The ILWU Rises to the Challenge
Anyone who still believes that U.S. workers and the labor movement are incapable of mounting a struggle against the conditions that the economic crisis is forcing on us has not been paying attention. Evidence to the contrary was vividly provided on the morning of September 8th, when 500 International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21 members and their supporters took over the Port of Longview in the state of Washington. Railroad cars were damaged and the grain they carried was dumped in an effort by these workers to defend their jobs by resorting to the only tactic they had left, that is, using work site action to hurt the employers bottom line.
To do so they had to use their strength in numbers to overpower the police and security guards. Though the police attempted to make arrests, the workers pushed back and managed to release their brothers and sisters. The standoff that developed was explosively tense. As the hours rolled on the police began to bring out an arsenal of “non-lethal” guns and tear gas, demonstrating that they were prepared to inflict heavy casualties in order to secure the port and defend the bosses’ property and profits. The workers withdrew, for the time being, after having made their point by inflicting costs on the port bosses dearly. It is a credit to their unity that there were no successful arrests or injuries.
This action was accompanied by wildcat strikes (that is, strikes not sanctioned by the union) in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. This shows how big the stakes are at the Port of Longview. For workers to sacrifice their wages and make such extraordinary efforts, the cost of such actions have to greatly outweigh the costs of not taking them.
In this case the corporation compelling the ILWU to take such dramatic actions is the multi-national consortium EGT Development. Last year alone they made $2.5 billion. In spite of these deep pockets, they want to bust the ILWU at the $200 million grain terminal in Longview. If they succeed, this will encourage other longshore employers to do the same.
Promising jobs, EGT got a state tax exemption and a sweetheart lease deal to build the grain terminal. However, rather than providing local construction jobs in a county with an August unemployment rate of 11.7 percent, they initially imported non-union lower paid workers. If anyone was expecting some gratitude towards the community from EGT for the breaks the company received, that illusion quickly evaporated.
Then EGT’s greedy behavior got even worse. For 70 years the Port of Longview has employed the members of ILWU Local 21. In May of 2010, EGT had stated that they would continue the practice. This appears to have been a stalling tactic, however. In following negotiations EGT made unreasonable demands, such as asking ILWU members to work 12 hour shifts without overtime pay in addition to an exemption from recognizing maintenance, repair, and master consul jurisdiction. After not getting their way, EGT refused to meet with the ILWU, which is, most likely, what they wanted to do all along.
ILWU Push Back
The ILWU began to hold rallies and picket EGT in an attempt to pressure them back to the negotiating table. EGT refused to budge. This arrogant stubbornness resulted in a protest on July 11 where ILWU members tore down a chain-link gate and stormed the EGT terminal. 100 union workers and leaders were cited for arrest.
On July 14th union workers successfully blocked a train from delivering grain to the EGT terminal. As a result, the train company suspended its shipments for safety reasons.
EGT was feeling the heat, but they weren’t burned yet. They had another cynical maneuver up their sleeve. They signed an agreement with the Federal Way-based General Construction Company to operate the terminal with union members from the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 701. Now they hoped they could portray the conflict as union against union rather than union against EGT.
However, because the members of IUOE 701 are employed by a general contractor, they can be replaced by non-union workers the moment EGT decides to take over the job itself. Seeing through this ruse, both the Oregon and Washington State AFL-CIOs have condemned the leadership of IUOE 701for their actions in assisting EGT’s attempts to divide the union movement.
In all of this, it is important to note, the role of the police and legal system. While there have been many arrests of union members and leaders with stiff sentences for charges as trivial as not moving quickly enough when asked, those acting against the union have consistently gotten off scot-free. For instance, one person drove his car through a picket line so carelessly that a picketer was sent to the hospital. Rather than arresting the driver, the police arrested a protester for allegedly denting the car with his knee. With this twisted logic, if the driver had gotten out of his vehicle and struck a protester in the mouth with his fist, the police would have arrested the protester for assaulting the driver’s hand with his face.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which was established in the 1930s ostensibly to protect union rights, has also been lining up with the employer. This board filed a temporary injunction against the ILWU, prohibiting union members from all traditional forms of protest. This moved ILWU International President Robert McEllrath to observe:
“The NLRB complaint and the motion seeking a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) and injunction were expected by the Coast Committee. The complaint itself has no legal significance unless sustained after a full trial and currently represents nothing more than mere allegations that are based on incorrect facts and bogus legal conclusions. This, unfortunately, is typical of the NLRB ever since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 transformed its mission to restrict the union and civil rights of union members. The NLRB exists for one reason and that is to protect commerce at the expense of workers, and we are not surprised that EGT is employing the NLRB to put down a legitimate labor dispute.”
