Monday 22 December 2008

Israel should be expelled from the UN

By Snorre Lindquist and Lasse Wilhelmson – Stockholm

The Gaza Strip is now the largest concentration camp in the world. The situation grows steadily more insufferable for the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there. Deliveries of food, medicine and fuel are made difficult or stopped altogether. Child malnutrition is increasing. Water supplies and drainage have ceased to function. Children die for lack of healthcare. Tunnels to Egypt, dug by hand, are the only breathing space. Journalists and diplomats are denied entry. Israel is planning more military efforts. The Palestinians in Gaza are now to be starved into surrender and become an Egyptian problem.

The UN should use the word apartheid in connection with Israel and consider sanctions with the former South Africa serving as a model. Miguel dÉscoto Brockman, president of the UN General Assembly, conveyed this message at a meeting on November 24th 2008 with the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon present.

The 1976 Nobel peace prize laureate, Mairead McGuire from Ireland, recently suggested a popular movement demanding that the UN revoke Israel’s membership. The international community now needs to put tangible pressure on Israel in order to stop its war crimes.

Not once, during the past 60 years, has Israel shown any intention of living up to the requirements stipulated by the UN, in connection with the country’s membership in 1948, namely that the Palestinians who had been evicted from their homes should be allowed to return at the earliest possible opportunity. Moreover, Israel holds the hardly flattering world record of ignoring UN resolutions.

It can be questioned from the aspect of human rights legislation whether Israel is a legitimate state. Established practice between states usually requires borders that are legally maintained and a constitution, neither of which Israel has. These requirements are also named in the UN resolution (181) Partition Plan for Palestine, approved by the General Assembly in November 1947. The plan was accepted by the Zionists Jews in Palestine but rejected for excellent reasons as unjust by the Arab states. Only decisions made by the UN Security Council are mandatory. Later on, Israel unilaterally laid claim to a considerably larger portion of land than that suggested by the UN.

The eviction of eighty per cent of the Palestinians who lived west of the 1947 armistice line, and Israel’s refusal to allow them to return is the human rights argument for expelling Israel from the UN. Not only has Israel played the Partition Plan false but has, by its actions, thwarted the grounds – fragile from the start – for its UN membership.

Israel makes use of various strategies to achieve its goals, the same goals as for over a hundred years ago: As few and as well controlled and weakened Palestinians as possible in areas as small as possible between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan. And to try and get acceptance worldwide for the theft of land that is vital to the “state” that calls itself “Jewish and democratic”. This obviously bears no similarity to a peace process.

Why does nobody ever comment on the fact that Israel’s prime minister never misses an opportunity to harp on about how important it is that the rest of the world and the Palestinians recognise Israel, not as a democratic country for all its citizens, but as a “Jewish state”?

What would we have said if South Africa’s Prime Minister, in a similar way, had demanded recognition of South Africa as a “white and democratic state”, thus de facto accepting the racist apartheid system that allowed non-whites to be classified as lesser human beings?

In the article The end of Zionism, published in the Guardian on September the 15th 2003 the Jewish dissident and former speaker of Knesset, Avraham Burg wrote:

“Diaspora Jews for whom Israel is a central pillar of their identity must pay heed and speak out … We cannot keep a Palestinian majority under an Israeli boot and at the same time think ourselves the only democracy in the Middle East. There cannot be democracy without equal rights for all who live here, Arab as well as Jew … The prime minister should present the choices forthrightly: Jewish racism or democracy.”

No support can be found in The UN recommendation concerning a Jewish and a Palestinian state for unequal rights for the citizens of each country. Neither is there any indication as to how a “Jewish” state could become Jewish. There is support, however, for the intention that demographic conditions should be held intact at partition. Interpreting into the text an intention concerning characteristics of a “Jewish state” tailored to the ideology of Zionism is wholly in contradiction with the text of the resolution.

Even the Balfour Declaration, which entirely lacks human rights status, notes that the Jewish national home in Palestine should in no way encroach upon the rights of the Palestinians. Neither did US President Truman recognise Israel as a Jewish state. On the contrary, he ruled out precisely that formulation before making his decision to recognise Israel.

Thus, the legitimacy of a “Jewish state” so urgently sought by Israel lacks support in international documents that concern the building of the state. Israel’s government is, of course, fully aware of this. Why else would it keep on searching for this recognition?

The UN should now embark on a boycott of the apartheid state of Israel and, with the threat of expulsion from the UN, demand that Israel allows the evicted Palestinian refugees to return in accordance with the UN resolutions 194 and 3236.

With this done, meaningful peace talks can proceed and various solutions be reached for co-habitation with equal rights for all people between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan. No such solution can be compatible with the preservation of a Jewish apartheid state.

- Snorre Lindquist is a Swedish Architect of, among other things, the House of Culture in front of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem on the West Bank. Contact him at

- Lasse Wilhelmson is a commentator on the situation in the Middle East, and is a member of a local government in Sweden for 23 years, four of which in an executive position. Contact him at:

Israeli Settler Site wrote:
Swedish Activists Call for Expelling Israel from UN

( Swedish architect Snore Lindquist and commentator Lasse Wilhelmson wrote in the Saudi Gazette that the United Nations should expel Israel from the international body. They called the Gaza region "the largest concentration camp in the world." It can be questioned from the aspect of human rights legislation whether Israel is a legitimate state, according to their views.

"The U.N. should use the word apartheid in connection with Israel and consider sanctions with the former South Africa serving as a model," they wrote, adding that "Miguel dÉscoto Brockman, president of the U.N. General Assembly, conveyed this message at a meeting…with the world body's General Secretary Ban Ki-moon."

The authors of the article also claimed that the Arab's rejection of the 1947 Partition Plan was based on "excellent reasons," which the Swedes did not detail.

An If Americans Knew Investigation: Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Borders & Airports

"...According to interviews with women in the United States, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli border officials periodically force Christian and Muslim females of all ages to remove their clothing and submit to searches. In some cases the children are then “felt” by Israeli officials..."

Strip-Searching Children

Israeli officials have been regularly strip-searching children for decades, some of them American citizens.

While organizations that focus on Israel-Palestine have long been aware that Israeli border officials regularly strip-search men and women, If Americans Knew appears to be the first organization that has specifically investigated the situation. In the course of its investigation on searches of women, If Americans Knew was astonished to learn that Israeli officials have also been strip-searching girls as young as seven and below.

According to interviews with women in the United States, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli border officials periodically force Christian and Muslim females of all ages to remove their clothing and submit to searches. In some cases the children are then “felt” by Israeli officials.

Sometimes mothers and children are strip-searched together, at other times little girls are taken from their parents and strip-searched alone. Women are required to remove sanitary napkins, sometimes with small daughters at their side. Sometimes women are strip searched in the presence of their young sons.

All report deep feelings of humiliation. Many describe weeping at the degradation they felt.

“I remember crying and pleading with my mother,” Gaza journalist Laila El-Haddad recalls of an experience when she was 12-years-old, hoping that her mother could convince the Israeli official to allow her to keep her undershirt on. But parents are unable to shield their children, El-Haddad and others report.

“They had machine guns,” El-Haddad explains. “We just had to submit.” El-Haddad, who holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, believes that the intention of the strip searches is to humiliate Palestinians so that they won’t return to Palestine.

Oregon attorney Hala Gores remembers being strip-searched at the age of 10. Her family, Palestinian Christians from Nazareth, were leaving Israel because of Israeli discrimination against Christians. Gores has never returned to her family’s ancestral home in Nazareth, she says, in part because she does not want to repeat the experience of having no control over what is done to her.

The Israeli policy appears to target only Christian and Muslim children, and is equally applied to those with Israeli citizenship and citizenship in other countries, including native-born Americans. There are no reports of Jewish children being strip-searched.

New Jersey stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid describes being strip-searched at Ben Gurion Airport when she was “seven, eight, nine years old” on family trips to visit her parents’ original home in Palestine. On her most recent trip in July 2006, Maysoon, an American citizen, had her sanitary pad taken by officials in Ben Gurion Airport. When the search was completed, she says, the Israeli official in charge, Inbal Sharon, then refused to return her pad or allow her to get another.

Zayid, who has cerebral palsy and was sitting in a wheelchair, was then forced to bleed publicly for hours while she waited for her flight.

Zayid, a former class president and yearbook editor at New Jersey’s Cliffside Park High School known for her irreverent comedy routines and strong personality, describes sobbing uncontrollably. “No one spoke up,” she remembers. “There were several women, including the woman who was pushing my wheelchair, none of whom said a word.”

When she boarded her flight, Zayid recalls, “The flight attendants looked at me in disgust.” She told them what had happened, and the attendants then gave her some of their own clothing to use.

In addition to taking her sanitary napkin, Israeli officials also confiscated medication that Zayid is required to take when flying. As a result, she vomited repeatedly throughout the 12-hour flight.

Zayid, who founded a program for newly disabled Palestinian youths, many of them permanently disabled from attacks by Israeli forces, was so depressed by her treatment that she determined never to return. “But that’s what they want,” she says, “They want us to get to the point where we don’t go back.” She says that she is already planning to return to her volunteer work in the West Bank.

Israeli practices vary and seem to be applied randomly, from elderly women to small children. In some instances women are taken into a room alone and are left sitting naked for hours. At other times they are strip-searched in groups, their clothes thrown in a pile. When they are finally allowed to get dressed, they describe having to rummage through the heap of clothing, naked and barefoot, to find their own garments.

Jewish Holocaust Survivor

While these policies largely target Palestinian and Palestinian-American women and children, some non-Palestinian Americans also report being subjected to strip searches by Israeli officials.

St. Louis resident Hedy Epstein, whose parents and extended family perished in Nazi camps, and whose story is featured in the Academy Award winning documentary "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport," reports being strip searched three years ago following her participation in nonviolent protests in the West Bank. Epstein, who was 79 at the time, describes being forced to bend over for an Israeli official to search her internally.

The strip searches appear to be illegal under numerous statutes. The Geneva Conventions, to which Israel is a signatory, prohibit: “Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” and specifically emphasize: “Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour..."

Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states: "No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy..."

In the US, such policies would appear to violate child abuse statutes. The state of Utah, for example, defines Child Abuse as: “Any form of cruelty to a child's physical, moral or mental well-being.” The Encarta Encyclopedia defines child abuse as “Intentional acts that result in physical or emotional harm to children.”

While the If Americans Knew investigation focused on practices concerning women, many interviewees reported frequent random strip-searching of males as well, including American citizens, children, and the elderly.

While the practice is widely applied, many people find it too humiliating to speak of. One 68-year-old Christian businessman, who had been stripped naked at Ben Gurion airport in 2006 before being allowed to board his flight to return home, had never revealed his experience to his family until he learned of the If Americans Knew investigation. He then explained to his daughter why he had previously told her that he might never return to his original home, now in the state of Israel.

Christians, a thriving community that made up approximately 15 percent of Palestine’s population before Zionist immigration and the creation of Israel (Muslims were 80 percent and Jews 5 percent), have now dwindled under Israeli occupation to approximately two percent of the total population.

Israeli spokespeople and sympathizers have bristled in recent months at the title of a book by former President Jimmy Carter, “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.” In reply, Carter has emphasized that the Israeli “apartheid” he is describing is limited to the West Bank and Gaza. Many analysts have disagreed with Carter, providing evidence of pervasive discrimination within Israel itself. The If Americans Knew finding that Israel has been routinely strip-searching non-Jewish citizens of Israel would also indicate a wider policy of Israeli discrimination.

Since American taxpayers give Israel over $8 million per day, the Council for the National Interest, a Washington DC-based lobbying organization, is organizing a campaign to call on Congress to demand that Israel end these policies.

“We are extremely upset to learn that Israel is using American tax money in ways that degrade and humiliate women and children,” says CNI President Eugene Bird. “We call on all Americans to help us on this campaign.” The organization urges people to begin contacting their Congressional representatives immediately, and to disseminate the video report “The Easiest Targets” by If Americans Knew as widely as possible.
In an article for the Guardian, John Pilger describes presenting a top journalism award to a young Palestinian, Mohammed Omer, and how, on his return home to Gaza, he was seized by the Israelis, who demanded the prize money and tortured him.

Two weeks ago, I presented a young Palestinian, Mohammed Omer, with the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Awarded in memory of the great American war correspondent, the prize goes to journalists who expose establishment propaganda, or “official drivel”, as Martha called it. Mohammed shares the prize of £5,000 with the fine war reporter Dahr Jamail. At 24, Mohammed is the youngest ever winner. His citation reads: “Every day, he reports from a war zone, where he is also a prisoner. His homeland, Gaza, is surrounded, starved, attacked, forgotten. He is a profoundly humane witness to one of the great injustices of our time. He is the voice of the voiceless.” The eldest of eight children, Mohammed has seen most of his siblings killed or wounded or maimed. An Israeli bulldozer crushed his home while the family were inside, seriously injuring his mother. And yet, says a former Dutch ambassador, Jan Wijenberg, “he is a moderating voice, urging Palestinian youth not to court hatred but seek peace with Israel.”

Getting Mohammed to London to receive his prize was a major diplomatic operation. Israel has perfidious control over Gaza’s borders, and only with a Dutch embassy escort was he allowed out. Last Thursday, on his return journey, he was met at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan by a Dutch official, who waited outside the Israeli building, unaware that Mohammed had been seized by Shin Bet, Israel’s infamous security organisation. Mohammed was told to turn off his cell phone and remove the battery. He asked if he could call his Dutch embassy escort and was told forcefully he could not. A man referred to as Avi stood over his luggage, picking through his documents. “Where’s the money?” he demanded. Mohammed produced some US dollars.

“Where’s is the English pound you have?”

“I realised,” said Mohammed, “he was after the award stipend for the Martha Gellhorn Prize. I told him I didn’t have it with me. ‘You are lying’, he said. I was now surrounded by eight Shin Bet officers, all armed. The man called Avi ordered me to take off my clothes. I had already been through an x-ray machine. I stripped down to my underwear and was told to take off everything. When I refused, Avi put his hand on his gun. I began to cry: ‘Why are you treating me this way? I am human being’. He said, ‘This is nothing compared with what you will see now’. He took his gun out, pressing it to my head and with his full body weight pinning me on my side, he forcibly removed my underwear. He then made me do a concocted sort of dance. Another man, who was laughing, said, ‘Why are you bringing perfumes?’ I replied, ‘They are gifts for the people I love’. He said, ‘Oh, do you have love in your culture?’

“As they ridiculed me, they took delight most in mocking letters I had received from readers in England. I had now been without food and water and the toilet for twelve hours, and having been made to stand, my legs buckled. I vomited and passed out. All I remember is one of them gouging, scraping and clawing with his nails at the tender flesh beneath my eyes. He scooped my head and dug his fingers in near the auditory nerves between my head and eardrum. The pain became sharper as he dug in two fingers at a time. Another man had his combat boot on my neck, pressing into the hard floor. I lay there for over an hour. The room became a menagerie of pain, sound and terror.”

An ambulance was called and told to take Mohammed to a hospital, but only after he had signed a statement indemnifying the Israelis from his suffering in their custody. The Palestinian medic refused, courageously, and said he would contact the Dutch embassy escort. Alarmed, the Israelis let the ambulance go. The Israeli line, as reported by Reuters, is familiar; it is that Mohammed was “suspected” of smuggling and “lost his balance” during a “fair” interrogation.

Israeli human rights groups have documented the routine torture of Palestinians by Shin Bet agents with “beatings, painful binding, back bending, body stretching and prolonged sleep deprivation”. Amnesty has long reported the widespread use of torture by Israel, whose victims emerge as mere shadows of their former selves. Some never return. Israel is high in an international league table for its intimidation and murder of journalists, especially Palestinian journalists who receive barely a fraction of the kind of coverage given to the hostage-taking of the BBC’s Alan Johnston.

The Dutch government says it is shocked by Mohammed Omer’s treatment. Former ambassador Jan Wijenberg said, “This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life... I am aware of the possibility that Mohammed Omer might be murdered by Israeli snipers or bomb attack in the near future.”

While Mohammed was receiving his prize in London, the new Israeli ambassador to Britain, Ron Proser, was publicly complaining that many Britons no longer appreciated the uniqueness of Israel’s democracy. Perhaps they do now.

Britain steps up fight against West Bank settlements

The British government is stepping up measures against settlements in the West Bank in an effort to stop their further expansion.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently instructed the Foreign Office to issue a warning to British citizens against the purchase of houses and real estate in the settlements.

Other measures recently imposed by London on West Bank settlements include tying the upgrade of relations between the European Union and Israel to the cessation of construction in the settlements in the West Bank and putting special labels on products denoting that they were made in West Bank settlements.

On December 9th, Brown sent a personal letter to the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayad. Haaretz has obtained a copy of the letter in which Brown states his government is examining a number of methods aimed at preventing the further expansion of settlements.

"We have long expressed our opposition to settlement activity," Brown wrote. "But that activity has continued and has accelerated since the Annapolis process was launched. I share your frustration at this. The UK is now looking at what effective action we can take to discourage settlement expansion."

Britain is effectively encouraging divestment from companies based or working in cooperation with business in the Jewish West Bank settlements. In his letter to Fayad, the British premier wrote that companies owned by his government have no financial ties to the settlements.

Brown discussed Britain's latest step against the settlements in his letter to Fayad.

"I have already asked officials to update our official travel advice to include a specific warning that potential purchasers of property in a settlement should consider that a future peace agreement could have consequences for that property," Brown wrote.

Jerusalem is said to be furious over Downing Street's decision to label products made in West Bank settlements. Britain has responded by saying that some companies based in the West Bank have been using false addresses within Israel proper in order to avoid its products from being labeled.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confronted Brown over the issue during their meeting on Tuesday, saying that Britain was violating an agreement signed with the European Union when he was minister of infrastructure in 2005.

"I signed that agreement despite the criticism and political price in Israel," he said. "There is no justification for what you are now doing. During my time as prime minister no new settlements have been built and you know it."

Source: Haaretz

Calm is over; violence breaks out again

American Muslim Observer Magazine

Gaza Strip, 22, December, 2008-MMN-Sunday midnight witnessed escalated military steps by Israeli army on Gaza Strip. Apache helicopters raided on Al Shijya area east of Gaza city leaving 3 civilians injured. Medical spokesman of Emergency, Dr. Mawya Hasanian, said 2 children were reported in a wake of military actions. The air raids which were extensively supported by Israeli reconnaissance plans left Gaza residents in great panic.

Some local radio stations in Gaza reported that raids targeted some Palestinian resistance spots. Israeli cabinet held mid Sunday vowed of full-scale military invasion in Gaza but didn't clarify more details. Following the collapse of calm between Israel and Palestinian factions, the level of tension and violence dramatically increases within two days. Another Palestinian killed and four injured including two children Saturday morning as Israeli artillery shelled the northern areas of Gaza Strip; towns of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun.

Three days ago, a Palestinian was killed in an Israeli raid north of Gaza strip which is a real hotbed for the erupting firing actions between the two sides.
Today morning started by firing 2 ground-to-ground missiles fired by the Israeli army at a group of Palestinian fighters killing 25-year-old Ali Hijazi a faith affiliated member and injuring two others. Hijazai was preparing for his wedding which is due after two days. He invited his friends, relatives and family. However, things went out of his way as he was killed by Israeli army Saturday morning. His body was "torn to pieces." Due to the direct shell hit him.

Palestinian factions promptly retaliated on the Israeli military actions by firing projectiles and light homemade rockets on a number of Israeli towns and villages. Al-Qassam brigades linked to Islamic Hamas Movement fired six homemade shells on two Israeli military posts in Sufa south of Gaza Rafah City and the a military intelligence too.

Later mid Saturday Israeli tanks shelled the same area north of Gaza leaving two children injured by the shrapnel of an Israeli shell fired from an nearby military post in the Israeli areas. Palestinian medical sources reported that the two were moderately injured and were transferred to Kamal Adawan Hospital. One of the injured was a child aged 7.

The clashes erupted few minutes after the arrival of a Qatari aids boat from Cyprus to Gaza. The Qatari vessel, the SS Dignity, arrived Gaza Port at 7:40 am. According to Free Gaza Movement FGM, Israeli authorities requested the evacuation of two Israeli peace activists visiting Gaza in solidarity of besieged people.
"We know you have Israelis on board, so either turn back, or we will board and take them off," said a voice on the ship's radio, the Free Gaza Movement said in a statement.

"We are going to Gaza," Huwaida Arraf, the delegation leader, reportedly replied.

Neta Golan, one of the Israelis on board and a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement stated, "Countries that commit crimes against humanity often hide those crimes from their own people. Israel is doing exactly that by not allowing Israelis to come in to witness what they are doing in our name."

The boat carried a Qatari delegation and a ton of Medical supplies for Gaza hospitals which is in bad need for prompt intervention to end medical siege and ban.
"This is just the beginning. We are delighted that we are finally able to see the shores of Gaza and be the first Arab envoys to arrive. We will see how we can work together to help relieve this terrible situation in Gaza," said Alaze Al-Qahtani.

"Everyone said it couldn't be done, that we would never be able to get to Gaza. But we have now arrived for the fifth time," Darlene Wallach said.

"Now, other ships, especially cargo ships, need to follow in our wake," Wallach added.

More boats are in way to Gaza in a practical step to end Gaza siege. A Lebanese boat is due by early January. It would carry 800 tons of medical and food aids as well as journalists, peace activists. Additionally, another boat carrying Arabic and Islamic lawmakers would set sail to Gaza.

Out of Gaza, Ramallah in Offar prison violence took place between Israeli jailers and 1000 Palestinian prisoners. The confrontation resulted in injuring 8 prisoners and two wardens during. Palestinian prisoners were protesting an earlier search of prisoner property which damaged the living quarters of the prisoners.
Israeli soldiers fired rounds of rubber coated bullets and gas canisters on the prisoners, igniting some of the tents.

In regard of Gaza siege more Arab moves and stances are growing. Thousands of Lebanese protested Friday in opposition of Gaza Siege. An Arab siege coalition is to be formed shortly vowing of more popular actions.

Egyptian foreign affairs official, Husam Zaki, said that ongoing talks to renew calm are being held between the rival parties to prevent deteriorations on the ground. He said that Egypt would pursue efforts to relive conditions for Palestinian civilians.

Now it all makes sense

Yousef Abudayyeh

I must admit that I have always wondered about the reason(s) the US had when it used all of that military power in the last war, which caused Iraq to return to the Stone Age. I also wondered about why the US had to build the two biggest military bases in the world there, when it had bases pretty much everywhere in that region.

I wondered about these things, not because I am naive and I do not know how ruthless the US is, I wondered because it is obvious that there were many ways the US could have used to take control of Iraq without using this tremendous force and this degree of destruction and it chose this way. Now I believe, I know why it all happened the way it did.

The US, being the sole super power, is also the only country in the world that if it wants, it could print as many Dollars as it wants without thinking twice about it. It will also hear no complaints about it from any country, nor will it worry that people will stop using that green back because it’s not backed by Gold. On the contrary, even with the introduction of the Euro, the US made sure that the Dollar is the only currency to be used, if one (and who doesn’t want to) to do business with the US or be on the US’s good side. The US made it clear that the Dollar is backed by the strength of the US , and to insure that, it had to physically control the oil fields, and the countries and leaders of these oil producing countries. The many attempts by many countries to switch to using anything other than the Dollars to buy and sell Oil did not materialize. Saddam's threats to do that helped the US to put an end to it at once. The US had to do something to stop these attempts from reoccurring, and that is why it decided to go to Iraq and use that unbelievable force, not only to destroy Iraq, but to show the whole world, and especially its allies the Europeans, and also the Chinese, that any other attempt to disregard the Dollar will be costly to all. Saddam's faith was a clear message to the oil rich Arab Gulf leaders. The destruction of Iraq was the “Gold” that backed the Dollar.

The US also wanted to make sure that these Allies and the Chinese will pay for their stupid attempts to sabotage and challenge the sole super power by bankrupting them for years to come, and by achieving this goal it will be almost sure that no word will be heard from them for a long time.

So the US had to go to work, it had to tailor a plan that will drain these countries and keep them busy dealing with their misfortunes. And for about three years, with the help of the sophisticated media outlets and the shrewdness of this (stupid) White House occupant, coupled with the huge appetite of the capitalist system to make more money and more of it, the US in an unbelievable ease, drew everyone who had a Dollar to invest, to buying a part of the US . And before anyone knew it, the whole world (except for Japan, because it learned from earlier experience) was holding almost worthless (a 10th of what it cost them a couple of years back) notes of US investments. These countries took the bait, and the price the US had to pay for this was few capitalist companies that will be consumed by other leaner and bigger ones. And with the help of the US and its Dollars, these companies will buy back from these foreign investors these very cheap notes. Just like the way the capitalist system works.

It is now obvious that the US will bail its banks, and it will bail them by printing more Dollars, one thing the rest of the world cannot do. It is also obvious that the US will bring back confidence to its main street (a lubricant the capitalist system needs for its machine to continue producing and surviving) another thing, the rest of the world cannot do or afford to do. The US causalities of this plan will soon be forgotten and the survivors will reap the benefits of the strength and ruthless of (this) Capitalist System that will continue to survive until it is faced with an enemy that will not be intimidated by its strength and will not be fooled by its shrewdness and will find a way acceptable to print money and used it as a weapon without any meaningful objection from the world community. And it looks that it’s going to be a while before we get there.

It Was Never About Borders

"...The only viable solution remains the one democratic state where Palestine will go back to its Arab womb and where anyone who wants to live in Palestine will be free of hatred and will have the same duties, obligations and rights as anyone else that lives there..."

Yousef Abudayyeh

The Palestinian-Zionist conflict is not about disputed borders, it's about the very existence of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. The Zionist invaders came to Palestine because according to the Zionists, Palestine was a land with no people and needed to be filled with "people who have no land."

Unless the whole world and especially the Arab Palestinians understand this, things will get worse. What we saw in Akka (Akko) this week is a continuation of the emptying of Palestine of its original people. This has always been a fruitless undertaking, fueled by the invader's realization of the ultimate failure of the Zionist adventure - make no mistake about it.

And just to let you know, what's going on in Akka has been happening on a different scale in all the cities and village of Palestine 48. A few days ago, a friend of mine with some of his family members were driving in Haifa when his car was stoned by these fascist Zionist invaders with the "police" watching on and not doing a thing, a very familiar scene.

These stepped up attacks on '48 Palestinians should make clear the following:

- Our people of the '48 land have been living for more than 60 years, under the worst of racist conditions. All the attempts that the Arab leaders made in order to co-exist with the Zionists were attempts that needed to be made in order to prove to the world, and more importantly, to the Palestinian people, that the Zionist invaders were really not interested in co-existence. All these invaders are interested in are finding ways to push the Arabs out of their homes so they can salvage their colonization "dream" of (at least half of) Palestine.

- The so-called Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, (in no way smarter or tested than the leadership of the Arabs of '48), should go back to the original writings of the PLO and study them and understand them. The original understanding of the conflict was the right one. These Zionists invaders are not interested in anything less than an empty Palestine. Any misunderstanding of this fact will lead to more blood and misery. The least they can do is talk with our leaders in '48 and learn from them.

- The Arab countries should at once stop all dealings with the Zionists.

- The Zionist idea and doctrine is dead or at least cracked and cannot be fulfilled. The building of racist walls and even getting involved with "peace talks" are signs of the Zionists getting used to the fact that they cannot have all of Palestine, definitely not without its original inhabitants, and for sure not on their terms. Having said that, this will bring the fascist elements of the invaders (and they are many) to commit desperate acts. This will no doubt lead to more killing of Arabs in the near future. The world community should be put on notice that these fascists and their leaders should be tried for war crimes. The whole Zionist state should be held responsible for any more suffering the occupied Palestinian people will face.

- The only viable solution remains the one democratic state where Palestine will go back to its Arab womb and where anyone who wants to live in Palestine will be free of hatred and will have the same duties, obligations and rights as anyone else that lives there.

Yousef Abudayyeh is is a long time activist, founding member of the National Council of Arab Americans, a member of the coordinating committee of the Beirut meeting, member of Al-Awda, the right of Return Coalition and National Coordinator of the Free Palestine Alliance, USA. Married with two children and lives in San Diego, California USA.

A blockade of young minds.

"...We are students, not soldiers. We are not fighters in this conflict. Why doesn't Israel let us go study? Why do Europe and America support a blockade of young minds? Soon, my fellow classmates at the medical college will be starting classes. When they do, I will probably still be here in my father's house, waiting for the blockade to end..."

My dream is to become a bone specialist. But the Israeli government won't let me leave to pursue my studies abroad

This was supposed to be my first year of medical school. Instead, I am stuck here in Gaza in my father's house inside the Jabalia refugee camp, with few options and no way out. After I finished high school last year, I decided to become a doctor. Gaza cries out for bone specialists, but the training I need is available only abroad.

When I won a place at a medical college in Germany, my parents were proud. I was excited to follow my older brother, who is already studying there. In February, the German authorities granted me an entrance visa. I wasted no time in asking the Israeli authorities for permission to travel to Europe. But I was told that only patients in need of emergency medical evacuation would be allowed out – not students.

Hundreds of other young people trapped in the Gaza Strip have won admission to study abroad. For many of us, this is our only opportunity to continue our education. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth, and one of the poorest – 1.5 million of us live on a patch of land about 41 kilometres long and 6-12 kilometres wide. The local hospitals lack the equipment needed to perform many important procedures, like radiation treatments for cancer patients and heart surgery.

Universities in Gaza are overcrowded and starved for supplies. Many subjects are not even taught, and there are few postgraduate programmes. Instructors from abroad cannot enter Gaza. Without the ability to go overseas, we cannot learn.

In June, after the United States pressured Israel to allow Fulbright scholarship winners to leave the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military announced that it would grant exit permits for a few more students with "recognised" scholarships – but not "hundreds." So hundreds of us are still waiting, most without prestigious scholarships to draw the world's attention. I am sure to be one of the many who will not be allowed to leave. Life in Gaza has bled away my optimism.

My father is a teacher and owns a children's clothing shop. My mother is a housekeeper. I have six brothers and three sisters. We returned to Palestine in 1996 from Saudi Arabia, where my father had been working as a teacher. That was at the height of the peace process. My parents put their hope in the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, and decided that they could give us a better life here.

But when I was 10, the second intifada began. The peace process was collapsing throughout my teenage years. During my third year of high school, the Israeli authorities closed off the Gaza Strip. Israeli border controls have reduced the flow of people crossing the border to a trickle, and have suffocated Gaza's economy, choking off imports and exports and cutting fuel deliveries and electricity. There is no clothing left in my father's shop, which was supposed to support my brother and me during our studies.

With the backing of the US, Canada, and the European Union, Israel has maintained its blockade in an attempt to defeat Hamas, which won the elections here in 2006. But the blockade only makes people more desperate. Hamas and other armed groups, I know, have launched rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip that have killed civilians in Israeli towns and villages.

But I also have witnessed how Israel has retaliated with air strikes and armed incursions into the Gaza Strip, including Jabalia. Israel's blockade amounts to collective punishment. It is hurting all of us, whether we support Hamas or not. It is also destroying my dream to write "specialist in bone medicine" after my name.

Sometimes, I am sorry that I am from Gaza. But my hope is still to go abroad, learn skills, and return to help others here. Sometimes, when there is electricity, I watch television and see how people live in other places. I ask myself why they have the opportunity to travel, to study, to take vacations, when I cannot go abroad even to learn medicine.

We are students, not soldiers. We are not fighters in this conflict. Why doesn't Israel let us go study? Why do Europe and America support a blockade of young minds? Soon, my fellow classmates at the medical college will be starting classes. When they do, I will probably still be here in my father's house, waiting for the blockade to end.

Abdalaziz Okasha graduated from high school in the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

We Do Not Ask Permission from Israel!


The Free Gaza Movement is sending the Dignity on its fifth mission to Gaza with envoys on board from civil society organizations in Qatar. The boat also carries journalists, human rights observers, and Palestinians who want to return home and have been prevented from doing so by the Israeli occupation.

On the eve of this voyage, the Free Gaza Movement would like to correct a few the statements made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a December 11 interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. In that interview, Abbas suggesting that our efforts are coordinated with the Israelis – that the Israelis check the passports of the passengers aboard our ship and officials from the Israeli Embassy in Larnaca, Cyprus, check our boat before we leave the port.

And as a result of this interference, President Abbas stated that ours is a "silly game" and that we are not really breaking the siege.

We do not coordinate any of our actions with the Israelis. Israel has grossly abused its authority as an occupying power by collectively punishing the people of Gaza and denying them basic human rights. As such, we neither seek Israel's permission, nor submit to their searches, to assert the right of the Palestinian people to have access to the outside world, which includes the right to invite and welcome us to Gaza.

So, why do we get in, while other efforts are stopped by the Israeli authorities? Because we remove the "security" pretext with which Israel tries to justify its brutal actions and inhumane policies towards the Palestinian people. Amongst other things, we publicize our passenger list; we depart from Cyprus, a neutral European country; and we submit to a search by the Cypriot Port Authorities to verify that we are not carrying anything that can be considered a threat to Israel's security. We sail from Cyprus waters, into international waters, directly into Gaza's territorial waters, without entering Israeli waters. Israel realizes that it cannot stop us without using force against us, because we will not be turned around easily.

President Abbas' statement that we coordinate with the Israelis was misinformed. However, Abbas was correct when he said that we are not really breaking the siege on Gaza. Our boats cannot break the siege alone. Our hope is that we have started something that others can build on. We have shown that the concerted efforts of ordinary civilians working together in the name of justice can confront and successfully challenge Israel's brutal policies and hope we have inspired other people to break their silence over Israel's war crimes in the Gaza Strip and throughout the occupied Palestinian territory. From the continued and accelerated Judaization of Jerusalem and the rabid violence of the settler movement, to the vicious racism of Israeli politicians, Israel is committing massive violations against the people Gaza and Palestine as a whole. The world must stand up to this.

The Free Gaza Movement will continue to send boats to Gaza to challenge Israel's imprisonment of 1.5 million Palestinians, and we will continue to work for freedom and justice for all of the Palestinian people. We do not need Israel's permission and we will never ask for it. We do need President Abbas, the Arab world, and the entire international community to join us.