Progressive Calendar 01.08.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 03:28:47 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    01.08.09

1. New Seward Co-op  1.08 10am
2. Econ crisis       1.08 2pm
3. Eagan peace vigil 1.08 4:30pm
4. Northtown vigil   1.08 5pm
5. AntiWarMN         1.08 7pm
6. Urban farm        1.08 7pm

7. Palestine vigil   1.09 4:15pm
8. AltVio            1.09 6pm
9. Moyers/class      1.09 9pm

10. Kip Sullivan    - Warning on the MN Health Security Act
11. Susan Abulhawa  - Palestinians will never forget
12. Anna/Palestine  - What most US media isn't telling you
13. Saree Makdisi   - What security will this barbarism bring Israel?
14. Beln Fernndez   - Israel's monopoly on psychological suffering
15. ed              - bumperstickers

--------1 of 15--------

From: Jay Gabler <jay [at]>
Subject: New Seward Co-op 1.08 10am

New Seward Co-op opens Thursday!
by Mary Turck, TC Daily Planet

The new Seward Co-op, in its bright, green building at 2823 East Franklin,
will open for business on Thursday, January 8 at 10 a.m., with a ribbon-
cutting, give-aways and general celebration. The $10.5 million store
doubles the retail space of the old store, with 13,000 square feet, and
also has a community classroom on the second floor. The building includes
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)  principles and the
Co-op is hoping to earn a LEED gold rating.

--------2 of 15--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Econ crisis 1.08 2pm

JAN.8:Headwaters;Econ.Crisis & COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS
Join Headwaters Foundation for Justice for a community
brainstorming session to unlock the opportunities of this economic crisis.
January 8th, 2009
Intermedia Arts,
2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls

/community/ A body of people having common rights, privileges, or
interests, or living in the same place.

/brainstorming/ n. A method of shared problem solving in which all
members of a group spontaneously contribute ideas.

The economic finical crisis is just now having real and dramatic effects
in the non-profit sector, and yet the long-term organizing efforts have to
continue. Over the past decades local organizers and activists have won
hard fought victories and made fundamental changes that ensured local
community voices were heard. For all of us - community organizers and
advocates, this is a time of to ensure that the work will move forward.

Join Headwaters Foundation for Justice as we host a community dialog and
strategy session where we will creatively think about two pressing

. What new and emerging opportunities can we create together to ensure our
collective work moves forward?

. What do we need to do in the short-term (6-12 months) to ensure the work
moves forward?

Space is limited; please RSVP via email to Monica Bryand, Program Officer,
Headwaters Foundation for Justice.

monica [at] <mailto:monica [at]>
612-879-0602 ex.10

--------3 of 15--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 1.08 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------4 of 15--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.08 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------5 of 15--------

From: Jess Sundin <jess [at]>
Subject: AntiWarMN 1.08 7pm

ORGANIZE WITH THE A.W.C.: The Anti-War Committee always need help
organizing protests and educational events. Join us at our weekly meetings
(Thursdays at 7pm, 1313 5th St SE #112C, Minneapolis).

--------6 of 15--------

From: christine gamm <cmgamm14 [at]>
Subject: Urban farm 1.08 7pm

Be inspired about your yard, sustainability and edible forest gardens!
Backyard Harvest Open House
Farmers in Urban/Suburban Backyards.áHow to get involved (host a garden in
your yard, be a CSA member, or be a farmer yourself).

Thursday, Jan. 8th, 7pm-9pm
MCAD Auditorium 140
more info:

--------7 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 1.09 4:15pm

Friday, 1/9, 4:15 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end US military/political support
of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, corner Summit and Snelling, St

--------8 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: AltVio 1.09 6pm

1/9 (6 to 9 pm), 1/10 (9 am to 9 pm) and 1/11 (noon to 6 pm), Alternatives
to Violence basic level workshop, Friends for a Non-Violent World, 1050
Selby Ave, St Paul.  $75 to $150 sliding scale.  avp [at] or (Registration deadline, 1/7.)

--------9 of 15--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers/class 1.09 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | A Working Class Renaissance?

Bill Moyers Journal: "Bill Moyers sits down with United Steelworkers
International President Leo Gerard to discuss seeking economic justice for
workers in the middle of an economic crisis and how he sees the future of
American manufacturing."

--------10 of 15--------

Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2009 21:24:21 -0600
From: Kip Sullivan <kiprs [at]>
Subject: Warning on the MN Health Security Act

Tomorow (Thursday) morning at 10:00, a press conference will be held in
Room 125 of the State Capitol by a coalition of eight MN organizations,
including Take Action MN. The Take Action coalition doesn't indicate what
their name is, so for now I'll call them the Take Action coalition. The
eight groups involved in tomorrow's press conference are the same groups
Take Action lists on their web site as "partners" in a project financed by
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called "Consumer Voices for

In addition to Take Action, the groups are
    * AFSCME Council 5,
    * Children's Defense Fund MN,
    * Education MN,
    * ISAIAH,
    * MN Nurses Association,
    * SEIU MN State Council, and
    * the AFL-CIO.

The media contacts listed on the press release announcing this event are
staff with Take Action and the Children's Defense Fund.

The Take Action coalition will announce their support for a bill they call
the MN Health Security Act (MHSA). I have read two versions of this bill.
The first had a December 14, 2008 date on it, the second had a January 7,
2009 date on it. The two versions are virtually identical. And they are
both bad.

