Posts Tagged ‘killings’

Gaza is burning and the Arabs sit and watch

July 14, 2014
Dr Mohammed Al-MisferDr Mohammed Al-Misfer

There have been many times when oppressed people resisting their oppressors gain international solidarity for their cause as public opinion sways in their favour. They embody bravery as they continue to resist against their enemies. We saw this pattern manifest itself in Vietnam when the people struggled against the biggest superpower in the world. The Vietnamese demonstrated how they turned to each other for support when the northern city of Hanoi stood as a beacon of light for its counterpart Saigon in the south. Soon after, the southern Vietnamese people embodied the spirit of resistance and achieved all of their goals.

When it comes to the Palestinian case, the situation is entirely different, for in the Gaza Strip (Southern Palestine) we see true armed resistance being engaged in the battle against the Zionist enemy, which is armed with the most sophisticated weapons and is using all of its power and influence throughout the world to frame this conflict as it sees fit; it is from this that the Palestinian people in Gaza can find no escape. Gaza is burning and its natural supporters, the Arabs of the region, sit and watch. The Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, based in the West Bank city of Ramallah (which we can consider here to be the northern region of Palestine), should be the biggest advocate for its people in Gaza. And yet, all we here are murmurs and useless statements being made here and there.

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Family who lost 29 members in Gaza War: We envy the dead

October 19, 2009

By Amira Hass, Haaretz/Israel, Oct 18, 2009

Richard Goldstone visited the Gaza City neighborhood of Zaytoun in late June to tour the compound of the extended Samouni family, the subject of coverage here in recent weeks (“‘I fed him like a baby bird,'” September 17; “Death in the Samouni compound,” September 25). Twenty-nine members of the family, all of them civilians, were killed in the Israel Defense Force’s winter assault – 21 during the shelling of a house where IDF soldiers had gathered some 100 members of the family a day earlier.

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Saudi Arabia – countering terrorism with repression

September 11, 2009

Amnesty International, September 11, 2009

A Saudi special forces soldier stands guard at a check point, 5 February 2005, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi special forces soldier stands guard at a check point, 5 February 2005, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

© AP/PA Photo/Amr Nabil

Since the September 11 attacks in the USA eight years ago, the Saudi Arabian authorities have launched a sustained assault on human rights in the name of countering terrorism. The attacks were carried out by a group that included Saudi Arabian nationals.

“The anti-terrorism measures introduced since 2001 have set back the process of limited human rights reform in Saudi Arabia,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Combined with severe repression of all forms of dissent and a weak human rights framework, there is now an almost complete lack of protection of freedoms and rights.”

An Amnesty International briefing paper, launched on Friday, describes the shocking scale of abuses. Thousands of people have had their lives devastated by violations of their basic rights. Some have been arrested and detained in virtual secrecy, while others have been killed in uncertain circumstances.

Hundreds more people face secret and summary trials and possible execution. Many are reported to have been tortured in order to extract confessions or as punishment after conviction.

Since Amnesty International’s July 2009 report, Saudi Arabia: Assaulting Human Rights in the Name of Counter-Terrorism, the government has announced that 330 people have been tried on terrorism charges in recent months, virtually all of whom were convicted in closed trials, with sentences ranging from fines to the death penalty. However, they have not disclosed their names or details of the charges, maintaining the extreme secrecy of the trial process.

Of the thousands detained by the authorities, some are prisoners of conscience, targeted for their peaceful criticism of government policies. The majority are suspected supporters of Islamist groups or factions opposed to the Saudi Arabian government’s close links to the USA and other Western countries.

Such groups have carried out a number of attacks targeting Westerners and others, and are officially dubbed as “misguided”. The detainees also include people forcibly returned from Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries.

“The abuses take place behind a wall of secrecy. Detainees are held with no idea of what is going to happen to them,” said Malcolm Smart.

“Most are held incommunicado for years without trial, and are denied access to lawyers and the courts to challenge the legality of their detention. This has a devastating effect on both the individuals who are detained and on their families.”

