The Gaza Freedom March has come to an end, but before the protesters dispersed they agreed on the following statement:
End Israeli Apartheid
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
(* 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
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
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.
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
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 murder. Act 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.
Crisis Response & Country Priorities
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].”
Adam Horowitz @ Mondoweiss–
Viva Palestina, a convoy of US human rights activists has entered Gaza with truckloads of humanitarian aid. The delegation has over 200 people, and is a follow up trip to one led by British MP George Galloway last March. This delegation includes Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, New York City Council member Charles Barron and Cynthia McKinney.
Details are still unclear on how much aid got in. Although Viva Palestina’s website reports that they had over “over one million dollars worth of aide” to bring in, Egypt may not have allowed all of it to enter. As has happened on other delegations to Gaza, Egypt created serious obstacles for the convoy as it attempted to enter Gaza, but they got through.
Viva Palestina US has pics.
Update: (thanks Erwicga) The bad news, Egypt holds up its end of the siege-
The Egyptian Authorities stopped trucks of the Viva Palestina aid convoy from entering the Gaza Strip and allowed the crew 24 hours access. The Palestinian Information Center reported that the crew will be allowed into the Gaza Strip for only 24 hours and the aid supplies will stay at the Egyptian side of the borders.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak asserted after the war that Israel had the most moral army in the world. These critics say Israelis should not be asked simply to accept that their army’s conduct was “faultless and public accountability uncalled for”.
- “Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day operation, from December 27 to January 18.
- “In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”
- Whole streets in parts of the Gaza Strip were razed to minimise the risk of Israeli casualties from small-arms attacks and booby-trap bombs. The United Nations says Gaza six months later is just beginning to clear 600,000 tonnes of rubble.
- Soldiers describe a “Neighbour Procedure” in which civilians were forced to enter suspect buildings ahead of troops. They cite cases of civilians advancing in front of a soldier resting his rifle on their shoulder.
- The report repeats charges – denied by Israel – that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.
- To strip away cover for Hamas fighters, aerial bombardment, artillery, demolition charges and armoured bulldozers razed whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves. “We didn’t see a single house that was intact . . . that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quoted a soldier as saying.
- “There was a clear feeling, and this was repeated whenever others spoke to us, that no humanitarian consideration played any role in the army at present. The goal was to carry out an operation with the least possible casualties for the army.”
The testimonies challenge assertions by Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups in the United States that “Israel did all it could to avoid civilian casualties”, as Kenneth Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation League wrote last week to the New York Times. The League denounced Amnesty International for labelling Israel’s actions as “wanton” destruction and said it was “outrageously accusing the Israeli military of war crimes”.
Soldiers in Israel’s largely conscript army have standing orders not to talk to the media. The 112-page report by Breaking the Silence includes testimonies of 30 “who served in all sectors of the operation”. (ht2 Jews sans frontieres)
As the US is the guarantor for Israel’s siege on Gaza, the shield that gives it impunity, this US convoy is an important step forward in awareness. Obama chose not to speak out to defend the Free Gaza boat instead allowing Israeli piracy (apparently only Somalis get whacked by ‘heroic’ snipers for committing piracy, which must leave the survivors of the USS Liberty unimpressed). Also worth noting the resource question in relation to Gaza raises its head, the Captain of the Spirit of Humanity says in an email- “It appears as though the Israeli government is drilling for natural gas in the buffer zone. That gas belongs to the people of Gaza. It seems to be one of their reasons for stopping us, perhaps they’re worried that we may go back and tell the world what we have seen.” British Gas is working with Israel on this project, as usual ideological reasons for warfare are also allied with the motives of capital.
Viva Palestina US:- Fresh from the success of the Viva Palestina: Lifeline from Britain to Gaza aid convoy – which took over 100 vehicles to Gaza from the UK, Member of Parliament, George Galloway has linked up on his US tour with the Vietnam veteran and peace campaigner, Ron Kovic, to launch a similar, but even larger venture from the States.
Galloway announced the initiative at a 1000-strong meeting in Anaheim, California, rounding off a packed-out, coast to coast speaking tour highlighting the Palestinian cause.
“There’s a new atmosphere in the US over Palestine,” says Galloway, “the phenomenal response to this tour demonstrates that.”
Ron Kovic, whose story was immortalized in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, will be the co-leader of the convoy, which will travel from New York City to Egypt before making its way across the Rafah border into Gaza.
Viva Palestina USA is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, but individuals and groups from across the nation are organizing locally to generate support for the convoy, which aims to raise $10 million for humanitarian aid and 500 vehicles with which to deliver the aid into Gaza.
“And what better day to head off,” says Galloway, “Than July 4 – Independence Day!”
In the Israeli army reaction to Amnesty’s report on their assault on Gaza they show again the absolute sense of entitlement that views others suffering as subordinate to their own desires. A very dangerous chauvinism that is the logical result of Zionist ideology, a militarist garrison colonial state practising apartheid. Reminding me of what Naomi Klein said recently–
“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.'”
About the Campaign
In partnership with Al-Aqsa University, the Free Gaza Movement (FG) is launching its “Right to Read” campaign which will use the FG boats to deliver textbooks and other educational supplies to universities throughout the occupied Gaza Strip.
This is not a charitable endeavor. Rather it is an act of solidarity and resistance to Israel’s chokehold on Gaza and attempt to deny Palestinians education. According to UNWRA, Israel’s blockade prevents ink, paper and other learning materials from entering into Gaza.
Our first shipment will be sent on FG’s Summer of Hope July voyage to Gaza.
How You Can Help
Our campaign invites individuals to join us at a person-to-person level by contributing one or more books to our shipment as an expression of resistance to the blockade. This effort also allows institutions around the world to support Palestinians’ right to education by donating new and used copies of textbooks to be delivered by the Free Gaza Movement to universities in the Gaza Strip.
You can donate funds to purchase books (and/or help offset shipping costs to Cyprus) or you can send new and used books directly for inclusion on an upcoming voyage.
Also, if you are an academic institution or are connected to one and are willing to give Gaza universities access to your e-library, please let us know.
Donations for the Right to Read Campaign will be used to purchase books directly and to cover shipping costs for books that are received at Free Gaza sites other than Cyprus. Please designate “Right to Read” in the comment field to ensure that the funds are appropriated to this campaign.
The Right to Read Campaign accepts all new or used books for shipment. To order books, please refer to either the U.S. compiled wish list or the UK compiled wish list from the universities in Gaza.
You may send the books directly to Cyprus or to the Free Gaza collection site nearest to you:
Free Gaza Movement
Digenthios and Avgousta Court
Nigrid Street 6018 Apt. 203
Free Gaza US Collection Site
PO Box 5772
Rockville, MD 20855
Well because you are only allowed shampoo-
A little more than a month ago, following a long ban, Israel permitted the import of detergents and soaps into Gaza. Even shampoo was allowed. But one merchant discovered that the bottles of shampoo he had ordered were sent back because they included conditioner, which was not on the list.
Amira Hass (who was arrested by Israeli authorities when she returned to Israel from Gaza to report) continues-
The few items merchants are allowed to trade in are divided into three categories: food, medicine and detergent. Everything else is forbidden – including building materials (which are necessary to rehabilitate Gaza’s ruins and rebuild its infrastructure), electric appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, spare machine and car parts, fabrics, threads, needles, light bulbs, candles, matches, books, musical instruments, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, cutlery, crockery, cups, glasses and animals. Many of the banned products are imported through the tunnels and can be found in Gaza’s markets.
Pasta, which had been forbidden in the past, is now allowed, after U.S. Senator John Kerry expressed his astonishment at the ban during a visit to Gaza in February. But tea, coffee, sausages, semolina, milk products in large packages and most baking products are forbidden. So are industrial commodities for manufacturing food products, chocolate, sesame seeds and nuts. Israel does allow importing fruit, milk products in small packages and frozen food products as well as limited amounts of industrial fuel.
Full article here.
“Outside the house there was an Israeli tank. It had come from the west towards the house that was facing north. It was 11.30 – 12.00. The tank was in the garden about ten meters from her, when she stopped to receive permission to leave unharmed. On her right side were the three girls; behind her was the daughter in law close to the door of the house. The soldier on the tank never replied. They were looking into each others´ eyes for 7-10 minutes, when suddenly a soldier opened fire and shot the granddaughter of the witness, Souad, in the neck and chest. She died immediately. They also shot Amal. She was hit in the chest and abdomen, and the interviewee saw her intestines come out. Amal died a little later. The daughter in law ran immediately into the house and was not hurt. The witness Souad Abed Rabbo was hit twice, as she turned around in a clockwise movement. She was hit in the left arm and in the left buttock. She did not see who shot. She assumed that the shots were fired from gun(s) not from the tank, but she was not certain. She saw three soldiers on top of the tanks holding weapons…Samar was hit in the chest with the bullet coming out of the back…at the time of the interview she was in a hospital in Belgium suffering paralysis.”
Independent fact-finding mission of medical experts commissioned by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS). Full report @ their site
Reminder about Lobby of Parliament on the 3 March 2009.
Rally in Committee Room 14 from 12:30pm and lobby your MP from 2:30pm.
Speakers at the Rally include: Bob Crow (RMT), Phil Davies (GMB), Harry Fletcher (NAPO), Janice Godrich (PCS), Kate Green (CPAG), Colin Hampton (Unemployed Workers Centres), John McDonnell MP, Frances O’Grady (TUC), Mark Serwotka (PCS), and Mick Shaw (FBU). Everyone welcome.
Briefing from the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group regarding the Welfare Reform Bill.
Then on the 4th in Manchester!-
A national demonstration has been called in support of the student occupations. It’s crucial that we have as much representation from different Universities, Colleges and Schools as possible.
We in Manchester have been in occupation for almost four weeks now, yet the University has so far refused to negotiate with us. The University still invests in the arms trade, leading to some students having to disrupt a DSTL stall (an agency of the MoD) at an official graduate recruitment fair.
The Vice Chancellor Alan Gilbert has threatened expulsion for students who are involved.
Our demands are in line with current Union policy having received an overwhelming majority at an Emergency General Meeting, attended by over 1,100 students.
Being the biggest university in the UK, all eyes are on Manchester, and the success of the occupation here is critical to the success of the national movement.