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The Ugly Myth of U.S. Exceptionalism

      For inexplicable reasons, the United States citizenry clings to the idea of 'exceptionalism', that heady concept that says that the U.S. is different from and better than all the rest of the world, and therefore has a sacred obligation to spread its goodness around the globe. In 2014, President Barack Obama said this: "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being."

Sandy Tolan: The One-State Conundrum

Here’s a punchline the Obama administration could affix to the Middle East right now: With allies like these, who needs enemies?

The World Ignores the Crisis in Gaza—So Another Gaza Freedom Flotilla is Ready to Sail in First Half of 2015

By Ann Wright

With the 51 day Israeli attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014 that killed over 2,200, wounded 11,000, destroyed 20,000 homes and displaced 500,000, the closing to humanitarian organizations of the border with Gaza by the Egyptian government, continuing Israeli attacks on fishermen and others, and the lack of international aid through UNWRA for the rebuilding of Gaza, the international Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition has decided to again challenge Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza in an effort to gain publicity for the critical necessity of ending the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the isolation of the people of Gaza.

Palestinian boys attend Friday prayers as they sit at the remains of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer, in the Shejaia neighbourhood east of Gaza City January 23, 2015.

UNRWA, the main U.N. aid agency in the Gaza Strip has stated that a lack of international funding forced it to suspend grants to tens of thousands of Palestinians for repairs to homes damaged in last summer's war.

"People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble, children have died of hypothermia," Robert Turner, Gaza director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said in a statement. He said UNRWA received only $135 million of the $720 million pledged by donors to its cash assistance program for 96,000 refugee families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the 50-day conflict between the Hamas government and Israel. Little of the total $5.4 billion pledged for Gaza's reconstruction at a Cairo conference of international donors in October 2014 has reached the Gaza, and thousands of Palestinians have been sheltering in tents near destroyed homes.

"Thousands more have been living in damaged buildings, using plastic sheeting to try to keep out the rain. Around 20,000 displaced are still being housed in U.N.-run schools.” 

While we recognize that funds are needed to rebuild Gaza, we feel that the publicity from another flotilla will help gain attention to the plight of the people of Gaza in ways that other initiatives may not.  Indeed, governments are forced to react to the flotillas as evidenced through the diplomatic cables obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights from the U.S. Department of State to U.S. missions in the Middle East region.

At a December, 2014 meeting, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition decided to sail a 3-ship flotilla to challenge the blockade in the first half of 2015. Twenty passengers will be aboard each of the 3 ships for a total of 60 passengers.  The coalition will seek representatives from 30 countries with each country having two passengers. The U.S.- Palestinian Solidarity community will participate in Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3 and has a target of $20,000 as their part for renovation expenses and to be able to have two persons as the U.S. delegates.

Nonviolence International of Washington, DC, the 501(c)(3) for U.S. contributions to Gaza’s Ark, is the 501(c)(3) organization. Please make an online contribution here and indicate “Gaza’s Ark/Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3” in the Please designate this gift for a specific purpose "Designation Code" box. Checks payable to "Nonviolence International" (with Gaza’s Ark/Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3 in the memo line) may be mailed to:

Nonviolence International
4000 Albemarle Street, NW
Suite 401
Washington, DC 20016
USA


Photo of Gaza’s Ark, a fishing trawler in Gaza converted into a cargo ship to sail products out of Gaza, that was targeted and destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces.  Facebook: Gaza’s Ark

Stay in touch with Freedom Flotilla Coalition through its Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FreedomFlotillaCoalition and boat2gaza2015@gmail.com

About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was a US diplomat and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the U.S. government in 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq.  She was an organizer of the 2009 Gaza Freedom March and the 2011 US Boat to Gaza and was a passenger on one of the boats in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli government killing nine and wounding over fifty passengers.  She is the co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience

Talk Nation Radio: Michael Schwartz: Israel's Wars Are for Oil

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-michael-schwartz-israels-wars-are-for-oil/

Michael Schwartz is an Emeritus Distinguished Teaching Professor of sociology at Stony Brook State University and the author of six books and scores of articles and commentaries, including award winning books on popular protest and insurgency. His most recent book, War Without End, analyzes how the militarized geopolitics of oil led the U.S. to dismantle the Iraqi state and economy while fueling sectarian civil war inside Iraq. His work on the Middle East  appears regularly in TomDispatch including his latest article, "The Great Game in the Holy Land."

Total run time: 29:00

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Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Cuba's Position on Palestine from the Start

On the occasion of the 69th Period of Sessions of its General Assembly

By Ernesto Gómez Abascal, collaborator of the Cuban Peace Movement

Sixty-seven years ago, during the 2nd General Assembly of the then newly-born United Nations Organization, the Cuban delegate, Dr. Ernesto Dihigo, opposed with conclusive and indisputable arguments the Partition Plan for Palestine, which was going to come into effect later on with the approval of Resolution 181 (II). Cuba was among the 13 countries that voted against and was one of the two non-Islamic countries that maintained that position.

That event led to the first Arab-Israeli war and caused the emergence of the conflict in the Middle East that has existed up to our days. The Palestinian State was not created and still today, its acceptance as member of the Organization with full rights is still rejected by a small group of countries, particularly by the United States of America and Great Britain, which originally caused a conflict that has existed already more than half a century and which at this very moment is undergoing a dangerous terrorist warlike expansion, encouraged precisely by these imperialist powers that persist in their insistence to dominate the entire                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         region, control its huge energy resources and support the Zionist entity they sponsor in its criminal expansionist and genocidal policy, as recently occurred in Gaza.

Because of its relevance and full topicality, we reproduce the most important aspects of the speech and the arguments of the Cuban delegate:

Mr. President and Messrs. Delegates:

“We wish to explain very briefly the reasons why the Cuban delegation is compelled to vote against the partition plan for Palestine by the ad hoc Commission.

“We have followed the debates with interest, analyzing the arguments of one and the other in order to reach the conclusion that would seem more just to us. Cuba has evidenced its sympathy toward the Hebrews and appreciation for their qualities, since it has admitted thousands of them in its territory, who today live among us freely and peacefully, without discriminations or prejudices, but we cannot vote here according to their wishes because in our opinion the partition of Palestine is contrary to law and justice. In the first place, the initial basis for any claim is the Balfour Declaration, cause of the entire problem we face today; and the Balfour Declaration, in our opinion, totally lacks legal value, because the British government offered in it one thing it had  no right to make use of, because it was not his. However, to accept its validity, what is now intended goes far beyond its terms, because it promised the Hebrews a “National Home” in Palestine, safeguarding the civil rights of the Arab population, but it did not offer a Free State, whose creation will necessarily affect those rights it was intending to safeguard.

“The partition is also contrary to law if we abide by the mandate conferred by the League of Nations. One could ask if the League of Nations could, justly, do what it did, that is, order the establishment of a National Jewish Home, with the severe demographic and political consequences they have had in a foreign land even without the consent of its inhabitants.

“But even accepting what has been done, the partition we are considering goes against the terms of that mandate, since its 6th Article ordered that the rights and position of the non-Hebrew population of Palestine should not be impaired, and it can poorly be argued that those rights are not being impaired when more than half of their territory was to be snatched away from the natives and several hundred thousand Arabs were to remain submitted to the Hebrew government and placed in a subordinated situation there where they had formerly been owners.

“In the third place, the project is also contrary to law, in our opinion, because it goes against the free determination of the peoples, which was an essential principle of the Pact of the League; the destiny of a nation is being made use of here, depriving it of its national soil, of the soil it has had for many centuries, without having consulted it in order to know its opinion.

And if we turn over from the Pact of the League to the Charter of the United Nations, we will find that an identical violation is going to be committed, because the principle of the free determination of the peoples is recognized in general in the 2nd paragraph of Art. 1, and reiterated in paragraph (b) of Art.76 in the case of non-autonomous peoples, when stating that the fiduciary administration (equivalent to the League’s mandate) must take into consideration “the freely-expressed wishes of the peoples concerned”.

“We are not convinced by the argument posed by someone that Palestine is not a State and therefore does not have the condition of subject of International Law, because in any case those precepts do not speak of States but of peoples, and there is no doubt that the Palestinian is one.

“We have solemnly proclaimed the principle of the free determination of the peoples, but with great concern we see that when the time has come to enforce it we forget it.

“Such a system, in our opinion, is disastrous. The Cuban Delegation is firmly convinced that the true peace and the world of justice so much spoken of by the Second World War leaders does not depend of putting down certain essential principles in the conventions and treaties and having them remain there as dead letter, but that, at the right moment they be fulfilled by all and for all, big and small, weak or strong.

“Why wasn’t a democratic procedure followed in this case, consulting the will of the entire people of Palestine? Was there fear that the result of the consult would be contrary to what there was a will to carry out anyway? And if that is the case, where are the principles and where is the democracy we constantly invoke?

Our legal doubts do not end there. In the course of the debate the powers of the Assembly to agree on the partition have been contested. It has been answered that, according to Charter Arts. 10 and 1, the Assembly may make recommendations on any issue within the limits of that document or related with the maintenance of peace and international security.

Without discussing right now if the Palestinian issue is within those limits or if it is a threat to international peace, we cannot fail to notice that one thing is to make a recommendation and another, very different one, is to adopt a plan impairing the territorial integrity of a people and its legal and political position, and entrust the implementation of the project to a Commission from the Assembly itself.

 “Neither does it seem possible to us to uphold that that project is a mere recommendation, since any recommendation implies the possibility of not being accepted, and the approved plan undoubtedly has coercive character, as evidenced by the fact that, according to one of its provisions, “any attempt to alter by force the arrangement foreseen in the resolution” will be considered a threat or violation of peace or act of aggression, according to Charter Art. 39. It is therefore something that is imposed by force, not a mere recommendation, and since, in our opinion, it infringes the Charter we cannot vote in favor of the project.

“Because we had all those legal doubts we voted in the Commission in favor of previously consulting the International Court of Justice, so that we could continue forward on firm ground. The consultation was rejected by the majority, which we regard as error that is not justified by the delay it might have originated, since it would have been better to wait a few months than to undertake an action that presents so many doubts, in addition to the fact that the negative to appeal to the Court might give the impression that the Assembly rejected the possibility of finding solutions according to law. On the other hand, we consider that the project is also unfair.

“Throughout many centuries the Arab people has uninterruptedly had the territory of Palestine, and according to the official data presented to us, at the end of the First World War it made up for almost 90% of the country’s total population.

Through the United Kingdom as mandatory power and in fulfillment of the decisions of the League, it opened its doors to a foreign immigration, offering it a place to live and develop its existence according to its wishes, with religious freedom and without humiliating discriminations, and now those individuals are paying the generous hospitality of those who received them by taking away by force half of their native soil.

“We have said foreign immigration consistently, because with all respect to the opinion of the Hebrews, they are, in our opinion, foreigners in the territory of Palestine. Indeed, during the Commission debates information was provided to prove that the forefathers of a large number of the Hebrews that have already gone to Palestine or still want to go there were never in that region, but even in the case that the remote ancestors of all of them would have been born there, it is undoubtable that they abandoned that land such a long time ago to establish themselves in other countries, that their descendants have ceased to belong to Palestine, in the same way that we, men of America, born of immigrants who came from all corners of the Earth, cannot consider ourselves entitled to any right to the fatherland of our fathers in the old continent.

“The intimate and fervent desire of the Hebrews to return to Palestine, perhaps for tradition, perhaps for mystical reasons or religious obsession, is something that may have our entire consideration and sentimental sympathy, but, in our opinion, it is not a title for them to receive what does not belong to them, much less if in order to do it others with better right have to be dispossessed by force.

“We likewise consider the project unjust because it is the imposition of the standpoint of a minority over a huge majority, against a cardinal principle of democracy. In the present case, that minority, not wanting to submit itself to the opinion of the more, pretends to settle elsewhere, but taking with it a portion of the territory of the people that admitted it in its bosom.

(….)

“Let us not be told that sometimes one has to accept a political solution even though it may be unjust, because it will never be possible to establish peace and cordiality among the peoples on the basis of injustice.

“As regards the refugees, Jewish or non-Jewish, that today are in concentration camps, a problem that has been insisted upon by the supporters of the project, Cuba stated that it should be solved with an approach of good will by all the United Nations, accepting them proportionally in accordance with the particular conditions of each country; but Cuba understands that it cannot be imposed to Palestine to solve it all by itself, particularly if one takes into consideration that Palestine is totally strange to the causes that have determined the displacement of all those persons.

“For those reasons we will have to vote against the partition plan, as we already did in the Commission, and once our criterion has been reached we consider ourselves in the duty to express it through the vote, maintaining it firmly, despite the actions and pressures that have been made around us.”

Students Save Palestine

In proposing that Congress Members boycott or walk out on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech to Congress, expected to push for sanctions if not war on Iran, activists are drawing on actions engaged in by college students in recent years, as they have boycotted or walked out on or disrupted speeches by Israeli soldiers and officials on U.S. campuses. Netanyahu's noodle-headed move -- oblivious, apparently, to the U.S. government's effective evolution into a term-limited monarchy -- may provide a boost to both the movement to free Palestine and the movement to prevent a war on Iran.

Peace activists sometimes marvel at how young people have taken up environmentalist activism (with very little emphasis on the environmental destruction caused by militarism). Why, antiwar activists ask, don't young people get active opposing wars?

Ah, but they do. They are increasingly active, organized, strategic, bold, courageous, and determined about opposing a particular war: the ongoing war that the government of Israel wages -- with U.S. funding and support -- on the people of Palestine.

Nora Barrows-Friedman's new book, In Our Power: U.S. Students Organize for Justice in Palestine, tells their stories, often in their own words: What motivates them? How did they get involved? How do they view themselves in their activism? How do they relate to the non-activist world? We should all pay attention.

Don't misunderstand the case. Most students, like most adults, do little or no activism. The movement to free Palestine is far from success and up against huge opposition. Movements against other wars exist, a movement against all war exists, and all of these movements overlap. But, relatively speaking, students are far more engaged, I think, in opposing the Israeli occupation than in halting drone strikes or the U.S. wars in Iraq or Afghanistan (if they're even aware that those wars haven't ended).  Opposition to U.S. wars tends to come disproportionately from an older and whiter crowd -- a result of the Vietnam era, of a less informed view of Israel, and/or of dozens of other likely factors. In Our Power doesn't address this question, but it provides much food for thought.

It's not clear that most advocates of Palestinian freedom think of themselves as opposing war or demanding peace. Hoda Mitwally, a student at the City University of New York, is quoted by Barrows-Friedman as describing the movement for Palestine as "one that amazingly has sustained itself in ways that other movements have fizzled out. The antiwar movement fizzled out very quickly, for example." It seems that many demanding justice for Palestine think in terms of demanding human rights, even if prominent among those is the right not to have your home bombed. But human rights is how pro-war advocacy is framed in the U.S. media and politics. We must attack Syria because we care. We must destroy Libya to save the Libyans. Wrecking Yemen is a model of humanitarian warfare. Of course this is all a pack of lies, but it is a prominent pack of lies. Perhaps the movements for peace and for Palestinian justice, already intertwined, could still benefit from deeper exchanges of thinking, for war opposition must be a human rights demand, and unless a system of peace is created in Palestine/Israel, the human rights violations including those formerly known as war, will continue.

