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I think the last few days have been the first time that I have really felt like I live in the Occupied Territories. The Wall, the soldiers, the checkpoints, the questions, the stories, the excitement, the feeling that it is dangerous. Don’t get me wrong the injustice that I have witnessed over the past 6 months is hard to describe and the sadness and oppression all around me is hard to deal with but all of that just seems like nothing now. Now it feels more like a conflict zone.
There have been clashes and riots everyday all over the West Bank including in Bethlehem. The Israelis cleansed the Temple Mount of Muslims last week for a Jewish holiday and there have been settler attacks around the West Bank. The West Bank is in an uproar. Meanwhile, Hamas fires rockets to Sderot…the same town I visited a few weeks ago. There is talk of the third intifada.
The University of California is seeking to ban criticism of Israel. This is a widespread phenomenon in the United States, as attested by two new reports and cases like that of Steven Salaita, author of Uncivil Rights: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.
Salaita was fired by the University of Illinois for criticizing Israel on Twitter. Norman Finkelstein had been denied tenure by DePaul University for criticizing Israel. William Robinson was almost driven out at UC Santa Barbara for refusing to "repent" after criticizing Israel. Joseph Massad at Columbia had a similar experience.
Why, in a country that stretches "freedom of speech" to the point of covering the bribery of politicians, should it be acceptable to criticize the United States but not a tiny, distant country only just created in 1948? And why should such censorship reach even into institutions that usually pile "academic freedom" on top of "freedom of speech" as an argument against censorship?
First and foremost, I think, is the nature of Israel. It's a nation practicing apartheid and genocide in the twenty-first century using U.S. funding and weaponry. It can't persuade people of the acceptability of these policies in open debate. It can only continue its crimes by insisting that -- precisely as a government serving one ethnic group only -- any criticism amounts to the threat of apartheid and genocide known as "anti-Semitism."
Second, I think, is the subservience of the contemporary degenerate educational institution, which serves the wealthy donor, not the exploration of human intellect. When wealthy donors demand that "anti-Semitism" be stamped out, so it is. (And how can one object without being "anti-Semitic" or appearing to dispute that there actually is real anti-Semitism in the world and that it is as immoral as hatred of any other group.)
Third, the crackdown on criticizing Israel is a response to the success of such criticism and to the efforts of the BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) movement. Israeli author Manfred Gerstenfeld published openly in the Jerusalem Post a strategy for making an example of a few U.S. professors in order to "diminish the threat of boycotts."
Salaita called his book Uncivil Rights because the accusations of unacceptable speech typically take the form of proclaiming a need to protect civility. Salaita didn't tweet or otherwise communicate anything actually anti-Semitic. He tweeted and otherwise communicated many statements opposing anti-Semitism. But he criticized Israel and cursed at the same time. And to compound the sin, he used humor and sarcasm. Such practices are enough to get you convicted in a U.S. Court of Indignation without any careful examination of whether the sarcastic cursing actually expressed hatred or, on the contrary, expressed justifiable outrage. Reading Salaita's offending tweets in the context of all his other ones exonerates him of anti-Semitism while leaving him clearly guilty of "anti-Semitism," that is: criticizing the Israeli government.
This criticism can take the form of criticizing Israeli settlers. Salaita writes in his book:
"There are nearly half a million Jewish settlers on the West Bank. Their population currently grows at double the rate of other Israelis. They use 90 percent of the West Bank's water; the 3.5 million Palestinians of the territory make due with the remaining 10 percent. They travel on Jewish-only highways while Palestinians wait for hours at checkpoints (with no guarantee of passing through, even when they are injured or giving birth). They regularly assault women and children; some bury alive the natives. They vandalize homes and shops. They run over pedestrians with their cars. They restrict farmers from their land. They squat on hilltops that don't belong to them. They firebomb houses and kill babies. They bring with them a high-tech security force largely composed of conscripts to maintain this hideous apparatus."
