Friday, January 23, 2009

Al Jazeera says "No Change"

Now, let me be clear: I don't want to dismiss the power of the positive decisions that Obama has made thus far. I'm really glad that he's going to close Guantanamo and not torture people and talk to Iran instead of bomb them and not take away abortion rights. Really. This is good. It's not enough. Not nearly enough.
Personally, when I hear the word "change," I want MORE. Like, for example, I want us to not bomb Pakistan and kill 19 people.
And I want us to not blame Hamas for the fact that Israel just massacred over a thousand people in Gaza.
Those are just two things I want when I hear the word "change." There are many more, but I can list them another day. It would take a long time.
I'm so tired of bittersweet victories. I'm done with the "bitter." Ready for just plain sweet. I want to know what it's like to taste just plain sweet. Was there ever a time? ...I don't remember.?

And I guess, this is what it feels like to hope. To hope is to feel your heart crushed over and over and over.
And yet, we still hope. Because it is worse not to hope. Not to hope is to have your heart disappear. Not to hope is never to feel at all.

This post is incredibly depressing. I apologize. I think we DO need to hope. I think we just need not to place it in the hands of one man who, regardless of his personal qualities, is now the head of a capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal war machine that calls itself a country. I think we need to place it in ourselves.
One of the weirdest parts of this whole thing is...I'm pretty sure He says the same thing.

I was working on a long post about Obama, but then I came across this on someone's Facebook profile and I figured...
that's basically all I have to say.
I love this image.

Monday, January 19, 2009

From Gaza to Oakland...Resist!

Hip Hop vs. State Violence

Oakland:


Gaza:


Gaza...and Oakland:
(I couldn't get the 'embed' code to work, so go to this link and press play)
http://emergencemusic.net/node/118

Saturday, January 17, 2009

can't stop now

And so the war criminals finally call for a ceasefire.
...If only this were cause for celebration.
Instead, it is cause for nothing more than a moment of relief.
Yes, I am glad that perhaps tomorrow morning, I will not have to wake up and check the rising death count...Or perhaps I will. Just in case. Because, Ehud Olmert, I don't trust you.
What are the terms of this "unilateral" ceasefire?
Well
(1) Israeli troops will remain in Gaza
(2) The blockade of Gaza will continue
(3) A threat to continue the war if another rocket is fired
...So of course it's unilateral. This way, it's all on their terms.

In many ways, this is the most difficult part about organizing in solidarity with Palestine. I imagine it is far more difficult for those who actually live there. "Normal" consists of a list of atrocities that become mundane. "Normal" means occupation, blockade, & the looming threat of all out war. Again. "Normal" means you have only a moment to mourn before something else happens, someone else is killed. "Normal" means you are faced with a choice: Resist and face massive destruction OR Don't Resist and live in an occupied prison with little or no access to resources such as food, electricity, & medicine. In other words...still massive destruction...just slower.

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about "cautious optimism." Even Al Jazeera was using that term (that's where I got it). Now, the best I can manage is "cautious relief." The ceasefire will give us time to mourn, if it gives us time at all, and this is good. If it lasts, it will give us time to organize, hopefully in sustainable ways...like boycott, divestment, and sanctions, for example.
When a war ends, the victor/victimizer celebrates. And what of the victims? The death count - - of Palestinians- - is 1,230. And of Israelis? 12. 9 of whom were soldiers. How can they even pretend that this is justified? Before the "ceasefire" was declared, the Israelis shelled another UN school today. They have what they call "smart weapons." They are not bombing schools by mistake. And as for civilian areas, as many people have pointed out, there are no non-civilian areas in Gaza; it is a crowded prison, surrounded by an apartheid wall. This is 'business as usual.' This has all been 'business as usual.'

So, now, even if israel doesn't back out of it's ceasefire - I urge everyone to remember that if we don't keep organizing...boycott, divestment and sanctions, ongoing support for the Palestinian people, more marches, lobby days, etc...this WILL happen again. This has been happening since before 1948...
We can't continue to be surprised every time!
And we can't just be appalled every time; we need to be appalled ALL the time.

And as for "not in our name," I feel even more strongly now, after giving it a lot of thought, that this is not the right slogan. Because it is in our name. Because until we build ourselves up big enough, strong enough, brave enough to truly make it STOP it will be in our name. So we can't stop now. Not just Jews, but everyone in the US...We can't stop now.

