Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More on Gaza

In this post:

1. The Gaza Ghetto Uprising by Joseph Massad
2. Letter from Mazin Qumsiyah
3. "In the south, support for Gaza op is far from unanimous," by Fadi Edayat, Ha'aretz
4. "Barak's political fortunes seen rising with each missile that pounds Gaza", Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha'aretz
5. Amira Hass: "No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza?"

Rebecca Vilkomerson on Massad and Qumsiyeh:

The following two pieces, each by highly regarded Palestinian scholars, may make for uncomfortable reading, as they did for me. They are both very strong, and very harsh, as befits the situation. They are also both very analytical and incisive about the implications of the Gaza invasion, both morally and politically, and do not spare the blame to go around, starting and ending with Israel, but also including the U.S., complicit Arab regimes, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. The piece by Joseph Massad, published in the Electronic Intifada, is titled "The Gaza Ghetto Uprising" and the title intentionally evokes the Warsaw Ghetto, drawing a chilling historical parallel and along the way offering an explanation of the true relationships among the countries of the Middle East. Perhaps most important, it challenges all of us to think about our moral responsibility during this time.The piece by Mazin Qumsieh also pulls lessons from history, but focuses more on key conclusions and
strategic lessons to be learned from how the invasion has unfolded, especially the local and international reactions of people, as compared to their governments.

I don't agree with everything in them (especially Massad's implicit endorsement of suicide as a political message) but they both made me think long and hard, and broadened my understanding of the place of this particular invasion in the history of the Palestinian struggle and the potential future implications for all the peoples of the region.

Rebecca Vilkomerson on Ha'aretz:

Two articles from the January 5th Haaretz pull back the curtain on what is going on during this invasion. The first briefly profiles two residents of the south who are threatened by Hamas's rockets but oppose the war nevertheless. Haaretz has not done a great job of covering internal Israeli dissent against the invasion, especially Jewish Israeli dissent, and even when it does it is always presented as "people from Tel Aviv" as a pejorative--those not actually affected by the rockets. In fact, one of the favorite taunts from the pro-war crowd is "are you from Sderot?" So this article is significant because it acknowledges that support for the war is not unanimous, even in the South. An anti-war protest is scheduled for today in Beersheva, another town hit by rockets.

The second piece notes that Ehud Barak's political fortunes are rising thanks to the war. The money quote: "Labor officials insist that the operation's timing has nothing to do with the fact that elections are due to take place in another month, on February 10. But they readily admit that, as one put it, "his conduct in managing the operation in Gaza enables the public to examine Barak's conduct in the real world and not the world of image and style." This insistence is nicely framed right inside Barak's campaign slogan.

Sarah Anne Minkin on Amira Hass:

Because we cannot hear enough of the details of just how bad things are in Gaza: there is little water, no electricity, no heat; the cellphone network is collapsing or already collapsed; landlines are spotty; hospitals are totally overwhelmed and medical evacuations can barely be arranged, if at all. The sewage treatment plant in north Gaza might overflow and flood the area (see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049817.html). The assaults on Gaza continue from land, air and sea.

For testimonies on Gaza, read here:

http://www.kabobfest.com/2009/01/mads-gilbert-norwegian-doctor-in-gaza.html - on hospitals and doctors being completely overwhelmed;

http://www.kabobfest.com/2009/01/gaza-where-families-die-together.html - by Mohammad, writing from the West Bank, reporting on daily phone calls with his family in Gaza

http://www.kabobfest.com/2009/01/gaza-24-hours-into-ground-invasion.html - also by Mohammad in the West Bank


The Gaza Ghetto Uprising http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10110.shtml ((worth clicking to see the picture)

Joseph Massad, The Electronic Intifada, 4 January 2009

One is often baffled by the ironies of international relations and the alliances they foster. Take for example the Israeli colonial settlement that had declared war on the Palestinian people and several Arab countries since its inception while at the same time it built alliances with many Arab regimes and with Palestinian leaders.

