Actions and more for Gaza

 In Israel, Middle East, Palestine

The carnage in Gaza continues. Collaborative Arab regimes still talk while people of conscience take action. I noted that the vice president of the European Union Luisa Morgantini just entered Gaza (would Abbas, Mubarak or Abdullah please just go there?). I noted that Venezuela kicked out the Israeli ambassador (other Israeli ambassadors are everywhere including Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritania). The people in Turkey kicked out Israeli sports teams and unions, churches and others everywhere are boycotting American and Israeli products, engaging in divestment and sanction campaigns (while demonstrations in Ramallah were broken with tear gas and clubs by Palestinian police on the order of Mahmoud Abbas). And while millions demonstrate around the world, some breaking into Israeli consulates and embassies, the US congress bends over backward to please the Israel lobby (which has already ruined the US economy and made it into a paper tiger). Surprisingly I have never been more optimistic than now because I think there is more awareness now about the real nature of this rogue state and its intentions. Do not misunderstand me. In wars everyone loses. This is an obscenely unbalanced conflict (not war but a slaughter) with Israel using the most advanced military technologies and all weapons shy of nuclear weapons (white phosphorous chemical warfare was used already this week) with literally unprecedented massacres in very short periods of time. Yet, despite this imbalance, the Israeli war machine is still losing (even beyond the normal losses incurred in a war of choice (as Jimmy Carter clearly articulated in an op-ed in the Washington Post). Despite billions spent on armaments and billions spent on propaganda, Israel is not achieving its main objectives and will have soon to retreat due to other political deadline (January 20 and February 10). It has been two weeks and those resisting are still resisting with high determination. When Israel lost in Lebanon in 2006, we were told this was because Hezballah had direct and open line of supplies (presumably through “resistance-friendly” Syria). But now in an impoverished starved strip of desert land that is surrounded by Israel (and US client puppet dictatorial regime in Egypt), the example must stand in contrast to, say the six day war of 1967 (three Arab armies fleeing in front of advancing Israeli troops literally taking only the time of infantry to cross the territory they coveted). I actually think all people of conscious who know the outcome of this war already (as every sober analyst can tell us) should work hard to end it now because the sooner it ends the more of its tattered image Israel can save and the more possibility would remain for a real negotiated settlement that would bring peace with justice. Below are relevant analytical articles and other links including action items you can do.

The Gaza Ghetto Uprising by Mazin Qumsiyeh

A foreigner in Gaza reports with pictures. No room for the dead, no room for the living

Red Cross: Israel breaking Int’l law, letting children starve in Gaza

Israeli speaks to the BBC and asks Obama to change (instead of being a “slave” of the lobby)


[In Arabic] Fatah: engage or end (of its movement)

Khalid Meshal explains Hamas’s position

Israel Rejected Hamas Ceasefire Offer in December

At the (?desperate) urging of Israeli leaders like Olmert, those who support Israeli apartheid will gather to show their solidarity and support for the continued massacre of the people of Gaza. Here is a list of where supporters of continued violence will gather

Action: Sign Petition: 388,000 signatures so far..

Action: How many of the 25 ways to do something for Gaza did you do?

Action: Call and email about the trip of Free Gaza movement (see below)


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Showing 8 comments
  • elisabeth

    as long as Israel gets away breaking every possible law, murdering and butchering, stealing and lying with the support of our government…we are the same immoral bastards…show me your friends and I tell you who you are!!!

  • Irving Smolens

    Instead of referring to Jewish Nazism why doin’t you appeal to Hammas to stop the firing of rocketa and mortar shells into Israel. The leaders of Hammas are nothing but murderous thugs who have taught their children to hate and it is OK for them to klll a Jew even though he is only walking on the street.

    Those thugs care nothing about the civilians in Gaza. If they stopped attacking innocents in Israel and closed the tunnels that are used to smuggle weapons into Gaza and agreed to the use of UN monitors the Israeli incursion and the killing would stop immediately.

    You are living in a fantasy world if you believe that Hamas would agree to a viable peace.

  • Dorit Grunberger

    I am deeply disappointed that Mazin Qumsiyeh peppered his article with anti-semitic references. How in the hell did the “Israeli lobby” destroy the US economy?????????
    Stick to the facts on the ground Mazin. Such references to nonsense make it harder for me as a reader, and an Israeli peace advocate to believe anything you report.
    Build bridges Mazin. There are plenty of Israelis and Jews worldwide that will walk hand-in-hand with you and with the Palestinian people.
    Hoping for peace

  • lynn lloyd

    Israel has broken agreements regarding how U.S. supplied weaponry should be used. They were the first to break the cease-fire. They illegally occupy Palestinian territory. They have sustained an illegal blockade against Palestine. Hamas was democratically elected by the Palestinian people and has conceded that Israel has the right to exist and was willing to negotiate peace. Israel is illegally massacring a captive, civilian, population. These actions and policies are a deterrent rather than a way toward peace in the region.

  • Stephanie

    It is interesting that there was no worldwide protests every time a suicide bomber blew themselves up, along with innocent bystanders/civilians at bus stops, on buses, in front of niteclubs or cafes. No one spoke out as thousands of rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli communities. The author neglected to mention that Hamas shoots weapons from mosques and schools and hides amidst civilians so that Israel can appear to be the agressor. Hamas has ignored ceasefire agreements and will not be happy until Israel is gone off of the face of the earth. DId you know that Israel also supplies medical care to the wounded? Israel lets Gaza know when and where they will be striking, when have you ever heard Hamas giving a warning to anyone? Hamas is funded by other countries. When Arafat ‘led’ the Palestinians he received large quantities of money for his people, which they never sawy – instead it went into his private bank accounts overseas. Fascinating that we no longer hear of Mrs Arafat and her lavish lifestyle in Paris.
    In 1948 Arabs rejected UN General Asembly Resolution 181 – which would’ve partitioned the British Mandate area into an Atab State and a Jewish State and the war began. Many Palestinian Arabs who lived in areas where the fighting took place left their homes, either at the request of Arab leaders, worry about ther fighting, or not feeling secure to stay under potential Jewish rule. No Arab countries offered them regue at the time, or to integrate them into those countries and communities. Those that remained in those countries have no political, economic or social rights. T the same time as the establishment of the State of Israel many Jews were forced to flee those countries leaving property (for which they were never compensated). There was at least an equal number of Jewish refugees that left Arab countries as Palestinian refugees who fled Israel. Those refugees that stayed in Israel were absorbed as citizens with full rights within Israel.
    The author’s article is very one-sided as are all of his sources… To quote the late Golda Meir, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us’ and in 1969 she said, ‘When peace come we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arans for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.’

  • Warren

    I find it interesting that no one objects when it is only Jews who are being killed by Arab rockets. In 1948, David Ben Gurion pleaded with Arab residents to stay in the new state of Israel. The Arab brothers of the refugees, after urging them to flee Israel, refused to help them, or integrate them into their countries. For many years, the only place where Palestinians were granted full citizenship rights and the vote was Israel. The Gazans voted Hamas into power, and support them. Hamas shoots rockets into Isreal, breaking ceasefires repeatedly, including the one which led to the current incursion. They still insist on the complete destruction of the Israeli state. If Canada or Mexico were shooting rockets into the U.S., would we be the aggressor when we responded? This is not Iraq! Any state would be remiss if it failed to protect its citizens from foreign violence – this is one of the most basic duties of government. I felt sorry for the Gazans until they voted in Hamas. Since this is what they apparently wished for and voted for, they should be happy that they are now getting it. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

  • lynn lloyd

    To Warren and others in support of Israel’s attack on the Palestinians

    From Democracy Now! Interview with Oxford scholar and leading expert on Arab-Israeli conflict.
    January 14, 2009

    Leading Israeli Scholar Avi Shlaim: Israel Committing “State Terror” in Gaza Attack, Preventing Peace
    The assault on Gaza is entering its nineteenth day, with no end in sight. Israel continues its intense bombardment of the territory as Israeli troops edge closer to the heart of Gaza City. Nearly 1,000 Palestinians have been killed, more than 4,400 injured, many of them women and children. Thirteen Israelis have died over the same period, ten of them soldiers. We speak with Oxford professor Avi Shlaim. He served in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on the Israeli-Arab conflict. [includes rush transcript]

    Rush Transcript
    This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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    “How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe” by Avi Shlaim

    AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli assault on Gaza is entering its nineteenth day, with no end in sight. Israeli warplanes are continuing their bombardment, launching over sixty air strikes overnight. Meanwhile, Israeli troops have edged closer to the heart of the densely populated Gaza City and are engaged in street fighting with militants.

    Since Israel’s offensive began on December 27th, nearly 1,000 Palestinians have been killed. More than 4,400 have been injured, and an estimated 90,000 have fled their homes. Thirteen Israelis have died over the same period, ten of them soldiers, including four by so-called “friendly” fire.

    As the war continues, humanitarian concerns are mounting. The chief UN aid official for Gaza, John Ging, has appealed to the international community to protect Gaza’s civilians, calling it a “test of our humanity”.

    Meanwhile, a UN watch group has accused Israel of showing a “manifest disrespect” for the protection of children in Gaza. According to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, more than 40 percent of those killed in Gaza are women and children.

    On Tuesday, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited Gaza and said what he saw was shocking. ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger said, “It is unacceptable to see so many wounded people. Their lives must be spared and the security of those who care for them guaranteed.”

    Despite a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution last week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the military operation will continue.

    Our next guest is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on the Arab-Israel conflict. Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s. He is now a professor of international relations at Oxford University. In an article in The Guardian newspaper of London, he says he has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. But he says its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions. Professor Avi Shlaim is the author of a number of books, most notably The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. His latest book is Lion of Jordan: King Hussein’s Life in War and Peace. Avi Shlaim joins us today from Oxford University in Britain.

    We welcome you to Democracy Now!

    AVI SHLAIM: Thank you. I’m happy to be on your program in these very sad times.

    AMY GOODMAN: As you look at what’s happening in Gaza from your vantage point, well, many miles away in Britain, can you talk about the kind of trajectory your evaluation has taken, where you started in your thoughts about Israel and where you are now?

    AVI SHLAIM: As you mentioned, I did national service in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s. And in those days, Israel was a small state surrounded by enemies, and the nation was united in face of the surrounding Arab states. We all felt total commitment to the state of Israel and to the defense of the state of Israel. The Israeli army is called the Israel Defense Forces, and it was true to its name.

    But 1967, the war of June 1967, was a major turning point in the history of Israel and the history of the region. In the course of the war, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan and Sinai from Egypt. After the war, Israel started building civilian territories in the occupied territories in violation of international law. So Israel became a colonial power and an imperial power.

    And I, for my part, have never questioned the legitimacy of the Zionist movement. I saw it as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. Nor did I ever question the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I reject, what I reject totally, absolutely and uncompromisingly, is the Zionist colonial project beyond the 1967 borders. So we have to distinguish very clearly between Israel proper, within its pre-1967 borders, and Greater Israel, which began to emerge in the aftermath of the June ‘67 war and has completely derailed the Zionist project.

    AMY GOODMAN: And then, specifically talk about Gaza, how it has developed and where it is today, right now under assault by the Israeli military.

    AVI SHLAIM: In a long-term historical perspective, I would begin with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. I wrote a book, which you mentioned in your introduction, called The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. It is a history of the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948. It’s a very long book, but I can summarize it for you in one sentence, that throughout its sixty years, Israel has been remarkably reluctant to engage in meaningful negotiations with its Arab opponents to resolve the dispute between them and only too ready to resort to military force in order to impose its will upon them. And the current vicious Israeli onslaught on the people of Gaza is the climax of this longstanding Israeli policy of shunning diplomacy and relying on brute military force.

    AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to Professor Avi Shlaim. He is professor of international relations at Oxford University, served in the Israeli military. His latest book is called Lion of Jordan. He is one of the world’s leading scholars on the Arab-Israel conflict. Stay with us.


    AMY GOODMAN: Our guest right now is Oxford University Professor Avi Shlaim. He teaches international relations at Oxford University. He’s speaking to us from Oxford right now, leading authority in the world on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    We’ve had a number of debates here on Democracy Now!, Professor Shlaim, over the past weeks about what’s happening in Gaza and those who support the Israeli military continually say that in 2005, three years ago, Israel pulled out of Gaza entirely. You have a different picture of what happened under Ariel Sharon in August of 2005. Explain how you see the withdrawal of Israeli military at that time.

    AVI SHLAIM: President Bush described Ariel Sharon as a man of peace. I’ve done a great deal of archival research on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and I can honestly tell you that I have never come across a single scintilla of evidence to support the view of Ariel Sharon as a man of peace. He was a man of war, a champion of violent solutions, a man who rejected totally any Palestinian right to self-determination. He was a proponent of Greater Israel, and it is in this context that I see his decision to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza in August of 2005.

    The withdrawal was officially called the unilateral Israeli disengagement from Gaza. I would like to underline the word “unilateral.” Ariel Sharon was the unilateralist par excellence. The reason he decided to withdraw from Gaza was not out of any concern for the welfare of the people of Gaza or any sympathy for the Palestinians or their national aspirations, but because of the pressure exerted by Hamas, by the Islamic resistance, to the Israeli occupation of Gaza. In the end, Israel couldn’t sustain the political, diplomatic and psychological costs of maintaining its occupation in Gaza.

    And let me add in parentheses that Gaza was a classic example of exploitation, of colonial exploitation in the postcolonial era. Gaza is a tiny strip of land with about one-and-a-half million Arabs, most of them—half of them refugees. It’s the most crowded piece of land on God’s earth. There were 8,000 Israeli settlers in Gaza, yet the 8,000 settlers controlled 25 percent of the territory, 40 percent of the arable land, and the largest share of the desperately scarce water resources.

    Ariel Sharon decided to withdraw from Gaza unilaterally, not as a contribution, as he claimed, to a two-state solution. The withdrawal from Gaza took place in the context of unilateral Israeli action in what was seen as Israeli national interest. There were no negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on an overall settlement. The withdrawal from Gaza was not a prelude to further withdrawals from the other occupied territories, but a prelude to further expansion, further consolidation of Israel’s control over the West Bank. In the year after the withdrawal from Gaza, 12,000 new settlers went to live on the West Bank. So I see the withdrawal from Gaza in the summer of 2005 as part of a unilateral Israeli attempt to redraw the borders of Greater Israel and to shun any negotiations and compromise with the Palestinian Authority.

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Avi Shlaim, Israel says the reason it has attacked Gaza is because of the rocket fire, the rockets that Hamas is firing into southern Israel.

    AVI SHLAIM: This is Israeli propaganda, and it is a pack of lies. The important thing to remember is that there was a ceasefire brokered by Egypt in July of last year, and that ceasefire succeeded. So, if Israel wanted to protect its citizens—and it had every right to protect its citizens—the way to go about it was not by launching this vicious military offensive, but by observing the ceasefire.

    Now, let me give you some figures, which I think are the most crucial figures in understanding this conflict. Before the ceasefire came into effect in July of 2008, the monthly number of rockets fired—Kassam rockets, homemade Kassam rockets, fired from the Gaza Strip on Israeli settlements and towns in southern Israel was 179. In the first four months of the ceasefire, the number dropped dramatically to three rockets a month, almost zero. I would like to repeat these figures for the benefit of your listeners. Pre-ceasefire, 179 rockets were fired on Israel; post-ceasefire, three rockets a month. This is point number one, and it’s crucial.

    And my figures are beyond dispute, because they come from the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. But after initiating this war, this particular table, neat table, which showed the success of the ceasefire, was withdrawn and replaced with another table of statistics, which is much more obscure and confusing. Israel—the Foreign Ministry withdrew these figures, because it didn’t suit the new story.

    The new story said that Hamas broke the ceasefire. This is a lie. Hamas observed the ceasefire as best as it could and enforced it very effectively. The ceasefire was a stunning success for the first four months. It was broken not by Hamas, but by the IDF. It was broken by the IDF on the 4th of November, when it launched a raid into Gaza and killed six Hamas men.

    And there is one other point that I would like to make about the ceasefire. Ever since the election of Hamas in January—I’m sorry, ever since Hamas captured power in Gaza in the summer of 2007, Israel had imposed a blockade of the Strip. Israel stopped food, fuel and medical supplies from reaching the Gaza Strip. One of the terms of the ceasefire was that Israel would lift the blockade of Gaza, yet Israel failed to lift the blockade, and that is one issue that is also overlooked or ignored by official Israeli spokesmen. So Israel was doubly guilty of sabotaging the ceasefire, A, by launching a military attack, and B, by maintaining its very cruel siege of the people of Gaza.

    AMY GOODMAN: Israel calls Hamas “terrorist.” What is your definition of “terror”?

    AVI SHLAIM: My definition of “terror” is the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. And by this definition, Hamas is a terrorist organization. But by the same token, Israel is practicing state terror, because it is using violence on a massive scale against Palestinian civilians for political purposes. I don’t hold a brief for Hamas. Hamas is not a paragon of virtue. Its leaders are not angels. They harm civilians indiscriminately. Killing civilians is wrong, period. That applies to Hamas, and it applies equally to the state of Israel.

    But there are two points I would like to make about Hamas, and that is—the first point is that it was elected in a fair and free election in January 2006. It was an impeccable election, monitored by a number of international observers, including President Jimmy Carter. So it is not just a terrorist organization. It is a democratically elected government of the Palestinian people and the representative of the Palestinian people in Gaza, as well as the West Bank.

    And the second point that I would like to make is that since coming to power, Gaza has moderated its political program. Its charter is extreme. Its charter denies the legitimacy of a Jewish state. The charter calls for an Islamic state over the whole of historic Palestine. The charter has not been revived, but since coming to power, the leadership of Hamas has been much more pragmatic and stated that it is willing to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the state of Israel for twenty, thirty, forty, maybe even fifty years.

    Thirdly, Hamas joined with Fatah, the rival group, the mainstream group, on the West Bank in a national unity government in the summer of 2007. That national unity government lasted only three months. Israel, with American support, helped to sabotage and to bring down that national unity government. Israel refused to deal with a Palestinian government which included Hamas within it. And shamefully, both the United States and the European Union joined in Israel in this refusal to recognize a Hamas-dominated government, and Israel withdrew tax revenues, and European Union withdrew foreign aid, in a shameful attempt to bring down a democratically elected government.

    So, I do not defend Hamas, but I think that it hasn’t received a fair hearing from the international community, and Israel has done everything to sabotage it all along.

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Shlaim, you say it’s done everything to sabotage it, except at the beginning, when you say it supported Hamas to weaken Fatah, which it now supports.

    AVI SHLAIM: Indeed. Israel has always played the game of divide and rule. This is a very good tactic in times of war, to divide your enemies and pick them off one by one. No one can complain about that. But divide and rule isn’t a good tactic in times of peace. If your aim is to achieve peace with the Arabs, then you should want unity among the Palestinians and unity in the Arab world. But Israel continued to play this game of divide and rule.

    Hamas emerged in the course of the First Intifada in the late 1980s. It is the Islamic resistance movement. The mainstream movement, Fatah, was led by Yasser Arafat. And Israel gave tacit encouragement and support to the Islamic resistance in the hope of weakening the secular nationalists led by Yasser Arafat. It was a dangerous game to play, because the end result of this game was that Hamas emerged as the strongest Palestinian political party.

    And Israel helped Hamas inadvertently in another way, because Fatah signed the Oslo Accord with Israel in 1993. It expected the Oslo Accord to lead to a two-state solution. And yet, Israel, after the election of Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996, reneged on the Israeli side of the deal. So, the Oslo Accord, the Oslo peace process wasn’t doomed to failure from the start. It failed because Israel, under the leadership of the Likud, reneged on its side of the deal. So that left the Palestinians with nothing but misery and poverty and frustration and ever-growing Israeli settlements on the land. And it was this context that led to the success of Hamas at the last elections. So Israel has a lot to explain in the rise to power of the Hamas movement.

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Avi Shlaim, we only have a minute, but I want to ask you where you see the solution at this point. Barack Obama will be president on Tuesday in just a few days. Hillary Clinton will be Secretary of State.

    AVI SHLAIM: The solution—this is a political conflict, and there is no military conflict to—there is no military solution to this conflict. The only solution lies in negotiations between Israel and Hamas about all the issues involved. President-elect Obama is a very impressive man and a very intelligent man and a very fair-minded man. He hasn’t demonstrated any courage in the course of this crisis. He hasn’t taken any position. He hasn’t called for an immediate ceasefire. So the first step is an immediate ceasefire, and the next step would be negotiations between all the sides about restoring the ceasefire and then moving on to stage two, which is a political settlement to this tragic hundred-year-old conflict.

    AMY GOODMAN: And Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, who said in her confirmation hearing yesterday she wouldn’t negotiate with Hamas?

    AVI SHLAIM: Yes, but there are other signs from the Obama campaign that they would be willing to consider low-level, indirect contacts with Hamas. And one has to be grateful for small mercies, so small, minor, low-level contacts with Hamas could lead to a proper dialog in due course. So I remain optimistic that sanity and rationality would take over in American foreign policy after the dreadful last eight years.

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Avi Shlaim, thank you very much for being with us. Professor Avi Shlaim, professor of international relations at Oxford University, served in the Israeli military—among his books, Lion of Jordan: King Hussein’s Life in War and Peace—known as one of the leading authorities in the world on the Israel-Palestine conflict and Arab-Israel conflict. Among his other books, The Iron Wall.

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  • HD

    hi, i agree with some comments in these blogs.

    It is difficult to think who is right and who is wrong when you have innocent people stuck in this turmoil.

    rockets and tanks are not the answer. what do you do when peace talks breakdown.

    you cannot talk to extremists but then you do not have the right to throw and invade territories either ..

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