Banner Drop

From JATO's press release:

NYC Jews Call for an Immediate End to Israel's War on Gaza: Banner Drop at U.S.S. Intrepid Marks Spread of U.S. Jewish Solidarity With Palestinians

A banner drop over New York City's West Side Highway, carried out by members of Jews Against the
Occupation/NYC, declared “Jews Say: End Israel's War on Gaza NOW!” This action by Jewish New
Yorkers continued the wave of increasingly public Jewish solidarity with the Palestinians targeted by the
Israeli government's ongoing attack on the Gaza Strip, which has killed over 1,000 people, nearly 1/3 of
them children.

The banner, which was seen by thousands of commuters during morning rush hour on Friday, January 16th, 2009, expanded the public presence of the many New York Jews who strongly disagree with the self-appointed community spokespeople who have repeatedly expressed support for the bombing and invasion of Gaza. “We are standing up for justice,” said Niuta Teitelboim, one of the JATO/NYC activists, “which is a Jewish tradition that many Jewish organizations seem to have abandoned. Too many have vocally endorsed a war which has involved a continuous string of Israeli war crimes: the mass killings of children and families at UN schools designated as places of refuge; the targeting with bombs and artillery fire of hospitals and ambulances; and most recently the destruction of food and medical aid supplies in a UN facility.”

JATO/NYC placed the banner at the U.S.S. Intrepid to highlight the role of U.S. aid to Israel in the
current war and massacres. “Palestinian doctors, ambulance drivers, and children are being killed by
bombs paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money, dropped from planes paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money,
sent by an Israeli administration that could not maintain one of the world's largest militaries without a
constant flow of cash from the U.S. treasury,” elaborated R. Rosenthal, another JATO/NYC member
involved in the action. “That means all of us are involved in this bloody war. Even if foreclosures and
unemployment weren’t decimating our neighborhoods, surely there are better uses for $3 billion a year
than helping the Israeli government commit war crimes.”

Over the past week, Jews across North America and Europe have shown their opposition to Israel's latest
war, as well as its ongoing military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem and
denial of Palestinian refugees right to return home. Jewish groups have held sit-ins at Israeli consulates in
Toronto, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; taken it upon themselves to declare the cancellation of a
London rally in support of the war; participated actively in the many demonstrations calling for an
immediate end to the bombing and invasion of Gaza; and joined the worldwide campaign for boycott,
divestment and sanctions on Israel until Palestinian rights under international law are respected. “Today’s
action is one small contribution to the growing movement in solidarity with the 1.5 million Palestinians
being bombed, shelled, and shot by the Israeli army," JATO-NYC member Sholom Schwartzbard
explained. "We know from our own history what being sealed behind barbed wire and checkpoints is like,
and we know that ‘Never Again’ means not anyone, not anywhere - or it means nothing at all."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I <3 San Francisco

Watch SF activists be amazing &
Listen to ABC call Israel's actions "Genocide":
(well, kind of...)
(i mean they kind of called it that, not it kind of is, it definitely is)
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=6606245

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Poem for Gaza

My most recent poem...for Gaza, of course:

a powerful video

a cautious comment on the "not in our name" demo

"Not in Our Name"?
What about, NOT AT ALL…?

First, let me explain why I'm writing this entry: I think it's important for us, as Jews, to be able to critique our own organizing strategies & slogans. I also think it's important for these discussions to happen in a public forum, rather than behind closed doors & over personal phone calls & emails. I realize my blog isn't exactly a "public forum," (even though anyone can read it, I guess) but it's the most public forum that I have access to, so that's why I'm posting this here. It's about accountability. I'm not calling out other people and my tone is not accusatory towards any of the organizers of Monday's demonstration. Instead, I'm bringing up an issue that I think is important to discuss.

Personally, I think it's great that a Jewish demonstration was organized in NY against the massacre in Gaza. I think it's great every time a demonstration is organized against the massacre in Gaza (or in solidarity with Palestine in general), and the variety of options here in New York has been, for me, a real source of hope. The demonstration on Monday was organized with urgency and desperation, and, I think, without much debate around the specifics of slogans and framing. This urgency makes sense. However, I think it's important that even in times of crisis, we think strategically about our messaging and how we are framing our voices, and the situation/struggle in general.

"Not in Our Name" can be interpreted in various ways:
"You're not doing this in our name," directed at the Israeli government, doesn't sound problematic. However, "This is not in our name," directed at the world seems…well…is that really the message we want to prioritize?

At the demonstration, I overheard a conversation between a few people attending. One of them was explaining how she was glad this Jewish demonstration was organized – she opposed the massacre in Gaza, but did not feel comfortable at the larger, Palestinian-organized demonstrations.
Why?
I think there was talk of "anti-Semitism," etc. You know, the usual.
But why really?
In my opinion, racism. Racist fear of being surrounded by Palestinians and, probably, discomfort with signs like "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." (I call that discomfort racism too, because it's based on Zionism, which, I believe we all know, = racism).
So what does it mean for us to be creating space for people like this without challenging them directly through our messaging, flyering, and talking points?
Is this really helpful?
To whom?

Then, there is the overall difference in messaging between the demonstrations. At the Jewish demonstration, very few signs referenced Zionism itself as a violent ideology. There was a focus on "End the Massacre" – which is important – but what about the right of return for Palestinians? What about an Apartheid framework? What about an anti-imperialist framework? When we say "end the occupation" are we talking about 40 years or 60 years? I've said before, "it's all occupation," but is it perceived this way when we don't specify? I'm pretty sure it isn't.

So how does this present us? As the "rational" and "reasonable" Jews, of course, in contrast to the "angry," "radical," and "irrational" Palestinians. In other words, it provides fuel for the fire of racism and reinforces the very stereotypes that we're supposedly trying to challenge. This is a problem. We need to recognize that this is a problem and strategize around it.

It's a question that's been asked time and time again: How do we use our voices/privilege not only to express our own opposition Israel & it's actions, but to highlight and carve out space for Palestinian voices?
And if that isn't what we're doing…then what ARE we doing?

Racist, Colonial, Apartheid State

In case you've had any doubts about whether or not Israel is really an Apartheid State:

"Israel on Monday banned Arab political parties from running in next month's parliamentary elections..."
Seriously? Apparently,
"Parliament spokesman Giora Pordes said the election committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion, accusing the country's Arab parties of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel's right to exist."
Wow.

Also, read this article: "We could hear their bodies burning," on Ma'an News.

The death toll is nearing 1,000, according to Al Jazeera. It's been 18 days of war. To me, it simultaneously feels like it's been 3 days and 100 days...18. Well, and also 60+ years, depending you how you define "war."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Phone Call for Gaza

I just got this email twice in about five minutes.

I admit, calling politicians is not generally my recommended course of action.
But, as one friend pointed out, it can't hurt.

Apparently, Obama's staffers are "tallying votes" on the issue.

This is the text of the email that's being passed around, in case you haven't received it yet:

Dear Friends:
I just called 202-540-3000, then pressed 2, and spoke to a
volunteer with the Obama-Biden team about Gaza. They are TALLYING phone
calls. PLEASE CALL. I just elaborated on one point, that Obama must
call for an IMMEDIATE cease-fire. That it's an ongoing massacre, that the
Gazans are fish in a barrel, that Obama must SAY something, that it
will be a historic moment. PLEASE CALL NOW.

Friday, January 09, 2009

On Safety and Justice:

State Violence, Racism, and a "World on Fire"

I just posted a facebook status that said that three meetings in one day had left me too tired to blog, but then I realized I was wrong.

I'm going to take a break for a moment from discussing/critiquing U.S.-funded Israeli State violence in Gaza to discuss U.S.-funded U.S. State violence in Oakland.
I think there's a theme here.
On New Year's Day, the BART police shot a 22 year old man.
Guess what?
He was unarmed.
Why do you think they shot him?
Yup, that's right. Because he was Black.
Racism did not end because Obama was elected.
Are you surprised?
…Oscar Grant was apparently already restrained with zip tie handcuffs on both his ankles and his wrists when he was shot.
Do the BART police learn their techniques from the Israeli soldiers or do you think it's the other way around?
Okay, okay, it's neither. This is just the way that violent, racist Institutions function.
According to an article from KTVU that I got via the Critical Resistance listserv –
"Grant's family says his lungs were damaged in the shooting when the bullet went through him and then ricocheted off the ground and re-entered his body. Family members confirmed that Grant died from his injuries late Thursday morning. He leaves behind a four-year-old daughter."

So in case it wasn't enough to mourn the 801 deaths in Gaza, now you have one more.
The description of his death makes me cringe. A ricocheting bullet. A young daughter left behind. Already bound by his ankes and his wrists.
In Oakland.

Oh. And in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Qalqilya – which is in the West Bank, not Gaza- settlers invaded and started shooting at several homes. How did the Israelis soldiers respond? They invaded the village as well, of course, and prevented people from entering the mosque.
They have also announced a curfew in Huwarra, south of Nablus.

