NEGEV – Dozens of Palestinians protested Thursday in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran near the town of Hura in the Negev, as Israel’s construction of a Jewish town on the village’s land continues, local sources said.
The Umm al-Hiran community — around 700 strong — is unrecognized by the Israeli government and residents’ lands were claimed by the state in 2013 in order to make way for the expansion of the Beersheba metropolitan area.
As a march set off from the village and moved towards the site of construction, protesters said they were able to force Israeli police to remove the bulldozers from the area.
Leaders and members of national and Islamic parties, Palestinian members of the Knesset, members of committees for Palestinians in the Negev, and Jewish-Israelis took part in the march.
Sources told Ma’an that the contractor responsible for razing the village is a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Negev, and locals have condemned the use of Palestinian contractors against their people by the Israeli authorities.
Participants of Thursday’s demonstration called for launching an international media campaign in support of Umm al-Hiran and other villages threatened with land confiscation in order to pressure Israeli authorities to stop longstanding policies to displace Palestinian Bedouins.
Umm al-Hiran residents are a fraction of the thousands of Bedouins living in villages that the Israeli government does not recognize and are at risk of displacement in the Negev due to Israeli policies that critics argue amount to ethnic cleansing.
The community’s residents appealed their displacement in court earlier this year on the grounds that the Israeli military administration ordered the community to be moved to the area in 1956, but the appeal was rejected.
On Sunday, Israeli excavators began work on infrastructure for the Jewish-only town in Umm al-Hiran, building a new road under heavy protection of Israeli forces, locals told Ma’an at the time.
Knesset Member Talab Abu Arar described the Israeli move as racist.
“Racism has become crystal clear in Umm al-Hiran as a Jewish settlement Hiran is being built on the ruins of the Arab Umm al-Hiran village,” Abu Arar told Ma’an on Sunday.
He added that Israeli courts and authorities ignored the rights of Palestinians and worked towards confining them to a few recognized towns and denying their rights.
Occuppied Palestine – During the months of July and August, there has been an escalation of violence from illegal Israeli settlers and the Israeli army towards Palestinians.
ISM is sending an urgent call for volunteers to join us in Palestine. Check the join us section of our website or email ISM at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
On a weekly basis, people throughout the West Bank are being arrested without charges, houses raided during the night, new houses have been demolished, settler violence has increased in the city of Hebron and in other villages, and the Israeli navy has increased the number of attacks towards Gazan fishermen.
On August 1st, the infant Ali Dawabshe was brutally murdered with an arson attack to his house perpetrated by illegal Israeli settlers in the village of Duma. His father, Saad Dawabshe, died one week after from severe burn injuries. Both his mother, Riham, and his 4 year old brother, Ahamd, remain hospitalized with severe burn injuries all over their bodies, with high risk of dying.
Since the end of the last Zionist massacre against Gaza there have been 1312 reported attacks against Gazan fishermen.
Since then, 22 boats have been stolen; 26 fishermen have been injured; one fisherman, Tawfiq Abu Riela, has been assassinated; 28 boats have been disabled by bullet fire; 2 big fishing boats have been sunken by rocket fire, one in Deir El Balah at 300m from the coast and one in Gaza City at 5 miles; 51 fishermen have been kidnapped while working and 3 fishermen remain prisoners until now.
The team in Hebron has reported an increase of night raids by Israeli forces and attacks by illegal settlers, which is terrorizing Palestinians living in Hebron. Two days ago, on August 20th, a group of French extremist Zionists intimidated and attacked international activists and local Palestinians. This group of extremists, called Kahane, which is considered a terrorist organization under Israeli law, was received with signs of sympathy by the soldiers.
At approximately 5:00 am, on Wednesday, August 19, the homes of the Totah and Totanji families were demolished by the Israeli army in the neighborhood of Wadi al Joz, in East Jerusalem. This neighborhood has been under threat of demolition since December, 2014, despite the fact that there are no accountable papers presenting a demolition order, nonetheless, the army has been slowly carrying out this plan. Neighbors live in constant fear that anytime their homes will be torn down.
In very similar conditions, the village of Susiya has been suffering from enormous fear by the threat of mass demolition orders issued by the Israeli government since 2012.
ISM also needs volunteers to join the 2015 olive harvest campaign.
ISM volunteers join Palestinian farming communities each year to harvest olives in areas where Palestinians face settler and military violence while working their land. Your presence can make a big difference, with Palestinian communities stating that the presence of international volunteers reduces the risk of extreme violence from Israeli settlers and the Israeli army.
The olive tree is a Palestinian national symbol, and the Israeli military systematically prevents agricultural fruition, in order to make life for Palestinians more difficult. The Israeli occupation provides a platform for Palestinian rights to be violated in an array of ways; the attack on agriculture is at the forefront.
Already documented this year, and to list a few cases; the trees have suffered settler sewage runoff , sabotaging fires, and being uprooted. Olive trees comprise of an essential 14% of the Palestinian agricultural economy.
We support Palestinians’ assertion of their right to earn their livelihoods and be present on their lands. International solidarity activists engage in non-violent intervention and documentation and practical support, which enables many families to pick their olives.
The campaign will begin during the last week of September and will last around 5 weeks. We request a minimum one week commitment from volunteers, but stress that longtermers are needed as well. We ask that volunteers start arriving around the 20th of September, so that we will be prepared when the harvest begins.
We request a minimum two week commitment from volunteers, but stress that longtermers are needed as well. The ISM will be holding mandatory two day training sessions which will run weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please see the join ISM page or contact email@example.com for further information.
Date: Friday 21st August 2015 3pm-5:30pm
Location: Jordanian Embassy, Upper Phillimore Gardens, London W8 7HA (few minutes walk from High Street Kensington tube station), move to Israeli Embassy around 4:30pm
Please join us as we hold two vigils this friday for Palestinian prisoners. At 3pm we will be outside the Jordanian Embassy demanding freedom for Palestinian father and human rights activist Amer Jubran who is facing a 10 years prison sentence in Jordan at the behest of Israel for refusing to betray the Lebanese resistance against Israel. Then at around 4:30pm we will move to the Israeli Embassy a few streets away to demand the unconditional and immediate release of Palestinian lawyer and hunger striker Muhammed Allan.
Muhammed Allan is again in a comma, breathing through a respirator, after having suffered brain damage whilst in Israeli custody. Muhammed launched his hunger strike on 15 June 2015 to protest Israel’s illegal practice of Administrative detention – of caging Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial. He has been caged by Israel without charge since 6th Nov 2014 on never ending rolling detention orders. Allan ended his hunger strike after 65 days on 19th Aug after the Israeli Supreme Court on health grounds ordered the suspension of the administrative detention order against him. But Israel is still threatening to reimpose his administrative detention and imprisonment should he recover, its imperative at this time that we maintain the pressure and demand his immediate and unconditional release.
LATEST UPDATES ON MUHAMMED ALLAN
(courtesy Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network)
20th Aug: Reports state Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad Allan again in a coma, on respirator
19th Aug: Breaking News: Reports state Muhammad Allan has ended his strike after decision of the Israeli Supreme Court
18th Aug: Muhammad Allan regains consciousness, pledges to continue hunger strike
17th Aug: Muhammad Allan rejects attempt to forcibly deport him from Palestine as Supreme Court considers case
17th Aug: Israeli Supreme Court to hear petition for release of hunger striker Mohammed Allan
16th Aug: Palestinian doctor denied access to Muhammad Allan as he faces life-threatening infection
14th Aug: Muhammed Allan on ventilator in coma; Palestinian prisoners under Israeli lockdown
AMER JUBRAN – BACKGROUND
Palestinian activist Amer Jubran has a long history of being targeted for his activism on behalf of Palestine, first in the US and then in Jordan.
In the US he formed the “New England Committee to Defend Palestine” and in November 2002, two days after leading a demonstration in Boston calling for justice in Palestine, the FBI stormed Amer Jubran’s home and arrested him under the Patriot Act initially holding him without charge. When public outcry made it difficult to continue holding him they initiated deportation proceedings against him and he was deported to Jordan in January 2004 where he continued his activism for Palestine.
In Jordan he was under constant surveillance of the notorious Jordanian secret police. On 5th May 2014, 20 armed me in black uniforms stormed his home where he lived with his wife and four young children, smashing the doors and windows. The secret police abducted Amer, and for months he was interrogated at an undisclosed location without charge and without access to a lawyer.
Finally in August 2014 Amer Jubran was charged under a new law that didn’t exist when he was arrested, that makes “harming the relationship with a foreign government” a crime of “terrorism”. Last month on 29th July 2015 we was sentenced by a military court to 10 years hard labour, reduced from a 15 year sentence. Following his visit to Lebanon to speak an an Anti-Apartheid week function he was accused of working with the Lebanese resistance Hizbullah against Israel, hence ‘harming’ Jordan’s relationship with a friendly country. During his interrogation he was told by the secret police that any decision made about him involves “our American and Israeli friends”. Amer says it “all started when I refused to be a sell-out and work against the Lebanese resistance. I was told then that I will be sent behind the sun for such a refusal. And frankly it is very easy for me to disappear behind the sun rather than to be well, outside but a sell-out and traitor. “. Essentially he is being persecuted and imprisoned because he refused to work for Israeli /Jordanian intelligence as an infiltrator and informant against the resistance.
BACKGROUND – ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION
Muhammad Allan was on hunger strike to protest against Israel’s practice of Administrative detention. Administrative detention is a practice used by Israel to imprison Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial. Prisoners are given rolling detention orders which can be anything from 1-6 months, renewable indefinitely. Such practice is against international law.
For example administrative detainee Mazen Natsheh has been locked up cumulatively for nearly 10 years without charge or trial. Muhammad Allan has in total been caged for 3 years under different administrative detention orders without charge or trial.
Detention orders are based on so called “secret information” which never needs to be produced, either to the detainee nor their lawyer. Administrative detention is often used to arbitrarily jail Palestinians where there is no evidence for a trial. It is also used for punishment as in the case of 8 Palestinian MPs who are currently caged in Israeli dungeons to punish them for their political stance.
Palestinian prisoners rights group Addameer have documented “many cases where the detainees themselves will say that administrative detention is actually far worse than a fixed sentence, be that five years, ten years, 20 years, or whatever and why. With a fixed sentence, you know when you’re going home, a prisoner knows when he goes home. It could be ten years or 15 years down the line, but they know when they’re going home. Not with an administrative detention..” They have documented “many cases where prisoners or detainees have been literally leaving the prison, walking out of the prison with their bags in their hand after their administrative detention order has expired [with their family waiting on the other side] and the Israelis have handed that detainee another administrative detention order and they have to go back into the cell to recommence another administrative detention order. Now, this is a form of psychological torture for not only the detainee [but also] their families.”
Israel has on average issued over 2000 detention orders every year (between 2007 and 2011). Today there are around 450 administrative detainees. Most of them, like Muhammad Allan, having been transferred from the West Bank into Israel in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, with their families being prevented from visiting them.
On 18th August 2015, 250 Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention in the “Negev” prison in the Naqab desert in the south of Palestine announced they will launch an open-ended hunger strike to defeat administrative detention. Their statement reads “the growing use of administrative detention.. represents a clear and explicit violation of all international conventions and human rights principles, where we are arrested for extended periods, for years continuously, at the mercy of a so-called “secret file,” where we have no right to defend ourselves. Administrative detention is a sword hanging over our necks, that eats away our flesh and blood and years of our lives without trial and without mercy.”
LIVE UPDATES DURING PROTEST
We will, inshAllah, be tweeting live from the protest with live photos being uploaded to our twitter and facebook page. So if you can’t join us on the day, please help us by sharing the photos as they get uploaded.
If you support this activity please share this alert widely, thank you.
Palestinian Prisoners Campaign
As this year’s Indigenous Film Festival concluded over the weekend, the Argentine Governor of Chaco province, Jorge Capitanich, announced the creation of a national school for indigenous cinema.
“Today we confirm the (creation of) the Indigenous School of Cinema. Its a call on people to their own history, based on what they are capable of doing,” Capitanich said.
Indigenous films aim to portray modern and historic events from the perspective of colonized peoples who continue to suffer from extreme inequality.
The school will be created within the Culture Institute, and its creation falls under Law 26,522 Audiovisual Communication Services.
The Indigenous school will provide training in audiovisual basics and will promote production of local content in the different indigenous communities of Capitanich’s province.
The Indigenous Film Festival began in 2008, with the idea that movies are a social tool that go beyond entertainment and transform reality through social inclusion. The festival supports full rights for the indigenous peoples of the Americas and brings locally produced films to other regions.
The petition entitled “Benjamin Netanyahu to be arrested for war crimes when he arrives in London” is available at a petitions website set up by the UK government and parliament.
“Benjamin Netanyahu is to hold talks in London this September. Under international law, he should be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the UK for the massacre of over 2,000 civilians in 2014,” the petition reads.
More than 26,000 people had signed the petition until GMT 1100 on Monday with the number of signatures dramatically on the rise.
The British government is expected to respond to the demand as all petitions that get more than 10,000 signatures should be seen into, according to law.
Rules governing the petition site also stipulate that any petition that receives in excess of 100,000 signatures must be considered by the UK parliament for debate.
The deadline for signing the petition is on February 7, 2016. … Full article
CONALCAM brings Bolivia’s main indigenous and popular organisations together with state representatives to coordinate and debate economic policies.
The small Andean nation of Bolivia has received praise from many quarters due to the economic transformation it has undergone over the past decade.
Curiosity regarding this conversion from “economic basket case” to the fastest growing economy in the region has been heightened by the fact it occurred under left-wing president Evo Morales. Understanding how the Morales’ government achieved this transformation is of great interest for those seeking an alternative to crisis-ridden neoliberalism.
Before Morales’ election in December 2005, Bolivians suffered through 20 years of neoliberalism. Successive right-wing governments privatised state-owned companies and handed over control of important chunks of the state to international financial institutions.
As public revenue shrank, the country entered a vicious cycle of deficits and debt. Each new budget required further international loans that were always accompanied by greater restrictive conditions. International loans and aid ended up covering about half of Bolivia’s public investment.
However, since electing their first indigenous president in a nation with a majority of previously excluded indigenous peoples, Bolivians have experienced economic growth rates higher than any period during the past three and a half decades.
At the same time, inequality has been greatly lessened and public debt brought under control. These successes are the result of the government’s overall strategy of focusing on recovering sovereignty over the economy and state.
When Morales was sworn into office in January 2006, he said: “After hearing the reports from the transition commissions, I have seen how the state does not control the state and its institutions. There is a total dependency.”
He described Bolivia as “a transnationalised country” and noted that, under the pretext of “capitalisation” — a euphemism for privatisation — “the country has been decapitalised”.
Morales said, therefore, Bolivia needed “to nationalise our natural resources and put in process a new economic model”.
This new model, known as the “New Economic, Social, Communitarian and Productive Model”, has sought to roll back neoliberalism by:
• Reasserting state sovereignty over the economy, particularly Bolivia’s natural resources;
• Breaking out of Bolivia’s traditional position as an exporter of primary materials by industrialising these resources;
• Promoting productive sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture;
• Redistributing the nation’s wealth to tackle poverty; and
• Strengthening the organisational capacity of working class and campesino (peasant) forces as the two essential pillars of the transition to socialism in Bolivia.
According to the minster of the economy Luis Arce Catacora, this economic model rests on two pillars: strategic sectors, such as hydrocarbons and mining, which generate rent; and productive sectors, such as manufacturing, tourism, housing and agriculture, which generate profits and jobs.
To break the economy’s dependency on raw material exports, the government has begun using rent generated in the strategic sector to industrialise natural resources and promote productive sectors, with an emphasis on collective, cooperative, and family-based enterprises.
A key plank of the new economic model was the May 2006 nationalisation of the hydrocarbon sector. Before nationalisation, transnational capital claimed 82% of the wealth generated by gas royalties. Under the new system, the state keeps about 80% of gas rent.
This means the total amount of gas revenue received by the Bolivian government during Morales’s first six years was about seven times greater than that obtained during the previous five years.
Revenue collection is set to rise further as Bolivia starts to export value-added processed gas as a result of its industrialisation program.
The Morales government has also carried out nationalisations in other strategic sectors such as mining, telecommunications and electricity. Taken as a whole, these nationalisations have enabled the state to become the largest player in the economy.
Unlike transnational capital, whose sole motivation is profits, the state has directed its economic activities towards ensuring Bolivians have greater access to basic services.
Within the first five years of the Morales government, the number of households with gas connections had risen by 835%. The percentage of rural households with access to electricity jumped from 20% to 50% and the number of municipalities with telecommunications coverage has gone from 110 to 324 out of 339.
Bolivians have also benefited increased spending on health and education, the introduction of social security benefits, wage rises and price controls on staple foods.
These pro-poor policies have helped push a surge in internal demand. This has been the real driving force in Bolivia’s spectacular economic growth. External demand — hit by the global economic crisis — had a negative impact on growth. But internal demand rose at an average 5.2% a year between 2006 and 2012.
State redistribution of funds has also helped fuel a dramatic rise in the number of registered enterprises – from less than 20,000 in 2005 to more 96,000 by mid-2013. This in turn has created jobs, leading to a big fall in unemployment.
To help foster the “communitarian” (collectively run) sector, the government has experimented with small state-owned enterprises in food processing, gold and cardboard production. The plan is to hand these companies over to local communities to run.
Furthermore, more than 20 million hectares of land have been handed over to campesino communities as communitarian property or placed under the direct control of the land’s indigenous owners. Small agricultural producers now have preferential access to equipment, supplies, no-interest loans and state-subsidised markets.
Refounding the state
These economic advances have been accompanied by changes in the political arena aiming to empower Bolivia’s indigenous and popular classes.
The Morales government continues to function within the framework of deeply entrenched capitalist culture and social relations. But it has been able to use the increased revenue from gas nationalisation to break its dependency on international funding and begin “nationalising” the state.
As taxes and royalties collected by the state went from 28% of GDP in 2004 to 45% in 2010, public debt dropped from 90% of GDP in 2003 to 31.5% in 2012.
This strong economic position has allowed the government to dictate its own domestic and foreign policy, free from impositions set by international financial institutions.
Today, it is not US or International Monetary Fund officials who develop government policies; instead, Bolivia’s social movements play this role. To facilitate this process, the government initiated the National Coalition for Change (CONALCAM) in 2007.
CONALCAM brings together Bolivia’s main indigenous and popular organisations with state representatives to coordinate and debate strategies.
When debates between the government and its social base have spilled out onto the street, the government sought dialogue and consensus. It has retreated where necessary, but always tried to continue to drive the process forward.
The most important step taken by the Morales government in the political sphere was convening an elected Constituent Assembly. Established to rewrite Bolivia’s constitution, the assembly’s goal was to create a new “plurinational” state that finally recognised the previously excluded indigenous “nations” and provided them with a legal framework to help advance their demands.
Bolivia’s traditional capitalist elites tried to block the changes pushed by the Constituent Assembly. Their opposition to the threat to their interests from a new constitution triggered their unsuccessful September 2008 coup attempt.
The profound nature of the class mobilisations during this period, combined with the Morales government’s ability to expand and unite its support base among the indigenous working classes, the military and internationally, was the key factor in its ability to crush the right-wing revolt.
Notwithstanding some important weaknesses, the final version of the constitution approved at the end of 2008 is generally viewed as a significant achievement of the social movements. It satisfies three key social movement demands: plurinationalism, indigenous autonomy and popular control over natural resources.
The new constitution has facilitated the process of “decolonising” the state. For example, it paved the way for Bolivia’s first popular elections to elect judicial authorities.
After the October 2010 elections, a record number of women (50%) and indigenous people (40%) flooded into a judiciary, whose membership was previously restricted to those with connections to the traditional ruling parties of the old elite.
‘Govern by obeying’
The Morales government has showed that an alternative to neoliberalism is possible. At the heart of this alternative has been the recovery of popular control over the state and economy. The results are plain to see.
None of this has been easy: the government has had to face down a right-wing revolt that threatened to become a military coup. It also had to deal with an inherited capitalist state apparatus that is largely ill-equipped to implement progressive reforms.
Finally, it has faced protests from among its own supporters who have mobilised to raise their particular sectoral demands.
Despite this, 10 years on, the Morales government maintains the support of most Bolivians. This has been possible because the majority agree with their government’s strategy and because Morales has remained true to his word of “governing by obeying” the people.
Those seeking lessons from Bolivia’s example should also learn from this approach to governing.
No thank you Trident, Try again
Try peace, Try love, Try Understandin’
Try talking, Try listening friends
No thank you Trident, Try again
Call me anything you like, call me naive
But I’m pretty sure it’s not missiles we need
I’m pretty sure, there will be no true peace
Until all these nuclear programmes cease
Try instead of building nuclear bombs,
Try building schools, try hospitals
Try imagining how much there would be to go round
Instead of wasting one hundred billions pounds
Scotland’s voice is loud and clear,
Try friendship, try hope over fear
Try compassion, try common sense
Try thinking that peace is the best defence
You threaten others you say to stop a threat
That’s the thing that I don’t get
So come gather round people and make a stand
And rid these things from our land
No thanks Trident….
Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi has welcomed a call by the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar Mosque, Egypt’s top Muslim authority, for a unity meeting of leading Sunni and Shia scholars.
Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has sent a letter to al-Azhar’s Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, proposing a conference between top Shia and Sunni scholars “to review the most important obstacles in the way of Islamic unity” and “to set forth the most significant, necessary measures for reinforcing Islamic unity,” the Iranian cleric’s international affairs adviser Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini Qazvini told reporters on Monday, without specifying the date the letter was sent.
The call by Tayeb had been aired on Egypt’s state TV on July 22 at the end of a series of programs during the holy month of Ramadan.
Stressing the necessity of “coexistence and peace” between Shia and Sunni Muslims, Tayeb had urged Sunni scholars to issue a fatwa (religious decree) prohibiting the killing of Shia Muslims.
He had also called on Shia scholars to issue a similar fatwa banning the killing of Sunni Muslims.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Ayatollah Qazvini said Ayatollah Shirazi had included principal issues in his letter and is awaiting Tayeb’s response.
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
From the outbreak of the Second Intifada, Journalist Alison Weir has tirelessly investigated and reported on the history and realities of Israel’s dispossession and occupation of Palestine through her organization and website, If Americans Knew. Now, she has come under guilt-by-association attack by two umbrella organizations of the Palestinian Solidarity movement, Jewish Voice for Peace and US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, for granting interviews to “white supremacist, anti-Semitic” and “vile” radio shows, specifically Clayton Douglas and American Free Press. Judged as tarred by a common brush for not using her limited air time to challenge their objectionable ideologies, her offenses include being called a “patriot” by her defenders.
Alison’s politically incorrect policy has been to disseminate salient facts to anyone, anywhere to achieve the broadest possible reach among American citizens, without political discrimination. The expelling organizations undoubtedly fear that the knowledge will feed anti-Semitism. Maybe it will, but the appropriate remedy would be a collective demand by the Jewish diaspora to end the Zionist project, make reparations to its victims, and establish a democratic state, not to withhold information from people who might use it to make Jewish Americans uncomfortable.
The complaint itself is strongly bigoted against the presumptively “white” political “right-wing” of America and the evidence is extremely thin, so what might really – and so suddenly – be behind this? Unlike the two organizations attacking her, Alison has always taken an unequivocal and uncompromising position against the legality and morality of the entire Zionist project, focusing on the 1948 Nakba and UN-established right of return, not just the Israeli occupation. So-called “liberal” or “progressive” Zionists evade the former and pretend that the crimes began in 1967. Why this adamant denial of honest history and Palestinian human rights?
Fully honoring the right of return would threaten or eliminate Israel’s Jewish majority and any defensible claim to be a “Jewish state.” Survey data from Israelis and occupied Palestinians show this as the largest disparity between them and the most insurmountable obstacle to resolution. Hand-wringing Jewish Israelis and their US enablers see establishment of an integrated, multi-ethnic, Western-style constitutional democracy as an “existential threat” to be fought tooth-and-nail. Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street says, “One-state is not a solution. One state is a dissolution.”
This is pure segregationist racism, not simply annoying discourtesies but the kind of racism that really counts, imposed by armed violence for 67 years upon helpless victims by a self-declared “Jewish state” with a Jewish religious symbol on its flag and emblazoned on the wings of its Hellfire missile-equipped, US-supplied F-16s murdering whole families in Gaza. How can this not inevitably generate some anti-Semitism? And how does it differ in spirit from the Jerusalem Cross of Crusaders that remains a mark of shame upon the history of Christianity? Emotional reactions are not finely parsed, however sometimes unfair to the innocent, and are less likely to be nuanced when Israeli atrocities remain uniformly unopposed by the 50+ Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Jews everywhere are put on the spot by Israeli arrogance and outlawry to collectively stand up, declare “not in my name,” take sides, and choose the side of international law and justice. If they don’t, they have themselves largely to blame. Given awareness – which is readily available, however ignored – silence becomes complicity.
And equally disturbing, it is our country that protects these outrages in violation of our declared principles and our own laws, so why should “patriotism” not be evoked? And why should American WASPs not be prominent among opponents of the government for which they are responsible? And why should organized and politically influential Jewish Americans who march in lockstep defending Israel, as well as those who remain silent, not be held accountable by all US taxpayers who involuntarily support this? And who are the USCEIO and JVP to tell Americans of any political persuasion what to think, to what information they are entitled, or what to conclude from the evidence? Until the righteous critics find effective ways to end Israeli oppression of people suffering under it daily, who are they to judge the attitudes or strategies or political outreach of others?
Those of us firmly supporting justice for Palestinians have observed JVP for many years as compromised by Zionist colonial sympathies but improving recently by endorsing the full BDS campaign. We also found ourselves suspicious a while back when USCEIO convened conference calls, highly controlled in format and content, concerned with “anti-Semitism” – the threadbare fallback complaint of Israel and its US lobby to change the subject and regain the offensive from attention to Israeli state crimes. Curiously, “Zionism” was omitted from their statement on racism while generically condemning “other racist or bigoted behaviors, practices and structures,” an undefined subjective net that could sweep up almost anyone deemed objectionable. Why were putative Palestinian human rights advocates echoing Israeli propaganda themes?
Setting aside the possibility of infiltration, both Alison-attacking organizations have mixed memberships of people scattered along the learning curve of knowledge regarding international law, human rights and documented history, and at different levels of readiness to give up attachment to Israel and its mythologies. Alison would inevitably make many of these members very nervous. And to make matters worse, she has been spreading inconvenient facts widely and very democratically, providing these, inter alia, to people from whom we “liberals” may choose to ideologically distance ourselves. But they too are voters, with a right to know how and where their tax money is spent, to draw their own conclusions, and to exert political influence. Political influence is what is desperately needed against AIPAC power, and many of our federal legislators who bow to AIPAC are also “right-wing.”
The timing of the excommunication is not random. I suspect that it is publication and Alison’s promotion of her book, Against Our Better Judgment, that has released long-stockpiled ammo against her, however flimsy – especially her revelations of arguably treasonous conduct by our first two, widely revered Jewish Supreme Court justices, both pledged to Zionism above loyalty to country as members of a secret Zionist organization, the Parushim. If Justice Louis Brandeis was instrumental, as the evidence suggests, in persuading President Wilson to betray his 1916 campaign promise and declare war on Germany (as a quid pro quo for the Balfour Declaration, with or without his knowledge) – a decision costing over 116,000 American lives (double those killed in Vietnam) – this is explosive information indeed. In addition, Alison’s research indicates that future Justice Felix Frankfurter was instrumental in preventing an early WWI peace treaty with the Ottomans that would have obviated the Balfour Declaration, terminating or seriously restricting the Zionist movement and the havoc that has followed. This information had been published elsewhere but remained obscure.
Some would like to keep it obscure. Blackening the reputation of Justice Brandeis in particular, an iconic figure with a university bearing his name, is undoubtedly intolerable in the realm of “Jewish identity politics” (the real criteria, it would appear, defining Alison’s “anti-Semitism”). It also drives another nail in the coffin of Israel’s proclaimed “right to exist” on land stolen from others. Alison had to be discredited and silenced.
These attacks are serious and malevolent, threatening both Alison’s influence and her livelihood, intended to reduce or extinguish her book sales and speaking engagements. Both expelling organizations are national in scope with many JVP chapters and USCEIO member organizations that may fear inviting her to their communities with her opposition now freshly armed to harass her events and their sponsors.
Readers wishing to oppose this muzzling attempt can endorse a petition supporting Alison here.
Jack Dresser, Ph.D. is National vice-chair, Veterans for Peace working group on Palestine and the Middle East and Co-Director of Al-Nakba Awareness Project in Eugene, Oregon
Just a few weeks ago, an act of piracy took place on the high seas, whereby a group of international activists taking part in a humanitarian mission including a member of the Israeli parliament, were captured and detained.
The story didn’t attract much coverage in the MSM. Coverage elsewhere among alternative media outlets ranged from being accurate to downright disingenuous. At best, those taking part were described as what they were – aid workers, artists, journalists and politicians working toward a shared aim of reaching Gaza – and, at worst, were described as terrorists and “agitators.”
The illegally seized boat, the “Marianne,” was part of a convoy of vessels which had set sail from different destinations in European waters, with the aim of reaching Gaza in occupied Palestine.
Needless to say, a group of activists attempting to break an illegal blockade of a country occupied by one of the most powerful armed forces in the world can hardly be viewed as troublemakers.
Nevertheless, the Marianne was halted in its tracks, approximately 100 nautical miles from Gaza by the Israeli navy, which, operating without jurisdiction and in complete disregard of international law, boarded the boat, taking those on board prisoner.
These are the facts, and this is what happened. The wave of propaganda which consequently emanated from some Israeli press offices attempted to divert attention away from the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, to another equally tragic humanitarian crisis in Syria. In a letter presented to activists on board the Marianne after its seizure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that the activists had gotten “lost” on their way to Syria.
Perhaps in reality it was the Israeli navy which had lost its sense of direction (and priorities) by taking control of a boat of civilians in international waters and by then taking them to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
One of the activists on board the Marianne, Charlie Andreasson, was held by the Israeli authorities in Ashdod for six days before finally being released.
I spoke with him recently and he gave me his account of what happened, which does not fit with the official line from Israel that says that the seizure of the Marianne was “uneventful” and non-violent.
I asked him what happened on the night the boat was seized.
“Early in the morning, at about 1:30 a.m., we were contacted by the IDF (Israeli Defence Force). Soon after, two big zodiacs came, but they were painted as the Coastguard without any national marks or flags,” he said.
“By then, we were 100 nautical miles from the coast of Israel, and the coastguard can only operate within 12 nautical miles from its shore. To board our ship was a clear act of piracy, There is no doubt of that, a violation against maritime law as well as international law. After some time with nonsense shouted from the false coastguard boats, telling everybody on board to gather in front of the boat so they easily could easily take control of our boat, as is routinely done to the Palestinian fisherman on an almost a daily basis, a group of Israeli soldiers suddenly were on board,” Charlie said.
“They came, and were not seen by anybody while they were doing so. Nobody would have tried to stop them anyway as we were committed to nonviolent resistance. However, there were four or five masked soldiers, heavily armed and even holding shields while they were approaching us. Somebody was also on top of the roof of the wheelhouse by then. But they were also scared, that we could see clearly in their eyes, and a group of scared young men with lot of guns is not a fun thing. I was the first one who was attacked, over and over again by two Taser guns at the time, and after I was down on my knees they continued with Tasers and also started to beat me with hands and by kneeing me. I started to bleed from my forehead but not much. Five of us were tasered altogether, and the captain was beaten and threatened by a gun if he did not cooperate. One commander came up to me and told me my name several times, just to make sure that I understood that they knew me.”
“It took them about 50 minutes to take control of the Marianne, but several hours before they had the engine running so they could take us to Ashdod. During the whole operation and while we were sitting in one place, watched by soldiers, they were constantly filming us. They were also taking the name Ship to Gaza away from the boat – I guess the name was too scary for them.”
“When it was light enough we could see three frigates, one patrol boat and nine smaller crafts including the white painted zodiacs. Those zodiacs were later pulled up on a frigate.”
Charlie’s account does not surprise me, but was there any resistance from crew members to the Israeli army? As I had been due to travel on one of the boats myself, I had along with others been given extensive ‘non-violent’ resistance training in how to react to the IDF.
“Everybody on board had training in nonviolent resisting, and we all knew what to do and where to be if we were boarded, and everybody stuck to our agreement. When I saw how scared they were when they approached me I declared to them, with a calm voice which surprised myself a bit, that they had nothing to be afraid of, that I had nothing in my hands (and showing my hands for them), that I not was going to touch them or throw anything on them, but also over and over that they were violating international law, that it was an act of piracy, and that they have to go back to their boats and let us continue our journey and that we were no threat for the state of Israel. I do believe that our training made us handle the situation professionally and calmed down the situation. I wasn’t for a moment afraid that any of us would give any excuse for the soldiers to open fire. But then again, you can never know what instructions they have or if any of them would freak out.”
We’ve all heard of accounts of the brutality lived daily by Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli authorities, but what was the treatment of those aboard the Marianne once the ship had been commandeered in international waters?
“Since they initially were so afraid it was clear that they were told by their commanders something that wasn’t true. It might be the reason why they used more violence than necessary as a result of that. They were also afraid of showing their faces, they were masked, and it is probably because they wanted to avoid any legal action when and if they go abroad. But some of them seemed to be a bit curious about us after some time, even if they were prohibited to talk. I guess they wondered what their mission was all about, since it became clear that we presented no threat whatsoever. And, of course, there was the constant filming and the constant lying from the commanders.”
The media has been pretty quiet on the treatment of those who were forcibly taken to Ashdod. What happened to the Marianne upon reaching Israel?
“Hundreds of soldiers and military officials were there, like a freak show and we were the freaks. We were taken one by one, they checked our belongings over and over again, stole my certificates that I need for my profession as a seaman, took our fingerprints, interrogation for two hours, some humiliation stuff, and then drove us to the prison of Givon.”
“We had no right to phone calls, but our lawyer and consul came. One hour a day, or two times 30 minutes, we could spend outside our cells,” Charlie said. “Even when we were sitting two in each cell we had to stand up and get dressed so they could count us several times a day.”
“During the interrogation it was clear that they had a lot of private information about us. The photos the soldiers had of us during the boarding were taken in Gothenburg just before we left for instance. They wanted to know how we got the money for the boat, the mission, how I could afford to join, to what countries I have been. [There were] a lot of lies about how well the Palestinians were treated by them.” Charlie added that it was strange to discuss that matter with them, since he spent a year in Gaza and was there during the 2014 war.
Luckily in this case Charlie and all the other activists were OK. The siege of Palestine continues, however, and while international law is made a mockery of, all efforts should be made to support initiatives such as the Freedom Flotilla and to bring the humanitarian crisis to the forefront of international attention.
Richard Sudan is a London based writer, political activist, and performance poet. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People’s Assembly covering various topics. He also appears regularly in the media, and has featured as a guest on LBC Radio, Colourful Radio and elsewhere. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University, and maintains the power of the spoken and written word can massively effect change in today’s world.
Jimmy Carter called a war waged in Vietnam by the United States — a war that killed 60,000 Americans and 4,000,000 Vietnamese, without burning down a single U.S. town or forest — “mutual” damage. Ronald Reagan called it a “noble” and “just cause.” Barack Obama promotes the myth of the widespread mistreatment of returning U.S. veterans, denounces the Vietnamese as “brutal,” and has launched a 13-year, $65 million propaganda program to glorify what the Vietnamese call the American War:
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away . . . They pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans.
Which ideals might those have been? Remember, this was the bad war in contrast to which World War II acquired the ridiculous label “good war.” But the Pentagon is intent on undoing any accurate memory of Vietnam. Members of the wonderful organization, Veterans For Peace, meanwhile have launched their own educational campaign to counter the Pentagon’s at VietnamFullDisclosure.org, and the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee has done the same at LessonsOfVietnam.com. Already, the Pentagon has been persuaded to correct some of its inaccurate statements. Evidence of the extent of the killing in Vietnam continues to emerge, and it has suddenly become universally acceptable in academia and the corporate media to acknowledge that presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon secretly sabotaged peace talks in 1968 that appeared likely to end the war until he intervened. As a result, the war raged on and Nixon won election promising to end the war, which he didn’t do. There would seem to be at work here something like a 50-year limit on caring about treason or mass-murder. Imagine what it might become acceptable to say about current wars 50 years hence!
And yet, many lies about Vietnam are still told, and many truths are too little known. After Nixon sabotaged peace negotiations, U.S. and Vietnamese students negotiated their own People’s Peace Treaty, and used it to pressure Nixon to finally make his own.
“Suppose Viet Nam had not enjoyed an international solidarity movement, particularly in the United States,” writes Madame Nguyen Thi Binh. “If so, we could not have shaken Washington’s aggressive will.”
The People’s Peace Treaty began like this:
Be it known that the American and Vietnamese peoples are not enemies. The war is carried out in the names of the people of the United States and South Vietnam but without our consent. It destroys the land and people of Vietnam. It drains America of its resources, its youth and its honor.
We hereby agree to end the war on the following terms, so that both peoples can live under the joy of independence and can devote themselves to building a society based on human equality and respect for the earth. In rejecting the war we also reject all forms of racism and discrimination against people based on color, class, sex, national origin, and ethnic grouping which form the basis of the war policies, past and present, of the United States government.
1. The Americans agree to the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Vietnam.
2. The Vietnamese pledge that, as soon as the U.S. government publicly sets a date for total withdrawal, they will enter discussions to secure the release of all American prisoners, including pilots captured while bombing North Vietnam.”
Nine leaders of the U.S. antiwar movement of the 1960s have put their current thoughts down in a forthcoming book called The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement. The movement of the 1960s and early 1970s was widespread and dynamic beyond what we know today. It was part of a wider culture of resistance. It benefitted from the novelty of televised war and televised protest. It benefitted from hugely flawed but better-than-today economic security, media coverage, and election systems, the impact of the draft, and — of course — the creativity and courage and hard work of peace activists.
Those contributing to this book, and who recently returned to Vietnam together, are Rennie Davis, Judy Gumbo, Alex Hing, Doug Hostetter, Jay Craven, Becca Wilson, John McAuliff, Myra MacPherson, and Nancy Kurshan. Their insights into the war, the Vietnamese culture, and U.S. culture, and the peace movement are priceless.
This was a war that Vietnamese and Americans killed themselves to protest. This was a war in which Vietnamese learned to raise fish in bomb craters. This was a war in which U.S. peace activists illegally traveled to Vietnam to learn about the war and work for peace. This is a war in which people still die from weapons that explode these many years later or from poisons that take this long to kill. Third-generation victims with birth defects live in the most contaminated areas on earth.
Nixon recorded himself fretting about the People’s Peace Treaty with his staff. Two years later, he eventually agreed to similar terms. In the meantime, tens of thousands of people died.
And yet the Vietnamese distinguish clearly, as they always did, U.S. peace advocates from the warmongering U.S. government. They love and honor Norman Morrison who burned himself to death at the Pentagon. They carry on without bitterness, hatred, or violence. The rage still roiling the United States from the U.S. Civil War is not apparent in Vietnamese culture. Americans could learn from Vietnamese attitudes. We could also learn the lesson of the war — and not treat it as a disease called “the Vietnam syndrome” — the lesson that war is immoral and even on its own terms counter-productive. Recognizing that would be the beginning of health.
Privacy activists are flooding Congress with messages of opposition to the cyber surveillance bill due to be considered by the Senate, using faxes rather than emails in order to poke fun at lawmakers’ antiquated understanding of technology and privacy.
Fight for the Future, a nonprofit fighting for privacy and against government surveillance, has set up a page dubbed “Operation: Fax Big Brother,” which lets anyone generate and customize a fax protesting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Each fax is then sent to all 100 Senators. The group has not said how many faxes have been sent so far.
CISA sailed through the Senate Intelligence Committee in March, with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden being the sole dissenter. Senate is expected to take up a vote on the bill before the August 7 recess. A similar proposal, known as CISPA, was approved by the House of Representatives in 2013 but died in the Senate after public opposition compelled President Barack Obama to threaten a veto.
“Groups like Fight for the Future have sent millions of emails, and they still don’t seem to get it,” Evan Greer, the group’s campaign manager, told the Guardian. “Maybe they don’t get it because they’re stuck in 1984, and we figured we’d use some 80s technology to try to get our point across.”
According to the group, since 2012 civil liberties activists have sent hundreds of thousands of calls and tweets and over 2.6 million emails to Congress opposing overreaching cybersecurity laws. However, the fax stunt does not just have publicity value. Lawmakers often use analog technology like faxes and pagers in order to hide their digital tracks from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries, claims a Senate staffer who spoke to the Guardian.
Sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, CISA seeks to enlist the support of corporations in collecting user data in the name of cybersecurity, providing them with liability protection if they share the data with federal agencies such as the NSA. Once they have the data, federal agencies would be able to share it freely with each other. What’s more, information shared with the government by the companies will be specifically exempt from FOIA disclosures.
Gabe Rottman, a legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, described the bill as a “new and vast surveillance authority that might as well be called Patriot Act 2.0 given how much personal information it would funnel to the NSA.”
The US Chamber of Commerce and a number of major corporations are backing the bill. In addition to Facebook and Google, Comcast and AT&T also favor CISA, as do Bank of America and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
Proponents of CISA have cited a spree of data breaches over the past year, from corporations such as Sony and healthcare provider Anthem to government agencies including the Department of State and Office of Personnel Management (OPM), as a reason to beef up cybersecurity. Critics have countered that CISA is not doing anything to protect networks from threats, and everything to vacuum up Americans’ data.
“With all these breaches, there’s a lot of fearmongering going on in DC,” says Fight for the Future’s Greer. “They just say: ‘This is a problem – we’ve got to do something!’ And this is the something they’re going to do. It’s not just that this won’t fix things – it’ll make them worse. And it’ll give sweeping legal immunity to some of the largest companies in the world and open us all up to new forms of surveillance.”