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USS Liberty Survivor Named US Delegate on Gaza Flotilla

By Joe Lauria | Consortium News | July 9, 2018

Joe Meadors, a survivor of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty,  has joined the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla as the delegate from the United States. He will board the Al Awda (The Return), which left Corisca Sunday night for  the final 1,000 miles to Gaza.  Al Awda is one of four boats on the 75-day voyage from Scandinavia.

Meadors was a signalman on the bridge of the USS Liberty, a surveillance vessel operating in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea near Gaza during the 1967 Six-Day Arab-Israreli war.

Meadors: From the Liberty to Al-Awda

Israeli war planes and torpedo boats attacked the vessel, killing 34 U.S. sailors and wounding 174 crew members.

A 2003 U.S. commission led by Admiral Thomas Moorer found:

“1. That on June 8, 1967, after eight hours of aerial surveillance, Israel launched a two-hour air and naval attack against USS Liberty, the world’s most sophisticated intelligence ship, inflicting 34 dead and 173 wounded American servicemen (a casualty rate of seventy percent, in a crew of 294);

2. That the Israeli air attack lasted approximately 25 minutes, during which time unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm canisters on USS Liberty‘s bridge, and fired 30mm cannons and rockets into our ship, causing 821 holes, more than 100 of which were rocket-size; survivors estimate 30 or more sorties were flown over the ship by a minimum of 12 attacking Israeli planes which were jamming all five American emergency radio channels;

3. That the torpedo boat attack involved not only the firing of torpedoes, but the machine-gunning of Liberty‘s firefighters and stretcher-bearers as they struggled to save their ship and crew; the Israeli torpedo boats later returned to machine-gun at close range three of the Liberty‘s life rafts that had been lowered into the water by survivors to rescue the most seriously wounded;

4. That there is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew; evidence of such intent is supported by statements from Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Undersecretary of State George Ball, former CIA director Richard Helms, former NSA directors Lieutenant General William Odom, USA (Ret.), Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, USN (Ret.), and Marshal Carter; former NSA deputy directors Oliver Kirby and Major General John Morrison, USAF (Ret.); and former Ambassador Dwight Porter, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon in 1967;

5. That in attacking USS Liberty, Israel committed acts of murder against American servicemen and an act of war against the United States;

6. That fearing conflict with Israel, the White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from coming to the defense of USS Liberty by recalling Sixth Fleet military rescue support while the ship was under attack; evidence of the recall of rescue aircraft is supported by statements of Captain Joe Tully, Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, and Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis, the Sixth Fleet carrier division commander, at the time of the attack; never before in American naval history has a rescue mission been cancelled when an American ship was under attack… .”

Dean Rusk, U.S. Secretary of State at the time of the incident, wrote: “I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.”

Meadors and Seaman Francis Brown, who was later killed in the attack, hauled up a second American flag from the bridge after the first was shot down early in the air assault. Meadors remained on the bridge throughout the 25-minute attack and was one of several eyewitnesses to the Israeli machine-gunning of the ship’s life rafts.

Meadors has described the Israeli attack in detail on the USS Liberty Veteran’s Association website:

“I watched some jets pass us, then turn left after they passed our ship, then they started strafing us. The attack lasted 90 minutes, during which we got a message off to the Sixth Fleet asking for assistance. We learned later that Joe Tully, commanding officer of the USS Saratoga, launched aircraft within minutes of the attack, but he told us later they were recalled before they reached the horizon. We found this out 20 years after the attack.

“The most frustrating thing has been a lack of reaction from the U.S. government. On June 8, 2005, we filed a war crimes report, and they are required to investigate these allegations. They’ve created reports about our mission, but they never did conduct an actual investigation of the attack itself.

“It was an illegal attack. We were on the high seas conducting legal activities. They admitted that they closed the area for military purposes but we tried to find out the boundaries of that area and they wouldn’t tell us.

“The Israelis break international laws with impunity and the U.S. government is not going to hold them accountable, nobody is. There is no doubt that the Israelis were committing piracy on the high seas against the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and used deadly force against unarmed humanitarians.”

Meadors was aboard the Sfedoni in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. He was in Greece for the 2011 and 2015 Freedom Flotillas.  Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Meadors is a past president of USS Liberty Veterans Association, founded in 1982.

The Flotillas aim to bring attention to the illegal blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza since 2007.


Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times of London and numerous other publications. He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and on Twitter @unjoe .

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 4 Comments

Medical Aid for Palestinians founder, Dr Swee Chai Ang, to join Freedom Flotilla

Founding Trustee of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) Dr Swee Chai Ang
MEMO | July 9, 2018

Founding Trustee of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) Dr Swee Chai Ang is set to board the Freedom Flotilla boat Al-Awda next week in an effort to break the 12-year siege of the Gaza Strip.

In a statement sent to MEMO, Ang said: “I am highly honoured to be invited on board. It is important to explain to you why I chose to do this. A doctor, a surgeon is a human being with a conscience and a compassionate heart, much more than just a skilled technician.”