The peace movement has put an emphasis on the financial cost to the aggressor nation, the damage to U.S. troops, the trade offs in poor schools and parks, etc., assuming that people need a direct connection to a moral atrocity before they'll act. I don't believe that for a minute, not as an absolute law. But the stories of Palestine activists do bear it out. Many of them have a direct connection and even personal experience on the ground, witnessing the horrors of what they oppose. They are Palestinian Americans or Jewish Americans or other Americans who have visited Israel or Palestine or who have close friends who have done so. Many of them have been moved by the recent Israeli attacks on Lebanon or Gaza ("Cast Lead" and "Protective Edge") or by the relentless construction of "settlements" and accompanying ethnic cleansing. Many have experienced bigotry in the United States following 9-11 and have sought out a comforting community. As Anwar al Awlaki came to favor anti-U.S. violence after experiencing such bigotry, many young people engage in constructive nonviolent activism instead. They gather as Palestinians or Arabs, and then they take up the Palestinian cause.

Beyond direct experience lies the factor of severity, or rather I think the combination is potent. Young people who become aware of mass murder and abuse and discrimination, especially after having been taught that it didn't exist, are likely to protest. Yet I suspect -- and this is pure speculation -- that another factor weighs heavily. That is the absence of the sort of U.S. government propaganda that promotes U.S. wars. The U.S. government does not market Israel's attacks on surrounding lands in the way that it markets a U.S. attack on Iraq or Libya. U.S. wars are marketed as patriotic duties, and as mad urgent crises that cannot wait for cool consideration. Once begun, they must be continued forever or one fails to "support the troops." Colleges notoriously turnover their student population every four years or so, and a movement that opposed a particular war as not a good civilized and acceptable war like the wars we really need has a half-life of about two years. Israel's war in contrast goes on and on and on, and while opposing it gets you accused of anti-Semitism, it does not get you accused of treason -- nor does it get you accused by remotely as many people. In fact opposing U.S. support for Israeli wars allows you to attack illegal and unacceptable foreign influence. So, while opposition to Israel's war may benefit from the war not being American, awareness of the U.S. government's role may actually help build the movement -- not just because people are reflexively patriotic but because they are rightly indignant about being forced to support a crime.

In addition, Israel's war and occupation involve elements quite familiar to African Americans and other abused groups in this country -- including Latinos along the border wall -- to the extent that Freedom Rides on buses are created in Israel, and mock border walls are created in Arizona. Mock eviction notices are all too frightening in college dorms. The echoes of South African Apartheid inform the movement with technical details and inspire it with the idea of success. And the U.S. movement for Palestine is supported by a global network better organized than those against U.S. wars -- so far -- not to mention the strength of global public opinion.

The movement for Palestine has somehow avoided the plague of frustration that has peace activists announcing that they will not attend a protest because they've attended them before and we don't have peace yet. Instead, the history of Palestinian activism going back nearly a century provides inspiration, lessons, and structures to bolster a movement driven by temporarily engaged young people, further inspired by their established understanding that the "peace process" has been a fraud. Meanwhile the antiwar movement seems cursed to believe every new wild justification for every new war until it is debunked some weeks or months later.

None of this is to say that the movement for Palestine has it easy. When we passed a resolution in my town against a war on Iran, and then asked people to do the same in other towns, they came back empty-handed informing me that they'd been rejected as anti-Semites. If opposing bombing Iran is anti-Semitic, you can imagine what interrupting Israeli VIPs to denounce their crimes counts as. But BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions) against the Israeli government are easier to advance than those against the U.S. government -- although some are beginning to talk about the latter idea and many weapons companies that sell to Israel sell to everywhere else as well.

In the end, I can't claim to know why activism for justice in Palestine is showing relative promise, but I can advocate giving it all the help we possibly can, respectful of the young people who are leading the way. Read their stories in In Our Power. If they succeed, it will help millions of people. It will also help the movement to end all war. Because the myth of ancient hatred between two parties will have been replaced by the reality of war as the political choice of a misguided government.  Ancient hatreds can be sold as inevitable. Choices made by misguided governments cannot.

Taher Herzallah, a young activist, explains where the confidence comes from: "[Y]ou have all these organizations pouring millions of dollars into doing work to combat the work we do for free. . . . [T]he work that we're doing doesn't need people that are paid millions of dollars. . . . When a freshman comes out and yells, 'Free Palestine!' and that threatens the existence of the state of Israel, that shows you how shallow that narrative is."

Adds student activist Rahim Kurwa, "The [divestment] process enforces a debate on campus. It forces people to have to look at what's going on and what they're directly investing in. Every time you have that debate, you come out ahead."

South African Civil Rights Leader Calls Israeli Apartheid of Palestinians Much More Violent than South African Government Treatment of Blacks

By Ann Wright

Reverend Dr. Allan Boesak, a South African civil rights leader who worked with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to end apartheid and promote reconciliation in South Africa, calls the Israeli treatment of Palestinians “much more violent than the South African government treatment of blacks.”

In a discussion at the Harris Methodist Church on January 11, 2015 with social justice leaders in the Honolulu, Hawaii community, Dr. Boesak said that  black South Africans faced violence from the apartheid white government and that he went to funerals each week of those killed in the struggle, but never on the scale that the Palestinians face from the Israeli government.  The South African government killing of blacks was small compared to numbers of Palestinians the Israeli government has killed.

405 black South Africans were killed by the South African government from 1960-1994 in eight major incidents.  The largest number of blacks killed in specific incidents were 176 in Soweto in 1976 and 69 in Sharpeville in 1960.

In contrast, from 2000-2014, the Israeli government killed 9126 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. In Gaza alone, 1400 Palestinians were killed in 22 days in 2008-2009, 160 killed in 5 days in 2012 and 2200 killed in 50 days in 2014. 1,195 Israelis were killed from 2000 through 2014.   http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/deaths.html

In the face of overwhelming violence, Dr. Boesak commented that it is human nature that a violence response by some is inevitable, but that it is incredible that the response of the majority of Palestinians is non-violent.

In 1983, Boesak launched the United Democratic Front (UDF), a movement of over 700 civic, student, worker, and religious organizations that became the first non-racial movement and the main force behind the anti-apartheid activities in the South Africa during the decisive decade of the 1980s. Together with Archbishop Tutu, Dr. Frank Chikane, and Dr. Beyers Naude, he campaigned internationally for sanctions against the South African apartheid regime and in the final campaign for financial sanctions during 1988-89.
 
In the 1990s Dr. Boesak joined the unbanned African National Congress, served on its first team to the Convention for Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations preparing for the first free elections in South Africa, and was elected its first leader in the Western Cape. After the 1994 elections, he became the first Minister of Economic Affairs in the Western Cape and later in 1994 was appointed South African Ambassador to the UN in Geneva.

Dr. Boesak currently is the Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice, and Reconciliation Studies at Christian Theological Seminary and Butler University, both located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

On other aspects of the apartheid struggle, Dr. Boesak said that in South Africa the government did not create whites only roads, did not erect huge walls to keep blacks physically in specific areas and did not allow and protect whites to take lands from blacks and settle on those lands.

According to Boesak, international solidarity through boycott of South African goods and divestment from South African companies kept the anti-apartheid movement energized.  Knowing that organizations around the world were forcing universities to divest from South African investments and that millions of people were boycotting South African products gave them hope during the difficult struggle.  He said that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli apartheid is small compared to the level reached in the 1980s against South African apartheid and encouraged organizations to take up boycott and divestment stances, such as the Presbyterian Church in the United States did in 2014 by divesting from Israeli companies.

