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An engrossing struggle is breaking out. The US is unhappy with China's efforts to reach the warm waters of the Persian Gulf through the Central Asian region and Pakistan. Slowly but steadily, Washington is tightening the noose around the neck of the Pakistani elites - civilian and military - and forcing them to make a strategic choice between the US and China. This will put those elites in an unenviable dilemma. Like their Indian counterparts, they are inherently "pro-Western" (even when they are "anti-American") and if the Chinese connection is important for Islamabad, that is primarily because it balances perceived Indian hegemony.
The existential questions with which the Pakistani elites are grappling are apparent. They are seeking answers from Obama. Can Obama maintain a balanced relationship vis-a-vis Pakistan and India? Or, will Obama lapse back to the George W Bush era strategy of building up India as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean under whose shadow Pakistan will have to learn to live?
A year ago, Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh made the startling revelation that his country's security forces apprehended a group of Islamists linked to the Israeli intelligence forces. "A terrorist cell was apprehended and will be referred to the courts for its links with the Israeli intelligence services," he promised.
Saleh added, "You will hear about the trial proceedings." Nothing was ever heard and the trail went cold. Welcome to the magical land of Yemen, where in the womb of time the Arabian Nights were played out.
Combine Yemen with the mystique of Islam, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Israeli intelligence and you get a heady mix. Read more.
Taba Border Crossing: Entering Israel from Egypt
By Will Covert
I arrived at this border crossing about 4:30 PM this afternoon. After my luggage had passed through the x-ray machine I was asked if it was my luggage and if I was carrying any weapons. I responded that it was in fact my luggage and that, no, I am a Veteran For Peace and that I was not carrying any weapons of any kind. I was then asked to open my largest piece of luggage. I was somewhat confused and I couldn't imagine what the problem might be. I was very careful when packing in Cairo for the return trip to Israel not to include anything which might "raise an eyebrow" on the part of the so called "Israeli Security Forces" including anything which might associate me with the Gaza Freedom March. We had been told, or more to the point, we had heard rumors that people attempting to cross into Israel from Egypt at the Taba crossing had been detained and/or refused admittance into Israel. After my luggage had exited the x-ray machine the so called "Israeli Security Forces" immediately opened the compartment which contain all of the literature I had collected in Israel and Palestine before traveling to Egypt. Although the literature (books, pamphlets, brochures, magazines, CDs and DVDs) was predominately pro-Palestinian a portion of the literature was pro-Zionist. I am very much interested in hearing both side of this conflict.
Two additional "Israeli Security Force" officers then joined in perusing the literature and commenting to one another in Hebrew. Occasionally they would discuss a particular piece of literature and in an accusatory fashion ask where I had gotten it. "Is this yours?" "Where did you get it?" I didn't refuse to answer but I was vague and very general in my answers followed by "Do you see any bombs, guns or weapons of any kind in my literature or luggage?" "Does any of this literature pose a threat to the security of Israel?" "Why are you doing this?"
More "Israeli Security Force" officers were called and now there were now 6 or 8 of them rummaging through my luggage which was still packed at this point. As I stood by watching the proceedings two "Israeli Security" officers approached me and ask me to follow them into a small room a few feet away which did not have a door but did have a curtains. I asked "Why?" and they said "For a full body search." I said I refused to be separated from my luggage and where I go it must go. [This was, after all, the border crossing where a few weeks ago a young women had been separated from her computer and the the "Israeli Security" took it outside and shot it three time.] They then zipped up all of my luggage compartments and brought the two suit cases and back pack containing my computer into the room with me. "Empty your pockets." "Remove your shoes they must go through the x-ray machine." "Remove your belt."
Charges of Palestinian Child Torture in Israeli prisons
By Maysaa Jarour | Palestine Telegraph
Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS) on Wednesday submitted 13 cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for investigation....
...In each case, boys between the ages of 16 and 17, report being held in 'Cell No. 36' at the Interrogation Centre. 'Cell No. 36' is described as measuring approximately 2x3 metres in which the child is forced to sleep on a concrete bed or a thin mattress on the floor. Meals are passed to the child through a flap in the door depriving him of all human contact. One child reports being held in solitary confinement in 'Cell No 36' for 65 days....
