Archive | November 21st, 2013

Nazi forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)



  • Israeli forces launched 8 air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

–       3,500 chicks and 15 sheep died in Israeli raids on poultry and sheep farms in Khan Yunis.

  • Israeli forces have continued to open fire at the border areas in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.


  • 8 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were wounded in the southeast of Nablus.


  • Israeli forces have continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.

–       7 Palestinian civilians were wounded in protests in Kofur Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqilia, and Bil’in village, west of Ramallah.

  • Israeli forces conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the Gaza Strip.

–       At least 58 Palestinians, including 11 children and a mother of 2 children, were arrested.

  • Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

–       Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

–       At least 10 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank.

–       A patient from Rafah was arrested at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

  • Israeli navy forces have continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea.

–       Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, arrested fishermen and confiscated fishing boats.

  • Israeli has continued efforts to create a Jewish demographic majority in occupied East Jerusalem.

–       Israeli authorities approved the scheme of the (National Park) on the lands of al-Tour and al-‘Eisawiya villages.

  • Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

–       Israeli forces erased 100 olive trees in Ya’bad village, southwest of Jenin.

–       Israeli settlers set fire to 2 vehicles in Fara’ta village, northeast of Qalqilia.

–       219 olive trees were uprooted and damaged in the northern and southern West Bank.


Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (14 – 20 November 2013).


During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 15 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, in the West Bank.  7 of these civilians were wounded during peaceful protests organized by Palestinian civilians and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. The other 8 ones were wounded during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians who protested against uprooting their trees by Israeli settlers. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes bombarded different areas, while the gunboats continued to attack fishing boats in the sea.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests organised by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West. As a result, 7 civilians, including 2 children, were wounded.  

On 18 November 2013, 8 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were wounded when they protested in Qasra village, southeast of Nablus, as settlers uprooted 38 olive seedlings from Palestinian lands. Israeli forces arrived and fired sound bombs, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at the Palestinians.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes launched 8 air strikes against a number of targets throughout the Gaza Strip. On 14 November 2013, Israeli warplanes raided an open land in the east of Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip, and another open land, east of al-Zaitoun neighbourhood in the east of Gaza City.

On 19 November 2013, Israeli warplanes launched 6 air strikes as follows: the first was on a poultry and sheep farm, southeast of Khan Yunis. The second raid was on the area that witnessed the tunnel bombardment last month, 250 meters away from the border fence, northeast of Khan Yunis. The third raid was on an agricultural land, east of Khan Yunis, while the fourth one was carried out on Hettin training site of the Palestinian armed groups, in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli warplanes attacked the abovementioned training site twice later.

The full report is available online at:

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

Potential Iran deal highlights rifts between imperialists, I$raHell


What’s behind the diplomatic conflict over Iran nuclear negotiations?

Netanyahu went on an all-out campaign against the agreement.

What is really behind the fierce diplomatic conflict that has erupted over the Iran nuclear negotiations? What are the motivations of the Israeli and French governments in opposing an interim agreement that would require significant concessions by Iran in exchange for some easing of harsh economic sanctions?

Several rounds of sanctions imposed by the U.S., the European Union and the UN Security Council have inflicted severe damage on Iran’s economy and widespread hardship on the Iranian people. The U.S. and its allies have tried to justify the sanctions by claiming that they are aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The Iranian government has repeatedly asserted that its nuclear program is for civilian use only and that it has no intention of building nuclear bombs.

On Nov. 9, it appeared that an interim agreement was about to be signed in Geneva, Switzerland between the “P5+1” and Iran. The “P5+1” are the Security Council permanent members—the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China—plus Germany.  While the details of the agreement have not been made public, it reportedly called for Iran to limit or halt its uranium enrichment for six months in exchange for a “very limited” and “reversible” easing of sanctions. The plan called for negotiations over the following six months to reach a permanent agreement that would, among other conditions, subject Iran’s nuclear program to intensified international inspections. Such an agreement would make military uses of nuclear technology virtually impossible.

That an agreement was indeed close was indicated by the presence in Geneva of the foreign ministers of the countries involved, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. At the last minute, however, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius unexpectedly blocked the deal, on the grounds that it supposedly didn’t contain enough concessions from Iran. Fabius’s veto is part of a concerted drive by France, a former colonizing power in the Middle East, to reassert its influence in the region at a time of widening divisions between the United States on the one hand and Israel and Saudi Arabia on the other.

Negotiations are set to resume on Nov. 20.

Israel campaigns against agreement

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu had already launched an all-out campaign against any agreement. “This is a very bad deal and Israel utterly rejects it,” Netanyahu told a press conference on Nov. 8. “Israel will do everything it needs to defend itself and the security of its people.” This was one more repetition of a thinly veiled threat of war by the leader of the only state in the region that actually possesses nuclear bombs—hundreds of them.
Israel, despite its relatively small size and thanks to unparalleled aid from the United States, is rated as having one of the most powerful militaries in the world. It is hardly in danger of being attacked by Iran, which has never launched a war against another country.

Why then such a vehement response from Netanyahu, who even took his anti-agreement campaign to the halls of Congress and the Sunday morning talk shows in the United States?

Comments by Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser, are instructive: “I can understand why Netanyahu is so furious. A unilateral military option would have no real chance now. Not because we can’t do it, but because it would be seen as moving against the whole international community. That is something Israel cannot afford.”

While it is highly unlikely that Israel was about to launch a unilateral war against Iran, Eiland’s comments provide insight into what could be called the “perpetual war” doctrine of Israel’s leadership—past and present.
Israeli leaders and their supporters here never tire of proclaiming that, “Israel wants peace, but it cannot find a partner for peace,” but the reality is very different.

State of Israel serves imperialist interests

Since its foundation in 1948 as a European colonial implantation in the heart of the Arab world, Israel has been in a state of conflict with neighboring states and the Palestinian people who it dispossessed. This is the basis of an irreconcilable contradiction, one which the Israeli leadership embraces.

As a highly militarized garrison state, Israel has served the interests of imperialism, especially U.S. imperialism. Israel’s wars of aggression have not only expanded its conquered territory, they have also served to disrupt and derail development in the entire resource-rich and strategic region. In exchange for services rendered, the U.S. government has sent hundreds of billions in economic and military aid, including much high tech weaponry.