If either version is in fact the bill that is introduced tomorrow, the
MHSA should be opposed by anyone who cares about universal health
insurance. The version of the MHSA I read this afternoon will turn the
state's kids over to a few health insurance companies on July 1, 2010,
which means the bill will insure kids at a far greater cost than is
necessary. Worse, it will strengthen the health insurance industry. I have
heard that the bill will cost $500 million annually, which means the MHSA
will require the MN taxpayer to send $500 million a year to the health
insurance industry, the most powerful opponent of a single-payer system.
The MHSA is, in short, a never-ending fundraiser for the anti-single-payer

At this point, I am speaking for myself, not any of the single-payer

I do not enjoy having to make this announcement. I have been privately
lobbying colleagues in both the single-payer wing and the Take Action wing
of the universal coverage movement for more than a year to avoid this
confrontation - a confrontation that Take Action and their allies have
now forced upon all of us who care about universal coverage. My lobbying
has included legislators. My message to one and all has been: "Let's not
have a civil war within the universal coverage movement. Let's move heaven
and earth to achieve unity within the universal coverage movement."

Until just three weeks ago, I thought we were going to have unity going
into the 2009 session of the state legislature. Until December 16, 2008, I
thought that discussions between the Take Action coalition and the Greater
MN Health Care Coalition were going to lead to compromise legislation
single-payer groups and legislators could support, or at least remain
neutral on. (GMHCC supports a single-payer solution.) I was part of the

I think it is accurate to say that legislative leaders of the MN Health
Reform Caucus were also part of those negotiations. A dozen legislators
representing the MHRC met with the boards and senior staff of Take Action
and all or nearly all of the other seven groups that will be at tomorrow's
press conference to urge them to

    * give high priority to endorsing legislation for the 2009 session
that would unify universal coverage advocates,

    * include MHRC legislators in their deliberations, and

    * support the MN Health Act (a single-payer bill which creates the MN
Health Plan).

These meetings took place between late August and mid-December of last
year. Legislators who attended most of these meetings included Sen. John
Marty and Reps. David Bly and Carolyn Laine. These meetings were perceived
by all the participants I spoke to as friendly.

To my surprise, these negotiations, at least to the extent they were
going on with GMHCC, were broken off abruptly by Take Action on December
16. On that date Take Action informed GMHCC there would be no compromise
language in the final bill. (I don't kinow whether Take Action alone was
responsible for breaking off negotiations. All I know is Take Action
delivered the bitter news.)

Both versions of the MHSA I have read state that the Department of Human
Services (DHS) will administer the cover-all-kids program created by the
MHSA. It authorizes DHS to decide whether to contract with HMOs or to
contract directly with clinics and hospitals. If DHS were to contract
directly with clinics and hospitals (and disregard the HMOs), the
cover-all-kids program would be a single-payer for kids (DHS will be the
one payer of clinics and hospitals). In my view, that would be a huge
victory for all proponents of universal health insurance. But no one
expects that to happen. Because DHS has long been very sympathetic to the
insurance industry and has long been an advocate of privatizing state
health insurance programs, and because the big state health insurance
programs (MInnesotaCare, Medical Assistance, and General Assistance
Medical Care) are already run by the HMOs, there is no doubt what DHS will
do - they will contract with HMOs. The authors of the MHSA - Rep. Paul
Thissen and Sen. Tony Lourey - have reportedly said that or words to that
effect - that they expect DHS will turn all kids over to HMOs and
contract directly with few or no clinics and hospitals.

To make matters worse, the MHSA says any clinic or hospital that wants a
contract with DHS must have the ability to send mountains of information
to DHS so that DHS can prepare report cards on the clinics and hospitals.
The data that must be sent to DHS must include data on patient
satisfaction, quality of care, volume of medical services provided, and
the cost of all services. The MHSA does not say that all clinics and
hospitals must buy an electronic medical record (EMR) system (at a cost of
$40,000 per doctor), but that is in effect what it is requiring. Today,
only 10 to 20 percent of MN doctors have EMRs (the uncertainty over the
exact percentage is due in part to the definition of a functioning EMR).
The high cost of EMRs is the main reason why more don' t have them. Thus,
even if DHS were inclined to contract directly with some clinics, the vast
majority will probably be unable to afford to meet the information
requirements of the MHSA. The requirement in the MHSA that clinics and
hospitals file oceans of data with DHS will in effect force many clinics
and perhaps some hospitals to join one of the HMOs that DHS will contract
with in order to maintain access to their patients under age 19.

I will have more to say about the MHSA once I've seen the actual bill. I
still hold out some hope that the Take Action coalition will seek to amend
the bill and make it acceptable to single-payer groups. If that happens,
I'll be the first to say hallelujah. They need us, we need them.

If there is no change, I have little doubt the insurance industry will
endorse this bill along with Take Action. That's what happened in 2007
with the Children's Health Security Act, a bill with language almost
identical to that of the MHSA. In that year, the insurance industry
endorsed the Children's Health Security Act, as did several members of the
Take Action coalition.

--------11 of 15--------

Palestinians Will Never Forget
By susan abulhawa

How can anyone watching Gaza burn escape the bitter realization that
history repeats itself?  Many have compared Israel's treatment of
Palestinians to Apartheid South Africa.  But not in their cruelest hour
did the Apartheid regime wreak such wanton murder and destruction.  Let us
stop mincing words.  What is happening to Palestinians now whispers of
Warsaw and Lodz.

Schools, universities, mosques, police stations, homes, water treatment
plants, factories, and anything that supports civil society, including the
only mental health clinic in Gaza, have been blown to rubble from planes
that rain death from clear skies without any resistance, because
Palestinians have no opposing air force.  Nor do they have an army or
navy.  No mechanized armor or heavy weaponry.  Thanks to Israel, they
haven't even had continuous electricity or fuel for the past two years. Or
food and medicine.  Israel's siege and blockade of Gaza has prevented the
movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, including the import of
the most basic goods necessary for survival.

A recent study by the Red Cross showed that 46 percent of Gazan children
suffer from anemia.  Malnutrition affects 75 percent of Gaza's population,
half of whom are under the age of 17.  There has been widespread deafness
among children due to Israel's intentional and frequent sonic booms from
low overflights. An alarming number have stunted growth and serious mental
disorders due lack of food.  The only way they have been able to survive
thus far has been due to the tunnels that smuggle food and goods from

Half of Gazan children under 12 have lost their "will to live." Can anyone
fathom the kind of oppression that leads small children en masse to lose
their will to live?

This is what Israel has done to Gaza over the past two years.  They
ghettoized Gaza and turned it into an open air prison - a concentration
camp of civilians with no way to earn a living, no way to defend
themselves and no place to run from the slaughter bombarding them from
air, land, and sea.  From the white phosphorous disemboweling young and
old alike.

But Gazans dared to try to resist with pathetic homemade rockets that,
until Israel's barbaric attack, generally landed in open desert.  The
rockets were mostly symbolic of resistance, very much like the fighters in
the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. But who would have called on a ceasefire
there, in 1943, for "both parties" to "cease the violence"?  Who would
have blamed the Ghetto fighters for their ultimate fate?  Who would say
they had no right to resist?  No right to fight back?

Just as Nazis gave Jews only the right to die silently, Israel starves and
besieges Palestinians, giving them only that same right.  Just as the
Warsaw Ghetto was blown to rubble, Gaza is left to burn in an inferno, its
hospitals bursting with the pus of death and unspeakable wounds.

The entire population of Gaza is terrorized and traumatized.  No one is
spared the insecurity and fear.  Imagine, please, that you are a Gazan.
What have Palestinians done to deserve such a fate?  To be endlessly
hunted like animals?  To have their homes demolished, their ancient
history and heritage cast into forgotten space?  To languish in refugee
camps and slums, while Jews from all corners of the earth flock to fill
their confiscated homes and farms?  To be tortured, imprisoned, and denied
in every conceivable way?

What have we done that leaders will not speak against this massive and
cold aggression against our people?  With what logic do you call
Palestinians terrorists when their streets flow with the blood of their
own children?  When they have been stripped naked of possessions, dignity
and hope?

Why?  Because they elected Hamas?  Hamas has held power for less than two
years.  Yet, Palestinians have suffered this kind of slaughter for 61
years.  Whether now in Gaza, in 2002 in Jenin, in 1947 and 1948 in Deir
Yasin, Balad el-Sha, Yehida, Tantura, and the list goes on.  Or 1982 in
Sabra and Shatila.

Palestinians are killed as if insects not because of Hamas or Yasser
Arafat before them.  Not because of Qassasm rockets or hand thrown rocks.
Palestinians burn and bleed because they are the non-Jewish natives of
that land.  There is no other reason.  Just like Jews were killed for
being Jewish.  Palestinians are killed for being the Muslims and
Christians who hold historic, legal and even genetic title to that land.

But unlike Jews of Europe, Palestinians are killed slowly over decades.
Unlike Israel, Nazi Germany did not establish such an effective global
propaganda machine that would demonize its victims and blame them for
their own ghastly fate.  But most importantly, like the fighters of the
Warsaw Ghetto, Palestinians do not march like mice to their death.  In six
decades of enduring unspeakable oppression, their will has not been
broken.  Now is no exception.

Israel, and the United States with its unconditional support, will only
succeed in radicalizing a whole new generation of its victims. Of revving
world hatred and resentment against this unholy duo.

Palestinians will not forget this, as they have not forgotten the past 60
years.  But what will you remember a week or a year or a decade from now,
when a Gazan, who stood before the long rows of corpses and vowed
vengeance, creates your 9-11?  When one of those few million children
without a will to live straps on a belt that rips through your daily
routine?  Will you remember what we did to them?

susan abulhawa is the author of The Scar of David, www.scarofdavid. com

--------12 of 15--------

From: travelinganna <anna.baltzer [at]>
To: annas_peacework_palestine [at]
Subject: [Anna in Palestine] What Most US Media Isn't Telling You... Now
    Take Action!

What Most US Media Isn't Telling You

Four days ago, Israel invaded Gaza on the ground to compliment its aerial
bombardment. The Palestinian death toll has reached 660. The official
Israeli death toll is up to 5, of whom 4 were civilians. Attacks on
civilians, no matter who they are, is criminal. Yet the US government,
public relations officials, and mainstream media - unlike those of almost
every other country in the world - continue to criminalize Palestinian
violence while absolving Israel (the undisputed party in power) of almost
any responsibility of its own. The official position seems clear: Israel
can do as it likes until Hamas stops all violence.

The underlying assumption here is that Palestinians' human rights depend
on the actions of their leaders. This is false. Palestinians do not have
to earn the human rights inalienable to every person on Earth. Human
rights are non-negotiable. Likewise, Israelis do not have to earn their
human rights. Israeli state terror notwithstanding, it would be criminal
to bombard the entire population of Israel (in which, as in Gaza, fighters
live alongside their families in civilian areas) for the crimes of its

But this is exactly what Israel is doing in Gaza with US weapons before a
seemingly impotent international community. Every day the carnage unfolds
on CNN-International (different from CNN-US - the United States is the
only country in the world with domestically customized international news
coverage): a mother and her 4 kids killed instantly; a 7-year-old shot
twice in the chest (I'm not sure how that happens accidentally, but does
that even matter?); more than 40 policemen in training obliterated (even
Israel does not claim the Palestinian police orchestrates rocket attacks);
TV stations and places of worship successfully destroyed; a mortuary out
of room for bodies.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
"sewage water is pouring into the streets in Beit Hanoun, following damage
to the main pipeline between Beit Hanoun and the Beit Lahiya wastewater
treatment plant." Save The Children reports that newborn baby Gazans are
battling hypothermia due to power cuts and freezing winter winds.

Some of the worst news comes from the doctors. Can you imagine a hospital
functioning without electricity? According to the mainstream British
newspaper The Guardian, medics are working around the clock and running
out of anesthesia. There is no more gauze so doctors are using cotton,
which sticks to wounds. Nurses are forced to draw blood with the wrong
sized syringes and without alcohol. The Guardian article was entitled,
"The injured were lying there asking God to let them die." Many have
gotten their last wish, dying as they wait in the emergency rooms.

Medical workers themselves have also been under fire, with at least 4
killed as they tried to reach victims. Ambulances are not safe, nor are
the schools:

When I woke up yesterday a UN school had just been bombed, killing 3 of
the civilians who had come to the school seeking shelter. Watching the
news later in the evening, I learned the same UN school had been bombed
again (twice in one day), killing 40 more. The British director of the
school, having lost his usual calm, was irate and imploring the world to
understand that nowhere in Gaza is safe anymore - there is nowhere left to

Yet reading the Washington Post and watching the nightly news you might
believe that Israel's is in fact the most virtuous army in the world,
going as far as sending text messages to and dropping leaflets in
Palestinian areas explaining that unless civilians leave, they will be
attacked. Reported alone, this might sound reasonable, but quickly becomes
absurd if you know that Gazans have no place to go to! Nowhere inside the
strip of land is safe and there is no way to leave it, since the borders
are sealed.

The bombing and invasion have clearly heightened the threat against
Gazans' lives, but they did not start it. For the 18 months preceding the
invasion, the average Gazan could not reliably go to school, make a
living, contact the outside world, divert their sewage, heat their homes,
drink clean water, or eat. This was due to the enclosure summed up in the
words of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights: "Gaza is a
prison and Israel seems to have thrown away the key." This was the reality
of Israel's "ceasefire."

The closure pushed Gaza's humanitarian crisis to a new low, with poverty
reaching 80%. Any attempt to counter poverty was thwarted. Gaza students
dependent on transportation could not reach their schools, and those
accepted at foreign universities in America, Europe, and the West Bank
were denied permits to leave. Without enough fuel, industrial businesses
were either shut down or running below 20% capacity, resulting in the loss
of tens of thousands of jobs. Contrary to Israeli court order, the Israeli
army allowed just 15% of fuel needed for generators, wells, and
transportation, resulting in garbage piled high in the streets while up to
15,000,000 gallons of raw or partially-treated sewage flowed into the sea
every day. This was the reality of Israel's "ceasefire."

On November 4th and 5th, Israel broke the "ceasefire" by killing at least
6 Palestinians in Gaza, reported on CNN-International but unlikely by
CNN-US. Of course, there was no ceasefire to begin with, since the main
requirement on Israel was to sufficiently unseal Gaza's borders, a
requirement that was consistently ignored. By the end of the "ceasefire,"
262 had Gazans died due to lack of access to proper medical care during
the blockade.

Hamas should be condemned for its attacks on civilians, but it is na´ve to
expect that they would renew a truce that Israel had never adhered to.
Whether or not it would cease cross-border attacks in exchange for Israeli
reciprocity - as Hamas continues to offer - is something we cannot know,
since Israel has never given the offer a chance.


Analysis and sympathy have no value if they do not result in any action.
There are enough action ideas below that every single person on this list
has the power to do at least one, ideally many more.

1. Monitor and contact local media to inform others and counter
misinformation. Write letters to the editor (usually 100-150 words) or
op-eds (usually 600-800 words) for local newspapers. Also contact radio
talk shows and television news departments, especially in response to
biased coverage. You can find all local media at: The US Campaign to End the
Occupation compiled a fact sheet about US direct contributions to the war
on Gaza, which you can use for facts:

2. Organize and join demonstrations in front of Israeli embassies or (if
that's not doable) in front of the offices of elected officials or other
visible place. Inform the media beforehand. Here is a list of the many
demonstrations happening around the country (For example, St Louis, where
I live, usually has one a month, but this month there are demonstrations
every day):

3. Join local activist groups organizing local actions. If there aren't
any, start your own. Now is an excellent time to rally support.

4. Initiate boycotts, divestments and sanctions to nonviolently pressure
Israeli compliance with international law, as was effective in the
struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. Now is an excellent time to
rally support and begin a campaign. More info and resources at

5. Send direct aid to Gaza through one of the following organizations:
    - United Nations Relief and Works Agency: - United
    Palestinian Appeal: - Islamic Relief: -
    Canadian Red Cross: - American Near East Refugee Aid: - Physicians for Human Rights: -
    Other groups:
You can also support solidarity activists on the ground at

6. Contact elected and other political leaders in your country to urge
them to apply pressure to end the attacks. Find your representatives and
their contact info at

Call the Obama/Biden Transition Office at 202-540-3000, press 2 to speak
to staff member. Tell them the U.S. needs a new Middle East policy, which
holds Israel accountable to international law and UN resolutions and human
rights.  Tell them the U.S. should not support Israel with billions of
dollars every year and should not be arming Israel with U.S. made weapons.
Add your own suggestions.  The time is right for President-elect Obama to
hear from the peace community.

7. Sign petitions for Gaza, for example:;id=233

8. Put a Palestinian flag at your window. Wear a Palestinian head scarf
(keffiya). Wear black arm bands (this helps start conversations with

9. Do a group fast for peace one day and hold it in a public place.

10. Inform others in your community with flyers, vigils, and
conversations. At the very least, forward this on.

This list was based on a call from the Palestinian Center for
Rapprochement Between People and Friends of Sabeel.

--------13 of 15--------

Despite the Bloodshed, Israel is Failing
What Kind of Security Will This Barbarism Bring Israel?
January 7, 2009

Israel has killed and wounded almost four thousand men, women and children
so far in its assault on Gaza; it has entombed whole families together in
the ruins of their homes. As I write these words, news is breaking that
Israeli bombs have killed at least 40 civilians huddling in a UN school
which they mistakenly thought would be safer than the homes from which
Israel's relentless barrage - and its deliberately terrorizing "warning"
leaflets and prerecorded phone callshad - already driven them. (I still
have one of the leaflets the Israelis dropped on besieged Beirut in 1982
and the language is exactly the same - "flee, flee for your lives!").
Mosques, schools, houses, apartment buildings, have all been brought down
on the heads of those inside.

All this death and destruction comes supposedly in retaliation for rocket
attacks that had not inflicted a single fatality inside Israel in over a
year. What happened to "an eye for an eye?"

As horrific as the toll of dead and injured already is, the scale of
Israel's bombing, and its targeting of ambulances and medical and rescue
crews - several doctors and paramedics have been killed or wounded so
farmeans - that the true totals are actually unknown. Countless numbers of
victims have bled to death in the streets or in the ruins of their smashed
homes. Calls for help aren't getting through Gaza's phone networks,
battered to pieces along with the rest of the civilian infrastructure -
its water, sewage, electricity systems, all already crumbling as a result
of the years of siege. The victims that are evacuated - as often, these
days, in civilian cars as in the remaining ambulancesmake - it to
hospitals that are overwhelmed; many will die that might have otherwise
been saved.

Any hospital would be overwhelmed under the circumstances: how then for a
hospital that has already been cut off by the three year old Israeli
blockade of Gaza from urgently needed supplies, medicines, drugs,
anesthetics, spare parts, fuel for generators? In fact, the true story of
what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza is to be seen in the besieged
territory's hospitals: the smashed, burned, dusty bodies of children being
carried in on makeshift blankets (there aren't enough stretchers to go
around); the morgue drawers full of bodies; the emergency rooms with badly
hurt, crying people scattered on stretchers, on beds, on the blood-washed
floors, as the doctors run from one to another trying to figure out who
can be saved and who must be attended to first - the boy with his feet
blown off? the old woman with the huge gash in her head? the young man
with his guts hanging out of his stomach? the anguished little girl
thrashing about in pain, in fear, in agony and begging for her mother who
vanished in some monstrous explosion? And outside, on the crowded
sidewalks, the other side of the human suffering that Israel has chosen to
inflict on an entire population: the wailing mothers, fathers and
children; the weeping young men; the panicked people rushing around trying
to find loved ones after each new Israeli bombing.

All this to make Israelis feel secure? What security is this kind of
barbarism ever likely to gain them?

These are the scenes that every Palestinian and every Arab around the
world sees every single day on the uncensored, unedited, unfiltered and
relentlessly, brutally honest coverage broadcast on the Arabic Al-Jazeera
channel. Unlike the US and UK networks, Al-Jazeera has correspondents and
camera crews all over Gaza; they are Arabs, some of them are Palestinians,
and they all live among the people whose suffering they record for the
whole world to see; they can communicate with them in their own language
and in the language of the audience as well. The coverage continues
continuously 24 hours a day.

Ordinary people around the rest of the world are seeing the version of
events that gets filtered through the editing suites, the cutting rooms,
the editorializing of foreign media, and that, in the case of the US,
finally makes it to their living room largely (if not entirely) sanitized,
and packaged to them in two-minute sound bites by correspondents posted
safely outside of Gaza and inside Israel. The coverage broadcast from
Israel is heavily monitored, controlled and censored. The Israeli army
found in 2006 that its panicked soldiers in Lebanon were using cell phones
to call home for help; this time it made sure to inspect all of its
soldiers to make sure that none takes a phone with him into Gaza. The army
imposes a smothering control over the flow of information; nothing that is
reported from or datelined Israel can be read at face value or taken for

If you get your news from an American television network, no matter how
horrible you think what's happening in Gaza is, the reality that you are
not seeing is much, much, much worse. (Perhaps that's why the
English-language Al-Jazeera channel, widely followed in the rest of the
world, is unofficially banned herenot - a single cable or satellite
provider carries it).

And yet even with this imperfect coverage it must be said that people all
over the world, including in the US, are protesting what they are seeing.
Huge, million-person demonstrations have been held, from Melbourne to
Jakarta, from Calcutta to Istanbul, and from Vienna to London, not to
mention the huge popular protests in Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Amman,
across the length and breadth of the West Bank, and in some of the largest
protests ever held in Palestinian communities inside Israel. Across the
US, too, people have been protesting, holding vigils, writing letters to
the editors of the newspapers demanding more balance to the warped
coverage of the events that we see here, especially in papers like the New
York Times. And the internet has been a major source of information for
all those millions who have figured out that they will never learn what
they need to learn from the New York Times or the Washington Post or ABC
or CNN. Sites like Counterpunch, Electronic Intifada, Alternet, Truthdig,
Huffington Post, Salon and many others besides have carried
extraordinarily intelligent and detailed pieces by a range of commentators
whose sense of what is happening far exceeds what is made available by
professional journalists in the mainstream pressincluding - many superb
pieces by Jewish Americans who give the lie, once and for all, to the
absurd notion that their community is solidly behind Israel's violence.

Indeed, it seems clear that the writing now being posted on alternative
media outlets is also starting to outweigh the clumsy efforts still being
churned out by America's army of paid and unpaid cheerleaders for Israel,
who have forsaken what little remained of their own humanity and blinded
themselves to suffering that ought to move any rational, caring, sentient
human being to tears - the Dershowitzes and Foxmans, the Orens and Boots,
the Krauthammers and Peretzes, the Bards and Goldfarbs, the cynical
apparatchiks of CAMERA and AIPAC and the mindless busybodies and shuffling
zombies of Stand With Us, the Israel Project and the Israel on Campus
Coalition - who persist with their stubborn, craven defense of the
indefensible. About these misanthropes there is much to be said, most of
it too unpleasant to print, so I'll shift the burden here to those
memorable closing lines of Wilfred Owen's war poem "Insensibility:"

 But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
 That they should be as stones.
 Wretched are they, and mean
 With paucity that never was simplicity.
 By choice they made themselves immune
 To pity and whatever mourns in man
 Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
 Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
 Whatever shares
 The eternal reciprocity of tears..

As for Israel itself: once again it has revealed its true nature to the
world. It was only after the first reports came in of their own serious
fatalities - soldiers caught in an ambush, though the censored news
reports from Israel claim that it was all friendly fire - that the Israeli
media suddenly started carrying reports wondering whether things have gone
too far. "The Price of Stubbornness over Gaza Exit is Dead Soldiers,"
write Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff in Ha'aretz. "For the first time,
Israeli TV broadcasts raised the question of whether it was worthwhile for
the operation to continue". Until this point, the Israeli media - and most
of the country's liberal intelligentsia, never mind the militant right
wing - had been moralistically defending the bombing, and sometimes
actually cheering it on. Starting the attacks on a Saturday was a "stroke
of brilliance," the Guardian's Seamus Milne quotes the country's biggest
selling paper Yediot Aharonot as saying; "the element of surprise
increased the number of people who were killed". The daily Ma'ariv agreed:
"We left them in shock and awe". The rational and genuinely ethical voices
of Amira Hass and Gideon Levy have never seemed more isolated.

The brute fact of the matter is that, as long as their air force is
killing an entirely defenseless people, the Israeli public and media do
cheer them on. As soon as they start paying any kind of price - no matter
how grotesquely out of proportion to the level of damage their soldiers
are inflicting on unarmed and innocent people - their bloodlust quickly
cools. In Gaza, the Israeli infantry won't take a single step forward
unless the ground in front of them - and everything and everyone in it,
armed, unarmed, whoever and whatever they are - has been safely cleared
away for them by the air or by artillery. "These are 'Georgia rules,'
which are not so far from the methods Russia used in its conflict last
summer," write Harel and Issacharoff in Ha'aretz. "The result is the
killing of dozens of non-combatant Palestinians. The Gaza medical teams
might not have reached all of them yet. When an Israeli force gets into an
entanglement, as in Sajaiyeh last night [where three Israeli soldiers were
killed], massive fire into built-up areas is initiated to cover the
extraction. In other cases, a chain of explosions is initiated from a
distance to set off Hamas booby-traps. It is a method that leaves a swath
of destruction taking in entire streets, and does not distinguish military
targets from the homes of civilians". I'm not sure where the 'Georgia'
reference comes from: the Israelis used the very same tactics in Jenin and
Nablus in 2002, and in southern Lebanon in 2006 and 1982. And it would be
an act of futility to point out - for the millionth time - that the
Israeli method of warfare takes place in sweeping disregard for the
principles of international humanitarian law, not to mention total
contempt for innocent human life. This is not to mention that most of the
casualties pouring into Gaza's morgues and hospitals are the victims of
the sheer indiscriminate unleashing on densely populated civilian areas of
high explosive ordnance from land, sea and air that has been
characteristic of Israel's military style since at least the 1970s.

Israel's disregard for innocent human life is not motivated only by a
desire to forestall the political consequences - especially during an
electoral campaign - of Israeli military casualties. It is also a clear
indicator of the contempt that Israel has for Palestinian life in general.
The cold, hungry, tired, desperate, and terrified men, women and children
that Israel is now sweeping away by the dozen in balls of fire and showers
of shrapnel are the very same people that it had already reduced to what
one UN official months ago warned was "a subhuman existence," the
deliberate product of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for over
three years, beginning in 2005, before the election of Hamas. They are the
same people whose political and human rights Israel has been stifling
since the occupation of 1967 - twenty years before the creation of Hamas.
They are the same people who were ethnically cleansed from their land in
1948 because, as non-Jews, they were inconveniently cluttering up the land
that European Zionists wanted to turn into a Jewish state, no matter what
the land's actual population had to say about it.

Israel's disregard for Palestinian life in Gaza today is, in short, a
direct extension of its disregard for Palestinian life since 1948, and
what is happening in Gaza today is the continuation of what happened six
decades ago. Eighty percent of the people crammed into Gaza's hovels and
shanties are refugees or the descendants of refugees that armed Zionist
gangs, which eventually coalesced into the infant Israeli army, terrorized
from their homes elsewhere in southwestern Palestine in 1948. They have
been herded, penned, and slaughtered by a remorseless power that clearly
regards them as subhuman. If you think I'm stretching the point, I'm not.
Listen to the words of Professor Arnon Sofer, the government consultant
who did so much to help plan the isolation and imprisonment of Gaza, in a
interview with the Jerusalem Post in 2004: "When 2.5 million people live
in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe," Sofer
predicted. "Those people will become even bigger animals than they are
today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure on the
border is going to be awful. It's going to be a terrible war. So, if we
want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day,
every day". Sofer admitted only one worry with all the killing, which
will, he says, be the necessary outcome of a policy that he himself helped
to invent. "The only thing that concerns me," he says, "is how to ensure
that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able
to return home to their families and be normal human beings".

Meticulously and clinically thought through even before the first rocket
from Gaza claimed a life inside Israel, the slaughter in Gaza today has
nothing to do with rockets or with Hamas. As Sofer himself explains, it is
the purest and most distilled expression of Zionist ideology. "Unilateral
separation doesn't guarantee 'peace',.. Sofer says in that same interview;
"it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of

And thattaken - right from the horses ' mouth - is what the slaughter of
innocents in Gaza is fundamentally about: the people being killed today
are the ones for whom there is no room in the Zionist vision of the state.
They are regarded as an excess population. Not even Malthus thought that a
redundant population should just be lined up and shot, or bombed into the
ground. But, clearly, times have changed since 1798.

This inhuman madness will end only with the end of the violent ideology
that spawned itwhen - those who are committed to the project of creating
and maintaining a religiously and ethnically exclusivist state in what has
always been a culturally and religiously heterogeneous land finally relent
and accept the inevitable: that they have failed.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA
and the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.

--------14 of 15--------

Israel's Monopoly on Psychological Suffering
The Trauma Vortex
January 7, 2009

Based on the tallies currently being produced by Israeli towns located in
the haphazard line of Qassam rocket fire, it appears that the bulk of
Israel's civilian casualties in its war on Gaza will once again be shock

This was the case in the July 2006 war on Lebanon, during which the
Israeli Health Ministry reported that 4,262 wounded Israeli civilians were
treated in hospitals; this total was broken down into 33 seriously wounded
patients, 68 moderately wounded, and 1,388 lightly wounded, with the
remaining 2,773 treated for "shock and anxiety." The UN Commission of
Inquiry on Lebanon, meanwhile, cited the Lebanese authorities' claim of
4,409 wounded Lebanese civilians.the only attempt at classification of
casualties being a chart listing 56 different "collective massacres"
conducted by Israeli forces during the war, with identifying labels such
as: "Air raids struck heavily on the funeral procession of the victims of
the previous day['s] air raids."

BBC News reported different figures in its August 2006 civilian casualty
scorecard for the war, according to which there were 32 seriously wounded
Israelis, 44 moderately wounded Israelis, 614 lightly wounded Israelis,
1,985 Israelis treated for shock, and 3,697 wounded Lebanese. Israeli
casualties were thus still overwhelmingly shock related, while the
Lebanese were still:
 a lump sum.
 not affected by acute stress disorders.

The same trend will most likely hold for Gaza - and not only because it is
difficult for hospitals to accommodate people with heightened
norepinephrine levels when they cannot accommodate people with missing

I awoke this past Sunday morning to find that 1 Israeli in Sderot had been
lightly wounded, 4 Israelis had been treated for shock, and 23
Palestinians had been killed in Gaza since midnight. After performing a
Google search of the terms "Palestinians treated for shock" - which mainly
produced articles about Israelis being treated for shock due to
Palestinian behavior - I phoned a Palestinian friend in Lebanon in an
attempt to determine why enemies of Israel did not enjoy the luxury of
psychological conditions. The investigation was conducted in modified
English, the idiomatic form on which Hassan and I relied for all of our

ME: Do Arabs ever go to hospital for problem with head?
HASSAN: Arab he don't have head.

This hypothesis would undoubtedly have been endorsed by ex-Israeli premier
Golda Meir, who might have used it to back up her argument that
Palestinians were not real people. Other possible excuses for the
traditional embargo on Palestinian shock included the following:

The Palestinians were used to having bombs fall on their heads. It was the
Palestinians' own fault that bombs were falling on their heads. Shock had
become the exclusive property of Israel's international sympathy campaign,
as had the words "hail," "shower," and "barrage." The Health section of
Sunday's online edition of the Jerusalem Post offered some insight into
the unique phenomenon of Israeli shock. The main article was entitled
"Escaping the trauma vortex," which - although it sounded more like
instructions for breaking down the Rafah border crossing - turned out to
be the goal of Somatic Experiencing (SE), a self-healing philosophy that
had recently been advertised in Sderot.

The article begins on a Friday morning at the "bomb-proofed Sderot
Resiliency Center," where visiting SE guru Gina Ross of Los Angeles is
presiding in front of a rapt audience of health care professionals and
social workers. According to the author of the article, the meeting has
been auspiciously timed given the fragility currently felt by Israelis in
the vicinity of the Gaza Strip, most of whom are nonetheless described as
"sleeping in on the first day of the weekend." A corresponding estimate of
how many Gazans sleep in on Friday mornings is not provided.

The "upbeat" Ms. Ross describes the purpose of SE as replacing the "trauma
vortex" with a "healing vortex." The trauma vortex is the result of "an
uncompleted biological response to threat, which leaves the system in an
excessively high level of arousal, with thwarted movements of defense
frozen in time"; the healing vortex occurs when victims learn how to "thaw
the freeze and release the sensory motor expressions of trauma-based
emotions." Ross enthusiastically contends that the replacement process is
sometimes possible in only a few sessions, even with years of buildup.

The SE method was developed by Dr. Peter Levine, who is described in the
article as being the author of the book Taming the Tiger; it turns out
that the book is in fact called Waking the Tiger, which is perhaps more
appropriate in the Israeli context given apparent preferences for
unleashing beasts rather than deterring them. In addition to a host of
other titles, Ross is the Middle East senior trainer for Levine's
Foundation for Human Enrichment, as well as a self-proclaimed expert in
overcoming "the insecurity and difficulties of exile" - her family having
fled their home in Syria and later their home in Lebanon. Familiarity with
exile might prove useful in the event that Gaza is one day deemed to be
deserving of human enrichment, or somatic experience in general.

Ms. Ross has determined that Israelis, Palestinians, and Israeli-Arabs all
suffer from collective trauma vortices - especially the second group,
whose vortex "has been spiraling out of control for a while." Thus,
although the Gazans are permitted in this case to suffer psychologically,
they are doomed to fail even at their own suffering, as it is not possible
to implement a collective healing vortex while an army financed by the
global superpower is overhead and underfoot.

The SE method does, however, provide innovative opportunities for such
international notables as:

Barack Obama, who is in danger of developing a trauma vortex due to
repeated reliance on the "flight" option in fight or flight situations -
namely AIPAC addresses and opinions on the war on Gaza. MK Shai Hermesh,
resident of a kibbutz close to the Gazan border, who - Tzipi Livni
explained to a meeting of foreign diplomats in Sderot on 28 December -
"has had to almost live in a shelter for weeks now." Livni declared the
situation "unbearable," although this description most likely did not
apply to the situation of Palestinian MPs held indefinitely in Israeli
administrative detention.

Gina Ross' assertion that "peace can only come from balanced collective
nervous systems" might also prove revelatory for other members of the
international community, such as those under the impression that peace can
only come from preventing Israel's disassembly of Palestine into
noncontiguous enclaves. Instead of fretting over what percentage of
remaining Palestinian territories should be permitted on the Israeli side
of soaring cement walls, Middle East envoy Tony Blair might thus focus on
more concrete issues like building emotional resilience into the roadmap
for peace. Blair has already demonstrated a strong commitment to
resilience, by choking back tears while discussing letters received from
parents whose sons have died in Iraq but who nonetheless retain their
conviction in the rightness of war.

(In keeping with the global distribution of power, Iraqis - like
Gazanshave - been judged unworthy of psychological victimhood, which is
reserved for coalition troops, their families, and people who duct tape
their windows to guard against WMD attack. Incidentally, the fourth item
in the list of results returned by a Google search of the terms "Iraqis
treated for shock" was a Haaretz article from 2007, entitled "Qassam fired
from Gaza hits Sderot; man treated for shock.")

Near the end of the Jerusalem Post article on escaping the trauma vortex,
an Israeli SE practitioner at the Sderot meeting declares her intention to
host an emotional first-aid workshop for citizens of Jerusalem
experiencing secondary - i.e. vicarious - trauma.

Moving on to the second headline in the Health section of, I was
informed that: "Emotional hot lines see sharp rise in callers from the
South," most of whom were experiencing repercussions of the imbalance of
the Gazan collective nervous system. According to the spokeswoman for the
hotline run by Natal - Israel's Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and
War - a number of parents were concerned that their children were not
eating or drinking; such behavior would have been less of a concern in
Gaza, given the lack of food and drink.

Natal's advice to those battling the trauma vortex included:

moderately abstaining from news reports.
finding "light entertainment to ease them through the stress." (The word
"entertainment" was underlined; when I clicked on it I was transported to
a website in Spanish where I was invited to download popular tunes to my
cellular phone.)
encouraging small children to spend time in their bomb shelters even when
there were not air raid sirens, such that the shelters would become
associated with things other than fear of death.

A visit to the Natal website itself revealed that many of the hotline
callers were from northern Israel and were "experiencing flashbacks from
the Second Lebanon War." Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, was also
experiencing flashbacks to this particular war, and repeated that a
ceasefire should never allow a return to the status quo ante, i.e. Gaza.

The Natal website describes the residents of southern Israel as "living in
an abnormal reality" and provides them with coping tools, including a list
of exercises entitled "Muscle Relaxation For Children." In one of the
exercises listed, parents are advised to have their children pretend that:
"A little elephant is coming closer; in a moment it's going to step on
your stomach! Tighten your stomach; make your muscles as tight as you can.
The elephant is gone; now your stomach can relax again."

Alternate therapeutic activities are explored on, which
features a video of a small boy in a black yarmulke intently decorating a
Qassam rocket he has fashioned out of a plastic bottle, paper, and masking
tape. A more complex juxtaposition of innocence and war can of course be
found in the photos of Israeli children decorating missiles en route to
Lebanon in 2006, but the director of the SderotMedia video does cover
additional symbolic ground in the final scene, in which the decorated
Qassam is placed in the middle of the floor with a baby in a purple
sweater seated a short distance away. The baby eyes the Qassam for a few
seconds, then crawls over to it and knocks the rocket over.

Further navigation of the website produced an article to accompany the
video, entitled "Environmental Friendly Kassams." In the article, the
mother of the Qassam decorator explains that "the encounter with threat
through creation" provides a sense of security to the children of Sderot
(or at least to the 70-94% of them that SderotMedia diagnoses with Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder). The author of the piece supplies more relevant
background information, such as that the "Color Red" alert is as familiar
a concept to these children as the word "Dad," and that the kids "don't
really care if the IDF is the one who began with the response" - an
example that the rest of the world might follow.

After viewing another video of Sderotthis - one starring a woman in a
nightgown trembling in her houseI - returned one last time to the Health
section of the Jerusalem Post's website to find an article entitled
"Psychologically Speaking: Feeling sad." This piece explored other
potential reasons aside from rocket hail that Israelis might feel down,
such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), brought on by winter, and
reverse seasonal affective disorder, brought on by summer.

Most Palestinians in Gaza at the moment presumably do not have enough
spare time to be affected by seasonal changes, nor are the melatonin
supplements recommended to combat SAD likely to be available on
humanitarian aid trucks. Regular explosions, however, might offer Gazans
access to some of the other suggested treatments, such as bright light
therapy. The Israeli government, meanwhile, might consider ceasing the
exploitation of its citizens' genuine psychological torment in order to
justify existential battles against its neighbors.

Beln Fernndez is currently completing a book entitled Coffee with
Hezbollah, which chronicles the 2-month hitchhiking journey through
Lebanon that she and Amelia Opali'ska conducted in the aftermath of the
July 2006 war. She can be reached at belengarciabernal [at]

--------15 of 15--------

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