...Children held in Al Jalame for interrogation are denied access to a lawyer and do not receive family visits, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and multiple human rights treaties. No education is provided to the children at this facility. Further, the detention of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory in Al Jalame is in clear violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which states that an occupying power must detain residents of occupied territory in prisons inside the territory i.e. in the West Bank....Read more.
Israeli F16s attack Northern, Western, Southern and Middle Gaza Now
By Sameh A. Habeeb | Palestine Telegraph
A massive explosion took place few moments ago western Gaza City, in Tal Al Hawa neighborhood. Eyewitness reported that Israeli F16s launched an aerial attack midnight. The attack was followed by a series of air raids.
Palestine Telegraph reported that a number of air raids took place northern Gaza Strip while no new reported about the attacks yet. The attacks also targeted the southern and middle areas of Gaza Strip. Read more.
British MP George Galloway has been deported from Egypt, say activists working with him to take an aid convoy into Gaza.
The Bow and Bethnal Green MP had been with international activists trying to take 200 aid trucks into the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Egypt had refused some of the vehicles access and there have been protests and clashes on the Egypt-Gaza border.
The state news agency says Mr Galloway has left Egypt and returned home.
There have also been reports the Respect MP has been declared "persona non grata" and will not be allowed to enter Egypt again, following his criticism of Cairo over delays to the aid convoy.
The activists have accused the Egyptians of heavy-handed policing. Egyptian officials counter that Mr Galloway has tried to embarrass the government.
In a speech last year Mr Galloway described Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak as a "criminal" and "outlaw of the Arab world" and called for his overthrow. Read more.
(updated below - Update II - Update III)
If it is taboo to discuss how America's actions in the Middle East cause Terrorism -- and it generally is -- that taboo is far stronger still when it comes to specifically discussing how our blind, endless enabling of Israeli actions fuels Terrorism directed at the U.S. An article in yesterday's New York Times examined the life of Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian who blew himself up, along with 7 CIA agents, in Afghanistan this week. Why would Balawi -- a highly educated doctor, who was specifically recruited by Jordanian intelligence officials to infiltrate Al Qaeda on behalf of Western governments -- want to blow himself up and murder as many American intelligence agents as possible? The article provides this possible answer:
He described Mr. Balawi as a "very good brother" and a "brilliant doctor," saying that the family knew nothing of Mr. Balawi’s writings under a pseudonym on jihadi Web sites. He said, however, that his brother had been "changed" by last year’s three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed about 1,300 Palestinians. Read more.
The Obama administration on Friday laid out a bold shift in its Mideast peace strategy, stepping up pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to resume stalled talks by moving immediately to negotiations on the toughest issues dividing them, like the borders of a Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem.
On its face, a move to tackle those two defining and difficult issues that Israel has long refused to budge on would appear to be a major turnaround in long-standing American policy to push for incremental Mideast progress.
But U.S. officials stressed that the shift does not abandon the administration's comprehensive approach to peace and said their overall aim is get the parties beyond daily disagreements and back to the negotiating table, where all issues would be discussed.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that dealing with those matters first would eliminate Palestinian concerns about continued construction of Jewish settlements in disputed areas.
After a meeting at the State Department, Clinton and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called for negotiations to begin as soon as possible and be bound by deadlines. Read more.
Mainers standing up against injustice in Gaza, one way to end the year and decade! | December 31, 2009
By Roger Leisner | Radio Free Maine
Along with over 30 hearty Mainiacs on an overcast 20 degree day with an approaching nor'easter, I attended a GAZA FREEDOM MARCH SOLIDARITY RALLY, sponsored by CODE Pink Maine and the Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice wabpj.org, at Castonguay Square in Waterville, Maine for two hours on New Year's Eve. Lisa Savage and Chris Rusnov organized the rally to coincide with world-wide demonstrations against the year long siege and blockade of Palestinian Gaza by Israeli Armed Forces.
With an excellent sound system provided by Andy LeBlanc, who specializes in Celtic and French-Canadian music, this rally provided a very unique ending to the decade, and beginning at midnight, the start of a decade of the 50th anniversary of everything that happened in the "60s".