In a 2011 interview, Boesak said that he strongly supports economic sanctions on the state of Israel. He said, “Pressure, pressure, pressure from every side and in as many ways as possible: trade sanctions, economic sanctions, financial sanctions, banking sanctions, sports sanctions, cultural sanctions; I'm talking from our own experience. In the beginning we had very broad sanctions and only late in the 1980s did we learn to have targeted sanctions. So you must look to see where the Israelis are most vulnerable; where is the strongest link to the outside community? And you must have strong international solidarity; that's the only way it will work. You have to remember that for years and years and years when we built up the sanctions campaign it was not with governments in the West. They came on board very, very late.”

Boesak added, “It was the Indian government and in Europe just Sweden and Denmark to begin with and that was it. Later on, by 1985-86, we could get American support. We never could get Margaret Thatcher on board, never Britain, never Germany, but in Germany the people who made a difference were the women who started boycotting South African goods in their supermarkets. That's how we built it up. Never despise the day of small beginnings. It was down to civil society. But civil society in the international community could only build up because there was such a strong voice from within and that is now the responsibility of the Palestinians, to keep up that voice and to be as strong and as clear as they possibly can. Think up the arguments, think through the logic of it all but don't forget the passion because this is for your country.”

Boesak called the U.S. government protection of the Israeli government’s actions the single most important reason why apartheid Israel exists.  Without the support of the U.S. government in United Nations votes and in provision of military equipment to use on Palestinians, Boesak said the Israeli government would not be able to act with impunity.

No More Khirbet Khizehs

"Fields that would never be harvested, plantations that would never be irrigated, paths that would become desolate. A sense of destruction and worthlessness. An image of thistles and brambles everywhere, a desolate tawniness, a braying wilderness. And already from those fields accusing eyes peered out at you, that silent accusatory look as of a reproachful animal, staring and following you so there was no refuge." -- Yizhar Smilansky, Khirbet Khizeh

On the day in 2014 that I read the new English translation of Khirbet Khizeh, Tom Engelhardt published a blog post rewriting recent news articles on the U.S. Senate's torture report as a 2019 Senate report on drone murders. The 2019 "news" media in Tom's believable account is shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- by the rampant murder discovered to have been committed using missiles from drones of all things.

The point is that most of what's been discussed as news from the recent torture report, and certainly all of the fundamental moral points -- has been known -- or, more accurately, knowable for years. For the past several years, the U.S. establishment has been repeatedly "banning" torture. It has also been repeatedly discovering the same evidence of torture, over and over again. Leading torturers have gone on television to swear they'd do it all again, while radical activist groups have demanded "investigations."

The point is that at some point "truth and reconciliation" is lies and reconciliation -- the lies of pretending that the truth needed to be unearthed, that it was hidden for a time, that the crimes weren't committed in the broad daylight of television spotlights on a sweaty old man assuring us he was about to start working on the dark side.

Illustrated at right, from the iNakba app, are villages that were destroyed in 1948 to create Israel. Generations of Israelis have grown up not knowing, not wanting to know, pretending not to know, and knowing without confronting the Catastrophe. Israelis are discovering what happened, unburying the hidden truth, filming aging participants' distorted confessions, and hunting out the outlines of disappeared villages on GoogleEarth.

But what if the truth was always marching naked down the street with trumpets sounding?

In May 1949, Yizhar Smilansky published Khirbet Khizeh, a fictional account of the destruction of a fictional village much like many real ones. Smilansky knew or hoped that he was ahead of his time, so much so that he began the tale by framing it as a recollection from the distant future. The narrator, like the reader, was known by the author to be unable to see for years to come.

What would keep the book alive until that distant day?

Poetry.

It's not a Senate report. Khirbet Khizeh is a work of masterful insight and storytelling that grips you and compels you to enter the experience of its narrator and his companions, as they do what the author had done, as they imitate Nazis before all the ashes had fallen from the skies above the ovens in Europe.

This book was planted and grew. It's been taught in Israeli schools. It was a movie on Israeli television in 1978. And now, with a sense that perhaps sleepy eyes are stretching open at long last, the book has had itself translated into the language of the imperial homeland, English.

But how could poetry keep heresy alive?

Several ways, I think. Absolute failure to pay attention, for one. Think about how literature is taught in many U.S. schools, for example. The ability of people to hear the poetry without the meaning, for another. Think about people singing John Lennon's Imagine without having the slightest idea they've just proposed to abolish religions, nations, and private property, or how people throw around the phrase "peace on earth" in December. Perverse but predictable and perhaps predicted misinterpretation, for another. Think about how viewers of the propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty read accounts of torture, for example -- as a dirty job that needed doing for a greater cause.

It's a strain, to me at least, to read Khirbet Khizeh as a celebration of genocide or mass-eviction. And the book not only suffered but also benefitted from being ahead of its time. It pre-existed the mythologies and rhetorical defenses that grew up around the Catastrophe in the decades that followed. When the narrator makes a slight resistance to what he is engaged in, no reader can find anything but humanitarian motivation in his resistance. The idea that this soldier, questioning his fellow soldiers, is engaged in anti-Semitism would literally make no sense. He's revolted by the cruelty, no more no less -- cruelty that every adult and child has to have always known was part of any mass settlement of ancient lands in 1948.

When I was a child, in elementary school, I wrote a story about an eviction of a family from its house, complete with plenty of tear-jerking details. As a good American I wrote about British redcoats evicting patriotic U.S. revolutionaries. My teacher suggested to me that I had a talent for writing. But that wasn't writing. Had I written of the Native Americans, the Hawaiians, the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, of Diego Garcia or Vieques or the Marshall Islands or Thule or Okinawa or any of the many places about which silence was expected, that might have been writing.

Let us wish no more Khirbet Khizehs on the people of Palestine and many more Khirbet Khizehs on the world.

Black, White, Racism and ‘Law Enforcement’

               The murder of black men by white police officers is nothing new in the United States. The fact that the media is taking notice is what is newsworthy. Despite Civil Rights laws enacted decades ago, racism is deeply embedded in the fabric of U.S. society.


                The recent cases of Eric Gardner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri,  victims of horrendous cruelty and murder, only received coverage due to the outrage their deaths, and the almost immediate impunity their killers received, caused across the nation. But is white police brutality against blacks something new? Anecdotal evidence presented here indicates that that is hardly the case.

Talk Nation Radio: Lia Tarachansky on How Israel Was Really Created in 1948

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-lia-tarachansky-on-how-israel-was-really-created-in-1948

Lia Tarachansky discusses her new film On the Side of the Road which looks at the creation of Israel and the erasure of what was there before. Learn more at: http://naretivproductions.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Israel's Secret

Here in Virginia, U.S.A., I'm aware that the native people were murdered, driven out, and moved westward. But my personal connection to that crime is weak, and frankly I'm too busy trying to rein in my government's current abuses to focus on the distant past. Pocahontas is a cartoon, the Redskins a football team, and remaining Native Americans almost invisible. Protests of the European occupation of Virginia are virtually unheard of.

But what if it had just happened a moment ago, historically speaking? What if my parents had been children or teenagers? What if my grandparents and their generation had conceived and executed the genocide? What if a large population of survivors and refugees were still here and just outside? What if they were protesting, nonviolently and violently -- including with suicide bombings and homemade rockets launched out of West Virginia? What if they marked the Fourth of July as the Great Catastrophe and made it a day of mourning? What if they were organizing nations and institutions all over the world to boycott, divest, and sanction the United States and seek its prosecution in court? What if, before being driven out, the Native Americans had built hundreds of towns with buildings of masonry, hard to make simply disappear?

In that case, it would be more difficult for those unwilling to face the injustice not to notice. We would have to notice, but tell ourselves something comforting, if we refused to deal with the truth. The lies we tell ourselves would need to be much stronger than they are. A rich mythology would be necessary. Everyone would have to be taught from childhood onward that the native people didn't exist, left voluntarily, attempted vicious crimes justifying their punishment, and were not really people at all but irrational killers still trying to kill us for no reason. I'm aware that some of those excuses conflict with others, but propaganda generally works better with multiple claims, even when they can't all be true at the same time. Our government might even have to make questioning the official story of the creation of the United States an act of treason.

