View the Deleted United Nations Report on Israeli Apartheid

Below are links to the ‘disappeared’, ‘deleted’ and ‘taken down’ United Nations report on Israeli apartheid. The report titled ‘Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid’ was removed from the website of U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UNESCWA) at the end of last week ‘following pressure from the U.N. Secretary General.’ As well, Rima Khalaf, the head of UNESCWA, resigned ‘after she was asked to withdraw a report her agency published earlier this week that stated Israel is an “apartheid regime.” (mondoweiss.net/2017/03/resigns-refusing-apartheid)

Electronic Intifada has made it available, check it out below
electronicintifada.net

The 75-page report states in the beginning:

‘This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that
dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness
of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence
establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and
practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in
instruments of international law.

‘The analysis in this report rests on the same body of international human rights
law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory
ideologies, including: the Charter of the United Nations (1945), the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965). The report relies for its
definition of apartheid primarily on article II of the International Convention on the
Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973, hereinafter the
Apartheid Convention):

The term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of
racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to…
inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by
one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically
oppressing them.

‘Although the term “apartheid” was originally associated with the specific instance
of South Africa, it now represents a species of crime against humanity under
customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court, according to which:

“The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts… committed in the context of an
institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group
over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining
that regime.

‘Against that background, this report reflects the expert consensus that the
prohibition of apartheid is universally applicable and was not rendered moot by
the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia).’

It is outrageous that the report was removed and that the Honorable Rima Khalaf had to resign. Freedom of expression? International Law? Human rights? Integrity of research? Not if it doesn’t suit Israeli Power Holders in the United States.

Photo from: scribd.com

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Israeli mother Addresses European Parliament

Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the mother of Smadar Elhanan, 13 years old when killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem in September 1997. Below is Nurit’s speech made on International Women’s Day in Strasbourg earlier this month.

Thank you for inviting me to this today. It is always an honour and a pleasure to be here, among you (at the European Parliament).

However, I must admit I believe you should have invited a Palestinian woman at my stead, because the women who suffer most from violence in my county are the Palestinian women. And I would like to dedicate my speech to Miriam R’aban and her husband Kamal, from Bet Lahiya in the Gaza strip, whose five small children were killed by Israeli soldiers while picking strawberries at the family`s strawberry field. No one will ever stand trial for this murder.

When I asked the people who invited me here why didn’t they invite a Palestinian woman, the answer was that it would make the discussion too localized.

I don’t know what is non-localized violence. Racism and discrimination may be theoretical concepts and universal phenomena but their impact is always local, and real. Pain is local, humiliation, sexual abuse, torture and death, are all very local, and so are the scars.

It is true, unfortunately, that the local violence inflicted on Palestinian women by the government of Israel and the Israeli army, has expanded around the globe, In fact, state violence and army violence, individual and collective violence, are the lot of Muslim women today, not only in Palestine but wherever the enlightened western world is setting its big imperialistic foot. It is violence which is hardly ever addressed and which is halfheartedly condoned by most people in Europe and in the USA.

This is because the so-called free world is afraid of the Muslim womb.

Great France of “la liberte égalite et la fraternite” is scared of little girls with head scarves. Great Jewish Israel is afraid of the Muslim womb which its ministers call a demographic threat.

Almighty America and Great Britain are infecting their respective citizens with blind fear of the Muslims, who are depicted as vile, primitive and blood-thirsty, apart from their being non-democratic, chauvinistic and mass producers of future terrorists. This in spite of the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not Muslim. One of them is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is a non-devout Jew.

I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour, I don’t know the kind of violence that turns a woman’s life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are demolished , who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal.

But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence against children is actually violence against mothers. Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves leaders of the free enlightened world and in the name of this freedom and enlightenment rob us of our children.

the-weeping-woman-of-pere-lachaise

Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies in the world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghani mothers, whose children are killed by our children or who blow themselves to pieces with our sons and daughters. They are all mind-infected by the same viruses engendered by politicians. And the viruses , though they may have various illustrious names–such as Democracy, Patriotism, God, Homeland–are all the same. They are all part of false and fake ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to empower the powerful.

We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence that turn us to one homogenic group of bereaved or potentially bereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to cry out: `I gave him birth, I breast fed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is less worth than a piece of land.`

All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies.

And all of us were brought up to bear all this silently, to contain our fear and frustration, to take Prozac for anxiety, but never hail Mama Courage in public. Never be real Jewish or Italian or Irish mothers.

I am a victim of state violence. My natural and civil rights as a mother have been violated and are violated because I have to fear the day my son would reach his 18th birthday and be taken away from me to be the game tool of criminals such as Sharon, Bush, Blair and their clan of blood-thirsty, oil-thirsty, land thirsty generals.

Living in the world I live in, in the state I live in, in the regime I live in, I don’t dare to offer Muslim women any ideas how to change their lives. I don’t want them to take off their scarves, or educate their children differently, and I will not urge them to constitute Democracies in the image of Western democracies that despise them and their kind. I just want to ask them humbly to be my sisters, to express my admiration for their perseverance and for their courage to carry on, to have children and to maintain a dignified family life in spite of the impossible conditions my world in putting them in. I want to tell them we are all bonded by the same pain, we all the victims of the same sort of violence even though they suffer much more, for they are the ones who are mistreated by my government and its army, sponsored by my taxes.

Islam in itself, like Judaism in itself and Christianity in itself, is not a threat to me or to anyone. American imperialism is, European indifference and co-operation is and Israeli racism and its cruel regime of occupation is. It is racism, educational propaganda and inculcated xenophobia that convince Israeli soldiers to order Palestinian women at gun-point, to strip in front of their children for security reasons, it is the deepest disrespect for the other that allow American soldiers to rape Iraqi women, that give license to Israeli jailers to keep young women in inhuman conditions, without necessary hygienic aids, without electricity in the winter, without clean water or clean mattresses and to separate them from their breast-fed babies and toddlers. To bar their way to hospitals, to block their way to education, to confiscate their lands, to uproot their trees and prevent them from cultivating their fields.

I cannot completely understand Palestinian women or their suffering. I don’t know how I would have survived such humiliation, such disrespect from the whole world. All I know is that the voice of mothers has been suffocated for too long in this war-stricken planet. Mothers` cry is not heard because mothers are not invited to international forums such as this one. This I know and it is very little. But it is enough for me to remember these women are my sisters, and that they deserve that I should cry for them, and fight for them. And when they lose their children in strawberry fields or on filthy roads by the checkpoints, when their children are shot on their way to school by Israeli children who were educated to believe that love and compassion are race and religion dependent, the only thing I can do is stand by them and their betrayed babies, and ask what Anna Akhmatova–another mother who lived in a regime of violence against women and children–asked:

Why does that streak o blood, rip the petal of your cheek?

Togetherness_Jewish_Palestinian_Child_political_solution

Published in “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”: http://jfjfp.com/?p=7720

Urgent Petition: Stop the Israel/Gaza violence!

Israeli gov., Hamas & Palestinian leaders, USA gov., European leaders: Stop the Israel/Gaza violence!

We, Israeli civilians living along the border with Gaza, civilians in Gaza and citizens from all around the world call to end the violence!
Every few weeks violence across the Gaza/Israel border surges. Israel air raids in Gaza, kill and injure innocent civilians, and rockets fired from Gaza into civilian populations in Israel, cause trauma, chaos and physical harm.

We have lived through this long enough, and will no longer sit by quietly.

We are people on both sides of the border who deserve the right to live normal lives. That’s it!

We call upon the Israeli and Hamas governments to end this violence once and for all. Find the ways to sit down and talk, end the attacks and the siege on Gaza, and stop playing with our lives.

http://www.change.org/petitions/israeli-gov-hamas-palestinian-leaders-usa-gov-european-leaders-stop-the-israel-gaza-violence

By Other Voice

uddari@live.ca

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EMERGENCY DEMO: PROTEST ISRAELI ASSAULT ON GAZA – Van March 31/12

Saturday, March 31
12 Noon
CBC Plaza
Georgia & Hamiltion, Vancouver

In the wake of the Global March to Jerusalem, Israel has opened fire on Palestinians in the West Bank;
has launched a renewed air and ground assault on Gaza;
and has placed forces on alert on the Lebanon and Syria borders.
The attack on Gaza has left one man dead and 37 wounded.

The Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (Vancouver) is calling an emergency
demo for 12 Noon on Saturday, March 31, to oppose these latest atrocities.

Man killed as Israeli forces clash with Palestinians
http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/

 stopwar@resist.ca

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Is Israel a democracy or an ethnocracy?

The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) is one of the key Israel advocacy groups in the UK. In the last week BICOM has published a series of essays on ‘Israel’s democratic futures’ (if that’s a question, the answer is ‘here’s hoping’). BICOM’s worry, as its chief Lorna Fitzsimons wrote in herintroduction, is that “a notion is spreading in the West that Israel is fast becoming an illiberal ethno-democracy”.

One of the contributions is an interview by BICOM’s Alan Johnson of the US political philosopher Michael Walzer. At first glance, Johnson appears to be unafraid of posing the difficult questions – but Walzer’s unchallenged replies are revealing.

Israel is not the state of the Jewish people; Jews outside Israel don’t vote in its elections and non-Jews inside Israel do vote in its elections. The Jewish people are not sovereign in Israel; the citizens of Israel are sovereign there. I think there is a sense in which Israel, I mean green line Israel, is right now politically a state of all its citizens. The real difficulties are not political, they are cultural, and they arise in every nation state.

Unpacked, this is a wonderful illustration of the denial and diversion tactics deployed by those trying to reconcile the idea of a ‘Jewish’ and ‘democratic’ state. Walzer says “there is a sense” in which Israel is “a state of all its citizens” – but he presents no evidence, and quickly moves on in order to focus on “cultural” difficulties.

Walzer’s response is just wrong (and he surely must know this).

Firstly, foundational to Israel’s legal framework as a Jewish state is legislation passed in the first few years, specifically the Law of Return, the Absentee Property Law, and the Citizenship Law. These laws shaped an institutionalised regime of ethno-religious discrimination by extending Israel’s ‘frontiers’ to include every Jew in the world (as a potential citizen), at the same time as explicitly excluding expelled Palestinians.

Search BICOM’s essays in vain, however, for serious acknowledgement that Israel the ‘liberal democracy’ was founded on the basis of ethnic cleansing and mass land expropriation; that the only reason there is a ‘Jewish majority’ at all, is because of the historic fact of the forced exclusion of Palestinians from their homes and lands.

Secondly, there is a distinction in Israel between ‘citizenship’ and ‘nationality’, a difference missed by English speakers, who tend to use the terms interchangeably. Professor David Kretzmer, law scholar at Hebrew University and member of the International Commission of Jurists, has written how this concept of ‘nation’ “strengthens the dichotomy between the state as the political framework for all its citizens and the state as the particularistic nation-state of the Jewish people”.

In the 1970s, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by a Jewish Israeli who sought to change his nationality status from ‘Jewish’ to ‘Israeli’. The rulingstated that “there is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish nation…composed not only of those residing in Israel but also of Diaspora Jewry”. Then-president of the Court Shimon Agranat said that a uniform Israeli nationality “would negate the very foundation upon which the State of Israel was formed”.

Thirdly, Israel continues to be in an official ‘state of emergency’, which the Knesset has annually renewed since 1948. There are still 11 laws and 58 ordinances that depend on the state of emergency, covering a wide range of matters.

