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‘Women’s Day March’ at Qalandiya checkpoint is greeted by water cannon

Mar 10, 2012

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

Active Stills has posted an amazing series of photographs from the Women’s Day demonstration against the occupation at Qalandiya checkpoint Thursday:

International Women's Day, Qalandia checkpoint, West Bank, 8.3.2012

There is also video here.

Women’s Day March against Occupation: Qalandia from ListenIn Pictures on Vimeo.

And this text:

On March 8, 2012 Palestinian women organized a protest at the Qalandia checkpoint to make a collective call to end occupation. They sang, marched and chanted and their non-violent protest was met with tear gas, rubber bullets, skunk water and sound bombs by the Israeli Defense Forces.

From President Obama’s lecture to the Palestinians, June 2009, Cairo:

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.

Keeping settlements ‘illegal’ keeps Obama off of Netanyahu’s back

Mar 10, 2012

Allison Deger

illegal outpost
Caravans in the illegal settlement of Ginot Aryeh, located below hilltop houses in the “legal settlement of Ofra. (Photo: Debbie Hill/UPI Photo)

A day before prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu left Israel for his North American diplomatic tour, a Knesset minister pulled a bill from that would have sanctioned mass expropriation of Palestinian land in the West Bank. The bill allows for settlers to confiscate land, illegally, in order to establish an outpost, so long as the Palestinian owners are compensated.

The legislation was introduced to Knesset as a solution to the row over Migron, an illegal outpost that was marked for eviction at the end of this month. But Migron no longer faces demolition. The Israeli government intervened, violating an order from the high court,  reaching a deal just days after Netanyahu arrived in the U.S.

The proposal, if passed, would have implicated more settlements than Migron; all illegal outposts, under the bill, would have access to become legal. The bill would have also allowed settlers to legally steal Palestinian land at a future date.

Meanwhile, illegal settlements are continuously constructed without much recourse.  For example, Migron was demolished in 2011, but the settlers quickly re-built the outpost. And certainly no one was taken to jail for trying to steal Palestinian property.

When new outposts like Migron are built illegally, instead of “legally,” Netanyahu is shielded from political controversy; the prime minister is safe from American pressure to stop new settlement construction, and the settlers whose political parties helped get the prime minister in office can continue to do as they please.

During Netanyahu’s visit, U.S. officials did not speak publicly on the increased number of settlements in the West Bank. The conversation was all about Iran. Yet Netanyahu consistently violates the U.S.’s demand for a settlement freeze on new  construction (in 2010 the U.S. gave-up demands for a moratorium on settlement expansion). The Migron case, in part, explains Israel’s political protection, despite a decade of unprecedented settlement growth.

This is the face of war

Mar 10, 2012

Pam Bailey

 (Reposted from Pam in Progress) As I write this, Israel is bombing with intensity; 10 are dead already and casualties are reportedly filling the ERs. Resistance fighters are retaliating. On this, my last day in Gaza, I am confined to the home of a friend’s relatives — most likely until early in the morning…We are sitting around, chatting and listening to the news. And I am thinking…

In many ways, the Gaza Strip has improved significantly since Israel unleashed Operation Cast Lead, killing more than 1,000 Palestinians, destroying more than 4,000 homes and shutting the majority of the territory’s businesses. Each time I return I am amazed by the new buildings I see, and the scope of construction currently underway. Not only are there a few Western-style shopping malls (although smaller than American standards); a beautiful, modern new monument to the internationals murdered on the Mavi Marmara; and home improvements in evidence among the slightly more middle- class families who I know, but there is extensive roadwork underway on the main coastal street. (Isn’t that the ubiquitous sign of progress everywhere? Roadwork??)

However, the pain of Cast Lead is still festering, just beneath the surface. It is evident in the estimated 6,500 amputees you see almost everywhere — some begging, others going about their everyday lives. It is still visible in the pockmarked walls of so many of the cement buildings, silent reminders that the Israeli military can enter and attack at will, any time.

But one of the lasting “gifts” of Cast Lead that haunts me the most is the fate of 11-year-old Amal al-Samouni.

amal 2
Amal al-Samouni (Photo: International Middle East Media Center)

Anyone who has read anything about Cast Lead and Gaza has heard about the Samouni family. Nineteen members of this extended clan were gathered together in the same house on Jan. 4, 2009, when they were surrounded by Israeli forces. They ordered Amal’s father, Attia, to step outside with his hands up, and upon opening the door, he was shot in the head and chest. Soldiers then started firing bullets into the house, killing Amal’s 4-year-old brother and injuring four others. 
Over the following hours, soldiers ordered over 100 other members of the extended Samouni family into the house of Amal’s uncle, and the next day, Israeli forces launched an offensive directly at the house and its vicinity, killing 21 persons. Amal, who was inside, was hit by shrapnel in the head and buried under the rubble, lying between injured, dying and deceased relatives. She wasn’t evacuated to a hospital until two days later.

Amal survived those four horrific days, but today, three years later, the shrapnel remains scattered throughout her brain — causing near-constant pain in her head, eyes and ears, along with severe nosebleeds. The continuous pain has a profound impact on Amal’s mood, her relationship with her siblings and her performance in school. “When I have a lot of pain I become nervous and angry,” she confesses.

At age 11, she faces an uncertain future of chronic, debilitating pain — or worse. Local physicians say it is too dangerous to attempt to remove the shrapnel, and so far physicians consulted in the Netherlands agree, adding that such an exploratory operation would be highly expensive, and no one would want to take the responsibility for the uncertain consequences. But…how do you look such a young girl in the eyes and tell her there is nothing to be done? How do you say that to her mother? (I certainly couldn’t. So when I return, I plan to seek out experts/medical centers willing to take another look.)

War and oppression are bad enough during the peak of their intensity. But after the politicians go home and the general public moves on to worry about some other “hot spot,” the people go on living with the many, myriad ripple effects. For example, the people of Fallujah, Iraq, are reportedly experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality and sexual mutations than those recorded among survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the years after those Japanese cities were incinerated by U.S. atomic bomb strikes in 1945.

The “blowback” can be psychological and emotional as well. Dr. Eyad Serraj, president of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, followed the Palestinian children of the First Intifada — those who were arrested, for example, for throwing stones — and he observes that many of those most affected provided the “fodder” for the Second Intifada’s suicide bombers.

It is this fallout from our “war adventures” that politicians should be forced to confront before committing dollars or troops.

Although I cringe when I hear about all the foreigners who are paraded by the Samounis to hear their story — feeling a bit too much like they are “pity subjects” in a horror show — I am thinking that every Congressperson who votes to supply weaponry or other military aid to Israel, or who votes for any war/occupation, should be forced to look Amal in the eyes.

Breaking: Democratic chair Wasserman Schultz said to cancel speech to Muslim voting-rights group under rightwing pressure

Mar 10, 2012

Philip Weiss

Wasserman Schultz
Emerge’s original banquet announcement

Breaking: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee and a Florida congresswoman, has apparently bowed out of speaking to a Muslim organization’s event under pressure from a right wing campaign.

Emerge is a political organization dedicated to empowering Muslims in Florida. Look at some of the work they do at the link– stopping an industrial waste site next to a mosque, getting Muslims to vote in elections.

This April Emerge is having its annual banquet in Florida. Its facebook page made this announcement in the last day:

EMERGE USA is happy to announce that Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin of Teaneck,NJ will be speaking at our April 21st banquet

But you can see the original announcement, as posted by a rightwing group, above. I am told that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has withdrawn under pressure. I just called her office now.

This rightwing pressure group, for instance, slammed Wasserman Schultz for agreeing to appear at the event and cited David Horowitz’s Islamophobic organization, Front Page:

FrontPageMag.Com – A radical Muslim group with ties to the Obama Administration will be featuring the head of the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as the keynote speaker for its annual fundraising banquet this coming April. By agreeing to partake in the event, Wasserman Schultz is helping to further this organization’s nefarious agenda of placing Islamists into positions of American power and influence. It is this stealth jihad which threatens our country not from abroad, but from within.

Here is the Front Page article, with the Israel/Palestine angle:

Wasserman Schultz likes to flaunt her Jewish identity and (false) pro-Israel persona, but how can she begin to do so, when the organization she will be addressing maintains staff who display animosity towards the Jewish state?

Laila Abdelaziz, the Field Coordinator of EMERGE, denounced Israel in a question she posed to President Obama, during a January 2010 town hall meeting he held in Tampa, Florida. “[W]hy have we not condemned Israel and Egypt’s human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people, and yet we continue supporting them financially with billions of dollars from our tax dollars?” she belligerently asked.

Emerge does not focus on the Israel/Palestine issue. It focuses on domestic issues and voter empowerment issues. But Wasserman Schultz has evidently bowed to pressure from the rightwing. Because she is part of Obama’s outreach to the Jewish community. If you go to her official site, the first photograph is of Wasserman Schultz with Netanyahu. Half embracing him. Then a photograph of her at Yad Vashem, the Israeli memorial to the Holocaust in Europe.

I don’t know what to say. This is so disheartening it leaves me speechless. And yes, it is about prejudice inside the Jewish community.

Israelis ‘were looking to kill me’ in ’02– Shadid

Mar 10, 2012

Philip Weiss

Yesterday we did a piece hammering on the fact that obits of Anthony Shadid, the New York Times correspondent who died in Syria last month, have elided the fact that the Israelis nearly killed him in 2002. The obits say he was shot in 2002. A little like saying Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer. This is from Dave Kindred’s fine piece on Anthony Shadid in GQ.

Until the Israeli sniper shot him, it had been a good day. Shadid’s notebook was full because he had been eyewitness to a drama that was a perfect metaphor for the latest Israel-Palestine war. He started a long walk back to the hotel. There he would write for his newspaper, The Boston Globe. He was looking at his notes when he realized that his body was falling. He was halfway to the ground before he heard the gunshot.

It was March 31, 2002. Shadid remembered the sky over Ramallah as cemetery gray. Once the bustling hub of a new Palestine, the city was cloaked in silence. War in its third day had emptied the streets. That day, as on all days, Shadid was driven by a reporter’s questions: Why? How do I put the pieces of the puzzle together? Here in Ramallah, why did Israel’s army wage war against civilians when the nation’s prime minister said the objective was to eliminate a’ “terrorist infrastructure”?

Shadid had gone to Ramallah Hospital to interview doctors, nurses, ambulances drivers, and humanitarian workers. He wanted to talk to people who had found themselves in harm’s way by leading their everyday lives. As he arrived, so did the roar of war. A tank rolled up, and two armored personnel carriers unloaded soldiers. The soldiers rushed toward the hospital with rifles leveled on people who had come outside. Someone said, “This is a hospital!” The soldiers, seemingly in search of an enemy, shouted, “Everyone back, everybody inside!”

Shadid saw it all. The scene spoke to the asymmetry of the conflict Here were doctors in white smocks facing soldiers with M-16s. As an Israeli lieutenant talked to the hospital chief, Shadid listened. In their confrontation, he saw the war. The lieutenant was an army that had to search among civilians for the enemy. The hospital chief was Ramallah, powerless against power.

“The doctor and this Israeli were face-to-face and they were yelling at each other,” Shadid said. “I’m standing right next to them. And I’m writing down every word. This was one of those moments. Through it, I could tell the entire story of this fifty-year conflict. I was so excited. This is it. You could see how the entire story would be structured. So excited.”

When a peaceful compromise was made, Shadid headed back to his hotel with a colleague, Said al-Ghazali. They walked in the middle of the street lest they raise suspicion by moving along walls. Both wore white flak jackets marked on the back with red-taped “TV,” the best-known symbol for international press. He had his notebook in his hands, flipping pages to read notes.

Then he was falling before he heard the gunshot. “It was deafening, like they shot next to my ear,” he said. “Probably twenty-five feet away.” On the street, he couldn’t move. He first thought someone had thrown a stun grenade, a weapon that momentarily paralyzes its target. Then he felt pain on his spine. “Said,” he said to his friend, “I think I was shot.”

