UN School of Etiquette: How to Conduct an “Appropriate” Blockade

Just as I arrived in Bil’in for the Friday weekly demonstration, word came that the UN Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident (a.k.a. “The Palmer Committee Report”) has named the blockade of the Gaza Strip “legal and appropriate”. Which is rather surprising, seeing as the blockade was defined by the UN as “illegal” as well as  “illegal and inhumane”, time and time again. (And again.)

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Walid Shoebat and the ‘ex-extremist’ Industry

During the Cold War extremists like James Burnham, who declared themselves reformed Communists, pushed extremely hawkish policies which historians agree merely prolonged the Cold War by at least two decades. In a similar vein, a gaggle of self-styled ‘ex-extremists’ is today shaping security policy in both domestic and international spheres through alliances with the neoconservative right. In an excellent piece of reportage, Anderson Cooper, Kathleen Johnson and Drew Griffin of CNN recently exposed Walid Shoebat, one stalwart of this industry. Richard Silverstein who runs the excellent Tikun Olam began exposing Shoebat in 2007. Meanwhile in the UK, ex-extremist Maajid Nawaz of the controversial Quilliam Foundation, is being feted by forums like TED! A disgrace, indeed.

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Torture Makes a Comeback in the USA

Are the Middle Ages really over?

The killing of Osama bin Laden should have provoked some healthy debate about the United States’ ongoing reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Was this manhunt worth the $3 trillion estimated by National Journal? Does our alliance structure guarantee the creation of more bin Laden-type threats? Has our military response to 9/11 hurt us and others more than it has helped?

Instead, the execution of bin Laden has launched a nostalgia craze for torture, whose great virtues, we are told, have been cruelly underappreciated. Torture, it is asserted, is what got us the intel that led to bin Laden, so killing him vindicates and redeems “enhanced interrogation.” And not only that: by limiting torture, Obama and his administration have made America much less safe, even if—and this part of the argument is mumbled quickly—they happen to be the ones who killed bin Laden. “Two Cheers for Enhanced Interrogation Techniques!” crows the neocon-Murdoch Weekly Standard, urging the president to thank CIA interrogators who helped “rid the world of evil.” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a principled foe of non-Irish terrorists, was blunter still, laying it down that waterboarding prisoners in 2003 “directly led” to finding (and shooting) bin Laden in 2011.

“Funny. You would think that if the CIA’s interrogation of high-value detainees was all it took, the US government would have succeeded in locating bin Laden before 2006, which is when the CIA’s custody of so-called ‘high-value detainees’ ended,” says Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. But first, the facts.

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Macy Gray, I Don’t Want a 4 Minute Peace!

Dear Macy Gray,

Macy Gray visits with Consul General of Israel, Jacob Dayan in Los Angeles, as BDS activists around the world plea with her not to entertain apartheid.
Macy Gray visits with Consul General of Israel, Jacob Dayan in Los Angeles, as BDS activists around the world plea with her not to entertain apartheid.

I’ve publicly declared that I won’t give up on you and I intend to keep to my resolution. You keep on asking how not playing in Israel will help the situation. You seem to believe that you are nothing but a 4 minute escape for people (the majority of which, as I explained in my last letter, are soldiers). I believe in each of our endless ability to change the reality around us. But in order to do so, we need to see the reality for what it is. This is what my letters to you are about. This is what the 20 Days to Macy Gray Facebook Project is about. It’s an opportunity for people to empower each other. I hope you’ll allow us to bring back your faith in yourself, that your voice matters, and that you can change this harsh world for the better, for the long run, and not only for the 4 minute duration of a song.

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Israel Broadcasting Authority: “A Large-Scale Security Exercise has Concluded”

The following is a translation of a report by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (radio). These exercises were held three days before the Knesset approved a loyalty oath (to “the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”) for non-Jews, wishing to become citizens of Israel.

 

A Large-Scale Security Exercise has Concluded

Carmela Menashe | 08.10.10 – 09:43

 

This image is the original image accompanying the article.

 

The exercise simulated facing Hamas terror attacks and Israeli Arab riots, following an agreement with the PA.

Yesterday (Thursday), Security forces completed a large-scale security exercise that simulates dealing with Hamas terror attacks and Israeli Arab riots following the signing of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Our correspondent reports that, among other things, the forces trained in extreme scenarios of violent demonstrations in the Arab sector, due to population exchange agreements with the PA.
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Rocking the Boat: A Brief History of Anti-Migrant Hysteria in Canada

In November, 76 Tamil refugees escaped Sri Lanka on a rusty freighter. They arrived in Victoria, where they were met by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials, who promptly jailed them for three months on allegations of terrorism. It would be fully half a year before the CBSA would admit that it had never had any evidence… In 2008, the federal and provincial governments were forced to issue apologies for the Komagata Maru. Now, two years later, if those words are to mean anything, we cannot afford to repeat history: let them stay.

by Fathima Cader

"MV Sun Sea" Uncredited Photo at: http://www.edynews.com/top-news/18-almost-500-sri-lankan-migrants-are-in-canadian-custody.html
"MV Sun Sea" Uncredited Photo at: http://www.edynews.com/top-news/18-almost-500-sri-lankan-migrants-are-in-canadian-custody.html

They’re at it again.

In November, 76 Tamil refugees escaped Sri Lanka on a rusty freighter. They arrived in Victoria, where they were met by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials, who promptly jailed them for three months on allegations of terrorism. It would be fully half a year before the CBSA would admit that it had never had any evidence.

By then, however, it was too late: anti-Tamil and anti-refugee hysteria had spread like wildfire. Now, mere weeks after that most tepid of mea culpas from the CBSA, the hysteria greeting the Tamil MV Sun Sea passengers is worse. As with the Ocean Lady, these migrants will be detained in Maple Ridge jails before their refugee claims are considered. The Conservatives have begun to create new rules to treat refugees who arrive by boat differently from others. Meanwhile, Paul Fromm, the infamous neo-Nazi, has been receiving uncritical coverage in mainstream media with his demands that the migrants be sent back.

As the paranoia grows ever more heightened, it becomes increasingly important that we resist it. The universal rights of safety and mobility must be upheld, not only for the Sun Sea migrants, but for all people fleeing violence.

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“Truth Alone Triumphs”: of David, Goliath, Stones, and Speech

“Azadi” is also the chant whose echoes swirl in the Kashmir Valley with greater resonance each day, from the minarets and playgrounds, boulevards and alleys, schools and courts, despite the crushing screeches of teargas and bullets of the Indian (in)security forces. It is “scriptured” into utterance by each breath of Kashmiri women, children, and men; calligraphed by their blood on their emerald valley; embroidered by their bones in Kashmiri Arabesque on worn cobblestones of the downtown; and papier-mâchéd in paisley tears on the blue of their beloved lakes.

by Huma Dar

“A Defiant Kashmiri woman being frisked by Indian Security Forces.” 2007. Uncredited photograph from a Kashmiri blogger

 

And the night’s sun there in Srinagar?  Guns shoot stars into the sky, the storm of constellations night after night, the infinite that rages on.  It was Id-uz-Zuha: a record of God’s inability, for even He must melt sometimes, to let Ishmael be executed by the hand of his father.  Srinagar was under curfew.  The identity pass may or may not have helped in the crackdown.  Son after son–never to return from the night of torture–was taken away.

… But the reports are true, and without song: mass rapes in the villages, towns left in cinders, neighborhoods torched.  “Power is hideous / like a barber’s hands.”  The rubble of downtown Srinagar stares at me from the Times.

… And that blesséd word with no meaning–who will utter it?  What is it?  Will the women pronounce it, as if scripturing the air, for the first time?  Or the last?

… What is the blesséd word?  Mandelstam gives no clue.  One day the Kashmiris will pronounce that word truly for the first time.  (Excerpt from Agha Shahid Ali’s “The Blesséd Word: A Prologue,” in The Country Without A Post Office,  1997: 16-17)

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Jeremy Scahill TKOs former NYC mayor Ed Koch on “Morning Joe”

First it was Glenn Greenwald, now it is independent journalist Jeremy Scahill.  Today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” former New York City mayor Ed Koch tried to defend Israel’s actions for attacking the Mavi Mamara flotilla. Koch uttered complete nonsense and Scahill picked him apart piece by piece a la Greenwald vs. Eliot Spitzer. Here’s the debate they had. Koch couldn’t defend himself, resorted to interrupting, and even used  the ridiculous “Hamas Card” on Scahill. Scahill wasn’t buying it.

Later, Scahill had this to say about their off-the-air discussion (if you could call it that).

During the commercial break during my debate with Koch, the former mayor called me a “terrorist supporter.” I told him, “Say it on the air.” He didn’t.

To read Scahill’s account, click here.

Let’s Talk about Gaza

On the 27th of December, I joined 24 other Israeli activists and with them tried to directly breech the siege on the Gaza strip, by marching south from Zikim beach. From the Anarchists Against the Wall website:

A high ranking officer present told the demonstrators that he could not promise that he and his men will avoid opening fire at them if they proceed. Challenging the legality of the siege, activists tried to cross the line of soldiers, and some even got into the sea, trying to swim around the barrier. The activists were soon stopped by the police, using motored water vessels and horses. 16 were arrested in suspicion of violating a military order, later to be released at the Sderot police station, but barred from returning to the area near Gaza for two weeks.

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