Fortunately, the ILWU defied this injunction on September 7, when they again clogged the railroad tracks to prevent grain from being delivered to the EGT terminal, and again on the morning of September 8 when they took over the terminal. Had they played by the rules of a game rigged in favor of the bosses, EGT would have no reason to settle the dispute. Consequently, the police and courts would have greater incentive to trample on the ILWU members’ rights.
On September 8th, a United States District Court Judge denied the NLRB’s motion to ban picketing at the EGT facility. It is more than likely that part of the motivation behind this was that such restrictions were not muzzling the ILWU membership, but emboldening them. If an unjust law is followed, it remains. If it is resisted and defied through mass collective action, there is a better chance of doing away with it.
The role of the corporate press should also be noted. Few, if any, articles have made a genuine attempt to give the union side in this conflict, though the ILWU has strong community support in Longview. The initial reports in the corporate websites and papers even claimed that security guards were held hostage by those who stormed the EGT terminal. Since these accounts came out, even the police have said they were false. Nevertheless, these claims still turn up uncorrected in the corporate media. This should surprise no one. The corporate media have more economic interests in discrediting labor and any actions that effectively hurt corporate profits than they do in providing the truth.
Even with the press, the legal system, as well as the political establishment lined up against us, labor can win. A new mood is rising from the ranks as a result of the attacks against all workers and the insatiable greed and power of those tiny few at the very top economic rung. This mood is turning into a mass force. We have already witnessed it in Madison, Wisconsin which, though not resulting in an immediate victory, showed that the political climate opposed to workers’ struggles can be turned around. The 45,000 member-strong strike at Verizon alone equaled all the unionists out on strike in 2010. Now the ILWU in Longview has introduced a new boldness in overcoming legal restrictions and hitting the employers where they are most vulnerable: their profits.
When ILWU International President Robert McEllrath urged members to end their standoff at the EGT Terminal take over, he stated:
“If we leave here, it doesn’t mean we gave up and quit. It means we’re coming back.”
And when they do come back, they need to do so with the active support of Longshore workers across the west coast. They also need to mobilize their community supporters in the streets. If this is done, the ILWU could again provide a watershed moment for Labor like they did in the 1934 San Francisco General Strike.
Mark Vorpahl is a union steward as well as an anti-war and Latin American Solidarity activist. He can be reached at Portland@workerscompass.org.
4 April 2006
April 7, 2003
Hawaii’s Bloody Monday – August 1, 1938
An explosion at the southern French nuclear plant of Marcoule, located in the Gard department in Languedoc-Roussillon region, has killed one and injured four others.
The powerful explosion struck the area at 11:45 local time (09:45 GMT) on Monday, Associated Press reported.
French officials say the explosion was caused by a fire near a furnace in the Centraco radioactive waste storage site.
“According to initial information, the explosion happened in an oven used to melt radioactive metallic waste of little and very little radioactivity,” the French Nuclear Safety Authority said in a statement.
The agency further warned of the possibility of a radiation leak threat of an oven at the nuclear site.
The Marcoule plant is one of France’s oldest nuclear plants still operating and is located in the Gard department in Languedoc-Roussillon region.
The plant is a nuclear waste management facility that does not include any reactors. The site is partly used to produce MOX fuel that recycles plutonium from nuclear weapons.
Nuclear energy provides nearly 70 percent of France’s nuclear energy needs. France is the world’s most nuclear-reliant country with 58 nuclear reactors.
July war 2006, the 33 day war “Israel” launched on Lebanon was a bitter memory in the diary of every Lebanese. “Israel” killed 1,200 civilians, one third were children.
Thousands of homes were destroyed, 50 schools were shattered not to mention the roads and bridges that turned into rubble.
Despite all that, the people were able to move on with grand perseverance. With the blessings of the mighty fighters and with the people’s support the Divine victory was sowed.
However this is just the beginning of the “Israeli” belligerence.
At the end of the war, “Israel” had to take revenge. It dropped around 4 million cluster bombs over South Lebanon, mostly during the last 72 hours of the war.
Around 500,000 of those munitions did not explode, and have killed or seriously injured some 213 civilians and 52 de-miners since the war ended. 98% of the victims are civilians.
The reason why many sub-munitions didn’t explode, at least not immediately, was because “Israel” used many old stocks that went decades and decades back.
Unexploded cluster bombs are dangerous in part because their condition is unknown, they might be fully armed and ready to detonate, not armed and relatively harmless, or partially armed. If they are armed, they may or not be capable of firing, adding to their unpredictability.
When cluster munitions are dropped, the bombs can be spread intentionally or unintentionally over a large area, leaving a larger threat to civilians.
Although “Israel” discharged the largest number of cluster bombs in 2006, it used them earlier.
“Israel” used cluster munitions in its 1978 and 1982 incursions into Lebanon. The two-decade-old unexploded sub munitions from “Israeli” campaigns have continued killing and injuring civilians, with over 200 civilian casualties recorded between 2000 and 2005.
Moqawama.org had a special interview with a victim of cluster bombs in South Lebanon.
Ali Suleiman a 52 year old and father of 5, witnessed the pain of the “hidden devil” has he called it. “I was in my land in Arabsalim watering my olive trees and thinking about how much I missed my sons abroad, when suddenly I hear something explode. It was a matter of seconds and I saw blood on my hand and I could see no more. I knew I was injured badly by the “hidden devil”, the cluster bomb!” he said.
He fell on the ground and the pain started in his head then down his face, “I felt like needles were being hammered in my eyes”, he said.
“My wife came to check on me and found me lying on the ground, with all the blood she saw, she thought I was dead.”
The doctors said that Ali was moved to the hospital on time, had he been delayed a bit more he wouldn’t have made it due to the blood he lost.
Ali woke up in the hospital when he opened his eyes, he couldn’t see anything, it was hard for him to absorb what was happening. He was later informed that he lost an eye and the other was injured badly and needed 3 months of treatment.
“I couldn’t breathe; it was hard for me to take a breath. All I was thinking about was the fact that I may not see my wife, my children and grandchildren again. I may not be able to see my land, my home, my family. I may not be able to work again,” he cried.
After 3 months Ali did see again, the doctors managed to save his eye. “When I came back home, I knelt on the ground and thanked God for his mercy. I thanked God for having mighty fighters that were defending us from the antagonism of the Zionists”!
Ali survived yet many others couldn’t make it. Many farmers died before stepping on their land again due to the fact that it was contaminated. Many children lost the chance to run again, or write again, or even hear again. Many dreams were broken and many ambitions were stolen. These are the lives of the victims of the “hidden devils”!
A Cluster-Bomb-Free Lebanon?
Today, Monday, marks the opening of the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
9:20 a.m., the buses took off to South Lebanon, where representatives of 109 countries as well as journalists headed to the demining center and the Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped’s center in Nabatiyeh and Sarafand respectively, for a live experience on the topic.
Out of the 109 countries that have joined the convention, 61 – including Lebanon – are “states parties,” meaning they have signed and ratified the convention, which requires countries to declare and destroy stockpiles of cluster munitions, clear contaminated areas, and assist survivors and affected communities.
According to the Lebanon Mine Action Center, the army-headed division that is supervising the cleanup, 67 percent of contaminated land has been cleared. They aim to have the country free of cluster munitions by 2016.
Today, Monday, the opening of the conference will take place at the UNESCO Palace, where it will be launched under the patronage of President of the Lebanese Republic Michel Suleiman, which will be followed by a series of workshops and seminars to tackle the subject.
John Gross, one of the lead engineers of the NIST report is quesitoned about the existance of molten steel at the WTC building, the collapse of Building 7, and also explains how the NIST report did not do any analysis concerning the physical collapse of all three buidlings. John Gross was asked to come speak at the University of Texas at Austin by the Phil. M. Ferguson fund.
We are all going to be invited to the funeral of the two-state solution if and when the UN General Assembly announces the acceptance of Palestine as a member state.
The support of the vast majority of the organization’s members would complete a cycle that began in 1967 and which granted the ill-advised two-state solution the backing of every powerful and less powerful actor on the international and regional stages.
Even inside Israel, the support engulfed eventually the right as well as the left and center of Zionist politics. And yet despite the previous and future support, everybody inside and outside Palestine seems to concede that the occupation will continue and that even in the best of all scenarios, there will be a greater and racist Israel next to a fragmented and useless bantustan.
The charade will end in September or October — when the Palestinian Authority plans to submit its request for UN membership as a full member — in one of two ways.
It could be either painful and violent, if Israel continues to enjoy international immunity and is allowed to finalize by sheer brutal force its mapping of post-Oslo Palestine. Or it could end in a revolutionary and much more peaceful way with the gradual replacement of the old fabrications with solid new truths about peace and reconciliation for Palestine. Or perhaps the first scenario is an unfortunate precondition for the second. Time will tell.
A substitute dictionary for Zionism
In ancient times, the dead were buried with their beloved artifacts and belongings. This coming funeral will probably follow a similar ritual. The most important item to go six feet under is the dictionary of illusion and deception and its famous entries such as “the peace process,” “the only democracy in the Middle East,” “a peace-loving nation,” “parity and reciprocity” and a “humane solution to the refugee problem.”
The substitute dictionary has been in the making for many years describing Zionism as colonialism, Israel as an apartheid state and the Nakba as ethnic cleansing. It will be much easier to put it into common use after September.
The maps of the dead solution will also be lying next to the body. The cartography that diminished Palestine into one tenth of its historical self, and which was presented as a map of peace, will hopefully be gone forever.
There is no need to prepare an alternative map. Since 1967, the geography of the conflict has never changed in reality, while it kept constantly transforming in the discourse of liberal Zionist politicians, journalists and academics, who still enjoy today a widespread international backing.
Palestine was always the land between the river and the sea. It still is. Its changing fortunes are characterized not by geography but by demography. The settler movement that came there in the late 19th century now accounts for half of the population and controls the other half through a matrix of racist ideologies and apartheid policies.
Peace is not a demographic change, nor a redrawing of maps: it is the elimination of these ideologies and policies. Who knows — it may be easier now than ever before to do this.
Exposing Israel’s protest movement
The funeral will expose the fallacy of the present Israeli mass protest movement, while at the same time highlight its positive potential. For seven weeks, mostly middle class Israeli Jews have protested in huge numbers against their government’s social and economic policies.
In order to keep the protest as large a movement as possible, its leaders and coordinators do not dare to mention occupation, colonization or apartheid. The sources of evil for everything, they claim, are the brutal capitalist policies of the government.
On a certain level they have a point. These policies disabled the master race of Israel from fully and equally enjoying the fruits of Palestine’s colonization and dispossession. But a fairer division of the spoils will not ensure normal life for either Jews or Palestinians; only the end to looting and pillage will.
And yet they also showed skepticism and distrust in what their media and politicians tell them about the socio-economic reality; it may open the way for a better understanding of the lies they were fed about the “conflict” and their “national security” over so many years.
The funeral should energize us all to follow the same distribution of labor as before. Palestinians urgently need to solve the issue of representation. The progressive Jewish forces in the world have to be more intensively recruited to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and other solidarity campaigns.
Intifada at the proms
The recent disruption of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performance at the prestigious BBC Proms in London shocked the gentle Israelis more than any genocidal event in their own history.
But more than anything else, as reported by senior Israeli journalists who were there, they were flabbergasted by the presence of so many Jews among the protesters. These very journalists kept depicting in the past the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and BDS activists as terrorist groups and extremists of the worst kind. They believed their own reports. To its credit, the mini-intifada at the Royal Albert Hall at least confused them.
Putting one state into political action
In Palestine itself the time has come to move the discourse of one state into political action and maybe adopt the new dictionary. The dispossession is everywhere and therefore the repossession and reconciliation have to occur everywhere.
If the relationship between Jews and Palestinians is to be reformulated on a just and democratic basis, one can accept neither the old buried map of the two-state solution nor its logic of partition. This also means that the sacred distinction made between Jewish settlements near Haifa and those near Nablus should be put in the grave as well.
The distinction should be made between those Jews who are willing to discuss a reformulation of the relationship, change of regime and equal status and those who are not, regardless of where they live now. There are surprising phenomena in this respect if one studies well the human and political fabric of 2011 historic Palestine, ruled as it is by the Israeli regime: the willingness for a dialogue is sometimes more evident beyond the 1967 line rather than inside it.
The dialogue from within for a change of regime, the question of representation and the BDS movement are all part and parcel of the same effort to bring justice and peace to Palestine. What we will bury — hopefully — in September was one of the major obstacles in the way to realizing this vision.
The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.
On 2 September Turkey expelled its Israeli ambassador as a first response to Israel’s refusal to apologise for the killing last year of nine Turkish activists by Israeli commandos on a ship trying to breach its naval blockade on Gaza.
The sanction followed the premature publication by the New York Times of an oft-postponed United Nations report into the raid, the so-called Palmer Report, named after its head, ex-New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer. It had been set up to mend the rift between the erstwhile allies. Its leak served only to tear them apart.
The Palmer Report contained few surprises. It called the commandos’ action on the Turkish ship “excessive and unreasonable”, condemned the loss of life as “unacceptable” and found Israel’s treatment of passengers on the ship “abusive”.
But, critically, it said Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was a “legitimate security measure to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with international law”, a conclusion at odds with a 2010 fact-finding mission by the UN Human Rights Council which found both raid and blockade illegal under international law.
Both Israel and Turkey had issues with Palmer. But it was clear which side felt exonerated. Palmer’s judgement on the legality of the blockade proved “Israel has a right to defend itself,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on 4 September. Turkish President Abdullah Gul shrugged. “The report is null and void for us,” he said.
As well as downgrading diplomatic and military ties, Turkey will now support victims of the raid by taking legal action against the responsible Israeli commandos and officials, in both local and foreign courts. It would also challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza at the International Court of Justice.
The descent in Turkish-Israeli relations to their lowest point in 30 years is due to multiple failures: but the principle losers are likely to be Ankara, whose attempted policy of rapprochement with Israel turned out to be barren; and the United States, whose influence over even its allies in the Middle East seems to diminish by the month.
For over a year the Turkish government resisted its own public opinion in search of an Israeli apology. It acted with restraint partly due to American pressure, anxious that its two allies in the Eastern Mediterranean bury their difference. But caution was also counseled by the changes wrought by the popular uprisings in the Arab world.
A year ago Turkey seemed ready to risk confrontation with Israel over the flotilla. It had close ties to Syria and Iraq, and warming relations with Iran. The Arab uprisings have blown those ties away. Ankara is now on the verge of imposing sanctions on Damascus for the brutal suppression of its own people, and opposes Iran and Iraq over their support for Syrian President Bashir Al-Assad.
In such ferment Turkish diplomats believed normalisation with Israel was better than a cold war. They worked tirelessly with their Israeli counterparts to craft carefully worded Israeli apologies for the raid, approved by Netanyahu, only to have them sunk by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon: both ruled out an apology because “honour is a strategic asset,” said Yaalon.
The final straw apparently was Netanyahu’s call last month to postpone publication of the Palmer report for another six months, only to then see it leaked to the New York Times. The Turks are convinced the leak was done by Lieberman and Yaalon to scupper all chance of reconciliation. “Israel isn’t serious,” said a Turkish diplomat.
Turkey had been outmaneuvered. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli officials think its threat to take the issue of the Gaza blockade to the ICJ is a “pistol firing blanks”. They may be right. It is certainly difficult to see the ICJ issuing an advisory opinion against the blockade after a UN report, set up by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, found it “legal”.
The Obama administration was also outdone. It was the main driver behind the Palmer report, partly to eclipse the earlier UN Human Rights Council report, but mainly to give time for Turkey and Israel to repair ties. Palmer is not about “accountability”, said a UN source. “It’s about getting Turkey and Israel in the same room together”.