You know, I should be clear that all I'm really doing here is compiling information from Ma'an News, adding my commentary, and maybe including a couple things from Al Jazeera.
I mean, not the part about Oscar Grant. But the Palestine parts.

Recently a good friend expressed this sentiment: "The world is on fire."
I have to agree.
But some parts are burning a lot more than others. Some parts are barely burning at all.

And of course, i can't end this entry without at least a brief update on Gaza –
The Israelis have most recently destroyed:
The home of Palestinian journalist Ala Mortijar, killing him and injuring several others
A building complex in Gaza City that housed media and production studios of over 20 media organizations including several international news agencies
(I think they're hiding something)
The home of Nareman Abu Au'da in Beit Hanoun. She was killed by the shrapnel of an artillery shell.
The home of the Sa'id family in Al-Qarem in northern Gaza, killing Fatma Sa'eed Sa'id (42), Sumeya (25) and Ata Jamil (12).
The Salha family home in Beit Lahiya, also in northern Gaza, where seven people were killed including 60 year old Mohammed Mubarak Saleh and his wife Halim Saleh.
And for all you sports fans who need one more reason to be appalled and enraged: they also destroyed Gaza's International Football Stadium in Rafah.
I really don't understand why.
Again, source, Ma'an News.

By the way, here's just a little more from another source – "Dissident Voice," "a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice."
I don't know anything about this source except that this article seems to have some very detailed information about a certain ceasefire - - and who violated it - - and did/didn't intend it's sustainability. Interesting facts from this site/article include:
1. Prior to the ceasefire, Isreal had announced its intention to wage full-scale military operations against Gaza. The cease-fire did not end those plans.
2. Israel violated the ceasefire on numerous occasions by shooting Gazan farmers working on their land near the border. On June 27th, an 82 year old man was injured in one of these attacks. In another (date unspecified) a Palestinian woman (age unspecified) was wounded.
3. Israel made up this thing they called a "special security zone" WITHIN Gaza (seriously, what's with them? they sound like bush. "special security zone." "axis of evil." it's like these people think they're in a comic book). They decided that they could fire upon any Palestinian who entered into this special security zone in Gaza. Basically, this was what they used as an excuse to shoot farmers, as mentioned above.
4. ALL this was even BEFORE the Israeli airstrike on November 5th which killed five Palestinians in Gaza and wounded several others.
5. And then, of course, there was the blockade.
6. Oh, and the Occupation.
7. And it's ALL Occupation.

I have more to say, but I realize this is getting long. So I'll stop and I'll try not to just write again in another 15-20 minutes.

NOT IN OUR NAME

More Information on Monday's "Not in Our Name" Action:

PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY (and repost, etc)....

*PLEASE JOIN US*
Monday, January 12 at 5:30 P.M.
in front of the Israeli Consulate
800 Second Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets

We are Jews who say "Not in Our Name" to the Israeli Government.
*We ask you to stand with us as we call for:*

- an immediate end to the massacre of the Palestinian people
- an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops
- an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza
- immediate steps taken to end the Israeli occupation

We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people,
with our sisters and brothers in Israel who are bravely opposing the
brutality of their government,
and with all those around the world calling for justice and peace in the
Middle East.

There will be no speakers at this event. We will stand together in silence,
holding up signs reiterating the points above.


Initiators of this call for action:

Renate Bridenthal, Nina Felshin, Michelle Fine, Sherry Gorelick, Jane Hirschmann, Carol Horowitz, Esther Kaplan, Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, Abigail Levine, Alan Levine, Richard Levy, Donna Nevel, Michael Ratner, Amy Schoenwald, Len Weinglass, Dorothy Zellner

Opportunities to take Action in NY

Here are some upcoming events for those in the New York area who want to take action in solidarity with Gaza:

FRIDAY, 1/9...
MARCH TO BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT'S OFFICE
Presented by the Break the Siege Coalition
When: Friday, January 9th, after Friday prayers
Where: Masjid Al Da3wa on Atlantic & 4th Avenue to Brooklyn Borough President's Office on Court & Joralemon Streets

SATURDAY, 1/10...
LET GAZA LIVE! Stop the U.S./Israeli War Against the Palestinian People
National March on Washington
Presented by A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
When: Saturday, 1/10, 1pm
Where: At the north side of the White House (there are some buses going from NY, I think)

SUNDAY, 1/11...
TIMES SQUARE RALLY & MARCH
Presented by the Break the Siege Coalition
When: Sunday, January 11th, 1pm
Where: Assemble at Times Square, 42nd St & 7th Ave

MONDAY, 1/12...
JEWS SAY: NOT IN OUR NAME
When: Monday, January 12th, 5:30pm
Where: In front of the Israeli Consulate, 800 Second Ave b/w 42nd and 43rd Streets

TUESDAY, 1/13...
MASS COMMUNITY & ORGANIZING COMMITTEE AROUND GAZA
Presented by the Break the Siege Coalition
When: Tuesday, January 13th, 6:30pm
Where: MAS Bath Avenue Youth Center
1933 Bath Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214
D Train to 20th Ave in Brooklyn

EMERGENCY TOWN HALL MEETING - A CALL TO ACT
Initiated by Revolution Books
When: Tuesday, January 13th, 7pm
Where: New York Society for Ethical Culture
2 West 64th St. @ Central Park West NYC, Admission $10
Speakers include Cynthia McKinney, Alan Goodman, Chris Hedges, Adam Shapiro, Peter Weiss, and Najla Said

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14th...
PROTEST RALLY & CANDLELIGHT VIGIL
Presented by Brooklyn for Peace
When: 1/14, 4:30pm
Where: Brooklyn Borough Hall (Court and Remsen Streets in Brooklyn)
(M, R to Court St or A, C, F, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

There are times when I've gone to protests and returned home, relieved to have spoken, potentially been heard, and at least been around like-minded people for awhile.

This is different.

I go to protests and return home angrier. There is a collective anger that the protests allow me to feed on. A righteous anger. An anger that we should feel - - all of us - - but also an anger that keeps me up at night, because the protest eventually ends, and I'm eventually too tired to get any work done, but too riled up to fall asleep.

I think of the Canadian women who took over the Israeli consulate in Toronto.
I'm inspired!
Then, I think of women in Gaza who are struggling to survive and protect their children.
I'm sad again.

I can think of nothing else. I have no desire to think of anything else. I have a pile of books to read, on various topics, some novels, some non-fiction, and I cannot get through more than one or two pages without distraction…some sentence, some word, some idea that was somehow triggered that wasn't even written there makes me think of Gaza. When I read about the history of Palestine, I do so in order to argue more effectively with the Zionists in my life. I take notes. Seriously, I take notes. The other day, I thought about making a quiz, because back when I was in high school, I remember cramming for quizzes fairly successfully.

Awhile ago, I was editing a statement written by an organization I work with. Someone had ended the statement with the phrase, "to resist is to exist," when he intended to use the phrase "to exist is to resist," a popular slogan of the Palestinian resistance.
I am contemplating that statement. The accidental one I mean. "To resist is to exist."
I think it's what I feel right now.
Maybe that's what he felt at the time.
As anti-Zionist Jews, we are spoken for unless we speak (loudly) for ourselves.
If we do not resist, we do not exist.
Maybe this explains the need I have to live, breathe, and be the struggle at every moment.
Or maybe this explains it…

or this...http://english.aljazeera.net/Services/Gallery/Default.aspx?GalleryID=200915125116945651

or maybe it's the fact that Ma'an News, which has been reporting almost hourly on the death count, now says "Gaza death toll approaching 700," like it's finally too many to count.

Sometimes I wish I was a doctor instead of a writer.

Protest at City Hall Today

Video from today's protest at City Hall.

The audio is good, but the video itself is dark and all you can see are the bigger press people who kept getting in my way.

For those of you who don't live in NY and probably don't know, Bloomberg visited Israel to show his support for Apartheid and massacre.
I mean...that's probably not how he would put it. But this isn't his blog, is it?

Group of Jewish Canadian Women Occupy Israeli Consulate in Toronoto

This is HELLA exciting. And inspiring.
WHY are we not this hardcore in the U.S.?
Seriously...


Arrests underway in Toronto Israeli Consulate Sit-in

Toronto: Wednesday January 8, 2009 Time: 11:20 am

Police have moved in to arrest a group of Jewish Canadian women who are currently occupying the Israeli consulate at 180 Bloor Street West in Toronto.

The women took their action in protest against the on-going Israeli assault on the people of Gaza.

The group is carrying out this occupation in solidarity with the 1.5 million people of Gaza and to ensure that Jewish voices against the massacre in Gaza are being heard. They are demanding that Israel end its military assault and lift the 18-month siege on the Gaza Strip to allow humanitarian aid into the territory.

Israel has been carrying out a full-scale military assault on the Gaza Strip since December 27, 2008. At least 660 people have been killed and 3000 injured in the air strikes and in the ground invasion that began on January 3, 2009. Israel has ignored international calls for a ceasefire and is refusing to allow food, adequate medical supplies and other necessities of life into the Gaza Strip.

Protesters are outraged at Israel's latest assault on the Palestinian people and by the Canadian government's refusal to condemn these massacres. They are deeply concerned that Canadians are hearing the views of pro-Israel groups who are being represented as the only voice of Jewish Canadians. The protesters have occupied the consulate to send a clear statement that many Jewish-Canadians do not support Israel's violence and apartheid policies. They are joining with people of conscience all across the world who are demanding an end to Israeli aggression and justice for the Palestinian people.

The group includes: Judy Rebick, professor; Judith Deutsch, psychoanalyst and president of Science for Peace; B.H. Yael, filmmaker; Smadar Carmon, an Canadian Israeli peace activist and others.


Spokespersons for the group will be outside the Israeli consulate:

Dr. Miriam Garfinkle:
416-731-6605
mgarfinkle@sympatico.ca

Cathy Gulkin:
416-697-0768
cgulkin@rogers.com


Release is online at http://www.sources.com/Releases/NR135.htm

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I had a dream last night where I ran into an "old friend." Some of you may know him. This "old friend," hasn't been a friend since we were, I think, sophomores in high school. After that, though, he and I remained in many of the same "circles."
That "friend" went on to join the military. Not because he needed money for college or because the military recruiters tricked him but because he genuinely wanted to "fight for his country."
Through the grapevine I've heard that, during his time in Iraq, he not only killed, but tortured people.
Then, when he was finally done...he decided to go back. Not because he had to, but because, even seeing what he had to do there, he still wanted to "fight for his country."

In the dream, his face and hands were covered in blood. Deep, dark blood. Red. He didn't appear to be injured, so I assume it was intended to be either symbolic or someone else's or both. He looked like he was made of blood. He was smiling like a frat boy who just got laid. I can't get this haunting image out of my mind.
In the dream, there was an argument, but I can't remember precisely what it was about, who started it, etc.
Only the image: him, the gun, the blood, the smile.
Like he was playing a video game and he just got a high score.
Like all the people he killed gave him a high score.
haunting.

Today I'm moving to Brooklyn. That's not really relevant to anything on this blog, but since there are a few people who still read it primarily to find out what's going on with me, I thought I'd mention something.

In the past couple of days there have been a few things I've been excited to discover:

1. http://www.pflp.ps/english/?q=pflp-calls-upon-arab-and-international-forces-esca

2.

(A friend sent this photo from the protests in Southern Cal...)

3. Here in NY:
Stand with Gaza:
SHOES to Bloomberg

Wednesday, January , 2009
4:30 to 6:30 pm
NYC City Hall
take trains to City Hall or Chambers Street
BRING YOUR OLD SHOES
SHAME BLOOMBERG Bring your old shoes and show the Mayor your disgust.

4. There's also a protest planned for Saturday in DC and Sunday again in NY (Times Square), so keep your calendars open!

Monday, January 05, 2009

why, why, why, why, why?

526. 526 people killed, that is.

A ground war now. Not just bombs.

Why?
Why, Why, Why, Why, Why?
...I'm not really looking for the answer. How would that help?
Besides, I already know the answer. Isn't this the nature of Colonialism? Of Racism? Of Apartheid? Of Zionism?...VIOLENCE.

I want to express, again, the extent to which I'm inspired by those in Gaza who have chosen to stay, as well as those who have no choice and still survive and still RESIST. You are amazing. All of you. My heart goes out to you. Gaza, my heart is with you. Perhaps that is why it feels like it's breaking.

5 Palestinian medics were killed today. Members of the International Solidarity Movement reported that the Israelis dropped a bomb in front of their ambulance to prevent them from getting to wounded people.
I could never be a medic. I mean, really, I would faint before I could do any good...all that blood...what resilient people!
"Resilient" has become one of my new favorite words.

Haya Hamdan, Ismail Hamdan, and Lama Hamdan were 12, 10, and 5 years old respectively, when they were killed by an Israeli missile while running an errand. Haya and Lama Hamdan were torn to pieces on impact and Ismail was transported to a hospital where he died on the operating table. Before they'd gone out on this errand, the children had been cooped up in the house for five days.
What would Haya, Ismail, and Lama have gone on to do with their lives?
Would they have gone to the university? Fallen in love? Struggled to bring a better future to all Palestinians? Had they survived the attack, would they have become medics or doctors themselves? ...There's no way to know.
Why? Why, why, why, why, why?

I will stop now. I don't want anyone to stop reading here because it's too painful and I know that talking about the deaths of children has that potential. So that's all. No more talk about the deaths of children, at least not until tomorrow or the next day.

For now, here is a version of some useful talking points, in Q&A form, from Adalah-NY:

1. Who broke the ceasefire first?
Israel. Hamas observed the ceasefire until Israel carried out an unprovoked military attack on November 5th, killing six Palestinians. Israel also failed to meet its ceasefire commitment to allow essential supplies into Gaza.

2. Isn't Israel just trying to stop Hamas rocket fire?
No: Israel provoked Hamas by breaking the ceasefire on November 5th, as it has done with numerous ceasefires in the past.
No: If the rockets were the provocation, then why is Israel killing and jailing Palestinians in the West Bank, where no rockets have been fired?
No: Israel, with US support, has been attempting to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas government since Palestinian elections in January 2006. After the elections, Israel imposed a siege on Gaza, closing borders, cutting off supplies, and continuing to launch attacks on Gazans. As a result, poverty, unemployment, and hunger in the already impoverished Gaza Strip have skyrocketed.

3. Isn't Israel only striking military targets?
No. Israel has killed well over 100 women and children and the death count is climbing. Most of the dead and injured have nothing to do with the attacks on Israel. Many civilians, civilian police officers, and other non-military officials of the Hamas government are among casualties. Targeting these people is a war crime.
Israel claims that Palestinians in Gaza hide behind civilians, firing rockets at Israel from civilian areas, and thus giving Israel no option but to attack inhabited Palestinian neighborhoods. But the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, is composed entirely of residential neighborhoods. Palestinians in Gaza have no other place from which they can respond to Israeli military attacks.

4. Isn't Israel just trying to defend itself against Palestinian violence? Don't they just want peace?
Oy. No. If Israel wanted peace it would have observed the ceasefire and stopped blocking Palestinian economic development. It would have allowed Palestinians to live normal lives. Israeli policy has been the root of violence in the region for 60 years, starting no fewer than 6 major wars and numerous smaller conflicts in the region. Israel has the most powerful military in the region, with which it continues to deny food, clean water, fuel, and medical supplies to Gaza's 1.5 million people; steal land from Palestinians to build Israeli settlements; and kill large numbers of Palestinians, mostly civilians. Since January 2006, when Hamas won democratic elections, Israel has killed 1672 Gazans and 1922 Palestinians overall.

5. Didn't Israel end its occupation of Gaza in 2005 and didn't Palestinians respond by launching rockets into Israel and electing Hamas?
All human rights organizations agree that Israel's withdrawal of settlers from Gaza in 2005 did not end Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip. Surrounding Gaza with its military, Israel maintained control of Gaza's borders, airspace, sea, electricity, fuel, and the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza. Thus, Israel remains an occupying power under international law.
Frustrated by Israel's denial of their basic rights, growing poverty as a result of Israel's decimation of their economy, and 13 years of failed negotiations (in which Israel often refused to hold up their end of the deal), Palestinians voted for change and elected Hamas in January 2006. Some Palestinians in Gaza, living under Israeli siege, in desperate poverty and deprived of basic human rights, have responded to Israel's assault by launching homemade rockets into Israel.

6. Aren't the attacks on Gaza justifiable as self-defense?
No. Israel provoked the conflict. Also, by carrying out indiscriminate bombing that targets civilians, Israel is practicing collective punishment and disproportionate force against the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. This is a war crime and a violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

7. Doesn't Hamas reject peace with Israel?
No. Hamas has stated that it is willing to negotiate with Israel and abide by a two-state solution if Israel respects Palestinian rights. By contrast, Israel has refused to recognize Palestinians' right to self-determination and has not abided by its obligations under peace agreemnts with the Palestinians.

...well, I can barely keep my eyes open to keep typing, so perhaps more talking points will follow tomorrow.
Please feel free to add your own!

...And again, these are taken from Adalah-NY, but they're also adjusted/adapted for this blog (and my tiredness) and I don't think they were a finished version even from Adalah, so don't quote them on that.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Foreign Passport Holders in Gaza Decide to Stay- "We Will Not Leave."

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2009/01/02/foreign-passport-holders-in-gaza-decide-to-stay-we-will-not-leave/
One more article, on human rights activists who have decided to stay in Gaza.
Of course, most Gazans don't have a choice, and this privilege granted only to international visitors is...well, there are no words to say how problematic, unfair, and absurd that is.
However, their decision to stay is one I find inspiring.
And for those of you who are currently grasping for home as I am, this is one place to find it.
Dedication to struggle. Dedication to a People. Dedication. Conviction. Love. One day, Liberation.

Some Blogs to Check Out...

This is a link to the blog of one of the members of the Free Gaza Movement (you know, the one with the boats...) - -
http://talestotell.wordpress.com/
I just found this blog, and I'm very glad I did.

And this is the blog of Dr. Mona El-Farra who lives in Gaza and identifies as "a physician by training, a human rights and women's rights activist by practice, in the occupied Gaza Strip."
http://fromgaza.blogspot.com/
Her latest post (from 1/1/09) asks for contributions to MECA, for another shipment of medical aid to Gaza. You can donate to MECA here:
https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=1171

I am finding many more blogs, but I will post them later, because I don't want this to be overwhelming...check out these for now.

Routine...and Ethnic Cleansing in Gaza

I remember the last time I felt like this...
It was at the beginning of the Iraq war.
I used to look at images of broken people on the internet before I went to sleep. Sometimes I'd have nightmares. I'd wake up and check the news again. "Awake" began to blur with "Dreaming."
Why do I do it this way?
Why do I check the news every morning before I've even had a cup of coffee?
Maybe it's desperation, fear of what the news will say. Maybe I'm secretly hoping for a headline that I don't really (rationally) expect about how the bombing has stopped or at least they've let more aid in or something.
Maybe it's more like ripping off a band-aid: "If something even worse has happened tell me now. Do it fast."
Or maybe it's self-protection: before I've had my morning coffee, I'm never completely present. Maybe it's less painful that way.

My routine now:
Ma'an News
Al Jazeera
Facebook (people post news I haven't seen elsewhere)
Then, sometimes, New York Times (because it's good to know what other people are reading here in NY)
Then, sometimes Ha'aretz, because I want to know what the Israelis are reading (and it's the only Isreali paper I can stomach)
If I'm particularly angry after that, I'll go to YNET (which I refuse to link to) and leave vicious anti-Zionist comments on the most problematic posts.
Leaving comments on Ha'aretz is frustrating because among their "guidelines" (or your post is deleted) is one that says you're not allowed to accuse anyone of genocide or ethnic cleansing. WTF? You're also not allowed to compare anyone to the Nazis. Again...WTF?
Not that I generally do the second (unless I'm talking to specific Jews and it makes a specific, useful point) but I do tend to talk about ethnic cleansing and genocide a lot...

This story is posted somewhere on this blog already, but it was years ago, so I think it's time to tell it again:

When I was in Hebron, the soldiers would not allow us to walk on Shuhada Street. We asked one soldier "Why?" He told us that it was a "sanitized zone."
Who was allowed to walk there, we asked.
"Only --"
he didn't finish his sentence. we pushed and prompted. "Only who?"
"Only Jews."

"Sanitized." "Only Jews." But don't talk about ethnic cleansing.

One Israeli dies and they respond by killing over 400 Palestinians. Who are walled in on all sides, no escape. But no. Don't talk about ethnic cleansing.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Watch Al Jazeera Online

For those of you frustrated with the U.S. media's blatantly biased coverage of the situation in Gaza, you can watch Al Jazeera online here:
http://www.livestation.com/channels/3-al_jazeera_english

You have to download something, but once you do, it actually comes in pretty well...significantly better (at least for me) than the regular "watch now" button on their site.

428

428.

I can't possibly keep up with the death count on my blog, because I don't post nearly enough, but the latest is 428 (according to the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in Gaza).
Every time I leave the house, I rush back to check...
Why? Is it so important to know the number? Is Israel worse because they killed 428 than they were when they had killed 400? ...I don't know what it is, though, but I need to check. Scroll through the pictures. Look at images of people whose heads and limbs have been shot off. Cry.
But that isn't helpful, is it? What does it do for me to cry?
So then I think, "I should pray."
Then I think, "So many people are already praying. Would it really matter if there were one more?"
Then I think, "I just need to go to the protest."
Then I think, "What does that do? Neither Israel nor the United States cares much about the opinions of 'the People.'"
I think of many things, and then I think how they won't help.
Then I think that this is exactly what Israel wants: to break the resistance in every way. To shatter our hope and make us afraid.
I don't want to let that happen.
Just now, I scanned the internet for profiles of some of the individuals killed. I could not find any. If anyone knows where to find this, please let me know.