Friday, 13 May 2011

Robert Naiman on why he's sailing on the US boat to Gaza 'Audacity of Hope' - Huff Post

From the Huffington Post Robert Naiman, Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy

Why We Must Sail to Gaza

A year ago, peace and solidarity activists tried to break the blockade of Gaza with an international flotilla of ships. They failed, in the sense that the Israeli government attacked the flotilla, took control of the ships, and brought the ships to Israel. They succeeded, in the sense that the flotilla and the Israeli attack brought attention to the Israeli-U.S.-Egyptian siege of Gaza, dramatically increasing political pressure on the three governments, leading to a partial easing of the siege.

Now an even larger flotilla, with the participation of more ships and more activists from more countries -- including, crucially, the U.S. ship Audacity of Hope -- is preparing to set sail in June.

And -- God willing -- when the Audacity of Hope sets sail, I will be on it...

...But beyond all this, our goal is not merely to end the siege of Gaza once and for all, but to add to political pressure for a resolution of the conflict that brings justice for the Palestinians. The fact that there is other increasing pressure in this direction makes this an even more appropriate time to take action. Egypt has a new policy, which is likely to become even more assertive when it has a democratically-elected government. The Palestinian factions have signed a reconciliation and cooperation agreement, which is likely to spur Palestinian resistance to the occupation and Arab and international support for that resistance. The Europeans are restive. The Palestinian political leadership is planning to go to the UN in September to obtain recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, which would not only add substantially to pressure for a political resolution, but in the interim would add pressure to protect the Palestinian residents of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from the Israeli occupation. There is no time like the present to add to this pressure.

We encourage all Americans to support our voyage, and to agitate with the US government and public opinion to ensure our safe passage to Gaza. more

Palestinians fightback against occupation forces in Jerusalem as Israel tries to suppress nabka protests

From the Palestinian Information Center
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Clashes between Palestinian youth and the IOF broke out on Friday afternoon in different suburbs and villages of occupied Jerusalem after the Friday prayers.

Local sources told PIC correspondent that violent clashes broke out between the residents of the holy city and IOF troops who were deployed in large numbers around the city and stopped many worshipers from reaching the Aqsa Mosque.

The sources also said that worshippers who were prevented from reaching the mosque performed the Friday prayers on the streets of the holy city before this act of defiance developed into protests and clashes with the occupation forces, especially in the suburbs of Tur, Silwan, Eisaweyya and at the Qalandia roadblock.

The IOF troops fired live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets and teargas canisters towards the protestors, injuring a number of protesters who were hit with the rubber-coated bullets and a number of cases of breathing difficulties.

Local sources also reported that under cover occupation soldiers, dressed as Arabs, tried to arrest a number of youth participating in the protests.

On Thursday evening Israeli occupation police arrested Sheikh Ali Abu Sheikhah, consultant of the Islamic movement in 1848-occpied Palestine, on his return from Jerusalem in the company of Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic movement, accusing him of incitement because he called on Palestinians to hold I’tikaf (staying and worshipping at a mosque without leaving it) in the Aqsa Mosque.

The occupation police applied for extending his detention for six more days for interrogation.

Solidarity on the streets across Egypt and Arab world in show of strength for Palestine

Nabka Day brings tens of thousands on to the streets, not just in Cairo's Tahrir, where hundreds of thousands gathered in a carnival atmosphere, but also in Suez and Alexandria to. Protesters also spoke out against sectarian attacks on Copts. Here are some of the voices from the massive Tahrir Square protest:
From AhramOnline - The presence of Egypt’s new and old parties can also be felt in the square. Large banners calling for national unity carry the signature of the Al-Wafd party alongside one that reads: “No to Sectarianism – yes to civil state” undersigned by the nascent Socialist Parties Front.

“We’re here to show our refusal to all kinds of sectarianism and raise our demands including an immediate and fair civil trial for those accused in the Imbaba events and the urgent passing of a common worship law,” says Ramy Sabri, a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance party.

Once Sheikh Mohamed Gebril finished leading the Friday prayers, Sheikh Safwat Hegazy took to the main stage and addressed the huge crowd.

“Essam Sharaf: this is not your government, this is the revolution’s government, you should kick out the six former NDP ministers from the cabinet,” Hegazy told the crowd. “We won’t accept Yehia El-Gamal who’s part of the former regime as your deputy.”

“Down, down Yehia El-Gamal” The crowds chanted.

“Sharaf’s government is taking the same path as the former government,” says Mohammad, waving a Palestinian flag. “They have the very same double standards, secrecy and authoritarian policy-making, in internal as well as external affairs.”

“Two days ago they suddenly appeared in the media saying ‘people, we’ve arrested those responsible for the Imbaba church attacks,’ but did they tell us how this happened? Who are these people? What are the causes? Isn’t it the same old policy?” Muhammad asks plainly.

At the entrance of the square from Bab El-Louq Street stood a group of women, one in a niqab and rest veiled, enthusiastically chanting national unity slogans.

“We came all the way from Port Said to Cairo to voice our anger with sectarianism because we’re aware it’s part of the counter revolution,” said Intisar, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. “We’re here also to prove that Muslim Brotherhood members are not fanatics as the old regime always tried to portray us [in order] to scare people from us.”

A man who overheard the conversation approaches carrying a banner that reads: “I’m a Salafist, I’m against sectarianism.”

“State propaganda always portray Salafists as bearded fanatical terrorists, but this is untrue,” explains Safwat Hegazi. “Salafists are simply all Muslims who follow Prophet Muhammad and has nothing to do with sectarianism, and anyone who attacks Christian cannot be a true Egyptian.” more
Also see The Arab World rises in support of Palestine.

Thousands protest at Israeli embassy in Cairo as army closes off Sinai to stop Gaza march

EL-ARISH, Egypt — Egyptian authorities on Friday blocked access to the Sinai peninsula to prevent a march from Cairo to Gaza, as thousands protested at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, AFP correspondents said.

The march was due to leave from Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday to protest the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and call for the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the release of all Palestinian prisoners.

"Peace Bridge", one of the main access routes to Sinai from mainland Egypt, has been closed to all but residents of the peninsula. more