Help The Aid Convoy For Gaza

Contact the relevant Egyptian Embassy Here. Updates here and here.

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Gaza Freedom March Statement

The Gaza Freedom March has come to an end, but before the protesters dispersed they agreed on the following statement:

End Israeli Apartheid
Cairo Declaration
January 1, 2010

We, international delegates meeting in Cairo during the Gaza Freedom March 2009 in collective response to an initiative from the South African delegation, state:

In view of:

o Israel’s ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians through the illegal occupation and siege of Gaza;
o the illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the continued construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall and settlements;
o the new Wall under construction by Egypt and the US which will tighten even further the siege of Gaza;
o the contempt for Palestinian democracy shown by Israel, the US, Canada, the EU and others after the Palestinian elections of 2006;
o the war crimes committed by Israel during the invasion of Gaza one year ago;
o the continuing discrimination and repression faced by Palestinians within Israel;
o and the continuing exile of millions of Palestinian refugees;
o all of which oppressive acts are based ultimately on the Zionist ideology which underpins Israel;
o in the knowledge that our own governments have given Israel direct economic, financial, military and diplomatic support and allowed it to behave with impunity;
o and mindful of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007)

We reaffirm our commitment to:

Palestinian Self-Determination
Ending the Occupation
Equal Rights for All within historic Palestine
The full Right of Return for Palestinian refugees

We therefore reaffirm our commitment to the United Palestinian call of July 2005 for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to compel Israel to comply with international law.

To that end, we call for and wish to help initiate a global mass, democratic anti-apartheid movement to work in full consultation with Palestinian civil society to implement the Palestinian call for BDS.

Mindful of the many strong similarities between apartheid Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa, we propose:

1) An international speaking tour in the first 6 months of 2010 by Palestinian and South African trade unionists and civil society activists, to be joined by trade unionists and activists committed to this programme within the countries toured, to take mass education on BDS directly to the trade union membership and wider public internationally;

2) Participation in the Israeli Apartheid Week in March 2010;

3) A systematic unified approach to the boycott of Israeli products, involving consumers, workers and their unions in the retail, warehousing, and transportation sectors;

4) Developing the Academic, Cultural and Sports boycott;

5) Campaigns to encourage divestment of trade union and other pension funds from companies directly implicated in the Occupation and/or the Israeli military industries;

6) Legal actions targeting the external recruitment of soldiers to serve in the Israeli military, and the prosecution of Israeli government war criminals; coordination of Citizen’s Arrest Bureaux to identify, campaign and seek to prosecute Israeli war criminals; support for the Goldstone Report and the implementation of its recommendations;

7) Campaigns against charitable status of the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

We appeal to organisations and individuals committed to this declaration to sign it and work with us to make it a reality.

Please e-mail us at cairodec@gmail.com

Signed by:

(* Affiliation for identification purposes only.)

1. Hedy Epstein, Holocaust Survivor/ Women in Black*, USA
2. Nomthandazo Sikiti, Nehawu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa
3. Zico Tamela, Satawu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa
4. Hlokoza Motau, Numsa, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa
5. George Mahlangu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Campaigns Coordinator*, South Africa

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Gaza, Not A Difference A Year Makes

A year ago-

Israel Defense Forces will try to “send Gaza decades into the past” in terms of weapon capabilities while achieving “the maximum number of enemy casualties and keeping Israel Defense Forces casualties at a minimum,” GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant said.

“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.There would be no mercy shown”- IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot

Today the siege continues. The governments of the US, the UK and Egypt conspiring to punish those Israel has designated enemies while professing to be in search of peace, but they keep building walls, now they are apparently (possibly?!?) even building the walls underground. This is not a peace process this is misdirection to distract from an ongoing crime against humanity.

(Cairo) On December 27th, 2009, marking one year since the brutal Israeli invasion of Gaza, members of the Gaza Freedom March in Cairo will place 1,400 candles in the Nile River to commemorate the dead. The Gaza Freedom Marchers had hoped to be in Gaza to commemorate the war, but access to Rafah is being denied by the Egyptian authorities. The Marchers, coming from 43 countries, have appealed to President Mubarak to allow them to proceed. The delegation includes families of three generations, doctors, lawyers, diplomats, students, artists, rabbis, priests, imams, a women delegation, a Jewish contingent, a veterans group and Palestinians born overseas. The coalition spent seven months planning for their trip to Gaza. As they flood into Cairo with a longing to reach Gaza, they plan to remember the besieged strip while being trapped here. “We mark this date, December 27, with great saddess for those killed and wounded, and we call on the world’s leaders to hold Israel accountable,” said Medea Benjamin of the Gaza Freedom March. “We also call on Israel and Egypt to lift the blockade that is causing so much suffering in Gaza.”

Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy to Gaza will begin a hunger strike at 11.25 am today (27 th) in protest at the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow the convoy entry onto its soil. Diplomatic negotiations are also taking place between the Turkish and Egyptian governments over the convoy’s entry to Egypt. IHH, Turkey’s main humanitarian aid agency, has 63 vehicles travelling on the convoy.

The Syrian government has also provided aid and vehicles, as has the government of Malaysia. More than 400 people from 17 countries are travelling on the 150 vehicle convoy, which is taking medical, humanitarian and educational aid to Gaza. The convoy departed London on 6 December and have travelled nearly 3,000 miles across Europe and the Middle East. However, the convoy and its cargo of aid is now stopped in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba, having been denied entry into Egypt.

Mondoweiss has a post that observes- Broadly speaking, Israeli society and its intelligentsia supports increasing violence directed at Palestinian civilian population. There is no guilt, no second-guessing, and absolutely no empathy with the victim.- Children remember the first strike-

And I was sent links to this short film, Gaza Lives On

gazaspeaks.com

Harpymarx has photos of the demo in London. Given that no real movement has been made to respect Palestinian human rights by Israel and its allies BDS must be employed and the US, which remains largely bewitched into a mythic simulacrum of Palestine and Israel and an almost wholly owned lobby disciplined political class, must be awoken from its slumber, it writes both the literal, ‘moral’ and political cheques that Israel cashes.

“There is a debate among Jews. I used to say the Jewish community then I got excommunicated. There is a debate among Jews–I’m a Jew by the way” that boils down to: “Never again to everyone, or never again to us?… [Some Jews] even think we get one Get away with genocide free card… There is another strain in the Jewish tradition that says, ‘Never again to anyone.’”

She has dealt with the hoards of journalists coming to hear and re-tell their story, the story of her area, the story of her killed aunts, uncles, cousins…The story of her dead father and 4 year old brother, shot point blank by the Israeli soldiers occupying the area. And for her it has become normal, reciting with impressive clarity, the events of those hellish days.

Without knowing the horror inflicted upon Amal, her mother, and the others in the extended Samouni family, one might think they were normal. Well, in Gaza, yes there are normal, for many. But their welcome and calm is deceptive, hides their history. They plod on, replanting, trying to move past the one-year anniversary mark…though every day is a reminder of their losses, the murders.

It’s always impossible to imagine living in the same area where my husband/son/brother/mother/infant… was murdered…let alone imagine the murder itself. But there they are, Amal and Zeinat, Helmi and the orphans, and the countless others in Palestine with stories to tell but stories which for them are normal.

Viva Palestina Convoy Leaves For Gaza

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Inhospitable

There are a number of other post-conflict issues in Gaza that need to be addressed. The land is dying. There are toxic deposits from all the munitions that have been dropped. There are serious issues with water—its depletion and its contamination. There is a high instance of nitrates in the soil that is especially dangerous to children. If these issues are not addressed, Gaza may not even be habitable by World Health Organization norms.

Desmond Travers, one of the four members of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

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Email David Miliband… Now!

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL Says-

There is a real danger that the best chance for accountability and justice for civilians in Gaza and Israel could be lost in the next few days – we need as many people as possible to email David Miliband right now to prevent this from happening.

