Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Al Jazeera, reporting live from the Freedom Flotilla at 6.30PM Eastern (1.30AM local Monday) said that after having been approached by Israeli navy ships several hours earlier, the flotilla has changed course in order to avoid a confrontation during the hours of darkness. The flotilla’s movements are being monitored by warships and aircraft — observers from the flotilla were not able to tell whether the distant aircraft was a helicopter of a drone.
the flotilla to Gaza has already succeeded. If the Israeli government allows the ships into Gaza, the power of the will have prevailed once more. If it chooses to stop the flotilla, it will only highlight the existence of the illegal and inhumane siege and bolster international efforts to end it. In both cases Israel loses the battle for legitimacy in the international community. This is the beauty of non-violent direct action. It is only a matter of time before it will be forced to relinquish control over the Palestinians and their lands.
Reminder: These ships are carrying humanitarian and building supplies.
Three Israeli warships have just approached the convoy, in international waters and have communicated with people on the ship through their radio systems. Passengers on the ships have donned their life jackets to be prepared for the worst case scenario. The last convoy that attempted to approach Gaza was rammed by an Israeli Navy warship. There are two live feeds, which at the current moment have become one. but I am still monitoring them both.
www.livestream.com/shiptogaza and www.livestream.com/insaniyardim
From Al Jazeera: The Geneva-based Defence for Children International (DCI) has collected 100 sworn affadavits from Palestinian children who said they were mistreated by their Israeli captors.
Fourteen of the statements say they were sexually abused or threatened with sexual assault to pressure them into confessions.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Israel will prevent ships, carrying humanitarian and rebuilding supplies, from reaching Gaza. Did you catch that? Israel will prevent ships, carrying humanitarian and rebuilding supplies, from reaching Gaza.
There are 20 million euros worth of supplies on the ships. Not weapons, but food, cement, wood, and toys.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the groups sending supplies and support are
The ships are currently in the open waters, moving towards Gaza. I will keep you updated, if you fail to do so yourself.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Fisk says the peace is the most abused and twisted word in the world today. In bringing peace and democracy to the Middle East, to someone else's land, we bring tanks and apache helicopters. The Arabs are used to this idea of 'peace' that we bring, cause we do it all the time.
Watch the first 1:10 of this video.
The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.The documents were uncovered by Sasha Polakow-Suransky is his forthcoming book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. The amusing thing about Polakow-Suransky uncovering these documents is that the current South African government had no qualms with breaking the secrecy/confidentiality agreement that the Apartheid government had made with Shimon Peres. Not surprisingly, the current South African government would not have an interest in protecting the former defense minister of the Apartheid-era government. I can just imagine the request for the documents being requested from a desk clerk at some government document archival facility.
*Desk clerk: You want documents from what?
*Author: A meeting that took place between the Israel Defense Minister and the S.A. Defense Minister in 1975.
*Desk clerk: (After some searching) Yeah, we have those meeting notes and documents but they are listed as classified.
*Author: Ok, well, can you declassify them? I really need them for my research.
*Desk clerk: Wait, what year was this? 1975? This was a meeting between apartheid Israel and apartheid South Africa? Oh hell yeah, man, I can declassify them. I don't even need to check with my superior. Anything I can do to help with your research.
There are more nuances to this collection of documents, which is explained in the Guardian article. There are corroborating documents written the same day, or in the following days, by South African officials talking about the defense benefits that the attainment of nuclear weapons would bring. I will not get into these other documents, I trust you can read more if you would like. The fact is, the articles show that Israel has nuclear weapons, and was willing to deal them to an egregious colonialist state, South Africa.
Here's an Al Jazeera interview with Polakow-Suransky, which provides a good summary of the important documents:
Now we'll move to another notable, and heartbreaking, news story. Mordechai Vanunu is back in jail. Mordechai Vanunu is the Israeli whistleblower who verified that Israel certainly possessed nuclear weapons. Vanunu worked at the Dimona nuclear power plant and gathered information and photos over his years of employment at Dimona.
Vanunu was released in 2004 after spending 18 years in prison, largely in solitary confinment, on charges of treason and espionage. Vanunu was released under parole conditions that prohibited him from leaving the country, approaching foreign embassies, or speaking with foreigners - in effect, prohibiting his freedom of speech and movement. Vanunu was convicted of parole violations (speaking with foreigners) and was given community service. Vanunu requested a community service option in Arab East Jerusalem because he felt his safety would be threatened around Israelis given that he is viewed as a traitor and anti-patriot. His request was denied and was told he must serve in Jewish West Jerusalem. Vanunu refused and was sentenced to 3 months of jail. A Guardian editorial condemns Israel's denial of Vanunu's human and civil rights:
This cynical treatment of Vanunu is a clear indication, once again, that Israel cares nothing for human rights legislation, nor any attempts to limit the possession, development and general spread of nuclear weapons.
We remember also prisoners of conscience all over the world, and particularly Mordechai Vanunu, the renowned whistleblower for Israel's nuclear program, who was imprisoned on Sunday, having been sentenced to serve six months in jail for allegedly breaking parole.
Shame on you Israel, for not admitting you have nuclear weapons and instead using a poor, innocent, prisoner of conscience, as your scapegoat to permit your ongoing refusal to confirm nor deny your possession of nuclear weapons. Shame of the United States and Israel for going to war - as well as ongoing threats to go to war - over the world's possession of nuclear weapons, while at the same time being two of the nations with the largest supply of nuclear weapons. Are Western countries more moral, responsible, and restrained with nuclear weapons? Sorry but history was written differently. Only one country has used a nuclear missile on people, the United States of America.
Shame on us for allowing people of conscience to rot in jail, our silence is complicity.
Friday, May 21, 2010
It's amazing to me how not one single person in this video is even close to humanizing any Arabs or any Palestinians. They would find their current ideology irreconcilable with Arabs being human beings, human beings with the right to dignity and self-determination.
Also, I hate it when being a Muslim is an indictment. I kinda wish Obama would have came out as a Muslim on April Fools Day, just to expose all of the anti-Arab sentiment in this country.
Now we need to move to the political side and challenge the Israeli government for not providing electricity to these villagers who live in area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control. As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for providing these services. I am glad the video, if only momentarily, recognizes that humanitarian projects like this electricity project, cannot be divorced from the 'on-the-ground' politics of the occupation. The occupation has a direct effect on people's ability to access food, land, education, medical treatment, and electricity.
There is a still a village in the area without electricity because it has been intentionally and systematically denied electricity by the Israeli occupation forces. The Israeli military has demolished At-Tuwani's attempts to access the electircal grid. See the video of At-Tuwani's electrical crisis here.
When will there be a Palestinian Gandhi? I'm often asked this question by people who sympathise with Palestinian suffering but are uncomfortable associating themselves with resistance movements that they see as violent or terrorist.
The reality of course is that Palestinian nonviolent resisters are not only active today but have a long and storied history in the Palestinian struggle. The real question is: why haven't we heard about them?
Like many resisting oppression, Palestinian Gandhis are likely to be found in prisons after being repressed by Israeli soldiers or police or in the hospital after being brutally beaten or worse.
While some have adopted an Israeli narrative that identifies nonviolent Palestinian dissentas something new, the reality is that Palestinians have consistently chosen nonviolent resistance before arms – from the general strikes of 1936, to the consistent appeals to international legal bodies, to the weekly demonstrations against the wall. It has been the continued dispossession at the hands of Israel, and the silence of the international community despite these nonviolent efforts, that has led some Palestinians to view violence as the only option.
The international community has an obligation to Palestinian nonviolent activists. Leaders cannot simply call on Palestinians to abandon violence in the face of Israeli occupation and remain silent when the nonviolent activists are politically repressed. This only reinforces the idea that the use of force reigns supreme and that Palestinians have no choice but to accept hardships at the hands of their Israeli lords.
Sadly, the same leaders who call on Palestinians to abandon violence have been silent in the face of Israeli repression. By condemning violent Palestinian resistance while remaining silent in the face of Israeli crackdowns and political arrests, they are simply endorsing violence against civilians by one side instead of the other.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Among Western countries post-9/11, the Madrasas are often perceived as a place of radical revivalism with a negative connotation of anti-Americanism and radical extremism, frequently associated in the Western press with Wahhabi attitudes toward non-Muslims. The word madrasah literally means "school" and does not imply a political or religious affiliation, radical or otherwise. They have a varied curriculum, and are not all religious.
The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization examined bias in United States newspaper coverage of Pakistan since the September 11, 2001 attacks, and found the term has come to contain a loaded political meaning: "When articles mentioned 'madrassas,' readers were led to infer that all schools so-named are anti-American, anti-Western, pro-terrorist centers having less to do with teaching basic literacy and more to do with political indoctrination."
human rights group that in August 2008 sent the first international boats to land in the port of Gaza in 41 years. We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.The most recent boats were violently rammed and stopped by the Israeli Navy for attempting to bring humanitarian supplies to Gaza. The Dignity was rammed three times by an Israeli Navy boat and the Spirit of Humanity was stopped and all aboard were arrested.
The recent Freedom Flotilla expedition has upped the ante with four boats sailing together. The boats will not enter Israeli waters, but will sail through European and International waters before entering Gazan waters.
Ewa Jasiewicz, a coordinator with the Free Gaza Movement, writes eloquently calling for radical stance of solidarity with the people of Gaza and with those who have lost their lives at the hands of the oppressors.
When Rachel Corrie stood in front of the bulldozer driver that killed her, she acted on radical trust -- that the soldier would see her humanity. She lost, because the soldier had lost his humanity. Yet Rachel's faith abides in each of us. Because if our oppressors are losing their humanity then we must never stop showing them that we have it. We are undertaking this mission in the spirit of those who have fought and sacrificed their lives for our collective humanity, and to remind everyone who can see of the need to act on it.
Monday, May 17, 2010
More on Chomsky's denial. The Minstry of Interior said it was the military's responsibility to say 'yah' or 'neigh.' Complete BS, because the Ministry of Interior's questions to Chomsky were very clear and knowledgeable and assumed they had the ability to make a decision to deny him entry. Cross-posted from Richard Silverstein over at Tikun Olam.
Oops, it was all a big misunderstanding claims Eli Yishai’s Interior Ministry. That’s what Al Jazeera claims the goons who denied Prof. Noam Chomsky entry into the West Bank at the Allenby crossing are now saying. As Chomsky says in this interview, what could they have misunderstood? Who he was? Where he was going (to speak at Bir Zeit University)?
Here’s the government’s statement which should be read to see how bureaucracy functions so well in service of Occupation and its associated evils:
Sabine Haddad, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, confirmed to Haaretz that the officials at the border were from the ministry.“Because he entered the Palestinian Authority territory only, his entry is the responsibility of the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories at the Defense Ministry. There was a misunderstanding on our side, and the matter was not brought to the attention of the COGAT.”Haddad told Haaretz that “the minute the COGAT says that they do not object, Chomsky’s entry would have been permitted.”
So what she’s saying is that her own ministry official made a mistake in not passing off Chomsky’s entry to the Defense Ministry. If entry via the Allenby Bridge is supposed to be handled by the Defense Ministry, why was it handled by the wrong Ministry? Are there two types of entries there that are handled differently depending on the individual? It simply doesn’t pass the smell test.
Israel Radio quotes an apparently conflicting statement from the Interior Ministry specifying that Chomsky must access the West Bank through Ben Gurion Airport. Reading between the lines, aside from petty harrassment, this seems to be another attempt by Israel to compel Chomsky to concede that Israel controls the West Bank. Undoubtedly, they viewed his attempt at entering via Jordan as a way to deny Israeli sovereignty over the territory.
Given the alternate statements it makes you wonder who’s running the show, or whether anyone’s running the show at the Ministry. Joe Biden probably wondered the same thing the day he was buffaloed by the Ramat Shlomo announcement.
On days like today when Omar Said’s detention has been extended along with a prohibition against consulting his attorney, I tear my hair because there is too much about which to write. Too much injustice. Too much repression. Too much fear. Too much stupidity.
When Professor Chomsky, one of the world’s most distinguished linguists and a fierce critic of Israeli Occupation and policy, presented himself at the Allenby Bridge, he was grilled for hours about his intentions. The official interrogating him made clear that they were refusing him entry because of his hostile views and because he was only speaking at Bir Zeit, but not in Israel (which he has often done). The latter is a laughable criticism. If Chomsky had been on his way to lecture at Bir Zeit and an Israeli university then they would have had grounds to claim that his views couldn’t be espoused within Israel without harming the security interests of the State. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
His interrogator consulted closely with his superiors in the Ministry. So for Yishai’s minions to claim it was all a big misunderstanding is ludicrous. They knew exactly what they were doing and did it. It was about as much of a misunderstanding as Joe Biden’s snub at the hands of the same Ministry which had approved 1,600 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem the day before he arrived in Israel. All an accident, a big misunderstanding. It’s almost like they’d put a shiv in between your ribs and watch you bleed to death all the while telling you it was all just a big misunderstanding.
Noam Sheizaf had one of the best summaries of the significance of this incident:
There is no arguing that Israel is now viewing certain ideas, not just actions, as existential threat, and is willing to make use of its powers in order to suppress them. It is important to understand this point: Some people think that the state made a stupid mistake today, when it chose to refuse Chomsky a visa. But that’s only true if you judge the affair in terms of actual security – then you conclude that making such a fuss over a speech in Ramallah by an aging linguistic that no one would even notice is pure madness. But if you are obsessed with the persecution of “dangerous ideas” and constantly searching for ideological menaces, then Chomsky is a threat. In this context, not allowing him to enter your country might be logical…but it is also scary is hell.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Professor Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and left-wing activist, was denied entry into Israel on Sunday, for reasons that were not immediately clear.
Chomsky, who was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Jerusalem, told the Right to Enter activist group by telephone that inspectors had stamped the words "denied entry" onto his passport when he tried to cross from Jordan over Allenby Bridge.
And then a perfectly vague reason for denial, that is so ironically apropos for the only (read faux) democracy in the Middle East.
In a telephone interview with Channel 10, Chomsky said the interrogators had told him he had written things that the Israeli government did not like.
"I suggested [the interrogator try to] find any government in the world that likes anything I say," he said.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
On May 23, pastors, ministers and priests at more than 1,500 churches in all 50 states and over 50 foreign countries will dedicate their Sunday services to teaching the importance of Christian support for Israel.
On that day — the second annual Christians United for Israel Sunday — church leaders will speak to their congregants about God’s enduring covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people, including God’s promise in Genesis 12:3 that He will bless those who bless Israel.
Christians attending these churches will also learn about the miraculous rise of the modern State of Israel and the existential threats it faces today. Many will leave church with a better understanding of the dangers of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Palestinian terror and the international campaign against Israel’s legitimacy.
Christian support for Israel starts with the Bible, is strengthened by an understanding of history and endures because of the Judeo-Christian commitment to democratic values. Everything that forms the Christian understanding of the world leads to the same conclusion: Christians should support Israel because it is simply the right thing to do.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
We need to stop calling undocumented immigrants in the United States "illegal". A more appropriate term is: New American Heroes.
Why are undocumented immigrants heroes?
Millions of Americans, immigrants and citizens, work incredibly hard every single day in ridiculously low paying jobs that are the life-blood of our economy but are barely life-sustaining in return. I think every person who gets up at the crack of dawn or in the middle of the night to work one or two or even three jobs so they can pay the rent and put food on the table are heroes. But as hard as it is for every low-wage worker in the United States (and increasingly, middle class folks too) undocumented immigrants face additional, greater obstacles. These undocumented immigrants are heroes, too.As I was reading this I started to think of slogans, aphorisms, bumper-sticker-like sayings. "Undocumented Heroes," "Heroes without papers," "Racially-profiled Heroes," etc, etc.