Category Archives: Hunger Strike

Fasting to end sanctions that kill children

My friend, Sally-Alice Thompson, is a long-time peace activist. She’s a retired WWII Navy veteran approaching 96 years old. So she’s seen a lot in her day, and she’s always been action-oriented.

She has belted out protest tunes with the Raging Grannies; picked up her walking stick in 2014 and walked 13 days from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to spur action to get money out of politics; traveled 450 miles by foot and by bus with a group of Americans and Soviet citizens in 1987 from what was then Leningrad to Moscow to promote peace and nuclear disarmament; walked nine months from LA to DC in the Great Peace March against nuclear weapons; started the Albuquerque chapter of Veterans for Peace along with her husband, a former state legislator and also a veteran; was instrumental in founding and supporting the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center; and has taught school, written books, and sheltered refugees in her home. And this only skims the surface of what makes Sally-Alice tick.

Sally Alice 1

Sally-Alice walking to Santa Fe in 2014 (photo credit Santa Fe Reporter)

So when it became clear that US sanctions against Yemen, Iran, Haiti, Venezuela, Gaza and elsewhere were killing hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of children, Sally-Alice thought “someone should really do something to end this horrific foreign policy of sanctions against the most vulnerable.” Then she thought “I’m someone, and I can do something!”  

Sally-Alice launched her hunger strike to raise the public’s awareness. She started her Fasting Against Sanctions and Sieges (FASS) on June 16 in Albuquerque, NM. She’s asking people who support her to sign her petition, here.

“I am fasting because I empathize with the many hungry children of the world, so I am joining them in their suffering. I am outraged that our country is engaging in sanctions and sieges that result in starvation of babies and children. I am profoundly saddened that my government interferes in the affairs of other countries, refusing to acknowledge their sovereignty and to respect their dignity.

I especially grieve for the children. I grieve for the children of Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran, who are suffering because of the illegal sanctions imposed on those sovereign nations. I grieve for the hungry children of Gaza and Yemen, children who are hungry because of my country’s support for immoral sieges that deliberately prevent food from entering the places where they live.

I am almost 96 years old. The short remainder of my life is inconsequential. The remainder of the lives of those children may be very important. If allowed to develop normally, who knows what they may become? Are we depriving the world of a future great composer? Or maybe a talented playwright? One can only speculate, because they’re dying of starvation.

Those children have a right to live!

Permitting our country to continue down this road of genocide is completely unacceptable. So I have decide that instead of asking, ”Why doesn’t somebody do something about it?” I looked in the mirror and said, “You’re somebody, do something.”

I invite anyone who shares these feelings to join me in my fast, by skipping a meal or fasting for a day or longer. I would like to know and thank anyone who joins me.  PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE MY PETITION here.

Please contact me at sally-aliceanddon@juno.com. I hope this can start a movement to eliminate sanctions and sieges.

Sally-Alice explains her reason for fasting on this 20-minute Latitude Adjustment podcast, here.  She’s my hero.

Center for Peace and Justice celebrates 35th anniversary

Sally-Alice Thompson 2019 – photo credit Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal

 

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Filed under Hunger Strike, People, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

Hashtags

The news these days from the Middle East is focused on the three Israeli teenagers who disappeared Thursday night when they were hitchhiking near their yeshiva in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. This is a part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank known as Area C. By agreement, Area C is under complete control of the Israel Defense Forces.

I deleted my first blog post about this news because, after reading and re-reading it, I realized it sounded too dry and matter-of-fact.  I was trying to discern the facts (which are few and far between) and wanted to discard the speculation. Almost everything I found online from sources on all sides was filled with speculation and innuendo.

So I’ll stick to my personal observations.

Netanyahu is playing a familiar role, casting blame on everyone – Abbas, Hamas, and even President Obama. Netanyahu has been warning the world of the terrible consequences of the Fatah-Hamas unity government, and lo and behold, the unity government is to blame for the abduction!

In the process, he appears to be inciting fear and hatred. That’s his modus operandi.

Twitter and Facebook are amplifying the fear and hatred. People on both sides (Israelis and Palestinians) are jumping to conclusions based on no facts at all, but everyone trusts the almighty hash tags. Check out #BringOurBoysHome

More than 16,000 Israelis have joined a Facebook page that calls for the murder of a Palestinian every hour until three missing Israeli settler teens are located. The page is titled “Until the boys are back, every hour we shoot a terrorist.”

The page was launched as the Israeli army continued violent raids, curfews and closures across the occupied West Bank and shot dead Ahmad Sabarin, a Palestinian youth.

The Palestinians are (again) paying the price in blood. Palestinian legislators in the West Bank have been rounded up, and there are reports that 120 Palestinians have been “kidnapped” by the IDF.

My friends in Gaza have been posting eyewitness accounts of Israel’s latest bombardment. Netanyahu’s strategy of collective punishment isn’t new and remains just as illegal under international law today as it did in 2008-09 (Operation Cast Lead) and in November 2012 (Operation Pillar of Defense).

I would like to see the following happen:

  • The three Israeli teenagers returned to their families safe and sound.
  • The dead Palestinian youth resurrected and returned to his family.
  • Netanyahu exposed for the hatemonger, fearmonger and warmonger that he is, and shunned by world leaders.
  • A new hashtag adopted by everyone around the world #WeWillHateNoMore or #EveryChildReturnHome or #NoFearNoHate or #TreatOthersAsYouWishToBeTreated
  • The 100+ Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails begin to eat again, and are released along with the other resistance fighters sitting in jail.
  • The Fatah-Hamas unity government go to the International Criminal Court.
  • And above all, THE END OF THE OCCUPATION.

The kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers is merely a symptom of a much more dangerous condition that infects all of Israeli society. End the Occupation now!

 

 

 

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Hunger Strike, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Media, Occupation, People

21st century gladiators

The Palestinian soccer (futbol) player held by Israel without charge or trial for three years returned home to Gaza today.  I wrote about Mahmoud Al-Sarsak in June here and here.  He lost nearly half his body weight following a 3 month hunger strike in protest of his detention.

Many pictures of his return from a celebratory Gaza today, available here.

Israel did the right thing in releasing him.  The authorities argued that Mahmoud is a member of the Islamic Jihad, which he denied.  Whether or not the allegation has merit, we will never know because the Israeli authorities said they didn’t have enough evidence to bring him to trial.   No one — in Israel, the US,  anywhere — should be denied his liberty on a mere hunch or suspicion.  But it happens ALL OF THE TIME to Palestinians in Israel.

The photos of Mahmoud Al-Sarsak returning home victoriously remind me of the ancient Roman gladiators.   With the odds stacked against them, these warriors fought in “games” to defend their honor and dignity.   The citizens of Rome took great pleasure in the “combat.”

Roman gladiator

Today, is there anyone taking pleasure in the sport of the Israeli Occupation?

It appears to be a sport, albeit a very cruel one.

Perhaps the rules of the game could be changed.  Could we set aside the lethal weapons, rockets, drones, and white phosphorous that have been used on Palestinian civilians, as well as the crude rockets launched by the militants from the Gaza Strip?  Instead, we could enlist soccer (futbol) players — both Palestinian and Israeli athletes.

Just imagine the festivities!   The match would have to be at a neutral location agreeable to both; the proceeds from ticket sales might fetch a pretty penny.  The profits would be shared equally, of course.

The only “weapon” would  be the soccer ball, of course.  No fighting to the death.  Just good, old-fashion scores.

Who would be the referees?  Hmmmm!   Israelis don’t trust the United Nations, and Palestinians don’t trust the United States.  Finding referees trusted by both might be challenging.

But assuming the games could proceed, and weren’t rained out or postponed for other reasons, we could see the beginning of a new tradition – 21st century gladiators fighting for the honor and dignity of their homeland.  I’m referring to both Palestinians and Israelis.

And the global citizens who watched, either in person or live-streamed to their computers, could cheer on their favorite team.

This proposal makes plenty of sense — at least to me, a mother and grandmother who abhors violence, death and destruction.  But I’m a pragmatist.  I realize we must do something about the excess testosterone in the world.

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Filed under Football - Soccer, Gaza, Hunger Strike, nonviolent resistance, Peaceful, People

Deafening silence

Corporate mainstream media is the lens through which most Americans learn about world affairs; and so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this “big American bubble island is a corporate town” and that many Americans (and members of Congress!) are clueless.

The media has failed miserably to objectively report on the Middle East conflict, the Israeli Occupation and the blockade and siege of Gaza.

A new documentary, The War Around Us, provides a damning critique of how western media covered Israel’s attack on Gaza in December ’08 – January ’09.

This week two exciting developments occurred.  The Guardian was live-blogging from Gaza for a day.   The editors explained their reason:

Five years ago this month, following Palestinian legislative elections in which Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and removed Fatah officials from office, Israel and Egypt announced a heightening of the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Although some aspects of the restrictions on the flow of goods and people into Gaza have been eased by Israel and Egypt since 2010, many believe the blockade still amounts to a collective punishment of the Gazans. By live blogging a day in Gaza we are attempting to show what everyday life is like there for its 1.7 million people.

The Guardian’s live blog shares a wealth of information from the ground in Gaza.  I’m planning to spend the weekend watching these videos and reading these articles.

Another exciting development is this first podcast released by young people in Gaza.  The topic is football (soccer) and Mahmoud Al Sarsak, the 25 year old Palestinian soccer player who is in an Israeli prison without charge or evidence of any wrongdoing.   Al Sarsak is on his deathbed today, having decided that a hunger strike is his only hope.  

If an American sports hero was languishing in a foreign prison without charge, I can’t help but think it would be reported on American TV day-in-day-out until pressure was brought to bear for his release.   It appears that Al Sarsak’s only crime is to be Palestinian, where the American corporate media dares not tread.

I hope the Palestinian journalists will continue their good work.  Their voices can drown out the deafening indifference from the US corporate media.

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Filed under Football - Soccer, Hunger Strike, Media, Occupation, People