Waiting for the Bus in New Orleans By Bill Quigley

Justice Watch

BC Extra: August 31, 2008

BlackCommentator.com Columnist

August 30, 2008 – 4 pm

In the blazing midday sun, hot and thirsty little children walk around bags of diapers and soft suitcases piled outside a locked community center in the Lower Ninth Ward. Military police in camouflage and local police in dark blue uniforms and sunglasses sit a few feet away in their cars. Moms and grandmas sit with the children and wait quietly. Everyone is waiting for a special city bus which will start them on their latest journey away from home.

Hundreds of buses are moving people away from the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Gustave is heading for the Louisiana coast nearly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes across the Gulf Coast. Many now face mandatory evacuation. Dozens died in Haiti and the Dominican Republic after Gustave visited. After Katrina, few underestimate the potential of Gustave, now a Category 5 (out of a maximum of 5) storm.

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FREE GAZA — LIBERTY ARRIVE IN CYPRUS WITH PALESTINIANS ON-BOARD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, please contact:
Cyprus:  Greta Berlin: +357-9908 1767 – iristulip@gmail.com
Cyprus :  Osama Qashoo:  +357-9779 3595 – osamaqashoo@gmail.com
Jerusalem: Angela Godfrey-Goldstein: +972-547366393 angela@icahd.org
Website: www.freegaza.org

Free GazaFREE GAZA MOVEMENT announces the arrival at 20:30 (10:30am PDT), Friday 29 August, 2008 of the FREE GAZA and LIBERTY vessels, in Larnaca Harbour, returning from Gaza, and a successful end to this first of such missions.

The historic return voyage represents the first time ever that Palestinians have been able freely to enter and leave their country.  The Free Gaza Movement will mark this historic moment with a reception at Larnaca Harbour , as will Palestinians in Gaza , as both boats return safely from Gazan and international waters after a calm and uneventful crossing.

Organiser Paul Larudee:  “This endeavour has been a huge success, far more significant and wide-reaching than anyone ever dreamt it could be.  It has had obvious beneficial effects on the Palestinian people, but also on Israel . In fairness, credit must go where credit is due — despite threats or obstacles, a responsible decision was made by Israeli authorities not to interfere with our mission and this is a model for the future.”

As reported by the world press, news has travelled worldwide of the Free Gaza Movement.  Supportive messages have come in, including from UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the OPT, Richard Falk, who wrote:

“The landing of two wooden boats carrying 46 human rights activists in Gaza is an important symbolic victory. This non-violent initiative of the Free Gaza Movement focused attention around the world on the stark reality that the 1.5 million residents of Gaza have endured a punitive siege for more than a year. This siege is a form of collective punishment that constitutes a massive violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The siege, the coastal blockade, and overflights by Israeli aircraft all bear witness to the fact that despite Israel’s claimed ‘disengagement’ in 2005, these realities on the ground establish that Gaza remains under Israeli occupation, and as a result Israel remains legally responsible for protecting the human rights of its civilian population. By severely restricting the entry of food, fuel, and medicine the economic and social rights of the people of Gaza have been systematically violated. There is widespread deafness among the people of Gaza that is blamed on the frequent sonic booms produced by over-flying Israeli military aircraft. For this reason the peace boats brought 200 hearing aids to Gaza.”

Mr. Falk strongly urged the international community to take action to uphold human rights in the Gaza Strip.

“Above all, what is being tested is whether the imaginative engagement of dedicated private citizens can influence the struggle of a beleaguered people for basic human rights, and whether their courage and commitment can awaken the conscience of humanity to an unfolding tragedy.”

Or, in the words of Palestinian voyager, Musheir El-Farra, originally born and raised in Khan Younis in Gaza but currently living in Sheffield , UK :

“For the first time in my life, I went to Gaza without being humiliated, without having to ask Israel for permission.  We did it.  We finally did it.  And now others must join us and do it as well.”

www.freegaza.org
www.anis-online.de/office/events/FreeGazaSong.htm
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

Huwaida on Al Jazeera Intnl. vs Israeli spokesman:

uk.youtube.com/watch?v=aUPA0z2zRHQ
and Part 2:
uk.youtube.com/watch?v=C-DGBHPMe5c

Editor’s Note:

Typically, the mainstream media have completely ignored this historic mission, so if you have access to a Website please spread this release. Ed.

Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape by Raja Shehadeh

JfJfP: special book offer + campaigning workshop
— special offer —

buy a book and give money to a Palestinian cause

Raja Shehadeh is the WINNER OF THE 2008 ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING. He will be speaking at a JfJfP meeting on Wednesday 17th September (details below).

The book costs £7.99 (post free) and of that WE WILL GIVE THREE POUNDS (£3.00) to Al-Haq, the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists.

Send your cheque payable to JfJfP to: JfJfP, P O Box 46081, London W9 2ZF. And if you come along on 17th September you will be able to buy the book and the author will sign copies of his book after the meeting.

*****

“The book describes over two decades of turmoil and change in the Middle East, steered via the history-soaked landscape of Palestine. A lawyer and human rights activist of independent temper, Raja has always found much-needed peace by taking walks in the Palestinian hills – a landscape which, owing to occupation, Jewish settlements and disastrous environmental policies, is fast disappearing.”

‘Intensely political while avoiding the excesses of pure polemic, Shehadeh’s account of six different Palestinian walks continually grapples with misconceptions and mis-information…Shehadeh is always engaging. There’s such an eccentricity to his approach, commenting on dinosaur footprints in the rock one moment, challenging Israeli law the next … it’s a remarkable way of going about things, delivering what many activists neglect to mention: the odd, slightly absurd details that really touch people; things that appear off-camera, away from news reports – things that seem real.’Independent on Sunday

Raja Shehadeh is also the author of the highly praised When the Bulbul Stopped Singing and Strangers in the House. A Palestinian lawyer and writer who lives in Ramallah, he is a founder of the pioneering human rights organisation, Al-Haq, in Ramallah in 1979 and the author of several books about international law, human rights and the Middle East.

*****

JfJfP meeting with Raja Shehadeh Wednesday 17th September at 7.00 pm Venue: The Slug and Lettuce, 1 Islington Green (opp. Screen on the Green) 7.00 – 9.00 pm Tube: Angel; Buses 19, 30, 43, 38, 73, 341

Campaigning Workshop Sunday, 21 September, London

Further to our decision to organise a campaigns workshop, Isabelle Fermaux has agreed to lead one on September 21st from about 10.00 to 4.00 at a venue in London to be arranged.

As an organisation committed to advancing a cause which has powerful adversaries, we need to campaign both to raise awareness of the issues and to achieve change. However there are obstacles in the way for all of us. We need to learn to target our campaigns effectively, to maintain the pressure, to work with other groups with whom we may not necessarily be in total agreement, to recruit others to the campaigns, and to enhance our own confidence in working in a field that may be unfamiliar to us.

This is a great opportunity to improve the effectiveness of our campaigning work. If you are interested in attending the workshop, do let us know as soon as possible by email to: jfjfpevents@googlemail.com. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Back to the future: “Chaos and instability Washington’s official policy line” By William Bowles

28 August 2008

“In the operation the West conducted on Georgian soil against Russia – South Ossetians were the victims or hostages of it – we can see a rehearsal for an attack on Iran. There is a great deal of “new features” that today are being fine tuned in the theater of military operations.

“…[T]he likelihood of a war against Iran was growing with each passing day, “As a result, the situation in the region will become destabilized…causing chaos and instability” was becoming Washington’s official policy line. — ‘Russian analyst points to link between Georgian attack and Iran’.

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President Manuel Torrijos’ Velvet Panamanian Coup

President Manuel Torrijos’ Velvet Panamanian Coup – Council on Hemispheric Affairs:

For more information on this piece over the Labor Day weekend, please call 202-215-3473.

  • Torrijos uses subterfuge to militarize the National Security Posture.
  • Corruption reigns at the highest level.
  • Noriega-era Constitution still in use and a burden to the nation.
  • Patriots rally on September 3 against Torrijos’ wanting indifference to democratic procedures.
  • State Department is conspicuously silent over Torrijos’ plots.

On September 3, a number of Panamanian civic groups and political movements have scheduled a nationwide protest against the recently enacted five-pronged National Security Reform package. President Martin Torrijos and his Cabinet approved what essentially was a presidential edict, during the National Assembly’s two-month recess. In effect, President Torrijos has staged a velvet coup, weakening the Constitutional rights of individual Panamanians. Torrijos granted himself ‘special legislative powers,’ allowing him to rule by decree in the areas of anti-crime and anti-terrorism. The President possesses plenary powers allowing him to force through a series of security measures that had the effect, according to his critics, of dangerously militarizing the country.

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Palestine: When is the doctor a doctor? And when is he a citizen? By Derek Summerfield

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/910/intrvw.htm

Derek Summerfield:

It’s been more than a decade since British psychiatrist Derek Summerfield called for a medical academic boycott of Israel. Growing up in South Africa during apartheid, the child of a Zimbabwean Afrikana mother and British father, he knows all too well what racial discrimination and segregation means. He lived it.

Even before visiting the Palestinian territories towards the end of the first Intifada (1987-1992), where he saw for himself Israel’s systematic and institutionalised torture of Palestinians, Summerfield “had always been angry at Israel”.

“Watching the behaviour of young Israeli soldiers towards an elderly Palestinian man on my first day in Jerusalem at a checkpoint felt very familiar,” he says. “I’d seen this in South Africa where I grew up.”

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Leaving Gaza – Journey Hour One

The SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty left port in Gaza at 3:40 PM, and have begun their long voyage back to Cyprus. Aboard the ship are seven Palestinian passengers, including several children. We were able to speak with Paul Larudee on the SS Liberty just a few minutes ago:

“We’re a little over an hour into our return trip to Cyprus and, unlike when we came in, there are several Israeli naval vessels in sight. We seem to be the focus of their activity, the center of their attention so to speak. However they’re keeping a careful distance, not really approaching us. We expect to reach the twelve-mile limit around 7 PM this evening, and then cross over into international waters.

“When we arrived in Gaza last Saturday, it was the first time in forty-one years that anyone has freely entered Gaza. But our leaving is in a way even more significant. Last Saturday, two of our Palestinian members came into Gaza on these boats. Today, seven more Palestinians are leaving with them. They got exit stamps from the Palestinian government, they boarded the ships, and soon they’ll be in international waters, and then in Cyprus. This is the first time, ever, that Palestinians have been able to freely enter and leave their own country. It’s an incredible step forward, and a sign of greater things to come.”

–Paul Larudee, aboard the SS Liberty, freely leaving Gaza.

SS FREE GAZA & SS LIBERTY TO LEAVE FOR CYPRUS WITH PALESTINIANS ON-BOARD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For More Information, Please Contact:
(Gaza) Paul Larudee: +972 598 765 370
(Gaza) Huwaida Arraf: +972 599 130 426
(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo: +357 97 793 595 / osamaqashoo@gmail.com
(Jerusalem) Angela Godfrey-Goldstein: +972 547 366 393 / angela@icahd.org

(GAZA CITY, 28 August 2008) – After having shattered the Israeli blockade of Gaza earlier this week, the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty will depart Gaza for Cyprus at 2pm today. Several Palestinians who have previously been denied exit visas by Israel will join international human rights workers on the journey. Among the Palestinians leaving are Saed Mosleh, age 10, of Beit Hanoon, Gaza. Saed lost his leg due to an Israeli tank shell and is leaving Gaza with his father to seek medical treatment. Also on board are the Darwish family, who will finally be reunited with their relatives in Cyprus.

“I can’t believe we’re finally able to leave for medical treatment,” said Khaled Mosleh, Saed’s father. “This is a miracle of God.”

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Fulbright or McCarthy for Palestinian students? By Fidaa Abed, 17 August 2008

As a young Palestinian from Gaza, I had been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to study at the University of California San Diego on a Fulbright scholarship. The chance to escape Gaza’s confines and immerse myself in an American education was deeply thrilling. With Israel controlling Gaza’s border exits, air space and sea access — notwithstanding its “pullout” of 2005 — I imagined the long, open roads of the United States and its people’s unchallenged freedom of movement.

I love my people and my homeland, but a young person needs opportunities. These are far more abundant in the US than in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Last week, I landed in Washington, DC, brimming with optimism. Upon arrival, I was whisked into a separate room. An American official informed me that he had just received information about me that he could not reveal. However, it required him to put me on the next plane home. I was shocked. And I was taken aback at the cruelty of snatching away my educational dreams at the last possible moment.

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Sailing into Gaza By Huwaida Arraf August 25, 2008

Source: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880825045

On Saturday, after 32 hours on the high seas, I sailed into the port of Gaza City with 45 other citizens from around the world in defiance of Israel’s blockade. We traveled from Cyprus with humanitarian provisions for Palestinians living under siege. My family in Michigan was worried sick.

They are not naïve. They knew that Israel could have attacked us — as Israeli forces did in 2003, killing nonviolent American witness Rachel Corrie (Editor’s note: Corrie, also of the International Solidarity Movement, was run over by a bulldozer operated by Israeli Defense Forces during a protest against the destruction of Palestinian homes; an Israeli military investigation ruled the death accidental) and Brit Tom Hurndall (an ISM representative who died nine months after being was shot in the head in Gaza by an IDF sniper; the sniper was convicted of manslaughter) as well as thousands of unarmed Palestinian civilians over the years.

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GazaFriends – Gone Fishing 25 August, 2008

I sat at the front of the fishing boat, one of six that went out this morning. They are old wooden boats, outfitted with bits and pieces of mechanical parts, rope twisted together and fishing nets. Israel has refused to let Palestinians fish in their own waters for the past 15 months. Even before that, they restricted Palestinian fishermen to around 6 miles. Now, they shoot holes in the boats and in the fishermen if they are caught farther out than about a kilometer.

So today, 19 of us were going along to break a different kind of siege… the denial of Palestinian rights to fish, something every other country bordering the Mediterranean has. Only Palestinians are told they can’t fish for their livelihood, provide for their families and contribute to their own economy. We decided that, since we sailed into Gaza (one fisherman told us we were the first boats to come into the port in 35 years; they have been forced to buy everything from Israel, who charges them exhorbitant fees to buy their own fish back).

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GazaFriends – Mary’s report from Gaza City 25 August, 2008

It was a day of smiles and a day of tears for me here in Gaza City.  Another early press conference, followed by a visit to the hospital which has seen most of the carnage created in Gaza by Israeli bombs and rockets.  The doctor related some of the difficulties faced by the population of Gaza.  That 50 chldren have died because Israel refused to let them enter Israel for treatment.  The reason given by Israel?  The mothers were under 35 years old and could be terrorists.  So the children died.  He told us that so far 242 people have died during the siege because of Israel’s refusal to allow them to get the treatment they need.  And that there have been 300 deliveries at checkpoints, resulting in 69 babies dead.

Next we visited a room whose walls were filled with horrific photographs of injured and dying and dead children and babies.  On the table was a collection of fragments of Israeli artillery — rockets, bombs, shrapnel, bullets…

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