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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?
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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.
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Gaza Brings Up Two Questions: When Are Journalists Legitimate Military Targets? – & Are Any Israel vs Nazi Comparisons Apt?

9:08 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Leibovich-Regev

I. Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev is one or the smoothest operators out there among world-class apparatchiks.  Like Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson for the press, Avital Leibovich, he is unperturbed when being asked vexing questions about the dubious morality of Israeli military policy.  Early in the weekend, Leibovich was questioned by RT TV about the bombing of a building in Gaza City which housed offices, equipment and reporters for several news agencies.  She claimed it was impossible to avoid hurting journalists, because Hamas was using them as “human shields.”

Now the Israelis have again attacked a building housing news gatherers:

After a second Israeli attack on a media building in two days, this time killing two journalists, the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, Mark Regev explains to al-Jazeera English that because the journalists were Palestinian the Israel military considered them legitimate “targets.” Regev’s remarks were made just a few hours after the November 19, 2012 bombing of al-Shuruq Tower and another building used to house the offices of several media outlets, including both Palestinian and international networks.

Speaking to al-Jazeera, Regev said, “We took out the target that we wanted to take out.” When pressed by al-Jazeera over the injuries of eight journalists the previous day, where one lost his leg, Regev continued:

“Oh you’re talking about… oh first of all maybe we have a discussion about who is a journalist and if you’ll allow me I will elaborate on this. There is the al-Aqsa station, which is a station that is a Hamas command and control facility, just as in other totalitarian regimes; the media is used by the regime for command and control and also for security purposes. From our point of view that’s not a legitimate journalist.

Al-Jazeera’s correspondent then followed-up by asking, “So what are you saying? That a local Arab journalist life is any less than an internationalist journalist?”Apparently for Regev, yes, in Gaza there are no legitimate Palestinian journalists, only targets. [emphasis added]

I don’t think international law makes a distinction between journalists working for outlets within authoritarian regimes and others.  Nor do I think Mr. Regev or Ms. Leibovich care.  There may be Palestinian journalists working in Gaza who are not somehow connected to Hamas, but to get their credentials they have to apply to the local government – Hamas – to get them.

Kevin Gosztola covered the earlier attacks in a great article here early Sunday, titled Israel’s Targeting Media is a War Crime.  Here is his accounting of worldwide media reaction:
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As Eliminationist Racism Explodes in Israel, Obama Defends Its Consequences – Updated

5:49 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Four Palestinian siblings killed by IDF 11/18/2012

I.  As the civilian death toll in Gaza mushroomed Sunday, the son of long comatose Ariel Sharon invoked mushroom clouds, in a stark metaphor of eliminationism toward the people of Gaza:

The son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called on Israel to escalate its current military assault and “flatten all of Gaza”.

In an inflammatory op-ed article for The Jerusalem Post,  Gilad Sharon dismisses any concern over the deaths of innocent Palestinian civilians as a result.

“The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas,” he writes.

“We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”

Sharon was far from alone.  A line was crossed Saturday when Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai called for a Holocaust against Palestinians:

Palestinian activists routinely claim to be suffering a “shoah” at the hands of Israel, but the Jewish state normally denies any moral equivalence between the suffering of Palestinians today and European jewry under the Nazis.

Matan Vilnai, deputy defence minister, broke that taboo when he used the term “shoah” during interview on Army Radio.

“The more qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves,” he said.

His use of the term reflects the febrile atmosphere in Israel where public opinion demands the government does something decisive to stop the daily barrage of rockets fired from Gaza over the border into Israel.

The Telegraph article was incorrect in its claim of “a daily barrage of rockets fired from Gaza.”  That is certainly the case now, but there have been many extremely long lulls and cessations in the most often innocuous and ineffectual rocket launchings or barrages.  Indeed, the Israelis have killed more Palestinian kids this week than Palestinian rockets have claimed over all the years among all Israelis, let alone innocent children.

Minister Vilnai wasn’t the only government spokesperson to vilify human life itself this weekend in public comments.  Interior Minister Eli Yishai earnestly advocated genocidal war crimes against Gazans:

Read the rest of this entry →

I’m Disillusioned by the People Who Are Disillusioned by the People Who Are Disillusioned With Obama

9:11 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

George Clooney in ad by Anti-Republican Crusaders

The above ad, by Anti-Republican Crusaders, which they are encouraging people to distribute openly and widely, featuring actor George Clooney, is aimed at progressives who feel betrayed by Obama’s policies.  As in other pushes to draw people who had once supported Obama back into the fold, it is – to borrow the term Obama has been using on the stump this past week – Sketchy.

Has anyone yet caught Clooney openly and ardently defending the NDAA and its onerous indefinite detention provisions, that Obama is now defending to the hilt?

Or the secret kill list?

The secret kill list article:

kill list

Or the position of his Justice Department that the banksters are unprosecutable?

Or Obama’s stepped up program against medical marijuana clinics and users of medical marijuana, many of whom are Veterans and extremely ill?

Or his full-speed-ahead support of Shell Oil’s Arctic offshore drilling?

Or his rubber stamping of Department of Energy policy regarding nuclear power in the post-Fukushima world?

Or his scuttling of the Copenhagen climate conference?

Or his intentional torture of Bradley Manning?

Or his unprecedented war on whistleblowers?

Of course they haven’t

Clooney and his ilk cannot defend those policies, so he and the others avoid them or plead ignorance, like Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz did above.

They are wearing blinders.

And –  yes, Romney is the worse of two evils.

Unfortunately, my spiritual beliefs preclude me from voting for war criminals, so nothing Clooney says will influence me.  Perhaps others.

