Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not in Our Name Pledge of Resistance

We believe that as people living in the USA it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government, in our names

Not in our name will you wage endless war there can be no more deaths no more transfusions of blood for oil

Not in our name will you invade countriesd bomb civilians, kill more children letting history take its course over the graves of the nameless

Not in our name will you erode the very freedoms you have claimed to fight for

Not by our hands will we supply weapons and funding for the annihilation of families on foreign soil

Not by our mouths will we let fear silence us

Not by our hearts will we allow whole peoples or countries to be deemed evil

Not by our will and Not in our name

We pledge resistance

We pledge alliance with those who have come under attack for voicing opposition to the war or for their religion or ethnicity

We pledge to make common cause with the people of the world to bring about justice, freedom and peace

ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE AND WE PLEDGE TO MAKE IT REAL.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Run to the angels, little ones

This is a post about the children killed in Gaza recently.

One story is about two Iraqi children killed by the IDF who had fled to Palestine to escape the violence in Iraq. They lived in Jabaliya, and had been there for three years, and were living with their aunt and uncle. As the report says: "They left Iraq to escape war and terror, but all they found in Gaza was more suffering and death."

What inspired this post was a story called “Children of Gaza, Run to the Angels” by Suzanne Baroud. She found herself whispering, every time she saw a child who was murdered, “run to the angels….run”. Here are some pieces of her original article:

Caged, starved, sniped, suffocated. They are slaughtered like sheep, but the leaders of the free world just cannot seem to find a moment to comment. Golfing, vacationing, Obama, Bush, even the EU, they just aren't important enough. My mutterings have become a like a canter. I call out to these stricken and shattered little bodies, who frankly never experienced life to lose it. The only consolation to offer is the respite found in death.

A crowd gathers, shrouded in gas, smoke and dust. In the front stand eight young fathers, each holding a white swaddled bundle of what used to be a son, a daughter. For a few moments there is no screaming, no chanting or crying, but a moment of quiet and stillness that presses one to wonder just whom has been granted the greater mercy, the toddler who caught the snipers bullet, or the young father, who will have to find some way to live beyond this moment?

…The camera zooms in on the scene of a freshly detonated building, a civilian home. A little girls brown curly hair covered in dust and eyes wide open is all that can be found of her. Her mother wails and pulls her hair while her father frantically searches among the rubble for the rest of his daughter, where could she be? I whisper again, "you will be made whole again in Paradise. Run to the angels".

…..An old and wrinkled Imam so lovingly cradles a little girl's lifeless body, as if mishandling her now could inflict more pain, he mumbles a benediction and gently lies her beside her sisters and her brothers in the mass grave. I try to comfort her, saying, "Finally, a place of safety. Rest beside your sister. Your brother. Put your fears to rest and meet your beloved Prophet and the many of your little friends who have fallen before you."

I have heard some criticism of her writing that ‘snipers’ are not what the children encountered – rather, they found regular Israeli Defense forces who shot at them. That would just be a question of semantics in my opinion. And my own criticism of the piece is rooted in the claim that the children saw the face of Satan in the IDF – well, the IDF are no more the face of Satan than Hamas, US military, or Iraqi insurgents. I think a claim could be made that they are all doing Satan’s work, however.

It is reported that over 400 children were killed in Gaza by this war. There are more children in Gaza who will “run to the angels” soon – because the IDF left behind unexploded ordnance, some of which will surely take their lives and limbs. Run to the angels, little ones, where the Creator will make you whole again.

Below are descriptions of pictures of children - the pictures are below on this blog.

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Evacuation of a dead child:

Palestinians evacuate the body of 13 year-old Faris Al-Samoni, one of 26 bodies from the Al-Samoni family buried in the rubble of their home on January 18, 2009, in southern Gaza City. Israel has called a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza strip but warned of possible retaliation should Hamas rocket attacks ciontinue. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Another evacuation of a dead child:

Palestinians evacuate the body of two year-old Azza Al-Samoni, one of 26 bodies from the Al-Samoni family buried in the rubble of their home on January 18, 2009, in southern Gaza City. Israel has called a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza strip but warned of possible retaliation should Hamas rocket attacks continue. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

The small body of a young boy:

A man carries the body of a boy killed during Israeli strikes at the Bureij Refugee Camp in central Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israel pummelled Gaza with new strikes on Saturday, as it was poised to unilaterally halt a 22-day-old war on Hamas that has killed nearly 1,200 Palestinians and left much of the enclave in ruins. AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

Yet another evacuation of a dead child:

Palestinians evacuate a body, one of 26 bodies from the Al-Samoni family buried in the rubble of their home on January 18, 2009, in southern Gaza City. Israel has called a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza strip but warned of possible retaliation should Hamas rocket attacks ciontinue. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Family photo:

Amal Abed Rabbo, two, pictured after she died in an attack at the village of Izbit Abed Rabbo, on January 7, 2009. According to her father Khalid, 30, Amal and her sister Souad, seven, were killed by gunfire from an Israeli tank after soldiers ordered the family out of their house. Another sister, Samer, four, survived the attack but is paralysed below the waist. “Amal was just learning to talk,” said Khalid. “I want to know from the Israeli army: why did they kill my daughters?” Photograph: Family photograph

Mother runs screaming behind her child:

A Palestinian woman screams as medics rush a critically wounded child into the Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia following an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israeli troops assaulted Gaza from land, air and sea today as the Jewish state said it was close to reaching its goals and its powerful security cabinet prepared to decide on a unilateral ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Three children in a morgue:

The body of the child (top) killed during Israeli strikes over the UN-run school is pictured along with bodies of two other children killed during strikes in the morgue of Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. A woman and a child were killed early today in the Israeli strike on the UN-run school in northern Gaza where civilians were sheltering from the fighting, medics and witnesses said. Fierce clashes were underway around the school as Israeli tanks exchanged fire with Palestinian militants, they said. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Lovely eyelashes on this child:

The body of Palestinian child Fawzia Saleh lies at the mortuary of a hospital in Beit Lahia following an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israeli troops assaulted Gaza from land, air and sea today as the Jewish state said it was close to reaching its goals and its powerful security cabinet prepared to decide on a unilateral ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Lots of shrapnel wounds:

The body of Palestinian child Ahmad Saleh lies at the mortuary of a hospital in Beit Lahia following an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israeli troops assaulted Gaza from land, air and sea today as the Jewish state said it was close to reaching its goals and its powerful security cabinet prepared to decide on a unilateral ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Child looks like she is dead to me:

Palestinian medics rush a child into the Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia following an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israeli troops assaulted Gaza from land, air and sea today as the Jewish state said it was close to reaching its goals and its powerful security cabinet prepared to decide on a unilateral ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

A father’s grief:

A Palestinian man cries over the body of his son who died following an Israeli military strike at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on January 14, 2008. Israel sought to tighten the screw on Hamas today as the death from its war on Gaza passed 1,000, carrying out new bombing raids and waging more street battles as hopes rose of a ceasefire. AFP PHOTO/MEHDI FEDOUACH (Photo credit should read MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images)

Another child in the morgue:

The body of boy, killed during Israeli strikes, is seen at the morgue of Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip early on January 17, 2009. A woman and a child were killed early today in the Israeli strike on the UN-run school in northern Gaza where civilians were sheltering from the fighting, medics and witnesses said. Fierce clashes were underway around the school as Israeli tanks exchanged fire with Palestinian militants, they said. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

A child dies with her mother:

The body of Palestinian 3 year-old girl, Aysha Al-Najar, lies in the Kamal Adwan hospital morgue next to the body of her mother, Hanan Al-Najar, after they died from wounds in an Israeli military strike, January 14, 2009 in of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli air strikes continued overnight and into the morning against Palestinian targets along the Gaza Strip. UN Secretery-General Ban Ki-Moon will visit the region today in an effort to bring and end to hostilities. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Here’s three Fatah children that ran to the angels:

Palestinians mourn over the bodies of three children, wrapped in Fatah party’s flags, after they were killed by Israeli fire in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israel battered Gaza with new strikes today, as it was poised to unilaterally halt a 22-day-old war on Hamas that has killed nearly 1,200 Palestinians and left much of the enclave in ruins.But Hamas vowed that it would fight on if the Israeli security cabinet orders a unilateral ceasefire insisting that Israeli troops must withdraw from Gaza as part of a reciprocal truce. AFP PHOTO /YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

She’s not going to make it either:

A Palestinian medic rushes a badly wounded girl into Gaza City�s al-Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on January 15, 2009. Israeli strikes set hospitals, media and UN buildings ablaze today as tanks rolled deep into Gaza cities even amid hope that the war on Hamas that has killed more than 1,100 people may soon end. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

This is a funeral procession in the middle of devestation:

Palestinian mourners walk amidst debris of destroyed buildings carrying the bodies of victims of Israeli bombardments during their funeral procession in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israel battered Gaza with new strikes today, as it was poised to unilaterally halt a 22-day-old war on Hamas that has killed nearly 1,200 Palestinians and left much of the enclave in ruins. But Hamas vowed that it would fight on if the Israeli security cabinet orders a unilateral ceasefire insisting that Israeli troops must withdraw from Gaza as part of a reciprocal truce. AFP PHOTO /YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

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Oh, and there are plenty more pictures of the children who ran to the angels in Gaza.

And even more pictures here – including one of a pile of small bodies burned black. Some of them may not be children, it is so hard to tell. Run to the angels, little ones.

And here is a BBC report on child deaths in Gaza.

And there are stories of children found with bullets lodged in their head, with evidence that they were shot at close range in the face. From Cairo, Egypt:

Doctors operating the only brain-scanning machine at an Egyptian hospital near Gaza have been almost overwhelmed by the number of Palestinian children arriving with bullet wounds to the head. On just one day last week, staff at the Al Arish hospital in Sinai were called to perform CAT scans on a nine year old, two 10 year olds and a 14 year old, each of whom had a bullet lodged in their brain after coming under fire during the Israeli ground assault on Gaza.

….. Among them last week was nine-year-old Anas Haref, who arrived with a bullet in her brain. Dr Ahmad Yahia, head of the trauma team, broke the news to her grandmother that the girl was not expected to live. "The bullet has damaged a big part of her brain," said Dr Yahia. "It came in, hit the skull wall and then changed direction downwards."

Dr Yahia, a professor of neurosurgery, believes that the bullet was shot from close range. "If it changes course inside the brain it has high velocity and its penetrative force is also high," he said. "I can't precisely decide whether these children are being shot at as a target, but in some cases the bullet comes from the front of the head and goes towards the back, so I think the gun has been directly pointed at the child."

The above article tells the story of Samer, just three years old who had to wait three hours for medical help to reach her. She survived, but will be paralyzed. Imagine a child having to wait for medical care, while lying on the ground in a war zone. Two of her sisters were killed, and I would guess lying close by.

And four girls were called the “last children to die” in Gaza, since they were shot just before the ceasefire was called by Israel. Those girls were the daughters and niece of a physician who worked in Israel, and who reported in to an Israeli TV station. A shell slammed into the bedroom of Aya, aged 13, Mayar, aged 14 and Bissam, aged 20 – the three daughters of Dr. Ezzedine, and his niece Noor, aged 16, was also killed. I will post a you tube of the harrowing phone call made to the Israeli TV station in the comments. I will also post the follow up press conference the next day. Imagine holding a press conference the day after three of your children were killed! Amazingly enough, this man of peace spoke reasonably towards the nation of Israel. And a few days later, he had this to say: “May the voices of peace be heard in the world to stop this madness.”

And one family lost 35 members in an F-16 bombing.

Some of the children in that family reported that their watched their parents get executed and their siblings bled to death, some taking a few hours, some a couple of days. These children were found starving near their dead parents. IDF did not allow help to reach them for several days.

And some of the injured that survived so far might still die from the horrible wounds. Physicians working on these patients report unusual wounds:

"Normal shrapnel has a clear path, with both an entry and an exit point," said Dr. Mohamed Al-Ron, another surgeon at Al-Shifa hospital. "But someone's entire abdomen will be ripped open, and only after searching will we find a miniscule hole in the skin. Then we will find small black dots all over the organ, but we don't know what they are." It is an indication, he continued, that whatever is entering the body is exploding and doing the damage once it is inside. Multiple organs will fail, and will continue to fail even after surgery removes any shrapnel.

"We are consulting with international colleagues, and they are confirming that there is something unusual going on with these cases," said Dr. Skaik. "We have seen plenty of nails, of metal shrapnel and foreign metallic parts, but there was never violence of this character or something that continued to damage even after the parts of the weapon were removed. What is being intentionally created is a population of handicapped people."

Some of the injuries, including multiple organ failure, mutilation and severed limbs, are so debilitating that Dr. Karim Hosni, an Egyptian doctor volunteering at the Al-Naser hospital in Khan Younis, says he wishes he could just end his patients' misery.

How many casualties are there in Gaza? Well, the Israelis who suffered from rocket attacks claim they were injured by the shock and stress of those rockets. Since each and every person in Gaza has suffered from bombs and tank rounds, so there are 1.5 million casualties in Gaza today.

And nearly all were exposed to smoke, noise, and chemicals during this war on Gaza.

And this website – which has not been updated since the war on Gaza started – shows that Palestinian children are the ones doing most of the dying.

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A gathering to mourn and protest was held in Jaffa on January 16th. There were many things said at this gathering of 300 Israelis at the Association for Jaffa Arabs, but this is part of one speech that really struck me:

Psychology Professor Ariella Friedman of Tel Aviv University: "I am dumbstruck that such a large percentage of the nation thinks this campaign [in Gaza] is legitimate. I don’t think the Jewish people is the worst nation on earth, nor, sadly, is it the best nation on earth. But the circumstances here have turned us into people who perpetrate atrocities – and are then silent. I’ve heard people say that this was a ’successful war’ – what cynicism, what spiritual numbness. There is a model here: they begin a war with a grand display of arrogant posturing but without any idea how they want to end it, and people enthusiastically embrace that decision. And afterwards they say ’there was no choice’ – since when did we have no choice?

"In Israel," continued Prof. Friedman, "some people want to hang on to their faith in [their] morality at any price while waging war by any means. The price is an extreme separation between us and them. In Israel, the people weep over every citizen killed and there is a tremendous sense of togetherness. Yet how do people respond to the death of a mother and her five children, as happened one night in Gaza? Supposedly we are an enlightened army seeking only peace, doing what we do because we have no other option, whereas the killing that the other side perpetrates is intentional and evil. These are superficial statements that help people to deal with the intolerable situation and not to face the fact that they are committing atrocities against people under their control. That is the only way they can commit evil acts and still feel moral."

And Dr. Ahmad Abu-Tuahina, director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Center, speaking by phone to this gathering had this to say about the children:

"The children of the Intifadas have undergone dreadful traumas. In the first Intifada, soldiers broke into homes and abused parents in front of their children. These children were traumatized: they discovered that those who are supposed to defend them have no defense, hence they were obliged to take the initiative to defend themselves. Children who felt lost and abandoned sought some figure to identify with, and they identified with the powerful – with members of Hamas who were fighting for their honor. This situation created a wave of extremism among the children and adults of both peoples. The same situation obtains today. In Gaza today there is no safe place – no safety at home nor on the street nor even in UN buildings, and the fact that UN buildings are no longer safe is heavily symbolic. The two children who were trapped for several days under a building with their mother who had been killed – imagine what kind of adults these children will grow up to be, after such an insane experience. With this war, Israel has nurtured its own enemies and obliterated the prospects for coexistence and peace."

Information about the above gathering to mourn and protest was sent to me by Jewish Peace News.

You can make a difference, per Gush Shalom. This is a link to newspapers inside Israel and around the world, where you can send your letters to the editor.

And you can make a difference with Doctors without Borders by making a donation to them.

And AntiWar.com has provided this list of agencies that are working to help Gazans.

And another diary on Daily Kos lists ways to help.

This was also posted on Daily Kos.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Upcoming Events in the area this week

Upcoming events in the area this week are posted on the WNC Peace Coalition blog. No actions or meetings this week, but the Democratic Party State Executive Committee will hold a meeting this coming Saturday in Raleigh. They will be picking a leader for the NC Democratic Party for the next four years. Jerry Meek is stepping down, and I think he has done a fabulous job of running the NC Democratic Party and in making more progressive and responsive – there is still a LONG way to go, however.

This photo shows that the Lebanese are in solidarity with Palestine and Iraq, and in the Faces of Grief blog, you will see Iraqis in solidarity with Palestine. And below you will see some recent photos from Gaza – and these are not the worst of the photos out there – that show what Israel has done in Gaza. What is amazing about the photo in this blog post is how close they are to the Israeli soldiers. I will be posting a blog post tomorrow about the children of Gaza, and my wishes for peace and understanding.

Photo: Lebanese and Palestinian protesters, wave Lebanese, Palestinian and Iraqi flags in front of three Israeli soldiers, top left background, as they stand at their position on the Israeli border side, during a sit-in to show their support to the Palestinian in Gaza Strip, at the Lebanese-Israeli border, in the village of Kfar Killa, southern Lebanon, Sunday Jan. 25, 2009. A Hamas delegation is due to start talks with Egyptian officials on means to reopen the border, largely closed since the group took over Gaza. (AP Photo/Lutfallah Daher)

Sixteen


Palestinian mourners walk amidst debris of destroyed buildings carrying the bodies of victims of Israeli bombardments during their funeral procession in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israel battered Gaza with new strikes today, as it was poised to unilaterally halt a 22-day-old war on Hamas that has killed nearly 1,200 Palestinians and left much of the enclave in ruins. But Hamas vowed that it would fight on if the Israeli security cabinet orders a unilateral ceasefire insisting that Israeli troops must withdraw from Gaza as part of a reciprocal truce. AFP PHOTO /YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Fifteen


A Palestinian medic rushes a badly wounded girl into Gaza City�s al-Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on January 15, 2009. Israeli strikes set hospitals, media and UN buildings ablaze today as tanks rolled deep into Gaza cities even amid hope that the war on Hamas that has killed more than 1,100 people may soon end. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Fourteen


Here’s three that ran to the angels: Palestinians mourn over the bodies of three children, wrapped in Fatah party’s flags, after they were killed by Israeli fire in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israel battered Gaza with new strikes today, as it was poised to unilaterally halt a 22-day-old war on Hamas that has killed nearly 1,200 Palestinians and left much of the enclave in ruins.But Hamas vowed that it would fight on if the Israeli security cabinet orders a unilateral ceasefire insisting that Israeli troops must withdraw from Gaza as part of a reciprocal truce. AFP PHOTO /YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

Thirteen


The body of Palestinian 3 year-old girl , Aysha Al-Najar, lies in the Kamal Adwan hospital morgue next to the body of her mother, Hanan Al-Najar, after they died from wounds in an Israeli military strike, January 14, 2009 in of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli air strikes continued overnight and into the morning against Palestinian targets along the Gaza Strip. UN Secretery-General Ban Ki-Moon will visit the region today in an effort to bring and end to hostilities. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Twelve


The body of boy, killed during Israeli strikes, is seen at the morgue of Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip early on January 17, 2009. A woman and a child were killed early today in the Israeli strike on the UN-run school in northern Gaza where civilians were sheltering from the fighting, medics and witnesses said. Fierce clashes were underway around the school as Israeli tanks exchanged fire with Palestinian militants, they said. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Eleven


A Palestinian man cries over the body of his son who died following an Israeli military strike at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on January 14, 2008. Israel sought to tighten the screw on Hamas today as the death from its war on Gaza passed 1,000, carrying out new bombing raids and waging more street battles as hopes rose of a ceasefire. AFP PHOTO/MEHDI FEDOUACH (Photo credit should read MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images)

Ten


Child looks like she is dead to me: Palestinian medics rush a child into the Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia following an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israeli troops assaulted Gaza from land, air and sea today as the Jewish state said it was close to reaching its goals and its powerful security cabinet prepared to decide on a unilateral ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Nine


Lots of shrapnel wounds: The body of Palestinian child Ahmad Saleh lies at the mortuary of a hospital in Beit Lahia following an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israeli troops assaulted Gaza from land, air and sea today as the Jewish state said it was close to reaching its goals and its powerful security cabinet prepared to decide on a unilateral ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Eight


Lovely eyelashes on the child in this photo: The body of Palestinian child Fawzia Saleh lies at the mortuary of a hospital in Beit Lahia following an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israeli troops assaulted Gaza from land, air and sea today as the Jewish state said it was close to reaching its goals and its powerful security cabinet prepared to decide on a unilateral ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Seven


Three children in a morgue: The body of the child (top) killed during Israeli strikes over the UN-run school is pictured along with bodies of two other children killed during strikes in the morgue of Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. A woman and a child were killed early today in the Israeli strike on the UN-run school in northern Gaza where civilians were sheltering from the fighting, medics and witnesses said. Fierce clashes were underway around the school as Israeli tanks exchanged fire with Palestinian militants, they said. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Six


A Palestinian woman screams as medics rush a critically wounded child into the Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia following an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israeli troops assaulted Gaza from land, air and sea today as the Jewish state said it was close to reaching its goals and its powerful security cabinet prepared to decide on a unilateral ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / YASSER SAYMEH (Photo credit should read YASSER SAYMEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Five


Amal Abed Rabbo, two, pictured after she died in an attack at the village of Izbit Abed Rabbo, on January 7, 2009. According to her father Khalid, 30, Amal and her sister Souad, seven, were killed by gunfire from an Israeli tank after soldiers ordered the family out of their house. Another sister, Samer, four, survived the attack but is paralysed below the waist. “Amal was just learning to talk,” said Khalid. “I want to know from the Israeli army: why did they kill my daughters?” Photograph: Family photograph

Four


Palestinians evacuate a body, one of 26 bodies from the Al-Samoni family buried in the rubble of their home on January 18, 2009, in southern Gaza City. Israel has called a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza strip but warned of possible retaliation should Hamas rocket attacks ciontinue. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Three



A man carries the body of a boy killed during Israeli strikes at the Bureij Refugee Camp in central Gaza Strip on January 17, 2009. Israel pummelled Gaza with new strikes on Saturday, as it was poised to unilaterally halt a 22-day-old war on Hamas that has killed nearly 1,200 Palestinians and left much of the enclave in ruins. AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

Two


Palestinians evacuate the body of two year-old Azza Al-Samoni, one of 26 bodies from the Al-Samoni family buried in the rubble of their home on January 18, 2009, in southern Gaza City.

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Israel has called a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza strip but warned of possible retaliation should Hamas rocket attacks continue.

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(Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

One


Palestinians evacuate the body of 13 year-old Faris Al-Samoni, one of 26 bodies from the Al-Samoni family buried in the rubble of their home on January 18, 2009, in southern Gaza City. Israel has called a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza strip but warned of possible retaliation should Hamas rocket attacks ciontinue. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yes We Can Develop Peace!

I have to write that I am pleased with some changes in our country since this past Wednesday. On his first day in office, President Obama has said that torture will end in all US agencies, he stopped the unlawful and obscene show trials at Guantanamo, he is ordering the closing of Guantanamo and all secret US bases around the world in one year (I think it should be sooner – much sooner – and I have concerns that they may be moved to another prison without getting a fair trial, BUT we shall see.) He has rescinded all executive orders from Bush going back to 9/11/01, which means that the ‘war on terror’ is over for now, and he is working on overturning the Military Commissions Act (a hideous piece of legislation from 2006).

Now, let’s see a complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq – not just a “drawdown” of troops. And let’s see a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan instead of an increase. It makes no more sense to bomb Afghanistan to find OBL than it would have made sense to bomb Murphy NC to find Eric Rudolph.

Unfortunately, we have not heard a word from Obama condemning the massive bombing and slaughter done recently to Gaza. He promises to get ‘engaged’ with the issues between Israel and Palestine, but every President has made that promise without any results. And let’s see REAL nuclear disarmament, and the end to lies about Iran’s nuclear program.

And this is the text of a prayer by Rev. Gene Robinson, given at the inauguration:

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quote to Ponder from The Black Commentator

A form of religion practiced by the millions, but as misunderstood, and unreal to the majority as gravitation is to the untutored savage. We profess to live in the atmosphere of Christianity yet our acts are as barbarous as if we never knew Christ. He taught us to love, yet we hate: to forgive, yet we revenge; to be merciful, yet we condemn and punish, and still we are Christians. If hell is what we are taught it is, then there will be more Christians there than days in creation. To be a true Christian one must be like Christ and practice Christianity, not as the Bishop does, but as he says, for if our lives were to be patterned after the fellow’s all of us, Bishop, Priest and Layman would ultimately meet around the furnace of hell, and none of us, because of our sins, would see salvation. ~ Marcus Garvey

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pete Seeger and the Boss

"A great high wall there that tried to stop me;
A great big sign there said private property;
But on the other side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, by the shadow of the steeple,
By the relief office, I saw my people,
As they stood there hungry, I stood there whispering,
This land was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me."

This performance really touched me - I guess because
I see so much wrong in my country, so much that is evil,
and yet I still love this country and the ideals that are
sometimes found here, even as we fail those same ideals.
But even so, even when we fail, this land is your land, this land is my land, to care for during our lifetimes - but never to own, and always to share.


Obama is inaugerated today

Mar 2, 2007. . .Obama: The world must work to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons

National Intelligence Estimate, Dec 4, 2007 . . .. We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program

IAEA Report, May 26, 2008: "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran."

July 25, 2008 . .Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, nearing the end of a fast-paced international campaign trip, warned Iran today, "don't wait for the next president" to take office before yielding to Western demands to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. . .Iran poses "an extraordinarily grave situation." He said the world must send "a clear message to Iran to end its illicit nuclear program."

NPT: "Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty."

Sep 6, 2008 ...Iran is a “major threat” and it would be “unacceptable” for the rogue nation to develop a nuclear weapon, Barack Obama said

IAEA Report, September 15, 2008: "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran has provided the Agency with access to declared nuclear material and has provided the required nuclear material accounting reports in connection with declared nuclear material and activities."

Oct 2, 2008 . . .Obama: "The American people weren't just failed by a President - they were failed by much of Washington. By a media that too often reported spin instead of facts. . .I will always tell the American people the truth."

Nov 7, 2008 ... U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said in Chicago on Friday that Iran's development of nuclear weapons is unacceptable.

IAEA Report on Iran, Nov 19, 2008 -- "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran has provided the Agency with access to declared nuclear material and has provided the required nuclear material accounting reports in connection with declared nuclear material and activities."

Dec 7, 2008 . . .Obama: "We need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran, making very clear to them that their development of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable"

Jan 11, 2009 . . .Obama: "[Iran is] pursuing a nuclear weapon that could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race."

And Iran has made a formal statement asking Obama not to repeat the false charges.

Monday, January 19, 2009

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

He is a man I have long admired. And I admire him mainly for his positions against war and violence, not for his positions on civil rights, although he was correct on that issue also. But I wonder if we can ever end racism, without ending the violence of war first? Can we end poverty if we never learn to see our fellow humans as worthy of a good life as we are? Can we see our fellow humans as worthy if we still think it is okay to go and slaughter them for one reason or another?

This quote comes from a speech on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church. The full transcript and audio is at this link.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

………….We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Here are some more quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr:

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies---or else? The chain reaction of evil---hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars---must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who stated: "A government which spends more on its military than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

And, since this is bush’s last full day in office, here’s a quote for him:

"This is your farewell kiss, you dog!" Al-Zeidi shouted at Bush. "This is from the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq."

I bet King would not approve of throwing shoes. I bet he would approve of the sentiment behind this action, though.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Upcoming Events in the area this week


This is a week to honor a great American peacemaker - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. I only wish our incoming president could measure up to 10% of MLK's potential, but I don't think that will happen. Some have already woken up to what the Obama administration will bring to America and the world; but many are still hopeful.

I think his silence about the fighting and slaughter in Gaza speaks volumes. More than a thousand dead there - that would be equivalent to over 22,000 dead in the USA. I think that level of carnage would get our leaders to call for a stop. Now, Israel has declared a cease-fire, but they are not leaving Gaza. I don't see how there can be a cease-fire with the troops still in Gaza's streets.

This photo is of the front page of a new magazine promoting accountability for the bush/cheney administration crimes. You can read it on line here.

Part of it was written by local Veterans for Peace.

And a list of events in the area, including MLK events on 1-19-08 is posted on the WNC Peace Coalition blog.

Palestinian doctor - another view

A doctor in Gaza's tragedy

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Peace Train

Yusuf (Cat Stevens) performs "Peace Train" at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. This was recorded on December 11, 2006. You can go to the You Tube page and leave a message of peace.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Overview of Hamas/Israel history

From a comment on Daily Kos:

Let's see:

We insisted on elections.
Hamas (the wrong group) won.
Hamas was told to disarm in the face of
their enemy or the election results wouldn't be recognized.
They refused.
We supported Fatah in an attempted coup which failed.
A blockade was put in place.
Hamas fights back.
Hamas agree to a cease-fire.
Israel left the blockade in place even though it should have been lifted under the terms of the ceasefire.
Even with the blockade still in place, suicide attacks stop, rocket attacks are reduced to a trickle.
Israel's 18 mo blockade has the Palestinian population eating grass.
Israel broke the "cease-fire".
Hamas increased the number of "rockets" shot at Israel in response,
Israel indiscriminately shells, bombs everything/everyone and invades,
an action which was planned months in advance.
Hamas attempt to negotiate another cease-fire.
Israel refuses and continues it's attack of a confined, blockaded, civilian population.

I think I get the picture.

I also note that Hamas would not exist at all without the direct support of
both Israel and the US...ie: they supported a radical Islam group in order
to weaken the secular Fatah (and were successful).
which leads us to where we are now.

deja vu

+++++++++++++++++++

And we could add - they are trying, or have tried, this in other places in the world. For example, it was reported by Sy Hersch that the US (via Saudi Arabia) was arming/funding Sunni extremist groups in Lebanon, and a women connected to a car bombing in Syria claimed she was part of that group and was funded by the US and Saudi Arabia. Group was called "Fatah al Islam" which not the same as Fatah in Palestine. And, a Palestinian refugee camp was destroyed in Lebanon because it was overrun by Fatah al Islam...... and the camp just-so-happened to be near where the US wanted to build an air base. That camp was destroyed (most of the residents had fled) and the world ignored it.

And then there is the example from the 1980's of our funding, arming and training bin Laden's guys in Afghanistan. Look how well that turned out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Song for Gaza

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime

Juan Cole has asked that we post this article on all the blogs, so I am doing my small part here:

ISRAEL has sought to justify its military attacks on Gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of “self-defence” as recognised by Article 51, United Nations Charter. We categorically reject this contention.

The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity.

The killing of almost 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 3,000 injuries, accompanied by the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, which Israel has a responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is not commensurate to the deaths caused by Hamas rocket fire.

For 18 months Israel had imposed an unlawful blockade on the coastal strip that brought Gazan society to the brink of collapse. In the three years after Israel’s redeployment from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. And yet in 2005-8, according to the UN, the Israeli army killed about 1,250 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children. Throughout this time the Gaza Strip remained occupied territory under international law because Israel maintained effective control over it.

Israel’s actions amount to aggression, not self-defence, not least because its assault on Gaza was unnecessary. Israel could have agreed to renew the truce with Hamas. Instead it killed 225 Palestinians on the first day of its attack. As things stand, its invasion and bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5m inhabitants contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. In addition, the blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food and fuel, are prima facie war crimes.

We condemn the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and suicide bombings which are also contrary to international humanitarian law and are war crimes. Israel has a right to take reasonable and proportionate means to protect its civilian population from such attacks. However, the manner and scale of its operations in Gaza amount to an act of aggression and is contrary to international law, notwithstanding the rocket attacks by Hamas.

Ian Brownlie QC, Blackstone Chambers

Mark Muller QC, Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

Michael Mansfield QC and Joel Bennathan QC, Tooks Chambers

Sir Geoffrey Bindman, University College, London

Professor Richard Falk, Princeton University

Professor M Cherif Bassiouni, DePaul University, Chicago

Professor Christine Chinkin, LSE

Professor John B Quigley, Ohio State University

Professor Iain Scobbie and Victor Kattan, School of Oriental and African Studies

Professor Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Professor Said Mahmoudi, Stockholm University

Professor Max du Plessis, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Professor Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College

Professor Joshua Castellino, Middlesex University

Professor Thomas Skouteris and Professor Michael Kagan, American University of Cairo

Professor Javaid Rehman, Brunel University

Daniel Machover, Chairman, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

Dr Phoebe Okawa, Queen Mary University

John Strawson, University of East London

Dr Nisrine Abiad, British Institute of International and Comparative Law

Dr Michael Kearney, University of York

Dr Shane Darcy, National University of Ireland, Galway

Dr Michelle Burgis, University of St Andrews

Dr Niaz Shah, University of Hull

Liz Davies, Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyer

Prof Michael Lynk, The University of Western Ontario

Steve Kamlish QC and Michael Topolski QC, Tooks Chambers

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gaza is drowning in a river of blood

News reports pile into my email account, with the most long-winded and intelligent email reports being sent by Jewish Peace News. They sent two reports this morning – and as they said “both sickening, but important, reading to get a true sense of what is really happening on the ground.”

This diary is a brief summary of those reports and a couple of others. It was also posted on Daily Kos.

Gaza is sinking in a river of blood is the title of one report.

It is written by Mohammed Fares al Majdalawi on January 11, 2009. He and his family are in Gaza, and he claims that the International Red Cross has stated that the IDF will not allow them to get to the victims of the violent attack on Gaza. And so those victims die when they might have lived. And most of those victims are civilians, with over a quarter of them children.

Here is a bit of his report:

There is no safe place we can go. We cannot communicate with our relatives and friends -- networks are down as missiles rain on our homes, mosques and even hospitals.

Our life is centered around the burials of those who have died, our martyrs. At night our camp, Jabaliya refugee camp, is a ghost town, with no sounds other than those of Israeli military aircraft.

There is horror every minute and it is clear especially in the lives of children. For example, there were five sisters in one family killed in their home by the Israeli occupation forces. But there are 800,000 other children in Gaza, all afraid, all waiting for someone or something to help them. They are caught in a prison that is becoming a concentration camp. Every day we sleep and open our eyes to the Israeli crimes of killing children and women and destroying civilians' homes. My words are unable to convey my feelings about this life in Gaza.

He goes on to request that the peace movement demand the end to the siege and the killings and the demolition of homes. He thinks this should be done by rallies and sit-ins. He says: “We wouldn't have to stand it any longer if the world stood with us.”

I have written LTEs, postcards to elected officials (with photos), and called Israeli Embassies, put LET GAZA LIVE on my car, and attended a rally over 100 miles from my home. I will be doing even more peaceful protests of every kind I can think of.

Mr. al Majdalawi wants to invite everyone to Gaza to see for themselves what is happening. He says that, in spite of everything, they will not kill the will of the people for equality and justice. An update posted on the article says that all the homes in Mr. al Majdalawi’s neighborhood have been destroyed, and the family is staying at the UN run school nearby. His brother is missing and they do not know if he is dead or alive. This writer volunteers with the Middle East Children’s Alliance, which sends medical aid to Gaza.

You can donate at this link.

The second report that Jewish Voices for Peace sent me was by Ewa Jasiewicz, also writing from Gaza. His article is called “All signs point to systematic targeting of civilians.” He is working (or volunteering, I am not sure) as an ambulance driver in Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. He talks about his efforts to find and rescue casualties, and about efforts to wash up, do laundry, buy bread, and get some sleep. All of these acts, in the situation there in Gaza, are potential suicide acts, but he does manage to hang out the laundry on his roof while listening to the Israeli drones.

Then he describes going on an ambulance run:

Out of the city, we're met by a crowd running towards us with a blanket hump on the back of a donkey cart. Jumping out I see bloodied legs and arms sticking it out of it, "Shuhada!" -- martyrs! -- yells the crowd running along with it, while others gesture wildly to go on, go on ahead. Jumping back in we get to the house where it all happened. A woman in her 50s, in black, has her arms around a large, lifeless woman. Pools of blood surround them. They're cramped into a corner, the woman crying and clinging to her. We need to peel her away and lift the woman, cold, lifeless and shoeless, onto a stretcher. This is Randa Abed Rabu, 38. Her relative or friend comes in too, unable to stand, unable to speak or move; we drag her on and she has to slump on the ambulance floor. Next we bring in Ahmad Mohammad Nuffar Salem, 21, with 16 shrapnel injuries, tearing at his own clothes in pain, they needed to be cut off.

Six members of the Abed Rabu family were killed in the strike on their house. It happened at 11:40am. Ahmad, 21, explains, "We were all eating together, and then we were struck." The consensus amongst paramedics was that it was a tank shell, although the family thought it was a shell from an Israeli navel vessel.

Muhammad Abed Rabu, 50, explains to me, that in the night his other family homes were struck three times by F-16 fighter jets. "Thirty of us spent the whole of last night hiding under ground, in the basement. Our whole street was full of fire. They [the Israelis] spent one and a half hours attacking us. They destroyed three of our family's homes. All the martyrs today, they were underground with us last night."

He goes on to report on the effects of the missiles, bombs, shrapnel, white phosphorous and nerve gas being used on the people of Gaza. He says an average of twenty people a day are being killed in Jabaliya refugee camp.

Here is the report of a serious injury done to a women about to give birth:

Wafa al-Masri, 40 years old, and nine months pregnant was walking to Kamal Odwan Hospital to give birth. With her was her sister, 26-year-old Raghada Masri. They were passing through the Diwar Mabub crossroads in the Beit Lahiya Project area. It was 4:30pm. Witnesses said they were hit directly by a missile from a surveillance drone. Daniel, a half-Ukrainian paramedic here described the scene. "Her legs were shredded, there was just meat, and she had a serious chest injury, hypoxemia." Wafa was transferred to al-Shifa Hospital for a double leg amputation, from the upper thigh area down. Paramedics were apprehensive about her or her unborn child making it.

She did give birth to a healthy baby boy.

During the cease-fire, paramedics went out to collect bodies and injured. However, they found no one in certain areas. Here’s that report:

I asked the paramedics what happened when they went to collect bodies and the injured from the areas where street fighting is taking place, places like Tel al-Zaater, Salah al-din Street, Atahtura, Azbet Abu Rabu -- closed to everyone and anyone but the Israeli occupation forces. During 1-4pm there is supposed to be a ceasefire and coordination between paramedics and the Israeli army, through the Red Cross. Of the three paramedics I asked, all of their replies were the same. "We saw none." "It was like a ghost town." Despite finding bodies over the past week, including one baby which had been half eaten by dogs -- photos, film and witnesses at Kamal Odwan confirm it -- and bodies which had been run over by tanks, when they went yesterday, they found nobody, and came back to base empty-handed.

They speculate that the Israelis forces took the bodies away and buried them. If this is true, they will be found one day. This writer claims that the total numbers of the dead will not be known for some time, since many are still buried in the rubble. He reports that ambulances are losing the ability to go and pick up the injured since they are running out of fuel.

And there have been reports of starving children found in the rubble of Israeli bombing besides their dead mothers.

And here is a report from a women living in North Carolina. She was returning from a rally in DC on Sunday.

On the way, I receive the dreaded 9pm call from my father. My heart skipped a beat- late night calls always bear bad news. "More bombings, I can't sleep. Israeli navy gunships are bombarding Gaza city's Tel il Hawa neighborhood- you know where Amo Musab lives-where he built his new house" he says, referring to his cousin. "The suburb is in flames. Residents are calling out to the Red Cross but they can't reach them; and they say they are bombing with firebombs or something, there is a thick black smoke descending on them, choking people" continuing calmly.

…..I talk to my father until the bombing subsides-until anther hour. Sometimes we don't say anything at all. We simply hold the phones to our respective ears and talk in silence, as though it were an unfamiliar technology. As though I can shield him from the hell being unleashed around him for those few minutes. However absurd it sounds, we feel safe somehow; re-assured that if something happens, it will happen while we stand together.

I would like to invite everyone to stand together to end the violence in Gaza. Information about rallies and vigils will be posted on End the Occupation website. There are more ideas on Jewish Voices for Peace website. I would like to invite everyone to write letters to the editors about your feelings about the war on Gaza. Donations to help people in Gaza can be made at this link.

You can watch reports on al Jazeera English on your computer if you have a high speed connection. Go to LiveStation and download the program, then pick al Jazeera English. I have been watching them for a week now, and while it is difficult to watch, they are very informative.

And, lastly, I would like to quote Rabbi Rosen of Evanston, Illinois:

“What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.”

Photo: A Palestinian woman reacts after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip January 12, 2009. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Upcoming events in the area this week


Upcoming events are listed on the WNC Peace Coalition blog. This is a quiet week in the area, with no events at all listed until Saturday.

Meanwhile there are plenty of actions to get involved with, especially around the war on Gaza and the US support of such a war. I sent out three postcards each to Shuler and Hagen. They have pictures of dead children from Gaza - since they voted to support Israel's aggression, they should know what it is they voted for.

Didn't take long for Hagen to get her hands bloody.

And, as our country is facing economic ruin, I guess they want a shot at moral ruin too. I think we can do both, since we are well on our way!

Several organizations have promoted the idea that we should stop spending money on useless wars and the military. American Friends Service Committee did a whole series of brochures and signs on this. And Progressive Democrats of America have long promoted "Healthcare not Warfare".

This approach has always bothered me - it seems to me that we should stop bombing and killing people because it is immoral, not because we could spend our money on more useful and helpful things (even though I wish they would spend it on my useful and helpful things).

But, with this economic meltdown and bailout of the financial institutions, the argument really does not hold water. So far on this bailout, we have given stimulus, tax cuts, and outright gifts of cash that total MORE THAN ALL THAT WE SPENT ON ALL WARS COMBINED since this country was started.

And there is no end in sight. Now, personally I support ALL stimulus packages that provide jobs or health care to Americans. It may not work, but it is the only plan that has any chance at all of working. Handing over billions of dollars to investment firms is just throwing good money after bad.

So, I predict for 2009 that the US will go broke in the summer or fall. I don't think Obama's plan will stop that, but I wish him luck and hope that I am wrong.

But maybe the silver lining is that we will stop our wars, occupations, military bases overseas, and reduce the Pentagon budget by 90%. I hope.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

WSJ: "Israel is committing war crimes"

There is an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning saying that Israel is committing war crimes. It is powerful, and I recommend reading the whole piece.

But here is my review and some clips.

It starts by saying that Israel cannot justify this assault on Gaza by claiming self-defense. It goes on to say that Israeli political and military leaders may be liable for war crimes, and while Hamas has also violated the laws of warfare, that fact does not justify Israel’s acts.

The writer of this op-ed, Mr. Bisharat, explains that the UN charter allows the right of a state to self-defense, but Hamas attacks do not rise to the level of an “armed attack” that threatens Israel, and therefore launching a war of aggression is not allowable.

He says that neither side kept the six month truce perfectly, but it was Israel who broke the truce in a major way.

Israel then broke the truce on Nov. 4, raiding the Gaza Strip and killing a Palestinian. Hamas retaliated with rocket fire; Israel then killed five more Palestinians. In the following days, Hamas continued rocket fire -- yet still no Israelis died. Israel cannot claim self-defense against this escalation, because it was provoked by Israel's own violation.

And this is an important part of his argument:

An armed attack that is not justified by self-defense is a war of aggression.

Now, at this point, I have to point out that there was no attack whatsoever from Iraq on the USA, so the US war and occupation of Iraq was also a war of aggression. I am wondering when the Wall Street Journal will have an op-ed about THAT??

But, regardless, this op-ed does a fine job of detailing other aspects of Israel’s recent behavior:

Israel has also failed to adequately discriminate between military and nonmilitary targets. Israel's American-made F-16s and Apache helicopters have destroyed mosques, the education and justice ministries, a university, prisons, courts and police stations. These institutions were part of Gaza's civilian infrastructure. And when nonmilitary institutions are targeted, civilians die. Many killed in the last week were young police recruits with no military roles. Civilian employees in the Hamas-led government deserve the protections of international law like all others. Hamas's ideology -- which employees may or may not share -- is abhorrent, but civilized nations do not kill people merely for what they think.

The author then describes a bit of history about Palestinians and the abuse of human rights that they have been forced to live under, including the latest one – an 18 month siege.

It ends with this:

Israel should be held accountable for its crimes, and the U.S. should stop abetting it with unconditional military and diplomatic support.

Now, if only we could get an op ed in the WSJ that points out the war crimes committed by the USA in the last few years.

And here is a song about Gaza that gives me hope, called Song for Gaza: