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Total number of comments: 40 (since 2010-11-23 19:32:00)

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  • 'Either Assad or we'll burn the country' - An excerpt from 'Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War' (Update)
    • To be clear, when I say "real international intervention" I do not mean military intervention of any kind but rather international engagement and work to bring all sides to a ceasefire and end of conflict agreement.

    • This theory that Assad is the best option assumes that we need to support a particular current side, that we need to push for a return to Assad and that supporting the government is what will bring change. It is to say that one side in the conflict needs to be pushed to win the conflict. We need to pick a winner, the one we find (for whatever reason) the least objectionable and then we can accept their violence as tragically needed.

      This is terrible logic. You can say that Assad needs to go and not support international military intervention or any one of the problematic opposition groups. You can call for change not through continued military action but through real international intervention and bringing all parties, including those we don't like, to the table. You can push for support by all of the disparate actors for talks that will end conflict by addressing both the concerns of pro and anti-Assad forces. Ending things for anti-Assad groups means Assad going. Ending things for pro-Assad groups means not repeating the de-Bathification process that was so disastrous in Iraq, recognizing that some people in the government will need to stay and that reconciliation is needed post conflict. You can say that this isn't realistic, but saying we must support Assad is to say we must support brutality.

      If people here are concerned with consistently supporting justice, supporting Assad isn't a demonstration of principle.

    • NO question that the messes we have created in Iraq and Libya should make everyone question doing the same thing in Syria. What doesn't follow and what I can't accept is people here saying that somehow Syrian's need to live with Assad and that we should support him as the best option. There is no principle in that statement. Assad is a brutal. Even before this war he inherited rule over a police state from his father and maintained that police state. The history of Assad rule in Syria is long and brutal. To say that is the best that can be respected under the circumstances is to expect that Syrians should accept brutality.

    • The support for Assad on this site is disturbing. I find the opposition problematic. I find Al-Nusra and ISIS frightening. I don't support them and recognize that they are committing atrocities in Syria and against Syrians. I'm not an apologist for those groups. But I'm also not an apologist for Assad. To say that all of this is propaganda and to ignore Assad's actions if reprehensible. To put all of this on the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia as if the whole conflict were a conspiracy is beyond logic. To insist that opposition to groups like ISIS and Al-Nusra should come with support for Assad is a real problem.

      To say that Assad was freely elected and to imply that there ever was a functioning Democracy in Syria or that people can freely express their opinions is problematic. To deny that Assad was a dictator who ruled through power before the uprising is a problem. To deny that people really did rise up against Assad after decades of living in an authoritarian police state and to say that all of this is a conspiracy against the "legitimate" government is to ignore Syrian history.

      Please do challenge U.S., Saudi, Israeli, Russian, and other policies and their intervention. Please do challenge ISIS, Nusra, the FSA, and other opposition. But also please do challenge Assad and the regime. Hold them all accountable.

  • 'Say Hello to Zenobia': A report from Palmyra rising from the ashes
    • Gamal, it is entirely possible to be opposed to the Assad regime and its actions and also to oppose outside intervention by the US, Israel, Russia or any other player. It is entirely possible to see the Assad regime as criminal and brutal and to also recognize the decades long history or US extreme violence in the Middle East which has obviously killed more people than have died in Syria. It is possible to recognize the fact that the U.S. has played a key role in destabilizing the Middle East, has contributed to the rise of ISIS, has propped up despotic regimes, serves its own interests, etc. and at the same time also recognize that the Assad regime is criminal.

      I have never excused U.S. policy or supported intervention. But lets recognize that the conflict started when the Syrian people stood up in protest against their government which had systematically denied their rights for decades. Syria wasn't a free and open state prior to this conflict and the conflict didn't start with outside intervention.

      Saying that isn't covering up U.S crimes or saying that Arabs are inferior to the West. The Syrian regime responded to protests with violence and the conflict has grown from there. The Syrian regime continues to use great violence against its own population. A government loses legitimacy when it turns on its population. A government never has legitimacy when it maintains power through repression and force.

      If your comment was directed at me, I never compared the Assad regime to the U.S. I merely said that if we really are for justice consistently then I can't see how you can support the Assad regime. I stand by that position.

    • I have not been in Syria during the conflict, few people have, but I have spent years living in the Middle East, spent much of last year assessing responses to the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East, spent that time listening to people impacted by the war, have worked in areas of conflict for years, etc. I'm not just parroting Western liberal opinion but basing my opinion on long experience in the Middle East and addressing conflict. I find your statement that you were able to talk with a wide range of people while under the sponsorship of the regime laughable. Do you really think that in a police state where the regime is leading a brutal war against all people opposed to its power you will hear diverse opinions and open opposition to the regime while in a group coordinated by people aligned with the regime? Do you really think that I have to buy into a dichotomy that simplistically sees the options as either supporting a brutal regime or "extremism"? Hope for evolution of the Assad regime is not hope for change. I'm not calling for the exclusion of the regime from the table as efforts are made to secure peace. I recognize that peace must be achieved through an open table to includes even actors we don't like. However, I can't accept that sleeping with the devil to gain access to see, and thinking that access given by the regime will open you to seeing reality as lived by most Syrians is to be deluded to the reality of propaganda and messaging as necessarily shaped on any trip like this. Coziness with the regime is coziness with brutality.

    • How does this tour differ from a tour of Gaza taken with Israeli soldiers where you hear from them and others about how the key to peace is defeating Hamas and Palestinian armed factions?

      The idea that a tour with the backing of the Syrian regime and accompanied by the Syrian military can be called a peace delegation is really problematic. The idea that the government, which is responsible for more deaths than any other party in Syria, is an acceptable interlocutor for "leftists" is really problematic. The idea that you can call for liberation and peace in Syria by calling for the defeat of all groups opposed to the regime is really problematic.

      I'm no supporter of Western intervention and am not uncritical of opposition groups in Syria. However, Syrian regime led a brutal police state before all of this started and the government was the initiator of violence when it brutally cracked down on protesters calling for their rights. It is the government of Syria which has dropped barrel bombs on its population, starved civilians, tortured people, executed people, etc. It has not carried out brutality in a way that is publicized like the violence of ISIS, but really it doesn't make a lot of difference. If you cut off five people's heads on camera like ISIS or shoot ten people in the head off of camera like the regime the result is the same. Dead people and terrified populations.

      Again, I'm no supporter of US policy in the Middle East and am not saying this to support another faction of US action. I certainly don't support US intervention. However, apologies for brutal regimes do not belong on a website that is supposedly dedicated to rights and liberation.

  • Why are American pro-Palestinian voices silent about the brutal war on Yemen?
    • Should people be more vocal about calling or an end to attacks on Yemen and violence in Yemen? Yes

      Should we all be more critical of the role Saudi Arabia is playing in Yemen? Yes

      Should we all be critical of the U.S. role in tacitly supporting Saudi Arabia? Yes

      Should we be critical of the long term U.S. military engagement in Yemen and its support for authoritarian governance? Yes

      Should we resist false analysis that tries to make Yemen a simple sectarian conflict? Yes

      Is Yemen simple to understand as is alleged here and should we uncritically side with the Houthis and their allies? No, Yemen isn't simple and the idea that opposition to Saudi Arabia and its violence should go hand in hand with Houthi support is really problematic. Painting this as a conflict involving Saudi and U.S. regional imperialism is as problematic as an analysis that paints the conflict as being about sectarianism.

      The Houthis have been in open conflict with the Yemeni government for over a decade. Even before this latest round of conflict they have had sporadic conflict with the Yemeni government going back to the late 1960s when they were forced from power by nationalists in North Yemen after centuries of rule in the area. The conflict links with long term internal Yemeni tribal struggles over resources, power, and control. The conflict links into Saudi Arabia directly as the land of the tribal groups affiliated with the Houthis crosses into Southern Saudi Arabia and the Saudi regime has repressed the Zaiyadi minority in those regions, giving then reason to be concerned about the rise of the Houthis to power. The power of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Yemen and the brutal U.S. drone war there also must be factored in as a dynamic of the conflict. The historic divisions in the country between the North and the South and the tensions and conflicts since reunification need to be considered.

      Please do call for an immediate end to the war. Call out Saudi violence and U.S. support for that violence. Call for accountability. Call for more consistent regional activism by Palestine activists. But don't claim simplicity.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • Annie, I think the silence from many supporters of the JVP and ETO decisions results from the fact that comment forums are not places where nuanced discussions can occur. More from a perspective supporting the decision is here:

      I also think that the discussion of how this is divisive needs to be contextualized. We need to remember that the JVP decision was not made public but was an organizational decision about relationships. It was If Americans Knew that made that public by attacking JVP first for an alleged whisper campaign and then for their decision. With the US Campaign, following receipt of a complaint a letter was sent to IAK asking for their response as part of a discussion with no decision made. Instead of engaging with the US Campaign in a private and confidential process If American Knew put out a public attack on the US Campaign that continues. Neither of the decisions by these organizations stop Alison from doing her work or reaching out to anyone. They purely speak to how each group chooses to partner. Should they be forced to partner with Alison if they disagree?

      Both JVP and the US Campaign have each made one statement that clarifies their points. It is not them who have pushed a public dispute. The US Campaign explicitly says that IAK can rejoin the coalition if it works in the US Campaign anti-racist framework. If IAK engaged the campaign rather than attacking them perhaps a discussion could happen. However, the aggression here isn't coming from either the US Campaign or JVP which may also be why they are less aggressive here.

    • It seems quite problematic to call for opposition to all forms of racism while defending the If Americans Knew principle that we should be willing to accept any speaking platform provided to us, including those provided by racists, for the purpose of promoting our positions on Palestine while not prioritizing explicitly opposing the racism under girding the platform being used.

      Sure Zionism is racism and our movement is about opposing Zionism with the aim of supporting Palestinian efforts to achieve their rights, but that does not mean not engaging with Zionists. Equally, anti-racism doesn't mean not engaging with racists.

      How many of us in this movement who are not Palestinian started from a position free from Zionist opinions? Understanding that the conflict as not merely an eternal conflict between Jews and Palestinians, seeing it as tied to settler colonialism and as being about racism and Jewish Israeli privilege, understanding the centrality of return - these are not positions most of us naturally hold. They develop as a result of our engagement in the movement and through people who challenging our acceptance of mainstream Zionist narratives.

      I hear people support Alison by saying that we must be a big tent and not only talk to the converted but then say that we must keep out all Zionists. Engaging with Zionists is not necessarily a sign that you are embracing or endorsing their views. It can be part of a process of challenging and trying to change their views. Engagement can be part of a direct process of challenge to Zionism. The distinction should be how you engage. Rejecting all engagement with Zionists is calling for a small tent.

      If an organization, like JVP, embraces right of return, equality for Palestinians, an end to the occupation, opposes Israeli policies, receives support from broad swaths of Palestinian civil society, etc. it does not make sense to call them Zionist. The place where they have natural reach is into the mainstream Jewish community which does hold Zionist opinions. They do important work in pulling liberal Zionists away from Zionism and challenging their opinions. Should we demand that they stop that work and only focus on the already converted? How is that useful? How does demanding that JVP not engage with Zionists help build our movement?

      Demanding absolutely no engagement with Zionists is counter productive in a movement devoted to challenging the reality of how Zionism has been lived out in historic Palestine.

      If Alison were saying that she will continue to use platforms provided by people like Clay Douglas to explicitly challenge their racism and anti-Semitism and as a part of dedicated activism towards those ends then many of us would not have a problem with her actions. However, that is not what she says her goal is and it is not how she has used past appearances on these platforms. She has used her appearances to promote her work on Palestine. That is not showing a dedication and commitment to challenging all racism.

    • I put this link up as another comment, but since people are more likely to see this as a reply to your comment I'll add it here as well. It also is directly related to your call for a perspective from someone connected to the ETO decision.

  • The UN can bring peace to Jerusalem by moving its headquarters there
    • Call me a cynic but I don't see this as a good idea. How in the world is the UN supposed to take over Jerusalem? Superficially attractive but in reality how is this practical? I also have a problem with the idea that the heart of the problem is Jerusalem. This seems to presuppose that the conflict is religious in nature and about control over holy sites. This is not reality. Rather the heart of the conflict is the historic and ongoing dispossession of Palestinians and the Jewish Israeli insistence on maintenance of ethnic privilege for themselves which includes political and social supremacy. Internationalizing Jerusalem will not challenge the ethno-supremacist policies that undergird Israeli decision making. This will only reinforce pushes for a completion of the 1947 partition process which focused on ethnic separation and pushed forward the conflict. Rather than calling for the internationalization of the conflict through UN intervention and control of a unified Jerusalem, challenge and demand an end to the racism inherent in idea that states should have ethnic identities.

  • Can the US Congress bring justice for the Palestinians?: A response to Robert Naiman
    • Naiman's promotion of this CJPIP initiative at the same time that he is attacking JVP and calling for support of these three congress persons from attack by "AIPAC and the far left" in another message shows his lack of awareness. CJPIP was pragmatic in its approach to Davis but it must also be recognized that some of its key members come from JVP and AFSC. It is a member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. It supports BDS and calls for an End to US Military Aid. It now runs a campaign focused on the detention of Palestinian children by Israel and previously started the "Two Peoples, One Future" campaign which also called for an end to military aid. It is based in Chicago and therefore disconnected from D.C. and would align itself with JVP and not J Street. How does this match with Naiman's position that only advocacy found kosher by J Street will be acceptable in D.C.? When was the last time J Street pushed forward a campaign like this and got results? Naiman shows a complete lack of self awareness.

  • Have I failed to acknowledge Palestinian violence?
    • I would disagree, I believe that the focus on drawing borders to end the conflict and achieve peace by establishing two states is one of the core reasons that the US led peace process has failed over the last 20 years. Focusing on the establishment of particular state structures will not bring peace. Rather, the reality of historic and ongoing Palestinian dispossession, Jewish-Israeli privilege and Palestinian inequality, and the Occupation are what need to be focused on and addressed. When these issues are addressed then violence will stop and some future state structure can be determined. Drawing borders and establishing state structures is not the first step nor the answer. I wrote more about this here:


  • The Ramallah bubble just popped: Reflections on a city under siege
    • It is the PA and a certain capitalist class that exist in high numbers in Ramallah and in lesser numbers in other locations who have power and privilege. They have built for themselves institutions that provide distraction and benefit for those who can afford the entry cost, particularly in Ramallah. However, the existence of this class and their privilege is not Ramallah in any real sense. It is just what stands out to foreigners who find easy entrance to and comfort in this part of Ramallah. This is not the city as a bubble as most of the city is made up of people who gain no benefit for this reality (rather suffering from high cost of living ). It is rather class and power bubble that is not limited to Ramallah. I will agree however that it is useful for maintaining occupation and colonialism.

    • The whole concept of a Ramallah bubble is something of a fallacy. It is an idea that conforms to a surface level Western understanding of the occupation and life plays up the glitz that sits on the surface of Ramallah, benefiting the elite and foreigners, but doing nothing for most of Ramallah's citizens who are impacted by the daily reality of occupation just like every other Palestinian.

      Ramallah does have more cafes and bars than other cities. It does have a lively night life. It does have an over class of rich people and PA functionaries. The presence of the PA and international organizations and consulates mean that over the last 7 years it hasn't been raided as often as other cities by Israel.

      However, most of Ramallah's residents are not able to partake in or benefit from this superficial world. When the Ramallah bubble pops it only pops for foreigners who are still learning about the power of the Occupation. I don't think any Palestinians are ever under any illusion that the excessive consumption and materialism present in Ramallah are protections from occupation.

  • Palestinian writers bring Gaza's hardships to American audience
    • You seem to have missed the part where Sarah was granted a permit by Israel to travel to Jerusalem to get a visa to the US one month prior to being denied a similar permit so that she could travel to use her permit. This is a level of pettiness that is despicable.

      Egypt has closed its borders but please don't place this on Egypt if you are going to defend Israel. Even after the Israeli redeployment in 2005 Egypt's treaty obligations were to respect its agreements with Israel which was the party through the EU that maintained control of the border. Egypt respected this even after Hamas took over. If you defend Israel you must also defend Egypt which is acting to keep in force its agreements with Israel. Many of us see this as despicable given the suffering they are causing but the siege is first and foremost an Israeli action and it is Israel as the occupying power in Gaza which has legal responsibility for ensuring the rights of people like Sarah.

  • In photos: Euphoria as Ramallah greets prisoners' release
    • I'm an American and was living in Ramallah on 9/11. This idea that Palestinians were dancing in the streets on 9/11 is the worst type of propaganda wrapped up in dehumanizing racism.

      When the first plane hit the towers I was nearing the end of my work day. A colleague came to my office and told me that something had happened in the US. I went into the work conference room where a TV was on and it was there that I watched the second plane hit and the towers fall. I stayed at work for several hours watching events unfold and then walked into downtown Ramallah before walking home.

      There was no celebrating in the streets after the attacks. I only recall sympathy. The streets were strangely silent and TV’s were on in nearly every shop as people followed events. Random people stopped me on the street, asked me where I was from, inquired regarding the safety of my family, and offered their sympathy and condolences. The outpouring of support and kind words will always stick with me. An other American friend was working at Bir Zeit when the attacks happened. The University president came to her office to give his condolences along with flowers. In Ramallah a candle light vigil was organized and held in the Manara, although it was broken up by Israeli soldiers who entered the square during the vigil and fired off tear gas and rubber bullets.

      In response to this comment others have pointed out the Palestinians have reason to be angry at the US, but I have never found that rightful anger extends over into anger at individual American citizens or blindness towards the pain that others suffer when they are attacked. To the contrary, I have always been left speechless by Palestinians ability to show empathy even for those who contribute to their own repression.

      Returning to the release of these prisoners, don't take celebrations of their release as collective approval of their action. There are too many complex social and political issues wrapped up in this release and accompanying celebrations for such a simplistic analysis to have any meaning.

  • What Comes Next: If the goal is to change U.S. policy, American Jewish opinion can't be ignored
    • Am I supposed to take seriously an analysis of what comes next that is premised on the idea that what is acceptable and realistic should be determined by the results of a pew opinion survey? Am I to take seriously the idea that American Jewish opinion are the measure by which I should understand what is both acceptable and realistic in Palestine and Israel? Am I to take seriously the idea that Palestinians should shape their "mass nonviolent movement" to address the "consensus" of PEP Jews in America and not their own actual needs, concerns and beliefs? Am I to take seriously that the limited needs of a group completely distanced from the conflict should trump all ideas of justice and the day to day reality of people actually living in the conflict? Finkelstein's credibility as a useful commentator on this issue is decreasing exponentially with each new thing he writes. His complete disconnect from reality in Palestine and Israeli is unbelievable.

  • 'J Street' leader acknowledges that Israel discriminates against its Palestinian citizens with 30 laws and separate nationality
    • A willingness and ability to tolerate dissent is nearly always linked to a regimes power both perceived and real. Within Israel the Israeli government is willing to allow for a certain level of dissent within Israel as long as that dissent is not seen as a substantive threat. When an individual becomes substantive threat then dissent becomes criminal. Ask Azmi Bishara, Ameer Makhoul, and Hannin Zougbi what they think about Israel's tolerance of dissent.

      In the OPT it is much less tolerant. The idea that Israel "treats even its enemies humanely" is only believable if you completely ignore its occupation. In the areas it occupies it holds political prisoners, tortures children, assassinates activists, bombs civilian targets, cuts off families access to water, destroys homes, and carries out many other actions that can hardly be labeled humane.

      Your insistence that dissent will in an Arab country will result in death is based on a racist, anti-Arab viewpoint that conflates all Arab countries, that allows for no political complexity in Arab society, that ignores strong and public Arab voices of dissent, and that is clearly not based on any experience in these countries.

      This is not to deny the terrible violence in Syria and Egypt, nor to deny the limitations on freedoms in other Arab states. However, to use these rights violations to justify or minimize "discrimination Arabs face in Israel" is support for racism at its worst.

  • Dennis Ross says Israel should unilaterally take 8% of West Bank while stating 'it has no intention of expanding into future Palestinian state'
    • Just to be clear, my post is a tongue in cheek parody written in about 10 minutes. The idea is that it is written as if Ross were saying what he really thinks and it corresponds to his article point for point. The question about maps then is not mine, but rather my rewording of Ross's point, and making the point that requesting that Palestinians deliniate borders on their maps is completely ridiculous. The fact is that there really aren't any Palestinian maps being produced unless Ross is refering to maps in school books (which are paid for by USAID, the UE, and the UN). If this is the case (which I suspect) then he is just repeating the same garbage propaganda spewed by every other Israel apologist. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that my post is meant to be mocking Ross's position, not interpreting it, in case that wasn't clear.

    • My reinterpretation of Ross's 14 points:

      What Israelis can do:
      1. Understand that we have your back. Be confident that negotiations over borders won’t threaten your “interests”. We have already determined what borders should be and what portions of the “future” Palestinian state you can take.
      2. Only steal land where we tell you that you can steal land. Theft is only acceptable if we approve. Only give people incentives to move into settlements that we approve. In this way we can ignore your illegal actions.
      3. Always prioritize the settlers. Spend even more money on building them housing. Continue to ignore the incredible disparities in Israel and the needs of Palestinian citizens of Israel
      4. Regarding Area C - show your generosity. “Permit” Palestinians to own and use land in the 60% of the West Bank you control. Everyone in the world will then see how magnanimous you are. Just think about it, Palestinians recognized as owning and able to work the land to which they hold title! But don’t worry, if you don’t do this we won’t call you out on continued home demolitions, movement restrictions, settler violence, and the denied access to water, electricity, medical facilities, health facilities in these areas. Ethnic cleansing. We don’t see it.
      5. Regarding Area B - you have co-opted the PA security services so why not subcontract? It’s cheaper.
      6. On Area A –subcontract, subcontract, subcontract.

      What Palestinian can do:
      1. Speak about two states – The explicit calls for two states made by the PA in the statehood bid, the Oslo accords, at every negotiation session, and in every major speech by a PA official are not enough. After all, it’s not really two states that we want you to accept but rather our version of two states, i.e. limited Bantustans. Palestinians must accept this fact.
      2. Show Israel on your maps. Which maps? I don’t know, but maps are important. By doing this you will reassure Israel that it is safe in a way that recognition by the international community and having one of the strongest militaries in the world never will. Making Israelis feel comfortable is key. Don’t expect Israel to reciprocate. After all, Israel doesn’t have set borders so how can it draw them on a map? Also, we have told them they can annex large parts of the West Bank so drawing borders on a map would be awkward and might "prejudice" negotiations.
      3. Make clear your commitment to building the state of Palestine without encroaching on Israel. I have no idea what this means, but I need one more point so that I can be balanced.
      4. Never call for accountability and stop speaking about your rights. Stop being haters. Stop being bloodthirsty, savage, terrorists. Do I sound racist? I hope I don’t sound racist.
      5. Accept that you are going to get screwed. Prepare the Palestinian public to get screwed.
      6. As a continuation of the above point, start building nicer homes for refugees where they are because the right of return is a nonstarter. Palestinians must accept that maintaining Jewish ethnic entitlement in Israel should and always will trump quaint concepts like equality for all and universal rights.

      What Palestinians and Israelis can do together:
      1. Normalize. If Avi and Ahmed go to summer camp together they will recognize how much they have in common, i.e. a love of soccer. This will make Avi a more compassionate solider and Ahmed will know that he has something in common with his oppressor. It’s a win-win situation and a sure fire way to bring peace. Forget addressing structural violence and oppression, summer camps are the solution.
      2. Be nice. Can’t we all just get along?

  • Joseph and Mary can't make it to Bethlehem, on Banksy's Christmas card
    • I didn't see this article when it came out, but think it important to note that I used this same picture as my Facebook profile picture over a year ago and used it as a Christmas card several years ago. It may be Bansky, I'm not sure, but it certainly isn't new.

  • Dissecting IDF propaganda: The numbers behind the rocket attacks
    • You would be well served by doing an analysis of numbers provided by the Gaza NGO Security Office (GANSO). They do bi-weekly reports that include counts of rockets, mortars, and grads fired by Palestinians as well as IEDs, shooting attacks, etc. They compare this against airstrikes, naval bombardment, cross border shooting, incursions, etc. They tell which rockets fell short, which fell did no harm, and which caused harm. They tell Palestinian fatalities, injuries, and distinguish civilians and armed groups. Their informaiton is gathered by staff on the ground in Gaza and in Israel. They are probably the most reliable source for this information.

      A quick glance at their numbers shows that around 900 mortars, grads, and home made rockets were fired this year before this escalation. However, that number doesn't give context and doesn't tell where the rockets were aimed. My estimate is that 75% were fired during 3 distinct periods of escalation in March, June, and October.

      Looking at these reports in more detail is probably something that someone should do.

  • Israel supporters (and IDF officials) proudly display their bigotry on Twitter (UPDATED)
    • Just so we are clear on who Peter Lerner is - from his Linked In Profile:

      "Since April 2009 I have been the Spokesman for the IDF Central Command dealing with all media relations foreign and domestic, concerning the military activities within the AOR. I am responsible for building a media strategy, initiating media events and coordinating with other spokespersons within the AOR. I am a specialist in crisis communications dealing on a daily basis with the media strategy and response with regard to issues concerning counter terrorist activities the security coordination with the Palestinians and issues concerning settlers .I have also been the senior field liaison officer for coordinating and facilitating international humanitarian aid operations and economic development programs in the Palestinian territories: UN agencies, International Committee of the Red Cross, USAID, the Task Force for Project Implementation, European Union, international NGO’s as well as embassies and consulates. I have held positions both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and have also been posted as the Spokesman for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, subordinate to the Israeli Ministry of Defense."

      If you have worked with an NGO in Palestine you or your office have dealt with him.

  • Earlham College drops Sabra hummus over involvement in Israeli human rights violations
    • The other part/version of it goes:

      Fight, fight inner light
      Kill Quakers kill
      If we can't beat them senseless
      we'll beat them with consensus.

  • 'When I put this on my website, some people will say, Those people are just terrorists.'
    • Just a minor correction, but the elderly couple trapped under the home were trapped for 8 days with only two pita and a bottle of water. The Guardian did a good story on this "Nablus victims rejoin the living: Couple survive eight days under rubble".

    • Here is a copy of one of the testimonies we gathered in 2002 during our visit to the Nablus area (including Asker and Balata Refugee Camps).

      Affidavit given by Dr. Muhammad Mustafa al-Qarini of Asker Refugee Camp.

      At the end of March and during April 2002 I witnessed the intentional delay of ambulances by Israeli occupying forces and their prevention of doctors from carrying out their duties in the West Bank, specifically in the city of Nablus.
      In preparation for an expected incursion into our area, doctors decided that we would make efforts to provide assistance to the wounded within our capacity. Especially to patients in ‘Askar Refugee camp, which houses around 13,000 people.

      About 30 minutes after the incursion began, which began at 10:30 pm, I received a call about a person who had been seriously injured in the head. I called the Red Crescent to send an ambulance, but it was delayed for three hours by Israeli soldiers. The wounded person was located near Israeli tanks, but was left bleeding. His name was Manar ‘Arafat and he lived in the public residential area, which is home to around 5,000 people. He was left were he lay until around 12:00 the next day (i.e. for around 13 hours). When he was admitted to the hospital he was in critical condition, and he is still receiving treatment.

      On 4 April I was told that Basem Qasem Dweikat had been shot by six bullets and that he had shrapnel wounds in his legs and in other parts of his body. He was left to bleed in the street for 12 hours. When I finally reached him his pulse was around 30 due to blood loss. I worked hard to save him, but didn’t have any of the medicines that he required.

      While I was helping him I called the UPMRC. I asked them to transfer him to a hospital. I called them many times and called friends inside Israel and human rights organizations, but everyone refused to come because they said it was too dangerous to come to our area. An ambulance finally did reach the outskirts of the camp together with delegates of the ICRC. However, the Israeli army refused to allow them into the camp and they had to stop about 1,000 metres from Bassem. He then had to be carried over very dangerous roads to the ambulance. He was transferred to the Red Crescent Center where he remained for 48 hours even though he needed to be hospitalized and to undergo surgery.

      During this incursion, I kept a low profile as I worked. I couldn’t move openly and I never moved in front of the Israeli armor because I was afraid of being shot even though there were no clashes near my clinic or in the camp.

      On 7 April 2002 at around 6:30 pm, I received a call regarding an injured woman who lived around 200 meters from my clinic on Mount ‘Askar. There were tanks in the area, so it took me around 30 minutes to reach her. Her name was Souna Hafeth Sira.

      When I reached her house Souna was lying in the garden next to her father. She had been shot in the right shoulder. The bullet had penetrated her lung from the back and then exited her chest, smashing her 8th and 9th ribs and leaving a hole 10 centimeters wide. She was bleeding heavily and had difficulty breathing. Her blood pressure was low. I injected her with medicine and performed artificial respiration. However, I knew that her lung was in terrible shape. Souna was having difficulty moving her right arm and leg. The wound was close to her spinal cord. She should have been receiving special treatment that was not available there. Her father who was lying next to her seemed unconscious to me. I examined him and found that he had also been shot, although his family didn’t realize this. He had been hit in the left shoulder and the bullet had stopped in his heart. He died before I reached him. The family had thought that he had had a heart attack.

      After I assisted Souna I called the Red Crescent but Dr. al-Shakhshir and another official told me that the Israeli military had forbidden them from moving after 5:00 pm. It was 7:00 pm when I called them, but Souna urgently needed to reach a hospital. I stayed with her until 11:00 pm. It seemed that fate was on her side, as her condition did not deteriorate. I thought about performing surgery on her at her house despite the high risk.

      I returned to the medical centre with a plan to return to the patient with medications and supplies, but I couldn’t return that night. On the following day an ambulance came close to Souna’s house, but soldiers stopped it and after holding it from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm it was forced to turn back. On 8 April , I went to check on Souna. I reached her at 6:30 pm. She was suffering from complications including bleeding in her lungs. I called for some supplies from the center and decided to perform surgery. However, I wasn’t able to get the supplies even though the clinic was only 200 meters away. My sister tried to go to the center with me. She was in front of me. When we tried to cross a road soldiers opened fire at us and she was almost hit. We retreated and spent the night at Souna’s house.

      On the third day, 9 April, at around 8:30 I realized that Souna’s condition was deteriorating and determined that I had to perform surgery on her. There was no other option. The surgery lasted for 45 minutes and her condition improved, but she still needed to reach a hospital. At around 2:00 pm, a PRCS ambulance arrived and transported her to a hospital. Souna’s father was buried in the garden during the curfew, which made it difficult for his relatives to pay tribute to him. Souna’s condition, thank God, is now improving.

      I remember another story that occurred towards the beginning of the terrible events. A man called Muhammad Abu-Hatab was shot, and I couldn’t reach him due to heavy shooting towards me. I saw bullets ricocheting off the walls. I heard from the neighbors that he had died on the morning of April 4.

      Kamel Freij, 51, was injured when he went onto his roof. Water supplies in the area were scarce and people would rush to their roofs to make sure that water was arriving and to collect what they could. On the morning of 16 April, I was in the clinic when I heard a helicopter and random firing. Several minutes later some young men arrived and told me that their father had been seriously wounded. I gave them a stretcher and asked them to fetch his as soon as possible. They brought him back five minutes later. He was hit in the abdomen and I could see his intestines coming out from his stomach. He was also wounded in the thigh, on his right side, legs, and feet. I gave him some medicine and called the Red Crescent. I told them that he was in critical condition and needed to be hospitalized. The response from both them and UPMRC was that the area was under attack and they couldn’t come. I tried to call the UNRWA medical centre, but the doctor there said that they were also not able to move because of the Israeli military. I stayed with the wounded man until 5:00 am, but his condition worsened so I decided to take to the street. I carried the PRCS flag and a megaphone. I told the soldiers in Hebrew that I was with a wounded man. I talked to some soldiers who were about five meters from me. I told them that he had been injured while collecting water on his roof. They asked if an ambulance had been called and I told them yes. One of the soldiers used his radio and an ambulance was allowed into the area. This took 45 minutes. The ambulance then took him. I learned that he died later in the evening. Two of his sons were also injured by bullets and shrapnel.

      Another case is that of Saleh Mahmoud ‘Abed al-Nabi, 51, a father of seven children. Two members of his family died during the first Intifada. On 5 April he suffered strong chest pains for the first time in his life. Although UNRWA clinic staff tried to retrieve him from the camp, they were unable to reach him for 12 hours. After they reached him, the ambulance he was in was stopped by soldiers and forbidden from moving forward. It was forced to go to a PRCS clinic where Saleh stayed for 48 hours. He was later transferred to the national hospital where there is a cardiology department. When he was examined the doctors determined that he had suffered a heart attack. He later died. Treating him was useless because of the delays he had experienced in reaching the hospital, despite the fact that he needed urgent medical attention.

      My brother Tahsin was shot near the mosque. His youngest son who is two and a half was with him. He was shot in the right knee. The main nerve and vein were hit, complicating the injury. I couldn’t transfer him to a hospital, so I supervised his treatment. He is the father of nine children and their only bread winner. He now has a permanent handicap.

      Hasan Yousef, 65, suffered from emphysema and was dependent on oxygen. Two weeks after the incursion began, he ran out of oxygen, so we tried to transfer him to the hospital. He died because of the curfew on 18 April 2002.

      On 11 April, Husam al- ‘Adssi (11) was in the street when an Israeli tank fired a round that hit him in the thigh. He was not transferred to the hospital due to the imposed closure. He was taken home and was treated there. When the Israelis withdrew he was taken to the hospital.

      On 13 April, three civilians, Ahmad Warrad (11), Khalil Khaswan (2) and Jamal Khaswan (40), were wounded when Israeli soldiers opened fire towards them from a distance of 1,000 meters. Khalil was hit in the abdomen; Jamal in the right arm; and Ahmed in the right side and pelvis. They had to wait for three hours before an ambulance managed to reach them.

      Another case is that of Muna Abu-Lughom (37), wife of Majed Sa'id of ‘Askar Camp, and mother of seven children. She was injured when Israeli soldiers placed explosives on the front door of her home and exploded them without warning. She was close to the door when it exploded and was hit by shrapnel in her head and hand. The incident occurred around 2:00 am on 16 April. Her house is not far from the medical centre. However, after the explosion took place, her family was forced by the soldiers to stay in the house. She was given first aid by the soldiers. At around 4:00 pm we received a call from people in the house telling us that they needed a doctor to help her, but the Israeli soldiers refused to let anyone see her. They told us that there were 40 to 50 people in the house. At 7:00 pm the soldiers left and Muna was transferred to the hospital for treatment. Later on her condition stabilized.

    • Wikipedia isn't the best source for information. Here are the numbers from the UN Report on Defensive Shield:

      "The IDF incursion into Nablus began on 3 April 2002 and ended on 21 April. Heavy fighting reportedly occurred in various parts of the city, the most intense combat happening in the old city. Most accounts estimate that between 70 and 80 Palestinians, including approximately 50 civilians, were killed in Nablus during the operation. IDF lost four soldiers during the incursion. Of all the Palestinian cities entered during Operation Defensive Shield, Nablus appears to be the one that suffered the most extensive physical damage to property. This is in part because of the substantial damage to the old city, some of which had been restored with the help of UNESCO. "

      If you care to read more about it yourself the information can be found in the report: "Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant
      to General Assembly resolution ES-10/10 (Report on Jenin)"

    • I remember the case of this family as if it were yesterday. They were killed during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. Today everyone remembers Jenin and the destruction in the refugee camp, but few remember what happened in Nablus (and other cities) at the same time.

      I was on the first investigative team in Nablus after defensive shield. We sneaked into Nablus the day the Israeli forces officially withdrew and spent about four days interviewing people about what they had been through before continuing on to Jenin. Our last day was spent with a military expert contracted by Human Rights Watch and who entered Nablus after having spent a week in Jenin. What people don't remember is that during Defensive Shield nearly twice as many people were killed in Nablus as were killed in Jenin. The Human Rights Watch expert expressed shock at what he saw in Nablus. His statement at that if the old city of Nablus had been constructed like the refugee camp in Jenin the destruction there would have dwarfed what happened in Jenin. Soldiers went house to house in the old city by blowing down walls between homes. They blew up whole buildings, and in the case of the Shuabi family (and others) pushed down homes using bulldozers.

      Why was this family killed? They were killed for the same reason that the Samouni family in Gaza were killed. They had the bad luck to be Palestinian during an Israeli military operation when Palestinian life didn't count for anything. The killing of the Shuabi family is something people remember, but they were not unique. I remember another case of a woman in Nablus killed at the same time. She made the mistake of standing too close to a window while retrieving medicine. She was shot in the head in her home. I remember another case of a man shot in the street in Nablus. Ambulances couldn't reach him and nobody in the area could leave their homes to help him. He slowly bled to death in the street. I remember another case during Defensive Shield where a woman in Ramallah ran out of insulin for her diabetic mother. No medical crews were given permission to move that night. My colleagues and I received her increasingly frantic calls through the night. They stopped after her mother died.

      In the case of the Shuabi family not the whole family died. The grandparents who were in the basement apartment lived, but it was several days before they could be dug out from under the rubble. I remember sitting with them as they told their story shortly after the incident. I have heard many painful stories, but theirs was one of the most painful. Sitting in the dark, no food or water, not knowing what had happened to their family but expecting their loved ones were all dead, and expecting to die themselves.

      Shuabi, Samouni, the names and dates change but the killings goes on.

  • U.S. school trip that doesn't go to Yad Vashem is anti-Semitic, Foxman suggests
    • Yes, balance is what is needed. If the school needs an example of what this means Foxman can put them in touch with Birthright so that they can ask for tour planning tips.

  • Video: Students in Palestine and the US mark Land Day by calling on TIAA-CREF to divest
    • AFSC and JVP are also offering a one week training this summer for students interested in working on campus divestment. More information and application materials can be found on at

  • 'Under Attack': the Golani Brigade's treatment of Palestinians in Al-Khalil/Hebron
    • I remember a similar escalation of attacks by soldiers in Hebron back in 2002. It ended when the responsible soldiers were transferred. They were transferred only after Umran Abu Hamdieh died after he was kidnapped, beaten, and thrown from a moving jeep by Israeli soldiers. I have no faith that any lessons were learned from that incident.

  • Freedom Funnies: 'You Can't Just Continue'
    • I was denied entry in mid-2002 when the Israeli's first started cracking down on foreign passport holders entry into Palestine. I was relatively lucky to be among those first denied access. The Israelis weren't yet organized, and using a new second passport I was able to return to Palestine a month and a half later. As a foreigner I was also lucky in that if I hadn't been able to return I wasn't losing access to my family and homeland.

      Immediately after I was denied entry and while still at the bridge I met a colleague who was being returned to Palestine after being denied entry to Jordan (yes Arab states are complicit in limiting Palestinian travel). We got on the phone with a lawyer at Hamoked, but two very big goons soon came and literally carried me outside to a bus that took me back to Jordan. I was transported out of the country on my own private bus, separated from all of the other people waiting to go to Jordan. Apparently I was such a serious threat that I couldn't be trusted to travel with others.

      The feeling of loss I experienced while waiting for that bus and over the next several days is something that is hard to explain. In a moment my life had been completely upended. My home, my job, my friends, my bank account, etc. were all in Palestine. The material possessions didn't matter that much, but the thought of severed relationships was hard to deal with. In a moment some of the people who meant the most to me had been ripped from me. Not being able to say goodbye and not knowing if I would ever see friends again was the hardest part of being denied entry.

      I recognized even then that my losses were inconsequential when measured against the daily injustices perpetrated against Palestinians by the Israeli occupation. Despite this experience I can't even begin to understand Annmarie's loss and the losses of the tens of thousands of other Palestinians who have been denied entry and who have had their families torn apart by racist, discriminatory Israeli policies.

      In the years that I have spent in Palestine I have seen an incredible amount of violence. I was in Ramallah during most of the second Intifada including during defensive shield. After Defensive Shield I walked through the ruins of Jenin and was on the first investigate team to enter Nablus (where, although under reported, the level of destruction and number of deaths was higher than in Jenin). I was in Lebanon three weeks after the 2006 war and witnessed the terrible destruction and loss caused by that war. I was in Ramallah during Cast Lead and traveled in and out of Gaza regularly both before and after that massacre. Each of these events was horrific. However, the subtle violence of Israel's policies of separation which keep Palestinians from Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and inside '48 apart, which deny the entry of Palestinians from outside access to their relatives and homeland, which tear apart families, is at least as powerful and perhaps more harmful than these horrific but time limited acts of physical violence.

  • Ron Paul's foreign policy should be embraced
    • Humanitarian assistance and humanitarian intervention are not the same thing. Humanitarian intervention involves the use of force, is coercive, and ususally both responds to the needs of and is led by actors from outside the place in crisis. Humanitarian assistance is explicitly demilitarized and responds to needs that exist around the world, providing people with vital food, shelter, medical care and protection. Despite a small budget, the humanitarian aid given by the US benefits millions of people and should be continued. Humanitarian assistance is at times politicized and this does need to be changed, but reform and change should not result in the end of programs and work that save and improve lives.

      Paul might be able to stop some of the evil the US does (assuming a president actually has that power) but his positions would also result in the US pulling back and isolating itself from the rest of the world in a way that could harm as many people as are helped through halted military interventions. Additionally, while he might restrain military intervention, his positions on the deregulation of business would only serve to strengthen the very corporations that have benefited from and driven US wars and that profit off of human and environmental exploitation.

      There is a need to stop evil (i.e. Jack the Ripper), but stopping evil if done in a way that overreaches, that doesn't get at root causes, and that ignores consequesnces can result in its own evil. We saw this in the US response to Al-Qaeda and I think Ron Paul would be equally disasterous for progressive causes.

      This is not to say that Ron Paul doesn't raise important points nor that he should be completely marginalized. But in acknoweldging his good points we shouldn't drink his kool aid.

    • If that were the only choice, I would agree that realizing an end to militarism and military intervention at the cost of foreign aid would be worth the trade off. However, my point is that Ron Paul's positions on this as in other areas calls for getting rid of government. Domestically that would mean no education department, no social welfare, no bank or business regulation, no civil rights act, no labor right protection, no environmental protection, and of course no foreign assistance. Add to this the damage economic damage, unemployment growth, etc. that would result from his hands off economic policy (after completely revising our economic system). These trade offs are not worth his foreign policy. He may bring up some interesting ideas that I hope that others will take a bit more seriously, but they come out of motivations that are toxic and that in the end this doesn't help those of us who stand against militarism. When you choose bedfellow morals and motivations matter.

    • First, I should state that I agree that Slater's analysis was not convincing. There are things that Paul has gotten right. His willingness to speak out against a militarized US foreign policy and US military adventurism is admirable. His willingness to speak truthfully about the cost (both monetary and human) of a war on Iran should be lauded. His consistency in opposing foreign military interventions is great and I agree with each of these positions.

      That said, I can't support him, and not just because I don't agree with his right wing positions on social policy nor because I believe that his economic positions would be a disaster. I can't support him because as far as I can tell his foreign policy is supporting having no foreign policy. His positions against US military intervention are not grounded in a set of principles that would result in a radically changed and enlightened foreign policy. Rather, his position would result in US isolationism and our not playing any role in the world.

      Coming from the international development world, I am one of the first to admit that in many areas US foreign assistance is politically driven and that it can be as damaging to countries as military intervention. That said, in many areas US development aid does provide vital assistance, improves peoples lives and helps to stave of conflict. The US definitely needs to reform its assistance programs, but we can't drop them. To drop them would be immoral and would be an abdication of responsibilities that we have to people around the world. Responsibilities that we have as a result of our wealth and because in many cases that wealth has been gained at the expense of people in other countries.

      Ron Paul's positions would stop the US from doing immoral things in the world, but they would also stop the US from providing needed assistance.

  • Separate Is Not Equal: Standing in solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders
    • I bow down to your superior knowledge and wisdom. You're right of course, it is the violent nature of those anti-Semitic Arabs who hate all Jews for no reason that has forced the altruistic government of Israel to put in place laws banning Israelis from traveling into Palestinian areas. It is this violent nature that necessitates road blocks and checkpoints. It is this violent subhuman nature of the Palestinians that necessitates caging them in limited spaces. They are just a violent people and their continued repression is a result of their nature, not a cause of violence. Jewish Israeli's on the other hand would never cause harm to a Palestinian or their property. I mean, how do you put a PRICE TAG on the kind of psychological damage Palestinian violence could do to innocent Israelis. Israelis don't want to torture Palestinians, they don't want to bomb Palestinians, they don't want to destroy Palestinian homes, they don't want to steal Palestinian land, they don't want to cut down Palestinian trees, they don't want to stop them from building new homes, they don't want block people's access to water networks and electricity. Palestinian violence forces all of these actions. If only they would accept their limited autonomy and restricted rights like they are supposed to do.

      Yes, very clearly Palestinians are yearning to live under enlightened Israeli rule. They are just afraid to speak out against their violent leaders for fear of retribution. Struggles to end the occupation are all a charade. Give them a chance free from fear and they would all pick Israel.

      Being somewhat less sarcastic, you avoid answering whether or not Palestinians should be allowed equality and full citizenship in a single unified state given that you seem to believe that Israel should keep the West Bank. If they can't have equal rights in a unified single state, why should any of us see you as anything other than an advocate of apartheid?

      I'm not sure what "Arabs" you have been speaking with, but the Palestinians I have known in Israel and in the oPt during the seven years I spent living in Ramallah all want freedom from Israeli oppression.

    • Notice where your sign in posted. It's on the Israeli side of the Bethlehem checkpoint in Jerusalem. That being the case, who put this sign up? Oh yeah, the Israeli government. The same group that put in place the law that bans travel by Israelis into Palestinian areas. Protesting these restrictions is great, but realize that you are protesting an Israeli government policy and calling for freedom of movement for all.

      Is that what you are doing? When you say that Jews should be able to live in the West Bank forever do you envision this future taking place in a glorious single state (which I am sure would be a bastion of equality and freedom for all inhabitants regardless of religious background)? No? Ethnic cleansing (transfer) and apartheid should be the rule? Sorry, my mistake.

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