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

10 activists murdered by Israeli Navy aboard the Freedom Flotilla

10 activists were murdered aboard the ships, called collectively the Freedom Flotilla, carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

I can't type a complete update right now, because I am trying to stay on the news myself, and I am a little emotionally unstable myself from this shocking news. I will give you some links to stay up to date.

Watch Al Jazeera TV live

Haaretz's recent article about 10 murdered

ISM's continually updated article (includes formerly live feed from onboard the ship)

One of the organizing organizations has a website, WitnessGaza, which has twitter and video updates

From Woodward's War in Context:
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.
I heard this confirmed from a passenger on board via a live-streaming feed. The passenger said the boats were taking a more westerly course (Gaza lies southeast of the boats right now) to avoid a confrontation with the Israeli Navy. The Navy has made it clear that they will not allow the ships to port in Gaza, so I think we would all prefer their strong-arming moves to happen in the daylight.

I also echo the thoughts of Helena Cobban regarding the live feed from on board the ship:

10,892 people are currently watching the livestream. This is something new, sophisticated, and fascinating in nonviolent social action.

An Israeli Jew in support of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Jeff Halper has a great open letter over at The Only Democracy regarding the Freedom Flotilla:
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.

Freedom Flotilla in danger in international waters

The Freedom Flotilla is on its way to Gaza. The convoy, which contains 6 boats, less than the original number of boats because 2 boats had mechanical problems. The boats are more than 60 miles away from the 'exclusion zone' which extends about 60 miles off the coast of Gaza (the exclusion zone was recently extended from 20 miles to 60 miles of the coast).

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. and

Stolen Youth

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

PAY ATTENTION to the Freedom Flotilla

This is a news story you need to keep your ears open for. FYI, that means that you'll have to read something other than CNN to stay updated. The mainstream media (MSM) won't write about this story much, but it's one of the craziest things that Israel is doing, which is really saying something.

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 “less interested in bringing help, than with advancing their radical agenda, which plays into the hands of Hamas.” Humanitarian aid is a radical agenda of sorts...I guess.

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

Peace, the most misused word

Robert Fisk on 'Peace' and 'Democracy' and the role of media in the Middle East.  

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.  

Israel deals in nuclear weapons with apartheid-era South Africa

What makes this blog unique, at least from my perspective, is my firsthand account of what is happening - the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian nonviolent resistance - in the South Hebron Hills of Palestine.  Nevertheless, I also post excerpts of articles, quotes, and photos from articles relating to the struggle in Palestine and general politics in Israel/Palestine.  I don't claim to do this task well, and certainly not exhaustively, but I try to bring you, my readers, stories that you probably won't come across in the pages of the NY Times (read a phony, establishment paper).  There are other bloggers out there who do this posting/reposting much more professionally and exhaustively than I do, but I try to bring to you the news stories, from greater Palestine/Israel that really strike a chord with me.  This is one of those stories:

  The Guardian broke a story of leaked South African documents that reveal that Israeli was in discussions with the former apartheid regime regarding the exchange of nuclear weapons.  This is the first documentation which proves that Israel - which continually plays the "we can neither confirm nor deny" game - possesses nuclear weapons.  This from the Guardian:

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.
Amnesty International called Vanunu a prisoner of conscience.  I echo the prayer sent out by Sabeel:  
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

Feeling the Hate in New York

I am a bit slow on the uptake, as this video has been circulating the internet for a few weeks now.  Nonetheless, here is 'Feeling the Hate in New York.'

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.  

NGO provides electricity to Palestinian villages

This energy project has provided electricity to many villages in the South Hebron Hills, West Bank.  The project is great simply because it has provided electricity to the villagers in the area.  Additionally, local electrical engineers and laborers were hired to complete the work, providing income and a seeming sense of community support around the project.  

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.  

Oh Palestinian Gandhi, Where are you?

Yousef Munayyer wrote a great piece in the Guardian about Palestinian nonviolent resistance, Israel's repressions of Palestinian NV resistance, and the world's silence.  Munayyer starts with the classic refrain, asking where are the Palestinian nonviolent leaders:

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.
Munayyer goes on to outline the longevity of Palestinian nonviolent resistance and to identify the reasons for occasions of Palestinian armed resistance:  
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.
Munayyer then moves to challenge each of us to acknowledge our own complicity, as citizens of the world (and especially of the United States, I might add) who have remained silent:
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

Picture of the Week

FACING A CROWD: A Palestinian woman whose house has been occupied by Jewish settlers argued with Israelis who came to celebrate Jerusalem Day in the mainly Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, Wednesday. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A Wrestling Team and a U.S. Customs Official

Yesterday I returned to the States after my standard 3 months in Palestine.  At the end of my stint I spent some time traveling with my father and my sister in Israel, Palestine, and Egypt.  I wanted to share a couple of random experiences that have kept my wheels turning over the past few days.  Do you want the good story first, of the bad (but so freaking typical) story first?

I'll start with the good story, since I didn't hear anyone state a preference.  

Traveling through Palestine/Israel was both familiar and new.  Familiar because it's a place I have lived for more than 18 months.  Familiar because I have learned Arabic (certainly not fluently), because I have friends here, and because I largely know my way around.  But it was also new because we spent time in places I hadn't been to, or hadn't been to recently, such as Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee.  It was new because I was visiting places in Palestine/Israel with people who were seeing it all with new eyes.  It was new because it was a unique trip, with a unique group of people, following a unique itinerary.  

But traveling in Egypt was totally new.  None of us had ever been to Egypt, no one played tour guide.  I was shocked at how different Egyptian Arabic was from Levantine Arabic (the region comprised of Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria).  The Egyptian Arabic was almost totally incomprehensible to me.  I could pick up certain words here and there, but the accent was so different I felt like my Arabic skills were pretty useless.  This largely wasn't a big deal because the level of English spoken in Egypt was pretty phenomenal.  While I was walking around in the Egyptian Museum I heard native Egyptian tour guides speaking every common language on the planet to groups of tourists.

That whole paragraph was a long tangential introduction to get me to the (good) story at the Cairo Airport.  

As I sat in a chair in the Cairo airport, waiting for my boarding gate room to open up, I saw a couple guys who looked Arab, but not Egyptian.  I kept my eyes on them, just for the sake of curiosity, as I drank my overpriced Cafe Americani (traditional American coffee).  They were wearing matching athletic warm-up suits, and as they turned around I saw 'PALESTINE' emblazoned on the back of their jackets.  Their jackets stayed in my eyesight long enough for me to make out the Arabic that suggested they were a wrestling team from Palestine.  I got up to throw away my coffee cup and made my way over to them and asked them, "Intu min Falestiin (You all are from Palestine)?"

"Ah, min Falastiin" (Yeah from Palestine).
"Ween fi Falastiin" (Where from in Palestine)?
One replied, "Ana min Jenin" (I am from Jenin), and the second, "Ana min Nablus"
They asked me, "Min ween inte, inte btihki Arabi, laaken inte mish Falastiini" (Where are you from?  You speak Arabic but you aren't Palestinian).
The conversation proceeded as they asked about my work in Palestine and how the situation is near Hebron, which I am sure was a courtesy question because they know all about the occupation if they live in Jenin and Nablus, centers of ugly occupation in the West Bank.  They told me about their wrestling team and how they are traveling to Paris for a tournament.  I wished them luck and said I was happy they were able to travel out of the country for the tournament.  They said bye and wished me safe travels.  

I walked away from them with a big smile on my face.  Being able to speak with them in a dialect that is familiar was comforting and a nice surprise in the Cairo airport.  But the more telling and significant thing for me is how pleased I was to see Palestinian young men with the freedom to travel out of the country, to leave the occupation behind them for a few days.  Palestinians have an incredibly difficult time traveling, even within their own West Bank, much less traveling internationally.  

Athletic teams the world over cherish the opportunity to travel out of their local area to enter competitions and compete in games.  When I see Palestinians overcome the obstacles, checkpoints, roadblocks, racist bureaucracy, and apartheid red tape which are put in place by the occupier under the guise of security, I am filled with a sense of victory and joy, even for a moment.  Even the Palestine Men's National Soccer Team has had serious trouble getting permits for their Gazan players to even leave the Gaza Strip, much less travel abroad.  But this wrestling team was a little glimmer of hope, a shred of normalcy in the swallowing, dark chasm of darkness, apartheid, and occupation that limits people's freedom and self-determination.

The not-so-good story involved my entry into the United States and my passage through U.S. Customs.  I was pulled aside to a small room, where I was initially the only white person.  There was a group of Arab men, a group of people from Southeast Asia, and later on some Eastern Europeans women came in.  After a while my name was called and Lt. Spiekerman told me I was going to be asked some questions.  I was aware that my teeth were clenched and my arms crossed in a very defensive posture before the questioning even began.  

I was asked where I had been and what I was doing.  Israel and the Palestinian territories doing volunteer work and Egypt for tourism..blah blah blah.  It was pretty standard questions, which I have become very accustomed to because of Israeli security officials, but then I got the part that really chapped my ass: I was asked 6-8 times if I attended any madrassas during my travels.  Follow up questions consisted of, "did you receive any additional training or education, did you learn how to use arms, receive any.....uh know what I mean, did you attend any madrassas."  

I asked a clarifying question.  By madrassas, do you mean madrase, which is the Arabic word for school?  Are you asking if I attended a school or enrolled in a institute or higher education?  If that's the question then the answer is no, I did not.  

Unfortunately the guy didn't clarify his terms, but just kept asking about flipping madrassas.

A small linguistic lesson, for your own benefit.  There is really only one all inclusive word for school or leaning institute in Arabic, and it's madrase, or the plural is madaares.  Madrassa is just a bad English transliteration of the Arabic word for school, madrase.  It's the word written on the exterior of a elementary school, secondary school, etc.  The word has been utterly co-opted by Western politicans, media, and neoconservatives to mean a radical Islamic, anti-western, pro-terrorism institute of Islamic indoctrination and Islamic brainwashing.  That's clearly what this guy was asking me about.  I don't think he was asking me if I took a course in cooking at the American University in Cairo, or if I took a Hebrew language course at Jerusalem University.  

I was interested in how Wikipedia classified the term madrassa. Wikipedia mentions from the outset the Arabic origin of the word (and the general Semitic origin of the word, the Hebrew is midrash) and that the word means any type of "educational institution, whether secular or religious (of any religion)."  The article then explains the clarifying adjectives that can be placed by the word madrase to denote public, private, religious, Islamic, Christian, elementary, univeristy, etc.  This demonstrates there much be an adjective(s) in order to define what type of school the writer is speaking about.  Take a look at the index to see the descriptions of different levels and types of educational institutes in the Arabic world.  Then we get to the point of the Wikipedia article which made me smile and say, "yeah, damn you Lt. Spiekerman, I told you, son."  This section of the article made my point very clearly.   Possible Misuse of the Word.

From the mouths of babes, errr, Wikipedia. 
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.   
And the would-be knockout punch for Lt. Spiekerman: 

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."

Take that U.S Customs.  Take that U.S. media.  Take that U.S. public.  Take that Lt. Spiekerman.  

Please, STOP using a regular, ordinary word and twisting it around to paint all educational institutions in the Middle East (i.e. the part of the world you don't like) as bastions of violent and hateful Islamic teaching.  And Spiekerman, I have attended a madrase in the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC of Syria, when I was learning to speak Arabic, in order to do my human rights work at a higher and more professional level.  But lucky for you Lietenant, I didn't attend a madrase on this trip.    

The Freedom Flotilla Sets Sail

The Free Gaza Movement is on the open water again.  The Free Gaza Movement is a:
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

Whoops, Israel denying entry to Chomsky was all a big mistake...

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

Israel doesn't like Noam Chomsky

From Haaretz:
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

John Hagee...What a tool

John Hagee is the founder of Christians United for Israel.  He wrote this for the Jewish publication The Forward, and it also ran in Haaretz:
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

Forbidden Harvest

Back on March 6, three children from At-Tuwani were detained while gathering herbs.  I posted the press release along with photos.  

Here is the video from the incident:

Friday, May 07, 2010

I am a tourist

I am traveling a bit in the Middle East for the next 2 weeks and won't be blogging, unless, I get unfortunately outraged by something I read in the news over a buffet breakfast and a cup of coffee.  

They're Not Illegals Immigrants, They're Heroes

A great perspective on the increasingly tense immigration debate.  It's easy to not humanize the faces of these 'illegals' we talk about.  The full article is here, below is an excerpt:
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. 

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Think of Them and Be Scared

A short documentary film on the kids who walk to school in At-Tuwani and face violence from Israeli settlers.  CPT footage is used and a CPTer is interviewed.  Glad to see the stories getting out there about these kids resilience.