AP covers Israel's campaign against protest and dissent

Adam Horowitz writing for Mondoweiss:

The AP has picked up the story on the ongoing Israeli campaign against nonviolent protest against the occupation. Ben Hubbard connects the dots between the arrests of Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, Jamal Juma’, Mohammed Othman and the recent tougher response to the protests in Bil’in, Naalin and Sheikh Jarrah. The article opens, "Israel is arresting a growing number of prominent opponents to its policies toward the Palestinians, say critics who are accusing the government of trying to crush legitimate dissent."

Is it just me or does this whole article just reek of panic from the Israeli government? It seems that Israel has been caught flatfooted as activists have changed tactics. Hubbard writes:

The arrests come at a time of shifting tactics in the protests against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and annexation of east Jerusalem, territories the Palestinians want for their future state. Israel captured both from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war.
The violence of the second Palestinian uprising, with mass marches and violent attacks, has given way to carefully calibrated protests and legal action in which Israeli and Palestinian activists now often work together.

And of course Israel has responded in the only way they ever do – force.

The article also includes an interesting tidbit on Mohammad Othman’s case and the type of interrogation he faced during his detention:

Othman, who was arrested upon his return from an advocacy trip to Norway, said he was interrogated almost daily. "The questions focused on the boycott movement, ‘How do you work on this and who are your contacts?’" said Othman, 33.
Interrogators searched his computer, his cell phone and e-mail accounts, he said. He had to pay a $2,700 bond.

Sure seems someone has noticed the BDS movement, don’t you think?

For those not aware, BDS means Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.

Perhaps due to the pressure of the news media, Juma and Othman were recently released. Rahmeh, however, remains jailed. Further news, the AP story was actually carried by the Washington Post. Now that's a new one.



Obama capitulates to Israeli colonialism

Just who is the world's Superpower? America?

Bruce Wolman who reports from Mondoweiss tells us:


[Mitchell's] main message will be the need to apply pressure, especially from the Arab states, on the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations with Israel. At last week’s meeting of the Quartet, Mitchell told the delegates there was no prospect of Israel agreeing to a complete halt in construction in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians have been demanding.

We are seeing the complete capitulation of the Obama administration to the Netanyahu government and the Israeli Lobby. Once again American Mideast foreign policy becomes a mere extension of US domestic politics. As in the Clinton years, it is demanded of the Palestinians that they be the ones to adjust to American and Israeli political realities.

As Americans, we should be ashamed of this capitulation to Israel, which is using our funding and military equipment to continue its ethnic cleansing and colonization of lands belonging to the Palestinian people.

Ashamed, Obama!


UN Special Rapporteur calls for Israeli sanctions

....unless it lifts the Gaza blockade.

This report was dated December 31, 2009, the anniversary of the Gaza massacre, amidst the efforts of 1,300 or so Gaza Freedom Marchers from 42 countries who protested in Cairo to gain entry into Gaza, and Egypt's harassment of 400 or so internationals comprising the Viva Palestina aid convoy en route to the same place.

Two weeks earlier, Israel detained Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur, at Ben-Gurion airport then deported him. Why? Just a week earlier, Falk issued a scathing report on the approaching famine in Gaza and the world's silence.

Adam Horowitz reported for Monoweiss:

From the UN News Centre:

The United Nations independent expert on Palestinian rights has again called for a threat of economic sanctions against Israel to force it to lift its blockade of Gaza, which is preventing the return to a normal life for 1.5 million residents after the devastating Israeli offensive a year ago.
“Obviously Israel does not respond to language of diplomacy, which has encouraged the lifting of the blockade and so what I am suggesting is that it has to be reinforced by a threat of adverse economic consequences for Israel,” Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, told UN Radio.

The article also notes:

In a new policy brief, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), entrusted with promoting the integration of developing countries into the world economy, reported that more than 80 per cent of Gaza’s population are now impoverished; 43 per cent unemployed; and 75 per cent lack food security. “In view of the eroded productive base, poverty is likely to widen and deepen unless reconstruction begins in earnest and without further delay,” it warned.


Given Israel's response to this humanitarian cry from Falk, it is obvious that Israel's concern for Palestinians has reached a new low. And the world silence referred to is no doubt loudest from the US, who is funding it all. By contrast, the EU, governments and people alike, are becoming more intolerant Israel-US-Egypt's inhuman starvation of Gaza's people.

We saw a similar catastrophe in Iraq during the Clinton administration when the silly notion that Saddam could be overthrown if sanctions were imposed, instead led to the death of nearly a million people of starvation, especially infants and children.

Zionist group goes after Columbia's Rashid Khalidi

That organization of course is Campus Watch, Daniel Pipes effort to monitor American college professors for their unwillingness to keep Israel criticism off campus, to remain silent. Pipes is well known for his audacious attempts to silence American professors with threats of blackmail, including arrogant demands from tainted professors that they submit their course curriculums to him, personally, for approval. There is a history of professors deprived of tenure because of organizations like Campus Watch.

