International support for the academic boycott of Israel. This time in the Progressive magazine.
We stand in support of the indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza, who are fighting for their survival against one of the most brutal uses of state power in both this century and the last.
We condemn Israel’s recent (December 2008/ January 2009) breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip, which include the bombing of densely-populated neighborhoods, illegal deployment of the chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities, and places of worship. We condemn Israel’s restriction of access to media and aid workers.
Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, adds his voice to the growing outrage over the BBC.
The head of the UN”s nuclear watchdog has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the corporation’s decision not to air an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Michael Slackman from the International Herald Tribune describes how dozens of trucks carrying humanitarian aid have been blocked from entering Gaza.
In recent days, officials and drivers at the crossing said that the trickle of trucks passing through this month had all but stopped. None went on Thursday. Friday and Saturday are days off, so nothing passed. On Sunday, a few trucks went through, aid workers said. Monday, nothing. Tuesday, nothing.
You can hear people saying “Israel’s gone too far this time.” But it isn’t only this time. Large scale massacres have been a central part of Zionist strategy from the start. Here is some information on the preceding massacres. Unfortunately the list stops in 1999, so many recent massacres, including Qana 2 and Jenin, are not included:
Although the Image that Israel distributes about herself is that of an oppressed nation, it is with heavy hearts that we present these crimes that stand for themselves for the brutality of the Israeli Army and the heartlessness of its soldiers who seem to have a thirst for blood. It is for the hope that the world may see a clearer picture that we present these painful facts. It is interesting to notice that today’s media does not dwell on these crimes as they do on the Holocaust. They are reported in the news for a week or two and then swept into the sea of oblivion. Those who attempt to revive the true history of Israel are charged of being anti-Semitic. So with the hope to keep those memories in mind we present this shameful history of Israel that seems to have found that the role of Goliath is more interesting than that of David.
On Tuesday, speaking from a pulpit in Westminster Abbey, the director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, paid tribute to one of the corporation’s greatest journalists and broadcasters, Charles Wheeler, who died last summer at the age of 85.
Thompson spoke in reverential terms of Wheeler: his independence; his dislike of authority, any authority; his relentless search for the truth, in postwar Germany, in the United States of the 1960s and 1970s, LBJ, Vietnam, Nixon; in India, Kuwait, Kurdistan. Thompson was right. Wheeler was a giant among BBC journalists, rightly hailed as one of the best of his generation.
But even as Thompson spoke, the corporation was traducing every tradition that Wheeler, and many of us who still work for the BBC, have tried to live by. The corporation’s chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, had refused to allow it to broadcast an appeal on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee for Gaza. She said that one reason was that “the BBC’s impartiality was in danger of being damaged”. Could the BBC be sure, she added, that money raised for this cause would find its way to the right people?
Tony Benn slams the BBC’s ill-advised decision not to broadcast a Gaza Charity Appeal. He makes the appeal himself. And kudos to Benn for his refusal to reduce this to a mere humanitarian issue; as he points out, Hamas is the elected government of the Palestinian people.
I’ve recently written to Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Khaled Mahmood MP to complain about their positions on the massacre in occupied Palestine. I’ve also written to Gerald Kaufman and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, to praise their calls for an arms embargo on the apartheid state. And I walked into the office of my local MP, Russell Brown, and spoke to Mr Brown’s assistant. A few days later I received a letter from Mr Brown which repeats the usual rubbish about ‘peace’ and the need to disarm the resistance so the oppressor can sleep more soundly at night. At least he bothered to send me a letter. I received responses from Brown, Cameron, Clegg and Kaufman too, but none from Khaled Mahmood. Mr Mahmood was quoted by the Guardian as “dismissing” calls for sanctions and an arms embargo. Mahmood is a Birmingham MP who no doubt receives a lot of votes because he has a Muslim name. Not only is he betraying his Muslim voters who would like to see their representatives develop a peaceful strategy of resisting the murderous British-Zionist alliance, he isn’t even capable of replying promptly to letters.
Here’s my response to Russell Brown’s letter. I won’t publish his letter because I don’t have permission and because it’s on paper, but I quote some of it. You can imagine the rest – it’s the standard New Labour magical incantation.
The indispensable Media Lens has an important Rapid Response Media Alert. The BBC has already used your license fees to feed you foreign state propaganda, now it also wants you to be complicit in Israeli crimes. Don’t hesitate to register your protest.
Numerous members of the public have written to us expressing their bewilderment at the violence of Israel’s 22-day attack on Gaza killing upwards of 1,300 people and wounding 4,200. To many witnessing the onslaught on their TV screens (especially Al Jazeera) this appeared to be an act of state sadism.
Israeli forces repeatedly bombed schools (including UN schools), medical centres, hospitals, ambulances, UN buildings, power plants, sewage plants, roads, bridges and civilian homes.
On January 15, Helpdoctors.org reported that Al Quds hospital had been “again the target of bombing”. Some 50 patients, 30 in wheelchairs, fled as the burning hospital was “totally destroyed”.
An excellent article by Patrick Cockburn about the growing isolation of Israeli society from the crimes of its own state and the creeping intolerance of internal dissent, developments that spell gloom for the Palestinians.
I was watching the superb animated documentary Waltz with Bashir about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It culminates in the massacre of some 1,700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in south Beirut by Christian militiamen introduced there by the Israeli army which observed the butchery from close range.
In the last few minutes the film switches from animation to graphic news footage showing Palestinian women screaming with grief and horror as they discover the bullet-riddled bodies of their families. Then, just behind the women, I saw myself walking with a small group of journalists who had arrived in the camp soon after the killings had stopped.
Obama began his ‘Middle East peace diplomacy’ by calling the ‘key figures’ in Palestine: war criminal Olmert, collaborating dictator Mubarak, and no-longer-president-of-anything Mahmoud Abbas. No calls to the organisation that democratically represents the Palestinians, of course. Here, Mouin Rabbani considers the future of inter-Palestinian relations, and concludes that one thing is certain: the demise of Abbas:
Speaking to his people on January 18, hours after Hamas responded to Israel’s unilateral suspension of hostilities with a conditional ceasefire of its own, the deposed Palestinian Authority prime minister Ismail Haniyeh devoted several passages of his prepared text to the subject of Palestinian national reconciliation. For perhaps the first time since Hamas’s June 2007 seizure of power in the Gaza Strip, an Islamist leader broached the topic of healing the Palestinian divide without mentioning Mahmoud Abbas by name.