Archive | September 18th, 2011

A must watch film – Jenin Jenin

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Message Body

www.youtube.com

Jenin Jenin. Film by Mohamed Bakri. Jenin Jenin, directed and co-produced by Palestinian actor and director Mohamed Bakri, includes testimony from Jenin resi…

Jenin Jenin

By abumiz| 1 video

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Palestinian child- listen to what she says.

Message Body

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKpIRKqsrt4&feature=related

It doesn’t matter how many times you watch this, it makes you want to weep.

Heartbreaking Palestinian Girl | طفلة فلسطينية تقطّع القلب

www.youtube.com

this video will make you cry 🙁 مقطع من برنامج وثائقي بريطاني عن غزة . – روس كيمب – زار غزة بعد مرور عام على الحرب الصهيونية على شعب غزة .. وشهد بعينه آثار ا…

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In Support of Palestinain Self- Determination

 

A group of anti-war and anti-zionist activist are holding a vigil in support of Palestinian self-determination on:

Tuesday 20th September at 5pm.

This vigil is being held at this time because later in the week on Friday, Palestinian Authority (PA) is making a bid for full UN member ship as a member state.


The vigil is to take place outside Waterstones (High Street, central Birmingham).

We hope to be there for an hour.


Please find the time to come along and show your support for Palestinian self-determination.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank is going to United Nations to demand full recognition as a member state. Needless to say, bar the votes of the United States, Israel and few others this seems to be easily achievable.

Although full recognition as a member state at the UN appears to be a step in the right direction to attain Palestinian self-determination, a closer inspection reveals:

1)   The PA has no democratic mandate to go the UN: Up tell now Palestinians are legally represented by the PLO at the UN. The PA does not a have a democratic mandate to speak on behalf of all Palestinians.

 

2)   All Palestinians : The Palestinians that are not only currently living in the West Bank and Gaza but also those that are the descendents of Zionist ethnic cleansing campaigns of 1948 and those that remained where they had been for centuries in what is now Israel.

3)   Zionist Ethnic Cleansing: refers to the fact that in 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were uprooted and their villages destroyed by Zionists to make way for Israel. The descendents of the ethnically cleansed possess a UN sanctioned ‘right to return’.

4)   Right of Return: The descendents of Palestinians that were ethnically cleansed have a right of return to their homes of origin. This right is enshrined in at least 2 United Nations resolutions. UN resolution 194 and UN resolution 3236.

The PA is unelected and has no democratic mandate to speak on behalf of all Palestinians of the occupied West Bank let alone the Palestinians in Gaza, in Israel, refugees or the diaspora.

Any proposal towards Palestinian self-determination should not negate any existing hard won rights or resolutions.

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9/11 and Americans’ Remarkable Incapacity for Self-reflection

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By Daniel Patrick Welch

When Lois Griffin gets elected mayor of Quahog by pandering to the stupidest and most meaningless references to 9/11, audiences roar. But when that same scenario is replayed over and over again in a largely successful attempt to separate people from their intellect, their conscience and their instinct for self-preservation, no one apparently even knows what’s happening. Never Forget! Shriek the flag-wavers and cheerleaders of empire, as if such a thing were even possible.

For the past ten years, every march to war, every Free Speech Zone, every step in the criminalization of dissent–the whole ball of wax has been accompanied at every turn by the mindless repetition, the fear-and-fascism-drenched threat not to question or even think too deeply, because “9/11 changed *everything.*” There is a blunt and chilling meme floating around facebook and other internet fora, subscribed either to the Palestinians or some other victims of empire’s vented rage to avenge the events of that day: “Your 9/11 is our 24/7.”

Yet Americans so lack the capacity for self-reflection that we apparently prefer to continue to see ourselves as eternal victims instead of the initiators of one insane war after another.

In all of the parades, all of the cheers, the self-congratulatory pomp and circumstance with which Americans greeted the supposed murder of Osama Bin Laden (seen instead with horror by much of the world), there was nary a glimmer of the careful introspection one might expect from mature adults. Instead, there seems to be this constant recapitulation of the above scene from Family Guy. No questions asked, no effective movement against the wars, no real interest at all in grasping the long range consequences of the actions of our government. Nothing, really, beyond the throwaway line, “How much will it cost so we can feel safe again..?”