While Hashemite-Zionist relations and Maronite Church-Zionist relations have always been known and documented, there has been less documentation of the services that Israel has provided and continues to provide to Arab regimes over the decades. It is now recognized that Israel's 1967 invasion of Egypt aimed successfully to destroy Gamal Abdul-Nasser, the enemy of all US dictatorial allies among the Arab regimes, whom the US and before it Britain and France had tried to topple since the 1950s but failed. Israel thus rendered a great service to Arab monarchies (and a few republics) from "the ocean to the Gulf," whose survival was threatened by Nasser and Nasserism. Israel's subsequent intervention in Jordan in 1970 to help the Jordanian army destroy Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrillas and its final crushing of that organization in its massive invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 were also important services it rendered to these same regimes threatened by the PLO's
"revolutionary" potential and its sometimes recalcitrant positions. Israeli intelligence has also provided over the decades crucial information to several Arab regimes enabling them to crush their political opposition and strengthen their dictatorial rule. Prominent examples among recipients of Israeli intelligence largesse include the Moroccan and the Omani dictatorships.

Israel's services to Arab regimes continue apace. Its 2006 invasion of Lebanon, engineered to destroy Hizballah, was cheered by Arab regimes and neoliberal Arab intellectuals hostile to Hizballah and employed exclusively by Saudi media outlets. Though the massive Israeli destruction of southern Lebanon and south Beirut and the massacres of more than a thousand Lebanese strengthened Hizballah and weakened Israel's military standing, the invasion was much appreciated by Israel's Arab allies. Indeed since 2006, Israel's Arab regime allies as well as neoliberal Arab intellectuals have been openly calling on it to neutralize the so-called Iranian "threat" for its own sake and at their behest as well. The US has seen this as an opportune moment to fully integrate Israel in the region, so much so that it signaled to its Gulf allies to make proposals for a new regional alliance that includes Israel in its midst. The Bahraini foreign minister suggested a few weeks ago that Israel join the
League. Many such proposals have already been made in the past few months welcoming the colonial settlement to the regional alliance against Iran.

Since 2006, Arab regimes, neoliberal Arab intellectuals, as well as the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority (PCA) in Ramallah have reached an understanding that only Israel will be able to save them from Hizballah and Hamas, both organizations constituting a threat to the open alliance Arab regimes have with the US and Israel against Iran and all progressive forces in the region. These were not closely guarded secret hopes, but strategies that were openly discussed in private meetings, which often spilled into the public realm. The discussions in the Arab media and the declarations made by Israeli officials in the context of the ongoing Israeli massacres of the one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza in the last 10 days have left little to the imagination. A veritable open alliance now exists between the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority, Arab regimes, and Israel with the support of neoliberal Arab intellectuals, wherein Israel is subcontracted to decimate the Hamas
government -- the only democratically elected government in the entire Arab world.

Here let us remember that Hamas was democratically elected in free elections and that its elected officials and members of parliament were kidnapped by the Israeli occupation and have been languishing in Israeli jails for years, and that the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority set their offices on fire, staged strikes against them, and signaled the PCA bureaucracy not to follow their orders. It was after all this failed to dislodge Hamas from power that the US, Israel, and the PCA staged a coup to massacre Hamas leaders in Gaza that backfired on them. The carnage unleashed by Israel in the last 10 days is the latest attempt by Israel to ensure that all Arabs and all Palestinians are ruled by dictators and never by democratically elected officials.

Many are wondering how the Arab regimes and the PCA can be so brazen in their "treachery" of the Palestinians. "Don't they fear being overthrown by the people?" is an oft-repeated question. The answer of course is a resounding "no." It is true that collaboration with Israel by Arab regimes is not new, and that what is new is merely their openness about it, but there is a perfectly good reason for this. In the 1940s and the 1950s, these regimes could not declare openly their alliance with Israel, as there were popular and international forces that would have removed them from power had they done so. Indeed, some at the time flirted with alliances that unofficially included Israel, like the Baghdad Pact, but they paid a heavy price for such collaboration. The Cold War, Third World revolutionism, Arab nationalism, the Soviet Union, China, Nasser, were all factors to be considered. While a few of these factors had remained when Egypt's Sadat declared his open alliance with the US and
Israel in the late 1970s, none of these factors remains today. The US, Israel, and their major Arab allies have neutralized these forces one by one since 1967, opening the way for this brazen alliance between Israel and the Arab dictatorships, all of which are in the service of US interests in the region. These Arab regimes rule by terror and fear and have at their disposal the best secret police and repressive security apparatus that the US can train and equip and which oil money and US aid can buy.

When Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was asked point blank by al-Jazeera's anchorman if Israel had an arrangement with Arab regimes to commit the Gaza massacres, she refused to answer and finally denied such an arrangement existed but could not help but affirm that there are those in the Arab world who "think" as Israel does and that Hamas is their enemy as it is the enemy of Israel. This is, incidentally, the same Tzipi Livni, who only a few weeks ago informed Palestinian citizens of Israel that she has slated them for denationalization and deportation to the Palestinian Bantustans once Israel and the international community grants these West Bank prisons the status of an independent Palestinian state enclosed within the apartheid wall. After her war on Palestinians in Gaza started last week, Livni declared that her war against the Palestinian people is not only about security but also about Israel's "values" which non-collaborator Palestinians (unlike the PCA) do not share.
Livni is of course right. Unlike Livni and the Israeli leadership, whose ethnic-cleansing ideals and plans are to make Israel a purely Jewish state that is Palästinenser-rein, most Palestinians believe that they should remain present on their lands even and especially if this sullies the purity of a Jewish Israel.

Livni has also asserted that Israel's values are shared by the "free world" and by unfree Arab regimes that are allies of the "free world." We can add, that her values are also shared by Saudi-funded neoliberal Arab intellectuals and by the leadership of the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority ensconced in the Green Zone of Ramallah. The civilized values of Israel are not unlike those espoused by the US in its ongoing wars against Arabs and Muslims, and are very much like European colonial values during the high age of colonialism and beyond. Livni and the Israeli leadership speak of human rights, democracy, peace, and justice as universal while applying them only to Jews and denying them especially to Palestinians. This is hardly an Israeli ruse. Let us remember the undying words of Frantz Fanon in this regard: "leave this Europe where they never tire of talking of man, yet murder men everywhere they find them, at the corner of every one of their own streets, in all the corners
the globe."

On the Palestinian front, the term of chief Palestinian collaborator and coup leader Mahmoud Abbas ends on 9 January. Israel hopes to extend his collaborationist rule as head of the PCA it set up through the Oslo agreement in 1993. As Palestinians are murdered and injured in the thousands, world powers are cheering on. This is hardly a new development. It happens often in the context of other populations being murdered by allies of the US and Europe, and it even happened during World War II as the Nazi genocide was proceeding. On 19 April 1943, Britain and the US met in Bermuda, presumably to discuss the situation of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. That was also the day when the Nazis had launched their war against the remaining Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto but were met with unexpected courageous resistance. Little came out of the Bermuda Conference and the ongoing war against the Warsaw Ghetto proceeded uninterrupted. The Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto executed Jewish
collaborators with the Nazis and bravely faced up to the Nazi army with what little weapons it had before being massacred. Their uprising was always inspirational to the Palestinians. In the heyday of the PLO as a symbol of Palestinian liberation, the organization would lay flower wreathes at the Warsaw Ghetto monument to honor these fallen Jewish heroes.

Szmul Zygielbojm was the leader of the Jewish socialist party, the Bund, in Poland and was part of the resistance against the Nazi invasion in 1939. He would later become a hostage held by the Nazis but would later be released and made a member of the Jewish council or judenrat, the Nazi equivalent of the Israeli-created Palestinian Collaborationist Authority, and which was charged with building a Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. Zygielbojm opposed the Nazi order and fled to Belgium, France, the US, and in 1942 ended up in London where he joined the Polish government in exile. On 12 May 1943, after he received word that the resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto was finally crushed and many of its fighters killed, Zygielbojm turned on the gas in his London flat and committed suicide in protest against the indifference and inaction of the Allies to the plight of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. He also felt that he had no right to live after his comrades were killed resisting the Nazis. In his
suicide letter, Zygielbojm insisted that while the Nazis were responsible for the murder of the Polish Jews, the Allies, through their inaction, were also guilty:

The latest news that has reached us from Poland makes it clear beyond any doubt that the Germans are now murdering the last remnants of the Jews in Poland with unbridled cruelty. Behind the walls of the ghetto the last act of this tragedy is now being played out.

