Day #20 – July 26, 2014 – Palestinian Lives Matter!

In front of Baltimore church

In front of Baltimore church

Finished listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ audiobook “Between the World and Me” on the MARC train into DC yesterday.  The story is a first person letter to his 15 year old son about his reality of growing up in a black body, and how people who think they are white can control, torture and snuff out black bodies with impunity.  For some people who think they are white, this might be a disturbing book to read.  I suspect those people won’t even try.

I also saw the connection between the black bodies in America and the Palestinian bodies in the occupied territories that Zionists control.

Maybe there’s a shared dialogue as well.

There are Americans proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” in response to cops killing blacks with impunity.  The police had power over each black body and snuffed each out.

April 30, 2014: Dontre Hamilton (Milwaukee)

July 17, 2014: Eric Garner (New York)

Aug. 5, 2014: John Crawford III (Dayton, Ohio)

Aug. 9, 2014: Michael Brown Jr. (Ferguson, Missouri)

Aug. 11, 2014: Ezell Ford (Florence, California)

Aug. 12, 2014: Dante Parker (Victorville, California)

Nov. 13, 2014: Tanisha Anderson (Cleveland)

Nov. 20, 2014: Akai Gurley (Brooklyn, New York)

Nov. 22, 2014: Tamir Rice (Cleveland)

Dec. 2, 2014: Rumain Brisbon (Phoenix)

Dec. 30, 2014: Jerame Reid (Bridgeton, New Jersey)

March 6, 2015: Tony Robinson (Madison, Wisconsin)

March 31, 2015: Phillip White (Vineland, New Jersey)

April 2, 2015: Eric Harris (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

April 4, 2015: Walter Scott (North Charleston, South Carolina)

April 19, 2015: Freddie Gray (Baltimore)

Standing up and proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” often elicits “All Lives Matters”.  It’s happened to me several times when I wear my “Black Lives Matter” T-Shirt around Baltimore and no retort seems adequate.

Of course, all lives matter but my T-Shirt doesn’t say “Only Black Lives Matter”. My T-Shirt is saying that black lives should also matter.

Responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.

The same tit for tat is happening among pro-Israel and pro-Palestine advocates. They seem to be talking past each other, at least on social media.

I was yelling “Palestinian lives matter!” as Israel killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza last summer. In fact, Israel kills Palestinians almost daily in the occupied territories, seemingly without feeling any consequences by the U.S. Congress or the international community.

Netanyahu and pro-Israel supporters respond “Israeli Lives Matter” and “we have a right to defend ourselves!”  That response is just like those who reject the “Black Lives Matter” declaration.  They want to deflect attention away from the structural problems (Israel’s Occupation of Palestine, the multi-year blockade of Gaza, the daily humiliation of Palestinians at the checkpoints, etc.) and want all of us to just go back to ignoring the problem.

No!  We’re not going to ignore the problem, neither the racist subjugation and treatment of black bodies in this country, nor the Zionist subjugation and treatment of Palestinian bodies in Gaza and the occupied territories.

PALESTINIAN LIVES MATTER!

PALESTINIAN LIVES MATTER!

PALESTINIAN LIVES MATTER!

 

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Day #19 – July 25, 2014 – Who Will Be The Next Family?

In Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip buffer zone, November 2012 with Isra Migdad

In Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip buffer zone, November 2012 with Isra Migdad

I’m reblogging Isra Migdad’s post. Isra is a Palestinian woman living in Gaza. She is a shining example of the people and culture that the Zionists are trying to destroy.

Who Will Be The Next Family .. ?.

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Day #21 – July 27, 2014 – No equivalency

Palestinian child's drawing in Gaza

Palestinian child’s drawing in Gaza

The struggle between the Israeli military and the armed wings of Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip is a classic asymmetrical conflict. The two sides are far from evenly matched but each can nonetheless bring considerable pressure to bear upon the other.  [What weapons are being used in the Israel-Gaza conflict, BBC, July 10, 2014]

Zionists and many pro-Israelis like to say there’s “no equivalency” when commentators and others talk about Israel and Palestine in the same breath.  I heard that phrase ad nauseam from the Israeli spokespersons last summer on the Nightly News and social media. I saw it in newspapers and magazines. “No equivalency” was so pervasive, I began to wonder when and how the phrase entered Israel’s Hasbara manual because everyone seemed to be using the same playbook.

There’s no moral equivalency between the  Israelis and Palestinians.”

The [Baltimore] Sun offers false equivalence between Israelis and Palestinians.”

To bring about real peace, drop the false narrative of moral equivalency and focus on the real culprits.”

“There’s no equivalency” is code for “we’re better than our Arab neighbors and especially the Palestinians, so don’t draw comparisons and try to put us on an equal footing with them, we’re not even in the same universe!”

Well, now I have to agree.

The asymmetric nature of Israel’s assault on Gaza was so disproportional, drawing any comparison between the arsenals and weapons available to each side is ludicrous.  Drawing a comparison between the number of civilian deaths on each side as a result of those weapons just can’t be done. There is no comparison. There is no equivalency in the numbers of people who lost their lives in Gaza and in Israel.

For the record, Palestinian armed groups killed 6 civilians in Israel, as a result of 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars fired from Gaza towards Israel. (para. 66)

Also for the record, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) —- perhaps more aptly called Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) —- launched more than 6,000 airstrikes on Gaza (para. 111), used more than 5,000 tons of munitions, a 533% increase over Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 (para. 408), brought in heavy tanks and soldiers with boots on the ground in Gaza, and killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, injured 11,231 Palestinians, (para 574) and left more than 1,500 children orphaned and almost 800 women widowed. (para 594). Professionals estimate there are at least 7,000 explosives still waiting to be recovered in Gaza. (para. 575).

There is no moral equivalency — or any other kind of equivalency — in these statistics.

The BBC News itemized the weapons that Hamas and militant groups in Gaza used last summer against Israel —- with no surprises except that for the first time, the Khaibar-1 rocket, with a potential range of 160 km, was capable of reaching northern Israel, all the way to Haifa. But the accuracy of the unguided Khaibar-1 rocket is poor.  With Israel’s Iron Dome intercepting rockets from Gaza, the odds of Hamas winning the $1 million lottery in the U.S. are probably better than they are hitting any target of value in Israel with the Khaibar-1 rocket.  Here are some pictures of the weapons and munitions the IDF found in Gaza.

On the other side, the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry made the following findings about Israel’s weapons:

“In the first three weeks of the conquest of Iraq, in 2003, the U.S. armed forces captured cities and destroyed 1,600 armored vehicles of the Iraqi army, half of them tanks. In Gaza, the IDF fought against an enemy that had no armored vehicles, and Israeli soldiers probably saw no more than a few hundred armed Hamas militants. On average, an Israeli tank fired seven times as many shells a day as an American tank in Iraq. We fired more antitank missiles from the ground than the Americans, and twice as many Hellfire rockets from helicopters.” Ofer Shelah, Member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (para. 406)

“The whole area gets blown up – gets hit with heavy barrage.” IDF soldier testimony collected by Breaking the Silence  (para. 407)

The IDF’s ground operation was marked by significant use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in densely populated areas, including the use of artillery and tank shells, mortars and air dropped high explosive munitions. The IDF reported that during the operation, 5,000 tons of munitions were supplied. During Operation “Protective Edge,” 14,500 tank shells and approximately 35,000 artillery shells were fired. Haaretz quoted IDF information indicating that, before the end of July, after three weeks of fighting, 30,000 shells had been discharged, “four times as much as in Cast Lead in 2008”. The NGO “Action on Armed violence” (AOAV) observes that, while in Operation Cast Lead in 2008, 3000 high-explosive artillery shells were fired, in 2014 there were 19 000, a 533% increase. (para. 408)

The large impact area of some of the explosive weapons used by the IDF during the ground operations, including the large air dropped bombs and 155 mm shells; the sheer volume of ordnance fired towards areas of Gaza; and the imprecise nature of artillery, including mortars; make it difficult for an attacking party using those methods and means in a densely populated and built up area to distinguish between civilians and civilian objects and the military objective of the attack, and thus to limit the attack’s effects as required by international humanitarian law. Therefore, the use of weapons with wide-area effects by the IDF in the densely populated, built up areas of Gaza, and the significant likelihood of lethal indiscriminate effects resulting from such weapons, are highly likely to constitute a violation of the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks. Depending on the circumstances, such use may qualify as a direct attack against civilians, and may therefore amount to a war crime. (para. 415)

A year ago, Netanyahu was gloating on August 27, 2014.

From the first moment we set a clear goal: The goal was to strike hard at Hamas and the terrorist organizations and in so doing bring prolonged quiet to all Israeli citizens. I can say that Hamas was indeed hit very hard. First of all, we destroyed the network of attack tunnels that it built over the years. I would like to make it clear that we introduced the ground force for this goal. When the mission was completed, when the IDF reported to us that this mission had been completed, we pulled the force back in order to deny Hamas the possibility of killing our soldiers or abducting them, goals that it very much aspired to.

At that time, little did he know that his military hadn’t even seen the half of it.  There would be another 30 days of fighting.

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Day #18 – July 24, 2014 – What does Congress know?

Today marks the 18th day of Israel’s genocidal assault against the men, women and children in Gaza last summer.

No doubt, “purists” will object to this characterization, but I have no doubts that the intent and the impact was genocidal.

I visited Capitol Hill yesterday to speak with my member of Congress about Israel and Palestine.  She knows of my interest (and hopefully my expertise) because we have talked about it many times, both in DC and in Albuquerque.  I was disappointed but understand why she wasn’t in her office yesterday when I arrived. Her daughter went into labor early and delivered her first grandchild, so she was on a plane headed back to Albuquerque. Congratulations!!

I sat with her legislative assistant for foreign affairs. John and I have talked several times, and I felt the meeting was a success because we’re building bridges.  I may not agree with every vote, but I believe in my Congresswoman’s sincerity when she says she wants to do the right thing. My job is to help her (and John) understand what is the right thing.

I shared the following letter and we discussed these points for nearly an hour.  My shock and dismay came when I asked whether Congress and/or staff have received any briefings about Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. John said they were briefed last summer during Israel’s military assault, but he’s not aware of any follow-up briefings since then.

WE MUST INFORM CONGRESS ABOUT THE IMPACTS

OF THEIR DECISIONS TO FUND & SUPPORT ISRAEL’S MILITARY!

I just sent the following message to the staff of my two US Senators and Representative.
Gaza One Year Later:
The Quest for Accountability
WHERE: 121 Cannon House Office Building, 
27 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
WHEN: Wednesday, July 29, 12:00 PM
One year has passed since “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s attack on the Palestinian Gaza Strip which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and devastated its infrastructure. Today Gaza remains under Israeli blockade, unreconstructed, and teetering on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.  Join us for this discussion on Israel’s failure to hold itself accountable through domestic judicial proceedings, and the options and need for the United States and the international community to do so.
Featuring:
Nadia Ben-Youssef, USA Representative, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Eman Mohammed, Gaza photojournalist; contributor,  Gaza Unsilenced
Brad Parker, International Advocacy Officer, Defense for Children International Palestine
Moderated by:  Josh Ruebner, Policy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
A light lunch will be served. Please RSVP by  email or by phone at 202-332-0994.
Sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Cosponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Just World Books, Middle East Children’s Alliance, US Palestinian Community Network.
Lora in front of Library of Congress - July 2015

Lora in front of Library of Congress – July 2015

My letter to my Congresswoman:

Thank you for meeting with me on the anniversary of Operation Protective Edge (July 7th and August 26th, 2014) when Israel’s vastly disproportionate military campaign in Gaza killed over 2,250 Palestinians, including over 500 children and over 1400 civilians (73 Israelis also lost their lives, including 1 child and 6 civilians). Because the United States, and Congress specifically, directly supports Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and Israel’s military operations, I wanted to share some facts from the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry’s report.

  1. During the 51 day operation last summer, the IDF launched more than 6,000 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. (para. 111) The IDF said it was supplied with more than 5,000 tons of munitions, a 533% increase over the weapons and munitions the IDF used in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. (para. 408)
  1. 142 families had 3 or more members killed in the same incident (742 fatalities) because of destruction of residential buildings. (para. 111)
  1. 2251 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children, and 11,231 people were injured. (para. 574)
  1. A significant % of civilians killed during the conflict died inside their home as a direct result of air-strikes or artillery shelling of their neighborhoods, making attacks on houses a key-feature of the conflict. (para. 243)
  1. The IDF refused to allow Red Cross ambulances to help victims. In one example, the IDF opened the road to finally allow the ambulance in but then closed the road again and did not allow the ambulance to leave, and so the medics had to carry the injured out on their shoulders. (para. 332)
  1. The family of a 70-year old woman left her behind in her wheelchair when they evacuated the home because they couldn’t take her. When they returned to the house, they found her dead, shot in the head at close range. The IDF posted a picture on Twitter showing a soldier offering water to this same old woman, a sadistic act of propaganda. (para. 333)
  1. The IDF destroyed entire neighborhoods (Beit Hanoun, Shuja’iya, Khuza’a).
  1. Despite the fact that the International Red Cross coordinated with the IDF in its rescue efforts, the IDF clearly targeted ambulances and medical personnel, killing 23 health professionals. (para. 458 – 462)
  1. 18,000 homes were destroyed, and an estimated 80,000 homes and properties damaged. (para. 576)
  1. During the fighting, approximately 500,000 people were displaced, which is 28% of the population in Gaza. (para. 577)
  1. As of May 2015, approximately 100,000 remain displaced. (para. 579)
  1. At least 4 young children died last winter in Gaza because their families were without shelter. (para.578)
  1. 63 water facilities in Gaza were damaged, and 23 were completely destroyed. Sewage treatment plants and pumping stations were also destroyed. (para. 584)
  1. One hospital and 5 clinics were destroyed. Fifteen hospitals and 51 clinics were damaged. (para. 591)
  1. More than 1,500 children were orphaned. (para. 594)
  1. Almost 800 women were widowed last summer. (para. 596)

The full report is available online. The Commission makes very specific recommendations primarily focused on addressing the structural issues that fuel the conflict and have a negative impact on a wide range of human rights, including lifting the siege and blockade of Gaza, and stopping the settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories. (para. 681) The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to cooperate with the U.N. investigation and has rejected its report and recommendations.

REQUEST No. 1 —- Please invite former President Jimmy Carter to speak to Congress about his recent visit to Israel and Palestine. His deep knowledge and current experience would be invaluable to the Congress.  (Attached is my petition to Congress signed by 290 people who have sent 682 letters and emails to their members of Congress making this same request.)

REQUEST No. 2 —- Please call upon your constituents for advice and counsel when you are considering legislation that impacts Israel and Palestine. Many New Mexicans oppose Israel’s brutal occupation and deadly military actions. Since last summer, there’s been a growing movement of Albuquerque and Santa Fe activists, nearly half of them Jewish activists, who have joined forces and raised nearly $18,000 for humanitarian projects in Gaza, including a well and kindergarten destroyed by Israel. This alliance is called Friends of Khuza’a New Mexico, named for a village in Gaza practically obliterated by Israel last summer. They’re planning a musical event and fundraiser in September featuring Issa Maluf, a world renowned Palestinian musician, and asked me to invite you. The date is TBD.

Thank you.

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Day #17 – July 23, 2014 – Speaking out in Geneva

On 23 July 2014, the Geneva International Center for Justice delivered an oral statement during the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council, addressing the Human Rights situation in Palestine. GICJ stated that the right to self-defense had repeatedly been abused by Israel in order to justify its systematic reprisals against Palestinians and demanded an immediate ceasefire for the “Operation Protective Edge,” the establishment of an urgent and independent commission of inquiry and for all responsible to be brought to the International Criminal Court.

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Day #16 – July 22, 2014 – Bridging the Divide

Gaoliang Bridge at Summer Palace in Beijing

Gaoliang Bridge at Summer Palace in Beijing

A year following the massacres in Gaza, between July 7th and August 26th, 2014, when Israel’s vastly disproportionate military campaign in Gaza killed over 2,250 Palestinians, including over 500 children and over 1400 civilians (73 Israelis also lost their lives, including 1 child and 6 civilians), the battle continues.

The battle for the hearts and minds of the public.

Each side decorates its heroes, and each claims victory (here and here), and each undoubtedly prepares for the next round.

Supporters of Israel want the world to know that she has a right to “defend” herself. Supporters of Palestine want the world to know that Palestinians have a right to resist the occupation.

Both sides sound like broken records and I doubt that they’re convincing anyone to change their opinions.

Zionists are sounding like the drone in this BBC video, constantly buzzing with the same old Hasbara lies.

I want to scream!  LOOK AT THE FACTS man, just the facts!  

Here are some to ponder —– from the report of the U.N. Independent Investigation.

1.  During the 51 day operation last summer, the IDF launched more than 6,000 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. (para. 111) The IDF said it was supplied with more than 5,000 tons of munitions, a 533% increase over the weapons and munitions the IDF used in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. (para. 408)

2.  142 families had 3 or more members killed in the same incident (742 fatalities) because of destruction of residential buildings. (para. #111)

3.  2251 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children, and 11,231 people were injured. (para. 574)

4.  A significant % of civilians killed during the conflict died inside their home as a direct result of air-strikes or artillery shelling of their neighborhoods, making attacks on houses a key-feature of the conflict. (para. 243)

5.  The IDF refused to allow Red Cross ambulances to help victims. In one example, the IDF opened the road to finally allow the ambulance in but then closed the road again and did not allow the ambulance to leave, and so the medics had to carry the injured out on their shoulders. (para. 332)

6.  The family of a 70-year old woman left her behind in her wheelchair when they evacuated the home because they couldn’t take her. When they returned to the house, they found her dead, shot in the head at close range. The IDF posted a picture on Twitter showing a soldier offering water to this same old woman, a sadistic act of propaganda.  (para. 333)

7.  The IDF destroyed entire neighborhoods (Beit Hanoun, Shuja’iya, Khuza’a).

8.  Despite the fact that the International Red Cross coordinated with the IDF in its rescue efforts, the IDF clearly targeted ambulances and medical personnel, killing 23 health professionals. (para. 458 – 462)

9.  18,000 homes were destroyed, and an estimated 80,000 homes and properties damaged. (para. 576)

10.  During the fighting, approximately 500,000 people were displaced, which is 28% of the population in Gaza. (para. 577)

11.  As of May 2015, approximately 100,000 remain displaced. (para. 579)

12.  At least 4 young children died last winter in Gaza because their families were without shelter. (para.578)

13.  63 water facilities in Gaza were damaged, and 23 were completely destroyed. Sewage treatment plants and pumping stations were also destroyed. (para. 584)

14.  One hospital and 5 clinics were destroyed. Fifteen hospitals and 51 clinics were damaged.  (para. 591)

15.  More than 1,500 children were orphaned.  (para. 594)

16.  Almost 800 women were widowed last summer.  (para. 596)

A young Zionist on Facebook claims there is no moral equivalency between the State of Israel and her neighbors — implying that Israelis stand solidly on higher moral ground than do the Palestinians or Arabs in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.  Judging by the actions of the U.S. Congress, it appears many of our elected officials would agree with this young Zionist.

I don’t know what to do with this “moral equivalency” argument.  How does anyone engage with another whose world-view and entire universe is built on a notion of superiority?  Is building bridges even possible?  If not, what is the alternative?

 

 

 

 

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Day #15 – July 21, 2014 – Execution Israeli-style

Shuja’iya will certainly go down in the history books as theDeir Yassin of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. In two days (July 19-20, 2014) the Israeli military killed 55 civilians, including 19 children and 14 women, in the process of razing Shuja’iya.

The most moral army in the world executed an unarmed young man searching for his family in the Shuja’iya rubble.  The U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry described the killing:

At about 3.30 p.m., Salem Shamaly, a local resident who had joined a group of international volunteers while searching for his missing cousin, was killed. As the volunteers were crossing a small alley, they heard a shot. The group immediately divided into two and took cover at opposite ends of the alley. Shortly afterwards, Salem Shamaly moved out of the area where he was taking cover and was shot. As he lay injured on the ground, he was shot twice again and killed. This incident was recorded on video.

Salem Shamaly’s parents learned of his death when they heard his voice on a video posted online by human rights activists who witnessed the killing.  (Palestinian Family Finds Missing Son in YouTube Video of His Shooting, New York Times, July 22, 2014)   Joe Catron, an American activist in Gaza, witnessed the murder and posted these photos.

Until someone in the Israeli military is held accountable for Shamaly’s execution, the IDF will continue to act with impunity.

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