Peace, not war, is what is viewed as the grave threat by Israel’s leaders. They have long feared that their U.S. patron would one day realign its Middle East strategy away from its traditional allies/clients toward an understanding with other capitalist governments in the region, including Iran. Such an agreement would make armed conflicts less likely in the short term, hence reducing the critical importance of Israel as the U.S. watchdog in the region. To be sure, such a change in U.S. policy would not be motivated by a more benevolent outlook. As long as imperialism exists, such a shift would be employing different tactics to achieve the same objective: domination and exploitation.

The great fear in Tel Aviv is that a reorientation of U.S. Middle East policy would reduce Israel’s importance to Washington. From its beginnings a little over a century ago, the leaders of the Zionist movement that eventually created the Israeli state were highly conscious of the fact that their colonial project could only succeed with the sponsorship of a major imperialist power. From 1917-47, it was Britain. In the 1950s and 60s, France was the main source of arms, while aid poured in from the U.S. and German governments to sustain an economically unviable state. After the 1967 war, when Israel conquered Syria’s Golan Heights, Egypt’s Sinai and the West Bank and Gaza, the U.S. government became the main supplier of vast quantities of economic and military assistance, along with diplomatic protection.

Any possibility of a diminution of U.S. support—military, economic or diplomatic—is viewed as the real existential threat by Israel’s rulers.

U.S. ‘peace plan’ latest attempt to liquidate Palestinian struggle

And, Iran is not the only point of recent contention. Secretary of State John Kerry has made restarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which governs some parts of the West Bank, a priority. This effort is not motivated by good will on the part of Kerry or the Obama administration, but is instead the latest U.S. attempt to liquidate the Palestinian liberations struggle which remains a key to the entire region.

Kerry’s plan calls for creating a weak Palestinian mini-state on broken up pieces of West Bank territory and Gaza—less than 20 percent of historic Palestine. This “state”, according to the U.S. plan, would be unlike any other state in the world in that it would not have control over its own borders, water, air space or subsoil rights. It would be disarmed. In reality, it would be a neo-colony of Israel. Moreover, the six-plus million Palestinian refugees would be denied the right of return.

But even this plan is too much for the Israeli government. While Netanyahu mouths the words “two states” on occasion to please Washington, his government is engaged in a massive buildup of illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land, in effect annexing large parts of the West Bank.

On Nov. 14, the entire Palestinian negotiating team—made up of PA representatives who would be glad to agree to the Kerry plan—announced their resignation in protest over the stepped up settlement expansion plan announced by Netanyahu.

In unusually direct comments to Israeli TV on Nov. 7, Kerry said: “How can you say ‘We[the Israeli government] are planning to build in the same place that will eventually be Palestine?’ It sends a message that somehow you’re not really serious.”

The Netanyahu government, of course, is only participating in the latest round of “peace talks” in order to mollify the U.S. government. Their priority is to take as much Palestinian land as possible hoping that a by-product of this policy combined with other vicious apartheid practices will “encourage” large numbers of Palestinians to leave. This in reality has been the Israeli plan since the 1967 war.

Kerry and other U.S. leaders would have no problem with such a plan except that it hasn’t worked. They are worried that if the Palestinians continue to be offered nothing but more repression and deprivation, there could be a new intifada or uprising that could further destabilize the region. The Obama administration’s priority is protecting the interests of Empire.

Another recent point of conflict was the confirmation by a White House source that it was, in fact, Israel that carried out the bombing attack on a Syrian military base on Oct. 30. Israel has staged several raids on Syrian government forces in the midst of the war raging in that country. The Israeli government has never admitted the obvious, that it was responsible.

Israeli military officials responded angrily to the U.S. confirmation of their responsibility, calling it “scandalous” and “unthinkable.”  Like their U.S. counterparts, Israeli leaders consider it their “right” to carry out unprovoked attacks on other countries, while maintaining a “window of deniability.” The White House confirmation was a rebuke to the Israeli leaders for interfering with U.S. strategy against Syria.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Potential Iran deal highlights rifts between imperialists, I$raHell

Hundreds plan Cuban Five solidarity actions in Cuba


9th Colloquium draws activists from 47 countries

René González with his wife Olga Salanueva at the conference in Holguin
Photo: Gloria La Riva

Holguin, Cuba—Nov. 16, 2013

It was a long road to freedom for Cuban Five hero René González, who suffered 13 years in U.S. prison and almost two years of forced probation in the United States, for the “crime” of protecting his people of Cuba from U.S.-sponsored terrorism.

Yet, he retains that exceptional spirit and optimism that was never dampened while imprisoned.

That was evident to the 278 activists from 51 countries, who heard him speak today at the ninth “International Colloquium for the Cuban Five” here in the eastern Cuban city of Holguin. Everywhere he has appeared in the panels, cultural performances and the streets of Holguin, González received standing ovations and enthusiastic crowds of Cubans and conference delegates.

González recalled his time in prison to urge all to fight the injustice of his four brothers’ imprisonment.

“I was 13 years in prison. I believe that one uses certain mechanisms to confront that situation, mechanisms to grow with, even in the worst circumstances—as I have always said— to leave prison better than when I entered. And one mechanism that I always used was not to count the time.

“That is what is happening to my four brothers. They are strong men, with a high morale that has been tested time and again. They will always rise above their accusers, all those corrupt judges. They persevere in a way that their accusers can never understand.

“But they don’t deserve to be in prison counting time, and we need to get them out.”

Families of the Five speak out

Other family members of the Five—mothers, daughters, sisters and nieces—gave moving testimony of their lives without Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González. They gave heartfelt thanks to colloquium delegates for their years of solidarity with the Five. Of special concern for all of Cuba and the Five’s supporters worldwide is the double-life sentence of Gerardo Hernández, who was falsely framed for Cuba’s Feb. 24, 1996 self-defense shoot-down of Brothers to the Rescue planes.

For details on their current Habeas Corpus appeals, visit

The week of activities has included delegates’ discussions of solidarity actions to pressure the U.S. government to free the Five and talks by relatives of Cubans who died in U.S.-backed terrorist attacks. Rounding out the itinerary were a Cuban Five solidarity marathon and cycling race, visits to Holguin universities and surrounding municipalities and cultural performances by Holguin school-age children.

The highlight of the week’s events was a mass march for the Five by the people of Holguin and delegates, capped by a memorable presentation of Cuba’s “Order of Solidarity” to ex-U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, granted by the Council of State and signed by Cuban President Raúl Castro.

With thousands of Holguin citizens present, ICAP president Kenia Serrano pinned the medal on Clark’s shirt. Then he spoke, expressing gratitude to Cuba for its revolution.

