A very refreshing short video of George Galloway interviewing Cynthia McKinney for his PressTV show, “The Real Deal”.
[youtube 5xNVVKRHyFc The Real Deal with George Galloway – Cynthia McKinney]
A very refreshing short video of George Galloway interviewing Cynthia McKinney for his PressTV show, “The Real Deal”.
[youtube 5xNVVKRHyFc The Real Deal with George Galloway – Cynthia McKinney]
This week marks the Sixth Annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) which is taking place across the globe in over 40 cities. Since it was first launched in 2005, IAW has grown to become one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar. IAW 2010 takes place following a year of incredible successes for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on the global level. Lectures, films, and actions will highlight some of theses successes along with the many injustices that continue to make BDS so crucial in the battle to end Israeli Apartheid.
Along with the growing support for IAW, there has also been a large, growing opposition from the “other side”. IAW is largely a campus-based event taking place on college and university campuses around the world. Last year saw the first real backlash in opposition from university officials who made numerous attempts to shut down the week-long events and to demonize the student organizers. This year the opposition movement has grown even further to include members of Parliament and even Toronto School’s Director of Education, who have come out and condemned even the use of the word “apartheid” claiming it incites hatred and anti-semitism.
I think when the opposition becomes so desperate as to you use the crux of anti-semitism to validate their arguments, this is when we know we are on the right side. Unfortunately, in today’s political climate, this term is being used to paint those of us who stand for equality and justice with a broad stroke of the brush. In my opinion, it’s this term (anti-semitism) that is hateful, not the term “apartheid”.
Let’s be clear about something: what is taking place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories today and for the past 60 years is indeed apartheid and anyone who denies this fact is completely delusional or ignorant of what this term really means. Even South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu used the term to describe Israel’s actions, as did Israel’s own Ehud Barak. So let’s take a look at the United Nations’ definition of the crime of apartheid (as stated in 1973, describing the apartheid regime in South Africa) and decide for ourselves whether or not this applies to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories:
“inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them”.
Sounds like Israel’s actions perfectly fit the bill of this definition…
Below is an episode from Al Jazeera’s hard-hitting program “Inside Story” which focuses specifically on Israeli Apartheid Week, the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement, and the implications they have for the racist apartheid regime of Israel.
[youtube 7Ac1SnQfOfw Al Jazeera’s Inside Story – Israeli Apartheid Week]
Last month, the Israeli army attacked a Palestinian shepherd and his family in the Al-Tuwani village of South Hebron. IDF soldiers attacked Musab Musa Raba’i and his family as they were complying with the soldiers’ orders to move their flock off the their family-owned land.
Musab was later arrested, detained, and tortured for hours. His hands and feet were tied, he was beaten on his back and face, slammed into walls, spat on and cursed at; he wasn’t even allowed to pray while he was in custody. The entire time, Musab refused to answer any questions or speak to the soldiers in Hebrew, which infuriated them. Soldiers also threatened Musab, telling him that if he didn’t comply they would show up at his house in the coming days and beat and/or kill him and his brothers.
After four hours of this interrogation and torture, he was driven out to a location unknown to him, and thrown out of the jeep on the side of the road; hands and feet still bound, and still blindfolded.
No charges were ever filed against Musab. His only crime? Trying to feed his sheep!
Christian Peacemaker Teams, which does amazing work, was there during the incident and caught the whole thing on tape. Here is their video footage from that day:
[youtube -u6TF-Dzw8w IDF soldiers attack shepherds in Hebron]
1) This attack on At-Tuwani appears to be part of a recent increase in repression of Palestinian grassroots nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and apartheid. Click here to read more about some of the Palestinian grassroots leaders who have been targeted by this campaign. You can also click here to send an email to the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem demanding the release of Palestinians who are imprisoned for their dissent. You can edit the letter to include information about the attack on At-Tuwani and to ask Daniel Rubinstein, the U.S. Consul General in East Jerusalem, to demand that those involved in this crime be brought to justice. Click here to send an email.
2) U.S. tax dollars aid and abet the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli army, including this most recent attack on At-Tuwani. Organize to oppose U.S. military aid to Israel in your Congressional district by clicking here, and join us in Washington D.C. in March for a Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day.
3) Motorola produces communications and surveillance equipment for the Israeli military as well as for settlements like the ones that are encroaching on At-Tuwani’s land. Sign a boycott pledge, send an email to Moto’s management, and order a Motorola organizing kit.
How Much Military Aid to Israel…
…Do You Provide?
Between 2009-2018, the United States is scheduled to give Israel–the largest recipient of U.S. aid–$30 billion in military aid. Through its illegal 42-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, Israel misuses U.S. weapons in violation of U.S. law to kill and injure Palestinian civilians, destroy Palestinian civilian infrastructure, blockade the Gaza Strip, and build illegal settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem.
How much of this total will your community provide? Is this a good use of your tax dollars? What else could your taxes be used for in your community? Find out on thid interactive map:
This may seem especially infuriating right now; it being tax season and all… Want to know how much the average tax payer will pay in military aid to Israel in 2010? Well, if we take Obama’s FY2011 budget request of $3 billion in military aid to Israel and divide it by the 156,297,000 individual tax filings reported to the IRS, the number is $19.19. That’s $19.19 in military aid that you will be paying to Israel this year. So get your checkbooks ready!
And this is just military aid; this doesn’t include economic grants, immigrant grants, schools and hospital grants, and other aid. That means, this year $19.19 of every American tax payer’s income will directly fund and aid in the brutal, deadly, military occupation of Palestine.
Now the question is…
…what are we going to do about it?
This is a
brief somewhat lengthy synopsis of how Barack Obama handled the issue of Palestine during two speeches he gave last week: The State of the Union address on Jan. 27 and a town-hall meeting in Tampa on Jan. 28.
The energy was in the air once again on Wednesday night, as America’s first black president gave yet another historic speech: the State of the Union address, his first one ever (honestly, last year’s doesn’t count; he was barely president for less than a month!). Tensions were high as many Americans were reminded once again of where exactly the country stands in regards to the issues that affect them and their families the most: the economy, health care,
one two three full-fledged wars in the middle-east. So I sat down to watch the State of the Union, for the first time on the other side of the border, in Canada. I caught it on the White House’s website, which had a convenient little Facebook app right on the page so users could send out instant updates about their reactions to the speech…I don’t have to tell you that I used that thing to it’s full capacity 🙂
So what was in this oh-so-historic, can’t-be-missed address? Well, aside from the redundant references to the mess that he inherited when getting into office, the wonderful job he’s done in killing more “terrorists” than Bush did in 2008 (his words, not mine), and the fact that he’s not really interested in punishing the banks but more interested in “protecting the economy” (whatever that means), Obama and his two wingmen, Biden and Pelosi, made it very clear that this entire sham of a speech was just one big performance for the masses. If you watched the 70-minute speech, it was very hard to ignore the obviously staged laughter, applause, laughter, applause, applause, applause, laughter…it was like clock-work. Honestly, it felt like everything was one big inside joke for all those in attendance; well, except for the supreme court justices seated right up at the front. They didn’t laugh at or clap for anything; probably because they’re under a lot of heat for their recent decision to overturn a ban on direct corporate spending on campaigns….yep, as of now, corporations officially have the same freedoms afforded to individual persons in that sense. So say hello to the new sponsor of Candidate A’s 2012 election campaign: Lockheed Martin and Candidate B’s election campaign: The Rand Coporation!
All I got from the speech was more wars, America has to be #1 (at what, we don’t really know), and a cruel reminder of all the broken campaign promises made by Obama in the run-up to his election:
There’s many more, but I don’t want to
bore anger you even more. Now let’s get to the good stuff: Palestine! What did Mr. Commander-in-Chief have to say about the most blatantly neglected issue over this past year? First, let me explain why exactly I’m interested in hearing his input on this issue. Last year when Israel was bombing the hell out of Gaza for over three weeks straight, newly elected president, Barack Obama, surprisingly had NOTHING to say on the matter! Surprising because if any one is going to say something about anything, it’s his eloquent majesty himself. So this was infuriating as is. In his own defence, he claimed that since technically he hadn’t taken office yet, he didn’t feel it was appropriate to make an official statement on the issue so as not to “confuse” the country…uhh yeah, ok?!?!