One could read even such a longer-than-twitter criticism and imagine certain additions to it. But, reading the whole book from which I've quoted it, would eliminate the possibility of fantasizing that Salaita is, in this passage, advocating vengeance or violence or condemning settlers because of their religion or ethnicity or equating all settlers with each other except in so far as they are part of an operation of ethnic cleansing. Salaita does not excuse either side of the conflict but criticizes the idea that there is a conflict in Palestine with two equal sides:
"Since 2000, Israelis have killed 2,060 Palestinian children, while Palestinians have killed 130 Israeli children. The overall death count during this period is over 9,000 Palestinians and 1,190 Israelis. Israel has violated at least seventy-seven UN resolutions and numerous provisions of the Fourth Geneva Conventions. Israel has imposed hundreds of settlements on the West Bank, while Palestinians inside Israel increasingly are squeezed and continue to be internally displaced. Israel has demolished nearly thirty thousand Palestinian homes as a matter of policy. Palestinians have demolished zero Israeli homes. At present more than six thousand Palestinians languish in Israeli prisons, including children; no Israeli occupies a Palestinian prison."
Salaita wants Palestinian land given back to Palestinians, just as he wants at least some Native American land given back to Native Americans. Such demands, even when they amount to nothing but compliance with existing laws and treaties, seem unreasonable or vengeful to certain readers. But what people imagine education consists of if not the consideration of ideas that at first seem unreasonable is beyond me. And the notion that returning stolen land must involve violence is a notion added to the proposal by the reader.
However, there is at least one area in which Salaita is clearly and openly accepting of violence, and that is the United States military. Salaita wrote a column criticizing "support the troops" propaganda, in which he said, "My wife and I often discuss what our son might grow up to accomplish. A consistent area of disagreement is his possible career choice. She can think of few things worse than him one day joining the military (in any capacity), while I would not object to such a decision."
Think about that. Here is someone making a moral argument for opposing violence in Palestine, and a book-length defense of the importance of this stand outweighing concerns of comfort or politeness. And he wouldn't so much as object to his son joining the United States military. Elsewhere in the book, he notes that U.S. academics "can travel to, say, Tel Aviv University and pal around with racists and war criminals." Think about that. This is an American academic writing this while David Petraeus, John Yoo, Condoleezza Rice, Harold Koh, and dozens of their fellow war criminals teach in U.S. academia, and not without huge controversy about which Salaita cannot have avoided hearing. In response to outrage at his criticism of "support the troops," his then-employer, Virginia Tech, loudly proclaimed its support for the U.S. military.
The U.S. military acts on the belief, as found in the names of its operations and weapons as well as in its extended discussions, that the world is "Indian territory," and that native lives don't matter. A West Point professor recently proposed targeting critics of U.S. militarism with death, not just denial of tenure. And why is such criticism dangerous? Because nothing the U.S. military does to the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, or anywhere else is any more defensible than what the Israeli military does with its help -- and I don't think it would take much consideration of the facts for someone like Steven Salaita to realize that.
Khury Petersen-Smith is an activist who lives in Boston. He traveled to Gaza in 2009 as part of the Viva Palestina medical relief delegation. He also traveled to Iraq on a peace delegation in 2004. His organizing and writing focus particularly on Black liberation, Palestine solidarity, and U.S. empire. He was an organizer of a new statement of black solidarity with Palestine: www.blackforpalestine.com
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Most of my blog and most of my experiences have been from behind the Separation Wall in the West Bank. But a few weeks ago, I went on a political tour around Israel. There were about 20 of us and we hired a big, bright pink bus to take us on a three day tour. It wasn’t a typical tour that most people go on when they come to Israel. People usually visit Tel Aviv and go to the beach, maybe visit the Carmel Market and shop at one of the many malls. Then they go over to Jerusalem and visit some holy sites, and the Old City. They probably go to the Dead Sea and even up to the Sea of Galilee.
During my non-touristy tour around Israel, we traveled to Sderot which is an Israeli town a few kilometers from the Gaza border. It is often hit by rockets during upheaval. It was interesting to see the trauma that the Jewish people in that town live in because I rarely get that side of the story. There were bomb shelters everywhere including the playground, which had a bomb shelter painted and shaped like a big caterpillar. I guess to cheer up the children. The state of Israel requires each home in to have a bomb shelter. Instead of trying to make peace, when the project was initiated the Israeli government used tax money that could have been used for social services, to install many of these private bomb shelters.
After a night in Jaffa, we went up to the Golan Heights and met the Druze who also live under harsh conditions and live with less rights than Jewish citizens within the state of Israel. The Golan Heights was taken from Syria in 1967 during the six day war and has been occupied by Israel ever since. There are many Arabs, including the Druze population that now live within the borders of Israel in the Golan Heights. The lecture and tour of this Druze village about the living conditions and situation of the Druze population was very informative and interesting. The conditions are similar to the West Bank Palestinians. As I learn more and more about the different people of this land, the facts start blending about each group’s situation. They are all similar, they are all horrible. Most of them are unbelievable and they all violate international and my moral law.
At the beginning of our tour, we traveled to the Negev and met with Bedouins who live in the “unrecognized villages”. These villages have about 80,000 people living in them and half of them are under the age of 18. Although, these people live inside the state of Israel, are considered citizens, pay taxes if they work and some of them even serve in the military, they don’t have access to electricity or running water. When the tour guide said that some of them voluntarily serve in the military, I was astonished…why would they do that. It turns out the Israeli military needed more soldiers to enroll in the military so they told Bedouins in these villages that if they serve in the military the state of Israel would give them electricity and running water and make their living conditions better. So many Bedouins from these villages joined the military and were sometimes the toughest, harshest soldiers in the West Bank because they were trying to prove
Eve Spangler is a sociologist and a human and civil rights activist. For the last decade, her work has focused on the Israel/Palestine conflict. We discuss her new book, Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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
I am sure there are many effects of the Israeli oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people. I probably have written about some of them in past entries. I have had so many experiences living behind the wall. Part of me wanted this blog to be about the stories that I have heard but I also wanted it to be about the experiences I have had living behind the wall. It's interesting too because after the first few weeks, random people stopped telling me their stories, as my Arabic got better, people stopped telling me their stories, as I went from being known as a tourist to known as someone who lived here, people weren't flocking to me to tell me their stories. But also as I stayed here and as my Arabic got better and as I went from being known as a tourist to someone who lived here, my personal stories about living behind the wall were racking up but I became blocked mentally. One day in the Palestinian life is like a week.
Doesn't that indicate freedom. Freedom of movement. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of travel. Maybe equal rights. Liberty...if it's the only democracy in the Middle East then why is it the only country in the Middle East that I have traveled to where I have been interrogated at the airport on the way in and the way out...each time I have been there? Why is it the only country I have traveled to in the Middle East where I am scared to post on Facebook? Where I'm scared to blog about my experiences? Where I'm scared to tell people where I am living? Where I am scared to tell people where I am volunteering and what I am doing? Why is it the
Israel is trying to expel the population of a village for the crime of not being Jewish, the same crime for which Israel bombs the people of Gaza for a month or so every few years and blockades them in between these bursts of violence.
Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee declares that making peace with Iran amounts to marching Israelis "to the door of the oven."
Guess which of the two stories will get more coverage!
A crime of over 70 years ago, part of a war that in my unscientific estimate forms the single most common theme of U.S. historical fiction -- whether print or film -- is more important news in the view of U.S. editors than is a crime of right now.
And that was true 60 years after World War II and 50 years after and 40 and 20 and even 3 years after World War II.
Eve Spangler has just published a wonderfully well documented book that should be the text for universal history classes, called Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict. Spangler, the U.S. child of two holocaust survivors, was a college professor before she had the slightest idea what had happened in Palestine during the twentieth century. When she found out, she went all-in and found out as much as could be known.
Spangler takes students to Israel/Palestine every year. When visiting the Arab market in Hebron, she learned that the heavy metal mesh screen overhead was hung there to protect shoppers from bricks and chairs thrown down from balconies by Israeli settlers. However, Spangler was struck with the contents of one of the objects settlers had learned could penetrate the screen: a plastic bag of human excrement. Israeli settlers behave like prisoners gone mad from confinement even as they steal the land and homes of non-Jewish people with impunity.
How can this be? What went wrong?
Well, at least a part of what went wrong went wrong from the start, from even before the 1948 Nakba in which Israelis-to-be ethnically cleansed the land without a people for the people without a land. The land without a people was more densely populated than the United States, but was seen as populated by subhuman non-people, not even Untermenschen.