Al-Ghazali was down on the pavement with Shadid, searching for blood. “I don’t see anything,” he said. Shadid now reached behind his flak jacket and brought back a bloody hand. He thought to tell his wife and infant daughter good-bye. He thought of ambulances that couldn’t move on Ramallah’s streets. He also thought, “I’ll die if I wait for help.”

Al-Ghazali carried him twenty yards before they fell. “Journalists!” Al-Ghazali shouted. “Help! Bring us a car!” There was no one in the street, no one could hear them, no one except perhaps the Israeli who shot him. Shadid thought that man might now be watching him struggle toward a vehicle in the street ahead.

“He’s wounded!” al-Ghazali shouted.

An Israeli said, “Show us!”

Al-Ghazali turned Shadid so the soldier could see the white flak jacket red with blood. The bullet had passed through Shadid’s left shoulder, sheared off part of a spinal column vertebra, and burst through his right shoulder, a classic M-16 wound: tiny on entry, huge on exit. Twelve pieces of shrapnel remained inside the reporter’s back. In his Boston apartment years later, I asked Shadid, “Did the guy intend to shoot you?”

“There were rumors that Palestinians were posing as Red Cross workers and journalists. I don’t think if they knew I was an American journalist that I’d have been shot. They might have, who knows? They can be rough on journalists. I think they wanted to teach a lesson. ‘Here’s what we’re going to do to people acting as journalists.'”

“God,” I said.

“A cold-blooded execution.”

“From point-blank range,” I said.

“They were looking to kill me. Crazy, but reading my notes may have saved my life. I think they were aiming at my head, and I moved my head down looking at my notes.”

“The M-16 wound makes you sure an Israeli did it?”

“Yes. And the Israelis were in complete control of that area that day.”

Israel strikes Gaza, killing 11, injuring 16

Mar 10, 2012

Omar Ghraieb

Omar
Photo from attack at Omar Ghraieb’s site

What mainstream media wouldn’t tell you or give you details about:

Gaza, March 10, Gaza witnessed a sleepless night after a continuous series of air-raids performed by Israel’s different warplanes (Apache, Drones, and F16s). It started on March 9, 5:00 pm, when Israeli warplanes targeted a blue car in a populated area. The blue Opel became a little box of steel, completely burned and blown into little shrapnel. It happened in Tal Al Hawa, Western Gaza, and caused the death of Zuheir Qaisy, Secretary-General of the Popular Resistance Committees and Mahmoud Hanini, freed prisoner in Shalit swap deal, originally from Nablus. A third passer-by was critically injured.

(To see pictures from this post, click here.)

Later that night, 8:30 pm, March 9, medics announced the death of Khaled Harara, 22, and Obaid Al Gharabli, 23, both belong to Saraya Al Quds, armed wing of Islamic Jihad after being targeted by Israeli warplanes. Medics announced the discovery of a third body in the same place, Hazem Qureqe’.

Israeli warplanes continued bombarding Gaza heavily till 2:30 am, March 10. No place in Gaza was safe, Israeli warplanes raided Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern Gaza, civilian houses, highly populated areas and highly trafficked crossroads.

Another 6 Gazans were killed by Israeli warplanes in different areas across Gaza:
Shady Sieqali, Fayeq Sa’d, Mo’tasem Hajjaj, Ahmed Hajjaj, Mohamed Al Mughari and Mahmoud Nejem. Most martyrs were members of Saraya Al Quds, Islamic Jihad. Local resistance in Gaza retaliated and showered nearby Israeli settlements with homemade rockets.

Some of the areas that were targeted by Israeli warplanes: Beit Lahyah, Shuja’yah, Sudaneyah, Maqousi Towers, Palestinian Legislative Council, Rimal Area, Tal Al Hawa, Yarmouk Street, Rafah, Khan Younis and other different areas.

Israel and armed Palestinian factions in Gaza, all denied the news about a cease fire so escalation is in the air.

Stay tuned….

Ghraieb’s piece first appeared at Gaza: In the eyes of the beholder

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