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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Palestinians demand opening of Shuhada St

 "Open Shuhada street" protest, Hebron, Palestine, 25/2/2011

My latest at Waging Nonviolence covers the February 25th demonstration in which Palestinians demanded the opening of Shuhada Street in the West Bank city of Al-Khalil (Hebron).  
Protestors attempted to reach Shuhada Street but were intercepted by Israeli forces who formed human walls to prevent Palestinians from reaching the street that formerly hosted the city’s main market. The protestors marched towards the line of soldiers, holding signs and chanting, “We don’t want the settlers nor the occupation,” and, “the people want Shuhada Street.”
Finish reading the post. There's compelling video there as well. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Irish journalist attempts to arrest Israel's Foreign Minister

Irish journalist David Cronin, correspondent for IPS and commentator for The Guardian, on Tuesday attempted a citizens arrest on Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.


Cronin wrote for the Electronic Intifada explaining his attempted citizen's arrest:
If apartheid is a crime, there is only one way to treat its practitioners: arrest them. That is precisely what I tried to do when I confronted Avigdor Lieberman, the architect of a series of laws designed to make Israeli apartheid even more draconian than it already is.

As the Israeli foreign minister was about to give a press conference in Brussels today, I stood in front of him and shouted: "Mr. Lieberman, this is a citizen's arrest. You are charged with the crime of apartheid. Please come with me to the nearest police station." I was about to explain the charge further but two security guards had already whisked me away from Lieberman and his inscrutable glare. So I shouted "Free Palestine" and "Israel is an apartheid state" to underscore my point.

My action will probably lead to the confiscation of the badge that had given me access to the headquarters of the EU's main institutions. Most journalists to whom I have spoken in the past few hours appear to view this as a major issue. For me, it is a trivial one. Palestinians are deprived of liberty every day because of the policies pursued by Lieberman and his government colleagues. Compared to the restrictions on movement caused by military checkpoints in the West Bank or by that medieval blockade of Gaza, the loss of my press card is of no consequence.

Israeli military demolishes Amniyr village


I get tired of coming up with adjectives and superlatives to describe the emotions I feel or to describe the degree of injustice or humanity that I see. This time, I'm not going to try. I hope you filed the void by uttering some superlatives or expletives as you were watching the above video.

On Wednesday, we got a call at 7:20 in the morning that the Amniyr demolitions were taking place. No one in at-Tuwani, where our house is located, has a proper permit to drive on the settler road that connects at-Tuwani and Amniyr. I called folks in Susiya, adjacent to Amniyr, to see if they could come and pick us up, but they said the whole area was a 'closed military zone' and the IDF wouldn't permit them to leave. After moments of thinking we wouldn't be able to get there in time, I happened upon a group of ISM activists, who kindly shared their taxi.  As the video shows, we got there right as the bulldozers were being driven off and the military jeeps were leaving the scene.

The woman who can be seen holding the olive branch in the video was crying for the majority of 2+ hours I was there. At one point she was looking over the well, asking God why the soldiers would destroy her source of water (it was destroyed by filling it to the brim with dirt). She lamented that the well might run dry forever. Through her tears of despair, the Palestinians gathered around her were offering words of support, "walla ihimmak ya hajji, ma bitsiir fadi, il bier bitsiir bi dalu, bitsiir bi dalu, inshallah," -- don't worry ma'am, this well won't run dry, it will soon be filling buckets, this well will overflow your cup (roughly translated).

Most of the families' belongings were smashed underneath piles of dirt and building supplies.  The residents of Amniyr tried to find glasses that had survived the demolitions in order to serve us tea.

I spoke with Moath Jaboor, a resident of Amniyr, who is in his final year of high school and hoping to score well on the tawjihi (the SAT, more or less -- good scores are necessary for university admittance) in order to study journalism. Moath served the visitors tea, comforted his distraught mother, and provided me with important documentation and information regarding the history of the Amniyr residents. Moath joked that he at least got a day off from school today, because of the demolitions. He paused and then reflected that it's better when all the students get a day-off, instead of him taking a personal day-off because of the demolition of his village.

I spoke with Maan News shortly after the incident who then reported on the demolitions. The CPT press release is here in full:

22 February 2011 - At 5 AM this morning the Israeli army, accompanied by members of the Israeli District Coordinating Office, arrived at the village of Amniyr and demolished five tent-houses, two cisterns and the village's olive trees. The demolitions effectively destroyed the entire village and left its three families homeless. All that remained unharmed after the military left was a cave and a small taboun oven.

According to villagers, the military had been coming frequently for the past several months and delivering demolition orders and maps claiming that the village was on Israeli state land, and that their homes would be demolished unless everyone left.

Residents of Amniyr told CPT that they have suffered from years of settler and army harrassment. Years ago, members of the Jaboor family lived in the cave in Amniyr, but Israeli military and settler harassment forced them to move to a different area a few kilometers away. The harrassment continued in their new location, however, convincing the family to move back to tents close to their original cave just over a year ago.

What was once a small village is now a pile of dirt mounds, uprooted olive trees and shattered clocks and dishware.

"Where are we supposed to sleep tonight?" said Moath Jaboor, who lived in a tent with his mother. "We'll have to rebuild our homes so that we can sleep."

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.
 

Monday, February 21, 2011

EI article: Al-Tuwani children's struggle to go to school

My latest is up at Electronic Intifada.  I write about settler harassment of schoolchildren that occurred on February 7, 2011.  I previously posted the press release.

The Electronic Intifada article is a reflection piece tries to paint a picture that usually doesn't come through in writing.  I hope it helps to convey the humanity of these kids as they're treated so very inhumanely.

Go read the article

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11817.shtml


Sunday, February 20, 2011

A cold wind and standard humiliation

The wind was blowing so hard that 2-inch blades of grass were lying horizontally on top of one another. The cold wind seemed to convert my jacket into a layer of porous mesh.

We walked down the hill towards two Palestinian vehicles and an Israeli Border Police jeep. Israeli Border Police officers had two Palestinian men in the back of their jeep, handcuffed, when we arrived.

Responding to my questions about the purpose of the men's arrest, the officers stated the men had been driving stolen cars.

After the handcuffs were removed and the men were allowed to sit on the ground outside of the jeep -- and subsequently, the blood flow returned to their hands where the zip ties had been cinched down -- they described started to describe their side of the story.

Detained Palestinian men sit in the cold

Israeli forces had been stopping and searching cars in Yatta. This is strange in and of itself because Yatta lies firmly in Area A, territory where Palestinian Authority is tasked with ensuring security.  Additionally, the Oslo Accords (supposedly) prevent Israelis from conducting operations in Area A without coordination with the PA. So either the PA allowed Israeli forces to stop and search cars in Yatta (quite likely, given the PA is corrupt, unelected and held up with US money) or Israel was in contravention of the Oslo accords (also not hard to believe).

After being stopped in Yatta, the men were thrown in the back of the Border Police Jeep.  Officers then took the men's keys and drove their cars out to Area C, near at-Tuwani. After arriving in the Area C, the officers could conduct their operation in accordance with the Oslo Accords and other agreements that resulted from the (non)peace process. The officers, with the help of the Israeli police, called in the vehicle identification numbers (VIN's) and determined the cars were stolen.

Both men swore they didn't know the cars were stolen, and ended up signing statements to that effect.

The Border Police officers had meanwhile stopped a friend of ours, Mahmoud, who was driving his tractor to take his daughter to her university classes in Yatta.

Mahmoud's daughter sits on wheel well of the trailer.

The soldiers photographed his tractor and called in his VIN.


Border Police officer photographs VIN, Mahmoud watches

Mahmoud was eager to get his daughter to university punctually -- I'm sure she was even more eager to get there punctually -- so he suggested leaving his wallet and ID card with the officers while he dropped off his daughter in Yatta. His return would, of course, then be guaranteed and he would be return to answer any questions or face any consequences deemed appropriate by the Israeli forces.

Mahmoud's suggestion was not accepted.  His daughter was probably late to class.

The two men, who we originally came upon, were later arrested after sitting in the bitter cold for 3 hours.  The men were taken to Kiryat Arba Police Station and there cars were taken away by a toe truck.  During their detention, one of the men had to pee in public several times, with a soldier standing guard about 12 inches behind the urinating man.

Whenever I tried to speak with the men, I was told to be quiet, that it was forbidden to talk to the men.  The officer would then yell at the Palestinians in Hebrew, telling him not to speak with me. Despite the unlawful nature of the request, the detained men asked me to go along with it so as not to make matters worse. During moments when the officers were busy joking around, smoking, or eating snacks I got information from the men about the detention and their knowledge of the legality of their cars.