The responsibility for the crime of the murder of the whole Jewish nationality in Poland rests first of all on those who are carrying it out, but indirectly it falls also upon the whole of humanity, on the peoples of the Allied nations and on their governments, who up to this day have not taken any real steps to halt this crime. By looking on passively upon this murder of defenseless millions, tortured children, women and men they have become partners to the responsibility ...

I cannot continue to live and to be silent while the remnants of Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being murdered. My comrades in the Warsaw ghetto fell with arms in their hands in the last heroic battle. I was not permitted to fall like them, together with them, but I belong with them, to their mass grave.

By my death, I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people ...

The Palestinian Collaborationist Authority that runs the judenrat set up by Oslo has never even attempted to resist Israeli orders. Not one member of the top leadership decided to resign and not serve. Mahmoud Abbas, having provided so many dishonorable services to Israel, lacks Zygielbojm's integrity and noble principles and would never follow in Zygielbojm's footsteps.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian people will resist the invading Israelis with all their might and against astronomical odds. The Palestinian people, like Zygielbojm before them, understand very well that Abbas, his clique, the Arab regimes, the US and Europe are all culpable in their slaughter as much as Israel is. In the case of Zygielbojm, he blamed world powers for their indifference and inaction, in the Palestinian case, world and regional powers are co-conspirators and active partners in crime.

The crushing of the Gaza Ghetto Uprising and the slaughter of its defenseless population will be relatively an easy task for the giant Israeli military machine and Israel's sadistic political leadership. It is dealing with the aftermath of a strengthened Palestinian determination to continue to resist Israel that will prove much more difficult for Israel and its Arab allies to deal with. While the thousands of dead and injured Palestinians are the main victims of this latest Israeli terrorist war, the major political loser in all this will be Abbas and his clique of collaborators. The test for Palestinian resistance now is to continue to refuse to grant Israel the right to conquer populations, to steal their land, to destroy their livelihoods, to imprison them in ghettos, and to starve them without being resisted.

The only constant in Palestinian lives for the last century of Zionist atrocities has been resistance to the Zionist project of erasing them from the face of the earth. While Zionism sought and recruited Arab and Palestinian collaborators since its inception in the hope of crushing Palestinian resistance, neither Israel nor any of its collaborators has been able to stop it. The lesson that Zionism has refused to learn, and still refuses to learn, is that the Palestinian yearning for freedom from the Zionist yoke cannot be extinguished no matter how barbaric Israel's crimes become. The Gaza Ghetto Uprising will mark both the latest chapter in Palestinian resistance to colonialism and the latest Israeli colonial brutality in a region whose peoples will never accept the legitimacy of a racist European colonial settlement in their midst.

Joseph Massad is associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University in New York.


By Mazin Qumsiyah

Dear friends:

Israeli leaders intensified their blitzkrieg following intensive aerial "shock and awe" that killed hundreds of civilians. This was intended to subdue not only the 1.5 million impoverished and starved Palestinian but the larger human community around the world and reengineer the political map. After nine days, it is worth taking time to do some analysis in the middle of constant events (demonstrations, vigils, interviews with media). Those of you occupied doing actions for Palestine may not have time to read this while others have specifically asked for it. To make it easy for all, let me start with conclusions and then explain to those who want to read on:

a) when this aggression ends (and it will), Israeli army and leaders will not emerge victorious,

b) the political map will indeed change but not in the ways that Israeli leaders, US leaders, or even some Arab leaders predicted or planned,

c) we Palestinians have an opportunity to make sure that the sparks of unity already in the air turn to a fire of unity that will change the power structure in the Middle East in a way that will really bring justice to Palestine and defeat political Zionism and its collaborators and benefactors but only if we recognize our mistakes as individuals and political factions (including Hamas, Fatah, PFLP, DFLP, etc).

To be honest with ourselves, we must recognize that what Israel counted on materialized in a few cases: ineptness of the UN security council under threat of a US veto (itself under threat of the Zionist lobby), ineptness of the Arab league, the collaboration of many Arab governments, the apathy of large segments of the Israeli public, predicted local attempts to contain the anger in the street (from Cairo to Ramallah to Baghdad etc), and success of Israeli and Zionist forces and well financed propaganda not only in preventing reporting from the ground in Gaza but in controlling the message in much of the supine western media. Some of these initial predictables are beginning to crack after 9 days of massacres that could not be hidden. But there were other more significant failures of the Israeli blitzkrieg.

Let us review these:

1) Gaza resistance and steadfastness comes as number one surprise for the planners. Despite the massacres, it is amazing to watch the spirit. Just one image of a child no more than 10 year old with an open large wound in his belly exposing his intestines but he does not scream, does not yell.. he is talking (obvious pain only in his eyes and facial expression but with no tears), maybe just anger and a question mark to the camera directed at the world. That is Gaza today. In other images women calling not slogans against the occupiers and the war criminals bombing them from the sky but calls to the Arab and Islamic people "WaMu3tasima" (call of anguish, call for aid that goes to the history of the requirement of Muslims and Arabs to aid those who are in need).

2) Massive popular solidarity with Gaza inside 1948 Palestine (current state of Israel), including thousands demonstrating in Tel Aviv, and over 100,000 demonstrating in Sakhnin (Palestinian citizens of Israel).

3) Massive demonstrations in the West Bank that included clashes with Israeli forces despite attempts by Palestinian police to intervene. Just in the Bethlehem area, we have had at least two events (vigils or demonstrations) daily since the start of the blitzkrieg.

4) Massive demonstrations in the Arab world even when these demonstrations were banned, demonstrators beaten or arrested by governments beholden to fake peace treaties that do not protect rights or dignities of the people. Demonstrators demanded cutting all diplomatic and economic ties with Israel and a real unity and solidarity.

5) Massive demonstrations in thousands of locations in the rest of the word that really could not be ignored even when Zionist editors tried to minimize their impact.

6) Massive pouring of material support for Gaza (for example a campaign in Saudi Arabia collected 32 million just in the first 48 hours).

7) The presence of the internet and the failure of Israel to break all access of reporting and communication with Gaza. Millions of people are now learning firsthand what is going on (your receiving this email with its links is just one of the examples).

It might be too simplistic to say that rational human beings draw rational conclusions and that tribal/emotional human beings go down the path of irrational behaviors. Some claim to look pragmatically at things and yet draw the conclusion that it is inevitable that Palestine will be vanquished in favor of the Zionist Jewish state of Israel. Hence we are asked to accept the Bantustan called a state on 9% of historic Palestine AND without sovereignty. They remind us that of Hegel's words that "what we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history".

As Palestinians we must also say "mea culpa" and take some responsibility for the state of affairs. We Arabs and Palestinians have been the victims of western imperial and Zionist designs and colonization for 100 years. Yes, most of our problems could be directly connected to that. But yes also, some of our "leaders" have been less than desirable to say it charitably (this applies to other Arabs). And our leaders do originate from among us so we must work on that. But we must be clear that our societal weaknesses do not justify or excuse the slaughter or ethnic cleansing of our people. In 1948 we did not have good leaders because they were all massacred and exiled in the 1936-1939 uprising but even if we did, this does not justify our ethnic cleansing or dispossession at the hand of Zionists who had well-organized and strong leadership (Ben Gurion). The slaughter of the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII similarly cannot be said to be justified by weak Jewish leadership and strong Nazi
leadership. History is not kind to aggressors and in this case history will be written differently. An army that shells a market place causing this kind of destruction will not be successful at surviving any more than any other fascist army in history (see the graphic video of the minutes after the Israeli attack on the marketplace in Gaza at:http://muslimtv.magnify.net/video/ISRAEL-CARNAGE-CIVILIANS-CHILDR ).

Need we be reminded of the terrorist actions of Zionist groups like the Hagannah, the Irgun, and Stern (all forerunners of the current Israeli terrorist army). Over 2000 attacks on Palestinian civilians killing over 15,000 occurred before Israel was declared a state. In the six weeks that preceded declaring Israel a state, 33 massacres were committed by the prestate Jewish forces including the famous massacres of Tantura and Deir Yassin.