Case studies

Abdul Rahim al-Mirbati, a 48-year-old Bahraini businessman, was arrested in 2003 or 2004 in Madina. His family say he had travelled to Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment for his 13-year-old son.

During three months of detention in al-Ruwais Prison in Jeddah, he was denied visits and is reported to have been tortured and otherwise ill-treated. Following a series of transfers, he is currently held in al-Dammam Central Prison.

Although he is said to have been accused of planning to carry out bombings in Bahrain, his relatives are not aware of any charges brought against him. They have contacted various authorities in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to seek clarification of his legal status but to no avail.

Jordanian national Muzhir Mustafa Abdul Rahim Shkour, 44, was arrested in August 2007 on the border between Saudi Arabia and Jordan. He was held in incommunicado detention for four months before he was allowed a telephone call to his family and was subsequently allowed visits. He continues to be held without charge or trial, like many others in al-Dammam Central Prison.

Charity head found dead in Chechnya

August 12, 2009
Al Jazeera, Aug 11, 2009

Sadulayeva and Dzhabrailov were kidnapped from their offices by five masked and armed men

The head of a Russian charity and her husband who were kidnapped in Chechnya have been found shot dead, the Interfax news agency has reported.

The bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and Alik Dzhabrailov, her partner, were found in Grozny, the Chechen capital, on Tuesday.

“The rights activists were found in the boot of a car with gunshot wounds in the settlement of Chernorechye,” Interfax quoted an official government source as saying.

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‘120 die’ as US bombs village

May 7, 2009

Afghan outrage after strike targeting Taliban fighters hits women and children

By Patrick Cockburn in Kabul

The Independent, UK, May 7, 2009

Afghan villagers sift through the rubble of destroyed houses after the coalition air strikes in the Bala Baluk district of Farah province, Afghanistan


Afghan villagers sift through the rubble of destroyed houses after the coalition air strikes in the Bala Baluk district of Farah province, Afghanistan

A misdirected US air strike has killed as many as 120 Afghans, including dozens of women and children. The attack is the deadliest such bombing involving civilian casualties so far in the eight years since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Families in two villages in Farah province in western Afghanistan were digging for bodies in the ruins of their mudbrick houses yesterday. “There were women and children who were killed,” said Jessica Barry, a Red Cross spokeswoman. “It seemed they were trying to shelter in houses when they were hit.” Survivors said the number of dead would almost certainly to rise as the search for bodies continued.

The killing of so many Afghan civilians by US aircraft is likely to infuriate Afghans and lead to an increase in support for the Taliban in the bombed area. President Hamid Karzai, who was meeting President Barack Obama in Washington yesterday, sent a joint US-Afghan delegation to investigate the incident. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, standing next to Mr Karzai, voiced her “deep regret”.

Growing Anger at US Killings in Afghanistan

April 11, 2009
by Jason Ditz |, April 10, 2009|

The Khost Province killings yesterday have sparked a growing level of outrage at the behavior of US forces across Afghanistan, and have led Afghan President Hamid Karzai to demand once again that foreign forces adhere to their previous agreement to coordinate planned raids with the national government, and base them on accurate information.

When the killings were reported yesterday morning, US forces claimed that they had killed “four militants” and wounded another one. It was only later that they were forced to acknowledge that the house they attacked belonged to a Afghan Army officer, and that the people killed were his wife, a brother, and two of his children. Afghan health officials revealed today that the wounded woman reported in the initial report was actually nine-months pregnant, and the attacking US forces shot the unborn baby in her womb. The troops now say they don’t believe the people they killed were involved in militant activities.

The Afghan officer, Awal Khan, was flown home after the killing and said he wants “the coalition leaders to expose those behind this and punish them.” US military spokesman Col. Julian says it was “an unfortunate set of circumstances” and that there will be financial assistance to the surviving relatives of those killed.