Tom Sturtevant, who shares the same birth date with Noam Chomsky, gave me a ride from Augusta to Waterville. On this wintry trip, I shared a WWII history magazine article with Tom about "friendly fire" casualties during WWII. The article, which described the deaths of over 300 paratroopers in one night and the accidental bombing of a Lt. General inspecting the front lines, noted that the military had always acknowledged a 2 per cent figure for "friendly fire" casualties, but the true figure may be as high as 14 percent.
Israeli Theft of Palestinian Property
By Stephen Lendman
Adalah, meaning justice in Arabic, is the legal center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel advocating through Israeli Supreme Court petitions; lawsuits and appeals to the District, Magistrate and Labor Courts; pre-petitions to the Attorney General; and various other ways to serve its constituency in a nation where only Jews have rights.
It also prepares publications and reports on vital issues of concern to Palestinians, including two recent ones on the theft of their property, an ongoing international law violation since Israel's "War of Independence" - a six-month atrocity that expelled about 800,000 people, massacred many others, destroyed 531 villages, 11 urban neighborhoods in cities like Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, and stole 78% of historic Palestine as the first step toward seizing it all for exclusive Jewish use.
For over 60 years, Israel has done it ruthlessly, incrementally, systematically, and illegally, intending at most to leave Palestinians cantonized and surrounded in the least valued portions, the rest being exclusively for Jews.
This writer addressed Israel's discriminatory land policies in a previous article, part of which is repeated below as an introduction to what follows.
Shortly after its "War of Independence," laws were passed to legitimize Palestinian land seizures for exclusive Jewish use.
The June 1948 Abandoned Areas Ordinance referred to "any area or place conquered by or surrendered to armed forces or deserted by all or part of its inhabitants." It gave the Israeli government exclusive jurisdiction rights, including "expropriation and confiscation (authority over) movable and immovable property, within any abandoned area." It meant displaced Palestinians were prohibited from returning and claiming their property that by law was no longer theirs.
The September 1948 Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance stated that "Any law applying to the whole of the State of Israel" applies as well "to the whole of the area including....any part of Palestine which the Minister of Defence has defined by proclamation as being held by the Defence Army of Israel." It meant that Palestinians lost all rights and were subject to whatever laws Israel enacted.
Following the extensive Israeli attacks across Gaza Strip, Israeli air force launched a number of air raids against the food tunnels with Egypt. Medical sources reported that 4 civilians killed and a number injured in the heavy bombardment. Israeli F16 were used in the attack and easily heard directly within the targeted the area. Due to the raids number of 10 Palestinian civilians is missing at the moment, while 4 have been confirmed as dead.
There are more than 1500 tunnels between Gaza and Egypt that are mainly used for smuggling food as Israelis impose a harsh siege. The tunnels considered to be the key lifeline as the main crossings blocked via Israeli occupation.
Less than 2 hours ago a massive explosion took place few moments ago western Gaza City, in Tal Al Hawa neighborhood. Eyewitness reported that Israeli F16s launched an Arial attack midnight. The attack was followed by a series of air raids. Read more.
Viva Palestina Convoy Reaches Gaza - We have Broken the Seige!!
By CherylSpeaksOut - Posted on January 7th, 2010
WE HAVE BROKEN THE SIEGE!
The Viva Palestine and PSC aid convoy arrived in Gaza last night at about 19:00pm, with thousands of Palestinians greeting and cheering the convoy to welcome them.
Congratulations to everyone taking part in the convoy and all of those here who raised funds for the trip to become a reality. This has been a tremendous achievement and its importance is political as well as practical.
Thanks of course to the Reading PSC, Waltham Forest PSC, York PSC for their blogs and information which have kept us informed throughout the journey, we look forward to welcoming them and all the other participants back to Britain. We hope that branches around the country will invite them to speak to get their message about Gaza out to the public. Well done, Viva Palestina and Palestine Solidarity Camps!
A humanitarian aid convoy carrying food and medical supplies has arrived in the Gaza Strip nearly a month after it embarked from the UK.
Members of the much-delayed Viva Palestina convoy began passing through Egypt's Rafah border crossing into Gaza on Wednesday, waving Palestinian flags and raising their hands in peace signs....Participants of the convoy are expected to spend the next 48 hours distributing the aid supplies.
Viva Palestina's arrival in Gaza followed violent clashes between Egyptian security forces, Palestinians and members of the convoy. Read more.
For more videos, click "Read more below, and visit Viva Palestina!.
The excellent Palestinian analyst Nadia Hijab recently published a thought-provoking column in which she explored the question of whether the Israelis’ treatment of the 1.5 million Palestinians constitutes genocide, as defined under international law.
Her conclusion in this thoughtfully argued piece is that it does. She notes that the international Genocide Convention, signed by most of the world’s governments in 1948, defines genocide as any of a list of five kinds of acts, “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”
The list of qualifying acts includes these three,
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part...
Hijab argues that in Gaza Israel commits all three of these kinds of act, with the required, added genocidal intention, as defined above.
She also quotes a very revealing passage from the Polish-American legal scholar Raphael Lemkin, who in the 1940s was the first to coin the word ‘genocide’ and to define it. It was largely through Lemkin’s tireless organizing efforts that the Genocide Convention was convened and that it adopted its historic treaty, which lays on all parties to the convention– including the United States– a positive and universal duty to “prevent, suppress, and punish” any acts of genocide. Read more.
Egyptian police attacks | Aztlan.net
Viva Palestina aid volunteers
Just a few hours ago approximately 2,000 Egyptian riot policemen attacked and injured volunteers of the Viva Palestina aid convoy that were inside the port of Al Arish preparing to drive the convoy vehicles to Gaza to deliver medical supplies and other humanitarian supplies.
Reports through Twitter from convoy participants say that there were serious injuries to some of the volunteers who suffered blows to the head by baton wielding policemen. Some were taken out of the port compound in stretchers and many of the victims are being attended at a mosque at the port. There are reports that some of the Viva Palestina volunteers are missing. Read more, video.
U.S.: Emanuel 'didn't threaten to walk away' from Mideast peace process
Obama's chief of staff reportedly told Israeli official that U.S. is fed up with Israel, Palestinians
By By Natasha Mozgovaya | Haaretz
The White House had rejected claims that Barack Obama's most senior aide blasted Israel and the Palestinians for foot-dragging and warned that the U.S. could walk away from the Middle East peace process.
The comments come after reports that Rahm Emanuel recently told an Israeli diplomat that the U.S. is fed up with both sides, and said that Washington would reduce its involvement in peace efforts if no significant progress was made.
The White House aide emphasized that Emanuel's statements were distorted. "He expressed frustration with the lack of progress with the peace process, but he certainly didn't threaten to walk away from it. The allegations are completely ridiculous," the aide said. Read more.
Blocking Freedom Marcher/Viva Palestina Aid to Gaza
By Stephen Lendman
Since Israel isolated Gaza under siege in mid-2007, it's blocked essential humanitarian aid from entering, including:
- on December 1, 2008, when its warships stopped a Libyan cargo vessel several kilometers from Gaza, ordering it back to El-Arish, Egypt or be attacked; it was carrying 1,200 tons of rice, 750 tons of milk, 500 tons of oil, 500 tons of flour, and 100 tons of medicines;
- on December 15, 2008 when the Spirit of Humanity carrying five tons of aid and 21 passengers, including three volunteer surgeons, was intercepted at sea, 100 miles from Gaza, and warned to turn back to Larnaca, Cyprus or be assaulted; and
- on June 30, 2009, the Free Gaza Movement's Spirit of Humanity was intercepted and boarded 23 miles off Gaza's coast; its aid cargo and 21 human rights activists were seized, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney; they were threatened and forcibly taken to Israel's southern port of Ashdod, held incommunicado under horrific conditions one passenger described as a "horror movie....in a warehouse, where we slept on a cockroach-infested cement floor as armed soldiers" stood guard; all their personal possessions were confiscated, and a day later two of them were taken to Ashdod's central bus station with no money or belongings; the others were arrested and treated like criminals.
Cynthia McKinney described her ordeal as prisoner number 88794 at Ramle prison, known as one of Israel's harshest - a former British police station, overcrowded, "stinking," many inside with no bed, everyone confined to tiny areas, some in isolation with no sunlight, and a series of dungeons six feet long, three feet wide, and six feet high that are dark, filthy, unbearable to be in, and those inside are stripped naked, beaten, unable to shower, given a thin coverall, and allowed to use the toilet once a day only.
An Israeli military delegation has canceled an official visit to Britain, officials said Tuesday, the latest in a string of politicians and army officials to put off travel to the U.K. because of fears of war crimes prosecution.
Israel complained that the practice, spearheaded by pro-Palestinian activists, is harming relations, and Britain's visiting attorney general said an urgent solution must be found.
The Israelis called off their trip because their British army hosts could not guarantee they would not be arrested, the Israeli officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Neither the Israeli military nor the British government would comment.
The incident underlined the effectiveness of a pro-Palestinian legal campaign to harass Israeli officials in the wake of war crimes allegations after Israel's devastating invasion of Gaza a year ago to stop rocket attacks. Read more.
Counterterrorism In Shambles; Why?
By Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley
Yesterday, a blogger with the PBS’ NewsHour asked former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to respond to three questions regarding recent events involving the CIA, FBI, and the intelligence community in general.
Two other old intelligence hands were asked the identical questions, queries that are typical of what radio/TV and blogger interviewers usually think to be the right ones. So there is merit in trying to answer them directly, such as they are, and then broadening the response to address some of the core problems confronting U.S. counter-terror strategies.
After drafting his answers, McGovern asked former FBI attorney/special agent Coleen Rowley, a colleague in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to review his responses and add her own comments at the end. The Q & A is below:
Question #1 – What lapses in the American counter terrorism apparatus made the Christmas Day bombing plot possible? Is it inevitable that certain plots will succeed?
The short answer to the second sentence is: Yes, it is inevitable that “certain plots will succeed.” A more helpful answer would address the question as to how we might best minimize their prospects for success. And to do this, sorry to say, there is no getting around the necessity to address the root causes of terrorism or, in the vernacular, “why they hate us.”
If we don’t go beyond self-exculpatory sloganeering in attempting to answer that key question, any “counter terrorism apparatus” is doomed to failure. Honest appraisals can tread on delicate territory, but any intelligence agency worth its salt must be willing/able to address it.
Delicate? Take, for example, what Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the “mastermind” of 9/11, said was his main motive. Here’s what the 9/11 Commission Report wrote on page 147. You will not find it reported in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM):
Israeli Use of Painful Shackling As A Form of Torture
By Stephen Lendman
Founded in 1990 to highlight a growing problem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PACTI - stoptorture.org) "believes that torture and ill treatment of any kind and under all circumstances is incompatible with the moral values of democracy and the rule of law. (It) advocates for all persons - Israelis, Palestinians, labor immigrants and other foreigners in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) - in order to protect them from torture and ill treatment by the Israeli interrogation and law enforcement authorities."
They include the Israeli Police, the General Security Service (GSS), the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). In June 2009, PACTI published a report titled, "Shackling As A Form of Torture and Abuse." Its findings are discussed below.
PACTI reviews the "serious phenomenon" of shackling Palestinian detainees "in a systematic manner and throughout all stages of detention and interrogation." Its purpose is to dehumanize and inflict pain, suffering, punishment, intimidation, and discrimination as a way of lawlessly extracting information even though experts acknowledge that torture is ineffective, counterproductive, and, of course, illegal under all circumstances at all times with no exceptions allowed ever.
Israel's use of shackling "has snowballed almost out of control....even when it serves no real" purpose, and it begins at the time of arrest. Plastic handcuffs are used "that can be tightened but cannot be released or halted." They inflict pain, especially when hands are cuffed from behind, the most common way.
Shackling continues during interrogation, "where diverse and creative forms of cuffing are intended to apply pain and pressure...." Then in cells, detainees are painfully shackled to beds for extended periods. Even when they're transferred for urgent hospital treatment, cuffing stays in place throughout.
In his "Torture Ruling," (HCJ 5100/94 Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v. Prime Minister of Israel), former President of the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ), Aaron Barak (1995 - 2006), addressed cuffing as follows:
"A reasonable interrogation is an interrogation without torture, without cruel or inhuman treatment of the interrogee, and without a humiliating attitude thereto. It is forbidden to use brutal and inhuman measures during the course of the interrogation....Painful cuffing is a prohibited action. Moreover: other means exist to prevent escape from lawful custody or to protect the interrogators which do not involve causing pain and suffering to the interrogee."
A Santa Cruz teacher returned to her home in Watsonville Sunday after she and her husband were detained in the middle east.
Kathleen Crocetti and Bill Lucas left before Christmas on a journey to participate in the Gaza Freedom March in support of Palestinians when they were arrested. Crocetti is part of the anti-war group "Code Pink."
In addition, Crocetti said she wanted to deliver a peace mural to a women's center in Gaza. Crocetti is an art teacher at Mission Hill Middle School in Santa Cruz and passionate about expressing peace through art. The glass mural Crocetti designed was put together by at least 50 women in Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
"We always knew that the worst thing that could happen would be arrest and deportation," said Crocetti. During the couple's trip, the worst fear became a reality. The couple was placed under house arrest at their hotel after the Egyptian government revoked a permit for the group of 1,400 peace activists. Read more.
Keep us in your thoughts, my friends, and please visualize circles of protection especially for those who have taken leading roles in this work! update is below, Happy New Year!
We did it! Up until the moment we did, I didn’t quite believe we would, but we did!
Went to bed last night thinking, “Yeah, Starhawk, you’ve done this a hundred times, yawn, nerves of steel, sleep like a baby,” and of course I hardly slept at all, adrenaline racing, had to pee a hundred times. Got up this morning ahd rumors were flying around that the Egyptian security forces were blocking the hotels, so we got out quickly. Fortunately I had packed and organized my stuff the night before as that is the part of an action that is most stressful to me. Nothing makes me more crazy than needing to get out the door in a hurry and not being able to find some crucial piece of gear, and I nearly always can’t find some crucial piece of gear, due to that plague of Snatchers that follow me around, hiding my keys, lining their burrows with my socks and decorating them with my ATM cards.
Some of the Canadian delegation who are staying here were saying that police were outside—but that turned out not to be true. I was almost sorry, because Wendy had scouted alternative exits over the roofs of Cairo and what a story that would make! But I was happy enough just to get out and not be stuck inside all day. I can write novels another time.
Lisa had already left for a meeting at one of the hotels—turned out the security forces were blocking everyone into the Lotus, where the main Code Pink organizers were staying, but not the other hotels, including the one where the meeting was happening.
I decided to sit down below, however, and keep watch. Actually I didn’t see the need for going 9 flights up and probably having to walk back down all nine, and sitting in a smoky meeting where I wouldn’t be able to hear anything. There was a chair against the wall near the entrance so I sat down to wait. Actually, Cairo is a great place to people-watch and I had one of the most relaxing little bits of time I’d had here yet, watching the women in their various head=-carves and the men with liquid brown eyes that could have come off an old tomb painting. Eventually people from our march began to drift by, stopping to share news and rumors. One Policeman was watching the hotel, but I didn’t see any signs that groups of them were massing for a raid. But the rumors were flying—the action was on, it was off, the locations was changed, the time was changed..
Eventually Lisa and the women from the meeting came down. The plan was for shock troops of women to be first out into the streets—for a couple of reasons. The first—the cops are less likely to brutalize women. Not entirely unlikely, but less. The second—to shift those old gender dynamics where the guys do the brave and dangerous things and the little women stay behind. The third—because these women are strong and smart and don’t run ego-dramas.
On New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 2010, a vigil was held at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD. It was sponsored by the “Women in Black.” According to a press release from Peace and Justice Activist Max Obuszewski, today’s vigil was “in support of the [Gaza] Freedom Marchers and the Palestinian people.” Keep in mind the words of wisdom of Mohandas Gandhi, Spiritual Warrior. He said: “What is true of the individual will be tomorrow true of the whole nation if individuals will but refuse to lose heart and hope.”
Approximately 500 marchers for the end of Israel's and Egypt's deadly inhumane blockade against Gaza were confronted by Egyptian riot police today. The Gaza Freedom Marchers come from 43 separate nations. A key goal for them is to end the brutal blockade Israel initiated which created near starvation conditions. We are told Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and that's why the U.S. politicians give them billions of tax-payers' dollars every year. However, it is the result of democracy that has Israel so upset it is virtually starving the 1.5 million people in Gaza. When the organization Hamas won an internationally supervised election Israel started the blockade. It seems the Palestinian people voted for the wrong party by Israeli standards! Israel should heed the advice of Albert Einstein who said, "Should we be unable to find a way to honest cooperation and honest pacts with the Arabs, then we have learned absolutely nothing during our 2,000 years of suffering and deserve all that will come to us."
In addition to wanting to stop the barbaric blockade, the Gaza Freedom March has the goal of stopping Egypt from building a wall on their border with Gaza that would make it impossible for the besieged Palestinians in Gaza from getting any food, medicine or weapons. The little bit of necessities that are making it in are being smuggled in through tunnels under the border. This is reminiscent of when the British blockaded the American colonies and smugglers like John Hancock would smuggle in supplies and weapons in spite of the blockade.
The wall Egypt is building is being built with U.S. taxpayer dollars, approval from U.S. politicians and help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It goes against everything decent to help bullies, Israel and Egypt, beat-up on an underdog, the Palestinians. This is yet another sign that Obama's speech to the Muslim world was nothing but empty promises and completely meaningless and an insult to thinking and caring people everywhere. Read more.
Just before Christmas, the US President, Barack Obama, signed into law one of his country's biggest aid pledges of the year. It was bound not for Africa or any of the many struggling countries on the World Bank's list.
It was a deal for $US2.77 billion ($3 billion) to go to Israel in 2010 and a total of $US30 billion over the next decade.
Israel is bound by the agreement to use 75 per cent of the aid to buy military hardware made in the US: in the crisis-racked US economy, those military factories are critical to many towns.
For the first time the US is also providing $US500 million to the Palestinian Authority, including $US100 million to train security forces, under the strict proviso that the authority's leadership recognises Israel.
For many years Israel has been the largest recipient of US foreign aid, followed by Egypt ($US1.75 billion), which also receives most of its assistance in tied military aid.
The Congressional Research Service says that the US spent 17 per cent of its total aid budget - or $US5.1 billion - on military aid in 2008, of which $US4.7 billion was grants to enable governments to receive equipment from the US. Read more.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Gaza Strip has called for military and economic sanctions against Israel.
"The UN has not been willing [yet] to give what's needed to exert significant pressure on Israel to lift the blockade that under any circumstances is unlawful," Richard Falk told Press TV on Thursday.
"The only thing that could be more effective would be a move toward economic sanctions that would include military assistance" to Israel, the UN diplomat underlined.
The UN independent expert on Palestinian rights has also criticized the international community for its failure to end the Israeli blockade against the Gaza Strip
He called for "some more effective international approach" to lift the three year blockade that "shocks the conscience of humanity". Read more.
Cairo—Today at 10:00 AM, the Gaza Freedom march converged on Midan Tahrir, or Liberation Square in English. This was no easy task for the marchers. We left in small groups to avoid being followed by police who were monitoring our hotels. Several of the larger hotels were monitored more closely, and the Lotus Hotel was completely barricaded, making it impossible for most of the Marchers to leave.
Many marchers, maybe three to four hundred, did make it to the square and a delegation of women gave the signal to converge by waving large flags. We moved into the streets with the intention to occupy a major thoroughfare and march towards Gaza. Egyptian police and riot cops fanned out of alleyways and side streets as quickly as we came together. The police then attempted to push us out of the street and into the square. As planned, we continued to try to march, but things quickly came to a head. Most of the marchers decided to sit down and lock arms.
The Egyptian cops swiftly became violent and began grabbing, beating, and pulling marchers who did not leave the street. I was kicked in the side and back, punched in the head and slapped in the face. My glasses were broken and one plainclothes officer pulled violently on my hair for what seemed like nearly a minute. I managed to hold on to one of my comrades, and we held the space in the street for a while longer. Many of the police in uniform were trying to avoid violence, but a handful of plain clothes officers were taking pot shots at the crowd of peaceful and non-violent protesters. Eventually the police succeeded in moving the marchers to the sidewalk where we were barricaded and surrounded by several rows of cops.
I emerged alright from the incident, but several others were not so fortunate. One young man had his shoulder dislocated and others were close to passing out from the trauma of the encounter. Though we were removed from the square, beaten and prohibited from marching, our spirits were quickly rekindled through the solidarity born out of the struggle and by remembering the much worse hardships that Palestinians often face when they attempt to hold peaceful demonstrations; it is not uncommon for Israeli troops to fire on crowds of Palestinians with rubber and real bullets merely for assembling. It is difficult to imagine the horror of being trapped in Gaza and having to endure an onslaught like the one that occurred last January. We held a moment of complete silence as we honored those who had died. Not even a cop made a noise.