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Five point action plan for political advocacy in the UK on Palestine around reconstruction

Palestine: a journal of everyday occupation | August 31, 2014

Below are five points that campaigning organisations and individuals should be using in all discussions and correspondence with their political representatives. This is UK-specific as DFID wants to play the leading role in co-ordinating the reconstruction of Gaza. The five point action plan relies on international law and the UK’s responsibility as a signatory of the IV Geneva Convention.

Next month there is a donors’ conference in Cairo and it is vital that British voters start pressuring their MPs as soon as possible. An online petition issued by a coalition of civil society organisations (such as Oxfam, War on Want, PSC, JFJFP, etc) which individuals can sign is also a powerful tool to exert political pressure.

I would like to ask all civil society organisations and individuals in the UK to read this, share it and help implement it as a campaign. There is a general election in the UK next year, let’s work now to make Palestine a key issue for MPs, especially the issue of the Blockade.

  1. UK taxpayers should not subsidise Israel’s destruction of Gaza. Taxpayers financially support the work of DFID in assisting in the rebuilding efforts, but Israel should reimburse all of DFID’s costs. DFID should send an itemised assessment, or the UK government should send a similar bill, to the Israeli government. The bill should clearly state that the UK government is issuing it as part of third-state responsibility to ensure accountability and prevent impunity for international law violations. The UK is obligated as a third state party, party to IV Geneva Convention, to demand from the violator to make reparations, compensation.
  2. Taxpayers should demand that the UK government makes public the complete list of all UK-funded projects destroyed and/or damaged and/or setback and/or delayed by Israel’s war on Gaza. This should also apply to the West Bank and East Jerusalem demolitions. This includes DFID funding of INGO’s who partner with local NGO’s, not just direct DFID funding.
  3. Should Israel refuse to pay for the damages or for DFID’s reconstruction projects, then the UK and EU should impose a Gaza reconstruction tax on all Israeli imports. The fees collected will go towards a Gaza Reconstruction Fund.
  4. DFID projects must be aimed at empowering the local Palestinian economy (local means all of Palestine). Israel should not profit from its violations, ie, its markets should be excluded from or be of last resort for providing materials for reconstruction projects.
  5. Reconstruction should not be done by accommodating the Blockade or any other illegal action. (That means continuing to use Israeli controlled crossings at the restricted rates of the Blockade which simply perpetuates the Blockade.) Ending the blockade means ending Israeli control of all imports. The current paradigm needs to be changed through international political action: Gaza needs an autonomous crossing not controlled by Israel, for example, an international seaport. The EU proposal for a Cyprus corridor is a good first start and should be supported by the UK and EU.

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Jim Page: I’d Rather Be Dancing (Rachel Corrie’s Song)

The words of Jim Page’s song “I’d rather be dancing” are based on the letters Rachel Corrie wrote home to her parents before the Israeli army crushed her to death in Gaza on 16 March 2003. She was murdered, crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer, when attempting to prevent the demolition of a house in Rafah, Gaza, owned by a Palestinian doctor and his family. Rachel was 23-years-old. See rachelcorriefoundation.org

LYRICS:

you know I was always the one
I could never stand idly by
and watch while the bullies beat up on the weaker ones
I had to do something to try
and I never gave up on people
that we could be better somehow
morality’s compass, you gave it to me
I still follow it now

well, I couldn’t stop thinking about it
I couldn’t get it out of my mind
the pictures, the stories, the plight of the people
in occupied Palestine
how my government makes me complicit
with the political aid that they send
so I packed up my bags and I headed to Rafa
to work with the ISM

and I’d rather be dancing, dancing and falling in love
but if I just can just watch from a distance then what am I made of

mama these people are so good to me
they treat me like one of their own
they feed me and see to my needs
and let me sleep in their home
papa their lives are so hard
the gun shots night
the road blocks, the strip searches, the humiliations
papa it just isn’t right

I can feel my privilege around me
it’s there in my American face
I could wave my passport around like a flag
and I would be safe in this place
for these child soldiers of Israel
they look like the boys back home
and if it wasn’t for American money
they’d have to leave these people alone

and I’d rather be dancing, dancing to Pat Benatar
but somebody has to do somethin’ about it and here we are

the tractors are coming today
they’re like tanks with bulldozer blades
the name on the side says Caterpillar
that means they’re American made
well, I am American too
and I’ll be where everybody can see
so if they want to run over these houses today
they’re gonna have to run over me

it’s dangerous takin’ a stand
but it’s dangerous running away
sometimes you have to face up to the danger
there is just no other way
for there are such beautiful dreams
I have seen the eyes of a child
and if I can just make one little difference
then I think my life is worth while

and I’d rather be dancing, but instead I’m saying goodbye
but we’ll meet again when it’s over, don’t cry

and I’d rather be dancing, and surely we’d all rather be
and one day we’ll dance in a world that’s peaceful and free

SOURCE

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Senators Urge Ecuador to Restore Relations with Israel

teleSUR | August 27, 2014

Ecuador will continue supporting Palestine despite U.S. pressure to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.

The successful campaign “Ecuador with Palestine” organized by civil society and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resulted in 20 tons of medical supplies and other crucial donations that will be delivered to Gaza next week.

The end of the campaign on August 25 coincided with a letter sent by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, Mark Kirk and James Risch, urging the governments of Ecuador, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru and Chile to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.

The letter read, “Your actions send a troubling message to the United States about your government’s commitment to long-lasting peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

In early August President Rafael Correa canceled a trip to Israel scheduled for the second half of this year. This decision was made in the midst of the “Operation Protective Edge,” which saw a ceasefire begin Tuesday after leaving more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.

The government of Ecuador recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and has opened an embassy in Ramallah.

Reacting to the letter sent by the senators, Foreign Minister Ricard Patiño said, “These men should give advice in their own house, they are not going to give the Ecuadorian government advice, worse is this type of advice of a political nature.”

