Thursday, March 05, 2009

Read: A MESSAGE FROM NOAM CHOMSKY + Lancet + Lapdog + Donors + Curfew + GAZA Aftermath (Several) + Convoy Day 19 + Folman's short + Demolition plans + Global solidarity + BDS + Auschwitz + UN Racism Conference

3-05-2009 @9:55 AM/PST
Gracias Enrique ~ I pray others forgive this somewhat lengthy Email. Nevertheless it has really important information that all of us should be concerned about because we are all one on the cosmic and quantum levels.
Where does one cut off at? Do our eyes weary of reading the truth? Should be not go out into our local community and be the truth in action!

Indeed, we are the ones we have been waiting for and billions suffer without the truth!

We have always had the numbers on our side yet lack the collective power, social will and personal courage to respond to the urgency of connected reality together as one.

Our basic survival needs are common to all human beings: food, clothing, shelter, medical care and basic education.

We must evolve into seeing all righteous struggles for justice as our own struggles no matter where we breathe upon Mother Earth. Unidos Venceremos!

Education for Liberation! Join Up!
Peter S. Lopez aka: Peta

From: Enrique Ferro <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 1:37:33 PM
Subject: A MESSAGE FROM NOAM CHOMSKY + Lancet + Lapdog + Donors + Curfew + GAZA Aftermath (Several) + Convoy Day 19 + Folman's short + Demolition plans + Global solidarity + BDS + Auschwitz + UN Racism Conference


March 04, 2009

Dear Enrique,

I'm writing you today because hundreds of thousands of children in Gaza are suffering terribly following the recent Israeli attacks-paid for by your tax dollars and mine.

Even before this horrifying assault, there were tremendous shortages of food, medicine, electricity and fuel because of the Israeli blockade that has been going on for nearly two years.

We must do everything we can to stop the immoral acts of the Israeli government and our own government's political and financial support.

But right now, the children desperately need our immediate help. I'm asking you to make a contribution to the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) to help meet the most basic needs of children in Gaza.

I am a founding advisor and supporter of MECA. For the last 21 years, MECA has been sending food and medical aid to children in Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon-more than $12 million in aid to date. And MECA supports community projects to improve children's lives in the West Bank and Gaza.

MECA's Director Barbara Lubin just returned from three weeks in Egypt working to get aid into Gaza, and then four days in Gaza. She said, "I have been to Palestine many times over the last two decades, but never have I seen anything like what I saw this time. I will never forget the sadness, the smell of death, the destroyed homes, schools, mosques and cemeteries"

In the aftermath of the bombardment MECA delivered four tons of medicine for infants and children, an ambulance that's outfitted as a mobile intensive care unit, several tons of powdered milk and baby cereal, 29 state-of-the-art wheelchairs, and a truckload of crayons, coloring books and paper to the children of Gaza and their families.

I am asking you, please, give whatever you can possible afford to help save the lives and ease the pain of thousands and thousands of children who are traumatized, injured, orphaned, and homeless.

Your contribution now will help:
  • Send more medical aid in the months ahead
  • Launch a major mental health intervention program for children in Gaza
  • Build water purification and desalinization systems in Gaza schools
Gaza is no longer on the front page, but I know you understand that the catastrophe is far from over for the children and families who are trying to survive and rebuild their lives under the most desperate circumstances.

Thank you so much for your support,
Noam Chomsky
Cambridge, Massachusetts


Middle East Children's Alliance

Forward email

Lancet Withdraws Gaza Article, Author Responds

On 2 February 2009, The Lancet Medical Journal's Global Health Network online published Dr Swee Ang and Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta's 'The Wounds of Gaza', first published here at PULSE. It introduced the article by stating:

Two Surgeons from the UK, Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah and Dr Swee Ang, managed to get into Gaza during the Israeli invasion. Here they describe their experiences, share their views, and conclude that the people of Gaza are extremely vulnerable and defenseless in the event of another attack.

On 2 March 09 the Journal removed the article (though The Lancet Student still has it), stating: "We have taken down the blog post The Wounds of Gaza because of factual inaccuracies."

No specific faults or amendments to the alleged inaccuracies are suggested. The reader comments, overwhelmingly in support, remain posted. A letter penned by four israelis (surprise, surprise!) that objects to the article was published on February 18. Our friend Dr Swee responds to this development and elaborates on the figures.

Dr Swee Ang on reporting from Palestine and Lebanon

Many of us are afraid to put numbers down because the pro-Israel Lobby will inundate us with emails and complaints. This has gone to the extent that only figures sanctioned by the Israelis are credible. Everything else is viewed as suspect!

Over the last twenty-six and a half years, I have taken many blows over this kind of issue. The only question I ask myself when writing is - when is the version according to the victims going to be articulated? The people of Gaza knew that 5,000 were killed in the Khan Younis massacre in 1956; 100,000 gone missing in 1967 of which 35,000 were murdered - just because they cannot go to the Sinai and take pictures, or dig up the mass graves, does not mean we refuse to let them state their case.

I looked at Northern Gaza - how often have I driven down Sala -Uddin Road in 1988 and 1989. I remember every turn and corner- I know the citrus orchards, the farms and the homes. Often I would stop my ambulance to give a ride to the farm workers and they in return would give me freshly picked lemons and oranges. I now see it completely laid waste by Israeli explosives like the nuclear holocaust of Hiroshima, and yet we were called liars when we put forward the figure of one and a half million tons of explosives. We have seen apartment blocks not only reduced to rubble but incinerated - how many kilotons of explosives are responsible for this kind of damage?

The Lancet Global Health Network withdrawing 'The Wounds of Gaza' is not a problem at all. The wonder is how it even got to be published in the first instance.

My book From Beirut to Jerusalem, when first published in 1989, was reprinted hard back and then paperback within 2 months, as it was sold out on publication, and again sold out as soon as reprinted. Then Tom Friedman came out with a book with exactly the same title half a year later and by the same publisher. My book was withdrawn from the shelves. It went out of print for many years.

But the truth has to come out. Most times at great inconvenience to some of us as we well know.

I just want you to know that I am not afraid to believe the Palestinians. It is a scandal that the extent of the Khan Younis massacre had not come to light for all these years. It is a scandal that what happened in the Six Day War was not published. The intimidation to silence witnesses has to stop. We cannot allow the case to be stated only by the perpetrators of the killings.

Like the Palestinians in Gaza - I am also not afraid. My witness of Gaza counts. So does your witness. We should not be afraid of saying what the Palestinians told us. They are the ones whose families were killed, who bear the wounds of violence, who are dispossessed and persecuted. Their voices must be heard.

Dr Swee Ang on the explosives used in Gaza

The actual tonnage of the explosives dropped on Gaza can only be accurately known to the IDF themselves. So other figures can only be estimates. However some of us have many years of experience looking at bombed out countries.

Over the 22 days, Gaza was intensely bombed from land, air and sea. The bombs dropped from the air are large, and most of them are more than a ton on average. In the south the bombs used to destroy the tunnels and structures around them are large heavy bombs.

Of the 21,000 buildings destroyed, 4000 of them are completely demolished. Some believe that these are by small nuclear fission bombs. However there is no proof and it is impossible to tell, though the effect of all structures, especially concrete, being incinerated, would suggest that the size of these bombs are of the order of kilotons—whether they are conventional explosives or otherwise. If you were to look at the effect of the atom bomb on Hiroshima (about 15 - 20 kilotons), you would see the incineration of concrete similar to that of that seen in these 4,000 buildings. These 4,000 buildings would have been destroyed by 4,000 kilotons of explosives. The other 17,000 destroyed buildings are the result of bombs of single figure tonnage judging from the kind of destruction. Apart from bombs being dropped on buildings reducing them to rubble, bombs were also dropped on fields, orchards, farms and roads.

We do not know enough of the explosive values of DIME to comment and hence have not speculated on it. They have been used in Gaza. But from what is commonly known about them, they are very heavy bombs, more so than conventional.

As to the person who queried the "million and a half tons of explosives dropped in 22 days" as such an amount would have obliterated Gaza [a question put forward to, a site which carried Dr Ang's article]—we can safely answer him that the whole of Northern Gaza has indeed been obliterated - he or she is most welcome to see for themselves! The whole stretch of Northern Gaza has been converted to a complete wasteland. In the South again vast stretches of agricultural areas have also been demolished.

The figure of one and a half million tons of explosives in our view is a conservative estimate. Those who are sceptical about it need to see it for themselves.

