Monday, 1 June 2009

Gaza report back: 'How can people be so cruel to other people?'

Nice report at Phillip Weiss's blog from some of the people that got into Gaza last week.
I asked her why she said Gaza is worse than the prison she worked in back in Pennsylvania

My group is leaving Gaza over the next couple of days. A few of us don’t want to leave. We feel connected to the place, and the people have been universally welcoming. They all say the same thing. They want to be part of the world, their cause has been cast away by the world.

A number of us feel guilty that we half-believed the propaganda about Gaza. I did myself. I thought it was a fearful place and I was taking my life in my hands. One friend is angry at herself for worrying about her safety constantly before she left. Now it feels egotistical next to these people's safety. John Ging of the U.N. said that if the people were really indoctrinating their children with hatred in the schools, then how come we have been safe everywhere we go?

We had a meeting of the group tonight to go over tomorrow's schedule, and someone asked for people to reflect and Susan Johnson spoke about how wrenching it was to meet so many intelligent people whose largest desire is to live a normal life.

“I’ve done work in prison,” she said. “This is worse than being in prison. How people can be so cruel to other people-- I don’t understand, I just don’t understand it. I can understand how people in the United States don’t know it’s as bad as it is. That's because of the press, and we’re probably at this point the best hope these people have for getting the word out. I look on that as a really big responsibility. I don’t want to let them down. I’m not ready to leave.”

Gaza buffer zone deprives farmers of 30% of their land

Last week Israel 'bombed' Gaza with thousands of leaflets warning residents not to go within 1,000 feet of the border fence. Now the UN reports that the Israeli border fence, and its buffer zone, in effect removes 30% of the arable land from the farmers of Gaza.


US Jews breaking with Israel, pressure Obama

June 1, 2009
7:30 AM

Rae Abileah, CODEPINK delegation tour coordinator, 415-994-1723 (in U.S.) or 054-260-5457 (in Israel)
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media coordinator, 508-769-2138

American Jews Attempt to Enter Blockaded Gaza Through Israel this Week

32-member delegation urges Obama to visit Gaza during Middle East trip, calls for end to border blockade

NEW YORK - June 1 - To coincide with Pres. Obama's landmark speech to the Arab world Thursday in Cairo, 12 Jewish-Americans will attempt to enter war-torn Gaza on June 5 through the Israeli border as part of a 32-member peace delegation to call on the U.S. administration to push Israel to end its 21-month blockade on Gaza. They also hope to prove the Jewish-American community largely does not support Israel's policies, and urge Obama to visit Gaza during his Middle East trip.

The delegation will meet with members of the Israeli Knesset and deliver aid and toys to Gazan children if allowed through the Israeli checkpoints. It will follow more than 100 Americans and delegates from eight other countries who entered Gaza last week through Rafah, Egypt in four separate delegations organized by the women's peace group CODEPINK. Many delegates met with Hamas officials and helped build a playground for Gazan children. (Follow their progress on Twitter #gazacp).

“The brutal invasion of Gaza was a breaking point for me and many American Jews,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, currently inside Gaza and leader of two delegations. “I'm appalled by the devastation and the suffering I see here, particularly among children. As a mother, and a Jew, I feel compelled to speak out and urge our government to push Israel to end its brutal blockade and violations of international law. "

Benjamin's sentiments are aligned with the majority opinions of Jewish Americans. According to a recent survey by the Jewish lobby group J Street, 76 percent of American Jews support a two-state solution, 69 percent support negotiating with a Fatah-Hamas unity government, and 59 percent felt the Gaza invasion did not improve Israel’s security.

The Jewish members of CODEPINK's delegation are seeking to amplify the voice of this majority who believe in peace. Infinity Rotbard, a student delegate on the trip and a resident of San Francisco, grew up in an ultra-orthodox Jewish family and lived in the Jewish settlements in Gaza during his rabbinic studies in Israel.

"Growing up, my beliefs about Israel and Palestine were rooted around unconditional rights of its Jewish inhabitants," Rotbard said. "But I'm now seeking the truth beyond my childhood's limited beliefs. I feel a responsibility to bear witness to what is happening to the people under siege in Gaza."

Like the other delegations, this last delegation will bring toys and school supplies for Gazan children -- many of the schools and playgrounds were bombed during Israel's invasion earlier this year that killed more than 1,400, displaced more than 50,000 people and destroyed approximately 4,000 homes. They expect they will be held by Israeli authorities, as the other delegations were held by Egyptian authorities for several days before they were allowed through May 26.

If so, they will join the Israeli feminist group The Coalition of Women for Peace in protest near either the Erez or Kerem Shalom checkpoints on June 6, join a workshop on “The Role of International Community in Freeing Gaza” and several tours, and join protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank between June 10 and 14.


CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects the Bush administration's fear-based politics that justify violence, and instead calls for policies based on compassion, kindness and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.

Peaceful anti-wall protest in Ni'lin attacked again by IDF

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Three protesters were injured and dozens suffered tear gas suffocation when Israeli occupation forces attacked the weekly anti-wall march held at noon Friday in Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah.

Despite the Israeli attempts to quell the march, the Ni’lin protestors managed to reach the Palestinian lands in the village where the Israeli occupation authority is expanding its apartheid wall.

Palestinian citizens and foreign activists also stationed on rooftops and at doors of homes and blocked the arrival of IOF troops to the village.

The IOF troops also used armed force against dozens of Palestinians and foreign activists participating in an anti-wall protest march held Friday in Al-Ma'sara village near Bethlehem.

IOF troops established barriers and barbed wire to bar the march from approaching the segregation wall.

Al-Ma’sara protesters demanded during the march the immediate release of two members of the popular committee against the wall who were arrested weeks ago by IOF troops while participating in a non-violent protest against the apartheid wall and settlement expansion in the village.

Meanwhile, the participants in the weekly anti-wall protest held in the village of Bil’in, west of Ramallah, threw at IOF troops balloons filled with animal dung in retaliation to Israeli troops’ persistent use of poisonous gas and rubber-coated bullets against their peaceful march.

IOF soldiers also fired upon the Bil’in march injuring four protesters including photographers working for the Associated Press and the Agence France Presse.

In another development, Hebrew Radio reported Thursday that IOF troops kidnapped 260 Palestinians in the Hasharon area in recent days on the pretext that they were living and working inside the Palestinians lands occupied in 1948 without permits.

Obama in Cairo: will he mention the hundreds of dead Gazan children?

The UN's inquiry team being led by Justice Goldstone has arrived in Gaza to investigate the war crimes committed by that most moral of armies, the IDF.

Across the border, the Egyptian one that is, they are preparing for the imminent arrival of Obama who will be making his first speech in an Arab capital. The main way they seem t have chosen to show their sincerity to the US empire that bank rolls the economy is to urge Fatah on its stoking of civil war among Palestinians in a futile attempt to undercut the growing influence of Hamas - hence the murders of Al-Qassam fighter last night.

Will Obama mention Israel's war that killed at least 400 children killed in Gaza? Don't count on it. But just to make life a little bit easier for Obama, Israel has seemingly relented to US demands and temporarily opened two border crossings. Naturally the Israelis will not be letting any reconstruction materials through despite Obama's pleas - which explains the fact that growing numbers are turning to mud as their only building material option in the abscence of concrete.

Israel will of course shut the crossings again as soon as Obama leaves the region.

Fatah does the West's dirty work as Qassam leaders killed

Israel must be smiling as Fatah shows its bankruptcy and cowardice in the face of US demands.

Six Palestinian Authority police have been killed in the fighting since the assassination of the Al-Qassam resistance fighters.

And the latest assassinations follow the killing of Hamas leader Dudeen last week by Israel, with the help of the PA.