Jun 26, 2012

Shifting politics

In this newsletter are notes: on Middle East shifting politics, on a baby fruit bat, on success of BDS campaign against Caterpillar, on an upcoming trip to Germany, and a factoid on "anti-Semitism".

Many years ago, I started to state in my lectures and in conversations and in my writings that we have only two paths going forward: the path of "might makes right" (those with the bigger stick get what they want right or wrong) OR the path of justice and human rights and international law. I stated that we Palestinians wanted the second path but it was full of land mines laid by people who chose the first path.  I predicted that Zionism, which chose the first path, will lose anyway.  It can lose by enforcement of International law (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Convention for the Suppression of the Crime of Apartheid and Racial Discrimination).  It will also lose if "might makes right" remains the path of governments like Israel and the United States. This is because to every action there is a reaction.  Fundamentalism will be answered with fundamentalism.  Hypocrisy cannot last forever unexposed.  Why is NATO criticizing Syria for shooting down a Turkish Jet over Syrian territory when NATO said nothing about an Israeli attack on a Turkish civilian ship in International waters including execution of 9 Turkish passengers?

The rise of Jewish fundamentalism and its intensifying atrocities (e.g. in Gaza and the West Bank), is now facing a rising Islamic tide.  Its largest manifestation is amply demonstrated in the results of election in Palestinian Occupied areas in 2006, in Lebanon over the past two decades, in Tunisia, and most recently in the Egyptian elections.  Libya's model is diffent (a coup backed by the West).  These dramatic changes in the geopolitical landscape need to be digested, and properly responded to. The train to the future will leave behind any political leader or party which does not act positively based on a deep understanding of current and future trends.

It remains to be seen how Islamic oriented political parties rule. Hamas is not an example here since Palestinians are under occupation and only Israel rules the occupied areas including Gaza.  Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government and it seems the system is an uneasy equilibrium between secular and Islamic forces.  In Iran, the Mullahs run the government but the economy is in bad shape partly due to centralization and the sanctions being imposed on Iran thanks to the Israeli lobby in Western countries.  Turkey has a moderate Islamic party in power and seems to be doing very well economically. I think the era of one man dictatorial rule is slowly giving way to a trend of Islamization but also of empowerment of people.  We must insist first and foremost on freedom: of thought, of religion (and from religion too), of movement, of assembly and demonstration etc.   But governments (Islamic or Secular) must also do more to educate citizens, empower them, improve economies, education, health care etc. Consumerism must be replaced by improving production, responsible development, protecting the environmental etc. 

On a baby bat: I now have a baby fruit bat at home.  She is 2-3 weeks old.  After the untimely death of its mother, it took us a while to figure out how to take care of it. We now use a piece of cloth as an artificial nipple and human baby formula.  The delicate helpless baby is like human babies in many ways.  Their larger than usual heads, chubby cheeks, tender skin, and feeble cries elicit a motherly instinct in all who encounter it. I see the flood of emotion from any friend or relative who visits and see the baby bat.  A baby elephant is helped by any member of the group nearby. A baby dog is coddled by humans and dogs alike. These emotions remind us of the connectedness of all living things.  Babies grow to the curiosity and inquisitiveness of childhood.  Among humans that leads to the idealism of youth.  Among humans though, unfortunately some of us grow up to do mean things to fellow human beings and other creatures around them.  Other animals do not kill for greed or for sport or for a flag or a religion.  They kill only to feed if they are carnivorous or defend themselves from being killed. If only humans remained young or reconnected with fellow creatures.  We could avoid war, environmental destruction and much more.

Major US Retirement Fund Divests From Caterpillar

Trip: I will on a trip to Germany June 28-July 7 (Munich, Pfaffenhoffen, Heidelberg, and Karlsruhe) for a conference and talks. Let me know if you are in one of these Southern German towns or if you know anyone there to connect with.

Factoid: A Jewish German by the name of Heyman Steinthal was actually the first person to use the words "ani-Semitism" in 1860 in Zeitschrift fur Volkespsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft 1:328 (The Jewish Question: Biography of a World Problem,  By Alex Bei, p. 594). Later the term was used by Wilhelm Marr (who had twice married Jewish women with unhappy marriages) and was more well known after the "Anti-Semite League was formed".  The term is misleading since most European Jews are not Semites.  Arabs are of course Semites.

Jun 17, 2012

Saud and Susya

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Nayef Al-Saud died at age 78.  Nayef was the Interior Minister known for his "efficient" crackdown on dissent and thus was praised by US administrators for dealing with "terrorism" (the same administrators who tortured and "rendered" subjects to be tortured).  I will briefly write information that maybe new to some you about this ruling family.  The founder of this kingdom was his father AbdulAziz Al- Saud (1876-1953) whose family made income by raids especially on the area of the Rashid clan who ruled much of the Arabian Peninsula then under the Ottoman Empire.  AbdulAziz consolidated his rule with British arms via wars against other ruling families and not just Al-Rashid but Al-Hashemites (also installed by the British to rule part of Arabia).   He established a western-leaning "kingdom" and named it after his family "Saudi Arabia". He married over 20 wives and had 37 children.  Today's succession of elderly men ruling Saudi Arabia were/are his children: Saud, Faisal (assassinated), Khalid, Fahd, and now 87-year old Abdullah. There are 7000 members of the "Royal Family" and they do not get along with each other and many are decent human beings.  Yet, much of the people's wealth is in the hands of elite few deposited in Western Banks profiting Zionists. Over $1 billion oil revenue flows in EVERY DAY. Another source of income for the kingdom is from millions of pilgrims flocking to Mecca and Medina for the Haj.  The trillions gathered could have made every citizen of the kingdom comfortably rich but there are over 20% unemployment and the disparity between rich and poor is one of the highest in the world. This Arab wealth could have helped develop sustainable economy in an integrated Arab world.  The Arab world, rich in natural resources and educated and talented people could have become far more advanced than Europe or the US. Instead, we remain mired in feudalism, tribalism, paternalism, factionalism, sexism, consumerism, autocracy, and excessive religiosity (promoted by rulers to keep people down).

The Ottoman Sultan AbdulHamid was forced to relinquish power because he refused to acquiesce to the Zionist project in Palestine.  By contrast, the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wrote with his own hand in 1915: " I the Sultan Abdel Aziz Bin Abdel Alrahman Al-Faysal Al-Saud decide and acknowledge a thousand times to Sir Percy Cox representative of Great Britain that I have no objection to give Palestine to the poor Jews or to others as seen [fit] by Great Britain that I would not go outside [disobey] its opinion until the hour of calling [end of the world]." (See Qumsiyeh, Popular Resistance in Palestine", Pluto Press 2011).  So while the kingdom's population grew, its riches continued to pass through the hands of people like these, individuals who routinely violate human rights, supported by Britain and now the USA.

Two days ago I was in Susya in the South of the West Bank.  Here Zionist European Ashkenazi established a colony and discovered an old Canaanite temple which they claim falsely to be connected to them.  Here they have demolished homes of native Palestinians (the real inheritors of these ancient civilizations).  Here settlers routinely attack Palestinians (see video below). Here good people helped build solar panels to give electricity to a community that Israel refuses to allow them to connect to an existing grid.  Here also is where last week Israeli authorities gave demolition orders that will make over 300 men, women, and children homeless.  Here also is a place where an elderly resident tells me that some Palestinians profit by capitulating on their miseries and.  Whether it is Palestinians or it is members of the Al-Saud family, all give us lessons in human frailty and humanity.  I did write my email last week on optimism and as the late Khalil Gibran stated: "The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose." Come to think of it in a hundred years who will be more remembered: dead kings and crown-princes or people like Khalil Gibran? Will it be the resident of Susya who stuck-it out and resisted or his brother who now live comfortably in Yatta while settler cultivate his land? Will it be a Palestinian who takes money from internationals for his pocket or one who is on a hunger strike in an Israeli jail?

We can say a kind word to real friends and to strangers in need.  We can do a gesture or a smile to help someone who is down. We can teach.  We can sing.  We can rebel. We can simply live in dignity even if we are dirt poor.  So I take this moment to thank you all: the activists who care about justice and human rights, the artists, the teachers, the peasants, the workers, and all those who maintain their humanity and do not sell out their souls. You are principled and will not compromise your integrity.  That is why our late friend Vittorio ended his emails with the admonition "Stay Human". May we all stay human. And may those who have sold their souls for a fistful of silver coins reclaim their humanity.  It is never too late.  I even have a dream that the next "king" of "Saudi Arabia" will be someone who uses his existing powers to remove that power and transfer it in an orderly way to the people and thus gains a perpetual place in history. I have a dream that Barack Obama or his successor will finally show some backbone and do a similar thing in America (challenging the Israel lobby). 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSDC_xUtf8o (colonial settlers attack an elderly couple)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPYmp9iIaQ4 (settlers attack farmers harvesting olives)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG6uU4ZYvHc (Settlers training their children to be thugs)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIf_vdzcup4 (renewable energy project)

Sobering video of what's at Stake:  Total US debt is not just $14.8 trillion, but $61 trillion (including social security obligation that is off the balance sheet and only disclosed in the footnotes of US government's financial statements as of the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011.)  Every US citizens and taxpaying US residents should take 10 minutes to watch this Video made by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and find more time to read the resources cited in the video, and get involved to change the direction the US is heading.  http://www.aicpa.org/Advocacy/Pages/CPAsInsight.aspx
(of course much of this debt is due to lavish funding for Israel and countless wars done at the behest of the Israel lobby including the $3 trillion Iraq war; watch for Iran now! The wonderful hard working Americans I met when I lived there do not deserve this)

Nurit Peled-Elhanan’s moving reflections on the occupation’s 45th birthday

State Dep’t official’s ‘Are you Jewish?’ question to US citizen keeps rattling Foggy Bottom

Supporter of human rights, Israeli Andrey Pshenichnikov moved to one of our refugee camps near Bethlehem, and asked for Palestinian citizenship. So "Israel detains ex-IDF soldier [and] accused [him] of ties to Palestinian terror group"

Action: Send TIAA-CREF’s Senior Vice President a note to let him know you are watching and you expect public—not backroom—engagement with companies, like Caterpillar, profiting from Israel's occupation.

Israel: Jesus was not born in Palestine!

Freedom bus upcoming events in Palestine

For interest-nonpolitical: Why is 'x' the unknown? By Terry Moore

Jun 7, 2012


Overall life is good and people are good.  Some people do foolish things once in a while: oppress, kill, steal land, destroy trees etc.  But life continues and people survive, adapt, and struggle to get to a better place.  Here in Palestine, the apricots (Mishmish) are in season and they are as sweet as can be.  Our village is known for Faqous (of the cucumber family) which is now also in season.  While Israeli colonizers took most of the agricultural land around the area, we still have some Sahouri Faqous and we still struggle to reclaim our rights.  And we are now beginning to get the first ripe figs (called Teen Dafour).  The young olives and grapes are still green and growing.  Like those grape vines that shed their leaves always come back with young leaves and then bear fruits.  So I am thrilled that thousands of our students are graduating this month.  The wedding season is on and my sister, a nurse at a maternity hospital in Bethlehem, relays how they are busier than ever.  Community gatherings always have more children than adults (60% of us Palestinians are children).  Nothing pleases my sight more than young children walking down ancient streets holding hands like their ancestors did thousands of years ago.  5 and 6 year old friends with their arms on each other's shoulders whispering in each other's ears through the narrow alleys of the refugee camp of Aida.  Kids are sharing fruits and balloons in the nativity square. Young girls giggling as they go home from the "Shepherds' field school".  They all look like little angels on earth even in the cantons/ghettos of Israeli apartheid.   

Those of us who are adults may sometime lose the optimism and energy of childhood.  We need to be reminded and retain our optimism.  Adults sometimes try to remind us with a bit of philosophical reflections.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated: "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice."

Or our departed friend Howard Zinn who once wrote: "To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." (You Can't Be Neutral on  a Moving Train: A personal history of our times, p. 208. )

But we remain optimistic because we are human beings who believe in coexistence, equality, peace, and freedom.  Pessimists are those who believe in tribalism, racism, conflict, and the need for military might. In the long run, we are more numerous than they are and we need to help them see the truth and join us.  We remain optimistic because our children and grandchildren are optimistic and we should not try to dissuade them from optimism or from acting to improve their lives.  As we free our minds of dark thoughts, we can see the light.   

Where commemoration meets celebration (on optimism and pessimism) http://www.thisweekinpalestine.com/details.php?id=3524&ed=199&edid=199

Images of a tour in Palestine 100 years ago

Video in English and French: Arabs of Jerusalem
Les arabes de Jérusalem, d'Israël et de Cisjordanie

US Embassy to American in trouble in Israel: ‘You’re not Jewish? Then we can’t do anything to help you’

Male Israeli soldiers who speak out

How Zionized is the US?
US Secretary of "Homeland Security" Defends Controversial Grant Program
"A Forward report found that the program for DHS security grants for not-for-profit organizations was tailored to the Jewish community and that almost three-quarters of its funds went to Jewish institutions. 
…On another topic, Napolitano said that the DHS has decided to allow Israeli citizens to enter the United States via a special fast-track program despite Israel’s decision not to grant Americans reciprocal consideration, as the United States usually requires. …Napolitano also pointedly declined to criticize New York City’s controversial program of surveillance of Muslim organizations and individuals with no known or suspected ties to terrorism. "
And on May 9, 2012 House passed H.R. 4133 Unites States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, http://tinyurl.com/7nctgj4

Genocide and/or genocidal acts clearly characterize Israel's attempts to obliterate in part or in whole a whole group of people (the Palestinians).  Palestinians should bring Israel and Israeli leaders to justice.
Read More from International Law Expert Francis Boyle
and this interesting debate between a Zionist tribalist and Prof. Martin Shaw
for more on genocide, visit http://martinshaw.org/my-academic-papers/

A new direction for the Palestinian People (still a concise and good article)

The Zionist Story

Jun 4, 2012


It seems like yesterday that we watched Israeli tanks rolling down the hills towards our sleepy town of Beit Sahour 45 years ago today.  As a child it was the most frightening sight.  The second stage of the Zionist expansion on the land of Palestine unleashed terror that our generation had not experienced but my parents generation had during eth Nakba when between January 1948 and the end of 1949, some 530 villages and towns were ethnically cleansed.  The changes I witnessed the 45 years since the "6 day" invasion of 1967 have been nothing short of monumental. Those hills that the tanks rolled down on are all now filled with colonial settlements that scar the ancient landscape.  The Israeli quarries have literally dug up other hills and trucked stone and soil away to build the "Jewish state" while destroying Palestinian lives.  But I do not want to take time here to write of these violations.  I think anyone can find thousands of documents and reports from independent human rights groups and international agencies describing the horrors of colonization, apartheid, and occupation in this "holy land".  Nor will I address how people who teach their children about Jewish suffering over the ages teach them that it is OK to inflict this suffering on native/indigenous people. Nor do I want to write on this occasion of the treachery of western countries who profess human rights and international law actually become complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Nor do I want to address the treachery of Arab leaders (yes including some Palestinians) who were complicit in helping make 7 million of us refugees or displaced people.  I do want to talk about us, the people, and especially about mental occupation.

Occupiers/colonizers are of course always dependent not just on military might but also on propaganda and psychological manipulation to reach their goals.  For example, from the late 19th century, the Zionists successfully infiltrated the minds of their victims with notions like "Arabs" and/vs. "Jews".   With this one simple concept, Zionists succeeded in 1) equating a linguistic group with a religion and elevating Jewishness to a supposed national structure ("a people"), 2) removing Arab Jews as a viable group whose allegiance lies naturally with their fellow Arabic speaking people, 3) fostering anti-Jewish feelings (mistakenly called anti-Semitism) to help their cause in conflating Zionism with Judaism. Before that they coined and popularized the term anti-Semitism to confuse the Europeans and claim they are Semites.  From those early efforts in the 19th century, the people of the world were subjected to sustained intensive efforts at brainwashing. 

We actually understand these propaganda efforts as natural and expected in efforts to propel racist ideologies.  What we do not understand is why many native Palestinians accepted defeat and even adopted the Zionized version of history.  Even some of our school textbooks perpetuate the mythologies that keep the Zionist nightmare a reality.  It is easy to keep it alive when we, the victims keep the myth of the exodus from Egypt to Masada to the falsified history of Josephus to the suppression of our Canaanite ancestry to the notion that Jewishness is somehow biological.  Some of this is due to those who are religious confusing metaphors and myths with historiography.  Some of it is due to ignorance: e.g. ignorance of the fact that the Philistines were actually Canaanite people and not from Crete or that both ancient Arabic and Hebrew were dialects of Canaanite Aramaic.   Some of it is pure foolishness; for example that somehow we can "return" Palestine to an idealized (fictional) Islamic or Jewish state.  Would it not be better to admit the wrong that was done to the native people, do some restorative justice, and begin to discuss among ourselves how we Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and others can live TOGETHER in a country in full equality? How about a new joint political movement to reform and to dismantle the dysfunctional Israeli and Palestinian political structures so as to build a new reality?  Aren't 64 years of Nakba and 45 years of Naksa long enough? There are 11.5 million Palestinains in the world and billions of fellow human beings who know what is right to contentd with at best half a million deluded Jewish Zionists (and the equally deluded Christian Zionists who support them).  What perevents justice (ie. peace) is apathy and ignorance.  Is it not time to shed these?

Cover-up of the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. We should remember the victims of the Israeli attack 45 years ago and the cowardice of the US government which succumbed to the Israel lobby and buried the incident http://www.ussliberty.org

The 2011 Humanitarian Overview addresses the key advocacy priorities identified by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), the main humanitarian coordinating body for UN agencies and NGO partners in the the occupied Palestinian territories. http://www.ochaopt.org/annual/

Rabbi Brian Walt: Affirming a Judaism and Jewish identity without Zionism

Israel is new South Africa as boycott calls increase
After Madonna began her world tour there last week, campaigners urge cutting of cultural ties

Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds, Dublin 2-6-2012

ACTION:  Consider introducing resolutions for boycotts, divestments and sanctions at your union, church, organization, group, political party, association. You may also start a petition to have your town, city council, state or other governmening entity divest from Israel and companies that support the Israeli apartheid system.  To help, we put together some relevant information on this link
http://www.qumsiyeh.org/calltobds/ and will try to keep it updated for use in promoting BDS (send me anything you think should be added)
Here are other links with lots of information