Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Video: Red Cross film exposes inhumanity of Israel's Gaza siege

ICRC - from the field - Civilians are counting the cost of the three-week conflict in January 2009, which claimed more than a thousand lives and dealt a heavy blow to the economy of Gaza, a territory already shattered by decades of conflict and deprivation. The international community pledged billions of dollars in aid, but restrictions on essential raw materials going into Gaza will have to be lifted if Palestinians are to rebuild their lives.

Professor at UCSB cleared of improper conduct as anti-Palestinian attacks backfire

From the LA Times
In a case that triggered national debate about academic freedom, a UC Santa Barbara investigation has cleared a sociology professor of improper conduct for e-mailing students images that compared Palestinian casualties of Israel’s Gaza offensive this year to Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

However, professor William Robinson said Thursday he was not satisfied with faculty and administrative findings that he should not be disciplined. Robinson wants a campus apology and an investigation of what he said were improper efforts to silence him.

In January, Robinson sent his class the images, along with a statement in which he described Israel’s policies in Gaza as a slow-motion genocide. Two Jewish students dropped the class, saying that they felt intimidated by the e-mail. They also said that Robinson had violated campus policies.

Some Jewish activists alleged that Robinson’s e-mail was anti-Semitic. Many academics and civil libertarians defended the professor, who is Jewish, and called the accusations and investigation an attack on academic freedom.

Cyndi Silverman, the Anti-Defamation League’s Santa Barbara regional director, said the campus decision "creates a disturbing message that only the rights of faculty are to be respected, not the rights of individual students."

Larry Gordon
The Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB has led the campaign to defend Robinson. More info at their website

UN public testimonies re-tell the horror of Israel's war crimes

The UN fact-finding mission sent to the Gaza Strip has held its first public hearings with victims of the Israeli war and listened to testimonies of two of them. The public hearings lasted two days.

Moussa Al-Sailawi, 91, presented his testimony about the Israeli bombing of a Mosque in Jabaliya which killed 17 civilians including his son and four other members of his family.

The mission intends to listen to testimonies of dozens of other victims in addition to international experts and eyewitnesses in order to be able to report about the Israeli war crimes committed during 22 days in Gaza.

The mission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone is expected to finish its report at the beginning of August and to publish the investigation results the following month.

The mission visited 40 different sites in Gaza and talked to dozens of witnesses and relatives of victims including the family of Al-Sammouni who lost 29 of their members.

The Guardian also has a report on the unprecedented hearings here

Palestinian man dies as bomb-damaged house collapses

GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian man was killed and five others were wounded in the preliminary report on the collapse of a building in Gaza city that was bombed by Israeli occupation forces during their 22-day war on Gaza.

Col. Yousef Al-Zahhar, the head of the civil defense squad, said in a press release on Monday that the building is owned by Hassan Al-Jaro and was bombed during the war.

He added that 8 pillars in the 4-storey building were destroyed but its occupants used to live in the undestroyed section of the building, which caved in today.

He said that medical and civil squad teams were digging the rubble in search of more possible victims.

Zahhar appealed for the people of the world with a conscience to help expedite an end to the siege of Gaza so that residents can rebuild destroyed homes and to avoid recurrence of such tragedies in which innocent people are killed under the debris because of the housing problem.

Thanks to the Palestinian Information Center

He said that many old and/or bombed buildings were cracked and their collapse would lead to a human tragedy.

Red Cross: Gazans trapped in despair and struggling to survive

Download the ICRC report here
Gaza: 1.5 million people trapped in despair

Six months after Israel launched its three-week military operation in Gaza on 27 December 2008, Gazans still cannot rebuild their lives. Most people struggle to make ends meet. Seriously ill patients face difficulty obtaining the treatment they need. Many children suffer from deep psychological problems. Civilians whose homes and belongings were destroyed during the conflict are unable to recover...

No reconstruction allowed, public health at risk

...Gaza neighbourhoods particularly hard hit by the Israeli strikes will continue to look like the epicentre of a massive earthquake unless vast quantities of cement, steel and other building materials are allowed into the territory for reconstruction. Until that happens, thousands of families who lost everything will be forced to live in cramped conditions with relatives. Others will continue to live in tents, as they have nowhere else to go.

Emergency repairs carried out after the military operation have made it possible to restore water and sanitation services, but only to the already unsatisfactory level prevailing before December 2008. The infrastructure is overloaded and remains subject to breakdown. Although chlorine is used to disinfect the water, the risk of sewage and other waste matter seeping into the water supply network represents a major threat to public health.

Every day, 69 million litres of partially treated or completely untreated sewage – the equivalent of 28 Olympic-size swimming pools – are pumped directly into the Mediterranean because they cannot be treated. more at the Red Cross website

Free Gaza ship threatened by Israeli Navy

Activists aboard Gaza justice boat demand they be allowed to visit their friends & family in besieged Gaza, and deliver their cargo of medical supplies, children's toys, and reconstruction kits. They invite the world to join them.

(At Sea, 60km off the coast of the Gaza Strip) - Human Rights activists aboard the Free Gaza ship, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, today demanded that the Israeli Navy immediately stop threatening them.

“This aid is desperately needed by the people of Gaza,” said Mairead Maguire, winner of the Noble Peace Prize and Pacem in Terris Award for her work in Northern Ireland. “President Obama has called upon the Palestinians to abandon violence but Israel is denying them the right to non-violently resist the siege of Gaza.”

The unarmed justice ship departed Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7:30am Monday with its crew of 21 human rights activists, humanitarian workers and journalists from 11 different countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The boat, a converted ferry, hopes to arrive in Gaza Tuesday afternoon, following a grueling 30 hour sea voyage.

At 1:30am, Israeli warships surrounded the small civilian boat and threatened to open fire if they did not turn around. When the activists refused to be intimidated, Israeli Occupation Forces began jamming their instrumentation, blocking their GPS, radar, and navigation systems. This jamming was in direct violation of international maritime law, threatening the welfare and safety of the civilian ship.

Responding to this intimidation, Congresswoman McKinney declared, "I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God's name would Israel want to attack us?"

Huwaida Arraf, Chairperson of the Free Gaza movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage, said, "All we want is to reach Gaza. We want to visit our friends and deliver our cargo of medical supplies, children's toys, and reconstruction materials. Our ship was searched and received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we departed."

Arraf continued, "We do not seek a confrontation. We have traveled from Cypriot waters to international waters and will enter Gazan waters. We've never gone anywhere near Israel. Israel’s closure of Gaza is an act of collective punishment and a blatant violation of international law. We call upon our governments to take action to uphold their obligations under the Fourth Geneva Conventions. If they won’t or until they do, we will act. We will come to Gaza again and again until this brutal siege is broken. We invite the good people of the world to join us."

Free Gaza boats are the first international ships in 41 years to sail to the Gaza Strip. Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has organized 8 sea missions, successfully arriving to Gaza on 5 separate occasions. One two earlier occasions, Israeli Occupation Forces used violence to stop the ships, physically ramming and almost sinking the DIGNITY boat in December 2008, and threatening to fire on and kill unarmed passengers in January 2008. The fate of this, the eighth mission to Gaza, is still uncertain.

CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

More info at Free Gaza Movement website
Live mission updates available here

Israel threatens Free Gaza aid boats

BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign for ending the siege stated Monday that the Free Gaza boats which were supposed to sail for the Gaza Strip at the end of last week left this morning the Cypriot port of Larnaca, adding that this delay was caused by the Israeli threats to intercept them at sea.

Spokesman for the European campaign Rami Abdo said that the Free Gaza movement notified the ministry of foreign affairs and the ministry of war in Israel that the boats would sail on a humanitarian mission and asked not to intercept them.

more at PIC

Monday, 29 June 2009

Free Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners

A Letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

Please endorse and distribute widely!

Join dozens of organizations, academics and activists to endorse this letter to
Ban Ki-Moon, including the National Lawyers Guild, the Palestinian Youth
Network, UK MP George Galloway and many more! See full list of initial
endorsers below...

We are asking for your endorsement and that of your organization for the letter below, inspired by the hunger strike of imprisoned Palestinian national leader
Ahmad Sa'adat, calling upon United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to
uphold his responsibilities and take action to protect the rights, health and
lives of Palestinian prisoners and demand the freedom of all 11,000 Palestinian
political prisoners. This letter will be delivered to Ban Ki-Moon's office on
July 8, 2009. Please send your endorsement as quickly as possible in order to
ensure it is included, preferably before July 5, 2009
. This initiative is being
supported by the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat. Please send endorsements to
info@freeahmadsaadat.org. We welcome endorsements from all organizations,
individuals, coalitions and institutions in support of the goals of this letter
and the rights and freedom of Palestinian prisoners.

Dear Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon;

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call upon you to immediately
take action in defense of the lives, health and rights of the over 11,000
Palestinian political prisoners held inside Israeli occupation jails. This
number includes numerous elected members of Palestinian Legislative Council,
among them Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine; Marwan al-Barghouthi, Fateh leader; Abdel-Aziz Dweik,
Hamas leader and President of the Council, just freed after three years in
prison, and dozens of other elected political leaders, in addition to thousands
of other Palestinian activists, union members, community organizers, fathers,
mothers, sons and daughters.

Palestinian prisoners suffer in conditions that violate international standards
and norms, and are imprisoned because they refuse to accept a brutal occupation
of their land and their people. Ahmad Sa'adat recently waged a nine-day hunger
strike in protest of the policy of isolation and solitary confinement that has
recently been escalated against Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian prisoners
have been denied family visits, at times for years, denied access to all books
and magazines, and denied even communication with their fellow prisoners in the
isolation units. Palestinian prisoners, including Sa'adat, are currently denied
necessary health care and medical treatment.

Palestinian prisoners are placed into isolation because they are national
leaders and because the Palestinian prisoner movement has been an inspiration
to all Palestinians and all who struggle for freedom. Ahmad Sa'adat's hunger
strike has sparked thousands of people around the world to appeal for his
release, as a living example who symbolizes the steadfastness and strength of
the Palestinian prisoners amid isolation and dire conditions, and it must
compel all of those outside the prisons to act. Many Palestinian and
international human rights and social justice organizations have called for the
release of Sa'adat and to ensure the safety of his life and health, as well as
for freedom and protection for all Palestinian prisoners.

The fate of these 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners is a fundamental issue
of justice. Palestinians, in Palestine and in exile, are denied their rights -
to return home, to self-determination, and to freedom, and those who seek to
secure those rights are subject to imprisonment, whether within the open-air
prisons of Gaza under siege or the walled-in West Bank, or the jails of the
occupation. The silent, and at times, active, complicity of international
agencies, particularly the United Nations, in the denial of Palestinian rights
must not continue.

We call upon you to uphold your responsibilities and exert all pressure to end
torture, cruel and inhuman treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and to free
every Palestinian political prisoner from Israel's occupation jails.


Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat

Al-Awda NY
American Iranian Friendship Committee
Arab American Union Members Council
Arab Muslim American Federation
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
The Freedom Archives
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
International Action Center
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
International Socialist Organization
Jericho Movement - NYC
National Lawyers Guild
New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine
New Orleans Palestine Solidarity
NYC Labor Against the War
NY Committee For Human Rights in the Philippines
Palestine House
Palestinian Youth Network
PATOIS: New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival
Socialist Action
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) (Popular Conference)
War Times/Tiempo De Guerra
WESPAC Foundation

MP George Galloway, UK Parliament Member and coordinator of Viva Palestina USA
medical aid caravan to Gaza
Prof. Bashir Abu Manneh, Columbia University
Musa al-Hindi, Omaha, NE
Susan Abulhawa, author, Pennsylvania
Yousef Abudayyeh, California
Prof. Emeritus Naseer Aruri, Dartmouth University
Dr.C.J. Burns-Cox MD FRCP, Gloucester UK
James C. Faris, Director Emeritus, University of Connecticut Program in Middle
East Languages and Area Studies
Sara Flounders, co-director, International Action Center
Prof. Emerita Sherna Berger Gluck, California State University Long Beach
Prof. Emerita Elaine Hagopian, Simmons College
Dr. Tikva Honig-Parnass, Jerusalem
Paul Hubbard, Providence, RI
Monadel Herzallah, San Francisco, CA
Charlotte Kates, attorney
Basem Khader, Chappaqua, NY
Peter Klosterman, Ph.D. Oakland, CA
Michael Letwin, Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Former
President, Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Dr. Renee Levant, Instructor, Master of Liberal Studies Program, Fort Hays
State University
Professor Moshé Machover, London School of Economics
Dr. Bruce J. Malina, Dept of Theology, Creighton University
Ali Mili, Phillipsburg, NJ
Harald Molgaard, Twickenham, UK
Ardeshir and Eleanor Ommani, Founders, AIFC,
Dr. Nagesh Rao, Assistant Professor of English, The College of New Jersey
Dr. Ahdaf Soueif, author
Professor Mustapha Soueif, University of Cairo
Dr. Dahlia Wasfi, M.D., USA
Tony Whelan, London, UK

This letter will be delivered to Ban Ki-Moon's office on July 8, 2009. Please
send your endorsement as quickly as possible in order to ensure it is included,
preferably before July 5, 2009. This initiative is being supported by the
Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat. Please send endorsements to

BBC biased towards Israel in news reporting

Despite the attacks of the pro-Israel lobby on the BBC it is in fact a wholeheartedly pro-Israel organisation and this is shown graphically through its use of Israeli sources in preference to Palestinian ones, a new research report shows.

The refusal of the BBC to broadcast the recent Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza was but one episode among many. Senior Middle East reporter Jeremy Bowen was recently castigated by his bosses for sounding pro-Palestinian. What they mean is he reports the truth and tries to convey something of the suffering of the people in Gaza.

More at the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/26/bbc-anti-israel-bias

Israel uses electric shock torture on Palestinian children

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Palestinian prisoner club accused the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) of committing new crimes of corporal torture against children through giving them electric shocks and beating them severely.

The club said that Palestinian child Hamza Al-Za’aol, who was kidnapped on the fourth of May on a charge of throwing stones, told club lawyers that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) used electric shocks against him in Etzion prison while another child detained on the same day called Ismail Al-Za’aol said he was severely beaten especially in his broken leg.

The club revealed that the number of children kidnapped during the first quarter of 2009 rose to 443 prisoners after kidnapping 14 minors this year.

In another related context, the popular committee against torture said in a report issued Wednesday that the IOF troops and the Shin Bet security service deliberately tortured Palestinian detainees through handcuffing them in a painful manner contrary to international law.

The committee said that its report depended on 574 cases of arrest and interrogation during the last year and on testimonies collected from Israeli soldiers by the organization of breaking the silence that is concerned about reporting on IOF troops’ violations.

Friday, 26 June 2009

First cattle shipment for nine months allowed into Gaza

Following nine months of beef being embargoed from entering the Gaza Strip, the coordinator of activities in the territories, Amos Gilad, has allowed the first shipment of 350 head of cattle into the Strip.

Sources involved in the matter said that the resumption of beef supply to the Gaza Strip is in part the result of U.S. pressure on Israel to lift all restrictions on the importation of various types of foodstuffs into the Strip.

The same sources also pointed to the pending visit of Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Egypt as another impetus for the easing of the embargo.

In the Gaza Strip, preparations are being made for the importation of more cattle for slaughter next week, and for the sale of a total of nearly 4,000 head of cattle through the month of Ramadan, which will commence in September.

More at Haaretz

More tunnel deaths in Gaza

The desperate nature of life in Gaza sees more people die as they risk their lives to bring urgently needed goods into the strip. At least one person has died in the latest among a rising curve of such fatalities:
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that one Palestinian was killed and four others on Friday morning when a tunnel collapsed on then near the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah. Four other residents are believed to be buried under the rubble.

Eyewitnesses said that the runnel is located in Al Salaam neighborhood in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

A source at the European Hospital identified confirmed that the body of resident Ahmad Atef Zo’rob, 18, died after suffocating under the rubble. His body was moved to the hospital.

The sources added rescue teams are still trying to locate the four missing Palestinians.

It is worth mentioning that nearly 80 Palestinians were killed in similar incidents over the last two years.

The tunnels became the only means that would allow the entry of food and basics needs since Israel imposed a strict siege on the coastal region in 2006. Israel says the tunnel are used by armed groups to smuggle weapons.

Aid boats aim to break Gaza siege today

The Free Gaza Movement has sent two boats to Gaza which are due to dock today.

More at Press TV
The boats, which will dock in Gaza on Friday, carry 35 international human rights workers and journalists. According to the movement, 15 of the activists are from Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Tunisia and Bahrain, and 21 are from the United States, the UK, Scotland, Australia, Cyprus, Greece, Denmark and Ireland.

Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former US congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney are among the notable figures onboard the boats, which will carry three tons of medical supplies and 15 tons of cement.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

PA parliamentary speaker Aziz Dweik released from prison

pic: Bernat Armangue

Reporting from Jerusalem - Israel freed the most senior Hamas leader in its prisons Tuesday after prosecutors failed to persuade a military court to prolong his three-year sentence.

The release of Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Authority parliament, fed speculation that Israel was on the verge of a deal to secure the return of a captured soldier in exchange for hundreds of Hamas prisoners. Such a swap has been the aim of sporadic negotiations mediated by Egypt, but Israeli and Hamas officials said they had no information about a breakthrough. more

ADL tries to stop Viva Palestina US aid mission

The Anti-Defamation League is trying to sabotage the Viva Palestina US aid convoy for Gaza. They have petitioned the US Justice Department to investigate whether the convoy would constitute aiding a terrorist organisation, namely Hamas.
WASHINGTON (JTA) --The Anti-Defamation League is urging the Justice Department to investigate whether a U.S.-based group is raising money for Hamas.

Viva Palestina U.S. is a campaign modeled after a similar European initiative, led by British Parliament member George Galloway, that delivered money and a convoy of vehicles to Hamas representatives in Gaza in March. Galloway plans to lead a similar Viva Palestina U.S.-sponsored convoy next month, and he has been visiting the United States recently to publicize and raise funds for it.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, ADL said “it is not verifiable that this ‘committee’ will function independently of the Hamas leadership in Gaza, and Galloway -- who plans to lead the American convoy -- has already demonstrated his willingness to directly support Hamas.”

Viva Palestina U.S. organizers say they intend to adhere to U.S. law and will deliver the money raised to a reception committee of nongovernmental organizations in Gaza. Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.

From the JTA

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Israel legalises another settlement and authorises expansion

The Israeli government has formulated plans to legalize 60 existing homes at an unauthorized settlement outpost in the West Bank and allow the construction of 240 other residences, an Israeli group said Tuesday.

Such a move would flout a U.S. demand for a settlement freeze. It would also bolster the claim by Palestinians that the unauthorized outposts are intended to permanently seize land they want as part of their future state.

The plans were approved by Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, and filed with authorities in April, according to Bimkom, a private Israeli group that specializes in planning issues.

The Defense Ministry had no immediate comment. more

Irish students cycling to Gaza for Medical Aid for Palestinians charity

Waterford students to begin 4,000 mile fund-raising cycle

Four Waterford students will begin a 4,000 mile cycle to Gaza tomorrow to raise money and awareness for the war-torn region.

The "Pathways to Palestine" team will sail to France before beginning their journey and are raising money for the Medical Aid for Palestine organisation.

Their trek is expected to last 40 days and takes them through 14 different countries.

All money raised will go towards medical equipment for Gaza and donations can be made through their website.

The group will also be "phlogging" along the way which is a type of audio blog submitted over the phone.

From Ireland Online

Israeli protesters block one of the few open crossings into Gaza

Israeli protesters are blocking aid getting into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing in a move designed to bring more pressure to bear on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit the Israeli prisoner of war. So one soldier being held prisoner justifies these humanitarian crimes against 1.5 million people in Gaza? The protesters won't need to require very many people to effect their 'blockade' as their government is already doing that. There are at least 11,000 Palestinian prisoners illegally held by Israel.

KEREM SHALOM CROSSING, Israel (AFP) — Dozens of Israeli protestors blocked crossings into Gaza on Tuesday to push for the release of a soldier held captive for three years by militants in the Hamas-run enclave.

The demonstrators held back lines of aid trucks at the Kerem Shalom crossing into southern Gaza demanding that its Hamas rulers give a sign of life of Gilad Shalit, who was seized by militants on June 25, 2006.

"The message is for the Hamas government to give an answer from Gilad Shalit so Israel can know if he is alive," David Gilboa, one of the organisers of the rally, told AFP. more

Former IDF commander defends Seven Jewish Children against anti-semitism

An important Op-ed in Canada's Now magazine by Misha Shulman an ex-IDF commander, defending Caryl Churchill's play and castigating the misguided opposition that does a disservice to the real fight against anti-semitism.
In defense of Seven Jewish Children

Controversial play about Israel is a chance to re-examine ourselves

Misha Shulman

Perhaps having spent three years in Southern Lebanon as an IDF commander has lowered my tolerance for misconstructions of Israeli ideology.

But when I heard names like "Sons of Hitler" and "Jew killers" were called out as theatre-goers entered Theatre Passe Muraille last week for the play Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, I was angry.

The recent fiasco surrounding Crow’s Theatre’s staged reading of Caryl Churchill’s controversial play provided yet another example of the way North American Jews do their worst to perpetuate the conflict in the holy land, and keep anti-Semitism stronger than ever.

So it has come time for this Israeli Jew to make a request of members of organizations claiming to represent the Canadian Jewish community, such as the JDL and B’nai Brith: Please stop crying anti-Semitism in the name of the Jewish state. It makes people hate both Jews and their state. And there’s enough hatred around for both of those already.

I am proud of being a Jew. I am proud of being an Israeli. These are two very different statements. more

Charges against pro-Palestine professsor in doubt as defence campaign gains ground

Supporters of sociology professor William Robinson at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), facing the charge of anti-semitism for circulating an email juxtaposing images of Nazis atrocities against Jewish people and Israel's oppression of Palestinians, are campaigning hard.

Latest developments have seen the UCSB Academic Senate vote to investigate the mishandling of the Robinson case following the circulation of a petition in support of him among faculty members.

Now the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has demanded that UCSB cease investigation of Robinson:
FIRE – a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that works to protect student and faculty rights at college campuses nationwide – has demanded that the University of California at Santa Barbara cease its investigation of sociology professor William I. Robinson.

Letter from FIRE to Chancellor Yang here

More info: Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB

Toward the end of February 2009, Sociology and Global Studies Professor William Robinson received notice from the Academic Senate’s Charges Committee that two of his students had filed charges against him. The students alleged that course material Prof. Robinson had circulated to his class via the course listserv, criticizing Israel’s then-ongoing siege on Gaza, comprised anti-Semitism. Professor Robinson also received a letter from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to this effect. The student complaints (Complaint 1 & Complaint 2) included claims and rationales that exactly mirrored those included in the ADL letter. The course material at issue in the complaints included an editorial written by a Jewish journalist condemning Israel’s invasion of Gaza and images of the bloody consequences of the siege on Gaza juxtaposed with congruent images from Nazi concentration camps in the 1930s (a not uncommon understanding of Israel-Palestine relations, as this 2003 Haaretz article and recent ADBUSTERS piece demonstrates). Alleging that the circulation of this course material caused them to drop his class, the students in their complaints claimed the subject of the email was not relevant to the course. The course title was “Sociology of Globalization” and the course curriculum covered contemporary, global conflicts and struggles. more

Monday, 22 June 2009

President Obama - how about the Israelis practicing some non-violence

The article below highlights the fact that Palestinian farmers can only but offer nonviolent resistance in the face of a brutal armed occupation that puts little value on the life of a Palestinian. It's a daily struggle.

Non-violent resistance in the south Hebron Hills

Joy Ellison | Electronic Intifada

A couple of months ago I had the great pleasure of watching Palestinians successfully graze their sheep near Avigail settlement, on land where they are regularly attacked and harassed. The joy I felt in watching my friends and partners grazing their sheep on their ancestral lands was overwhelming. Sitting on the hill and eating lunch together felt like having a party.

As the day drew to an end, Mahmoud, one of the Palestinian elders, excitedly explained to me the strategy he had used in dealing with the Israeli army and settlers that morning. He told me how, even though the army had declared the area a closed military zone, he firmly stood up for his rights. He explained how he pretended to slowly begin to comply with the military order, all the while challenging the soldiers and insisting on his right to graze his sheep. Eventually, he said, the army lost control of the situation and gave in. When he finished his description, Mahmoud turned to me and grinned. “I read in a book that this is called nonviolence,” he said, laughing.

When US President Barack Obama called on Palestinians to practice nonviolence, I laughed just like Mahmoud. Palestinians like Mahmoud have never needed to be told about nonviolence. The English word may be unfamiliar but the steadfast, daily acts of resistance known as nonviolence are nothing new. In the south Hebron hills, Palestinians face Israeli soldiers and violent Israeli settlers who are illegally expanding their settlements and attacking Palestinians, including children walking to school. In response to this profound injustice, Palestinians are organizing demonstrations, refusing to comply with military orders, filing complaints against settlers, and courageously working their land despite the risk of arrest and attack. They don’t need President Obama to tell them to practice nonviolence.

Palestinians have practiced nonviolent resistance for the last 60 years. From the “Great Revolt” during the British Mandate to the first Palestinian intifada in 1987, to the loose-knit but powerful community-based movement of today. Certainly, it’s inaccurate to omit armed resistance from Palestinian history, but it is equally false to claim that Palestinians are unfamiliar with nonviolence. President Obama missed the point in his Cairo speech — Palestinians do not need to be admonished towards peacefulness. It’s radical Israeli settlers and the Israeli government who do.

Instead of preaching to Palestinians, Obama should insist emphatically on the dismantlement of Israeli settlements that violate international law and the enforcement of laws to prevent Israeli settlers from attacking Palestinian villagers, a frequent occurrence in the south Hebron hills. After 42 years of Israeli military occupation, it is time for an American president to call on Israel to stop its violence towards Palestinians.

Joy Ellison is an American activist with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an organization that supports Palestinian nonviolent resistance. She lives in At-Tuwani, a small village in the south Hebron hills which is nonviolently resisting settlement expansion and violence. She writes about her experiences on her blog, “I Saw it in Palestine.”

Joy Ellison is an American activist with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an organization that supports Palestinian nonviolent resistance. She lives in At-Tuwani, a small village in the south Hebron hills which is nonviolently resisting settlement expansion and violence. She writes about her experiences on her blog, “I Saw it in Palestine.”

Thanks to the International Solidarity Movement

Tony Blair wanted UK Iraq inquiry to be held in secret - to cover up his war crimes

Protest: Parliament debates the Iraq inquiry on Wednesday 24 June. Stop the War has called a protest outside parliament from 2pm to insist that the inquiry be held in public.

Tony Blair urged Gordon Brown to hold the independent inquiry into the Iraq war in secret because he feared that he would be subjected to a "show trial" if it were opened to the public, reports the Observer.

The revelation that the former prime minister - who led Britain to war in March 2003 - had intervened will fuel the anger of MPs, peers, military leaders and former civil servants, who were appalled by Brown's decision last week to order the investigation to be conducted behind closed doors.

Blair is believed to have been alarmed by the prospect of giving evidence in public and under oath about the use of intelligence and about his numerous private discussions with US President George Bush over plans for war. A spokesman for the former Labour leader would only say last night: "This was a decision for the current prime minister, not for Tony Blair."

More at Stop the War

US commentators call for talks with Hamas if Israel really wants peace

Joe Klein of Time magazine in an interview with Mashaal shortly after Obama's Cairo speech, calls on the US to start talking to Hamas.

See his article in Time magazine here.
So what are our options, given Mashaal's refusal to yield on any of the demands made by Obama? Hamas has some inconvenient facts in its favor: it exists, it remains strong in Gaza — as a direct consequence of the real social services it provides and its relative lack of corruption compared with Fatah — and it has a legitimate complaint. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is inhumane and outrageous. Palestinians are imprisoned behind a barrier wall that does not conform to the 1967 lines; they are forced to endure hundreds of Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks whose purpose seems humiliation as much as security; their lands are slit by highways that only settlers are allowed to use; the settlements, populated by the most extreme Israelis, have doubled in size since the 1993 Oslo accords, gradually turning the Palestinian areas into Swiss-cheese cantons.

There will be no peace as long as this persists. And there will be no peace without Hamas as part of the process..

Iranian crisis splits ruling elite as 10 killed by police in weekend protests

Police get surrounded by protesters and escape with their lives. The UK cops, increasingly hated by protesters and general public alike, will probably soon be getting the same treatment

Press TV reported on Sunday that the authorities in Iran now agree that more votes were counted than there were voters in 50 Iranian towns and cities, creating a discrepancy of 3 million votes but the Guardian council is claiming it is not likely to have been decisive in determining the vote. I can't find the Press TV report on the website but there is more on this at the New York Times.

Meanwhile the President of Israel offered his 'support' to the protest movement which is a very foolish thing to do as it will make it easier for the regime to try and split the movement by pointing to further 'foreign involvement'.

The US and UK continue to deny being involved in the movement but they would say that wouldn't they. The US was/is so uninvolved that it ordered Twitter not to take down servers for maintenance overhauls as it might disrupt the attempts by protesters to co-ordinate action on the ground and get info out to the rest of the world.

The western media seems to be more astonished by the fact that people have computers in the Islamic republic, and no - very well - how to use them.

The western hypocrisy surrounding their 'support' of the the protests brings to mind both the US elections stolen by Bush and the fatal police violence executed to plan by the UK police at the G20 summit in London.

Veolia now dropped from Tehran transport project because of Israel links

In another major victory for the boycott, divestment and sanctions, the mayor of Tehran announced that Veolia would no longer have a key role in city's urban transport system. This victory in Iran, along with others France, UK, Sweden, and Holland, has cost Veolia an estimated $7 billion in lost contracts and were key in pushing the company to leave the Jerusalem light rail project.

Veolia and Alstom are both active in Iran. The Tehran Municipality and Veolia had agreed to collaborate on the implementation of some projects concerning the environment and the development of the urban transport system. Alstom has a headquarters in Tehran and received a number of large contracts, including a 192 million euro contract with Iran's state railways in 1999 and a larger 375 million euro contract to supply 50 turbo compressors to Iran in 2002.

More at the Stop the Wall campaign

Demolition order issued to Palestinian villagers

On 31 May, demolition and eviction orders were given to the communities in al-Hadidiya and Khirbet ar-Ras al-Ahmar. Those living in ar-Ras al-Ahmar have been told to leave immediately, while families in al-Hadidiya have received various extensions. Several families were told to evacuate within 24 hours, four others were given 48 hours, and the remaining families have been given court summons to appear at the Occupation military court in Beit Il at the end of June. In total, 201 persons were given 48 hours or less to evacuate.

The entire community of al-Hadidya, with the exception of a single family, is in danger of being expelled. In ar-Ras al-Ahmar, a third of the community, 17 of the 45 families, will be displaced.

On 17 June, three residential structures and 12 other structures, among them animal structures, were leveled in Jiftlik. The owners were not present, as they reside in Jiftlik only in the winter season.

Bulldozers accompanied by soldiers also raided and leveled residential structures in Wadi Malih. Three families, among them 9 children and 3 elderly persons, have lost their homes. 12 animal shelters were also demolished, and animal fodder and shelter material was damaged after being run over by a bulldozer.

More at Stop the Wall campaign

84-year-old holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein likely attacked by Zionist thugs

An “inspirational” speaker for 15 years at the Missouri Scholars Academy was attacked this week after visiting the Columbia camp.

Hedy Epstein, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, was walking to her home from a Metrolink station in St. Louis on Wednesday when someone pushed her hard from behind. She fell to the ground and lay in a state of shock, bleeding profusely from her chin.

The attack occurred so quickly, Epstein said, that she thought she saw a man running but can’t remember what he looked like. She forced herself to get home and called a friend when the bleeding would not stop. At the hospital, doctors determined an artery had been nicked.

The attack might not have been random.

Epstein is part of a movement opposed to Israel’s treatment of Gaza and has received threatening messages.

After she gave a television interview earlier this year, someone left a phone message telling Epstein she should be ashamed of herself. In the message, the caller threatened to visit St. Louis and “give you a piece of my mind and spit on your ugly face. … We will find a way to deal with protesters of your type.”

more at the Colombia Tribune

Free Gaza Movement sending two boats to break siege on 25 June

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Activists campaigning for an end to Gaza's blockade by Israel will sail to the enclave from Cyprus in defiance of the Israeli navy, they said Thursday.

Two boats, including one carrying cement and building supplies -- materials not permitted by Israel -- will sail from Cyprus on June 25, the multi-national Free Gaza Movement said.

"We are taking 15 tons of cement, which is just a token of how much the Palestinians need, because the Israelis won't allow building supplies into Gaza," said Greta Berlin, a representative of the group.

The group started regular shuttles to Gaza from Cyprus in August 2008, but was turned back by the Israeli navy on its last journey in mid-January of this year.

Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after the Islamist Hamas took control of the enclave, a sliver of territory that is home to 1.5 million people.

Israeli forces bombed and then invaded Gaza in late December 2008 in a bid to rout out militants lobbing rockets into Israel, devastating its already battered infrastructure.

Since then, Israel has blocked imports of steel, cement and other goods to the Gazan population, saying Hamas could use many items for military purposes.

(Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Richard Williams)

Free Gaza Movement

Red Cross actions show Arab lives are worth less than other human beings

The International Committee for the Red Cross is calling on Hamas to allow Israeli prisoner of war Shalit to receive letters from his family. This is the same ICRC that has studiously failed to do the same for the hundreds of Palestinian families that have children languishing in Israel's prisons. Why do these western organisation always see Arab lives as cheap?

GAZA, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, expressed astonishment on Friday following the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) calls on Hamas to let captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to hold regular contacts with his family.

The Jerusalem Post daily has earlier quoted Yael Segev-Eytan, spokeswoman of the ICRC in Israel as saying that since Shalit has been captured, the ICRC has tried to deliver messages to Shalit from his family, but these efforts have not succeeded.

The Hamas-run ministry of prisoners' affairs in Gaza said in a written statement that "While the Red Cross makes such a request, it stands disable to organize the visiting timetable for Gaza families, who have their children jailed in Israel."

Through its contacts with Hamas, The ICRC is attempting to establish "regular and unconditional" family contact for Shalit, including the exchange of letters between he and his family in Israel.

In summer of 2006, Shalit was captured by Hamas and two other minor militant groups during a triple armed attack on an Israeli army base just outside southeast Gaza Strip. Shalit is now still held in the Gaza Strip.

Since then, Shalit had sent one letter to his family and to the Israeli government and received another letter from his father that was conveyed to him several months ago through foreign mediators.

"There are hundreds of families who were deprived from visiting or seeing their sons and daughters in Israeli jails for more than two years. The ICRC had failed to convey written letters from the prisoners to their families," said the statement.

Earlier Israeli reports said that Hamas and Israel will soon renew their indirect talks to finalize a prisoners' swap deal to release Shalit for releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. more

Settlers try to incinerate Palestinian villagers

Three Palestinians from a small hamlet near Yatta, south of Hebron, on Sunday narrowly escaped death after Israeli settlers set fire to a tent while they were inside.

Local residents told Ma’an that Israeli settlers from the nearby Susia settlement, which sits on Palestinian land, set fire to a large tent used as a meeting hall for the small village.

The tent belonged to Muhammad Nasr Nawaj’ah, and was about 50 square meters in size.

Local residents who were awakened by pleas for help hurried to extinguish the fire and administered first aid to the injured, who were identified as 22-year-old Abd Ar-Rahman Nawaj’ah, 21-year-old Yahya Nawaj’ah, and 22-year-old Ibrahim Nawaj’ah.

Thanks to Ma'an news agency

Israel's hegemony in the air threatened by resistance air defence missiles

The Israeli Air Force has brought a virtual trainer into service in order to train its pilots in the evasion of anti-aircraft missiles.

The Israeli military is increasingly concerned that it is in danger of seeing the deterrent force of having the most powerful air force in the region undermined.

An article in the Jerusalem Post this morning admits that Hezbollah and Hamas probably have shoulder held anti-aircraft missiles in their arsenal and that Iran is well on the way to installing the advanced Russian built - S-300 air defence system that can track up to 100 different aircraft simultaneously.

See our report on Iran and the Russian air defence system here

Prisoner swap talks make progress according to Arab media reports

Palestinian sources say there is reason to believe that significant progress has been made in talks on a prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

Sources told the paper that both sides have presented serious proposals and that Hamas has shown newfound flexibility on the issue of relocating West Bank Hamas members to Gaza.

As part of a prisoner exchange for captive soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel is demanding that Hamas agree to absorb prisoners into Gaza rather than allowing them to return to their homes in the West Bank.

The negotiations, which are being mediated by Egypt, have been stalled since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took over the reins of power from his predecessor, Ehud Olmert.

Reports say Abbas to release Hamas detainees on West Bank

From the International Middle East Media Center

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah ordered Monday release of all Hamas detainees by reconsidering each single case, the Palestinian Maan News Agency reported

Maan said that head of the Fatah parliamentary bloc, Azzam Alahmad, confirmed that Abbas's orders include release of all Hamas detainees , except those who ' pose a threat to public security'.

"This move is intended to pave the atmosphere for the upcoming national unity talks in Cairo", aL-Ahmad was quoted as saying.

In addition to a recent release of 20 Hamas detainees, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will set free today 20 to 30 others. Yet, the PA will not release all those involved in law breaking, including those affiliated with Fatah.

The ruling Hamas party in Gaza has demanded that all of its detainees in West Bank prisons of the PA should be released as a perquisite for success of Cairo talks. Cairo is expected to push both parties to a conciliation agreement by July7.

Support Ahmad Saadat's hunger strike for freedom

For more information on the struggle to free Ahmad Saadat go to:


Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, is one of over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails. These political prisoners, men, women and children, are activists, organizers and political leaders of the Palestinian people.

Sa'adat was sentenced to 30 years in the occupation prisons on December 25, 2008. On March 18, 2009, Sa'adat was moved into isolation at Asqelan prison, facing serious medical consequences. In June 2009, Sa'adat engaged in a nine-day hunger strike against his isolation.

Sa'adat was being held in Hadarim prison. Sa'adat, with five other Palestinian prisoners, was kidnapped by the Israeli military on March 14, 2006 after a siege upon the prison in Jericho, where he was being held under a U.S. and British guard at a Palestinian Authority prison.

Protest to foreign secretary Miliband over Israels's abuse of Palestinian prisoners

Use the model letter below to send your protests to the British Foreign Office over the treatment of the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners being illegally held in Israel's prisons:

Rt. Hon. David Miliband
Foreign Secretary, London SW1

Dear Mr. Miliband

Justice for Palestinian prisoners

I am writing about the plight of the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners held by the illegal occupying power. There have been protests all over the Middle East to coincide with a hunger strike held by Ahmad Sa’adat, a prominent prisoner held in illegal detention by the State of Israel. The British government have an historic responsibility towards the whole Palestinian people, from the Mandate period to the present day. They have a special responsibility towards Mr. Sa’adat , whom they were jointly guarding on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and who they then allowed to be seized by the occupiers of his birth place.

Mr. Sa’adat is suffering from back pain, but true to form his captors have denied him medicine. He has also been kept in isolation, like many Palestinian prisoners, who include women and children in their ranks. Mr Sadaat is also a representative on the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC], as are several of the detainees including Mr. Aziz Dweik the Speaker of the PLC, and prominent Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. Mr. Barghouti is being held for the murder of civilians inside the green line; murders which he did not commit or condone. All three men are prisoners because they defend the right of the Palestinian people to resist Israel’s illegal occupation.

If Her Majesties Government wish to be instrumental in bringing justice to the Middle East, the release of prisoners, beginning with the women and children in administrative detention, would be a good start.

The criminalisation of acts of resistance, including military operations against disproportionately powerful Israeli forces, is against the spirit and thrust of international law. Rather than label people as terrorists, they must be engaged as legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people. That is certainly true of Sa’adat, Barghouti, and last but not least Dweik, whose “crime” is to be elected as the Speaker of a democratic assembly.

If democracy is to championed as a universal right leading to a more just world, rather than a catchphrase suitable for certain situations, the scandal of Israel’s Palestinian prisoners must be rectified. The British people and their government must play its part.

Yours sincerely,

From the Palestinian Information Center:

GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of prisoners in Gaza on Sunday called on the popular and official institutions to organize wide campaigns in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails against the Israeli violations of their rights especially the attempts to force them to wear the orange uniform.

In a press release received by the PIC, Riyadh Al-Ashqar, the information director at the ministry, stressed that the prisoners must not be left alone especially by the media or else the Israeli occupation would dare to violate their rights further and apply its own arbitrary laws against them.

Ashqar added that the state of silence towards what happens to Palestinian prisoners encouraged Israel to commit further violations of international law against them, so it is necessary to intensify events and activities that highlight their poor incarceration conditions and the injustice inflicted on them and not just organize weekly sit-ins in front of the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza.

The official pointed out that what happens inside Israeli jails is much worse and more brutal than the atrocities committed in Guantanamo prison, but the different media outlets failed or did not play a strong role to highlight the barbarism and war crimes taking place in Israeli prisons as was the case with Guantanamo.

The official appealed to all media outlets in the world to necessarily give greater attention and priority to the issue of Palestinian prisoners in their programs and media coverage in order to reveal the true face of Israel and thus pressuring it to stop its violations of prisoners’ rights.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Take action: Sa'adat receives further punishment from the occupation as solidarity continues around the world

Sa'adat receives further punishment from the occupation as solidarity continues around the world

Ahmad Sa'adat's steadfastness has inspired solidarity and action from thousands across Palestine, throughout the Arab world, and internationally. His nine-day hunger strike has drawn attention to the brutal, illegitimate practices of the Israeli prison authorities, and the urgent situation of the over 11,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Sa'adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was forcibly kidnapped in 2006 by the Israeli military from a Palestinian Authority prison where he had been held since 2002 under PA, British and U.S. guard, and has become a symbol of resistance. Throughout his seven years of imprisonment, he has refused entirely to recognize the legitimacy of Israeli military courts used against Palestinian prisoners.

A new set of punishments have been issued against Sa'adat following his nine-day hunger strike against the occupation's denial of prisoners rights, won through long struggle, and the policy of solitary confinement.

As an example of some of the solidarity actions with Sa'adat around the world, please see:

June 18, 2009 - Statement in solidarity with Ahmad Sa'adat from Irish Republican Socialist Movement (http://freeahmadsaadat.org/june18irscna.html)

June 17, 2009 - Protests across Palestine and the Arab world in solidarity with Sa'adat (http://freeahmadsaadat.org/june1709.html)

June 17, 2009 - Solidarity statement from Internationalt Forum - Denmark (http://freeahmadsaadat.org/june17ifd.html)

June 16, 2009 - Solidarity statement from Palestinian Federation of Chile (http://freeahmadsaadat.org/june16pfc.html)

June 12, 2009 - Statement in solidarity from Communist Organization of Greece (KOE) (http://freeahmadsaadat.org/june12koe.html)

The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights sent an attorney to visit with Sa'adat on June 15, 2009, who reported that the administration of Asqelan prison held a hearing following the hunger strike, which Sa'adat refused to attend, according to his principled position of rejecting all of the mock justice of the Israeli military courts.

The hearing resulted in a severe set of sanctions directed at Sa'adat, extending his denial of family visits, denial of visits to the prison cateen, and a 200 shekel fine, as well as a week extension of solitary confinement. These punishments come in addition to an earlier set of draconian sanctions directed at Sa'adat as a result of his leadership in the prisoners' movement.

On May 7, 2009, the occupation forces issued a series of punishments against Sa'adat, including denying him messages from his family for a month, prevention of family visits until September 5, 2009, the extension of his solitary confinement until June 28, 2009 and the removal of all electrical appliances, newspapers and magazines.

The Al-Mezan center condemned the policy of isolation and solitary confinement, noting that this practice violates international standards and is classified as a form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The center called for the international community to work to the utmost to gain immediate protection for the rights of Palestinian prisoners, won through long struggle, and for the release of all Palestinian prisoners from the jails of the occupation.

Khalida Jarrar, member of the Political Bureau of the PFLP and chair of the Palestinian Legislative Council Prisoners' Committee spoke on Sunday, June 14, 2009, summing up Sa'adat's nine-day hunger strike and detailing the methods of isolation used by the occupier, noting that there are 30 prisoners held in solitary confinement and that these men are held in single cells 23 out of 24 hours in the day. She noted that Sa'adat has been held in isolation since his transfer by the occupation authorities from Hadarim to Asqelan prison several months ago, and that his family has been barred from visiting him.

Abla Sa'adat, Ahmad Sa'adat's wife, spoke about how she has not been able to visit her husband for three months and that her children have been barred from visiting him for the past three years. She demanded that human rights institutions act upon the issue of solitary confinement and isolation.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat stresses upon the urgent need for continuing solidarity with Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners, and the need to struggle for their freedom. Please send your statements of solidarity to info@freeahmadsaadat.org and continue to contact Israeli embassies in your country and express your outrage!

Take action in your country or city. Contact your local Israeli embassy:
and express your outrage at this policy of isolation.

Also, contact the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as this body is responsible for monitoring and visiting Palestinian prisoners. Call upon the ICRC to end its silence about Palestinian prisoners and to take action to defend their rights. Contact the Jerusalem office of the ICRC at jerusalem.jer@icrc.org.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat
June 19, 2009

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Seven Jewish Children gets Tel Aviv showing

The campaign against Caryl Churchill's play for Gaza, Seven Jewish Children sadly had success at the Liverpool City sponsored Writing on the Wall cultural festival. The sponsors refused to show the play unless a 'right to reply' - Richard Stirling's play Seven Other Children - was shown. The city authorities cut funding after the organisers of the cultural festival refused to comply.

On a happier note, Caryl Churchill's play is to be shown in Tel Aviv.
A controversial play, "Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza," written after Israel's Operation Cast Lead by British writer Caryl Churchill, will be staged for the first time in Israel in Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin this evening, as part of Hebrew Book Week events. It is directed online via Skype and video by Samieh Jabbarin, who has been under house arrest for four months.

Jabbarin, a Jaffa resident and director at the city's Arab-Hebrew Theater, was placed under arrest in his parents' Umm al-Fahm home after demonstrating against the appointment of radical right activist Baruch Marzel as monitor of the town's polling station in the January elections.

Jabbarin says he is "a political prisoner" and his arrest is persecution due to his activism. He says he chose this play, whose production was initiated by the Coalition of Women for Peace as part of the campaign against the siege on Gaza, "because it's one of the few international plays that deal with the conflict in a courageous way both artistically and intellectually and enables us to tell the Palestinians' story through a Jewish perspective." more

Audio: more reports on the sewage lakes of Gaza

Listen: Free Speech Radio News

In the Gaza strip, scientists and community members are saying that lagoons filled with sewage are creating serious health and environmental problems. But as FSRN´s Rami Almeghari reports, efforts to build a water treatment plant have been stymied by Israel´s tough restrictions on the materials that can be sent into the coastal strip.
See our earlier post: sewage lakes can be seen from space

US tells Israel not to link prisoner of war Gilad to lifting of Gaza siege

The United States has stepped up pressure on Israel regarding the Gaza Strip: Three weeks ago it sent Jerusalem a diplomatic note officially protesting Gaza policy and demanding a more liberal opening of the border crossings to facilitate reconstruction.

U.S. and Israeli sources say the note was followed by a verbal communication clarifying that the Obama administration thinks Israel's linkage of the case of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit and the opening of the crossings was not constructive.

The note was delivered to Israel after a decision by senior U.S. officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special Mideast envoy George Mitchell. The latter discussed the contents of the note during his visit to Israel last week.

U.S. demands on Israel's Gaza policy were also raised Wednesday during talks between Clinton and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is on an official visit to Washington. more

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

More aid ships to challenge Gaza blockade

The United States-based Free Gaza Movement is to dispatch two aid boats to the Gaza Strip from Cyprus.

The ships will sail from Larnaca port on the Mediterranean on June 25 and the voyage will take about 30 hours before docking at a Gaza fishing port, said Amjad al-Shawa, coordinator of Palestinian NGO network in Gaza city.

The ships, with Western journalists, human rights and peace activists on board, will also carry symbolic amounts of concrete, iron and medical supplies that are in urgent need in Gaza due to a two-year-old Israeli blockade, al-Shawa added.

The delegation will stay in Gaza for two days and will inspect areas damaged by Israel during a military offensive in January and will look into the effects of the blockade.

Through August to December 2008, Israel allowed several boats, ferried by the Free Gaza Movement, to enter Gaza's territorial waters. But after the Gaza war, Israel turned away the boats.

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in June 2007 when Hamas routed security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and took over the enclave. Xinhua

A ship from the movement readying for Gaza sank outside the Cypriot port of Limassol. in early May - see our report.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Support the Iranian uprising - no to western interference

Iranian theocracy has been shaken to its foundations by the biggest uprising since the revolution of 1979. Again the regime has attacked students in their dormitories in echos of previous clampdowns, and there are varying reports on the death toll.

Whatever the true result of the election, upon witch a recount has been ordered after the authorities had already claimed Ahmadinejad the winner, this people's movement is a blow against the dictatorship of the mullahs. The west should not take any of this as a sign that Iran intends to give up support for Palestine and Hamas or will give up its right to nuclear technology. Both issues have overwhelming support among Iranians, although the official state-orchestrated Palestinian solidarity events are often poorly attended.

But the west, and Obama in particular, may look on at the unfolding events as the first fruits of his new 'openness' to the Muslim world, in the same way they have been doing following the victory of 'pro-western' parties in the recent Lebanese elections. But the US will now be hoping that things don't get too out of hand, as stability is their watchword in the Middle East, despite all their anti-mullah propaganda.

The battle against the theocracy in Iran should be seen as strengthening the fight of the Palestinian resistance. The original 1979 revolution in Iran was not, initially, led by Islamists but by workers and students - this time let's hope that the ordinary people stay at the head of this movement for change.

Monday, 15 June 2009

SOAS students occupy to protest immigration raids

Following unprecedented immigration raids at SOAS, students have now occupied the college. More when we get it or go to SolomonsMindfield
By Sadie Robinson

Students and workers at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have organised an emergency protest for 8.30am on Monday 15 June to defend cleaners at the site who are facing imminent threat of deportation.

Cleaners at SOAS were rounded up by immigration officials at an early morning meeting last Friday.

The raid follows campaigns by the cleaners to win union recognition and the London Living Wage.

Nine of the cleaners were subsequently held, including one woman who is six months pregnant. Their Unison union rep, Sandy Nicoll, said he was prevented from having any contact with them.

By Sunday three had already been deported. Others may be deported on Monday morning.

There is widespread anger and shock at the raid and at the speed with which the workers are being removed from Britain, with no opportunity to challenge the rulings or get legal advice. Many people saw the raid as the “kidnapping” of their fellow workers.

Some 200 students and workers protested outside SOAS on Friday evening. “I'm so ashamed of this institution today,” said Sandy. “It's not an accident that immigration raids are taking place in workplaces where cleaners have been organising to win better pay and conditions.

“London can't run without low-paid migrant workers to do work like cleaning – but if they try and fight for rights then they're out.

“Our union met today and unanimously passed a motion to back whatever campaign there is to stop the deportations of these cleaners. The cleaners are an important part of the union.”

Graham Dyer, the UCU union president at SOAS, was also at the protest. “I came in this morning to take part in a demonstration to support Stalin (a former worker at Soas who has been victimised by management after organising campaigns to improve workers' rights), only to find that the cleaning staff had been taken by immigration officials.

“The UCU is outraged. It's clear that management have been complicit in allowing immigration officials to come onto our campus.”

Sam, a student at SOAS, spoke poignantly to the crowd about the raid. “Just imagine what it's like,” he said. “You get up and go to work expecting to come home later and empty the washing that you've left in the machine, pick up your kids, etc. But no. Instead you get taken away to be deported.

“I'm almost speechless at management’s behaviour.”


Monday 15 June, 8.30am, on the steps if SOAS, off Malet Street, central London

From Socialist Worker (UK)

Peaceful protest at Netanyahu speech attacked by Israel's police

Netanyahu's vacuous speech was not an acceptance of a Palestinian state on his part but rather a demand that the international community endorses nothing more than an Apartheid-style Bantustan. For the real take on the mindset of Israel consider the treatment of CodePink protesters in Tel Aviv for Netanyahu's speech - Ann Wright writing for the Huffington Post
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making a major foreign policy speech at Tel Aviv University Sunday, Israeli police outside the university attacked international protesters of Israel's invasion of Gaza, illegal settlements and the apartheid wall.

Heavy-handed police treatment of the unarmed, peaceful members of the CODEPINK delegation there began immediately after they unfurled several pink banners that read "Free Gaza" and "End the Occupation." CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and New York activist Zool Zulkowitz were physically dragged across the street from their original protest site next to the entrance gate to Bar Ilan University where audience members and press entered the university complex to attend the speech.

Several hours later, a French journalist and member of the CODEPINK delegation, was arrested as she crossed a small street in an attempt to take photos of the demonstration. As she was placed in an Israeli police car, several members of the delegation converged to determine why the journalist was being held.

Israeli police and military violently shoved the group back into a wall. Delegation member Tighe Barry from Santa Monica, Cali. was struck in the face with the butt of a military rifle and pushed to the ground where he could barely breathe. He was taken by ambulance to the Trauma Center of Tal-Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv where he was treated for a concussion, an injured neck and an asthma attack. Benjamin and several other delegation members were bruised in the arms and upper body from being shoved and manhandled by the police and military.

The journalist was taken to a local police station and released an hour later without charges. Mr. Barry was treated overnight at the hospital.

The CODEPINK delegation has requested the Israeli police and military investigate the brutality used by their forces on the peaceful, non-violent protesters.

When President Obama spoke in Cairo on June 4, a separate CODEPINK delegation that had just returned from six days in Gaza in early June, held a demonstration right outside Cairo University holding signs that read "Stop funding Israeli War Crimes." Egyptian police allowed the demonstration to take place.

But not so in Israel.

"Is this the great democracy that the U.S. taxpayers pay for with $3 billion dollars a year?" Benjamin cried, as she was being dragged away by the police.

Ann Wright is a retired US Army Reserves Colonel and a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, and Mongolia. She was on a small State Department team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001. She has visited Gaza three times in the past three months, co-leading two delegations of more than 120 persons.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Carter attacks Israel for treating Gazans like 'savages'

Carter calls for Israel to stop treating Gazans like 'savages'. Israel bombed tunnels yesterday and seriously injured four people according to Palestinian medics.

Israel has also imprisoned two Palestinian Journlaists for the crime of reporting from the Israeli side of the border - 'passing secret information to the enemy' - just before the invasion started. Other media outlets reported the same information as that supplied by the imprisoned journalists for Iran's Al-Alam Arabic-language satellite TV channel. Hadir Shaheen 34, and producer Mohammed Sarhan, 26, work for the Ramallah-based PMCC production company, which provides media services for Al-Alam.
Two Arab journalists charged with passing secret information to the enemy by breaking IDF censorship during Operation Cast Lead were sentenced to two months in jail on Sunday at the Jerusalem District Court.

The incident occurred during a broadcast on Iran's Al-Alam Arabic-language satellite TV channel on January 3, the day IDF ground forces entered the Gaza Strip. more

Saturday, 13 June 2009

John Pilger on Obama - the charming face of the US tiger

Smile on the face of the tiger

11 June 2009
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger de-codes the "historic" speech President Obama made in Cairo "reaching out to the Muslim world", according to the BBC: in reality showing the seductive face of American power as it proceeds towards its unchanged goal.

At 7.30 in the morning on 3 June, a seven-month-old baby died in the intensive care unit of the European Gaza Hospital in the Gaza Strip. His name was Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob, and he was suffering from a lung infection which was treatable.

Denied basic equipment, the doctors in Gaza could do nothing. For weeks, the child’s parents had sought a permit from the Israelis to allow them to take him to a hospital in Jerusalem, where he would have been saved. Like many desperately sick people who apply for these permits, the parents were told they had never applied. Even if they had arrived at the Erez Crossing with an Israeli document in their hands, the odds are that they would have been turned back for refusing the demands of officials to spy or collaborate in some way.

“Is it an irresponsible overstatement,” asked Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, who is Jewish, “to associate the treatment of Palestinians with [the] criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.”

Falk was describing Israel’s massacre in December and January of hundreds of helpless civilians in Gaza, many of them children. Reporters called this a “war”. Since then, normality has returned to Gaza. Most children are malnourished and sick, and almost all exhibit the symptoms of psychiatric disturbance, such as horrific nightmares, depression and incontinence. There is a long list of items that Israel bans from Gaza. This includes equipment to clean up the toxic detritus of Israel’s US munitions, which is the suspected cause of rising cancer rates. Toys and playground equipment, such as slides and swings, are also banned. I saw the ruins of a fun fair, riddled with bullet holes, which Israeli “settlers” had used as a sniping target.

The day after Baby Zu’rob died in Gaza, President Barack Obama made his “historic” speech in Cairo, “reaching out to the Muslim world”, reported the BBC. “Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” said Obama, “does not serve Israel’s security.” That was all. The killing of 1,300 people in what is now a concentration camp merited 17 words, cast as concern for the “security” of the killers. This was understandable. During the January massacre, Seymour Hersh reported that “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” for use in Gaza.

Obama’s one criticism of Israel was that “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements... It is time for these settlements to stop.” These fortresses on Palestinian land, manned by religious fanatics from America and elsewhere, have been outlawed by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Pointedly, Obama made no mention of the settlements that already honeycomb the occupied territories and make an independent Palestinian state impossible, which is their purpose.

Obama demanded that the “cycle of suspicion and discord must end”. Every year, for more than a generation, the UN has called on Israel to end its illegal and violent occupation of post-1967 Palestine and has voted for “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”. Every year, those voting against these resolutions have been the governments of Israel and the United States and one or two of America’s Pacific dependencies; last year Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe joined them.

Such is the true “cycle” in the Middle East, which is rarely reported as the relentless rejection of the rule of law by Israel and the United States: a law in whose name the wrath of Washington came down on Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, a law which, if upheld and honoured, would bring peace and security to both Palestine and Israel.

Instead, Obama spoke in Cairo as if his and previous White House administrations were neutral, almost divine brokers of peace, instead of rapacious backers and suppliers of the invader (along with Britain). This Orwellian illogic remains the standard for what western journalists call the “Israel-Palestine conflict”, which is almost never reported in terms of the law, of right and wrong, of justice and injustice – Darfur, yes, Zimbabwe, yes, but never Palestine. Orwell’s ghost again stirred when Obama denounced “violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan [who are] determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can”. America’s invasion and slaughter in these countries went unmentioned. It, too, is divine.

Naturally, unlike George W Bush, Obama did not say that “you’re either with us or against us”. He smiled the smile and uttered “many eloquent mood-music paragraphs and a smattering of quotations from the Holy Quran”, noted the American international lawyer John Whitbeck. Beyond this, Obama offered no change, no plan, only a “tired, morally bankrupt American mantra [which] essentially argues that only the rich, the strong, the oppressors and the enforcers of injustice (notably the Americans and Israelis) have the right to use violence, while the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the victims of oppression must... submit to their fate and accept whatever crumbs their betters may magnanimously deign suitable to let fall from their table”. And he offered not the slightest recognition that the world’s most numerous victims of terrorism are people of Muslim faith – a terrorism of western origin that dares not speak its name.

In his “reaching out” in Cairo, as in his “anti-nuclear” speech in Berlin, as in the “hope” he spun at his inauguration, this clever young politician is playing the part for which he was drafted and promoted. This is to present a benign, seductive, even celebrity face to American power, which can then proceed towards its strategic goal of dominance, regardless of the wishes of the rest of humanity and the rights and lives of our children.

Posted from John Pilger's blog

Ahmad Sa'adat enters second week of hunger strike

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat
June 11, 2009

Ahmad Sa'adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has entered the second week of his hunger strike to protest the policy of isolation and solitary confinement practiced by the Israeli prison administration against Palestinian prisoners.

This is an urgent situation and requires broad solidarity and public support for the Palestinian prisoners within the jails of the occupier and in solidarity with Ahmad Sa'adat. Palestinian prisoners are suffering, subject to isolation and constant movement from prison to prison in an attempt to undermine the prisoners' strength, solidarity and steadfastness. They are denied family visits and prisoner leaders are particularly subject to the policy of isolation. The escalation of Israeli attacks on prisoners' rights - secured through many years of struggle - took place immediately following the war crimes and assault on Gaza and has continued since.

Ahmad Sa'adat's own isolation - since March - was recently extended. Entering the second week of hunger strike, his health is at risk in order to shed light on the suffering of Palestinian prisoners and in rejection of these policies aimed at Palestinian prisoners and their steadfast commitment to the struggle to free Palestine, despite the torture, inhumanity and abuse of the prison administration.

Now is the time for Palestinian, Arab and international action and unity in support of Palestinian prisoners, who stand every day behind bars and on the front lines of struggle to liberate Palestine.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat is calling for letters and statements in support of the freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners from parties, groups and organizations around the world. It is critical that the broadest campaign of voices in solidarity with Ahmad Sa'adat be lifted up now!

Take action in your country or city. Contact your local Israeli embassy:
and express your outrage at this policy of isolation.

Also, contact the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as this body is responsible for monitoring and visiting Palestinian prisoners. Call upon the ICRC to end its silence about Palestinian prisoners and to take action to defend their rights. Contact the Jerusalem office of the ICRC at jerusalem.jer@icrc.org.

Please send your statements and letters to info@freeahmadsaadat.org. The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat will publish and distribute these letters and statements. Act now for freedom for Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners!

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat


Friday, 12 June 2009

School of Oriental and African Studies Immigration raid - protest now!

SOAS, part of the University of London, was the first college in the UK to hold a sit-in for Gaza. These cleaners have been fighting for their rights as workers and nine of them are now being detained for this, and the crime of being of migrant workers. 

Immigration Raid at School of Oriental and African studies 

Without any advance warning from their ISS bosses nor the university management, SOAS cleaning staff were confronted by a hefty team of immigration officers at 6.30am this morning (Friday 12 June).

Fearful cleaners were detained on SOAS premises as the officers demanded to see their papers. Some were taken into rooms of the university to be interviewed. A shocked witness said that someone had to intervene when a heavily-pregnant cleaner was being manhandled by immigration officers.

 Nine cleaners were taken away by Immigration Officers.

SOAS staff and students, many who had been at a protest at the sacking of another cleaner and UNISON Branch Chair, Jose Bermudez Stalin, were shocked and outraged by the raid and fear that the cleaners may be deported very soon.

There has been widespread support amongst lecturers, staff and students for the successful campaign for the living wage and union recognition led by mainly migrant cleaners.

Graham Dyer, SOAS UCU Branch Chair said: "It is no co-incindence that there is an immigration raid at a time when the UCU ,Unison and the NUS are fighting against the victimisation of a migrant worker who has been at the heart of a fight that has improved the pay and conditions of workers here at SOAS. It is also not coincindental that ISS had only just signed a union recognition agreement with UNISON last week Our fight has united lecturers, staff and students and has rocked SOAS management. Those managers are now lashing out. It is a disgrace that SOAS management saw fit to use a seat of learning to intimidate migrant workers. This is their underhand revenge and we will do all we can to stop migrant workers paying the price."

Ken Loach, director of the film Looking For Eric, stated:

"This raid is the action of a bully. Migrant workers are amongst the most vulnerable - poorly paid and far from home. Recent action by Unison to secure better wages and conditions at SOAS was good news. Now we wonder if the SOAS cleaners are being targeted because they dared to organise as trade unionists. We should all stand with them in solidarity in the face of this victimisation." 

The living wage campaign has had the support of John McDonnell MP , who said:

""As living wage campaigns are building in strength, we are increasingly seeing the use of immigration statuses to attack workers fighting against poverty wages and break trade union organising. The message is that they are happy to employ migrant labour on poverty wages, but if you complain they will send you back home.

It is absolutely shameful."  

Press Enquiries/messages of support to Dr. Graham Dyer : gd1@soas.ac.uk 07940 539 027