The most insulting part of the encounter was one Border Police officer coming over every 30 minutes, or so, and asking the men, "Kull shi tamaam?" [Is everything alright]. The men never responded verbally but one would flip his palms upward, as if to say, What are we supposed to say, man? It's freezing cold, we're not allowed to talk,  we've been here for three hours, and I have to pee in public while you stand guard. Not to mention the fact I am going to lose the car I paid money for, not knowing it was stolen. Does it sound like everything's alright?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bedouins resist 17th demolition of their village

My latest piece is up at Waging Nonviolence.

Eviction at Al Araquib, July 27th 2010.

Read the whole piece, here's the intro:
The residents of al-Arakib, a Bedouin village in Israel’s Negev Desert, refuse to leave and they refuse to cease rebuilding, despite 17 demolitions in a span of just eight months -  the most recent taking place on Wednesday.  As the number of demolitions has risen, the severity of force used against al-Arakib residents, who rightfully resist the demolition of their homes, has also risen. Those at the scene on February 16, reported that Israeli forces arrived and immediately began shooting tear gas, stun grenades, and foam-tipped bullets at the residents.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Commerce, life, and culture returning to Hebron Old City

Yesterday marked the celebration of the Prophet Mohammed's birthday. The souq (market) was full of people on their way to the Ibrahimi Mosque for noon prayers.

The Old City of Hebron used to be the vibrant hub of life in the city. Week-long curfews and shop closures by the IDF during the second intifada resulted in the sharp decline of commerce and residency in the Old City. The Old City is now slowly returning to its former glory, despite severe obstacles due to the occupation, thanks to the efforts of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and international donors.

Here is some video I shot yesterday.  Large crowds gathered outside the mosque after prayers, and they had to pass through Israeli military checkpoints, in the form of turnstiles.  Oh, and I LOVE that Turkish Delight candy, it's delicious.





IDF soldiers detaining young boys near Ibrahimi Mosque

Palestinians are allowed to walk on one side of the road




Turkish delight factory


Selling beans

New Old City Museum opened recently

Ancient plow. Farmer would press down on handle (upper left) and blade would dig in to ground (bottom left)

Museum

Anyone know what this is?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Video: Long live Masr

تحيا مصر long Live Egypt - 11-02-2011 from karim shaaban on Vimeo.

I don't have idealistic dreams of a utopia based upon national identities and national pursuits. But I think this is something more, it's something more than nationalism. It's about a suppressed and repressed people, who couldn't express their discontent with the government or their dissent from the political power brokers, who decided that they'd had enough and it was time to liberate themselves. And it's beautiful. It's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Video: Israeli forces arrest, manhandle young child

Inside the Military Repression of Nabi Saleh: Arrest of Children from Joseph Dana on Vimeo.

From Joseph Dana, who posted the video:
The above is another video from Nabi Saleh, shot a couple of days after the night raids. It was taken on a Tuesday morning after Israeli authorities had completed another house raid. As the army and police were leaving, one police van stops and two border police officers jump out. 11-year-old Kareem Tamimi comes running into the frame, running towards his mother. The camerawoman begins shouting “Child! Child!” in Hebrew to the border police officers to no avail.

The border police officers capture the child, handling him as if he was a fully grown adult. Within seconds he is in the police van and on the way out of the village toward an undisclosed location. His mother’s cries as she slams her hands against the windows of police van are disregarded by the border police officers.

Kareem’s arrest was part of a strategy to apply as much pressure as possible on his 14-year-old brother Islam, who was arrested the previous day in a night raid, in order that Islam will deliver any script that his investigators wanted. The strategy worked, and Kareem was released later the same evening.

After this arrest happened, the army spokespersons unit alerted the media and twitter followers that another ‘wanted suspect’ was taken in for security questioning. They failed to mention that he was an 11-year-old child.
A couple instances in the video are worth translating.

-As Dana says, 'Yalad' is Hebrew for boy. The woman is continually pleading with the Israeli forces, 'yalad zghir, yalad zghir,' meaning, 'he's a young child, he's a young child.'
-0:45 - Woman taping tells at the boy, "hold on to me," while the police are dragging him away.
-1:10 - Policeman begins pushing woman videotaping, she responds, "I'm from B'tselem, I'm from B'tselem," referring to the Israeli human rights organization that places cameras in many Palestinian villagers as a part of their 'Shooting Back' campaign.
-1:50 - Woman yells to those in the distance that they have taken Kareem.
-2:00 - Woman dressed in black runs to car and is imediately shoved away by the aggressive policeman. The woman videotaping tells the policeman that Kareem is her son to explain why she is so eager to get to the van.
-When they open the door to let her speak to her son they keep telling her not to get in the car.

