Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
Articles Archives - May 2011
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Friday, May 13, 2011
Making a stand for human rights and dignity in Gaza
Jane Hirschmann, Redress 5/14/2011
      Gaza is crumbling under the weight of an Israeli siege backed by the Obama administration. Roughly 80 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza now depend on aid. Vast amounts of infrastructure destroyed in the Israeli attack of 2008-09 require repair. Thousands of families still live doubled up with relatives or are homeless.
     Children are being short-changed educationally because of damaged and horribly overcrowded schools and a lack of textbooks. Their health is compromised by polluted water and food insecurity.
     In response, over 1,000 human-rights workers from around the world will sail this June on a dozen boats for the Gaza Strip to highlight this human-made tragedy.
     Our boat the American boat is The Audacity of Hope. It will be carrying approximately 60 students, nurses, artists, journalists and film-makers, lawyers, academics and ordinary civilians of many beliefs from around the country. Many of us are Jewish.
     Last May, Israeli forces stormed the Mavi Marmara and killed nine passengers, including an American citizen. A fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights found that the "circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were in a manner consistent with an extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution". All the civilian deaths on board the humanitarian vessel were inexcusable. Yet, once again, the Israeli government has threatened to initiate violence against us.
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Obama and the Palestinians
Ghada Karmi, CounterPunch 5/14/2011
      Western Obsessions
     Pondering Osama Bin Laden's killing on 1 May, I found myself linking that event to another that took place 63 years ago in Palestine. It was not that Palestinians ever supported Bin Laden significantly, although some of his messages resonated with them. For example, in October 2010, he wrote to French citizens, "how is it right for you to occupy our countries and kill our women and children and expect to live in peace and security?"
     Any oppressed Palestinian suffering under Israel's occupation in the West Bank or Gaza could have written that too without ever endorsing any of Bin Laden's crimes. Bin Laden took on the cause of Palestine in the 1980s, but especially after the 1991 Gulf War. However, it was not this but rather the parallels I saw between the two situations that struck a chord.
     For those in New York and Washington who were jubilantly celebrating in the wake of Bin Laden's killing, the issue had nothing to do with Palestine. For them, a man who had masterminded the attacks of 11 September 2001 -- that came to be known simply as 9/11 -- and caused such pain and suffering had received his just desserts. None of the revellers paused to ask whether this was a legal action commensurate with the much-vaunted US promotion of democracy and the rule of law.
     It was not. The killing was no less than a summary execution in which the US played judge, jury, executioner and funeral director, with no accountability to anyone. The hasty disposal of Bin Laden's body in the sea before anyone could see it or verify what had really happened was neither Islamic nor lawful. Pakistan, which was the theatre where America's battle with Bin Laden was played out, and which should have been the main actor, was relegated to the role of incompetent bystander instead, unable to resist American demands.
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Israel’s Repressive New Laws
Neve Gordon, CounterPunch 5/11/2011
      Democracy for a Few
     "Bad laws," Edmund Burke once said, "are the worst sort of tyranny."
     The millions of people who have been protesting - from Tunis, Egypt and Libya, to Bahrain, Yemen and Syria - appear to have recognised this truism and are demanding the end of emergency law and the drafting of new constitutions that will guarantee the separation of powers, free, fair and regular elections, and basic political, social and economic rights for all citizens.
     To put it succinctly, they are fighting to end tyranny.
     Within this dramatic context it is also fruitful to look at Israel, which is considered by many as the only democracy in the Middle East and which has, in many ways, been an outlier in the region. One might ask whether Israel or not stands as a beacon of light for those fighting tyranny.
     On the one hand, the book of laws under which Israel's citizenry live is - with the exception of a handful of significant laws that privilege Jews over non-Jews - currently very similar to those used in most liberal democracies, where the executive, legislative and judicial powers are separated, there are free, fair and regular elections, and the citizens enjoy basic rights - including freedom of expression and association.
     Israel's double standard
     However, on the other hand, the Israeli military law used to manage the Palestinians are similar to those deployed in most Arab countries, where there is no real separation of powers and people are in many respects without rights....
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What will you do when Palestine is free?
Electronic Intifada: 13 May 2011 - Andrew Dalack and Ryah Aqel The Electronic Intifada When I Return is an online participatory campaign that features simple notes by Palestinians, Arabs and allies describing what they hope to do when Palestine is free and/or they return to Palestine. It seeks to unleash the internal life of our longing for home, and highlight the imaginative expanse of our dreams.more

A bedouin refugee in Gaza yearns for home in Bir al-Saba
Electronic Intifada: 13 May 2011 - Rami Almeghari The Electronic Intifada Rafah A shack made of aluminum sheets and wood, and a few cows and chickens are all that Suleiman al-Urjani, 45, owns in this world. It is the kind of dwelling that al-Urjani, his father Auda and their families have lived in since 1948 when the family was first displaced by Zionist forces from their original home in what is now Israel.more

Thousands of Palestinians in Israel march to return
Electronic Intifada: 13 May 2011 - Jillian Kestler-D'Amours The Electronic Intifada As nationalist parties and festivals were held throughout Israel to mark the country’s Independence Day on 10 May, several thousand Palestinians and their supporters held a commemoration of their own in the Galilee, demanding the right to return to their ancestral villages and homes.more

Refugees march to return
Electronic Intifada: 13 May 2011 - Matthew Cassel The Electronic Intifada Matthew Cassel comments on Palestine’s role in the Arab uprisings, and a planned march by Palestinian refugees in Lebanon this Sunday, 15 May, to the border that they were forced to cross 63 years ago.more

63 Nakba: Protests Erupt throughout Palestine
Palestine Monitor: 13 May 2011 - Protests erupt throughout Palestine, in anticipation of the Nakba on Sunday. - News / 2nd-col-1st-article , Non-violent resistance , Youth , Nakbamore

Nakba: A Remembrance
Palestine Chronicle: 13 May 2011 - By William A. Cook What silent communion this scene holds, Of a life lived and one yet to unfold; What forlorn love those encircling arms portend, That would protect against the evils that descend From unseen missiles yet to come with unlived years, Where hopes and dreams dissolve into unforeseen fears That falls like a funeral pall upon this child, Who sits so quiet, so pensive, so mild Beneath those crescent arms as they reach to shield This innocent lost in this barren field. What catastrophe is caught in this aged face, What last years lost in silent disgrace, What father is now absent from this scene, What mother abandoned to a fate unseen? How relive a life lost, what might have been? How rekindle love in a world of sin? How undo the infectious toxin of hate? How understand the true terror of fate? I share this tent of...more

The Exiled – A Poem
Palestine Chronicle: 13 May 2011 - We have triumphed over the plan to expel us from history. -- Mahmoud Darwish By Roger Sheety You will not find What you’re searching for, She said. Life is in the searching Not in the finding, I said. I will never go back, She said. You will never leave, I said. On the way Was the ignorance, The forgetting, The remembering. On the way Were the schoolyard taunts: “Arab,” “terrorist,” “Savage.” On the way Was the nightmare And the awakening. We were the ones Pushed into the sea. We were the ones Washed upon alien shores. And History was Turned upside down. And the invader Became the victim, And the native became The alien and the stranger. And the thief Became the defender, And the victim The wanderer. And yet we remain, Wherever we are: The living proof Of your Big Lie, The living truth Of your denial. And so...more

Pizzarotti Should Follow in Deutsche Bahn's Footsteps
Palestine Chronicle: 13 May 2011 - By Stephanie Westbrook Italian construction firm Pizzarotti is stupefied, bewildered, stunned. In an article on today’s Corriere della Sera, Italy's top newspaper, covering Deutsche Bahn’s withdrawal from the Israeli project for a high-speed train line that cuts through the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Michele Pizzarotti said “We are astonished to find ourselves involved in these protests.” Pizzarotti, through a joint venture with Israeli Shapir Engineering, has been contracted to build tunnels in section C of the planned A1 train route from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv; section C starts in the Latrun enclave and ends at Cedars Valley, both in the occupied West Bank. Michele Pizzarotti can’t seem to understand what all the fuss is about. “We are not the project leaders, we entered into the Israeli high-speed rail as mere executors of a project designed by others, which has already been modified by the Israeli Supreme Court. We had no idea...more

Shimon Peres: The Rubber Man
Palestine Chronicle: 13 May 2011 - By Uri Avnery I could not restrain myself. Though I was alone in the room, I burst out laughing. I was reading a newspaper report about the latest poll. People were asked to evaluate the nation’s leaders. It appears that the President of the State, Shimon Peres, is by far the most popular leader in Israel. 72% of those polled approve of him, only 20% disapprove. The runners-up were far behind: 60% for the Knesset speaker, Reuven Rivlin, the same for the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, and 57% for the aggressive State Comptroller, Micha Lindenstrauss. The President of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinish, was already under the 50% approval rate: she got 49%, followed by Tzipi Livni with 48%. The three champions of unpopularity were the three most powerful politicians in the country, the men who are shaping our future: Binyamin Netanyahu (38% approve, 53% disapprove),...more