“We are going to keep developing other agreements to enter in strong bilateral relations,” said Palestinian Ambassador in Ecuador Hani Remawi, “We have a lot to give Ecuador, and Ecuador also has more, much, much more to offer Palestine.” … Full article

August 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liberals’ darling Elizabeth Warren defends Israeli attacks on Gaza schools and hospitals

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RT | August 29, 2014

Israel has the right to shell Palestinian hospitals and schools out of self defense as long as Hamas stores rocket launchers next to them, US Sen. Elizabeth Warren said during a town hall meeting in Massachusetts this week.

Warren, darling du jour of American liberals, defended her vote to send more defense funding to Israel in the middle of its recent fierce offensive on Gaza, saying she believes civilian casualties are the “last thing Israel wants,” according to the Cape Cod Times.

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” she said.

Israel and Palestinian authorities reached a long-term ceasefire agreement this week after Israel started its campaign in Gaza on July 8. The death toll from the Gaza conflict has reached at least 2,120 people, of which 577 are children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

During the conflict, Israel targeted schools and hospitals in Gaza, claiming that rockets and militant fighters were nearby. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency criticized both Hamas for storing rockets in two schools and Israel for attacks on separate schools.

Attacks on hospitals are prohibited by the Geneva Convention’s Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War “unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy.” Even then, civilian hospitals can only be targeted “after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded.”

Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately.” Thanks to Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome defense system, though, those rockets have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.”

Warren supported Israel’s military aggression, justifying its use of force based on America’s “very special relationship with Israel.”

“Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law,” she said. “And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Warren also expressed unease with conditioning future US funding for Israel on the cessation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far,” Warren said.

Last month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza. Navi Pillay said house demolitions and the killing of children raise the “strong possibility” that Israel is violating international law.

More than 17,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, making around 100,000 Palestinians homeless, since the war began, according to UN estimates.

According to a senior UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official, 373,000 Palestinian children are in need of “immediate psychosocial first aid” due to the onslaught of Israeli strikes.

“The impact has truly been vast, both at a very physical level, in terms of casualties, injuries, the infrastructure that’s been damaged, but also importantly, emotionally and psychologically in terms of the destabilizing impact that not knowing, not truly feeling like there is anywhere safe place to go in Gaza,” Pernilla Ironside said last week.

UNICEF estimated that at least 219 schools have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes, while 22 were completely destroyed.

To demonstrate the extent of the damage in Gaza, Ironside estimated that it could take up to 18 years to rebuild the 17,000 housing units that were damaged in the conflict and in light of the ongoing blockade of the region limiting the movement of goods and people.

Israel has also barred major human rights organizations from entering Gaza territory.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, US Sen. Bernie Sanders, American liberals’ other favorite among establishment progressive politicians, has also defended US funding and arms for Israel. At a recent tense town hall in his native Vermont, Sanders condemned Israeli targeting of civilians, but then defended Israel “in a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel” sent from “populated areas.”

“This is a very depressing and difficult issue. This has gone on for 60 bloody years,” he said. “If you’re asking me, do I have a magical solution? I don’t. And you know what, I doubt very much that you do.”

August 29, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel presses forward plans for Jewish seminary in occupied east Jerusalem

Al-Akhbar | August 28, 2014

Israel on Thursday approved a further stage in plans to build a nine-story Jewish seminary in the heart of a densely-populated Palestinian neighborhood near Jerusalem’s Old City.

According to the Peace Now settlement watchdog, the committee threw out an appeal tabled by a left-wing council member and approved a new stage in plans for a tower block in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied east Jerusalem.

Should the plans be approved by the district planning committee, construction could begin within the coming year, Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran told AFP.

“It might take six months to a year until it gets final approval for them to start building,” she said of the plan which was tabled in February.

The building will be used as a yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, for ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian residential neighborhood located to the north of the Old City.

Located on the road which links the Old City to Mount Scopus, the area is considered a strategic location and illegal settlement groups have made persistent efforts to take control of its land.

Israel captured east Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

It considers all of Jerusalem its “eternal, indivisible” capital and does not see construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.

Both the Palestinians and the international community consider all Israeli construction on land seized in 1967 to be a violation of international law.

This has not stopped Israel from continuing its policy of illegal settlement in east Jerusalem and the West Bank over the years.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calls to prosecute foreigners who volunteered in Israeli army during war

MEMO | August 28, 2014

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki announced on Wednesday that his ministry had sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and to the leaders of other countries, requesting them to bear their responsibility for implementing international law regarding foreigners who volunteered in the Israeli army during the latest assault on Gaza.

Citing the Palestinian foreign ministry statement, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news website reported that in cooperation with human rights organisations, the ministry has found that foreigners volunteered in the Israeli army during the latest aggression and carried out war crimes.

The news website said they took part in the war as part of two programmes called Mahal and Ser-Al. The Palestinian ministry stressed the necessity to prosecute them.

As part of the programmes, Jews and non-Jews who do not hold an Israeli ID can travel to Israel to take part in military service for a year and a half in order to get the ID.

The ministry called for specifying those who volunteered in the Israeli army or helped it, identifying their war crimes and the breaches of international law that they committed through the Israeli army, as well as telling them about the potential criminal responsibility for what they did during the war.

In addition, the ministry called upon those countries where the citizen volunteers are from to prosecute them inside the judicial system of their geographical areas.

Under the framework of international law, “which Israeli cannot evade”, the ministry is also seeking to prosecute everyone who committed war crimes in Gaza, including Israelis.

The ministry called for accelerating the convention of international bodies to require Israel to implement the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories.

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Forever Threat: The Imminent Attack on Iran That Will Never Happen

By Nima shirazi | Wide Asleep In America | August 27, 2014

“Israel has drawn up plans for a combined air and ground attack on Iranian nuclear installations if diplomacy fails to halt Tehran’s atomic program…” – Toledo Blade, March 14, 2005

Last month, amid the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, accomplished lunatic Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman from Texas, took to the House floor and called for Iran to be attacked.

After insisting it is “time to cut off every dime of American money going to anyone who has any kind of relationship with Hamas or those killing in the Middle East, and especially in Israel,” Gohmert added, “It is time to bomb Iran’s nuclear capabilities. It is time for the United States, if we are not going to stop Iran’s nukes, then let Israel do it. A friend will not put another friend in this kind of jeopardy.”

