Saturday, January 31, 2009

Follow up to CBS video, from Gaza Justice:

Earlier this week we asked you to Thank CBS and Bob Simon for their excellent TV report exposing Israeli Apartheid tactics. Thousands like you responded by signing a letter of support. But we just learned from the folks at J-Street, a pro-peace Jewish group, that CBS IS UNDER ATTACK by the anti-Peace pro-Israel network for showing America the truth. If you haven't seen the report you can watch it here.

FIGHT BACK, GET AT LEAST FIVE OF YOUR FRIENDS TO SEND A LETTER OF SUPPORT TO CBS. ACT NOW, USING THE BELOW LINK. WE HAVE DESIGNED AN EASY TOOL TO HELP YOU INVITE everyone you know. Simply click on the below link, upload your email address book OR copy-paste the addresses you want to contact and click send. Our software will do the rest.


Here is what J-Street said about the groups behind the attack o CBS:

[CAMERA (the Orwellian-named Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) alerted their activist network - flooding the 60 Minutes' offices and their advertisers with angry phone calls charging media bias. [1] Jewish community leader Abe Foxman fired off a letter calling the piece "a hatchet job on Israel." [2]

Journalists - as well as rabbis, professors and elected officials - know that if they raise questions about what Israel does - they'll often get attacked as anti-Israel. It's one way the forces of the status quo constrain debate and discussion on what's really best for Israel and the United States. We can't let fringe groups like CAMERA define what it means to be pro-Israel through intimidation and fear tactics.]


Thank you for continuing to advocate for peace and justice.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I just watched a video that floored me. I think it's one of the first pieces of US reporting on Israel and Palestine that reflected the situation as I've experienced it.

The news agency that has gotten me so excited is 60 minutes, of all people. The Gaza Justice campaign is asking us all to watch the video and write to them, thanking them for doing such a lovely job.

Honestly, this is a news clip that features Mustfa Bargouti (sp?) and talks about apartheid and makes it understandable. I'm still shocked and thrilled.

Take a minute to write to 60 minutes. You'll be impressed. And you know that thousands of people who don't like it will be writing them. Let's make sure they hear our voices as well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Click to sign Petition to Obama to deal fairly with Israel and Palestine

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama, Take away the Pain in my Belly
An Open Letter from an Israeli Peace Activist

I should be going to bed, but this one of the most moving letters I've ever come across. The author is a member of Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch, an Israeli human rights monitoring organization. Enjoy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

From Sami Awad:

In this period I did not take on an opportunity to travel to the peace research village in Tamera Portugal and be with a group of close friends that are engaging in a deep process to build what will be a Peace Research Village (PRV) in the Middle East…. For many reasons I was not able to travel, today I sent them the following reflection:

Dear beloved, dear community…

… I acknowledge that I am doing nothing and acknowledge that my presence here is not providing any relief to those in Gaza who are suffering or in the West Bank who are growing in hopelessness.

My presence here is mostly important for my internal development and growth and in preparing for the future, a future where real opportunities for peaceful coexistence based on equality are made available to all. Since this war on Gaza began, I have been in a deep process to distinguish my own emotions and reactions and even interpretations and identity from the reality, but more important it has been a process to distinguish the nails in my feet from my responsibilities for the future.

I hear and sense the pain and my heart breaks with the cry of every mother or father that lost a child or a child that lost a parent. At one point every time I saw a child from Gaza on television I saw the face of my daughters, Layaar or Larina.

The emotion is there, but I can not, and do not, allow it to take over my being as I also can not, and do not, allow for my ego to do the same. I have no answers to deal with the “now”; I have no ability to prevent a bomb from falling on a house “now”; I can blame and complain and grow deeper in pity and hopelessness, but that will only place me back in the cocoon of victimization and powerlessness. I can come up with an analysis on who started it and who is responsible, but that will only relief me from my responsibility, as a human… as a being.

I will not ask why? Why only creates more questions than answers… I will only ask: what can I do to create deep and real transformation in healing? Not only to heal the victim but the victimizer as well.

I get emails and calls from all around the world from people, who in the best of intentions are sharing their sympathy, disgust, pity, sadness, rage, hopelessness or anger to what is happening. So many people ask me “what can we do to help now?” I have no answer for them as I have no answer for myself that I can put in a public conversation and would make sense. My answers are now in my own internal process and internal conversation and in me declaring that I am fully responsible for what is happening.

The answer lies in the things that I know; and I have begun to distinguish them in my own self. The answer also lies in the things I know that I don’t know and I seek deeper knowledge in these things… This said I also acknowledge that that greatest answers are in what I truly seek to discover; the things that I don’t know I don’t know…

All I know is that we need to continue building our models… models of leadership that are committed to a future that goes beyond everyone’s imagination, models of relationships that break all barriers and identities, models of self organizing community living that are truly based on creating relationships of deep trust, respect and transparency at all levels and in all circumstances.

There is no easy path but there is no impossible path as well. My prayers are with you and my heart is full of joy in knowing that the future is always ready for us to paint our drawings on it in the colors we chose.

In peace and love,


As I completed this letter I got a call from my uncle (mother’s brother) in Gaza. He has his wife, three children and another aunt living with him. The fighting is now in the street where they live and their building is under attack. They are not able to escape. I heard a cousin crying in the background. I stay and live and am in hope.

World Vision calls for immediate stop to Gaza violence

International aid organization preparing to "pick up the pieces and rebuild"

December 29, 2008— As casualties in the Gaza Strip increase by the hour and official figures now cite more than 300 killed and hundreds more wounded, international humanitarian organization World Vision continues to call for an immediate end to the violence and for active efforts to protect civilians, especially children.

In an effort to stop the attack and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, World Vision and other leading non-governmental organizations issued a clear statement even as the Israeli army commenced its attacks.

“We utterly condemn Hamas's rocket attacks on Israeli civilians,” said Allyn Dhynes, advocacy manager with World Vision in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “At the same time, we cannot justify this overwhelming military action by the Israelis which is killing and injuring many innocent civilians.”

World Vision staff have minimized operations due to insecurity, but staff living in Gaza have visited program areas and continue to assess the situation.

“As soon as the dust settles – literally – we will pick up the pieces and rebuild the work we started successfully in this area years ago,” said Charles Clayton, World Vision’s National Director in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Psycho-social care, educational support and recreational activities for children are at the core of World Vision's work. “The recent violence will be a set-back, and as yet we don't know if any of our beneficiaries are among the dead or wounded,” said Clayton.

The number of casualties has completely overwhelmed the limited health services, which has already been starved of essential surgical supplies by the 18-month Israeli blockade against the import of goods including most humanitarian supplies. The recent strikes have also caused severe damage to the civilian infrastructure with many areas now without water, electricity or sanitation.

World Vision's main concern is for the ordinary families and especially vulnerable people such as the elderly, the sick and young children. About 50,000 people, most of them extremely poor, are in two of World Vision’s program areas in Beit Lahia and Rafah, said Dhynes.

World Vision staff are available for interview. Please contact Casey Calamusa at 206.310.5476 or

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thank you, Jon Stewart!

It's been a depressing couple of weeks, hasn't it? Well, thank God for Jon Stewart. He made clear what should be obvious, that bombing and killing won't bring peace for Israelis or Palestinians. He calls the seige of Gaza "soul-crushing", and even mentions checkpoints and the perverse logic of trying to "get a war in" just before Obama's inauguration.

You can watch the clip here and send him a note thanking him. The man is bound to get tons of complaints. Let's tell him that he spoke for us.

Thanks to Jewish Voice for Peace (an organization that seems to have become a million times more fantastic over the last couple of months. Or maybe I just realized how great it's always been).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

Friday, January 09, 2009

AT-TUWANI REFLECTION: "Resistance will not be tolerated"-from Gaza to At-Tuwani

by CPT Tuwani team members

At the time of this writing, casualties in the ten-day Gaza conflict have reached approximately 699 Palestinians and ten Israelis, according to news reports. Here in at-Tuwani, in the West Bank's South Hebron district, we witness Palestinians' mourning and outrage over Israel's latest military actions. At the same time, we witness army collusion with settlers' harassment and attacks of Palestinians.

On Sunday, 4 January 2009, two team members observed a confrontation between Israeli military forces and a group of around twenty Palestinian youth outside the Palestinian town of al-Birkeh ("The Pool" in Arabic). Army and police jeeps had parked along the dirt road between at-Tuwani and Yatta, and the Palestinian youth were shouting at soldiers and police from a hillside above. A white truck with Israeli license plates approached a police jeep and two settler men got out, one armed with an automatic rifle. They spoke with the Israeli police, then drove up toward the Palestinian youth, who quickly ran off toward al-Birkeh. Some Israeli army jeeps pursued the youth up the road toward the town.

The CPTers heard the sound of gunfire and percussion grenades sporadically. Then, after twenty minutes, the Israeli settlers again spoke with the soldiers and then drove away. The following day, Palestinian residents of al-Birkeh told us they had seen armed Israeli settlers in the town the previous morning.

This event should be considered within a broader context. Popular Palestinian outcry against the killing in Gaza has resulted in heavier deployments of Israeli troops and, in central Hebron, U.S. and E.U.-sponsored Palestinian police. Both there and in the rural South Hebron Hills, Israeli settler civilians continue to demonstrate through words and actions their commitment to a Palestinian exodus from the region. The Israeli army and police institutionalize that commitment by guarding the settlers wherever they wish to move.

Even though at-Tuwani remains devoid of protests and the villagers have focused by necessity upon the basic work of survival--plowing fields, digging cisterns, educating youngsters--local army and settler behavior compound the message that from Gaza to the West Bank, "Control is ours; no resistance will be tolerated."

Monday, January 05, 2009

Under Siege

By Mahmoud Darwish -1942-2008

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.


A country preparing for dawn. We grow less intelligent
For we closely watch the hour of victory:
No night in our night lit up by the shelling
Our enemies are watchful and light the light for us
In the darkness of cellars.

Here there is no “I”.
Here Adam remembers the dust of his clay.

On the verge of death, he says:
I have no trace left to lose:
Free I am so close to my liberty. My future lies in my own hand.
Soon I shall penetrate my life,
I shall be born free and parentless,
And as my name I shall choose azure letters…

You who stand in the doorway, come in,
Drink Arabic coffee with us
And you will sense that you are men like us
You who stand in the doorways of houses
Come out of our morningtimes,
We shall feel reassured to be
Men like you!

When the planes disappear, the white, white doves
Fly off and wash the cheeks of heaven
With unbound wings taking radiance back again, taking possession
Of the ether and of play. Higher, higher still, the white, white doves
Fly off. Ah, if only the sky
Were real [a man passing between two bombs said to me].

Cypresses behind the soldiers, minarets protecting
The sky from collapse. Behind the hedge of steel
Soldiers piss—under the watchful eye of a tank—
And the autumnal day ends its golden wandering in
A street as wide as a church after Sunday mass…

[To a killer] If you had contemplated the victim’s face
And thought it through, you would have remembered your mother in the
Gas chamber, you would have been freed from the reason for the rifle
And you would have changed your mind: this is not the way
to find one’s identity again.

The siege is a waiting period
Waiting on the tilted ladder in the middle of the storm.

Alone, we are alone as far down as the sediment
Were it not for the visits of the rainbows.

We have brothers behind this expanse.
Excellent brothers. They love us. They watch us and weep.
Then, in secret, they tell each other:
“Ah! if this siege had been declared…” They do not finish their sentence:
“Don’t abandon us, don’t leave us.”

Our losses: between two and eight martyrs each day.
And ten wounded.
And twenty homes.
And fifty olive trees…
Added to this the structural flaw that
Will arrive at the poem, the play, and the unfinished canvas.

A woman told the cloud: cover my beloved
For my clothing is drenched with his blood.

If you are not rain, my love
Be tree
Sated with fertility, be tree
If you are not tree, my love
Be stone
Saturated with humidity, be stone
If you are not stone, my love
Be moon
In the dream of the beloved woman, be moon
[So spoke a woman
to her son at his funeral]

Oh watchmen! Are you not weary
Of lying in wait for the light in our salt
And of the incandescence of the rose in our wound
Are you not weary, oh watchmen?


A little of this absolute and blue infinity
Would be enough
To lighten the burden of these times
And to cleanse the mire of this place.

It is up to the soul to come down from its mount
And on its silken feet walk
By my side, hand in hand, like two longtime
Friends who share the ancient bread
And the antique glass of wine
May we walk this road together
And then our days will take different directions:
I, beyond nature, which in turn
Will choose to squat on a high-up rock.

On my rubble the shadow grows green,
And the wolf is dozing on the skin of my goat
He dreams as I do, as the angel does
That life is here…not over there.

In the state of siege, time becomes space
Transfixed in its eternity
In the state of siege, space becomes time
That has missed its yesterday and its tomorrow.

The martyr encircles me every time I live a new day
And questions me: Where were you? Take every word
You have given me back to the dictionaries
And relieve the sleepers from the echo’s buzz.

The martyr enlightens me: beyond the expanse
I did not look
For the virgins of immortality for I love life
On earth, amid fig trees and pines,
But I cannot reach it, and then, too, I took aim at it
With my last possession: the blood in the body of azure.

The martyr warned me: Do not believe their ululations
Believe my father when, weeping, he looks at my photograph
How did we trade roles, my son, how did you precede me.
I first, I the first one!

The martyr encircles me: my place and my crude furniture are all that

I have changed.
I put a gazelle on my bed,
And a crescent of moon on my finger
To appease my sorrow.

The siege will last in order to convince us we must choose an

enslavement that does no harm, in fullest liberty!

Resisting means assuring oneself of the heart’s health,
The health of the testicles and of your tenacious disease:
The disease of hope.

And in what remains of the dawn, I walk toward my exterior
And in what remains of the night, I hear the sound of footsteps inside me.

Greetings to the one who shares with me an attention to
The drunkenness of light, the light of the butterfly, in the
Blackness of this tunnel!

Greetings to the one who shares my glass with me
In the denseness of a night outflanking the two spaces:
Greetings to my apparition.

My friends are always preparing a farewell feast for me,
A soothing grave in the shade of oak trees
A marble epitaph of time
And always I anticipate them at the funeral:
Who then has died…who?

Writing is a puppy biting nothingness
Writing wounds without a trace of blood.

Our cups of coffee. Birds green trees
In the blue shade, the sun gambols from one wall
To another like a gazelle
The water in the clouds has the unlimited shape of what is left to us
Of the sky. And other things of suspended memories
Reveal that this morning is powerful and splendid,
And that we are the guests of eternity.

-Translated by Marjolijn De Jager.

Gaza: I have three words

The sinking feeling I've had in my stomach over the last ten days turned into nausea this afternoon as I listened to news about Gaza.

I'm left with only three words in response to this tragedy: boycott, divestment, sanctions.

The argument that it a boycott will hurt normal Israeli businesses (and, really, the feelings of normal Israelis) now seems to carry no weight whatsoever. When the Israeli government is making a policy out of destroying Gaza's infrastructure, keeping a population hungry, terrified, and trapped, BDS seems kind. And in fact it is: opposing apartheid is the loving thing to do.

So, that's all I've got: boycott, divestment, sanctions. Now more than ever.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

At-Tuwani: Hope - A New Year Reflection
By Janet Benvie
27 December 2008

As I write this, advent and Christmas are over. The new Christian year has
begun, the new calendar year is about to begin - Gregorian and Hijri*. It
is a time for looking forward - to the new year, the lengthening of the
days again and, in due time, the earth's new growth in spring.

Here in At-Tuwani I see hope and new growth everywhere I look. In the
midst of the Israeli occupation and its attendant violent oppressions
imposed on the villagers, I see such amazing signs of hope.

Just south of At-Tuwani, in Humra valley, a family has planted a new olive
grove. On the rocky hillside they have created a small walled 'garden'.
The olives they planted are Roman variety they told us - around four times
more expensive than the common variety, but superior and longer lasting. A
carefully crafted stone wall surrounds this new olive grove. A little
lower in the same valley other villagers have repaired a wall around an
existing grove. Considerable time and great care was taken with the work,
and the result is attractive, but practical, new stone walls.

As I walk around the village I see numerous families undertaking home
repairs and extensions. Some are re-building demolished homes, others
building new homes. One family who returned this summer to re-build their
home, demolished by the Israeli military in 2004, is walling in small
garden areas around their new house and planting trees and shrubs. Another
family, who is repairing and extending their home, is carefully building a
stone outer wall to match the stonework of the original house.

It takes hope for the future to build a new home when the occupying power
has already threatened all the houses in your village with demolition. It
takes hope for the future to invest time and money in olive groves and

As we enter the new year, my hope for the future is that the world's
politicians (the quartet of the European Union, the United Nations, Russia
and the USA), will recognize Israel's occupation for what it is - a
brutal, oppressive and immoral act - and will stop their military funding
to this repressive state. My hope for the future is that people around the
world will say to Israel "enough" and will boycott this immoral state in
the same way so many people boycotted apartheid South Africa.

My hope for the future is that peace with justice shall prevail. Living in
At-Tuwani nurtures that hope.

For photos of some of the walls and gardens, go to:

* The Gregorian calendar is used almost universally, with 12 calendar
months in each year. The Hijri calendar is used by Muslims. It is based on
lunar months, and is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian. The new year
Gregorian year will be 2009; the new Hijra 1430.