Upcoming events

During the week, some of the proposed actions include university and Law school forums in Washington, D.C. and other regions by the U.S.-based National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Already the National Committee has organized successful university events in Washington DC, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas in the past 12 months, reaching hundreds of students and professors who had no previous knowledge of the anti-terrorist mission of the Cuban Five.

Other events include Five Days for the Five to be held in Washington, D.C., June 4-11, 2014 called by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, and in London March 7-8, 2014, an International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five, initiated by the London-based Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

Next year, the third International Conference in Solidarity with Cuba will take place in Havana in October, to bring together thousands of people from around the world. If the Cuban Five are not all home in Cuba by then, they will of course be a major focus of that major event, sponsored by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

Posted in USA, South AmericaComments Off on Hundreds plan Cuban Five solidarity actions in Cuba

Issues behind the election boycott in Nepal


A heroic attempt to reinvigorate the struggle for socialism.

This photo of May Day 2010 in Nepal reveals the intensity of revolutionary sentiment.

The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, one of the largest political forces in the country, is leading a boycott of the country’s upcoming Constituent Assembly elections, scheduled for Nov. 19. Thirty-two other political parties initially joined in the boycott movement.

A one-day general strike across Nepal’s urban centers shut down transportation, business, industrial facilities and education houses Nov. 11. This is being followed by a transportation strike to last through election day. The state has responded with violent repression, arrests and raids against strike and election boycott organizers. The government’s election “security” plan involves the deployment of 61,000 soldiers across the country along with 54,000 police, 20,000 paramilitary Armed Police Force officers and 40,000 temporary police, a blatant violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the 1996-2006 People’s War led by the Maoists.

There have been scores of arrests targeting CPN-M cadre. Many activists were dragged from their homes in the middle of the night without official warrant.

The first Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution, was constructed after a 10-year armed struggle led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). That struggle led to the 2006 “People’s Movement 2,” which finally overthrew the brutal feudal monarchy headed by King Gyanendra. The Constituent Assembly’s term finally expired in 2012, after multiple extensions, without having produced the constitution. This left Nepal in a state of political limbo that the ruling elites hope to break with the second CA election on Nov. 19.

The CPN-M argues that the election is a plot, primarily authored by India, to impede Nepal’s self-determination. There is a long history of Indian expansionism infringing on the sovereignty of smaller South Asian nations–the classic example being the annexation of Sikkim in 1975. The ruling classes of Nepal and India coordinate closely, with the latter playing the dominant role while subjecting the former to unequal trade terms.

The first CA election in 2008 fulfilled a key demand of the communist-led People’s War: abolishing the monarchy and breaking up the feudal land holdings. These were key tasks of the country’s bourgeois democratic revolution, along with the demand for a federal system that respected the rights of Nepal’s many nationalities. The stated doctrine of the Maoists was that this stage would facilitate, not impede, the ultimate seizure of power by the workers and peasants.

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)–which added the word “Unified” after a series of controversial mergers–enjoyed the prestige of leading the People’s War and scored huge electoral victories.

Sharp differences among communist forces

Since the declaration of a republic and the electoral gains, however, sharp differences and splits have broken out among communist forces over how to press forward. Many experienced and dedicated revolutionary cadre became disillusioned with the dominant UCPN (M) factions led by Prachanda and Bhattarai, who they accused of selling out the long-term objectives of socialism. Led by Kiran, these forces, who wanted to continue the revolution, split and established the CPN-M last year. This is the group leading the electoral boycott and protest.

The CPN-M argues that the UCPN (M) leaders Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai treated the new bourgeois-democratic government as an end in itself, disarming and demobilizing the revolutionary forces for the next phase of struggle. For instance, under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war, the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army was to be integrated in bulk into the government’s army to neutralize this formerly reliable pillar of the old regime. Prachanda and Bhattarai’s approach to army integration resulted in the liquidation of the PLA, with only a small fraction of its soldiers being scattered throughout different units of the national army, and almost no officer positions for former PLA members..

The institutions of popular power and people’s courts that the Nepalese people had fought and died for were disbanded. These leaders also called off an indefinite general strike in May, 2010 as it approached a full-scale insurrection.

The revolutionaries of the CPN-M consider the newest Constituent Assembly elections a ploy meant to buy time for the capitalists and landlords to stabilize the uncomfortable power vacuum that currently exists. Where the ruling class sees crisis, the CPN-M sees an opportunity to renew and intensify the mass struggle. They have adopted a strategy of “people’s revolt on the foundation of people’s war,” arguing that an insurrection based in the urban centers of Nepal to decisively capture state power for the oppressed is what is needed to advance the revolutionary process. This insurrection would be made possible by the accumulated experience and prestige won by the revolutionaries over the course of the People’s War.

The UCPN (M), on the other hand, believes that the seizure of power at this moment would be premature. They point to a poor international situation–there is no longer a bloc of socialist countries that would support a revolution in Nepal–as well as the underdeveloped state of the Nepalese economy to support their cautious approach. Instead, they believe it is their task to lead a “capitalist economic revolution” and develop the industry necessary for the transition to socialism.

Each revolution faces a unique set of historical tasks and objective conditions. However, groups that have in the past adopted the “stageist” approach of drawing a hard dividing line between the anti-feudal tasks of a democratic revolution and the anti-capitalist tasks of a socialist revolution have ended up abandoning revolution altogether. These tasks are distinct, but the history of revolution in underdeveloped countries in the 20th century shows that the bourgeois democratic revolution can be carried out with the workers and peasants in a position of state power.

While in normal times revolutionaries often make use of bourgeois elections to expose the limits of democracy and popularize the socialist program, in a climate of revolutionary crisis the task of revolutionaries is posed differently. After decades of determined struggle and deep political commitment to socialism, the people of Nepal have become deeply frustrated with broken promises and slow change. Parliamentary half-measures will not be enough. The election boycott represents a heroic attempt to reinvigorate the struggle for socialism.

Posted in Far EastComments Off on Issues behind the election boycott in Nepal



memorial lamp

In the light of the darkness in Gaza, here is a collection of Jewish Light Bulb Jokes

Q: How many Orthodox Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A: What is a light bulb?

Q: How many secular assimilated Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A: My grandmother, who lived in a Shtetl changed lightbulbs. Today, we get a Goy to do it.

Q: How many Israelis does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: 26: 18 to surround the building,  6 to storm the room and kill the terrorists, one to forcibly expel the old bulb, and another one to screw the new one in and forever.

Q: How many progressive Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Vhy, we don’t need any! we’ll form Jewish Voices for Light Bulbs (JVLB) and use it to keep the rest of humanity forever in the dark.