Over half the Palestinian refugees (and thus half the 530 Palestinian villages and towns ethnically cleansed) were driven out before May 14, 1948 (Israel's founding). After that date, with far more superior in arms and manpower than any opposing force (largely haphazard formations of Arab forces that came in to stop the ethnic cleansing), the nascent state proceeded to expand its territory beyond what was recommended in the partition resolution of the UN general assembly. In so doing, once the cease fire was declared instead of Palestine we had a state of Israel on 78% of Palestine and a collaborationist Jordanian regime occupied the 19% leaving a small sliver controlled by Egypt called the Gaza strip. In that strip, the refugees from over 150 towns and villages ethnically cleansed were squeezed. Israel of course expanded more by occupying the remainder of Palestine in 1967. With population growth, the Gaza desert ghetto became home to 1.5 million

The late Professor Edward Said wrote about Gaza in August, 2002:

"Every Palestinian has become a prisoner. Gaza is surrounded by an electrified fence on three sides: imprisoned like animals, Gazans are unable to move, unable to work, unable to sell their vegetables or fruit, unable to go to school. They are exposed from the air to Israeli planes and helicopters and are gunned down like turkeys on the ground by tanks and machine guns. Impoverished and starved, Gaza is a human nightmare. Hope has been eliminated from the Palestinian vocabulary so that only raw defiance remains. Palestinians must die a slow death so that Israel can have its security, which is just around the corner but cannot be realized because of the special Israeli "insecurity." The whole world must sympathize, while the cries of Palestinian orphans, sick old women, bereaved communities, and tortured prisoners simply go unheard and unrecorded. Doubtless, we will be told, these horrors serve a larger purpose than mere sadistic cruelty. After all, "the two sides" are engaged in a
"cycle of violence" that has to be stopped, sometime, somewhere. Once in a while we ought to pause and declare indignantly that there is only one side with an army and a country: the other is a stateless dispossessed population of people without rights or any present way of securing them. The language of suffering and concrete daily life has been either hijacked or so perverted as, in my opinion, to be useless except as pure fiction deployed as a screen for the purpose of more killing and painstaking torture - slowly, fastidiously, and inexorably. That is the truth of what Palestinians suffer."

Things have become much more difficult six years later. Gazans I talked to say direct and quick death by sophisticated weapons has now become just another alternative to the slower death by starvation but they all want to live in freedom and will not succumb to terrorism anymore. Why would people who are not facing these horrible choices stand and watch and imagine negotiating with such an "army with a state" (as an Israeli leader called Israel)?

The aggression as in basic laws of physics will generate reactions. Did we not see that over the years Palestinians and Arabs learned how to fight better? When I use the term to fight I do not just mean the violent resistance (with its various forms, some forms that individuals may not agree with) but all forms of nonviolent resistance and methods of wars (such as the media wars, the wars of ideas etc).

But could we do better? Could we learn to fight better in the media arena? After working over 15 years in the Western media I ask myself why we cannot do better. Why is it that during the critical periods of the latest uprising we had a PLO representative in Washington who was not the best communicator (or at least had good communication team who would write his talking points)? Or with Hamas spokesm,en speaking to excite their membesr instead of making their case. Why do we not use Palestinians of very high caliber in communication (people like Hanan Ashrawi and Ali Abunimah and hundreds of others) that could transmit to the West the reality of what is going on here? Why do we talk about Fatah and Hamas need to reconciliate when hundreds of Palestinians living in the same country do not even talk to each other because they have different ideas about tactics? It would be interesting to see how many leaders of Palestinian communities abroad and in refugee camps called for their
rivals to meet, asked for forgetting their differences, starting new leaves etc.? It will be interesting to see if our differences will reemerge like they did after the brief unity over the massacres in Jenin and Nablus in 2002 and 2003?

I know some people by now are saying this is not the time when our people are massacred to do such questioning. But our people have been getting massacred for 100 years by Western backed Zionists and we are all (all factions, all individuals) mature enough to learn from our mistakes and evolve. Need we remember the long list of oppressions and uprisings (192-21, 1929, 1936-1939, 1947-1950, 1956, 1967, 1970-1977,…)? Don't we remember that the sacrifices and the successes of things like the 1936-1939 uprising, the 1968 Karama battle, the brilliance of the first uprising of the stones 1987-1993 (largely nonviolent uprising) and many many more? From all of these things did we not learn some lessons? Were some of these lessons not lessons of better organizing, more actions and less talk? Did we not modify and change and evolve AND SURVIVE? And was that survival not in itself a thwarting of the most entrenched ethnic cleansing machine that attempted to remove us all from our land?
Was it not that resistance that kept five million Palestinians still living in our historic homeland despite the most sophisticated power structure of any colonial history in the last 500 years?

And why do some of us (humans that is, all humans) despair or even collaborate with the enemies of peace and justice? For Israelis and those who want to live in peace, would it not be better to get educated about the original injustice of ethnic cleansing and begin the process of true reconciliation and restorative justice? For Zionized Western media, why do you think you can keep a lid on the anger of and keep oppressing the aspirations of 10 million Palestinians, 300 million Arabs, 1.5 billion Muslims, and nearly 6 billion human beings who aspire for JUSTICE with peace? Why do you consider war a solution to anything?

Among Palestinians, did we not always find older generations that got tired and wanted to fold or at least wanted to hold the younger generation from stepping forward to take responsibility? Isn't it the time to drop everything and gather as PALESTINIANS (not as faction or political ideologies or competing Palestinians for positions and visibility), every day, speak to each other in humility and in brotherhood/sisterhood to resolve the differences? Can't we all pick up the phone and email others and simply invite them for a physical meeting and if not possible virtual meeting? And for those who are not Palestinians, what can you do to ensure such reconciliation happen and that you are not helping divisions but helping unity? For all of us, the question remains whether to light a candle or curse the dark.

Other links and resources

Gaza Website

The Jewish ethical tradition means embracing Palestinians, too.

(In Arabic) Azmi Bshara analyzes the current situation


In the south, support for Gaza op is far from unanimous

By Fadi Eyadat

At the end of an interview with him, Fredo Goldfarb of Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak in the Eshkol region asked that people "take into account that in any democratic country, thinking differently does not mean we are traitors; it doesn't mean we don't love our country and care about its future. Our political analysis is different."

He has good reason to make that statement. These days, as it seems that most public opinion strongly supports the Gaza operation, those holding fast to the opposite opinion are scorned.

"As someone who has lived for the past eight years with my family under the threat of Qassams, explosive charges and tunnels [dug by terrorists] that might pop up in the middle of the kibbutz, I know what I'm saying - only agreements with the other side will bring an end to these threats," Goldfarb said. "I am afraid for my family and those around me. But does that give me the right to kill 400 Palestinians? What do I get out of this? Only more families that come into the circle of enmity."

Goldfarb's opinion is not one often heard these days in the south. But a significant number of people feel that way. Some did not want to say so publicly yesterday, especially after reports came to light that a soldier was killed and others were wounded.

Na'amika Tzion, who has lived in Sderot for 22 years, said the first time she felt secure after eight years of bombardment was when the cease-fire agreement was signed with Hamas. No matter what the army did, "we always got hit back."

"A channel of communication has to be found that will lead to an extension of the cease-fire and to the problem of [kidnapped soldier Gilad] Shalit and to the crossings," she said.

Tzion herself talks on the phone to people in Gaza.

"For me they have names and identities. There are catastrophic things happening there," she said.

Tzion agreed with Goldfarb that Hamas is extreme, "but I want to be sure our leadership has done everything to extend the cease-fire through a third party and I have major doubts, she says.



Barak's political fortunes seen rising with each missile that pounds Gaza

By Roni Singer-Heruti

The Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza has prompted a surge in the number of people volunteering at the Labor Party's campaign headquarters over the last week, party officials say.

Thus far, the operation has been very popular with the public, and most of the credit has gone to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is also Labor's chairman.

The surge in people calling or emailing to volunteer their services is yet another sign of a trend already evident from the polls: a sharp rise in support for Labor in general and Barak in particular. Last week's Haaretz poll, for instance, found that Labor had risen to 16 Knesset seats from 11 in the previous poll.

The turnabout is particular striking for a party whose demise has been widely forecast just two weeks ago.

"There is no doubt that the [Gaza] operation has highlighted Barak's advantages and enabled a real discourse about the truly important matters," one senior Labor official said this weekend. "That's what we were trying to say all along: He's not a pal, he's not nice, but he's a leader. And now, people see that."

Even in the Ramle market, generally a reliable bastion of the right, support for Barak was virtually unanimous last week.

"Barak has proven himself in this operation as someone who knows how to do the work," said Shlomo Sarur, who has been a member of rival Likud's central committee for 25 years. "On security, he's good, and you can't take that away from him."

