Thursday, 26 March 2009
Cartoonist Pat Oliphant is coming under attack from the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League in the US for this cartoon, describing it as hideously anti-semitic. The cartoon is clearly highlighting the appalling irony that the slaughter perpetrated in Gaza was being carried out by a state that claims it was founded as a haven for people that suffered the indisputable and historically unprecedented industrial genocide of the Nazis.
What the cartoon does point to, however, is the way in which the actions of Israel are becoming corrosive on the sympathy rightly due for the six million murdered by the Nazis, an observation senior Jewish Labour MP Gerald Kaufman made in the UK parliament during the war on Gaza.
Which is why increasing numbers of Jewish people are saying, ever more loudly, Israel does not speak in our name.
More at The Raw Story
What is the Alternative London Summit?
[update - one of the academics at the University of East London, Chris Knight, professor of anthropology, has been suspended from his post for speaking out on bankers and for implying that if the police use violence against demonstrators they will be repaid in kind. Pretty senseless bravado on his part but it is hardly cause for being suspended from your post. Such are the limits to democracy in Britain in the age of the war on terror.]
On April 2nd 2009, Barack Obama and the G20 ministers including World Bank and IMF governors will be arriving at a conference centre some 500 yards from the Docklands Campus of the University of East London. Lecturing staff and students at UEL have responded by hosting the ‘G20 Alternative Summit’.
The G20 Alternative Summit will be a popular assembly or ‘teach-in’ in a densely populated, working class area of London. It is being hosted at the national level by Britain’s University and College Lecturers’ Union (UCU). At 4.00 pm on April 1st, our first speaker will be welcomed and introduced by UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt. In addition to comedians, poets, artists, musicians, scientists and academics, we will be inviting shop stewards and activists engaged in current struggles. We intend to make our summit an assembly of the East London working class and of the labour movement as a whole.
John McDonnell MP will be coming to explain to us the Parliamentary uses of the Mace. BBC Newsnight editor Paul Mason will be telling us about his new book, ‘Meltdown: the End of the Age of Greed’. Economist Jan Toporowski will be explaining why the world financial system has so suddenly collapsed. We are hoping to persuade President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to come heading a delegation from the developing nations which have been excluded from the top table. We will extend a public debating challenge also to President Barack Obama, the venue for our event being less than a mile distant from the EXCEL centre where he will be in attendance anyway.
In short, this will be an event for everyone who thinks that the bankers and politicians in their pay have been making a mess of things and need to be sacked and replaced.
President Obama has inspired people all over the world with hope for change we can believe in. Can we make capitalism history? YES WE CAN!
Students at the university recently held a successful occupation for Gaza and won all their demands, including scholarships for Palestinian students and the donation of surplus equipment by the university to educational institutions in Gaza.
To say we don't have much faith in this investigation getting to the truth, or having any interest in doing so, would be an understatement.
The Metropolitan police commissioner has been asked to investigate whether MI5 agents were complicit in the torture of the former Guantánamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, the attorney general, Lady Scotland, said in a written statement (pdf) today.
In an unprecedented announcement, Scotland said she had given the allegations of possible criminal wrongdoing "very serious consideration" and had consulted the director of public prosecutions. But she stopped short of conceding a full judicial inquiry, which many critics have demanded.more
We reproduce below a post by Leon Wells in a reply to Colonel Uri Dromi writing for the Guardian's Comment is Free section on Tuesday under the headline: Don't judge Israel's 'war crimes'.
In the article Dromi (of the Israeli Air Force reserve - he doesn't mention his military rank and neither does the Guardian) pleads for the world not to rush to judgment on Israel; that he finds it 'hard to believe' that IDF soldiers would 'intentionally' target medics; and that he has a sense of deja vu over the war crimes accusations. And so he should becuase of course has done it before - committed war crimes and then whitewashed them away. I take it Dromi filed his copy from Israel as if he left he would no doubt risk arrest for war crimes, if shown to have been involved in the Gaza War.
You sir, are a bared-faced apologist of your country's catalogue of war crimes against the predominant innocent population of Gaza. The world can see exactly what the State of Israel has done -- and quite frankly it is an obscenity that deserves our outright condemnation. Furthermore, you and your colleagues at the Israel Ministry of Truth are getting quite desperate in your attempts at damage limitation when you start throwing in crafty little asides regarding what the British did during the Arab revolt in Palestine in 1936-39.
Let's face it -- the IDF and the IAF went on the rampage in Gaza -- and the evidence is mounting by the day of its contempt for Palestinian life. What your military did in those 22 days is an offence against humanity.
Perhaps you should read and digested the following report issued by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel on how the Gaza incursion violated the IDF's own code of ethics. It also states (from WHO figures) that 16 Palestinian medical personnel were killed by IDF fire and 25 were wounded, and accused the IDF of attacking 34 medical centres.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel Report on Gaza
And perhaps you should also read and digest this report issued yesterday by Human Rights Watch. The webpage also contains damning video and photographic evidence.
Israel: White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes
"In Gaza, the Israeli military didn't just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops," said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. "It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died."
Audio slideshow: 'Phosphorus shells' hit Gaza UN school
We all have to die sometime, but you and I know just how horrifically people suffer and die when injured by WP – dont we Colonel..?
Phosphorus burns carry a greater risk of mortality than other forms of burns due to the absorption of phosphorus into the body through the burned area, resulting in liver, heart and kidney damage, and in some cases multiple organ failure. These weapons are particularly dangerous to exposed people because white phosphorus continues to burn unless deprived of oxygen or until it is completely consumed.