Q: How many Reform Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Change it? Who wants to change it? We just want to improve it!

Q: How many Lubabavitchers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, it never died.

Q: How many Marxist Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, after the revolution the proletariat will do it for us.

Q: What does it take for a Jewish mother to change a light bulb?
A: Never mind, I’ll sit in the dark.

Q: What does it take for a Talmudic Jew to change a light bulb
A: First you’ll have to tell me why changing a light bulb is good for the Jews.

Q How many solidarity Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, they will plea  George Soros’ Open Society Institute  to pay an Electronic Palestinian to denounce  the old one and endorse the new one.

Q: How many Hasbara Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Wrong question, the real question is why the Arabs want to throw us into the sea?

Q: How many Gazans does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Who needs a light bulb?

Q: How many self hating Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Forget about the light bulb, Every Self Hater, is himself/herself a light bulb


dcstreettechnology added on VT

Q: How many Zionist does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Zero,  they just screw the world around the light bulb!



The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics – available on



Imagine that you have to spend your night in utter darkness, to arrange your plan for each day according to a power-cut plan, or to force yourself into bed as there is nothing you can do other than to sit in the dark. Picture yourself studying for your exams using a candle, or spending all day long waiting for the electricity to come back, or walking in streets at night that are only lit by cars’ headlights. If you find it hard to imagine all of these things combined, just seek the help of a Palestinian from Gaza. No one could explain it better.

It has been a week since the government announced the new electricity schedule. Yet I still find it very difficult to adapt to. Previously, power used to be off for 8 hours a day. We accustomed ourselves to that schedule despite the fact that it took us a while to get used to it.

The electricity crisis seems to be moving from bad to worse. Never better.  Currently, we only get to see electricity for 6 hours a day. That means that power is off for 18 hours! When I heard the news about the new power-cut plan, I was stunned, my mind froze. I’m not sure how successful I will be at adapting myself to it. I got mad just wondering how I’ll get through the day. What should we do during the 18 hours of darkness? Or should the question be “How can we make the most of the 6 hours of electricity?” Should I Study? Use the Internet? Do the housework? Watch TV? Do the laundry? Ughhh! This is very confusing. Deciding what to do during the 6 hours with electricity is much harder than the 18-hour power-cut!  What a busy 6-hours it’ll have to be!

What do we do during power cuts?

“What do you do during power cuts?” is a question I frequently start with during my English-teaching classes. The majority of my students choose to sleep so time passes faster or flee outside their homes to the streets to sit wherever there are lights.

I work as an English teacher from 11am until 6pm everyday at an English-teaching centre. One of my classes starts at 4pm and finishes at 6pm. It starts getting dark at 5pm in Palestine. I had to finish these classes earlier sometimes because of power-cuts. There is a fuel shortage at the center I’m teaching at which makes it hard to turn on the generator every day.

When I finally finish work, I keep praying all the way back home that there would be electricity there. However, I usually return to discover that my prayers weren’t met. Feeling very exhausted and hungry, I light a few candles to make lunch. As I have my lunch with the dim light of candles, I try to convince myself that I’m having a romantic lunch. I fail and a malaise falls on me quickly. This is never a romantic lunch.  I didn’t choose to have my lunch over candle lights. I was forced to as I didn’t have any other choice. When I finish my late lunch, I sit powerless staring at the darkness and waiting for the lights to turn on and for the generators’ noise to stop. Oh how slow time passes while waiting! The roar of generators keeps hovering over my head all night long.

My parents and my little brother and sister have started to sleep very early at night. They force themselves into their beds at 8 pm or sometimes even earlier. At 4 am they wake up voluntarily after they have enough hours sleep. Sometimes, my mother wakes up in the middle of the night. She deliberately leaves the lights on during power-cuts before she is off to bed, so when the power is back, some light disturbs her sleep so she can take advantage of it, turn on the washing machine, and then return to bed.
Electricity now controls our daily lives. It controls our sleeping and waking up times. It even decides for us whether to receive guests at home or not. Electricity interferes with every detail. Residents of Gaza are not the only ones affected by the power cuts. Their relatives abroad get their share of this daily suffering as well. I have two sisters in Malaysia pursuing their higher education. My mother used to skype them everyday, but now we can barely talk to them. There is either no electricity or a terribly weak Internet connection.

Ways to endure power cuts

My little brother tries very hard to entertain himself during power cuts. Our people are known for innovating means of entertainment. Once, he decided to buy cards “Shaddeh” for us to play during the daily power cuts. Shaddeh turned out to be great fun and great for killing time.  We gather around a small table, light a candle and start playing shaddeh. We repeat the game over and over again until we get bored. One advantage power-cuts have brought to us is that our family spends more time together. My little brother and sister seem to enjoy powercuts because we, sometimes out of boredom, agree to play their ridiculous games.

History of power cuts

The people of Gaza have been suffering from power shortages since Israel bombed the power station in the Gaza strip in June 2006.  Since then, the electricity crisis has gradually become worse. Power-cuts used to last for 8 hours before, but now we only get to enjoy electricity for 6 hours a day. The electricity crisis has a grave impact on all sectors of our lives and all residents of Gaza strip. It has become the main topic that everybody complains about. “Health and humanitarian conditions in Gaza are at risk due to electricity outage  across the Gaza Strip,” The Minister of Health warned. Hospitals are unable to supply fuel to turn the generators on for the whole day. Patients are now at a real risk. In the thirst for electricity, many people had to buy generators powered by petrol.  However, they had to pay a huge price for it. In some cases, people paid with their lives. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 30 people have died since the beginning of this year due to the unsafe use of generators.

Who’s to blame?

The situation in Gaza is complicated. We don’t really know who to blame for the current crisis. Israel? Egypt? Hamas and Fatah? Or all of them combined? Israel is imposing a suffocating siege on the Gaza strip turning it into an open-air prison. Egypt seems to be collaborating with our jailers in tightening the siege. The Egyptian Authorities have destroyed most of the tunnels along the Gaza border with Egypt and imposes a closure on the Rafah border, the only exit for our people outside the strip. Our people used to bring in fuel through the tunnels into Gaza which managed to ease our lives to some extent. Whoever is responsible for darkening the Gaza strip has to stop. Most of the Palestinians living here are under 18, where is the justification to collectively punish them? We have a right in Gaza to see light.