“The very fact that I can do operations and fix broken bones will not stop me from losing my humanity. A robot might turn the other way, but a child of God does not.”

“The Flotilla brings hope to the besieged Palestinians,” she added.

“This summer marks the thirty-sixth year of my journey with the Palestinians. It began in 1982 when as an ignorant Pro-Israel Christian doctor I first stepped foot as a volunteer surgeon in Gaza Hospital in Beirut’s Sabra Shatilla Palestinian refugee camp,” she explained.

“There I fell in love passionately with a generous, kind, honest and gentle people – the Palestinians. They were forced out of Palestine in 1948, and found themselves refugees.”

“Most of you know that I am going to seventy come the end of the year and I would like to make this my birthday present to the people of Gaza and Palestine.”

You can read Dr Ang’s full statement below:

When invited to come on board Al-Awda, the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, I know I must join them. This summer marks the thirty-sixth year of my journey with the Palestinians. It began in 1982 when as an ignorant Pro-Israel Christian doctor I first stepped foot as a volunteer surgeon in Gaza Hospital in Beirut’s Sabra Shatilla Palestinian refugee camp.

There I fell in love passionately with a generous, kind, honest and gentle people – the Palestinians. They were forced out of Palestine in 1948, and found themselves refugees. Despite the dispossession, persecution and injustice they remained human.

About 3 weeks after my arrival, more than 3,000 of them were cruelly massacred. My heart was broken and trampled on, and would have remained dead and buried in the rubble of their bulldozed homes. But the survivors even while burying their own loved ones nurtured me back to life with their tears and love. The children filled with courage, hope and dignity inspired me and gave me strength to walk on with them.

“We are not afraid Doctora come with us.” It is now 70 years since the Palestinian Nakba and Diaspora in 1948. When will their journey home begin? Today, six million Palestinians dispersed in various refugee camps are denied the right of return to their ancestral Palestine; the other six million lived under occupation in Gaza and West Bank.

For 12 years, two million Palestinians have been imprisoned under a brutal land and sea military blockade in Gaza. During this time there were three major military assaults where Gaza was relentlessly bombed for weeks. Recently, since 30 March 2018, unarmed Gaza demonstrators calling for the Right of Return are shot at with high grade military assault rifles leaving more than 124 dead and 13,000 severely wounded with hundreds of amputees and potential amputees.

The Flotilla brings hope to the besieged Palestinians. They are praying for us in their mosques and churches in the Gaza Strip. They know we are making this journey for them. Even if we are to be abducted, imprisoned and deported, may we remain faithful in solidarity and love for the people of Palestine and Gaza.

Dr Swee Ang

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon; author From Beirut to Jerusalem

July 2018

See also:

Swedish Freedom Flotilla: ‘The people of Gaza need us to act’

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Pro-Israel group loses ‘anti-Semitism’ case against Leicester council

Jewish colonists stealing Palestinian olives in the West Bank
MEMO | July 4, 2018

Leicester City Council has “won its long-running legal battle” against a pro-Israel advocacy group over a motion backing a boycott of Israeli settlement produce, reported the Leicester Mercury.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, the Court of Appeal rejected the arguments brought by Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW), who had taken legal action against the 2014 council motion.

As reported by the local paper, “JHRW challenged a High Court judge’s previous decision to reject the pressure group’s attempt to force the council to rescind the boycott”, arguing that “the council had breached its own equalities rules and had acted in a discriminatory manner”.

The council, however, won yesterday’s case, and “JHRW has indicated it will not pursue the matter further”. In addition, “JHRW is now likely to have to pay the council’s legal costs.”

The council’s barrister, Kamal Adatia, said after the case: “The High Court originally dismissed the claims of discrimination made by this group back in June 2016, and now the Court of Appeal has emphatically thrown out their appeal.”

“The ruling totally endorses Leicester’s approach to handling this motion, and has made no change whatsoever to the way in which councils can pass such motions in future.”

“The judgement is a landmark – not for organisations like JHRW, but for all local councils. It recognises their fundamental right to pass motions of this nature and makes it clear that they can, like Leicester, fully comply with their equality duties when doing so.”

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “Their argument has been trounced in the judge’s decision.”

“I strongly resent the implication it is not possible to criticise the Israeli government without being anti-Semitic.”

The motion backing a boycott of goods made in internationally-condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory was, Soulsby said, “never anticipated to have a major impact (on our purchasing)”, but rather “was a powerful gesture to show support for the plight of the Palestinians”.

In a bizarre press release, Jewish Human Rights Watch spun defeat as victory, claiming that despite their appeal being rejected, the ruling “made a number of very important changes to the law”.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israel diplomats say Irish bill banning settlement produce will ‘empower terrorists’

MEMO | July 4, 2018

The Israeli embassy in Ireland has claimed that a draft bill calling for a ban on the sale of goods made in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) will “empower terrorists”.

The Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 was launched by Independent Senator Frances Black in January and will be voted on in the Seanad on 11 July at 2.45pm.

The embassy’s remarks came after opposition party Fianna Fáil announced yesterday that they intend to back the bill, with spokesperson Niall Collins TD saying it had “the potential to send a strong message that the issue of illegal settlements is being taken seriously and needs to be addressed”.

The Occupied Territories Bill wants to make it an offence “for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory”.

The Israeli embassy said such bills “further the divisions between Israel and the Palestinians”, without clarifying what this precisely meant.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has called for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to expel the Israeli ambassador.

“The Irish Government must give a strong and unambiguous statement that there can be no impunity for Israel’s mass killing of Palestinian citizens and its continued illegal occupation of Palestine”

said Sheehan.

“It’s long past time for An Taoiseach to expel the Israeli ambassador and officially recognise the State of Palestine as approved by the Dáil in 2014. There can be no further delay.”

Read also:

Dublin City Council backs BDS, urges expulsion of Israeli ambassador

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

German Protesters Fed Up With US Wars Blockade Ramstein Air Base

Sputnik – 02.07.2018

About 2,500 people gathered outside the largest US base in Germany over the weekend as the Trump administration considered a possible US withdrawal from the country.

Sputnik Deutschland contributor Marcel Joppa was on the scene for Saturday’s protest, joining people of all ages including seniors as old as 80 years old, who endured the summer heat and faced down the police to show their discontent with US military operations launched from German soil.

Organized by the “Stop Air Base Ramstein” civil group, the protest was attended by several politicians, most notably Sara Wagenknecht, the leader of The Left Party faction in the Bundestag.

Addressing the crowd, Wagenknecht spoke out on the issue of drone warfare, “which although not written about much in the big press continues to take place.”

“Kill orders are arranged at the touch of a button. These are just outrageous crimes! And it is unacceptable that they be supported here, from German soil, in any way!” the politician stressed.

Pointing out that the bombings of Iraq and Afghanistan were carried out from German territory, Wagenknecht argued that there shouldn’t be a single German region where the Germany Constitution, which does not allow wars of aggression or extraterritorial killings by drones, does not apply.

“What is happening here is a case for our counterintelligence bodies, if they are to do their jobs properly,” the politician said. “There are over 1,000 US military bases around the world, and none of them exist to ensure the security of those countries,” she added.

Demanding that Berlin pursue a more independent foreign policy, Wagenknecht criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel, accusing her of being too submissive to the US.

The protesters were also addressed by writer and peace activist Eugen Drewermann, who reminded them that the US had bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries since 2001.

“We are involved in these actions, and we are partly responsible. We must finally reject this policy. We Germans have every reason to press the brake, with all our might, to correct old mistakes,” he said.

Unfortunately, Drewermann noted, NATO had always viewed Russia as an enemy, emphasizing the immense disparity in the number of military bases the two countries operate internationally.

Several dozen protesters set off for the front of the central entrance to the air base, where they sat down on the asphalt and blocked traffic. The police soon sounded a warning that the protest would be broken up and that those who resisted would be detained. Participants began singing songs and shouting slogans, including “For international solidarity!” and “Why are we doing this? For the sake of our children!”

About a dozen people have been detained, including an elderly American couple.

Saturday’s protests came on the heels of reports of a US Department of Defense study on the consequences of a major drawdown of US forces in Germany. The study was initiated after President Trump expressed his interest in the pullout at a meeting with military officials earlier this year, according to officials speaking to The Washington Post. Trump was reportedly taken aback by the cost of maintaining the estimated 35,000 active-duty troops stationed in the European country.

The US has maintained a presence in Germany since the end of World War II. During the Cold War, the US presence was justified as necessary to deter the Soviet Union, which had troops in East Germany. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the last of the former Soviet contingent was withdrawn in 1994, but the US bases remained, even during a period of unprecedentedly warm relations between Moscow and Washington in the 1990s and most of the 2000s.

July 2, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Hamas: Our people will bury US plans under their feet

Hazem Qasem
Palestine Information Center – June 23, 2018

GAZA – The Hamas Movement has said that the massive presence of citizens in the March of Return rallies on Friday, June 22, has reflected that the popular struggle in Gaza will continue until all goals are achieved.

In a press release, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said the ongoing popular uprising on the Gaza border aims to entrench the Palestinian people’s right to return to every part of their land, including Jerusalem, and their right to live in dignity and with no blockade.

“Such ongoing rallies prove that the [Israeli] occupation’s attempts to terrorize our people into not participating in them have failed,” Qasem affirmed, pointing to the exposure of protesters to aerial attacks during the past week.

“These marches have sent a message to the US administration, which is trying to impose plans or projects aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause, that our revolutionary people on the border will bury such schemes under their feet and will not allow any party to detract from their rights,” he underlined.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Presbyterian Church Confronts US Legislation Targeting BDS

IMEMC News & Agencies | June 23, 2018

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States approved, during its meeting last week in St. Louis, Missouri, by unanimous consent, an action opposing congressional and state anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) laws, according to a press release.

According to WAFA, the newly approved policy directs the Presbyterian Church (USA) to “oppose specific US legislation to suppress measures of economic witness…such as ‘The Israel Anti-Boycott Act’.” The action further instructs the church to join in legislation opposing state anti-BDS laws through the filing of amicus curiae briefs, in coalition with other religious and human rights groups.

Some two-dozen laws have been passed, in Congress and states across the country, that are designed to suppress BDS campaigns in protest of Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil liberties groups have condemned these laws as un-constitutional and an infringement on the First Amendment right to free speech.

Earlier this year, in the first decision of its kind, a Kansas judge blocked an anti-BDS law in that state, deeming it un-constitutional. In recent years, a number of US faith groups and churches, including the Presbyterian Church (USA) have adopted boycotts and divested from companies that profit from Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights.

In other actions last week, the Presbyterian Church (USA) defended the free exchange of ideas on Israel/Palestine, refusing to accept a prohibition on describing the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza as “a colonial project.” The church also, by unanimous consent, declined to censor a recent publication from its Israel/Palestine Mission Network entitled Why Palestine Matters: The Struggle to End Colonialism.

The General Assembly considered additional actions relating to Israel/Palestine including a resolution expressing “profound grief and sorrow” for the deaths of 131 Palestinians during the recent protests surrounding the Great March of Return, deploring Israel’s “targeting of more than 20 clearly marked Palestinian medics serving the wounded,” one advocating for equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and one calling on RE/MAX to stop facilitating the sale of properties in settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law.

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is a mission network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) with a mandate from the denomination’s General Assembly (2004) to work “toward specific mission goals that will create currents of wider and deeper involvement with Israel/Palestine.”

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’

By Ida Audeh | CounterPunch | June 22, 2018

For weeks now, Palestinians everywhere have been galvanized by events taking place in the Gaza Strip, the site of weekly (since March 30) mass protests demanding the end of the siege and blockade of Gaza (in place now since 2007) and the right to return to the homes from which they or their elders had been kicked out. Dubbed the Great March of Return, Gazans have assembled as close as they can to the Israeli-designated buffer zone separating Gaza from Israel. Israeli soldiers at a distance, crouched behind earth barriers that they created in the days preceding the march, and at absolutely no danger of attack from the unarmed protestors, pick off demonstrators at their leisure. By June 14, at least 129 Palestinians had been killed and 13,000 injured; the dead included medics like the 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar and journalists including Yaser Murtaja—typically seen as off-limits in conflict zones but transformed by Israel into prime targets.

On June 4, Ida Audeh spoke to Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, about the popular resistance in Gaza, the Trump administration’s policy toward the question of Palestine, and Palestinian options to chart a new course. Salah Khawaja, an activist who works with the campaign, joined the conversation.

Ida Audeh: I interviewed you in August 2011 to learn more about the separation wall and its effect on communities in its path.[2] Describe Israel’s current system of control over the occupied territories, of which the wall is a part.

Jamal Juma’: It is clear that the wall was designed to isolate and lay siege to Palestinians. The project to place Palestinians under siege by means of the wall has been completed. It closed off all the dynamic areas that Israel considered necessary to isolate various areas. Eighty percent of the Wall is within the West Bank. The second part of the siege is reinforcement of the settlements. Each settlement has what Israel calls a buffer zone – a security apparatus consisting of barbed wire and roads that Palestinians are not allowed to use. This, together with the alternative (bypass) roads (which we call the apartheid roads), allows them to control the territory. Today there are two road networks: one is for Israeli settlers, about 1,400 km long, and its purpose is to connect all settlements to one another and to Israel in a kind of network. And this is complete. This network is the dominant one in the West bank, and it includes the major roads. The other, the alternative roads, are for Palestinians to use; these roads will intersect through 48 planned tunnels and bridges, some of which have been created already. The two road systems are separate. This is the basis of the racist discriminatory system we talk about: isolating Palestinians and confining them in limited spaces, control of their resources through settlements, the road network, and military installations, and the wall, which take up about 62% of the area of the West Bank.

With the extension of the settlements, we no longer just talk about Palestinians being ghettoized in the north, south and central region. There is more fragmentation of Palestinian residential areas. New settlement outposts are not being discussed in terms of whether they should be removed or not.  They are being transformed into settlements. When you see 150 outposts, you are really talking about 150 new settlements. This project is being intensified, and especially since Trump took office.

IA: So you noticed a clear acceleration after Trump?

JJ: It’s much more than an acceleration. This is a watershed moment in Palestinian history.  We consider that since Trump took office, US policy fully adopted the Zionist project and embarked on a process of liquidating the Palestinian cause, of eliminating it. It is clear program. This began with Jerusalem and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity, transfer of the embassy, targeting the refugees by cutting financing of UNRWA, and other forms of pressure on areas that host large numbers of refugees including getting them settled permanently in the host countries.

