Friday, September 19, 2014

Mothers of the disappeared in Latin America feel Gaza’s pain

Andrew Klein The Electronic Intifada Buenos Aires 18 September 2014

Women hold posters of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners outside the Red Cross offices in Jerusalem in June. (Saeed Qaq / APA images)

This past summer, as Israeli weapons deindustrialized Gaza and decimated its civilians, leftist publications in Latin America began circulating a 2012 essay by the renowned Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. Writing in the wake of Israel’s November 2012 onslaught in Gaza, Galeano lamented the “erasing of Palestine from the map.” Palestinians, he wrote, “cannot breathe without permission” and “when they vote for someone who they shouldn’t, they are punished.”

For Galeano, a historian of Latin America, the 2006 election in Gaza, won by Hamas, seemed a lot like the 1932 election in El Salvador. While El Salvador’s military rulers conceded a place on the ballot for the long-marginalized Communist Party (just as George W. Bush did with Hamas in 2006), they swiftly annulled the results after a Communist triumph, and within days launched a genocidal campaign targeting the party’s indigenous peasant base.

Similarly, after Bush’s “democracy promotion” elicited the “wrong” result in Gaza, the United States and Israel worked to undermine the winner of the election using a variety of methods, including orchestrating an abortive coup attempt with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile, Israel has continued to impose a suffocating blockade on Gaza since 2007, which has the sadistic goal of keeping its people “on a diet” and its “economy on the brink of collapse.”

Linked plights

For Galeano and others, the respective plights of Latin Americans and Palestinians are not only linked in a fertile historical analogy — bridging the gulf of their separate oppressions is an unassailable fact.

In the second half of the twentieth century, Israel supplied repressive Latin American governments, from Guatemala to Argentina, with weapons, military transportation, intelligence equipment, counterinsurgency training and even public relations consulting.

Most notoriously, Israel kept close ties with Augusto Pinochet, the brutal Chilean general who took power during a bloody coup in 1973 with the help of the CIA. During his seventeen years of rule, Pinochet “disappeared” thousands of his citizens and committed countless human rights abuses. Throughout his reign, he benefitted from numerous shipments of Israeli weapons — and, of course, strong US backing as well.

Fewer friends

In Latin America today, Israel has far fewer friends. This reality becomes pronounced whenever it escalates the war against the population it continues to occupy.

When this happened this summer in Gaza, the now predictable pattern of destruction — the infrastructure callously destroyed, the staggering civilian casualty count — led many Latin American states to take a firm position on the Israeli attacks. (Of course, countries with close economic and military dealings with the United States — such as Colombia and Panama, which have also received arms shipments from Israel in recent years — were not among them.)

The procession of countries standing up for Palestinians was impressive. In late July, Bolivian President Evo Morales declared Israel “a terrorist state.”

Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Peru and El Salvador withdrew their ambassadors from Tel Aviv, and the president of Argentina joined the heads of state of Brazil, Venezuela and Uruguay in issuing a “special communiqué” condemning Israel’s “disproportionate use of force.”

Cuba, a country which ruptured diplomatic relations with Israel in 1973, is perhaps the most vocal critic of Zionism in the hemisphere. In 1959, iconic guerrilla leader Che Guevara led a Cuban solidarity envoy to Gaza soon after the triumph of the Cuban revolution. In August of this year, former Cuban President Fidel Castro penned a column in the country’s state newspaper titled “The Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza.” These are just a sampling of the latest pushes in Latin America to isolate Israel for its gross mistreatment of Palestinians.

Assertive diplomacy

This assertive diplomacy has a counterpart in the region’s press. Depictions of Palestinian suffering by Latin American journalists are not diluted by the lurking Israel-slanted bias of many US outlets.

While this summer The New York Times published a rash of articles full of false equivalencies and talk of “both sides” (for example, “Pause in the fighting gives civilians on both sides a moment to take stock” and “Neighborhood ravaged on deadliest day so far for both sides in Gaza”), the most common headline accompanying Latin American TV and newspaper reportage of this topic was “El Infierno de Gaza” — “The Gaza Hell.”

Press accounts, free of cant, honestly illuminating the degradations of Palestinian life, have helped an array of pro-Palestinian social movements in Latin America galvanize members of civil society. When coordinated protests against Israeli massacres in Gaza erupted across six continents on 26 July, Latin American cities exhibited some of the largest among them.

Heritage and history

Latin America as a whole hosts the largest population of diaspora Arabs in the world, a community dating back primarily to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This group has certainly played a prominent role in Palestinian solidarity efforts in the region. Chile, for instance, a country with half a million citizens with Palestinian lineage, has a Chile-Palestine Inter-Parliamentary Group comprising nearly 40 percent of parliament.

While commentators are right to point to the sizable Arab presence in Latin America when explaining the magnitude of its Palestinian solidarity, this element should not be overstated. Indeed, the links connecting the narratives of Latin American and Palestinian disenfranchisement transcend the particularities of a shared ethnicity.

One example of this link came in 2008 when Chilean President Michelle Bachelet granted 117 Palestinian refugees asylum in her country. During the welcoming ceremony, she compared her own experience of exile during the reign of Pinochet to the plights of displaced Palestinians. “I want to tell you that I know exactly how it feels to be a refugee in a strange country,” she said. “I know it because I lived that, I also was a refugee.”

This remark was no doubt intended to resonate with Chile’s Palestinians, whose participation in the country’s politics through elections and lobbying groups like the Palestine Federation of Chile is by no means negligible. Nevertheless, it also reflects a sense of solidarity that can be perceived across the region. One need only look at places like Bolivia, Cuba and Uruguay — countries with relatively small populations of Arab descendants — where support for Palestine is no less robust than in neighboring nations.

Nuisance to the powerful

One of the most brutal of the US and Israel-backed dictatorships in Latin America was the military junta that ruled Argentina from the mid-1970s into the early 1980s.

Despite “disappearing” as many as 30,000 of its people, torturing many others and eradicating all political parties and independent media, the regime received a green light for its “dirty war” against opponents from US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Later, it enjoyed a tight partnership with US President Ronald Reagan.

In Argentina, all dissent was repressed and a culture of fear prevailed. And yet, a protest movement based in the Plaza de Mayo — the historical epicenter of popular struggle in Argentina — eventually did take hold. It was led by a group of mothers whose daughters and sons were victims of the dictatorship. This group, named the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, staged weekly demonstrations beginning in the latter half of the regime’s tenure.

Every Thursday, the mothers marched somberly in the plaza, white handkerchiefs covering their heads, holding photos of their missing children. Through their highly visible actions, the mothers challenged and ultimately destroyed the dictatorship’s grip on power.

After the fall of military rule in Argentina, the mothers maintained their presence in the public sphere, continuing to demand official accountability for the state terrorism they personally endured, while also lending their support to a myriad of leftist causes. Today, they still gather each week in the Plaza de Mayo.

On a Thursday afternoon in mid-August, the mothers rallied together with Palestinian activists. The two groups began by forming a circle and took turns addressing the crowd on their overlapping causes. Both spoke of los desaparecidos, the disappeared. While this term is most commonly used by Latin Americans to describe a specific phenomenon — the victims of the violent regimes, plaguing their continent in the twentieth century — in this setting, the phrase was generalized.

Here, Palestinians were eulogized among the disappeared, their identities and voices beyond the bounds of state-sanctioned respectability, their very existence a nuisance to the powerful. To be a Palestinian, they declared, is similar to being a leftist in Argentina in the 1970s and ’80s. The women donning headscarves, clutching pictures of their long-deceased children, stood adjacent to the activists wearing kuffiyehs — Palestinian checkered scarves — hoisting signs with images of children killed in Gaza.

The moment of silence came at the end. Heads tilted downward with solemnity. The dead were mourned — all of them.

Andrew Klein is a freelance reporter currently filing for KPFA News from Buenos Aires. He has traveled extensively in Palestine and spent three months last year working in Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut.


Great achievements in JIm Crow for the Israeli (onlydemocracyinthemideast) Supreme Court

from The Electric Intifada

Israeli high court upholds racist "admission committees" law
Submitted by Charlotte Silver on Thu, 09/18/2014 - 15:15

The Naqab township of Lakiya was founded in the 1980s in an Israeli government project to remove Bedouins from their lands. Bedouins and other Palestinian citizens are barred from many Jewish communities by racist “admissions committees.” (Ryan Rodrick Beiler / ActiveStills)
The Israeli high court upheld on Wednesday the “Admissions Committees Law,” which allows rural towns in the Negev and Galilee to reject Palestinian citizens of Israel and other marginalized groups from residing in them on the basis that they are “unsuitable” for Jewish communities.

It is a ruling that Israeli civil and human rights organizations have condemned as legalizing the practice of segregation.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, had filed a petition against the law on behalf of several human and civic rights organizations in Israel on 30 March 2011, arguing that the law violated Israel’s prohibition against discrimination.

On 17 September, an expanded panel of judges ruled five-to-four to dismiss the petition.

In a press release, Adalah said: “This law is one of the most racist pieces of legislation enacted in recent years, the primary objective of which is to marginalize Arab citizens and prevent them from accessing housing on ‘state land’ in many communities. The court’s decision upholds one of the most dangerous laws in Israel.”

While there is specific language in the law that nominally bars explicit discrimination in terms of race, religion, gender, nationality, or disability, it nevertheless allows admissions committees to use a vague criteria to reject an applicant who is “not suitable for the social life in the community” or the “candidate’s lack of compatibility with the social-cultural fabric of the community town.”


In its condemnation of the law in 2011, Human Rights Watch pointed to one example in which a kibbutz justified its rejection of an Arab-Israeli couple citing the town’s criteria that required residents be eligible for the membership in the World Zionist Organization and to have served in the Israeli army, which swiftly disqualifies most Palestinian citizens.

Around 700 rural communities across Israel have committees made up of town residents and representatives from the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organization. Under the regulations of the Israel Land Authority, these communities have admissions committees, but their procedures for admitting new residents had never before been organized under a national law. The law, passed on 22 March 2011, codifies the longtime practice of these committees rejecting applicants who wish to live in the small communities on a discriminatory basis.

As the law was originally drafted, it would have applied to all communities in Israel with fewer than 400 families, totaling around 700 communities, but the final version of the bill was restricted to just the Negev and Galilee — two areas in which there have been concerted efforts to Judaize while removing Palestinian inhabitants. There are 434 communities which will fall under its jurisdiction, constituting around 43 percent of towns in Israel.

In 2010, as the bill was making its way through committee readings in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), Knesset members defended the law by arguing that the selection criteria would come under the supervision of the attorney general’s office and therefore unlikely to enable racial discrimination.

However, statements to the media by the bill’s sponsors, and documented by Human Rights Watch, betray the racist motivations for the law.


Speaking to the Knesset in December 2009, David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, said that the law would allow towns to be “established by people who want to live with other Jews.”

The following year, Yisrael Hasson of the Kadima party, another sponsor of the bill, said it “reflects the Knesset’s commitment to work to preserve the ability to realize the Zionist dream in practice in the state of Israel” through “population dispersal.”

Israel has not allowed the establishment of any new Arab and Palestinian towns since 1948, save for seven townships in the Negev to which the Bedouin population was relocated. So while Arabs comprise roughly 20 percent of Israel’s population, only 2.5 percent of the land is under the jurisdiction of Arab local governments.

In 2008, Adalah approximated that Palestinians were blocked from living in 80 percent of the land controlled by the state — which is 93 percent of all of Israel.

As a result of the dearth of space for Palestinians in Israel to live, some have attempted to move to these Jewish-majority communities.

And despite a high court ruling in 2000 that was celebrated as paving the way to end the practice of discrimination among admissions committees, no improvement has been detected. In the highly vaunted Kaadan case, in which an Arab-Israeli couple petitioned the high court after being denied the right to live in the Jewish community of Katzir, the high court ruled that allocating land to citizens based solely on their religion was prohibited.

Continuous policy

But writing on the failure of the Kaadan ruling to fulfill any of its promise “to end decades of communal segregation of Jewish and Palestinian citizens” or “loosen the oppressive system of ethnic control over Israeli territory,” Jonathan Cook wrote:

the court did nothing substantive to enforce the rights of Palestinian citizens to equal access to land or community membership in the intervening years. And to avert any potential damage from the Kaadan ruling, the Knesset responded in 2011 by changing the law to give legal backing to such committees.

Since 2007, Adalah has been challenging the existence of “admissions committees.” Also in 2007, the United Nations committee that oversees the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that Israel examine the role of admissions committees.

On 25 January 2012, the attorney general asked the high court to dismiss the petitions “on the grounds that they are premature and theoretical, as the law itself has not been used to bar any applicant from these small communities thus far.”

In its Wednesday ruling, the court stated, “We cannot determine at this stage whether the law violates constitutional rights”.

In 2011, HRW recorded one village committee requiring applicants “to embrace the values in the village’s charter, including ‘Zionism’ and ‘Jewish tradition’.”

Adalah attorney Suhad Bishara stated: “The law is functioning the same way it did previously as a policy, deterring many segments of the population, especially Palestinian Arab citizens of the state, from applying for housing in these towns for fear of rejection. The law has serious implications now and has had for many years, so it is not possible to say that it is not ripe for judicial ruling.”

while world attention is diverted by ISIS, Israel continues on its true mission: Palestinian removal to achieve ethnic purity

Thousands of Palestinians to be Forcibly Moved for Settlement Expansion

author Tuesday September 16, 2014 09:07author by Alternative Information Center (AIC) Report post

Israel is planning to forcibly transfer thousands of Palestinian Bedouins from their West Bank communities into a designated township to free up land for settlement expansion. Local and international groups are urging world leaders to pressure Israel to stop this violation of Palestinian rights.

The Israeli government publicized, last week, six plans to move Palestinian Bedouins out of their communities around Jericho, Ramallah, and Jerusalem. The plans include moving Bedouins out of the politically sensitive area referred to as the Jerusalem Periphery or “E1,” where Israel has long-intended to demolish 23 Bedouin villages in order to expand and link settlements. Settlement expansion in this area would cut the West Bank in two, further disrupting movement and social and economic ties between major Palestinian cities and limiting the little access Palestinians in the West Bank have to Jerusalem.

All of the Palestinian Bedouin communities slated for transfer are located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel maintains full civil and military control. There are already around 341,000 Israeli settlers living in more than 100 settlements throughout Area C. Although Area C is within the internationally recognized 1967 borders of the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel only allows Palestinians to build on 1 percent of it.

International humanitarian organisations have noted that this lack of authority to build makes Palestinians vulnerable to home demolition, displacement, and forcible transfer and limits their ability to realize their rights to water, to adequate shelter, to education, health, and to livelihood.

Over 40 local and international agencies have called on world leaders to pressure Israel to cancel these plans.

In recent months, the government of Israel has used coercive tactics to heighten the pressure on Palestinian Bedouin communities, issuing eviction orders and demolishing homes and livelihood structures. Aid agencies report that Israel has also obstructed them from delivering assistance to these communities, including by seizing and destroying emergency shelters that international donors provided for families whose homes were demolished and confiscating a swing-set and a slide for a Bedouin school.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports that Israel has already demolished more than 350 Palestinian homes or livelihood structures in Area C in 2014, while demolitions in the Jerusalem periphery and E1 area have hit a five-year high, displacing 170 Bedouins, 91 of whom are children.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

from the nyt-online edition


WASHINGTON — IN Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.

Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. “I think that’s amazing,” he told me. “It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.”

It appears that Mr. Snowden’s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 — many still serving in the reserves — accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for “political persecution.” In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.

The veterans of Unit 8200 declared that they had a “moral duty” to no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians.” An Israeli military spokesman disputed the letter’s overall drift but said the charges would be examined.

It should trouble the American public that some or much of the information in question — intended not for national security purposes but simply to pursue political agendas — may have come directly from the N.S.A.’s domestic dragnet. According to documents leaked by Mr. Snowden and reported by the British newspaper The Guardian, the N.S.A. has been sending intelligence to Israel since at least March 2009.

The memorandum of agreement between the N.S.A. and its Israeli counterpart covers virtually all forms of communication, including but not limited to “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.” The memo also indicates that the N.S.A. does not filter out American communications before delivery to Israel; indeed, the agency “routinely sends” unminimized data.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Although the memo emphasizes that Israel should make use of the intercepts in accordance with United States law, it also notes that the agreement is legally unenforceable. “This agreement,” it reads, “is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law.”

It should also trouble Americans that the N.S.A. could head down a similar path in this country. Indeed, there is some indication, from a top-secret 2012 document from Mr. Snowden’s leaked files that I saw last year, that it already is. The document, from Gen. Keith B. Alexander, then the director of the N.S.A., notes that the agency had been compiling records of visits to pornographic websites and proposes using that information to damage the reputations of people whom the agency considers “radicalizers” — not necessarily terrorists, but those attempting, through the use of incendiary speech, to radicalize others. (The Huffington Post has published a redacted version of the document.)

In Moscow, Mr. Snowden told me that the document reminded him of the F.B.I.’s overreach during the days of J. Edgar Hoover, when the bureau abused its powers to monitor and harass political activists. “It’s much like how the F.B.I. tried to use Martin Luther King’s infidelity to talk him into killing himself,” he said. “We said those kinds of things were inappropriate back in the ’60s. Why are we doing that now? Why are we getting involved in this again?”

It’s a question that American and Israeli citizens should be asking themselves.

James Bamford is the author of three books on the National Security Agency, including “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret N.S.A. from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How historian Shlomo Sand "stopped being a Jew"

Rod Such The Electronic Intifada 15 September 2014

“Is not the very fact of defining oneself as a Jew within the State of Israel an act of affiliation to a privileged caste which creates intolerable injustices around itself?” the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand asks, and in turn answers in the affirmative in the very title of his latest book, How I Stopped Being a Jew.

Sand is speaking as a secular Israeli Jew, an atheist, who ultimately rejects the idea that he belongs to a certain ethnos simply by virtue of matrilineal descent.

The bulk of the book is devoted to how he came to this conclusion — but as to why, that story is relatively simple. His epiphany began inside Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv when he witnessed a Palestinian citizen of Israel being escorted away by security agents while he breezed through check-in, his Jewish nationality stamped on his Israeli identity card.


Sand seeks to renounce the privileges that come with being Jewish in Israel, including being identified with the state itself, being able to own land non-Jews cannot, hold jobs non-Jews cannot, live in communities where non-Jews are not allowed, establish colonies on land that does not belong to you and resting assured that you will never be tortured or have your home demolished.

Sand teaches contemporary history at Tel Aviv University. He is best known for The Invention of the Jewish People (2009) and The Invention of the Land of Israel (2012). Both of those works did much to demolish Zionist propaganda myths.

Despite the provocative title, The Invention of the Jewish People is a scholarly inquiry into historiography — how history is written — that shows how histories of Judaism and the Jewish people changed over time. Only recently, Sand found, did Zionist-influenced historians weave a narrative myth of the Jewish people being forcibly exiled from Israel after the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE, wandering in the Diaspora until the Zionist movement finally succeeded in returning them to their “rightful, ancestral home” in 1948.

Sand shows what credible scholars of Jewish history have long known: that there’s no evidence of a mass forced exile by the Roman Empire and that Judaism spread to various parts of the world because it was a proselytizing religion at times in its history, aided by the conversion to Judaism of the rulers of several kingdoms.

Similarly, The Invention of the Land of Israel debunks the notion that ancient Israel was a nation-state, as we conceive of it today, promised to the Jews by God. Sand focuses on biblical texts that suggest the writers of those texts conceived of Israel as the land of monotheism in constant clashes with idolatrous or polytheistic religions, not as a nation-state or homeland of a particular tribe or ethnic group. He shows that, for centuries, most religious Jews did not conceive of the Holy Land as an actual place on earth. Only with the advent of nationalism and nationalist movements in the 19th century did a narrative emerge that depicted ancient Israel as a nation-state.


How I Stopped Being a Jew is a departure from Sand’s scholarly works. It’s a personal, reflective and brief essay in which he describes, often anecdotally, how he arrived at his decision to stop identifying as a Jew. Sand concedes that for a long time he held on to the belief that as long as anti-Semitism existed in the world, he would identify as a secular Jew because the anti-Semite would identify him as a Jew anyway, a formulation made famous by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in Jew and Anti-Semite. “And yet,” Sand writes, “as the years have passed, and in view of the radicalization of Israeli politics … my assurance in this definition of my identity has steadily eroded.”

One incident, in particular, played a role in his growing doubts. While living in France, a controversy erupted when Zionists protested the inclusion of a representative of the Roma people at a university conference on the Nazi genocide. Sand’s research showed that the Nazis exterminated roughly the same percentage of European Roma as they did European Jews — that is, almost totally. This attempted misuse of historical memory to focus exclusively on Jews, rather than to recognize the massive extermination of others, such as the Roma and nearly 2.5 million Polish Catholics, contributed to his unease at identifying himself as a secular Jew.

Sand recognizes that Nazism was more than just a radical racist movement, targeting Jews, Slavs and Roma, but also was unique for its extreme Social Darwinism. The Nazi quest for an Aryan utopia, for example, resulted in the murders of 300,000 mentally ill and cognitively disabled people who were the first to be killed with gas.

Sand charges that by making the genocide appear to be exclusively anti-Semitic, Zionism attempts to cast the Jewish people as perpetual victims and renders Hitler and Nazism as just another in a long line of persecutors. The result, he argues, is that the focus remains on the Jewish Holocaust, Nazism escapes the special scrutiny it deserves and Zionist propaganda can attempt to portray the Palestinians as the new Nazis.

Critique of modern identity politics

Under Israeli law, Sand cannot change the Jewish nationality on his identity card unless he converts to another religion. Since he’s not religious, he’s stuck with the nationality designation, which Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, conceived as a way of creating a Jewish ethnocratic state while seeming to grant democracy for non-Jews. But Sand notes that even the Israeli government has difficulty defining what a Jew is, in effect, leaving the decision to religious criteria. This, he says, “explains the growing need, in the official identity policy of the State of Israel, to preserve religious customs.”

How I Stopped Being a Jew is ultimately a critique of modern identity politics, which the author describes as “packed with barbed wires, walls and roadblocks that define and limit collectives great and small.”

His own choice, given that he lives in what he describes as “one of the most racist societies in the Western world,” is to resign from being a member of “a fictitious ethnos of persecutors,” while continuing to write books that might one day help revive his dream of a “confederation between two republics, Israeli and Palestinian,” based on equal rights for all.

Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He is active with Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter and the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Obama Got Trolled by ISIS

ISIS knew Americans would freak out when we saw those beheading videos. So why’d they post them? Were they stupid? Hell, no

By Ted Rall
September 14, 2014 "ICH" - President Obama’s reaction to the videos of two American freelance journalists getting beheaded by Islamist militants gives me the uncomfortable feeling that the American people are getting punk’d — again.

The same thing happened 13 years ago this week, when a dozen and a half Muslim fundamentalists attacked our financial and political capitals using our own planes. The hijackers got exactly the reaction that they wanted: overreaction.You should never underestimate an adversary, least of all when their remarkable success against difficult odds have demonstrated the wisdom of their tactics. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, like the 9/11-era Al Qaeda from which it split, is not run by stupid people. Stupid people don’t take half of Syria away from its longtime authoritarian dictator – whose armed forces happen to be better equipped and trained – and half of Iraq away from a puppet regime backed by the world’s most ferocious superpower – in two years.

Considering ISIS through the lens of proper respect for their leaders’ intelligence, what were they thinking when they posted those two gruesome videos? Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Abu Suleiman al-Naser and other top officials of the Islamic State had to know they would provoke a political reaction. It has: More Americans (94%) are aware of the ISIS execution videos than any other news event in the last five years.

ISIS’ leaders also must have anticipated a military reaction. After the videos, a war-weary American public’s apathetic stance toward the civil war in Syria flipped toward strong support in favor of the bombing campaign announced by Obama (who paradoxically continues to poll poorly on foreign policy).

Clearly ISIS’ top brass believe they stand more to gain than to lose from the coming onslaught by U.S. drones and fighter jets. This should frighten us.

Put yourself into the mindset of the insurgents. Their enemies are the existing governments of the countries they seek to occupy: Syria, Iraq, possibly Jordan, certainly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. But – again, like Al Qaeda in the early 2000s – they have a more formidable adversary: moderation.

To survive and expand, radical jihadists don’t need all, or even most, Muslims to join the fight. But they do require the tacit consent of the governed in the areas they control, and the political sympathy that prompts donors to send them the financial contributions that allow them to arm new recruits and hold their territory — factors that fuel legitimacy.

As radicals and fundamentalists, ISIS’ Manichean worldview portrays the West, and especially the United States and Great Britain, and their Middle Eastern client states – obviously Israel most of all – as monsters hell-bent on the oppression of Muslims, the exploitation and appropriation of Muslim lands, using moral corruption and godless capitalism as means toward global domination at their expense.

Until recently, most Muslims – including most Sunnis – didn’t buy it. Hundreds of millions of them drank, smoked, failed to pray regularly, and envied the liberalism and economic power of the West.

The genius of 9/11 was to provoke the United States and its allies into behaving exactly like the monsters Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups had long argued they were. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, brazenly embracing torture and mass kidnappings and opening a gulag archipelago of secret prisons everywhere from Eastern Europe to Guantánamo to jail ships floating in the Indian Ocean, as well as the brazen disregard for innocent civilians demonstrated by Bush and Obama’s willy-nilly drone program, convinced countless fence sitters and former moderates to join the militants, cut them a check, or at least look the other way. By the end of the Bush years, the United States was wildly unpopular, viewed as “violent” and “selfish” throughout the Muslim world.

We got trolled.

The tactics Obama plans to use against ISIS are more of the same. Once again, U.S. warplanes and remote-controlled killer air robots will rain death upon people, the vast majority of whom were innocent and had nothing to do with the group responsible for beheading those poor journalists. Once again, although we will on occasion succeed in killing some #1 or #2 “top terrorist,” we will lose this battle for hearts and minds because (a) the nature of guerrilla warfare is that no leader is indispensable and anyone can and will be replaced, and (b) each civilian death will generate thousands of fierce lifelong enemies – yes, some family members and many friends, but most of all the one group of people American pundits and journalists rarely reference when discussing “collateral damage” – ordinary people, there and in the region and around the world, who react with disgust and rage at our cruelty.

Ironically, disgust and rage are the very same emotions that triggered America’s latest tumble into the Islamist trap.

Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan,” out this week. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.

Breaking the last taboo

Editor's note: The following article is adapted from John Pilger's Edward Said Memorial Lecture, delivered in Adelaide, Australia, on 11 September 2014.

Breaking the last taboo
by John Pilger
11 September 2014
"There is a taboo," said the visionary Edward Said, "on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free."
For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can't look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.
The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.
When Nelson Mandela called the struggle of Palestine "the greatest moral issue of our time", he spoke on behalf of true civilisation, not that which empires invent. In Latin America, the governments of Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru and Ecuador have made their stand on Gaza. Each of these countries has known its own dark silence when immunity for mass murder was sponsored by the same godfather in Washington that answered the cries of children in Gaza with more ammunition to kill them.
Unlike Netanyahu and his killers, Washington's pet fascists in Latin America didn't concern themselves with moral window dressing. They simply murdered, and left the bodies on rubbish dumps. For Zionism, the goal is the same: to dispossess and ultimately destroy an entire human society: a truth that 225 Holocaust survivors and their descendants have compared with the genesis of genocide.
Nothing has changed since the Zionists' infamous "Plan D" in 1948 that ethnically cleansed an entire people. Recently, on the website of the Times of Israel were the words: "Genocide is Permissible". A deputy speaker of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, Moshe Feiglin, demands a policy of mass expulsion into concentration camps. An MP, Ayelet Shaked, whose party is a member of the governing coalition, calls for the extermination of Palestinian mothers to prevent them giving birth to what she calls "little snakes".
For years, reporters have watched Israeli soldiers bait Palestinian children by abusing them through loud-speakers. Then they shoot them dead. For years, reporters have known about Palestinian women about to give birth and refused passage through a roadblock to a hospital; and the baby has died, and sometimes the mother.
For years, reporters have known about Palestinian doctors and ambulance crews given permission by Israeli commanders to attend the wounded or remove the dead, only to be shot through the head.
For years, reporters have known about stricken people prevented from getting life-saving treatment, or shot dead when they've tried to reach a clinic for chemotherapy treatment. One elderly lady with a walking stick was murdered in this way - a bullet in her back.
When I put the facts of this crime to Dori Gold, a senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister, he said, "Unfortunately in every kind of warfare there are cases of civilians who are accidentally killed. But the case you cite was not terrorism. Terrorism means putting the cross-hairs of the sniper's rifle on a civilian deliberately."
I replied, "That's exactly what happened."
"No," he said, "it did not happen."
Such a lie or delusion is repeated unerringly by Israel's apologists. As the former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges points out, the reporting of such an atrocity invariably ends up as "caught in the cross-fire". For as long as I have covered the Middle East, much if not most of the western media has colluded in this way.
In one of my films, a Palestinian cameraman, Imad Ghanem, lies helpless while soldiers from the "most moral army in the world" blew both his legs off. This atrocity was given two lines on the BBC website. Thirteen journalists were killed by Israel in its latest bloodfest in Gaza. All were Palestinian. Who knows their names?
Something is different now. There is a huge revulsion across the world; and the voices of sensible liberalism are worried. Their hand wringing and specious choir of "equal blame" and "Israel's right to defend itself" will not wash any more; neither will the smear of anti-Semitism. Neither will their selective cry that "something must be done" about Islamic fanatics but nothing must be done about Zionist fanatics.
One sensible liberal voice, the novelist Ian McEwan, was being celebrated as a sage by the Guardian while the children of Gaza were blown to bits. This is the same Ian McEwan who ignored the pleading of Palestinians not to accept the Jerusalem Prize for literature. "If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed," said McEwan.
If they could speak, the dead of Gaza might say: Stay in bed, great novelist, for your very presence smoothes the bed of racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and murder - no matter the weasel words you uttered as you claimed your prize.
Understanding the sophistry and power of liberal propaganda is key to understanding why Israel's outrages endure; why the world looks on; why sanctions are never applied to Israel; and why nothing less than a total boycott of everything Israeli is now a measure of basic human decency.
The most incessant propaganda says Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. Khaled Hroub, the Cambridge University scholar considered a world leading authority on Hamas, says this phrase is "never used or adopted by Hamas, even in its most radical statements". The oft-quoted "anti-Jewish" 1988 Charter was the work of "one individual and made public without appropriate Hamas consensus... The author was one of the 'old guard' "; the document is regarded as an embarrassment and never cited.
Hamas has repeatedly offered a 10-year truce with Israel and has long settled for a two-state solution. When Medea Benjamin, the fearless Jewish American activist, was in Gaza, she carried a letter from Hamas leaders to President Obama that made clear the government of Gaza wanted peace with Israel. It was ignored. I personally know of many such letters carried in good faith, ignored or dismissed.
The unforgivable crime of Hamas is a distinction almost never reported: it is the only Arab government to have been freely and democratically elected by its people. Worse, it has now formed a government of unity with the Palestinian Authority. A single, resolute Palestinian voice - in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court - is the most feared threat.
Since 2002, a pioneering media unit at Glasgow University has produced remarkable studies of reporting and propaganda in Israel/Palestine. Professor Greg Philo and his colleagues were shocked to find a public ignorance compounded by TV news reporting. The more people watched, the less they knew.
Greg Philo says the problem is not "bias" as such. Reporters and producers are as moved as anyone by the suffering of Palestinians; but so imposing is the power structure of the media as an extension of the state and its vested interests that critical facts and historical context are routinely suppressed.
Incredibly, less than nine per cent of young viewers interviewed by Professor Philo's team were aware that Israel was the occupying power, and that the illegal settlers were Jewish; many believed them to be Palestinian. The term "Occupied Territories" was seldom explained. Words such as "murder", "atrocity", "cold-blooded killing" were used only to describe the deaths of Israelis.
Recently, a BBC reporter, David Loyn, was critical of another British journalist, Jon Snow of Channel 4 News. Snow was so moved by what he had seen in Gaza he went on YouTube to make a humanitarian appeal. What concerned the BBC man was that Snow had breached protocol and been emotional in his YouTube piece.
"Emotion," wrote Loyn, "is the stuff of propaganda and news is against propaganda". Did he write this with a straight face? In fact, Snow's delivery was calm. His crime was to have strayed outside the boundaries of fake impartiality. Unforgivably, he didn't censor himself.
In 1937, with Adolf Hitler in power, Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times in London, wrote the following in his diary: "I spend my nights in taking out anything which will hurt [German] susceptibilities and in dropping in little things which are intended to soothe them."
On 30 July, the BBC offered viewers a masterclass in the Dawson Principle. The diplomatic correspondent of the programme Newsnight, Mark Urban, gave five reasons why the Middle East was in turmoil. None included the historic or contemporary role of the British government. The Cameron government's dispatch of £8 billion worth of arms and military equipment to Israel was airbrushed. Britain's massive arms shipment to Saudi Arabia was airbrushed. Britain's role in the destruction of Libya was airbrushed. Britain's support for the tyranny in Egypt was airbrushed.
As for the British invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, they didn't happen, either.
The only expert witness on this BBC programme was an academic called Toby Dodge from the London School of Economics. What viewers needed to know was that Dodge had been a special adviser to David Petraeus, the American general largely responsible for the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this, too, was airbrushed.
In matters of war and peace, BBC-style illusions of impartiality and credibility do more to limit and control public discussion than tabloid distortion. As Greg Philo pointed out, Jon Snow's moving commentary on YouTube was limited to whether the Israeli assault on Gaza was proportionate or reasonable. What was missing - and is almost always missing - was the essential truth of the longest military occupation in modern times: a criminal enterprise backed by western governments from Washington to London to Canberra.
As for the myth that "vulnerable" and "isolated" Israel is surrounded by enemies, Israel is actually surrounded by strategic allies. The Palestinian Authority, bankrolled, armed and directed by the US, has long colluded with Tel Aviv. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Netanyahu are the tyrannies in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar - if the World Cup ever gets to Qatar, count on Mossad to run the security.
Resistance is humanity at its bravest and most noble. The resistance in Gaza is rightly compared with the 1943 Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, which also dug tunnels and deployed tactics of subterfuge and surprise against an overpowering military machine. The last surviving leader of the Warsaw uprising, Marek Edelman, wrote a letter of solidarity to the Palestinian resistance, comparing it with the ZOB, his ghetto fighters. The letter began: "Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations - and to all soldiers [of Palestine]."
Dr. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor renowned for his heroic work in Gaza. On 8 August, Dr. Gilbert returned to his hometown, Tromso in Norway which, as he pointed out, the Nazis had occupied for seven years. He said, "Imagine being back in 1945 and we in Norway did not win the liberation struggle, did not throw out the occupier. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country, taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades, and banishing us to the leanest areas, and taking the fish in the sea and the water beneath us, then bombing our hospitals, our ambulance workers, our schools, our homes.
"Would we have given up and waved the white flag? No, we would not! And this is the situation in Gaza. This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people's will to resist. It is the Palestinian people's dignity that they will not accept this.
"In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews Untermenschen - subhuman. Today, Palestinians are treated as a subhuman people who can be slaughtered without any in power reacting.
"So I have returned to Norway, a free country, and this country is free because we had a resistance movement, because occupied nations have the right to resist, even with weapons - it's stated in international law. And the Palestinian people's resistance in Gaza is admirable: a struggle for us all."
There are dangers in telling this truth, in breaching what Edward Said called "the last taboo". My documentary, Palestine Is Still the Issue, was nominated for a Bafta, a British academy award, and praised by the Independent Television Commission for its "journalistic integrity" and the "care and thoroughness with which it was researched." Yet, within minutes of the film's broadcast on Britain's ITV Network, a shock wave struck - a deluge of emails described me as a "demonic psychopath", "a purveyor of hate and evil", "an anti-Semite of the most dangerous kind". Much of this was orchestrated by Zionists in the US who could not possibly have seen the film. Death threats arrived at a rate of one a day.
Something similar happened to the Australian commentator Mike Carlton last month. In his regular column in the Sydney Morning Herald, Carlton produced a rare piece of journalism about Israel and the Palestinians; he identified the oppressors and their victims. He was careful to limit his attack to "a new and brutal Israel dominated by the hard-line, right-wing Likud party of Netanyahu". Those who had previously run the Zionist state, he implied, belonged to "a proud liberal tradition".
On cue, the deluge struck. He was called "a bag of Nazi slime, a Jew-hating racist." He was threatened repeatedly, and he emailed his attackers to "get fucked". The Herald demanded he apologise. When he refused, he was suspended, then he resigned. According to the Herald's publisher, Sean Aylmer, the company "expects much higher standards from its columnists."
The "problem" of Carlton's acerbic, often solitary liberal voice in a country in which Rupert Murdoch controls 70 per cent of the capital city press - Australia is the world's first murdocracy - would be solved twice over. The Australian Human Rights Commission is to investigate complaints against Carlton under the Racial Discrimination Act, which outlaws any public act or utterance that is "reasonably likely... to offend, insult, humiliate another person or a group of people" on the basic of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.
In contrast to safe, silent Australia - where the Carltons are made extinct - real journalism is alive in Gaza. I often speak on the phone with Mohammed Omer, an extraordinary young Palestinian journalist, to whom I presented, in 2008, the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Whenever I called him during the assault on Gaza, I could hear the whine of drones, the explosion of missiles. He interrupted one call to attend to children huddled outside waiting for transport amidst the explosions. When I spoke to him on 30 July, a single Israeli F-19 fighter had just slaughtered 19 children. On 20 August, he described how Israeli drones had effectively "rounded up" a village so that they could savagely gunned down.
Every day, at sunrise, Mohammed looks for families who have been bombed. He records their stories, standing in the rubble of their homes; he takes their pictures. He goes to the hospital. He goes to the morgue. He goes to the cemetery. He queues for hours for bread for his own family. And he watches the sky. He sends two, three, four dispatches a day. This is real journalism.
"They are trying to annihilate us," he told me. "But the more they bomb us, the stronger we are. They will never win."
The great crime committed in Gaza is a reminder of something wider and menacing to us all.
Since 2001, the United States and its allies have been on a rampage. In Iraq, at least 700,000 men, woman and children are dead as a result. The rise of jihadists - in a country where there was none - is the result. Known as al-Qaeda and now the Islamic State, modern jihadism was invented by US and Britain, assisted by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The original aim was to use and develop an Islamic fundamentalism that had barely existed in much of the Arab world in order to undermine pan-Arab movements and secular governments. By the 1980s, this had become a weapon to destroy the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The CIA called it Operation Cyclone; and a cyclone it turned out to be, with its unleashed fury blowing back in the faces of its creators. The attacks of 9/11 and in London in July, 2005 were the result of this blowback, as were the recent, gruesome murders of the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. For more than a year, the Obama administration armed the killers of these two young men - then known as ISIS in Syria - in order to destroy the secular government in Damascus.
The West's principal "ally" in this imperial mayhem is the medieval state where beheadings are routinely and judicially carried out - Saudi Arabia. Whenever a member of the British Royal Family is sent to this barbaric place, you can bet your bottom petrodollar that the British government wants to sell the sheiks more fighter planes, missiles, manacles. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, which bankrolls jihadists from Syria to Iraq.
Why must we live in this state of perpetual war?
The immediate answer lies in the United States, where a secret and unreported coup has taken place. A group known as the Project for a New American Century, the inspiration of Dick Cheney and others, came to power with the administration of George W Bush. Once known in Washington as the "crazies", this extreme sect believes in what the US Space Command calls "full spectrum dominance".
Under both Bush and Obama, a 19th-century imperial mentality has infused all departments of state. Raw militarism is ascendant; diplomacy is redundant. Nations and governments are judged as useful or expendable: to be bribed or threatened or "sanctioned".
On 31 July, the National Defense Panel in Washington published a remarkable document that called for the United States to prepare to fight six major wars simultaneously. At the top of the list were Russia and China - nuclear powers.
In one sense, a war against Russia has already begun. While the world watched horrified as Israel assaulted Gaza, similar atrocities in eastern Ukraine were barely news. At the time of writing, two Ukrainian cities of Russian-speaking people - Donetsk and Luhansk - are under siege: their people and hospitals and schools blitzed by a regime in Kiev that came to power in a putsch led by neo-Nazis backed and paid for by the United States. The coup was the climax of what the Russian political observer Sergei Glaziev describes as a 20-year "grooming of Ukrainian Nazis aimed at Russia". Actual fascism has risen again in Europe and not one European leader has spoken against it, perhaps because the rise of fascism across Europe is now a truth that dares not speak its name.
With its fascist past, and present, Ukraine is now a CIA theme park, a colony of Nato and the International Monetary Fund. The fascist coup in Kiev in February was the boast of US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, whose "coup budget" ran to $5 billion. But there was a setback. Moscow prevented the seizure of its legitimate Black Sea naval base in Russian-speaking Crimea. A referendum and annexation quickly followed. Represented in the West as the Kremlin's "aggression", this serves to turn truth on its head and cover Washington's goals: to drive a wedge between a "pariah" Russia and its principal trading partners in Europe and eventually to break up the Russian Federation. American missiles already surround Russia; Nato's military build-up in the former Soviet republics and eastern Europe is the biggest since the second world war.
During the cold war, this would have risked a nuclear holocaust. The risk has returned as anti-Russian misinformation reaches crescendos of hysteria in the US and Europe. A textbook case is the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in July. Without a single piece of evidence, the US and its Nato allies and their media machines blamed ethnic Russian "separatists" in Ukraine and implied that Moscow was ultimately responsible. An editorial in The Economist accused Vladimir Putin of mass murder. The cover of Der Spiegel used faces of the victims and bold red type, "Stoppt Putin Jetzt!" (Stop Putin Now!) In the New York Times, Timothy Garton Ash substantiated his case for "Putin's deadly doctrine" with personal abuse of "a short, thickset man with a rather ratlike face".
The Guardian's role has been important. Renowned for its investigations, the newspaper has made no serious attempt to examine who shot the aeroplane down and why, even though a wealth of material from credible sources shows that Moscow was as shocked as the rest of the world, and the airliner may well have been brought down by the Ukrainian regime.
With the White House offering no verifiable evidence - even though US satellites would have observed the shooting-down - the Guardian's Moscow correspondent Shaun Walker stepped into the breach. "My audience with the Demon of Donetsk," was the front-page headline over Walker's breathless interview with one Igor Bezler. "With a walrus moustache, a fiery temper and a reputation for brutality," he wrote, "Igor Bezler is the most feared of all the rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine... nicknamed The Demon... If the Ukrainian security services, the SBU, are to be believed, the Demon and a group of his men were responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17... as well as allegedly bringing down MH17, the rebels have shot down 10 Ukrainian aircraft." Demon Journalism requires no further evidence.
Demon Journalism makes over a fascist-contaminated junta that seized power in Kiev as a respectable "interim government". Neo-Nazis become mere "nationalists". "News" sourced to the Kiev junta ensures the suppression of a US-run coup and the junta's systematic ethnic cleaning of the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine. That this should happen in the borderland through which the original Nazis invaded Russia, extinguishing some 22 Russian lives, is of no interest. What matters is a Russian "invasion" of Ukraine that seems difficult to prove beyond familiar satellite images that evoke Colin Powell's fictional presentation to the United Nations "proving" that Saddam Hussein had WMD. "You need to know that accusations of a major Russian 'invasion' of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence," wrote a group of former senior US intelligence officials and analysts, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "Rather, the 'intelligence' seems to be of the same dubious, politically 'fixed' kind used 12 years ago to 'justify' the U.S.-led attack on Iraq."
The jargon is "controlling the narrative". In his seminal Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said was more explicit: the western media machine was now capable of penetrating deep into the consciousness of much of humanity with a "wiring" as influential as that of the imperial navies of the 19th century. Gunboat journalism, in other words. Or war by media.
Yet, a critical public intelligence and resistance to propaganda does exist and a second superpower is emerging - the power of public opinion, fuelled by the internet and social media.
The false reality created by false news delivered by media gatekeepers may prevent some of us knowing that this new superpower is stirring in country after country: from the Americas to Europe, Asia to Africa. It is a moral insurrection, exemplified by the whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. The question begs: will we break our silence while there is time?
When I was last in Gaza, driving back to the Israeli checkpoint, I caught sight of two Palestinian flags through the razor wire. Children had made flagpoles out of sticks tied together and they'd climbed on a wall and held the flag between them.
The children do this, I was told, whenever there are foreigners around, because they want to show the world they are there - alive, and brave, and undefeated.