Fragments: The Body behind the Checkpoint
Palestine Chronicle: 13 May 2011 - By Tamar Fleishman It is difficult to write of the death of a young man whose name we don't know. Not once did his father or uncle mention it - "Ibni" mumbled the father. It is hard to relate the story of a father who waited patiently and silently for hours, with only soft sobs escaping his lips. His brother to speak on his behalf for he himself was lost for words. How to describe his hunched down appearance, his facial expressions which reflected the fact that perhaps he hadn't fully grasped that his son, who the police had told him over the phone was: "badly injured…", was no longer among the living? After all, perhaps there was still some hope that he had yet to take his last breath, as the formal words hadn't actually been said? The uncle said to us in secret, for fear his brother might...more

Israel's Zionist Offensive to Derail Palestinian Statehood
Palestine Chronicle: 13 May 2011 - By Mikail Jubran A concerted united front of mainstream American pro-Zionist, Jewish and pro-Israeli organizations has begun to assert itself in an all-out campaign to “sabotage” any and all Palestinian efforts to declare a state this fall. Many of these organizations, who in the past literally held contempt for each other, have set aside their animosities to band together to facilitate a series of objectives that include hijacking the U.S. media, effecting a concerted social media campaign, dispatching individuals to speak to various local chapters of Jewish councils, applying pressure upon members of the U.S. Congress, and lobbying the United Nations Secretary–General, and UN diplomats. This broad coalition includes AIPAC, B’nai B’rith, American Jewish Committee (AJC), New Israel Fund, The Israel Project, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), national and local chapters of the Jewish Federation, Hillel Jewish Student Organization, CAMERA and the ADL....more

Activism 101
Dissident Voice: 13 May 2011 - If you are reading this review, you are probably pretty well-versed in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, probably know quite a lot about activism against Israeli repression and apartheid and on the history of this small and war-torn region. With this sort of prior knowledge and experience, the reader of Our Way to Fight might at first find the book too basic, maybe even trivial. It starts from a very naïve place, and traces the steps of a man visiting Palestine for the first time, asking activists what they do and why, and collecting the facts one by one, weaving the story of Palestine from scratch. But one must be cautious from making too hasty judgments. I was rewarded for my patience as I kept on reading and realized that the book is far more sophisticated than it seems at first. Many books, films and articles are published about Palestine...more

Viva la Muerte: Mobs and Power in the US of A
Dissident Voice: 13 May 2011 - In his masterpiece, Crowds and Power , Elias Canetti proposed that one of our primal fears is of unwanted contact with strangers. Out in public places, he observed, to be touch, jostled, even brushed against, can trigger something akin to panic. In an increasingly urbanized world such a phobia could be paralyzing (and for some people, is) absent the psychic mechanism Canetti also proposed that we possess and that compensates for this primal fear by allowing our sense of individual identity to dissolve, merging with the strangers around us in a collective persona. In its positive forms this defense mechanism is responsible for the phenomenon of good-natured crowds at sporting events and along parade routes. In its destructive manifestation this defense mechanism is the driving force behind the sudden and unpredictable formation of mobs. In our own history there are numerous examples of this destructive kind of crowd formation. Between 1890...more

A Country Pretending
Dissident Voice: 13 May 2011 - I come from a country called “pretending our virtues transcend cumulative repugnant transgressions.” Contextualized, I accordingly scoot beyond the margins of several pedagogical imperatives. Far too long, I amongst others have been forcefully wrought by intrusive and manipulative pedagogical intent. This is not a complaint but, rather, an observation not meant to exclude wringing. Once wrung end to end, head to foot twisted diametrically indeed to extract and dispose of all fluidity vital to self, self little more than a filthy wet rag, I was at once instructed to memorize a pledge of allegiance to a colorful fabric while shielding with right hand my heart. In this way, hundreds of thousands of children were programmed to “think” alike. If this telling figuratively conjures cartoon imagery within readerly envisaging, audience may be considered, as desired, textually engaged, whereby eidetic physicality enduring harsh treatment miraculously and immediately returns to sprightly ideal state....more

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