From Street Protest to Web 2.0 Lobbying

A typically insightful post from Juan Cole on ‘the Uselessness of Street Protest; And the Usefulness of Web 2.0 Lobbying’. Even though I don’t agree with his disparaging of initiatives like boycotts, and I think the best use of Web 2.0 is not merely its fund raising potential. It is however an edifying read for anyone who has participated in the wonderful but sadly futile protests all over the world. It is the information war where we have usually done worst; it is time to step up the game.

(Note: The neoconservatives have mobilized their cyber army to defeat Juan Cole in an online poll for the best Middle East related blog. Their man, a rather lame mediocrity by the name of Michael Totten is at the moment ahead by a significant margin. But there is time. Please show your appreciation for Juan’s work by voting for him here).

This kind of headline about large street protests against the Israeli attack on Gaza annoys me no end.

The mechanisms are well known whereby the Israeli Right* is able to engage in this cavalier disregard for civilian life (and, some are saying possible occasional targeting of civilians.

I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t matter if tens of thousands of people demonstrate in Paris. Oh,it might put a little pressure on Sarkozy to remonstrate a little harder with the Israeli government, but in the larger scheme of things it isn’t very significant.

Europe has ceded dealing with the Israelis to the United States.

The people of the United States have ceded dealing with the Israelis to the US Congress.

The US Congress generally abdicates its responsibilities when faced with large powerful single-issue lobbies such as the National Rifle Association, the Cuban-American pro-boycott organizations, and the Israel lobbies.

So Congress has ceded Israel, and indeed, most Middle East, policy to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its myriad organizational supporters, from the Southern Baptist churches to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

The Israel lobbies take their cue on what is good policy from the Israeli government and the Likud Party.

So, US Israel policy is driven by . . . the Israeli rightwing. That is why Congress voted 309 to five to support Israel’s war on the people of Gaza, with 22 abstaining.

What do do about it?

Continue reading “From Street Protest to Web 2.0 Lobbying”

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Canadian Postal Workers Call for Boycott

The Canadian Postal Workers call for a boycott of Israel. Their excellent letter points to the root causes of the slaughter in Gaza – ethnic cleansing and occupation. It’s encouraging to see this attention to context. Context is essential, as it cuts through all the magical fog of ‘balance’ and ‘peace process.’ It shows that this is an assault against a people, not a dispute between equals.

On behalf of the 56,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, I am writing to demand that the Canadian government condemn the military assault on the people of Gaza that the state of Israel commenced on December 26th, 2008.

Canada must also call for a cessation of the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza, which has resulted in the collective punishment of the entire Gaza population.

Canada must also address the root cause of the violence: Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
Continue reading “Canadian Postal Workers Call for Boycott”

If Gaza falls . . .

This excellent piece from the latest issue of the London Review of Books by Harvard scholar Sara Roy lays out the context within which Israel’s current assault on Gaza is taking place. The piece was written before the war started, which makes it all the more important as many are treating the present bombing as somehow an anomaly, a humanitarian crisis. As Roy makes clear, the bombings are a mere tactical shift in Israel’s extant political program.

Israel’s siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then. Israel’s siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt. That is why the Israelis tolerate the hundreds of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt around which an informal but increasingly regulated commercial sector has begun to form. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. In fact the prospect of steady employment is rapidly disappearing for the majority of the population.

Continue reading “If Gaza falls . . .”

No Other Option?

Sam Bahour on Israel’s other options:

I watch in shock, like the rest of the world, at the appalling death and destruction being wrought on Gaza by Israel; and still it does not stop. Meanwhile, we see a seemingly never-ending army of well-prepared Israeli war propagandists, some Israeli government officials, and many other people self-enlisted for the purpose, explaining to the world the justifications for pulverizing the Gaza Strip, with its 1.5 million inhabitants. Curious about how Israel, or any society for that matter, could justify a crime of such magnitude against humanity, I turned to my Jewish Israeli friends today to hear their take on things. One after another, the theme was the same. The vast majority of Jewish Israelis has apparently bought into the state-sponsored line that Israel was under attack and had no other option available to stop Hamas’ rockets. More frightening is the revelation that many Israelis–including one person who self-identifies as a former “peace activist”–are speaking of accepting the killing of 100,000 or more Palestinians, if need be.

I have a problem with this logic.

I am a Palestinian American based in Al-Bireh, the sister city of Ramallah in the West Bank. I can see how an observer from abroad could be blind to the facts, given the blitz of Gaza war propaganda orchestrated by the Israeli military. But I know better. Like all other Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, I am not an observer from abroad. We live every day under the bitter burden of Israeli military occupation and we know that this question, presented as rhetorical–did we really have an option? –has a rational answer. Allow me, from my vantage point as an economic development professional, to touch on some of the other options that could have been chosen. Moreover, many of them will be forced on Israel anyway, sooner or later, whether after the next “war,” or in the coming days under the ceasefire agreement and the Egyptian-sponsored implementation mechanism being discussed as I write this. Meaning: all this death and destruction could have been easily avoided. Continue reading “No Other Option?”

Scholasticide

In Gaza, the schools are dying too‘, write Ameer Ahmad and Ed Vulliamy.

A new word emerged from the carnage in Gaza this week: “scholasticide” – the systematic destruction by Israeli forces of centres of education dear to Palestinian society, as the ministry of education was bombed, the infrastructure of teaching destroyed, and schools across the Gaza strip targeted for attack by the air, sea and ground offensives.

“Learn, baby, learn” was a slogan of the black rights movement in America’s ghettoes a generation ago, but it also epitomises the idea of education as the central pillar of Palestinian identity – a traditional premium on schooling steeled by occupation, and something the Israelis “cannot abide… and seek to destroy”, according to Dr Karma Nabulsi, who teaches politics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. “We knew before, and see more clearly now than ever, that Israel is seeking to annihilate an educated Palestine,” she says.

Continue reading “Scholasticide”

+972-2-5839749

+972-2-5839749 This number is on the pamphlets dropped on Gaza from Israeli planes, along with a request for people to call to report Hamas activity. So call the number and ‘report’ to the Zionists whatever you like. You can use Skype cheaply. You can try English. The one I spoke to could only speak Arabic (and Hebrew) however. We actually had a pretty good conversation.

Against ‘Peace’ and ‘Moderation’

Some thoughts in favour of plain speech concerning Zionism.

The numbers of the dead don’t mean much any more. It was round about the five hundred mark when I realised the impact of death on my mind was lightening. There are pictures on the internet – burning half bodies, a head and torso screaming, corpses spilt in a marketplace like unruly apples, all the tens and tens of babies and children turned to outraged dust – but how many pictures can you keep in your heart? How much anguish can you feel? Enough anguish to mourn 500 human beings? And of what quality can your anguish be? Can it be as intense as the anguish a bystander to the murder would feel? As intense as that of a friend of a victim, or of a father? What about the fathers who have seen all their children burn?

I remember the days when I was outraged if ten were killed in one go. Ah, happy days! Ten in one go would be good. But of course, this is what the enemy wants: the enemy wants us to value Arab life as little as it does. It wants us to stay in our numbness, to descend deeper in. It wants us to forget.

Continue reading “Against ‘Peace’ and ‘Moderation’”