You are browsing the archive for Gaza.

Two Interviews with Max Blumenthal from Yafa-Tel Aviv and Ramallah

1:06 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In the aftermath of the month-long Gaza slaughter, author and journalist Max Blumenthal is in Israel and Palestine.  Two videos have been posted on Youtube within the past few days which are important documents for at least a few reasons.

Longtime Firedoglake readers are probably aware that I have been following Blumenthal’s progress since he showed up at our door in September, 2008, looking for a Wasilla, Alaska base from which to investigate aspects of Sarah Palin’s Fundamentalist Christianist beliefs.

His two books, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, and Goliath:  Fear and Loathing in Greater Israel, were both covered here in our book salons.  Media reception of the two books could not have been more different than what occurred.

The first, a scathing look at racism, weird religious practices, intimidation and organizational modes among Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christians within the framework of the GOP Right over the years, was warmly welcomed by the media.  The book, partially through media praise and coverage, became a New York Times bestseller.  It has turned out to be prophetic, and is widely regarded to be so.

His recent book, a scathing look at racism, weird religious practices, intimidation and organizational modes among Israeli and American Zionists within the context of Israeli history since the Nakba, was coldly, brutally treated by most of our American media.  Or ignored.  Soon after publication, with the events of this winter, spring and summer,  it has turned out to be profoundly prophetic.  But this resonance is largely being avoided, at least by our mainstream media outlets.

During the year-long bogus peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, the late Spring cynical Israeli rampage through the West Bank, and Operation Protective Edge, Max has written a series of articles on these events, while touching upon many other subjects about which he has gained familiarity or authority.  During the past week, in the wake of the heavy-handed police presence in Ferguson, Missouri, numerous articles have cited Max’s seminal 2011 article, From Occupation to “Occupy”: The Israelification of American Domestic Security.

The following two interviews contain some common material.  Rather than post just one,  I feel it important to post both, as each touches unique material the other does not.  It is important to note that among the most strident criticisms of Blumenthal’s Goliath were those claiming the book exaggerated or over-emphasized the degree of racism in Israel, that it underrated the extent of influence liberals have in Israeli society, or that it simplified something that is very complicated and cannot be understood without some sort of Zio-centric “context.”  In both interviews Max ties in the content of Goliath and its prophetic aspects with powerful, sordid and tragic events that have occurred since its publication last year.

I.  The German webcasters, Jung & Naiv, interview Max Blumenthal on a hill overlooking the port of Yafa and the settler city of Tel Aviv:

II.  Cenk Uygur interviews Max Blumenthal, who was in Ramallah,  on The Young Turks:

Saturday Art: My Poem for Gaza

11:43 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Google map of Gaza

Google map of Gaza

Almost 40 years ago, after showing my girlfriend (now my wife) my latest poem, she diplomatically told me that poetry was perhaps “the least of my many artistic talents.”  Since then, I haven’t written many verses, though I’ve set over 50 by others to song.

However, the ongoing Gaza butchery has shaken me to the core.  I am not alone.  This has been a pivotal event for many others.

How dare this shitty little country, run by audacious ingrates and uncouth boors, dictate a new paradigm for blowing up hospitals?  How dare their ambassadors and spokes-creeps drive more stakes into the heart of what little remains of 21st century ethics and humanitarianism?

On the way to the Anchorage airport Wednesday evening, my wife and I cried as we listened to Democracy Now.  Ms. ET is far less political than me, but the stories of this atrocity cannot pass one by.

My poem is partially derived from the King James Version of the Old Testament books of Lamentations and Hosea.  The quote from Albert Einstein is from an April 1938 speech he gave at the Commodore Hotel in New York City, and is based on my own re-transcription of a long-ago deleted article on it in the New York press.

The poem is for Siun.

Poem for Gaza

Prologue:

Gaza, ancient city by the azure sea,
“How doth this city sit so solitary?

“She that was full of people!
How is she become as a widow,
a mother of countless orphans
and parents with unburied children!”

I.