On the other had Afghan Ambassador to the United States Said Jawad, remarkably, defended the killings, saying it was “a price that we have to pay if we want security and stability in Afghanistan, the region and the world.” Despite the envoy’s support, the killing of an unborn baby seems to have netted Afghanistan little in the way of security.

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Falk: Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe

January 5, 2009

By Richard Falk | ZNet, January 4, 2009
Huffington Post

For eighteen months the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normalcy of daily life. A flicker of hope emerged some six months ago when an Egyptian arranged truce produced an effective ceasefire that cut Israeli casualties to zero despite the cross-border periodic firing of homemade rockets that fell harmlessly on nearby Israeli territory, and undoubtedly caused anxiety in the border town of Sderot. During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel’s 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle.

Israel also refused exit permits to students with foreign fellowship awards and to Gazan journalists and respected NGO representatives. At the same time, it made it increasingly difficult for journalists to enter, and I was myself expelled from Israel a couple of weeks ago when I tried to enter to carry out my UN job of monitoring respect for human rights in occupied Palestine, that is, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza. Clearly, prior to the current crisis, Israel used its authority to prevent credible observers from giving accurate and truthful accounts of the dire humanitarian situation that had been already documented as producing severe declines in the physical condition and mental health of the Gazan population, especially noting malnutrition among children and the absence of treatment facilities for those suffering from a variety of diseases. The Israeli attacks were directed against a society already in grave condition after a blockade maintained during the prior 18 months.

As always in relation to the underlying conflict, some facts bearing on this latest crisis are murky and contested, although the American public in particular gets 99% of its information filtered through an exceedingly pro-Israeli media lens. Hamas is blamed for the breakdown of the truce by its supposed unwillingness to renew it, and by the alleged increased incidence of rocket attacks. But the reality is more clouded. There was no substantial rocket fire from Gaza during the ceasefire until Israel launched an attack last November 4th directed at what it claimed were Palestinian militants in Gaza, killing several Palestinians. It was at this point that rocket fire from Gaza intensified. Also, it was Hamas that on numerous public occasions called for extending the truce, with its calls never acknowledged, much less acted upon, by Israeli officialdom. Beyond this, attributing all the rockets to Hamas is not convincing either. A variety of independent militia groups operate in Gaza, some such as the Fatah-backed al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade are anti-Hamas, and may even be sending rockets to provoke or justify Israeli retaliation. It is well confirmed that when US-supported Fatah controlled Gaza’s governing structure it was unable to stop rocket attacks despite a concerted effort to do so.

What this background suggests strongly is that Israel launched its devastating attacks, starting on December 27, not simply to stop the rockets or in retaliation, but also for a series of unacknowledged reasons. It was evident for several weeks prior to the Israeli attacks that the Israeli military and political leaders were preparing the public for large-scale military operations against the Hamas. The timing of the attacks seemed prompted by a series of considerations: most of all, the interest of political contenders, the Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in demonstrating their toughness prior to national elections scheduled for February, but now possibly postponed until military operations cease. Such Israeli shows of force have been a feature of past Israeli election campaigns, and on this occasion especially, the current government was being successfully challenged by Israel’s notoriously militarist politician, Benjamin Netanyahu, for its supposed failures to uphold security. Reinforcing these electoral motivations was the little concealed pressure from the Israeli military commanders to seize the opportunity in Gaza to erase the memories of their failure to destroy Hezbollah in the devastating Lebanon War of 2006 that both tarnished Israel’s reputation as a military power and led to widespread international condemnation of Israel for the heavy bombardment of undefended Lebanese villages, disproportionate force, and extensive use of cluster bombs against heavily populated areas.

