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723 Palestinians, 35 Israelis* Killed in Gaza Conflict; Israel Reservists Refuse to Serve

8:06 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

703 Palestinians [Update 7 a.m. ET: 723 Palestinians] (around 560 civilians), 35 Israelis* (three civilians, *including one Thai resident) have now died in the Gaza conflict, and from various directions pressure is building on Israel. The most important word in the following lead sentence, I think, is the one I’ve emphasized:

Israel faced new political and economic pressures Wednesday to negotiate a halt to the Gaza war, with its rising toll of death and destruction, as cease-fire talks ground forward and the Israeli tourism industry was upended as major foreign airlines extended their suspension of flights over fears of Palestinian rocket fire.

Even the mainstream media now recognizes that Hamas has transformed the conflict from just another collective punishment orgy against Gaza into a war over the brutal siege, obviously ‘illegal’ under what is called ‘international law’, that Israel has punished Gaza with for voting Hamas into office in 2006. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal:

Let’s agree first on the demands and on implementing them and then we can agree on the zero hour for a ceasefire … We will not accept any proposal that does not lift the blockade … We do not desire war and we do not want it to continue but we will not be broken by it.

Meanwhile, growing numbers of Israeli reservists are refusing to serve in the Gaza war (whenever Israel launches one of its frequent wars, it calls up thousands of reserves). Read the petition at
We are Israeli reservists. We refuse to serve.
The introduction, written by journalist and former Israeli soldier Yael Even Or, is actually more to the point than the petition itself:

We are more than 50 Israelis who were once soldiers and now declare our refusal to be part of the reserves. We oppose the Israeli Army and the conscription law. Partly, that’s because we revile the current military operation. But most of the signers below are women and would not have fought in combat. For us, the army is flawed for reasons far broader than “Operation Protective Edge,” or even the occupation. We rue the militarization of Israel and the army’s discriminatory policies. One example is the way women are often relegated to low-ranking secretarial positions. Another is the screening system that discriminates against Mizrachi (Jews whose families originate in Arab countries) by keeping them from being fairly represented inside the army’s most prestigious units. In Israeli society, one’s unit and position determines much of one’s professional path in the civilian afterlife.

To us, the current military operation and the way militarization affects Israeli society are inseparable. In Israel, war is not merely politics by other means — it replaces politics. Israel is no longer able to think about a solution to a political conflict except in terms of physical might; no wonder it is prone to never-ending cycles of mortal violence. And when the cannons fire, no criticism may be heard.

This petition, long in the making, has a special urgency because of the brutal military operation now taking place in our name. …

P.S. – One reason, in my humble opinion, that the war is falling apart for the Israeli leadership, and is ‘getting away’ from its simple apparent purpose, ‘do something about those missiles’, is that you can’t do anything (just) about the missiles. Israel has three realistic (which doesn’t mean civilized) choices: 1) destroy Gaza and kill or deport all its Palestinians, 2) do nothing and accept the missiles in the way people accept traffic accidents (which kill far more people in Israel than missiles from Gaza do), or 3) negotiate a long-term peace agreement with Hamas (notes: not with the PLO; Egypt is the worst possible intermediary). Instead of choosing one of those three, Israel has chosen something else, and the backfiring sound can be heard all around the world.

496 Palestinians, 20 Israelis Die in Gaza Conflict; Why the Shujaiyah Massacre?

6:33 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

A donkey

In one article, a Washington Post writer seems more concerned with livestock than human lives.

Yesterday was the most deadly day in the Gaza conflict, and 496 Palestinians (80% of them civilians) and 20 Israelis (2 of them civilians) have now died. What made the numbers skyrocket was mainly Israel’s massive and indiscriminate shelling of the Gaza’s Shujaiyah neighborhood. The photos are grueling (some of the most heartrending and stark are here), as are written descriptions of the chaos and death:

An ambulance sat on shot-out tyres, shrapnel punched through its sides. A charred car lay flattened as if by a giant hand. Smoke rose from one end of the street in a dark billowing curtain.

Fallen trees, tangled electricity cables and drifts of rubble covered the road, smashed, chopped and torn apart by Israeli shells and bombs that slammed into this Gaza City district at a rate of one every five seconds on Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday.

A body was carried out of a ruined house, then a second and a third – seven in total from buildings within a hundred metres of each other during a brief agreed lull in the fighting to evacuate the dead and wounded. A little further along, bodies lay in the street where they had fallen, mostly scorched figures – one still in a yellow dressing gown – others missing limbs.

Inside the shelled neighborhoods, scores of people lay dead, others were wounded with scenes of entire buildings destroyed. Houses were still ablaze from the IDF onslaught, with corpses burnt almost beyond recognition, with the dead numbering both young and old, including small children. …

The injured from Shejaia were rushed to Gaza City’s central Shifa Hospital. Chaos reigned inside the hospital as wounded children were brought to the overflowing emergency room, forcing the medical staff to treat the wounded in a hallway.

Why did Israel let loose this hell on a residential neighborhood? One plausible theory (translated from the Arabic by the Angry Arab) is that its military was reacting angrily to the deaths of a surprising number of Israeli soldiers late Saturday and early Sunday:

Let us talk coldly and without agitation: by the admission of Israeli sources themselves–and they lie to the extreme to the extent that lying can be effective–the Golani Brigade lost more than 18 soldiers between yesterday and today, and most of them in the battle of Shuja`iyyah. The sources did not reveal the number of injured but they are in the tens, and may exceed a hundred. The horrible massacre against the people of Shuja`iyyah was a manifestation of Israel frenzy after the attack. …

The Gaza government called the Shujaiyah attack a “heinous massacre” and the Arab League described it as a war crime, but as for our West, “condemnation from international leaders was muted. Amid floundering efforts to start meaningful ceasefire talks, there was little sign of real pressure on Israel to lessen or halt the killing of civilians.”

Meanwhile, in propaganda watch:

The Washington Post is very outraged about the coverage of Gaza; the wrong victims are getting too much attention

‘The death of almost this entire herd went largely unreported in Israel and abroad, even though those who cared for the animals said they were traumatized by the sight of so much blood and carnage.’

Yeah, don’t you just love Angry Arab? And hate the Washington Post?

Angry Arab also links to an analysis that rings true on how most Arabs must be feeling right now, by Saudi Arabian writer Khaled Almaeena:

Read the rest of this entry →

4 Boys Killed Playing on a Beach; 223 Palestinians, 1 Israeli Killed in Gaza Conflict

4:24 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Israeli naval shelling [correction: air strikes] has killed four children on a Gaza beach. The deaths were witnessed by many international journalists, among them the UK Guardian‘s Peter Beaumont:

The first projectile hit the sea wall of Gaza City’s little harbour just after four o’clock. As the smoke from the explosion thinned, four figures could be seen running, ragged silhouettes, legs pumping furiously along the wall. Even from a distance of 200 metres, it was obvious that three of them were children.

Jumping off the harbour wall, they turned on to the beach, attempting to cross the short distance to the safety of the Al-Deira hotel, base for many of the journalists covering the Gaza conflict. They waved and shouted at the watching journalists as they passed a little collection of brightly coloured beach tents, used by bathers in peacetime.

It was there that the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: ‘They are only children.’

In the space of 40 seconds, four boys who had been playing hide and seek among fishermen’s shacks on the wall were dead. They were aged between seven and 11; two were named Mohammad, one Zakaria and the youngest Ahed. All were members of the extended Bakr family.

The number of Palestinian dead is now at least 223. Israel and Hamas have agreed to a temporary, five-hour ceasefire requested by the UN on humanitarian grounds.

Maybe just maybe being direct eyewitnesses to a sample of Israel’s ‘carefully targeted’ killings will make a few more Western journalists courageous enough to tell the real Gaza story. The phrase ‘collective punishment’ might even be inserted occasionally into mainstream news or punditry, who knows? The tragedy has directly inspired Western headlines such as these:

And there are other hopeful signs of a break in the pro-Israel propaganda storm. For example, in a counter to the main ‘news’ (“Humanitarian Israel is telling Gazans to get out of the way!”) propaganda of the hours before the deaths of the four Gaza boys, the Dallas Morning-News presents this reality: Gaza civilians urged to evacuate often have nowhere to go.

More from Peter Beaumont on the Palestinian boys:

As relatives gathered not far from the Al-Deira hotel to bury the four dead boys, barely 90 minutes after the attack on the beach, the boys’ uncle, Abdel Kareem Baker, 41, said: ‘It’s a cold-blooded massacre. It’s a shame they didn’t identify them as kids with all of the advanced technology they claim they’re using.’

Meanwhile in Israel:

A well-known Israeli politician and parliament member has branded Palestinians as terrorists, saying mothers of all Palestinians should also be killed during the ongoing Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Ayelet Shaked of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to ‘little snakes.’

‘They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists,’ Shaked said, adding, ‘They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists.’

208 Palestinians, 1 Israeli Killed in Gaza Conflict; Brits Blast Biased BBC Reporting

6:51 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

 

Brian Eno at a microphone

Musician Brian Eno & other UK residents are protesting not just Israel’s attack on Gaza, but the BBC’s biased reporting.

208 Palestinians have now died in Gaza, 80% of them civilians, and one Israeli civilian has died, but in limited good news many in Britain are protesting not just Israel’s air strikes but also the Western media’s biased, pro-Israel reporting. London protesters rallied outside the headquarters of the publicly funded BBC, saying its reporting disappears the “context or background” of Israel’s previous Gaza occupation and its never-ending air strikes on Gaza since 2006. The UK Independent quotes an open letter from the Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and other groups to the BBC Director General:

We would like to remind you that Gaza has no army, air force, or navy, while Israel possess one of the strongest militaries in the world. …

When you portray the occupier as the victim, and the occupied as the aggressor, we would like to remind you that resistance to occupation is a right under international law.

The Stop the War Coalition plans more demonstrations in the next several days against BBC’s Gaza reporting and Israel’s war on Gaza, in Birmingham, London, Glasgow, and Worcester.

The UK Guardian‘s Owen Jones had his own eyes on BBC bias a week ago in “‘Israel under renewed Hamas attack’, says the BBC. More balance is needed:”

‘Israel under renewed Hamas attack:’ this was last night’s BBC headline on the escalating bloodshed in Gaza. It is as perverse as Mike Tyson punching a toddler, followed by a headline claiming that the child spat at him. As Elizabeth Tsurkov, a Tel Aviv-based Israeli human rights activist, tweeted: ‘We are targeted by mostly shitty rockets. Gazans are being shelled with heavy bombs. We have shelters, sirens, Iron Dome. They have 0.’

There is no defence for Hamas firing rockets into civilian areas, and as sirens wail in Israel, the fear among ordinary Israelis should not be ignored or belittled. But the media coverage hardly reflects the reality: a military superpower armed with F-15 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache helicopters, Delilah missiles, IAI Heron-1 drones and Jericho II missiles (and nuclear bombs, for that matter), versus what David Cameron describes as a ‘prison camp‘ firing almost entirely ineffective missiles. …

The macabre truth is that Israeli life is deemed by the western media to be worth more than a Palestinian life: here is the ‘hierarchy of death‘ at work. According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, 565 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces since January 2009, while 28 Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli security personnel have been killed. The asymmetry of this so-called conflict is reflected in the death toll, but it is not reflected in the coverage.

Musician Brian Eno joined the BBC protests early, focusing on its biased reporting on the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers:

The most recent incident concerns the killing of three Israeli teenagers in Hebron. This admittedly disgusting crime has received an entirely disproportionate treatment: listening to the BBC one would be left with the impression that killing children had never happened in [the West Bank] before. But it has. And it happens with monotonous regularity. Not, by and large, to Israeli children, but to Palestinians. And not only killing, but imprisonment and torture and day-to-day harassment and brutality. This goes on all the time – and I see little reaction to it from the international media. Unfortunately, that increasingly includes the BBC, which now, like many others, seems to regard Palestinian lives as less valuable, less newsworthy.

The British protesters are inspirational, aren’t they? Just saying, but why don’t we here in the U.S. protest the horrible, racist coverage by U.S. news organizations of the Israel-Gaza conflict? They’re far worse than the BBC.

Read the rest of this entry →

90 Palestinians, 0 Israelis Die, But Obama Fights UN Condemnation of Israel’s Air War (Updated)

7:44 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

A photo of the U.N. Security Council chambers.

Will the U.N. Security Council condemn Israel’s air offensive on Gaza?

Should the headline be “76 Gaza Dead But _U.S._ Fights UN Condemnation“? (Updated to 90 at 7:45 p.m. ET, see comment 12). No, I don’t think so, the buck stops at President Obama’s desk. Here’s the news about maneuvering against possible UN condemnation of the bombing (whose victims are 80% civilians):

Jerusalem and Washington are trying to prevent the UN Security Council from condemning Israel’s air offensive in the Gaza Strip, in which dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed, Israeli diplomats said Thursday. The Security Council is due to meet at 10 A.M. New York time to discuss the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

…Israeli diplomats say the United States is working with the council’s members, particularly Jordan, to ensure that the panel does not condemn Israel. Jordan represents the Arab countries in the Security Council.

Note that the UN deliberations are happening more or less now, as I write this. More news on the civilian killing:

Medical officials in Hamas-dominated Gaza said at least 60 civilians, including a four-year-old girl and boy, aged 5 who were killed on Thursday, were among the 76 Palestinians who have died in Israeli attacks since Tuesday.

…’The Jews say they are fighting Hamas and fighting gunmen while all the bodies we have seen on television are those of women and children,’ said Khaled Ali, 45, a Gaza taxi driver.

Rocket salvoes on Israel – the military said 442 projectiles have been fired since Tuesday, including nearly 100 on Thursday alone – have caused no fatalities or serious injuries.

Why Is It Happening?

Of course we don’t know, but a UK Guardian analyst has this well-informed take: IDF’s Gaza assault is to control Palestinian gas, avert Israeli energy crisis. The article’s subheading: “Israel’s defence minister has confirmed that military plans to ‘uproot Hamas’ are about dominating Gaza’s gas reserves.” This is the kind of sensible, evidence-rich, ‘follow the money’ analysis that generally works for me…

Of course, the war can also be seen as normal national politics in Israel. Netanyahu has been pressured from the far right, after the killing of three Israeli teenagers in occupied Palestine, to kill Arabs. So, he is doing so. That’s the kind of country Israel is. Of course, the entire very well-publicized “search for three kidnapped teenagers” story was artificial in the extreme, and apparently employed precisely to whip up the ‘kill Arabs’ frenzy that then ostensibly pressed Netanyahu to do just that. So, I don’t buy the ‘he was pressured from the far right’ reasoning.

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Israel, Oil, & Military-Industrial Complex Drive Syria Regime Change

11:31 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Anyone with any sense of who and what drives U.S. foreign policy has been blackly pessimistic as the Congressional ‘bomb Syria’ vote approaches. But the charade of a debate goes forward in our campaign-contributions-driven Congress, Secretary of State Kerry giving them assertions not evidence (If the evidence underlying the assertions were real don’t you think Kerry would’ve shown it to us immediately?), but ‘our’ representatives magically in a buying mood for that b.s. I could pause and point out that even the assertions indicate a catastrophic accident occurred, where Syrian conventional bombardment hit rebel sarin gas stores, and that this matches what on-the-ground Ghouta residents say happened (in the year’s most important ignored news story — thanks mintnews.com).

But hell, discussing evidence and assertions … what does it matter when three of America’s main determiners of foreign policy all are bent on destroying Syria? By my count the U.S. has four main foreign policy power constellations: (in no particular order) the Israel lobby, the oil and gas lobby, the military-industrial complex, and the finance industry. Finance is sitting this one out but the other three are gung ho for regime change or Syria destroyed (transformed into squabbling, unstable mini-states).

ISRAEL LOBBY: While I agree with Ohio Barbarian (in The Pro-Israel Argument Against American Military Intervention in Syria) that chaos or regime change in Syria doesn’t help the people of Israel, it is nonetheless what Israeli neocons have long wanted. And they are employing the full force of their Israel Lobby in order to get what they want

This goes back at least to 1996 and “A Clean Break,” the neoconservative game plan that they’ve with great success gotten the U.S. to implement. Syria is mentioned with great deja vu:

“Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which Americans can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including … by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces…”

Back to the present, we of course have plenty to choose from, beginning with this news yesterday on the pinnacle of the Israel Lobby, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee):

AIPAC comes out for strike on Syria– and mentions Iran more often than Syria:

As NJ Senator Robert Menendez said at the Kerry hearing today in the Senate, Syria is about Iran. And it is for AIPAC too. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee broke its silence today, urging a vote for the Syrian strike.

… why does Obama need AIPAC? Could it be because AIPAC can get 70 Senators’ signatures on a napkin in 24 hours?

But, as I said, there’s much to choose from. Read the following from July, 2006, when Israel was slaughtering Lebanese villagers and razing ‘Shia’ apartment blocks:

Seeing a major opportunity to regain influence lost as a result of setbacks in Iraq, prominent neoconservatives are calling for unconditional U.S. support for Israel’s military offensives in Gaza and Lebanon and “regime change” in Syria and Iran, as well as possible U.S. attacks on Tehran’s nuclear facilities in retaliation for its support of Hezbollah.

And just cuz I like the word ‘stoopid’ in a headline: Syria is About Iran & Israel, Stoopid

OIL & GAS LOBBY: The stakes are high and this lobby surely will do its best to get the U.S. to bomb and kill Syrians for its interests.

Iran, Iraq, Syria sign major gas pipeline deal

July 25, 2011: “Iran, Iraq, and Syria have signed a deal for the construction of the Middle East’s largest gas pipeline, which would transit Iranian gas from Iran’s South Pars gas field to Europe via Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.”

War against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?

On July 23, 2011, Pepe Escobar writes: “Against the interests of Washington, for whom integrating Iran is anathema, the pipeline bypasses two crucial foreign actors in Syria – prime “rebel” weaponizer Qatar (as a gas producer) and logistical “rebel” supporter Turkey (as the self-described privileged energy crossroads between East and West).” …

“Europeans – who endlessly carp about being hostages of Gazprom – should be rejoicing. But instead,” …

“It’s not far-fetched to imagine the EU totally forgetting about a pipeline that will ultimately benefit its citizens and issuing – under US pressure – a directive branding Iran-Iraq-Syria as a terrorist axis; lobbying for a no-fly zone applying to all; and recruiting jihadis all over for a Holy War against the axis, supported by a fatwa issued by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.”

Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern

This is a recent article in the Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed, subtitled “Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines.” It also provides the story going back more than a decade of neocon plans to undermine Syria in order to get at Israel nemesis Hezbollah. Ahmed is executive director of the UK’s Institute for Policy Research & Development.

MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: Hell, I don’t have much that is immediate on these folks other than Rep Alan Grayson: “Nobody Wants This Except the Military-Industrial Complex”. And note that the Israel Lobby’s neoconservative “search for enemies” serves the Pentagon’s most pressing need, and neoconservatives have close ties to the Pentagon.

In an essentially all-capitalist world, one that is (unfortunately) increasingly united on the policies of generating profits for millionaires and squeezing the poor, the best policy for every economic sector except for oil and gas and arms is peace. So the real ‘need’ for massively bloated military power is minimal, and the last couple decades’ conflict of the ages — the Islam fanatics thing — has been mostly hype and false flag b.s. brought to us by the U.S., Saudi Arabia (Al Qaeda’s homies), and Israel (which has its own military-industrial complex that needs to NOT solve the Israel-Palestine conflict).

A little more Grayson: “I did notice, for what it’s worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run in their stock value in the last 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria becomes more likely. So I understand that there is a certain element of our society that does benefit from this, but they’re not the people who vote for me, or by the way the people who contribute to my campaign. Nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex.”

Thanks Mr. Grayson for at least mentioning one of the three elephants in the room.

‘Israel’ Disappears Palestinian Village, AP Disappears Perpetrators

4:29 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Scratch an obscure hillside in Israel and you find the tragedy and brutality of the Nakba, Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing [big map file] of Palestine’s Arab peoples. So, when the AP published Friday one of its many ’normal country’ articles about Israel, describing the excavation of an ancient hillside that was the Philistine town of Gath and later the Arab village of Tell es-Safi (the location also happens to be on the ‘Palestine’ side of the 1947 UN armistice line), a reader should demand that the article answer the following question: “What about Tell es-Safi, why was it abandoned by its inhabitants in 1948?” Wikipedia:

On 7 July [1948] Givaiti* commander Shimon Avidan issued orders to the 51st Battalion to take the Tall al-Safi area and “to destroy, to kill and to expel [lehashmid, leharog, u´legaresh] refugees encamped in the area, in order to prevent enemy infiltration from the east to this important position.”[16] According to Benny Morris, the nature of the written order and, presumably, accompanying oral explanations, probably left little doubt in the battalion OC’s minds that Avidan wanted the area cleared of inhabitants.[17][18]

*The Givati was a brigade of the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary force from 1920-1948 that would later form the core of the Israeli Defense Forces.

The AP instead reports the ethnic cleansing of the village in the following way, the passive construction excusing and disappearing the Israeli perpetrators:

… later the site became home to an Arab village, Tel el-Safi, which emptied during the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

(The Israeli university conducting the archaelogical dig is even more demure, referring not at all to the Arab ghost town or 1948 but only to “the site known as Tell es-Safi.”)

Almost always, when a news story touches on recent Palestinian or Israeli history, the anonymous Wikipedia army crushes the mainstream press. Wikipedia regularly provides readers the full, important truth. Wikipedia of course has lots of flaws — among them that it doesn’t have an encyclopedia entry entitled ‘The Nakba’ — but in this case: Wikipedia good, unafraid, unbiased, complete truth; AP bad, afraid, pro-ethnic-cleansing biased, very important truth left out.

And the whole truth matters, because it would inform clueless Americans — on this topic the vast majority — about ‘why they hate us’. ‘They’ hate the U.S. government for its always unquestioning but now increasingly enthusiastic support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing project, which is ongoing in July 2011, 63 years after the village of Tell es-Safih was cleansed and disappeared.

In the late 19th century, Tell al-Safi was described as a village built of adobe brick with a well in the valley to the north.[13] James Hastings notes that the modern village prior to its depopulation also contained a sacred walī.[7]

The villagers of Tall al-Safi were Muslim, and they had a mosque, a marketplace, and a shrine for a local sage called Shaykh Mohammad. In 1944 a total of 19,716 dunums [1 dunum = .25 acres] of land were used for cereals, while 696 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.[14]

To stop the ethnic cleansing please support Desmond Tutu’s call for the boycott of and divestment from an apartheid Israel.

Send Barbara Boxer a human rights for Palestinians message

4:24 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Barbara Boxer Gets Progressive Support Despite Checkered Record on Human Rights, International Law
Boxer takes the positions she does not because AIPAC forces her, but because she can get progressives to campaign for her, donate money to her, and vote for her anyway.
By Stephen Zunes
October 18, 2010

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Barbara Boxer shaking hands with Ariel Sharon

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"The army knows the kids are there to collect. They watch them every day and they know they have no weapons," said Mohammed Abu Rukbi, a fieldworker with DCI. "They usually fire warning shots but the kids don’t take much notice."

Mohammed Sobboh, 17, [ABOVE] was shot just above the knee on August 25 when he was 800 metres from the border, he said. The 12 people in his family have no other income and are not entitled to aid from the UN as they are not refugees.

Israeli soldiers shot dead a horse and a donkey used by Mohammed and his brothers to carry the rubble, he said.

Gaza teens brave IDF fire to collect salvaged building materials
In three months, soldiers shot and wounded 10 youths collecting building materials in expanded buffer zone.
By Amira Hass
October 10, 2010

In the course of three months this summer Israeli soldiers shot and wounded 10 Palestinian teenagers who collect building materials from demolished structures in the former Israeli settlements and the Erez industrial zone in the northern Gaza Strip, dozens or hundreds of meters from the border. Palestinians believe the shootings are aimed at keeping people away from these areas, but despite the great risk dozens of nearby residents, many of them minors, continue to come in order to collect bits of cement and gravel from inside the buildings that were destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces around the time of the 2005 disengagement, and sell them to contractors and factories in the Strip. …

Every day dozens of people come to the ruins of the industrial zone and the settlements, such as Elei Sinai, in wagons drawn by donkeys or horses. One of the teens, who was shot on August 25, told Defence for Children that in recent months soldiers also shot and killed one of the donkeys and three of the horses.

Most of the children tell of a father who is unemployed. Some were among the thousands of Gazans who worked in Israel up until 2006, when their work permits were revoked. The father of one of the teens was forced to close his store as a result of Israel’s ban on the entry of goods it did not define as "humanitarian" into the Strip. After the death, about two years ago, of a 14-year-old shooting victim identified as "N.," the teen dropped out of school to help support his family. That is the story of all these teens, dropping out and going out to work. They all said in their statements that they are afraid to go back to collecting gravel. Some have difficulty walking or carrying heavy loads as a result of their injuries.

Some of the teens sold vegetables in the streets of Gaza City, earning only about NIS 20 or NIS 30 per day, before hearing from neighbors or acquaintances that one could make NIS 40 or more from collecting gravel.

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Nine year old Amal and her twelve year old brother Mahmoud witnessed their father and brother being shot dead. Their house was also destroyed. Amal was injured and now lives with shrapnel embedded in her brain which leads to blinding headaches and visual impairment. She struggles with her homework and often finds it difficult to help her mother around the house. Amal says her wish is to become a doctor and help sick people.

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Omsyatte, whose home was destroyed by F16s during the 2008 military offensive.

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Nasser Abu Said outside the shrapnel-riddled home where his wife, Ne’ema, was killed by Israeli artillery.

Mother of five killed by Israeli artillery fire close to Gaza buffer zone
Three relatives also wounded in shelling on Gaza border, as family say no rockets were heard being fired before attack
Harriet Sherwood in Johar a-Deek
Friday 16 July 2010

…According to the woman’s husband, Nasser Abu Said, 37, the attack began without warning at about 8.30pm on Tuesday with two shells being fired as the family of 17 sat outside their house in the village of Johar a-Deek. Apart from Nasser and his 65-year-old father, the entire group was women and children.

"It was completely quiet, there were no rockets being fired or we wouldn’t have been sitting outside," he said, referring to Qassam missiles launched by militants into Israel.

His sister and his brother’s wife were injured by shrapnel. The family moved indoors and called an ambulance. "About 10 minutes later the ambulance called back to say the Israelis had refused them permission to come to the house," said Nasser.

His wife Ne’ema, 33, soon realised their youngest son, Jaber, was not among the children she was attempting to calm down, and was probably asleep on a mattress outside that he often shared with his grandfather.

As she went to fetch the toddler, another shell landed. "I called to my wife three times," said Nasser, who realised his father had also been badly injured in his leg and stomach. "I could hear small noises coming from her. I knew she was dying."

Via Palestinian co-ordinators, the IDF told the family that anyone going outside the house would be shot dead. Nasser began to tend to his injured father, knowing he could not reach his dying wife.

"I was holding myself in, especially in front of the children," he said. The children were crying hysterically and some had wet themselves, he added.

After two hours, an ambulance was allowed to reach the family. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which investigated the incident, said Ne’ema and her wounded relatives were taken to al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, where it was confirmed she had died from shrapnel wounds.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said it had identified a number of suspects close to the border. "An IDF force fired at the suspects and identified hitting them," it said. The incident was being investigated, it added, but declined to say why ambulances had not been allowed to reach the family. …

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29 December 2008: Palestinian children walk past a destroyed mosque and houses after they were hit by an Israeli missile strike that killed Jawaher Baalusha, 4, and her four sisters in the northern Gaza Strip.

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29 December 2008: A Palestinian man carries his wounded child to the treatment room of Kamal Adwan hospital following an Israeli missile strike in Beit Lahiya.

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1 January 2009: A Palestinian woman with two wounded members of her family in hospital following an Israeli missile strike in Beit Hanoun. Israel dropped a bomb on the home of a Hamas strongman, killing him along with two wives and four children in the first attack on the top leadership of Gaza’s rulers.

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5 January 2009: A Palestinian woman sits on the floor beside her baby wounded by an Israeli tank shell, at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. An Israeli tank shell killed three Palestinian children in their home in eastern Gaza City, medical officials said.

Gaza’s children suffer as conflict enters the classroom
The Israeli blockade and years of fighting have taken their toll on Gaza’s schools, where failure rates are rapidly rising
Rory McCarthy in Gaza City
Friday 16 May 2008

On this morning there was no electricity for the first four hours of school, there were no lights and staff had to use a whistle instead of the electric school bell. There was no running water, save what had been held in reserve in a spare tank at the bathroom. There was no bread for sale in the canteen because of shortages at the bakeries, even though many of the children rely on the small school shop to buy their breakfast. This, a result of the Israeli economic blockade of Gaza, was an ordinary day in extraordinary times.

More worrying are warning signs of a broader disintegration of society, such as those seen in exam results. Last autumn, the UN, which runs some of the best schools in Gaza, noted a sharp increase in exam failures. The failure rate in Arabic between ages nine and 15 was between 34.9% and 61.1% . In maths at the same age the failure rate was even higher at more than 65% , peaking at around age 11 with an astonishing failure rate of 90%. That compares with a failure rate of just 10% at UN schools in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria.

"There’s been a big change. There’s no enjoyment in the children’s lives, no going out, no picnics. There’s a lot of pressure on them and I can feel it in the class," said al-Katib. "They don’t do their homework, they make any excuse – no electricity, or they were sick, or tired. They are less attentive in class than they used to be."

It is not hard to cast a protest vote for a U.S. Senate candidate who expresses your values on Israel and Palestine.

Israel/Palestine position of Green Party California U.S. Senate candidate, Duane Roberts:

Duane Supports… Ending all U.S. military and economic aid to the state of Israel and the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people, including the right of refugees to return.

Israel/Palestine position of Green Party Illinois U.S. Senate candidate, LeAlan Jones:

We should adopt the Israel-Palestine single-state solution and end apartheid in the Middle East. Nations should be based on our collective humanity, not our divisive religions. and we must take steps guarantee that no taxpayer money supports state-sponsored terrorism or assassination. This means no more investing in Israel bonds, Saudi Arabia or China.

‘Show Us a Map; We’ll Recognize an Israel that Doesn’t Include West Bank & E. Jerusalem’

12:44 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

We officially demand that the US administration and the Israeli government provide a map of the borders of the state of Israel which they want us to recognize. …

We want to know whether this state includes our lands and houses in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. …

If this map is based on the 1967 borders and provides for the end of the Israeli occupation over all Palestinian lands… then we recognize Israel by whatever name it applies to itself in accordance with international law.

Senior Palestinian Official Yasser Abed Rabbo

This of course under-reported in the U.S. move by the Palestinians (the latest U.S. ‘news’/propaganda on I/P, by the way, is "Israel offers settlement freeze in exchange for recognition; Palestinians say ‘no’") is smart if it increases international attention on what the U.S. and Israel are asking Palestinians to recognize: a borderless state fully expanded into Palestinian territory. Abed Rabbo added:

It is important for us to know where are the borders of Israel and where are the borders of Palestine. Any formulation the Americans present – even asking us to call Israel the ‘Chinese State’ – we will agree to it, as long as we receive the 1967 borders. We have recognized Israel in the past, but Israel has not recognized the Palestinian state.

Other Israel occupation news:

One year sentence for peacefully protesting ‘apartheid wall’
October 13, 2010; The Independent (UK)

That peaceful protester could be Israel’s partner for peace
By Libby Lenkinski Friedlander
September 24, 2010; Haaretz

Gazan Samir Al-Nadeem dies after waiting 35 days for exit visa to receive heart treatment
October 13, 2010; IPS

BDS Success: Unilever to Move Factory out of West Bank
October 12, 2010; Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Helen Thomas: You cannot criticize Israel in the U.S. and survive
October 12, 2010; Haaretz

Top 10 worst errors Israel is about to make
By Bradley Burston
October 12, 2010; Haaretz

The Jewish Republic of Israel
By Gideon Levy
October 10, 2010; Haaretz

Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak are making Israel into a ghetto
By Avirama Golan
October 13, 2010; Haaretz

Golan’s is a passionate whine, but one of the Haaretz comments smacks it down with, I guess, the right degree of pessimism/realism:

Compelling but misleading analysis
Michael N; 10.13.10

To argue that the Crazy Right is scuttling the dream of the Old Zionist to create a normal state is misleading. There is plenty on the record to conclusively show that Ben-Gurion and many in the leadership of the Yishuv aspired to create a Jewish state to the exclusion of the Palestinians. The difference is that they were not as obtuse and ‘thuggy’ about their intentions and how to go about implementing it. The other salient differences are the reservoir of good intentions towards the new struggling state, which by now is all but gone, and the demise of the successor to MAPAI, the old labor party. The train has long left the station. There is nothing to lament. Likud and Israel Beiteinu are the true reflection of Israel and its people today. There is no viable center-left party that can lead a sober-sane electorate. Israel moves down the slippery slope of jingoism. Too bad.

Israel Now Punishing Palestinians Shamelessly

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Amira Hass asks what is delaying treatment of a 47-year-old Palestinian woman, Khalida Jarrar, who needs diagnostic brain tests that cannot be done in the West Bank due to lack of the necessary medical equipment?

This is a mere footnote in the chronicle of the Palestinians’ life under foreign rule. But this footnote is a typical chapter in the history of Israeli society: a democratic society that gives those wonderful fellows from the Shin Bet a blank check to act like the last of the great dictators and juggle with their subjects’ lives – without elections, without oversight, without supervision. Their word is sacrosanct. And if they say, as they did in reply to Haaretz, "Relevant information exists indicating that [Jarrar's] exit from the area poses a risk to our security," we all salute.

‘Salute’ cuz that’s what’s done in an incorrigibly (?) militarized society (things seem to have gone much further militarization-wise than they have in the U.S., though Americans _can_ relate). And, of course, as Hass notes, if there were any evidence that Jarrar was dangerous, she would’ve been arrested long ago. The real explanation for her brutal treatment may relate to the fact that she is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. She wants the Israel occupiers out, and the occupiers don’t like that.

Hass concludes:

For what is the endless postponement of an urgent medical test if not torture of a sick person and her family? . . .

Until six or eight years ago, a journalist’s report of a similar situation would have embarrassed someone up there on the security ladder and an exit permit for medical reasons would have been issued despite the "security considerations." But today, the sense of shame has disappeared. Society’s backing is assured.

What has happened to Israel that virtually no one there anymore stands up against this sort of brutal injustice and bullying? Why are the good people both of Israel and among her sympathizers so silent?