Birthday in Hebron

By Shadab Zeest Hashmi
12.12.12

Mohammad Ziad Awwad Salayme
Mohammad Ziad Awwad Salayme

Stairs vanish before bloodstains come

Before the bullet
or the boot on the dead boy’s shin
he has long been taken
by ghosts passing in lockstep Continue reading “Birthday in Hebron”

Poem: Dry Fruit and Nuts

by Amjad Majid

When you are away
I see the night running
away with my days
In oblivion seasons change
and tell me it is time
to harvest and gather.

From orchard to orchard,
I strain my poise in gloom,
branches pat my head,
consoling me obtrusively,
as I garner what they bear,
morosely I am stealing
what some call taking
for the giving,
but not for the sale…

Continue reading “Poem: Dry Fruit and Nuts”

The Wrong Occupation

by Kathy Kelly

October 20, 2011

In Kabul, Afghanistan’s beleaguered capitol city, a young woman befriended me during December of 2010.  She was eager to talk about her views, help us better understand the history of her country, and form lasting relationships.  Now, she is too frightened to return a phone call from visiting westerners.  The last time I saw her, during the spring of 2011, she was extremely anxious because, weeks earlier, U.S. Joint Special Operations Commandos (JSOC) had arrested her brother-in-law. The family has no idea how to find him. Once, someone working for the International Commission of the Red Cross called the family to say that he was still alive and in the custody of the International Security Assistance Forces, (ISAF).  Numerous families in Afghanistan experience similar misery and fear after night raids that effectively “disappear” family members who are held incommunicado and sometimes turned over to Afghan National Police or the dreaded National Directorate of Security, (NDS).

An October 22, 2011 New York Times report about the findings of UN researchers who interviewed 324 Afghans detained by security forces, found that half of those who were in detention sites run by the NDS told of torture which included beatings, twisting of genitals, stress positions, suspension, and threatened sexual assault.  Of the 324 interviewed, 89 had been handed over to the Afghan intelligence service or the police by U.S./NATO international military forces.

Even though high commanders in the ranks of the U.S. JSOC acknowledge that 50% of the time the night raids and drone attacks “get” the wrong person, (Washington Post, September 3, 2011), the U.S. war planners have steadily escalated reliance on these tactics.

Consider the killing of three brothers in the Nemati family who lived in the Sayyidabad village in Afghanistan’s Wardak province.  Ismail, age 25, and Buranullah, age 23, had returned from their studies in Kabul to celebrate the start of Ramadan with their family in August of 2010. With their brother Faridullah, age 17, they went to the family guest room to study for exams.  They were joined by their younger brother, Wahidullah, age 13.

An initial U.S. military press release on August 12th, 2010, indicated that U.S. forces had captured an important Taliban figure nearby and had taken fire from the Nemati home where they believed Taliban fighters were being hosted as guests. Indeed, two Taliban fighters had stopped at the home two days earlier, asking for food.  Fearful of repercussions if they didn’t feed them, the family had given them food.

Continue reading “The Wrong Occupation”

Boycott Israel? Amitav Ghosh & the Dan David Prize

The call for academic and cultural boycott is clearly a way to encourage civil society to play a broader political role—that is why it has the support of wide sections of Palestinian civil society. One of the most significant questions that call poses to us is simply this: How could those of us who oppose apartheid, occupation, and colonialism not support such a call?

Dear Amitav Ghosh,

We wish to express our deep disappointment in your decision to accept the Dan David prize, administered by Tel Aviv University and to be awarded by the President of Israel. As a writer whose work has dwelled consistently on histories of colonialism and displacement, your refusal to take stance on the colonial question in the case of Israel and the occupation of Palestine has provoked deep dismay, frustration, and puzzlement among readers and fans of your work around the world. Many admired your principled stand, and respected your decision not to accept the Commonwealth Writers Prize in rejection of the colonialist framework it represented.

Continue reading “Boycott Israel? Amitav Ghosh & the Dan David Prize”

A visit from Oz

Along with a Youtube video [see below], the following short report appeared on the Ha’aretz website today:

Israel’s new immigration police has joined security forces in cracking down on foreign activists residing in the Palestinian West Bank, Haaretz has learned.

The Oz Unit participated last week in the attempted arrest of a number of activists in the West Bank town of Bil’in, and also in the raid that nabbed leading Palestinian militants Mohammed Hatib that same night. Two weeks ago, the unit took part in the arrest of a Czech activist in Ramallah…

An Israel Defense Forces officer can be seen ordering the activists to obey the unit’s instructions, explaining that immigration officials have every right to make such requests. The same officer then urges the immigration official to search for some default or problem in the detainee’s documents,

The IDF soldiers can later been seen forcefully detaining a few of the activists. When asked why the arrest was being carried out, the soldier said that the immigration official would explain everything.

So for some background on the ‘Oz’ unit, here are some links:

Established by a 2008 cabinet decision, the task force, which goes by the Hebrew name “Oz” (courage), is the enforcement body of the Population Authority that comes under the aegis of the Interior Ministry, and replaced the immigration police. The unit has 200 inspectors, who have policing powers only with regard to foreigners.

Continue reading “A visit from Oz”

Capital murder

First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev — as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty…
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, on the vision for a “permanent solution”, 5 October 1995

Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people, a city reunified so as never again to be divided
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 21 May 2009

The current consensus in the international community is that East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967, is the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israel’s unilateral annexation of territory to create expanded municipal boundaries for a ‘reunited’ Jerusalem was never recognised.

Over the last forty-three years, Israel has created so-called ‘facts on the ground’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), in defiance of international law. Since the Madrid/Oslo peace process, successive Israeli governments have continued to colonise Palestinian land at the same time as conducting negotiations.

The extent and scale of Israel’s illegal settlement project across the West Bank, as well as the road network, the Separation Wall, and other ways in which Israel maintains its rule over the OPT, has led some to believe that the creation of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state is impossible.

Perhaps one of the clearest indicators that there is no Palestinian state-in-waiting under Israel’s regime of control is East Jerusalem.

Continue reading “Capital murder”

The Take: Occupy, Resist, Produce

With a massive economic crisis underway I thought it timely to post The Take by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis on Argentina’s experience. An inspirational look at how workers reacted to losing their livelihoods by occupying their factories, resisting the authorities and co-operatively producing goods for the benefit of themselves and their communities.

In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave. All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act – the take – has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head. Armed only with slingshots and an abiding faith in shop-floor democracy, the workers face off against the bosses, bankers and a whole system that sees their beloved factories as nothing more than scrap metal for sale. With The Take, director Avi Lewis, one of Canada’s most outspoken journalists, and writer Naomi Klein, author of the international bestseller No Logo, champion a radical economic manifesto for the 21st century.