Israeli colonization, the geographic engineering of the political map, is another component in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. Israeli proposals for colonization are massive. They are concentrating on the Jordan Valley – creating new settlements, expanding existing settlements, creating the supportive infrastructure, with huge incentives for Israelis who work in agriculture (including cash payments of $20,000 for anyone willing to move there). Now the settlements are on the tops of the mountain chain that overlook the Jordan Valley, which enable them to encircle lower lying towns. When you talk about Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, and so on, it will be as though the entire West Bank is a suburb of Tel Aviv. This will make it impossible for there to be any separation in the future, for there to be any independent Palestinian entity; instead, an apartheid system of cantons will be imposed on Palestinians.  This is the reality on the ground.

Back to the new US policy: In addition to a shift in standing US positions on Jerusalem and the refugee issue, there is the use of Arab countries that are ready for normalization with Israel and eager to be aligned with the American project – first and foremost, Saudi Arabia, and also Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which are pressuring the Palestinians to accept the US project to liquidate the Palestinian cause. This has complicated things and taken it out of the sphere of international law and the UN; everyone had previously worked within that framework. We have been demanding the implementation of resolutions. But the US dealt a blow to international law.

IA: The US now proposes the “deal of the century,” which Gulf states are eagerly endorsing. Can you describe the contours of that deal?

JJ: The proposal is to create a Palestinian state in Gaza with extensions into the Sinai Desert, to be administered by the Palestinian Authority. The West Bank and Jerusalem are not part of these calculations, although Israel might be willing to give up some areas around Jerusalem that are densely populated with Palestinians. (This part of the proposal has been floated by extremist Israeli groups even before the Trump proposal.) They might be willing to remove from Greater Jerusalem areas with high Palestinian density, like Jabal Mukkaber, Isawiya, Silwan, and Sur Bahir; there has been some discussion about removing Beit Hanina and Shufat. The Israelis would retain control of the Jewish settlements and the Old City, which together make up about 87% of the area of East Jerusalem—not exactly a small territory.

IA: What is the Palestinian response to these plans?

JJ:  On the formal political level, the PA is in a crisis. It placed its faith in the US, but now US determination to liquidate the Palestinian cause is very clear.  The only real option remaining to the PA is to cast its lot with the Palestinian people and on free people around the world, international solidarity and movements that support us. The Palestinian people have to make a decision, and so does the PA.

On the popular level, we see serious activity in search of an alternative to the status quo, the largest and the most important of which is taking place now in Gaza with the Great March of Return. These actions are important for a number of reasons. They changed the stereotypes about Gaza as a launchpad for rockets, a place of terrorism that has been hijacked by Hamas. In fact, the marches in Gaza since March 30 represent a widespread popular movement, massive popular resistance. Just like the first intifada emerged from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, today we have the beginnings of a mass civil disobedience movement. Gaza has a population that is resisting, and Hamas does not control this resistance. The discourse we generally hear, that Hamas is leading people to their death, should be recognized as racist and dehumanizing. People are not robots. Gazans of all ages, family situations, and economic and educational levels are taking part in these marches to raise their cause to the world.  These people are saying that the siege of Gaza cannot continue. We are human beings, we have rights, and one of those rights is to live like human beings. Gaza is no longer inhabitable. Gaza has been turned into a prison and a hell. Even the UN acknowledges that. The numbers around Gaza are just astounding.[3]

The Great March has returned focus on the refugee issue and put it squarely on the table despite all the efforts to ignore and erase it. More than 70% of Gaza residents are refugees, and they are demanding the right to return to their original hometowns.

For that reason, the marches in Gaza are very important in defining the trajectory of the Palestinian question and restoring the role of popular resistance to the forefront. They lay the popular foundation for the coming phase. They might also have prevented another massive disaster. I think Israel was preparing to implement the Trump administration’s proposals; the scenario that the Israelis were planning for was to pull Gaza into a military confrontation, which would justify more intense bombing than it has done in the past. The borders with Egypt would open, and people would flee into Egypt. But the march with its mass participation thwarted that plan.

IA: I find it hard to understand how Ramallah can be so tranquil considering the carnage in Gaza.

JJ:  It might seem that what is happening in the West Bank is not at all comparable to what is happening in Gaza. And that is true, it isn’t as massive. But actions are taking place in the West Bank, and they are also important. On a weekly basis people are gathering to protest at the checkpoints. Since 2011 there have been continuous outbursts (in Arabic, habbat); for example, in Jerusalem in the Bab al-Shams encampment and in the aftermath of the Abu Khdeir and Dawabshe killings (January 2013, July 2014, and July 2015, respectively).[4] These outbursts were significant and exemplary, the way Gaza is today. They reminded us of what the Palestinian people are capable of doing. I expect that these outbursts here and there will lead to widespread civil disobedience. Young people in Jerusalem and the West Bank have been going out to checkpoints in the hundreds, on a daily basis, and these conditions put one in the mindset of the first intifada.

We should take note of what Palestinians in Israel are doing as well. There are youth movements that are taking action in ways that are very impressive and a source of pride.  They defy the occupation and they involve large numbers of people, in Haifa and elsewhere.

IA: Let’s look at the relationship of Palestinians to formal political bodies. Recently the Palestinian National Council held its first meeting in 22 years. One might have thought that over the course of more than two decades, several issues and events warranted a meeting – regional events, the assassination of Yasir Arafat, and the status of the Oslo accords come to mind. But the convening of the PNC doesn’t seem to have generated much popular interest.

JJ: People did not pay much attention to it, but in fact they should be talking about it because it poses a threat. Meeting for the first time in 22 years, it did not even discuss what it has done since the last meeting! What it did do is effectively cancel itself, which means it is changing the structure of the PLO. There is an attempt to replace the Central Committee with a body consisting of the private sector, the political currents in the PA today, and elements of the security apparatus. No representation of Palestinians from the 1948 areas, or the diaspora, or even the Palestinian street. This is a threat to the Palestinian project.

The PLO as it has been transformed by Mahmoud Abbas threatens the national cause. It has been hijacked; our task is to restore it as a representative and unifying entity that works to support the Palestinian cause. The reform should be led by Palestinian groups and movements.

People have no confidence in the leadership; they don’t think it is capable of leading in the coming phase.  In fact, the outbursts I referred to earlier had the potential of triggering a third intifada.  People were waiting for a leadership to emerge, as happened during the first intifada; three months into the intifada, a unified leadership emerged and took charge. But this time, the PA wasn’t interested in assuming that role; three months into these protests, the PA sent its people to disrupt actions and prevent young people from gathering at checkpoints. The national factions were unable to form a unified leadership for obvious reasons.

IA: What is the alternative?

JJ: People have to create a national movement that can lead the change. What will lead the movement for change will not be a single individual. It will be a widespread national movement that has a real relationship with people on the ground, a movement that will direct the street. This is the only way change will take place. People have been waiting for a long time, but who are we waiting for? There is not going to be a great charismatic leader. We don’t talk about a heroic leader, we talk about a heroic people and a leadership of institutions.

We want a Palestinian state that represents all Palestinians. Within that broad outline, we say that right now, we have to protect the Palestinian project – the right to self-determination, and we all struggle for that right. We don’t have to get into a discussion about the final outcome. The time for the two state solution is clearly over—and in fact, that proposal provided the basis for trying to destroy our cause. The other option is clear. But like I said, we don’t want that discussion to detract from our focus now or to place us in conflict with the position of the PLO.

How do we support the Palestinian project? We have to confront what is happening in Jerusalem, the settlements. There has to be a practical program, not just slogans on paper. Palestinians in the diaspora should support these activities, get involved in the boycott movement, because we are part of that boycott movement. We are trying to keep the political work and the boycott movement separate to protect the boycott movement, because there is a Palestinian effort underway to weaken the BDS movement; through normalization, by invoking the PLO position. We consider the boycott movement an essential component of our activism.

This is what people are discussing today, here and with our people in the 1948 areas, and in the diaspora. There has to be a movement that preserves the unity of the Palestinian people and protects the national cause from liquidation. That’s what we are working on now. I expect that in the next few weeks there will be a meeting to put in writing some of the agreed upon principles underlying all of these actions. Many meetings have taken place, and they are being expanded.

SK: We are looking at all ways to get all Palestinians to participate under a banner of a common cause that unites us all. In the 1948 areas, the issue is colonization and civil rights, but Palestinians within Israel don’t find themselves too far apart from those in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, the issues are Judaization, settlements, attacks against the holy sites. Those in Gaza are concerned about 12-year siege and blockade, hunger, and murder. Those in the diaspora want the right of return. All of these are national issues that unite us, but each location faces specific threats.

The next phase will be difficult, as we figure out how to present a vision that unites all people, especially the youth, which have been marginalized, to be effective participants.  Since 2012, we have been in contact with the youth. About 76% of the population is 35 years old or younger. And yet no one is making a practical effort to involve them in political planning and decision making. As a campaign, we made a deliberate decision about this. Programs grow old, and so do people. So we need an extension, and the youth movement is part of that. Our hope is to create a mass youth activist base so that our energy will be renewed. We see in the diaspora and in the 1948 areas that the majority of activists are young – the marches in Haifa, confronting the Judaization of the Galilee, activism around the depopulated villages of 1948, the attempt to seize homes in Akka — young people are confronting these issues. We must raise the slogan of confronting colonialism, which is the main cause of what we face.  We Palestinians  have to work together, not against one another, and not expect solutions from others.

What they are doing is preparatory to a major outbreak; there will be a launch of boats to break the blockade, and not just from Gaza, and a rush toward all entry points to Palestine, without exception. Either we live with dignity, or we declare an intifada on those who deny us a life with dignity.

Everyone is targeted. In the West Bank, there are mass arrests, home demolitions, checkpoints, and people on the run. The idea of civil disobedience is not a slogan. We can rebel against all forms of Israeli control within the framework of a national program. Since the international community has not acted, what prevents Palestinians from adjacent countries from moving on mass to the border, as occurred in 2012 (and some were able to make it to Jaffa). Those in the diaspora might have ongoing marches in front of Israeli embassies and its supporters. They can paralyze Israel’s work in all countries. These are not the usual slogans or approaches to political work.  There is no need to hold on to agreements and positions that Israel long ago abandoned.

In 1948 we looked to what the international community might give us; it gave to Israel but nothing to us. There were conditions placed on it for recognition: its treatment of the Palestinian minority, accepting the Palestinian right of return, and the creation of a Palestinian state. None of them was fulfilled. After 1967, Palestinians agreed to accept 22% of historical Palestine, but even that was unacceptable for Israel. Palestinians can’t continue to think in terms of what Israel might be willing to give us.

We have a right to exist and to determine our own destiny. This is the issue that concerns us.

Notes.

[1] “Gaza protests: All the latest updates,” Al Jazeera, June 14, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/gaza-protest-latest-updates-180406092506561.html. See also Kate, “Israel has shot 29 medics at Gaza border, killing two,” Mondoweiss,http://mondoweiss.net/2018/06/israel-medics-killing/amp/

[2] Ida Audeh, “Interview with Jamal Juma’: PA ‘killing popular resistance.’” Electronic Intifada, August 8, 2011,https://electronicintifada.net/content/jamal-juma-pa-killing-popular-resistance/10249

[3] “Living conditions in Gaza ‘more and more wretched’ over past decade, UN finds,” UN News, 11 July 2017, https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/07/561302-living-conditions-gaza-more-and-more-wretched-over-past-decade-un-finds. Status Audio Journal Hosts, “Under siege: Daily life in Gaza with Rawan Yaghi,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37563/Under-Siege-Daily-Life-in-Gaza-with-Rawan-Yaghi. Gaza in Context Team, “Understanding Gaza in context,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37562/Understanding-Gaza

[4] The 2013 encampment known as Bab al-Shams was an attempt by Palestinians to thwart Israeli plans to establish a settlement on land in the E1 zone, between East Jerusalem and the Jewish-only settlement Ma’ale Adumim; the Israeli plan was designed to permanently sever the West Bank from East Jerusalem. Another encampment, Bab al-Karama, was set up in Beit Iksa and stormed by Israeli soldiers two days later. In July 2014, Israeli settlers in Jerusalem abducted 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir from Shufat and set him on fire; the ensuing demonstrations resulted in 160 Palestinians injured. Israel’s assault on Gaza began five days later. One year later, settlers set fire to a residence in Duma. The soul survivor of the attack was a 4-year-old child; the child’s parents and infant brother were killed. In 2015, a tent encampment, “Gate of Jerusalem,” was set up in Abu Dis to protest the Israeli government’s plans to displace Bedouin communities there. Beginning in September 2015 and lasting until the end of the year, protests spread from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem throughout the West Bank; 108 Palestinians were killed and 12,260 were injured.  Palestinians in Israel demonstrated in solidarity.

Ida Audeh is a Palestinian from the West Bank who lives in Colorado. She is the editor of Birzeit University: The Story of a National Institution, published by Birzeit University in 2010. She can be reached at idaaudeh A T yahoo D O T com.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cambridge University students protest ‘war criminal’ Ehud Olmert

MEMO | June 21, 2018

Students at the University of Cambridge protested a talk given by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert at the Judge Business School on Wednesday night, denouncing the former leader as a “war criminal”.

According to Varsity, “a poster campaign condemning his [Olmert’s] actions and declaring that he is ‘not welcome in Cambridge’” was launched ahead of the event.

Olmert, who was convicted of and jailed for accepting bribes and of obstruction of justice, gave a talk entitled ‘Israel as a start up nation’.

An email from the Cambridge Judge Business School inviting staff to attend the event, said: “We would like to keep this event low profile and we are not promoting it across the University”.

In a statement published Wednesday, Cambridge University Palestine Society said the invitation to Olmert was “deeply shameful”.

“As Prime Minister of Israel from 2006-9, he directly ordered and oversaw the bombardment and massacre of thousands of civillians in Lebanon and Gaza, decried as war crimes by Amnesty International and UNHRC inquiries”, the group said.

“Olmert is a war criminal who belongs in the dock of the International Criminal Court at the Hague, not at a canapé-laden reception and discussion in Cambridge”, the statement added.

“The title of Olmert’s appearance, ‘Israel as a start up nation’, adds insult to injury, revealing utter contempt on the part of JBS for the millions of Palestinian refugees dispossessed by Israel and denied the right to return to their homes, some of whom study and work at this University”.

Unidentified students subsequently plastered the walls of the entrance to the school with posters denouncing Olmert as a war criminal, along with slogans such as ‘Free Palestine’.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Seoul, Pyongyang Agree to Compete Together in 2018 Asian Games – Reports

Sputnik – 18.06.2018

North and South Korea have agreed to form joint teams for some competitions within the upcoming Asian Games, and march together under the unification flag during the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournament, the Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.

During their Monday’s talks in the truce village of Panmunjom, the representatives of the two Koreas also agreed to hold a friendly basketball game in Pyongyang on July 4, in line with the idea Kim voiced during the summit, the agency reported, citing the country’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Earlier in the day, representatives of both states held talks on the issue of jointly participating in the Asian Games and other sporting events in line with the landmark Panmunjom Peace Declaration, signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their April 27 summit.

The 2018 Asian Games will be held in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang between August 18 and September 2.

The agreement to jointly compete in the games is the most recent episode of rapprochement between the two states. In February, the teams from North and South Korea marched together during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea’s Pyeongchang and competed together in women’s hockey.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | | Leave a comment

Blood Diamonds: Human Rights Campaigners Want ‘Kimberley Process’ to Suspend Israel

Palestine Chronicle | June 16, 2018

Human Rights campaigners say that Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) must suspend Israel and ban Israeli diamonds exports.

A global coalition of organizations working for justice and peace in Palestine have called on the EU to seek the suspension of Israel from the Kimberley Process and a ban on Israel diamond exports at next week ’s meeting of the diamond regulatory body in Antwerp.

The KPCS is the process established in 2000 to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream rough diamond market by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56 following recommendations in the Fowler Report.

The process was set up “to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments.”

In the wake of the latest Israeli massacres in Gaza, which Human Rights Watch said “may amount to war crimes” and called on the international community to “impose real costs for such blatant disregard for Palestinian lives” it is imperative that diamonds which generate revenue used to fund the Israeli military are banned.

Israel is the biggest net beneficiary of the global diamond trade with exports worth US$11 billion net in 2014 when diamonds accounted for 30% of manufacturing exports.

Revenue from the Israeli diamond industry is a highly significant source of funding for the Israeli government and its violent settler-colonial project in Palestine.

Despite generating an estimated $1 billion per year in funding for Israeli occupation forces which stand accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, the proliferation of unregulated nuclear weapons and the enforcement of a system of apartheid jewelers claim diamonds processed in Israel are conflict-free.

Diamonds that are a significant source of funding for violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law are regarded as blood diamonds.

The jewelry industry refuses to ban all blood diamonds and limited the remit of the KPCS to “conflict diamonds” which are defined as rough diamonds used by rebel groups to fund violence against legitimate governments.

June 16, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

HP Faces $120 Million Potential Loss Due to Complicity in Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Human Rights

IMEMC News & Agencies | June 13, 2018

Hewlett Packard (HP) faces over $120 million in potential losses since India’s largest student federation passed a resolution to support the BDS movement and to boycott Hewlett Packard companies over their well-documented complicity in Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian human rights.

Apoorva Gautam, the India-based South Asia coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, which leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, explained:

The Students Federation of India (SFI) is more than 4 million members strong, and on June 9, they joined the global campaign to boycott HP. This means that Hewlett Packard companies now risk losing over 4 million potential clients in India because of their complicity in Israel’s gross violations of Palestinian human rights.

Given that the cheapest HP laptop in India costs about $300, this means that HP may be losing a potential student market of over $120 million. This is enormously significant.

What Palestinians and Indian students are showing is that companies seeking to profit from Israel’s military occupation and discriminatory regime face growing popular opposition and risk a serious hit to both their reputations and pocket-books.

HP has provided technology and services that support Israel’s military occupation and racial discrimination policies, including its devastating siege suffocating nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, and illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.

Today, HP-branded companies provide the Israeli government with the servers that house its notorious population registry, a key component in the apparatus of apartheid. Records also indicate that HP-branded companies are still responsible for selling computers to the Israeli military. As such, HP products and services enable racial segregation and denial of basic rights.

In its resolution to boycott HP, the Students Federation of India (SFI) condemned Israel’s recent violence against unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, where Israel killed at least 121 Palestinians and injured more than 13,000 in just the last two months. It also criticized the current right-wing government in India for its “close security and military ties with Israel” and for having become “the largest arms buyer from Israel.”

Vikram Singh, the federation’s General Secretary, promised that the campaign to boycott HP in India would grow:

Our federation will spread the BDS movement and the HP boycott campaign in college and university campuses across India. We will work to convince university administrations to adopt procurement policies that prohibit doing business with HP companies until they prove that they are no longer complicit in Israel’s egregious violations of Palestinian human rights. Until then, this boycott will continue and will grow even stronger.

Abdulrahman Abunahel, a Gaza-based community organizer and coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) welcomed the resolution:

Palestinian students and youth movements deeply appreciate the solidarity expressed by our counterparts in the Students Federation of India. As a young Palestinian in Gaza, I know first hand how difficult it is to study, and to simply live, under decades of Israel’s brutal military rule and devastating siege. And I’m heartened by this important gesture of support from India, which reaffirms that where governments fail, people have the the power to act and make a difference.

In the past few years, US church denominations such as the US Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ have divested from HP. Friends Fiduciary Corporation, the socially responsible investment firm serving over three hundred Quaker institutions in the United States, divested from HP in 2012. Most recently, the Dublin City Council joined the BDS movement and called for ending ties with HP because of the company’s complicity in Israeli apartheid.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment