Jul 202014
 

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By Existence is Resistance

Palestinian City of Haifa
July 18, 2014

I have been to many protests in my life, gassed, shot at with rubber bullets, sprayed with skunk water, attacked by counter protesters but never in my 33 years have I ever witnessed firsthand the violent rampage that Israeli police unleashed on demonstrators in Haifa yesterday.

During the ongoing slaughter in Gaza, inflicted upon the Palestinian people by the terrorist state of Israel, Palestinians (not “Arab Israelis” – I will explain this later) living in occupied ’48 territories have been protesting non-stop to show their solidarity for their fellow Palestinians being brutally massacred in large numbers just a few hours away. The despair, pain and helplessness felt by all is extremely visible.

Yesterday I joined a demo in my hometown city of Haifa. Family members were with me among a long stream of familiar faces. People brought their children, young sisters and brothers and even elderly to join in voicing our disgust at the ongoing brutal attacks on our people in the worlds largest open air prison, Gaza.

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As we drove to the gathering point I could see hundreds of Israeli police positioned in different areas and side roads. There were two massive sanitation looking trucks which spray “Skunk” water (It is a mix of chemicals that has the most awful odor that can last weeks on ones body and almost impossible to remove from clothes).

As we began marching down the mountain on the main street we could see up ahead a barrier of police, fingers on their triggers. We continued down past them and made our way to a T junction at the top of a street they call “Ben Gurion Street” which, I would like to add, has been there from before “Ben Gurion” was even born and the true name of it is “German Avenue” built by the Germans in 1868.

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Just as I stood atop the roundabout to take pictures I saw the police rushing the demonstrators back up the street towards me. I looked left and right and saw the police closing in on us. Then in what seemed seconds the police were galloping towards us with their huge horses trampling people and swinging their bats as demonstrators scrambled to get away. Their violent tactic was to split us into smaller groups and barricade us in with police and military allowing no-one to exit.

Chants and songs continued with our fellow comrades barricaded in two other areas close by. I remember looking in the Israelis faces thinking “so young and stupid”, “so young and racist”….They looked scared. The fear was dripping off their faces and every time the young Palestinian men gathered to discuss our next moves, the police would grip their guns and bats with such unease. It was quite ironic really, having all the weapons in the world and still being a wimp.

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About 45 minutes later they finally decided to allow us to leave but with them leading us across the street and north, away from our comrades still barricaded in. All of a sudden, all hell broke loose. It was a planned premeditated attack. They had us squashed up on the sidewalk and they came at us full force with bats, plastic shields and horses trampling us.

A young Palestinian brother was getting punched repeatedly in the face by three police and I attempted to film. As I filmed they pushed us in further and behind me was a metal fence. I remember the faces of the girls next to me and watching the footage back, the screams coming from us being crushed are almost unbearable to hear. I literally thought in that moment “wow, this is what it feels like to be crushed to death”…..then our Palestinian brothers formed a barrier around us and one of them was thrown over the fence dropping a few meters down. People jumped over to help him. I looked over at another Palestinian girl who was being beaten like I have never seen before by a group of Israeli police. It was gut wrenching. I cannot explain the feeling. Although this demo was without a permit, it is important to also note that no-one demonstrating provoked the violence unleashed by the Israelis yesterday whatsoever.

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The scenes of brutality I witnessed yesterday may make some cry and of course it was scary but in all honesty, I felt proud, proud to be Palestinian. Proud to see such beautiful solidarity from my Palestinian brothers and sisters as I did. Palestinian men protected us as much to their ability as they could with their bodies making barriers around the women and took beatings most people I know wouldn’t be able to handle.

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In many places around the world if someone had a gun to your head and said “walk”, you would walk…..Palestinians refuse. Even with the most heavy weaponry in the world, these fascist racist violent occupying scum do not scare our people and that my friends is exactly what scares them. They think beating and arresting people will scare us but it’s actually the opposite, they are only adding fuel to our fire.

Please keep Gaza in your prayers and keep spreading the truth.

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Jul 202014
 

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By Maya Lazzaro

It seemed like a usual Saturday with crowds of people gathering together and filling the sidewalks of 42nd street. However this time it was different, instead of the mindless consumerism Times Square is known for, these crowds were joining together for a particular reason. We all came together demanding justice, justice for the women, children and for everybody living in the world’s biggest open air prison: Gaza.

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As I approached the rally, the first thing I noticed was the huge Palestinian flag, which was held up and supported by a sign that read, “Free Palestine. From the River to the Sea”.  A fellow protestor, friend, and activist noted to me how she viewed this as symbolic, “it is beautiful, like our protest signs are literally helping support Palestine. We’re supporting the freedom of the Palestinian people.”