It is a truly frightening and depressing time to be alive. The political system is so warped that the two monopoly political “parties” in the US, who pretend to represent different interests, are in collusion on all the most basic questions of the day in service to the corporate interests who pay for their elections. Worse, the electorate has still not caught on, rendering ever more prescient Jay Gould’s famous boast that he “could hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” Indeed, people are so bamboozled that our political circus continues unmolested, focusing on non-issue distractions like the debt ceiling and cutting the deficit (while still spending more on war than all the other countries in the world combined….!). Even worse, the so-called “left” allows itself to be lulled to sleep by the charm of a Democrat president, a black man no less, whose actions would have been vigorously and rightly opposed were there an R after his name instead of a D. What a farce.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. When history repeats itself, it is, a famous German once said, to be as tragedy before farce. And we are so deep in blood from the needless death and suffering our governments have caused in the name of avenging 9/11 that it would be presumptuous to skip over the enormous tragedy still in the making. More than a million people have been killed in the pursuit of our seemingly unquenchable blood lust. It is as if Americans, completely convinced that we are always wearing the White Hats, have no notion of scale or balance at all. In the scheme of things, and with even a cursory glance at the record, it is painfully obvious that the destruction wrought by US foreign policy absolutely dwarfs any destruction wrought on the United States itself. But of course it has always been true that the goals of empire are floated on rivers of blood–just not that of the imperialsits themselves. As Robert Emment famously said to the judge who sentenced him to die, “…if it were possible to collect all the innocent blood that you have shed in your unhallowed ministry, in one great reservoir. Your Lordship might swim in it.”

Libya is the latest ticket punch on America’s Trip to Hell on the Installment Plan. The unconscionable bombardment by US-guided bombs onto yet another sovereign country actually started to wear thin for a moment. The story of NATO murdering Gaddafi’s granchild and son-in-law was actually starting to gain some traction and cause tension among NATO allies. Hmmmm….some began to think at long last. Maybe such barbarity is a bit unseemly for the heirs to the grand tradition of Civilizing the Natives. In fact, I had just sat down to type just such a piece when the whole storyline was interrupted by the emergency announcement of the assasination of Bin Laden and the others living in his compound.

So with new inspiration from the cowboy killing of the arch 9/11 nemesis (whom the FBI admitted they could not indict for lack of evidence), the bombing of Libya resumed in earnest. Make no mistake–NATO needed absolutely every ounce of financial, logistical and political help it got from the Americans. US military were involved in virtually every step of the horrific process–this was Obama’s war, with a deliberately hidden US footprint. The only ones fooled, as it turns out, are Americans and Europeans. 30,000 bombs rained down on Libya between March and–well, they’re still falling–did you know that? Kiling perhaps another 60,000 people to add to the toll of the victims of wars for empire.

It is simply unseemly to mourn in such a public and mawkish way while blacks in Libya are being rounded up, tortured, raped, imprisoned and killed by US proxy thugs. Once again, tens of thousands of people incinerated from the air while defending their country–more than the 50,000 US troops killed in Vietnam (and a damn sight fewer than the 2 million Southeast Asians who died there). But then, it is only *our* deaths that count–this is the fantasy world of people who always wear the White Hats. But If readers will suffer yet another Family Guy quote, I’ll take one from Stewie: “Someday…your Uppance will Come!”

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‘TEARS OF GAZA’ – THE MOVIE

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‘Tears of Gaza’ by Vibeke Lokkeberg is a documentary film that should be watched by every American, to see how Israel spends our taxes. Every European should watch it, to see the true face of Israel. It should be viewed by every Arab, to renew our resolve not to allow a racist nation to wipe Palestine and her children from the map and from history.
 
I had read the stories from Gaza after Israel’s so called “operation cast lead”. I had read the reports. I thought I had cried enough then not to cry again. But this film went to my heart, stirred everything up, made the tears fall and fall and here I am now, with a hollow, spooned out hole in my gut because bombs were dropped on sleeping children, helicopters rained the death and disfigurement of white phosphorous on terrified civilians huddling at a UN school for shelter… and no one is doing anything about it.Tears of Gaza lays bare the lies, the cover ups and Richard Goldstone’s moral flip flopping. It takes you into the heart of Gaza’s tormented landscape to show the truth behind craven and mendacious headlines with words that describe Israel’s slaughter as an “incursion” or “self defense”. This film shows us these truths through the luminous spirits of children. It is not to be missed!

I first heard of “Tears of Gaza”, or “Gaza Traer” as the original Norwegian title is called, when Bernard Henri-Levi launched an attack against Lokkeberg and me in major newspapers throughout Europe. She and I were in touch after that and I was finally just able to get hold of the film to watch it. It is a monumentally important work. It is beautiful and painful and honest and devastating.


Vibeke Lokkeberg gives us the names, faces, and stories of three ordinary Gaza children with extraordinary spirits. We first fall in love with Yehya, a 12-year-old boy who wants to become a doctor so he can heal people who are shot by Israelis. We see him on a small motorboat, lost in the magic of childhood as he is taught to steer the boat. His beautiful eyes and brilliant smile during these moments make his tears all the harder to bear when he talks about his beloved father. The losses that follow in his life are incomprehensible and overwhelming merely to hear about.


Until you meet Amira, 14 years old, and walk through her world.
Amira is beautiful. It’s the kind of beauty that holds an ineffable pain not often seen in the young. Her life, too, is marred by death and destruction and disfigurement of her body by ammunition. She tells us that she wants to become a lawyer so she can take the Israelis to court for the crimes they’ve committed. Then, recalling her father and brothers, she admits wishing she had just “gone with them”.


Like Amira, Rasmia is far beyond her 11 years. Arabic speakers might detect things about her that non-Arabic speakers will not. This is largely because of the translation; and this is my only criticism of the film. When Rasmia goes into what seems like a waking trance, her mother tells us in Arabic that she is “imagining”. The translation says “memorizing”, which doesn’t make sense and it distracts from an important subtlety. Her mother explains that she sometimes just “imagines” things from the attacks. I suspect that most psychologists witnessing those scenes and hearing her mother’s explanation would agree that she was experiencing flashbacks and exhibiting clear signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.


Another example where the wrong translation obscures important nuances is when Yehya is telling us about losing his father. He is, in fact, speaking in the third person: “when someone loses their father, it’s like they’ve lost the whole world” etc. But his words are translated as if in the first person: “when my father died, it’s like I lost the whole world.” The distinction might not seem important, until you realize that he cannot get the words out without breaking down when he speaks in the first person. It’s a faint distinction, but one that makes your heart break even more.
And we should all allow our hearts be broken over Gaza. It’s the least we can do. To hear these three children and ask others to hear them is the very least we can do. Vibeke Lokkeberg has given us a monumentally important record of what happened in December 2009 to January 2010; so no one can ever say “I didn’t know”.


Lest we forget, lest our tears dry or outrage subside, and lest our hearts heal before Palestine is free, I hope this film will be shown throughout the world, across university campuses, communities, organizations and living rooms. Take this not just as a review, but a call to action.
 Susan Abulhawa is the author of Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury 2010) and the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine.

Source:

http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/tears-of-gaza-lest-our-tears-dry-up/

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Africa to Gaza Aid Convoy

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https://www.facebook.com/africa.to.gaza.aid.convoy

 

Stone In My Hand for May15

www.youtube.com

This is a pro-Palestinian version of an exellent song by Everlast that already has an amazing video

created for it

and this is the original:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUFdBoOv9dE

New single off of the Everlast LP ” Love , War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford” featuring Billy

Gibbons on slide guitar

Directed by : Mazik aka “Self Aviary”

P.S.

This song is meant to create a discussion about oppression in general .see the scenes from South

African Apartheid Days… but definitely is inspired by the problems in Palestine …

 

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GILAD ATZMON @ FREIBURG CONFERENCE (VIDEO+TEXT)

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 GILAD ATZMON

Atzmon’s talk starts around 5:50 min just after  Prof’ Bernhard Uhde’s introduction (German).

The talk elaborates on the meaning of time and temporality within  the context of Jewish identity politics, Israeli brutality and  even crypto Zionists’  (aka Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists) spin

Time is of the essence!!! 

 

Time Banking and Social Changes
Gilad Atzmon: Being In Time:

 

(A talk given at the ‘Palestine, Israel, Germany- The Boundaries of Open Discussion Conference’,  Freiburg 11th September 2011)

Dear ladies and gentlemen.