Respected and conservative Israeli commentators go further. For instance, the prominent historian, Benny Morris writing in the New York Times a few days ago, relates the campaign in Gaza to a deeper set of forebodings in Israel that he compares to the dark mood of the public that preceded the 1967 War when Israelis felt deeply threatened by Arab mobilizations on their borders. Morris insists that despite Israeli prosperity of recent years, and relative security, several factors have led Israel to act boldly in Gaza: the perceived continuing refusal of the Arab world to accept the existence of Israel as an established reality; the inflammatory threats voiced by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad together with Iran’s supposed push to acquire nuclear weapons, the fading memory of the Holocaust combined with growing sympathy in the West with the Palestinian plight, and the radicalization of political movements on Israel’s borders in the form of Hezbollah and Hamas. In effect, Morris argues that Israel is trying via the crushing of Hamas in Gaza to send a wider message to the region that it will stop at nothing to uphold its claims of sovereignty and security.

There are two conclusions that emerge: the people of Gaza are being severely victimized for reasons remote from the rockets and border security concerns, but seemingly to improve election prospects of current leaders now facing defeat, and to warn others in the region that Israel will use overwhelming force whenever its interests are at stake.

That such a human catastrophe can happen with minimal outside interference also shows the weakness of international law and the United Nations, as well as the geopolitical priorities of the important players. The passive support of the United States government for whatever Israel does is again the critical factor, as it was in 2006 when it launched its aggressive war against Lebanon. What is less evident is that the main Arab neighbors, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, with their extreme hostility toward Hamas that is viewed as backed by Iran, their main regional rival, were also willing to stand aside while Gaza was being so brutally attacked, with some Arab diplomats even blaming the attacks on Palestinian disunity or on the refusal of Hamas to accept the leadership of Mamoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority.

The people of Gaza are victims of geopolitics at its inhumane worst: producing what Israel itself calls a ‘total war’ against an essentially defenseless society that lacks any defensive military capability whatsoever and is completely vulnerable to Israeli attacks mounted by F-16 bombers and Apache helicopters. What this also means is that the flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, as set forth in the Geneva Conventions, is quietly set aside while the carnage continues and the bodies pile up. It additionally means that the UN is once more revealed to be impotent when its main members deprive it of the political will to protect a people subject to unlawful uses of force on a large scale. Finally, this means that the public can shriek and march all over the world, but that the killing will go on as if nothing is happening. The picture being painted day by day in Gaza is one that begs for renewed commitment to international law and the authority of the UN Charter, starting here in the United States, especially with a new leadership that promised its citizens change, including a less militarist approach to diplomatic leadership.

Israel’s war of terror against Gaza

January 3, 2009

ISRAEL’S ONSLAUGHT against the Palestinian population of Gaza continues to take a terrible toll.

The relentless pounding from the skies is drastically worsening already dire conditions caused by Israel’s suffocating siege of the last 18 months. Yet as the new year began, Israel dismissed proposals for even a 48-hour cease-fire–and instead broadened its offensive.

Israel’s attack has stirred outrage around the world. But among U.S. political leaders–from the Republican Bush administration to the Democratic leaders in Congress–there is unanimous support for Israel’s war, and universal acceptance of the claim that Hamas, the Islamist party that won elections to the Palestinian National Assembly nearly three years ago, is “to blame for the violence.”

Haidar Eid is a professor, an activist for Palestinian national rights and a resident of Gaza City. He spoke with Eric Ruder on December 31 about the appalling conditions facing the people of Gaza–as well as the larger political context in which Israel’s onslaught is taking place.

Palestinians in Gaza City carry a victim of the Israeli assault to Al Shifa hospital (Thair al-Hassany | propaimages)Palestinians in Gaza City carry a victim of the Israeli assault to Al Shifa hospital (Thair al-Hassany | propaimages)

OUR LAST interview the day after Israel’s attack began was interrupted by bombing very nearby. Are you and your relatives safe?

YES. I’M sorry I had to cut the interview short. They started bombarding the ministerial compound behind the building where I live. I’ve lost all the windows in my flat.

It was horrible. Unbelievable. I can’t begin to describe the situation. I haven’t been able to sleep for five nights straight–tonight will be the sixth–because every single night, they have aerial strikes.

