Wednesday, January 7, 2009

GAZA BEAT

Gush Shalom - At the same time as Ehud Barak was ordering the army to start the bloody ground offensive against Gaza, some ten thousand protesters from all over Israel marched in Tel-Aviv in a massive demonstration against the war.

"One does not build an election campaign over the dead bodies of children!" shouted the protesters in Hebrew rhymes. . .

The demonstration took place after a fight with the police, which tried to prevent or at least limit it, arguing that they would not be able to stop right-wing rioters from attacking it. Among other things, the police demanded that the organizers undertake to prevent the hoisting of Palestinian flags. The organizers petitioned the High Court of Justice, which decided that the Palestinian flag is legal and ordered the police to protect the demonstration from rioters,

The demonstration was decided upon by Gush Shalom and 20 other peace organizations, including the Women's Coalition for Peace, Anarchists Against the Wall, Hadash, the Alternative Information Center and New Profile. Meretz and Peace Now did not participate officially, but many of their members showed up. Some thousand Arab citizens from the north arrived in 20 buses straight from the big demonstration of the Arab public which had taken place in Sakhnin.

The organizers themselves were surprised by the large number of protesters. "A week after the start of Lebanon War II, we succeeded in mobilizing only 1000 demonstrators against it. The fact that today there came 10,000 proves that the opposition to the war is much stronger this time. If Barak goes on with his plans, public opinion may completely turn against the war in a few days."

Sara Roy, Christian Science Monitor - As Jews celebrated the last night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights commemorating our resurgence as a people, I asked myself: How am I to celebrate my Jewishness while Palestinians are being killed?

The religious scholar Marc Ellis challenges us further by asking whether the Jewish covenant with God is present or absent in the face of Jewish oppression of Palestinians? Is the Jewish ethical tradition still available to us? Is the promise of holiness - so central to our existence - now beyond our ability to reclaim?. . .

It is one thing to take an individual's land, his home, his livelihood, to denigrate his claims, or ignore his emotions. It is another to destroy his child. What happens to a society where renewal is denied and all possibility has ended?

And what will happen to Jews as a people whether we live in Israel or not? Why have we been unable to accept the fundamental humanity of Palestinians and include them within our moral boundaries? Rather, we reject any human connection with the people we are oppressing. Ultimately, our goal is to tribalize pain, narrowing the scope of human suffering to ourselves alone.

Our rejection of "the other" will undo us. We must incorporate Palestinians and other Arab peoples into the Jewish understanding of history, because they are a part of that history. We must question our own narrative and the one we have given others, rather than continue to cherish beliefs and sentiments that betray the Jewish ethical tradition.

Jewish intellectuals oppose racism, repression, and injustice almost everywhere in the world and yet it is still unacceptable - indeed, for some, it's an act of heresy - to oppose it when Israel is the oppressor. This double standard must end.

Wired - On Dec. 31, just two days after Israel launched its current offensive against Hamas, U.S. Military Sealift Command issued a solicitation for two container vessels to ship ammunition from Greece to the Israeli port of Ashdod. . . Bids were requested by Jan. 5, but that does not mean a shipment will happen. "Funds are not currently available for this procurement," the solicitation states. "In the event funds remain unavailable, this procurement will be cancelled without an award being made."

Robert Fisk, Independent - Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead - almost all civilians, most of them children and women - in Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians?

What is amazing is that so many Western leaders, so many presidents and prime ministers and, I fear, so many editors and journalists, bought the old lie; that Israelis take such great care to avoid civilian casualties. "Israel makes every possible effort to avoid civilian casualties," yet another Israeli ambassador said only hours before the Gaza massacre. . .

Yes, Israelis deserve security. Twenty Israelis dead in 10 years around Gaza is a grim figure indeed. But 600 Palestinians dead in just over a week, thousands over the years since 1948 - when the Israeli massacre at Deir Yassin helped to kick-start the flight of Palestinians from that part of Palestine that was to become Israel - is on a quite different scale.

Dennis Kucinich - In light of press reports that Israeli forces fired on a United Nations school where civilians were taking shelter, I sent notice today to Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, that Israel's actions in Gaza may constitute a violation of the requirements of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976. When the president is aware of the possibility of such violations, the AECA requires a report to Congress on the potential violations. The AECA outlines the conditions under which countries may use military articles or services obtained from the U.S. government, which include "internal security" or "legitimate self defense." But the AECA prohibits actions that "increase the possibility of an outbreak or escalation of conflict." The Israeli assault on Gaza creates such a possibility because it is a vastly disproportionate response to the provocation, and the Palestinian population is suffering from those military attacks in numbers far exceeding Israeli losses in life and property.

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