At approximately 2:35pm this afternoon in the Orange County Superior Courthouse in Santa Ana, California, the presiding judge in the Irvine 11 trial, Peter Wilson, announced his sentence following a jury’s decision to convict the students on both misdemeanor counts with which they were charged (“conspiracy to disrupt a public meeting” and “disruption of a public meeting”).
The Irvine 11 held a nonviolent civil disobedience protest during a speech by an Israeli official in February 2010 and have been fighting the charges in court since late August.
Wilson stated to the defendants and their attorneys — with nearly one hundred people present in the courtroom — that although the jury decided on guilty verdicts, he would not be sending the students to jail for the protest in which they were involved. He said that the defendants have no prior records, are productive members of their community, and acted on their beliefs, so jail time would be “inappropriate.”
He ordered the students to serve 56 hours of community service at a non-profit organization and said they were under a 3-year probation. But if they complete their service before the end of January 2012, the probation would only be for one year, and would end on 24 September 2012.
There was a palpable mood of relief in the room from friends, family members, and supporters, who just two hours before had heard that the jury returned two guilty verdicts for every defendant. When the verdicts were read by the court clerk, several people immediately burst into tears, and others stood up and walked out. One person said “there is no justice.”
Following the sentencing, the students and their attorneys held a press conference outside the courthouse, with a plethora of news media present. The attorneys and the Irvine 11 (and their families) have been under a gag order to the media for the past several months, and this was the first opportunity to hear from the students and the attorneys and ask questions.
Student Khalid Akari said:
On February 8, 2010, I stood up against the face of oppression. I stood up for the children of Palestine; children who have no voice. That day, I stood up for a purpose. I stood up for conscience. I had a message that day, a peaceful message.
As people around the world are fighting to seek a voice, I too will fight on, to seek my voice and to be heard. Because this is not a right that can be taken [away] by a district attorney; this right has been given to us by God.
My message is to all those activists who have been watching this story closely. All of those who speak truth to power. And all of those who challenge the status quo. Do not let this case deter you. Do not let this case falter your activism. Make this the platform to intensify activism on the Palestine issue in this country.
Despite the prejudicial nature of the charges filed against us, and the actions of the University administration, I want to say that I respect the court’s decision, however I would like to emphasize how proud I am of my actions on February 8 . I intend to continue my activism, to give voice to the voiceless. Including my cousins, who died during the Gaza massacre. And the 1,400 other civilians who lost their lives during that massacre as well. May God rest their souls.
Mohamed Abdelgany, Asaad Traina and Aslan Akhtar also spoke passionately and eloquently to the crowd. The full video of the press conference will be uploaded this weekend.
Even though the sentence was relatively light, the attorneys said that they would immediately be filing an appeal to overturn the decision, and would take it all the way to the Supreme Court in order to protect legitimate protest and free speech. Attorney Lisa Holder, expressing pride in her clients, said that the students “stood up for their conscience, they stood up for their beliefs, and they stand out in a world that has become very apathetic.”
Holder added that she was excited to work with them in the future to help “overturn certain laws which are not fair and which do not allow us to voice our beliefs and to intently voice our conscience.”
We will be appealing this decision. And we expect that there will be some changes in the laws to make room for this type of dissent, which is valid, which is important, which is critical to our democracy.
Attorney Dan Mayfield added:
Remember what the judge said in the court: that part of his reason for giving the sentence that he gave — which was a very lenient and fair sentence — was because the judge found that the young men in this case were motivated by their sincere beliefs.
[Additionally,] there is already a movement which has developed in just the 30-45 minutes since we left court: a movement of people who are pledging to do volunteer work alongside these young men. So when they do their 56 hours of volunteer work, they will bring other people with them to do volunteer work in our community. I’m very, very proud to be part of this group.
The District Attorney’s lead prosecutor, Dan Wagner, stated outside the courtroom after sentencing was read that he had wanted the students to serve jail time so it would deter future protesters.
Khalid Akari told The Electronic Intifada outside the courtroom that the guilty verdict, though he was naturally unhappy with it, has not deterred his activism. “Not at all,” he said. “I stood up for a reason that day. It would be pointless if I stopped doing it, so I will continue doing it.”
Taher Herzallah said that he was concerned that if they took a plea bargain at the beginning, and did not fight this in court, that it may not have inspired such outcry from students and the community at large. “We shouldn’t be scared,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “We should be encouraged to do these things. I hope this whole process encourages people do stand up, not discourage them.”
When asked what message he had to the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation and siege, Herzallah said that he wanted to address the mothers who have lost their sons, to those under attack.
We are with you. We did not forget about you. Here in America we’re struggling and we’re willing to make the sacrifice to give you any ease or comfort as much as possible. The battleground in America with the Zionists is not over. This was just the beginning, and we are ready to continue.
The Electronic Intifada will provide updates in the appeals process. For more information, visit the Stand With the Eleven solidarity website at www.irvine11.com.
Today Essam Kamal Abed Aoudhi, a 35 year old father of 8 children from the village of Qusra, was murdered by the Israeli army as they fired live ammunition indiscriminately into a crowd of villagers gathered in their village.
From the nearby outpost of Esh Kodesh (“Holy Head”) built entirely on stolen Qusra land, a large group of settlers left the settlement and entered the village just after 1pm and began attacking villagers and burning olive groves. As the villagers gathered to protect themselves and their land, the soldiers arrived and stood between the settlers and villagers, protecting the settlers who retreated.
Soldiers instantly began to fire tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and live ammunition directly at villagers, making no attempt to disperse but intending solely to injure.
Mohammad Abdul Odeh, age 16, was shot in the stomach with a high velocity tear gas canister as he stood on his land.
Remi Yusef Faiz Hassan, age 35, was shot with 4 rubber bullets and one dum dum from 2 meters as he peacefully walked to soldiers to ask why they allow the settlers to enter his village and burn his trees.
Sameeh Hassan, age 24, was shot in the groin with rubber bullets as he attempted to reach his olive trees and extinguish the fire destroying them.
Essam Aoudhi was shot with live ammunition as he joined his fellow villagers protesting the army’s incursion into his village. According to Dr. Sameh Abu Zaroh, a doctor at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, the wound on Essam’s body shows that the bullet was shot from just a few meters away and from below in such a way to insure maximum injury. The bullet entered the right side of Essam’s chest and exited through the top of his back, fracturing his vertebrae in multiple places.
After Essam was carried to an ambulance, the soldiers left immediately, clearly understanding what had just happened. The people of Qusra returned to the centre of the village where children had gathered, shouting slogans expressing their anger over Essam’s martyrdom.
As the sun set in Qusra, the punishment continued, as two teenagers stumbled into the village before collapsing to the ground in pain. Both Amar Masameer, age 19, and Fathi Hassan, age 16, were arrested earlier in the day as they made their way towards Qusra’s burning olive trees.
They did not resist arrest yet returned to the village dripping with blood and faces so swollen they were barely recognisable. Once arrested, Fathi Hassan explained, settlers from the outpost had asked the soldiers detaining them for permission to beat the two boys. The soldiers did not interfere and so the settlers began stoning the boys whilst their hands where cuffed behind their backs. Amar Masameer was hit directly in the eye with a stone thrown from just a few meters and is now in Rafidia hospital awaiting treatment.
The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) decision to buck the United States and ask the United Nations for statehood recognition has provoked a chorus of U.S. officials to threaten the PA with a cut-off in aid, among other consequences. But there will likely be no U.S. aid cut-off, and that’s because the PA has a powerful ally with easy access to Congress: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The New York Times reported this week that the Obama administration enlisted Netanyahu to convince Congress not to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority.
This news might be confusing if you’ve only been paying attention to the conventional wisdom that the UN bid, as Ali Abunimah put it, “pit[s] Israel and the United States on one side, fiercely opposing it, and Palestinian officials and allied governments on the other.” But the reality is that Israel and the PA work closely together, and that the PA functions as a subcontractor for the Israeli occupation. Republican calls for a cut-off in aid to the PA are just posturing.
Netanyahu knows that the PA, first and foremost, serves Israeli interests by preventing any Palestinian challenge to Israel’s occupation regime. The UN bid won’t change that. It is, as Adam Shatz aptly wrote in the London Review of Books, an “extraordinary arrangement: the security forces of a country under occupation are being subcontracted by third parties outside the region to prevent resistance to the occupying power, even as that power continues to grab more land.”
Netanyahu’s move to advocate for American funding for the PA comes on the heels of a Reuters report that showed that some Israel lobby groups are working hard to keep the PA’s coffers full with U.S. money. An Israeli government report also recently called for a continuation of aid to the PA.
Here are more details about Netanyahu lobbying for the PA from the New York Times report on September 20:
When the Obama administration wanted to be certain that Congress would not block $50 million in new aid to the Palestinian Authority last month, it turned to a singularly influential lobbyist: Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
At the request of the American Embassy and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Netanyahu urged dozens of members of Congress visiting Israel last month not to object to the aid, according to Congressional and diplomatic officials…
One of the members of Congress who attended the meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in August, Representative Michael G. Grimm of New York, a Republican, said that it was carefully explained to the delegation that the money would be used for training Palestinian police officers who work closely with the Israeli government…
The notifications required to Congress before releasing the aid give committee leaders the power to put holds on delivery of the aid — something the administration sought to avoid by urging Mr. Netanyahu to intervene to keep the money flowing last month. The $50 million was the last of $200 million this year in direct budget assistance to the Palestinians.
While the American aid to the Palestinians has been viewed with suspicion by some of Israel’s supporters, the Israeli government, especially through its security officials, has expressed support for it.
“Netanyahu made the pitch to members at the request of the secretary and embassy,” a Congressional official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic discussions.
Any future Republican calls for a cut-off in U.S. assistance to the PA, which is at $600 million a year, will just be bluster meant to twist the arms of Mahmoud Abbas for daring to not listen to U.S. dictates. AIPAC and the rest of the lobby that follows the Likud Party line will make sure that it remains bluster.
After Georgia was forced by the United States Supreme Court to abandon its scheme to deny Black people the right to an undiluted vote and representation, Leroy Johnson became the first Black person elected to the Georgia State Senate since Reconstruction. The year was 1962. During his tenure, Johnson used his considerable influence inside the body to become the Senate’s Chair of the Judiciary Committee. From this position, he was able to bottle-up legislation that was bad for the State of Georgia, especially its Black residents. Outside and inside the State Senate, Leroy Johnson practiced the art of leadership and engaged in the fight for justice. He produced solid results for a people who were hungry for justice. Who among our elected officials today exercises the art of leadership in an engaged struggle for justice? Sadly, the numbers are way too small. It is more expedient to exchange silence for merely “being there,” in the end exercising no leadership at all and becoming a spectator to power in abandonment of those who need the effective use of power the most. The art of the struggle has veritably been abandoned for merely occupying a seat at the table when the purpose of the struggle for the seat at the table was to empower the struggle for justice. The only reason we send people to occupy that seat is to leverage the power of the community where power is exercised, on behalf of those who need it the most.
As I was commiserating over the Troy Davis situation with a former member of the Georgia Legislature who rose to the highest possible position within that body for his party, he lamented that for all of his years in the Legislature, he had not introduced a single death penalty bill. I quickly interjected that he was so busy putting out other fires and sticking his fingers in all the holes of the leaky dikes and schooling his colleagues on the effective use of the power of their elected positions that he couldn’t do everything. It will be interesting to see what legislative actions his former colleagues will initiate in the face of this clear act of barbarism by my state.
Occupying these “seats at the table” is important. Engaging in the struggle for justice is important. And contrary to what many would have us believe, leadership is important. That’s why so much effort is spent on co-opting or marginalizing the leaders of conscience that we do have and preventing authentic representatives of our values to occupy those seats at the table.
Therefore, more is required of us. We must hone the skill of discernment. We must not give our vote to just anybody to occupy these positions of power. We must not allow “posers” to represent us. Posers are those who wear the jackets of authority, who are put in positions of power by us, but who do not engage in the artful use of that power on our behalf. Discerning who is friend and who is poser has been difficult. But, is being made more possible by the arrogance now of those who do not have the interests of the people at heart. They seem not to care that their “neanderthal” is showing. But we can look at them and clearly see that they ain’t us. Their actions are a clue that they do not share our values.
Unfortunately, posers exist all around us: and in the media, too. The job now of people of conscience is to make sure that we don’t enable these posers by our own supportive behavior. My friend reminded me that Leroy Johnson, alone in the Georgia State Senate, was more powerful in the 1960s than are the 55 Black members of the Georgia Legislature now. We need to stop and think about that.
More is less? What role have we all had to play in such a circumstance? Is our leadership more of a reflection of who we are than we have acknowledged? What can we do differently in order to get a better result?
Abu Ghraib has its antecedents right here in the United States. The violence sponsored by the United States abroad has its origins inside the United States. As the United States and NATO drop bombs on unsubmitting African people in Libya, the United States kills an innocent Black man in Georgia. There is more to come unless we affirmatively take steps to stop it. Republican voters cheered at the prospects of more executions at a recent Presidential debate. In a recent article, Africom brags on its lessons learned from Libya:
The command had to define what effects it needed, and what specific targets would contribute to achieving those effects – a precise endeavor, Ham said. If attacking a communications node, planners must ask themselves what does that particular node do? How does it connect to other nodes? What’s the right munition to use? What’s the likelihood of collateral damage? What’s the right time of day to hit it? What’s the right delivery platform? And finally, how to synchronize attacks.
“That level of detail and precision … was not something the command had practiced to the degree that we were required to do in Odyssey Dawn,” Ham said. . . . If we were to launch a humanitarian operation, how do we do so effectively with air traffic control, airfield management, those kind of activities?” he said.
The United States has to craft those practices with African partners, he added.
U.S. allies in Libya are as barbaric as their sponsors. Despite youtube’s efforts to dissuade it from being seen, please watch this video sent to me from France:
As committed Libyans valiantly resist the entire NATO arsenal of modern and old-fashioned killfare, a new kind of perverse global plantation is being created. There is a clear and present danger that Africa and Asia will become U.S. killing fields for the next decade or more while the United States, itself, becomes a police state – unless we stop this poser leadership that really stopped representing us a long time ago.
If we fail to stop them, watch that video again – and welcome to the new America, hauntingly familiar to a place we never left.If we fail to stop them, watch that video again–and welcome to the new America, hauntingly familiar to a place we never left.
Cynthia McKinney can be contacted at hq2600(at)gmail.com.
For news from, by and about Cynthia McKinney, former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, check these websites:
Posing uncomfortable questions in his speech at the UN, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, asked who had used the “mysterious September 11 incident” as a precursor to war and to dominate the Middle East?
The entire American delegation walked out while Ahmadinejad was still speaking. European delegates also continued to stream out as Ahmadinejad went on, projected on large screens, calling the 9/11 attack “a mystery”.
“By using their imperialistic media network which is under the influence of colonialism they threaten anyone who questions the holocaust and the September 11 event with sanctions and military actions,” Ahmadinejad said.
When an Iranian proposal for an independent fact-finding investigation of ‘the hidden elements’ involved in the attacks was raised last year, Ahmadinejad said, “my country and myself came under pressure and threat by the government of the United States.”
“Instead of assigning a fact-finding team, they killed the main perpetrator and threw his body into the sea,” Ahmadinejad said, referring to the U.S. military’s killing of Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in early May.
“Would it not have been reasonable to bring to justice and openly to trial the main perpetrator of the incident in order to identify the elements behind the safe space provided for the invading aircraft to attack the twin world trade towers?,” he asked.
In this context Maidhc Ó Cathail calls attention to doubts on the official story of the Bin Laden ‘killing’:
Investigative journalist Russ Baker has written an intriguing analysis of Nicholas Schmidle’s much-heralded account in The New Yorker of the Abbottabad raid. Summing up the story’s main weaknesses, Baker writes:
It is based on reporting by a man who fails to disclose that he never spoke to the people who conducted the raid, or that his father has a long background himself running such operations (this even suggests the possibility that Nicholas Schmidle’s own father could have been one of those “unnamed sources.”)
It seems to have depended heavily on trusting second-hand accounts by people with a poor track record for accurate summations, and an incentive to spin.
The alleged decisions on killing bin Laden and disposing of his body lack credibility.
The DNA evidence that the SEALs actually got their man is questionable.
Though certain members of Congress say they have seen photos of the body (or, to be precise, a body), the rest of us have not seen anything.
Promised photos of the ceremonial dumping of the body at sea have not materialized.
The eyewitnesses from the house—including the surviving wives—have disappeared without comment.
As Baker points out, Nicholas Schmidle and his father, Marine Lt. General Robert E. “Rooster” Schmidle Jr., share common sponsors:
You can see a photo of Gen. Schmidle on a 2010 panel about “Warring Futures.” Event co-sponsors include Slate magazine and the New America Foundation, both of which, according to Nicholas Schmidle’s website, have also provided Schmidle’s son with an ongoing perch (with Slate giving him a platform for numerous articles from war zones and the foundation employing him as a Fellow.) These parallel relationships grow more disturbing with contemplation.
Baker doesn’t provide any details about either sponsor, however. Slate was created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley. Jacob Weisberg is the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of The Slate Group, which is currently owned by The Washington Post. New America’s Leadership Council includes Jonathan Soros, President and Co-Deputy Chairman, Soros Fund Management, LLC. One of the numerous articles written by Schmidle was a puff piece on Srdja Popovic, the founder of CANVAS, which trains activists around the world in nonviolent resistance to dictators that get in the way of George Soros and his cronies, whose most recent successful “revolution” has been the so-called “Arab Spring.”
Baker concludes the piece thus:
We weren’t allowed to hear from the raid participants. And on August 6, seventeen Navy SEALs died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. We’re told that fifteen of them came, amazingly, from the same SEAL Team 6 that carried out the Abbottabad raid—but that none of the dead were present for the raid. We do get to hear the stories of those men, and their names.
Of course, if any of those men had been in the Abbottabad raid—or knew anything about it of broad public interest, we’d be none the wiser—because, the only “reliable sources” still available (and featured by the New Yorker) are military and intelligence professionals, coming out of a long tradition of cover-ups and fabrications.
Meanwhile, we have this president, this one who according to the magazine article didn’t ask about the core issues—why this man was killed, who killed him, under whose orders, what would be done with the body.
Well, he may not want answers. But we ought to want them. Otherwise, it’s all just a game.
HEBRON — An eight-year-old boy sustained serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle in east Hebron on Friday morning, eyewitnesses said.
Taleb Jaber was left bleeding as the Israeli-plated car fled the scene by al-Baqaa village near the army-controlled H2 area in the West Bank city’s east, locals said.
Israeli forces summoned an ambulance and evacuated the child to a hospital inside the settlement Kiryat Arba, they said. An army spokeswoman said this report fit with her understanding of events.
But Jaber’s grandfather told Ma’an the incident was deliberate and not a car accident. He said the Israeli army had prevented the Palestinian Red Crescent from attending to the child.
Locals said that youths clashed with troops after the incident. The army spokeswoman said she did not have reports of clashes, but two Palestinians were detained for pushing a police officer following the incident.
Clashes erupted when settlers raided village
NABLUS — Israeli forces on Friday killed a Palestinian man and injured five others during clashes in Qusra village in the northern West Bank, medics said.
Issam Kamal Odeh, 33, died after he was shot by two bullets in the neck and shoulders during confrontations after morning prayers, medical officials said.
Mayor Hany Abu Murad named the dead person as Essam Kamal Badran, 35.
Witnesses said Israeli soldiers raided Qusra, near Nablus, after settlers entered the village.
Palestinian Authority settlement affairs official Ghassan Doughlas told Ma’an that clashes erupted when residents of Esh Kodesh settlement raided the village carrying Israeli flags.
Soldiers entered and opened fire, he said, adding that Sadeq Tayseer, 22, was shot in his neck and Jawad al-Shaer in his hand.
A military spokeswoman had no immediate comment, but said earlier that forces used “riot dispersal means” during clashes between Israeli civilians and Palestinians in Qusra.
Meanwhile, settlers attacked Jalud village south of Nablus leading to clashes with locals, residents said. No injuries were reported.
Witnesses said dozens of settlers were pelting rocks at Palestinian cars at Zatara checkpoint near Nablus. They said the checkpoint was briefly closed.