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We stood in the middle of the crowd, sheltered by the Palestinian flag over our heads and immediately my eyes browsed through the posters.  Many were messages that have been demanded year after year, rally after rally. These signs communicated similar messages, the shared struggle between one colonized country to another, the devastation and genocide that our hard earned incomes pay for, and of course memorials for the martyrs who have been murdered by Israel in these past weeks.

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What we were asking for was simple: for basic human rights and for the Palestinian people to have the freedom to live peacefully in their own land. One fellow activist noted the familiar faces, “it’s crazy, I have seen these faces for so many years now, we have been fighting for the same struggle for so long”.  More than ever we are seeing solidarity amongst so many.  In forms that we haven’t seen before such as social media, but the struggle for justice, freedom and peace in Palestine has existed since 1948. We will not stop until justice is granted, we can’t pause because Palestinians can’t pause when their houses are being demolished or when they are put through more and more checkpoints on their own land.

Though the mainstream media portrays the occupation as a two-sided war, it is far from it. When Israel is given more than three billion US dollars a year and uses advanced jets, arms and navel vessels to bomb mainly civilians while Palestine has no air force, no army and no heavy weaponry, it is not a war but a massacre.

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All photos courtesy of Maya Lazzaro.

Jul 202014
 

20140720-085811-32291628.jpg Funeral procession for Gaza. Hearing the names and honoring the martyrs. Picture courtesy of Samer Abulaela

By Alex Antioco

​Upon my arrival at Bryant Park I started to walk quickly and with purpose, as I didn’t want to miss a moment of the funeral procession and came to help fellow activist and friends hand out posters. As I stepped into the park I quickly started to scour through the crowd, it was particularly crowded this morning. I walked around for a bit with another activist looking for any sign of a gathering, but nothing. Just everyday New Yorkers relaxing, drinking their coffee and people watching. We made our way to the front of the park, and after feeling like we were maybe the first to show up we finally saw a sign; a sea of Kuffiyehs.

​The crowd was vast and gave the feeling of coming home to a huge family reunion made up of people of different races and cultures all coming together for one purpose; Gaza, Palestine.

The mood was somber being that we all came together to mourn the loss of hundreds of Palestinian lives lost due to Israel’s current bombardment, but anything but bleak. At the center of the crowd laid a large sign that read “ In Mourning for all those Massacred in Gaza”, a Palestinian flag, a gathering of Kuffiyehs, and perhaps the most chilling part of the display, four small bodies wrapped in white cloth. The four bodies were representative of the four young boys killed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City beach recently.

Members of the media showed up as well to interview activists and get their perspective on the purpose of the procession as well as the current conflict. The everyday New Yorker at Bryant Park was now paying attention.

As everyone started to settle, the organizers of the funeral procession started to speak to the crowd and remind everyone why we were gathered together. The crowd started to repeat the every word of the organizer speaking, reminiscent of mic check from the occupy movement. With voices amplified, many people passing by the park stopped to listen and stare at the many signs and posters reading Stop Killing Palestinians, Gaza, Todos Somos Palestina (We are all Palestinian) and How many more children have to die before we remove our blindfolds.

After many names of those who passed away in Gaza were read aloud, the procession started. We were advised to not say anything back to Zionist who would antagonize us because it was a funeral procession. As the crowd started to make its way from Bryant Park to the Israeli Consulate you could feel everyone’s eyes on us. We were silent yet our presence so loud. You could see the different emotions in the faces of people passing by.

The people who stood with us would stare solemnly and nod their heads in accordance, but as predicted the Zionist showed up. One yelled “ Go Israel!” from his car but it made no impact, another man said, “ Stand with Israel, Stand with the United States” then proceeded to laugh at us and stick his middle finger up at us.

Their words fell on deaf ears as we resiliently marched on in silence. What mattered the most was the everyday New Yorker who was now stopping, staring, listening and getting educated because this too is their problem. Every year our taxes fund military aid to Israel, in turn hundreds of Palestinians are massacred.

10498399_10152427987539130_3389443006674610499_o10560490_10152427971214130_6541716607759990507_o 10499388_10152427985874130_1048835483540997784_o 10506838_10152427985444130_9082652758225328874_o 10481542_10152427966119130_3790508684574427718_o 10514192_10152427966849130_4437126220230387512_o10560407_10152427969709130_1897711829851507021_o10550033_10152427968634130_353810900839632794_oPictures courtesy of Kazembe Balagun

 

Jul 192014
 

Rania Masri at Raleigh (NC) Protest

By Rania Masri

You have all heard the story of the boys playing soccer on the beach – the Bakr cousins, Mohammed, 11, Ahed, 11, Zakaria, 10, and Ismail, 9. They were targeted by the Israeli military – targeted. One Israeli missile. The boys ran. Second Israeli missile. Four boys killed.

You have heard this story – because this crime occurred in front of international journalists. This crime got the international coverage.

Other crimes committed against Palestinians have not gotten the coverage.

  • Yesterday was a bloody Friday in Gaza. 61 Palestinians were killed.
  • In the morning, 5-month-old baby Faris Juma al-Mahmoum was killed and his mother and 18 others were injured by “heavy and indiscriminate” Israeli shelling in the border area east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
  • Salmiya Ghiyad, aged 70, and 22-year-old Amr al-Mahmoum were also killed in the indiscriminate shelling of the area.
  • Imad and Qassim Alwan, both children, were killed as a result of artillery shelling in eastern Gaza City
  • Rizk Ahmad al-Hayk, aged 2, was killed in air strikes in Shawwa Square in Gaza City, while Sarah Muhammad Bustan, 13, was killed in the al-Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza City,
  • In the afternoon, 3 siblings were killed. Their names: Ahmad Ismail Abu Musallam, aged 14, Walaa Ismail Abu Musallam, aged 13, and Muhammad Ismail Abu Musallam, aged 15. They were feeding pigeons on the roof.
  • In the evening, 8 members of the Abu Jrad family, including 4 children, were killed when a missile struck their home in Beit Hanoun. Their names: Haniyah Abd al-Rahman Abu Jrad, Samih Naim Abu Jrad, Ahlam Musa Abu Jrad, and Musa Abd al-Rahman Abu Jrad, – a 6 month-old.

And that was just one day.In that same day, Israeli terrorist forces continued their “relentless shelling” of the Al-Wafa Hospital. Hospital.

And the massive destruction continues: 1,780 housing units have been destroyed or severely damaged in Israeli bombing, according to OCHA. Stop and think about it. 1780 homes. Destroyed. A majority-refugee population forced out of their homes — again.

And still we are told that Israel needs to defend itself.

Those who claim outrage over Mohammad Abu Khdeir’s murder — a 16 year-old, kidnapped and burned to death, need to be outraged over the air strikes killing hundreds and injuring thousands in Gaza. They are both crimes. Committed by the same population. Supported and funded by the same government. Doctors without Borders has said that their job is like “patching up torture victims in an open-air prison.”

To understand the horrors imposed on Palestinians, we need to understand the siege. Earlier today, the Ministry of Health in Gaza wrote: “160 medicines/disposals are at zero stock in Gaza hospitals now, including some very basic and vital needs such as IV fluids!”

Even before this latest onslaught, UNRWA stated that 800,000 Palestinians are in need of food aid.

Now, UNICEF states that one million Palestinians are without a water supply.

This siege on Gaza is a genocide, just like the sanctions on Iraq were a genocide.

Let us remember: The 1948 Genocide Convention clearly states that one instance of genocide is “the deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a people in whole or in part.” The decline and disablement of Gaza’s economy and society have been deliberate, the result of state policy — consciously planned, implemented and enforced.

The siege has been imposed on Gaza since 2005, intensified in 2006. Why?

  • To create a maximum-security prison camp. concentration camp.
  • To kill Palestinians daily — a few at a time — rather than commit large-scale ethnic cleansing. Incremental genocide preferable.
  • To coral the Palestinians — 80% of them refugees — into an open-air prison.
  • Why? Because Palestinians are a ‘demographic threat.” 80% of the Palestinians in Gaza are refugees. Refugees. A demographic threat. Think about that. The racism inherent in such a statement.

And still the media – the US government – and others blame the victims for their own killing. Still they all speak of Israel’s right to defend itself.

The Israeli military crimes against Gaza are not new. Israel ferociously attacked Gaza in three horrific assaults: 2006, 2009 and 2012 and now again in 2014. An 8-yr in Gaza has experienced 4 wars!

And still the media speaks of Israel’s right to defend themselves. What about Palestinians? Are we only allowed to die, and to die quietly?

We are told that Israel has the right to defend itself, Israel has the right to live without fear Palestinians — the killed — are responsible for their own killing – according to the US media and the US government. If Obama is so concerned about civilians — why not build an Iron Dome over Gaza? Rather the US Senate approved giving Israel $621 million, on top of 3 billion it receives yearly in order to bomb more hospitals and kids playing on roofs and beaches.

What about Palestinians? Don’t Palestinians have the right to defend themselves? Don’t Palestinians have the right to live without fear? To live with dignity? To live with freedom and human rights?

YES.

An occupied population has the right to defend itself.

UN general assembly, Nov 29, 1974: 3. “Reaffirms the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.”

I need to repeat this. Palestinians have been dehumanized so long by the press and the government, so they find it easy to blame the victim for his own death. Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. There is no parity, no equivalence between the occupier and the occupied.

Does Israel have the right to claim self-defense? No. An occupier – Israel – does not have the right to self defense. As Noura Erakat explains, “A state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is “foreign” and poses an exogenous national security threat. In doing precisely that, Israel is asserting rights that may be consistent with colonial domination but simply do not exist under international law.” (http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/8799/no-israel-does-not-have-the-right-to-self- defense-)

I need to repeat this: The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. Palestinians have the right to resist. Israel does not have the legal right to claim “self-defense” over occupied lands.

As Seamus Milne writes in The Guardian recently: “The Palestinians of Gaza are an occupied people, like those in the West Bank, who have the right to resist, by force if they choose But Israel does not have a right of self-defense over territories it illegally occupies – it has an obligation to withdraw. That occupation, underpinned by the US and its allies, is now entering its 48th year. Most of the 1.8 million Palestinians enduring continuous bombardment in Gaza are themselves refugees or their descendants, who were driven out or fled from cities such as Jaffa 66 years ago when Israel was established.”

Israel claims that it is responding to Hamas rockets. First, that is not true. Second, we need to recognize: the occupation is the Provocation. The Siege is the Provocation. The Denial of Human Rights is the Provocation.

As Osama Mohammad wrote, ”It is not the war on Gaza that is intolerable: Gaza confirms the intolerability of the present condition of the world” (@OsamaSh87) It is an ugly world… Yes. An ugly world in which the victim is the culprit, and the perpetrators are rewarded and supported. It is also a world — where hope lives and resists.

We need to remember three things.

  • Support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Organize locally and nationally. Pay attention to the stores that sell Israeli products — including Whole Foods, Trader Joe, and Harris Teeter. Organize.
  • Hold Israel accountable. Support Palestinian struggle for equity, freedom. End the occupation. Support the right of return. End apartheid.
  • And all the while remember. While we may feel broken, broken by the constant mourning over our dead — our killed children, women, and men — when we may feel overwhelmed by despair, we do not have the privilege to despair. We do not have the privilege to despair, to be pessimistic. So long as Palestinians are resisting, living, loving in Gaza, West Bank, Jerusalem, in Haifa, Jaffa, throughout Palestine; So long as Palestinians are resisting, living, loving throughout the refugee camps, — and living and loving IS resistance — So long as resistance lives – and it lives – we will continue the struggle for liberation, for freedom, for equity. We will be the Resistance.

They want to teach us hate. We shall teach them life. We shall teach them resistance. We shall teach hope, love, and resistance.

Talk given at Raleigh (NC) Protest by Rania Masri on Saturday July 19, 2014

Rania Masri at Raleigh (NC) Protest for Palestine

Rania Masri, Ph.D., is a writer, professor, and human rights activist. Her research and activism have centered on environmental justice, civil rights, and anti-war (Iraq) and anti-occupation (Palestine) and anti-apartheid (Israel). Her publications have included studies on environmental sustainability, food security, and human rights. She served as an expert in the Court of Conscience on the Israeli 2006 War on Lebanon during which she presented expert testimony on the Environmental Impact of the Israeli War on Lebanon.

E-mail: rania.z.masri@gmail.com

Twitter: @rania_masri

Blog: https://greenresistance.wordpress.com

All Photos by Ajamu Dillahunt

Jul 182014
 

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Eric Garner, a 43 year old resident of Staten Island and father of six was killed by the NYPD on Thursday July 17 for allegedly selling cigarettes.

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According to the Daily News which obtained the video footage of the police officers tackling Mr. Garner, he was an asthmatic. One of the officers can be seen putting him in a chokehold which is against NYPD protocols.

Witnesses on the scene say he had just broken up a fight between three individuals and was doing nothing wrong before being approached by the police.

In the video below you can see him try to reason with the police, he had his hands in the air, was not threatening anyone when one of the officers goes behind him and puts him in a chokehold and forces him to the ground. Another officer comes and pushes Mr. Garners head to the pavement then proceeds to put his knee on his head.

Mayor De Blasio and police commissioner Bratton held an insulting press conference bringing up how the sale of untaxed cigarettes hurts the city’s revenue, the loss of revenue according to them is more important then the loss of life.

Nine to ten officers arrived on the scene and not one of them initiated CPR even though Eric Garner had clearly lost consciousness. People were telling the cops that the man isn’t moving and the cops kept on saying that he is fine.

His last words were “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”.

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Video of the police attack on Eric Garner: