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

Month

July 2009

Breaking the blockade with Norman Finkelstein

BEIRUT: A coalition of activists belonging to various Palestinian solidarity organizations are planning an international march in Gaza aimed at ending the blockade of the territory. The event will aim to bring thousands of demonstrators from around the world to march alongside Gazans as they breach the blockade imposed upon the population since the election of Hamas in 2006.

“This march draws inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi,” said a draft statement of purposes and principles written by the “Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza,” obtained by The Daily Star. “Those of us residing in the United States also draw inspiration from the civil rights movement,” it added.

The statement also outlines plans for the march, which will take place on January 1, 2010. “We will march the Long Mile across Erez checkpoint alongside the people of Gaza in a nonviolent demonstration that breaches the illegal blockade,” it said, adding that “We conceive this march as the first step in a protracted nonviolent campaign … If we bring thousands to Gaza and millions more around the world watch the march on the internet, we can end the siege without a drop of blood being shed.”

Professor Norman Finkelstein, a political analyst and author of several books on the Israel-Palestine conflict, is one of the organizers of the march. “We want to send over several thousand people from around the world to march alongside several hundred thousand Gazans,” he told The Daily Star.

Finkelstein hopes that large numbers of international activists and world leaders will attend the march, and as a result, prohibit a violent response from Israeli authorities. “If the likes of Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky, Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela are at the head of the march; if behind them are students holding high signs of the schools from which they hail – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge; if behind them are the ill and the lame, the young and the innocent of Gaza; if behind them are hundreds of thousands of others, unarmed and unafraid, wanting only to enforce the law; if around the world hundreds of thousands are watching the internet to see what happens – Israel can’t shoot,” he said.

“The first formal organizational meeting of the coalition is set for July 13,” said Finkelstein. “We hope then to create an umbrella steering committee. Right now the working group consists of individuals who belong to organizations that have been active on the Israel-Palestine conflict such as CodePink.”

Members of the coalition are now contacting Palestinian solidarity groups around the world in preparation for the march.

source

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Viva Palestina US Aid Convoy Enters Gaza

by mail

By Press TV

July 15, 2009 “Press TV” — The Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy enters the Gaza Strip, breaking the deadly Israeli blockade imposed on 1.5 million Palestinians for a second time.

The American aid convoy carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of supplies for the people of Gaza crossed the Rafah border on Wednesday upon receiving permission from Cairo after a 10-day delay.

The 200 activists are allowed to stay in the coastal territory only for 24 hours, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Viva Palestina activists, all Americans, including Charles Barron, a New York City Councilman, say that they have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing for about 10 days despite earlier arrangements.

The humanitarian aid convoy consisting of 50 vehicles is the second organized by British Member of Parliament and Press TV presenter George Galloway.
July 14, 2009, 11 pm, Cairo

The Viva Palestina US caravan has received a permit to allow the group passage through the Rafah gate and into Gaza after spending 10 days in Cairo trying to overcome a series of bureaucratic delays.

The American convoy is mobilizing to carry busloads of supplies to the people of Gaza on Wednesday, July 15, and expects no further delays to their humanitarian mission because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had already confirmed that all 200 delegates have satisfied all technical requirements required for travel.

Weeks ago, the Viva Palestina US convoy received assurances from Egyptian diplomats that they would expedite the delivery of a convoy of trucks, medical and relief supplies and American human rights volunteers into Gaza, but restrictions were then imposed on the initial Viva Palestina plan.

“We are now on our way to complete our humanitarian mission, more determined than ever and stronger in heart than when we entered Egypt,” says George Galloway, British Member of Parliament. “We now look forward to seeing in a matter of hours the faces of the besieged people of Gaza.”

This is a victory for the people of Gaza. We were determined not to be denied in bringing humanitarian aid to the children of Gaza. The silence of the world is deafening as the people of Gaza suffer, but the two hundred Americans and over one million dollars worth of aide that is going through confirms our commitment to a free Palestine. Long live the people of Palestine.

Spirit of humanity :on board before being hijacked

Cynthia McKinney

Cynthia McKinney is a former US Representative who served from 1993-2003 and from 2005-2008 . She was the 2008 Green Party presidential nominee and has been an active member of the Free Gaza Movement. In 2004, The Backbone Campaign awarded her the fifth annual Backbone Award “because she was willing to challenge the Bush administration and called for an investigation into 9/11 when few others dared to air their criticism and questions.” Here, Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr. talks to McKinney about her experience with the situation in Gaza and her views on today’s political landscape.

Last year in the midst of the Israeli onslaught against the people of Gaza, you attempted to break the Israeli siege by entering by boat. What happened?

We were rammed by the Israelis. There I got a chance to see the complicity of the media. We had CNN on board and the CNN reporter was literally arguing in the midst of a tragedy; he was arguing with headquarters because they didn’t believe what he was telling them. They would have rather run the story as the Israelis told them. I have seen how the media self-censor, twist, contort themselves to report misleading stories and then they report outright lies.

Watch the video here

About the health insurance industry and Sicko : BILL MOYERS JOURNAL

Meet Wendell Potter. Bill Moyers interviews former health insurance industry executive Wendell Potter, who left the field after almost 20 years to become a health reform advocate. Check out Potters personal story here and tune in to Bill Moyers Journal, Friday, July 10, 2009 at 9PM on PBS (check local listings http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/abo… ) for his experiences inside the health insurance industry, their work fighting a public option, and the insurance companies close ties to Washington. The entire interview will be available after broadcast at www.pbs.org/moyers .

“Security” as Land Theft: The Case of Jayyous (a must read)

Israeli soldiers check the permits of farmers seeking to work their land in Jayyous (Photo W. Parry).
Israeli soldiers check the permits of farmers seeking to work their land in Jayyous (Photo W. Parry).

IT WAS A joke of exasperation that I heard from a number of Palestinian farmers months ago: “Next we’ll need permits from the Israelis to sleep with our wives,” they would say after they had summarized the bureaucratic hoops they have to jump through to go about their normal lives. Having witnessed the catalogue of Kafkaesque routines and requirements that they patiently undergo to, for example, access their farmland to earn an honest living, it didn’t sound so outlandish a prediction.

What should be outlandish—and outrageous—is Israel’s blatant duplicity concerning the separation wall it has erected within much of the Palestinian West Bank. Israel speciously calls it a “security barrier.” Anyone who examines Israel’s policies and methods of ethnic cleansing of Palestine, however, will quickly realize that “security” is an over-exploited ruse used to legitimize its colonial policies and to shield itself as a nation from moral responsibility for its actions. The annexation, apartheid or separation wall, or barrier, or fence—whatever phraseology one wishes to….

read on

The muslem Marwa al-Sherbini killed in German court drama with 18 stabs – july 4th

Immigration jail at Ramle

Monday 6th July, Heathrow, London Adie Mormech, one of the six British Free Gaza boat passengers and crew deported today from an Israeli jail, says he’s raring to return.

The Free Gaza boat Spirit of Humanity was forcibly boarded by the Israeli navy last Tuesday while trying to sail to Gaza through international and Gazan waters. The boat remains at the Israeli port of Ashdod. “Another boat which tried to reach Gaza a few months ago is still there, so we don’t have much hope of getting ours back” says Mormech, “but the lawyers are working hard on it and we will be fundraising for new ones.”

Of the experience of being boarded by Israeli soldiers, Mormech remained upbeat about his memories. “The soldiers were trying to look intimidating,” he said, “but the boat was rocking so much that they kept sliding all over the place and falling over each other… the Special Forces weren’t looking so special!”

Of his time in the Israeli immigration jail at Ramle, though, he emphasised the appalling conditions for people – mainly from Africa and South East Asia – being held there for years at a time. “It was like dipping your toe in an enormous pool of lost people,” said Mormech. He described the jail, where Free Gaza prisoners were helped by fellow inmates with mobile phones and in return gave English lessons and took testimonies, as a ‘hellhole.’ Many of the inmates, he said, have no money for lawyers, and described one individual from Cote d’Ivoire who had been incarcerated for two years with no hope of legal representation or release.

And, said Mormech, the inconsistencies and irregularities of the Israeli system which seemed like a “game of cat and mouse” for him as an internationa,l are “of course, a brutal reality governing the lives of thousands of Palestinians.”

“It’s not about me, it’s about Gaza entirely,” he stressed.

Sarah Irving is a freelance writer specialising in social and environmental issues and the Middle East

SPIRIT OF HUMANITY

Many of you have been asking us what has happened to the kidnapped passengers and our boat, The SPIRIT OF HUMANITY. Here then is our current update.

All 21 passengers have now left. Huwaida and Lubna were freed right away, because they hold Israeli citizenship.

Many passengers did not get all of their belongings back, many computers were stolen, some that were returned had their hard drives completely erased. Many of the pieces of camera equipment were not given back as well, and, of course, none of the tapes of the boarding, roughing up or incarceration of the 21 people who have been returned.

However, all passengers are already in their country or origin or are returning tonight. The London 6 had a press conference last night, the Bahraini 5 had a press conference in Bahrain over the weekend, and the Irish 2 are being feted tonight with a massive rally at Dublin airport. There will be a big reception and press conference there.

The two men from Al Jazeera have both been returned to Jordan through the Allenby bridge.

That leaves the three Americans… Cynthia McKinney, Kathy Sheetz and Adam Shapiro. We hear little from the American media about these three brave passengers, and it will be up to the Americans to express their outrage over their treatment. If they had been kidnapped by the military from Irah or Venezuela, their stories would have been all over the media. Because they were kidnapped by a ‘friendly’ nation, few in the U.S. have opened their mouths.

As far as Israel is concerned, we will demand that our boat be returned, that our equipment and tapes be returned, and they cease and desist their interference with our human rights trips to Gaza. Because we are going back. Israel can ram our boat, threaten us with bodily harm, shoot at us, board and confiscate the boat, shuttle us off to prison, and we will still return.

The outrage in many countries over what happened is muted by the fact that 11,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, many without benefit of trial, many languishing for years without being able to see their families.

And this fact is something we must all remember. We came from countries around the world. We attempted to break Israel’s draconian siege of 1.5 million Palestinians. Even when arrested, the Israelis treated us with kid gloves, afraid of the consequences from governments, activists and human rights organizations. Who will stand up for the Palestinians and do the same thing?

Please go and watch, if you have not already, our video of our incarceration and the incarceration of Palestinian men, woman and children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ri8jWj_KbY

With grateful thanks from all of us to all of you.

The Free Gaza Team
www.freegaza.org
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

McKinney released from Israeli Prison, returning to United States

McKinney released from Israeli Prison, returning to United States
Print
Heart

Rhonda Cook and Larry Hartstein
The Atlantic Journal-Constitution
Cynthia McKinney’s mom said she’s learned that her daughter is on the way home.

Leola McKinney said a friend who contacted the U.S. Embassy in Israel reported that the former congresswoman was released from Israeli custody and taken to Ben Gurion International Airport.

“We finally got word that she was released,” Leola McKinney said late Sunday afternoon. “We don’t know what time she is supposed to fly out. All we know is that they took her to the airport.

“I would be more relieved when I know she’s on the flight,” Leola McKinney added. “But I am relieved that she’s away from there.”

McKinney had been in custody since Tuesday, when she and 20 others were swept up by the Israeli Navy while allegedly trying to sail through a navy blockade. The group says it was attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

Full article

See also McKinney speaks from jail

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