An independent UN fact-finding mission into the Gaza conflict has just published its findings. This major report outlines powerful evidence of war crimes and other violations of international law on both sides, consistent with the results of Amnesty’s own investigations. And the UK Government is reviewing it right now.

The UN Human Rights Council will debate the report next Tuesday (29 September), when a vote will be taken on how its recommendations should be acted upon.

Alarmingly, we understand that the UK Government (a member of the council) is not planning to support key recommendations, which Amnesty believe offer the best chance of ensuring justice and accountability, as a well as a deterrent to future conflicts. Instead, they appear to be taking a lead from the US Government in dismissing the findings.

War criminals are literally getting away with murderAct now

There can be no long-term peace and security in the Middle East without an end to impunity – please email David Miliband today and urge him to support the Goldstone Report.

Sincerely,

Kristyan Benedict

Campaign Manager
Crisis Response & Country Priorities

Tales of Piracy

Husband and wife Adam Shapiro & Huwaida Arraf write about the Israeli piracy the led to them being assaulted, kidnapped and held in jail, the total lack of support from their own government and ponder how different Iran is treated. The first is Arraf in The Nation, and Shapiro gets to publish on the Huffington Post, (maybe beginning to realise it can no longer censor the truth about the apartheid in Israel), excerpts-

Huwaida Arraf:- We were boarded by force. Before we were separated, I saw Navy forces grabbing my husband, Adam, a filmmaker who has made documentaries from Palestine to Darfur, about the neck. Later, I learned that outside of my view, these government-sanctioned pirates pummeled Adam in order to wrest his videocamera from his grasp. Though I know it could not have been easy for him, Adam did not fight back. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school, threw out Manny Ramirez stealing second and is one of those rare individuals who bring a football player’s intensity to peace work. But like the rest of us, Adam insists on using nonviolent means to resist Israel’s military occupation. And though in his widely hailed Cairo speech President Obama made an implicit call for nonviolence as the means to challenge the Israeli occupation, the Obama administration made no public statement on our behalf — nor did it do so three months ago, when my dear friend Bassem Abu Rahme was killed while nonviolently protesting Israeli expansionism in the West Bank that threatens to destroy his village of Bil’in.

Perhaps we were politically inept. Had we sailed toward Iran to offer assistance to civilian protesters there, we would have been a cause celebre if the Iranian government had arrested us. Iran, however, for all its troubles, is not now under foreign occupation as Palestine is. Yet as I watched the demonstrations in Iran, I could not miss the similarities to Palestine’s nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. I cannot count the times I have marched peacefully, waving a flag and demanding freedom for my people — with only my voice and my presence as my weapons. And sadly, the number of friends I have lost — killed by Israeli forces as, like Neda Agha-Soltan in Iran, they nonviolently demonstrated for freedom — is becoming too great a pain in my heart.

Adam Shapiro:- In a flurry of activity, we were boarded. Those of us with video cameras bore the brunt of the over-zealous navy forces. We were beaten to break our grasp on the video cameras. I have documented events from Afghanistan to Darfur to various locations around the Middle East, but until then I had never been physically attacked on account of my work. Israel’s military censor continues to hold the evidence and I expect never to retrieve it. With the evidence gone, much of the media have treated the event as though it never occurred. Instead of sailing into Gaza’s bombed and broken port, we were kidnapped at gunpoint, taken to a foreign country, and imprisoned. Instead of delivering toys to children in Azbet Abed Rabbo, where in February I met families living in tents (again) because their homes were left in rubble by Israel’s December-January invasion, we stood at attention for a prison guard to check our cell.

Even President Obama, who seemed so sincere in his Cairo speech, is imprisoned by the status quo of American-Israeli relations that bend American values and interest to the will of a state that is increasingly being labeled internationally with the brand of apartheid. One set of laws for Jews and one set of laws for Palestinians is unacceptable in the 21st century. Washington can only ignore the facts for so long when Israel’s housing minister states, “We can all be bleeding hearts, but I think it is unsuitable [for Jews and Palestinians] to live together [in Israel].”

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