Labor officials insist that the operation's timing has nothing to do with the fact that elections are due to take place in another month, on February 10. But they readily admit that, as one put it, "his conduct in managing the operation in Gaza enables the public to examine Barak's conduct in the real world and not the world of image and style."

Officially, the party's campaign has been suspended since the operation began 10 days ago. But party officials know the campaign will have to resume the day after the operation ends, and they are therefore busy preparing their day-after strategies.

However, these strategies depend largely on how the operation turns out. If, by the time it ends, it is still perceived as a success, Barak will feature prominently in Labor's campaign as a "leader with a proven record." If not, Labor will clearly need a different tactic. But Dr. Tamir Sheafer of Hebrew University's political science program predicts that Labor's surge in the polls will be short-lived either way.

"It's all a question of how long the operation lasts and how many screw-ups there are," he said. "But from the polls we have conducted, it is possible to say that in general, rightist voters will ultimately have trouble putting a Labor ballot in the box."



Last update - 09:41 05/01/2009

No humanitarian crisis in Gaza?

By Amira Hass

Three hours after the Israel Defense Forces began their ground operation in the Gaza Strip, at about 10:30 P.M. Saturday night, a shell or missile hit the house owned by Hussein al-Awaidi and his brothers. Twenty-one people live in the isolated house, located in an agricultural area east of Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood. Five of them were wounded in the strike: Two women in their eighties (his mother and aunt), his 14-year-old son, his 13-year-old niece and his 10-year-old nephew.

Twenty hours later, the wounded were still bleeding in a shed in the courtyard of the house. There was no electricity, no heat, no water. Their relatives were with them, but every time they tried to leave the courtyard to fetch water, the army shot at them.

Al-Awaidi tried to summon help on his cell phone, but Gaza's cell phone network is collapsing. Shells have hit transponders, there is no electricity and no diesel fuel to run the generators. Every time the telephone works, it is a minor miracle.

At about noon Sunday, Al-Awaidi finally managed to reach S., who called me. There was nothing else that S., who lives nearby, could do.

I had known Al-Awaidi for eight years, and I called Physicians for Human Rights. They called the IDF's liaison office to ask it to arrange to have the wounded evacuated. That was shortly after noon - and as of press time, the liaison office had still not called PHR back.

Meanwhile, someone else had managed to reach the Red Crescent Society. It called the Red Cross and asked it to coordinate the evacuation of the wounded with the IDF. That was at 10:30 A.M. - and as of press time Sunday night, the Red Cross had still not been able to do so.

While I was on the phone with PHR, at about noon, H. called. He just wanted to report: Two children, Ahmed Sabih and Mohammed al-Mashharawi, aged 10 and 11, had gone up on the roof of their Gaza City house to heat water over a fire. There is no electricity or gas, so fire is all that remains.

Tanks are spitting shells, helicopters are raining fire, warplanes are causing earthquakes. But it is still hard for people to grasp that heating water has become no less dangerous than joining Hamas' military wing.

An IDF missile hit the two boys, killing Ahmed and seriously wounding Mohammed. Later Sunday, an Internet news site reported that both had died. But H.'s cell phone was not answering, so I could not verify that report.

And there was no point in trying H.'s land line: A bomb destroyed his neighborhood's entire phone system on Saturday. The target was a print shop (yet another of the IDF's "military" targets). Its owner, a retired UNRWA employee, had invested his entire pension in the shop.

In B.'s neighborhood, the bombs hit the water mains, so she has had no water since yesterday morning. "I'm already used to coping without electricity," she said. "There's no television, but I hear what happens from friends who call. One friend called from Lebanon, another from Haifa. And Ramallah. But without water, how will we manage?"

A. offered his own take on the situation: "I keep the children away from the windows because the F-16s are in the air; I forbid them to play below because it's dangerous. They're bombing us from the sea and from the east, they're bombing us from the air. When the telephone works, people tell us about relatives or friends who were killed. My wife cries all the time. At night she hugs the children and cries. It's cold and the windows are open; there's fire and smoke in open areas; at home there's no water, no electricity, no heating gas. And you [the Israelis] say there's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tell me, are you normal?"

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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