Never mind that Iran has no “nukes” for anyone to “stop,” since it’s not actually making any and never has made or acquired any. Never mind that Iran has been consistently complying with the prescriptions of the multilateral deal agreed to last November by Iran and six world powers. Never mind that a number of recent articles in widely-read media outlets have addressed the myriad falsehoods and myths responsible for the past three decades of fear-mongering and propaganda about Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

Still, the persistent false narrative that military strikes by either the United States or Israel may follow any potential failure to reach a deal continues to be repeated in the press. Of course, the fact that any such attack would be unequivocally illegal under international law is rarely noted in these assessments.

Pronouncements that Iran is close to having a nuclear bomb, or close to being bombed, are ubiquitous in the media. Threats against Iran – by both the United States and Israel – have been made for decades, despite routine Iranian dismissal of such rhetoric as mere bluster.

The frequency of such threats – always reported with fever-pitched alacrity by a dutiful and prostrate press – is alarming.

Not only is an American or Israeli attack on Iran always just around the bend – regardless of the state of diplomacy or intelligence assessments – but the media consistently provides fantasy scenarios by which its audience can imagine, replete with maps and graphics, just how such war crimes would take place.

Over twenty years ago, a report in the Independent (UK) published on June 23, 1994 revealed that the Pentagon had inked a deal to provide Israel with advanced F-15I fighter jets, designed to “enable the Israelis to carry out strikes deep into Iraq and Iran without refuelling.”

Three years later, on December 9, 1997, a The Times of London headline screamed, “Israel steps up plans for air attacks on Iran.” The article, written by Christopher Walker, reported on the myriad “options” Israel had in confronting what it deemed “Iran’s Russian-backed missile and nuclear weapon programme.”

Such reports have been published ever since. Of course, neither the United States nor Israel will attack Iran, regardless of the success or failure of negotiations, but such reports (often the result of strategically timed “leaks” by anonymous government officials) serve to not only intentionally torpedo diplomacy but also mislead the public into believing the absurdly false narrative surrounding the Iranian nuclear program; that is, either Iran must be bombed or it will acquire a nuclear arsenal. This is nonsense.

Below are some of the constant headlines we’ve seen over the past dozen years promoting such propaganda. When will this madness – this pathological obsession with the false necessity of dropping bombs and the righteous inevitability of killing people – stop?

The Times of London, November 5, 2002:

AFP, October 11, 2003:

The Scotsman, November 22, 2003:

New York Daily News, November 23, 2003:

The New York Times, August 21, 2004:

Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2004:

The Jerusalem Post, January 21, 2005:

The Independent, January 27, 2005:

Toledo Blade, March 14, 2005:

Associated Press, December 4, 2005:

The Straits Times, December 17, 2005:

Associated Press, January 22, 2006:

Fox News, June 4, 2006:

The Telegraph, February 24, 2007:

Associated Press, March 21, 2007:

Newsweek, December 19, 2007:

The Daily Star (Lebanon), May 30, 2008:

USA Today, June 6, 2008:

The Telegraph, June 7, 2008:

The Age, June 9, 2008:

Fox News, June 20, 2008:

The Telegraph, June 23, 2008:


ABC News, July 1, 2008:

Ha’aretz, July 2, 2008:

AFP, July 30, 2008:

Associated Press, August 7, 2008:

CBS News, August 7, 2008:

Wired, April 2, 2009:

Salon, April 14, 2009:

The Times of London, April 18, 2009:

The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2009:

The Washington Post, July 2, 2009:

CBS News, July 27, 2009:

Los Angeles Times, August 30, 2009:

Talking Points Memo, August 31, 2009:


Fox News, September 21, 2009:

Huffington Post, September 28, 2009:

Ynet, October 9, 2009:

The Washington Times, October 22, 2009:

Ha’aretz, November 6, 2009:

The New York Times, December 23, 2009:

Newsmax, April 2, 2010:


The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2010:

AFP, June 12, 2010:

TIME, July 15, 2010:

The Weekly Standard, July 26, 2010:


Christian Science Monitor, August 12, 2010:

The Spectator (UK), August 12, 2010:


Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 2010:

The Weekly Standard, August 14, 2010:

The Week, August 17, 2010:

New York Daily News, August 17, 2010:

The Atlantic, August 18, 2010:

Newsmax, September 2, 2010:

The Atlantic, November 28, 2010:

AFP, November 29, 2010:

The Australian, November 30, 2010:

The Washington Times, December 3, 2010:

The Australian, January 13, 2011:

Associated Press, May 30, 2011:

Ha’aretz, September 28, 2011:

Associated Press, November 2, 2011:

The Daily Beast, November 2, 2011:

The Guardian, November 2, 2011:

The Telegraph, November 6, 2011:

Reuters, November 9, 2011:

Arutz Sheva, November 10, 2011:


Chicago Tribune, November 13, 2011:

Arutz Sheva, December 1, 2011:

The New York Times, January 25, 2012:

Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012:

The Washington Post, February 2, 2012:

Reuters, February 3, 2012:

Foreign Affairs, February 23, 2012:

Congressional Research Service, March 27, 2012:


CNN, March 30, 2012:

Salon/GlobalPost, May 9, 2012:


The Telegraph, May 17, 2012:

CBN News, May 24, 2012:


The Blaze, July 8, 2012:

Reuters, August 10, 2012:

The Times of Israel, August 11, 2012:

The Daily Mail, August 21, 2012:

The Jewish Chronicle, August 27, 2012:

Forbes, September 30, 2012:

National Journal, October 9, 2012:


The Telegraph, October 9, 2012:

Voice of America, December 19, 2012:


The New York Times, January 26, 2013:

The Times of Israel, March 14, 2013:

Newsmax, April 13, 2013:

The Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2013:

Ha’aretz, May 3, 2013:

The Times of Israel, May 9, 2013:

Al Jazeera English, July 17, 2013:

The Atlantic, August 1, 2013:


Washington Examiner
, September 18, 2013:


Gatestone Institute, October 7, 2013:

Financial Times, November 17, 2013:

CNN, November 19, 2013:

The Times of London, November 26, 2013:

Defense News, December 4, 2013:


CBS News, December 6, 2013:


ThinkProgress, January 2, 2014:

Foreign Affairs, January 7, 2014:

Ha’aretz, March 19, 2014:

Associated Press, March 21, 2014:

The National Interest, April 16, 2014:

Iran Times, May 16, 2014:


Defense News
, June 8, 2014:

Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), June 12, 2014:

The Raw Story, July 23, 2014:

*****

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Boycott Israel – Immortal Technique

Don Martin ft Immortal Technique (US), Eltipo Este (Cuba), Tumi (South Africa), Tonto Noiza (France). Prod Tommy Tee. Video by Ulfdawg. English translation + free download below.

Visit http://www.bdsmovement.net for more information on boycott campaign. Download the track mp3 free at http://www.donmartin.no/boycott-israel/

Lyrics

Immortal Technique:
Bambaataa told us knowledge was the fifth element
Truth behind the lies is what the music represents
So how the fuck you gonna have a peace settlement?
When people want a piece of your land to build settlements
There’s all different kinda terrorism you can perpetrate
Every dead body causes karma to circulate
There’s suicide bombin’ buildings full of civilians
Or cutting off water to cities full of children
You can’t try to justify collective punishment
A country never finds peace with bodies buried under it
I guess some Americans just don’t remember
There’s a slave graveyard under the world trade center
Stop the criticism of Iranian nuclear fission
Until mutual nuclear disarmament’s the mission
This ain’t about religion, Muslim, Jew or Christian
It’s about people making money off of that division

Tumi:
I am recognizing that the voices in my head
Are urging me to be myself and never follow when I’m led
So with that said it’s insurgency as we confirm some things
I am anti Zionist and any form of fundamentalist
The devil’s in the specifics mixing with your favorite dish
You can beef with Israel and not be antisemitic
Don’t buy beef from Israel cause you paying to kill them kids
So if you’re rocking this shit, go ahead do the Gaza strip
My heart race when I hear apartheid from out their lips
We have lived it, missed Olympics, seen ‘free Mandela’ pickets
And his image beamed repeatedly to street favela children
Even freed from prison cause of global criticism
Of this horrible system boycotted by the citizens

Boycott, boycott Israel

Tonto Noiza:
There’s only one step from hypocrisy to diplomacy,
Staying there sitting down in front of the stale situation
It is not the picture I have of human rights
Cause the immunity Israel grants itself shocks me
Look at the poverty of a people
How to relativize
This is the power that must be broken
I´m coming aiming without stigmatizing
I haven´t come to enter pacts like the UN
Nor to stir up hatred
But the inequality that bad faith entails has tenfold my sadness
It is the governing bodies I address, because they attack
For the price of past errors it is a whole people they oppress
For all innocent on all sides dragged into this fight
The bill is saltier then the dead sea. We have to get out of it

Boycott, boycott, boycott

Don Martin:
It´s raining grenades over Gaza´s roofs
hitting hospitals, hitting kindergarten children, hitting dormitories
Off course we are calling it an apartheid state
They´re building a wall between themselves and those who shall not have citizenship
Because if you call something “pro-Palestinian”
then (international) rules do not count anymore. You best believe that
there is a more macabre sound to the word “blood orange”
when it is grown in stolen land and grows from a dead body.
Not in my name, not with my money
It´s not enough to just sit around complaining/crying anymore
We must hit the foundation, show Israel.
Cause they don´t give a shit about resolutions anyway
It´s a small part of a much bigger picture
Like when we boycotted Shell, when I was much younger
The responsibility lies with all of us ,so we want
anyone with a conscience – boycott Israel

 

Boycott Israel vocal sample from Arundhati Roy’s speech “Come September”

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Video | , | Leave a comment

Oakland activist: How we blockaded the Israeli ship

Green Left Weekly | August 23, 2014

In an action that has reverberated around the world and inspired pro-Palestinian activists, five days of pickets by activists prevented a ship from the Israeli shipping company Zim Integrated Shipping Services from unloading almost any of its cargo at the port of Oakland.

The blockade was organised as part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targetting Israel called for by dozens of Palestinian civil society groups. It was the longest blockade yet of an Israeli ship anywhere in the world.

Below is the account of a participant in the blockade, Oakland-based activist Peter Turner.

* * *

I am one of the “autonomous activists” referred to in the press releases of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC). I am not affiliated with any of the groups listed as endorsers on the AROC website. I am an experienced waterfront activist who took part in every picket while the Zim Piraeus was in port.

The original call for a blockage of a Zim ship went out from AROC in late July, but that was quickly retracted and the August 16 date was substituted. We then watched the ship on tracking websites and it became clear it was delayed while the protest situation unfolded.

During that time, tactical differences emerged within the movement. AROC changed its call and instead advocated a march to Pier 57, where the ship was due to dock, on August 16 for a protest against the war on Gaza.

The march also raised the situation in Ferguson, Missouri (where there are ongoing protests against the police killing of an unarmed teenager), at least partly because the march was met by a contingent of Oakland police.

The march was energetic but peaceful, but the ship was still at sea. About 2000 people took part.

When the Zim Piraeus finally docked on August 17, it was met by pickets at Pier 57. We ascertained which gates would be used by trucks and longshoremen to enter work and posted pickets there. Our intention was to discourage any cargo operations in order to force the ship to leave port.

Trucks entered the gates, but the longshoremen honoured our pickets. The Oakland Police and Alameda County Sheriff Department created openings at the gates.

The picketers could be generally described as Occupy Oakland activists, mostly young; experienced left militants who abound in the San Francisco Bay Area; and those specifically concerned with the war on Gaza, many of them Palestinians.

Others might describe us differently, but I think this is a good description of most of us. The assumption that it was AROC or any other group that led the picket effort is inaccurate.

For four days, we met at the pier and succeeded. A small number of activists were arrested for civil disobedience, but the situation was peaceful. The longshoremen honoured our pickets and no cargo moved.

The union released statements saying they took no position on the political issues at hand, but felt the police presence created a safety hazard. This is connected to a 2003 anti-war demonstration at the port at which the police attacked peaceful demonstrators and longshoremen reporting to work. Some were shot.

Resentment over that continues. During the picket we were aware that few dispatches from the union hall took place.

Several times small groups of longshoremen approached or assembled nearby. We engaged them in conversation and relations were friendly.

The ranks shared the official union position, but went beyond it to express sympathy for our cause and resentment of the stevedoring companies.

Coincidentally, the union and stevedoring companies are in contentious contract negotiations. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) contract expired July 1, so the longshoremen are working without a contract.

As a result, longshoremen who honoured our pickets lost pay, a fact known by the picketers.

This added to the solidarity created between the picketers and longshoremen, something pre-existing because of the militant history of the ILWU and its tradition of honouring community pickets.

After four days the ship announced its intention to sail. No cargo had been moved, in spite of a public declaration by Israeli sources that it had.

AROC Executive Director Lara Kiswani appeared on the morning of the fourth day to announce a victory, praising the solidarity of the longshoremen.

The ship sailed without unloading its cargo, but then the ship’s pilot pulled a U-turn at the pilot station off the Golden Gate. The ship returned to dock at pier 22-24 and was quickly met by picketers who had monitored its movements.

Since the longshoremen had made it obvious that they would honour our pickets, the ILWU Local 10 Business Agent took longshoremen from other ships and moved them to the Zim Piraeus.

This was a violation of the dispatch rules and the solidarity felt by the ranks, so it was met with a reaction. I would politely call it a “lack of enthusiasm” for the work on the part of the rank and file, but the result was little cargo was offloaded, reportedly some perishables.

On the morning of August 20, the fifth day of the action, at about 6.30am, the ship departed after an hour of picketing.

For some reason the media reported the cargo had been offloaded and the ship departed at 8.45am. That is inaccurate, as I drove home from the picket at pier 22-24 to view the ship from my house as it anchored off Hunter’s Point in San Francisco Bay about 8am. The ship was still fully loaded and had not backloaded any containers.

This entire action revealed several lessons. One is that concerted effort of dedicated militants together with the solidarity of the affected workers can bring serious economic and political pressure to bear.

Reciprocal solidarity will be forthcoming, a strong message to any employer seeking to weaken the ILWU. We all talked about it, with no dissent.

Also, we should never trust the word of the employer or the establishment press. They collude to undermine the majority and deceive the public in the interest of profit.

We also should be wary of the motives of entrenched union bureaucrats, too many of whom have instinctive sympathy with employers and will betray the interests of their members. The strength of the union is its rank and file, and democracy and consciousness are necessary for their interests to be furthered.

There are tactical differences within our movement, and we should tend to defer to the judgment of those who put in the commitment to take part and who make the connection with affected workers. Bureaucracy exists on the left as well as in unions, government, or any other institution.

We should show wisdom in our strategy and tactics, but not retreat in the face of adversity and have the courage to fight and win. Together, we can make a better world.

August 27, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Billionaires Make War on Iran

And the United States Government is Helping

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 26, 2014

There is a group of Jewish American billionaires who are apparently doing their best to make sure that negotiations with Iran go nowhere in the mistaken belief that they are doing what is best for Israel. And they would also appear to be assisted in their efforts by the White House, which is at the same time claiming that it wants the talks to be successful. The odd relationship is currently playing out in a Manhattan courtroom where the Justice Department is seeking to quash a lawsuit that it fears might expose the extent to which the government has hypocritically played fast and loose with classified information while simultaneously sending journalists and whistleblowers to jail over allegations that they have done the same.

The power and wealth of the anti-Iran groups as well as their unrivaled access to the United States government means that a policy of détente with Iran, which would be a no brainer based on both American and Iranian interests, only proceeds by fits and starts with the US Congress and much of the media lined up solidly to stop the effort. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its affiliated educational foundation, which have focused on the “Iranian threat” over the past three years, have a combined budget of more than $90 million while AIPAC’s spin-off the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) has $8.7 million.

The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) efforts are more diversified but uniformly hawkish when it comes to the Middle East. It has a budget of $45 million. Identified multi-million dollar donor/supporters of AIPAC, AEI, and WINEP include Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, Paul Singer of Elliot Management hedge fund and Bernard Marcus of Home Depot.

Other right wing think tanks including Heritage and Hudson in Washington also support unrelenting pressure directed against Iran. Even the more centrist Brookings Institute is hard core when it comes to Middle Eastern politics by virtue of its Saban Institute funded by Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban. And then there are the mainstream Jewish organizations to include the Anti Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the American Jewish Congress, all of which have vast resources and unparalleled access to the White House, Congress and the media.

All the pro-Israel anti-Iran groups engage in pressure tactics on Capitol Hill and have been effective in dominating the political debate. Of thirty-six outside witnesses brought in to testify at seven Senate hearings on Iran since 2012 only one might be characterized as sensitive to Iranian concerns. The enormous lobbying effort enables the anti-Iran groups to define the actual policies, move their drafts of legislation through congress, and eventually see their bills pass with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. It is democracy in action if one accepts that popular rule ought to be guided by money and pressure groups rather than by national interests.

Less well known is United Against Nuclear Iran, which has a budget just shy of $2 million. UANI is involved in the New York lawsuit. The group, which has somehow obtained a 501[c]3 “educational” tax status that inter alia allows it to conceal its donors, has offices in Rockefeller Center in New York City. It is active on Capitol Hill providing “expert testimony” on Iran for congressional committees, to include “help” in drafting legislation. At a July Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran all three outside witnesses were from UANI. It is also active in the media but is perhaps best known for its “name and shame” initiatives in which it exposes companies that it claims are doing business with Tehran in violation of US sanctions.

UANI is being sued by a Greek billionaire Victor Restis whom it had outed in 2013. Restis, claiming the exposure was fraudulent and carried out to damage his business, has filed suit demanding that UANI and billionaire Thomas Kaplan turn over documents and details of relationships regarding UANI donors who it is claimed are linked to the case. Kaplan, a New York City resident, made his initial fortune on energy exploration and development. More recently he has been involved in commodities trading in precious metals. His wife Daphne is Israeli and his involvement in various Jewish philanthropies both in the US and in Israel have invited comparison with controversial deceased commodities trader Marc Rich, who reportedly worked closely with the Israeli government on a number of projects.

The Justice department would like to the see the UANI lawsuit go away as it is aware that what is being described as “law enforcement” documents would include both privileged and classified Treasury Department work product relating to individuals and companies that it has investigated for sanctions busting. Passing either intelligence related or law enforcement documents to a private organization is illegal but the Justice Department’s only apparent concern is that the activity might be exposed. There is no indication that it would go after UANI for having acquired the information and it perhaps should be presumed that the source of the leak is the Treasury Department itself.

Who or what provided the documents to a private advocacy group that is also a tax exempt foundation supported by prominent businessmen with interests in the Middle East is consequently not completely clear but Restis is assuming that the truth will out if he can get hold of the evidence. The lawsuit claims that UANI intimidates its targets by defaming their business practices as well as by demanding both examination of their books and an audit carried out by one of its own accountants followed by review from an “independent counsel.”

Kaplan is named in the suit as he appears to be the gray eminence behind UANI. He once boasted “we’ve (UANI) done more to bring Iran to heel than any other private sector initiative.” Kaplan also employs as a director or officer in six of his companies the Executive Director of UANI Mark Wallace and reportedly arranged the awarding of the Executive Director position at Harvard’s Belfer Center to its President Gary Samore.

Kaplan is a business competitor to Restis, whose lawyers are apparently seeking to demonstrate two things: first, that the US government has been feeding sometimes only partially vetted information to UANI to help in its “name and shame” program and second, that UANI is itself supported by partisan business interests like Kaplan as well as by foreign sources, which apparently is meant to imply Israel. Or even the Israeli intelligence service Mossad. Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad, is on the UANI advisory board, which also includes ex-Senator Joseph Lieberman and former Senior Diplomat Dennis Ross, both of whom have frequently been accused of favoring Israeli interests and both of whom might well have easy access to US government generated information.

And then there is the Muhadedin-e-Khalq, the Iranian terrorist group that has assassinated at least six Americans and is now assisting the Israeli government in killing Iranian scientists, a prima facie definition of what constitutes terrorism. The group was on the State Department terrorist list from 1997 until 2012, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton de-listed it in response to demands coming from friends of Israel in Congress as well as from a large group of ex government officials, many of whom were paid large honoraria by the group to serve as advocates. The paid American shills included former CIA Directors James Woolsey and Porter Goss, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis Freeh and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. The promoters of MEK in congress and elsewhere claimed to be primarily motivated by MEK’s being an enemy of the current regime in Tehran, though its virulent anti-Americanism and terrorist history make it a somewhat unlikely poster child for the “Iranian resistance.”

Supporters of MEK also ignore the fact that the group is run like a cult, routinely executes internal dissidents, and has virtually no political support within Iran. But such are the ways of the corrupt Washington punditocracy, lionizing an organization that it should be shunning. MEK’s political arm is located in Paris and it has long been assumed that it is funded by the Israeli government and by at least some of the same gaggle of billionaires, possibly including their Israeli counterparts, who support the anti-Iranian agenda in the United States.

Iranian negotiators have accepted that their country should have only limited uranium enrichment capabilities coupled with a rigorous inspection regime but the talks in Geneva drag on and on as the United States continues to hesitate, raising new objections regularly in spite of claims that it operates in good faith and seeks a settlement. That an agreement is within reach is undoubtedly true and it would even be good for Israel as it would remove the regional nuclear option while making much less likely another pointless and devastating war. But the men who write the checks do not see it that way and, unfortunately, they are the ones who all too often both pay the piper and call the tune.

August 27, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

History shows Israel will again fail to implement its agreement with Hamas

By David Morrison | Friends of Lebanon | August 27, 2014

26 August 2014: Palestinian and Israeli leaders have finally agreed an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to end the seven-week-old Gaza war.

It is appropriate to recall that Israel’s last military offensive against Gaza in November 2012 also ended with an agreement concerning Gaza brokered by Egypt [1].  Under it, both sides were required to cease hostilities and Israel undertook to take steps towards ending its blockade of Gaza.  The agreement seemed to have the backing of the US, since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood beside the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamad Amr, when he announced it on 21 November 2012.

What happened to the November 2012 agreement?

So, what happened to this agreement?  Basically, Israel failed to fulfill its obligations under it, whereas Hamas fulfilled its obligations to the letter for more than eighteen months – and the international community turned a blind eye to Israel’s failure.

Specifically, in the agreement, Israel promised “to stop all hostilities on the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals” and the “opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents free movement”.  Israel didn’t fulfill either of these obligations – it continued to make regular incursions into Gaza (killing 20 Palestinians in Gaza in the following 15 months) and took no steps to lift its economic blockade.

The agreement required Hamas and other Palestinian groups to “stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks, and attacks along the border”.  Hamas did so for more than eighteen months from 21 November 2012.  Speaking to a Knesset committee on 30 June 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged this, accusing Hamas “of involvement, for the first time since a Gaza war in 2012, in rocket attacks on Israel”, according to a Reuters report [2].

Other Palestinian groups did fire rockets into Israel, despite being restrained by Hamas.  But, according to Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group Middle East and North Africa Programme, in an article dated 1 August 2014 in the London Review of Books[3]:

“During the three months that followed the ceasefire [on 21 November 2012], Shin Bet recorded only a single attack: two mortar shells fired from Gaza in December 2012.  …

“[Hamas] set up a new police force tasked with arresting Palestinians who tried to launch rockets. In 2013, fewer were fired from Gaza than in any year since 2003, soon after the first primitive projectiles were shot across the border.”

Israel’s response to quiet along the border

How did Israel respond to this comparative quiet along the border?  In his London Review of Books article, Nathan Thrall writes:

“In the three months following the ceasefire, its forces made regular incursions into Gaza, strafed Palestinian farmers and those collecting scrap and rubble across the border, and fired at boats, preventing fishermen from accessing the majority of Gaza’s waters.

“The end of the closure never came. Crossings were repeatedly shut. So-called buffer zones – agricultural lands that Gazan farmers couldn’t enter without being fired on – were reinstated. Imports declined, exports were blocked, and fewer Gazans were given exit permits to Israel and the West Bank.

“Israel had committed [in the November 2012 agreement] to holding indirect negotiations with Hamas over the implementation of the ceasefire but repeatedly delayed them.  …  The talks never took place. The lesson for Hamas was clear. Even if an agreement was brokered by the US and Egypt, Israel could still fail to honour it.”

If Israel had fulfilled its obligations

Had Israel ceased military incursions into Gaza and taken steps to lift its economic blockade, as it was supposed to do under the agreement, it is virtually certain that Hamas would not have resumed rocket fire.  Hamas did resume on 7 July 2014, after Israel made an armed incursion into Gaza and killed seven Hamas members. And if progress was being made towards lifting the blockade, Hamas would have been in a much stronger position to stop other Palestinian groups from firing rockets and mortars into Israel.

So, had Israel fulfilled its obligations under the agreement, it is very likely that rocket and mortar firing into Israel could have been halted altogether without Israeli military action against Gaza.

June 2008 agreement

This is not the first time that Israel has failed to fulfill its obligations under an agreement with Hamas.  In June 2008, Egypt brokered an agreement which, like the November 2012 agreement, provided for a cessation of hostilities on both sides and steps by Israel towards ending its blockade [4].

Hamas fulfilled its obligations under this agreement to the letter and, as a result, southern Israel was almost entirely free from firing out of Gaza for four and a half months. But Israel did not ease its economic blockade, let alone lift it, and on the evening of 4 November 2008 (when the world was watching the election of Barack Obama) it made a military incursion into Gaza for the first time since the ceasefire began in June and killed seven members of Hamas. That was the end of that agreement.

A few weeks later Israel embarked on its first major offensive against Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, with the declared objective of suppressing rocket and mortar into Israel.

The lesson of history

The lesson from the above is that the international community will have to ensure that Israel fulfills its obligations in any future agreement with Hamas. Come to think of it, does another agreement need to be negotiated? In reality, all that is necessary is that Israel be persuaded to implement the November 2012 agreement.

References:

[1] http://www.upi.com/blog/2012/11/21/Read-the-Gaza-ceasefire-deal/7401353523034/

[2] uk.reuters.com/article/2014/06/30/uk-palestinian-israel-idUKKBN0F51CZ20140630

[3] http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n16/nathan-thrall/hamass-chances

[4] news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7462554.stm

 

David Morrison is a Political Officer of Sadaka: The Ireland Palestine Alliance and co-author of A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran (April 2013).  Morrison can be reached at david@sadaka.ie.

For a virtual tour of the destruction of Gaza, see visual journalist Lewis Whyld’s gallery here.

August 27, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Gaza Under Siege: Israel Destroys Hospitals, Denies Entry to Doctors and Medical Aid

Al-Mayadeen | August 23, 2014

Interview with Dr. Swee Ang Chai, co-Founder and Patron of British Charity Medical Aid for Palestinians

Why was the Lancet letter which has 24 signatories of doctors and scientists published?

dr-swee-chai-ang1Dr. Swee Ang Chai: All the authors and signatories fear the worse at the beginning of this crisis which erupted in early July based on their previous experience. However the situation has got much worse since the publication of the letter. Gaza has already been declared a disaster area by the UK government. Despite the destruction of infrastructure, doctors and healthcare workers in Gaza continued to work despite severe conditions and their personal circumstances. Their own homes are being destroyed and families killed, and to be landed with more than 12,000 wounded is simply overwhelming for any medical system. That this is why Swee and her surgical colleagues wanted to assist by volunteering to go to Gaza. As of yesterday (22 August 2014)  the death toll reached  2083, with 50% women and children. Eighty five  families were annihilated, and 12,656 injured. Forty five clinics and fifteen hospital were destroyed (two of the hospitals completely flattened), 8 fire stations, 1 ambulance station. Health institutions should be protected as sanctuaries under international law for the wounded and sick people, but they were targeted.

You and your consultant surgical colleague have just been deported as you entered Israel to get to Gaza… elaborate.

They first gave me a three month Israeli visa of the B2 type when they thought I was a tourist. Then when they realized I was going to Gaza,  my colleague and I were taken aside and interrogated in a very humiliating way for three hours, following that we were detained, and deported after around 16-17 hours. But the personal humiliation,  detention and deportation is not the worst part. It is the realisation that this is part of the siege imposed on Gaza. The siege does not only apply to medical equipment and supplies for Gaza but also to  people who want to get to Gaza to assist. They can stop me from getting to Gaza but they cannot stop me from caring for and supporting the Palestinians, and they cannot stop the world from knowing about what they do to Palestinians. These crimes committed against Palestinians cannot be covered up. I will raise my voice and say what happened in Gaza. Gaza was shelled with tons of ammunition and depleted uranium which not only kill immediately but leave residues which emit radioactive rays causing malformations in utero and  miscarriages. And this will continue despite repeated ceasefires. Gazans want to rebuild their broken homes but building materials are blockaded. People have no choice but to rebuild their broken homes with rubble contaminated with radioactive uranium as the siege continues. What do you want them to do? They have no choice but to rebuild their homes over mounds of destruction and ‘nuclear’ waste. Even if the war stops, these rays will have an impact on people’s lives.

Is Britain and the USA complicit in this?

I will not say that all of Britain and the US are complicit. Some in high positions are. But I can tell you that within a week of having published the Lancet letter, we got 20,000 signatures endorsing the letter. But there are others who are protesting against the letter at the same time. And there are people who have been subjected to threats via email saying that if you continue to support Palestinians you will be killed. But we must say what we have to say, this is the truth. This is what is happening, massacres, and if we are silent in the face of massacres we would not be fit to be doctors and scientists. We have to be witnesses.  32 years ago, I was a doctor supporting Israel, and my family and I used to support Israel. But when Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon in 1982, and bombed Lebanon for ten weeks, I could not tolerate it anymore. I  decided not to support Israel  and volunteered to help the wounded in Lebanon. Later I went to Gaza. My life changed, when I went to Lebanon, I went to Sabra and Shatilla, and I did not find terrorists. I found a people who are patient, gentle  and generous and they welcomed me, amidst their enormous suffering. But they were labeled as terrorists. After the evacuation of the PLO, when they were defenceless, they were massacred.  I went back after the attack (1982), and I found that some of the patients I treated were killed. I went back to London, and continued with my work and it is impossible to say nothing. For 32 years, I decided not to be silent , and will speak up for Palestinians as a witness to what happened to them. I am also a friend of the Palestinians. So wherever I go I will talk about what happened to Palestinians and the injustice which they have been enduring, and I will do this until I die.

Interviewer: You have written a book: From Beirut to Jerusalem, but since that time, there has been no change for the Palestinians. You were very angry. Let me read a section of the Gaza letter (published by Lancet):

“We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza. We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organisations to stop this massacre” the letter is directed to Who?

Dr. Swee Ang Chai:  This paragraph refers to all people who are guilty of knowing that the massacre is going on and yet say nothing. They are complicit in the crime. There are also the people who deliberately cover it up. It is our duty and that of Mayadeen to inform the world of what is happening. But when we speak up, many attacked us because they were complicit in this crime , and tried to cover up what is happening by intimidating and silencing us. For example deporting doctors so that we do not see and witness what is happening. But they forget that the Palestinian doctors are still there, and they can tell the world what is going on because they are there. For the rest of the world, some do not take a stand because of lack of knowledge and it is our role to inform them. Others are worried about speaking up through fear, but we must support them to take a stand.

What do you think of Israel’s attack on people, children etc., why do you think they are killing them?

I am very sad because only 10%  of Israel want the massacre to stop and the rest want it to continue. In other words the other 90% of Israelis want Palestinians chucked out or killed, and this is compatible with ethnic cleansing and mass extermination, a strong word, but what is happening in Gaza is an attempted or incremental genocide..

Why do you decide to publish the letter in the Lancet?

As you know this is a strong letter. many editors have difficulty with it. But we know the Lancet is a prestigious journal, and Richard Horton took the risk in publishing this. He knows Palestine well, since several years. His conscience made him publish this letter. He is paying a high price for publishing the letter. There is a nasty campaign to get him fired.

Thank you Dr. Swee Ang Chai, founder of Medical Aid for Palestinians and for your voice as a medical doctor and humanitarian.


An open letter for the people in Gaza

Lancet letter

by Paola Manduca, Iain Chalmers, Derek Summerfield, Mads Gilbert, Swee Ange, on behalf of 24 signatories

We are doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives. We are also informed people; we teach the ethics of our professions, together with the knowledge and practice of it. We all have worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years.

On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel.

We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression. We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called “defensive aggression”. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people.

We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008. Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose.

This action also terrifies those who are not directly hit, and wounds the soul, mind, and resilience of the young generation. Our condemnation and disgust are further compounded by the denial and prohibition for Gaza to receive external help and supplies to alleviate the dire circumstances.

The blockade on Gaza has tightened further since last year and this has worsened the toll on Gaza’s population. In Gaza, people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income, not only by being bombed and shelled. Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water and food scarcity, sewage outflow and ever decreasing resources are disasters caused directly and indirectly by the siege.1

People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: “They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”2

Gaza has been blockaded by sea and land since 2006. Any individual of Gaza, including fishermen venturing beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli Navy. No one from Gaza can leave from the only two checkpoints, Erez or Rafah, without special permission from the Israelis and the Egyptians, which is hard to come by for many, if not impossible. People in Gaza are unable to go abroad to study, work, visit families, or do business. Wounded and sick people cannot leave easily to get specialised treatment outside Gaza. Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited.3 Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade.3 They have run out now. Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce. Agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone, and agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade. 80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on food rations from the UN.

Much of Gaza’s buildings and infrastructure had been destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008—09, and building materials have been blockaded so that schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt. Factories destroyed by bombardment have rarely been rebuilt adding unemployment to destitution.

Despite the difficult conditions, the people of Gaza and their political leaders have recently moved to resolve their conflicts “without arms and harm” through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007. This reconciliation, although accepted by many in the international community, was rejected by Israel. The present Israeli attacks stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank and single out a part of the Palestinian society by destroying the lives of people of Gaza. Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity. Among other lies, it is stated that civilians in Gaza are hostages of Hamas whereas the truth is that the Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and Egyptians.

Gaza has been bombed continuously for the past 14 days followed now by invasion on land by tanks and thousands of Israeli troops. More than 60 000 civilians from Northern Gaza were ordered to leave their homes. These internally displaced people have nowhere to go since Central and Southern Gaza are also subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. The whole of Gaza is under attack. The only shelters in Gaza are the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain shelters already targeted during Cast Lead, killing many.

According to Gaza Ministry of Health and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),1 as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded are children. Those buried under the rubble are not counted yet. As we write, the BBC reports of the bombing of another hospital, hitting the intensive care unit and operating theatres, with deaths of patients and staff. There are now fears for the main hospital Al Shifa. Moreover, most people are psychologically traumatised in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel.

The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction. An entire area was destroyed on July 20, leaving thousands of displaced people homeless, beside wounding hundreds and killing at least 70—this is way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels. None of these are military objectives. These attacks aim to terrorise, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as also demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild.

Weaponry known to cause long-term damages on health of the whole population are used; particularly non fragmentation weaponry and hard-head bombs.4, 5 We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children and we constantly see that so-called intelligent weapons fail to be precise, unless they are deliberately used to destroy innocent lives.

We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children’s wellbeing.

Israel’s behaviour has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts. Even those of us who want to go and help are unable to reach Gaza due to the blockade.

This “defensive aggression” of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity must be stopped.

Additionally, should the use of gas be further confirmed, this is unequivocally a war crime for which, before anything else, high sanctions will have to be taken immediately on Israel with cessation of any trade and collaborative agreements with Europe.

As we write, other massacres and threats to the medical personnel in emergency services and denial of entry for international humanitarian convoys are reported.6 We as scientists and doctors cannot keep silent while this crime against humanity continues. We urge readers not to be silent too. Gaza trapped under siege, is being killed by one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated modern military machines. The land is poisoned by weapon debris, with consequences for future generations. If those of us capable of speaking up fail to do so and take a stand against this war crime, we are also complicit in the destruction of the lives and homes of 1·8 million people in Gaza.

We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza. We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organisations to stop this massacre.

August 26, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

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