Israel is that imagined United States, just formed in our grandparents' day, two-thirds of the people driven out or killed, one-third remaining but treated as sub-human. Israel is that place that must tell forceful lies to erase a past that is never really past. Kids grow up in Israel not knowing. We in the United States, whose government gives Israel billions of dollars worth of free weapons every year with which to continue the killing (weapons with names like Apache and Black Hawk), grow up not knowing. We all look at the "peace process," this endless charade of decades, and deem it inscrutable, because we've been educated to be incapable of knowing what the Palestinians want even as they shout it and sing it and chant it: they want to return to their homes.

But the people who did the deed are, in many cases, still alive. Men and women who, in 1948, massacred and evicted Palestinians from their villages can be put on camera recounting what they did. Photographs of what was done and accounts of what life was like before the Nakba (the Catastrophe) exist in great volume. Towns that were taken over still stand. Families know that they live in stolen houses. Palestinians still have keys to those houses. Villages that were destroyed still remain visible in outline on Google Earth, the trees still standing, the stones of demolished houses still nearby.

Lia Tarachansky is an Israeli-Canadian journalist who covers Israel and Palestine for the Real News Network. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine, the Soviet Union. When she was a child, her family moved to a settlement in the West Bank, part of the ongoing continuation of the process begun in 1948. She had a good childhood with a real sense of community in that "settlement," or what we would call a housing subdivision built on native farm land in violation of a treaty made with savages. She grew up not knowing. People pretended nothing had been there before. Then she found out. Then she made a movie to tell the world.

The film is called On the Side of the Road and it tells the story of the founding of Israel in 1948 through the memories of those who killed and expelled the people of Palestine, through the memories of survivors, and through the perspectives of those who have grown up since. 1948 was a 1984 year, a year of doublespeak. Israel was created in blood. Two-thirds of the people of that land were made refugees. Most of them and their descendants are refugees still. Those who remained in Israel were made second-class citizens and forbidden to mourn the dead. But the crime is referred to as liberation and independence. Israel celebrates its Independence Day while Palestinians mourn the Nakba.

The film takes us to the sites of vanished villages destroyed in 1948 and in 1967. In some cases, villages have been replaced with woods and made into national parks. The imagery is suggestive of what the earth might do if humanity departed. But this is the work of part of humanity attempting to erase another human group. If you put up a sign commemorating the village, the government removes it quickly.

The film shows us those who participated in the Nakba. They recall shooting the people they called Arabs and whom they'd been told were primitive and worthless, but who they knew had a modern literate society with some 20 newspapers in Jaffa, with feminist groups, with everything then thought of as modern. "Go to Gaza!" they told the people whose homes and land they were stealing and destroying. One man recalling what he did begins with an attitude almost bordering on the carefree heartlessness one sees in former killers in the Indonesian film The Act of Killing, but eventually he's explaining that what he's done has been eating away at him for decades.

In On the Side of the Road we meet a young Palestinian man from a permanent refugee camp who calls a place his home although he's never been there, and who says that his children and grandchildren will do likewise. We see him obtain a 12-hour pass to visit the place his grandparents lived. He spends half the 12 hours getting through check points. The place he visits is a National Park. He sits and talks about what he wants. He wants nothing related to revenge. He wants no harm done to Jews. He wants no people evicted from anywhere. He says that, according to his grandparents, Jews and Muslims lived together amicably before 1948. That, he says, is what he wants -- that and to return home.

Israelis concerned by their nation's open secret take some inspiration in the film from an art project in Berlin. There people posted signs with images on one side and words on the other. For example: a cat on one side, and this on the other: "Jews are no longer allowed to own pets." So, in Israel, they made signs of a similar nature. For example: a man with a key on one side, and on the other, in German: "It is forbidden to mourn on the Day of Independence." The signs are greeted by vandalism and angry, racist threats. The police accuse those who posted the signs of "disturbing law and order," and forbid them in the future.

At Tel Aviv University we see students, Palestinian and Jewish, hold an event to read out the names of villages that were destroyed. Nationalists waving flags come to try to shout them down. These properly educated Israelis describe cities as having been "liberated." They advocate expelling all Arabs. A member of the Israeli parliament tells the camera that Arabs want to exterminate Jews and rape their daughters, that the Arabs threaten a "holocaust."

The filmmaker asks an angry Israeli woman, "If you were an Arab, would you celebrate the state of Israel?" She refuses to allow the possibility of seeing things from someone else's point of view to enter her head. She replies, "I'm not an Arab, thank God!"

A Palestinian challenges a nationalist very politely and civilly, asking him to explain his views, and he swiftly walks away. I was reminded of a talk I gave last month at a university in New York at which I criticized the Israeli government, and a professor angrily walked out -- a professor who'd been eager to debate other topics on which we disagreed.

A woman who participated in the Nakba says in the film, in an effort to excuse her past actions, "We didn't know it was a society." She clearly believes that killing and evicting people who seem "modern" or "civilized" is unacceptable. Then she goes on to explain that pre-1948 Palestine was just what she says mustn't be destroyed. "But you lived here," says the filmmaker. "How could you not know?" The woman replies simply, "We knew. We knew."

A man who took part in killing Palestinians in 1948 excuses himself as having been only 19. And "there will always be new 19-year-olds," he says. Of course there are also 50-year-olds who will follow evil orders. Happily, there are also 19-year-olds who will not.

Catch a screening of On the Side of the Road:

Dec 3, 2014 NYU, NY
Dec 4, 2014 Philadelphia, PA
Dec 5, 2014 Baltimore, MD
Dec 7, 2014 Baltimore, MD
Dec 9, 2014 Washington DC
Dec 10, 2014 Washington DC
Dec 10, 2014 American University
Dec 13, 2014 Washington DC
Dec 15, 2014 Washington DC

PCHR Calls for Full and Immediate Ending of the Closure and Warns of Repercussions of Its Institutionalization and Continuity

PCHR
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

logo1

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over the continuity of the Israeli-imposed closure on the Gaza Strip for the eighth consecutive year and dissatisfied by the mechanism of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip that was declared by the UN Middle East Envoy. Moreover, PCHR is concerned that this mechanism would institutionalize the Israeli closure that has been imposed since 2007. PCHR calls for fully and immediately lift the Israeli closure as it constitutes a form of collective punishment that is prohibited under the international humanitarian law. Ending the closure includes eliminating all restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement of persons and goods, including imports and exports, to and from the Gaza Strip.

According to media sources, the UN Middle East Envoy Robert Serry stated on 16 September 2014 that the United Nations, Israel and the Palestinian Authority had reached a deal to allow reconstruction work to begin in the war-torn Gaza Strip under international observation of the use of materials. According to Reuters, Serry told the UN Security Council that the United Nations had brokered the deal 'to enable work at the scale required in the strip, involving the private sector in Gaza and giving a leading role to the Palestinian Authority in the reconstruction effort, while providing security assurances through UN monitoring that these materials will not be diverted from their entirely civilian purpose.'

The only right way to end the disastrous impacts of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip is to immediately lift the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip, allow the freedom of movement of persons and goods and make a dramatic change in the Israeli policies in order to put an end to the current crisis under which the Gaza Strip population has been living.  The entry of limited types and quantities of goods will never make a real change on the economic and social levels in the Gaza Strip, but will worsen the situation. Therefore, any deal that does not include the entry of basic needs, the freedom of movement of goods, including imports from and exports to the West Bank, Israel and abroad, and the freedom of movement of persons from and to the Gaza Strip, falls within the institutionalization of the Israeli-imposed closure and does not seriously contribute to the reconstruction process or improving the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Institutionalization of the closure means disregarding the principles of the international humanitarian and human rights laws, including the Fourth Geneva convention 1949.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been suffering due to the illegal Israeli closure that has resulted in disastrous impacts on all aspects of life and deterioration of the humanitarian, economic, social and cultural conditions. Moreover, the number of unemployed persons in the Gaza Strip has risen to about 200,000 supporting about 900,000 persons according to the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU).  According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the number of the poor has increased up to 700,000 persons (38.8% of the total population), 380,000 of whom suffer extreme poverty (21.1%). The latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has left huge destruction, due to which the Gaza Strip needs 5 years to be reconstructed on condition that the border crossings are fully open and 300 tons of cement, 1,600 tons of construction steel and 6,000 tons of aggregate are allowed in the Gaza Strip according to construction companies' estimates.

The international community has failed throughout the past 8 years to support the application of the provisions of the international humanitarian and human rights laws. This has been a shame for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 as they have  failed to take actions under their legal obligations to compel the Israeli authorities to respect that Convention and stop all policies that violate the Palestinians' economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.

Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the UN, to oblige the Israeli authorities to fully lift the closure as it is a form of collective punishment that is prohibited under the international humanitarian law, and end the restrictions imposed on the movement of persons and goods. PCHR believes that the only way to address the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is to admit that such a policy is illegal and falls within the collective punishment policy against civilians in the Gaza Strip.            

Republicans, Democrats, War and Corporate Profits

            In 1969, at the height of the U.S. war against Vietnam, Edwin Starr recorded a song called ‘War’, that reached number one on the charts. Among the lyrics are these:

War: What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing!

            Much as one would like to believe these simple lyrics, there are facts that belie them. In a report from the Financial Times from March of 2013, it is stated that private contractors earned at least a whopping $139 billion dollars from the U.S. war against Iraq up to that time, and that total is ever increasing. Kellogg, Brown and Root, a former subsidiary of Haliburton, the company once run by former Vice President Dick Cheney, the architect of this war, earned nearly $40 billion.

The Tears of Gaza

Talk Nation Radio: Rep. Barbara Lee on War Powers, Marjorie Cohn on Prosecuting Congress for War Crimes

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rep-barbara-lee-on-war-powers-marjorie-cohn-on-prosecuting-congress-for-war-crimes

Congresswoman Barbara Lee has represented the East Bay area of California since 1998. She discusses Congressional war powers.

Marjorie Cohn is a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures throughout the world on international human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Her latest book is The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. Her website is http://www.marjoriecohn.com She discusses a letter sent by the National Lawyers Guild, Center for Constitutional Rights, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Arab Lawyers Union, and American Association of Jurists to Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, urging her to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by U.S. officials in Gaza.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

 

Three World Leaders Speak on the Future of Israel and Palestine



By Ann Wright

Three of the world’s leaders, members of the group called “The Elders,” spoke on the conflict between Israeli and Palestine over the weekend in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Each of the Elders has had extensive experience with Israeli-Palestinian issues.
 
As the first woman Prime Minister of Norway, and its youngest Prime Minister at age 41, Gro Harlem Brundtland directed her government to conduct secret talks with the Israeli government and Palestinian leadership which led to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
 
As a human rights lawyer in Pakistan, Hina Jilani created the first all woman law firm and established the first Human Rights commission in her country.  She was the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders from 2000 to 2008 and appointed to United Nations committees to investigate violations of international law in conflicts in Dafur and Gaza.
 
Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a leader in the movement against apartheid in South Africa, advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions against the South African government and has been a vocal critic of Israeli apartheid actions in the West Bank and Gaza.
 
The Elders, are a group of leaders who were brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela to use their “independent, collective experience and influence to work for peace, poverty eradication, a sustainable planet, justice and human rights, working bot publicly and through private diplomacy to engage with global leaders and civil society to resolve conflict and address its root causes, to challenge injustice, and to promote ethical leadership and good governance.” 
 
The Elders include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso, grassroots organizer and head of the Self-Employed Women’s Association from India Ela Bhatt, former Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan and Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and Grace Machel, former Mozambique Minister of Education,  United Nations investigation of children in war and co-founder of The Elders with her husband Nelson Mandela.  
 
During their speaking engagements August 29-31, 2014 in Honolulu, the three Elders spoke directly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu said when he goes to Israel and then through the checkpoints to get into the West Bank, his heart aches at the parallels between Israel and apartheid South Africa.  He noted, “Have I been caught in a time warp?  This is what we experienced in South Africa.”  With emotion he said, “My anguish is what the Israelis are doing to themselves.  Through the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa, we found that when you carry out unjust laws, dehumanizing laws, the perpetrator or the enforcer of those laws is dehumanized.  I weep for the Israelis as they have ended up not seeing the victims of their actions as human as they are.”
 
In 2009, Hina Jilani was a member of the United Nations investigative team on the 22 Israeli attack on Gaza that was documented through the Goldstone Report.  Jiliani, who also investigated military actions in the Dafur, said, “The real problem is the occupation of Gaza.  There have been three offensive actions by Israel against Gaza in the past five years, each bloody and destroying the civil infrastructure need for the survival of the people of Gaza.  No one party can use the right of self-defense to avoid international laws.  There can be no peace without justice for the Palestinians.  Justice is the goal to achieve peace.”
 
 Jilani said the international community must keep the Israelis and Palestinians engaged in talks so hopefully neither side will kill more persons.  She added that the international community must also give strong statements that violations of international law with impunity will not be allowed-international accountability is demanded . Jilani said there are three parts to ending the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  First, the occupation of Gaza must end. Second, there must be an Israeli commitment to have a viable Palestinian state.  Third, both sides must be made to feel that their security is protected.  Jilani added that “Both sides must comport to the norms of international conduct.”
 
Dr. Gro Brundtland said that in 1992 when she was Prime Minister of Norway, she instructed her government to have secret talks with the Israelis and Palestinians that resulted in the Oslo Accords, sealed with a handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and PLO chief Arafat in the Rose Garden of the White House.  Brundtland said, “Now 22 years later, the tragedy is what NOT has happened.”  The Palestinian state has not been allowed to be established, but instead Gaza has been blockaded by Israel and the West Bank occupied by Israel.  Brundtland added. “There is no solution except a two state solution in which Israelis realize that Palestinians have a right to their own state.”
 
Two other Elders deeply concerned about the Israeli actions against Palestinians have spoken out again.  Elders former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson, wrote in recent article in Foreign Policy titled “ Gaza: A Cycle of Violence That Can Be Broken” (http://www.theelders.org/article/gaza-cycle-violence-can-be-broken), “This tragedy (of the third conflict in six years) results from the deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government's deployment in Gaza.”

 
Carter and Robinson strongly condemned Israeli use of force on civilians. “There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war. Israeli bombs, missiles, and artillery have pulverised large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools, and hospitals. More than 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinian noncombatants have been killed. Much of Gaza has lost access to water and electricity completely. This is a humanitarian catastrophe.
There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes. This is true for both sides. Hamas's indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians is equally unacceptable. However, three Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets, while an overwhelming majority of the 1,600 Palestinians killed have been civilians, including more than 330 children. The need for international judicial proceedings to investigate and end these violations of international law should be taken very seriously.”
Carter and Robinson suggest the European Union Border Assistance Mission, an international effort to help monitor border crossings that was launched in 2005 and suspended in 2007, should return to Gaza. They note that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has already offered to reinstate the program, covering Rafah and all of Gaza's crossings. They add that, “The international community's initial goal should be the full restoration of the free movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through Israel, Egypt, and the sea. Concurrently, the United States and EU should recognize that Hamas is not just a military but also a political force. Hamas cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise. Only by recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor – one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people – can the West begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons. Ever since the internationally monitored 2006 elections that brought Hamas to power in Palestine, the West's approach has manifestly contributed to the opposite result.”
The speaking events in Hawai’i were sponsored by Pillars of Peace and the Hawai’i Community Foundation. 
 
The collective experience of The Elders and their independence from governments’ political agendas, offer the world avenues to peace and justice—but only if citizens force their governments to listen!

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also served 16 years as a U.S. diplomat and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.  She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”

Stop Israel’s Ongoing War Crimes Against the People of Gaza

On August 5, World Can't Wait put out a call to Stop Israel's War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity on the People of Gaza.The mission was to bring the reality of what Operation "Protective Edge" did to the people of Gaza, and why this rose to the level of "war crimes;" to expose the role of the United States in fully backing Israel politically and militarily; and to challenge all watching to bring forth resistance to stop these crimes that is much more broad, diverse, and determined.

The Genocide of Palestinians is Israel’s Long Term Goal | Mnar Muhawesh (1 of 2)

Originally posted at AcronymTV

In launching Operation Protective Edge, Israel has stated it has a goal of achieving “sustained calm in the region.” To achieve this, they maintained, they needed to destroy the tunnels and do anything required to protect Israeli citizens.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition to Sail to Gaza Again

​Responding to the Israeli aggression and the  complicity of world governments
 
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) met in Istanbul in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza. We have watched atrocities being committed against an already besieged population. In the two day meeting (August 10th and 11th), the FFC concluded that it is the responsibility of civil society worldwide to sail to Gaza and challenge the Israeli blockade, the source of most problems facing the Palestinian population of Gaza.

We plan to sail to Gaza during 2014, the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/solidarity.htm?OpenForm 

This initiative, following in the footsteps of the 2010 and 2011 flotillas as well as other attempts to challenge the blockade of Gaza (between 2008 and 2014), is expected to include a wider and more diverse international participation.  This new flotilla is a reflection of the growing worldwide solidarity with the Palestinian people; from the US to Malaysia, from Scandinavia to South Africa.

"Calls to end the blockade of Gaza need to move from words to actions," said Ann Ighe, chairperson of Ship to Gaza and member of the FFC. We invite all interested citizens worldwide to participate in this initiative in any way you can."
These boats are also expected to carry Palestinian commercial products purchased by buyers worldwide to complete the work of Gaza's Ark, the cargo boat built by the Palestinians and the FFC in Gaza and was bombed by Israel on July 11th.

"We urge all governments to defend Human Rights and the right of the Palestinian people to freedom of movement, to facilitate the sailing of our ships to Gaza. It is their responsibility," added Ehab Lotayef of the coalition. 
In addition to sailing to Gaza, the FFC will organize demonstrations at sea and in ports worldwide over the next months. Along with other projects, the initiative will support the right of Palestinians to operate international marine lines in and out of the port of Gaza.

We support the Palestinian demand to open the port of Gaza to international marine traffic. The FFC also will work on twinning ports in the Mediterranean and beyond, with Gaza City, as a sign of solidarity and support.

Finally, we assert that all that we do is peaceful, civil society driven non-governmental actions.

Freedom Flotilla Coalition members:

European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
Freedom Flotilla Italia

Gaza's Ark

IHH
International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG)
Rumbo a Gaza
Ship to Gaza Greece
Ship to Gaza Norway
Ship to Gaza Sweden

also participating in the project:
Palestine Solidarity Alliance - South Africa
Free Gaza
Haluan Palestin - Malaysia
Life Line to Gaza - Jordan
Miles of Smiles
Sahabat Al-Aqsha

A Meditation on Peacemaking: Americans Need to Break the Cycle of War

By John Grant


All we are saying is give peace a chance
             -John Lennon


Avoid bullies and thugs: Beware the World’s Leading War-Monger and Terrorist Organization

By Dave Lindorff



There’s an old adage that goes: “You can judge a man by the company he keeps.”


If that’s the case, then applying it to nations, the world has to judge the US to be a truly wretched and repugnant country, and should be steering clear of it.

EMERGENCY EVENT ON GAZA -8/14 - 7PM - COOPER UNION, NYC - PLEASE COME

Stop Israel’s Ongoing War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity of Gaza's People

Terrible crimes against humanity are being committed in front of our eyes. Nobody of conscience can remain silent.

Thursday August 14: An Evening of Information & Inspiration   Cooper Union, NYC & Live on the internet 7 pm EDT

Is your data and privacy really safe?: Of Russian Hackers and Google Cops

By  Alfredo Lopez



The recent news that Russian hackers have the usernames and passwords for over a billion users as well as a half billion email accounts wraps up a week of Internet craziness.

Killing Lt. Goldin...and 150 innocents: The IDF’s ‘Hannibal Protocol’ and Two Criminally Insane Governments

By Dave Lindorff


The sickness of present-day Israel, on display over the past horrible month of the one-sided slaughter of over 2000 Palestinians (including over 400 children) in the fenced-in ghetto of Gaza, has finally reached its nadir with the ugly case of the deliberate Israeli Defense Force murder of captured IDF 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin.


Texas Stands With Gaza

If a Genocide Falls in the Forest

There's a wide and mysterious chasm between the stated intentions of the Israeli government as depicted by the U.S. media and what the Israeli government has been doing in Gaza, even as recounted in the U.S. media.

With the morgues full, Gazans are packing freezers with their dead children. Meanwhile, the worst images to be found in Israel depict fear, not death and suffering. Why the contrast? If the Israeli intent is defensive, why are 97% of the deaths Gazan, not Israeli? If the targets are fighters, why are whole families being slaughtered and their houses leveled? Why are schools and hospitals and children playing on the beach targeted? Why target water and electricity if the goal is not to attack an entire population?

The mystery melts away if you look at the stated intentions of the Israeli government as not depicted by the U.S. media but readily available in Israeli media and online. 

On August 1st, the Deputy Speaker of Israel's Parliament posted on his FaceBook page a plan for the complete destruction of the people of Gaza using concentration camps.  He had laid out a somewhat similar plan in a July 15th column.

Another member of the Israeli Parliament, Ayelet Shaked, called for genocide in Gaza at the start of the current war, writing: "Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there."

Taking a slightly different approach, Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University has been widely quoted in Israeli media saying, "The only thing that can deter [Gazans] is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."

The Times of Israel published a column on August 1st, and later unpublished it, with the headline "When Genocide Is Permissible." The answer turned out to be: now.

On August 5th, Giora Eiland, former head of Israel's National Security Council, published a column with the headline "In Gaza, There Is No Such Thing as 'Innocent Civilians'."  Eiland wrote: "We should have declared war against the state of Gaza (rather than against the Hamas organization). . . . [T]he right thing to do is to shut down the crossings, prevent the entry of any goods, including food, and definitely prevent the supply of gas and electricity."

It's all part of putting Gaza "on a diet," in the grotesque wording of an advisor to a former Israeli Prime Minister. 

If it were common among members of the Iranian or Russian government to speak in favor of genocide, you'd better believe the U.S. media would notice. Why does this phenomenon go unremarked in the case of Israel? Noticing it is bound to get you called an anti-Semite, but that's hardly a concern worthy of notice while children are being killed by the hundreds.

Another explanation is U.S. complicity. The weapons Israel is using are given to it, free-of-charge, by the U.S. government, which also leads efforts to provide Israel immunity for its crimes.  Check out this revealing map of which nations recognize the nation of Palestine. 

A third explanation is that looking too closely at what Israel's doing could lead to someone looking closely at what the U.S. has done and is doing. Roughly 97% of the deaths in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq were Iraqi.  Things U.S. soldiers and military leaders said about Iraqis were shameful and genocidal.

War is the biggest U.S. investment, and contemporary war is almost always a one-sided slaughter of civilians.  If seeing the horror of it in Israeli actions allow us to begin seeing the same in U.S. actions, an important step will have been taken toward war's elimination.

Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Trapped, Bloodied, and Besieged in the Gaza Strip

By Brian Trautman

For a month now, the Palestinian territory of Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on the planet, has again come under heavy attack by Israel and its U.S-funded military might. According to Israel, the military operation, referred to as "Protective Edge," was launched in response to continuous rocket fire by Hamas, the controlling wing of the democratically-elected government of Palestine. Israel maintains it is only defending itself, and that the purpose of their latest assault is to disarm Hamas and destroy so-called "terror tunnels," which Israel claims Hamas uses to infiltrate and attack Israeli towns and cities. While the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), the military forces of Israel, is relentlessly bombarding Gaza with missiles and artillery shells, Hamas is fighting back and recruiting, launching more rockets into Israel and striking the IDF inside and across the border. Several humanitarian ceasefires and truces have been short-lived, some lasting only hours or minutes. Palestinian deaths and injuries have mounted precipitously, with no end in sight.

Since the beginning of Israel’s invasion, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, including over 300 children. Approximately 63 IDF soldiers have been killed. An estimated 9,000 Palestinians have been wounded, including nearly 3,000 children. Hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced, with around 300,000 currently being housed in UN schools-turned-shelters. It is a severe humanitarian crisis that is only deepening and worsening. People are struggling to meet their basic needs – food and clean water are in short supply. Electricity is only available for a couple of hours a day. Public infrastructure has been destroyed. Rubble covers the streets. A world of diverse and vibrant color has been transformed into shades of grey and red across Gaza. The levels of human suffering and unspeakable cruelty are almost too much to comprehend.

Israel argues that it is taking special precautions to protect civilians, in part by employing a so-called "knock on the roof" technique (either a telephone call or small explosion) to warn when a large strike is about to occur in a specific location. However, because of Gaza’s limited shelters (some of which have been purposely attacked by Israel) and the seven-year Israeli siege of Gaza, such an escape is extremely difficult if not impossible. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said, "the people of Gaza have nowhere to run." As the Gaza Strip is an area only about the size of Detroit, with a population of nearly 2 million, Ki-moon’s assessment of the mobility of Gazans is clearly not an exaggeration.

One talking point of the Israeli government and its supporters has been that Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Even if this accusation were true (note that Amnesty International among other credible groups have debunked the charge), it does not justify the intentional and indiscriminate bombing of schools, hospitals or shelters, though Israel has done so with impunity. The IDF has also targeted and struck beaches, parks, mosques, markets, power plants and media outlets, killing scores of civilians in the process. The UN and International Criminal Court (ICC) must send a clear and unequivocal message to Israel that governments, no matter how powerful and influential they or their allies might be, will be held accountable for such atrocities. No nation should be above the law.

The UN has taken notice, criticizing some of Israel’s destructive actions. Citing attacks against homes and hospitals, Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said there is a “strong possibility” that some of Israel’s strikes may be war crimes. On July 23, the UN Human Rights Council voted in favor of launching an international, independent inquiry into the possibility that Israel violated international humanitarian law and international human rights during its assault on Gaza. Of the 47 members of the Council, 29 nations voted in support of the inquiry, passing the resolution. Seventeen countries abstained, mostly European nations. The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution.

Among the latest deadly strikes by Israel was one outside a UN shelter in Rafah on August 3. The action was strongly condemned in a statement released on behalf of the UN Secretary-general It read in part: "the attack is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities…This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act."

History reveals that when people are oppressed and their lands are stolen through repeated invasion and illegal military occupation, their access to basic needs is blocked, and their dignity is eroded, sooner or later they resist. Blaming Hamas for the apartheid and slaughter in Gaza defies logic, justice and morality. Israel’s excuse that it is simply defending itself fails to hold up under scrutiny – the brutal nature of their military offensive over the past four weeks should be evidence enough; however, it only scratches the surface of the persecution long endured by Palestinians. Israel’s aggression in and usurpation of Palestinian territories is deliberate and systematic, mirroring imperial and colonial land grabs throughout history.

The major media have painted Israel’s war against Gaza with the brush of moral equivalence – leading Americans to believe that Israel is acting merely to protect its citizens. The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress staunchly defend Israel and continue to fund its war machine – the US has given Israel roughly $121 billion in military aid since the state’s founding. Today the US sends Israel about $3.1 billion annually, or $8.5 million per day. And as demonstrated by a recent vote for a resolution supporting Israel, even so-called progressive Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have sided with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Zionist lobby. Having backed the apartheid government of South Africa and other repressive regimes, the US is once again finding itself on the wrong side of history.

Hamas’ rocket fire into Israel is wrong and counterproductive, despite the fact that most of the rockets either never reach populated areas or get erased by Israel’s "Iron Dome" missile defense system (which, incidentally, the United States Senate voted on August 1 to allocate $225 million in emergency funding). In addition, Hamas must recognize the right of Israel to exist. No question. Irrespective of Israel’s continued military occupation and theft of Palestinian lands and confinement of its people in conditions tantamount to an open-air prison, Hamas’ current policy toward Israel cannot be condoned and must change. Until then, Israel will continue pointing to Hamas as the justification for its ongoing appropriation of Palestine’s lands and extermination of its people and will continue gleaning sympathy and support from different world powers.

Israel’s actions in Gaza are criminal and affront to humanity. Stories of entire families being shattered, literally and figuratively, have come out of Gaza since Israel’s offensive began. People of conscience have a moral obligation to overcome their fear of being accused of anti-Semitism and find the courage to denounce Israel’s war against a mostly defenseless civilian population. Apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing must be called out and stopped no matter who is committing it or why it is being committed.

Americans can speak out nonviolently through protest but also via boycott and divestment (BD) – – from banks, pension funds and businesses that deal commercially and financially with Israel. The BDS movement, which also includes government sanctions (e.g., arms embargo), can still be effective in the modern world. In an interview with Z Communications, renowned intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky argued that "Divestment from US firms is particularly significant because it not only punishes Israel for its crimes, but focuses attention on the crucial US role in supporting them, a necessary focus if there is to be any hope of real progress." Chomsky emphasizes, however, that "BD initiatives will have only limited effect." He believes government sanctions will also be needed before Israel acquiesces and ends its policy of aggression toward Palestine.

Temporary ceasefires and short-term truces are not enough. A long-term political solution is urgently needed, and must include Hamas’ recognizing Israel’s fundamental right to exist, as well as an end to the blockade, the removal of Israel settlements from the West Bank, and a two-state solution according to the 1967 lines. The Palestinian people want a peaceful two-state solution and no more war. Israeli citizens do, too. The more the world turns a blind eye to the tragic situation, the more anger and frustration get fueled across the Mideast. When Israel’s current assault on Gaza finally ends; when the smoke clears and all the Palestinian and Israeli dead have been buried, neither Israel nor Hamas will be any safer, as violence begets violence and terror begets terror. It always has and it always will.

Brian J. Trautman is a military veteran and an instructor of peace studies at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA. He is also a peace activist involved with a number of groups, including Veterans for Peace and Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice. On Twitter @BriTraut.

Stopping Incremental Genocide in Gaza

By Debra Sweet  Monday, I participated in a discussion led by Alan Goodman of revcom.us(Revolution Newspaper), whose most recent article on the bombing of a schoolyard in Gaza last weekend, where 16 children were killed, concludes:

Assault on Gaza: The Moral Agonies of Asymmetrical Diplomacy

By John Grant


At a birthday dinner with friends last night, the Israeli assault on Gaza came up. One friend said having to helplessly watch the violence infuriated him and made him ill. Another said it made him want to cry.

Speaking Events

2015

May 8 New Jersey

May 19 Charlottesville, Va., at screening of Shadows of Liberty at 7 p.m. at The Bridge.

May 30 NYC here and here

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