No to Anti-Semitism, No to Islamophobia

“ATTENTION: PLEASE refrain from using anti-semitic language when expressing support for Palestine and Palestinians. It is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable and I will call you out on it. The Palestinian cause invites ALL who stand for justice and equality and all who want to be on the right side of history including American Jews. They have been some of our closest and most loyal allies and the last thing we need is to alienate people by using the same tactics and hateful rhetoric that is used against us. Let’s learn from history. Stay focused, stay principled – your cause is pure, your cause is just. No need to contaminate it with misguided hate.”

Photo of Linda Sarsour on the Brooklyn Bridge

Linda Sarsour
Director, Arab American Association of New York

Freedom Waves: the Latest Aid Boats to Gaza

I haven’t seen too much media coverage about the latest aid boats trying to reach Gaza, but check this out. Two boats, the Canadian boat Tahrir and the Irish boat Saoirse left from a harbor in Turkey to bring medical aid to Gaza as part of an action called ‘Freedom Waves‘. They were, of course, violently intercepted by Israeli ships.

The violent nature of Israel’s takeover of the Tahrir and Saoirse became more apparent with a statement released mid-Sunday by Fintan Lane, the National Coordinator of the Irish Ship Saoirse, in a hurried phone call made from an Israeli prison. “The whole takeover [of the Saoirse by Israeli naval authorities] took about three hours”, claims Lane. “It began with Israeli forces hosing down the boats with high pressure hoses and pointing guns at the passengers through the windows. I was hosed down the stairs of the boat. Windows were smashed and the bridge of the boat nearly caught fire. The boats were corralled to such an extent that the two boats, the Saoirse and the Tahrir, collided with each other and were damaged, with most of the damage happening to the MV Saoirse. The boats nearly sank. The method used in the takeover was dangerous to human life.”

US Condemns Human Rights Council’s Findings

The United Nations Human Rights Council sent respected human rights experts to investigate the state of human rights vis-a-vis the Gaza conflict.

Surprise! They discovered Israeli war crimes and human rights abuses:

The Goldstone mission report — totaling 575 pages — contains detailed accounts of deadly Israeli attacks against schools, mosques, private homes, and businesses nowhere near legitimate military targets, which they accurately described as “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”

This scary, scary statement of facts by a commission of respected officials Will. Not. Stand. in the United States, where our patriotism is predicated on the believe our ally Israel is incapable of making any false step. Outrage at a report, based on research (the nerve!), burned so hot in the hearts of the United States House of Representatives that they were compelled, nay, mandated by love of god and country, to “overwhelmingly approve” a resolution condemning it.

The resolution resolves that the report is “irredeemably biased” against Israel, an ironic charge given that Justice Goldstone, the report’s principal author and defender, is Jewish, a longtime supporter of Israel, chair of Friends of Hebrew University, president emeritus of the World ORT Jewish school system, and the father of an Israeli citizen.

The resolution also expresses outrage that the “culpability” of Iran and Syria weren’t condemned in this report on Gaza and Israel. Because, you know, Syria and Iran support Palestine, which is run by terrorists, thereby making them State Sponsors of Terrorism upon Israel. Personal vendetta anyone?

Because this resolution was “overwhelmingly” approved in a House that is dominated by Democrats, we are once again reminded to ask ourselves the question: “Exactly how different are Democrats and Republicans?”

Having 80% of the U.S. House of Representatives go on record attacking the integrity of one of the world’s most respected and principled defenders of human rights is indicative of just how far to the right the U.S. Congress has now become, even under Democratic leadership.

Sigh. Read the whole bullshit enchilada here.

Ah Geez News

Here’s some reading for ya!

BBC: Saddam’s rule ‘better’ for gay Iraqis

All the LGBT Iraqis interviewed for Gay Life After Saddam maintained that life was easier for them when Saddam Hussein was in power, from 1979 to 2003.

Some spoke fondly of an underground gay culture that flourished before the war in Baghdad.

Seattle Times: Israel deports activists detained going to Gaza

Israel on Monday deported a former U.S. congresswoman, a Nobel peace prize laureate and other activists who were arrested and jailed after trying to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli navy commandeered their boat last week as it tried to sail from Cyprus to Gaza.

…There were 21 passengers and three tons of medical aid on board, and most of the activists were quickly expelled. But Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and former U.S. congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, along with six other activists, remained in Israeli custody while the government arranged flights for them…

Marwa SherbiniBBC: Egypt mourns ‘headscarf martyr’

Marwa Sherbini, 31, was stabbed 18 times by Axel W, who is now under arrest in Dresden for suspected murder.

…Ms Sherbini had sued her killer after he called her a “terrorist” because of her headscarf.

…Medics were unable to save Ms Sherbini who was three months pregnant with her second child.

Tanveer AhmadMore on death in US immigration detention. New York Times: Piecing Together an Immigrant’s Life the U.S. Refused to See

Tanveer Ahmad, it turns out, was a longtime New York City cabdriver who had paid thousands of dollars in taxes and immigration application fees… His only trouble with the law was a $200 fine for disorderly conduct in 1997: While working at a Houston gas station, he had displayed the business’s unlicensed gun to stop a robbery.

It would come back to haunt him.

And now, a Day Brightener after all this shitty news:

Continue reading

When You Fight For God, Human Law No Longer Applies

The New York Times reports that the Israeli army is experiencing a clash between two groups within its ranks: the secularists and the religious nationalists.

It is all coming out in the aftermath of the Gaza invasion and the revelation of severe abuses against the Palestinians. Religious material was distributed to soldiers that framed the invasion as a religious war. The material claimed that Jews have a God-given right to the Palestinians’ land. The army’s chief rabbi himself, Brig. Gen. Avichai Rontzki, is an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank. He handed out a booklet to soldiers containing “a rabbinical edict against showing the enemy mercy.”

In response:

Avshalom Vilan, then a leftist member of Parliament, accused the rabbi of having “turned the Israeli military’s activity from fighting out of necessity into a holy war.”

…[Rontzki] has written, for example, that what others call “humanistic values” are simply subjective feelings that should be subordinate to following the law of the Torah.

Israeli philosopher Moshe Halbertal says, “The right tends to make an equation between authenticity and brutality, as if the idea of humanism were a Western and alien implant to Judaism. They seem not to know that nationalism and fascism are also Western ideas and that hypernationalism is not Jewish at all.”

1 Shot 2 KillsThis is all thrown into even creepier relief by the revelation of certain army members’ predilection for violent and offensive T-shirt imagery.

The T-shirt on the left depicts a pregnant Palestinian woman wearing Islamic clothing, in the cross hairs of a gun. Underneath it says “1 Shot 2 Kills.”

Some other T-shirt designs of recent Israeli army popularity include:
A Palestinian child in the cross hairs, with the slogan: “The smaller they are, the harder it is”

A dead Palestinian baby with the slogan: “Better use Durex”

A soldier standing next to a bruised woman with the words: “Bet you got raped!”

“Let every Arab mother know that her son’s fate is in my hands!”

A ruined mosque and the slogan: “We came, we saw, we destroyed!”

And more.

This past January, the “Night Predators” demolitions platoon from Golani’s Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, “Only God forgives.”

…No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?

[One of the soldiers in the platoon said] “I don’t see what you’re getting at. I don’t like the way you’re going with this. Don’t take this somewhere you’re not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs.”

Huh. I don’t like the way this is going. Sounds like any other country that believes it has a religious mandate to do violence to others. Sounds like where Bush was trying to take the American military. Sounds like the religious right who framed the Iraq war as a “clash of civilizations,” a religious war of Christians vs. Muslims. Not all Americans are Christian. Some Americans are Muslim. Not all Israelis are Jews. Some Israelis are Arab (Jewish and not), some are Muslim.

I wish this holy war frame wasn’t so attractive for certain groups of people who already seem to lack signs of the kind of good judgment one hopes is inherent in war decision-making.

“Disproportionate Use of Force”

From United Nations Radio:

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, while condemning the rocket attacks by Hamas that led to the death of one Israeli civilian, in a statement also “strongly condemns Israel’s disproportionate use of force” in Gaza which has so far resulted in more than 280 dead and the wounding over 600 persons.

Pillay says many of those killed were civilians.

She calls on Israeli leaders to “uphold international humanitarian law principles, especially those relating to proportionality in the use of military force and the prevention of collective punishment and the targeting of civilians.”

From Raw Story:

An Israeli patrol boat intercepted a yacht carrying three tons of medical supplies to Gaza in international waters early on Tuesday as it attempted to run an Israeli blockade. According to those on board, the patrol boat accused the relief vessel of being involved in terrorist activity and then deliberately rammed it, forcing it to return to port in Lebanon.

Among the yacht’s 16 passengers were doctors, journalists, and human rights activists, including former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). McKinney spoke to CNN from Lebanon, telling John Roberts, “Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front and once on the side.”

From Al Jazeera:

More than 360 people have been killed, including at least 61 women and children, in four consecutive days of Israeli bombardment and local hospitals are saying they are unable to cope with any more casualties.

…More than 1,600 Palestinians have already been wounded in the assault and hospital are running out medicines and other products needed to treat them.

…Four Israeli citizens have been killed by missiles fired from Palestinian positions since the offensive began on Saturday.

From the New York Times:

As world leaders called on Saturday for an end to the Middle East violence, the Bush administration issued blistering criticism of Hamas, saying the group had provoked Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza by firing rockets into southern Israel.

Gordon D. Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said that Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, was responsible for the outbreak of violence and called its rocket attacks ”completely unacceptable. These people are nothing but thugs,” he said. “Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas.”

In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a statement that said: “The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza. The cease-fire should be restored immediately. The United States calls on all concerned to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the innocent people of Gaza.”

From the Christian Science Monitor:

The message the entire Arab and Muslim world takes away from the US government is this: Dead Palestinian children are, in the larger scheme of things, an acceptable price to pay for Israel’s security.

From the Huffington Post:

The American government had a great deal to do with the outbreak of violence in the Gaza Strip right now. The Bush administration demanded – against the advice of nearly every expert in the field and the Israeli government – that the Palestinians hold elections. They did. Hamas won.

When Hamas won, we could have pulled them in toward the direction of political action and reconciliation. Instead, we chose to isolate them, start a coup against them (read this terrific article in Vanity Fair about our attempt to overthrow Hamas) and further radicalize them. We made a mockery of the idea of democracy. We proved to them that we never meant a word of the so-called Freedom Doctrine. We only wanted elections in which our guys won.

The facts above are so clear I don’t feel like I need to add much commentary. Except this: both Bush and Obama are vacationing right now. At the time of this posting, Bush has not made any statement on the events in Gaza.