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”…
January 14, 2009
Dear Mr. President Barak H. Obama,
We, citizens of 43 countries, gathered in Cairo in December 2009, to travel to the occupied Gaza Strip to show solidarity with Palestinians who endured a massive and inhuman Israeli assault one year ago. We wanted to show them that we, citizens of the world, remember what our governments want us to forget: we remember that human beings live in the Gaza Strip. Men, women and children: mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, grandmothers and grandfathers: people like you and I.
We, citizens of democratic countries from 6 continents, who were forcibly stopped by the puppet Egyptian state from travelling to the Gaza Strip want to tell you that we remember the horror that was unleashed on the Gaza Strip a year ago. This week marks one year since US-ally Israel ended its lethal attack on the Gaza Strip: a year since phosphorus bombs, DIME bombs and other weapons of death and destruction deliberately targeted the defenseless civilian population of Gaza.
In your much quoted Cairo speech, you said,
“Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.”
And yet, Palestinians have seen nothing but more death and destruction since then. Your fine words in Cairo did not even result in Palestinians getting cement to rebuild their homes, mosques and schools.
The siege of occupied Gaza is collective punishment of the entire population, in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. As a lawyer, you must know this Convention is binding on all its signatories, including the United States, who are required to ensure the Convention is upheld. Yet, over the last few weeks, the infamy of the Israeli siege has been compounded by the construction of a new wall which will inevitably tighten still further the siege of Gaza and the humanitarian crisis which the siege was always designed to inflict. This new wall is being constructed by the Egyptian government with technical assistance from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Last month, the US authorised $1,040,000,000 in Foreign Military Assistance to Egypt including “border security programs and activities in the Sinai”.
The collective punishment of occupied Gaza in the name of “border security” – in direct violation of the 4th Geneva Convention – is the policy of your government.
You must also be aware that in Israel’s war of aggression on the occupied Gaza Strip, many civilians were massacred by Israel’s indiscriminate bombing – an act condemned by UN experts, including the respected South African, Judge Richard Goldstone – and leading human rights organizations, as war crimes and crimes against humanity. And yet you, a lawyer, ignore this incontrovertible evidence and continue to prop up the apartheid Israeli state. The assault in December 2008-January 2009 left over 1,440 Palestinians dead, predominantly civilians, of whom 431 were children. Another 5380 Palestinians were injured. These are not facts that we will forget, as we have not forgotten Deir Yassin, Sabra and Shatila, Jenin, Nablus, Beit Hanoun and over 60 years of Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people.
In your Cairo speech, you acknowledge the Palestinians’ right to nonviolent resistance. You even gave them advice to pursue it like African Americans, Indians, and South Africans:
For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia.
And that is precisely what we wanted to do in the Gaza Strip, Mr. President: We wanted to walk together with the people of Gaza to register our abhorrence of the collective punishment that has been imposed on them; We wanted to demand an end to the hermetic siege that has been imposed on them since the democratic elections of 2006. And yes, we were also citizens from South Asia, from Eastern Europe and from South Africa, all gathered together in Cairo, so we do know both the humiliation of segregation and the power of collective action. And we intend to use that power to support our Palestinian brothers and sisters as they fight to regain their stolen homeland.
We, the undersigned, call upon you to end the siege, Mr. President. It is an ethical and moral responsibility that you cannot avoid. We, 1400 international activists from 43 countries planned to be in Gaza on December 31 to march with the Palestinians of Gaza and demand that Israel lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip immediately and permanently. We could not do so because the Government of Egypt, an ally of the US, refused to allow us to cross into the Gaza Strip even as they began construction of a new wall to tighten the siege. We were denied the right to show Palestinians that we support their right to their homeland as guaranteed under international law. We were denied the right to show Palestinians that we remember their pain and suffering.
We were denied our right to show Israel and the United States that we will not watch what it does to the Palestinians and remain silent. But we refused to be denied the right to walk in solidarity with the oppressed, even if from afar: and we did. We chose to walk and protest in solidarity with the people of Gaza in Cairo.
You, President Barak Obama, choose to walk in solidarity with the oppressor. You choose to ignore the pain and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Like your predecessors, Reagan and Thatcher, who said in 1987 that Nelson Mandela would never be the President of a democratic South Africa, you too, choose to ignore the will of the people.
You are on the wrong side of history, President Obama, because we, citizens of the world, will not accept a Palestine that is occupied.
You are on the wrong side of history, President Obama, because our collective action, together with the action of Palestinians inside and outside Palestine and millions of people who recognise their just cause, will ensure a free Palestine in our lifetime. Of this we are certain.
1,361 international citizens from 43 countries