Showing posts with label palestinian state. Show all posts
Showing posts with label palestinian state. Show all posts

Sunday, July 03, 2011

From "The Rag Blog"- Alice Walker-Why I'm joining the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

Why I'm joining the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

Pulitzer prize-winning American writer Alice Walker is on board an international flotilla of boats sailing to Gaza to challenge the Israeli blockade. Here she tells why.
By Alice Walker / The Guardian (U.K) / June 27, 2011

See 'After the excitement of the Arab Spring, has the Palestine issue slipped out of view?' by Emine Saner, Below.

Why am I going on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza? I ask myself this, even though the answer is: what else would I do? I am in my 67th year, having lived already a long and fruitful life, one with which I am content. It seems to me that during this period of eldering it is good to reap the harvest of one's understanding of what is important, and to share this, especially with the young. How are they to learn, otherwise?

Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of. If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman. This should go down hilariously in the annals of history. But if they insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla, Freedom Flotilla I, what is to be done?

There is a scene in the movie Gandhi that is very moving to me: it is when the unarmed Indian protesters line up to confront the armed forces of the British Empire. The soldiers beat them unmercifully, but the Indians, their broken and dead lifted tenderly out of the fray, keep coming.

Alongside this image of brave followers of Gandhi there is, for me, an awareness of paying off a debt to the Jewish civil rights activists who faced death to come to the side of black people in the American South in our time of need. I am especially indebted to Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who heard our calls for help -- our government then as now glacially slow in providing protection to non-violent protesters -- and came to stand with us.

They got as far as the truncheons and bullets of a few "good ol' boys'" of Neshoba County, Mississippi and were beaten and shot to death along with James Chaney, a young black man of formidable courage who died with them. So, even though our boat will be called The Audacity of Hope, it will fly the Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner flag in my own heart.

And what of the children of Palestine, who were ignored in our president's latest speech on Israel and Palestine, and whose impoverished, terrorized, segregated existence was mocked by the standing ovations recently given in the U.S. Congress to the prime minister of Israel?

I see children, all children, as humanity's most precious resource, because it will be to them that the care of the planet will always be left. One child must never be set above another, even in casual conversation, not to mention in speeches that circle the globe.

As adults, we must affirm, constantly, that the Arab child, the Muslim child, the Palestinian child, the African child, the Jewish child, the Christian child, the American child, the Chinese child, the Israeli child, the Native American child, etc, is equal to all others on the planet. We must do everything in our power to cease the behavior that makes children everywhere feel afraid.

I once asked my best friend and husband during the era of segregation, who was as staunch a defender of black people's human rights as anyone I'd ever met: how did you find your way to us, to black people, who so needed you? What force shaped your response to the great injustice facing people of color of that time?

I thought he might say it was the speeches, the marches, the example of Martin Luther King Jr, or of others in the movement who exhibited impactful courage and grace. But no. Thinking back, he recounted an episode from his childhood that had led him, inevitably, to our struggle.

He was a little boy on his way home from yeshiva, the Jewish school he attended after regular school let out. His mother, a bookkeeper, was still at work; he was alone. He was frequently harassed by older boys from regular school, and one day two of these boys snatched his yarmulke (skull cap), and, taunting him, ran off with it, eventually throwing it over a fence.

Two black boys appeared, saw his tears, assessed the situation, and took off after the boys who had taken his yarmulke. Chasing the boys down and catching them, they made them climb the fence, retrieve and dust off the yarmulke, and place it respectfully back on his head.

It is justice and respect that I want the world to dust off and put -- without delay, and with tenderness -- back on the head of the Palestinian child. It will be imperfect justice and respect because the injustice and disrespect have been so severe. But I believe we are right to try.

That is why I sail.

[Alice Malsenior Walker is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, anthologist, teacher, editor, publisher, womanist, and activist. The Chicken Chronicles: A Memoir by Alice Walker was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Her critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Walker won the 2010 Lennon/Ono Grant for Peace. This article was originally published in the British daily, The Guardian. A longer version appears on Alice Walker's blog,]

Activists involved of the new Gaza flotilla called "Freedom Flotilla Two" at press conference on Feb. 7, 2011, in Madrid. (At left, Cindy Sheehan.) Photo by Dominique Faget / AFP / Getty Images.
After the excitement of the Arab Spring,
has the Palestine issue slipped out of view?