The Israelis are furious, because they don’t know what to do. They have no more targets to attack, and yet they haven’t been able to find a single leader of the resistance [the first reports of a senior Hamas leader killed by the bombings came the day after this interview took place]. But it’s easy to attack mosques and schools and hospitals and universities, and so this is what they’ve been doing.

The last bomb I heard was 15 minutes ago, about two kilometers from where I live. They attacked a currency exchange, which the Israelis accuse of money laundering and working for Hamas. It’s ridiculous.

The number of people who have died in the last five days is now more than 400, including 70 children and 18 women. They have also attacked 18 mosques. The number of injured is about 2,500. It’s crazy, it’s genocidal. They want to send us back to the dark ages, as they say.

What you can do

Protests against Israel’s assault on Gaza have already taken place in cities around the country, with more planned for the coming days. Contact local organizers for details where you live.

For updates on the current situation, plus commentary and analysis on the background to the war, read the Electronic Intifada Web site. Electronic Intifada Executive Director Ali Abunimah’s “Gaza massacres must spur us to action” is a good starting point for further reading.

You can also find updated coverage on conditions in Gaza and the efforts of activists to stand up to the Israeli war at the Free Gaza Web site.

Between the Lines: Readings on Israel, the Palestinians and the U.S. “War on Terror,” by Tikva Honig-Parnass and Toufic Haddad, documents the apartheid-like conditions that Palestinians live under today.

For background on Israel’s war and the Palestinian struggle for freedom, read The Struggle for Palestine, a collection of essays edited by Lance Selfa on the history of the occupation and Palestinian resistance.

SO FAR, they still haven’t started ground operations, right?

NO INCURSIONS so far. Television news reports are now talking about Israel starting a land attack on Friday, January 2, but that’s also part of the psychological warfare–because they don’t generally announce their attack plans to maintain their strategic advantage.

They’ve carried out more than 700 air strikes so far. Crazy. As I am speaking to you right now, I can clearly hear the Apache helicopters. But because it’s too dark, I can’t see them. We have no electricity for the sixth day in my building.

WHAT DO the Israelis want at this point? You’ve said that they’re running out of targets. Do they want to kill or force the Hamas leadership into exile? Do they expect some other kind of surrender?

THE OBVIOUS objective that they’ve been talking about is “destroying the infrastructure of the terrorist organizations.” But they aren’t just referring to destroying Hamas, although that is their main goal. And in any case, they know that they can’t do that, because Hamas is not only the freedom fighters. It’s a very big organization, with social welfare aspects to it, as well as other elements.

They claim that Hamas has about 15,000 fighters. And then there are about 10,000 fighters belonging to the other resistance organizations–including, for example, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is a Marxist organization.

The Israelis want to create a new reality on the ground–to weaken Hamas as a political organization and weaken other resistance movements opposed to the Oslo Accords in order to pave the way for the return of the pro-Oslo organizations and the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah.

I think this is their ultimate goal, and they know very well that they can’t achieve it. The fact that they haven’t been able to destroy the resistance movement for the fifth consecutive day actually means a victory for the resistance movement. I don’t think they’ll be able to succeed, even after 15 days.

This is a repeat of what happened to the Israeli military operation in Lebanon two years ago. Remember that the Israelis started with “shock-and-awe” bombing, like the U.S. did in Iraq, with aerial strikes against the Lebanese resistance movement, and Hezbollah in particular.

They weren’t able to accomplish anything. They weren’t able to destroy the infrastructure of Hezbollah. And when they started their ground attack, it was obvious that Hezbollah and the Lebanese resistance movement, including the Communist Party of Lebanon, were actually victorious. This is what the Winograd report [from an Israeli commission charged with investigating the Lebanon war] concluded.

What we’re witnessing right now in Gaza is similar because the people of Gaza are supporting the resistance movement. The Israelis want to punish the people for voting for an anti-Oslo organization three years ago when they voted for Hamas.

I also think the Israelis are choosing the timing very carefully. One, they’re taking advantage of the grey area between George Bush leaving the White House and Barack Obama coming in. Also, it’s between Christmas and New Year’s, when most of the West is on holiday and celebrating, and not paying as much attention to international developments.

But notice that they’ve been postponing the ground invasion because the Israelis also have elections coming up in February. So Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are very reluctant to start the land invasion until the most damage possible is done from the air–in the hope that this will make victory on the ground more likely.

We were expecting the ground assault as early as the first or second day, but–oh gosh, another strike, so close. Maybe 500 meters to one kilometer away. Now another one. We rely on local radio stations to tell us exactly where the strikes are. I think these strikes are from Navy vessels, because I live near the beach. I’m sorry. I’ve lost my concentration.

The conclusion I wanted to end with is that Israeli leaders don’t want a second Winograd report. The first report concluded that the initial aerial strikes against Lebanon actually failed. This is what is happening right now. That’s why we’ve started hearing criticisms in the mainstream Israeli press, such as Ha’aretz and Yediot Aharonot newspapers, including from pilots saying that we’re killing so many civilians.

And remember, the last time I talked to you, I explained that the timing of the first strikes was at 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, when schoolchildren are returning home. So 80 children have been killed, and by the way, today, two sisters–seven and eight years old–died in the morning, and an hour ago, I heard their brother died from his injuries.

So Israel’s “strategy” is to kill as many civilians as possible to create a situation where civilians would rebel against Hamas and resistance movements. But like in Lebanon, this has had the opposite effect. The population supports the resistance–and not only the resistance of Hamas by the way.

Just like in Lebanon, it wasn’t only the resistance of Hezbollah, but also the Lebanese Communist Party that had support. And here, we have Hamas as one organization among 12 to 14 organizations, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

EARLIER, YOU mentioned that we’re in the grey area between the Bush and Obama administrations. What makes this so favorable for military action by Israel?

IDEOLOGICALLY, THE Bush administration sees the crushing of Palestinian resistance as part of the so-called war on terror. Notice that I say Palestinian resistance, and not the Islamic resistance of Hamas, because all resistance to imperial oppression is defined as “terrorism” by the Bush administration. The U.S. enables Israeli crimes in Palestine and Lebanon with its financial, military and moral support.

These are the same kinds of atrocities that the neocons in the U.S. have inflicted on Iraq and Afghanistan, with their fighter planes and tanks firing all kinds of ordnance–both conventional and illegal, such as white phosphorous and cluster bombs–against civilians.

The Bush administration even blames Hamas. It has adopted the policy of “blaming the victim,” and this has been the ideological orientation of the Zionist state since its inception.

The Bush administration also has a close ideological partner in the right-wing government of Israel, so it’s easier for them to find that support from the Bush administration. Bush allowed Olmert and Livni to undermine the Annapolis meeting [in 2007 between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, hosted by U.S. officials in Maryland].

The Annapolis meeting itself was a fiasco, but Bush also allowed them to undermine it by focusing on Israeli “security” and marginalizing the whole issue of Palestine and Palestinian rights.

In fact, I read yesterday in Ha’aretz that Israeli officials began talking about this assault on Gaza as a plan six months ago. Ehud Barak asked his officers and generals to start planning for this attack. This is at the same time that they agreed to the truce with the resistance movement in Gaza.

After the Annapolis meeting, Olmert immediately authorized a massive building program of new Jewish-only housing units in East Jerusalem, which was a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the two-state solution [that was nominally under discussion at Annapolis].

The two-state solution has been the essence of the Bush doctrine in the Middle East, but I don’t think there is any possibility of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, because Israel has taken irreversible steps in the West Bank to make such a state an impossibility.

The same complicit silence that we see right now from the Bush White House has also accompanied the drive to starve Gaza for the last two years–the shortages of food, fuel, medicine, electricity. Patients in need of dialysis and other kinds of medicine have been dying daily for the last two years.

Even a person as ignorant of Middle Eastern issues as George W. Bush must realize how cynical it is to talk about a two-state solution that has been rendered impossible by Israeli colonization of the West Bank, the looting and pillaging of Gaza, the construction of the apartheid wall, the annexation of more than 25 percent of West Bank land to the expanding Jewish settlements.

The Bush administration has been silent or has supported all of these measures. So the Israeli government wants to take advantage of Bush’s support.

It is also hesitant to embarrass Barack Obama at the beginning of his term, although I don’t believe Obama will be that different when it comes to Middle Eastern issues. Obama has already shown his complicity. When he visited Palestine during the presidential campaign, he spent only 45 minutes in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, after which he refused to give a press conference.

Then Obama visited Sderot, the Israeli town that neighbors Gaza, and sympathized with the Sderot people, but uttered not a word of sympathy for the starving Palestinians of Gaza. And the first thing he did after being elected president was appoint Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who is known for his strong pro-Israel views, as his chief of staff.

So the signals from Obama are clear. But the Israelis don’t want to force his hand from the moment he takes office on January 20. That’s why the gray area is important to them.

The difference between what happened in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza today is that the people living in the south of Lebanon fled to Beirut–about half a million people, I think. The people of Gaza, however, cannot do that. The only exit here is the Rafah crossing, which is completely closed off by Egyptian authorities.

So the population of 1.5 million in Gaza are left in Gaza, supporting the resistance. And when I say resistance, I’m not only talking about military resistance. I’m talking about initiating a global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to put pressure on Israel. We, as civil society organizations, have called for his. I’m on the steering committee of the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. I am also on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Central Committee.

We call on all civil society organizations around the world–in the United States, in the Arab and Islamic world and so on–to initiate a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign modeled on the anti-apartheid divestment campaign against South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s.

After the Sharpeville Massacre committed by the racists of South Africa against Black people, the divestment movement got momentum, and that was the beginning of the end of apartheid.

I look at what is happening in Gaza today from a historical perspective, and I think this should be the beginning of the end of the apartheid state of Israel.

This is not an anti-Semitic argument, as critics often assert. I am calling for the establishment of a secular democratic state in the historic land of Palestine–a state for all of its citizens, regardless of religion, race or sect.

Also, I must say that I really appreciate all of your great work there in the U.S. To be working as dissidents and critical voices against the power of the mainstream media in the U.S. has really been impressive, and gives us support here.

Honestly, I talk about you all the time. Because what people know about America here are the Apache gunships and the F-16s, and what the American government does. I always tell people that there is another America that you represent, and that is the America we bank on.

THAT’S VERY kind of you to say, but it’s us who are humbled by your courage and conviction as the Israeli attack continues. Here, the media reports on the situation as if the fighting in Gaza is a battle between two equally matched contenders–instead of massive firepower against a population that has very little to defend itself with.

TO TALK about “two sides” is truly absurd. What you have is one side that is considered under international law as an occupying and colonizing power; one side that has F-16s and Apache helicopters; one side that has the third or fourth strongest army in the world, and of course, the strongest army in the Middle East; and one side that has more than 250 nuclear warheads.

On the other side, you have an occupied people–people fighting with stones, people fighting with crude, homemade rockets like firecrackers. It’s unfair to talk about two evenly matched sides because it absolves Israel of its war crimes that have been committed in Gaza.

It would seem mandatory for the International Court of Justice to investigate the crimes committed by Israeli generals and officers, and indict them for crimes against humanity.

How is it possible to talk about “two sides?” You don’t have two sides. Were there two equal sides when discussing we were apartheid and the African National Congress? Were there two sides when Hitler and the Nazis were committing horrendous crimes and killing more than 6 million innocent Jews?

The world said we would never allow that to happen again. The uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto–the Intifada of the Jewish prisoners in Poland in 1943–actually inspires us here in Gaza.

Gaza has been transformed into the largest concentration camp on the face of the earth. And you cannot equate the prisoner and the warden. I think in America people need to wake up to this reality.

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