Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I haven't used this blog for activism before, and I may not again. But for now, there is information below on how to demonstrate, donate, and write letters. The Zionist propaganda machine has won as usual in the West: Hamas are portrayed as the aggressors; western governments justify the slaughter; nobody talks about the root of the problem: Zionist apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Can you do anything except work up to a heart attack? See below. Please send this information on to others.

This site has information on demonstrations: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index2b.asp

and on boycotting Israeli goods: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/Index7b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=4&l2_id=24&Content_ID=192

These demos will happen in LONDON:

Tuesday 30 December, 2 - 4pm outside Israeli Embassy, Kensington High Street, London, W4. Nearest tube Kensingston High Street (turn right out of tube station and walk along the main road.

Wednesday 31 December, 2 - 4pm outside Israeli Embassy

Thursday 1 January 2 - 4pm outside Israeli EmbassyFriday

2 January 2 - 4 pm. Outside the Egyptian Embassy, . 26 South Street, London, W1K 1DW. Call for Egypt to open the border immediately.

SATURDAY 3 JANUARY. DEMONSTRATION AND RALLY. Assemble 2pm Parliament Square, W1. Nearest tube Westminster.

If you would like to donate money, Interpal is a good charity. You can sponsor an orphan or a family in Palestine: http://www.interpal.info/ Medical Aid for Palestine is also good: http://www.map-uk.org/

I expect letters have only a small effect, but they only take two minutes to do. At least give those in charge the sense that somebody cares. Here are addresses, below. There’s also an open letter from Jews for Justice for Palestine which you could email to the PM, foreign secretary, your MP, etc, with a line saying that you endorse it. It may be important to point out that Hamas did not break the ceasefire; Israel did, by beseiging and staging incursions into Gaza, and that all talk of ceasefires is anyway a diversion. We should be talking about liberating Palestine, either according to the one state or two state solution.

If you are in the UK, you can find your MP's details on this site: http://www.writetothem.com/ Just enter your postcode.

If you are in Europe write to your MEP http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members.do

If you are in the UK you can Write to:

(a) the Labour Party using this online form:http://www.labour.org.uk/contact

(b) the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron camerond@parliament.uk (You could mention you are appalled that he has been on the BBC calling for restraint on all sides when nearly 300 Palestinians have been killed.)

British Consulate Jerusalem+972 (02) 541 410010. British Embassy Tel Aviv+972 (02) 3510 1167 / +972 (03) 527 1572 Call them.

Fax the office of the UK Prime Minister - Gordon Brown -on +44 20 7925 0918

The Jews for Justice for Palestinians letter, which you can use:

Dear Prime Minister

At the time of writing, almost 300 Gazans are dead, hundreds more wounded. The air strikes appear to be aimed indiscriminately at both civilian and military targets. Israel is using its extensive military power to wreak carnage on innocent civilians. This is a condemnable act of mindless violence, and we call upon you and the international community to intervene immediately.

Claiming that this is an action to stop rocket fire is a wholly unpersuasive argument. The six-month ceasefire has been squandered by Israel . The populations of Sderot, Ashkelon and southern Israel have been left unprotected by their own government, which has failed to either build shelters or make a more lasting agreement. The Israeli government is exploiting the understandable fear of their own citizens as an excuse for today’s strikes.The Israeli government steadily sought to break down the ceasefire, not just in Gaza since early November, but also in the West Bank . Israeli forces have carried out an average of 33 incursions, 42 arrests or detentions, 12 woundings and 0.84 killings a week in the West Bank during the ceasefire. The tactic has been to continue attacking Hamas and other militants in the West Bank, provoking responses in Gaza , and to use the responses as the pretext for the massive attacks of the last 24 hours.

On 23rd December Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire if Israel would undertake to open border crossings for supplies of aid and fuel, and halt incursions. For those of us appalled at the collective punishment involved in the ongoing siege, and concerned that Israelis should not fear death or injury from Qassam rockets, that seems a truly reasonable response. For Israel to reject it bespeaks a bankrupt body politic especially since the army and the politicians are acting against the wishes of the Israeli public. It is after all the civilians on both sides who will bear the brunt of this dangerous folly.You regard yourself as a strong friend of Israel . When a friend crosses acceptable lines of behaviour as Israel has again done, one has a responsibility to intervene.

Yours sincerely

Sylvia Cohen, International Liaison
Diana Neslen, Campaigns Co-ordinatorfor Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Shift the framing of Israel's actions in the media by phoning into a talk show or writing a letter to the editor.

Sign the petition in support of UN General Assembly President Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/IJAN_Brockmann_BDS/ He has spoken out to condemn Israeli Apartheid and called for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Palestinians - It's time to build a new PLO, as elected as possible, to represent both Islamist and secular Palestinians in the lands stolen in 48, the lands stolen in 67, and outside. The PA should be abolished; and the Oslo/Road Map farce officially abandoned. Then Palestinians have to decide what their aims and strategies will be. All Palestinians should agitate for the new organisation.

And the Arabs: it’s easy for me to talk big from my workstation in the UK, but it’s a fact that nothing is going to improve for the Palestinians until the more disgusting client regimes are shaken. If there were a regime like Syria’s in Egypt (surely not much to ask) Hamas would have support, as Hizbullah did. What has Mubarak’s gangster-capitalism client state done for anyone, in terms of economy, public health and education, culture, rights, or anything else?

Everybody, it is important to speak truth. Hadeeth: A true jihad is a word of truth spoken to an unjust leader. Here is what the writer and critic John Berger has to say:

"We are now spectators of the latest - and perhaps penultimate - chapter of the 60 year old conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. About the complexities of this tragic conflict billions of words have been pronounced, defending one side or the other.

Today, in face of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, the essential calculation, which was always covertly there, behind this conflict, has been blatantly revealed. The death of one Israeli victim justifies the killing of a hundred Palestinians. One Israeli life is worth a hundred Palestinian lives.

This is what the Israeli State and the world media more or less - with marginal questioning - mindlessly repeat. And this claim, which has accompanied and justified the longest Occupation of foreign territories in 20th C. European history, is viscerally racist. That the Jewish people should accept this, that the world should concur, that the Palestinians should submit to it - is one of history's ironic jokes. There's no laughter anywhere. We can, however, refute it, more and more vocally.

Let's do so."

John Berger
27 December 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008


This morning’s assault on Gaza and the massacre of 205 Palestinians (so far) was easy to foresee. First came the official lapse of the six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Then an Israeli incursion, and the Gazan response: firing dozens of home-made Qassam missiles at southern Israel. A little bit of damage was done to property as a result. Meanwhile, Hamas leaders said they’d be pleased to work out a renewed ceasefire deal. According to Haaretz, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin understood this clearly enough: “Make no mistake, Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms. It wants us to lift the siege, stop (IDF) attacks, and extend the truce to include Judea and Samaria (the West Bank),” he said.

Extending the truce, and letting the Gazans live, seem not to be on Israel’s agenda. It’s election time, and the mood for stamping out resistance has taken Israel in its arms.

In other circumstances it might seem strange that a population on the Mediterranean coast is being besieged and starved without a murmur from the rest of the world. But this is Gaza, Palestine, and the victims suffer alone. Reports say Mubarak had given his assent to a ‘limited blow’ before today’s blood; he’s been keeping the Egyptian border with Gaza sealed, keeping the ugly oppressed in their cage very effectively since they briefly broke out last January. Tony Blair – who should be in prison but is instead poncing about in Ramallah and Jerusalem ­– has been winking to Israeli journalists about necessary change in Gaza. No response to today’s crime is likely in Lebanon, or Jordan, or Egypt. The peoples of Europe and America are, by and large, silent.

This, in the land of Crusades, is a medieval siege. Gaza is walled in. Nothing passes in or out. More than fifty percent of the population are officially unemployed. The banks have closed. The strip’s only power station has shut down. The people are starved quite literally: most bakeries have closed for lack of heating oil. A Red Cross report describes “progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza’s population.” It goes on: “Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern.” Which means, amongst other things, that this generation of children in Gaza are not receiving the nutrients they need for healthy brain development.

I quote from the Independent: “The report paints a bleak picture of an increasingly impoverished and indebted lower-income population. People are selling assets, slashing the quality and quantity of meals, cutting back on clothing and children’s education, scavenging for discarded materials – and even grass for animal fodder – that they can sell, and are depending on dwindling loans and handouts from slightly better-off relatives. In the urban sector, in which about 106,000 employees lost their jobs after the June 2007 shutdown, about 40 per cent are now classified as “very poor,” earning less than 500 shekels (£87) a month to provide for an average household of seven to nine people.

This is a deliberate, cruelly organised crime. And nobody notices.

This morning, with children in school, people on the streets and in offices, policemen at a graduation ceremony, the sky screamed and roared. There are reports of general panic, and of roads clogged with corpses.

I know the writing becomes a whine when these simple sentiments are expressed: but, again; imagine you are living, or dying, with your children, in such a place. And imagine that the world ignores you.

The Second Intifada was valiant, and to start with showed signs of succeeding. Like the First Intifada it was a spontaneous mass movement in which all sections of society participated. Not provided with any organisation from the top, the Intifada was self-mobilising, rapidly generating new organisations, leaders and methods of resistance. Marwan Barghouti proved himself a principled and intelligent leader, a more-than-worthy successor to Arafat. (Like the best of Palestinian leaders who are still alive, Barghouti is now held in an Israeli prison).

I don’t condemn the Palestinians for militarising the Intifada. In many respects, the armed struggle had become, again, inevitable. The Oslo ‘peace process’ had, according to its careful design, eaten up still more of Palestine and made a genuine two-state solution unviable. In the first weeks of protest after Sharon’s visit to al-Aqsa, hundreds of stone-throwing youths (and other civilians not throwing stones) were gunned down. The US media, meanwhile, wondered why Palestinian mothers didn’t love their children. What would you expect the shot-upon to do? Passive resistance doesn’t get you very far if neither the oppressor nor his friends have a conscience.

And attacks inside Israel brought the war to the enemy in a way that had never happened before. Whatever the morality of attacks on civilian targets (and I rankle at the moralising against the Palestinians, when Israel murders vastly higher numbers, when the Palestinians, the aggrieved party, have tried peace), and whatever effect calling these attacks ‘Islamic’ may have on Muslim and non-Muslim perceptions of Islam (AbdulAziz ar-Rantissi hinted at this when he said “In this conflict many red lines have been crossed, by both sides”), the attacks did what they intended to: Israel became, for a year or two, a country ‘occupied’ by fear. Many Israelis left; many avoided restaurants and markets; the economy slumped. Tourism stopped.

Globally, the Intifada sparked a new generation’s interest in Palestine. In the Muslim world this fed into the growing Islamist passion, and also into popular initiatives to boycott American goods. There were huge demonstrations in support of Palestine even in places where demonstrating was a new and illegal activity. In the West blogs and websites like the Electronic Intifada became alternative news sources for activists, and new Palestinian diasporic figures like Ali Abunimeh arrived on the scene. The Intifada at first shifted opinion in Europe, where there was a sense that something at last had to be done, that the contagious wound of Palestine had to be doctored.

Then came September 11th, then Afghanistan and Iraq, and the specific issue of Palestinian dispossession was overshadowed by the generalities of the ‘war on terror’. Israel and its friends worked very hard to transfer the medieval-Islamic-terror label to the Palestinians and Lebanese, to cast the struggle against ethnic cleansing, expulsion, occupation and apartheid as an atavistic spouting of anti-freedom bile.

Wahhabi-nihilists obligingly played their part: A non-client in power in Riyadh would have dramatically changed the balance in Palestine’s favour, but al-Qa’ida atrocities kept the al-Sauds in power after the invasion of Iraq. Massacres of commuters in London and Madrid, and the mindless barbarism of sectarian warfare in Iraq, convinced the mainstream European media of the Israeli narrative: Muslim violence has no relation to political causes, but is culturally inherent. Civilisation can only enwall and frighten these people.

Europe like America has accepted this now.

Israel destroyed the Palestinian Authority and fought its way back into the cities it had vacated during the Oslo years. It conducted mass arrests and made travel between West Bank villages not much easier than travel beyond the solar system. It built a huge barrier through communities on the West Bank, and entrenched the settlement system.

The Second Intifada was defeated, but not comprehensively. In its wreckage Palestinian society is poorer, less educated, more traumatised, more splintered. A collaborative class polices the West Bank on Israel’s behalf, thousands of young men are locked in Israeli prison camps. And Gaza starves.

The paradoxical victory is in Gaza; not much of a victory of course, perhaps just a hint at the possibility of victory. A popularly-mandated resistance organisation has kept control of the territory in the most difficult of conditions, and has started to transform itself into a guerrilla organisation, taking Hizbullah as its model. It remains to be seen if Israel will attempt a full ground invasion. If it does, it will be interesting to see how Hamas holds ground.

And if Israel reoccupies Gaza, what then? It was resistance that made it leave before, and resistance will be more ferocious now. Hamas, meanwhile, is constantly developing its missile capacities. The resistance may fall. If it doesn’t, it will grow in strength. Then both sides will be beseiged, the Israelis by time.

Malnutrition: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/chronic-malnutrition-in-gaza-blamed-on-israel-1019521.html

Sara Roy on the seige: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n01/roy_01_.html


Monday, December 15, 2008

Shoes and Bullets

George Bush has had shoes thrown at him in Baghdad. As he threw the first, Muntadar az-Zaidi shouted, “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.” As he threw the second, he added, “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.” It was gratifying to see the Iraqi journalist’s human response to one of the destroyers of his country, even if it was woefully inadequate. In a just world, Bush would be imprisoned for the rest of his life (I oppose capital punishment even in the most deserving of cases).

Meanwhile the empire’s top criminals continue to spout self-justifying vomit. What do you say about a Condoleezza Rice? In an interview with the Wall Street Journal she says her regime removed the Taliban, but doesn’t say that America helped bring the Taliban to power in the first place, nor that the new Taliban is now winning against the occupation and its warlord/ druglord Afghan allies. She doesn’t say that Pakistan’s previously peaceful borderlands are controlled by the Pakistani Taliban, that hundreds of thousands have been displaced from these areas, that there are regular bomb attacks in Pakistan’s major cities, or that Pakistan faces the real possibility of collapse.

She gloats that the Palestinian intifada has been defeated, noting as if it’s a victory “that last year Bethlehem was the site of a huge investment conference, hosted by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad, aided by Israel.” Fayad is an unelected moneyman. The West Bank is governed by collaborators, and split from the flawed but elected and independent government in Gaza. There is no end in sight to the unbearable apartheid reality of the West Bank, and Gaza is, quite literally, starving. This is how the empire likes things.

Most grotesquely, Rice describes ethnically-cleansed, sectarian, splintered, brutalised, cholera-ridden Iraq as “a multiethnic, multiconfessional democracy that isn’t threatening its neighbors.” The woman needs a lot more than shoes in her face.

Multiethnic? On the last day of Eid, Arab and Kurdish leaders were meeting in a Kirkuk restaurant to negotiate the future of the city. A bomb killed 55 of them. Throughout northern Iraq, Kurdish Peshmerga jostle against Turkman and Arab militia. Throughout the country, Gypsy villages have been burned to the ground.

Multiconfessional? All major political forces in Iraq are sectarian. The Arab tribes, and even families, have split into Sunni and Shia components. Walls and barbed wire divide Baghdad neighbourhoods. Sectarian murder is at nothing like the level it reached in the apocalyptic days of 2006 and 2007, but the few families who dare to return to their homes in areas controlled by the other sect are most likely to be murdered. Millions of Iraqis are internal or external refugees. The fires of sectarian hatred, fanned by America’s Arab clients, threaten to burn the entire region. At least half of Iraq’s ancient Christian community is now in Syria.

Democracy? Well, that’s a quarter true, but no thanks to the American occupation. The original US plan was for US-appointed caucuses to elect a government. It was Ayatullah Sistani’s mobilisation of the street that put paid to that idea. There is perhaps greater freedom of expression than there was under Saddam Hussein, and the potential for future democratic developments, but democracy is not much use to people who are scared to cross the nearest bridge, who can’t afford to buy more than bread.

Not threatening its neighbours? Saddam’s worst external crime was his attack on Iran and the bombardment of Iranian cities with poison gas. All through the long Iraq-Iran war, the Ba’athist regime was supported politically, funded and armed by the West. US ambassador April Glaspie gave a green light for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. Today Iraq is in no position to threaten its neighbours by war because Iraq is no longer a coherent power, but Iraq’s terrorists and militias, its sectarianism, the prostitution and drugdealing its impoverished people are forced into, do indeed threaten its neighbours. And the occupying forces use Iraq as a springboard for aggression into neighbouring countries; the American terrorist attack on Syria in October is a case in point.

I wonder what Rice would say to my very good Iraqi friends M and F, who now live in exile. These are the kind of Iraqis the country needs if it is ever to stand on its feet again – highly educated, moral people who firmly opposed Saddam Hussain and what he represented. Both of them lost family members in Saddam’s torture chambers; both believe that ‘liberated’ Iraq is immeasurably worse than the Saddamist police state. M is Sunni; F is Shii. It would be dangerous for him to live in her home area, and dangerous for her to live in his home area. It would be dangerous for him to return to his job as a professor of Arabic. Before they left, academics – Sunni and Shia – were being regularly and professionally assassinated, by sniper bullet through their windscreens and cleanly into the brain.

Many people blame Iran for the assassination campaign. I don’t know, of course, but I find it unlikely that Iran would want to kill pro-Iranian Iraqi academics as well as those who oppose Iran. Some might say that Iran will find it easier to dominate Iraq if Iraq’s educated class has left. Again, I don’t think Iran is so stupid. The clerical regime probably does want a pliable Iraq; I’m sure it doesn’t want a permanent state of explosive chaos on its border. Much more likely is an Israeli-US effort to keep Iraq, and the entire region, in turmoil.

More to come in part two.

Mossad hit squads?: http://www.williambowles.info/iraq/2006/0506/mossad_hit_squads.html
The shoe event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNlqPH1NEvY
The Rice interview: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122904339882300339.html