Just over a year ago, in the middle of the night, Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish ship in international waters just off the coast of Israel, opened fire and killed nine activists. The Mavi Marmara was one of six ships in the Freedom Flotilla, which was attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and the actions of Israel's military brought widespread international condemnation.

This time, as Freedom Flotilla II sets sail over the next week, with 10 ships carrying many of the same activists who traveled last year, including Swedish writer Henning Mankell, American human rights campaigner Hedy Epstein, and writer and academic Alice Walker, the Israeli government's response will be closely watched.

This week Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the UN, wrote a letter saying: "Israel calls on the international community to do everything in their ability in order to prevent the flotilla and warn citizens... of the risks of participating in this type of provocation." The purpose of the flotilla, he said, is "to provoke and aid a radical political agenda." He later added: "We are very determined to defend ourselves and to assert our right to a naval blockade on Gaza."

"The threats of violence won't deter us," says Huwaida Arraf, one of the flotilla organizers. "Nobody is going in to this lightly, but we feel it has to be done. Israel has to realize its violence against us is not going to stop our growing civilian effort to challenge its illegal policies. The size of this flotilla, the number of people involved in organizing it, even after Israel killed nine of our colleagues last year, is testament to that."

She says half a million people applied for the few hundred places: depending on how many of the 10 boats are seaworthy in time, there should be around 400 people on the flotilla.

The campaign began in August 2008, when 44 activists on two small fishing boats set off from Cyprus and managed to reach Gaza. Later that year, the Free Gaza Movement, as it became known, organized several other voyages, usually sending single boats containing small but symbolic supplies such as medicine and toys, and volunteers, including doctors, lawyers, and politicians.

Amid allegations of violence and hostility from Israel's naval forces at sea, the activists decided they would need to send a flotilla, and after months of fundraising and negotiating with NGOs from other countries, particularly Turkey, several ships met in the Mediterranean sea in May last year with the intention of reaching Gaza.

"We didn't make it to Gaza and we lost a lot of colleagues," says Arraf, "but one of the things that was achieved was that people realized what Israel's policies meant, and the violence Israel was using to maintain them. We think our action will put pressure on Israel to end its blockade on Gaza, and we hope the respective governments of all the people participating will take action and do what they should be doing, instead of having their nationals putting their lives at risk like this."

There is a danger, says Chris Doyle, director of the council for Arab-British understanding, of the Palestinian issue being overlooked -- in the west at least -- as focus shifts to countries going through the extraordinary changes in the Arab Spring. "There is a danger that people forget how important this issue is, and that it is boiling. It is still an unresolved issue. At a time when international politicians -- Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, and others-- are concentrating so much on other areas of the region, the issue of Palestine has not gone away."

"Everyone has been so amazed and shocked at the beauty of the Arab revolutions, seeing these incredibly brave and wonderful citizens, that it quite naturally seizes the attention, but at the heart of the Arab revolutions is Palestine," says Karma Nabulsi, an academic and expert on the Middle East. "I would say it hasn't been properly covered in the west, but Palestine is central to what people -- the Arab media, the people who are participating in the Arab revolutions -- talk about all the time."

So where does Palestine fit into the Arab spring? Doyle says: "A Palestinian spring is more than possible. Many senior people within Fatah and the Palestinian authorities have been saying this is the way to go because the negotiations are not seen as credible, and they will have to adopt different tactics. I think that, on the one hand, those tactics could be against the Israeli occupation, but also it represents a threat to the Palestinian authority itself, both to Fatah and Hamas."

The flotilla "gives people heart and encouragement, that the struggle for freedom has friends and supporters," says Nabulsi. "What the flotilla did last year, these plucky little boats, was bring the entire world to look at what [the Israeli government] were doing. Not just because of the brutality of the response of the military, but it shows how simple gestures get to the heart of the issue -- breaking through the silence and the siege, and all the things that seem so big and impossible to do. They did it and they're going to do it again, and that's what is so remarkably brave."