Haunting video. The kid is 11 years old for crying out loud, detained because his village and his family have engaged in a nonviolent resistance movement against the Israeli occupation.  I guess the struggle is proving successful because the oppressors are trying to crush the resistance, and they're resorting to arresting kids and forcing them to give bogus testimony against nonviolence leaders in Nabi Saleh.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Masked Israeli settlers chase schoolchildren, give directions to Border Police

The latest incident in the village where I work. I was present and was running in fear just like the kids who were with me. I hope to write a reflection in the coming days, cause this press release doesn't justly describe the horror of masked thugs puffing up their chests and chasing little kids. 

At-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills, West Bank—On the afternoon of 7 February 2011, three Israeli settlers from Havat Ma'on outpost chased a group of twelve Palestinian schoolchildren who were walking home from school.  The Israeli military had failed to arrive to escort the schoolchildren, forcing the children to take a longer path without the army's escort.

Shortly after the schoolchildren and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) volunteers set out on the path towards Tuba and Maghayir al-Abeed villages, Israeli settlers, two of whom were masked, emerged from the grouping of trees that encompass Havat Ma'on and began moving towards the children.  Upon seeing the settlers, the children turned and sprinted to distance themselves from the settlers.  Several children cried and screamed as they ran away from the settlers; one young girl began shaking uncontrollably as soon as she stopped running from the settlers.

The Israeli Border Police, who were located on an adjacent hill for the duration of the incident, arrived at the scene after the Palestinian children had safely distanced themselves from the settlers.  The Border Police stopped and spoke with the settlers, two of whom remained masked during the entire conversation.

The Border Police then approached the edge of At-Tuwani village where the children, CPT volunteers, and Palestinian adults had gathered.  Border Police officers spoke with a CPT volunteer and an At-Tuwani resident, seeking to understand what had happened.  After hearing their accounts but refusing to hear the role the settlers had played, the officers suggested that the Palestinian children, internationals, and At-Tuwani villagers were the ones causing problems, rather than the settlers.

Before the children had set out on the longer path without the military escort, CPT volunteers had called the Israeli military four times inquiring as to the whereabouts of the escort.  During CPT's final call to the military—more than thirty minutes after their initial call—the military dispatch office said that they had not yet called the soldiers who were to provide the escort, because they had more important duties to perform.

The Border Police officers eventually escorted the children home, but all of them remained in their jeep, laughing, as the children walked behind the jeep, visibly shaken.


Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal.  Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.] 



Where else to find me

I said I would keep readers up to date on where my posts are being picked up.  My recent satirical post after hearing McCain calling the Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen pro-democracy movements a 'virus,' is up on Mondoweiss.

It's nice to see something get a slew of comments and a semblance of a discussion take place afterward. Hopefully we can get more of that here on 'Do Unto Others.' I'm looking at you, yes you.

Introducing: Mona Eltahawy

Writer and blogger, Mona Eltahawy, has been making a lot of appearances on US Television. She is a brave sole for squaring off against many antagonistic voices (i.e. US and Israeli pundits) in the mainstream media.

It's telling how many nongermane claims are made to discount Eltahawy and her point about the democratic and classless nature of the revolution in Egypt. The doubters are forced to refer to PEW poles regarding stoning and sharia law and to make erroneous connections to burqas and Hamas.



Sunday, February 06, 2011

Short Film: Ali's Wall

The third film honored in the Israeli Apartheid Film Contest is 'Ali's Wall.'  

Ali's wall, which won the Palestine Jury Prize, is the story of Ali 'Jidaar' Fathi Al-Jouri. Ali, a 16 year-old boy who lives in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, was sentenced to eight years in prison for placing a Palestinian flag on the separation barrier which borders Aida Camp. This is his story. 

Macy Gray concert: they're checking race cards at the door

For background on Macy Gray's internal, and public, dilemma over whether to play in Tel Aviv, see my Mondoweiss post (for the public's opinion on the concert, see my supplementary post). 

Max Blumenthal interviewed Sa'id from Na'alin village, about whether he thinks Macy Gray should play Tel Aviv. 


The takeaway point is that Sa'id cannot attend the concert based on his ethnicity, not on his place of residence, as many would have you believe. Neighboring Jewish settlers, living in the West Bank, can attend the Macy Gray concert. Palestinians living in the West Bank cannot. That's a racist system. And Macy's part and parcel.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Short Film: Confront the Wall


The second film honored in the Israeli Apartheid Film Contest is 'Confront The Wall,' which won the Global Jury Prize. The Grand Prize winner can be seen here.

'Confront The Wall' tells the story of the Aamer family, whose home was imprisoned in a solitary cell by the separation barrier. This short film documents the family's resistance against their imprisonment, and the support they received from Israeli and international friends. 

Democracy is a virus


If John McCain had beaten Obama, this is the speech he would be making:
This menacing wave washing over the Middle East is one of the gravest dangers this world has ever seen. This virus has already crept in and destroyed Tunisia. Tunisia's president was forced to leave the country to spare his own life from this awful turn of events. The virus has moved across North Africa and is currently festering in Egypt. We have recommended that President Mubarak leave the region to avoid drastic consequences of this virus. As I address you tonight, this sickness is threatening to spread to nearby Jordan and Yemen. 

Our scientists and technicians have been working tirelessly to discover more about this awful virus. It seems to be targeting our allies: oppressive dictatorships and undemocratic regimes whose stability are necessary for our way of life. Our brightest minds are working to protect us from this beast which threatens not only our great nation, but all of humankind

Citizens of this great country, this is the most dangerous time in all of modern history. But this is not a time for fear; but is instead, a time to be brave and to heed the call to defend our liberties and our freedoms. Go home tonight and hold your loved ones, look them in the eyes and tell them why this nation is a great nation, remind yourself of why we have persevered and prospered as a light on the hill for all of the world. 

We will overcome this disease that threatens to undermine our way of life. We will defeat democracy and we will be free.  Thank you and good night. 

What do Israelis think of Egpytian solidarity protests?

Palestinian citizens of Israel gathered in northern Tel Aviv in support of the anti-dictator uprising that has spread all across Egypt.  An Israeli journalist was on hand to ask the opinions of Israelis who gathered to observe the protesters. The results are shocking, but not in the surprising sense of the word.


This video evokes in me a great degree of sadness. Each one of the people interviewed is motivated, in large part, by their fear. Fear of the Palestinians, of the Palestinian flag, of the Arabic language, or of Egyptian democracy. In some people, the fear has clearly morphed into anger and hatred. 

Some of these Israelis refuse to accept the fact that those demonstrating in central Tel Aviv are in fact Israelis themselves. At the end of the video, those yelling at the Palestinian Israelis to return to their homes are just ignorant. The Palestinian Israelis are still in Israel because they were among the fortunate Palestinians who never had to leave their homes in 1948 or 1967. They are truly at home, but have been made a minority by the birth of Israel -- that's not necessarily a moral judgement, it's just a fact.  

Those interviewed have never had a friendship with a Palestinian, much less an in-depth conversation with a Palestinian, I can nearly guarantee you of that. 

It also struck me how self-centered and nationally-centered these folks were, which isn't unique to Israelis, but is (God forgive us) symptomatic of the human race. These Israelis interviewed believe Mubarak is good. Why? They believe Mubarak is good because he maintained peace with Israel, and Israel didn't have to defend itself against a hostile Egyptian state. Does calling him a man of peace have any relation whatsoever to the way he treated the Egyptian people?  Does his 30-year-long torture and repression of those who expressed public dissent have any relation to whether Mubarak was a good man, was a peaceful man? No, of course not. Mubarak was good if he was good to me. He should be kept in power because his rule was good for me and my countrypeople. 

Nationalism is a nasty thing. Racism is even nastier.

How would you like your democracy?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Art is hope; great political cartoon


Best video (yet) from Cairo protests

New look

The old template I was using on this blog was driving me crazy. From day one I never got it to look the way I wanted, it was fairly colorful and busy, and it acted so finicky when I tried to make HTML changes. So I acted on impulse and decided to change things around. 

Let me know if you like the changes, color scheme, header image, widgets in sidebar, etc. I'd love your feedback. 

Also, I was having a terrible time picking an image for the header. I have a LOT of images of Palestine at home (in the States) on a hard drive, but I don't have many images with me on this computer.  So out of my limited supply, I was debating between two images. I actually prefer the image I didn't choose but the dimensions weren't right. I couldn't crop the height of the picture enough without cropping it right about their heads, so it resulted in a really long header. Here is the one I thought about using:


Here is the current one, to give you some perspective on the size of the headers in comparison with one another: 

Whats's your preference? Let me know in the comments.  