"Clearly, the aspiration to creating a 'new man,'" Spangler writes, "defined by a hyper-masculine ethos of physical and military strength and by 'clean and pure blood' (and a 'new woman' defined by fecundity) had echoes of fascist ideology and profoundly racist implications. Consider, for example, the iconic photo of an Israeli soldier gazing reverently at the Western Wall on the day that the Israeli army conquered East Jerusalem in 1967. He is startlingly Aryan in appearance. Nor did the preference for blondes end in 1967. Recently social workers told an Israeli friend of mine who is waiting to adopt a baby, that her family could have a 'defective' baby immediately, but would have to wait about a year for a 'normal' baby or up to five years if they insisted on having a blond, blue-eyed child. 'Defective' children, this family discovered, were dark-skinned."
Two years after the liberation of the concentration camps in Europe, Jewish militias besieging the town of Beisan (Bet She'an), Spangler notes, "required some Arabs to don yellow armbands, and marked Arab stores with yellow decals, targeting them for looting." Spangler, whose book covers many subtopics other than the one I'm focusing on, is infinitely careful to stress the obvious, namely that similarities are not exact equivalencies. Her point in noting the similarities is, I think, clearly and legitimately enough to expose the imperfect yet startling mimicry and the motivation of misdirected revenge in the basic policies of the Israeli government from that day to this toward the people who lived in the "uninhabited" land.
Lillian Rosengarten's forthcoming Survival and Conscience: From the Shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish Boat to Gaza is an account by a Jewish woman who fled Nazi Germany for the United States as a little girl with her parents. "Nationalism revisited," she writes, "is now twisted into a parody of the Nazi credo, 'Deutschland über alles,' extolling Germany over all others with only pure Germans as inhabitants. Get rid of the undesirables who are beneath contempt. I must not make such a comparison, you say. Yet I must, for I fear a Jewish State that belongs only to Jews is a dangerous road. I must question the profound psychological impairment suffered and internalized by generations of Jews that follows the Nazi Holocaust. The cycle of paranoia and abuse is playing out its destructive course: this is how I understand Palestinians as the last victims of the Holocaust."
I would question only how Rosengarten can see into the future and find the last victims of the influence of Nazism. After World War II, the military of the United States -- which, of course, arms the Israeli military free of charge while whining about how it can't afford luxuries like schools, housing, and bridges that don't collapse -- hired sixteen hundred former Nazi scientists and doctors, including some of Adolf Hitler’s closest collaborators, including men responsible for murder, slavery, and human experimentation, including men convicted of war crimes, men acquitted of war crimes, and men who never stood trial. Some of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg had already been working for the U.S. in either Germany or the U.S. prior to the trials. Some were protected from their past by the U.S. government for years, as they lived and worked in Boston Harbor, Long Island, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and elsewhere, or were flown by the U.S. government to Argentina to protect them from prosecution. To observe and note the Nazification of the U.S. military is neither to absolve the U.S. military of its pre-WWII crimes nor to pass blame off to the Nazis instead of blaming U.S. officials of later generations for their own actions. Blame is not a limited quantity.
I don't think we can dismiss Huckabee's comments about ovens as simply a bid to be dumber than Donald Trump and win the pro-stupidity vote in the Republican primaries. Transforming Iran from devil to negotiation partner victimizes Israel precisely by stripping Israel of some of its victim-status. Without the status of eternally current victim of the fantasized reenactment of long-past crimes, Israel has to be viewed through a filter of actual facts. Were Jews victimized by Germany? Of course! Did Palestinians deserve to suffer for it? Of course not! Did Iran have anything to do with it? Of course not! Would I support pulling all the U.S. military bases out of Germany and turning all of their land over to Jewish settlers? Sure!
But only those who want to leave Palestine should leave it. Only those who want to stay in a nonviolent, pluralist, secular, democratic, state with equal rights for all and compensation for Palestinians harmed over the past many decades should remain.
Photo above is from MiddleEastMonitor.
Max Blumenthal's latest book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, tells a powerful story powerfully well. I can think of a few other terms that accurately characterize the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza in addition to "war," among them: occupation, murder-spree, and genocide. Each serves a different valuable purpose. Each is correct.
The images people bring to mind with the term "war," universally outdated, are grotesquely outdated in a case like this one. There is no pair of armies on a battlefield. There is no battlefield. There is no aim to conquer, dispossess, or rob. The people of Gaza are already pre-defeated, conquered, imprisoned, and under siege -- permanently overseen by military drones and remote-control machine-guns atop prison-camp walls. In dropping bombs on houses, the Israeli government is not trying to defeat another army on a battlefield, is not trying to gain possession of territory, is not trying to steal resources from a foreign power, and is not trying to hold off a foreign army's attempt to conquer Israel.
Yes, of course, Israel ultimately wants Gaza's land incorporated into Israel, but not with non-Jewish people living on it. (Eighty percent of Gaza's residents are refugees from Israel, families ethnically cleansed in 1947-1948.) Yes, of course, Israel wants the fossil fuels off the Gazan coast. But it already has them. No, the immediate goal of the Israeli war on Gaza last year, like the one two years before, and like the one four years before that, would perfectly fit a name like "The 51 Day Genocide." The purpose was to kill. The end was nothing other than the means.
From Veterans For Peace
U.S. State Department Should Demand Immediate Release of all Passengers
St. Louis, MO. — Veterans For Peace applauds the international Freedom Flotilla 3, including prominent VFP member, Colonel Ann Wright (USAR Retired), and the courage of all who attempted to break the Israeli siege of Gaza this week.
We deplore the Israeli government’s illegal seizure, in international waters, of the lead boat, the Marianne of Gothenburg from Sweden, and the illegal abduction of her crew and passengers. We call for the immediate release of the ship, along with its crew and passengers and all of their confiscated property including their video recording devices, tapes, disks cards and any other devices they used to record exactly what happened when and after the boat was commandeered.
We are also disturbed by credible reports now being heard that flotilla volunteers were subjected to unnecessary levels of violence from Israeli military personnel who reportedly tased four unarmed civilians. At least 9 crew and passengers are currently detained. These actions of the Israeli government confirm Israel’s status as a true rogue state and demand a strong response from the United States Government.
By Ann Wright
I’ve just set foot on dry land after five days at sea on one of the four boats of Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3.
The land I have set foot on is not Gaza, nor Israel, but Greece. Why Greece?
New strategies are needed to keep the momentum for challenging the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and the isolation of the Palestinians there. Our attempts in the past five years have resulted in the Israeli government’s piracy in international waters seizing a virtual armada of our ships, kidnapping hundreds of citizens from dozens of countries, charging them with entering Israel illegally and deporting them for a ten year period, which denies them the opportunity to visit with Israelis and Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The ships that form the flotillas have been purchased at substantial expense through the fundraising efforts of Palestinian supporters in many countries. After litigation in Israeli courts, only two of the vessels have been returned to their owners. The remainder, at least seven ships, are in Haifa harbor and apparently are part of a tourist tour to see the ships that terrorize Israel. One boat reportedly has been used as a target for Israeli naval bombardment.
The newest strategy is not to sail all of the ships in any flotilla into Israeli hands. The publicity, primarily in the Israeli press, of an impending flotilla of unknown size coming from unknown departure points, forces the Israeli government intelligence and military organizations to expend resources, human and financial, on determining what unarmed civilians are challenging their naval blockade of Gaza—and how they are challenging it.
Hopefully, for every minute Israeli government organizations expend to try to stop the ships in a flotilla they are making resources unavailable for the continued horrific treatment of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.
For example, the day before the Marianne ship from Sweden was captured, an Israeli aircraft flew a search pattern for two hours over ships in the area to attempt to determine how many vessels were in this area and which might be a part of the flotilla. We suspect there were other Israeli vessels, to include submarines, with electronic capability to identify radio or satellite transmissions from all ships in the area and attempt to pinpoint our ships. These efforts come at a cost to the Israeli government, much more of a cost than our purchasing ships and having passengers fly to flotilla departure points.
There’s an ugliness to war beyond the ugly things war does. There are scars beyond the rough, imperfectly mended flesh of the gunshot wound, beyond the flashback, the startle reflex, the nightmare. War finds peculiar and heinous ways to distort lives, and when children are involved, it can mean a lifetime spent trying to recapture what was, to rebuild what never can be.
by JOHNNY BARBER
The Rafah Crossing from Egypt to Gaza was opened on May 26th for 2 days after being closed for the past 75 days. The opening allowed Palestinian residents of Gaza who were stranded in Egypt or third countries to return home to Gaza. The crossing remained closed for those trying to leave Gaza. The waiting list for people trying to leave has reached 15,000 people. The waiting list includes thousands of medical patients, students, and people traveling to their work or their families abroad. Many of these people have been trapped in Gaza since the Israeli attack last July.
The last time the crossing was opened was in March when just 2,443 people in total were permitted to travel in both directions. While Morsi was in power in Egypt, nearly 41,000 people were traveling through the crossing each month.
My friend Hanaa* had spent 2 years in the U.S. earning a masters degree.
If Jesus lived in Galilee in recent decades he would live in a world alive with Palestinian traditions clinging to a long-rooted history but struggling through the aftermath of the never-ended ethnic-cleansing operation that spiked in 1948.
Hatim Kanaaneh has written a fictionalized account, Chief Complaint: A Country Doctor's Tale of Life in Galilee, based on his experiences as a village doctor during the past half-century, a doctor who traveled to the United States for his education and returned to Palestine to practice his craft. His dialogue-heavy stories reach back to before 1948, merging folklore with myth and legend, featuring in the opening vignette a larger-than-life comedic but sensitive giant as short on wits as he is strong of muscle and heart.
Often in this wonderfully entertaining book a straightforward account will quickly become a rumor, a legend, an event infused with more meaning than might have been expected. After learning, for example, that multi-level homes are a sign of wealth, and that the top level is the most prestigious, we read that in one case a steep hill made it easiest to enter one home from the top floor. "That is why Isa housed his two oxen and his donkey in the 'alali -- the penthouse -- for the first winter after it was built. . . . And, that dear reader, is how it came to be rumored in these parts that Isa had sworn a pact of brotherhood and equality with his work animals and accorded them the level of reverence reserved for the head of a family. 'If only our cousins, the Jews, would treat us that humanely!' neighbors would joke."
Chief Complaint is a bit like the accounts of the British veterinarian's tales in All Creatures Great and Small. One doctor treats non-human animals, the other human, but both treat families. A great number of Kanaaneh's patients require placebos and other psychological rather than medical assistance. Gradually one begins to gather that the lot of them, who form a tight community, are to various degrees traumatized. They are in love with land, with the agriculture of that land, with the history of that land. And the land has been stolen, is being stolen, and is being desecrated. This is a more intimate portrait of people than one would be likely to gain on a trip to Palestine/Israel, and the unifying theme at the bottom of their ailments seems to be land loss. A character is describing a wedding of the past:
"Groups of men and women from all the other clans in the village would arrive every night, singing on their way over just after sundown and with many bagfuls of coffee beans, rice, sugar, and bulgur wheat as presents. Or they would have a boy dragging a lamb or a goat ahead of them. And the women would bring bundles of wood on their heads for the fire, which was lit up every night and around which the group dance and songfest were held. There is nothing like it today; since Israel occupied the Galilee, people bear only ill will and jealousy toward each other."
The narrator asks his father to sell beloved land in order to send him to the U.S. for medical school. His father throws a shoe at him. He picks up the shoe and returns it. It is thrown again. He repeats this until his sister speaks to his father who finally laughs and agrees, hopelessly, despairingly perhaps, but understanding the need to proceed.
People have been modernized out of their land, overwhelmed by Western military technology and organization. But those people are more than catching up in the area of communication — assuming that is that anyone in the West still reads.
Disclaimer: The author does work for the publisher of this book, but that work does not include book reviews.
On October 29, 1948, the Israeli terrorist group Irgun ethnically cleansed the village of Safsaf in Palestine, lining some 70 men up, shooting them, dumping them in a ditch, and raping three girls. Among the survivors who fled to Lebanon were the grandparents of a young woman in Chicago who has a talent for telling stories in pictures and words. Safsaf was called Safsofa by the Romans and can be found as Safsufa on the iNakba app on your NSA-tracking device.
Baddawi is two things. It's the name of a refugee camp in Lebanon where this young woman's father grew up. The name comes from the word Bedouin, meaning nomad. "Al Beddaoui, Lebanon" locates it on Google-Earth. The residents have been there since 1948 or since they were born, and they are not nomads by choice. They live in a permament state of desiring to return home forever, even those who have never been home ever.
Justice for Palestine is where little sparks of opposition to war can be found among young people in the militarized United States of 2015, and where their art can be found as well.The second thing that Baddawi is, is a book that tells a story of childhood in Baddawi for Ahmad, the father of the author and artist Leila Abdelrazaq.
I've just read Baddawi and passed it along to my son. It's a book that tells a personal story that is also a cultural and historical record. This is the unique story of one boy, but in great measure the story of millions of Palestinian refugees. Ahmad's experiences growing up are often identical to my own or my son's, but often dramatically different. He plays the games and learns the lessons of children everywhere, but confronts the struggles of poverty, of war, and of discrimination -- of second-class citizenship in the land where Israel and its Western backers swept his unwanted ancestors.
Baddawi is the story of a rather remarkable boy, but a story that conveys a sense of what life was like and is like still for a great many boys and girls who live without nationality, not as a result of choosing world citizenship but by mandate of global powers who find their existence inconvenient. And yet the story is quite straightforwardly entertaining and good-spirited. One is disappointed when it ends rather abruptly, yet heartened to gain the impression that part two may be forthcoming.
I notice, incidentally, that there will be a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 2nd, on Israel's mistreatment of Palestinian Children, and that you can go here to ask your Misrepresentative and Senators to attend.
Full disclosure: I sometimes do work for this book's publisher, but that work does not include reviewing books.
As I have said before, I am trying to learn Arabic. It is very difficult but I have been having fun learning and practicing. I spend a lot of my time down in the suk (market) talking to people and trying to listen to people speak in Arabic. Some of the guys I have met in the market can speak English so it has been really helpful for me because they can translate things and I can repeat it back to them in Arabic. So one day, I was in a friend’s shop and of course he invited me to have a cup of tea. The Palestinian hospitality instilled in each of these guys would never allow me to walk away without them inviting me for a cup of tea or coffee.
I bought a hiking book that has several hikes around the West Bank. With everything going on, and all the intensity I need to make sure that I am staying grounded and have a release. The way I do that best is by hitting the trails. This weekend I got one of the guys I met at the market to drive me to a trail. I figured I would give him the money rather than some random taxi. I was planning on hiking alone but I think he was worried about me so he ended up just taking the day off and coming with me. At the beginning of the hike, you walk down the mountain towards some train tracks. On one side of the train tracks (where I started) is a Palestinian village. On the other side of the tracks, there is no one but the Israelis control it.
I share with you just one story. This is just one story. One story, from one person. I meet people every day and hear story after story. Every day, people who have lived through their own personal trauma. Like yesterday, the taxi driver.
I want to learn Arabic so I study from a book and make flash cards in my free time....which is good. I don't have a huge social life here but I am slowly meeting people and feeling people out. So when I have nothing to do, I study! And then when I am bored with studying, I walk around the old city to the shops and practice my Arabic with people. The hospitality here is incredible. Everyone is welcoming me in and inviting me for tea or coffee. Arabs are famous for their hospitality. But as I meet people, I hear their stories. Every day I hear stories about how it is to live here with the occupation. The topic of conversation is always the struggle they live with. It is hard to deal with. There is so much pain and suffering here. I can feel it in the energy and see it in people's eyes when I talk to them.
I am not really traveling anymore.
My mother suggested writing a book.
When: May 10, 2015
The fishing trawler "Marianne of Gothenburg" will leave Gothenburg, Sweden on May 10, 2015, to meet the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departs for a voyage of almost 5000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the Gaza Strip which is blockaded by Israel.
The “Marianne” will join other ships and together they will form the "Gaza Freedom
Flotilla 3" in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break
the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The “Marianne” will call at European ports for demonstrations against the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The first three stops on the voyage are Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen. Subsequent ports will be announced in later press releases.
Marianne is not a cargo-ship, but she will bring a limited cargo of, among
other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment.
In the blockaded Gaza Strip, where the infrastructure has been
demolished, solar cells will provide an opportunity to independent local production of clean energy.
The sun can not be blockaded.
In addition to a crew of five people, Marianne will have up to eight delegates as passengers in each section of the route. The names of these individuals will be announced as time progress.
Passengers In the first leg of the voyage are among others:
Maria Svensson, spokesperson, Feministiskt initiative
Mikael M Karlsson, Chairperson, Ship to Gaza Sweden
Henry Ascher, professor of Public Health, pediatrician
Lennart Berggren, filmmaker
Dror Feiler, musician, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza
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."
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:
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
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.