Turkey remains a key state for Washington, not only as NATO’s eastern front against Iran (on the day sanctions were declared against Israel, Turkey agreed to deploy an early warning radar as part of a NATO defence system whose aim is to “shield” Europe from Iranian missiles). It is perhaps the pivotal power for building a regional coalition against Syria.
In America’s eyes, Turkey’s spat with Israel over the raid weakened both goals. United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Israeli government “to go the extra mile” for peace with Turkey, including by apologising for the deaths of the nine activists, said Turkish and Israeli sources.
Netanyahu initially said this was impossible for reasons of coalition: it was a spurious claim because, although Lieberman opposed any apology, he said he would not leave the government over it. The Israeli premier then told Clinton that with social protests mushrooming in Israeli cities, bowing to Turkish “dictates” would weaken him in Israeli opinion. That’s when Palmer appeared in the New York Times.
Not for the first time Israel seems ready to sacrifice long-term strategic ties on the altar of short-term domestic tactics. Not the first too the Obama administration has had to wipe Israeli spit from its eyes and tell everyone it was rain.
The Jewish Defence League in France published an ad on 3 September calling on activists with a military background to join a solidarity trip to “Judea and Samaria” between 19-25 September 2011.
According to the notice, published on the website of the Jewish Defence League (JDL), the trip “is intended for those with military experience in order to assist our brethren struggling with the attacks of the Palestinian occupiers and thus to contribute to the security of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria”.
The JDL is a radical right-wing movement founded in the United States by Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1968. Members of the JDL were involved in violent actions in the United States, including the 1985 murder of the regional director of the Arab American Committee against Discrimination, Alex Odeh. In 2001 the organization was defined as a terrorist group by the US federal authorities after a connection to the murder of Republican Congressman from California, Darrell Issa, was discovered.
The French branch of the JDL was founded in 2000 under the name “Liberty, Democracy and Judaism”. In 2002, Channel 2 France published a piece which exposed that members of the French group were undergoing military training.
After the immigration of Rabbi Kahane to Israel, and Israeli branch of the JDL was established under the name Kach (this is the way). The movement was banned in 1988 and in 1994, after the slaughter in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque,the movement was defined as a terrorist organization.
The enlistment of activists with a military background to assist the settlers represents a serious escalation of the activities of radical settler groups.
Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)
Ali Hasan Khalifa, another martyr, another victim. (Tamar Fleishman)
The West Bank – I wanted to write about Mahmud, the thirteen year old boy that ever since his return from Ofer prison is the first of the children who hurry to greet me on my arrival.
Perhaps this is because finally someone has taken an interest in his fate.
It isn’t often that someone expresses interest and concern for the children of Qalandiya. More than often people make demands of them, reject them and abuse them.
These children are destined to servitude.
I no longer regard Mahmud as just another child in the bunch, he is an individual, he is noticed, his photograph is taken, he smiles, he waits for that specific day in the week when he receives his photos, and when I ask him about the leg that was injured when he was beaten, he tilts his head with timidity, which is uncommon among him and his friends, and then smiles and replies: “no, it doesn’t hurt any more…”and with a hint of embarrassment he agrees to tell some of his prison stories.
Mahmud said that there were eight people sharing his cell, people of all ages, that the youngest was a boy of ten from Jalazone refugee camp who was serving three months, he said that he himself, Mahmud, wasn’t beaten in prison, he was just taken in for interrogation, that he denied having anything to do with the stones that were thrown and that the investigators demanded that he give them names. On his release he received his clothes back, “they didn’t take the money”, and the profit he made at work on the day he was arrested, had remained in his pockets and was enough to cover the ride back home.
Some hours later, between midnight and dawn, twenty two year old Moatassem Adwan and twenty three year old Ali Kalifa from Qalandiya refugee camp, were shot to death.
And I knew that it was all connected, like links in an elongating chain of horror. I knew that I must also write about all that occurred on that night, for together with knowledge and familiarity comes a duty to tell the story and give voice to the living children and to the children that had been shot.
I knew that I must write about the fifteen year old boy, that when coming to arrest him an entire unit of soldiers raided the allies of the refugee camp on the early morning of the first day of the Ramadan. After having knocked the door open, the soldiers searched the house, making a mess and raising havoc. Having not been able to find the boy they took his cousin as hostage.
About the father who did not praise his lord for having saved his son, but instead like Abraham, the father of the two nations, he took his beloved by the hand on the next morning and went with him so that the exchange could be preformed. He handed in his son to those seeking him.
About the mother who watched the two holding one another, walking away, walking and disappearing, heading towards her destruction.
About the failed plan of those invaders who hurried to pull the trigger as soon as they saw two young men in front them.
I must write about my encounter with Ali Kalifa, the same Ali Kalifa who had a rifle’s bullet penetrate his back, it pierced his body from one side and then exited from the other.
About having taken a photo of Ali Kalifa not long before that bitter day, as it is, children of all ages wish to have their picture taken so that they have a memento of their portrait.
About how this might just have been the last photo to ever commemorate the living Ali. H’, a friend of Ali, told me that this photo had been placed at his parents grieving shade.
About my encounter with this young man who would look you straight in the eyes over a light conversation, about how he would imagine himself living in a reality that is unattainable for someone from a refugee camp. It is just as well since those imaginations and dreams were his haven and comfort.
And that this is the story of the children whose backs and napes are exposed and unprotected, for they, the children of Qalandiya are an allegory to the story of the occupation.
(Translated by Ruth Fleishman)
As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: www.machsomwatch.org. She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence.
BETHLEHEM — The Israeli military systematically denies Palestinians the right to protest in the West Bank, a report published Monday by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem says.
The ‘Show of Force’ report finds that Israel does not recognize the “basic right” of Palestinians to protest and responds to demonstrations with an “excessive use of crowd control weapons.”
The army often fires tear gas canisters “directly at protesters,” a practice which B’Tselem says violates the military’s own orders.
In most cases the army treats protests as “disturbances” and disperses processions even in the absence of violent acts by protesters, according to the report.
B’Tselem examined the conduct of Israeli forces in weekly demonstrations held in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh over the past year and a half.
It found that the response of the Israeli army indiscriminately harms all village residents through the closure of roads and the imposition of Friday curfews which expose a large number of people to delays and restrictions.
Residents are also exposed to the effects of excessive tear gas which “penetrates their homes.”
The Israeli rights group documented four consecutive demonstrations with video and field observation between June 17 and July 8 and interviewed village residents.
The Israeli military does not “recognize the right to demonstrate” in the West Bank, B’Tselem stated. It called on the Israeli army to respect Palestinians’ right to protest and use “proportionate” means where necessary to disperse protesters.
In a cabinet meeting on Sunday, the Israeli ministers approved a plan based on the ‘Prawer Report’, which involves the forced removal of 30,000 Arab Bedouin villagers in southern Israel from their homes.
The Bedouin people have lived in southern Israel for hundreds, if not thousands of years, but when Israel was created in 1948, the Israeli government chose not to recognize the Bedouin as residents, and have destroyed their homes over and over again in the decades since.
After Sunday’s decision was announced, around 150 Bedouins gathered outside the office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to protest the plan. Some have termed it ‘ethnic cleansing’, and a Bedouin representative told Israeli reporters with Ha’aretz newspaper that the displacement plan represented a ‘declaration of war’ by the Israeli government against the Bedouin people.
Israel has created three ‘recognized’ areas for the Bedouins to settle in, near the municipal dump for the city of Jerusalem, and has repeatedly attempted to force the tens of thousands of ‘unrecognized’ Bedouins from their ancestral homes and into these areas, which many of the Bedouin view as ghettoes. The ‘recognized’ areas also do not include space for the animals of the Bedouin, many of whom are shepherds and require space for the sheep to graze.
When the ‘Prawer Report’, commissioned by the Israeli government to come up with a ‘solution’ to end the ‘Bedouin problem’, was released in June, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed numerous objections to the report.
The report says that the ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin villages must meet a number of criteria in order to be ‘recognized’, including economic sustainability and contiguity – criteria which many Bedouin people say involve the forced urbanization of their rural culture.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, “If the same criteria were applied to the Jewish population, whole settlements – including community settlements, observatories, kibbutzim and moshavim – would be doomed”.