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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

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September 2008

Free Gaza : End of an Odyssey

by Jeff Halper

Now, a few days after my release from jail in the wake of my trip to Gaza, I’m posting a few notes to sum things up.

First, the mission of the Free Gaza Movement to break the Israeli siege proved a success beyond all expectations. Our reaching Gaza and leaving has created a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world. It has done so because it has forced the Israeli government to make a clear policy declaration: that it is not occupying Gaza and therefore will not prevent the free movement of Palestinians in and out (at least by sea). (Israel’s security concerns can easily be accommodated by instituting a technical system of checks similar to those of other ports.)

Any attempt on the part of Israel to backtrack on this – by preventing ships in the future from entering or leaving Gaza with goods and passengers, including Palestinians – may be immediately interpreted as an assertion of control, and therefore of Occupation, opening Israel to accountability for war crimes before international law, something Israel tries to avoid at all costs.

Gone is the obfuscation that has allowed Israel to maintain its control of the Occupied Territories without assuming any responsibility: from now on, Israel is either an Occupying Power accountable for its actions and policies, or Palestinians have every right to enjoy their human right of travelling freely in and out of their country.

Israel can no longer have it both ways. Not only did our two little boats force the Israel military and government to give way, then, they also changed fundamentally the status of Israel’s control of Gaza.

READ ON

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Dr. Al-Arian Free at Last!

After 5 Grueling Years, a Moment of Repose

Fairfax, VA – September 2, 2008 – After five-and-a-half years of harsh and gratutious detention, former Florida professor and civil rights activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian was released on bond, reuniting with his family for the first time since his ordeal began in 2003.

Earlier today (Tuesday), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed an order for the release of Dr. Al-Arian from their custody. Judge Brinkema originally granted Dr. Al-Arian bail on July 10 and reaffirmed that decision last month, but the ICE continued to detain him until today on the pretext that they were completing deportation procedures . Read more

ISRAELI NAVAL VESSELS FIRING ON UNARMED FISHING BOATS AND HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, please contact:
(at sea, off Gaza coast) Vittorio Arrigoni, +972 598 826 516
(at sea, off Gaza coast) Donna Wallach, +972598 836 420
(Cyprus) Greta Berlin, +357 99 081 767 / iristulip@gmail.com
(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo, +357 97 793 595

(OFF THE COAST OF GAZA) 1 September 2008 – Israeli Naval vessels are
currently firing on unamrmed Palestinian fishing boats and international
human rights workers off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The fishing boats
are several miles off the coast of Gaza City, in Palestinian territorial
waters. As of 11am (4am EST) no one had been injured, but live ammunition
is still being fired in the direction of the civilian boats.

The unarmed boats went to sea at dawn this morning, in an attempt to fish
in their own water. Six international human rights workers from five
different countries accompanied the fishermen in the hopes that their
presence would deter the Israeli military from firing on the fishermen. In
the past the Israeli military has shot and killed unarmed Palestinian
fishermen for trying to fish in their own waters.

PLEASE INFORM THE MEDIA IMMEDIATELY, CALL YOUR EMBASSIES IN TEL AVIV, AND
CALL THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT. TELL THEM TO STOP FIRING UPON UNARMED
FISHERMEN AND UNARMED HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORS.

CALL:

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel. +972 2 530 3111

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv
+972 3 725 1222

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv
+972 2 625 5755

Out of Afghanistan !

From CAPJO

Dear friends,

Immediately following this message you will find a call to demonstrate this Saturday 6 September against the sending of troops to Afghanistan. So many citizens have been appalled by the propagandistic lies that have been hammered away at us day after day concerning the “role” of NATO troops, supposedly to “defend our civilization, freedom, women”, all the while that NATO has been dumping bombs upon the civilian population and contributing to the destruction of a
country already decimated by numerous foreign invasions. The so-called “war on terrorism” is in fact contributing to nourishing and developing terror around the world.
When the French Prime Minister, François Fillon, declares (today on a French radio) : “Yes, this conflict in Afghanistan is going to last, because its reasons are very deep, they deal with the opposition between the muslim world and a large portion of the rest of the planet”, we do have to worry.

Beyond the 67% of French people who oppose the sending of French troops to Afghanistan (last poll), let us remind ourselves that it is a crime to organize and pay youngsters to go and kill people who have not done anything to us. As Naomi Klein highlights in her excellent book, The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism, all of these wars serve only to make money for the arms merchants and other companies which form part of the military-industrial complex. These “businesses” profit from the chaos that they have installed, for such chaos allows them to loot and pillage energy resources. These “businesses” are destroying countries so that they make money “reconstructing” them.

On 22 September the National Assembly is poised to declare the role of France in this war. It is urgent that our voice be heard. Those who defend the Palestinians against their terrible fate cannot accept occupations of Irak or Afghanistan, and even less so when such colonial pursuits are carried forth by an army paid to do this dirty work with our tax money.

CAPJPO-EuroPalestine is currently being sued by the military and is the object of various attacks for having seized the words of the officers and redefined them. They say “well-organized ambushes” by Afghan combatants and we say that without such actions by the Afghans, we would have never been aware of the deaths of hundreds of Afghan civilians.

It is distressing enough to repeatedly hear the Afghans presented as snipers and ambushers who go into hiding, when in fact they are doing what occupied peoples have done throughout history, defending themselves against the foreign invader that calls itself “civilized”. In this case the “civilized” armies courageously drop bombs from a safe altitude of 17,000 feet, bombs which more often than not fall upon civilians. But it is the ultimate hubris of our leaders to invert the roles; they are the ones who send youngsters to the war front, and say that “we must be ready for more losses”, as Kouchner declared. Yet, “we” are presented as if we were hideous and without a heart.

So we will say it and repeat it, if French soldiers do not want to die, they should leave Afghanistan immediately. They have no reason for being there.

Following next Saturday’s demonstration (which leaves from Place du Chatelet at 2:30pm), we invite you to come to a debate at Résistance Bookstore, where we will feature Eric Margolis, American war chronicler and Viktor Dedaj, independent journalist.

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