Mud and Hope in South Hebron

26 June, 2010 — The Only Democracy?


Ezra Nawi, after a day in the mud

Bi’r el-’Id — There’s a strange beauty in the viscous black mud that comes up from the depths of the earth, from the bottom, or somewhere near the bottom, of the well we are cleaning in Bi’r al-’Id. Bucket after bucket of it, lifted by pulley from down below, straggles to the surface, where we unload it and pour it out on the rocky escarpment. Its texture changes remarkably over the long morning hours from a watery top layer to heavy, shiny dark loam to a granular, sticky brown. It has a strong smell, like the sulphurous mud from the Dead Sea (not very far away) that people smear over their bodies for healing. Yehuda says the Palestinians of Bi’r al-’Id should bottle it and sell it at the airport: “Sacred Mud from the Sacred Desert.” There’s no end to it. The buckets go down and up, down and up, heavier each time; the rope attached to the pulley is now caked solid with mud, and the escarpment has turned into a mire. Amiel, Dolev, and Danny are down in the dark recesses, filling the buckets alongside Haj Isma’il. Suddenly Ezra arrives—he was released from jail only a few days ago—and immediately lowers himself, like Spider Man, down the shaft. You can’t stop him. When they emerge hours later, they are black troglodytes, covered with mud from head to toe; and we, too, working the buckets above ground, are splattered, encrusted, soaked.

When I said goodbye to Amiel almost five months ago, he said, “We will meet in the spring, and when you get back, things will be the same here, just a little worse.” But actually in some ways they’re a lot worse. The continuing struggles against the occupation, on the ground in the territories, take their usual grim course, but inside Israel hardly a day passes without some new and sickening jolt.

Continue reading

IHH Report on the Killings on board the Mavi Marmara

29 June, 2010 – Free Gaza

On May 31, 2010, the six ships reached 75 miles away from the coast of Israel. We constantly reiterated that we were traveling in peace and carrying nothing but humanitarian and construction aid to the people of Gaza. At around 3:00 am, the battleships were still following us along with nearly 30 zodiacs that surrounded the flotilla in international waters.

At 4:10 am, messages from the ship, Define stated, “Mavi Marmara, all of the boats and ships are approaching you.” Shortly after, when most of the participants were performing their morning prayers, pursuit boats carring masked, armed soldiers came alongside the boats. At least 10 Israeli soldiers were in every boat. As they tried to get onboard, they began shooting. Then we heard sounds that were similar to gas bombs. The third sound was the constant sound of machine gun fire. At the same time, military helicpters full of armed soldiers rappeled down, shooting as they descended.

This operation was hostile from the very beginning, directed towards killing and killing as many as possible. Israeli soldiers did not open fire on the ships as a warning. They opened fire to kill. The first two people on board were shot in the head, killing them instantly.

Download the Report (PDF)

Live from Planet Norte: Totalitarian democracy and the politics of plunder By Joe Bageant

27 June, 2010 — Joe Bageant, Winchester, Virginia

Starting with the Homeland Security probe at Washington’s Reagan Airport, arrival back in the United States resembles an alien abduction to a planet of bright lights, strange beings and incomprehensible behavior. The featureless mysophobic landscape of DC’s Virginia suburbs seems to indicate that homogenuity and sterility are the native religions. Especially after spending eight months in Mexico’s pungent atmosphere of funky, sensual open air markets, rotting vegetation, smoking street food grills, sweat, agave nectar and ghost orchids.

The uniformity on Planet Norte is striking. Each person is a unit, installed in life support boxes in the suburbs and cities; all are fed, clothed by the same closed-loop corporate industrial system. Everywhere you look, inhabitants are plugged in at the brainstem to screens downloading their state approved daily consciousness updates. iPods, Blackberries, notebook computers, monitors in cubicles, and the ubiquitous TV screens in lobbies, bars, waiting rooms, even in taxicabs, mentally knead the public brain and condition its reactions to non-Americaness. Which may be defined as anything that does not come from of Washington, DC, Microsoft or Wal-Mart.

For such a big country, the “American experience” is extremely narrow and provincial, leaving its people with approximately the same comprehension of the outside world as an oyster bed. Yet there is that relentless busyness of Nortenians. That sort of constant movement that indicates all parties are busy-busy-busy, but offers no clue as to just what they are busy at.

Continue reading

Starving Healthcare A Forum on Health, Poverty and Privatization

19 June, 2010 Toronto — Left Streamed

Part 1:

  • Colin Leys is honorary professor of politics at Goldsmiths College London and editor of the 2010 Socialist Register.