Meanwhile, I’m content working hard to convince people NOT to vote for Mitt Romney.

And getting ready to vote for some progressive ballot initiatives (local Alaska ones).

And some Democrats.

Just not the war criminal one.

Why I Cannot Envision Voting for Obama in November

12:19 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Scahill – Shaye – Obama

Jeremy Scahill is one of the most curious, thorough and courageous journalists working anywhere today.  As a writer, his book on the growth of military contractors such as Blackwater (now known as Xe Services LLC, uh – Academi), Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, won the George Polk Book Award.  His work with Democracy Now and The Nation is highly regarded by people concerned with the continuing abuse of American imperial power in the Obama administration.  Being a realist in terms of how Obama is conducting armed foreign policy has led to his being marginalized by apologists for these policies.

Scahill’s bottom line is that these policies, particularly the killing of hundreds of innocent people (if not more!) by our growing fleet of armed drone aircraft, are counter productive, and against our country’s long-term interests in many ways.  His latest article for The Nation, Why is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?, deals with aspects of that bottom line.  The article is far more chilling, though, in some of its content and message.  It shows quite clearly how the Obama administration’s manipulation of some of the new powers it asserts for the chief executive are beyond troublesome.  The secretiveness of this administration is no secret on the real left.  Not expressed in Scahill’s article, nor in Glen Greenwald’s thorough assessment of it, is what bothers me most about this administration’s growing uses of secrecy and extra-constitutional powers to go after its perceived enemies abroad – and here:

Once an American chief executive takes on new powers, his successor never backs down from that position.  Not even when, as Obama clearly did in 2008, the new president has promised on the campaign trail to ratchet these powers down a notch or two.

Here’s Greenwald’s description of some of what Scahill and others have uncovered, regarding the imprisonment in Yemen of another courageous journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, at the direct behest of Obama.  The White House is disturbed that Shaye uncovered a major Obama lie regarding civilian deaths from drone strikes:

There is one reason that the world knows the truth about what really happened in al Majala that day: because the Yemeni journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, traveled there and, as Scahill writes, “photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label ‘Made in the USA,’ and distributed the photos to international media outlets.” He also documented the remnants of the Tomahawks and cluster bombs, neither of which is in Yemen’s arsenal. And he provided detailed accounts proving that scores of civilians, including those 21 children, had been killed in the attacks. It was Shaye’s journalism that led Amnesty International to show the world the evidence that it was the U.S. which had perpetrated the attack using cluster bombs, and media outlets to reveal the horrifying extent of the civilian deaths. Shaye’s work was vindicated when WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable — allegedly provided by Bradley Manning — in which Yemen’s then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh joked with David Petraeus about continuing to lie to the public: ”We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”

Saleh, perhaps under pressure from the White House, had Shaye imprisoned without charge, tortured and abused:

Despite that important journalism — or, more accurately, because of it — Shaye is now in prison, thanks largely to President Obama himself. For the past two years, Shaye has been arrested, beaten, and held in solitary confinement by the security forces of Saleh, America’s obedient tyrant. In January, 2011, he was convicted in a Yemeni court of terrorism-related charges — alleging that he was not a reporter covering Al Qaeda but a mouthpiece for it — in a proceeding widely condemned by human rights groups around the world. “There are strong indications that the charges against [Shaye] are trumped up and that he has been jailed solely for daring to speak out about US collaboration in a cluster munitions attack which took place in Yemen,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, told Scahill. The Yemen expert, Johnsen, added: “There is no publicly available evidence to suggest that Abdulelah was anything other than a journalist attempting to do his job.”

Shaye’s real crime is that he reported facts that the U.S. government and its Yemeni client regime wanted suppressed. But while the imprisonment of this journalist was ignored in the U.S, it became a significant controversy in Yemen. Numerous Yemeni tribal leaders, sheiks and activist groups agitated for his release, and in response, President Saleh, as the Yemeni press reported, had a pardon drawn up for him and was ready to sign it. That came to a halt when President Obama intervened. According to the White House’s own summary of Obama’s February 3, 2011, call with Saleh, “President Obama expressed concern over the release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai.” The administration has repeatedly refused to present any evidence that Shaye is anything other than a reporter, and this is what State Department spokesperson Beth Gosselin told Scahill in response to his story:

“We are standing by [President Obama’s] comments from last February. We remain concerned about Shaye’s potential release due to his association with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We stand by the president’s comments.” When asked whether the US government should present evidence to support its claims about Shaye’s association with AQAP, Gosselin said, “That is all we have to say about this case.”

So it is beyond dispute that the moving force behind the ongoing imprisonment of this Yemeni journalist is President Obama. And the fact that Shaye is in prison, rather than able to report, is of particular significance (and value to the U.S.) in light of the still escalating American attacks in that country. Over the past 3 days alone, American air assaults have killed 64 people in Yemen, while American media outlets — without anyone on the scene — dutifully report that those killed are “suspected Al Qaeda insurgents” and “militants.”

This White House policy is not only stupid, it is dangerously blind.  And arrogant in a profoundly un-American way.

It is blind to how history works on a global scale.  And, importantly, it is blind to how a possible GOP successor to this president might use these same tools of dictatorship against what he or she perceives to be a threat, foreign – or domestic.  During the past few months, Obama and the U.S. Congress have undermined the Constitution in so many ways, it is hard to keep score.  Just this past week, we’ve been given the anti-Occupy H.R. 347, that would make our citizens’ protests outside the White House felonies.

I’ve never voted for an incumbent president before.  It doesn’t look like that will change.  This really sucks, as I’ve got a feeling that the Israel Lobby will be backing whichever jerk the GOP pulls out of their hat in Tampa, and that they might be powerful enough in the 2012 scenario to be the final arbiter of who ends up winning in November.

The dilemma for me is not whether or not I will vote for Obama, but how strenuously I’ll be backing an alternative candidate, such as Dr. Jill Stein, should she get the Green Party nomination.

But – no matter what – I cannot in good conscience consider marking Obama on my ballot.

Here’s Scahill on the Alyona Show last week – America Cannot Kill Its Way to Peace:

Obama Redefines No Child Left Behind as “No Child Left With a Behind”

1:44 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Obama took this kid’s hands.

Give the president a hand.

Now he’s pressing to make it easier to do that to more kids.  As long as they’re enemies of our increasingly failing, flailing state.

I. Cluster bombs have long been one of the most important components of of the American terror arsenal.  They have been outlawed by 111 countries.  The main opponent of that global policy is the United States.  I hoped that would end when Obama was elected.

Boy, was I stupid.

Not only did he get this kid all but whacked, he’s killed hundreds of other little boys and girls a lot like him, and his people try to lie to cover it up.  The cluster bomb attack:

Amnesty International has released images of a US-manufactured cruise missile that carried cluster munitions, apparently taken following an attack on an alleged al-Qa’ida training camp in Yemen that killed 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children.

The 17 December 2009 attack on the community of al-Ma’jalah in the Abyan area in the south of Yemen killed 55 people including 14 alleged members of al-Qa’ida.

>“A military strike of this kind against alleged militants without an attempt to detain them is at the very least unlawful. The fact that so many of the victims were actually women and children indicates that the attack was in fact grossly irresponsible, particularly given the likely use of cluster munitions,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Further description of Obama’s weapon of choice on Yemeni, Iraqi, Somali and Afghan kids:

Shortly after the attack some US media reported alleged statements by unnamed US government sources who said that US cruise missiles launched on presidential orders had been fired at two alleged al-Qa’ida sites in Yemen.

“Based on the evidence provided by these photographs, the US government must disclose what role it played in the al-Ma’jalah attack, and all governments involved must show what steps they took to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries,” said Philip Luther.

The photographs enable the positive identification of damaged missile parts, which appear to be from the payload, mid-body, aft-body and propulsion sections of a BGM-109D Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile.

m>This type of missile, launched from a warship or submarine, is designed to carry a payload of 166 cluster submunitions (bomblets) which each explode into over 200 sharp steel fragments that can cause injuries up to 150m away. An incendiary material inside the bomblet also spreads fragments of burning zirconium designed to set fire to nearby flammable objects.

The initial Obama response:

Amnesty International has requested information from the Pentagon about the involvement of US forces in the al-Ma’jalah attack, and what precautions may have been taken to minimize deaths and injuries, but has yet to receive a response.

The expanded, current Obama response – he wants to kill more and more kids in these never-ending wars:

Britain is backing a US-led plan to torpedo the global ban on cluster bombs, in what MPs and arms campaigners fear is an attempt to legitimise the use of weapons that are widely deemed to be inherently indiscriminate.

In recent years, the UK has played a leading role in trying to rid the world of cluster bombs. It is one of 111 countries that have signed up to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, is on target to destroy its own stockpile, and has ordered the US military to remove any submunitions it holds on British soil.

But The Independent has learnt that the UK Government is supporting a Washington-led proposal that would permit the use of cluster bombs as long as they were manufactured after 1980 and had a failure rate of less than one per cent. Arms campaigners say the 1980 cut-off point is arbitrary, and that many modern cluster bombs have far higher failure rates on the field of battle than manufacturers claim.

The international community is gathering in Geneva next week to discuss the proposal, which will be tabled as a new protocol for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons – a UN treaty from the early 1980s that forbids the use of “excessively injurious” weapons such as mines, booby traps, incendiary devices and blinding lasers.

The world’s major cluster bomb manufacturers – which include the US, Israel, Russia, China, South Korea, India and Pakistan – have all refused to sign up to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. They plan to push through a less restrictive treaty in Geneva next week.

Arms campaigners say the draft proposal would effectively legalise almost all cluster bombs and be a nail in the coffin of the hard-won cluster bomb ban, which is all but two years old. Austria, Norway and Mexico are leading opposition to the American-led proposal.

II. My first experience with people exposed to U.S. terror policies involving cluster bombs was over 38 years ago, in early 1973.

I was music director of a Seattle radio station – KRAB FM.  I was in Vancouver, BC, hoping to get an interview with a Chinese musician, as part of my efforts to put a human face on Chinese artists at the time the U.S. was beginning to show some sanity in our relationship with China. Two of my station colleagues, Roy Harvey and Karen Engstrom, were also in Vancouver, interviewing Scandinavian doctors and nurses who were passing through Vancouver on their way back from Hanoi-Haiphong, to their homes.  These medical practitioners had just witnessed our first massive cluster bomb campaign, an important, but yet largely unrecognized aspect of Operation Linebacker II, sometimes called Nixon’s Christmas.

I sat in on two of their interviews.  It was unnerving.  What was being described was an intentional campaign to destroy innocent North Vietnamese civilian infrastructure, bodies, souls and hopes.  The weapons, cluster bombs, were insidious in the way they enhanced Linebacker II‘s goals.

The bombs’ bomblets were, according to the Swedes, Finns and Latvians we listened to, clad in magnesium.  Inside were fiberglass balls and shards, white phosphorus and propellant explosive.  In use in the campaign, they penetrated human flesh in seemingly innocuous and medically operative ways.  But the X-ray machines could not detect the fiberglass balls and shards.  They were causing hemorrhage.

When doctors attempted to find what was causing the hemorrhage, they had to excavate into wounds to the point that victim after victim simply bled to death during the fruitless searches.

The doctors and nurses said that the injuries so overwhelmed the Hanoi-Haiphong medical infastructure that they begged the country’s leasdership to “return to the negotiating table” with the U.S. regarding the stalled peace negotiations.  According to them, it worked.

Although I had experienced hatred directed to me as an American before these interviews, it was my first experience like that from people with whom I had thought there would always be rapport.  They did not hide their hatred for me.  They couldn’t.

I was ashamed.

Almost needless to say, National Public Radio, with which we had recently begun to affiliate at KRAB, did not want to touch Harvey and Engstrom’s report with a ten-foot pole.  Pacifica only aired a very sanitized version of their efforts.

While driving back to Seattle from Vancouver, we were listening on the radio to Dmitri Shostakovich’s profund tragedy, his 8th string quartet on the radio.  I finally understood the work.  He had written it in Dresden in 1960, after seeing first-hand the remaining destruction from the U.S.-U.K. firebombing of that city in February, 1945.

The horror Shostakovich had felt finally struck home.  I cried openly, in front of my friends, who were also so shaken by our introduction to how people feel about U.S. use of cluster bombs on innocent civilians:

Part One:

Part Two:

Sen. Leahy Preparing Legislation to Strip Funding from IDF Units Suspected of Human Rights Violations

10:23 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

"Sen. Patrick Leahy"

"Sen. Patrick Leahy" by wunderlich on flickr

The Senate has restricted U.S. military aid in the past to countries implicated in serious human rights violations. Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan have had military funding withheld when evidence surfaced of war crimes or endemic rights violations.

Vermont U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy has been working on possible legislation to target three Israeli units for a similar cutoff: Shayetet 13, the naval commando unit that killed eight Turks and an American on the Mavi Marmara, the undercover Duvdevan unit, and the Shaldag unit of the air force.

Sen. Leahy has been considering this move since early summer, but the news broke today, with a story in Haaretz:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a long-time friend of Leahy’s, met with him in Washington two weeks ago to try to persuade him to withdraw the initiative.

According to a senior Israeli official in Jerusalem, Leahy began promoting the legislation in recent months after he was approached by voters in his home state of Vermont.

A few months ago, a group of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a rally across from Leahy’s office, demanding that he denounce the killing by Shayetet 13 commandos of nine Turkish activists who were part of the flotilla to Gaza last May.

Leahy, who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee’s sub-committee on foreign operations, was the principle sponsor of a 1997 bill prohibiting the United States from providing military assistance or funding to foreign military units suspected of human rights abuses or war crimes. The law also stipulates that the U.S. Defense Department screen foreign officers and soldiers who come to the United States for training for this purpose.

Leahy wants the new clause to become a part of the U.S. foreign assistance legislation for 2012, placing restrictions on military assistance to Israel, particularly to those three units.

Leahy says these units are responsible for harming innocent Palestinian civilians and that no system of investigation is in place to ensure that their members are not committing human rights violations. According to Leahy’s proposal, U.S. military assistance to Israel would be subject to the same restrictions that apply to countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan.

Apparently, Leahy let the Israeli government know early on that he was contemplating applying the same standards to the IDF that we assign to the other three countries to which we give such aid. Read the rest of this entry →

As the Rachel Corrie Civil Suit Ends Testimony Today, Thoughts on How Israel Treats Foreign Nationals

9:41 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Rachel Corrie covered with her flag in a Palestinian morgue

I. The Israeli government and military would prefer that no foreign nationals critical of the policies of that government be given any sort of forum that either brings public attention to abuses, war crimes and human rights violations against Palestinians, or humanizes the Palestinians’ plight in ways that seek to give the latter more freedom over the administration of their own affairs.  Although most foreign nationals who want to help the Palestinians gain more freedom despise the thugs of Hamas and buffoons of Fatah, defenders of Israeli human rights abuses and war crimes unceasingly attempt to frame defenders of Palestinians as friends of Hamas.  The reality is that the IDF and Israeli government need Hamas desperately, to keep propped up as a vicious boogeyman.  They would rather have a few rockets rain down on their own people in Sderot, than have none at all.

The 2010 Gaza flotilla was brutally intercepted by Israeli naval forces.  After taking the Turkish vessel, MV Mavi Marmara, the Israelis summarily executed several Turks, and then crafted a disturbingly false narrative about how heavily armed these evil, swarthy (read non-white “other”) Turks were.  It fit the racist meme that abides so comfortably in the increasingly openly racist Israeli military and society at large.  And, sadly, that same meme works well with the kinds of Americans who thrive on Fox News myths about swarthy people out of control.

The MV Mavi Marmara was taken violently on purpose.  Had I been the commander of the naval operation, knowing for weeks that the MVMM would be among the mix of vessels, all I would have had to say would have been, “find me a way to peacefully stop the big Turkish cruise ship, or I will demote you,” and a solution would have been found within an hour.

Apparently, the Israeli military learned enough from 2010 that nobody was murdered this year.  This is good.  The 2011 flotilla organizers were, frankly, as unimaginative as possible, though.  Expecting the Greek government to not react to the combined pressures of the U.S. and Israeli governments during an almost catastrophic internal crisis was a major strategic error.

But both the 2010 and 2011 flotillas have had an impact upon the people of the Gaza Strip that has been positive.  The recent improvements in the amounts of needed goods entering Gaza is a direct result of continuing efforts by the movements sponsoring or being inspired by the flotilla movement.  Some Israeli commentators and government officials have acknowledged just that.  American citizen Furkan Doğan and his Turkish brothers did not give their lives in vain.

This weekend’s”Welcome to Palestine flytilla,” farcical on many levels, has not been covered well by the American media, but the Europeans, whose countries were the points of departure for the protesters, saw a healthy dose of coverage over the past three days.  And so did firedoglake.

Nothing troubles Israeli policy makers in terms of their continuing expansion into new lands in the West Bank, outright theft of land and resources, and seemingly blasé murder of one innocent Palestinian after another, than when a foreign national objecting to these illegal practices is hurt or killed.  Especially if that foreign national is white.  (As clarification, I consider Turks white, for what it is worth, but watching Israeli and some American press coverage of Turkish issues, it appears some do not.)

II. On Sunday, July 10th, the wrongful death civil suit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie against the Israeli Defense Forces, will see its last day of testimony:

Former Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade Commander, Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz – the final witness in the case – is scheduled to testify Sunday, July 10, in the Corrie civil trial against the State of Israel.

Colonel Zuaretz was the commanding officer of the Israeli military’s Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade in 2003, when American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed. Troops under his command were responsible for the actions resulting in her killing. Zuaretz is the highest ranking officer called as a government witness in the civil trial who had command responsibility in Gaza. He is possibly the highest such officer ever to face cross examination in a civil suit regarding the actions of the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza during the second intifada. His testimony is expected to shed light on the Israeli military’s failures as an occupying power to protect civilian life and property in the region.

The trial began in March 2010, and has taken longer than expected, partially because of a strike by court workers in late 2010.  A few of the revelations from the trial have been jarring.  Here are the most notable:

On March 14, 2010, IDF forensic examiner Yehuda Hiss admitted to not allowing U.S. embassy personnel observe him conducting Corrie’s autopsy.  His testimony revealed that the U.S. Embassy had lied to the Corrie family.  Hiss also testified, rather disturbingly:

Dr. Hiss also disclosed that he had kept samples from Rachel’s body for histological testing without informing her family. Dr. Hiss admitted that he did not inform the family about their right to bury the samples and that the samples were likely to have been buried with other body samples from the Institute, but he was uncertain. This was the first time that the family of Rachel Corrie received confirmation that the Israeli Forensic Institute had indeed kept samples of her body, despite prior attempts to receive this information. Dr. Hiss has been the subject of a prior lawsuit in Israel brought by families for whom he did not return body parts and samples.

On March 15, 2010, British citizen and nurse, Alice Coy, a witness to Corrie’s death, testified that despite published IDF reports that there were no home demolitions ongoing where Corrie was killed, that certainly was not the case.  She also testified that “When the Israeli Military interviewed her on April 1st about Rachel’s killing, the soldier who documented her testimony refused to record her statement that she believed the bulldozers were going to destroy civilian homes.”  Eventually, the home Corrie tried to protect on March 16, 2003 was destroyed by an IDF bulldozer.

Max Blumenthal covered Hiss’ background:

Who is Dr. Hiss? The chief pathologist of Israel for a decade and a half, Hiss was implicated by a 2001 investigation by the Israeli Health Ministry of stealing body parts ranging from legs to testicles to ovaries from bodies without permission from family members then selling them to research institutes. Bodies plundered by Hiss included those of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. He was finally removed from his post in 2004 when the body of a teenage boy killed in a traffic accident was discovered to have been thoroughly gnawed on by a rat in Hiss’s laboratory. In an interview with researcher Nancy Schepper-Hughes, Hiss admitted that he harvested organs if he was confident relatives would not discover that they were missing. He added that he often used glue to close eyelids to hide missing corneas.

Max also wrote about the testimony that week of a Col. “Yossi”:

In a small courtroom on the sixth floor of Haifa’s District Court, a colonel in the Israeli engineering corps who wrote a manual for the bulldozer units that razed the Rafah Refugee Camp in 2003 offered his opinion on the killing of the American activist Rachel Corrie.

There are no civilians during wartime,” Yossi declared under oath.

Yossi made his remarkable statement under withering cross examination by Hussein Abu Hussein, the lawyer for the family of Corrie

Col. Yossi’s statement of belief or of policy (he wrote a book on it, after all) is more troubling to me than that of Dr. Hiss.  Essentially, Israel considers itself to be at war with not just Hamas, but with any government, any movement and any individual who seeks to “delegitimize” its expansionist policies and racist implementation of it.  People like me, CTuttle and anyone else who is critical of these policies is a potential target for whatever might be deemed appropriate for us, should we get in the way.

On March 22 and 24, 2010, it was revealed in the trial that:

One commander of the unit involved in the incident interrupted the testimony of the operator of the bulldozer that killed Rachel, telling him that the head of the Southern Command of the Israeli military ordered him to stop talking, not to sign anything and not to cooperate with the investigation. When asked if he considered this an intervention into the interrogation, the investigator testified that he did.

and:

Though the camera posted on the border was taping 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the investigator testified that he did not see footage from the camera, nor did he ask to, stating that it was someone else’s responsibility.

When the trial resumed on September 5, 2010, a military police investigator, “Oded,” revealed that even though he had been assigned to investigate Corrie’s death, he was unqualified, and was not helped by the IDF, in any event:

Oded confirmed that a commander of the unit involved in Rachel’s killing interrupted the questioning of the bulldozer operator, telling him that Doron Almog, head of the Israeli military’s Southern Command, had ordered that the questioning cease. He also said that, in his experience, interference of this nature from military commanders was not uncommon.

When asked why he did not challenge the intervention, Oded said that as a junior investigator, it was not his place to do so. He was 20-years-old at the time, with only a high-school education and three-months of training in investigation.

Corrie’s case was the first civilian killing that Oded investigated from beginning to end.

Like El’ad [who testified in March], Oded stated that neither he nor any other investigator visited the site of the killing.

Oded’s testimony revealed that much of the conversation recorded by the bulldozer teams in the area of Corrie’s death had been in Arabic, and that he did not speak the language.  More Israeli racism and dual standard came out:

Oded testified that none of the investigators interviewed any of the Palestinian witnesses – including medical personnel who examined Rachel immediately following the incident. When asked why, he said he did not think they could provide any useful information.

When the trial resumed on October 10, the Corries argued that witnesses from the IDF should be visible in court, rather than kept behind a screen:

Lawyers for the family of Rachel Corrie filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday, challenging a decision to allow soldiers to testify behind a screen in the lawsuit filed against the State of Israel for the unlawful killing of the American peace activist in Rafah, Gaza.

State attorneys made the highly unusual request in court on Thursday, October 7 arguing that they were necessary to protect the soldiers’ safety and prevent their images from being circulated. Haifa District Court Judge Oded Gershon granted the request, ruling that all but two soldiers, who were both already known to the public, would be permitted to provide their testimony hidden from public view.

Corrie attorneys opposed the motion, arguing that allowing the soldiers to testify behind a screen infringes upon the fundamental right to an open, fair and transparent trial. They argued that the government request was based on an overbroad security certificate issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008, was not supported by concrete evidence to substantiate their concerns for the soldiers’ safety or security. The lawyers will also ask the Supreme Court to review Judge Gerhson’s decision not to allow the family to see the witnesses even if the public could not.

The Corries lost their motion, and the driver testified behind a screen on October 23:

In over four hours of often confused testimony, Y.P. seemed to struggle to read and understand his own affidavit signed in April. He could not remember basic facts, such as the date of Rachel’s killing or time of day it happened. He repeatedly contradicted his own statements on the stand and testimony given to military police investigators in 2003.

Highlights of testimony include the following:

  • Y.P stated that after he drove over Rachel and backed up, she was located between his bulldozer and the mound of earth that he had pushed, corroborating photographic evidence and testimony from international eyewitnesses given to the court in March. His testimony calls into question that of the commander inside this same bulldozer, whose written affidavit states that Rachel’s body was located in a different location, on the far side of the mound of earth created by the bulldozer. In court, Y.P. was asked if based on this contradiction he wanted to change his testimony. He firmly stated no.
  • In testimony to military police investigators only three days after the incident, Y.P. said the blind spot in front of the bulldozer was 3 meters. In contradicting court testimony, he claimed the blind spot was 30 meters – ten times the distance first stated.
  • Y.P. knew about regulations that the bulldozer was not to work within 10 meters of people. He was aware civilians were present, but said he was given orders to continue working. He said I’ m just a soldier. It was not my decision.
  • He claimed he did not see Rachel before the event. Nor did he recall seeing her specifically at all that day, despite the fact that she had protested the bulldozer’s activity for several hours and was the only female activist wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket.

The Corries were disappointed they could not see their daughter’s killer:

Following the driver’s testimony, Cindy Corrie stated, “It was very difficult not to hear or detect anything in this witness’s words or voice that suggested remorse. Sadly, what I heard from the other side of the screen was indifference.”

Israeli blogger and peace activist, Dimi Reider, who was there, noted at the time:

Cindy Corrie said yesterday she didn’t hear the driver express any remorse for what had happened. On reflection, I think this may not be as clear cut. While he certainly didn’t apologize, voice any regret or in any way reacted to the Corries’ presence in the same room with him, I was struck how he avoided using the first person when referring to Rachel’s death; asked to affirm his identity and role on the day, he said, “I was the driver of the bulldozer on the day she.. the girl.. was run over.” He maintained this alienation throughout the day; the closest he came to acknowledging his direct, personal role, was in the repeated phrase, “I understood I may have hit someone.” Perhaps this is just wishful thinking on my part, but I couldn’t avoid thinking this alienation signalled that like many a combatant, in some place within him, the driver understands exactly what he has done, and perhaps wishes that things have turned out otherwise; while distant, he certainly didn’t sound blasé.

After the Israeli court strike was over, and the courts caught back up, there were more sessions this spring.

On April 4, 2011, the trial resumed, with more confusing testimony by IDF personnel.  One witness, Captain S.R, corroborated the accuracy of International Solidarity Movement witnesses, that has long been challenged by right-wing American and Israeli bloggers:

The commander of the unit that killed Rachel Corrie told a Haifa court on Sunday that he was ordered to continue bulldozer work even though it presented danger to civilians, including foreign activists, who were present in the area and could not be dispersed.

Known to the court as Captain S.R., the Bedouin officer said that he actually requested to halt bulldozer operations on the day Rachel was killed, because he thought civilians might be hurt, but was ordered to continue.

On the day she was killed, Captain S.R. radioed to Israeli army command and said that something from the bulldozer fell on Rachel. However, in court, he admitted he did not see the exact moment of the incident and that this was only a fleeting hypothesis. He said he reached Rachel’s body less than one minute after the incident and it was immediately clear by marks in the ground that Rachel had been hit by the bulldozer.

Captain S.R.’s testimony about the location of Rachel’s body after she was hit corroborated that of international eyewitnesses and the bulldozer driver, all of whom said that after the bulldozer backed up, Rachel’s body was located between the bulldozer and the mound of earth that it had pushed. This calls into question the testimony of the bulldozer commander, and the position of the State, that Rachel’s body was in a different location: on the far side of the mound of earth created by the bulldozer. Captain S.R. confirmed that evidence photos taken by the protesters that day accurately reflect the scene of the incident after Ms. Corrie was hit.

  • He confirmed that a female soldier viewed the site through a remote camera that day, and instructions could be given to his unit based on what was seen.
  • The Captain’s review of an interview he gave to Israeli Channel 2 TV’s “Uvda” program confirmed the existence of IDF video footage that has not been submitted into evidence by the State or provided to the Corrie family’s attorneys through discovery. The interview, aired on April 5, 2003, included a segment of March 16th, 2003 Israeli military video of the operations. His testimony confirms additional IDF video exists, even though the lead Military Police investigator responsible for obtaining evidence in the case stated firmly that there is no additional video.
  • He confirmed that a written document does exist that outlines regulations, specific to civilians, for a “removal procedure” – a set of instructions outlining how to remove civilians in situations such as these. Attorneys for the State continued to claim the regulation does not exist – in direct contradiction to the sworn testimony of their own witness moments before.

The testimony continued with “S.L., who in 2003 was head of the Mechanized Engineering Equipment Department.”

In an affidavit submitted to the court, referring to regulations, S.L. said, “in no way is the directive applicable to the operational conditions in which the bulldozer operated in this case.” However, in court on Sunday, he contradicted that assertion and admitted that regulations requiring that D9 bulldozers not operate within 20 meters of people did, in fact, apply.

When asked if there were “lessons learned” in response to this incident, he said he was unaware of any changes made in training and affirmed that to date, cameras to improve visibility have not been added to the bulldozers. He said the Israeli army experimented with cameras but found they were not a good solution because they were too easily damaged and because neither the bulldozer operator nor his commander had ability to pay attention to the cameras under operational circumstances. However, he confirmed that unmanned “drone” bulldozers with cameras attached were used by the Israeli army during the Lebanon invasion of 2006.

On April 11, 2011, witnesses again testified behind a screen.

Deputy Battalion Commander Sh.R, a Major responsible for overseeing 450-500 soldiers in Gaza, said he was located about 1 ½ kilometers from the scene at the army’s Liaison Unit with Foreign Forces (Yaklaz), and that although the bulldozer work was under the direct ground supervision of Captain S.R., he was in a position to influence the work and was ultimately responsible for the decisions made that day. This was significant because in the preceding hearing, Captain S.R., a Bedouin officer who testified earlier in the week, told the court he requested to halt his work because of the presence of the protesters, and potential danger to them, but received orders to continue.

Major  Sh.R, in his testimony, presented a hard doctrinaire IDF line.  At the Rachel Corrie Foundation trial blog, the major’s assertion is challenged:

Sh.R. defined the “Philidelphi Route” not just as the narrow, Israeli controlled, military road running parallel to the Gaza/Egypt border, but rather as the entire width of land between the Egypt border and the first row of Palestinian houses inside Gazan territory. He also insisted that Palestinians in these houses were those digging tunnels, snipers attacking the military, or smuggling weapons, and that clearing and destroying homes was done only after it was “beyond a reasonable doubt” that homes were empty. His description, although emblematic of the Israeli military’s position regarding the area in 2003, completely ignores the fact, and credible documentation by U.N. humanitarian agencies and human rights groups, that the land was once filled with densely populated civilian homes, the first row of which receded rapidly as the Israeli military bulldozed row upon row of houses, widening the border’s buffer zone and claiming the newly razed Palestinian territory for its own. Comparative satellite photos from a 2004 Human Rights Watch publication titled Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip document this “wholesale destruction” of Palestinian homes along Gaza’s southern border.

In his continuing testimony, the major made an interesting assertion:

Sh.R. stated he knew unarmed protestors were in the area, but in his opinion, stopping the work was not an option. He said the protesters were not a threat to the force, but added that if every foreigner came to raise banners, terrorists would also come and he would lose his ability to control the region. He admitted that avoiding a precedent was a consideration in the decision to continue working. He stated that in his opinion, the protesters should have been barred from entering Gaza. [emphasis added]

Major Sh.R. said more than he may have intended.  Additionally, his further testimony, linked to the deaths of other foreign nationals during the same time period as Corrie, is quite troubling.  The Corrie Foundation article on this states:

Although, he described in testimony that regulations state you don’t shoot unless there is intent and means to hurt you, a written summary of events recorded in the daily operations log on March 16, 2003, stated, “those foreigners should be handled and their entrance into the Gaza Strip should be forbidden. Additionally, the work must continue in the area in question. The firing orders state that every adult person should be shot to kill.” Within seven weeks of Rachel’s killing, award winning journalist James Miller and activist Tom Hurndall, both British citizens, were shot and killed along the same two mile stretch of the Rafah, Gaza border.

One should realize that this corridor of densely packed civilian housing that the IDF was willing to kill so many people over, has since been abandoned by the IDF.

The local platoon commander that day, A.D, provided more information that should be troubling, in regard to Israeli military disregard of international law:

  • work, although he could not remember anything about the specific file that day.
  • The APC had a periscope from which they could see a longer distance from the vehicle.
  • Commander R.S. spoke frequently on the cell phone and, in order to use it, he had to remove his helmet. This contradicts earlier military testimonies that claimed helmets worn would never be removed and, thus, soldiers would not have heard the protesters shouting through the megaphone nearby.
  • He could not recall the specific safety instructions for the D9 bulldozer, but said the unit would continue working as carefully as possible. He believed work was allowed if protesters were within 15 meters of the vehicle, but not if they were within 5 meters.
  • He knew that the protesters were civilians and “Americans.”
  • He said there was a first aid kit within the APC, and he believed it was likely that the radio communications person in the vehicle was also a trained medic. However, he confirmed that the medical kit was not thrown to the protesters after Rachel was hit. Testimony made clear that no serious attempt was made by the military to provide medical assistance to Rachel at the scene prior to Palestinian medics evacuating her.

The soldiers offered no medical assistance. Corrie might have been saved, but was not.

This is consistent with the evidence provided by the video smuggled off of the MV Mavi Marmara by Iara Lee, which clearly showed both that the Israeli soldiers wounded and captured by resistors on that ship were immediately given medical assistance, and that the Israeli military refused any medical attention to the wounded Turks, as they went about assassinating at close range.

On May 22, former IDF spokesperson, Ruth Yaron took the stand.  From the Corrie Foundation trial blog:

Yaron’s testimony focused on the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), in a weak attempt by the State to justify the military’s killing of Rachel by delegitimizing the organization’s mission of resisting the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands using only non-violent, direct action, methods. Rachel was an unarmed civilian, non-violently protesting against home demolitions in Rafah, Gaza, when she was killed. Yaron provided no first-hand knowledge of events, and relied heavily on second or third hand sources and hearsay.

Additional information about Yaron’s testimony will be released in the future.

Sunday is supposed to be this long trial’s final day of testimony.  Scheduled is the former Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade Commander, Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz:

Colonel Zuaretz was the commanding officer of the Israeli military’s Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade in 2003, when American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed. Troops under his command were responsible for the actions resulting in her killing. Zuaretz is the highest ranking officer called as a government witness in the civil trial who had command responsibility in Gaza. He is possibly the highest such officer ever to face cross examination in a civil suit regarding the actions of the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza during the second intifada. His testimony is expected to shed light on the Israeli military’s failures as an occupying power to protect civilian life and property in the region.

It will be some time before a decision is reached, and whichever way it comes out, it is certainly likely to be appealed all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court.

III. As Israel becomes more racist, as land confiscation in the West Bank ramps up, as Netanyahu dares our government to object in the run-up to major fundraising for the 2012 election, and as participants of this summer’s protests to Israeli occupation and apartheid policies seek to find ways to be more effective in the future, it is important to realize that Palestinians don’t resent that so much more attention was brought to Rachel’s demise, or to the flotillas and fytilla than has been brought to the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, Lebanese and others, at the hands of the IDF.

It is also important to note that in 2003, when Corrie was killed, perhaps murdered, there was no Hamas boogey man running Gaza.  It was under control of the Palestinian Authority, and was being aggressively colonized by Israeli settlers, using the South African model, as they continue to do in the occupied West Bank.

This weekend the Israelis stopped hundreds of peaceful Americans and Europeans from merely getting off an airplane in Tel Aviv to go to the West Bank.  Almost 100 are in jail right now.  Some will be there for weeks.  Alice Walker, who was on the American boat hoping to go to Gaza, the MV Audacity of Hope, was in the West Bank last spring.  She wrote this:

I have been in Palestine for five days.  It has been amazing.  Deeply distressing and sad in many ways; but also filled with joy, with creativity, exuberance, and hope.  Who knew there was so much life left in Palestine?  That people are in love with literature and poetry?  That young people are on fire about the novels and short stories they’re reading in their classes?  As well as about the revolutions shaking the Arab world? That despite the hardships of  occupation there is a sense among Palestinians that the world is changing and is at last capable of hearing them.  And not just hearing them, but responding.  And not only to their tragic and hair raising reports of the lethal Israeli occupation; an occupation as pathological as any ever to afflict humankind.  No, the thought in the air around here resembles the brilliant red poppy one sees glowing between massive rocks, its roots somehow not crushed, that sings:  Oh yes, I am still here, still red, still blooming as me, in spite of everything!  And guess what?  I have no desire to resemble these rocks that sit on top of me.

This is the peace of non-violent revolt which entails a radical dedication to non-abandonment of the peaceful self.

Long live all of us, and especially the Palestinian people: Tenacious, like the red poppy. Waving bright hope in the smallest wind.   Blooming, joyful, retaining our humor and generosity to the stranger, but also our love of  green grass and Spring.

Each of Earth’s peoples teaches the rest of us  something:  You demonstrate steadfastness: how to hold on, through lies, murder, brutal repression, breathtaking theft, unbearable despair, until at last, singing our own outraged and wild poppy song, we come to join you.

Eight years ago this week, as I sought permission from Rachel Corrie’s family to write music honoring her, Cindy Corrie wrote to me:

Our lives are fairly complicated these days, as I am sure you can imagine….. Our loss is great but creative responses like yours to Rachel’s life and death lift my spirits so.

The Corries continue their complicated fight to lift the spirits of the oppressed Palestinian people. Let us hope the Corries and the Palestinians get some overdue justice, for their children, who deserve more than what we now give them.

The Amalthea Nears Gaza – Flotilla 2010, Round Three

4:10 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Libyan-chartered, Moldovan-flagged freighter, Amalthea, is about 95 miles due north of Alexandria, traveling at 8.5 knots, on a course of about 106 degrees. It is about 250 miles from the Gaza shore. At course and speed, that should put it near the area where the Rachel Corrie was seized by the IDF last month in about 24 hours.

Antiwar.com‘s news wire reports:

A pair of Lebanese NGOs are already raising funds for a trip, which will carry a large number of journalists and even a few European MPs. A small Jewish group from Germany is also planning to send a small aid ship.

These are just the groups farthest along in their efforts, and other groups across the Muslim world and indeed, the world in general, are looking to challenge the long-standing blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel’s pledges to stop them all notwithstanding, they look to have an uphill battle in contending with so many aid groups, and so much international pressure.