I will begin my talk with an unusual confession. Though I was born in Israel, in the first thirty years of my life I did not know much about the Nakba, the brutal and racially driven ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population in 1948 by the newly born Israeli State. My peers and myself knew about a single massacre, namely, Deir Yassin but we were not at all familiar with the vast scale of atrocities committed by our grandparents. We believed that the Palestinians had voluntarily fled.  We were told that they had run away and we did not find any reason to doubt that this had indeed been the case.

Let me tell you that in all my years in Israel, I have never heard the word Nakba spoken. This may sound pathetic, or even absurd to you — but what about you?  Shouldn’t you also ask yourself — when was the first time you heard the word Nakba? Perhaps you can also try to recall when this word settled comfortably into your lexicon. Let me help you here — I have carried out a little research amongst my European and American Palestinian solidarity friends, and most of them had only heard the word Nakba for the first time, just a few short years ago, whilst others admitted that they had only started to use the word themselves three or four years ago.

But isn’t that a slightly strange state of affairs? After all, the Nakba took place more than six decades ago. How is it that only recently it found its way into our symbolic order?

Click to read more …

Gilad Atzmon’s New Book is available on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

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Time for people power to open Rafah crossing

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People power has opened Rafah crossing before.

The wolf is more merciful than my brothers – Mahmoud Darwish

Writing about the Rafah crossing, after the spectacular success of the Egyptian revolution in ousting Hosni Mubarak, brings back the horrific memory of the deposed dictator’s regime. There were high expectations amongst the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza earlier this year after former Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Arabi described the Mubarak government’s complicity with Israel in besieging Gaza as “disgraceful.”

This was followed on 29 May by an official announcement by the Egyptian government that the Rafah crossing would be permanently opened. Palestinians with passports would be allowed to cross into Egypt every day from 9am to 5pm, except for Fridays and holidays. Palestinian women and children would be able to leave Gaza without restrictions, while men between the ages of 18 and 40 would have to obtain visas to enter Egypt. Despite these conditions, and even though the free flow of goods and materials would not be allowed, Palestinians in Gaza welcomed this move.

This decision, however, was implemented for only two days. It was retracted without any formal announcement and the number now allowed to leave Gaza each day has been reduced to 300. No reason has been given for this change.

Ordinary people in Gaza remain the victims of this political about-turn with their right to freedom of movement curtailed yet again, with no indication of when they can expect to travel freely.

No justification for closure

International law is sometimes cited selectively, even by some Palestine solidarity activists, to justify the closure of the Rafah crossing. They argue that Gaza is not an independent state and that since the internationally recognized, Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority signed the 2005 Rafah Agreement on Movement and Access, only that entity has the right to oversee movement through the crossing on the Palestinian side.

Even Israel’s mainstream liberal media is lecturing the Palestinians of Gaza on what is best for them. The Israeli journalist Amira Hass is another critic of calls to open the Rafah crossing, locating herself in opposition to prominent international signatories to the International Campaign to Open the Rafah Crossing, such as South Africans Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk. World-renowned writers Alaa Al Aswani, Ahdaf Soueif, Tariq Ali, Radwa Ashour, Mike Marqusee and Benjamin Zephania – to mention but a few – and major international solidarity groups and trade unions have also backed the call to open Rafah.

Hass’s argument is that the call to open the crossing permanently and unconditionally is “another self-described militant initiative that is a double-edged sword” because it is not combined with the demand for freedom of movement between Gaza and the West Bank — as if the opening of the crossing necessitates the closure of all other crossings between Gaza and Israel.

Confusing tactic with strategy allows Hass to ignore the simple fact that these six crossings are totally controlled by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers. For her, “the apparently progressive and militant initiative” to open the Rafah crossing turns the cutoff of Gaza from the West Bank into an “unchallenged reality.”

To a supporter of the two-state solution, this conclusion is of course valid. To not be able to see the immense amount of suffering caused by the closure of the crossing, and ignoring that Palestinians in Gaza currently have no other exit, boggles the mind.

Most importantly, Hass seems to even ignore the fact that the call to open the crossing permanently and unconditionally was issued by Gaza-based civil society and grassroots organizations. Meanwhile, Egyptian revolutionaries and grassroots organizations supported the call as soon as it was issued.

Rereading international law

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own,

and to return to his country.

International law is not against the opening of the Rafah crossing, and even if it was, it would be up to us, ordinary people, civil society and grassroots organizations, to create a new reality on the ground.

But international law is very clear that in cases of emergency, such as during the siege and massacres in Gaza, neighboring countries, such as Egypt, should open their borders. Bosnia is a good recent example where neighboring European countries heeded calls to open their borders for Bosnians in accordance with international law. One can go further and say that any government official imposing, or helping, in the imposition of this deadly siege on Gaza should be tried for war crimes. This question should be addressed to the present Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil el-Arabi, as an expert on international law, and because his statements on Egypt’s relations with Israel gave unfulfilled hope to the besieged Palestinians in Gaza.

The reality is that Israel, both before and after 2005, is the only power that decides when to open the crossing and how to interpret international law, making sure that its own interests and that of the US and the West in general are secured.

International law and agreements can be used, and defended, as a framework for struggle where Palestinian rights are guaranteed and protected (such as UN Resolution 194, which calls for the Palestinian refugees’ right of return) and if such use supports resistance and national liberation. My understanding is that international law should serve freedom, equality and human rights.

The restriction of Palestinian movement at the Rafah crossing is, however, a political decision since the Palestinian national unity government, which survived for a short period of time in 2007, representing almost all Palestinian political organizations, indicated to both Egypt and the Quartet (the US,European Union, Russia and the UN) that it accepts the 2005 Rafah crossing principles. This Palestinian endorsement of the principles was never accepted by the Egyptian regime or the Quartet, resulting in the current stalemate that has led directly to the deaths of more than 650 Palestinians in Gaza who were unable to access needed medical treatment.

It is worth nothing that prior to 1967, under an Egyptian administration, the Gaza Strip had no controlled borders with Egypt, and Gazans were able to drive through the Sinai up to the Suez Canal without being stopped at all. That freedom of movement was never used as a pretext to deprive Palestinians in Gaza of the right to struggle to return to the villages and towns from which they had been ethnically cleansed. Gaza was still considered part of historic Palestine. The same principle applies today regarding calls to open Rafah; to open Rafah doesn’t mean the acceptance of the rest of Israel’s closure regime.

Ignoring colonization

The problem with the mainstream (mis)interpretation of international law is that it transforms the whole Palestine question into a decontextualized, postmodern language game. The international law referred to is viewed as ahistorical and takes into consideration the interpretation of the powerful party, Israel. This discourse ignores that Israel has colonized not only the land, but also history and the discourse that represents it. As historian Ilan Pappe says in a different context, Israel has employed its powerful apparatus to propagate its official narrative.

We Palestinians are engaged in a national liberation struggle and the context in Gaza, especially during and after the massacre, requires a complete paradigm shift in our understanding of the tools of struggle and the political program that is to be used. It is the time of people power as evidenced on the streets of Cairo, Damascus, Sana’a, Manama and Tunis. The people of Egypt with the Palestinians of Gaza can open the crossing permanently and unconditionally, regardless of what Israel and its backers in the White House and 10 Downing Street think. Their man in Sharm El-Sheikh is behind bars, thanks to the sacrifices and courage of ordinary people like Khaled Said and Ahmed al-Shahat and the men, women and children of Gaza who managed to tear down the cement walls on the Palestinian-Egyptian borders twice.

There are lessons to learn from Gaza 2009. We have lost faith in the so-called international community that claims to uphold international law, as their representatives such as the UN, EU and the Arab League by and large have remained silent in the face of atrocities committed by apartheid Israel. They are therefore on the side of Israel.

So what if Israel declares Gaza a “hostile entity?” The message from officials citing international law to justify the closure of the crossing, and some misinformed activists and journalists, is a mechanical interpretation of the law that does not take human lives into account.

The closing of the Palestinians of Gaza’s only exit to the outside world amounts to a crime against humanity, given the Israeli siege and ongoing bombardment of Gaza. Egypt has a moral and political obligation to open the Rafah crossing permanently and around the clock. Egypt cannot continue to support opportunistic interpretations of international law that justify the ongoing deprivation of medicine, milk, food and other essentials to the population of Gaza.

The sanctity of human lives should take precedence over borders and treaties and solidarity activists need to take the lead in making this point to the Egyptian and other governments.

Under the Geneva Conventions, Palestinians, like all other people, are entitled to freedom of movement and protection from collective punishmentsuch as the arbitrary closure of the crossing.

No misinterpretation of international law can override Palestinians’ right to free movement in and out of Egypt just because they are also at the same time engaged in a struggle against Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid.

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In Tel Aviv, an Arab Spring that ignores the Arabs

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A protest in Israel that does not also address the occupation is really no protest at all.

No one could have ever predicted that a single act of protest — the self-immolation of a desperate Tunisian street vendor — would unleash a tidal wave of collective resistance and rebellion throughout North Africa and the Middle East, threatening to topple regimes that had long been considered permanent political players.

But perhaps the most surprising outcome of this regional groundswell of protest was to be seen in Israel where Jewish protesters held up placards and shouted slogans declaring that the revolutionary spirit of Cairo’s Tahrir Square had come to the streets of Tel Aviv. The Arab Spring, it seems, has turned into the Israeli Summer.

But how do the ongoing protests in Tel Aviv relate to the larger regional turmoil? What do the protests say about the current state of Zionism, and what do they mean for the occupation of Palestine? To answer these questions, one might begin by turning to a rather unexpected source: Israeli pop culture.

Zionism escapes unscathed

In 1984, Israeli rock musician Shalom Hanoch released his bestselling albumWaiting for Messiah. Located squarely within the rock tradition of protest, the album was graced by an audacious piece of cover art: an extreme close-up of a filthy ashtray, overflowing with garbage and cigarette butts. It is as appropriate a metaphor as any for the true poverty that resides at the heart of the good life, for the grime undergirding the glamorous.

Further solidifying the album’s protest credentials is its title track which tells the tale of the fabled Jewish Messiah, who at long last arrives on earth. But his appearance in the world does not come as a happy occasion. Upon seeing the sad state of affairs that greets him in modern-day Israel, the intrepid, young Messiah does not fulfill any prophetic dreams. Instead, he throws himself from a rooftop, committing suicide on the pavement of a Tel Aviv street. “The Messiah is not coming,” Hanoch intones, his raspy voice accentuating the guttural sounds of Hebrew. “The Messiah is not even going to phone.”

But is the message of Waiting for Messiah really all that radical? Before embracing the song as a musical manifesto of leftist rebellion and revolt, one should delve a bit deeper. The lyrics suggest that the grievances leading to the Messiah’s suicidal plunge are entirely economic. Specifically cited is the mishandling of the Israeli stock market. One may thus surmise that the Messiah too was an unlucky investor.

Absent entirely from this picture are the Palestinians. They are relegated to the shadows — marginalized, obscured and forgotten. Thus, an image of protest is cultivated even if the thing that clearly demands the most protest — the ethnocentric Zionist state and its accompanying occupation of the Palestinian people — is not mentioned at all. It is as though everything can be criticized except for precisely that which matters most. In this fashion, protest — even that of an angry rock anthem — functions to perpetuate the very status quo it purports to be against. At the end of the day, Zionism escapes unscathed.

Revolt against neoliberalism

The recent protests that have erupted in Israel should be understood in the exact same fashion. Stationed in a makeshift tent city on Tel Aviv’s swanky Rothschild Boulevard, the protesters’ demands are strikingly similar to those voiced by their Arab neighbors: affordable housing, cheaper food and gasoline, higher wages and an end to the deterioration of the country’s health and education systems.

According to prominent Middle East labor historian Joel Beinin, “The Arab awakening is in part a rebellion against the neoliberal development model, even if it is rarely named. The housing crisis in Israel is similarly a symptom of neoliberal policies” (“The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Arab Awakening,”Middle East Report Online, 1 August 2011). But while these economic problems have been exacerbated by Israel’s costly military occupation of Palestine and the government subsidization of illegal settler communities in the West Bank, the overwhelming tendency is to ignore these inconvenient facts and instead to treat the occupation as an entirely unrelated subject, as a “security issue” with no bearing on the protests whatsoever.

Thus, even though Hanoch’s album was released in 1984, it could have been recorded yesterday. Had its titular Messiah postponed his arrival on earth by 27 years and appeared in the hot Israeli summer of 2011, he would have still taken that rooftop dive and splattered his body on the streets below. Once again, the problem is the economy, and once again, the Palestinians are left completely out of view.

There are those who claim that addressing the Israeli occupation at this time would serve only to divide the protesters. Uri Avnery, for instance, has argued that even “bringing up the occupation would provide [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu with an easy weapon, split the tent-dwellers and derail the protests.” Avnery, who is a longtime fixture on the Israeli left, concludes that there is “no need to push the protesters” in this direction and that with patience, the protests will eventually turn against the occupation on their own, as if by magic (How godly are thy tents? Who are these people? Where will they go from here?,” Counterpunch, 5 August 2011).

This view is not uncommon. However, the desire to delink the call for social justice from the occupation and to simply hope for the best is ill-conceived. The view that the unity of the protests must be maintained at all costs overlooks the crucial fact that a protest in Israel that does not also address the occupation is really no protest at all.

On Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, the middle class demonstrators are thus attempting to wage an Arab Spring without any Arabs. While the tent city protest has been unusual in its size and in the wide degree of support it has received throughout the country, the urge behind it does not constitute a real challenge to the Israeli state. The protests represent a reaction against the economic injustices exacerbated by the Israeli government’s neoliberal policies, and as such, the broader framework of Zionism is entirely capable of absorbing the protesters’ demands.

Settlers embraced

Indeed, what is the Rothschild Boulevard rebellion but the latest manifestation of an old, Zionist dream? Like the pioneering Zionist settlers before them, the protesters today envision the creation of a welfare state in the land of milk and honey, where life is affordable, food is plentiful and the country’s rightful inhabitants, the Palestinians, are excluded from the discussion. They simply seem not to exist. The protesters do not want to disavow the Zionist dream; to the contrary, they want to implement it.

But a dream for the early Zionists was a living nightmare for the local Palestinians. When freedom for one people is achieved with the occupation of another, there is nothing to be celebrated. The Rothschild Boulevard rebellion departs in no way from this precedent. Without addressing the occupation, the protesters’ demands, at the very best, aim only to make life better for the occupiers, and the welcomed inclusion of members from the Ariel mega-settlement in the revolt, as reported by Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana, should serve here as a grim warning (How could the largest social movement in Israel’s history manage to ignore the country’s biggest moral disaster?Alternet, 24 August 2011) . It is the occupiers who stand to receive better health care, better education, higher wages, more affordable housing and all around better living conditions, and those living under the occupation receive nothing.

Conservative agenda

Thus, in this case, protest is not at all that radical. Like Hanoch’s earlier rock anthem, the image of radical protest conceals a rather conservative agenda. That is, protest functions within the predetermined parameters of the dominant social order. Rather than posing a threat to the Israeli state, the protests aim only to make life better for its Jewish citizens. They seek to improve the Zionist dream of building a social welfare state in a Palestine without Palestinians. What is really needed is for that dream and its accompanying system of apartheid to be dismantled entirely.

Thus, the various left-leaning supporters of the Rothschild Boulevard rebellion who defend the exclusion of the Palestinian issue in the name of Israeli unity have it all wrong. Unity does not mean coming together with occupation supporters and land-usurping settlers. Rather, real unity would mean crossing that much tabooed Jewish-Arab, Israeli-Palestinian divide. It would mean that the exclusive, ethnocentric dream of Zionism would have to be replaced by a democratic dream without segregation and apartheid. Economic justice predicated on ethnocentric exclusion is hardly a dream worth fighting for. When those Jewish Israeli citizens consigned to the bottom rungs of their government’s ladder of exploitation are ready to recognize that their true enemy is the same as the one terrorizing the occupied Palestinian people, then and only then will there be a unity in protest worth celebrating.

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IsraHell cluster bombs continue to kill and maim in Lebanon

NOVANEWS

 

More than 400 Lebanese civilians — one fourth of them children — have been injured by cluster bombs since the end of the 2006 war.

KFAR JOZ, south Lebanon (IPS) – Even in the summer heat, the hills of south Lebanon are an impressive sight — a patchwork of green, brown and red fields interrupted only by sleepy villages, rock formations and dirt tracks.

Most residents here have traditionally depended on agriculture to provide for their families. But instead of sowing crops or herding their flocks through the grassy terrain, for the last five years locals have viewed the surrounding hills with caution. Lurking in these fields are hundreds of thousands of cluster munitions, silently waiting to claim their next victim.

“Every day we find cluster bombs in between the houses and in the fields,” said Ali Shuaib, community liaison manager at the Mines Advisory Group, a British organization clearing landmines and other remnants of war in Lebanon. “There are tens of villages like this all over the south.”

Although Lebanon has been plagued by landmines since its 1975-1990 civil war and subsequent Israeli occupation, it faced unprecedented contamination levels from cluster munitions after Israel launched a 34-day war in July 2006. According to Human Rights Watch, Israel’s use of the weapons was the most extensive anywhere in the world since the 1991 Gulf War.

Indiscriminate weapons

In the last 72 hours of fighting, at a time when the United Nations Security Council had adopted Resolution 1701 calling for an immediate halt to hostilities, Israel dropped more than four million cluster bombs over south Lebanon. Of those, at least 40 percent failed to explode upon impact, according to the UN, becoming de facto landmines across Lebanon’s agricultural heartland.

These are the most indiscriminate weapons of modern warfare; 95 percent of all victims of cluster munitions are civilians, according to the organization Handicap International. Since the cessation of hostilities five years ago, 408 Lebanese civilians have been killed or injured by cluster munitions, 115 of them under 18 years old. Unless properly disposed of, the weapons keep killing and maiming for decades.

Cluster munitions continue to wreak havoc on the Lebanese economy, too. With an estimated 36 percent of contaminated land being used for agricultural purposes, the already deprived south Lebanon has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in income, said Pierre Bou Maroun, chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces’ Regional Mine Action Center in Nabatieh, which oversees all demining operations in the country. In 2007 alone, Lebanon lost an estimated $126.8 million in agricultural revenue because of cluster munitions.

Israel’s use of the weapon in Lebanon helped galvanize efforts towards an international ban in May 2007, when 107 countries voted for the UNConvention on Cluster Munitions. The convention prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of all forms of cluster munitions. It also requires countries to clear contaminated areas within 10 years, destroy supplies within eight years and provide assistance to victims.

Lebanon was among the first countries to sign the convention in December 2008 and although it only entered into force in May this year, officials have been keen to take an international leadership role on its implementation. This week Beirut hosts the second international meeting of states parties to the convention. Delegates from more than 110 governments, UN and other international organizations will attend the week-long conference along with survivors of cluster munitions to discuss how to further advance the convention’s obligations.

The meeting “is a golden opportunity for Lebanon,” said Haboubba Aoun, one of Lebanon’s representative members of the Cluster Munition Coalition and International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and a member of Lebanon’s National Committees on Risk Education and Victim Assistance. “We hope the people of the world will take a closer look at the cluster bomb problem in Lebanon and decide to continue supporting clearance activities and victim assistance activities.”

Clearance teams have made formidable progress in Lebanon despite almost continuous funding concerns. “We have 2,259 well-known minefields,” in addition to thousands of other contaminated areas, said Bou Maroun. Some 1,578 minefields have been now been cleared and returned to residents, but 22 million square meters of contaminated land remains. This figure does not include heavily contaminated areas along the so-called Blue Line border area between Lebanon and Israel, whose clearance has been left to the UNpeacekeeping force UNIFIL.

Israeli maps “papers for the trash”

“Our vision is a Lebanon free from cluster bombs, land mines and explosive remnants of war,” Bou Maroun said. With sufficient funding and support, he said Lebanon could be cleared of cluster munitions by 2016.

Following international pressure, Israel provided the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with maps showing the areas it targeted with cluster munitions. But, Bou Maroun said, as these maps do not show the coordinates of those targets, they are merely “papers for the trash.”

Mine clearance is painstakingly slow and dangerous work. Deminers sent to the field must abide by strict regulations and are flanked by ambulances and medics. “It’s a calculated risk,” said Daniel Redelinghuys, MAG’s Technical Operations Manager. Two MAG deminers have lost their lives and 18 have been injured in the five years since hostilities ceased, he added. The LAF and other clearance organizations have also experienced considerable losses.

Yet the possibility of an accident doesn’t deter Hussein Tabaja, a mine clearance site supervisor with MAG. “You’re working for your country,” he said with a shrug. “When you see the faces of people after you have cleared their land, you see how many people you have helped, who can go back and use their fields again, it makes you happy. Sometimes during the holidays I actually miss coming to work.”

While there is growing international support for a universal ban, there remains staunch opposition from the world’s biggest producers, traders or users of cluster munitions, such as Israel, China and the US, who have not signed the convention. As recently as late August, Handicap International censured Israel for laying fresh landmines along the border of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

And for many, any international ban will come too late. “I wish I could change my leg and get a new one,” said 12-year-old Mohammad Abd al-Aal, who has been left with a prosthetic leg after stepping on a cluster bomblet while herding his family’s goats.

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