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Friday, July 24, 2009

Life As An Israeli Arab

From BBC:

Sami Salameh has taken me to what used to be his home before the Israeli authorities flattened it.

He insists this plot of earth belonged to his family dating back to Ottoman times. But Israel has claimed it as state land. He is not allowed to build here now.

Mr Salameh's new home is in the Arab town of Majdal Krum, in northern Israel. It's illegally built, as is the whole neighbourhood.

His family of 14 lives in three rooms. The sewage system is poor.

He points out the problems Israeli Arabs face - overcrowding, poverty and the ways, he says, Israel's authorities strangle Arab towns, restricting construction, progress and growth.

"You can see surrounding Sakhnin this military base - which of course prevents Sakhnin and the people from using these lands which they used to own," he says.

"You can see there are only tens of metres between the houses of Sakhnin and the industrial zone.

"Of course all the benefits of this industrial zone go to Misgav - which is the Jewish regional council."

An Israeli government commission came to the same conclusions.

The Orr Commission published a report on the status of Israeli Arabs in 2003.

It says Israel has effectively blocked the expansion of its Israeli Arab towns by surrounding them with highways, nature reserves, Jewish councils, military zones or other entities.

The Orr Commission concluded that "[the Israeli] government's handling of the Arab sector has been primarily neglectful and discriminatory".

Breaking the Silence on Israeli War Crimes

“Breaking the Silence”, a group of courageous former combat soldiers, published a report comprising the testimonies of 30 Gaza War fighters. A hard-hitting report about actions that may be considered war crimes.

The generals went automatically into denial mode. Why don’t the soldiers disclose their identity, they asked innocently. Why do they obscure their faces in the video testimonies? Why do they hide their names and units?

How can we be sure that they are not actors reading a text prepared for them by the enemies of Israel? How do we know that this organization is not manipulated by foreigners, who finance their actions? And anyhow, how do we know that they are not lying out of spite?

One can answer with a Hebrew adage: “It has the feel of Truth”. Anyone who has ever been a combat soldier in war, whatever war, recognizes at once the truth in these reports. Each of them has met a soldier who is not ready to return home without an X on his gun showing that he killed at least one enemy. (One such person appears in my book “The Other Side of the Coin”, which was written 60 years ago and published in English last year as the second part of “1948: A soldier’s Tale”.) We have been there.

The testimonies about the use of phosphorus, about massive bombardment of buildings, about “the neighbor procedure” (using civilians as human shields), about killing “everything that moves”, about the use of all methods to avoid casualties on our side – all these corroborate earlier testimonies about the Gaza War, there can be no reasonable doubt about their authenticity. I learned from the report that the “neighbor procedure” is now called “Johnny procedure”, God knows why Johnny and not Ahmad.

Read the article here

Taken from Counterpunch, another great political site.

Alice Walker in Gaza

Last March, poet, novelist and feminist Alice Walker joined a delegation organized by Code Pink, to travel to the Gaza Strip just weeks after the 22-day Israeli bombardment and invasion. Walker, globally acclaimed for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Color Purple, had also traveled to Rwanda, Eastern Congo and other places where she witnessed cruel and barbaric behavior that left her speechless.

"Rolling into Gaza I had a feeling of homecoming. There is a flavor to the ghetto. To the Bantustan. To the "rez." To the "colored section." In some ways it is surprisingly comforting. Because consciousness is comforting. Everyone you see has an awareness of struggle, of resistance, just as you do. The man driving the donkey cart. The woman selling vegetables. The young person arranging rugs on the sidewalk or flowers in a vase."

We pass a hospital, bombed and gutted by fire. If one is not safe in a hospital, when one is already sick and afraid, where is one safe? If children are not safe playing in their schoolyards, where are they safe? Where are The World Parents of All Children? The World Caretakers of All the Sick?

There is ample evidence in Gaza that the Palestinians never stop trying to "better" themselves. What started as a refugee camp with tents, has evolved into a city with buildings rivaling those in almost any other city in the "developing" world. There are houses, apartment buildings, schools, mosques, churches, libraries, hospitals. Driving along the streets, we could see right away that many of these were in ruins. I realized I had never understood the true meaning of "rubble." Such and such was "reduced to rubble" is a phrase we hear. It is different seeing what demolished buildings actually look like. Buildings in which people were living. Buildings from which hundreds of broken bodies have been removed; so thorough a job have the Palestinians done in removing the dead from squashed dwellings that no scent of death remains. What this task must have been like, both physically and psychologically, staggers the mind.

The article is from Electronic Intifada (an amazing resource of information on Palestine).

Article here

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Story of 4 year-old Samar Abed Rabbu

"Four-year-old Samar Abed Rabbu lost her two sisters during Israel's offensive in Gaza last December and January. "She has had two operations so far," said physiotherapist Pierre Van Lierde. "One in Gaza and one here in Brussels. But the bullets are lodged too deeply. It's too dangerous to remove them and at least one of them is embedded in her spinal cord."

The family alleged that Israeli soldiers had opened fire at close range - as they lined up outside the house and while Samar's grandmother waved a white flag.

When the war ended we travelled to Jabaliya, northern Gaza, to find Samar's father. He told us that Samar's two sisters - Soad, 7, and Amel, 2 - had been killed in the assault. We brought him news that his only surviving daughter was now paralysed. " -From BBC

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

M-1 From Dead Prez on Gaza

Taken from Davey D's Hip Hop Corner:

"Why should Black people in America be concerned about political happenings in far off places like Iran or Palestine when we have problems here at home? M-1 gave us a history lesson and reminded us that the Black struggle has always been international from the days of Paul Robeson to Malcolm X wanting to take our case before the United Nations to Martin Luther King dealing with Vietnam on up to the foreign aid that came to help us when we went through Katrina. M-1 goes into detail about why Black folks had better be concerned about international struggles. He lets us know that our struggle at home would’ve been seriously hindered if we weren’t internationally connected. He also encouraged us to see our selves as part of a larger movement without borders."

Videos links here and here

Israelis Burn Olive Trees

The Israeli extremism the American media never chooses to highlight:

A settler is arrested during an incident at Hawarra checkpoint, near Nablus (20.07.09)
The arrests followed the removal of a structure at an outpost

"Ten people have been arrested during a series of disturbances caused by Jewish settlers in the West Bank after Israeli authorities removed an illegal caravan.

Two Palestinians were taken to hospital after settlers threw stones at cars and tried to block a road near Nablus in the northern West Bank on Monday night.

Settlers also set fire to a Palestinian olive grove in the area.

The caravan was part of an "outpost", a settlement illegal under Israeli law, which Israel has agreed to remove.

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law."

- -

Why is it that something like this would never be featured on CNN/MSNBC/FOX news? When we talk about extremism in the Middle East it is almost always in the context of Palestinians being portrayed as evil, corrupt, crazy people. When presented with this type of information people refuse to believe there is extremism on both sides or they simply will excuse it for the Israelis while condeming Palestinians.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Breaking The Silence

"Among the 54 testimonies are stories revealing the use of "accepted practices," the destruction of hundreds of houses and mosques for no military purpose, the firing of phosphorous gas in the direction of populated areas, the killing of innocent victims with small arms, the destruction of private property, and most of all, a permissive atmosphere in the command structure that enabled soldiers to act without moral restrictions. The booklet compiles the testimonies of about 30 reserve and regular combat soldiers from various units that participated in the fighting. The testimonies demonstrate that the soldiers were not given directives stating the goal of the operation and, as one soldier testifies, "there was not much said about the issue of innocent civilians."

Many soldiers said that they fought without seeing "the enemy before their eyes." "You feel like an infantile little kid with a magnifying glass looking at ants, burning them," one of the soldiers testified that "a 20-year-old kid should not have to do these kinds of things to other people."

"The testimonies prove that the immoral way the war was carried out was due to the systems in place and not the individual soldier," said Mikhael Mankin from "Breaking the Silence." What was proven yesterday is that through the IDF the exception becomes the norm, and this requires a deep and reflective discussion. This is an urgent call to Israel's society and leadership to take a sober look at the foolishness of our policies."

An excerpt from Breaking The Silence

Israeli Soldiers Use Palestinians As Human Shields

Many of those who vehemently support the Zionist ideology of Israel like to make claims that the Palestinian people are used as human shields by Hamas.

Interestingly enough, it is true that Palestinians are being used as human shields, but not by the Hamas, but in fact by Israeli soldiers themselves. The "defenders of democracy" and "freedom fighters" for the Israeli goverment, are not all too surprisingly, responsible for the same allegation they use to smear Palestinian resistence.

Here is an excerpt from the article whose link is below:

More than two dozen Israeli soldiers who fought in the Gaza war say the military forced Palestinians to serve as human shields and used reckless firepower that caused needless deaths, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Israeli military scoffed at the report, calling it defamation.

The testimonies of 26 soldiers who participated in the war early this year were collected by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli army reservists critical of their country's policies toward the Palestinians. They describe demolishing homes and using firepower beyond what was necessary given the relatively light resistance they encountered. One said the regulations on when to shoot were vague.

"Sometimes the force would enter while placing rifle barrels on a civilian's shoulder, advancing into a house and using him as a human shield. Commanders said these were the instructions and we had to do it," one soldier said.


"There was no need to use weapons like mortars, like phosphorous. I have a feeling that the IDF was looking for an opportunity to show off its strength," one soldier said.

In solidarity,



Hello everyone!

We are students from the University of Maryland who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians in their struggle for human dignity and self-determination.

We will be periodically updating this blog with informational resources for students/those who are interested, up to the minute news from Israel/Palestine, and information and reviews of events we will be hosting at the University of Maryland College Park.

Keep an eye out!!

In solidarity,