-- Emine Saner / The Guardian (U.K.)
The Rag Blog

Posted by thorne dreyer at 3:08 PM

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Obama Genuflects to AIPAC - by Stephen Lendman

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Obama Genuflects to AIPAC

Obama Genuflects to AIPAC - by Stephen Lendman

Edward Said once called AIPAC "the most powerful and feared lobby in Washington." For years, it's "drawn on a well-organized, well-connected, highly visible, successful, and wealthy Jewish population," subverting potential opposition.

As a result, fear and respect "for AIPAC (exists) all over the country, but especially in Washington, where in a matter of hours, almost the entire Senate can be marshaled into signing a letter to the president on Israel's behalf. Who is going to oppose AIPAC and continue to have a career in Congress, or" to represent the Palestinian cause "when nothing concrete can be offered by that cause to anyone who stands up to AIPAC?"

Deferentially, each year, US politicians, including presidents, flock to its annual conference, paying homage to Israel and its influence.

Calling itself "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," it's represented Israeli interests since founded in 1953, then incorporated in 1963 as a division of the American Zionist Council (AZC), its precursor.

Exempted from registering as a foreign agent, it's had virtual fifth column veto power over war and peace, trade and investment, multi-billion dollar arms sales, and all Middle East policies affecting Israel under Democrat and Republican administrations alike.

In March 2001, discussing the power of American Zionist organizations, Edward Said said:

"I find it absolutely astonishing, given that Palestinian policy has been essentially to throw our fate as a people in the lap of the United States without any strategic awareness of how US policy is in effect dominated, if not completely controlled, by a small minority of people whose views about the Middle East are in some way more extreme than even those of the Israeli Likud."

In fact, Zionist discourse in America reflects power, "and Arabs....are the objects of power - despised objects at that....To submit supinely to a Zionist-controlled (US) Middle East policy....will neither bring stability (for Israelis or Palestinians) nor equality and justice in the US."

As a result, today's status is what Said called "untrammelled immorality," a shocking disregard for the most basic sense of fairness - unrecognized, undiscussed and spurned in political and major media discourse. Instead, they focus solely on the interests of a rogue Israeli state - occupying, persecuting, and immiserating millions of Palestinians whose only offense is not being Jewish.

No wonder Obama's May 22 AIPAC speech affirmed rock solid support for a "strong and secure Israel," leaving Palestinians entirely out of his equation, despite paying disingenuous lip service to their interests.

No wonder also that an official AIPAC statement expressed gratitude for his assurance that Washington doesn't expect Israel to withdraw to June 1967 borders, besides explicitly calling Hamas a terrorist organization, ignoring its January 2006 electoral victory as Palestine's legitimate government.

Obama also ignored:

-- the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention), defined by the Rome Statute to include murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment, denial of the right to life and liberty, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other abusive acts imposed by one group on another;

-- Israel's abhorrence of peace and repeated international law violations;

-- its decades of lawless occupation, aggression, and collective punishment;

-- Palestinians denied free movement, expression and right of assembly;

-- explicit recognition of Palestinian self-determination under provisions of the December 1960 UN General Assembly Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and all other UN resolutions affirming it;

-- the universally recognized right of return;

-- Jerusalem as Palestine's legitimate capital;

-- Israel's illegal July 1980 East Jerusalem annexation despite SC Resolution 478 a month later declaring the Jerusalem Law null and void and requiring its immediate rescinding;

-- Israel's Separation Wall on stolen Palestinian land, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice;

-- Palestinians denied access to their own land, air space, coastal waters, and control of their borders;

-- extreme poverty, unemployment, exploitation and depravation;

-- daily violence against defense civilians, including children;

-- targeted assassinations and other killings;

-- mass arrests, detentions and torture;

-- illegal home demolitions;

-- apartheid settlements for Jews only, numbering 500,000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, illegally transferred to Occupied Palestine;

-- around half of the West Bank and East Jerusalem off limits to Palestinians, according to UN estimates, as well as denying them access to their own resources; and

-- since June 2007, Gaza's suffocating siege, condemning nearly 1.7 million Palestinians to slow-motion genocide after Israel illegally declared it a "hostile entity," denying nonviolent civilians access to enough food, healthcare, fuel, electricity, and other essential needs.

Conditions in Besieged Gaza

The Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement "promotes rights guaranteed by international and Israeli law." In May 2011, it published a "Gaza Cheat Sheet" account of what Gazans endure daily out of sight and mind in Washington and other Western capitals.

As a result, Israel created a humanitarian crisis, requiring aid for over 70% of Gazans. Moreover, Cast Lead destruction remains rubble. Vital needs go unmet. Around 95% of Gaza's industrial enterprises were impacted, suspended, closed, damaged or destroyed. The remaining 5% operate at from 20 to 50% of capacity. Lost jobs haven't been regained.

Aside from Gaza's tunnel economy to Egypt, vulnerable to Israeli bombing, Kerem Shalom is the sole crossing point to Israel for the limited amount of aid let in.

Excluded are goods and materials called dual use, basic construction materials like cement, steel and gravel (except for small amounts), spare parts, and other vital supplies to rebuild what Cast Lead destroyed. Overall, a small fraction of what entered freely pre-June 2007 gets in now.

Moreover, exports are largely banned, except for occasional small amounts of strawberries, flowers, peppers and tomatoes to European markets. On average, it's about two truckloads a day compared to 400 or more in 2005.

In addition, travel between Gaza and the West Bank is extremely limited via Erez crossing to Israel and Rafah to Egypt. In fact, only "exceptional humanitarian cases" are allowed with an emphasis on medical emergencies, and not many of them.

Travel to other areas is only possible through Egypt, with very rare exceptions. By controlling Palestine's population registry, Israel has decision-making power over passports, required to exit through Rafah. Since Mubarak's ouster, only about 300 a day now cross.

As a result, students can't study abroad. Families are divided, and commerce can't operate freely. Further, Israel prohibits access to and from Gaza by air or sea. Fishing is allowed only up to three nautical miles offshore, excluding most Gazan waters from use. In fact, under Oslo, 20 nautical miles were established.

In addition, a 300 - 1,500 meter no-go "buffer zone" exists along Israel's separating border fence, placing 17% of Gaza off limits and 35% of its arable land. Farmers daring to work it risk being shot and killed.

For many years, in fact, travel between the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem was highly restricted, preventing most Palestinians from doing it, let alone having access outside the Territories. In large measure, occupation, especially for Gaza, has meant imprisonment, unable to move freely as international law permits.

Moreover, the international community bears direct responsibility for letting Israel perpetuate this crisis by not imposing boycotts, divestments, sanctions and isolation until it ends.

In fact, the 2009 Lisbon Treaty affirms fundamental freedoms, peace, democracy, human rights and dignity, justice, equality, the rule of law, security, tolerance, solidarity, mutual respect among peoples, the rights of the child, strict adherence to the UN Charter and international law, environmental protection, sustainable development, conflict prevention, and combatting social exclusion and discrimination.

Western nations literally let Israel get away with murder by spurning these principles.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 1:18 AM

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

*From The "SteveLendmanBlog"- On The Continuing Heroic Struggle To Break The Seige Of Gaza By Sea

Click on the headline from the "SteveLendmanBlog"- On The Continuing Heroic Struggle To Break The Seige Of Gaza By Sea.

Markin comment:

Defend the Palestininan People! End the blockade! End U.S. aid to Israel! Lift the Seige of Gaza!

Monday, June 07, 2010

*Hands Off Helen Thomas!- Down With The Blockade Of Gaza!

Click on the headlines to link to an Associated Press (AP)article about the retirement of Washington press corps correspondent Helen Thomas.

Markin comment:

Look, on most days I would be totally non-plussed by the resignation of the dean of Washington bourgeois press correspondents and more so of an old battle axe/gadfly like Helen Thomas who has been around at least since the Andrew Jackson administration. But not today, and not for the flap that caused her resignation. A remark, perhaps made in haste, about Israelis “getting out of Palestine” and going elsewhere (basically back to where they came from- Poland, Germany, or where there is a large cluster of Jews like the United States. She did not mention Russia but, perhaps, there as well.). She has, moreover, made public apologies over the remarks. Under most circumstances that would seem be case closed.

Now I will not pretend to dissect Ms. Thomas’ remarks, or her motivation. However, in the context of the hellhole of a situation in Palestine and particularly of the siege of Gaza over the past few years and of other intractable problems I, for one, can understand her exasperation with the Israelis. Helen Thomas, rightly or wrongly, has spoken her version of “truth to power.” In the aftermath of the Israeli atrocities at sea on May 31st (after her remarks were made), moreover, is she really that far off base?