Gaza doctors struggle to treat deadly burns consistent with white phosphorus
Small burns were causing death. "A patient with 15% burns should not die, but we are seeing cases with 15% burns where they are dying," Abu Shabaan said.
He described one patient, a three-year-old girl, who was sent for a scan because of a head wound: "After about two hours she came back, we opened the wound, and smoke came out from the wound," he said. Surgeons used forceps to pull out a substance from the wound that was "like dense cotton and it started to burn," he said. "The piece continued to burn until it disappeared." The child, who was from Atatra, in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, died.
Yes… Are you comfortable that your military inflicted this kind of horrific suffering and death upon fellow human beings – let alone innocent women and children? Well, are you – Colonel Dromi?
Naturally, many Israelis – more noble and principled than yourself – are calling their government and military to account.
Israeli Human Rights Organizations Call on the Attorney General: Stop whitewashing suspected crimes in Gaza"
Israeli human rights organizations have reiterated demands that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz reconsider his refusal to establish an independent investigative body to examine military proceedings during Operation Cast Lead. Such an investigation is critical following the revelation of soldier testimonies concerning the killing of innocent Palestinians revealed this morning in Haaretz. Many Palestinian accounts have reflected a similar picture to that revealed today, triggering suspicions that today's revelations represent only the tip of the iceberg, and that they are the result of norms of conduct that have taken hold throughout the army.
Norms of conduct that have taken hold throughout the army..? No – not possible surely? This is the most moral army in the world – remember?
Well, Im absolutely f**king speechless. But please – do get this:
The time for denials, lies and excuses is well and truly over.
An IDF spokesman said in a written statement that the use of white phosphorus during the Gaza conflict is being investigated, along with several other aspects of the operation.
"The investigation is close to conclusion, and based on the findings at this stage, it is already possible to conclude that the IDF's use of smoke shells was in accordance with international law," the IDF said. "These shells were used for specific operational needs only and in accord with international humanitarian law. The claim that smoke shells were used indiscriminately, or to threaten the civilian population, is baseless." Washington Post
The direct action has put Gaza on the agenda at Sheffield University but now the ball is in management's court. If its 'consideration' of the demands raised by the occupiers are dismissed out of hand then more, and larger scale, action will be needed. The student union already has pro-Palestinian policy and the galvanising effect of the occupation means means the solidarity movement is now in a far better position to take up calls for action at general meetings of the SU.
Galloway was greeted as a hero by Palestinians in Gaza for breaking the siege, albeit temporarily, and delivering £1 million in aid. Certainly there were hiccups along the way in terms of the balancing act that was played out between the regimes of north Africa and their impulse to control the convoy for their own ends, but the enthusiastic it received everywhere could not be hidden.
Or perhaps it could be because if you look at the 'fair-minded and balanced' British media you will be hard pushed to find a single straight story about the convoy, especially among the braodcast media. The first time many Brits would have heard of the convoy's existence was when activists taking two vehicles to Gaza were arrested on the way down the motorway from Lancashire to join the rest of the convoy departing the following day. Of course all of those detained were released, with six people being held for a week without charge.
Since then the media was on the look out for any opportunity they could find to have a pop. Next up was the Guardian which rightly picked up, as we did, on the way in which the Mubarak regime was coralling the convoy and how disheartening this was for the opposition in the country that has had its own Gaza solidarity efforts banned and activists imprisoned and tortured. But why did the Guardian choose to go big with this story and say absolutely nothing about the historic re-opening of the border between Algeria and Morocco for the first time in 15 years?
The next time we heard from the British media was when the Egyptian authorities tried to force the convoy to cross into Gaza via an Israeli-controlled crossing instead of at Rafah. The Egyptian police confined the convoy to compounds and then attacked drivers who remonstrated with them. Two people were injured. The police later encouraged local children to throw stones at the vehicles and deface some with graffiti. Did the media report on the activities of Mubarak's police state functionaries as another episode in the story of the trials and tribulations the convoy had gone through? No, Sky News and others led with kids that had thrown stones at the convoy, saying nothing of the police attack, and implying that the people of the Sinai peninsular did not support the Palestinians or the aid convoy.
When several British citizens 'disappeared' in Tunisia after becoming 'detached' from the convoy (they had been detained by the police) Gaza Solidarity new more about the incident than the foreign office that eventually managed to tell us that they were providing consular services. And of course the British media totally ignored the story .
Finally, after being unable to stop the convoy arriving triumphantly in Gaza, the witch hunters fall back on their old friend - The Charity Commission.
But the investigation that is really required is into who ordered the arrests and detention of the M65 drivers and how much time and resources has been wasted by the Charity Commission on George Galloway and the charities he's been involved with over the years? Will we get one? Unlikely, there's a war on terror to be fought don't you know - or should that be 'War on Terror 2.0' given the UK government announced yesterday a revised war-fighting strategy for its campaign of intimidation, character assassination and wide-ranging repression.
Israeli occupation forces on Wednesday kidnapped four Palestinian fishermen from one family off the coast of Rafah in south Gaza Strip, security sources reported.
They told a PIC reporter that the Israeli gunboats intercepted a Palestinian fishing boat and searched it before taking into custody all four fishermen on board from the Al-Najjar family.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank a Palestinian youth was seriously injured when occupation soldiers opened fire at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus.
The soldiers claimed the young man was running towards them with an iron bar and refused their orders to stop.
Press reports said that 13 Palestinians were rounded up in various West Bank areas on Wednesday at the hands of the Israeli Occupation Forces.