I'm not kidding. Check out Pipes' org here: http://www.campus-watch.org/

But this latest attempt at censorship, this attack against Rashid Khalidi really pissed off Cecile Sarasky of Muzzlewatch:

Academic freedom, CampusWatch goes after Columbia’s Rashid Khalidi and PARC

"Is space opening up or shutting down for professors who criticize Israel or express sympathy for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement?

One answer is that academic McCarthyite group CampusWatch is, unfortunately, still in business. In fact, they just published yet another hopefully meaningless attack on the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) and keynote speaker at their October conference, the preeminent Middle East scholar (and famously, former-friend-of-Obama) Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University’s Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies. Why do they want PARC to stop receiving funding from the Department of Education? Because in his speech at a conference on Palestine, Khalidi criticized Israel, and worse, criticized Campus Watch! Comical, yes. Imagine, one of the country’s most respected Middle East scholars having the audacity to criticize Israel and CampusWatch at a conference called “Palestine: What We Know.” CampusWatch’s Jonathan Schanzer smears Khalidi with a charge he denies, that he was ever an official spokesperson for the PLO, and insists:

While Khalidi undoubtedly has the right to express his opinion, the American public has as a right to know that they paid for it. PARC receives controversial Title VI funding from the U.S. State Department and the Department of Education for “Palestinian studies.” By inviting Khalidi, PARC spent fungible taxpayer money to bring a notorious former spokesman for a terrorist organization to Washington to rail against Israel and complain about a group that critiques him.

Meanwhile, Nora Barrows-Friedman’s new article in the Electronic Intifada about academic freedom suggests the answer to the question, is there more space on campus for debate on Israel/Palestine?, is both yes and no.

UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, says:

“There seems to be diverging trends in relation to academic freedom for those who express sharply critical views of Israel or Zionism,” Falk remarked. “On the one side there is growing sympathy for the Palestinian struggle, and this is exhibited by the spreading BDS campaign. On the other side, there are increased efforts by organized Zionist groups to exert covert and overt pressure on university administrations to punish those seen as critics of Israel. As a result, we can expect some inconsistent outcomes in this period.”

Caught up in that tension are professors like UC Santa Barbara’s William Robinson who called down the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League and others for criticizing Israel’s attack on Gaza: in June 2009, the university threw out charges of faculty misconduct. And Columbia’s Joseph Massad and Barnard’s Nadia Abu El Haj who both survived extensive campaigns to deny them tenure." 

Read on here: http://www.muzzlewatch.com/

Interesting stuff. Only in America.


Calling Bono: Palestinian Gandhis Exist in Graves and Prisons

Bono, the famous leader of the band U2, is renowned for advocating for peoples deprived of human rights around the world. But strangely, he has stayed away from the plight of the Palestinians, in spite of numerous invitations to come to Palestine and witness for himself the Israeli occupation and the unrelenting theft of Palestinian lands, the colonialism, it supports. Silence has been his response.


Then a column appeared in the New York Times, in which Bono wrote, 

"I’ll place my hopes on the possibility — however remote at the moment — that...people in places filled with rage and despair, places like the Palestinian territories, will in the days ahead find among them their Gandhi, their King, their Aung San Suu Kyi."

In response to his incredibly ignorant statement, ALISON WEIR, a journalist and founder of If Americans Knew, wrote this invitation, Calling Bono: Those Palestinian Gandhis....Exist in Graves and Prisons, for Counterpunch.

"Dear Bono,

Your hope has already been fulfilled in the Palestinian territories. Unfortunately, these Palestinian Gandhis and Kings are being killed and imprisoned.

On the day that your op-ed appeared hoping for such leaders, three were languishing in Israeli prisons. No one knows how long they will be held, nor under what conditions; torture is common in Israeli prisons.

At least 19 Palestinians have been killed in the last six years alone during nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s apartheid wall that is confiscating Palestinian cropland and imprisoning Palestinian people. Many others have been killed in other parts of the Palestinian territories while taking part in nonviolent activities. Hundreds more have been detained and imprisoned.

Recently Israel has begun a campaign to incarcerate the leaders of this diverse movement of weekly marches and demonstrations taking place in small Palestinian villages far from media attention.

The first Palestinian Gandhi to be rounded up in this recent purge was young Mohammad Othman, taken on Sept. 22 when he was returning home from speaking in Norway about nonviolent strategies to oppose Israeli oppression and land confiscation. He has now been held for 107 days without charges, much of it in solitary confinement.

The second was Abdallah Abu Rahma, a schoolteacher and farmer taken from his home on Dec. 10, the only one to be charged with a crime. After holding him for several days, Israel finally came up with a charge: “illegal weapons possession” – referring to the peace sign he had fashioned out of the spent teargas cartridges and bullets that Israel had shot at nonviolent demonstrators. (One such cartridge pierced the skull of Tristan Anderson, an American who was photographing the aftermath of a nonviolent march, causing part of his right frontal lobe to be removed.)

The third was Jamal Jumah’, a veteran leader in the grassroots struggle, who was taken by Israeli occupation forces on Dec. 16th and is now being held in shackles and often blindfolded during Kafkaesque Israeli military proceedings.

Palestinians have been engaging in nonviolence for decades.

When I was last in Nablus I learned of a massive nonviolent demonstration that had occurred in 2001 – estimates range from 10,000 to 50,000 Palestinian men, women, and children taking part in a nonviolent march. All sectors of Nablus had joined together in organizing this – public officials, diverse parties, religious, secular, Muslim, Christian.

Modeling their action on images of Dr. Martin Luther King, they marched arm-in-arm, believing that Israel would not kill them and that the world would care. They were wrong on both counts. Israeli forces immediately shot six dead and injured many more. And no one even knows about it. At If Americans Knew we are currently working on a video to try to remedy the last part; there’s nothing we can do about the dead.

But there’s a great deal you can do, Bono. You can use your talent and celebrity to tell the world these facts. You can write a New York Times op-ed about the Palestinian Gandhis in Israeli prisons and call for their freedom. You can sing of these Palestinian Martin Luther Kings you wished for, and by singing save their lives.

For the reality is that nonviolence is only as powerful as its visibility to the world. When it is made invisible through its lack of coverage by the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, et al, its practitioners are in deadly danger, and their efforts to use nonviolence against injustice are doomed.

In the New York Times you publicly proclaimed your belief in nonviolence. Now is your chance to demonstrate your commitment."


Here is a list of those nonviolent demonstrators who were killed by Israeli forces while demonstrating against the Israeli wall being built on Palestinian land [source: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/06/7647]

5 June 2009: Yousef ‘Akil’ Tsadik Srour, 36. Shot in the chest with 0.22 calibre live ammunition during a demonstration against the Wall in Ni’lin.

April 17, 2009: Basem Abu Rahme, age 29. Shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas projectile during a demonstration against the Wall in Bil’in.

December 28, 2008: Mohammad Khawaja, age 20. Shot in the head with live ammunition during a demonstration in Ni’lin against Israel’s assault on Gaza. Mohammad died in the hospital on December 31, 2009.

December 28, 2008: Arafat Khawaja, age 22. Shot in the back with live ammunition in Ni’lin during a demonstration against Israel’s assault on Gaza.

July 30, 2008: Youssef Ahmed Younes Amirah, age 17. Shot in the head with rubber coated bullets during a demonstration against the Wall in Ni’lin. Youssef died of his wounds on August 4, 2008.

July 29, 2008: Ahmed Husan Youssef Mousa, age 10. Shot dead while he and several friends tried to remove coils of razor wire from land belonging to the village in Ni’lin.

March 2, 2008: Mahmoud Muhammad Ahmad Masalmeh, age 15. Shot dead when trying to cut the razor wire portion of the Wall in Beit Awwa.

March 28, 2007: Muhammad Elias Mahmoud ‘Aweideh, age 15. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Um a-Sharayet – Samiramis.

February 2, 2007: Taha Muhammad Subhi al-Quljawi, age 16. Shot dead when he and two friends tried to cut the razor wire portion of the Wall in the Qalandiya Refugee Camp. He was wounded in the thigh and died from blood loss after remaining in the field for a long time without treatment.

May 4, 2005: Jamal Jaber Ibrahim ‘Asi, age 15. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Beit Liqya.

May 4, 2005: U’dai Mufid Mahmoud ‘Asi, age 14. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Beit Liqya.

February 15, 2005: ‘Alaa’ Muhammad ‘Abd a-Rahman Khalil, age 14. Shot dead while throwing stones at an Israeli vehicle driven by private security guards near the Wall in Betunya.

April 18, 2004: Islam Hashem Rizik Zhahran, age 14. Shot during a demonstration against the Wall in Deir Abu Mash’al. Islam died of his wounds April 28, 2004.

April 18, 2004: Diaa’ A-Din ‘Abd al-Karim Ibrahim Abu ‘Eid, age 23. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

April 16, 2004: Hussein Mahmoud ‘Awad ‘Alian, age 17. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Betunya.

February 26, 2004: Muhammad Da’ud Saleh Badwan, age 21. Shot during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu. Muhammad died of his wounds on March 3, 2004.

February 26, 2004: Abdal Rahman Abu ‘Eid, age 17. Died of a heart attack after teargas projectiles were shot into his home during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

February 26, 2004: Muhammad Fadel Hashem Rian, age 25. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

February 26, 2004: Zakaria Mahmoud ‘Eid Salem, age 28. Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

It is hard not to notice the number of teenagers who were killed during peaceful demonstrations.

It is also troublesome to listen to someone like Bono pretend ignorance and blame the victims, the Palestinians, in what is a gross display of Israeli propaganda. Bono is not that dumb, is he?



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