Progressive Calendar 01.02.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2009 06:31:48 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    01.02.09

1. My god it's ffunch 1.02 11:30am
2. Gaza/press/rally   1.02 2pm
3. Palestine vigil    1.02 4:15pm
4. Moyers             1.02 9pm

5. Peace walk         1.03 9am Cambridge MN
6. Homeless vets      1.03 10 am
7. Anti-war plans     1.03 1pm
8. Northtown vigil    1.03 2pm
9. Haiti              1.03 4:30pm
10. Gaza fund$        1.03 6pm
11. Palestine/CTV     1.03 9pm
12. RNC photo exhibit 1.03
13. NWN4P ends vigils 1.03

14. Nekessa Opoti  - Protesters occupy Klobuchar's office
15. J Lowenstein   - Israel vs granting a Palestinian state
16. Wajahat Ali    - Unfair/unbalanced: US response to Gaza crisis
17. Jonathan Cook  - The real goal of the slaughter in Gaza
18. Robert Koehler - The future of civilization
19. Ahmed Bouzid   - The media narrative on Palestine and Israel

--------1 of 19--------

From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu>
Subject: My god it's ffunch 1.02 11:30am

Ffunch 1.02 11:30am

Meet the FFUNCH BUNCH!
11:30am-1pm
First Friday Lunch (FFUNCH) for progressives.
Informal political talk and hanging out.

Day By Day Cafe 477 W 7th Av St Paul.
Meet on the far south side.

Day By Day has soups, salads, sandwiches, and dangerous
apple pie; is close to downtown St Paul & on major bus lines
Holy jumpin' jehosaphat, how can you resist??
 ffunch        ffunch        ffunch        ffunch


--------2 of 19--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Gaza/press/rally 1.02 2pm

Press Conference & Rally for Peace in Gaza
FRI, 1/2 @ 2pm @ Islamic Cultural Community Center, 2584 Central Ave NE,
Minneapolis, MN 55418

On Friday, January 2, American Muslims and other people of conscience will
gather outside the Islamic Cultural Community Center for a demonstration
for Gaza. Participants will call on public officials to help stop Israeli
attacks on the Gaza Strip, restore the cease-fire and promote peace with
justice in the Middle East during the coming year.  There will be a pres
conference at 2pm and a rally at 3pm.

The events are organized by the Minnesota Coalition for Gaza.  The
coalition includes religious, human rights and political organizations
including: Al Aqsa; Al-Wafaa Center; Anti-War Committee; Arab-American
Anti-Discrimination Committee; Building Blocks; Coalition for Palestinian
Rights; Council on American- Islamic Relations, Minnesota; Islamic
Cultural Community Center; Islamic Jurisprudence Council of Minnesota;
Islamic University of Minnesota; Muslim American Society - Minnesota;
Masjid Al-Ikhlas; Unity Chamber of Commerce; and others.


--------3 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Palestine vigil 1.02 4:15pm

Friday, 1/2, 4:15 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end US military/political support
of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, corner Summit and Snelling, St
Paul.


--------x of 19--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org>
Subject: Moyers 1.02 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Actor John Lithgow
http://www.truthout.org/123108U

Friday on Bill Moyers Journal: "He's played heroes, villains, saints,
sinners, a ballet-dancing elephant and a space alien. Now, actor and
children's author John Lithgow - best known as Dick Solomon from NBC's hit
show '3rd Rock from the Sun' - reveals a new side of himself ... poetry
lover. The award-winning stage and screen star Lithgow shares his favorite
poems, insights into acting and thoughts on the enduring power of art."


--------5 of 19--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peace walk 1.03 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street


--------6 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Homeless vets 1.03 10 am

Saturday, 1/3, 10 to 11:30 am, meeting Homeless Veterans for Peace,
Peacehouse, 510 E Franklin, Mpls.  Bob Heberle 612-789-9020.


--------7 of 19--------

From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Anti-war plans 1.03 1pm

Planning Meeting: 6th Anniversary of the War on Iraq Demonstration

Saturday, January 3, 1:00 p.m. Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue (below the
Hub Bike Co-Op), Minneapolis. Join others in planning the annual local
demonstration to mark the anniversary of the U.S. led war on Iraq to be
held on April 4, 2009. Sponsored by: the Iraq Peace Action Coalition
(IPAC). WAMM is a member if IPAC.


--------8 of 19--------

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.03 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


--------9 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Haiti 1.03 4:30pm

Saturday, 1/3, 4:30 to 7:30 pm, celebration of Haiti's Independence (Jan
1...205 years), home of Paul & Sharon Miller, 2118 Erie Dr, Northfield.
RSVP and directions at 507-645-2492.


--------10 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Gaza fund$ 1.03 6pm

Saturday, 1/3, 6 pm, fundraiser for the people of Gaza with donations
going to Islamic Relief USA (which already has a relief operation on the
ground in Gaza), Blaine Community Center, 12175 Aberdeen St, Blaine.


--------11 of 19--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Palestine/CTV 1.03 9pm

Melodious Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!  Households with basic cable may
watch.

Sat, 1/3, 9pm and Tues, 1/6, 8am

"Ali Abunimah: Where Next for Palestine-Israel: Peace, Apartheid or
Democratic Inclusion? Part 1" Talk by Palestinian American author Abunimah
at the U of M in Oct. '07. (a still relevant repeat)


--------12 of 19--------

From: info [at] rnc8.org
Subject: RNC photo exhibit 1.03

Jan 2009 RNC Photo Exhibit seeks Wide Community Contributions
RNC PHOTO EXHIBIT & CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:
"LOOKING BACK, MOVING FORWARD" (JAN 3RD-31ST)

An exhibit of random moments caught on film during the Republican National
Convention in Saint Paul
Online version: http://rnc08report.org/archive/618.shtml

Runs January 3rd, 2009, until end of January at the Black Dog Cafe in
Lowertown, St. Paul. 20% of photo exhibition sales go to the RNC 8 Legal
Fund. Benefit reception on January 21st with Junkyard Empire and Pocket of
Resistance.

JANUARY 21ST BENEFIT CONCERT FOR
RNC 8 LEGAL FUND FEATURING
JUNKYARD EMPIRE AND POCKET
OF RESISTANCE

On January 21st, there will be a benefit concert for the RNC 8 Legal Fund,
featuring Junkyard Empire and Pocket of Resistance. Both bands have shared
the stage with the likes of Boots Riley and the Coup, Eyedea, Ill
Chemistry, the New Congress, and Los Nativos.

The event marks Junkyard Empire kicking off the inauguration of its show,
LOWERTOWN COMMUNE... a regular Wednesday night hootenanny featuring the
Junkyard and special guests.

During the RNC in St. Paul, Junkyard Empire played the Sept 4th "No Peace
For the Warmakers" show at the State Capitol, and Pocket of Resistance
played the the Block Party in Lowertown.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Available as a downloadable PDF attachment at
http://rnc08report.org/archive/618.shtml

* Photographers must submit photographs both as prints for gallery
display/sales and via e-mail for media/archiving. If digital submissions
are too difficult, "print only" is acceptable.

* Print submissions must be 8 x 10 inches, color or B&W photos, with a
white or black border.

* Digital submissions can be any size with a minimum 1024 pixel dimensions
wide at 72 DPI. Or as it came out of your camera.

* One copy of your photo/s will be displayed in the Black Dog Cafe's
gallery in Lowertown St. Paul (space allowing and at the gallery's
discretion).

* Photos will be hung along walls from twine with binder clips, as in the
example above right.

* Additional prints will be kept on hand in your delivery envelope to be
sold at $25 each, with $5 per sale (20%) going to the RNC 8 Legal Fund via
the 501(c)(3) National Lawyers Guild and $20 (80%) to the artist. For more
information about the RNC 8, see http://rnc8.org.

* If the copies of your exhibited prints look like they are going to sell
out, we will try to notify you in order that you can provide the Black Dog
gallery with additional copies for sale.

* You are free to opt to not sell your photos.

* For digital submissions, send an e-mail to Nigel Parry or provide a CD
that includes copies of the photo/s with extended caption information.

* Caption information requested:
 1. Title/one-line description of image/s.
 2. Location, date, and - where possible - approximate time of image/s.
This is less relevant for your non-Editorial RNC images.
 3. A brief caption description of the image/your observations at the time
the photo was taken.
  Enclose a brief bio with your submissions and include your name, e-mail,
phone and website contact details.

DEADLINE/CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SUBMISSIONS
The exhibit begins on January 3rd and ends on January 31st. Opening
submissions by midday on January 2nd.
Further submissions will be accepted until the Exhibit Closing Party on
January 31st, 2009.
Drop off/Send photo submissions to: RNC Photo Exhibit, Black Dog, 308
Prince Street, St. Paul, MN 55101.
Questions/Digital submissions: Nigel Parry via publicity [at] nigelparry.net or
on 646-812-0897 (cellphone).

RELATED LINKS
Media materials and Submission Guidelines at:
http://rnc08report.org/archive/618.shtml

Submissions & Gallery Location at "RNC Photo Exhibit" Black Dog Coffee and
Wine Bar 308 Prince Street (corner of 4th/Prince and Broadway), St Paul,
MN 55101. http://blackdogstpaul.com

Junkyard Empire: http://myspace.com/junkyardempire
Pocket of Resistance: http://pocketofresistance.net
Friends of the RNC 8: http://rnc8.org
RNC '08 Report: http://rnc08report.org

The RNC '08 Report is a citizen's archive of media reports, government
documents, and other resources relating to the 2008 Republican National
Convention in St. Paul, MN. The source material posted on this website
will ultimately used to compile a truly independent, publicly available,
citizen's report on what happened during the 2008 RNC. See
http://rnc08report.org/


--------13 of 19--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NWN4P suspends vigils 1.03

we will be having our last New Hope and Minnetonka demos on December 6th,
13th, and 20th We will not be having any in January, February, and perhaps
even longer while we reassess just what we want our message to be under an
Obama administration.

[Given that Obama has filled his cabinet with hawks, and has said "No
comment" re Gaza, this is not the time to let up or "be nice". We were
told to "Go O"  and hold his feet to the fire later. Now it's later and
the fire is being let go out. One might even imagine that "anti-war" had
in it a decisive element of "pro-Dem"; and now that the Dems are in, well,
you know, war is always with us, and what can we do about it, I mean
really... -ed]


--------14 of 19--------

Protesters occupy Klobuchar's office
Reprint rightsBy Nekessa Opoti , TC Daily Planet
January 01, 2009

A group of about 40 protesters on Tuesday afternoon took over Senator Amy
Klobuchar's Minneapolis office, demanding that the Senator take a stand
against the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. After two hours, they got a
meeting with Senator Klobuchar.

"We are not terrorists! And we are not extremists!" Randy Hammad, a
Palestinian American said in a telephone interview with the Daily Planet.
Hammad, a resident of Minnesota, was one of the protesters who waited for
two hours in the office.

In their meeting, the protesters demanded that Senator Klobuchar and
others "condemn Israel's actions, support immediate ceasefire, stop U.S.
financial/military support to Israel, end the blockade and allow
humanitarian aid".

Jordan Kushner, a criminal lawyer and a longtime Jewish activist was
critical of the actions of the Israeli government and the complacency of
American legislators, saying, "I don't think people expected anything from
Klobuchar. She is as much in the Israel lobby's pocket as anyone".

However, Kushner expressed confidence that their protest "successfully
demanded an appearance by an elected official who had insisted she had not
time, was able to work together to agree on demands and to delegate people
to make presentations".

Meredith Aby, a spokesperson for the Anti-War Committee, like the other
protesters, was critical of Klobuchar, "She needs to take a stand for
human rights, and not be quiet - her current stance has been to be silent
- she has refused to speak out against Israel".

In a statement to the Daily Planet, Klobuchar said, "I believe that, like
the U.S., Israel has a right to defend itself from terrorist attacks. As
the situation continues to unfold, I believe the U.S. must work with all
parties to reestablish a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible and to
provide humanitarian assistance to all civilians caught in the conflict".

"What good does humanitarian aid do if we support Israeli military
action?" asked Aby.

Hammad argued that Hamas is a democratically elected government in
Northern Palestine, and has the same rights to defend and protect its
families and children. He added, "as a human rights activist, I am against
the killing of civilians on both sides". He expressed concern that
Palestinians in Gaza do not have food, electricity and very limited access
to relief organizations.

Because people like him will be sending money to Gaza, Hammad said that he
is confident that the FBI will be harassing him and others for "sending
money to terrorists". He asserted, "we are not terrorists nor are we
extremists...we just want to protect our defenseless people".

Nekessa Opoti is the publisher of kenyaimagine.com, a Kenyan online
magazine and newspaper and also writes for Mshale, a Minnesota-based
African community newspaper.


--------15 of 19--------

Israel Has No Intention of Granting a Palestinian State
If Hamas Did Not Exist
By JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN
CounterPunch
January 1 , 2009

Let us get one thing perfectly straight. If the wholesale mutilation and
degradation of the Gaza Strip is going to continue; if Israel's will is at
one with that of the United States; if the European Union, Russia, the
United Nations and all the international legal agencies and organizations
spread across the globe are going to continue to sit by like hollow
mannequins doing nothing but making repeated "calls" for a "ceasefire" on
"both sides"; if the cowardly, obsequious and supine Arab States are going
to stand by watching their brethren get slaughtered by the hour while the
world's bullying Superpower eyes them threateningly from Washington lest
they say something a little to their disliking; then let us at least tell
the truth why this hell on earth is taking place.

The state terror unleashed from the skies and on the ground against the
Gaza Strip as we speak has nothing to do with Hamas. It has nothing to do
with "Terror". It has nothing to do with the long-term "security" of the
Jewish State or with Hizbullah or Syria or Iran except insofar as it is
aggravating the conditions that have led up to this crisis today. It has
nothing to do with some conjured-up "war"  - a cynical and overused
euphemism that amounts to little more the wholesale enslavement of any
nation that dares claim its sovereign rights; that dares assert that its
resources are its own; that doesn't want one of the Empire's obscene
military bases sitting on its cherished land.

This crisis has nothing to do with freedom, democracy, justice or peace.
It is not about Mahmoud Zahhar or Khalid Mash'al or Ismail Haniyeh. It is
not about Hassan Nasrallah or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are all
circumstantial players who have gained a role in the current tempest only
now that the situation has been allowed for 61 years to develop into the
catastrophe that it is today. The Islamist factor has colored and will
continue to color the atmosphere of the crisis; it has enlisted the
current leaders and mobilized wide sectors of the world's population. The
primary symbols today are Islamic - the mosques, the Qur'an, the
references to the Prophet Muhammad and to Jihad. But these symbols could
disappear and the impasse would continue.

There was a time when Fatah and the PFLP held the day; when few
Palestinians wanted anything to do with Islamist policies and politics.
Such politics have nothing to do with primitive rockets being fired over
the border, or smuggling tunnels and black-market weapons; just as
Arafat's Fatah had little to do with stones and suicide bombings. The
associations are coincidental; the creations of a given political
environment. They are the result of something entirely different than what
the lying politicians and their analysts are telling you. They have become
part of the landscape of human events in the modern Middle East today; but
incidentals wholly as lethal, or as recalcitrant, deadly, angry or
incorrigible could just as soon have been in their places.

Strip away the cliches and the vacuous newspeak blaring out across the
servile media and its pathetic corps of voluntary state servants in the
Western world and what you will find is the naked desire for hegemony; for
power over the weak and dominion over the world's wealth. Worse yet you
will find that the selfishness, the hatred and indifference, the racism
and bigotry, the egotism and hedonism that we try so hard to cover up with
our sophisticated jargon, our refined academic theories and models
actually help to guide our basest and ugliest desires. The callousness
with which we in indulge in them all are endemic to our very culture;
thriving here like flies on a corpse.

Strip away the current symbols and language of the victims of our selfish
and devastating whims and you will find the simple, impassioned and
unaffected cries of the downtrodden; of the "wretched of the earth"
begging you to cease your cold aggression against their children and their
homes; their families and their villages; begging you to leave them alone
to have their fish and their bread, their oranges, their olives and their
thyme; asking you first politely and then with increasing disbelief why
you cannot let them live undisturbed on the land of their ancestors;
unexploited, free of the fear of expulsion; of ravishment and devastation;
free of permits and roadblocks and checkpoints and crossings; of monstrous
concrete walls, guard towers, concrete bunkers, and barbed wire; of tanks
and prisons and torture and death. Why is life without these policies and
instruments of hell impossible?

The answer is because Israel has no intention of allowing a viable,
sovereign Palestinian state on its borders. It had no intention of
allowing it in 1948 when it grabbed 24 per cent more land than what it was
allotted legally, if unfairly, by UN Resolution 181. It had no intention
of allowing it throughout the massacres and ploys of the 1950s. It had no
intention of allowing two states when it conquered the remaining 22 per
cent of historic Palestine in 1967 and reinterpreted UN Security Council
Resolution 248 to its own liking despite the overwhelming international
consensus stating that Israel would receive full international recognition
within secure and recognized borders if it withdrew from the lands it had
only recently occupied.

It had no intention of acknowledging Palestinian national rights at the
United Nations in 1974, when - alone with the United States - it voted
against a two-state solution. It had no intention of allowing a
comprehensive peace settlement when Egypt stood ready to deliver but
received, and obediently accepted, a separate peace exclusive of the
rights of Palestinians and the remaining peoples of the region. It had no
intention of working toward a just two-state solution in 1978 or 1982 when
it invaded, fire-bombed, blasted and bulldozed Beirut so that it might
annex the West Bank without hassle. It had no intention of granting a
Palestinian state in 1987 when the first Intifada spread across occupied
Palestine, into the Diaspora and the into the spirits of the global
dispossessed, or when Israel deliberately aided the newly formed Hamas
movement so that it might undermine the strength of the more
secular-nationalist factions.

Israel had no intention of granting a Palestinian state at Madrid or at
Oslo where the PLO was superseded by the quivering, quisling Palestinian
Authority, too many of whose cronies grasped at the wealth and prestige it
gave them at the expense of their own kin. As Israel beamed into the
world's satellites and microphones its desire for peace and a two-state
solution, it more than doubled the number of illegal Jewish settlements on
the ground in the West Bank and around East Jerusalem, annexing them as it
built and continues to build a superstructure of bypass roads and highways
over the remaining, severed cities and villages of earthly Palestine. It
has annexed the Jordan valley, the international border of Jordan,
expelling any "locals" inhabiting that land. It speaks with a viper's
tongue over the multiple amputee of Palestine whose head shall soon be
severed from its body in the name of justice, peace and security.

Through the home demolitions, the assaults on civil society that attempted
to cast Palestinian history and culture into a chasm of oblivion; through
the unspeakable destruction of the refugee camp sieges and infrastructure
bombardments of the second Intifada, through assassinations and summary
executions, past the grandiose farce of disengagement and up to the
nullification of free, fair and democratic Palestinian elections Israel
has made its view known again and again in the strongest possible
language, the language of military might, of threats, intimidation,
harassment, defamation and degradation.

Israel, with the unconditional and approving support of the United States,
has made it dramatically clear to the entire world over and over and over
again, repeating in action after action that it will accept no viable
Palestinian state next to its borders. What will it take for the rest of
us to hear? What will it take to end the criminal silence of the
"international community"? What will it take to see past the lies and
indoctrination to what is taking place before us day after day in full
view of the eyes of the world? The more horrific the actions on the
ground, the more insistent are the words of peace. To listen and watch
without hearing or seeing allows the indifference, the ignorance and
complicity to continue and deepens with each grave our collective shame.

The destruction of Gaza has nothing to do with Hamas. Israel will accept
no authority in the Palestinian territories that it does not ultimately
control. Any individual, leader, faction or movement that fails to accede
to Israel's demands or that seeks genuine sovereignty and the equality of
all nations in the region; any government or popular movement that demands
the applicability of international humanitarian law and of the universal
declaration of human rights for its own people will be unacceptable for
the Jewish State. Those dreaming of one state must be forced to ask
themselves what Israel would do to a population of 4 million Palestinians
within its borders when it commits on a daily, if not hourly basis, crimes
against their collective humanity while they live alongside its borders?
What will suddenly make the raison d'etre, the self-proclaimed purpose of
Israel's reason for being change if the Palestinian territories are
annexed to it outright?

The lifeblood of the Palestinian National Movement flows through the
streets of Gaza today. Every drop that falls waters the soil of vengeance,
bitterness and hatred not only in Palestine but across the Middle East and
much of the world. We do have a choice over whether or not this should
continue. Now is the time to make it.

Jennifer Loewenstein is the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies
Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She can be reached at
amadea311 [at] earthlink.net


--------16 of 19--------

Unfair and Unbalanced
The U.S. Response to the Gaza Crisis
By WAJAHAT ALI
CounterPunch
January 1 , 2009

Moral relativism, political double talk, and a military juggernaut blind
to its violence against an occupied people highlight the most recent,
tragic conflagration in Israel and Palestine. In justifying Israel's most
brutal and bloody salvo against Gaza in decades - which has so far killed
nearly 400 Palestinians and wounded more than 1800 - Israel's UN
ambassador stated that Israel was "rightfully defending itself from
continued Hamas rocket attacks within her borders." Furthermore, Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert forewarned that the offensive "is liable to continue
for some time - and Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared it as an "all-out
war against Hamas and its branches."

By affirming Israel's "right to self defense" and supporting Israel's
contention that the onus is on Hamas to renew the truce, President Bush's
waning administration highlighted its remarkably predictable political
incompetence and tone-deaf moral vacancy by squandering yet another
precious opportunity to remedy - at least rhetorically - the festering,
radioactive sore that is the Palestinian human rights crisis in Gaza and
the West Bank. Continuing to spin a broken record, his administration
condones Israel's brazen and repeated violations of international law
while simultaneously denying Palestinian human rights, at the precarious
risk of destabilizing a hostile and volatile Middle East region.

It goes without saying that this sad reality fails to absolve the
illegality of Palestinian violence directed against Israel and her
civilians. Hamas' infractions of international law should be strongly
condemned by both the United States and the international community,
including Arab countries, many of which espouse reactionary, anti-Semitic
rhetoric. But such actions do not justify an escalation into outright war
- one in which civilian causalities are almost a certainty due to the
density of Gaza - any more than the Israeli blockade of Gaza would justify
suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. The answer to a festering
conflict is to take steps towards resolution, not spiral the conflict into
madness.

President-elect Obama conveniently remains silent on the current
hostilities (for now) and has thus deferred to President Bush.
Nonetheless, earlier this summer he endorsed Israel's right to defend
itself against Qassam rockets by stating, "If someone were sending rockets
into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do anything
to stop it". One wonders, however, if President elect Obama's principles
of safety, dignity and self defense apply to Palestinians as well? If
Obama and President Bush's daughters were forced to suspend their
emergency hospital operations due to fuel shortages, beg for 300 essential
medicines, drink contaminated water that causes malnutrition and anemia in
children, eat bread made of animal feed, and renounce electricity because
their main power plant was forced to shut down, what would they do?

That hypothesis tragically exists as a reality for Gaza residents, some of
the poorest people on Earth, who have survived Israel's nearly two-month
embargo and blockade that followed another two years of frequent and
devastating closures. Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and
Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), called the Gaza
humanitarian crisis "disastrous" and said the agency has been unable to
get needed medical supplies into Gaza for more than a year due to Israel's
blockade of border crossings.

At AIPAC's annual conference last summer, in what devolved into an
embarrassing competition of one-upmanship, both President-elect Obama and
Senator Hillary Clinton pledged unyielding support for Israel. Obama
promised he would "never compromise when it comes to Israel's security";
meanwhile, Clinton affirmed "the United States stands with Israel now and
forever."

In order to truly act upon his promise of "change," President-elect Obama
needs to quickly revoke Israel's perennial carte blanche and "get out of
international jail" Monopoly card for the sake of ensuring long-term
American and Israeli security and eventually winning the "war on terror".
It would bear reminding that the current US policy in Israel and Palestine
is one of bin Laden's main justifications for his global, violent jihad
against Americans and sadly remains a highly successful recruitment ploy
for al-Qaeda amongst disenfranchised Muslims.

It warrants a mention that the brutality of Israel's policies towards
Palestinians has transcended the bipolar framework of an "Arab vs. Jewish
thing" and is now recognized internationally as a shameful example of
human rights violations. After visiting Israel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
who opposed apartheid in South Africa, stated he saw "the humiliation of
the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when
young white police officers prevented us from moving about". He offered
Israel would "never get true security and safety through oppressing
another people". Commenting on Israel's policies in Gaza and West Bank,
President Jimmy Carter controversially declared that it existed as "a
system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but
completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and
suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human
rights".

The United States could publicly acknowledge the lopsided and oppressive
relationship existing between the nation of Israel and its Palestinian
refugees by refusing to implicitly or explicitly endorse and rationalize
Israel's latest offensive incursion as simply a "defensive security
measure". Yet, by continuing to vocally defend Israel as the only advocate
and partner of peace while perpetually blaming Palestinians as the sole
aggressor, the United States recklessly obfuscates the reality of an
Israeli blitzkrieg that repeatedly bombards a beleaguered Palestinian
refugee population with an inordinately superior and sophisticated
military might.

This changed tone, which would reflect fairness and nuance, would also
signal to the Muslim world that the US does not blindly and
unconditionally endorse Israel's prejudicial treatment of Palestinian
refugees, its building of illegal settlements on West Bank and Gaza lands,
its illegal, extra judicial killings and kidnappings, and it's most recent
gratuitous violence unleashed on Gaza civilians.

Finally, the loss of innocent Palestinian life in relation to Israeli life
should not merely be treated as tragic, but necessary, "collateral
damage". Both need to be afforded dignity and value as human beings, who
are neither favored nor condemned for sake of advancing narrow-minded
foreign policy initiatives and strengthening expedient political
alliances.

Wajahat Ali is a Muslim American of Pakistani descent. He is a playwright,
essayist, humorist and Attorney at Law, whose work, "The Domestic
Crusaders" is the first major play about Muslim Americans living in a post
9-11 America. His blog is at http://goatmilk.wordpress.com/


--------17 of 19--------

Hamas Cannot Be Defeated, So It Must Be Brought to Heel
The Real Goal of the Slaughter in Gaza
by Jonathan Cook
January 1st, 2009
Dissident Voice

Ever since Hamas triumphed in the Palestinian elections nearly three years
ago, the story in Israel has been that a full-scale ground invasion of the
Gaza Strip was imminent. But even when public pressure mounted for a
decisive blow against Hamas, the government backed off from a frontal
assault.

Now the world waits for Ehud Barak, the defence minister, to send in the
tanks and troops as the logic of this operation is pushing inexorably
towards a ground war. Nonetheless, officials have been stalling.
Significant ground forces are massed on Gaza"s border, but still the talk
in Israel is of "exit strategies", lulls and renewed ceasefires.

Even if Israeli tanks do lumber into the enclave, will they dare to move
into the real battlegrounds of central Gaza? Or will they simply be used,
as they have been in the past, to terrorise the civilian population on the
peripheries?

Israelis are aware of the official reason for Mr Barak's reticence to
follow the air strikes with a large-scale ground war. They have been
endlessly reminded that the worst losses sustained by the army in the
second intifada took place in 2002 during the invasion of Jenin refugee
camp.

Gaza, as Israelis know only too well, is one mammoth refugee camp. Its
narrow alleys, incapable of being negotiated by Merkava tanks, will force
Israeli soldiers out into the open. Gaza, in the Israeli imagination, is a
death trap.

Similarly, no one has forgotten the heavy toll on Israeli soldiers during
the ground war with Hizbollah in 2006. In a country such as Israel, with a
citizen army, the public has become positively phobic of a war in which
large numbers of its sons will be placed in the firing line.

That fear is only heightened by reports in the Israeli media that Hamas is
praying for the chance to engage Israel's army in serious combat. The
decision to sacrifice many soldiers in Gaza is not one Mr Barak, leader of
the Labor Party, will take lightly with an election in six weeks.

But there is another concern that has given him equal cause to hesitate.

Despite the popular rhetoric in Israel, no senior official really believes
Hamas can be destroyed, either from the air or with brigades of troops. It
is simply too entrenched in Gaza.

That conclusion is acknowledged in the tepid rationales offered so far for
Israel's operations. "Creating calm in the country's south" and "changing
the security environment" have been preferred over previous favourites,
such as "rooting out the infrastructure of terror".

An invasion whose real objective was the toppling of Hamas would, as Mr
Barak and his officials understand, require the permanent military
reoccupation of Gaza.

But overturning the disengagement from Gaza - the 2005 brainchild of Ariel
Sharon, the prime minister at the time - would entail a huge military and
financial commitment from Israel. It would once again have to assume
responsibility for the welfare of the local civilian population, and the
army would be forced into treacherous policing of Gaza's teeming camps.

In effect, an invasion of Gaza to overthrow Hamas would be a reversal of
the trend in Israeli policy since the Oslo process of the early 1990s.

It was then that Israel allowed the long-exiled Palestinian leader, Yasser
Arafat, to return to the occupied territories in the new role of head of
the Palestinian Authority. Naively, Arafat assumed he was leading a
government-in-waiting. In truth, he simply became Israel's chief security
contractor.

Arafat was tolerated during the 1990s because he did little to stop
Israel's effective annexation of large parts of the West Bank through the
rapid expansion of settlements and increasingly harsh movement
restrictions on Palestinians. Instead, he concentrated on building up the
security forces of his Fatah loyalists, containing Hamas and preparing for
a statehood that never arrived.

When the second intifada broke out, Arafat proved he had outlived his
usefulness to Israel. His Palestinian Authority was gradually emasculated.

Since Arafat's death and the disengagement from Gaza, Israel has sought to
consolidate the physical separation of the Strip from the much-coveted
West Bank. Even if not originally desired by Israel, Hamas's takeover of
Gaza has contributed significantly to that goal.

Israel is now faced by two Palestinian national movements. The Fatah one,
based in the West Bank and led by a weak president, Mahmoud Abbas, is
largely discredited and compliant. The other, Hamas, based in Gaza, has
grown in confidence as it claims to be the true guardian of resistance to
the occupation.

Unable to destroy Hamas, Israel is now considering whether to live with
the armed group next door.

Hamas has proved it can enforce its rule in Gaza much as Arafat once did
in both occupied territories. The question being debated in Israel's
cabinet and war rooms is whether, like Arafat, Hamas can be made to
collude with the occupation. It has proved it is strong, but can it be
made useful to Israel, too?

In practice that would mean taming Hamas rather than crushing it. Whereas
Israel is trying to build up Fatah in the West Bank with carrots, it is
using the current slaughter in Gaza as a big stick with which to beat
Hamas into compliance.

The ultimate objective is another truce stopping the rocket fire out of
the Strip, like the six-month ceasefire that just ended, but on terms even
more favourable to Israel.

The savage blockade that has deprived Gaza.s population of essentials for
many months failed to achieve that goal. Instead, Hamas quickly took
charge of the smuggling tunnels that became a lifeline for Gazans. The
tunnels raised Hamas.s finances and popularity in equal measure.

It should come as no surprise that Israel has barely bothered to hit the
Hamas leadership or its military wing. Instead it has bombed the tunnels,
Hamas's treasure chest, and it has killed substantial numbers of ordinary
policemen, the guarantors of law and order in Gaza. Latest reports suggest
Israel is now planning to expand its air strikes to Hamas's welfare
organisations, the charities that are the base of its popularity.

The air campaign is paring down Hamas's ability to function effectively as
the ruler of Gaza. It is undermining Hamas's political power bases. The
lesson is not that Hamas can be destroyed militarily but that it that can
be weakened domestically.

Israel apparently hopes to persuade the Hamas leadership, as it did Arafat
for a while, that its best interests are served by co-operating with
Israel. The message is: forget about your popular mandate to resist the
occupation and concentrate instead on remaining in power with our help.

In the fog of war, events may yet escalate in such a way that a serious
ground invasion cannot be avoided, especially if Hamas continues to fire
rockets into Israel. But whatever happens, Israel and Hamas are almost
certain in the end to agree to another ceasefire.

The issue will be whether in doing so, Hamas, like Arafat before it, loses
sight of its primary task: to force Israel to end its occupation.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His
latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the
Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine:
Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by
Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

This article was posted on Thursday, January 1st, 2009 at 12:15pm


--------18 of 19--------

The Future of Civilization
by Robert C. Koehler
Published on Thursday, January 1, 2009 by Tribune Media Services
Common Dreams

The tight, absurd parameters of "peace," as they are drawn by the military
model we continue to believe in, make real peace - neither bitter nor
temporary - impossible even to imagine. God save us, for instance, from
New York Times editorials, which inflict as much damage on civilians as
F-16s.

"Israel must defend itself," the paper intoned a few days into the bombing
attack on Gaza that quickly left 350 people dead, expressing regret only
that the action was "unlikely to weaken" Hamas. The editorial affected a
neutral assessment of the situation that failed to mention either the
Israeli occupation of Palestine or the month-and-half-long blockade of
Gaza that preceded the bombardment and, among much other deprivation, left
the region's few hospitals drastically undersupplied with medicine, gauze
or even space to treat the flood of newly wounded.

With that omission securely in place, and clear signals emanating from
every sentence that the right of heavily armed U.S. allies to bomb
powerless Third World "enemies" into good behavior would not be
questioned, the Times editorial remembered its compassionate side
sufficiently to declare: "Israel must make every effort to limit civilian
casualties."

How decent of them. Or as Jerry Seinfeld might have put it: Yada yada
yada.

I quote from the Times, of course, not as one paper among thousands, but
as the Paper of Record and exemplar of the mainstream, corporate media's
unified voice on geopolitics and the future of civilization. This is the
voice of moral relativism and denial. Nowhere in it is there room for
something other than a military solution to chronic global troubles, and
that solution flows in only one direction. And nowhere is there the least
real humanity toward the punishees, whose role is to suffer, die and
retaliate just enough to keep the cycle going for another round. "Israel
must defend itself . . ."

And thus the civilian dead - whatever that term actually means - merit the
barest sniff of a eulogy as, alas, the regrettable byproduct of the
high-tech pummeling their country or territory has called upon itself,
before being consigned to some mass grave in paragraph five. By gliding
over the dead, the media are free to discourse on grand strategy, as
though war is rational and contained and does something other than spread
toxins, hatred and its own ongoing inevitability - and as though "winning"
such one-sided, preposterous displays of power actually means something,
or is possible.

Whether reporting on Iraq, Afghanistan or Gaza, our media spare us
eyewitness accounts of the hell we create in pursuit of our interests,
such as Safa Joudeh's live Gaza diary on electronicindifada.com:

"There were piles and piles of bodies in the locations that were hit," she
wrote on Dec. 27. "As you looked at them you could see that a few of the
young men were still alive, someone lifts a hand, and another raises his
head. They probably died within moments because their bodies were burned,
most had lost limbs, some of their guts were hanging out and they were all
lying in pools of blood.

"Outside my home," she goes on, "which is close to the two largest
universities in Gaza, a missile fell on a large group of young men,
university students. They'd been warned not to stand in groups as it makes
them an easy target, but they were waiting for buses to take them home.
Seven were killed, four students and three of our neighbors' kids. . . .
Nothing could stop my 14-year-old brother from rushing out to see the
bodies of his friends laying in the street after they were killed. He
hasn't spoken a word since."

No war, no military action, no act of self-defense or revenge has a
legitimacy that exempts the perpetrators from responsibility for the
consequences they create. And every bombing campaign - certainly one
against the most densely populated region on Earth - will wreak the sort
of searing havoc Joudeh describes.

I refuse to believe that any long-term human good will come out of a
geopolitical strategy that casually inflicts this sort of suffering on
people, and fear for the souls of the complicit parties, especially if
they lack the courage to acknowledge what they do without reducing their
victims to expendable, subhuman status.

And I cannot read something like the New York Times editorial quoted above
without feeling an urgent need to fill the void that it opens. Peace on
this planet is possible, but only if we make ourselves bigger than war.
This can happen only with the sort of genuine openness to our "enemies"
that is documented, for instance, in a Peace Now video of Israeli and
Palestinian students engaging in dialogue with one another that I viewed
on the organization's Web site.

"It's very easy to dehumanize someone you don't know," a student says at
one point, glowing from her realization that we're all in this together.
The implications of this simple truth are the only antidote I know of to
the suicidal folly of war. On a day in which I have endured too much news
from the Middle East, they burst in my heart like a symphony of peace.

 2009 Tribune Media Services
Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor
at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can
respond to this column at bkoehler [at] tribune.com or visit his Web site at
commonwonders.com


--------19 of 19--------

The Media Narrative on Palestine and Israel
by Ahmed Bouzid
December 29th, 2008
Dissident Voice

The outbreak of violence in Gaza has been the top story in the mainstream
media here in the United States for two days in a row now, and yet I have
yet to come across a single news item from any of the major newspapers or
television news outlets that mentions the total number of Israelis killed
by Hamas's Qassam rockets since the official collapse of the cease fire on
December 19th. Mention is made of one Israeli man killed this week and
half a dozen wounded, and all articles state that at least Qassam 110
rockets have been launched into Israel since Saturday morning, with some
quoting the IDF putting the figure at 300 rockets for the past week. But
not once is the total of Israelis killed given. The closest precise figure
I was able to dig out was from a December 31, 2007, article published in
the IDF's web site that stated, "since 2001 until today, rocket and mortar
fire originating in the Gaza Strip has caused the deaths of 20 people".1

So, why not? Why is this very basic fact missing? How can anyone observing
the conflict draw any meaningful conclusions about whether accusations
against Israeli actions are indeed an aggression against a whole people
rather than an act of self defense, as Israel and the United States claim?

Also missing is the basic fact that this round of attacks and counter
attacks started on November 4th, when Israel decided to cross into the
Gaza Strip to destroy what the army claimed was a tunnel dug by Hamas.2 Up
to then, the cease fire had been holding up reasonably well,
notwithstanding Israel's continuing strangulation of Gaza. The Israeli
breach into Gaza was followed by further violence from Israel when the
next day the Israeli government sealed off all ways into and out of Gaza.
As a result, according to Oxfam International, between November 5th and
November 30th, only 23 trucks were allowed into Gaza (down from an average
of 3,000 trucks per month), which represents about 6 per cent of the
traffic needed to sustain the starving Palestinian population of 1.5
millions in the tiny strip.3 Instead, the narrative deployed by the US
media continues to be the usual safe and lazy one where Israel is simply
defending itself and "retaliating" against the aggression of terrorists.
Little room or credence is given to the open declarations of the
Palestinians that the violence was started and deliberately sustained by
Israel, that the Palestinians have several times asserted that they "would
only respond to Israeli aggression,"4 and that it was Israel that "had
breached agreements by imposing a painful economic blockade on Gaza,
staging military strikes into the densely populated coastal strip and
continuing to hunt down Hamas operatives in the West Bank".5

Several other inconvenient facts routinely go unmentioned. For instance,
the basic fact that the strip is 25 miles long and 4 to 7.5 miles wide,
that 1.5 million people live in that tiny patch of land, that it is
completely sealed off by a land barrier erected by Israel, and that Israel
controls both the air space over the strip and the Mediterranean offshore
- all of that is usually left unmentioned.

Also often missing from the narrative is the fact that Hamas was
democratically elected when it won by large majorities (76 of the 132
parliamentary seats) in both Gaza and the West Bank in the internationally
monitored Palestinian Authority's parliamentary elections in early 2006,6
and that immediately upon winning those elections, the United States and
Israel, caught completely off guard and backtracking at once on their up
to then vociferous rhetoric that what would cure the ills of Palestine
would be free, open and democratic elections, declared that they would not
deal with Hamas, in spite of clear signs from the Hamas leadership that
there was plenty of room to engage in a constructive engagement.7

Virtually always missing from almost all of the stories is the context of
internal Israeli politics. It would be helpful for a reader, for instance,
to know that elections to choose a successor to disgraced Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert are only 6 weeks away, and that both Defense Minister Ehud
Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are positioning themselves and
their Labor party against Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu, who currently leads
in the polls.8 Crushing Hamas and highlighting a contrast between them and
the outgoing Prime Minister and his disastrous adventure in Lebanon two
years ago is key, they believe, to having a chance against the more
hawkish Likud.

Of course, I suppose it would be too much to expect the US media to
remember that in April 1996, then interim Prime Minister Shimon Peres
(Yitzhak Rabin had been assassinated five months earlier) , running for
the post of Prime Minister for the fourth time (he had lost the previous
three times) and desperately trying to bolster his weak military
credentials in anticipation of the upcoming elections in May, engaged in a
sixteen-day military blitz against Lebanon in the name of ending the
shelling of Northern Israel by Hezbollah. The campaign accomplished
nothing except the killing of Lebanese civilians, 118 of whom were
massacred in Qana while they sought refuge in a UN compound. Labor's Peres
lost those elections to Likud's Netanyahu, and in May 2000 Israel withdrew
from the strip of Lebanon it had been occupying for nearly 20 years.

It is high time that the absurd narrative of little Israel fighting for
its survival against murderous Arabs is set aside once and for all.
Instead, let us remember the basics of the situation whenever we try to
understand the events in Palestine and Israel: a mighty nuclear power is
occupying and punishing a dispossessed people simply because it does not
have the political imagination, will, and courage to sit down and make the
difficult decisions necessary to reach a lasting solution.

1. .30 % Rise in Qassam Rocket Fire,. IDF Annual Report 2007, December 31,
2007. [.]

2. .Israel-Hamas cease-fire in peril as violence rises,. Joel Greenberg,
Chicago Tribune, November 17, 2008. [.]

3. .If Gaza Falls,. Sara Roy, London Review of Books, January 2009 issue.
[.]

4. .Agreement in Hamas: Cease-fire to end Friday,. Avi Issacharoff and
Amos Harel, Haaretz, December 12, 2008. [.]

5. .Hamas renounces cease-fire with Israel,. The Associated Press,
December 19, 2008. [.]

6. .Hamas Sweeps Palestinian Elections, Complicating Peace Efforts in
Mideast,. Scott Wilson, January 27, 2006. [.]

7. .Siegman: U.S., Israel and EU Must Deal With Hamas If it Drops Harsh
Policies Toward Israel,. Council on Foreign Relations, January 27, 2006.
[.]

8. .Israel strikes Hamas targets in Gaza, 271 dead,. Richard Boudreaux and
Rushdi abu Alouf, Los Angeles Times, December 28, 2008. [.]

9. Ahmed Bouzid is President of Palestine Media Watch. He can be reached
at: ahmed.bouzid [at] gmail.com. Read other articles by Ahmed, or visit Ahmed's
website.

This article was posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008 at 7:59am and is
filed under Disinformation, Media. ShareThis


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