Dr Swee Ang on the figure of 35,000 political prisoners being executed during the 1967 Six Day war

The number 35,000 was from the International Co-operation Department (ICD) of Gaza. Within the first 2 hours of the attack on Egypt, 11,000 Egyptian soldiers were killed. But we are not talking about them, as they would be those killed in action.

After the first 2 hours till the end of the 6-Day War, about 100,000 Egyptian and Palestinian combatants were missing and never found. These included many young men in Gaza who had joined the Egyptians and the early PLA (of Nasser) to fight the Israelis. There are at least 2 mass graves in El-Arish on the edge of the Sinai desert, and the Israelis themselves had admitted to killing those captured, but had not admitted to killing so many. The Gaza information had stated 35,000 executed, but we had not asked them the whereabouts of the remaining 65,000. Many of the missing still have surviving relatives living in Gaza. The names of those executed could be traced from the ICD in Gaza. 1967 is a long time ago, and I do not see what advantage it is to the ICD in Gaza to make up these figures.

As many of you will be aware, a similar situation occurred with the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, where Palestinian sources believed that 3,000 were killed and IDF only admitted to over 300. Bayan Al-Hout had compiled at least one and a half thousand names to date, and the list is still increasing. We still do not know the whereabouts of the men murdered in the Stadium, now that some soldiers of the Phalange have admitted to executing people there. The bodies buried in Martyr's Square were from within the camp itself, and not those abducted to the Stadium.

March 4, 2009 at 5:11 pm


US marks 4 more years of lapdog policies
Wed, 04 Mar 2009 10:23:56 GMT

The US pledges 'unshakeable' commitment to Israel, suggesting a Palestinian state to be viable only without its democratic government.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel on Tuesday after a visit to Egypt to attend a reconstruction conference on Gaza. She held talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and right-wing Israeli politicians who are set to take over affairs in Tel Aviv.

"It is important that the United States always underscore our unshakeable, durable and fundamental support for the state of Israel" and "our unrelenting commitment to Israel's security," she told the echelons on Tuesday.

US "support" for Israel consists mainly of monetary and political support as well as help at the UN Security Council in countering anti-Israel resolutions through the use of its veto powers.

The right-wing success in winning the majority of Knesset seats in the recent Israeli elections has raised questions as to whether the White House will give in to the right-wing idea of a pure Jewish state or whether it will support a two-state solution.

Clinton did touch on the issue, drawing a picture that was not entirely in line with that of hawkish Prime Minster-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who is charged with forming the next government.

"We happen to believe that moving towards a two-state solution is in Israel's best interests", she told a news conference attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, saying that "eventually, the inevitability of working towards a two-state solution is inescapable."

Without mentioning the issue of Israel violating its ceasefire agreement and it killing nearly 1,350 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in its three-week war on the Palestinian territory, she tacitly attributed the crisis in the region to rocket fire from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

According to the US official, military measures adopted by the democratically-elected Palestinian government contradict the demands of "international actors".

"In the absence of Hamas agreeing to the principles that have been adopted by such a broad range of international actors, I don't see that we or they -- or anyone -- could deal with Hamas," Clinton said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

Clinton had also explained the US stance on Hamas at the aid conference in Gaza, insisting that the Palestinian government confined to Gaza is obliged to recognize Israel and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements if it seeks an end to its isolation by the West.

She made no mention, however, of Israel having violated UN resolutions adopted against its policies and its requirement that Tel Aviv withdraw to its 1967 borders -- which is a major bone of contention between the Palestinians and Israel.

Several UN Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli actions against Palestinians have been defied by Israel. The US, Israel's number one ally, has also exercised its veto powers to prevent the adoption of nearly 45 anti-Israeli resolutions sought by the council since 1972.

Since 2004, Washington has vetoed numerous resolutions which called for Tel Aviv to halt its operations in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip -- which had been occupied by Israeli forces from 1967 to 1994.

With US support, Israel continues to defy agreements it entered at the Annapolis conference and has stonewalled peace by refusing to compromise on key issues, including the status of Jerusalem (al-Quds), the fate of Palestinian refugees, the final borders, Israeli settlements and prisoners.



The Israel donors conference
By Amira Hass
Tags: Gaza, Hillary Clinton, U.S. 

The extent of the funding pledged to the Palestinian Authority by donor countries reflects the extent of their support for Israel and its policies. The American taxpayers' contribution to the Ramallah government's bank account is dwarfed by the large sums the U.S. government donates to Israel every year. It's impossible to get excited over the American pledge of $900 million (two-thirds of it for strengthening Salam Fayyad's government and the rest for Gaza's recovery) and forget the $30 billion the United States has promised Israel in defense aid by the end of 2017, as last week's Amnesty International report noted.

The $900 million pledged to the Palestinians in Sharm el-Sheikh should be seen as part of the regular American aid to Israel.. As an occupying power, Israel is obligated to assure the well-being of the population under its control. But Israel is harming it instead, after which the United States (like other countries) rushes to compensate for the damage.

The Clinton and Bush administrations - and Barack Obama appears to be following in their footsteps - erased the phrase "Israeli occupation" from their dictionaries and collaborated with Israel in ignoring its commitments as enshrined in international law. The billions of dollars that Israel receives from the United States for weapons and defense development - which played a significant role in the destruction in the Gaza Strip - are part of Israel's successful propaganda, which presents the Rafah tunnels and Grad rockets as a strategic threat and part of the Islamic terror offensive against enlightened countries.

The West has blown the Hamas movement out of proportion, exaggerating its military might to the point of mendacity; this allowed for an extended siege and three weeks of Israeli military intractability. In the Palestinian and larger Arab world, this embellishment helps Hamas depict itself as the real patriotic force.

The hundreds of millions of euros that have been donated or pledged to help Gaza, as though it were beset by natural disasters, are overshadowing the trade ties between Europe and Israel. The Western countries concerned about humanitarian aid for the Palestinians also buy from Israel arms and defense knowledge developed under the laboratory conditions of the occupation, that serial creator of humanitarian crises.

And the 1 billion petrodollars? First of all, they were generated from a natural resource that logic dictates should benefit the Arab peoples. Second, they were pledged at a conference that boycotted Gaza (neither Hamas nor business people or social activists from the Strip participated in the donors conference). This is how Saudi Arabia lends its hand to the American and Israeli veto of inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Every cent paid to the Palestinians - whether for the Ramallah government's budget or medical treatment of children wounded by Israeli pilots or soldiers - lets Israel know that it can continue its efforts to force a capitulation deal on the Palestinian elite. Only by recognizing that surrender is the goal can one understand that 16 years after Oslo, no Palestinian state was established. When did Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon and Tzipi Livni begin talking about two states? Only after their bulldozers and military bureaucrats crushed the realistic physical basis of a Palestinian state. And this basis is: June 4, 1967 land (including East Jerusalem), Gaza - an inseparable part of the state - and zero settlements (and that applies to Gilo and Ma'aleh Adumim).

During the 1990s it was still possible to describe donations to the Palestinians as an expression of confidence and hope in Israel's readiness to free itself of the occupation regime it had created.. But not in 2009. Support for Israeli policy - this is the only way to understand the fact that other countries keep pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars meant to put out the fires set by this policy, without extinguishing the source of the blaze.

The monumental folly at Sharm el-Sheikh

By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The international pledges at Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday of some $4.5 billion in aid to the Palestinians to rebuild the Gaza Strip and promote the development of the West Bank seem like a monumental folly in view of the surrounding political context of this gesture. The financial generosity of the donors was largely offset by their political cowardice on two fronts: in challenging Israel to live according to the norms of law in its treatment of the Palestinians under its occupation; and in coming to grips with Palestinian political realities, especially the legitimacy and role of Hamas.

On both counts, the generous donors seem unwilling to admit that they are perpetuating a wasteful cycle of Palestinian and international construction in Palestine that is being set back by repeated Israeli destruction through war, followed by repeated rounds of reconstruction. This recurring cycle is striking for its sheer waste, but also for what it reveals about the willingness of the international community to use reconstruction aid as a political tool - a failed tool that should be abandoned in favor of a more productive approach.

It was bad enough when the Israeli government in recent years was able to convince the United States to largely adopt its positions in the Arab-Israeli conflict; it was another step backwards two years ago when the four Quartet members (the US, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia) also sided with Israel by refusing to deal with Hamas until the latter recognized Israel and stopped military resistance. This trend has now gone one step further by lining up a wide range of donors who seem to be willing to use their aid to try to bolster the authority of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while denying Hamas any international legitimacy and ignoring Israeli actions on the ground that make peacemaking seem so distant.

This occurs while Israel makes it clear that it plans to continue expanding its settlements in the occupied West Bank, and while the expected coalition that will rule in Israel seems to represent a step backwards in peacemaking - through its unwillingness to formally accept the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as a realistic element of a permanent agreement. Throwing large amounts of money into Palestinian reconstruction while reinforcing a political context that only perpetuates Israel's regular destruction of Palestinian institutions is wasteful folly at best, and complicity in criminality at worst.

The latest danger is that major external players like the United States and the Europeans will now try to equate the Israeli colonization of the West Bank and Jerusalem with the small and largely harmless mini-rockets that Hamas and others are firing mostly into the desert of southern Israel. These are not parallel or equal actions and should not be bundled into a package of moral or political equivalence. Both must stop if peace and normalcy are to reign one day for both people, but lasting peace requires the ability to grapple with the deeper causes of the conflict.

This means, from the Palestinian perspective, addressing the siege and strangulation of Gaza, the colonization of the West Bank by Israeli settlers, and the wider issue of Palestinian refugee-hood from the 1947-1948 period. From the Israeli viewpoint, peace requires the Palestinians and Arabs to live with a predominantly Jewish Israeli state that is seen as legitimate, and to stop armed resistance against it. This is the equation that touches on the core, existential needs and rights of both sides.

Camouflaging the Israeli colonization of the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem under a cloak of money while the underlying colonization remains unchanged has not worked in the past and will not work today. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will discover this for herself soon enough as she enters the difficult world of Arab-Israeli politics. Her statement at the Gaza reconstruction conference Monday that the US supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel will remain devoid of credibility or impact if Washington continues to acquiesce silently in the Israeli colonization of Palestinian land.

Resolving a conflict must start with a clear and honest acknowledgment of the basic causes of the conflict. In this case conflict resolution requires ensuring the integrity of statehood for Palestinians and Israelis, and removing the causes of their mutual communal exile, disenfranchisement and sense of vulnerability in the recent past. Using billions of dollars in international aid to maintain much of the Israeli siege of Gaza while trying again to prop up the Abbas government and ignoring the role of Hamas will not move anyone closer to genuine peace or security.

Repeating the mistakes and biases of the past is a foolish way of approaching peacemaking. We have enough adults in the Middle East who act like animals; the last thing we need is adults in the international donor community who act like children.

Rami G. Khouri is published twice-weekly by THE DAILY STAR.




 For Immediate Release

Date: March 3, 2009
Time: mid-evening to late night
HARIS, SALFIT – Several Israeli military jeeps entered Haris, a village in the Salfit district of the West Bank, again tonight and declared an all-night curfew, allegedly in response to stone-throwing on Highway 5, which is used by Israelis. This was at least the second time in the past month that curfew had been declared in this village; on February 24th the army also placed a roadblock in front of Haris's main entrance, which it did not remove for five days. Tonight was also the first time that soldiers entered the home of the international peace team based here.
Villagers returning to Haris tonight, including an International Women's Peace Service team member, were questioned as they entered and asked to show identification. A few metres on from the entrance of the village, soldiers from two jeeps surrounded the IWPS team member with guns pointed, demanding to know where she was going, and to open her bag.
By 9:30 p.m.. two military vehicles had arrived on the street and at the house where this peace team is based. Outside the house, IWPS's landlord, who holds a responsible position with the local government, was questioned as to his international tenants. One soldier insulted him by calling him a bad name, he reported.
The soldiers then entered the home of the landlord and of one of his brothers next door, bringing the brother out of the house and asking him about the stone-throwing – and what he did for a living. The landlord was also asked about the stone-throwing. He was at home alone with his young son (aged seven), and worried about his wife returning home during the curfew with their four-year-old daughter (from a visit with their eldest son in prison).
Soldiers insisted that the landlord and the IWPS team member come out of the house; the soldiers again had their guns pointed, and the team member was once again asked to show her passport. One young soldier told her it was illegal for her to be  living in Haris, as it was a "closed area," though later retracted this statement after consultation with his senior officer.
Soldiers then demanded entry into the IWPS flat, on the second floor of the house, and two soldiers searched from room to room with guns drawn. Only one team member was at home at the time. The house was not ransacked or searched for anything other than people, and the incursion was brief.
The visit marks the first time that soldiers have entered the apartment of this volunteer organization. As well, Haris has not had a roadblock in front of its main entrance for several years, nor is curfew routinely declared. Since February, military planes and helicopters have also been heard flying overhead at night. These incidents form part of an increased army presence and control over Salfit (West Bank) villages in the last two months.

For further information, please contact the IWPS office at 09-251-6644, or

Aftermath (4) Hammad's death barely made the news

          04 March 2009


In this new series of personal testimonies, PCHR looks at the aftermath of Israel's 22 day offensive on the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing impact it is having on the civilian population.


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The following article brings us the psychological scars in the aftermath of the horrors lived by the Gaza residents. But please notice what the BBC understands by a "balanced" and "impartial" report: blaming the "militants" on all accounts, parroting Israeli lies to justify their crimes against an innocent and besieged population.

Struggle to help Gaza's traumatised

Hala Awersha (left) and her mother Wafa, in their tent in al-Atatra, northern Gaza
Hala, 7, has stopped speaking since her brother's death, and covers her head when he is mentioned

By Heather Sharp
BBC News, Gaza

Omsyat, 12, has become nervous and aggressive, Hala, 7, has completely stopped speaking and Sobhy, 11, burned the toys he was brought with a candle, says their mother, Wafa Awersha.

Psychiatric nurse Rowiya Hamam nods as she sits on a thin mattress on floor of the tent in al-Atatra in northern Gaza.

In what is now their home, Mrs Awersha updates her on how the five children are coping with their brother's death in the recent conflict.

Sobhy Awersha, 11, in tent in al-Atatra, Gaza
Sobhy stares at the floor fiddling with a toy as he is asked about his loss
Ibrahim, 9, was hit by Israeli bullets on 4 January and died before his siblings' eyes, with their injured parents barely conscious nearby, the family say.

His body lay for four days outside their house before the fighting waned enough for neighbours to take it away on a donkey cart.

Israel blames civilian casualties on militants' practice of operating from populated areas and says Palestinian fighters fired at its forces during the daily unilateral three-hour ceasefire it instituted to allow emergency workers to reach the dead and injured.

Several hundred of the 1,300 Palestinian deaths were children and some accounts of civilian deaths have raised concerns of war crimes.

After Ibrahim's death, Sobhy began behaving like his sibling and asking to be called Ibrahim, Ms Hamam says.

"School's fine," he says, when asked. "I like maths." But he stares at the ground and tears soon well in his eyes.

Drawing by Shahed, 5, Jabaliya, Gaza

Mrs Awersha says he used to be top in his class, but he struggles to concentrate now.

Hala covers her head with a blanket whenever Ibrahim is mentioned, while Diya, 3, beheaded the soft toys he was given, Ms Hamam says.

'For my kids'

Ms Hamam is one of a team of mental health workers in Gaza that say they have been "overwhelmed" by the scale of the needs since the conflict.

She has visited the Awersha family several times, bringing toys and games, trying to help the children express their feelings and teaching them deep breathing exercises..

Mrs Awersha smiles and teases the children as she scrapes the girls' matted hair into pony tails and helps them put on the school smocks rescued from the rubble of their home. The tent buzzes with fat, black flies.

Mrs Awersha exhales hard when asked how she is coping. And then the tears flow.

Wafa' Awersha and her son Sobhy, al-Atatra, Gaza
Wafa says she jokes with her children, but cries when she is alone
"Maybe you found me making people laugh, but honestly I'm doing this just for my kids," she says.

Whenever she goes back to her bulldozed home and stands in the spot where Ibrahim was killed, she weeps and weeps, she says.

Gaza's mental health professionals have been working flat out in schools, kindergartens, clinics, homes and tents to try to help similar cases.

Hassan Zeyada, who heads the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme's centre in Gaza City, and his colleague, psychiatrist Sami Owaida, say they are exhausted.

"Many of our colleagues lost relatives. We have to give support, but sometimes we feel that we need support," says Dr Oweida.

Dr Zeyada also points out the difficulty of treating "ongoing and continuous trauma" in a place where a long-term political solution remains elusive.

"Sometimes you feel you are wasting your efforts. Another invasion, another war, another attack will happen - you feel they will demolish or destroy all your efforts," he says.


Ongoing trauma too plagues the residents of Israel's southern towns, who live under the constant threat of Palestinian rocket fire, with about 8,000 rockets and mortars fired since 2001.

At least 18 people have been killed in that time. Children under eight have known little else but a constantly heightened state of anxiety.

Girl examines rocket damage in Sderot, 05.01.09

And even after the recent fighting, which Israel said was aimed at reducing the rocket fire, a steady flow of rockets and mortars has continued.

But while mental health workers on both sides say at least 20-30% of the population suffers symptoms of trauma, the Israeli south is clearly better equipped to tackle the problems than Gaza.

GCMHP say there are only five clinical psychiatrists in Gaza trained to international standards, and no clinical psychologists.

'Basics for life'

John Jenkins, the World Health Organization's mental health project manager for the West Bank and Gaza , says that, as well as difficulties in getting people with the right skills into Gaza , shortages of drugs such as tranquilisers and antidepressants are a constant problem.

He says it is too early to assess the scale of the mental health needs from the recent conflict, as the impact of trauma takes time to emerge.

Wafa Awersha, outside the tent where she is living with her husband and five children
Living in a tent makes it harder for children to regain a sense of normality

But human beings' ability to deal with stress is "quite remarkable", he says, and the majority of people do not need specialist treatment.

"What people really need are the basic things in life," he says, such as reliable food supplies, a secure place to live and prospects for work. This should "absolutely" be the priority, he says.

But as Ms Hamam traipses away past the rows of tents, while children in flip-flops clamour at her to bring them shoes, she says that for the Awersha children, the conditions will make recovery harder.

"Before the war, they had their routine - come home, watch TV, write their homework, but in the tent it's very difficult."

"It will take too much time for them to recover," she says shaking her head sadly.

By Rami Almeghari, Live from
Palestine, 2 March 2009

Last Thursday, relatives, friends and local community representatives
attended an unusual wedding party in Gaza.

The celebration was held in a newly-erected refugee camp, in the northern
Gaza Strip town of Jabaliya. The Electronic Intifada correspondent Rami
Almeghari reports from the occupied Gaza Strip.

Dear All,

Please find below my new op-ed .


The life of the Palestinian refugees over the last 60 years was very unique, and rich, rich of the amount of sufferings they have to endure, rich of their capability to live and to cope, and rich of the their willingness to survive and continue, to challenge all the circumstances around them. The dilemma of the Palestinian refugees was not only about loosing the homeland but also about loosing all the human rights that the free world is calling to adapt, loosing the security, the respect and the dignity. 

My father represents the second generation of the refugees in Gaza, he was a hard worker, spent most of his life working in Israel, he was such a peevish father, but from the inside we all knew how much he loved us and wanted us to be the best in everything, his ambition stimulated him and gave him the strength to work even harder to fulfill it, until he managed to support his nine children high education. I still can remember how my father managed to save the money for my eldest brother's study at the university in Cairo, and how he used to hide the money inside the shoes, I also still remember how he used to repair our shoes with his own hands, but what I mostly still remember the moment when my father slaps me on the face before he gave me the Arabic book he bought to me for school, I felt frozen, could not find an explanation until I heard his words, "I slapped you to remember how hard I worked to buy you this book, so you will never loose it, and you will know how expensive it was".

With all these old memories, hard work and dire life, there was always a space, a window that is widely open to show us tomorrow, a better future. There was a hope that encourages my father as well as many fathers to work as much as they can to find a better life of their children. And this was the reason behind their struggle.

Since these memories, life in Gaza have changed, the Israelis continued their blockade to Gaza and its people, who become overwhelmed with feelings of exhaustion and depression, especially after the last war which exposed them mentally, and psychologically, leaving them unable to forget or even to live normally.

Days become similar, loosing interest in anything become a phenomena that affected not only the adults but also the children. There is no room anymore for dreams, for wishes, for an innocent smile, for a joy.

Our minds are tormented with the continuous worries and thoughts about what will happen tomorrow, another invasion, or another war, two different terms but similar with the consequences followed, more pain and more deaths.

However, with the frequent exposure of such traumatic experiences, left us drained, with a strange emptiness inside us. The death of one person equal the death of other hundred, death and life are equal in our minds, the line between both become so dim to us.

Our children stopped dreaming about what they would like to be in the future, because the future in Gaza is ambiguous, dark, and difficult to determine its lines, our future and the future of our kids will be the same, as far as Gaza is sealed, nothing will changed. What will happen in ten years is the same to what already happened during the last ten years.

The people of Gaza are locked and their lives will go according to the rules of Gaza, all the lines of these lives are drawn in advance. The same life in the same camp, with the same events and episodes, since there are not enough options for those who would like to join the universities in Gaza, and they can not travel outside Gaza to choose their future comes the result in a child mouth "What is the benefit from going to school if I can not study what I mostly like"

"How can I be open since I am living in Gaza and can not see other world, other horizons?"

"I don't want to marry and to have children because I don't want them to suffer the way we suffer in Gaza" another say

"I finished my study, and then I'll have a job if I was lucky, and then I'll got married, and then what, the same routine, nothing will change, then why to bother having a dream about the future" another comment".

 These are not empty words, to capture the readers' attention but rather tell the horrible fact about how the future looks in the eyes of the Gaza people specially the young generation.


Najwa Sheikh



Mudasir Saeed sent a message to the members of Gaza Convoy 2009.


Day 19 - A Night Under The Desert Stars..

Wednesday 4th March

It was an experience they will never forget. Spending a night under the desert moonlight, ' I loved it' one of the drivers said. Even for the novice campers, it was a unique insight into the beauty of the desert in the middle of nowhere. I have personally experienced a night under the desert stars myself in the Sahara Desert last year whilst on holiday in Morocco, and it truly is an amazing experience!

The first group were about 30KM from Amsa'ad border crossing point at midday today which is about 2k from the border. The second contingent is not far away.

They will all gather there until tomorrow morning when they are expected to start crossing into Egypt.

Depending on arrangements on the Egyptian side and on the processing time from both the Libyans and the Egyptians border control, they should start the final leg of their epic journey tomorrow.

According to an Email translated from Arabic (translated by Farid Arada), sent by the deputy convoy leader, it is likely that the convoy will take the following route:


The convoy should reach GAZA on Saturday or Sunday depending on breakdowns and refuelling times.

Will keep you updated..........

[JPLO-OLPJ] the economic blockade on the Gaza Strip by Ari Folman

UPDATE: And if you love/hated "Waltz," The Jerusalem Post reports that the film's director of animation has a new short on the effects of the economic blockade on the Gaza Strip.


Demolition plans rattle Arabs in Jerusalem

Omar Karmi, Foreign Correspondent

  • Last Updated: March 04. 2009 9:30AM UAE / March 4. 2009 5:30AM GMT


At the solidarity tent, local residents are active in trying to get international visitors and media organisations to come and hear their case. Alexei Kidel for The National


JERUSALEM // It was a bitterly cold and wet morning to spend outdoors. But for those who gathered at a makeshift tent in the Bustan neighbourhood of Silwan, East Jerusalem, on Sunday morning, it is a situation they fear they may have to get used to.

"I hope it won't get to that," said Saleh Shweiki, 56, an herbologist and local resident whose house is threatened with demolition by Jerusalem's municipal authorities. "I have 13 children and with their children we are 35 people in my house."

Mr Shweiki and 87 families have lived under the threat of demolition for nearly four years now. The demolition orders were handed down because, according to the municipality, the houses were built without licences in what is designated as a national park area.

Residents, human rights groups and lawyers are crying foul, however. They say the demolition orders are part of a larger Israeli scheme to make life untenable for Jerusalem's Palestinian inhabitants. In general, activists say, it is very difficult for Palestinians in Jerusalem to obtain building permits and that in many cases in Bustan, houses were built before the Israeli occupation in 1967 and hence it was not possible to obtain such licences.

"It is possible in principle for residents to get licences now," said Ziad Kawar, the lawyer who represents the 88 families. "The people are willing to get the licences and pay the fees, but the municipality wants to create a national park and does not want to give them licences."

Furthermore, the City of David archaeological park that the area is meant for is funded by a controversial Israeli organisation, El Ad, which is active in promoting building in areas of occupied East Jerusalem exclusively for Jewish housing and in transgression of international law.

The archaeological park in Silwan is claimed as the site of the first settlement of the biblical King David, but the dig there, financed by El Ad, has been characterised as "bad science" by other archaeologists. Activists say there is a clear political agenda.

"Silwan is an area of archaeological importance, but it is also an area where people live," said Sarit Michaeli of B'tselem, an Israeli human rights group. "What is happening now is done in order to slowly but surely prevent the local population from existing there."

The demolition orders were first handed down in 2005, but an international outcry prevented demolitions from being carried out then. A compromise was reached whereby the residents would, at their own expense, put forward a plan for the development of the area.

On Feb 17, however, the municipality rejected that plan. The new mayor in Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, promised more Jewish settlement in the occupied eastern part of the city during his campaign for office. Moreover, he left Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party because he was adamantly opposed to any future division of the city.

There is also a transition at the highest level, where Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party, is in the process of forming a new government that, whatever its ramifications for the peace process in general, will certainly be bad news for Jerusalem's Palestinians.

"There are several recent [political] developments that have brought the demolitions up again," Mr Kawar said, but "ultimately it's about racism. The municipality wants the land without the people".

A municipal spokesman rejected any accusation that the municipality was doing anything but carrying out the law.

"Illegal construction is illegal construction wherever it is. There happens to be a lot concentrated in this area," said Steven Miller, a spokesman for Mr Barkat. But Ms Michaeli rejected the argument.

"On the face of it, this may seem like a legal issue," she said. "But it is clear that the large-scale problem of illegal building in East Jerusalem is not because East Jerusalemites are intent on breaking the law but because Israel has created this situation in the first place."

Mr Miller conceded that the issue was politically sensitive. "It's a very sensitive issue, but the mayor moves forward with what is best for all the residents of Jerusalem."

Such even-handedness is certainly not evident to Silwan natives.

"This is a battle for Jerusalem, make no mistake about it," said Abed Shalode of the Popular Committee for the Defence of Silwan, a local grassroots organisation that is fighting the demolition orders.

"They [Israelis] may put different reasons for why they want these houses down to why they built Maaleh Admumim [the largest settlement in the occupied West Bank], but the aim is the same. They want Palestinians out."

Mr Shalode and Mr Shweiki were busy putting up maps of the threatened homes in the solidarity tent in Bustan, rain or no rain. Local residents have been active in trying to get international visitors and media organisations to come and hear their case. They remain hopeful that, as happened before, international pressure will come to bear on Israel to desist.

This may seem less likely in the event of a far-right Israeli government coalition, but Mr Shalode remained hopeful.

"There is no difference between a white dog and a black dog. They are still both dogs. Whatever the new government, we will have to fight the same battle. And I think the whole neighbourhood will fight to resist this. What choice do we have?"


Sustaining global solidarity after Gaza

Jamal Juma', The Electronic Intifada, 3 March 2009

The Israeli invasion of Gaza, which has now claimed more than 1,400 lives, generated serious popular backlash the world over. The overwhelmingly weak official positions and statements, especially in the Arab world, stood in stark contrast to the outpouring of rage that was witnessed in the streets of capitals, cities, and towns across the globe. However, this recent wave of protests has a particular quality that differentiates it from past mobilizations: the initial flare-up of energy is being channeled into effective grassroots political action, primarily in the form of an ongoing campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

The tangible victories and rise of BDS activism immediately following Gaza are a direct result of the many years of often little-acknowledged organizing, building and mobilizing that was undertaken following the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society. It is important to look at these last four years in order to make sure that we continue to build on these victories. We have moved beyond questioning the efficacy of BDS and must now work to incorporate the growing numbers of people who, while outraged at the events in Gaza, are not yet connected to the BDS movement. We also must expand the actors and struggles involved in BDS by linking the Palestinian cause to other similar fights for social, economic and political justice.

A number of commentators have already noted the mass mobilizations that occurred in response to Israel's invasion of Gaza. Demonstrations and protests were undertaken on every inhabited continent involving millions of people across hundreds of cities. In the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Western Europe, where pro-Palestine demonstrations are typically strong, the numbers of participants and scale of actions were astronomical.

In the Middle East, particularly in Jordan and Egypt, the disconnect between the stance of US-backed regimes and their people vis-a-vis Israel was laid bare. In Egypt, the regime's army of riot police was often unable to suppress demonstrations, which on many occasions numbered well into the tens of thousands. Similar scenes took place in Jordan, where thousands of protestors in Amman hurled stones at state police who blocked the street to the Israeli embassy.

Latin America, on the other hand, is the only region wherein popular anger was more or less reflected in official discourse and action. It is no coincidence that Bolivia and Venezuela, the two countries in the region that cut diplomatic ties with Israel, are also the two states whose governments operate, both in principle and in practice, according to the needs of the majority.

Palestine has developed into a global litmus test for democracy. While more progressive states in Latin America stood up for Palestine and BDS, repressive Middle Eastern regimes did their best to crush popular mobilization. The EU governments stood somewhere in the middle, giving further proof of their special form of "democracy" wherein people are allowed to express their opinions but not influence government decisions.

Regardless of governmental political leanings, the mobilizations evidence a considerable and growing popular support for the Palestinian people. Yet, these protests, while encouraging, do not guarantee longer-term political gains. The most recent and sobering example of this were the record numbers of people who turned out to protest the most recent invasion of Iraq and the subsequent problems that have plagued the creation of an effective anti-war movement.

Instead, we should look to the concrete BDS victories that followed Gaza as evidence of lasting political change. The actions of South African workers and Latin American social movements, to mention only a few examples, represent not only anger over Gaza, but also its effective channeling into an organized movement that far predates this most recent atrocity. They indicate that we have managed to build, in a short period of time, an effective focal point for uniting international solidarity and support for the Palestinian cause.

Immediately following Gaza, South African trade unions took action against Israel. The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), part of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) declared that they would no longer handle Israeli ships. Things came to a head when the Johanna Russ, a ship operated by the Zim Israel Navigation Company, attempted to dock in the Durban port. Despite pressure and threats, SATAWU workers refused to handle the cargo or to allow scab labor to unload the ship.

This victory can be traced back to the early work of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, which, since its founding at the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada, has been active in promoting a South African boycott of Israel. The 2005 call from Palestinian civil society bolstered the movement, and, over the past four years, organizers have built up considerable support for BDS within South African trade unions, movements, churches, and institutions. In a 2006 speech in the UK to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign's trade union conference, Willy Madisha of COSATU endorsed the BDS call and stated that "the trade union movement must move beyond resolutions, otherwise history will look back on us and spit on our graves."

The movement has continued to move forward, and in 2008, COSATU promised to take "drastic action to disrupt" a government deal with the Israeli firm, Orsus Solutions Israel Ltd., which had been awarded a $5 million contract to upgrade the South African transportation system. With the Johanna Russ, the union took their first concrete action. Furthermore, COSATU has scored successes in gaining influence within the governing African National Congress party during the past several years. While these kinds of overall political dynamics have so far not stopped South Africa's trade with Israel from growing yearly, they have laid the groundwork for a possible turnaround in national politics that would place moral responsibility for the implementation of BDS at the diplomatic level..

In South America, serious pressure is building against the Israel-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement (FTA), threatening to derail it entirely. South American social movements, who have years of experience fighting against free trade, have integrated Palestine solidarity into their general work. Following the 2009 World Social Forum in Brazil, key organizations in the country, including the MST (the Landless Rural Workers' Movement), CUT (the chief union federation in Brazil), and other smaller social movements are organizing actions on the popular level against the agreement. Further, a number of members of the ruling party are supportive of these efforts, and are working on the official level to promote the rejection of the FTA.

This campaign is also based on the call from Palestinian civil society. In 2006, when the agreement was first placed on the agenda of the Mercosur, the outrage created by Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon pushed the social movements into action. They raised the issue at the Mercosur counter summit, and officials silently dropped the agreement from the agenda. Later, taking advantage of a lull in mobilization, the FTA was silently pressed through but is still undergoing the ratification process. In Brazil, social movements, unions, Arab organizations and Palestine solidarity groups organized in a broad coalition and escalated their campaign against the Israel -- Mercosur FTA. This coalition has done work on several levels, including mobilizing popular resistance, while simultaneously working and meeting with elected officials.

These successes provide us with a framework with which to ensure the sustainability of expanding Palestine solidarity. This solidarity, which in many cases is not new, became more visible and vocal during Gaza and must be integrated into the global BDS movement. One way to incorporate this expanding support is through a focus on common struggles and on mutual solidarity and interest. We can look to South Africa and Brazil for inspiration, where activists have been keen on tying BDS with local struggles and histories. Fights against racism, colonialism and economic exploitation as well as more specific campaigns for housing, land, water and educational rights are critical across the global south as well as in marginalized communities in the global north.

Links can also be established on a more specific level, for instance, against individual firms that benefit from perpetuating apartheid and occupation in Palestine and are involved in similar practices abroad. One such company is the Israeli Elbit Systems, which supplies the Israeli military and is key in constructing Israel's wall in the West Bank. Abroad, the company is responsible for supplying drones to British and American occupation forces and erecting the wall on the US-Mexico border. This approach has already seen some exciting developments, for example activists fighting against racism in the US have drawn interesting parallels between the violence and racism as experienced in Oakland and Gaza as well as in New Orleans.

In places where comparable shared experiences or histories may not exist, activists have found other ways to link the Palestinian cause to the broader community. University activism, for instance, effectively uses the situation of Palestinian students and universities to connect with the student community and build support for BDS. Students' calls for divestment from Israel and academic boycott are clearly linked with the call for more involvement in the universities' decision-making processes and financial transparency. The work over the last few years has set the stage for the various actions that we have witnessed in the universities, including the wave of direct action that took place in the UK, the push for divestment at Hampshire College, and growing interest in the academic boycott in Europe, the US and Canada.

Israel has lost this most recent war on all fronts. In addition to failing to crush the resistance within Gaza, it was unable to control dissent in any of the territories under its military control. This defeat was mirrored on the international level, despite a massive public relations effort coupled with an attempt to control the flow of images and information coming out of Gaza, Israel was unable to shape public understanding and discourse. A growing majority has openly condemned the operation for what it was -- a massacre -- and joined the BDS movement. The most recent victories of the movement have shown that the global struggle for genuine democracy and justice is not only a common ground on which the support for Palestinian rights is based, but a crucial precondition for effective solidarity. Our task now is to channel popular outrage into coordinated, collective action.

Jamal Juma' is the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (



Published on Tuesday, March 3, 2009 by Inter Press Service

Israel Boycott Movement Gains Momentum

by Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH - "Standing United with the People of Gaza" is the theme of this week's Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), which kicked off in Toronto and another 39 cities across the globe Sunday.

A movement to boycott Israeli goods, culture and academic institutions is gaining momentum as Geneva prepares to host the UN's Anti-Racism Conference, Durban 2 next month amidst swirling controversy.

Both Canada and the U.S. are boycotting the Durban 2 conference in protest over what they perceive as a strongly anti-Israel agenda.

The first UN Anti-Racism conference, held in the South African city Durban in 2001, saw the Israeli and U.S. delegates storm out of the conference, accusing other delegates of focusing too strongly on Israel.

U.S. and Canadian support might have offered some comfort for Israel. However, international criticism of Israel's three-week bloody offensive into Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded, most of them civilian, has breathed fresh life into a Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The BDS campaign followed a 2005 appeal from over 170 Palestinian civil society groups to launch a divestment campaign "as a way of bringing non- violent pressure to bear on the state of Israel to end its violations of international law."

In the wake of the BDS campaign, critics of Israel have lashed out at what they see as parallels between South Africa's former apartheid system and Israeli racism.

They point to Israel's discriminatory treatment of ethnic Palestinians within Israel who hold Israeli passports, and the extensive human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied territories by Israeli security forces.

During the apartheid era, ties between Israel and South Africa were extremely strong, with the Jewish state helping to train South Africa's security forces as well as supplying the regime in Pretoria with weapons.

Meanwhile, Toronto, where the Israel Apartheid Week movement was born, will hold forums, film shows, cultural events and street protests to mark IAW week. One of the guest speakers is former South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils.

Kasrils is no stranger to controversy. His parents fled from Tzarist Russian pogroms carried out against Jews, and immigrated to South Africa at the beginning of the last century.

During white rule, as a member of the African National Congress (ANC), working both in exile and underground in South Africa, he was reviled by many white South Africans as a "terrorist".

He has also been labeled a self-hating Jew by many Israelis and South African Jews due to the strong stand he and the ANC have taken against Israel's policies.

Meanwhile, in New York, prominent IAW activist Nir Harel, a member of Israel's Anarchists Against the Wall, will also be courting controversy. His group regularly protests against Israel's separation barrier, which divides Israel proper from the Palestinian West Bank.

The barrier deviates significantly from the Green Line, the internationally recognized border, into Palestinian territory where it has swallowed huge amounts of land, dispossessing farmers from their agricultural crops.

Another Israeli activist, Matan Cohen, has been central in the first U.S. college implementing a divestment campaign against Israel. Hampshire College in Massachusetts called for divestment from over 200 companies that the college says is responsible for violating its socially responsible investment policies in Israel.

The companies which provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the occupied West Bank and Gaza include Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex.

A Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) petition for divestment was supported by more than 800 students, professors, and alumni at the college, that has only 1,350 students.

Hampshire college may be small but it has been big in social activism. It was also the first U.S. educational institution to divest from South Africa, ten years before other universities and colleges followed suit.

U.S. campus activism is spreading. The University of Rochester in New York and members of the community are also involved in boycott activities.

Students from Macalester College, a liberal arts college located in St. Paul, Minnesota, occupied the Minnesota Trade Office in January and then picketed there Feb. 6, demanding that the state end all trade with Israel. New York University students too began a divestment campaign.

Professors and university employees in Quebec, Canada, endorsed the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees' call to boycott Israel.

SJP's actions at Hampshire College follow similar moves by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in the UK.

In London, students held sit-ins at Goldsmith University and the London School of Economics, among other institutions. Similar protests have spread throughout the U.K., with some winning concessions from university officials.

At Manchester University, about a thousand students joined a campaign equating Israel with apartheid-era South Africa, and called on the administration and student union to boycott Israeli companies and support Gaza and the BDS movement.

In Australia the University of Western Sydney's Student Association recently joined the international BDS campaign. International trade union support for political action against Israel has been seen from Spain to South Africa.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, under directive of the Council of South African Trade Unions, refused recently to unload an Israeli ship which docked in Durban, despite threats and pressure from both management and the Israeli lobby.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions, with 600,000 members in 55 unions, is preparing to start a boycott of Israeli goods.

Meanwhile, the biggest trade union in Canada's Ontario province, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), was forced under pressure to moderate its call for a boycott of all academic institutions in Israel. Instead it called for a boycott of Israeli institutions engaged in research which aided the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

Copyright © 2009 IPS-Inter Press Service

Report on UK companies with links to settlements

An excellent 68-page comprehensive report on UK companies that have direct economic links with illegal Israeli settlements, prepared by researchers at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London..


The Palestine National Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)
Committee has launched a major endorsement gathering drive for BDS
leading up to the Global Day of Action on March 30 (which was called by
the World Social Forum last month). (See below for more information).

BDS is a people's tool, focused on mobilizing world public opinion on a
tangible effort to end the era of Israeli apartheid, occupation and
human rights violations against the Palestinians. Like with South
Africa, it has the real potential to transform the situation here
sooner rather than later.  Israel's apartheid and occupation will not
last and the sooner it ends, the more lives will be saved and the
sooner the building of a real non-secular democracy can begin (or two
democracies depending if there is one state or two).

Please support this important effort by:

1)  Adding your organizations as an endorser:

2)  Asking other organizations you work with to endorse. 

3)  Posting a link on your group's home page (if you have a website) to
the BDS endorsement page for the month of March

4)  Publicizing the BDS to your members and at your events..

5)  Organizing and/or participating in a local BDS event for March 30

Now is the time to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
to end the disastrous era of Israeli apartheid, occupation, and human
rights violations against the Palestinian people.

During the month of March, 2009, the Palestine National BDS Committee
has launched a major endorsement gathering drive. This leads up to the
Global Day of BDS actions on March 30 that was announced at the World
Social Forum held last month in Brazil.

Please join us by endorsing BDS! Sign on at: If you can sign on by March 28, your
name will be included in the endorsement declaration for March 30.

If you can, please add a link to this endorsement page on your
organization's home page for the month of March.  And please pass this
request along to other groups and help publicize BDS to your members,
constituents, and the general public.

We also invite you to take part in the March 30 Global BDS Day of
Action by organizing and participation in local and regional actions.
Please promote this day of action on your websites and to your mailing
lists. For more information, see:

After efforts and sacrifices of many years, we are at a historical
turning point. Poignantly aware of yet another war crime by Israel,
concerned citizens and activists around the world are mobilizing. Now
is the time to accelerate the international campaign for BDS.  This
successful strategy has been used in many human rights efforts
including the struggle against apartheid in South  Africa. With the
momentum of world opinion and action, it will also work to end the
systematic violation of human rights by Israel.

For more information, please contact

Consider sending a Rapid Response

Dear all
I trust some or most of you are aware of the very telling analysis in this week's BMJ re hostile mass lobbying of medical journals when they publish something that casts Israel in a bad light. Rapid Responses- which can be posted up by anyone at are flowing thick and fast. Usual accusations etc. Fiona Godlee and Tony Delamothe, who wrote the editorial, could I'd say do with a few more Rapid Responses of support. They have been brave!
One point not made yet is that its not just BMJ, and World Medicine previously. The Lancet has had pressure and threats periodically from the same sort of sources- this goes back as far as their reporting of Pauline Cutting's experiences as a surgeon in Beirut refugee camps in 1982 during Israeli invasion.
Please consider sending a Rapid Response asap, even if brief and no more than to support BMJ coverage of this issue and their resistance to hostile pressures to suppress debate legit in a medical journal that has always taken seriously its remit to address not just disease etc but its social and political roots.
All papers can be accessed easily via Or go to, find the article, click on 'Abstract' or something, click on 'Sens a Response'.
To send Rapid Response click on 'Send a Response' to left of each article.
Cheers Derek

Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East

Media Contact:  

UK Government Boycotts Israeli Tycoon Lev Leviev over Settlement Construction


Decision a Victory for Coordinated Campaign in Palestine, US, UK and Israel




New York, NY, March 4 – The government of the United Kingdom has decided to boycott Israeli diamond and real estate mogul Lev Leviev over his companies' construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz Daily reported today. The decision by the UK government followed a coordinated advocacy campaign by human rights advocates in New York, the UK, Palestine and Israel demanding that the UK government end plans to rent the new UK Embassy in Tel Aviv from Leviev's company Africa-Israel.

The UK's Tel Aviv Ambassador notified Leviev of the decision by letter, following a British parliamentary debate, and inquiries with Leviev's company Africa-Israel over its activities in the West Bank,  Ha'aretz reported. According to Ha'aretz, "The embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed the details of the story."

The Ha'aretz article did not note the construction of the settlement of Zufim on the land of the village of Jayyous by Leviev's company Leader. The Israeli army has recently intensified efforts to crush Jayyous' protest campaign against the construction of Leviev's settlements and Israel's wall on village land. Sharif Omar, the head of Jayyous' Land Defence Committee, commented, "We feel heartened by the UK government decision opposing Leviev's settlement construction, and we expect our brothers and sisters in the UAE to follow the UK government's example by banning Leviev from selling his diamonds in Dubai. We need more pressure in order to end Israeli repression, return our land, and restore our rights." 

Adalah-NY has held 13 protests at Leviev's Madison Avenue jewelry store since it opened. UNICEF and Oxfam have renounced Leviev over human rights abuses, Hollywood stars have distanced themselves from him, and the Dubai government is under pressure to boycott Leviev's businesses. Additionally, Africa-Israel has also lost 90% of its value and has been engaged in an embarrassing New York real estate battle. 

Leviev's companies have built Jewish-only homes on occupied Palestinian land in the Israeli settlements of Zufim, Mattityahu East, Har Homa and Maale Adumim, impoverishing villages like Bil'in and Jayyous and violating international law. Leviev also funded the settlement organization the Land Redemption Fund. In December, the Israeli financial journal Globes published an expose of Leviev's serious human rights abuses and failure to fully comply with the Kimberley Process in Angola (article in English). And in Namibia, Leviev recently fired around 200 striking diamond polishers, some of whom were already struggling to survive on less than $2 per day. 

After Israeli and British papers reported the UK's plans to rent its new Tel Aviv embassy from Leviev, eight groups in the US, UK and Palestine launched a letter-writing campaign to the UK's Foreign Office. Among those writing to demand a boycott of Leviev were ex-BBC Middle East Correspondent Tim Llewelyn, US academics Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky, Vice President of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini, and British lawyer Daniel Machover, writing in the Independent. A November 22 letter in the Guardian by eight Palestinian civil society leaders, including Palestinian Legislative Council members Mustafa Barghouti and Hanan Ashrawi, called on the UK to "publicly guarantee that it will not do business with settlement-builders such as Lev Leviev."

Omar Barghouti, one of the initiators of the Palestinian civil society
call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) said, "I wholeheartedly congratulate British activists and Adalah-NY for this substantial achievement for the boycott movement. This is a step in the right direction for the British government, a government that has taken thousands of steps in the wrong direction, not least of which is its open complicity in Israel's war crimes in Gaza and the rest of the occupied territory. Time for a British arms ban on Israel."

PSC Upcoming Actions and Events Update


-          Protest at Israel Science day

-          Lobby of Parliament for Gaza

-          PSC Activists Days

-          30 March Boycott Actions




Protest at Israel Science Day


London Thursday 5 March


Meet at 9.30am, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London


For more information:


Please circulate widely!!




Join us at the Emergency Lobby of Parliament for Gaza - Wednesday 11 March


We all watched the carnage in Gaza with horror in January.  Hundreds of thousands of us marched in protest and in solidarity with the people trapped under Israeli bombardment.


We need to take that spirit of solidarity right into Parliament, on an emergency lobby in support of Gaza from 2-6pm on March 11th.  MPs rely on your vote - we need as many people as possible to come to the lobby and show MPs that this is an issue that they cannot ignore.


Lobbying your MP is easy and effective – It's best to contact them in advance, but if you can't, please just turn up on the day and we'll give you all the information you need.


The Lobby will be followed by a meeting in the House of Commons "Remember Gaza" at 7pm in the House of Commons, Committee Room 9.


Speakers include:

Jamal el Khoudary, independent MP from Gaza

Richard Burden MP

Martin Linton MP

Sarah Teather MP


For more details visit




PSC  Activists Day Workshops


PSC is having a programme of activists days across the country, starting with Bristol and Sheffield on 14 March and London on 21 March. More activists days will be set up over the next few weeks.

These activists days will focus on discussion on the current situation and how we can build a mass solidarity movement and work to change government policy. We will be looking at how to build support including; working locally, acting globally; getting the message out; liaising with local media; lobbying MPs and MEPs; and involving all sections of the community.


Whether you are a new member, or have been involved for some time – whether you are already part of a branch or want to set a new one up – these days are for you!


- 14 March Bristol 12-4pm: Broadmead Baptist Church, Union Street: BS1 3HY


- 14 March Sheffield 12-4pm St.Matthews Church, 45 Carver Street (off Division Street) S1 4FT


- 21 March  London (Central London - venue to be confirmed)




March 28-30th –  Mass Boycott Focus on Waitrose and Tesco

At the World Social Forum in Belem last year the  Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee called for a global day of action on Monday March 30th 2009 in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. 

In the UK we are urging PSC supporters to take action against Waitrose and Tesco during the 28th-30th March as part of the international call to action. Waitrose and Tesco are the most intransigent British supermarkets on the issue of Israeli settlement goods and Israeli produce. Both supermarkets have failed to engage with Palestine Solidarity Campaign when we have raised the issue of settlement goods and labeling with them.           

Supermarkets are beginning to feel the effects of our boycott actions. During January and February countless stalls, pickets and demonstrations were held outside supermarkets. There have been several reports in the press that Israeli goods are remaining in warehouses or on the shelves past their sell by date. The groundswell of support for Gaza has brought the boycott to the attention of thousands of supporters; we need to engage these supporters in our actions.

For more info on the Waitrose and Tesco positions and points to make to them on Israeli and Israeli settlement produce see    


Or you can always just say  'I believe you should not be selling Israeli goods or goods from the illegal Israeli settlements  - because Israel is occupying stolen land, is destroying Palestinian lives and livelihoods and has committed many war crimes against the Palestinians - most recently in Gaza'. Or words to that effect…



Actions we would like you to take


- On Monday March 30th make sure everyone you know calls Waitrose Customer Services on 0800 188 881 and Tesco Customer Services on  0800 505555  to complain about their sale of Israeli products and illegal Israeli settlement products.

- Organise a boycott action in your area outside Waitrose or Tesco during the period from 28th-30th May
- Try to get local press interested. Why not organise a stunt, street theatre for example, outside your local store, to attract media attention.

- send a text message to 4 other people and ask them to call Tesco and Waitrose too. We need as many people to phone in on the 30th as possible. 
- Write to Waitrose and Tesco:



Waitrose Customer Service Department
Waitrose Limited
Doncastle Road

RG12 8YA

Fax 08456 049 050




Tesco PLC
New Tesco House
Delamare Road
England EN8 9SL




For more events up and down the country please visit our website, and click on events to see the full list.



The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!


Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Tel:   020 7700 6192
Fax:  020 7609 7779



Last update - 12:00 04/03/2009

Revealed: German firm used hair from Auschwitz victims in textiles

By Haaretz Service

Tags: israel news, jewish world 

The German auto parts manufacturer Schaeffler used the hair of Auschwitz inmates in order to make textiles during the Second World War, according to Polish researchers.

In an interview with the German Spiegel TV, Dr. Jacek Lachendro, the deputy head of the Auschwitz Museum research department, stated that almost two tons of the hair on display in Auschwitz was found at the Schaeffler factory in Kietrz at the end of the war.

He added that former factory workers had said that in 1943, two trainloads of hair were delivered to the Kietrz factory.

Polish authorities found it bore traces of Zyklon B, the gas used to murder over 1 million Jews in the Auschwitz gas chambers.

Related articles:

·  New Berlin exhibition shows blueprints for Auschwitz death camp

·  Poland seeks foreign donations to preserve Auschwitz facilities

·  Auschwitz security officers arrest Nazi memorabilia dealer



ELIANE ENGELER | March 3, 2009  AP 


GENEVA — European Union countries Tuesday stepped up their opposition to Muslim attempts to shield Islam from criticism and attack Israel through a U.N. conference on racism. 

EU members were unusually outspoken in appearances before the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying they were worried about preparations for a global racism conference to be held next month because attention was being diverted from the real problems of racial discrimination. 

"I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking," Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said. 

"The thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us," Verhagen told the 47-member council. 

References to Israel and protection of religion in the current draft conclusion being negotiated for the so-called Durban II conference are unacceptable, Verhagen said. 

"We cannot accept any text, which would put religion above individuals, not condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, condone anti-Semitism or single out Israel," he said. Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Italy voiced similar concerns. 

Islamic countries, still angry over cartoons and films attacking Muslims, have been campaigning for wording that would equate criticism of a religious faith with a violation of human rights. The informal negotiations have proven difficult with many issues that marred the first U.N. conference on racism in 2001 re-emerging _ such as criticism of Israel. 

The April 20-25 meeting is designed to review progress in fighting racism since the global body's first such conference eight years ago in Durban, South Africa. That 2001 meeting was dominated by clashes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery, and particularly marred by attacks on Israel and anti-Israel demonstrations at a parallel conference of non-governmental organizations. 

The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through the 2001 conference over a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism _ the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state _ to racism. The European Union also refused to accept demands by Arab states to criticize Israel for its "racist practices." 

In the end, the 2001 conference dropped criticism of Israel. It urged governments to take concrete steps to fight discrimination and recognized the plight of the Palestinian people and the need for Israel to have security. 

Israel and Canada had already announced they would will boycott Durban II. The Obama administration said Friday the U.S. will stay away from this year's conference unless its final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Monday that countries should not put conditions for the participation in the meeting. Durban II should deal with contemporary forms of racism, such as religious profiling and Islamophobia, he said.


This is a very interesting item, more for what is implied than for what is said. So the author says: Yet the religion of those who carry out this campaign is not to be mentioned, lest it "associate" the faith with human rights violations or terrorism.

Well? Why should the Islamic faith be mentioned always a Muslim commits a crime, but silenced when it is a Christian or a Jew or a Buddhist? The draft isn't so wrong after all: the faith of the criminal or terrorist or offender should not be relevant, even if he or she claims to do it on its behalf.

And now look at this: In Paragraph 6, an obvious attempt is being made to confuse ethnicity with confessional allegiance. Indeed this insinuation (incidentally dismissing the faith-based criminality of 9/11 as merely "tragic") is in fact essential to the entire scheme. If religion and race can be run together, then the condemnations that racism axiomatically attracts can be surreptitiously extended to religion, too.

You know, for a moment I thought the author was referring to Israel, as enshrined as a Jewish state, a definition which raises a lot of criticism for its apartheid implications. But no, God forbid, the author is referring to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Don't expect for him to add Israel to the lot, he may be afraid and rightly so to be branded as anti-Semitic!!! 

But let us concede that the author has a point in stating: the absurd and many-times discredited assertion that religion can be the basis of a nationality.Great! As extended to the Jewish nationality, the pillar of Zionism and its state, Mr Hitchens might contribute to the root of a big problem we have in the Middle East, lest he loose his job!

And last but not least: The useless and meaningless term Islamophobia, now widely used as a bludgeon of moral blackmail, is testimony to its success. Meaningless? Useless? I wouldn't dare say so as far as anti-Semitism is concerned. And yet both "terms" share a lot. For sure the hatred of neo-Nazis... And in reverse, if Islamophobia is a bludgeon of moral blackmail, what about anti-Semitism when used to silence anti-Zionist criticism of Israeli racist  policies ...?

Oh, oh, look out, this is mined territory: don't say a word!


Don't Say a Word

A U.N. resolution seeks to criminalize opinions that differ with the Islamic faith.

By Christopher HitchensPosted Monday, March 2, 2009, at 2:07 PM ET


The Muslim religion makes unusually large claims for itself. All religions do this, of course, in that they claim to know and to be able to interpret the wishes of a supreme being. But Islam affirms itself as the last and final revelation of God's word, the consummation of all the mere glimpses of the truth vouchsafed to all the foregoing faiths, available by way of the unimprovable, immaculate text of "the recitation," or Quran.

If there sometimes seems to be something implicitly absolutist or even totalitarian in such a claim, it may result not from a fundamentalist reading of the holy book but from the religion itself. And it is the so-called mainstream Muslims, grouped in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, who are now demanding through the agency of the United Nations that Islam not only be allowed to make absolutist claims but that it also be officially shielded from any criticism of itself.

Though it is written tongue-in-cheek in the language of human rights and of opposition to discrimination, the nonbinding U.N. Resolution 62/154, on "Combating defamation of religions," actually seeks to extend protection not to humans but to opinions and to ideas, granting only the latter immunity from being "offended." The preamble is jam-packed with hypocrisies that are hardly even laughable, as in this delicious paragraph, stating that the U.N. General Assembly:

Underlining the importance of increasing contacts at all levels in order to deepen dialogue and reinforce understanding among different cultures, religions, beliefs and civilizations, and welcoming in this regard the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, held in Tehran on 3 and 4 September 2007.

Yes, I think we can see where we are going with that. (And I truly wish I had been able to attend that gathering and report more directly on its rich and varied and culturally diverse flavors, but I couldn't get a visa.) The stipulations that follow this turgid preamble are even more tendentious and become more so as the resolution unfolds. For example, Paragraph 5 "expresses its deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism," while Paragraph 6 "[n]otes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001."

You see how the trick is pulled? In the same weeks that this resolution comes up for its annual renewal at the United Nations, its chief sponsor-government (Pakistan) makes an agreement with the local Taliban to close girls' schools in the Swat Valley region (a mere 100 miles or so from the capital in Islamabad) and subject the inhabitants to Sharia law. This capitulation comes in direct response to a campaign of horrific violence and intimidation, including public beheadings. Yet the religion of those who carry out this campaign is not to be mentioned, lest it "associate" the faith with human rights violations or terrorism. In Paragraph 6, an obvious attempt is being made to confuse ethnicity with confessional allegiance. Indeed this insinuation (incidentally dismissing the faith-based criminality of 9/11 as merely "tragic") is in fact essential to the entire scheme. If religion and race can be run together, then the condemnations that racism axiomatically attracts can be surreptitiously extended to religion, too. This is clumsy, but it works: The useless and meaningless term Islamophobia, now widely used as a bludgeon of moral blackmail, is testimony to its success.

Just to be clear, a phobia is an irrational and unconquerable fear or dislike. However, some of us can explain with relative calm and lucidity why we think "faith" is the most overrated of the virtues. (Don't be calling us "phobic" unless you want us to start whining that we have been "offended.") And this whole picture would be very much less muddied and confused if the state of Pakistan, say, did not make the absurd and many-times discredited assertion that religion can be the basis of a nationality. It is such crude amalgamations—is a Saudi or Pakistani being "profiled" because of his religion or his ethnicity?—that are responsible for any overlap between religion and race. It might also help if the Muslim hadith did not prescribe the death penalty for anyone trying to abandon Islam—one could then be surer who was a sincere believer and who was not, or (as with the veil or the chador in the case of female adherents) who was a volunteer and who was being coerced by her family.

Rather than attempt to put its own house in order or to confront such other grave questions as the mass murder of Shiite Muslims by Sunni Muslims (and vice versa), or the desecration of Muslim holy sites by Muslim gangsters, or the discrimination against Ahmadi Muslims by other Muslims, the U.N. resolution seeks to extend the whole area of denial from its existing homeland in the Islamic world into the heartland of post-Enlightenment democracy where it is still individuals who have rights, not religions. See where the language of Paragraph 10 of the resolution is taking us. Having briefly offered lip service to the rights of free expression, it goes on to say that "the exercise of these rights carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs." The thought buried in this awful, wooden prose is as ugly as the language in which it is expressed: Watch what you say, because our declared intention is to criminalize opinions that differ with the one true faith. Let nobody say that they have not been warned.



Thanks for your support and commitment,

Email: Enrique Ferro:

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