The condition in Gaza is becoming unbearable.  Every day is another challenge for us. Each day we have to show steadfastness in order to survive and go on. Israel has deprived us of our very basic rights. It has deprived us of our land, our freedom, and our right to lead a normal life like any other human. I wonder when we will be able to stop worrying about such basic needs like electricity? On behalf of every civilian of the Gaza strip, I scream, LET OUR LIGHTS COME ON IN GAZA.

Jabalya Refugee Camp-Gaza, Palestine
This is Sarah Salibi from Gaza/Palestine. I hold an English literature degree from Al Azhar University.

  Source: Sarah Salibi



Whose Al-Qaeda?


“The truth is there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al-Qaeda. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But, there is propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive TV watchers to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US….” Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

“Al-Qaeda itself doesn’t exist, except in the fevered imagination of neocon and Likudnicks (Israeli Jew facists), some of whom, I suspect, it’s a myth, but find it exremely useful as a bogeyman to spook the public and the politicians to acquiesce in otherwise unacceptable policy initiatives at home and abroad…..  R. T. Naylor, June 21, 2003.

“The myth of Al-Qaeda is built on a expansive foundations of many half-truths and hidden facts. It is a CIA creation. It was shaped by the agency to serve as a substitute ‘enemy’ for America, replacing the Soviets whom the Islamist forces had driven from Afghanistan. Unknown American officials, at an indeterminate point in time, made the decision to fabricate the tale of mythical world-wide network of Islamist terrorists from the exploits of Afghan Mujahideen. The CIA already had their network of Islamic militants ‘freedom-fighters’, all that needed was a few scatered terrorist attacks against US targets and a credible heroic figurehead, to serve as the ‘great leader’….. Peter Chamberlin, January 5, 2010.

Interesting, what the western mainstream media is affraid to report is that most of thes Al-Qaeda cell have been working for Israeli Mossad. For example, in 2000 Yemeni government accused Israel Al-Qaeda behind the bombing of USS Cole. In 2002, PA captured a Al-Qaeda cell working for Mossad. The Adam Yahiye Gadahan, who have been representing Al-Qaeda tape – is a Mossad agent. Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 were also engineered by Mossad with the help of CIA and RAW. The latest one is the Nigerian underwear terrorist and the Green Revolution protests in Iran.

Some of the other Israel’s famous False-Flag operations include attack on USS Liberty, assassination of prsident Joh Kennedy, Pan-Am 103 bombing, 9-11, London 7/7 bombing, Bali bombing, Jordan bombing, Madris train bombing,Paradise Mombassa Hotel bombing, etc. etc.

John Kaminski in his article We are on the wrong road, wrote:

We must not accept these lies. Our future, and the future of our children, depend upon it.

Truth No. 1: Al Qaeda was created by Zbigniew Brzezinski (one of Obama’s early Jew mentors), and the Mossad-dominated CIA, infiltrating Israelis posing as Arabs posing as Afghanis to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. Since then, they have become the perfect enemy, blamed for this continuing string of false flag terror events, but uncatchable because they are created by those who pretend to be its victims. Blackwater and al-Qaeda are two departments of the same corporation, and both Obama and the leadership of Israel are on the board of directors of this murderous group.

Truth No. 2: As the former FBI Director long ago admitted, there is not now nor has there ever been any hard evidence that amateur Arab hijackers engineered the building demolitions in New York City or other events of that day. The demolition of the World Trade Center towers was not implemented by people in caves in Afghanistan, and everywhere in the world, people will laugh at you if you tell them that. Yet American foreign policy continues on the basis of this deliberate lie.

Truth No. 3: The security of the American people is very much at stake in Afghanistan, but not because of some hallucinated enemy. Wars bankrupt countries, and that’s the name of the game — bankrupt the U.S. and profit from the fire sale when it goes broke. That’s what’s happening now. Surely you have perceived it.

By: Rehmat’s World

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Localists of the World, Unite! An Urgent Call to Join the Movement Against Corporate “Trade” Deals



Over the past two decades, communities across the world have been working to build more just, sustainable and locally based alternatives to the global corporate economy. As a result, pro-local initiatives have grown by leaps and bounds, including farmers markets, food cooperatives,“buy local” and “move your money” campaigns, small business alliances, and local renewable energy projects. However,“free“ trade treaties are a mortal threat to local economies worldwide. Like trade treaties before them, the TPP and TTIP facilitate a race to the bottom that favors large, mobile corporations at the expense of local producers, small businesses, and workers. What’s more, these treaties subordinate local democracy to corporate interests, and hamstring the ability of communities to shift direction toward more prosperous local economies. To continue the inspiring success of their movements, localists need to join the global resistance against these treaties.

Ever since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was proposed more than 20 years ago, critics have warned about the negative implications of “free” trade treaties and other efforts to deregulate global trade and investment. Today, after two decades of deregulation, the impacts are exactly as feared: endemic unemployment and economic ‘precarity’, massive social dislocation in the global North and South, a widening gap between rich and poor, financial instability, growing hunger and food insecurity, and the weakening of public interest laws meant to protect people and the environment. Meanwhile, global corporations and big banks have grown larger and ever more powerful.

Thanks to “free” trade treaties, corporations have become unfettered and less rooted to place: in a global “race to the bottom” they can move wherever wages and benefits are low, and where tax rules and social and environmental laws are weak. This race imposes a downward pressure on wages, and compels every level of government to reduce sorely needed taxes and protective regulations, or risk losing businesses and jobs. As footloose corporations and speculative capital move from one place to another in search of profit, they leave behind shattered communities, economic insecurity, gutted regulations, and forced bankruptcy.

At the time of its ratification, proponents of NAFTA promised that it would stimulate job creation and economic prosperity. Two decades later, the treaty has become notorious for its disastrous effects on both sides of the Mexican-US border. For instance, Public Citizen has found that nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the US alone since NAFTA and the WTO took effect, with over 60,000 facilities closing down or moving elsewhere. During the same period, NAFTA uprooted millions of Mexican farmers who were unable to compete with imports of heavily-subsidized US corn dumped into their local markets. An estimated 2 million Mexican smallholders have been forced out of farming altogether since NAFTA’s inception. And contrary to the claims of NAFTA’s proponents, new jobs have not materialized to replace the destroyed livelihoods.

NAFTA on steroids”

Despite all the evidence, policymakers continue to promote further corporate deregulation via trade treaties. The latest and most far-reaching treaties include the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, also known as TAFTA). The scale of these new treaties is truly massive: the TPP includes the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, while the TTIP is being negotiated by the US and EU countries. The countries negotiating the TPP account for roughly forty percent of global GDP, leading some critics to call the treaty “NAFTA on steroids”. Together, the TPP and TTIP would create “free trade” zones encompassing the vast majority of global trade.

Negotiations for both treaties have been held behind closed doors, with the public left to depend on leaked documents for information about what is being proposed. Literally hundreds of corporate ‘trade advisors’, on the other hand, have had seats at the negotiating tables from the beginning.

A continuing threat to local livelihoods and food security

Governments often have good reasons to regulate the flow of goods and capital across their borders: they can aim to heighten food security, promote economic stability, protect resources and the environment, or nurture their local economies. But when global trade is deregulated through the elimination of import tariffs and other “barriers to trade”, governments lose this vital tool.

Though tariffs are already quite low between the US and the EU, negotiations for the TPP aim to eliminate tariffs on literally thousands of commodities, including agricultural products. Liberalizing agricultural trade has always been a contentious issue, with governments trying to promote the interests of their own producers. New Zealand, for instance, is hoping to gain market access to US dairy markets, a possibility opposed by US producers. Similarly, the US, New Zealand and Australia are pushing for greater access to Japan’s agricultural markets, and the elimination of key tariff protections for staples such as rice and barley. If agricultural trade liberalization goes forward, millions of small producers in Japan and other TPP countries would face the same fate as the Mexican smallholders displaced by NAFTA. Furthermore, the flood of cheap imports likely to follow liberalization would heighten dependence on imports for basic necessities, compromising food security and self-sufficiency, and increasing vulnerability to the food crises that have become more and more common in the era of globalization.

Corporate protectionism and the assault on democracy

As important as the issue of trade liberalization is, the TPP and TTIP are not primarily about trade. Instead, both treaties will likely push regulatory changes that promote corporate interests at the expense of democratically enacted laws. In short, the treaties represent an astonishing assault on democracy and national sovereignty, threatening not only existing public-interest laws, but the ability of governments to pass such laws in the future.

The treaties give corporations sweeping rights and protections in such areas as intellectual property rights, food labeling and safety standards, environmental regulations, public health laws, rules on the use of toxic chemicals, patents on critical medicines, government procurement, energy, access to labor markets, internet freedom, and banking and finance. Both treaties seek to achieve “regulatory coherence” or “harmonization” – euphemisms for reducing high national or local regulations to much lower corporate-friendly standards.

What’s worse, leaked documents suggest that both treaties are likely to contain so-called “investor-state dispute resolutions” that would give corporations still more leverage over elected governments, including the ability to sue against environmental, labor, health, and other public interest regulations that might limit their“expected future profits” (a controversial provision taken from NAFTA’s investment chapter). To date, there have been over 500investor-state disputes in which corporations – or states at the behest of corporations – have sued against national laws, often in markedly undemocratic, international tribunals. Recent examples include Philip Morris v. Uruguay and Australia, in which the US tobacco giant is suing Australia and Uruguay in an attempt to overturn laws mandating anti-smoking labels on cigarette packages, and Lone Pine v. Canada, in which a US energy corporation is attempting to overturn a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) imposed by the province of Quebec.

In sum, global “free trade” is profoundly subversive to democracy. Trade liberalization, part and parcel of corporate globalization, has narrowed the policy options available to sovereign democracies, and helped to further concentrate corporate power.

Handcuffing pro-local policies

Trade watchdog groups have warned that the TPP and TTIP could constrict local and national governments’ ability to protect and promote their local economies – a fact that should inspire localists around the world to join the movement against these treaties.

For instance, a recent Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) report notes that Malaysia currently “prohibits foreign investment in supermarkets, fostering the development of locally owned grocery stores”. Several chapters in the TPP could directly challenge this law and open the way for Wal-Mart or other transnational supermarket chains to put locally-owned stores out of business. Study after study have shown that these big-box corporate behemoths are an “economic cancer on our communities.

The TPP and TTIP could also include provisions that prevent local and national governments from instituting pro-local procurement programs, such as local purchasing preferences that favor sustainable and locally grown foods (e.g. Farm to School programs in the US).According to IATP trade expert, Karen Hansen-Kuhn: “Both the U.S. and EU have criticized ‘localization barriers to trade’. The EU, in particular, has been insistent on the inclusion of procurement commitments in TTIP at all levels of government, for all goods, and in all sectors…”

In fact, certain free trade regimes already restrict pro-local procurement programs, requiring governments to treat foreign companies the same as local ones. For instance, the WTO’s “national treatment” rules restrict governments from favoring local suppliers over non-local companies in public contracts. Says Hansen-Kuhn, “for public programs to favor the use of sustainably produced local foods in school lunch programs, or to require a certain percentage be sourced from local, small-scale farmers, could be deemed to unfairly discriminate against foreign suppliers.” In a recent example, the WTO has ruled against a cutting-edge policy in Ontario, Canada designed to strengthen the local clean energy economy and create jobs in the province.

Local governments around the world have started implementing local procurement policies for many of the same reasons consumers support “buy local” campaigns. Buying from local farmers can help preserve dwindling farmland, promote local food security and re-link urban and rural economies. Government “buy local” policies are also important tools for community economic development: re-circulating taxpayer money in the community can help revitalize local economies, stimulate job creation, and build community wealth that’s anchored in place. That’s smart policy in an economic context dominated by footloose corporations whose comings and goings can devastate local livelihoods and uproot whole communities. It also offers one powerful way for communities to flex their local democratic muscles, reclaim their right to community self-determination, and take back their economies from distant corporations. It’s no wonder that corporate interests seek to use the TPP and TTIP to prevent governments from implementing such pro-local policies.

Act locally, resist globally

Over the past two decades, communities across the world have been working to build more just, sustainable and locally based alternatives to the global corporate economy. As a result, pro-local initiatives have grown by leaps and bounds, including farmers markets, CSAs, local food cooperatives, “buy local” and “move your money” campaigns, small business alliances, local finance, and community renewable energy projects. However, free trade treaties are a mortal threat to local economies worldwide. Like trade treaties before them, the TPP and TTIP facilitate a race to the bottom that favors large, mobile corporations at the expense of local producers, small businesses and workers. What’s more, these treaties subordinate local democracy to corporate interests, and hamstring the ability of communities to shift direction toward more prosperous local economies. To continue the inspiring success of their movements, localists need to join the global resistance against these treaties.

Take action

TPP chief negotiators will meet in Salt Lake City, USA, on November 19th through the 24th (click here for local actions). The next full round of TPP meetings will be held in Singapore from December 7th-9th. Negotiators could reach an agreement as soon as the end of 2013. Before the TPP can be implemented, it will not only need to be signed by the negotiators, but in most countries it will need to be ratified by another branch of government. In the US, for example, Congress will need to ratify the treaty once it is signed. But President Obama, one of the TPP’s biggest advocates, is pushing to ‘fast track’ the process by which it would be ratified, limiting Congress to a simple yes-or-no vote rather than allowing for extended debate.

There’s still time for the public – which has so far been kept in the dark about the implications of the treaty – to make its voice heard.

Posted in WorldComments Off on Localists of the World, Unite! An Urgent Call to Join the Movement Against Corporate “Trade” Deals

Collapse? Wealthiest Nations Accused of Sabotaging UN Climate Talks


Least-developed and poorest nations stage walkout after wealthiest polluters accused of ‘disrespectful’ behavior at negotiations

– Jon Queally

Young environmentalists from international organizations protest in front of the Polish Ministry of Economy in Warsaw, where the COP 19 climate summit is taking place, Nov. 18, 2013. Canada has placed last among wealthy countries in an OECD ranking for environmental protection. (Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images)One hundred and thirty two of the world’s poorest and less-developed nations, including the G77 nations and China, walked out of the UN climate talks in Warsaw on Wednesday, accusing the wealthiest nations, such as the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the EU states of sabotaging what little hope for progress there remained at this year’s international summit.

Harjeet Singh, a spokesman for ActionAid Internatonal, called the continued willingness of the wealthiest (and most polluting) nations to sacrifice the low-lying islands nations and poor countries that are the least responsible for but most vulnerable to climate change an insult to the spirit of the UN talks.

“The US, EU, Australia and Norway remain blind to the climate reality that’s hitting us all, and poor people and countries much harder,” Singh said. “They continue to derail negotiations in Warsaw that can create a new system to deal with new types of loss and damage such as sea-level rise, loss of territory, biodiversity and other non-economic losses more systematically.”

As Sophie Yeo writes for the RTCC Blog, Australia was the target of specific ire for what was interpreted as disrespectful and unserious behavior during the latest conversations at the summit which focused on the development and mechanisms for an international climate relief fund.

According to Yeo:

The Australian delegation turned up in casual attire and “gorged on snacks” during negotiations on whether developed states should make reparations to vulnerable countries as the impacts of climate change become more severe, according to Saleemul Huq, an expert on loss and damage at the International Institute for Environment and Development.

Their behaviour caused over 130 developing nations to abandon discussions on the controversial issue of climate compensation at 4am last night.

Representatives from developed countries also appear less than impressed. EU negotiator Paul Watkinson tweeted: “It is one thing to be tired in a negotiation meeting, another to turn up in pyjamas – respect matters”.

According to reports, the negotiators blocked any progress on a new ‘loss and damage mechanism’, which many developing countries are pushing as a non-negotiable element of the climate talks which are gathering pace in Warsaw.

The late night talks were developing constructively, sources say, until the Australian delegation blocked progress on the new document currently being thrashed out behind closed doors.

And the Guardian’s John Vidal reports:

Developing countries have demanded that a new UN institution be set up to oversee compensation but rich countries have been dismissive, blocking calls for a full debate in the climate talks.

“The EU understands that the issue is incredibly important for developing countries. But they should be careful about … creating a new institution. This is not [what] this process needs,” said Connie Hedegaard, EU climate commissioner.

She ruled out their most important demand, insisting: “We cannot have a system where we have automatic compensation when severe events happen around the world. That is not feasible.”

The G77 and China group, which is due to give a press conference on Wednesday to explain the walkout, has made progress on loss and damage, which it says is a “red line” issue. It claims to be unified with similar blocs including the Least Developed CountriesAlliance of Small Island States and the Africa Group of negotiators.

Hedegaard poured cold water on last week’s related proposal by Brazil, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change be asked to find a way to quantify each country’s historical emissions of greenhouse gases in order to help countries establish the level of future emission cuts.

Debate on the issue has been rejected by rich countries, which fear it could lead to unacceptable costs.

Those countries that walked out, including a coalition of low-lying island countries, African nations, and others were holding a press conference later in the day to explain their frustrations and articulate a possible path forward.

Posted in Campaigns, HealthComments Off on Collapse? Wealthiest Nations Accused of Sabotaging UN Climate Talks

In Yemen, Terrorism Comes from Above


In congressional briefing, Yemeni delegation describe terror drones bring to their communities

“What could possibly justify terrorizing a community of 250,000 just for the purpose of killing one person?”

Robert Naiman (left), Medea Benjamin (mid left), Faisal bin Ali Jaber (center), Baraa Shiban (mid right) and Entesar Qadhi (right). (Image: FDL)

At a congressional briefing hosted by Representative Alan Grayson and organized by CODEPINK, this was one of a number of questions posed as a delegation of individuals from Yemen spoke about the direct impact United States drones have had on their country and lives.

Entesar Qadhi, a Yemeni youth leader elected to a position in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) from the Mareb province, told of the horror her village has experienced as they fight off al Qaeda and successfully drive members of the militant group out only to have them return after a US drone strikes her village.

“We were told that drones are used to target al Qaeda and only al Qaeda, but the reality is my village didn’t know al Qaeda [until] after those drones” started hovering over our skies, Qadhi said.

“Whenever there is a drone strike, drones heavily hover over the village so the entire village keeps living in constant fear waiting for the moment when it will strike,” she added. And, “Whenever the strike happens, we feel the earth is shaking. We see fire coming from the sky. Everyone is afraid for the fact they don’t know where or when these strikes are happening.”

“Most of the victims are not from our village. We don’t know who they are. Just the reality that they are passing by the village makes all the village a target of the strike,” Qadhi explained.

“My village and our tribes usually enter into armed clashes with Qaeda people. In fact, there has been a tribal treaty between the tribes and the government to hand over anyone who is suspected to be a Qaeda member,” she added. “But unfortunately whenever we have an armed clash the Yemeni government is not supporting us, and the drones are not supporting us.”

The drones only seem to come strike the village after they have kicked al Qaeda out “as if it is a sign that the al Qaeda people should get back to the village.”

“Drone strikes actually make al Qaeda people more popular because of the fact that they are striking inside of our villages, which makes the presence of Qaeda justified in our place,” she stated.

Faisal bin Ali Jaber, who had relatives killed in a drone strike in the Hadramawt province in August 2012, also delivered remarks.

“After my son’s wedding, four missiles coming from a drone hit my village killing my brother-in-law, Salim, and Walid, who is my nephew,” Jaber said. “Those missiles came from the country that supposedly praises itself as a democracy. And, unfortunately, it killed those people without any court hearing or any law.” He suggested this is similar to how al Qaeda will kill people without any legal process.

“I cannot explain how horrific the scenery was,” he stated. There were bodies cut into pieces. An arm was thrown here. Another arm was thrown in another place. “It was a very tragic, tragic moment.”

Boldly, he continued, “I came here today to share with you my story and what has happened to my family and when I came here I had specific questions in mind: Who is the one responsible for the death of my relatives? Will anyone be held accountable for their deaths? And they left families behind. Is the United States willing to give any compensation to those families?”

Just hours before Jaber learned a drone had again attacked the Hadramawt province, where he lives. “The reality today that there was another strike in our area makes me afraid that there might be [more] victims and more people [Obama] will have to answer to in the future,” Jaber concluded.

He wrote a letter to Obama asking for an apology and an explanation for why his relatives were killed. Jaber has received no response, and the Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi sent a letter to Jaber indicating the families of Salim and Walid would be compensated. However, more than one year later, no compensation has been received and‎ Hadi will not acknowledge in public that drone strikes kill civilians. [For more on Jaber’s story, go here.]

Baraa Shiban, who works for Reprieve and is also a member of the NDC, conveyed to members of Congress his fear the people of Yemen are losing trust in the Yemeni government and that could further destabilize society.

“The whole process, unfortunately, is untransparent. No one knows. Everything is done in secrecy. The Yemeni government does not apologize,” Shiban said. He told members of Congress that he was just a human rights activist, who investigates and tries to hold the government responsible and neither the Yemeni government nor the United States will recognize victims who are killed.

“The US owes those families at least an apology. They owe an explanation of what has happened here,” he added.

The briefing took place exactly two weeks after another similar congressional briefing, which featured firsthand accounts from Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children, Zubair and Nabila, whose 68 year-old grandmother was killed by a drone when she was out in her garden gathering okra for dinner. Both Zubair and Nabila were injured in the attack. Brave New Films director Robert Greenwald showed a clip from his documentary, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars.”

Only five members of Congress attended that briefing: Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Rush Holt, Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Rick Nolan, and Grayson, who hosted the briefing.

CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin told those attending the briefing, “It’s been very hard to get the visas for people coming from Pakistan and Yemen. It was very hard to get the visas for this delegation. A number of members of the delegation from Yemen were not able to come because they couldn’t get a visa. Some other families that were going to come from Pakistan could not get a visa.”

Despite the struggle to bring voices to share stories with members of Congress, only five Congress members made appearances during this round: Schakowsky, Grayson, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Charlie Rangel, and Rep. Chellie Pingree. However, the briefing was held in a room in the Rayburn House Office Building that could barely fit 70 people and was much smaller and less decorated than the room where the previous briefing was held. Various staff of congressional members’ offices came by and signed their name to a sheet indicating they had stopped by the briefing and that list remarkably included some Republicans.

Grayson, in opening remarks, asked those in attendance, “Does it make any sense to send these death machines from our shores to a location eight or nine thousand miles, have somebody watch a computer screen in the United States and on the basis of what they see on that screen decide who lives and who dies in a foreign country?”

He repeated what he had said at the briefing two weeks ago, that no other country in the world does anything like that, including Russia and China.

“Fifteen to twenty percent of the victims” are “people with no political history, no ideology, no sense of any possibility that they are even enemies of this country much less people who could possibly do us harm,” he also suggested. Yet, “These people are dead, dead, dead, including 200 children.”

Lee used her opening remarks to restate her support for repealing the 2001 Authorized Use of Military Force, which has been cited as part of the legal justification for US drone strikes. She also said there should be a moratorium on drones until accountability measures and standards could be put in place and urged members of Congress to support her legislation, Drones Accountability Act, which she has introduced.

For the Yemeni delegation, Schakowsky wanted to know if they had a list of victims, “collateral damage,” who could be compensated. Human rights organizations have tried to uncover the names of drone victims killed, but no comprehensive list for compensating (or possibly more importantly apologizing) to victims is known to exist.

Schakowsky was at one point very surprised to hear Shiban detail how it is not true that the Yemeni government cannot capture those the US has targeted in drone strikes.

“One of the strikes, the strike happened 1 km away from a police station,” Shiban recounted. “Another strike, it targeted a military officer and then the Yemeni government said he was an al Qaeda militant, but to be honest they could have arrested him. He came to the Yemeni military to receive his salary every month. They could have easily arrested him instead of terrorizing the whole community, making them live in fear of a drone strike.”

Often militants have to pass through checkpoints to enter villages. It would be possible to make arrests.

Grayson asked if anyone in Yemen other than president supports drone strikes. Shiban said he had not seen anyone including the advisers of the president praising the strikes.


It definitely is easy to look at the absence of Congress members at the hearings and say this is all for nothing, but there is something remarkable that happens when these victims are able to travel here and share their story in an official forum. They are relieved and grateful that there are Americans here willing to listen and acknowledge the terrible experiences they have suffered, which the United States government will not formally acknowledge. It gives them access to US media and Americans, who simply have no idea what terror they experience as drones dominate their skies.

Victims who travel to the US force this country to look inward and ask ourselves why this is being allowed to happen. It then exposes our society and the extent to which the government will go to protect this heinous and devastating policy by denying visas to people like Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represents drone victims. It demonstrates the indifference in Congress and the apathy (as Grayson said drones are not even in the top 100 things members care about on a daily basis).

There is a lot that I have written about drones over the past couple of years, but few experiences exemplify the terror of America’s drone policy like what Qadhi, a brave woman, has had to deal with in her life.

Can anyone imagine the demoralization and powerlessness that could consume a person living in a village where militant thugs from al Qaeda take over the village and are driven out by the community without any support from a government that is supposed to be allied with the US government in a fight against al Qaeda? Can anyone imagine thinking you have driven out all of these people when suddenly the skies erupt and a drone fires a Hellfire missile at someone in your village? Can anyone imagine those victims then being people who may not be al Qaeda members? And then, finally, can anyone imagine witnessing the return of militant thugs from al Qaeda, who wish to come back and take advantage of the drone strike by recruiting people to join their fight against the Yemeni government and America?

It is a circle of terror that no community should ever have to experience, and it is one of the many glaring examples of the bankruptcy of America’s drone policy.

Posted in YemenComments Off on In Yemen, Terrorism Comes from Above

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