Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Israel is the one that should be making peace gestures not the Arabs

Obama says the Arabs must give Israel a gesture. That must surely be a joke on Obama's part? Unfortunately the only gestures Israel understands come through the barrel of a gun.

From the NY Times
...On his Middle East tour, Mr. Obama is expected to press the Arab nations to offer a gesture to the Israelis to entice them to accelerate the peace process.

But in his meetings with the Saudi king, he should be prepared for a polite but firm refusal, Saudi officials and political experts say. The Arab countries, they say, believe they have already made their best offer and that it is now up to Israel to make a gesture, perhaps by dismantling settlements in the West Bank or committing to a two-state solution.

“What do you expect the Arabs to give without getting anything in advance, if Israel is still hesitating to accept the idea of two states in itself?” said Mohammad Abdullah al-Zulfa, a historian and member of the Saudi Shura Council, which serves as an advisory panel in place of a parliament.

Animated map: an imperial history of the Middle East

Thanks to the website Maps of War. Not sure about the depiction of the 'Kingdom of Israel'. Archaeologists and historians have shown this to be more fiction than fact. What do you think?

Video documentary: Lifeline to Gaza

A brilliant documentary “Lifeline to Gaza” was produced by the international television news station, Press TV, covering the journey of Viva Palestina: Lifeline from Britain to Gaza from start to finish in a six-part series. Please visit the links below to watch exciting coverage from the grueling 27-day journey across southern Europe and north Africa that ended in a monumental entrance into Gaza.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

Part V:

Part VI:×5A-VRkY

In Cairo, Obama Can Score With Changed U.S. Policies Towards Palestine and Iran

By Robert Naiman

President Obama has the opportunity to make history in Cairo on Thursday, the kind of history that President Eisenhower made when he rebuked the 1956 invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel. Eisenhower’s stand won tremendous goodwill for the U.S. in the Arab world. If Obama stands firm on his policy differences with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, he can win tremendous goodwill for the U.S. in the Arab and Muslim world.

In the run-up to the speech, Obama has opened space between U.S. policy and Israeli government policy on relations with the Palestinians and on relations with Iran. The degree to which Obama can meaningfully differentiate the U.S. from the Netanyahu government in terms of policy will be a key determinant of whether he can convince Arab and Muslim audiences that the U.S. genuinely wants a different relationship with the Muslim world than it had during the Bush Administration. In Cairo, Obama will have the podium in the Arab and Muslim world in an unprecedented way. If Obama highlights his strong opposition to Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, his support for Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, his sustained diplomatic engagement with Iran, and his willingness to work with whoever wins the upcoming Lebanese and Iranian elections, he can change perceptions of the United States in the region.

More at Viva Palestina US

Viva Palestina US to depart from JFK on Independence Day

Dear Friend,

We were all moved to tears of grief and anger when Israel launched its murderous bombardment against the people of Gaza in December and January. Millions of us took to the streets in unprecedented protests around the globe. Each and every one of us has asked ourselves what more we can do to help stop the suffering.

The inspirational anti-war and pro-Palestinian British MP, George Galloway, decided that while it is necessary to speak out - in his case with great force and eloquence - it is actions that speak louder than words.

While the bombs were still showering down on what has been called the largest open-air prison in history, Galloway decided to organize a humanitarian convoy that would start in Britain, drive through France and Spain, and across North Africa to arrive in Gaza with aid, even as all borders to the devastated region were under complete blockade. In just five short weeks, he pulled together 107 vehicles - including ambulances and a fire engine - 255 people and $2 million of aid, which set off from London on February 14. Some 23 days and 5,500 miles later it arrived in Gaza to tumultuous acclaim.

The fact that so many people come from Britain whose government had, along with George W Bush, backed the Israeli aggression had an enormous impact on the besieged people of Gaza.

Now, Galloway is heading a second convoy - this time from the USA. The Vietnam War veteran, Ron Kovic, whose experiences in the war led him to become a life-long advocate of a more just US foreign policy, has readily agreed to be co-leader of the convoy.

The convoy’s aim is to take hundreds of US citizens in 500 vehicles, bearing $10 million in medical aid from Cairo to Gaza. Convoy participants will leave from JFK airport on July 4, bearing the simple yet powerful message that Palestinian independence is as precious as US independence. The group will organize the convoy in Cairo and proceed to Gaza the following weekend, proudly waving US and Palestinian flags, as well as banners declaring thousands of supporting organizations and institutions.

This is set to be the biggest single aid effort for Palestine ever to leave US shores. It will be a source of great strength and hope for the Palestinian people. It will also have a major impact here in the United States, helping to stir US public opinion about the conflict in the Middle East and to bring about a permanent shift in government policy.

The US has a chance right now to step into a more progressive role in the world. But Viva Palestina USA needs your help to make this venture successful and to get this aid through the siege that has been strangling the people of Gaza for three years.

What YOU can do to help:

1) Circulate this email to everyone you know through your listserv/contacts list, Facebook and any other means to which you have access, share the brilliant documentary detailing the UK Convoy with your friends, family and coworkers: Viva Palestina US » Media/Resources AND add our donation link to your website, blog, or email: Donate to Viva Palestina Now!

2) Donate towards the $10 million target! Every penny makes a difference! Donations are being handled by Viva Palestina's not-for-profit fiscal sponsor, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), and are tax deductible. The funds will be used for medical aid and the entire convoy is within the restrictions and guidelines laid out by the US authorities governing such activities.

You can donate on our webpage Viva Palestina US or, to link directly to our donation page, click here: Donate to Viva Palestina Now!

You can also make a check payable to Viva Palestina – IFCO and send it to:

Viva Palestina USA

47 West Polk Street

Suite 100 - 403

Chicago, IL 60605-2085

3) Come as a delegate on the convoy! To register, visit: Viva Palestina US » Join the Convoy. You'll need to raise the funds to cover the costs of your flight to and accommodations in Egypt, and commit to raising aid towards our target goal. See our website Viva Palestina US for further details and answers to any questions you might have.

4) Endorse and/or Sponsor the convoy! Details can be found on our webpage, but generally: sponsorship for national organizations is $1,000; state, $500; local chapters and individuals, $100, and endorsements require you/your organization’s contact information and a written, publishable statement of endorsement.

5) Contact your local and state media to tell them why you support the Viva Palestina USA convoy. If you need help communicating with the media or if you have media contacts who would like to speak with a convoy leader, contact us at:

6) Send us stories, pictures and videos of your efforts to support Viva Palestina USA. We’ve heard amazing stories of creative fundraising efforts and events from around the country and we encourage your unique participation in the movement for justice for Palestine!

Together, we WILL break the siege, we WILL deliver much-needed aid to the people of Gaza, and we WILL help free Palestine! VIVA, VIVA PALESTINA!

In solidarity,

Viva Palestina USA

Free Gaza Movement calls on Obama to end Israel's siege

Tomorrow you travel to Egypt to give one of the most important speeches of your presidency. With the words you deliver you have said that you want to "reset" U.S. relations with the Muslim world and create a fundamental change for the better. We sincerely wish you well. But you have also said that "part of being a good friend is being honest." Let's be honest.

Israel's ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the United States' unquestioned financial, military and political support for Israel is at the heart of the negative perceptions and bitter anger that many Arabs and Muslims have of the United States. Tomorrow, we hope to hear from you a commitment to aligning U.S. policy in the Middle East with U.N. Resolutions and international law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives everyone the right to freely enter and exit one's own country. You will exercise this right when you arrive in Egypt tomorrow and then return to the United States. This is a right that Palestinians--particularly those trapped in Gaza--are routinely denied.

• Over 200 Palestinian medical patients in Gaza, many critically ill, are unable to seek adequate treatment because Israeli authorities regularly deny Palestinian patients the right to travel abroad to receive the medical treatment that is not available in Gaza; at the same time import of many medicines and medical equipment into Gaza is prevented by Israel.

• Over 700 Palestinian students in Gaza, many with scholarships, are unable to attend their universities abroad because Israel regularly denies them this right.

• Thousands of Palestinians abroad are unable to visit their families because Israel will not allow them to re-enter their own country.

When you arrive in Egypt you will travel to your accommodations in a car maintained with spare parts banned to Palestinians, powered by gasoline denied to the people of Gaza. You will use electric lights that do not often work in Gaza, because Israel blocks the fuel needed to run Gaza's electrical grid. You may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea during your visit - commodities Israel will not allow into Gaza.

The truth is that Israel lets in less than 20% of the ordinary supplies needed in Gaza, and allows no reconstruction materials whatsoever to enter. As a consequence over 95% of all industries have collapsed, creating massive unemployment and poverty. The purpose of the Israeli blockade is to punish and break an entire people. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited under international law, yet it remains Israel's primary policy in regards to the Palestinian people.

On June 25th, the Free Gaza Movement sets sail on our eighth voyage to challenge the brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Though we have been threatened and our ships rammed by the Israeli navy, we will not be deterred. We sail in the spirit of the Freedom Riders who, in the year you were born, risked their lives so that African-Americans could travel freely in the United States. We sail in the spirit of international cooperation that helped create the United Nations, in the spirit of the international civil resistance that overcame Apartheid.

President Obama, you have based your political career on what you call the "audacity of hope" - the faith that each of us, individually and collectively, can change things for the better. But faith without action is dead. We too believe in hope, but from our experience we know that hope alone will not change the world. Like you, we know that the price and promise of our mutual humanity demands that each of us treat one another with dignity and respect, and that all of us strive to insure that our sisters and brothers around the world are free to make of their lives what they will, and pursue their full measure of happiness.

Mister President, you led the fight in the U.S. Senate to insure that aid was actually delivered to people after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. A man-made disaster continues to devastate the people of Gaza; due to Israel's ongoing hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip over 80% of the population there require food assistance just in order to survive. We hope your speech tomorrow in Egypt is successful but, at a minimum, you must use your privilege to demand and secure open access to Gaza for all international humanitarian, reconstruction, and developmental supplies. Words matter, but words are not enough.

We in the Free Gaza Movement will sail to Gaza again and again and again, in vigorous unarmed resistance, until the Israeli blockade is forever shattered and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.

Please recognize the fact that we even have to ask (let alone risk our lives) to be allowed to provide food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and shelter to the homeless is in itself an obscenity. We look forward to hearing from you an uncompromising commitment for the immediate end of the criminal siege of Gaza, as well as an assurance that respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of the Palestinian people will be at the core of your administration's policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Sincerely Yours,
The Free Gaza Movement Board of Directors
Huwaida Arraf, JD
Greta Berlin
Eliza Ernshire
Derek Graham
Fathi Jaouadi
Ramzi Kysia

More arrests of Israeli spies in Lebanon

Three more spies for Israel arrested in Lebanon. There has been a wave of such arrests in the country as Israel's spy ring collapses. The arrests include high-ranking army officers. Reports have surfaced recently implicating Israel in the assassination of Hariri. They are probably behind the subsequent car bombings as well. More on this at Lebanon's Daily Star:
BEIRUT: Arrested Colonel Shahid Toumiyeh has admitted in his interrogation that he was recruited by Israel in the mid-1990s and entrusted with spying on both the Lebanese and the Syrian armies as well as on Hizbullah.

Al-Akhbar newspaper quoted well-informed sources on Tuesday as saying that communication devices - which were being used by Toumiyeh to stay in touch with his Israeli employers - had been confiscated from his home.

In a related development, Lebanon's General Security Department known as Surete Generale arrested an Egyptian in the southern village of Aita al-Shaab on suspicion of spying for Israel.

They said a security force raided his house and seized a computer set and a number of CD ROMs.

A police patrol also arrested a school teacher in the southern town of Qsseibeh. The teacher, in his 60s, was not identified. But media reports said a computer set was confiscated from his house.

Meanwhile, authorities charged nine people with collaborating with Israel, raising the number of suspects arraigned in the past few weeks to 35.

Israel ranked as safer only than Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq

Israel is one of the most dangerous places on the planet to live. Far from being a haven for Jewish people the state of Israel has turned into a hell. Even on the Zionists' own terms Israel has failed. Yet another reason a one-state solution is the only way forward.
A Global Peace Index (GPI) published Tuesday by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace places Israel in the 141st spot, safer only than Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq which is the most dangerous country on the planet, according to the report.

Israel dropped one position compared with last year's index. Sudan and Congo are both positioned above Israel and Iran is ranked at 99, well higher than Israel. more

Go to the Global Peace Index

UK college lecturers vote to boycott Israel but lawyers overturn democracy

The University and College lecturers' Union (UCU) voted overwhelmingly at its annual conference to boycott Israel. Unfortunately, no sooner had the vote been taken the ational Exective ruled that it could not be implemented because it was illegal. What unbelievable cowardice on the part of this union's leadership (not its membership):
Lecturers voted overwhelmingly to boycott Israeli universities and colleges today. Delegates said Israeli academics were complicit in their government's acts against Palestinians.

But as soon as the vote was carried, the leadership of the University and College Union declared it void. Lawyers had advised the union to rule the vote null and void if passed, to avoid legal action against the union.

The union's general secretary, Sally Hunt, said she "formally and personally commended" having the debate.

The lecturers voted for a "boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign" against Israeli institutions in protest against Israel's policies in the occupied territories and January's incursion into Gaza.

The vote was carried at UCU's annual congress in Bournemouth. It is the ninth time the deeply contentious issue of Israel and Palestine has surfaced. more

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters sickened by Israel's Apartheid Wall

The IDF has declared the area around Nablus a closed military zone - presumably so they can start firing live rounds in addition to tear gas grenades at peaceful protesters demanding the ripping down of the Apartheid Wall.

Meanwhile Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (he went to my old school - The Perse, Cambridge) is in the West Bank seeing the Wall for himself:
"Pink Floyd's former frontman Roger Waters said yesterday he'll take to the stage the minute Israel tears down its West Bank separation wall, just as he did in Berlin two decades ago when another wall came down.

Visiting a Palestinian refugee camp in the shadows of the towering concrete structure, the British rocker who co-wrote the iconic 1970s album The Wall said he hopes "this awful thing" is destroyed soon.

Waters, 65, said the West Bank wall has been on his mind since he first saw it up close in what he described as an eye-opening visit in 2006, following a concert in Israel. "People who haven't actually seen this, what's going on here, can't imagine the impression that it has on you, the sick, kind of churning feeling that you get in your very heart when you see this, how depressing it is," Waters said.
Water's comments didn't sit very well with Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev, who, quoting The Wall's most famous lyric, said we don't need no education from Waters." more