No one questions the right of national self-determination, the right to their own state, for the Hebrew-speaking people of Israeli, or no one should if for no other reason that to take the national question off the agenda and place the class programmatic solutions up front there and in the whole Middle East. All the talk of driving the Israelis into the sea, or wherever, is crazy talk, or worst. But today, today June 7, 2010, is not a day to address that aspect of the national question. That right is not seriously in jeopardy today for the armed-to-the-teeth Israeli regime, except perhaps to some crazed Zionist who has been spending his or her time kicking Palestinians out of their homes so that they can move in.

Today all our sympathies must stand with the defense of the Palestinian people, especially the benighted, undernourished people of Gaza. Today we stand with those who call for an end to U.S. aid to Israel. Today we stand with those who call for an end to the blockade of Gaza. Today we stand with those (few, too few) Israelis who stand in solidarity with the aspirations of the Palestinians for their own state. Today we stand in solidarity with, and admiration for, those courageous souls who have attempted to lift the blockade of Gaza by sea (and, especially, those who have lost their lives in the attempt). And today we stand in solidarity with Helen Thomas for not just swallowing the “party line” on the struggle in the Middle East.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

*From The "UJP" Website- Protest Demo-Boston Demands: End the Siege on Gaza! -June 4, 2010

*Click on the headline to link to a "UJP" Website entry- "Protest Demo-Boston Demands: End the Siege on Gaza! -June 4, 2010."

Markin comment:

All Out To Defend The Palestinian People-End The Siege! Enough Is Enough!

Monday, May 31, 2010

*From The SteveLendmanBlog"-Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea

Click on the headline to link to a "SteveLendmanBlog" entry- "Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea."

Markin comment:

As I have said previously today- Defend The Palestiian people!-By Any Means Necessary!

*From The "Green Left Global" Blog- Israel attacks Gaza aid fleet

Click on the headline to link to a "Green Left Global" blog entry on the latest Israeli atrocity against the Palestinian people.

Markin comment:

No one should be surprised by this latest Israeli atrocity against the Palestinian people and their supporters. This is an act of war even under bourgeois conventions. Defend the Palestinian People!-By Any Means Necessary! Down With The Blockade! End The Siege Of Gaza!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

*From The "Green Left Global News & Info" Blog-Al Jazeera Interview with Noam Chomsky: "We were denied entry"

Click on the headline to link to a "Green Left Global News & Info" Blog entry-"Al Jazeera Interview with Noam Chomsky: "We were denied entry."

Markin comment:

On a day when I an reviewing a Noam Chomsky documentary (Noam Chomsky: "Rebel Without a Pause) it seems right to give the devil his due.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

*From The "SteveLendmanBlog"-Indoctrinating Israeli Youths to be Warriors -A Guest Commentary

Click on the headline to link to the "SteveLendmanBlog" entry noted in the headline above.

Markin comment:

I am, as I have mentioned before, always happy to link to this blog, especially when the subject is the intractable Palestinian situation, and the ever-expanding, provocative Israeli settlements. Every time that I even think about this situation it is clear that nothing short of socialism, and all that means about the changes in political consciousness on every side that would put that solution on the agenda in this situation, will settle this thing. But let us be clear, today the obligation of every leftist militant is encapsulated in this slogan- "Defend the Palestinian People"- and I would, add, the best way we can. More on this later.

Friday, April 02, 2010

*From The "SteveLendmanBlog"- The (Continued) Israeli Settlement Expansion Into Palestine

Click on the headline to link to a "SteveLendmanBlog" entry concerning the ever-continuing expansion of the Israeli settlements.

Markin comment:

I am, as I have mentioned before, always happy to link to this blog, especially when the subject is the intractable Palestinian situation, and the ever-expanding, provocative Israeli settlements. Every time that I even think about this situation it is clear that nothing short of socialism, and all that means about the changes in political consciousness on every side that would put that solution on the agenda in this situation, will settle this thing. But let us be clear, today the obligation of every leftist militant is encapsulated in this slogan- "Defend the Palestinian People"- and I would, add, the best way we can. More on this later.