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

Month

December 2009

Freedom March : 100 went

The Gaza Freedom March continues-in Cairo, we hope in Gaza, and around the world. Because of all your emails and the determination of the almost 1,400 people who came to Cairo to be a part of the March, including 300 French nationals who have been camped out in front of their embassy for three nights, we secured a meeting with Madame Mubarak, the president´s wife. Madame Mubarak arranged for 100 marchers to enter Gaza to deliver the humanitarian aid we had brought with us, under the umbrella of her organization The Red Crescent. This was considered a success until we began the difficult task of figuring out which 100 of the 1,400 would go.

To make matters more complicated, the Foreign Minister, who had not wanted ANY of us to be allowed in and was angry he had been overruled by Mrs. Mubarak, decided to fan the flames by saying in a press conference that the 100 seats were for the “good people”; and the rest of us were bad “hooligans” who were being left behind. Some of the country representatives declined their seats, and some delegations decided they would prefer not to send anyone if the whole group was not allowed to go. Those who boarded the buses towards Rafah included journalists who had come to report on the conditions in Gaza, Palestinians who would be reunited with family they had not seen in years, and some members of the team who were committed to delivering the aid that had been collected.

One of the desired results of the march was to focus world attention on the continuing and devastating effects of the blockade on Gaza. The outpouring of support from around the world for the Palestinians in Gaza has been amazing. Twenty-two marchers began a hunger strike in Cairo, including 85-year-old Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor, who has been interviewed by journalists from around the world. This morning´s New York Times piece on the march and the hunger strike was a huge success in getting the story of Gaza to a wider audience, and reflected the passion of those who had traveled so far to be a part of this historic movement.

The hunger strikers ask that sometime during the period marking the Operation Cast Lead invasion anniversary–December 27-January 18–you join them in remembrance by skipping a meal, or fasting for a day or a week. Sign up here.

And please be a part of the international solidarity movement for the Palestinians of Gaza by doing what you can to spread the story, tweet or Facebook the NY Times story and keep up with the ever changing tides of the march on the PINKtank.

You can find up to the minute information on our Twitter page. Follow us on twitter and march with us virtually!

Solidarity actions for the Gaza Freedom March began taking place December 27th to mark the one year assault on Gaza, with more actions scheduled through January 1, 2010. The massive mobilization includes candlelight vigils, concerts, processions, marches, demonstrations, art installations, house parties and movie screenings all over the world. View solidarity actions worldwide and visit our flickr slide show.

Not attending a March or Solidarity Action? Join us in Solidarity Online.

The Gaza Freedom March site is being updated almost hourly, so check it out, share the photos, videos and articles with your friends! http://www.gazafreedommarch.org.

“The ONLY recognizable feature of HOPE is ACTION”– so ACT today and support CODEPINK with a donation and get your Grace Paley t-shirt, designed by Phillip Niemeyer in our store!

So here’s a toast to our power and our passion — we have our work cut out for us in 2010!

Medea Benjamin and the CODEPINK Team
(Dana, Emily, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Janet, Jodie, Kitty, Marina, Nancy, Paris, Rae, Suzanne, and Whitney)

Jonathan Cook

“INTERVIEWS

I gave a talk to a visiting delegation from Belgium this month in
Bethlehem. One of the group has put a video of much of my talk, in
five p arts, on Youtube. It covers a wide range of topics, including
Israel’s development of the homeland security industry, its economic
dependence on US aid, its use of Gaza as a laboratory for
experimentation in warfare, its need to promote a global clash of
civilisations, and the increasing promotion of Jewish religious
fundamentalism. I regularly give talks, including radio and print interviews, some of which may be found by searching the internet. Many focus on pressing issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, here I offer a selection of those interviews that I think have been most revealing about the issues that interest me.

http://www.jkcook.net/Interviews.htm

Film Review: Avatar, A Humanist Call from Mt. Hollywood by Gilad Atzmon

Avatar may well be the biggest anti War film of all time. It stands against everything the West is identified with. It is against greed and capitalism, it is against interventionalism, it is against colonialism and imperialism, it is against technological orientation, it is against America and Britain. It puts Wolfowitz, Blair and Bush on trial without even mentioning their names. It enlightens the true meaning of ethics as a dynamic judgmental process rather than fixed moral guidelines (such as the Ten Commandments or the 1948 Human Right Declaration). It throws a very dark light on our murderous tendencies towards other people, their belief and rituals. But it doesn’t just stop there. In the same breath, very much like German Leben philosophers (1), it praises the power of nature and the attempt to bond in harmony with soil, the forest and the wildlife. It advises us all to integrate with our surrounding reality rather than impose ourselves on it. Very much like German Idealists and early Romanticists, it raises questions to do with essence, existence and the absolute. It celebrates the true meaning of life and livelihood.

It is pretty astonishing and cheering to discover Hollywood paving the way to the victorious return of German philosophical thought.

To view trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyDQoXEBkGw

from the n.y. times

CAIRO — More than 1,000 people from around the world were gathered here on Tuesday for a solidarity march into Gaza despite Egypt’s insistence that the Gaza border crossing that it controls would remain closed to the vast majority of them.

The protest, the Gaza Freedom March, was planned for Thursday and intended to mark a year since Israel’s three-week military assault on the territory. On Tuesday, hundreds of the frustrated activists gathered to press their case on the front steps of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate here, holding “Free Gaza” signs and chanting, “Let us go.” Some declared a hunger strike.

About 100 French citizens staged a sit-in in front of the French Embassy, and some Americans pleaded for help at the United States Consulate.

The Egyptian government agreed to let 100 activists into Gaza on Wednesday, according to one of the organizers of the march.

The crossing, at Rafah, Egypt, has been closed for most purposes since the summer of 2007, when the militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza from the rival Western-backed forces of Fatah. Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza, and the Egyptian government, citing its own security needs, closed the crossing, drawing criticism from within Egypt and across the Arab world.

International criticism of Israel spiked after the Gaza assault, which left as many as 1,400 Palestinians dead, including hundreds of civilians. Thirteen Israelis were killed. While both sides were accused of war crimes, most of the outrage was focused on Israel because of its overwhelming military strength and the enormous differences in the death tolls.

International activists have been challenging Israel’s control of Gaza’s waters, sending in boats to bring in supplies and convey support; Israel has blocked many.

Egypt repeatedly refused to open its border ahead of the planned march, citing what its officials said were “security reasons,” but participants in the march flew to Cairo anyway, hoping the government would relent.

“We have not come to Egypt to create trouble or cause conflict,” organizers of the march wrote in an open letter to Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak. “We have come because we believe that all people — including the Palestinians of Gaza — should have access to the resources they need to live in dignity.”

The letter said the group, which is urging Israel to lift its blockade, raised tens of thousands of dollars for medical aid, school supplies and clothing to take to Gaza.

The Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, expressed frustration at the activists who came to Cairo despite the warning that the border was closed.

“Those who tried to conspire against us, and they are more than a thousand, we will leave them in the street,” he said.

One protester, Hedy Epstein, 85, a Holocaust survivor, arrived in Egypt from the United States on Saturday. She said she started a hunger strike on Monday.

“My message is for the world governments to wake up and treat Israel like they treat any other country and not to be afraid to reprimand and criticize Israel for its violent policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians,” Ms. Epstein said. “I brought a suitcase full of things, pencils, pens, crayons, writing paper to take to children in Gaza — I can’t take that back home.”
A version of this article appeared in print on December 30, 2009, on page A8 of the New York edition.

GAZA FREEDOM MARCHERS REJECT EGYPTIAN OFFER TO LET JUST 100 ENTER GAZA

After three days of vigils and demonstrations in downtown Cairo, Suzanne Mubarak’s offer to allow just 100 of 1,300 delegates to enter Gaza was rejected by the Gaza Freedom March Coordinating Committee as well as many of the larger contingents – including those from France, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Sweden and New York State (U.S.).

“We flatly reject Egypt’s offer of a token gesture. We refuse to whitewash the siege of Gaza. Our group will continue working to get all 1362 marchers into Gaza as one step towards the ultimate goal for the complete end of the siege and the liberation of Palestine” said Ziyaad Lunat a member of the march Coordinating Committee.

The Gaza Freedom March was organized to focus attention on the one-year mark since Israel’s 22-day assault, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, injured more than 5,000. Although the invasion technically ended, the effects on the ground have only worsened in the past 12 months. No re-building materials have been allowed in and more than 80 percent of Gazans are now dependent on handouts for food.
The marchers had planned to enter Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah Crossing on Dec. 27, then to join with an estimated 50,000 Palestinian residents to march to Erez Crossing into Israel to peacefully demand an end to the siege. However, the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced just days before the hundreds of delegates began arriving in Cairo that the march would not be allowed to go forward. It cited ongoing tensions at the border. When marchers demonstrated against the decision, the government cracked down, often using heavily armed riot police to encircle and intimidate the nonviolent marchers. Egypt’s decision to allow 100 people into Gaza shows that the “security” argument is bogus.

Viva Palestina

Viva Palestina rebuts Egyptian ‘bungle’ allegations

The Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit claimed at a press conference on Tuesday (December 29) that his country was willing to assist the Viva Palestina convoy’s entry into Gaza. He cited two letters sent by the Egyptian embassy in London on November 10 and December 10. What he does not say is that the conditions laid down were totally unacceptable, as convoy organiser George Galloway responded in writing at the time.

Specifically, these were that Viva Palestina co-ordinate ‘with the Israeli authorities on the passage of aid’, that land convoys would not be admitted and that the convoy should not arrive until the second week of January 2010.

“Egypt may be at the beck, call and command on Israel, but Viva Palestina is not,” said George Galloway. “We refuse to co-operate with a country which continues to illegally hold Palestinian lands, builds even more settlements in the teeth of world opinion and which, just a year ago, slaughtered 1400 people in the Gaza Strip and devastated the
infrastructure. Israel refuses to let through one brick, pane of glass or nail to help rebuild the carnage its warplanes caused.”

Galloway added that the land convoy to Gaza was symbolic because its arrival was due to coincide with the first anniversary of the war on Gaza, “which the Egyptian authorities have done all they can to thwart”.

Ends

For further comment contact Alice Howard on Tel: 07944 512469 or via email: alice@vivapalestina.org

Below are copies of recent correspondence with the Egyptian embassy in London.

Dear Alice,
Confirming the receiving of the convoy details.
Best regards.
Yasser Shaban

— On Sun, 12/20/09, Alice Howard wrote:

From: Alice Howard
Subject: Fw: Viva Palestina Convoy final details
To: yassershaban67@yahoo.com
Date: Sunday, December 20, 2009, 2:13 AM

Dear Yasser

As promised please find attached complete details on the Viva Palestina Gaza convoy.

You will now find attached the Viva Palestina Vehicle Donation list along with the list of aid that is transported in each vehicle.

I do hope that all is sufficient.

Please do advise me on the next steps.

Regards

Alice

———————
Alice Howard
Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469
Email: alice@vivapalestina.org
Website: http://www.vivapalestina.org/

From: Alice Howard
Sent: Sunday, December 20, 2009 1:55 AM
To: yassershaban67@yahoo.com
Subject: Fw: Viva Palestina Convoy

Dear Yasser

As promised please find attached complete details on the Viva Palestina Gaza convoy.

You will now find attached the Viva Palestina Vehicle Donation list along with the list of aid that is transported in each vehicle.

I do hope that all is sufficient.

Please do advise me on the next steps.

Regards

Alice

———————
Alice Howard
Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469
Email: alice@vivapalestina.org
Website: http://www.vivapalestina.org/

From: Alice Howard
Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2009 2:54 PM
To: yassershaban67@yahoo.com
Subject: Viva Palestina Convoy

Dear Yasser

As promised please find details for the Viva Palestina Convoy to Gaza.

1. Viva Palestina UK registered volunteers – (see attached)

2. Viva Palestina US registered volunteers – (see attached)

3. Viva Palestina Vehicle Donation List – (see attached)

4. Viva Palestina Aid – All volunteers have completed a customs manifest document which will include the below listed items. Each hard copy document can be retrieved at the border.

1. Medicines/Medical Equipment and Medical Specialists Machines
2. Children Toys
3. Clothing
4. Infant Powder Milk
5, Medical First Aid Kits
6. Educational Material and Stationery

5 Our Viva Palestina partners are the IHH http://www.ihh.org.tr (Insan Hak Ve Hurriyetieri Insani Yadim Vakfi). You will find attached IHH Turkey VP
Participants and Medical Aid List.

Hope that all of the above is sufficient. Do please advise me on the next steps.

Regards

Alice

From: Alice Howard
Sent: Thursday, December 24, 2009 1:35 PM
To: yasser shaban
Subject: Fw: Viva Palestina

Dear Yasser

I would like to inform you that the Viva Palestina convoy is currently approaching Aqaba and are hoping to board the ferry to Egypt this evening.

We are delighted to have received notification that Egypt have granted permission for the convoy to arrive in Gaza on the 27th of December as planned. Regarding the route taken to Nuweiba, this has been made as this is the only route available from Aqaba by ferry crossing.

I need to inform you that there will be a further two more vehicles that will join the convoy in Cairo. The two vehicles are brand new Toyota Ambulances (Hiace) Model 09, Engine 2500 cc, Diesel Manual.

Both vehicles are empty. Please can you kindly add these to your list.

I will inform Mr. Galloway of our conversation just now.

Thank you for your support.

Regards

Alice

———————
Alice Howard
Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469
Email: alice@vivapalestina.org
Website: http://www.vivapalestina.org/

From: Egyptian Embassy London
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:56 PM
To: alice@vivapalestina.org
Subject: Viva Palestina Convoy

From: The Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
To: The Organizers of The Viva Palestina
Convoy which was launched from London 6th December 2009

To the Attention of: Mrs. Alice Howard
Viva Palestina Coordinator

The Embassy would like to inform that the Egyptian authorities have granted permission to the convoy to enter Gaza under the following conditions:

1- Fulfilling the regulations applied to the aid convoys directed to Gaza-which were previously informed by the Egyptian Embassy 25 days before launching the convoy from London 6th December 2009- by the organizers of the third Viva Palestina convoy, and in particular receiving the aid materials through Al-Arish maritime Port.

2- The organizers of the third Viva Palestina convoy should assume the responsibility of coordination with the Israeli authorities on the passage of all the vehicles to the Gaza Strip.

Best Regards

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

End

BDS

Another legacy of ‘Operation Cast Lead’: 500+ US-based academics, authors & artists endorse the academic and cultural boycott of Israel
by Adam Horowitz on December 29, 2009 · 23 comments

A year since the assault on Gaza, Israel continues to evade accountability. The failure of the international community to use the Goldstone Report to address the war crimes committed during the fighting has been a boon to the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. This movement seeks to hold Israel accountable through non-violent means. From a United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel press release:

December 27, 2009 marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of “Operation Cast Lead,” Israel’s 22-day assault on the captive population of Gaza, which killed 1400 people, one third of them children, and injured more than 5300. During this war on an impoverished, mostly refugee population, Israel targeted civilians, using internationally-proscribed white phosphorous bombs, deprived them of power, water and other essentials, and sought to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian civil society, including hospitals, administrative buildings and UN facilities. It targeted with peculiar consistency educational institutions of all kinds: the Islamic University of Gaza, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, at least ten UNRWA schools, one of which was sheltering internally displaced Palestinian civilians with nowhere to flee, and tens of other schools and educational facilities.

While world leaders have tragically failed to come to Gaza’s help, civilians everywhere are rallying to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people, with anniversary vigils taking place this week in New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and many more cities and towns in the US and world-wide.

The United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, bringing together educators of conscience who were unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel’s indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions. Today, over 500 US-based academics, authors, artists, musicians, poets, and other arts professionals have endorsed our call. Our academic endorsers include postcolonial critics and transnational feminists Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Indigenous scholars J. Kēhaulani Kauanui and Andrea Smith, philosopher Judith Butler , Black studies scholars Cedric Robinson, Fred Moten, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, and intellectual historian Joseph Massad.

“Cultural workers” who have endorsed our call include well known author Barbara Ehrenreich, Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah, poets Adrienne Rich and Lisa Suhair Majjaj, ISM co-founder and documentary film-maker Adam Shapiro, Jordan Flaherty of Left Turn Magazine, and Adrienne Maree Brown, of the Ruckus Society.

Among the 34 organizations supporting our mission are and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Green Party, Code Pink, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, .Artists Against Apartheid, and Teachers Against the Occupation.

The Advisory Board of the United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) has grown to include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hamid Dabashi, Lawrence Davidson, Bill Fletcher Jr., Glen Ford, Mark Gonzales, Marilyn Hacker, Edward Herman, Annemarie Jacir, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Robin Kelley, Ilan Pappe, James Petras, Vijay Prashad, Andrenne Rich, Michel Shehadeh, and Lisa Taraki.

Israeli academics, listed among the organization’s International Endorsers, have also joined us, including Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University; Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Kobi Snitz, Technion; and Ilan Pappe now at Exeter.

The USACBI Mission Statement calls for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions in support of an appeal by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Individual Israelis are not targeted by the boycott.

Specifically, supporters are asked to:

(1) Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine;

(2) Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;

(3) Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;

(4) Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;

(5) Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.

This boycott, modeled upon the global BDS movement that put an end to South African apartheid, is to continue until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Freedom March : U.S. Citizens attacked

|
Irish
à gazafriends

BREAKING: U.S. Citizens attacked by Egyptian Riot Police in Cairo in front of
U.S. Embassy
Call the U.S. Embassy to demand the release of those detained/that permission
is granted for the March to cross into Gaza: Telephone: (202) 2797 3300.

by Cindy Sheehan

One of my friends, Joshua Smith, just texted me from Cairo and said that some
U.S. citizens of the Gaza Freedom March went to the U.S. Embassy today there to
try and implore the staff there to intercede on behalf of the March to help get
them into Gaza–they were not so warmly welcomed.

Recently, almost 1400 people from around the globe met in Cairo to march into
Gaza to join Gazans in solidarity and to help expose their plight after years
of blockade and exactly a year after the violent attack in what Israel called
“Operation Cast Lead” that killed hundreds of innocent Gazan civilians. So far
the Marchers have been denied access (Egypt closed the Rafah crossing) and
their gatherings have become increasingly and more violently suppressed.

In my understanding of world affairs, embassies are stationed in various
countries so citizens who are traveling can seek help in times of trouble, but
this doesn’t appear to be so right at this moment in Cairo.

Josh reports, and I also just got off the phone with my good friend and
Veterans for Peace board member, Mike Hearington, that about 50 U.S. citizens
were very roughly seized and thrown (in at least one case literally) into a
detention cell at the U.S. embassy. We are talking about U.S. citizens here
being manhandled by Egyptian riot police. According to Josh and Mike (who both
just narrowly escaped), it appears that people with cameras are especially
being targeted. Another good friend of mine, and good friend of peace, Fr.
Louis Vitale is one of those being detained. Fr. Louis is well into his
seventies!

Josh posted this on his Facebook wall about his near-detention experience:

We just got away. They were trying to drag me in but we kept moving… And most
were dog piling another guy. Then they drug him into the parking lot barricaded
riot police zone, lifted him up and threw him over the police and down into the
zone. And attacking those taking pictures or attemptingto.

When I was talking to Mike he said that an Egyptian told him that all Egyptians
are in solidarity with the Marchers and with the people of Gaza/Palestine, of
course, but the “Big Boss” (the U.S.) is calling the shots.

Egypt is third in line for U.S. foreign aid (behind Iraq and Israel) and its
dictator for life, Hosni Mubarek, is a willing puppet for his masters: the
US/Israeli cabal. Israel could not pursue its apartheid policies without the
U.S. and it’s equally important for this cabal to have a sold-out ally as its
neighbor.

Today also happens to be the anniversary of the 1890 U.S. massacre of Native
Americans (Lakota Sioux) at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. It is sad enough that
we are also living on stolen land, but also that the Israeli government had
good teachers in disposing of its indigenous population!

What are the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, if not stolen land from the
indigenous population and what is Gaza if not a mega-reservation? As at Wounded
Knee 119 years ago, the Israeli siege and attack on Gaza is nothing more than
big bullies shooting fish in a barrel.

Call the U.S. Embassy to demand the release of those detained/that permission
is granted for the March to cross into Gaza: Telephone: (20-2) 2797 3300.

Please re-post this alert and spread the word.

Weren’t things supposed to “change” in the Age of Obama?

news from freedom march December 29

This just came in from Karin P. She just talked to Mary Hughes-Thompson in Cairo this morning Also, I talked to the American Embassy in Cairo, and the man there said he thought everyone was released, so that confirms Mary’s story.

I just talked with Mary who was in a taxi on her way to a press interview for Hedy at the Nile Hilton (I’ve been there, it’s swank). Mary’s fine. She wasn’t among the group of Americans detained outside our cowardly embassy in Cairo who have now all been released.

I’ve seen articles in the NY Times (from Reuters) the BBC, and two on Huffington Post. I’ll start forwarding them for your records.

Our vigil last night in LA was great with more than 200 people. There were many more of us than Zionist counterdemonstrators across the street. The best part was the many young people who came from a variety of universities and communities in S. California.

Fox 11 news was there and even did a stand up with me but I don’t know if any footage made it on air as my TV is not connected to broadcast or cable. Despite many calls to the LA Times not a single line from them. However, the Babylon blog does have an article on the Viva Convoy which is now on its way back to Syria.

Just in case any of you want to keep the American Embassy number, here it is again.(20-2) 2797 3300. Don’t forget to dial 00 before the 20.

Greta

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