was deported to Dachau as early as 1941 because of
his open and outspoken opposition to the German occupation. He
eventually perished in Mauthausen Concentration Camp. My sister
lost her husband who was executed in the dunes of The Hague for his
involvement in the resistance. In addition to this my brother
lost his Jewish fiancťe who was deported, never to return.
My steadfast and heroic mother nevertheless continued the struggle,
amongst others, by taking in an 11 year old Jewish boy in her home
risking both her own life and that
of her children. This boy survived the war under the wings of my mother andeventually moved to Israel.
Against this background it is particularly shocking and tragic that
today, fourgenerations on, our family is faced with the murder of our
kin in Gaza. Murder carried
out by the State of Israel.
The great- great grandchildren of my mother have lost their
grandmother, threeuncles, an aunt and a cousin at the hands of the
Israeli army. Their family apartment
building in Bureij Refugee Camp in Gaza was bombed on July 20 from an
Israeli F16,turning the four storey building to rubble, leaving every
single family member inside
I understand that in your professional
role, in which I am addressing you here, you may not be able to express
understanding for my decision. However, I am convinced
Gaza Corner Audio Broadcast
that at both a personal and human level you will have a profound
understanding of thefact that for me to hold on to the honour granted
by the State of Israel, under these
circumstances, will be both an insult to the memory of my courageous
mother whorisked her life and that of her children fighting against
suppression and for the
preservation of human life as well as an insult to those in my family,
four generationson, who lost no less than six of their relatives in
Gaza at the hands of the State of Israel.
On a more general note the following. After the horror of the
holocaust my family strongly supported the Jewish people also with
regard to their aspirations to build a
national home. Over more than six decades I have however slowly come to
realize that the Zionist project had from its beginning a racist
element in it in aspiring to build
a state exclusively for Jews. As a consequence, ethnic cleansing
took place at the time of the establishment of your state and your
state continues to suppress the Palestinian people on the West Bank and
in Gaza who live under Israeli occupation since 1967.
The actions of your state in Gaza these days have already resulted in
serious accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. As a
retired lawyer it would
be no surprise to me that these accusations could lead to possible
convictions if true and unpoliticized justice is able to have its
course. What happened to our kin in Gaza
will no doubt be brought to the table at such a time as well.
The only way out of the quagmire the Jewish people of Israel have
gotten themselves into is by granting all living under the control of
the State of Israel the same political
rights and social and economic rights and opportunities. Although
this will result in a state no longer exclusively Jewish it will be a
state with a level of righteousness on
the basis of which I could accept the title of ‘Righteous among the
Nations’ you awarded to my mother and me together with the medal.
Today I am a 91 year old man who does not expect radical change with
regard to the current sad reality within my, most likely, still limited
lifetime. If your state would be
willing and able to transform itself along the lines set out above and
there would still be an interest at that time in granting an honour to
my family for the actions of my
mother during the second world war, be sure to contact me or my descendants.
by Dore Stein 8/16/14
(click for audio)
Eyewitness Blog Entries from Gaza
by Dr. Mona El Farra:
Whole Villages Have Been Wiped Off the Map: My Visit to Khuza'a (8/12/14)
In Gaza, We Have Lost So Many That We Love
Dr. Mona El-Farra, Director of Gaza
Projects for the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) based in
Berkeley, is a physician by training and a human rights and women’s
rights activist by practice in the occupied Gaza Strip. She was born in
Khan Younis, Gaza and has dedicated herself to developing community
based programs that aim to improve health quality and link health
services with cultural and recreation services all over the Gaza Strip.
Dr. El-Farra is also the Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent
Society of the Gaza Strip and a member of the Union of Health Work
Irish Senator and Former Presidential Candidate David Norris Condemns Gaza Massacre
(click for 8:00 video, 7/31/14)
Dr. Fara has spent most of the war at the Red Crescent society, where
she is vice president, diagnosing injuries, distributing hygiene kits
to shelters, and setting up a hotline to answer medical questions.
Irish senator and former presidential candidate David Norris
made a powerful speech on July 31 condemning Israel’s massacre in Gaza
and the complcity of American, Irish and other European governments.
Click for official transcript of Senator Norris' speech
"If no siege, no tunnels!
If no occupation, no rockets!"
says doctor with long history helping in Gaza, Dr. Mads Gilbert
(submitted by Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, 8/8/14;
Click for video with English subtitles)
The Norwegian emergency surgeon returned
to his home city of TromsÝ on 31 July after spending several weeks
treating the wounded from Israel’s assault at Gaza City’s al-Shifa
He went straight from the airport to give a spontaneous speech at a
large solidarity demonstration for Gaza held at the same time.
TromsÝ is twinned with Gaza City.
“The Palestinian people’s resistance in Gaza today is admirable, it is
fair and it is a struggle for all of us. We do not want a world where
raw power can be abused, to kill those who struggle for justice,” he
Gilbert asks why after all the massacres, all of Israel’s violations of
the laws protecting civilians, there are no sanctions on Israel.
He demands to know why the government of Norway is so “quiet” as
Palestinians face “one of the most brutal occupation forces of modern
“Solidarity is a powerful weapon,” Gilbert says, ending his address
with a call for everyone to get involved in the movement for
“Israel is more isolated than ever and they deserve to be,” Gilbert says, endorsing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
It is a powerful 25-minute speech.
Partial transcript follows:
Gilbert asks his fellow Norwegians to
"imagine what their country would be like today if they had not
struggled for its liberation from German occupation:
We actually built this country on respect for diversity, respect for the individual, respect for human dignity.
And imagine being back in 1945. And I beg to be understood when I
say that I am not comparing the German Nazi regime with Israel. I do
But I compare occupation with occupation.
Imagine that we in 1945 did not win the liberation struggle, did not
throw out the occupier, could not see a bright future or believe our
kids had a future. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country,
taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades. And banished us to
the leanest areas. Took the fish in the sea, took the land, took the
water, and we became more and more confined.
And here in TromsÝ (imagine) we were actually imprisoned, because
here there was so much resistance to the occupation. So we are
imprisoned for seven years, because in an election we had chosen the
most resilient, those who would not accept the occupation.
Then after seven years of confinement in
our city, TromsÝ, the occupier began to bomb us. And they began to bomb
us the day we made a political alliance with those in the other
confined parts of occupied Norway, to say that we Norwegians would
stand together against the occupier. Then they began to bomb us.
Gaza Corner Audio Broadcast by Dore Stein 8/2/14
(click for audio)
Noteworthy Gaza articles from the last week:
They bombed our university hospital, then the medical center, then
killed our ambulance workers, they bombed schools where those who had
lost their homes were trying to seek shelter. Then they cut the power
and bombed our power plant. Then they shut off the water supply. What
would we have done?
Would we have given up, waved the white flag? No. No, we would not. And this is the situation in Gaza.
This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the
enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the
Palestinian people’s will to resist. The unbending determination not to
submit to the occupation!
It is the Palestinian people’s dignity and humanity that will not
accept that they are treated as third, fourth, fifth-ranking people.
In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews “Untermenschen,” subhuman.
Today, Palestinians in the West Bank, in Gaza, in the Diaspora are
treated as Untermensch, as subhumans who can be bombed, killed,
slaughtered by their thousands, without any of those in power reacting.
So I returned home to my free country – and this country is free
because we had a resistance movement, because we said that occupied
nations have the right to resist, even with weapons. It’s stated in
You are permitted to fight the occupier even with weapons. One should of course respect international law …
Nobody wants to be occupied!"
Israel Provoked This War
It's up to President Obama to stop it
(Rabbi Henry Siegman, Politico, 7/22/14)
Rabbi Henry Siegman on Democracy Now:
Siegman on Gaza:
Liberal Zionist writer Peter Beinart's
recent post on his Facebook page
included the following concluding lines which I found chilling:
"Can anyone say, with confidence, that there is any action the Israeli
government could take that American Jewish leaders would not seek to
justify? I can't, and that terrifies me."
Peter's most recent column is called What American Jews Haven't Been Told About Gaza
and appeared in Israeli newspaper Haaretz
and also as a July 30 blog entry
on his website.
"A Slaughter of Innocents" (7/30/14)
Siegman to Israel:
Stop Killing Palestinians and End the Occupation (7/31/14)
Leading Jewish voice Rabbi Henry Siegman was in the news with strong opinions about Israel's war on Gaza.
Gaza and the Loss of Civilization
(by Brian Eno, 7/28/14)
Siegman's father was one of the founding fathers of the European Zionist movement.
Siegman is former executive director of the American Jewish Congress
from 1978 to 1994 and former executive vice president of the Synagogue
Council of America. He also served as senior fellow at the
Council on Foreign Relations. He is president of the U.S./Middle East
Musician Brian Eno wrote this opinion piece which appeared on David Byrne's website.
(AmenaSaleem, Electronic Intifada, 7/25/14)
"I sense I'm breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can't keep quiet anymore.
Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing?
As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace.
Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents
'The West'. So it is The West that is seen as supporting this
war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and
democracy...The war has no moral justification that I can see -
but it doesn't even have any pragmatic value either."
Gaza Corner Audio Broadcast by Dore Stein 7/26/14
Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno are among 21,000 people who have signed an open letter
to David Cameron, the British prime minister, demanding an immediate halt to the arms trade between the UK and Israel.
Journalist and activist Jemima Khan said: “Where is the world-wide
uproar? Shame on our leaders who would speak up if this were happening
to any other country on Earth.”
Member of parliament Jeremy Corbyn told journalists today: “The UK has
a very close relationship with Israel, including buying and selling
arms, and it’s time that this relationship was brought to an end since
Israel is now under investigation for war crimes over the bombing of
“I received an email from Dr. Mads Gilbert, working in Shifa hospital
[in Gaza City], and it brought tears to my eyes when he was describing
the pools of blood, the electricity cut off, the lack of clean water
and the continuous surge of the dead and injured pouring into the
hospital. It’s people like that who are saving lives, and Israel which
is taking lives.”
Film-maker Ken Loach told reporters: “It’s disgraceful that our
government is arming the State of Israel to continue its slaughter of
civilians, of women and children. Everyone must be devastated by the
sight of the maimed and the dead in Gaza, and everyone must direct
their anger towards the Israeli war machine.”
(click for audio)
note: my apologies to Gabor Mate who in my live comments was mistakenly referrred to as 'she'.
The Beautiful Dream of Israel
has Become a Nightmare
(by Gabor Mate, Vancouver based author, speaker and Holocaust survivor
who wrote this opinion piece in the Toronto Star, 7/22/14)
As a Jewish youngster growing up in
Budapest, an infant survivor of the Nazi genocide, I was for years
haunted by a question resounding in my brain with such force that
sometimes my head would spin: “How was it possible? How could the world
have let such horrors happen?”
It was a naÔve question, that of a child. I know better now: such
is reality. Whether in Vietnam or Rwanda or Syria, humanity stands by
either complicitly or unconsciously or helplessly, as it always does.
In Gaza today we find ways of justifying the bombing of hospitals, the
annihilation of families at dinner, the killing of pre-adolescents
playing soccer on a beach.
In Israel-Palestine the powerful
party has succeeded in painting itself as the victim, while the ones
being killed and maimed become the perpetrators. “They don’t care about
life,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, abetted by the
Obamas and Harpers of this world, “we do.” Netanyahu, you who with
surgical precision slaughter innocents, the young and the old, you who
have cruelly blockaded Gaza for years, starving it of necessities, you
who deprive Palestinians of more and more of their land, their water,
their crops, their trees — you care about life?
There is no understanding Gaza out of context — Hamas rockets or
unjustifiable terrorist attacks on civilians — and that context is the
longest ongoing ethnic cleansing operation in the recent and present
centuries, the ongoing attempt to destroy Palestinian nationhood.
The Palestinians use tunnels? So did my heroes, the poorly armed
fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto. Unlike Israel, Palestinians lack Apache
helicopters, guided drones, jet fighters with bombs, laser-guided
artillery. Out of impotent defiance, they fire inept rockets, causing
terror for innocent Israelis but rarely physical harm. With such a
gross imbalance of power, there is no equivalence of culpability.
Israel wants peace? Perhaps, but as the veteran Israeli journalist
Gideon Levy has pointed out, it does not want a just peace. Occupation
and creeping annexation, an inhumane blockade, the destruction of olive
groves, the arbitrary imprisonment of thousands, torture, daily
humiliation of civilians, house demolitions: these are not policies
compatible with any desire for a just peace. In Tel Aviv Gideon Levy
now moves around with a bodyguard, the price of speaking the truth.
I have visited Gaza and the West
Bank. I saw multi-generational Palestinian families weeping in
hospitals around the bedsides of their wounded, at the graves of their
dead. These are not people who do not care about life. They are like us
— Canadians, Jews, like anyone: they celebrate life, family, work,
education, food, peace, joy. And they are capable of hatred, they can
harbour vengeance in the hearts, just like we can.
I used to believe that if people knew the facts, they would open
to the truth. That, too, was naÔve. This issue is far too charged with
“People’s leaders have been misleaders, so they that are led have
been confused,” in the words of the prophet Jeremiah. The voices of
justice and sanity are not heeded. Netanyahu has his reasons. Harper
and Obama have theirs.
And what shall we do, we ordinary people? I pray we can listen to
our hearts. My heart tells me that “never again” is not a tribal
slogan, that the murder of my grandparents in Auschwitz does not
justify the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians, that justice, truth,
peace are not tribal prerogatives. That Israel’s “right to defend
itself,” unarguable in principle, does not validate mass killing.
But can we not be sad together at what that beautiful old dream of
Jewish redemption has come to? Can we not grieve the death of
innocents? I am sad these days. Can we not at least mourn together?
A Palestinian woman carries her belongings past the rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun.
Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
A pause in the bombing by Israeli forces -
and the ruins of Gaza are laid bare
(Peter Beaumont, The Observer, Guardian UK, 7/26/14)
the dangerous streets around the hospital in Beit Hanoun, the buildings
were, by and large, still standing on Friday afternoon. By Saturday
morning, after a day of intense Israeli bombing and shellfire, the
hospital in the northern Gaza town was standing in a sea of rubble, its
walls pockmarked with gunfire and torn by shrapnel.
The skyline, until so
recently regular and neat, had been transformed into something torn and
ragged. The tops of a pair of minarets had been blown off, and the
graves in a cemetery smashed to pieces. Houses, offices, apartment
blocks and shops were collapsed or collapsing.
What happened here in Beit
Hanoun, and in other neighbourhoods of Gaza hardest hit by the Israeli
assault, will inevitably demand an explanation: whether the extremity
of violence unleashed in these residential areas in recent days was
proportionate, or if the destruction amounts to a war crime.
Those are questions for the
days ahead. On Saturday, however, in the midst of a 12-hour
humanitarian ceasefire, the concerns were more immediate ones, as
thousands of Palestinian residents flocked back to their ruined
neighbourhoods to see what remained.
As they came on foot and in
cars, they were accompanied by fire engines, bulldozers and ambulances
of the Red Crescent, whose crews by mid-afternoon had recovered 85
bodies, many of them partially decomposed, buried under the rubble of
Gaza's most damaged neighbourhoods. Officials said the death toll among
Palestinians had passed 1,000.
In some places visited by the
Observer whole blocks had been flattened, dozens of buildings at a time
reduced to a moonscape from which the smell of death at times wafted.
"My house, my house," said
another man, hitting his head with his hand. Nothing, it seems, had
escaped the flying pieces of white-hot metal thrown out by the bombs –
not electricity cables, or cars left behind, not windows or doors.
Near the hospital a man
leads a horse out of the ruins, a long streak of blood staining its
hindquarters where it was struck by shrapnel. Elsewhere, we come across
donkeys and cattle killed where they were left tied up in the street,
scorched, stomachs swelling with gas.
A group of men show us the home of the Shabat family, seven of whom died when it was flattened by a bomb.
It is hard to imagine that anyone who did not flee could have survived the attack, but a few did.
"We lived through a
night of horror. The shelling was all around our house," says Hanan
al-Zaanin, standing with four of her children outside their home.
Zoheir Hamad is with his wife
Umm Fadi next to a home that is little more than a few barely standing
walls; the water pumping station next to them is also badly damaged.
"We left at the beginning of the war," says Zoheir.
"It is the first time that we
have managed to come back." Umm Fadi adds: "We're staying in the UN
school in Jabaliya. We came to get clothes for the children. But there
is nothing left."
It is the phrase we hear
throughout a long day: "Nothing left." And it is true. Whole areas that
were once inhabited have been reduced to a landscape of earth and dust
and broken shapes.
Although in places there is
evidence fighting has taken place, what is hard to comprehend is the
Israeli justification for the scale of the destruction, save
destruction for its own sake in pursuit of a policy of collective
Ahead of probable
international criticism over the scale of the destruction, some Israeli
political figures were trying to deny the scale of the attacks was in
any way disproportionate.
And if Beit Hanoun is largely
destroyed, Shujai'iya, an eastern neighbourhood of Gaza that has been
shelled and bombed for a week, is incomparably worse.
In the midst of an area of
rubble the size of two football pitches in the last of these areas, we
meet three brothers standing on what was once the four-storey building
in which their families lived in four apartments. Next to them is a
bomb crater measuring 10 metres across and six metres deep.
Alaa Helou, 35, a carpenter,
points to what is no longer there. "That was a two-storey house. There
was three storeys and over there was four storeys high. We came to see
our house. We thought it might have been damaged by a shell. But there
is nothing left of it."
"We spent 20 years making our place nice," says his older brother. "We spent all of our money on our homes."
If there is something
worse than the scenes of destruction, it is what is visible in the
faces in Beit Hanoun and Shujai'iya. A man is led away down one street
in Shujai'iya; staggering and blind with grief he his held up by two
others. Women sit in the dust, crying.
We find 33-year-old Rifaat
Suqr sitting outside his gutted house, a stunned look on his face. "It
is like an earthquake hit this street," he says. "An earthquake."
Except that this was not an earthquake. This was the work of men.
No ceasefire without justice in Gaza
We will not "return to a living death" of siege
and blockade, say Gaza civil society leaders
(published in Electronic Intifada, 7/22/14)
We will not “return to a living death” of siege and blockade, say Gaza civil society leaders.
As academics, public figures and activists witnessing the intended
genocide of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, we call
for a ceasefire with Israel only if conditioned on an end to the
blockade and the restoration of basic freedoms that have been denied to
the people for more than seven years.
Our foremost concerns are not only the health and safety of the
people in our communities, but also the quality of their lives – their
ability to live free of fear of imprisonment without due process, to
support their families through gainful employment, and to travel to
visit their relatives and further their education.
These are fundamental human aspirations that have been severely
limited for the Palestinian people for more than 47 years, but that
have been particularly deprived from residents of Gaza since 2007. We
have been pushed beyond the limits of what a normal person can be
expected to endure.
A living death
Charges in the media and by
politicians of various stripes that accuse Hamas of ordering Gaza
residents to resist evacuation orders, and thus use them as human
shields, are untrue. With temporary shelters full and the
indiscriminate Israeli shelling, there is literally no place that is
safe in Gaza.
Likewise, Hamas represented the sentiment of the vast majority of
residents when it rejected the unilateral ceasefire proposed by Egypt
and Israel without consulting anyone in Gaza. We share the broadly held
public sentiment that it is unacceptable to merely return to the status
quo – in which Israel strictly limits travel in and out of the Gaza
Strip, controls the supplies that come in (including a ban on most
construction materials), and prohibits virtually all exports, thus
crippling the economy and triggering one of the highest poverty and
unemployment rates in the Arab world.
To do so would mean a return to a living death.
Unfortunately, past experience has shown that the Israeli
government repeatedly reneges on promises for further negotiations, as
well as on its commitments to reform.
Likewise, the international community has demonstrated no
political will to enforce these pledges. Therefore, we call for a
ceasefire only when negotiated conditions result in the following:
Freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip.
Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.
Unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.
Monitoring and enforcement of these agreements
by a body appointed by the United Nations, with appropriate security
Each of these expectations is taken for granted by most countries,
and it is time for the Palestinians of Gaza to be accorded the human
rights they deserve.
Link for signatures.
An Old Man and a Young Man in Gaza
(Poem by Heathcote Williams with grateful acknowledgements to Angela Godfrey-Goldstein; courtesy international .it, 7/17/14)
“No man can cause more grief than
the one clinging blindly to the vices of his ancestors.” William
Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust
An old man holds a placard that reads,
“You take my water, burn my olive trees,
Destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, Imprison my father, kill my mother,
Bombard my country, starve us all,
Humiliate us all, but I am to blame:
I shot a rocket back.”
Here are some ungodly chants
From the Zionist Book of Psalms
Which are used to justify
Laying waste to a whole country
And to its inhabitants:
“We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages
Destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water”
Eli Yishai, former Deputy Prime Minister.
“There are no innocents in Gaza. Mow them down …
Kill the Gazans without thought or mercy.”
Michael Ben-Ari, an ex-member of the Knesset.
Gaza should be “bombed so hard the population Has to flee into Egypt”
Israel Katz, a Minister of Transportation.
The Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Schneerson,
A self proclaimed Messiah
Whose followers await his return from the dead, (As if the Rabbi hadn’t preached
Enough when alive by his making the claim
That his religion heralded a new Master Race) – Has a devoted and powerful acolyte, Rabbi Manis Friedman,
Who declares that the “only way to fight a moral war” Is to “destroy the Arabs’ holy sites” and “to kill them.”
To “kill men, women and children”, and to eliminate anyone Who stands in the way of a Greater Israel.
Ethnic cleansing is Israel’s origin
Netanyahu tells students at Bar Ilan University (1977),
“Israel should have exploited the repression
Of the demonstrations in China,
When world attention focused on that country,
To carry out mass expulsions
Among the Arabs of the territories.”
In front of their Arab neighbours,
A song is sung by settlers at Purim
Praising Baruch Goldstein’s massacre
Of 29 Palestinians at prayer during Ramadan:
“Dr. Goldstein, there is none other like you in the world.
Dr. Goldstein, we all love you… he aimed at terrorists’ heads,
Squeezed the trigger hard, and shot bullets,
And shot, and shot.”
At this settler hero’s funeral, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin famously
claimed that even one million Arabs Are “not worth a Jewish fingernail”.
Goldstein’s mass murder created suicide bombers –
Some two hundred amongst ten million Palestinians –
Which led to Israel’s land-grabbing apartheid wall.
The Israeli lawmaker, Ayelet Shaked, calls
For the genocide of Palestinians on Facebook
And she advocates “the slaughter of Palestinian mothers
Who give birth to ‘little snakes,’”
“The entire Palestinian people is the enemy.”
She urges their complete destruction,
“including its elderly and its women.”
Two Israeli girls hold up a banner
“Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s values!”
Placing the Hebrew word for “Arabs”, ARAVIM,
Into Twitter reveals young Israelis desiring
That Arabs die or be tortured to death.
The US House of Representatives
Votes unanimously to reaffirm its full support for Israel.
US jets duly declare war on Arab children
Whose futures they disintegrate.
In the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis,
Eight members of the Al Haj family
Are killed, including five children.
Four Arab children, fishermens’ children
First cousins from the Bakr family, aged nine to eleven,
Playing football on the Gaza beach in July, 2014,
Are shot dead by an Israeli gunboat.
A 12-year-old boy loses 18 members of his family in an air raid
From US planes including his father, a schoolteacher,
A photograph of Abdul Rahman Al-Batsh
Shows his shoulders slumped against a car.
It’s the moment that he’s discovered
That his father is amongst the dead.
Later Abdul Rahman would say,
“They think we are worth nothing. They are killers,
They have no humanity,
And one day I will avenge my father.”
Israel receives more aid from the US
Than the whole of the continent of Africa
Comfortably seated on camp chairs and sofas
Some fifty Israelis gather to eat popcorn
And watch from a Sderot hilltop
As bombs rain down from US-supplied F-16s.
They clap and applaud each deadly blast
From 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs.
The conquerors’ fans draw up their chairs;
Swigging on beers as they tend their barbecue
And watch Gaza burn from their vantage-point
In Sderot (once the Palestinian village of Najd).
Someone points out that Hamas
(Rather than it having been elected)
Is “a death-cult” and Palestinians “enjoy martyrdom”
So “we’re doing the Arabs a favour.”
A lurid cocktail of triumphalist hatred,
Mixed with smoke from burning flesh,
Blinds them to Palestine’s righteous yearning
Their right in international law;
To be unencumbered by occupation
To be free from being Israel’s penal colony;
Free from being stateless in a brutalized Bantustan –
A colonized people who are jeered at and decried
For their minimal attempts to fight back.
Later that night a bomb would land on a Gaza care home
Filled with elderly patients who cannot move
And with children who are already disabled;
Incited by a fascistic atavism,
Israeli Jews go on the rampage
Looking to beat any Arab they encounter
To heighten their sense of victory.
On July 2nd, 2014,
A young man in Shuafat, Jerusalem,
A 16-year old boy with a knowing, elfin smile
Is pulled into a car
And kidnapped in East Jerusalem
While waiting to go into the mosque.
He is tied and beaten;
He has gasoline poured into his mouth
And he is burned alive.
His body is found in the Jerusalem Forest;
Battered in the head
And with soot deposits in the lungs
Suggesting he’s still breathing
When set on fire.
Ninety per cent of his body is burned.
Another victim of Israel’s slow motion genocide –
A holocaust which, this time,
Is being financed and uncritically supported
By ‘the good guys’,
By the internationally ‘great and the good’,
By the craven chorus of the compliant
Who ritually pipe up to defend
Israel’s right to defend itself –
To defend the indefensible,
And to supply the money
The weapons, and the excuses
To enable it to do so.
It has no need of the fearful hatred,
Fuelling its bombs and its bullets,
Unless it wishes to fade away –
Putting out the light that might enable it
To see the stranger as a friend.
Click for footnotes located at bottom of poem.
Israel firing experimental weapons
at Gaza's civilians , say doctors(Rania Khalek, Electronic Intifada, 7/15/14)
Doctors treating patients in Gaza have accused Israel of using experimental weapons on Palestinian civilians.
Using Gaza as a laboratory
Addressing reporters at a press conference on Sunday, Youssef Abul
Resh, undersecretary of the health ministry in Gaza, said, “Medical
teams have registered injuries consistent with those caused by DIME
[dense inert metal explosives] and other banned weapons.”
DIME munitions were developed by the US
Air Force in 2006 and have since been tested repeatedly on the people
of Gaza, who have long served as involuntary lab rats for Israel’s
DIME bombs contain tungsten, a cancer-causing metal that helps to
produce incredibly destructive blasts which slice through flesh and
bone, often decapitating the lower limbs of people within the blast
Renowned Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who witnessed the horrific
injuries caused by DIME bombs during Israel’s 2009 Gaza onslaught, told
The Electronic Intifada over the phone from al-Shifa hospital in Gaza
City that patients are showing up with DIME-related injuries.
“A good number of the injuries seen here are consistent with the use of
dense inert metal explosives, or DIME, that we saw during the 2009
attack and also in 2006,” said Gilbert. “The bodies are pretty much
destroyed by enormous energy released by the explosives that are shot
near them or at them.”
Gilbert first witnessed the effects of DIME munitions on the human body
during Operation Summer Rains, Israel’s 2006 months-long attack on the
Gaza Strip that killed more than four hundred Palestinians. “Large
chunks of flesh, of muscles were cut away. We didn’t find any shrapnel
and [the wounds] were delivering a strange fume. Gradually we came to
understand these must have been the new DIME weapons developed by the
US Air Force together with the Israelis,” he said.
The experimental weapon was used on a
larger scale during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in
late 2008 and early 2009, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, including
Through Lens, 4 Boys Dead by Gaza Shore
“We had a large number of patients who came in with these horrendous
injuries where arms and legs were cut off as though a huge axe had
chopped off their limbs with a direct immense force, cutting through
skin, muscles and bones. Bones would be shattered and completely cut
off,” Gilbert recounted. “In addition we saw very, very
destructive burns coming from some extreme temperature that turned
skin, muscle and even bones into charcoal.”
But Gilbert warned that focusing on
the DIME weapons, which are not explicity banned under international
law, risks distracting from Israel’s far more damaging crimes against
the people of Gaza.
“The siege and the constant bombing of civilian targets —
those two issues are much more important than if [the Israelis] choose
to use a traditional shell with a grenade or a DIME weapon,” he argued.
“As a doctor, my prescription is very clear. Number one, stop the
bombing, and that means stop Israel from bombing civilians and
indiscriminately hitting families. Number two, lift the siege. And
number three, find a political solution,” said Gilbert.
“And at the core of the political solution is equity and justice for
the Palestinian people to be treated in an equal way as all other human
beings protected by international law with UN security, dignity and the
right to live their lives in peace.”
(by Tyler Hicks, NY Times , 7/16/14)
I had returned to my small seaside hotel
around 4 p.m. to file photos to New York when I heard a loud explosion.
My driver and I rushed to the window to see what had happened. A small
shack atop a sea wall at the fishing port had been struck by an Israeli
bomb or missile and was burning. A young boy emerged from the smoke,
running toward the adjacent beach.
NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter from Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children(Glen Greenwald, Firstlook.org/The Intercept, 7/17/14)
Update: NBC was shamed into reinstating the reporter a few days later.
I grabbed my cameras and was putting on body armor and a helmet when,
about 30 seconds after the first blast, there was another. The boy I
had seen running was now dead, lying motionless in the sand, along with
three other boys who had been playing there.
If children are being killed, what is there to protect me, or anyone else?
There is no safe place in Gaza right now. Bombs can land at any time, anywhere.
A small metal shack with no electricity or running water on a jetty in
the blazing seaside sun does not seem like the kind of place frequented
by Hamas militants, the Israel Defense Forces’ intended targets.
Children, maybe four feet tall, dressed in summer clothes, running from
an explosion, don’t fit the description of Hamas fighters, either.
Israelis are completely misled about what's going on
"I haven’t slept for a second as the explosions have surrounded our
home, yet the international community seems to be paying no attention
(by Abeer Ayyoub, Haaretz, 7/11/14)
note: Haaretz articles require registration
A doll lies on the rubble of a destroyed building following an
Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 11, 2014. Photo by AFP
GAZA - Enjoying the relatively calm
hours in the early morning following a noisy sleepless night, everyone
in the house was sleeping when my brother, who lives in the same
building, came to wake us. He told us that our neighbor got a phone
call from the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) asking him to evacuate
his house, which was about to be bombed. Our neighbor’s house is only
couple of meters away; getting ready for the closest bombardment yet
was so traumatizing.
My mother opened all the windows so the strike wouldn't break
them; broken glass is usually the main cause of injuries in such cases.
The 20 members of my extended family gathered in the living room
waiting for the awful event. Taking care of the children who didn’t
know what was going on was the hardest challenge. As I write this, a
couple of hours have passed since the call, and we are still,
surprisingly, waiting for the strike so we can get rid of the massive
panic everyone at home is suffering.
Last night wasn’t like any other night. The extremely noisy drones
haven’t stopped circling the sky of Gaza for a second, F16s haven’t
stopped targeting for a single hour, and the gunboats continued to
shell the area near the beach for the whole night.
I could not sleep for a second as
the explosions were surrounding us; in the besieged coastal enclave,
the furthest point in Gaza is still close by, as the territory is so
small. I was following the news on social media, TV and radio channels.
For the whole night, the rockets were targeting buildings with tens of
people sleeping inside. Nothing changed from one area to another,
except for the family names.
Curiously, I was looking for Israeli spokesperson interviews
online to see how they connected the announced goals of Operation
Protective Edge, stopping the rockets from Gaza and damaging the
infrastructure of Hamas, and killing dozens of children and other
innocent civilians while sleeping. I watched an interview with IDF
spokesman Avichay Adrey on one of the Arabic channels, and I was
totally surprised by him talking about the success of the operation so
I don’t know what success Israel is talking about when most of the
86 people killed (through early Thursday) were children and women.
note: By Friday afternoon, the Palestinian Health Ministry put the
death toll in Gaza at 81 people — among them 22 children, 15 women and
12 elderly people — since Operation Protective Edge began on
Tuesday. Another 537 people have been injured.
As of Saturday morning Gaza time, 114 Palestinians were killed by
the IDF, including 26 children and 18 women. (By Saturday night the
death toll had reached at least 151).
Through social media, I could know
that most of the Israelis are totally misled about what’s going on in
Gaza. My Israeli followers on Twitter keep telling me that I should
move away from Hamas if I want to stay alive, as Hamas is a monster
that lives somewhere here. In contrast, I could always understand how
it feels for an Israeli child to be killed. I never excluded humanity
from how I look at the Israeli-Palestinian scene.
After dozens of houses were demolished, I started to feel real
danger; my siblings did, too. Israel always claimed that civilians are
only hurt when they are near areas where Palestinian fighters fire
rockets, yet this narrative is not acceptable anymore. I think that
Israel is trying to place more pressure on Hamas to seek a cease-fire
by killing more civilians.
Visiting the main hospital in the central Gaza Strip, I could zoom
in on the Israeli craziness more and more. Injured babies, burnt flesh
and children who still don’t know they lost their parents and siblings
are everywhere in the hospital. Much worse, I am told that the hospital
has run through over 35 percent of its medicine and 55 percent of its
medical supplies. Surprisingly, yet maybe not, none of the Arab or
international countries around seem to be paying attention to what’s
happening to the 1.8 million-plus human beings living in Gaza. (The
total area of Gaza is 139 sq miles.)
Being left under crazy rockets, the lack of regional and
international support and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas'
disappointing attitude is leaving people here hopeless and desperate. I
now know why Israel is violating international human rights laws,
because no one in the world dares to cast a veto on its actions.
Waiting for our turn in the slaughter house
(by Amira Haas, Haaretz, 7/13/14)
“On Thursday afternoon a building
in the neighborhood was bombed. With a missile. All the air filled up
with light, a sort of big ball of fire we only started seeing during
this attack,” a woman I will call 'T'. related at noon on Friday. Like
all Gazans, they didn’t sleep at night and fell asleep only at around 8
A.M. According to a woman I will call 'A', the target was presumably a
Hamas institution located in the building, in Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa
neighborhood, but the missile missed and killed Dr. Anas Rizaq Abu
al-Kas, 33, in his clinic.
The physician’s “father and mother
were also killed, also in error, during Operation Pillar of Defense, in
2012,” 'A' added.
T., in an uncharacteristically weak voice, continued. “At night we
wait for day. In the day we wait for night. Waiting for our turn in the
slaughterhouse. We heard just this morning how the entire Ghanam
family, from Rafah, died. Another family that was killed,” T. says.
'A' tells me that one member of the Ghanam family was an Islamic
Jihad member. In its daily report issued late Friday, the Palestinian
Center for Human Rights wrote that early Friday morning: “Israeli
warplanes launched 3 missiles without a prior warning at a house
belonging to ‘Abdul Raziq Hassan al-Ghannam, 58. As a result, he, his
wife, his son, his daughter and his relative were killed:
Less than an hour earlier, at approximately 4:35 A.M. Friday, an
Israeli warplane fired a missile at tunnels in the Sha’ath neighborhood
of Rafah. Nour Marwan al-Nijdi, 10, was killed by shrapnel; her brother
Abdul Rahman, 15, and her mother, Salwa Ahmed al-Nijdi, 49, were
wounded. They were in their home at the time.
“You can never know which window the missile will come through. I
told the children and my husband: ‘We should always remain together, in
one room. If a missile comes, we’ll all be killed, so none of us is
left alive, alone,’” related T. “Our youngest daughters are afraid to
shower, fearing that a missile will come and kill everyone else just
then. I told them: ‘We shower so as to be clean when we die.’ The
children are stronger than I. They tell me, stop being afraid. Either
we’ll die or we’ll live.’”
'T' ponders, “Where are the Arabs,
where are the Europeans, where is the West Bank? It’s our fate,
operated by a remote control of the Israeli army.”
'F', a woman from Rafah, says also sees the ball of fire after
every air strike. “The whole house shakes,” even when the explosion is
far away, she says. Everyone experiences it: The pilotless
drones, meanwhile, never stop buzzing.
“Since yesterday we haven’t slept, 24 hours have gone by and we
don’t sleep,” 'F' says. “We don’t see our daughters and our siblings
who live in other parts of the city. No one leaves their home. And now
there’s no electricity, either (because Rafah is dependent on Egypt for
its power), and the house is so hot,” F. says.
L., also from Rafah, discusses a family on her street that was
informed by phone that its home was about to be destroyed. “The
neighbors immediately told everyone to leave, because when they bomb
one house the houses nearby are damaged, too, and you can be killed by
shrapnel or injured by flying glass,” says L. “We woke my
father-in-law, who is 88. He was so scared he was shaking. The poor guy
was afraid he wouldn’t be able to cross the street. After about an hour
the explosion came. We opened the windows ahead of time, and they
didn’t shatter. But at my brother’s place, in the Tel al-Sultan refugee
camp, all the windows shattered from an explosion that was nearby, and
he came with his family to live with us. My 8-year-old daughter asked,
‘Why are they bombing during Ramadan?’”
International activists staying at Gaza hospital
the IDF plans to bomb
14 patients, men and women over the age of 60 that cannot be moved remain hospitalized at Gaza's only rehabilitation hospital.
(by Amira Haas, Haaretz/Reuters, 7/12/14)
International solidarity activists
are staying in a Gaza hospital, which the Israel Defense Forces has
indicated it plans to bomb, as a human shield. They joined patients
unable to leave because the rest of Gaza's hospitals are in a state of
emergency, treating persons injured in the bombings and waiting for
more patients to come in.
Two warning rockets were fired at the Al Wafa hospital east of
Gaza City at 2 A.M. early Friday morning, Director Basman al Ashi told
Haaretz. At 7 P.M. a rocket was fired at the fourth floor, blasting a
large hole in the ceiling and shattering windows. The floor was
evacuated on Wednesday.
Al Wafa is the only rehabilitation hospital in the Gaza Strip.
Established in 1996, it is intended for patients injured in serious
accidents. Currently there are 14 patients aged over 60 being treated
in the hospital, who require constant care and who cannot take care of
themselves without medical supervision. Some of them are immobile,
others are being fed intravenously. 25 other patients in less of an
acute state left the hospital.
Joseph Catron, a 33-year-old American, is one of the activists
that decided to stay at the hospital as a human shield together with
colleges from New Zealand, Australia, England, Spain, Sweden, and
Venezuela. Catron told Haaretz that the hospital's director took them
on a tour of all the hospital's floors and rooms and "though I am not a
military man, I didn't see anything resembling a rocket in the
According to Catron, he and his friends notified their respective
embassies that they are staying at the hospital slated to be bombed by
Former Shin Bet chief Diskin: Delusional Israeli government brought us to this security deterioration
Diskin criticizes Israeli leadership that is under the 'illusion
The escalation of violence in the territories, Jerusalem and the
triangle (of Arab towns in central Israel) are the direct result of the
policies of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former
Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin wrote late Friday in a harshly critical
that the Palestinians will just accept all that
we are doing in the West Bank and not respond.'
note: Israel's internal security service, Shin Bet or Shabak
to in depth Al Jazeera article: "Inside Shin Bet") as it is known in
both Hebrew and Arabic, is one of the three branches of the Israeli
General Security Service (GSS) alongside Aman (military intelligence)
and the Mossad (foreign intelligence service).
In his lengthy comment, Diskin wrote that the rapid deterioration
in the security situation has shattered the Israeli leadership's
"illusion that Israel's frustrated Arab citizens will not at the end of
the day take to the streets over the lack of response to their problems
and the containment of the Palestinians in the West Bank, and will not
react despite their frustration and the worsening economic situation."
This illusion, Diskin said, "worked perfectly for as long as the
defense establishment succeeded in providing impressive calm in the
defense arena. The rapid deterioration in the security situation was
not only down to the brutal murders of Naftali, Eyal and Gil-Ad, but
first and foremost it is the result of the illusion that the
government's stagnation in every area was really keeping the situation
in deep freeze."
Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet for six years, went on to define
the various "illusions" that he says the government is propagating.
"The illusion that 'price tag' attacks are just a few slogans on
the walls and not really racism; the illusion that everything can be
solved with a little more force; the illusion that the Palestinians
will just accept all that we are doing in the West Bank and not
respond, despite their rage, frustration and worsening economic
situation; the illusion that the international community will not
impose sanctions on us; that Israel's frustrated Arab citizens will not
ultimately take to the streets over the lack of treatment of their
problems; and the Israeli public will keep submissively accepting the
government's incompetent response to the social gaps that its policies
have only worsened, when corruption continues to eat away at all that
is good, and so on and so on."
Diskin concluded with a grave warning that there could still be worse to come.
"Anyone who thinks that this can be sustained is making a huge
mistake. What has been happening in recent days could be much worse -
even if the situation temporarily calms down. Do not be fooled for one
moment, because the massive internal pressure will still be there, the
combustible fumes in the air will not dissipate, and if we do not
dispel them, there will be an even more serious situation."
Muslim Americans of different backgrounds and cultures are marking the Holy Month of Ramadan [AP]
Ramadan: A centuries-old American tradition
Many forget that the first Muslims to celebrate
Ramadan in America were African slaves.
(Al Jazeera, Khaled A Beydoun, Opinion, 6/28/14)
This weekend marks the beginning of
Ramadan. Nearly one-fourth of the world will observe the annual fast
and eight million Muslims in the United States will abstain from food
and drink from sunrise to sunset during the holy month.
Islam in America is rapidly expanding. It is the fastest-growing religion in the nation, and the second most practiced faith in
twenty states. These demographic shifts prompted a prominent Los
Angeles-based imam to comment, "Ramadan is a new American tradition."
The cleric's forward-looking pronouncement marks Islam's recent arrival
in the US. However, this statement reveals a pathology afflicting a lot
of Muslim Americans today - an inability to look back and embrace the
opening chapters of Muslim American history written by enslaved African
Social scientists estimate (links to 92 pg PDF "Muslims & the Making of America")
that 15 to 30 percent, or, "[a]s many as 600,000 to 1.2 million slaves"
in antebellum America were Muslims. 46 percent of the slaves in the
antebellum South were kidnapped (links to book "Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas") from Africa's western regions, which boasted "significant numbers of Muslims".
These enslaved Muslims strove to
meet the demands of their faith, most notably the Ramadan fast,
prayers, and community meals, in the face of comprehensive slave codes
that linked religious activity to insubordination and rebellion.
Marking Ramadan as a "new American tradition" not only overlooks the
holy month observed by enslaved Muslims many years ago, but also
perpetuates their erasure from Muslim-American
Although the Quran "[a]llows a believer to abstain from fasting if
he or she is far from home or involved in strenuous work," many
enslaved Muslims demonstrated transcendent piety by choosing to fast
while bonded. In addition to abstaining from food and drink, enslaved
Muslims held holy month prayers in slave quarters, and put together
iftars - meals at sundown to break the fast - that brought observing
Muslims together. These prayers and iftars violated slave codes
restricting assembly of any kind.
Therefore, practicing Islam and observing Ramadan and its
fundamental rituals, for enslaved Muslims in antebellum America,
necessitated the violation of slave codes. This exposed them to
barbaric punishment, injury, and oftentimes, even death. However, the
courage to observe the holy month while bonded, and in the face of
grave risk, highlights the supreme piety of many enslaved Muslims.
Ramadan was widely observed by enslaved Muslims. Yet, this history
is largely ignored by Muslim American leaders and laypeople alike - and
erased from the modern Muslim American narrative.
Muslim America was almost entirely
black during the antebellum Era. Today, it stands as the most diverse
Muslim community in the world. Today African Americans comprise a
significant part of the community along with Muslims of South Asian and
Arab descent. Latin Americans are a rapidly growing demographic in the
community, ensuring that Muslims in America are a microcosm of their
home nation's overall multiculturalism.
Muslim diversity in the US has reshaped Ramadan into a multicultural American tradition.
This Muslim American multiculturalism comes with many challenges:
Namely, intra-racism, Arab supremacy, and anti-black racism prevents
cohesion inside and outside of American mosques. These deplorable
trends perpetuate the erasure of the Muslim slave narrative.
Integrating this history will not only mitigate racism and facilitate
Muslim American cohesion, but also reveal the deep-rootedness of the
faith, and its holiest month, on US
This Ramadan honouring the memory of the first Muslim Americans
and their struggle for freedom seems an ideal step towards rewriting
this missing chapter of Muslim American history into our collective
Khaled A Beydoun is the Critical Race Studies Teaching Fellow at the UCLA School of Law.
Follow him on Twitter: @KhaledBeydoun
Israel seizes political, military opportunity
in teens' disappearance
(Electronic Intifada, Maureen Clare Murphy 6/19/14)
Palestinians mourn over the body of twenty-year-old Ahmad Sabarin
Since three Israeli youths went missing while hitchhiking in the
occupied West Bank on 12 June, Israel has mobilized all its resources
“to crush Hamas in the West Bank and destroy the recently formed unity
government as well as collectively punish the Palestinian people.”
So states the rights group Addameer
in a fact sheet (see below)
issued today on Israel’s ongoing West Bank military assault and the
Palestinian hunger strike long underway in Israeli prisons.
The Israeli government has so far offered no evidence that the Hamas
party is responsible for the disappearance of the youths . No
Palestinian faction has claimed responsibility.
rom Jalazone refugee camp during his
funeral, 16 June. Sabarin was k