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Mark Your Calendars for December 27th-31st! Organize Your Events for the Global Free Gaza Action To Lift the Israeli Siege

We're calling on activists around the globe to organize an action between December 27th through December 31st to send Obama, the US State Department and Congress a message to pressure the Israeli government to Lift the Siege on Gaza Now!

The timing here is crucial. On December 27, 2008, Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip called Operation Cast Lead in which over 1400 Palestinians were killed, including as many as 300 children. In remembrance of these innocent civilians and to mark the fact that it has been one year since the Israeli assault began, some 1,000 people from around the world will join with 50,000 Palestinians in a massive nonviolent Gaza Freedom March on New Year's Eve, December 31, in Gaza. The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza is calling on us to coordinate local solidarity actions to raise awareness and media attention for the big March and the need to end the illegal blockade. Will you join us?

Actions are already being planned in Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington DC and other locations. You still have time to plan something in your community. It doesn't take a lot of people. Below are a few ideas, but whatever you do, make sure you write a press release and call the local media to encourage them to attend. The best way to spread the word is to get your event covered by the local press!

The important things:

Shining Light on Roots of Terrorism

Shining Light on Roots of Terrorism
By Ray McGovern | Consortium News

But it’s a legitimate and urgent question: Would a more determined commitment by the U.S. government to secure an independent state for the Palestinians and to alleviate their suffering undercut the appeal of al-Qaeda and other extremist groups to young people in the Muslim world?

Or put differently, why should ardent supporters of Israel in the U.S. Congress behave in such a way as to make the Muslim world view the United States as disinterested in the plight of the Palestinians and thus increase the danger of future attacks against the United States, as well as against Israel?...

These so-called “friends of Israel” either don’t know or don’t care that this sort of resolution only makes matters worse regarding American attempts to defuse the explosive anger building across the Middle East. It is a gift to al-Qaeda.

Media commentary on the upcoming 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has raised concern that state secrets may be divulged, including details about how the Bush administration used torture to extract evidence about al-Qaeda.

“I think that we’re going to shine a light on something that a lot of people don’t want to look at” is how American Civil Liberties Union attorney Denney LeBoeuf put it, according to The New York Times on Saturday.

No problem, says Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims to have “great confidence” that other evidence – apart from what may have been gleaned from the 183 times Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, for example – will suffice to convict him.

Maybe so, But what the Fawning Corporate Media (or FCM) have so far neglected is the likelihood that the testimony will be so public that they will have to break their studied silence about why Sheikh Mohammed and his associates say they orchestrated the attacks of 9/11. Read more.

A Guest Blog by Gerri Haynes: Journey to Gaza, The Beginning

A Guest Blog by Gerri Haynes: Journey to Gaza, The Beginning | Larry Johnson Online

Larry Johnson wrote: (For the next week or so, I will be running a guest blog by Gerri Haynes, a former president of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. Gerri, a nurse from Kirkland, Wash., is in Gaza with 11 other people in an effort to help the people there and also to better understand the situation.)

This journey has been months in the planning and today we were able to cross into Gaza through the Erez checkpoint from Israel. We are a thankful group! The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and associated health care providers are giving us this week in service.

There are 12 of us. Six physicians will see patients in cardiology, maxillo-facial surgery, family practice/emergency medicine, neurosurgery, urology, and psychiatry. Our nurse/grief consultant will teach classes in grief and bereavement. Five of our delegation – a pastor, an attorney and three human rights professionals will talk with families and listen to people throughout the area – all in service to this land that is trying to recover from the war of last winter.

WPSR made a first journey to Gaza in 1993. Here, we met Dr. Eyad El Sarraj, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. Dr. Sarraj has published important articles and papers on the health situation in Gaza, the mental health of the population, the effects of war and living as a refugee on children and critiques of the political situation in his country.

In 1993, entry to Gaza was accomplished through a small checkpoint. At that time, Israel physically occupied Gaza. There were Israeli guard towers visible at frequent intervals and Israeli soldiers appeared on every street. Now, there is an imposing warehouse-like checkpoint building on the Israel side of the crossing. Security is tight.

We applied for permission to enter Gaza several months in advance of today’s crossing and were assisted by an Israeli lieutenant in gaining that permission. Israel no longer physically occupies Gaza – the settlements were vacated and destroyed by Israel in 2005 – but remote occupation continues. By various means, Israel controls all movement at the borders of Gaza. There is no free movement of goods or services and complete closure of the Gaza Strip is a constant threat. Join in Gerri's day-by-day account of her Gaza experience; it's recommended reading by Ann Wright.

Minneapolis Event on 12/6 Preps for Gaza Freedom March in Late December

Minnesotans plan trip to Gaza for Gandhi-inspired march | Press Release

CODEPINK: Women for Peace and the Minnesota Gaza Freedom March Participants' Committee Present Occupation 101, a film by Sufyan Omeish and Abdallah Omeish

Date: Sunday, December 6, 2009, 4:00 pm

Location: Hennepin Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403

Cost: suggested donation $10 at the door, no one turned away

Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 6th, 2009 - A group of passionate Minnesotans are planning to participate in a bold, Gandhi-inspired peace march in Gaza, 'the world's largest open-air prison'. The group calls itself the “Minnesota Gaza Freedom March Participants' Committee” and today they are exhibiting a documentary film that highlights the injustice they hope to correct through participating in a non-violent mass action in Gaza with participants from around the world. The documentary, Occupation 101, is being shown as fundraiser. At least 3 members of the group are committed to traveling to Egypt and Palestine, with airline tickets already purchased. Others are excited to go, if only enough funds can be raised. A local march is being planned in the Twin Cities area simultaneous with the nonviolent march in Gaza, one mile to the closed Erez checkpoint on the border with Israel. Discussion and trainings on their organizing strategy follow the heart-wrenching film.

The idea came to the Twin Cities initially as a result of one of the organizers' participation in a healthcare reform lobbying effort that took him to Washington, D.C. In July. "I was in D.C. for the rally and citizen lobbying day hat marked the 44th anniversary of Medicare, on July 30th, and a little early for a fundraiser for the 'Healthcare NOT Warfare' campaign at Busboys and Poets, when an affiliated group, CODEPINK, had an event in that space the hour before our event started. I sat in on the meeting, and as soon as I heard about Gandhi being the inspiration of the Gaza Freedom March, I knew I had to participate in this," says Soren Sorensen. "Healthcare and the economy remain the issues that most Americans care about, according to polls, but it is hard to ignore the desperate plight of the Palestinians in Gaza. The have no access to healthcare, and the average Palestinian in Gaza earns $600 a year. The U.S. Governments support for this inhuman siege is, no doubt, reducing the favorability of U.S. Goods and services abroad. If the U.S. Aligns itself with international law and human rights, it could help our economic recovery. So there is some self-interest for us, but for me it is a greater issue of conscience."

Peace Activist Confronts Netanhayu on War Crimes During Plenary of United Jewish Federations

(Washington DC) At the Annual Conference of the United Jewish Federations in Washington, DC, during the plenary session by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, CODEPINK peace activist Midge Potts stood up with a banner that said “End the Siege of Gaza” and shouted “Stop the blockade of Gaza, Shame on you, Netanyahu.” She was dragged out of the meeting by security guards.

Mullen: ‘Nuclear Iran’ an Existential Threat to Israel

Admiral Open to US Attack, Concedes War Would Be Incredibly Destabilizing
By Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com

Speaking today at the National Press Club, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen declared that “it’s very clear to me that a nuclear weapon in Iran is an existential threat to Israel.

Adm. Mullen has repeatedly met with Israel’s military chief Gen. Ashkenazi, and says foiling Iran’s nuclear program is “the number one priority for Israel.” This has been underscored in recent days as Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran.

But while Admiral Mullen said he still wanted President Obama to continue with diplomacy, he was fully prepared to see the US attack Iran to prevent a nuclear Iran from “undermining the stability” of the Middle East. At the same time, Mullen admitted that attacking Iran itself “would also be incredibly destabilizing.”

Though Western officials have repeatedly issued warnings about Iran’s nuclear program, the IAEA has repeatedly certified that none of Iran’s uranium has been enriched to anywhere near weapons-grade level and that none of it is being diverted to anything but civilian use.

U.S.: Congress Out of Step with Public on International Law?

U.S.: Congress Out of Step with Public on Intl Law?
By Eli Clifton | IPS

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution Tuesday condemning the Goldstone Report on Israeli and Hamas actions taking during the Gaza War as "irredeemably biased" against Israel and calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to oppose any consideration of the report in multilateral fora, such as the United Nations.

But a poll released just the day before found that a large majority of U.S. citizens believe the U.S. should abide by international laws and view the international legal system favourably.

House Resolution (HR) 867 called on the White House and State Department to oppose any future examinations of the report, which members of Congress felt focused disproportionally on alleged Israeli war crimes while paying little attention to violations committed by Hamas during the Gaza War from Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18, 2009.

"The 344 supporters have apparently not read the report," wrote Human Rights Watch senior researcher Fred Abrahams. "The 575-page document records violations of the laws of war by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, and concludes that all sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity."

"Both Israelis and Palestinians need to carry out investigations that meet international standards or face international prosecution," he said. Read more.

Rep. Israel Condemns Tea Party Protest Holocaust Signs

Just in case you missed the despicable, outrageous signs, see them at around 7:00 mins into this video:

 

Kucinich: Truth, Human Dignity and the Goldstone Report

Kucinich: Truth, Human Dignity and the Goldstone Report | Press Release

Washington D.C. (November 3, 2009) –Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement on the House Floor about H. Res 867, which condemns the ‘Goldstone Report’ or the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict:

“Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt. Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist.

“Because behind every such deception is the nullification of humanity, the destruction of human dignity, the annihilation of the human spirit, the triumph of Orwellian thinking, the eternal prison of the dark heart of the totalitarian.

“The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the Goldstone Report to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the “Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right” resolution.

“Because if this Congress votes to condemn a report it has not read, concerning events it has totally ignored, about violations of law of which it is unaware, it will have brought shame to this great institution.

Rep. Howard Berman Confronted Over Goldstone Report

On Nov. 3, 2009, on Capitol Hill, activists from the “Coalition for Free Gaza March,” personally confronted Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA,) just outside his office over the Goldstone Report. The Congressman then quickly rushed towards his private elevator. Afterwards, six activists strolled into Room 2221, Rep. Berman’s office, in the Rayburn Building, around 10 AM. There, they began reading the 575-paged UN Report of Judge Richard Goldstone. The Goldstone-authored document is highly critical of Israel’s recent military conduct in Gaza, labeling some of its action as “War Crimes.” Rep. Berman, who is Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, has introduced HR 867 in the House. Its purpose is to reject the report of the distinguished jurist, without giving Judge Goldstone a chance to personally testify before the Congress on his findings. HR 867 is due for a vote in the House later today.

See a list of links by clicking through to the youtube description.

Congressman Brian Baird Challenges Congressional Leadership’s Blind Protection of Israeli Actions in Gaza

Congressman Brian Baird Challenges Congressional Leadership’s Blind Protection of Israeli Actions in Gaza
By Ann Wright

The massive, disproportionate force used on the people of Gaza by the Israeli military was done with the full knowledge that the United States government -- the President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and the Congress -- would protect its actions from international investigation and criminal prosecution, as U.S. governments have done for the past 60 years, since the founding of the state of Israel.

Today, November 3, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on House Resolution 867 which condemns the report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict , also known as the Goldstone Report, named for Judge Goldstone who headed the mission.

The report investigates the 22 day Israeli attack on Gaza that killed 1,440 Palestinians in Gaza, wounded 5,000 and left 50,000 homeless. During the 22 day Israeli military operation, 13 Israelis were killed, 3 civilians and 10 military, 5 of whom were killed by their own Israeli military forces. The Israelis said they were defending Israel from thousands of unguided rockets fired from Gaza by militant groups that have killed 19 Israelis. For the past three years, Israel also has blockaded the 1.5 million people who live in Gaza into what is now an “open-air prison.”

Congress Should Not Reject the Goldstone Report

By Michael Ratner, www.CommonDreams.org

On Tuesday, November 3, Congress is poised to vote on H.Res.867, which calls on the “President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' in multilateral fora.’ ”

The Resolution instructs the Obama Administration to prevent further consideration of the Goldstone Report (as it is informally known) in any international body. For Congress to do so, without a hearing where Judge Goldstone can testify and based upon a Resolution rife with factual errors, makes a mockery of assertions by the United States that fundamental protections of human rights laws law apply equally to all. It leaves the United States, and especially Congress, without a thread of moral authority.

UK activists seek arrest of Israeli officers

By GREGORY KATZ, The Associated Press

LONDON -- British lawyers looking for ways to hold Israel accountable for its deadly advance into Gaza last year have expanded their legal campaign by seeking the arrest of Israeli military officers entering Britain.

The attorneys plan to go to British courts to obtain arrest warrants against individuals linked to suspected war crimes so they would be taken into custody if they entered Britain, Daniel Machover, a lawyer coordinating the legal team, said Tuesday.

"We've been collecting evidence for some time," said Machover of the Hickman & Rose firm. "If one of the suspects is coming to the country, we are ready to go to the police and the courts with evidence."

There was no immediate response to the plan from Britain's Ministry of Justice. Israel brushed off the move as part of a harassment campaign by anti-Israeli groups.

Ohio National Guard aids IDF in two-week military exercises

By MARILYN H. KARFELD, Cleveland Jewish News

Nine soldiers from the Ohio Army National Guard have joined 1,000 U.S. troops and the Israeli Defense Forces in joint military exercises in the Mediterranean Sea that include preparation for an Iranian missile attack on Israel.

The major air defense drill, called Juniper Cobra 10, includes a simulated missile attack against Tel Aviv, reported Ohio National Guard Public Affairs.

In the two-week maneuvers, which began Oct. 21, the American units will strengthen Israel’s missile defense system by meshing ground-and-ship-based missile interceptors with

Israel’s ballistic shield, Ha’aretz newspaper reported.

Goldstone: Dear Congress, About All Those Lies Re My Report

The Honorable Howard Berman
Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ranking Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

October 29, 2009

Dear Chairman Berman and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen,

It has come to my attention that a resolution has been introduced in the Unites States House of
Representatives regarding the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which I
led earlier this year.

I fully respect the right of the US Congress to examine and judge my mission and the resulting
report, as well as to make its recommendations to the US Executive branch of government.
However, I have strong reservations about the text of the resolution in question – text that
includes serious factual inaccuracies and instances where information and statements are taken
grossly out of context.

I undertook this fact-finding mission in good faith, just as I undertook my responsibilities vis à

Ehud Olmert Could Face War Crimes Arrest if He Visits UK

Prosecution of Israelis likely, says solicitor • Lawyers working on use of universal jurisdiction
By Ian Black, The Guardian/UK

Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister during the Gaza war, would probably face arrest on war crimes charges if he visited Britain, according to a UK lawyer who is working to expand the application of "universal jurisdiction" for offences involving serious human rights abuses committed anywhere in the world.

Neither Olmert nor Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister during the Cast Lead offensive, and a member of Israel's war cabinet, would enjoy immunity from prosecution for alleged breaches of the Geneva conventions, predicted Daniel Machover, who is involved in intensifying legal work after the controversial Goldstone report on the three-week conflict. Neither are ministers any longer.

Israel To Seek Change in Law of War to Block War Crimes Investigation

Israel To Seek Change in Law of War to Block War Crimes Investigation
By Jonathan Turley | Jonathan Turley's Blog

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be morphing into George W. Bush. Faced with findings of a respected former war crimes prosecutor that Israel may have committed war crimes in its Gaza offensive, the prime minister instructed his government to seek changes to the international laws of war to retroactively justify any actions taken in Gaza.

The prime minister’s office announced that “the prime minister instructed the relevant government bodies to examine a worldwide campaign to amend the international laws of war to adapt them to the spread of global terrorism.”

Netanyahu justified the post hoc move in truly Bushian terms: “We are struggling to delegitimise the ongoing attempts to delegitimise Israel.” Read more.

The Iran Versus U.S.-Israeli-NATO Threats

The Iran Versus U.S.-Israeli-NATO Threats
by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson | Monthly Review

It is spell-binding to see how the U.S. establishment can inflate the threat of a target, no matter how tiny, remote, and (most often) non-existent that threat may be, and pretend that the real threat posed by its own behavior and policies is somehow defensive and related to that wondrously elastic thing called "national security."

We should recall that this establishment got quite hysterical over the completely non-existent threat from Guatemala in the years 1950-1954, a very small and very poor country, essentially disarmed, helped by a U.S. and "allied" arms boycott, quickly overthrown in June 1954 by a minuscule U.S.-organized proxy force invading from our ally Somoza's Nicaragua.

But a telegram drafted in the name of Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles shortly before the 1954 regime change in Guatemala warned that this country had become a "challenge to Hemisphere security and peace" and was "increasingly [an] instrument of Soviet aggression in this hemisphere" and a "menace to [the] stability of strategic Central America and Caribbean area," so that U.S. policy was "determined [to] prevent further substantial arms shipments from reaching Guatemala."1

And the New York Times featured this terrible threat repeatedly (one favorite, the lying headline of Sidney Gruson's "How Communists Won Control of Guatemala," March 1, 1953), a propaganda campaign dating back to 1950 that extended throughout the media, even reaching The Nation magazine (Ellis Ogle, "Communism in the Caribbean?" March 18, 1950).

Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, even tinier Grenada, the nutmeg capital of the world, and of course Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction," all posed dire threats that caused the U.S. Free Press to leap into active propaganda service.

So the present intense focus on Iran's supposed nuclear weapons threat is in a great tradition. But it never ceases to amaze the extent to which the media journalists and editors, reliably following the official party line, are able to apply a truly laughable double standard as well as to make another victim into an aggressor and dire threat. It's déjà vu all over again, for the umpteenth time! Read more.

What Happened to Abir? The Court Does Not Sympathize

On Wednesday we members of the Combatants for Peace movement, women of Mahsom [Hebrew: checkpoint or barrier] Watch, members of the Forum of Bereaved Families for Peace and writer David Grossman attended a hearing at the High Court of Justice on the matter of the closing, due to lack of evidence, of the investigatory file on the killing of ten-year-old Abir Aramin about three years ago.

The hearing, which had been scheduled for eleven o'clock and then for nine o'clock and then for ten o'clock and then for one o'clock, began at two. Journalists ran to and fro in the corridor (Who died? A little girl? Really? Excuse me, sir, did your daughter die? Yes. Then you are Bassam Aramin? No, I am Rami Elhanan. Oh, sorry. So where's that Aramin? And who are you? We are from Mahsom Watch. From what checkpoint? What are you doing here? And who are you? I am a friend. Of those Palestinians? Yes. How come? How can it be? Can I interview you? Did you too have a daughter who died? Really? When? How? What was her name? And after all that you are on their side?) But at the end of the day no Israeli reported on what happened.

Salwa and Bassam Aramin are not Jews and they are not Israelis. They live under a cruel occupation and they have experienced all it has to offer: exile, imprisonment and the killing of their small daughter Abir by a rubber (coated metal) bullet that was allegedly fired from the rifle of a Border Guard soldier who was sitting in an armoured jeep and thrust the barrel of his rifle through the opening that was allegedly designed for that purpose and allegedly aimed and fired at the head of the girl who was standing beside her sister at a kiosk, allegedly buying candy during the break between the first class and the second.

Olmert, Author of Assault on Gaza, Shunned in Chicago

Olmert, author of assault on Gaza, shunned in Chicago
Posted by Helena Cobban | Just World News

The Harris School for Public Policy at the University of Chicago presumably thought it was quite "normal" and appropriate-- perhaps, even a boon for fundraising!-- to invite former Israeli p.m. Ehud Olmert to give a lecture.

Olmert, however, is not just any old former prime minister. He was also the prime author of the decision to launch two extremely inhumane wars of choice: against Lebanon in 2006 and against Gaza last winter.

Israel's conduct of the latter war-- as well as a lot of other Olmert-era policies like the prolonged and lethal siege of Gaza and the continued attacks on the Palestinian community in Jerusalem-- rightly came under severe criticism from the UN's Goldstone Commission.

Judge Richard Goldstone, an experienced international prosecutor and investigator (and also Jewish and a self-proclaimed Zionist) determined that many of Israel's actions against Gaza constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.

So why would the University of Chicago or any other university in the democratic world consider it appropriate or "normal" to give a podium to an accused war criminal like this?

Today, Ali Abunimah and numerous other supporters of the simple proposition that the rights of Palestinians should be protected just as much as anyone else's rights were, as it happened, there in the lecture hall too. Read more.

John Bolton Suggests Nuclear Attack on Iran

John Bolton Suggests Nuclear Attack on Iran
By Daniel Luban | Faster Times

This Friday, the American Enterprise Institute will hosted an event addressing the question “Should Israel attack Iran?” The event includes, among others, Iran uberhawk Michael Rubin and infamous “torture lawyer” John Yoo, but the real star is likely to be John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador whose right-of-Attila views left him an outcast even within the second Bush administration. (Bolton was eventually forced out when it became clear that he would be unable to win Senate confirmation for the U.N. post.)

If Bolton’s recent rhetoric is any indication, his AEI appearance may accomplish the formidable feat of making Michael Rubin sound like a dove. Discussing Iran during a Tuesday speech at the University of Chicago, Bolton appeared to call for nothing less than an Israeli nuclear first strike against the Islamic Republic. (The speech, sponsored by the University Young Republicans and Chicago Friends of Israel, was titled, apparently without a trace of irony, “Ensuring Peace.”) Read more.

United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict | PRESS RELEASE | 15 September 2009

UN Fact Finding Mission finds strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Gaza conflict; calls for end to impunity

NEW YORK / GENEVA - The UN Fact-Finding Mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone on Tuesday released its long-awaited report on the Gaza conflict, in which it concluded there is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.

The report also concludes there is also evidence that Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity, in their repeated launching of rockets and mortars into Southern Israel.

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