The prophets warned the kings, the generals, the courtiers,
The scribes, the rabbis, the lesser soldiers and teachers.

Now, let these craven men come before the Lord:
“Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them,
As thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions:
For my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.”

Her courtiers cry out: “Distant Brazil, you be a cultural giant,
A diplomatic dwarf, for daring to condemn our campaign
to make alien hospitals the newest baths of blood.”

Her generals cry out: “World, we demand one child per hour
to satisfy our replacement for YHWH – our Lockheed-HP-Motorola-
Caterpillar-SodaStream Moloch.”

Her rabbis call out: “Scalp their children’s foreskins,
make them trophies to your bravery,
rape their women, steal back their pride, for it is yours.”

Her soldiers call out: “Make your shots count.
Aim at the pregnant woman’s belly and you get two for one.”

Her teachers call out: “There is no Palestine, no Palestinians,
No people there, but rather our land waiting to be sanctified
By our return – when the other is no longer there.”

Her scribes write: “They are lesser beings than we,
Less deserving of life, happiness, health, pride or dignity,
for we are G*d’s chosen, they are scum between our toes.”

Yet G*d senses a flood of falsehoods from these flagrant proclamations:
“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel:

“For the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land,
Because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

“By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing rapine,They break out, and blood toucheth blood.

“Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein
Shall languish, with the beasts of the field,and with the fowls of heaven; Yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.”

II.

The prophets of ancient times are to become united
With the prophets of our own. Einstein was the harbinger:

I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs On the basis of living together in peace
Than the creation of a Jewish State.

Apart from practical considerations,
My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism
Resists the idea of a Jewish State,
With borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power,
no matter how modest.

I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain
Especially from the development of a narrow nationalism
within our own ranks,
Against which we have already had to fight strongly,
Even without a Jewish State.

We are no longer the Jews of the Maccabee period.

A return to a nation in the political sense of the word,
Would be equivalent to turning away from the spiritualization
of our community
Which we owe to the genius of our prophets.

The harbinger has not yet brought a Messiah,
And his message has been unheeded countless times.

Is the messenger who will bring peace yet among us?
Is it a man or a woman?
How long must we wait?
Read the rest of this entry →

Blatant Racism Toward Israeli Bedouins – The Iron Dirt Dome

8:22 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Sunday, as fighting escalated in the open prison grounds of Gazagrad, a desperate rocket, fired from the internment camp’s interior killed an Israeli Bedouin citizen.  The Association for Human Rights in Israel reports:

In Israel, two civilians have been killed. One was a Bedouin, the 32-year-old Oudi Lafi al-Waj, who lived in an unrecognized village in the Negev (Naqab) desert, near Dimona. Several Bedouin children have also been injured by rocket fire since Israel began ‘Operation Protective Edge.‘ Bedouin villages do not have air raid sirens, nor are they covered by Iron Dome. They also lack bomb shelters. In the wake of al-Waj’s death, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a non-governmental organization, ‘submitted an urgent request’ this morning to the Israeli High Court for an answer on the petition the organization filed last week requesting that the state provide bomb shelters for the Bedouin. But in a Sunday hearing at Israel’s High Court, the ‘state expressed its position that there is no need to provide additional protective facilities to these communities, and advised the Bedouin residents to protect themselves by lying on the ground,’ ACRI reports. The organization added that ‘officials claimed that protecting the Bedouin villages was a low priority.’ [emphasis added]

Part of the reason these non-Jewish, second-class citizens of the apartheid state are being advised to “lie on the ground” is that if they were to build adequate bomb shelters in their villages, they would most likely be demolished by Israeli police or military forces:

In the State’s formal pleadings to the court, it claimed that the responsibility to provide protective facilities rests primarily on homeowners, but did not refer to the fact that most of the houses in these communities are simple shacks that are particularly vulnerable to damage and provide no protection. They also did not refer to the fact that the current legal situation forbids any construction in these communities and that any construction would be subject to a demolition order. [emphasis added]

Writer Max Blumenthal has been among the most assiduous in gathering evidence of longtime Israeli racism and institutional apartheid policies toward its Bedouin citizens.  A small sample, from February, 2011:

Yesterday morning, the Bedouin village of Al Arakib withstood the 18th pogrom against it by the Jewish National Fund and Israeli riot police. I mentioned in my last post that I would begin promoting actions to hold the Jewish National Fund accountable for violently ethnic cleansing Al Arakib in order to build the GOD TV Forest of Hate. Now here is something everyone who reads this blog (minus the professional hasbara trolls) can and should do: Join the Jewish Voice for Peace call in campaign to demand that the JNF cease demolishing villages like Al Arakib. Tell your local JNF office to stop the pogroms against the indigenous population of the Negev. To be sure, this is a minor action that will probably yield only dismissive responses from JNF representatives, but it is important to apply pressure and get them on the record.

In recent Firedoglake diaries about the ongoing assault on Gaza, several commenters have defended Israeli conduct.  Please show up here, my deluded, Zionist friends, and explain how not providing protection to citizens in harm’s way because of their ethnic background does not constitute blatant and enduring apartheid?

In recent years, village residents and human rights organizations have turned repeatedly to the Ministry of Defence and the Home Front Command to provide protective facilities for these villages. Most of the letters were ignored. One of the responses provided to Physicians for Human Rights – Israel in 2009 explained that while advocacy activities were planned for village residents, there was no intention to provide any protective facilities to any Bedouin communities apart from Rahat [a Bedouin <strike>gated community</strike> forced relocation camp. [emphasis added]

At least Marie Antionette wanted France’s second class citizens to be able to “eat cake.”  The Israeli High Court wants their Bedouin citizens to “eat dirt.”

It will be interesting to see how Israeli policies toward its other second class (i.e. – non-Jewish) citizens are influenced by the pressure of events in the wake of the current criminally disproportionate response to Palestinian rocket barrages.

Firedoglake Book Salon Preview: The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah

10:13 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Author Ali Abunimah

Please join us Sunday for Ali Abunimah’s The Battle for Justice in Palestine. I’ll be hosting. Of the FDL book salons on the subject of Palestine-Israel that I have hosted, I’m looking forward to this one the most. Ali has been in this battle for a long time. We will get to witness him explain the book’s bold opening sentence, “The Palestinians are winning.” And much more.

I.  2014 is a year seeing rapid changes in how the world views and reacts to relations between Israel and Israelis, and their co-inhabitants, in the so-called “Land Between the River and the Sea.” Terms used to describe Israeli policies and laws, words such as “racist” or “apartheid,” for instance, are quickly gaining more currency, more acceptance. Pushback against use of such terms by ardent Zionists seems to get less traction in the public at large by the day.

The main reason this is the case is simply grounded in abundant examples of racist and apartheid incidents, rules, policies and actions perpetrated daily in that land. The very recent assignment of blame on the breakdown of the Peace Process™ talks supervised by the U.S. State Department, between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Foreign Office on the Israelis, by Secretary of State John Kerry, lead negotiator Martin Indyk and others is unprecedented.

Every week more organizations become leery of dealing with Israel as if everything is normal there. Pension funds divest. Professional associations pass resolutions to cut ties with their Israeli counterparts. Churches pass resolutions of condemnation or divestment, even an unblushing published study guide labeling Zionism as “false theology.” College student government bodies debate the utility of the Global BDS Movement, and vote to participate in it – or not. The list of professional associations of college faculty boycotting Israeli institutions grows monthly. This trend will only accelerate, as Israel is plummeting over the edge, no longer able to hide the true nature of the country’s vision of Jewish supremacy at the expense of non-Jews. Just this Thursday, Israeli Economic Minister Naftali Bennett proposed, once again, to Prime Minister Netanyahu, to annex Area C, 74% of the West Bank:

Bennett has presented his plan in recent weeks to foreign diplomats stationed in the country. The proposal includes removing IDF roadblocks in the territory left under Palestinian control, Areas A and B, as well as investing in infrastructure there and pursuing massive economic development.

Annexing Area C, Bennett has said, will secure Israel’s vital interests by creating a buffer zone for Gush Dan and Jerusalem. It will also preserve Israel’s “vital” national heritage sites.

According to sources close to the Bayit Yehudi leader, he will push forward with the plan regardless of whether Hamas and Fatah implement their unity agreement, and regardless whether Israeli-Palestinian talks start anew. Bennett, according to sources close to him, believes those talks will ultimately fail.

Europe and the United Nations – which have indicated they view Area C as vital for the viability of a future Palestinian state – have in the last few years increasingly focused on shoring up Palestinian development there, including with financial assistance.

This annexation would result in the remainders of Palestine being something that looks like nothing in the world more than the former Bantustans of South Africa: Read the rest of this entry →

Saturday Art: The Skies Are Weeping for Rachel Corrie on the Tenth Anniversary of Her Murder

9:58 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

My Name is Rachel Corrie - 250120081187

My Name is Rachel Corrie

MyFDL Editor Note: Original picture removed due to copyright

Ten years ago today, mere days before we began our $2 trillion criminal war of aggression against the Iraqi people, American college senior, Rachel Corrie, was murdered near Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

I’ve never before written that the courageous young woman was murdered.   However, having considered the testimony given during the civil trial against the Israel Defense Forces regarding her death, which concluded last August, her demise was indeed murder, to wit: an unlawful killing of a human being, with malice.

My thoughts in 2003, in reaction to what I then thought was a terrible accident, with elements of negligence both by the Israeli Defense Forces and the International Solidarity Movement, led to the creation of my antiwar, anti-Zionist cantata, The Skies Are Weeping.  I’ve posted the youtube I created of The Skies Are Weeping here before, but today is a truly fitting day to take the liberty to do this again.  Late last year, a couple of organizations inquired about performing it live today.  I declined the offers, as I would want to be there, and my work and performing schedule this month ruled it out.

Today, in Olympia, Washington, Rachel Corrie’s home town, there will be many 10th anniversary commemorations.  Among the musical elements will be a performance by my friend, David Rovics.  Here are the lyrics to his song, The Death of Rachel Corrie:

When she sat down in the dirt
In front of your machine
A lovely woman dressed in red
You in military green
If you had met her in Jerusalem
You might have asked her on a date
But here you were in Gaza
Rolling towards the gate

As your foot went to the floor
Did you recall her eyes
Did her gaze remind you
That you’ve become what you despise
As you rolled on towards this woman
And ignored all the shouts to stop
Did you feel a shred of doubt
As you watched her body drop

And as your Caterpillar tracks
Upon her body pressed
With twenty tons of deadly force
Crushed the bones within her chest
Could you feel the contours of her face
As you took her life away
Did you serve your country well
On that cool spring day

And when you went back across the Green Line
Back to the open shore
Did you think that this was just another day
In a dirty war
And when you looked out on the water
Did you feel an empty void
Or was it just one more life you’ve taken
One more home destroyed

Here is David, performing it three years ago:

And here is the original performance of The Skies Are Weeping.  An apology on the sound quality is appropriate.  In order to be able to donate another 1,200 pounds or so to Palestinian charities, we opted out of a professional recording of the event.  So I recorded it with an MP-3 player under my seat in the front row of the hall.

Read the rest of this entry →

Saturday Art: Alice Walker Reads Rachel Corrie

12:29 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Rachel Corrie - February 2003

Next Saturday, March 16th, will mark the tenth anniversary of the death in Gaza, of Rachel Corrie.  Rachel, then a senior at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, had gone to Gaza at the beginning of 2003, to fulfill aspects of her senior thesis.  While there, she became active in efforts by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), to protect Palestinians from outrages of the Israeli occupation forces.

She was killed by an Israeli Army D-9 armored bulldozer, with two people aboard in the cockpit, one there to drive, the other, to observe.  During the same time period, Israeli forces in Gaza shot and mortally wounded Tom Hurndall, a British photographer, also working with the ISM (April 11th), and mutilated Brian Avery (April 5th), another American ISM activist, in Jenin in the West Bank.  This time period coincided with the American invasion of Iraq – March 19th to May 1st.

A notable aspect of Rachel Corrie’s legacy is the sheer volume of art her life and sacrifice evoked.  Between March 19th 2003 and April 24th 2004, I collected over 160 poems written in the young woman’s honor, and posted on the web, in the English language.  I used two of them in my 2003-2004 cantata, The Skies Are Weeping.  California composer, Paul Crabtree composed another cantata about Corrie, American Persephone.

Corrie’s journals and emails from Gaza became the basis of the most widely viewed and highly regarded work of art about Corrie, My Name is Rachel Corrie.  Written by Katharine Viner and Alan Rickman, the play premiered in London on April 5, 2005, in a highly evocative solo performance by actress Megan Dodds.  Premiered in a very small theatre, it was revived in the 2005 fall London theatre season in a larger venue, and proceeded to win many awards.

The first attempt to produce My Name is Rachel Corrie in the USA, at the New York Theatre Workshop resulted in a cancellation, when the NYTW caved to threats from militant Zionist expansionists. (Incidentally – the article about the cancellation in The Nation, by writer Philip Weiss, and the pushback that writer got in the publishing world for having written so sympathetically about Corrie, and critically about the NYTW, was one of the epiphanies Weiss underwent that led him into new directions, now expressed most fully at his web site, Mondoweiss).

The play has gone on to be performed on every continent save Antarctica, in many languages.

The play was derived from Corrie’s written material with cooperation of the slain activist’s family.  Some of Corrie’s writings had been posted on the web soon after her death.  Some soon became the basis of poems or lyrics.  For instance, the concluding lyric in The Skies are Weeping is my editing (with the Corrie family’s approval) of one of her last emails home: Read the rest of this entry →

Abby Martin Interviews Rachel Corrie’s Parents as the 10th Anniversary of Rachel’s Death Approaches

12:49 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

March 16th, less than two months away, will mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Evergreen College senior, Rachel Corrie, in Rafah, near the Egyptian border of the Gaza Strip, as she sought to and succeeded in keeping an Israeli military armored Caterpiller bulldozer from destroying the house of a large Palestinian family.

Her action cost her her life.  But her legacy lives on through the work of her parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, and through the inspiration she has provided to hundreds of thousands of young people, worldwide.

RT TV commentator and reporter, Abby Martin, in an interview with Rachel’s parents, notes:

Rachel served as a symbol for me to really wake up about this issue.

Here’s Martin’s interview:

There will be hundreds of commemorative events worldwide as March 16th approaches.  I hope to  cover some of the more significant ones here.

If you, like Abby Martin, have been inspired or influenced by Rachel Corrie’s determination on March 16th, 2003, please comment on that here.

Meanwhile, ponder this interview with Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar about his disgust over the gratuitously cruel carnage wrought by Israeli forces during 2008-2009′s Operation Cast Lead.

Abby the Hasbara Slayer

9:34 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Breaking The Set w/ Abby Martin on RT

RT TV‘s meteoric young on-air commentator, Alyona Minkovsky, left the network in late July, to take a position at Huffington Post’s new real-time web niche, HuffPost Live. While at RT TV, Minkovsky’s interviews were edgy and provocative. Her interviewing skills combined with what appeared to be a thirst for knowledge about news that seldom or never gets covered by the likes of Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz, for instance. Compared to Alyona, Rachel was more like FOX than like progressive.

Since her move to HuffPost Live, it has been almost painful to watch how the new show seems to have sucked the life and soul out of a brilliant young news person. I guess HuffPost could do that to almost anyone, though. I stopped watching.

On her last show before exiting into Arianna’s fief in the Borg, Alyona interviewed Firedoglake‘s Jane Hamsher and the Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald. I praised her fine work up to that point in her career, as did Kevin Gosztola.

So what did RT TV do to make up for the loss of Minkovsky? On September 4th, a new show debuted, featuring Abby Martin. According to RT‘s bio page on her:

Abby was involved in the creation of multiple new media projects. She is a self taught editor, videographer, writer, journalist and artist. In 2009, she founded her own citizen journalism media organization called Media Roots based in Oakland, CA. There, she editorially managed and produced hundreds of multimedia stories, including front line coverage of the Occupy Oakland crackdowns.

Abby is also the youngest member on the board of Project Censored, the largest research organization in the country, that works to publish the top 25 censored news stories every year. While based in the Bay Area, she hosted a weekly radio show with Project Censored on KPFA, a Pacifica affiliate FM radio station.”

I’ve caught a few YouTube clips from her show, Breaking the Set, and from her short feature, Brainwash Update. She’s sort of like Minkovsky on steroids. Unfortunately, I’ve been way too busy with teaching, conducting and composing this fall to watch much, but her reports on Gaza may have been the best on American television. She was visibly moved, even physically disturbed by the possibly intentional Israeli attacks on newsmen, including RT, during the recent Gaza massacre. But this one threw me for a loop:

I would not want to piss off this courageous reporter.

Welcome to the battle, Abby the Hasbara Slayer.

After Martin’s in-your-face response to threats, she was again criticized by Zionist media.  Here’s how she responded (28 minutes):

She’s not taking prisoners.

I’d like to see Martin interview the Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon, next.  As the Gaza massacre was winding down, he went to a speech at which “full-time fascist” Leon de Winter raged:

On the night a ceasefire came into effect ending eight days of Israeli slaughter that left 162 people, the vast majority unarmed civilians, dead in Gaza, Dutch columnist and author Leon de Winter proposed adding chemicals to Gaza’s water supply to sterilize the population.

The website PowNed reported that de Winter “made his proposal for forced eugenics yesterday evening in Amsterdam at a solidarity meeting of Dutch Jews,” and that the speech by de Winter was broadcast this morning by Dutch mainstream and publicly-funded Radio 1.

PowNed said:

De Winter responded in his speech to the accusations of genocide leveled against Israel, saying that the population of Gaza had only increased over the last few years. “Maybe we should secretly add some means of birth control to Gaza’s drinking water,” De Winter proceeded to propose.

The suggestion was met with roaring laughter by the public. Among the participants that evening were the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Hiam Devon [sic], and the cheerful leader of the [religious ultra-conservative] SGP party, Kees van der Staaij.

De Winter blogged until 2008 on the mainstream liberal news site Elsevier. He is also an “an adjunct fellow” at the Hudson Institute, a right-wing American think-tank.

While de Winter, known for his “humor,” might have intended his suggestion as some sort of sick joke, the reported reaction suggests that the audience were only too ready to mock an already dehumanized population.

Maybe Martin can interview Divon on his seeming support for such a strange and public fascist, whose ideas strike me as boilerplate Anders Breivik.

Maybe Martin can interview the commanding officer of the Israel Defense Forces’ social media unit, Lieutenant Sacha Dratwa.  Here’s the lieutenant, posing on his facebook page, as President Obama:

CO of IDF social media unit, lieutenant Sacha Dratwa,  needs psychiatric help

I suppose in his racist mind, he thought he was being funny.  The American blog, YourBlackWorld did not think Lt. Dratwa was funny.  At all.  Nor did Democratic Underground.

Maybe Lt. Dratwa feels their anti-Semitism keeps them from seeing the true humor in his, uh, parody.

Yeah – that’s the ticket.

Good luck, Abby Martin.

Saturday Art: The Right of Return, by Doc Jazz

11:38 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Doc Jazz in the Lowlands

The music of Tariq Shadid, a Palestinian surgeon, who goes by the nom de web of Doc Jazz, is quite varied.  A self-taught musician, his unique take on aspects of the Palestinian diaspora is gaining traction on the web, and in the Low Countries.  Although recently primarily based in the Netherlands, Doc Jazz has worked in the Gulf States, and was in the USA this fall, performing benefits.  Here is what Doc Jazz wrote about a benefit in Anaheim on October 18, 2012, for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund:

I ended this sweet little concert with the song I had written especially for PCRF’s amazing efforts: ‘Healing Hands.’ By then, it was time to move on with the other parts of the program, most importantly the reason for holding this annual gala: to raise funds for providing medical treatment for the children of Palestine.

While the impressive efforts of PCRF’s medical projects were being shown on slideshows on two large screens, the generous crowd started making its donations. I was extremely impressed to hear that when it was all over, more than a hundred thousand dollars had been raised, with expectations being expressed of reaching almost double that amount at the closing of the fundraiser.

Knowing that PCRF translates all these finances into direct medical assistance to Palestinian children, was absolutely humbling. I know that words are of enormous importance, in creating awareness for the injustice that befalls these children, but you can’t help but feel forced into a modest attitude when you see the direct relief resulting from real-life medical and surgical treatment of Palestinian children in need.

In an interview by activist author, organizer and blogger, Heather Wokusch, Doc Jazz described his musical beginnings and impetus:

Next to my full-time job as a surgeon, I devoted the larger part of my spare time to supporting the Palestinian cause in any legal way I could think of. I started writing articles for the Palestine Chronicle in 2001, the same year in which I started a website called the ‘Musical Intifadah’. Being a self-taught hobbyist musician, I wrote and recorded, in my home-studio, songs about the Palestinian situation, and published them online, and made an online collection of songs, also by other artists, about Palestine. At that time, I did not believe that speaking up for the Palestinian cause was a feasible or useful thing to do in the Netherlands, so I saw the internet as a useful means to reach out on a more global level. However, then Gretta Duisenberg, wife of the then president of the European Central Bank, did a very courageous thing here. She hung a Palestinian flag from her balcony for several weeks, which caused a small international row, so I started believing there was yet hope for the Dutch situation. I wrote a song about her brave deed in Dutch (my first song in Dutch ever), which brought me into contact with her. When I joined her on her delegation to Palestine, a visit that was followed by the Dutch media on a day-to-day basis, it threw me right in the middle of the Dutch discourse on matters of the Middle East.

Dr. Shadid goes on to describe the role of artists, particularly protest artists, in this discourse:

The interesting thing we see in our modern societies, is that the corporations that finance (control) the media and entertainment business are very aware of the importance of artistic expression. They are always sure to propel their own symbolisms and stereotypes into the minds of people, whenever they get a chance to. Hollywood is one of the best examples of this, and who can deny its world-wide influence?  On the opposition side however, the disagreeing side, you find that many people lose themselves in angry discourse, and make themselves victims in the discussion, by falling into the defensive position. I believe art is one of the ways to reverse this dynamic, since art makes a statement that can not easily be responded to by verbal discourse. If those who are unhappy about the statement in your art try to attack it with their rhetoric, they often unwillingly aid in enlarging the message it is sending out. This way, I believe, art can be more powerful for a cause than any intellectual form of expression, be it a speech or an article. Nevertheless, I have noticed that people who propagate human rights causes often underestimate this effect, and don’t utilize it enough. They should support the efforts of artists who engage in ‘Creative Resistance’, more than they already do. [emphasis added]

From my own experience, I couldn’t agree more.  Doc Jazz’s concern expressed above about “speaking up for the Palestinian cause [being] a feasible or useful thing to do in the Netherlands,” came to my mind this morning, reading this (retweeted by Doc Jazz):

On the night a ceasefire came into effect ending eight days of Israeli slaughter that left 162 people, the vast majority unarmed civilians, dead in Gaza, Dutch columnist and author Leon de Winter proposed adding chemicals to Gaza’s water supply to sterilize the population.

The website PowNed reported that de Winter “made his proposal for forced eugenics yesterday evening in Amsterdam at a solidarity meeting of Dutch Jews,” and that the speech by de Winter was broadcast this morning by Dutch mainstream and publicly-funded Radio 1.

Troubling, but even more troubling:

de Winter responded in his speech to the accusations of genocide leveled against Israel, saying that the population of Gaza had only increased over the last few years. “Maybe we should secretly add some means of birth control to Gaza’s drinking water,” De Winter proceeded to propose.

The suggestion was met with roaring laughter by the public. Among the participants that evening were the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Hiam Devon, and the cheerful leader of the [religious ultra-conservative] SGP party, Kees van der Staaij. [emphasis added]

So, as the Israeli war crimes in Gaza were winding down, the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands was attending a RWNJ (right-wing nut job) event in the Netherlands, recommending another war crime – genocide!  Why am I not surprised.  Hopefully, somebody will write a song about this.

Here are two performances by Doc Jazz.
Read the rest of this entry →

Black Friday in Cairo, Black Friday in Gaza – Updated

3:20 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The HRC-Morsi deal?

The wake of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire is getting turbulent:

Egypt’s president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.

Mohammed Morsi also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it, a threat that had been hanging over the controversial assembly.

Morsi took this and other actions within hours after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Here’s a link to the text of PM Morsi’s declaration.

Nobody is yet making a connection between his meetings with HRC and this move, but one might ponder this from 2009:

We look forward to President Mubarak coming as soon as his schedule would permit. I had a wonderful time with him this morning. I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.

Clinton’s main job in the Middle East, after satisfying Netanyahu and his ilk, is finding the best dictators our money or threats can purchase.  She may have found one this week.

Protests are gathering in Cairo as I write:

Demonstrators for and against sweeping new powers assumed by Egypt’s Islamist president are gathering in different parts of Cairo, a clear show of the deep polarization plaguing the country.

Protests following Friday midday prayers are set to be led by prominent pro-democracy figures, like Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the U.N.’s nuclear agency.

Muslim Brotherhood backers were gathering in front of the presidential palace northern Cairo to support Morsi.

Earlier tonight ElBaradei tweeted:

Morsi today usurped all state powers & appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that cld have dire consequences

In Gaza, Israeli forces appear to have seriously violated the ceasefire agreement.  The issue of changes in what constitutes the free fire zone along the Gaza-Israel border was widely reported to be in play in the Hamas-Israel negotiations mid-week.  Mixed signals went out to Gazans.  After the ceasefire, many Gazans approached the fence:

What are the new fence rules?

The old rule was that if you walked within 300 meters of the prison fence, you got killed.  It was a really stupid, cruel rule, that has led to a lot of killing of innocent Gazan inmates, many of them kids.

A lot of people came to believe the old rule was gone, until:

One adult has been killed and 10 teenagers wounded as Israeli soldiers, stationed at the border line between Khan Younis and Israel, opened fire at them, medical sources say.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that the teenagers entered the disputed area of the “buffer zone”, which is 300m along all the Gaza-Israel borders.

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reporting from Gaza City said they had received reports that a number of farmers entered Khan Younis in the buffer zone, which ordinarily is a no go zone, to check on their crops.

She said they may have had confused information about that buffer zone as there has been lots of information about the easing of travel restrictions.

Other reports on the death seem more informative:

Medics said Anwar Qdeih, 23, was hit in the head by Israeli gunfire after he approached the security fence that runs along the Gaza frontier — an area that Israel has long declared a no-go zone for Gazans.

A relative of the dead man, who was at the scene, told Reuters that Qdeih had been trying to place a Hamas flag on the fence. He added that an Israeli soldier had fired into the air three times before Qdeih was hit in the head by a bullet.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “We will contact the Egyptian mediator to discuss the incident.”

Abu Zuhri’s statement is reassuring, and may indicate Hamas truly wants this cease fire to hold.

This is a rapidly developing Black Friday story, and I may update it after I get some sleep.

Updated – 10:50 am PST:  Mondoweiss is running this video with the claim that it is of the shootings written about above:

The cease fire appears to be holding, though.