So Wednesday night was like a movie premier for me, with popcorn and all! He ran through the usual (or expected) suspects: Iran? – check… Haiti? – check… “Terrorists”? – check… even “Don’t ask, don’t tell” – check…. Palestine? ***silence***. Absolutely nothing! Not even a single breath about Palestine, Gaza, or any of the atrocities being committed in the region for not just the past year, but decades and decades. He didn’t even talk about Afghanistan! or even Pakistan! That can only mean one of two things: 1) either he’s afraid to talk about them because of how obviously wrong his policies are in regards to those issues, or 2) he’s failing so badly in all three areas, he deemed it better not to even mention them, hoping the American people would just magically think they don’t exist anymore. And I don’t doubt that a major chunk of the public actually did fall into that group.
So there you have it, Obama’s first and historic State of the Union was just a large farce meant to satiate the appetite of the public by telling them what they wanted to hear, while at the same time sparing them the details of the not-so-honorable actions committed in their name around the world. Cindy Sheehan’s synopsis of the night explains it perfectly:
It’s not the real state of the union–it’s another 75 MINUTE INFO-MERCIAL FOR THE EMPIRE–APPLAUSE–APPLAUSE–APPLAUSE—Nancy wear your lavender–Joe you wear a blue-striped tie and Barry, you wear a red striped tie—pretend that we’re one with the Robbed Class.
The very next day at the University of Tampa in Florida, Obama and VP Biden hosted a town-hall meeting in which they announced a new recovery act for the building of a nationwide high-speed rail system, meant to “create jobs and transform travel in America.” So you can understand why it was so shocking and unexpected when University of South Florida student, Laila Abdelaziz (who actually volunteered for Obama during his campaign) stood up and asked him a question on the US’ stance on human rights. Obama was most likely expecting questions about job creation or even the health-care bill, but instead what he got was:
Last night you spoke in your State of the Union address you spoke of America’s support for human rights. Then, why have we not condemned Israel and Egypt’s human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people? And yet we continue supporting them financially with billions of dollars from our tax dollars?
Wow! Excellent question, Laila! I couldn’t even imagine what B.O. would have to say to this. He surely must have had a perfectly pre-planned answer to this that he keeps in his mind’s back pocket for when the need arises, right? Check for yourself:
[youtube DJ3rqAoahAw Obama town hall human rights question]
Let me allow you to digest that a little before getting into this…First of all, did you see how long it took him to finally begin to answer the question? He’s here talking about being courteous and pointing out someone’s Mardi Gras beads??? Are you kidding me? That’s the oldest trick in the book, invented by 6 year olds…Just stall the questioner by diverting his attention away from the issue, so you can collect your thoughts and formulate the perfect lie. I’ve never ever seen him stumble like that before; so much so that I thought it was impossible to catch Barry off his game for even a second. Laila clearly proved me wrong!
Then when he actually starts to answer the question, he comes up with an absurd statement like this:
The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries…
What?!? The Middle East is an issue that has plagued the Middle East (the region)? Does this even make sense? And for centuries?!? Does this man even hear what he’s saying? This absolute nonsense is what you get when Barry is kept away from his teleprompter for too long.
He then goes on to provide the same, polished, formulated statement on the US’ unwavering support for “Israel’s security, and helping them secure themselves in what is a really hostile region.”
But the best part is when he “acknowledges” the plight of the Palestinians in his answer. Apparently, the reason that it is important for us to pay attention to the plight of the Palestinians is “…because it is not good for our security, and it is not good for Israel’s security if you’ve got millions of individuals who feel hopeless, who don’t have an opportunity to get an education, or get a job…” That’s why it’s important to pay attention to Palestine! Man, why didn’t I think of that? Here I am thinking we should pay attention to their plight because they are an oppressed, occupied people with no home, no land, no shelter, or a single iota of basic human rights for the past 61 years, at least (not centuries, Mr. President).
Of course he then had to make a half-hearted mention of the “two-state solution” and how he’s working tirelessly on that. FYI: this so-called “solution” is a complete mockery of Palestinians’ rights and freedoms…but that’s a whole other issue.
Now, onto the “compromises” that both sides have to make in order to make this “solution” work:
Ok sure, I see now. So basically Palestinians (who apparently live in “territories” by the way…see the effective use of language?) have “grievances” which should be filed with their occupier. You know, like when you have an issue at your job, you file a complaint or a grievance! That’s what he has reduced their plight, their human rights concerns, their very existence to: just mere grievances!
How unbelievably grotesque and undermining of an answer! Wait, was that even an answer? Let’s look at Laila’s question one more time: “Then, why have we not condemned Israel and Egypt’s human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people?”
Oh I get it. It’s because they haven’t filed a “grievance”…
On Wednesday, SPHR-Ryerson hosted Dr. Mads Gilbert, MD, PhD for his presentation, “Eye in Gaza”. Dr. Mads Gilbert is an internationally-acclaimed doctor, professor, local politician, and Head of the Dept. of Emergency at the University of North Norway. During the 3-week brutal assault on Gaza last year, Dr. Mads Gilbert and his colleague Dr. Erik Fosse were the only two foreign doctors allowed into the region. They spent their entire time there embedded in the overcrowded and understaffed Al-Shifaa hospital. Dr. Mads Gilbert became the world’s window into the prison known as Gaza, providing regular updates on the atrocities taking place there. He has been seen on Al-Jazeera, BBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and more.
Dr. Mads Gilbert has described his time in the region as the most horrific and terrible thing he had ever witnessed. He co-authored the book “Eyes in Gaza” with his colleague, Dr. Erik Fosse, and embarked on a 16-campus North American tour in January and February of 2010. Here in Toronto, he spoke at Ryerson University to a packed room of eagerly attentive eyes and ears.
He began by introducing himself and giving us some background on his history, qualifications, and professional life. He’s a very interesting man; having spent over 30 years doing solidarity work with Palestinians, he has served as a doctor during numerous periods in Occupied Palestine and Lebanon. He is also quite a controversial figure in the medical profession due to his strong position on merging medical and political issues. On being a doctor as well as a politician, Gilbert has said the two roles are indistinguishable, and that “there is little in medicine that isn’t politics”.
Gilbert’s presentation was unlike any I’ve ever seen either on the Gaza assault in particular, or on Palestine in general. He warned us beforehand of the graphic images he would be displaying; but unlike other presentations where graphic images are used purely for shock value, Dr. Gilbert uses them to tell a story, making sure to provide us with background on the victims’ lives, “introducing” us to them, giving them a name and human value. This took away the shock value; all eyes were glued on the screen, no matter how horrific or appalling the scenes. These were people, young and old, with lives, families, futures, aspirations…All taken away in an instant, most times at the simple press of a button.
However, this presentation was not just another “horrible scenes of war” lecture. Gilbert’s political activism was clearly woven into his entire talk; never dismissing an opportunity to clarify his stance on the Palestine/Israel issue. At times, his words were shocking; not because of what he said, but because I’ve never heard a medical professional speak his mind so freely about anything political, let alone a topic as controversial (and for some, career-ending) as that of Palestine. It was quite refreshing to say the least.
He ended his presentation with a message to all of us to get involved with Palestine, and particularly to drive the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement to the forefront of the struggle for Palestinian liberation. This was exciting to hear because that is exactly the direction we are moving with regards to the newly-drafted Cairo Declaration which came out of our time in Cairo with the Gaza Freedom March. We will be contacting him with information on this, and asking for his endorsement in the near future.
Of course, no discussion on Palestine or Gaza is complete without some good old-fashioned debate (if you can call it that) in the audience. During the Q&A session, which was still surprisingly civil, an Israeli IDF medical professional who was deployed to the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead stood up and voiced his dissatisfaction and frustration with many of the statements Dr. Gilbert expressed during his lecture, especially in regards to Israeli doctors during the assault. Gilbert was shedding light on the discrimination that takes place in Israeli hospitals when doctors give preference to Israeli patients over Palestinians, but the IDF doctor took it personally and insisted that he always did his duty on the ground and treated all casualties as is morally required of any medical professional.
When someone brought up the fact that those “casualties” need not exist in the first place and raised the issue of the blatantly disproportionate figures, including civilian casualties, this IDF doctor’s response was that, “there’s always a large difference between Israeli and Palestinian deaths” during wars and the numbers are usually at least 100 to 1. I don’t need to tell you what happened after that, but let’s just say that after the talk was over, our little IDF friend was bombarded with questions, arguments, and debates for probably another 30-40 minutes. I didn’t stay and watch…
All in all, it was the best lecture/presentation I’ve seen in a very long time and I can’t stop telling people to go see it if he’s coming to a city near you. Most locations are across Canada, but Chicago, New York, and New Jersey are also hosting him in the coming weeks. For more information on dates and locations, visit: SPHR’s Event Page.