Part 2:

Strategic culture foundation online magazine latest publications from 20-26 June, 2010

Strategic culture foundation online magazine latest publications from 20-26 June, 2010

Poland Conditioned to Counter Germany and Russia
“Europe is increasingly reluctant to pay with the lives of its people for the oil the US plans to extract from Iraq or for the hunt for the US-invented Al Qaeda. Having been instrumental in bringing down the iron curtain between Europe and the USSR, Washington is now trying to rebuild the iron curtain between Europe and Russia and thus to impose – in the form of strategic partnership – the roles of US satellites on the European countries. In this respect, the US plans and Poland’s phobias combine seamlessly…”

Russia Reacts To New UN Sanctions On Iran
“Many observers pointed at the fact that President Obama`s peace-loving statements during his election campaign and later at Cairo University do not comply with Washington’s official position… The Middle East security in the years to come greatly depends on the way cooperation between Russia, the US and Iran develops further…”

Russia and the XXI Century Geopolitical Challenges. On the Eve of President D. Medvedev’s Visit to the US
“Russia gained enormous foreign-politics experience across the world in the imperial epoch and in the Soviet era. Assessing the Russian-US relations over the past year from the standpoint of this experience, one readily concludes that the highlight for the period of time has been Washington’s offer to press the reset button. No doubt, there are profound reasons why the US wants its relations with Russia reset… Like all things in the world, the global political climate tends to be fluid, but geopolitical landscapes do persist. On the whole, the contours of the Eurasian geopolitical landscape remain unchanged, and a special place in it belongs to Russia…”

Russia – Latin America: the union of solidarity and pragmatism
“No doubt that Medvedev will have to withstand the strong pressure from Obama concerning “the anti-American character of the Russian-Venezuelan relations”. The words that a liberal politician and dictator Chavez cannot not have anything in common will definitely be said. It is not excluded, that it will be directly recommended to the Russian guest to scale down all the programs of its military technical cooperation with Venezuela. We expect Obama to assure Medvedev that the US will appreciate this step and the doors of the WTO will be opened wide for Russia…”

“Nobody But We!”. On President D. Medvedev’s Visit to the US
“Russian President D. Medvedev will travel to the US on June 22-24. The visit will include a Silicon Valley tour and talks in Washington aimed at boosting the cooperation between Russia and the US in the innovations and high tech sector… These days, Russia is facing the modernization challenge… It should be realized with utmost clarity that the US or any other country are not going to help modernize Russia. Russia’s main modernization strategy – and likely the only one – should sound as the motto of its air-born special forces: “Nobody but We!”…”

Rafe MAIR (Canada)
What if the wheels fall off the EU bus?
“I don’t say that the wheels are going to fall off but observe that they are pretty wobbly these days, forcing this question – what if the Union does disintegrate? What if the glue which has kept Europe making cars not tanks stops sticking?..”

Escalation in Karabakh in the Context of President D. Medvedev’s Visit to the US and the Coming “Battle Over Iran”
“Regardless of its outcome, a new round of fighting in Karabakh would result in the complete expulsion of Russia from the South Caucasus, become a logical outgrowth of the US anti-Iranian politics, and be a prologue to a major war in the Middle East…”

Aleksandr SHUSTOV
Kyrgyzstan: waiting for new riots
“Kyrgyzstan is waiting for new riots believed to take place ahead of the national referendum on constitution scheduled for 27-th of June. This time, tensions are expected to hit the northern parts of Kyrgyzstan. The authorities have tightened security in the region, with special task forces blocking all roads leading to the country and inspecting vehicles…”

June 26 – the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
“In Russia 50% of confiscated drugs are imported drugs. There are five main routes of drug trafficking to Russia: the Baltic route – from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Scandinavian countries and Russia’s Kaliningrad region; the Western route – from Ukraine and Belarus; the Caucasian route – from Georgia and Azerbaijan; the Central-Asian route – from Afghanistan and Pakistan with transit via Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan; the Far East route – from China. The drug addiction environment in Russia is aggravating…”

Stop the Bullets! Activism in the Buffer Zone

24 June, 2010 — The Only Democracy?

By Abu Waleed, Popular Campaign for Security in the Buffer Zone and Ellen Stark, International Solidarity Movement

Stop the bullets!

A call to stop the use of live ammunition by Israel against unarmed citizens in the Gaza ‘buffer zone’


An Israeli sniper

The catastrophic Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which left 9 dead, has rightly horrified the international community. However, lethal force by the Israeli military is nothing new to Palestinians. In the Gaza ‘buffer zone’, live ammunition is routinely used against unarmed demonstrators and farmers.

The ‘buffer zone’ is illegal

The Israeli military violently enforces a zone of 300 meters to 2 kilometers along Gaza’s lengthy border with Israel, in direct violation of the Oslo Accords of the 1990’s. This zone claims 30% of Gaza’s farmland, and some of its most fertile.

The Israeli military shoots unarmed farmers

Farmers attempting to cultivate land in the ‘buffer zone’ are routinely met with barrages of live ammunition and occasional artillery shells. Exacerbating widespread poverty and malnutrition, farmers cannot access one third of their land without facing extreme danger.


Women attempting to farm

Farmers have launched a campaign of popular non-violent resistance

Unarmed demonstrations are held in the ‘buffer zone’, internationally recognized as Gazan land, to protest the illegal confiscation of farmland which has such grave consequences for Gaza’s struggling population.

Live ammunition is used as a form of ‘crowd dispersal’ against unarmed demonstrators, with deadly consequences

Unarmed demonstrators in the ‘buffer zone’ are intentionally shot with live fire. In April 2010 alone, at least six demonstrators were injured by bullets. This includes Maltese activist Bianca Zammit who was shot in the thigh while filming the demonstration in clear view of soldiers. The following week, 19-year-old Ahmad Dib was shot at a demonstration and bled to death two hours later.


concerned women monitor the location of the Israeli Army

The international community cannot remain silent

Human rights activists are prevented from entering Gaza;
prevented from documenting and reporting on the humanitarian crisis. Israel uses live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators and farmers because it is shielded from international scrutiny. Tell Israel to stop shooting unarmed civilians on Gazan land.


ISM volunteers


1. Contact your representatives to Israel to demand that Israel be held accountable for violence against unarmed activists and end the siege on Gaza.

Write your own or use the provided letter at the end of this email

2. Support the call from Palestinian Civil Society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel

After the recent attack on International activists aboard boats of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the Boycott National Committees have called for an intensification of BDS campaigns and actions around the world While the raid is no longer in the news, Israeli armed forces are still targeting Gazan non-violent activists. Every week near the ‘buffer zone’, demonstrators and farmers are shot at with live ammunition. The violence against these activists, just as the violence against the Freedom Flotilla, cannot be ignored. The BDS Movement website has lots of suggestions about how to start or support a local campaign

Sample Letter to your representative:

Dear Ambassador,

If unarmed farmers and protesters were being shot with live ammunition in the United States, Europe or any country which claimed democratic credentials, the international community would be justifiably outraged. Yet Gazans attempting to farm or demonstrate in the illegal ‘buffer zone’ are routinely shot with live ammunition. In the past twelve months, at least 220 Israeli attacks have been carried out in the ‘buffer zone’, with 116 coming since the beginning of 2010 (as of April 30th).* In the first four months of 2010, over 50 Gazans were injured, and 16 were killed in these attacks.

30% of Gaza’s arable farmland, and some of it’s most fertile, lies within the ‘buffer zone’.* Farmers who attempt to work in the zone face routine live fire and crop destruction, in addition to occasional artillery shells. Israel shoots farmers trying to grow crops on Gazan land for an impoverished and malnourished society.

Unarmed demonstrations in the zone, internationally-recognized Gazan territory, are organized by Gazan farmers. In April alone, at least six demonstrators were shot and injured by live ammunition fired by Israeli snipers. Among the injured was Maltese activist Bianca Zammit, who was shot in the thigh while standing in clear view, filming the demonstration. The following week, 19-year-old Ahmad Dib was shot in the leg and died two hours later from blood loss.

For the Palestinians who escape only with gunshot injuries, the impact extends far beyond initial pain. Daily cleaning of the wound is required, metal plates replace shattered bones, and permanent disabilities are frequent. Such injuries are devastating, as the wounded are frequently the only wage-earner in a large extended family.

The attack on the Freedom Flotilla brought international criticism of Israel’s ongoing human rights violations, but criticism alone is not enough. It is clear that the international community cannot remain silent as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is perpetuated through policies such as this. The use of live ammunition in the ‘buffer zone’ must end.

Your Name

Additional Resources

*PCHR Fact Sheet:The buffer zone in the Gaza Strip
BDS Movement
International Solidarity Movement
Fishing Under Fire
Farming Under Fire

A petition I wrote on Freedom for Palestine-freedom for humanity, it’ll be a worldwide effort By M Khodr MD

23 June, 2010 — Palestine Think Tank

The Article is the Petition, please click on the petition address to sign it. The goal of freeing Palestine and working for freedom for all humanity from any form of subjugation is above all consideration of turf wars, jealousy and infighting. We’re all working toward the same goals so let’sunite to achieve that goal, God willing in our lifetime.

Please disseminate it far and wide.

God bless and may peace reign in the Holy land and in our world.

Mohamed Khodr M.D

US Fear Factory kills free speech By Yvonne Ridley

23 June, 2010 — Witness GazaFree Gaza

AMERICA is still embarrassed by the infamous McCarthy Hearings which ruined the lives of thousands of innocents during the Fifties.Anyone then, suspected of being linked to communism was arrested, interrogated and either imprisoned or forced to give names of others suspected of communist tendencies.

And so the fear and intimidation spread like a great plague across the USA.

Names were blacklisted, careers and lives ruined as the authorities ruthlessly traded on peoples’ fears, paranoia and weaknesses. With little or no evidence people were found guilty and anyone daring to question any of the actions and the wild accusations also had suspicion cast upon them.

But hey folks, that was back in the Fifties and various administrations resolved the same insane hysteria, hatred and fears would never again cast a dark shadow across the Land of the Free.

Sadly, the Salem-style witch hunts have returned, but the new villains are no longer communists. The Red Scare has been replaced by those who shout Viva Palestina!
Continue reading