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Once You See What Truly Happened in Gaza, It Will Change You Forever
By Medea Benjamin | Alternet
What I saw was like a form of collective punishment, leaving behind a trail of grieving mothers, angry fathers and traumatized children.
When I traveled to Gaza last week, everywhere I went, a photo haunted me. I saw it in a brochure called "Gaza will not die" that Hamas gives out to visitors at the border crossing. A poster-sized version was posted outside a makeshift memorial at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. And now that I am back home, the image comes to me when I look at children playing in the park, when I glance at the school across the street, when I go to sleep at night.
RAMALLAH, Feb 17 (IPS) - Israel is bracing for a wave of lawsuits accusing the Jewish state of substantial human rights violations during its 22-day military assault on Gaza which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and nearly 5,000 wounded, more than half of them civilian.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have confirmed that phosphorous bombs were used over Gaza. It is against international law to use phosphorous in densely crowded civilian areas.
According to Amnesty, Israel tanks also fired flechettes, 4cm long metal darts in civilian neighbourhoods. Shells containing 5,000 to 8,000 flechettes explode in the air and scatter in a conical pattern over an area about 300m wide and 100m long.
Fascist Rule in Israel
by Stephen Lendman
On February 10, Israel held parliamentary elections for 120 seats in its 18th Knesset. The process repeats every four years unless the body calls an earlier election by majority vote. The prime minister may also ask the president to request one early that will proceed unless the Knesset blocks it. Parliamentary terms may be extended beyond four years by special majority vote. Israel has no constitution.
Under Article 4 of its Basic Law: The Knesset:
"The Knesset shall be elected by general, national, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections, in accordance with the Knesset Elections Law." Every Israeli citizen 18 or older may vote, including Arabs who are nominally enfranchised, may serve in the parliament, but can't govern or in any way influence policy.
THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION (EAFORD) offers this petition to the United Nations for the Creation of a Special Tribunal to Try Israeli War Criminals.
To: President and Member States of United Nations General Assembly
To President and Member States of United Nations General Assembly
The Creation of a Special Tribunal to try Israeli War Criminals
Recalling that Israel was created by virtue of a General Assembly Resolution in 1947 against the wishes of the indigenous population of Palestine;
Israel has launched a covert war against Iran as an alternative to direct military strikes against Tehran's nuclear programme, US intelligence sources have revealed.
It is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the regime's illicit weapons project, the experts say.
The most dramatic element of the "decapitation" programme is the planned assassination of top figures involved in Iran's atomic operations.
It is well-known outside the United States that a key obstacle, if not the key obstacle, to Israeli/Palestinian peace is the relationship between Israel and the United States. To say that the U.S. "supports Israel" severely misstates the problem: the key problem is the perception and the reality that the U.S. almost unfailingly protects the Israeli government from the negative consequences of anti-Palestinian policies, such as the recent military assault on Gaza, so that while rhetorically the U.S. is committed to peace, in practice the incentives that have been created and maintained by U.S. policy have had the effect of constantly pushing the Israeli government towards more confrontation with the Palestinians, rather than towards accommodation.
Revealing Words of an Israeli Columnist
By Ann Wright
I travelled to Gaza last week with Medea Benjamin and Tighe Berry of Codepink: Women for Peace. We were allowed by the Egyptian government to enter Gaza for only 48 hours.
I knew that 1026 of the 1330 who were killed in the Israeli attacks on Gaza were civilians. Of the 1026 civilians, 282 were children, 111 women, 168 civilian policemen and 501 civilian men died in Israeli bombings. 274 have been classified as combatant deaths.
I knew that the estimates for the cost of reconstruction to the destruction done by Israeli bombing is over $2 billion. After seeing the destruction in Gaza City, I thought I would be prepared for North Gaza. I had heard the damage done by F-16s and tanks was substantial, but I was stunned by the large number of apartment buildings and industries that had been blown up and destroyed by the Israeli military in the northern Gaza border region with Israel.
by Linda Milazzo
CODEPINK Women For Peace will be traveling to Gaza on March 6th. The purpose of their mission is to provide "humanitarian and emotional support to women and women's organizations and exert pressure on US, Egyptian and Israeli governments to lift the blockade and promote peace and human rights in the region."
In advance of their trip, CODEPINK has created a petition that asks signers to write President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, to request that he meet with the women of Gaza. As an American Jew who opposes Israel's inhumane treatment of Palestinians, I answered CODEPINK's call, signed the petition, and wrote a letter to Mr. Mitchell. The letter that follows is my personal statement to Mr. Mitchell and not the statement of CODEPINK.
By Phyllis Bennis
In its recent elections Israel has witnessed the rise of the right, the extreme right, and the fascist right.
The timing of the December-January Israeli assault on Gaza had everything to do with the Israeli elections. (Well, almost everything - there was that little item of finishing the military attack before Barack Obama's inauguration.)
But now the elections are over. And while final tallies are not officially finished, a few things are already clear. The two top mainstream parties, popularly known as "right" and "center," placed virtually neck-and-neck. Tzipi Livni's ostensibly centrist Kadima Party ended up in first place, one seat ahead of the officially rightist Likud bloc of Bibi Netanyahu.
Far more significant - for Israelis, Palestinians, and U.S.-Israeli relations - was Israeli voters' choice for third place in the Knesset (Israel's parliament) line-up.
By Ann Wright, retired US Army Reserve Colonel
In a tent in front of Shifa hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, a sign on the photo of a young child bleeding from wounds from the Israeli attack on Gaza read “Gaza Will Not Die.”
Shifa hospital received hundreds of bodies of those killed and thousands of those wounded during the December 27, 2008-January 18, 2009 22 day attack, invasion and occupation of Gaza by the Israeli military.
Rep. Delahunt has taken a constructive step by introducing a resolution in support of former Senator Mitchell's diplomacy for peace. Supporting this resolution should be a no-brainer - even your Representative can do it. [You can ask your Representative to sign on here; the list of co-sponsors, 50 at this writing, is here.]
NO MORE BLANK CHECK FOR ISRAEL!
Declaration and Signatures Being Sent to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Middle East Envoy Mitchell
By Kathy Kelly
People have asked me, since I returned from Gaza, how people manage? How do they keep going after being traumatized by bombing and punished by a comprehensive state of siege? I wonder myself. I know that whether the loss of life is on the Gazan or the Israeli side of the border, bereaved survivors feel the same pain and misery. On both sides of the border, I think children pull people through horrendous and horrifying nightmares. Adults squelch their panic, cry in private, and strive to regain semblances of normal life, wanting to carry their children through a precarious ordeal.
Day 2 in Gaza: Ann’s diary
Posted by Ann Wright
Medea Benjamin, Tighe Barry and I (retired Col. Ann Wright) arrived Jan. 29 in Cairo for a 10-day trip to Gaza, but only spent two days there before Egyptian authorities ordered all foreigners to leave by Feb. 5. But we called for an opening of the borders, were shown the Egyptian-Gazan underground tunnels, met with women’s aid groups to organize a fundraising effort for the women of Gaza for March 8, International Women’s Day. Here’s my account of Day 2 in Gaza:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Addresses European Parliament
In a speech to the European Parliament, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told members that Israel needed to be "held responsible for their war crimes." The speech focused entirely on the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza and humanitarian efforts to residents in the area.
A Short History of the Israeli - Palestinian Conflict: Past Is Prologue
by Stephen Lendman
Its roots are from the late 19th century when Theodor Herzl founded modern Zionism at the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1897.
In his book "Overcoming Zionism," Joel Kovel writes:
Zionism seeks "the restoration of tribalism in the guise of a modern, highly militaralized and aggressive state. (It) cut Jews off from (their) history and led to a fateful identity of interests with antisemitism (becoming) the only thing that united them. (It) fell into the ways of imperialist expansion and militarism, and showed signs of the fascist malignancy."
The Other Brother: Hybrid Vigor and Reconciliation
By Gary Corseri
I had the good fortune to be born a hybrid: half Sicilian Catholic and half Ukrainian Jew. Beyond that, I was blessed with parents who let me evolve my own identity in my relationships with the Divine and the human.
On both sides of my family tree there were fools and sages, cynics and dreamers, the myopic and the far seeing, the generous and the greedy. I grew up in a middle class Jewish neighborhood in Queens. On weekends we were far more likely to spend time with my father's rather large extended Sicilian family than with my mother's rather small Jewish family. My friends went to shul and studied for their bar mitzvahs. I went to my best friend's bar mitzvah, and once I went to a Christmas Mass with one of my Italian aunts. I liked the bar mitzvah because I got to drink a little wine. I didn't like the Mass so much because I didn't understand the words and I soon got tired of all the sitting and standing. But I liked my Aunt Sadie's face when she prayed.
A shoe was thrown at Israel s ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan, when
he was giving a speech at Stockholm University . The shoe hit its
target. It was followed by two books and a note pad, all hitting the the severely embarrassed ambassador.
WE MUST NOT BE SILENT! WE WILL NOT BE SILENT!
In solidarity with the people of Gaza, who are being forced by the Israeli government to live in inhuman conditions under a brutal occupation, please join us for a 24-hour street protest in front of the offices of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, which promote and defend Israeli policies.
Thursday, February 12, 9 a.m. - Friday, February 13, 9 a.m.
633 Third Ave (40/41st Sts, east side of Third Ave)
NEW YORK CITY
IT'S NOT THE ROCKETS, IT'S THE OCCUPATION!
JEWS SAY NO TO THE MASSACRE
JEWS SAY NO TO THE BLOCKADE
JEWS SAY NO TO THE OCCUPATION
JEWS SAY YES TO JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
Please come for an hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, or more -- during
the day or night! Allies are encouraged to join us.
Signs and visuals will be available.
NEVER AGAIN: NOT IN GAZA, NOT ANYWHERE
A pack of ravenous dogs, a nightmare, a visit from a war-haunted friend, this was how film director Ari Folman's period as an Israeli "grunt" in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon first returned to him. But when he began to search for his own memories of that war, what he found instead was a puzzling, disturbing blank.
Tentatively setting off in pursuit of those missing memories, horrors buried for almost a quarter of a century, he launched himself on a path that would lead to his award-winning, Oscar-nominated animated film, Waltz with Bashir, and to a stunning accompanying graphic memoir that will soon be in bookstores.
Its publisher, Metropolitan Books, has given TomDispatch the exclusive right to post two long excerpts just before official publication. The first of these appeared last Saturday (and can be viewed here).
Now, in part 2 of Waltz with Bashir, we pick up Folman's story just after he has managed to reconstruct his first days at war. In the stunning, unnerving 24 pages that follow, he begins to restore to memory his arrival in Beirut and the events that will ultimately lead him to the dark, shattering center of what he has forgotten: the horror of the massacre of Palestinians in Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
Like the film, this is a book that simply must be experienced. Unfortunately, given recent events, it also couldn't be more of the moment. When asked by a Washington Post reporter, how it feels to have his film released in the U.S. "just as Israel is at war again, this time in Gaza," Folman responded: "There is a constant conflict, you know, so it's always happening again. This film is always being updated. It is always relevant to current events."
He's right. It couldn't be more relevant or more thoughtful and penetrating on war trauma and memory.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell is reporting that Dennis Ross "will be coming back to the State Department as a "strategic advisor" on the near east and gulf region":
He will not be described as an envoy negotiating agreements and will not be involved in Middle East talks. That job will be up to former Sen. George Mitchell, who returns tonight from his first "listening tour" of the region.
But before the papers are signed for Ross' new employment with the US government, he should be asked a few questions about his relationship with the "Jewish People Policy Planning Institute," that group's relationship to the Government of Israel, and whether he has had any relationships which he should have disclosed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Is Peace Out of Reach? - After watching video, please click "Read more" for action you can take. Bob Simon needs to hear from you!
by Stephen Lendman
Waging war while talking peace is customary Israeli practice. On January 19, Haaretz headlined: "Israel declares unilateral cease-fire. The security cabinet last night authorized a unilateral cease-fire (to take effect) at 2AM (Sunday morning), ending three weeks of intense fighting."
Declaration notwithstanding, nothing changed. Gaza remains occupied, under siege, and totally isolated. Borders are still closed. On January 28, The New York Times said "truckloads of humanitarian aid" are stuck in Egypt because of Israeli and Cairo restrictions. Little can get in, and attacks merely downshifted to a lower gear.
Gaza farmers devastated by war
A U.S. official says President Barack Obama has authorized more aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to help them recover from damage caused during a recent Israeli offensive.
U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said Friday in Jerusalem that Mr. Obama has approved $20 million in emergency food and medical assistance for Gaza.
On the morrow of the return of the last Israeli soldier from Gaza, we can determine with certainty that they had all gone out there in vain. This war ended in utter failure for Israel.
This goes beyond the profound moral failure, which is a grave matter in itself, but pertains to its inability to reach its stated goals. In other words, the grief is not complemented by failure. We have gained nothing in this war save hundreds of graves, some of them very small, thousands of maimed people, much destruction and the besmirching of Israel's image.
What seemed like a predestined loss to only a handful of people at the onset of the war will gradually emerge as such to many others, once the victorious trumpeting subsides.
The Iranian cabinet introduces a bill to take action on individuals accused of war crimes amid a seeming ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The cabinet of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad laid out details of the bill on Sunday, discussing methods to track down and prosecute individuals accused of committing or issuing the order for war crimes.
Under the newly-introduced bill, launching a military offensive, killing civilians, employment of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), laying a siege to civilians and military personnel and imposing food shortages on them are regarded as war crimes.
Individuals charged with committing or ordering such crimes, depending on the extent of their involvement, would be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison by an Iranian court or would face execution.