Short Film: Road Map to Apartheid


Stop the Wall and itisapartheid.org collaborated to create the Israeli Apartheid Video Contest. Out of the submissions, the top 10 films were selected to be featured on itisapartheid.org.  Out of those 10 films, three were chosen for higher honors. I will post these each of these three films in the coming days.

The Expert Panel Prize and Overall Prize were given to 'Road Map to Apartheid.' This 10-minute film is excerpted from a forthcoming feature-length documentary. This short film is extremely well done, containing interviews with Israeli Jews, Palestinians, and black and white South Africans. Enjoy. 


(h/t to US Campaign)

Mike Huckabee: You make me sick

Mike Huckabee was recently in Israel. While he was there he attended a cornerstone laying ceremony in east Jerusalem's Mount of Olives neighborhood. Just to be clear, this was a ceremony for a the building of a new settlement. The settlement lies east of the Green Line, and not one international body has officially recognized any Israeli colony east of the Green Line. Despite the lack of support for Israeli settlement, neither by an international body nor any nation state, Huckabee seems to think Israel extends from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River:


I can't let Huckabee get away with being an outright liar.  Huckabee says in that video:
It is inconceivable in many ways that we would have to argue and debate whether or not Israelis can live in Israel, not just in part of Israel but anywhere they want to live. I cannot imagine as an American being told that I could not live in certain places in America because I was Christian, or because I was white, or because I spoke English. I would be outraged if someone told me that in my country, I would be prohibited and forbidden to live in a part of that country, for any reason.
Facts: Israeli Jews can live ANYWHERE in Israel they want to live. Due to international law, it is illegal for Israelis to live outside of Israel while being protected by the Israeli army.  The fact is that Israelis can actually live anywhere they want in the West Bank as well, despite the clear contempt for international law in doing so, because no one is holding Israeli settlers accountable for choosing to steal land and squat on Palestinian territory.  Mike, as an American, you can live anywhere in your country, just like Israeli Jews can live anywhere in their country.  

Tangent: Why am I using the term Israeli Jew when speaking about those Israelis who can live anywhere in Israel? Well because 20% of the Israeli population is Arab, and due to a racist system, Israeli Arabs cannot live anywhere they choose. Israeli citizens in al-Araqib, a town in Israel's Negev Desert, have seen their village demolished nine times in the last year. Because their ethno-religious category is not Jewish, they cannot live where they would like

The AJC reports that Huckabee presented some ideas about where Arabs living in the Holy Land should move to since the West Bank and Gaza are actually pseudonyms for Eretz Yisrael, and are to be settled by Jews and Jews only.
Huckabee suggested that a Palestinian state were to be established, it shouldn't come at Israel's expense. "There are vast amounts of territory that are in the hands of Muslims, in the hands of Arabs. Maybe the international community can come together and accommodate," he said in a meeting with reporters.
Huckabee basically presents the idea of ethnic cleansing and of the population transfer of Palestinians while cloaking the ideas in softer terms. Also, is he suggesting that we send these Palestinians to Muslims or to Arabs? Because not all Muslims are Arabs and not all Arabs are Muslims. I can't imagine Palestinians would feel terribly at home in Pakistan or Afghanistan, where they wouldn't even speak the same language as the locals. I also can't see that Palestinian Christians would feel like they were arriving to their people if they were sent to Persian and Muslim Iran. These are bigoted statements that refuse to grant Palestinians a nationality, but rather lump them all into the category of 'Muslim' and 'Arab', and I am fairly certain Huckabee doesn't distinguish between 'Arab' and 'Muslim' and doesn't acknowledge the various nationalities of brown people in the Middle East.


Huckabee has no concept of the Palestinian history of dispossession as a result of the birth of the state of Israel. He has completely flipped the reality of the current situation and seems to believe Palestinians (or 'Arabs' as he would prefer) are squatting on Jewish land. He thinks there are racist undertones and overtones in demanding that Jews stop building houses in their own country. However, the opposite is true. The Israeli apartheid system, which controls all of the land from the sea to the river, privileges Jews over non-Jews and is leading to the slow genocide of Palestinian residents of the region. 

Huckabee is such a novice on this issue, and has such a myopic view of the political and demographic realities, that I would accept a public debate with him on the issue. Even more, I am hereby publicly challenge Mike Huckabee (I feel like Stephen Colbert right now) to a debate with yours truly. Bring it on Mike, I would shred you in a public debate on Israel and Palestine (and I know 200 people who could shred you infinitely harder!).

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mubarak takes a page out of Netanyahu's book; dismisses Obama while raking in the money

Juan Cole, a historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia at University of Michigan, is a brilliant man with opinions and analysis that I consistently find spot on.  His latest piece covers the ongoing protests in Egypt and the United States' financial support for the repressive and criminal government in Egypt. Cole connects the United States support of Egypt to their unwavering, and continually increasing, financial support of Israel.  Cole doesn't mince words as he calls Israel's treatment of Palestinians a 'slow genocide' that is 'among the worst ongoing crimes of one people against another in the world.'  Cole's point is that Netanyahu and  Mubarak are giving Obama the finger, refusing to capitulate to his requests, yet they keep shoveling U.S. money into their pockets -- and in Mubarak's case, I mean literally, into HIS own pocket.  The whole piece is pasted below because you need to read the whole thing. 
It should be remembered that Egypt’s elite of multi-millionaires has benefited enormously from its set of corrupt bargains with the US and Israel and from the maintenance of a martial law regime that deflects labor demands and pesky human rights critiques. It is no wonder that to defend his billions and those of his cronies, Hosni Mubarak was perfectly willing to order thousands of his security thugs into the Tahrir Square to beat up and expel the demonstrators, leaving 7 dead and over 800 wounded, 200 of them just on Thursday morning.


It might seem surprising that Mubarak was so willing to defy the Obama administration’s clear hint that he sould quickly transition out of power. In fact, Mubarak’s slap in the face of President Obama will not be punished and it is nothing new. It shows again American toothlessness and weakness in the Middle East, and will encourage the enemies of the US to treat it with similar disdain.

The tail has long wagged the dog in American Middle East policy. The rotten order of the modern Middle East has been based on wily local elites stealing their way to billions while they took all the aid they could from the United States, even as they bit the hand that fed them. First the justification was the putative threat of International Communism (which however actually only managed to gather up for itself the dust of Hadramawt in South Yemen and the mangy goats milling around broken-down Afghan villages). More recently the cover story has been the supposed threat of radical Islam, which is a tiny fringe phenomenon in most of the Middle East that in some large part was sowed by US support for the extremists in the Cold War as a foil to the phantom of International Communism. And then there is the set of myths around Israel, that it is necessary for the well-being of the world’s Jews, that it is an asset to US security, that it is a great ethical enterprise– all of which are patently false.

On such altars are the labor activists, youthful idealists, human rights workers, and democracy proponents in Egypt being sacrificed with the silver dagger of filthy lucre.

Mubarak is taking his cues for impudence from the far rightwing government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which began the Middle Eastern custom of humiliating President Barack Obama with impunity. Obama came into office pledging finally to move smartly to a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Netanyahu government did not have the slightest intention of allowing a Palestinian state to come into existence. Israel was founded on the primal sin of expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in what is now Israel, and then conniving at keeping them stateless, helpless and weak ever after. Those who fled the machine guns of the Irgun terrorist group to the West Bank and Gaza, where they dwelt in squalid refugee camps, were dismayed to see the Israelis come after them in 1967 and occupy them and further dispossess them. This slow genocide against a people that had been recognized as a Class A Mandate by the League of Nations and scheduled once upon a time for independent statehood is among the worst ongoing crimes of one people against another in the world. Many governments are greedy to rule over people reluctant to be so ruled. But no other government but Israel keeps millions of people stateless while stealing their land and resources or maintaining them in a state of economic blockade and food insecurity.

The policy of the United States has been for the most part to accommodate this Israeli policy and to collaborate in the maltreatment of the Palestinians. Those states and groups that refuse to acquiesce in this egregious policy of epochal injustice are targeted by the US Congress for sanctions and branded terrorists and aggressors. As a sop to all the hundreds of millions of critics of the serial rape of the Palestinians, the US at most occasionally makes noises about achieving a “state” for them, which, however, would have no real sovereignty over its borders, its land, its air or its water. The price of such a eunuch state would be for the Palestinians to renounce their birthright and acquiesce in their expropriation and reduction to the flotsam of the earth.

And the Netanyahu government even disdained the tepid proposals of the Obama administration, for such an emasculated Palestinian “state”, which had to be willing to recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state, thus implicitly denaturalizing the 20% of the population that is Palestinian Christians and Muslims.

Because Israel’s enterprise in denying Palestinian statehood is so unnatural and so, at its fundament, immoral, it can only be pursued by the exercise of main force and by the infusion of billions of dollars a year into a poverty-stricken region. The US has in one way or another transferred over $100 billion to Israel so as to ensure it can remain a tenuous fortress on the edge of the Mediterranean, serving some US interests while keeping the millions of Palestinians in thrall.

US military aid to Israel allowed that country to prevail over Egypt in 1967 and 1973, and forced the Egyptian elite to seek an exit from ruinous wars. Anwar El Sadat decided ultimately to betray the hapless Palestinians and seek a separate peace. For removing all pressure on Israel by the biggest Arab nation with the best Arab military, Egypt has been rewarded with roughly $2 billion in US aid every year, not to mention favorable terms for importation of sophisticated weaponry and other perquisites. This move allowed the Israelis to invade and occupy part of Lebanon in 1982-2000, and then to launch massively destructive wars on virtually defenseless Lebanese and Gaza Palestinians more recently. Cairo under Mubarak is as opposed to Shiite Hizbullah in Lebanon and fundamentalist Hamas in Gaza as is Tel Aviv. The regime of Hosni Mubarak appears to have taken some sort of bribe to send substantial natural gas supplies to Israel at a deep discount. It has joined in the blockade against the civilians of Gaza. It acts as Israel’s handmaid in oppressing the Palestinians, and is bribed to do so by the US.

The US-backed military dictatorship in Egypt has become, amusingly enough, a Bonapartist state. It exercises power on behalf of both a state elite and a new wealthy business class, some members of which gained their wealth from government connections and corruption. The Egypt of the Separate Peace, the Egypt of tourism and joint military exercises with the United States, is also an Egypt ruled by the few for the benefit of the few.

The whole system is rotten, deeply dependent on exploiting the little people, on taking bribes from the sole superpower to pursue self-defeating or greedy policies virtually no one wants or would vote for in the region.

So the Palestinians objected to Obama’s plan to start back up direct negotiations with the Israelis in 2009, on the grounds that the Israelis were rapidly colonizing the Palestinian West Bank and were taking off the table the very territory over which negotiations were supposedly being conducted. Even the corrupt and timid Mahmoud Abbas, whose term as president has actually ended but who stayed on in the absence of new elections, demanded an end to new Israeli colonies in Palestinian territory (including lands unilaterally annexed to the Israeli district of Jerusalem in contravention of international law).

The Obama administration thought it had an agreement from Netanyahu to freeze settlements, and sent Joe Biden out to inaugurate the new peace promise. But when Biden came to Israel, he was humiliated by an Israeli announcement that it would build a new colony outside Jerusalem on land that Palestinians claimed. Then when the ‘settlement freeze’ in the West Bank proper came to an end during negotiations, Netanyahu announced that it would not be extended.

In other words, Netanyahu has since early 2009 taken billions in American money but told the US government to jump in a lake. The Obama administration did nothing, nothing whatsoever to punish this outrageous behavior.

So it can come as no surprise that Obama, Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been humiliated by Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. They told him to transition out of power. Instead, he on Wednesday and Thursday initiated the Massacre of Liberation Square, which has wounded nearly 1,000 people, most of them peaceful protesters.

Just as Netanyahu takes Washington’s billions but then pisses all over American policy objectives with regard to erecting a Palestinian State Lite, so Mubarak has stuffed tens of billions of dollars from Washington into his government’s pockets but has humiliated and endangered the United States.

When Netanyahu steals Palestinian property or deprives Gaza Palestinians of their livelihoods, and when Mubarak uses American military aid to crush a popular demonstration, they underline to the peoples of the Middle East that their corrupt and unacceptable situation is underwritten by Washington. That message generates fury at the United States.

As long as the president and the Congress are willing to lie down and serve as doormats for America’s supposed allies in the Middle East– out of a conviction of the usefulness of their clients and the inexpensiveness of putting them on retainer– there will be anti-Americanism and security threats that force us to subject ourselves to humiliating patdowns and scans at the airport and an erosion of our civil liberties every day. We are only one step away of being treated, with “protest zones” and “Patriot Acts” just as badly as the peaceful Egyptian protesters have been.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Lupe Fiasco - Words I Never Said


Chicago MC, Lupe Fiasco, has a new song out. It's politically charged, honest, and creative.


Some of my favorite lines:
I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullshit
Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets
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Limbaugh was a racist, Glen Beck is a racist, Ghaza strip
was gettin bombed but Obama didn't say shit
That's why I didn't vote for him, next one either
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Jihad is not holy war, where's that in the worship?!
Murdering is not Islam and you are not observant
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I think that all the silence is worse than all violence
Fear is such a weak emotion, that's why I despise it