Fourthly, Israeli law provides for the banning of electoral candidates who deny “the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people”. Related to that, proposed bills can be rejected on the grounds that they undermine“Israel’s existence as the state of the Jewish people”. This is particularly instructive, given the emphasis placed by those trying to defend Israel’s ‘democracy’ on the fact that Palestinian citizens can vote and be elected as MKs.

Fifthly, there is the legislated role of the Zionist institutions, the Jewish Agency/World Zionist Organisation and Jewish National Fund. As I write in my new book, bodies intended to privilege Jews, by being granted responsibilities normally performed by the state, are thus “placed in positions of authority where they have the ability to prejudice the interests of non-Jewish citizens”.

Those are a selection of elements in what makes Israel a Jewish state, as opposed to a state of all its citizens. But what has it meant in practice, for Palestinians living in this ‘Jewish and democratic’ state?

From 1948 to 1966, the majority of Israel’s Arab citizens lived under military rule, a state of affairs used to expropriate land for establishing Jewish communities, as well as repress dissent. This is a vital part of the history, and makes it laughable that in one of the BICOM essays, Amichai Magen claimsIsrael has never had “a single episode of slippage into authoritarianism” (not for the Jewish population, presumably, is what he means).

In over 60 years, around 700 Jewish communities have been established in Israel’s pre-1967 borders – but just seven for Arab citizens (and those were built in the Negev for ‘concentrating’ the Bedouin population). The average Palestinian community inside Israel has lost up to 75% of its land since 1948, while a quarter of all Palestinian citizens are internally displaced, their property confiscated for use by the state and Jewish towns.

An estimated 90,000 Palestinian citizens live in dozens of ‘unrecognised villages’, which suffer from home demolitions and a lack of basic infrastructure. Israeli officials openly talk of ‘Judaizing’ areas and tackling the ‘threat’ posed by non-Jewish citizens. Residency in 70% of Israeli towns is managed by committees that filter out those deemed ‘unsuitable’ for the ‘social fabric’.

These are just a few examples of what Professor Oren Yiftachel has described as an “ethnocracy“:

Despite declaring the regime as democratic, ethnicity (and not territorial citizenship) is the main determinant of the allocation of rights, powers, and resource … [and] the logic of ethnic segregation is diffused into the social and political system.

In addition, all of this is without commenting on how, for 45 of Israel’s 64 years, the Jewish state has military ruled over Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who do not even have the limited protection afforded by citizenship (while settling the territory with Jewish citizens).

As Israeli jurist and founding member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel Ruth Gavison put it, the Jewish state is

an enterprise in which the Arabs are not equal partners, in which their interests are placed below those of a different national group – most of whose members are newcomers to the land, and many of whom are not even living in the country.

Such honesty seems to elude Johnson, Walzer, and BICOM. It is encouraging that the Israel advocacy group feels forced to address the issue of Israel’s ‘democratic future’ – not least because, through the weakness of their arguments, they are unwittingly contributing to the growing understanding of what lies at the heart of the continued lack of a sustainable, just peace.

Posted by Ben White on 05 February 21, 2012 in New Statesman (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/02/jewish-state-citizens-israel)

Indian Artists divided over art show in Israel

Artists’ fraternity split wide open over art show in IsraelBy Saumit Singh
The Mumbai Mirror

An upcoming show in Tel Aviv, billed as the first major Indian art exhibit in Israel, has assumed shades a full-blown controversy that has split the artist fraternity.

Some Indian artists, who are sympathetic towards the cause of Palestine, have decided to skip the event and have called for a “cultural boycott of Israel”. Other invitees, however, have criticised this approach, saying art should not be mixed with politics.

The person leading the call for a boycott of the event, Deconstructing India, is 55-year-old Pushpamala N. She is among the 20-odd art figures invited to participate in the show, which will be held at the newly constructed Amir Wing of the Tel Aviv Museum in April 2012.

Pushpamala, a Bangalore-based photo artist, first dashed off a mail to the show’s curator, Tami Katz-Freiman, declining the invite. She then launched a signature campaign to show support for a Palestinian civil society movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with the international law and respects Palestinian rights.

English novelist and art critic John Berger and author-activist Arundhati Roy are among the world-renowned names backing the call for a cultural boycott.

In her mail, which has been widely circulated among Indian artists and galleries, Pushpmala has highlighted the efforts of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). “If we exhibit in this show we will be legitimising the racist and apartheid policies of the Israeli Government,” she has stated.

A section of Indian artists, including Tushar Joag, holds a similar view. “We are in the process of collecting signatures. I already have the backing of five participating artists and some more have expressed solidarity. Some artists are travelling, so I am just waiting to get a revert from them. I plan to issue a press statement in a few days,” Pushpamala told Mumbai Mirror.

Art critic Girish Shahane and senior artist Laxman Shreshta, however, are opposed to such an approach.

“If we start boycotting museum shows because of bad things governments are doing, where will it end? Why should Indian artists exhibit in China, when the regime there has been responsible for horrendous massacres and continues to deny basic freedom of expression to its citizens?” Girish has stated. “Associating art institutions and centres of learning, even state-funded ones, so closely with state policy is a silly mistake in my opinion, and tokenism of the worst kind as well.”

Shreshta said that there was no need to mix politics with arts. “It’s like the case of the rebel without a cause. I would not support Pushpamala at all. If India artists have been invited for this interesting exhibition, they should go there and show the world what they are doing,” he said.

Atul Dodiya made a similar point. “Any country which commits atrocities should be roundly condemned. But while even artists have political viewpoints, art itself cannot be a political tool. It is a means to create bonds, not break them. That is why even with Pakistan, we continue to maintain cultural relations. So why not Israel?”

Sudarshan Shetty, who has been invited to the show in Tel Aviv, feels boycotting the event would not serve any purpose. “I don’t have any fresh work to show there, so the curator is arranging for some earlier works of mine from private collectors. I will be participating, though I am still to figure whether others plan to,” he said. “I don’t think boycotting the show is a solution. You can instead use that opportunity to express your view. There are problems in almost every country, including India – so should we completely stop exhibiting our art?”

Other invitees are Ravi Agarwal, Atul Bhalla, Anita Dube, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Ranbir Kaleka, Jitish Kallat, Riyas Komu, TV Santhosh, Hema Upadhyay and Lochan Upadhyay. They may be forced to take a stand over the issue as the entire list of participants has been made public.

From http://www.mumbaimirror.com/

Uddari fully supports the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and the Indian artists who are boycotting the Tel Aviv art show in 2012.
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‘There is no doubt Israel is an Apartheid state: Boycott!’ South African Students

JOINT STUDENT STATEMENT
There is no doubt, Israel is an Apartheid state; There is only one word, boycott!

We, students and youth of a post Apartheid South Africa, who bear the scars of a racist history and who continue to fight for complete liberation, have a duty and responsibility to stand in solidarity with those facing oppression worldwide. Israeli apartheid is one such form of oppression.

Israeli media boast that a mission of 150 Israeli propagandists will be sent to universities in 5 countries to fix Israel’s “serious image problems”. The Israeli mission will begin on South African campuses on the 11th of August, with a delegation that includes at least two aides from the Israeli parliament. A delegation member was clear about the intention of their trip: “We have to create some doubt in their [South African students’] minds.”

Don’t patronize us! We lived apartheid, we suffered apartheid, we know what apartheid is, we recognise apartheid when we see it. And when we see Israel, we see a regime that practices apartheid. Israel’s image needs no changing; its policies do! We urge Israeli students to instead join the growing and inspiring internal resistance to their regime, particularly the boycott from within movement, rather than waste time and money on these propaganda trips to deceive us Black students, South Africans have no need for these Muldergate-like trips.

A “major focus” of the Israeli trip will be the University of Johannesburg (UJ). On 1st April 2011 UJ’s Senate, with the full backing of UJ’s Student Representative Council, terminated its institutional relationship with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University. Indeed, UJ set an academic boycott of Israel precedent that all other South African and international universities can follow.

Following UJ’s decision, and in response to a letter sent to us by Palestinian students, we urge all SRCs, student groups and other youth structures to strategize and implement a boycott of Israel and its campaigns. We declare that all SA campuses must be Apartheid-Israel free zones.

As with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, international solidarity is key in overcoming Israeli Apartheid. In Nelson Mandela’s words: ‘It behoves all South Africans, erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice….we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’

FOR THE RECORD
A. On Education
1. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access to education for Palestinians. Palestinian students face poverty, harassment and humiliation as a result of Israeli policy and actions.
2. Israel mounted direct attacks on Palestinian education, including the complete closures of two Palestinian universities in 2003 and the targeting and bombing of more than 60 primary and secondary schools during the Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2009.
3. Israel’s assault on the education of Palestinians is illegal under international law. The right to education is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments.
4. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has had a detrimental impact on students. Gaza’s electricity supply is controlled by Israel and shut-down for several hours most days, making it difficult for students to study. Moreover, the blockade means insufficient quantities of educational equipment, such as paper, desks and books, reach students.

B. On Israeli Apartheid
5. Several of our senior leaders have compared Israel to Apartheid South Africa, including Comrades Kgalema Mothlantle, Blade Nzimande, Zwelinzima Vavi, Rob Davies, Jeremy Cronin, Ahmed Kathrada, Winnie Mandela, Ronnie Kasrils, Denis Goldberg, the late Kader Asmal and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
6. Both the former and current United Nations Special Rapporteurs for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have requested that Israel be investigated for the crime of apartheid.
7. In an official report commissioned by the South African government in 2009, the Human Sciences Research Council confirmed that Israel, by its policies and practices, is guilty of the crime of apartheid.
8. In November 2010, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation called upon the Israeli government “to cease their activities that are reminiscent of apartheid forced removals…”

C. On Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
8. Palestinian civil society, including student groups, have called for a policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel until it abides by international law.
9. This call has the endorsement of the largest and most representative coalition of civil and political society in Palestine. The call also has the support of a growing number of progressive Israeli groups.
10. In 2010, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, said: “It is politically and morally appropriate, as well as legally correct, to accord maximum support to the BDS campaign.”
11. COSATU, South Africa’s largest trade union federation was one of the first unions to endorse the BDS call. Subsequently, numerous other international trade unions have also adopted a pro-BDS position.
12. Several international groups have began to advance the BDS call in the cultural, consumer, sports, economic and academic spheres. Earlier this year the largest student union in Europe, the ULU, passed a motion in support of BDS.”

ISSUED AT WITS UNIVERSITY ON THURSDAY THE 4TH OF AUGUST 2011 BY
South African Union of Students, South African Student Congress and the Young Communist League of South Africa

* The South African Student Congress (SASCO) is South Africa’s oldest and largest student organization.
** The SA Union of Students (SAUS) comprises all South African university Student Representative Councils and is the most representative student union in the country.
*** The Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL) has local branches at all South African universities
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‘Al-Jazeera: An Island of Pro-Empire Intrigue’ by Sukant Chandan

The Empire admits: without Al-Jazeera, they could not have bombed Libya.

How did Al-Jazeera, once dubbed the ‘terror network’ by some and whose staff were martyred by US bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, end up becoming the media war propagandist for yet another Western war against a small state of the Global South, Libya? We will not know the full details for some time; perhaps some wikileaks will help us understand later. But this much is already certain: the station is betraying gross political bias against its pan-Arab and pan-Islamic anti-imperialist constituency, reflected by its discriminatory reporting on the region based on Qatar’s interests and its relations and service to the West.

Al-Jazeera’s Smashing of Western Hegemony in Media
In the late 1990s, Al-Jazeera delivered a historic blow to Western hegemony in the media thitherto wielded through Sky, CNN, and the BBC. The emergence of Al-Jazeera was a part of the world process of growing multi-polarity — the beginning of the end of the ‘New World Order’ phase of US hegemony. In the Arab world the Gulf region started to see great political upheaval in the 1990s when the people of the region realized that their main national resource — oil — was not going to last for ever and that, if they don’t use this oil to develop their countries, then they will be left with nothing but sand dunes. It was these factors which led to the emergence of a vibrant pro-democracy movement in the Gulf, especially in ‘Saudi’ Arabia.

All media try to appear independent, but no large media ever is, including Al-Jazeera. It played a crucial agit-prop role in the early 2000s during the intense battles between the Empire and the oppressed peoples’ struggles in Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Having myself undertaken international solidarity work with medical staff during the height of the siege of Ramallah in April 2002, I can attest that, for those under the Zionist state’s military curfew and occupation in Palestine, Al-Jazeera was almost the eyes and ears of the people in Ramallah, keeping us informed about the solidarity protests across the region and internationally and also keeping us buoyed up in reporting the resistance in Afghanistan, the Tora Bora battle at the time to be precise.

There were always political contradictions within the station, the patron of the station being the Gulf monarchy of Qatar, who hosts the US Army’s regional Central Command — Centcom. Despite the contradictions in the station, it seems clear that Western powers were not going to allow Al-Jazeera Arabic to launch an English-language station with the same assertive, nay militant position towards Western foreign policy. Al-Jazeera English (AJE), launched in November 2006, had to tread carefully, not crossing the invisible ideological lines drawn by the United States too, not just by Qatar’s ruling class. The programming of AJE since 2006 has kept the reporting on the region within the bounds of liberal opposition to the West (any flirtation with radicalism being restricted to what’s tolerated by Qatar’s warm relations with Hizbullah and Hamas), never encouraging African unity (no pan-Africanism in its editorial line), and being consistently negative in relation to China. (In contrast, AJE reporting on Latin America has been more varied, though clearly more positive toward the ‘Good Left’ of Brazil than the ‘Bad Left’ of Venezuela.)

Recently, AJE was instrumental in the publication of the Palestine Papers, which taught no one anything new about the failure of the peace process, but whose effect was a deepening of the schism between Fatah and Hamas. A very short while later, Tunisia and then Egypt erupted into the people’s uprisings, and the subsequent turmoil in the region began.

Al-Jazeera Reporting on the Region and Western Hegemony
AJE started to lose its pretence of “every angle, every side” during the reporting from Tahrir Square. Millions watched with pride, inspiration, and nervousness the battle of the masses at Tahrir with AJE playing the agit-prop role in the struggle. However, there were two interrelated areas in which AJE’s reporting became suspect. Firstly, few of its guests, analysts and opinion-makers, went beyond a liberal agenda. Many of the guests were from Western NGOs and think tanks, neither of which have ever made any significant contribution to the liberation of any country of the Global South. AJE made sure there was no radical anti-imperialist analysis on its station. Is it that there are hardly any Nasserites, anti-imperialist Islamists, or revolutionary leftists left in Egypt? Of course not, Egypt is rich in revolutionary experience and thinking, as is the general Arab world, leading one to the conclusion that there is a clear decision to censor these voices from the station.

Perhaps looking at the last successful revolution in Egypt is illustrative of this point. The Egyptian Revolution led by President Gamal Abdel Nasser openly stated that the central aim of the struggle was to fight imperialism and Zionism and to develop a non-aligned foreign policy, for socialist-oriented wealth distribution and land reform at home. All of these issues were stripped from AJE’s reporting from Egypt, handed over to liberals.

Secondly, the reporting from Tahrir was even more interesting as we had the opportunity to compare AJE’s reporting with Iran’s English-language Press TV, who were both in the same place, at the same time, and amongst the same people. Whereas AJE censored out just about all the anti-imperialist and pro-Palestinian/anti-Zionist slogans and sentiments of the masses at Tahrir, Press TV accentuated these voices from Tahrir, voices which were very loud and massive in their numbers. One thing is for certain, despite a changing situation in the region, the West, especially the USA, wants to make sure that the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt will never turn anti-imperialist, and AJE has been an integral part of keeping these struggles within the boundaries set by the West.

It has been, however, on the reporting of Libya and the Gulf where AJE has completely exposed its agenda, which is very much a reactionary Gulf and pro-West agenda. Still riding on the good will from the reporting in Tunisia and Egypt, in the first few days of the Libyan uprising, AJE turned all its attention and agit-prop to the Libyan rebellion and said nothing negative about the concurrent visit of British Prime Minister Cameron’s arm-selling trip to the Gulf — far from it, AJE actually handed over airtime to Cameron to conduct war propaganda against Libya. It was clear from that point on that AJE would do anything to protect the Gulf area from uprisings, and focus on those regimes that the West have had in their sights for regime change: Libya and Syria (and to a lesser extent, for the time being at least, Algeria). And protecting the Gulf regimes has been exactly what AJE has been doing. AJE has downplayed any disturbances in Arabia, whereas similar levels of protests in Libya were reported to be mass uprisings of all the Libyan people, when now it is clearer and clearer that the uprising in Libya has little mass support outside of Benghazi, and even there it’s not exactly universal. AJE has hardly reported from large protests in Morocco or in Bahrain, often dismissing the Bahraini protests as some Shia sectarian issue with links to Iran. Perhaps AJE’s reporting is understandable when we consider that Bahrain hosts the USA’s largest naval fleet in the region; AJE doesn’t want to jeopardize its friends in the US and Bahraini governments. AJE even cut short Nasrallah’s speech a few days ago probably due to the fact that Nasrallah talked too much about the just struggle of the Bahraini people.

It has become quite clear that the Libyan rebels are hook line and sinker beholden to Western interests in Libya, but they have been portrayed as patriotic and heroic revolutionaries by AJE. From once supporting resistance in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, to then supporting a movement which literally dances on the skulls of Libyans who have been incinerated by French, British, and US bombs, is quite a turnaround.

The Financial Times in Britain is the newspaper which represents the intelligent voice of the British elite more than any other, and on March 20 they ran a story on page three under the heading “Al-Jazeera’s Backing Is key for Coalition”:

Desperate to distinguish between Libya and other western interventions in the Muslim world, which have sharpened anti-western sentiment, the three leading powers in the Libya campaign are drawing legitimacy for their actions by stressing that they are born out of Arab requests. While some people ask where are the Arab jets, the international coalition — for now at least — has a more powerful weapon on its side: the al-Jazeera television channel. . . . Al-Jazeera’s owners, the Qatari royal family, are among those backing the international effort. . . . Indeed the Libya crisis represents a rare moment of unity between the people and their leaders in the Arab world, with al-Arabiya, the Saudi-backed channel also on the side of the rebels.

A rare moment of unity between the Arab masses and the most reactionary pro-West rulers in the region? AJE was fundamental in the conduct of a war by the West for regime change against an old enemy? These developments in AJE may eventually make the channel the focus of sharp and extensive Arab criticism, perhaps even vocal and visible protest. Already a growing number of analysts and commentators are starting to question AJE’s agenda. After all, Qatar’s and AJE’s moves are far from subtle, to say the least:

Although Doha has often used al-Jazeera to deflect criticism of previous partnerships with the US, its rulers have been more open about their support for the Libyan rebels, though Qatar’s specific role is still uncertain. “Qatar will participate in military action because we believe there must be Arab states undertaking this action, because the situation there is intolerable,” Sheikh Hamid bin Jassem, the prime minister, told al-Jazeera on Saturday. (Financial Times, March 20, 2010)

Qatari military involvement in Bahrain and Libya is hardly a friendly act of Pan-Arab unity and struggle; rather it is a brazen counter-revolutionary one, playing a junior role to Western aggression. Unfortunately things get from abysmal to even worse.

Al-Jazeera’s Shameful Reporting on Palestine
While the West is ensuring as best it can that the current turmoil in the region does not orient itself towards anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism, any aggressive acts by the Zionist state may still become the catalyst that radicalizes people’s movements in the region in exactly those directions. Therefore, the West has to very carefully manage the perceptions of the Zionist state, its attack-dog in the region. To its shame, AJE has begun to line with the West on this image management, too: it grossly underplayed the reporting of the recent Zionist airstrike on Palestinians in Gaza resulting in the death of eight people including several children, while giving comparatively extensive coverage of the possible Palestinian resistance attack in Jerusalem which has resulted in the death of one person. Respected commentator on Arab politics As’ad AbuKhalil takes up this issue:

The sinister role of Aljazeera (Arabic) has gotten worse — much worse. Yesterday, I was seething all day because it could not break from its annoying, obsessive non-stop coverage of the Libya story to report extensively about the Israeli murder of Palestinian children. Aljazeera and Al-Arabiyyah (station of King Fahd’s brother-in-law) barely covered the story and both were covering extensively the Libya story and the “successes” of Western bombing of Libya. Worse, today, as news of the explosion in Jerusalem came, Aljazeera did end its Libya coverage (albeit temporarily) and provided non-stop live coverage of the news of the explosion. It seems that Aljazeera now operates according to the Western standards by which Israeli victims are more precious than Palestinian victims.

The fact that AJE, having contributed to a deepening split within the Palestinian political family through the publication of the Palestine Papers, has descended to this level in reporting on Palestine leaves one with the feeling that AJE no longer has the Palestinians’ interests in its editorial line.

The Arab region is seeing the development of people’s movements, incorporating many political influences, albeit saddled with the inevitable counter-revolutionary meddling of Western intelligence and Western intelligence-influenced forces. The potential for justice, development, and independence might now become a little greater if a fledgling anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist movement could develop. But here we are up against AJE and Al-Jazeera Arabic (both promoting the exact same narratives), making themselves useful to the successful conduct of a Western war of aggression against Libya, a small Islamic, Arab, African, and Third Worldist nation. They are both giving cover to Western powers’ arms sales to the region, belittling the people’s movements in the Gulf (even using the sectarian card through the ‘I’ and ‘S’ words: Iran and Shia), i.e. in the most important strategic area for the West, and now even playing along with the West in its reporting of the Palestinian Revolution. AJE and Al-Jazeera Arabic have in the past few months, and more so in the past several weeks, shown themselves as being little more than a slightly more liberal version of Western neo-colonialist hegemony in the region, a valuable tool for a Gulf state loyal to the West; and they are getting away with it for the most part as they are still basking in the reflected glory of the sacrifices of other people’s struggles in the region.

Multi-polar Media Crucial
Before the arrival of Al-Jazeera, and especially AJE, English-language satellite media was dominated by a West hostile in its reporting to our people’s rights. Western media, reflecting Western foreign policy, has always been and generally remains hostile to the Global South’s struggle for independence, the right to successfully exercise power to use our natural wealth and environment, developing a world of mutual cooperation and friendship, i.e., a multi-polar world which is the most important democratizing development in international relations ever seen in the history of humanity.

With this trend of growing multi-polarity we are seeing the emergence of greater numbers of satellite stations of the emerging powers: AJE representing the Arab and Islamic world (notwithstanding the critical analysis of it here), Press TV of Iran; Russia Today of Russia; NDTV of India; CCTV-9 of China; and so on. In the Libyan crisis Russia Today was the sole critical voice from the start of the pro-West rebellion there. China’s position against aggression against Libya has been probably the most crucial of any emerging world power in the BRIC nations (all of whom have been against the aggression against Libya), and CCTV-9 of course conveyed the Chinese position. Just as we need to develop a multi-polar world, we also need more multi-polar media. One looks forward to the African Union or ASEAN having its own channel. There have been murmurings between the Venezuelan state and the Non-Aligned Movement to start an English-language channel also. Perhaps Venezuela, with the progressive Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), could promote much-needed internationalist, pro-working peoples, pro-Global South creative and professional English-language programming to the world. This is something that is increasingly important, as we are still not winning the media battle in line with the deep anti-imperialist changes occurring in the world. Meanwhile, the power of Sky, Hollywood, deeply misogynistic, violent, and racist gaming, videos, film, and music is shaping the mind of every adult, youth, and child who has a laptop or smart mobile anywhere in the world. In other words, it is still the West which is using media to its benefit through interfering maliciously in others people’s affairs, with AJE now joining in this agenda too.

Conclusion
Vigilance is important in understanding the real agenda behind stations, but especially so in the case of AJE of late, whose obvious politicking is surprising in its audacity. Every nation in the Global South has its agenda, and Qatar, the state behind AJE, has its own. Qatar has not always supported the regional resistance; in the past decade it has had friendly relations with Hizbullah and Hamas, but it still supported the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. One must remain cognizant of the great danger posed by Qatar’s close proximity to Western hegemony and also its relations with the most reactionary, undemocratic, and brutal states in the Arabian peninsula. That is an inescapable fact. The real challenge lies in the ability of the viewers to critically reflect on AJE, despite its reputation of having introduced a more in-depth and intelligent discourse to the mainstream.

AJE has crossed several red lines of anti-imperialism, and anti-imperialism is absolutely central to every successful Arab struggle, from the battles led by Saladin centuries ago, to more recently Nasser and to our contemporary Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah. It remains to be seen how much the staff at different levels of AJE, as well as the different senior sections of the Qatari monarchy, deal with the inevitable backlash against them. Can AJE disentangle itself from the neo-colonial and despotic pro-Western and pro-Zionist Gulf and Arab regimes? How will people respond when they are told by AJE that, despite all the people’s movements rising against the firmly pro-Western regimes of Morocco, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and generally in the Arabian peninsula, actually the real ‘revolutions’ are happening only in the West’s official enemies, against the regimes of Libya and Syria? In the last decade, history has begun to move faster, so we will know the answers to these and many other questions sooner than we might think.

Contact Sukant at sukant.chandan@gmail.com

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/chandan260311.html
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‘ROCK THE BOAT’ Fundraisers for Canadian Boat to Gaza, Van, Feb 23-25/11

Three events to fundraise for the Canadian Boat to Gaza
DONATE AT: www.canadaboatgaza.org

Speakers:
Jase Tanner
Vancouver filmmaker. Jase recently returned from Egypt. He will discuss and show film footage from Cairo and Gaza.
Kevin Neish
Peace Activist – will speak about his experience on the Mavi Marmara last May.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2011, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
SWH 10081
Academic Quadrangle at SFU
Burnaby Campus
Sponsored by the Muslim Students Association at Simon Fraser University
Also speaking:
Omar Chaaban
President SPHR at UBC
Bassam Abunnadi
SFU political science graduate of Palestinian origin
Admission $5 – includes refreshments
For further details email: contact-msa@sfu.ca
For tickets contact
Info: Maan (778 241 3346) Aamir (778 227 6506)
Info: Mariam (604 780 3205) Hina (778 688 4610)
Tickets available at the door if not sold out beforehand.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2011 – 7 PM
Rhizome Cafe
317 East Broadway – Vancouver
Sponsored by The Canadian Boat to Gaza – Vancouver
Admission $10/15
Info. 604-312-3488
Meals, snacks and beverages are available for purchase.
http://rhizomecafe.ca

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 25, 2011 – 8 P.M.
Sponsored by the Delta/Richmond chapter of the Council of Canadians
Social Evening & Fundraiser to Help Break the Illegal Siege of Gaza
4475 Dawn Drive, Delta
Please rsvp to: robertages@dccnet.com
Requested donation $25 to support the Canadian Boat to Gaza – includes snacks and one refreshment, additional refreshments by donation.
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‘Arab rulers vs. Iran: Betrayal or bigotry?’ by Ameen Izzadeen

Friday, 10 December 2010
From ‘The Daily Mirror’, Sri Lanka

Is a second Arab betrayal in the making? There appear to be many parallels between the Arab revolt against the Muslim Ottoman empire just before World War I and the present day Arab rulers’ demand that the United States attack Islamic Iran.

Nearly one hundred years ago, Arab tribal leaders pledged allegiance to Britain and betrayed their Muslim Caliph, the Ottoman emperor. From this betrayal flowed the balkanization of Arabia and the Levant — and three decades later the creation of Israel. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and other Gulf states emerged as independent but client states of the West. Levant was broken into Syria and Lebanon while Palestine became a British trusteeship.

The main actors of this Arab revolt, engineered by British spymaster T.E. Lawrence and Foreign Office advisor Gertrude Bell, were Abdul Aziz bin Abdur Rahman Al Saud, who was widely known as Ibn Saud or the founder of Saudi Arabia, and Hussein bin Ali, the then governor of Makkah.

Britain promised them that they would be made the kings of Arabia. Ibn Saud, realizing that there could not be two kings for one Arabia, fought Hussein and defeated him and declared himself the king of Saudi Arabia. Hussein found refuge with the British who rewarded him by making one of his sons the king of Jordan and the other son, the king of Iraq. Thus began the legacy of Arab rulers paying pooja to the imperialist West. It continues even today.

Nearly one hundred years after the first Arab betrayal, the lid over the second one was blown off by the recent WikiLeaks exposés. The Arab rulers seem to be ganging up against another Islamic power — Iran. What is more striking is that the defeat and destruction of Iran is exactly what Israel also wants. Does this mean that the Arab rulers are in cahoots with Israel? This is the question being asked by the Arab masses and the rest of the Muslim world.

The Arab rulers are not only soliciting a US attack on Iran, but they also want Lebanon’s Hezbollah punished. According to US diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks, Saudi Arabia had suggested that Lebanon should be invaded by an Arab force backed by the United States and NATO to annihilate Hezbollah, a resistance movement, which restored Arab dignity by heroically withstanding Israel’s superior fire power in the 2006 Lebanon war.

The Arab masses are furious. Instead of giving leadership to the Arab world and liberating the Palestinian land from Israel’s occupation, Saudi Arabia had plans which would certainly have made the Zionists and their supporters in the United States happy. Won’t Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say that in Saudi rulers, we have an ally?

There were no diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks website to indicate that the Saudis had urged the Americans to be harsh on Israel or to put pressure on the Zionist state to work towards a Palestinian state.

Saudi Arabia certainly has the potential to rise as a great Arab-Islamic power capable of uniting the Arab world and liberating Palestine from Israel. It can assume for itself the role of the Caliphate — similar to those that existed during the early days of Islam — and give leadership to the rudderless Islamic world. But it won’t. It has wealth, but its wealth goes to prop up the flagging US economy.

One classic example was the recent purchase by the Saudis of more than US$ 60 billion worth of arms, which the Saudis will never or hardly ever use.

The kingdom won’t use its wealth for research and development to churn out Saudi/Arab/Islamic scientists and engineers who will discover new frontiers in medicine, physics and chemistry or manufacture the equivalent of F-16 fighter jets, long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. It is not that the Saudis are incapable of conceptualizing such a grand vision, but for reasons best known to Saudi rulers, the kingdom does not want to have one. The kingdom appears to be content with busting up its money in buying goods from and awarding contracts to the very imperialist powers, especially the US, which sustain the Zionist occupation of Palestine.

The Saudis’ opposition to Iran’s nuclear programme may stem from their fear that a nuclear Iran will be in a stronger position to instigate the Arab masses to revolt against the Arab rulers. The Saudi rulers are not so naïve as not to know that their pro-Western policies have made the masses they govern or oppress very angry. Thus it is no wonder that the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said in one of the diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks that the Saudis — please note, not the rulers — were the biggest financiers of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lakshar-e-Toiba. These rich and anti-American, pro-Palestinian Saudis, surely must be furious that their government is toeing Israel’s line.

Some Saudi scholars, who suck up to the rulers, say Shiite Iran is a bigger threat to Sunni Islam and therefore it should be checked even if this means joining up with Israel.

But little do these Sheiks who sow bigotry realize that Iran is only filling the Islamic world’s leadership vacuum that Saudi Arabia, in deference to the United States, is refusing to fill.

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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.

palestain-031-lge

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).

palestain-043-lge

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

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‘Sexual abuse of children by aid workers and UN peacekeepers’?

A children’s rights organization has released a research report pointing to cases of child sexual abuse by aid workers and UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast, Southern Sudan and Haiti, and how most remain unreported.

Save the Children UK research titled ‘No One to Turn To’ (The under-reporting of child sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers and peacekeepers, Tuesday 27 May 2008) suggests that the perpetrators can be found in ‘every type of humanitarian, peace and security organisation, at every grade of staff, and among both locally recruited and international staff’. The children interviewed report many types of abuse ‘including trading food for sex, rape, child prostitution, pornography, indecent sexual assault and trafficking of children for sex’.

Save the Children UK has made the following recommendations to the UN Task Force on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. An effective local complaints mechanisms to be set up by the UN in countries where there is a significant international presence; The establishment of a new global watchdog to monitor and evaluate the efforts of international agencies regarding this issue; An increased investment in tackling the underlying causes of sexual abuse, for example support for legal reforms, public education and awareness raising, and the development of national child protection systems. (Source: www.alertnet.org)

This heart-clenching report involves the most vulnerable young persons growing up in some of the most threatening situations of war, hunger, poverty, homelessness and violence. We, as adults are sending them help that includes such aggregated threats as sexual abuse. It is as if what was happening with our young on the ground was not enough to pervert them away from life.

Though the research references three countries, the universality of its findings is implied. View it here in English and French.

It is hard to stay away from the thoughts of children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Darfur, Tibet and other areas where populations are at war; in Sichuan province of China, and areas hit by earthquakes and other calamities; in short, in situations of acute vulnerability and need.

As well, we must remind ourselves of sexual, emotional and physical abuse suffered by children growing up in oppressive family and social structure in Pakistan, Iran and many countries under Muslim Laws; of children living in the so-called ‘Polygamy Compounds’, ‘Reservations’ and ‘Ghettoes’ within advanced democratic societies such as the United States and Canada.

And a word of caution perhaps, that the most sexual, physical and emotional abuse suffered by our children may not come from aid workers and UN peacekeepers but from individuals in our own families, communities, schools, religious institutions and other social and economic structures.

I support the recommendations of Save the Children UK to increase vigilance over our children worldwide, to create situation to afford more power and voice to our children within their countries, and to assure that we don’t send wolves to take care of lambs from our privileged overseas human rights positions.

Here is an unexpected Punjabi poem titled Dil ‘Heart’:
Dil
Fauzia Rafiq

Uthan behn, jagan sawn
Likhan likhan, paRhan paRhan
Rinnan pinnan, khawan pewan
Ishq muhabtaN
Duftar rozi, mail mulqataN
Eh sarae kam
main Thehr ke kraN gi
dil hali Thaleya nahiN

More on child sexual abuse