Alice Walker has a much better sense of history than Herman Cain! Maybe she should run for President


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Alice Walker gets it, she understands her responsibility to humanity as a result of the struggles she and people before her went through in this country.

there is for me an awareness of paying off a debt to the Jewish civil rights activists who faced death to come to the side of black people in the South in our time of need. I am especially indebted to Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who heard our calls for help – our government then as now glacially slow in providing protection to non-violent protestors-and came to stand with us.

They got as far as the truncheons and bullets of a few “good ol’ boys’” of Neshoba County, Mississippi and were beaten and shot to death along with James Cheney, a young black man of formidable courage who died with them. So, even though our boat will be called The Audacity of Hope, it will fly the Goodman, Cheney, Schwerner flag in my own heart.

And what of the children of Palestine, who were ignored in our President’s latest speech on Israel and Palestine, and whose impoverished, terrorized, segregated existence was mocked by the standing ovations recently given in the U.S. Congress to the prime minister of Israel?

I see children, all children, as humanity’s most precious resource, because it will be to them that the care of the planet will always be left. One child must never be set above another, even in casual conversation, not to mention in speeches that circle the globe.

As insightful as it can get. I admire someone who risks it all, including her life if we are to go on Israel’s past deeds towards such endeavors, to stand up for the rights of people and a cause that’s not politically correct. Perhaps Herman can and all the other demagogues of the GOP can learn a thing or two from Ms. Walker. The WSJ’s James Taranto’s claims of political correctness prohibiting him and others from advancing bigotry ring hollow when weighed against the moral certainty of Walker’s position. Respect!

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Terrorism


The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property in order to coerce or intimidate a government or the civilian population in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Since the September 11th Attacks on the United States in 2001, which resulted in the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City and severe damage to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., the United States has changed its priorities to focus upon eradicating terrorism in the world. Terrorism involves the systematic use of terror or violence to achieve political goals. The targets of terrorism include government officials, identified individuals or groups, and innocent bystanders. In most cases terrorists seek to overthrow or destabilize an existing political regime, but totalitarian and dictatorial governments also use terror to maintain their power.

 

As clear and distinct as this definition is, it cannot but include the Israeli government as a dictatorial government that uses terrorism to maintain power, as this article in RawStory suggests.  In spite of a newly signed peace agreement with Egypt, in 1979 Israel was intimating that it would use nuclear weapons against its neighbors because somehow it feared for its existence.  We know now that was a crock….Israel then as now, has no more to fear from its neighbors than the man in the moon.  In fact, since 1973 all of Israel’s wars have been wars of aggression and expansion, not self-defense.  One could argue they have been the precursor to America’s aggression in the Mid East…a kind of good cop, bad cop play on empire and subjugation of the Middle East.

In 1980, British officials were concerned that Israel could be heading for a new conflict, despite signing a peace treaty with Egypt the year before, according to official papers released from the National Archives after being kept secret for 30 years.

“The situation in the region is deteriorating and with it Israel’s dangerous mood of isolation and defiance will grow,” warned a cable from the British embassy in Tel Aviv, dated May 4.

What Israel served to do with this threat to use nuclear weapons was to get governments to support her in her continued suppression of Palestinian statehood, in other words to achieve the political objective of denial of human rights to her Palestinian neighbors as well as forge political hegemony in the area.  Let’s not forget existential threats to Israel are no more than  political dissent that are the basis for a mature political entity, not a threatening  bullying one like Israel, which usually contribute to the improvement of the social fabric, not its elimination.  Very few but the extreme of the extreme, (and who could that be?) would dare suggest Israel not exist, but what everyone of conscience and morality should insist upon is that Israel honor the territorial integrity of its neighbors, not interfere with Palestinian statehood, cease its racist policies towards non-Jews within its borders and honor international treaties against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  That’s the kind of discourse that countries can conduct on the world’s stage in a mature, socially and internationally acceptable manner.  Not so with the Israeli interpretation of dissent.  In its case dissent is not tolerated except from within and only within limits defined by the government.  That is called fascism.

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American Christian-Zionists PWNED


Archbishop Theodosios (Atallah) Hanna, Archbishop of Sebaste in Jerusalem was asked the following question

Main Evangelical Christians in U.S. and western countries believe that the emergence of the state of Israel is promised by God. They support Israel financially. What is the Orthodox Church’s position on this matter?

AT: The Orthodox Church as all churches in the Holy Land refuses to give excuses from the bible for the unjust treatment of the Palestinian people.

I am very sorry to hear about some religious groups in the United States that support the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Such support cannot be justified from a Christian point of view because Christianity is against any sort of occupation and the injustice in it all forms and rationalization.

These groups need to re-read their bible, because the bible calls us to stand with the marginalized and the oppressed and not with the oppressors.

For those who use the bible to support Israel need to differentiate between God\s promise and Balfour promise (Balfour Declaration), because the occupation is the result of a promise given to the Israelis by Lord Balfour and not by God.

God is innocent from the unjust actions of the Israeli occupation of our land since ‘48 and until now.

‘Nuff said! Mainstream Christianity in America that identifies with Israel’s occupation and oppression of Palestinians is out of step with their religious principles.  When you are without principle, what other behavior can one expect of you?

Netanyahu Speaks with Forked Tongue


It won’t make that much difference in people’s attitudes about Israel, although it should be extremely embarrasing to official Washington, the admission or rather revelation that Benjamin Netanyahu lied in order to sabotage the Oslow Accords back during the Clinton Administration.  It’s no small foot note that Netanyahu is now the Prime Minister of Israel and  no doubt still lies; it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, dontcha’ know.

What’s also interesting to this observer is the revelation comes from a news outlet other than the US main stream media, that darling of Israel and any US administration that is in power.  I don’t entirely agree with the reporter’s assertion in the piece that the video which contains the damning details was shot unbeknownst to Netanyahu; I think Netanyahu and most other Israeli officials don’t give a damn whether Americans or anyone else knows what they really think or believe, because they know it will be smoothed over for them by corporate media.  Witness the rather arrogant behavior of the Israelis during Joe Biden’s recent stop in Israel where they announced new settlements at a time it was hoped they would freeze settlements.  What Netanyahu admits to is

he deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process. He dismisses the US as “easily moved to the right direction” and calls high levels of popular American support for Israel “absurd”.

He also suggests that, far from being defensive, Israel’s harsh military repression of the Palestinian uprising was designed chiefly to crush the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat so that it could be made more pliable for Israeli diktats.

Many within the Israeli leadership as well as the apparatchiks here in America were opposed to the Oslow Accords because they claimed, as usual, Israel was being asked to give up too much.  Netanyahu’s conniving position was no doubt taken so he could appear to be the more moderate and acceptable leader for Israel….a diplomatic version of good cop, bad cop, the bad cop being the bloodthirsty Ariel Sharon.  In reality Netanyahu is much worse.  The video which contains these statements by Netanyahu, which also appears below, has been circulating around in Israel for a period of time yet no one of the so called liberal Israeli public opinion, which we are told is far more open to criticism of  Israeli leadership because they get better media coverage and a more critical viewpoint  of Israeli government shenanigans; no one from this elite society of free thinkers has uttered a call for Netanyahu to resign.  No one seems the least bit concerned about the effect this news will have on Israel’s international relations.  One wouldn’t really expect them to be concerned at all; the Israelis have positioned themselves so far to an extreme nothing short of a war in which they are alone on one side facing everybody else would make them rethink positions they have come to hold so dearly today.   But it is interesting to this observer that the video appears after Netanyahu’s visit to the US just a few short days ago and is just one more ‘in your face’ statement made to belittle and demean the ‘world’s only superpower’.  Somehow, that expression- world’s only superpower,  just doesn’t have the ring to it it once did.

Perhaps this also gives people in the west, if they care to stop and reflect just once, an idea of the frustration the Palestinians have felt toward the Israeli government and people.  The leaders of Israel openly admit their signature on treaties, commitments, agreements aren’t worth the paper they are written on, and this deceit is carried out with the full knowledge and approval of Israeli citizenry.

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Pandering Politician


I don’t care who his opposition is, although it is Jesse Jackson, jr. unless he is as distasteful and repugnant, the people in the Illinois 2nd Congressional should summarily and resoundingly refute the politics of one Isaac Hayes, republican, running for that district.  No, unfortunately, it is not the singer Isaac Hayes of Hot Buttered Soul and Shaft fame, although if that Hayes were exhumed and wound up on the ballot he would be a better candidate DEAD than the live pungently loathsome Hayes running today.

Isaac Hayes, the alive one, is morally unsavory, and an embarrassment to what America stands for, what America has gone through, and especially as a black American, what his ancestors fought for so many years ago, respect for the rights of the individual and the rule of law.  He has descended into the lowest common denominator of hate politics,  and succumbed to the dark side of racial pandering.

In fact any politician who embraces the meme of the evil, dark, terror ridden Arab mentality and religion is a throw back to the years when fear and hate were the overriding emotions that drove human interaction.  For the gutless, unprincipled aspiring politician who sees a quick buck from a grateful donor who peddles this racism, the motivation for this is clear; a large, wealthy life living off the trough of the United States government.  I hope the people are smarter than Hayes and throw him out on his ear.

This is what has raised my ire, a statement his campaign issued addressing the Palestinian Menace. Substitute the name of any other ethnic group living any place in the world and perhaps you can see the problem with his statement.  A minority candidate invoking racial stereotypes against another group of people in order to win votes is demagoguery at its worst.

It is evident from the last incident in the eastern Mediterranean that the flotilla of peace was a rouse to smuggle terrorists and weapons to Gaza in order to attack Israel. Specifically, the supporters of the so-called flotilla of peace were pro-Palestinians and pro-Hamas organizations and individuals in various European nation-states mainly from Britain, Greece, and Turkey. These specific organizations were involved in sending previous aid convoys to the Gaza Strip by land and sea. The main purpose of these organizations and individuals was to make a show of sending humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in order to embarrass Israel and exert diplomatic and media pressure. I will stand with Israel in the U.S. Congress and expose these terrorist activities and support a strong U.S.-Israeli nexus in fighting global Jihad.

Straight out of the Israeli government’s hasbara handbook.  The fact that someone gleefully runs with such outdated and erroneous information should be embarrassing even to the Israelis. The fact that it isn’t reflects poorly on the state of affairs of American politics. It would be pointless to go over what’s wrong with this statement…..we’ve done that rather extensively here on the pages of Miscellany101 but the common thread of a victimized Israel, albeit this time embarrassed, still manages to come through in this statement.  Haven’t American voters grown weary of the politics of destruction and hate?  Are we  not yet fed up with pitting one group of people against another in a hate filled caricature laden orgy of religious and ethnic excesses clearly designed to inflame passions and incite hostility against one another.  Indeed, anger/wrath is one of the 7 seven deadly sins which has provoked the Palestinian debate for the last 70 years, and caused our Nation to lose sight of the rule of law, justice and equality.   Hayes clearly has no shame; I hope the voters in the 2nd congressional district don’t either and kick this ne’er do well to the curb. Can you say ‘uncle tom’ boys and girls?

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No Such thing as Israeli transparency


Israel being transparent would result in the Goldstone report all over again, or worse something like  this

In a 116-page document, entitled I Lost Everything: Israel’s Unlawful Destruction of Property in the Gaza Conflict , the report documents the complete destruction of orchards and farms as well as 189 buildings. These included 11 factories, eight warehouses and 170 residential buildings, rendering 971 people homeless during Operation Cast Lead which began on December 27th, 2008 and ended on January 18th, 2009.

The report said that a dozen specific targetings documented in the report account for only 5 per cent of the homes, warehouses and factories destroyed during the conflict. The report stated: “These cases describe instances in which Israeli forces caused extensive destruction of homes, factories, farms and greenhouses in areas under [Israeli] control without any evident military purpose”.

The human rights group said there had been no evidence of fighting in the vicinity of these facilities at the time of the attacks and Israeli bulldozers demolished the property after fighting had ceased and Israel had taken full control.

In “many cases, the destruction was carried out during the final days of the campaign when an Israeli withdrawal was imminent”, HRW said. “Individuals responsible for committing or ordering such destruction should be prosecuted for war crimes.”

What Israel has agreed to do, in investigating itself is so weak and designed to paint the perpetrator as the victim is this

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent the last two weeks searching for a process that would win the endorsement of the U.S. and appear credible to the international community, but not spiral out of the government’s control.

To that end, the five-member panel will have a narrow mandate. It is chiefly tasked with evaluating the legality of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, imposed three years ago when the Islamic militant group Hamas established full control over the coastal strip, and whether the use of force during the raid was consistent with international practices. The commission also will look into the identity and motivations of activists aboard the ship, some of whom Israel has accused of having links to terrorist groups.

So what we will see emanate from the Israeli report will be ‘the devil made me do it’ excuses for their infringement on international law. Meanwhile as if to underscore the point that the blockade is not about stemming the flow of weapons into Gaza, nor of securing the state of Israel from any threat posed by Hamas comes  this

..

in response to a lawsuit by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, the Israeli government explained the blockade as an exercise of the right of economic warfare.”A country has the right to decide that it chooses not to engage in economic relations or to give economic assistance to the other party to the conflict, or that it wishes to operate using ‘economic warfare,’” the government said.

Sari Bashi, the director of Gisha, said the documents prove that Israel isn’t imposing its blockade for its stated reasons, but rather as collective punishment for the Palestinian population of Gaza. Gisha focuses on Palestinian rights.
Whatever findings come from the Israeli report will be purely about state interests for Israel, and that’s to be expected and even welcomed.  There is enough evidence to indict Israel for illegal activity and it’s only natural for the state of Israel to do what it can to countermand that body of evidence.  What is shameful is that they will get away with it while everything else will be ignored, forgotten, or flushed down the memory hole. The victims of Israeli rage on that morning as well as the people of Gaza deserve better than that from a 21st century world citizenry.

Targetting the Victims


In a bid to reverse the reality that at least nine people were killed, murdered, by Israel in the commission of a crime, supporters of the Israeli government are now trying to turn the tables on the victims of that crime and enforce  legal ramifications against them for standing up to Israeli illegal activity.

A half-dozen elected Democrats called on the State Department to ban every flotilla participant from entering the United States.Well, only some of them called for everyone to be denied visas. Most of them just called for an “investigation” into the terrible terror ties of the activists aboard the flotilla, sponsored by a Turkish NGO called IHH that is not on any American watch list.

The organizers of this way of thought have successfully made people who were trying to provide the most basic of necessities to a people who have been marginalized and at the doors of abject poverty while under a military imprisonment into terrorists  who should be banned from entering the US.  It may very well be that none of the non-citizens of America would ever want to come to the US, but banning them from entry no doubt puts them on no fly lists that could disrupt their travel to other countries and cause them unknown inconvenience and trouble. This is in reality the goal of political zionism much like the blockade of Gaza is the goal to Palestinians, creating instability and chaos to the order of individuals, communities and societies and thereby instilling hopelessness.  It helps that the targeted are demonized and despised by everyone else too, while leaving the message that opposition to political zionism is fruitless and counterproductive.

What is disappointing is that US elected officials have gone on the bandwagon when even the most cursory attention to this issue of the Gaza blockade by even the most junior member of their staff would demonstrate  to them how the blockade itself is illegal, the cost of the blockade to the Palestinians living in Gaza is astronomically high, some of the effects being chronic mental health issues, infant mortality, a lack of proper education, high unemployment, the complete breakdown of municipal services, etc. and that aid organizers are merely trying to provide subsistence levels to a population under armed guard.  Yet, the prisoners of the prison called Gaza are the perpetrators of this misery and criminal activity, not its victims and those who are trying to come to their aid should be banned or suffer the ignominy of travel restrictions. Such is the false reality of political zionism.

This is courage


Blooded and beaten perhaps, but unbowed nor unapologetic Ken O’Keefe describes in his own words what took place and quite naturally it completely different than what the Israeli government said. My brief observations about O’Keefe’s revelations are these; he is an American patriot who embodies the spirit upon which this country was built, that of critical but principled dissent; respect for the Constitution and a courage to stand up for his convictions.  Unfortunately, the America of today finds such people a threat and will do everything to discredit them or worse.  O’Keefe also brings with him love for the dispossessed or in what might be called in today’s parlance, the underdog. I’m sure there are a lot of O’Keefe’s in the movement to bring much needed relief to the people of Gaza because they are surely needed.  I’m sure too, they realize the sacrifices they are making dealing with the wounded animal called the State of Israel which might include their deaths, but sacrifice was once a part of the fabric of America where going along to get along was not the way of doing business.  To all the O’Keefes of this movement, I salute you one and all.

I remember being asked during the TJP Human Shield Action to Iraq if I was a pacifist, I responded with a quote from Gandhi by saying I am not a passive anything. To the contrary I believe in action, and I also believe in self-defence, 100%, without reservation. I would be incapable of standing by while a tyrant murders my family, and the attack on the Mavi Marmara was like an attack on my Palestinian family. I am proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with those who refused to let a rogue Israeli military exert their will without a fight. And yes, we fought.When I was asked, in the event of an Israeli attack on the Mavi Mamara, would I use the camera, or would I defend the ship? I enthusiastically committed to defence of the ship. Although I am also a huge supporter of non-violence, in fact I believe non-violence must always be the first option. Nonetheless I joined the defence of the Mavi Mamara understanding that violence could be used against us and that we may very well be compelled to use violence in self-defence.

I said this straight to Israeli agents, probably of Mossad or Shin Bet, and I say it again now, on the morning of the attack I was directly involved in the disarming of two Israeli Commandos. This was a forcible, non-negotiable, separation of weapons from commandos who had already murdered two brothers that I had seen that day. One brother with a bullet entering dead center in his forehead, in what appeared to be an execution. I knew the commandos were murdering when I removed a 9mm pistol from one of them. I had that gun in my hands and as an ex-US Marine with training in the use of guns it was completely within my power to use that gun on the commando who may have been the murderer of one of my brothers. But that is not what I, nor any other defender of the ship did. I took that weapon away, removed the bullets, proper lead bullets, separated them from the weapon and hid the gun. I did this in the hopes that we would repel the attack and submit this weapon as evidence in a criminal trial against Israeli authorities for mass murder.

I also helped to physically separate one commando from his assault rifle, which another brother apparently threw into the sea. I and hundreds of others know the truth that makes a mockery of the brave and moral Israeli military. We had in our full possession, three completely disarmed and helpless commandos. These boys were at our mercy, they were out of reach of their fellow murderers, inside the ship and surrounded by 100 or more men. I looked into the eyes of all three of these boys and I can tell you they had the fear of God in them. They looked at us as if we were them, and I have no doubt they did not believe there was any way they would survive that day. They looked like frightened children in the face of an abusive father.

But they did not face an enemy as ruthless as they. Instead the woman provided basic first aid, and ultimately they were released, battered and bruised for sure, but alive. Able to live another day. Able to feel the sun over head and the embrace of loved ones. Unlike those they murdered. Despite mourning the loss of our brothers, feeling rage towards these boys, we let them go. The Israeli prostitutes of propaganda can spew all of their disgusting bile all they wish, the commandos are the murders, we are the defenders, and yet we fought. We fought not just for our lives, not just for our cargo, not just for the people of Palestine, we fought in the name of justice and humanity. We were right to do so, in every way.

While in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else was subjected to endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect. Women and elderly were physically and mentally assaulted. Access to food and water and toilets was denied. Dogs were used against us, we ourselves were treated like dogs. We were exposed to direct sun in stress positions while hand cuffed to the point of losing circulation of blood in our hands. We were lied to incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their ability to lie, it is remarkable really. We were abused in just about every way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking out… and I was beaten again while in my cell.In all this what I saw more than anything else were cowards… and yet I also see my brothers. Because no matter how vile and wrong the Israeli agents and government are, they are still my brothers and sisters and for now I only have pity for them. Because they are relinquishing the most precious thing a human being has, their humanity.

In conclusion; I would like to challenge every endorser of Gandhi, every person who thinks they understand him, who acknowledges him as one of the great souls of our time (which is just about every western leader), I challenge you in the form of a question. Please explain how we, the defenders of the Mavi Marmara, are not the modern example of Gandhi’s essence? But first read the words of Gandhi himself.

“I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence…. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour.” – Gandhi

And lastly I have one more challenge. I challenge any critic of merit, publicly, to debate me on a large stage over our actions that day. I would especially love to debate with any Israeli leader who accuses us of wrongdoing, it would be my tremendous pleasure to face off with you. All I saw in Israel was cowards with guns, so I am ripe to see you in a new context. I want to debate with you on the largest stage possible. Take that as an open challenge and let us see just how brave Israeli leaders are.

Exposing the Lie


Much has been said about the murder of civilians on board the Turkish ship headed for Gaza.  The Israeli government would have you believe the brave soldiers of the IDF responded to an attack against them by violent protestors.  They were able to get away with that lie because they thought they had confiscated any and everything that could chronicle what happened on the ship.  In the void created when the IDF took all recording devices and during a time when the activists were secluded from public view, the Israeli spin machine went into high drive with tall tales of bloodthirsty activists pouncing on overwhelmed soldier who responded by killing just a view or using paintball guns that failed to stem the violent reaction to the IDF’s presence.

Of course nothing was farther from  the truth as the picture above and others found here will testify. In fact what really happened is activists disarmed some IDF soldiers and tended to their wounds.  One of the pictures even seems to show an activist directing a soldier to a triage area or defending that soldier from further attacks by enraged activists.  In any event, Israel stopped people from being able to disseminate information and then took its time and made up  scenarios completely from the sky.

The deaths of activists occurred on the Turkish ship and some of the deaths were of Turkish nationals.  Is it not apparent now, beyond the fact that Israel wantonly kills its opposition no matter who they are, that this act of murder on a Turkish ship was meant to send a signal to the Turkish government  their mediation with Brazil and Iran was not welcomed?  In order for the Israeli government to survive it must dominant the entire region and all the countries therein must abide by the Israeli meme which is to maintain unstable regimes in that part of the world. It, the massacre of activists, was a shot across the Turkish political bow to back off from trying to play any role in the Middle East or else.

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The Free Gaza Movement crosses all ethnicities


It must be strange for some zionists to see former allies, lesbians and African-Americans embrace the cause of the enemies of Zionism; not that it will change the irrevocable conclusion to which zionism is headed, but it’s refreshing to see people shake the shackles of blindness and call for change and an end of oppression no matter the target.  It must be scary to see some equate the liberation of Gaza to the Civil Rights struggle that took place in America, not that it will deter the zionists.  Only a full economic embargo will do that and for now America is years away from that.  The reflections of people like Alice Walker to the struggle for the liberation of Gaza make for  stirring and inspirational  reading.

You will have no protection

– Medgar Evers to Civil Rights Activists in Mississippi, shortly before he was assassinated, 12 June, 1963

My heart is breaking; but I do not mind.

For one thing, as soon as I wrote those words I was able to weep. Which I had not been able to do since learning of the attack by armed Israeli commandos on defenseless peace activists carrying aid to Gaza who tried to fend them off using chairs and sticks. I am thankful to know what it means to be good; I know that the people of the Freedom Flotilla are/were in some cases, some of the best people on earth. They have not stood silently by and watched the destruction of others, brutally, sustained, without offering themselves, weaponless except for their bodies, to the situation. I am thankful to have a long history of knowing people like this from my earliest years, beginning in my student days of marches and demonstrations: for peace, for non-separation among peoples, for justice for Women, for People of Color, for Cubans, for Animals, for Indians, and for Her, the planet.

I am weeping for the truth of Medgar’s statement; so brave and so true. I weep for him gunned down in his carport, not far from where I would eventually live in Mississippi, with a box of t-shirts in his arms that said: “Jim Crow Must Go.” Though trained in the United States Military under racist treatment one cringes to imagine, he remained a peaceful soldier in the army of liberation to the end. I weep and will always weep, even through the widest smiles, for the beautiful young wife, Myrlie Evers, he left behind, herself still strong and focused on the truth of struggle; and for their children, who lost their father to a fate they could not possibly, at the time, understand. I don’t think any of us could imagine during that particular phase of the struggle for justice, that we risked losing not just our lives, which we were prepared to give, but also our children, who we were not.

Nothing protected Medgar, nor will anything protect any of us; nothing but our love for ourselves and for others whom we recognize unfailingly as also ourselves. Nothing can protect us but our lives. How we have lived them; what battles, with love and compassion our only shield, we have engaged. And yet, the moment of realizing we are truly alone, that in the ultimate crisis of our existence our government is not there for us, is one of shock. Especially if we have had the illusion of a system behind us to which we truly belong. Thankfully I have never had opportunity to have this illusion. And so, every peaceful witnessing, every non-violent confrontation has been a pure offering. I do not regret this at all.

When I was in Cairo last December to support CODEPINK’s efforts to carry aid into Gaza I was unfortunately ill with the flu and could not offer very much. I lay in bed in the hotel room and listened to other activists report on what was happening around the city as Egypt refused entry to Gaza to the 1,400 people who had come for the accompanying Freedom march. I heard many distressing things, but only one made me feel, not exactly envy, but something close; it was that the French activists had shown up, en masse, in front of their embassy and that their ambassador had come out to talk to them and to try to make them comfortable as they set up camp outside the building. This small gesture of compassion for his country’s activists in a strange land touched me profoundly, as I was touched decades ago when someone in John Kennedy’s White House (maybe the cook) sent out cups of hot coffee to our line of freezing student and teacher demonstrators as we tried, with our signs and slogans and songs, to protect a vulnerable neighbor, Cuba.

Where have the Israelis put our friends? I thought about this all night. Those whom they assassinated on the ship and those they injured? Is “my” government capable of insisting on respect for their dead bodies? Can it demand that those who are injured but alive be treated with care? Not only with care, but the tenderness and honor they deserve? If it cannot do this, such a simple, decent thing, of what use is it to the protection and healing of the planet? I heard a spokesman for the United States opine at the United Nations (not an exact quote) that the Freedom Flotilla activists should have gone through other, more proper, channels, not been confrontational with their attempt to bring aid to the distressed. This is almost exactly what college administrators advised half a century ago when students were trying to bring down apartheid in the South and getting bullets, nooses, bombings and burnings for our efforts. I felt embarrassed (to the degree one can permit embarrassment by another) to be even vaguely represented by this man: a useless voice from the far past. One had hoped.

The Israeli spin on the massacre: that the commandos were under attack by the peace activists and that the whole thing was like “a lynching” of the armed attackers, reminds me of a Redd Foxx joke. I loved Redd Foxx, for all his vulgarity. A wife caught her husband in bed with another woman, flagrant, in the act, skin to skin. The husband said, probably through pants of aroused sexual exertion: All right, go ahead and believe your lying eyes! It would be fun, were it not tragic, to compare the various ways the Israeli government and our media will attempt to blame the victims of this unconscionable attack for their own imprisonment, wounds and deaths.

So what to do? Rosa Parks sat down in the front of the bus. Martin Luther King followed her act of courage with many of his own, and using his ringing, compassionate voice he aroused the people of Montgomery, Alabama to commit to a sustained boycott of the bus company; a company that refused to allow people of color to sit in the front of the bus, even if it was empty. It is time for us, en masse, to show up in front of our conscience, and sit down in the front of the only bus we have: our very lives.

What would that look like, be like, today, in this situation between Palestine and Israel? This “impasse” that has dragged on for decades. This “conflict” that would have ended in a week if humanity as a whole had acted in defense of justice everywhere on the globe. Which maybe we are learning! It would look like the granddaughter of Rosa Parks, the grandson of Martin Luther King. It would look like spending our money only where we can spend our lives in peace and happiness; freely sharing whatever we have with our friends.

It would be to support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel to End the Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and by this effort begin to soothe the pain and attend the sorrows of a people wrongly treated for generations. This action would also remind Israel that we have seen it lose its way and have called to it, often with love, and we have not been heard. In fact, we have reached out to it only to encounter slander, insult and, too frequently, bodily harm.

Disengage, avoid, and withhold support from whatever abuses, degrades and humiliates humanity.

This we can do. We the people; who ultimately hold all the power. We the people, who must never forget to believe we can win.

We the people.

It has always been about us; as we watch governments come and go. It always will be.

Finally sanity when it comes to religion in politics


and guess where it comes from and to whom it is aimed?

Do actions of the ‘Jewish state’ represent Jewish values?

Israel is often dubbed “the Jewish State” by its supporters, so it is not out of left field to question whether its actions should be taken as a reflection of Jewish values.That is a question ultimately for Jews to answer.

Personally, as a Muslim whose own faith values are often undermined by the misdeeds of those who claim to act in the name of defending the honor and freedom of Muslims, I know better than to blame Jewishness for Israel’s egregious violations.

Israel’s failure is not a failure of Jewish values. If anything, it’s a failure to apply Jewish values.

Yesterday’s massacre of humanitarian aid activists by Israeli commandos who stormed their flotilla in international waters made global shockwaves. The flotilla hoped to deliver 10,000 tons of food, medicine, and construction materials to the besieged Gazans who experts say face a critical shortage of basic needs following three years of a land, air, and sea blockade imposed by Israel, and abetted by Egypt. The incident was met by a flurry of condemnations and protests by many around the world who felt that Israel’s pre-dawn attack was just another example of Israel thinking it can breach international law with special impunity.

Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu said of the incident:

“This action was uncalled for. Israeli actions constitute a grave breach of international law. In simplest terms, this is tantamount to banditry and piracy. It is murder conducted by a state. It has no excuses, no justification whatsoever. A nation state that follows this path has lost its legitimacy as a respectful member of the international community.”

But here at The Seeker, a blog that concerns itself with religion and its role in the public sphere, we ask the question, does this crisis have anything to do with religion?

Well, not directly. Israel’s decision to storm the flotilla was more likely motivated by political rather than religious considerations. While Israel could probably tolerate the delivery of international aid to the Gazans, it is doubtless queasy about the flotilla’s role as a symbol of defiance against its state-imposed blockade and its national will power. After all, the blockade is itself a political strategy to force the Palestinians into despair and thus revolt against Hamas, the democratically-elected party perceived by Gazans as a legitimate resistance and social services enterprise, but deemed by Israel as a terrorist organization.

So where does religion come in?

Religion, whether Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or any of the other great global faiths of the world, at its core works to address a problem that is man’s most treacherous undoing: his reckless drive for power. It does so by mitigating this force of human nature via a concept arguably more powerful: morality (the notion of self-imposed red-lines).

Israel’s failure is no doubt one of moral proportions:

Israel’s willingness to send its armed commandos to attack unarmed activists in international waters is doubtlessly a clear breach of international law, but more importantly it is a breach of a basic moral code of honor. Former Israeli Knesset member, Uri Avnery, opines: “a warlike attack against aid ships and deadly shooting at peace and humanitarian aid activists, it is a crazy thing that only a government that crossed all red lines can do.”

Israel’s willingness to inflict collective punishment against a civilian population of 1.5 million people in the form of a life-choking blockade poses many legal problems, but more importantly it poses a moral dilemma amid concerns of human dignity and human rights. State morality is a concept that gets little play, it is a meek concept that quickly buckles under the weight of the somber rhetoric of realpolitik; it’s the classic “let the dreamers make way for the big boys” and “welcome to the real world” treatment.

Judaism, like Islam and Christianity has a long tradition of respecting and honoring human life. The challenge for Jews, like it is for Christians and Muslims, is whether or not those values will stand strong in the face of life’s tests and tribulations, or whether they will merely be celebrated in theory, only to quickly make way for raw human ego and unabashed power trips when the going gets tough.

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A more complete list in pdf, here at gaza restrictions.

Threat to peace


In the last month we have seen or read about Israel rejecting calls for a nuclear free Middle East; condemned  the NonProliferation Treaty; put out news stories that it has placed nuclear armed submarines off the coast of Iran; attacked a ship belonging to a country that signed an accord with Iran that a US administration had sought; attacked and killed unarmed civilians on  relief aid boats in international waters; continued the blockade and siege of a defenseless population and American troops are fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for what?

Silence!


In this day of information technology and rapid news gathering, there is still too much silence coming from the halls of government and the corporate media about the attack on the Gaza bound flotilla and the violation of international law on the part of the Israelis. So here is a response to the vacuum left by “power” and by the way the answer to the question posed by Cook is a resounding NO!

It is quite astounding that Israel has been able to create over the past 12 hours a news blackout, just as it did with its attack on Gaza 18 months ago, into which our main media organisations have willingly allowed Israeli spokespeople to step in unchallenged.

How many civilians were killed in Israel’s dawn attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla of aid? We still don’t know. How many wounded? Your guess is as good as mine. Were the aid activists armed with guns? Yes, says Israel. Were they in cahoots with al-Qaeda and Hamas? Certainly, says Israel. Did the soldiers act reasonably? Of course, they faced a lynch, says Israel.

If we needed any evidence of the degree to which Western TV journalists are simply stenographers to power, the BBC, CNN and others are amply proving it. Mark Regev, Israel’s propagandist-in-chief, has the airwaves largely to himself.

The passengers on the ships, meanwhile, have been kidnapped by Israel and are unable to provide an alternative version of events. We can guess they will remain in enforced silence until Israel is sure it has set the news agenda.

So before we get swamped by Israeli hasbara let’s reiterate a few simple facts:

* Israeli soldiers invaded these ships in international waters, breaking international law, and, in killing civilians, committed a war crime. The counter-claim by Israeli commanders that their soldiers responded to an imminent “lynch” by civilians should be dismissed with the loud contempt it deserves.

* The Israeli government approved the boarding of these aid ships by an elite unit of commandoes. They were armed with automatic weapons to pacify the civilians onboard, but not with crowd dispersal equipment in case of resistance. Whatever the circumstances of the confrontation, Israel must be held responsible for sending in soldiers and recklessly endangering the lives of all the civilians onboard, including a baby.

Israel has no right to control Gaza’s sea as its own territorial waters and to stop aid convoys arriving that way. In doing so, it proves that it is still in belligerent occupation of the enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants. And if it is occupying Gaza, then under international law Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Strip’s inhabitants. Given that the blockade has put Palestinians there on a starvation diet for the past four years, Israel should long ago have been in the dock for committing a crime against humanity.

Today Israel chose to direct its deadly assault not only at Palestinians under occupation but at the international community itself.

Will our leaders finally be moved to act?

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