Obama Celebrations and Balls

A seminar in Surrey January 31/09 on the Liberation Struggle of Palestine was slow to catch on but as it did, it jelled into a warm and vibrant hub of information on Palestinian liberation, Zionism, US imperialism, Israeli war crimes, and international Palestinian solidarity movements.

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Organized by Fraser Valley Peace Council, the seminar was presented by Hannah Kawas (Canada Palestine Association), Derrick O’Keefe (StopWar.ca), Sid Shnaid (Independent Jewish Voices), Chris Shelton (World Peace Forum Society), and Nazir Rizvi (Peace Activist).

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Sana Janjua’s spirited rendition of a selection of Mahmoud Darwish’s “Madeeh al-Thill al-‘Aaly”: ‘In Priase of the High Shadow’ (published at the end of this post) was utterly moving as was Shahzad Nazir Khan’s introduction to the event.

It was a heartfelt attempt by local peace activists to help re-gain the lost momentum of a powerful international Palestine solidarity movement. The time between the end of December 2008 and the beginning of January 2009 was marked both by the height of Israeli state violence against Palestinians in Gaza, and the resolve of the people around the world for peace and retribution. Peace-loving Jews and Israeli citizens were at the forefront of the movement, and it appeared as if the will of the people was about to yield some results.

Instead, it became silent after the weekend of the Eleventh. On January 15, a leading South Asian activist in UK roared in frustration: ‘I am pretty pissed off there is no national mobilsation this weekend, i think the momentum will suffer as a result.. I am also pissed off that StWC coalition have not called for the protests either at the israeli embassy, or for a national day of action in terms of disruption to shops and businesses etc that deal with israel.’

The news headings changed overnight to congratulatory messages from calling for an end to Israeli state violence in Gaza; the move to boycott Israeli goods/services and to picket Israeli consulates/embassies was halted; and, all necessary strings were pulled to achieve this dead end.

It is unfortunate that Obama inauguration had to serve as the global distraction to knock the wind out of the Palestine solidarity movement right when the action was mounting to force a peaceful resolution of some kind. Instead, the international politicians, media and corporations annihilated the gains of the movement by becoming engrossed in the newness of the new President of the United States.

It is a matter of great pride and inspiration for democracy-loving Black people of the United States of America, and for democracy-loving people of all colors everywhere in the World that the elections in the United States have delivered the White House to a Black Democrat family. The mirth of these inaugural balls is marred by the continued inaction on Gaza, and by US drone attacks on Pakistan where civilian death toll is rising each day.

Yesterday, hope was not with Obama but with the protesters at the picket outside US Consulate in Vancouver, and at the Candlelight Vigil at Robson Square. Today, hope still resides:

Here

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Here

And Here.

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Excerpts from ‘Madeeh Al-Thill Al-‘Aly’
In Priase of the High Shadow
By Mahmoud Darwish

It is for you to be, or not to be,
It is for you to create, or not to create.
All existential questions, behind your shadow, are a farce,
And the universe is your small notebook, and you are its creator.
So write in it the paradise of genesis,
Or do not write it,
You, you are the question.
What do you want?
As you march from a legend, to a legend?
A flag?
What good have flags ever done?
Have they ever protected a city from the shrapnel of a bomb?
What do you want?
A newspaper?
Would the papers ever hatch a bird, or weave a grain?
What do you want?
Police?
Do the police know where the small earth will get impregnated from the coming winds?
What do you want?
Sovereignty over ashes?
While you are the master of our soul; the master of our ever-changing existence?
So leave,
For the place is not yours, nor are the garbage thrones.
You are the freedom of creation,
You are the creator of the roads,
And you are the anti-thesis of this era.
And leave,
Poor, like a prayer,
Barefoot, like a river in the path of rocks,
And delayed, like a clove

You, you are the question.
So leave to yourself,
For you are larger than people’s countries,
Larger than the space of the guillotine.
So leave to yourself,
Resigned to the wisdom of your heart,
Shrugging off the big cities, and the drawn sky,
And building an earth under your hand’s palm — a tent, an idea, or a grain.
So head to Golgotha,
And climb with me,
To return to the homeless soul its beginning.
What do you want?
For you are the master of our soul,
The master of our ever-changing existence.
You are the master of the ember,
The master of the flame.
How large the revolution,
How narrow the journey,
How grand the idea,
How small the state!

Peace, Justice for Palestine!
BOYCOTT Chapters !ndigo
Cut the Ties with Israeli Apartheid
boycottapartheid@gmail.com

BC Liquor stores sell products created in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Arab and Syrian land.
DON’T DRINK WITH APARTHEID – Boycott Israeli Wines
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver

‘Apartheid: From South Africa to Israel’: Ronnie Kasrils (ANC)
Sunday, March 8/09, 7PM
Vancouver Public Library, Alice Mackay Room
Canada-Palestine Support Network

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

Contact Uddari
uddariweblog@gmail.com
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