Tag Archives: Gaza unlivable 2020

Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby (video)

This extraordinary video (released in 2009) connects the dots between Israel’s Lobby and strong influence on UK politicians, the Guardian and the BBC. I found it was well-documented and very thought-provoking.The 48-minute video is divided into three segments.

I’m looking for similar information about the impact of the Israel Lobby on American politicians and media.

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Crisis Response and Management in Gaza

A perfect storm is hitting the Gaza Strip.

Before Israel’s military assault this past July and August, the 1.8 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip were living under a suffocating economic, cultural and political siege that made life unbearable.

In 2012, the United Nations even warned that the Gaza Strip might be unlivable by 2020. In May 2013, UNRWA issued a response — Gaza in 2020 — to highlight the challenges UNRWA would face, the programmatic response required and estimate the resources required to meet those challenges.

No one could have anticipated Israel’s barbarism over 51 days, killing more than 2,000 Palestinians and destroying homes, businesses, hospitals, utilities and infrastructure.

The New York Times reported that “the fighting has displaced about a fourth of Gaza’s population. Nearly 60,000 people have lost their homes, and the number of people taking shelter in UNRWA schools is nearly five times as many as in 2009. The cost to Gaza’s already fragile economy will be significant: the 2009 conflict caused losses estimated at $4 billion — almost three times the size of Gaza’s annual gross domestic product.

This interactive map prepared by the New York Times  shows the location of the destruction in Gaza.

Today I received a request from a friend in Gaza for information and resources … “something that can assist in preparing materials for emergency conditions and crisis management training…even some people to communicate with in this regard in the USA or around the world”.

Where to begin? The UNDP has experience working with the Arab States in Crisis Prevention and Recovery, see here.

In the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has many resources for communities preparing for disasters as well as recovering from disasters.

Certainly, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies disaster and crisis management program is worth checking out.

The American Planning Association has a Hazards Planning Research Center and in 1998 published the “Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction” (PAS Report No. 484/484, December 1998).

Disaster Recovery Journal includes many links to sample plans, outlines and other resources.

Crisis Management in Government – list of books and articles

Many cities have disaster management programs, such as the City of Albuquerque.

Crisis Response Team Training is part of the National Organization for Victim Assistance

Georgetown University has a continuing education program called the Executive Master of Professional Studies in Emergency and Disaster Management, see here.

The Johns Hopkins Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center has online training modules.

I’m going to reach out to professionals in the morning and add to this list as I learn more. I have a hunch that the disaster we see unfolding in Gaza is of such a magnitude that even the professionals will be dumbfounded.

In addition to the emergency and disaster managers, the people in Gaza need our prayers.

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New York Times issues correction

If only the world could issue a correction as easily as the New York Times, arguably the flagship paper of the United States.

Think about it.

The 1948 Nakba — when the Zionists forcibly expelled, exterminated 1000s of Palestinians from their homes and land — that was a terrible mistake.

Issue a correction.

Palestinian refugees (British Mandate of Palestine - 1948). "Making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948"

Palestinian refugees (British Mandate of Palestine – 1948). “Making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948”

The past 65 years of demeaning , dehumanizing subjugation of the Palestinians by one Israeli administration after another was a mistake.

Issue a correction.

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The ugly barrier wall that Israel built that divides Palestinian families, and many Palestinians from their lands and orchards — admittedly an eyesore and a mistake.

Issue a correction.

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Harassing and killing Palestinian fishermen who might stray over the arbitrary distance  from shore that the Israeli Occupation Forces allow them to fish in — a silly mistake.

Issue a correction.

Palestinian fisherman with his sons carrying nets.

Palestinian fisherman with his sons carrying nets.

Operation Cast Lead — Israel’s 22 day war in Dec. ’08 – Jan ’09 against the people of Gaza leaving 1400 (mostly civilians) dead and 1000s more injured — oops, that was a mistake too!

Issue a correction.

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Not allowing Palestinian students in Gaza to travel abroad for their studies, or allow businessmen to import/export goods, or allow basic supplies like diesel fuel for the power generating plant and medicines for the hospital — please accept our huge apologies, it was a mistake.

Issue a correction.

Young Palestinians learning to speak English.

Young Palestinians learning to speak English.

Or keeping 1.7 million people in the Gaza Strip in such miserable conditions that the United Nations believes the place won’t be livable by 2020. A tragic mistake!

Issue a correction!

UN predicts Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

UN predicts Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

Although the New York Times editor hasn’t figured out how to whip out his pen and issue a correction for any of these evils resulting from Israel’s Occupation, he did print the following correction today.

Correction: March 7, 2014

An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to Gaza. Although the United Nations, many individual countries and Gazans themselves regard it as occupied by Israel, Israel withdrew all its forces and Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005, while maintaining strict border control. Read the full NYTimes article here.

W-R-O-N-G!!!

Mr. Editor —– Gaza IS Occupied territory. Israel IS the occupying power. And your correction needs to be corrected.

“Occupation” is a legal designation of an international natureIsrael’s occupation of Gaza continues to the present day because (a) Israel continues to exercise “effective control”over this area, (b) the conflict that produced the occupation has not ended, and (c) an occupying state cannot unilaterally (and without international/diplomatic agreement) transform the international status of occupied territory except, perhaps, if that unilateral action terminates all manner of effective control.  The full article is here.

The government of Israel wants the world to believe it’s no longer occupying the Gaza Strip because, among other reasons, if it can pull the wool over all of our eyes, it won’t be obliged under International Humanitarian Law to care for the Palestinians living in Gaza.

The New York Times was suckered into issuing this erroneous correction. I hope someone educates the editor on the fine points of international law.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Media, Occupation

Nazi Israel

Recently I posted an article from the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz about an Israeli citizen who was strip searched at the airport in Tel Aviv. She is an Arab Christian school teacher.  Read the article here.

I wrote: “Every Jewish citizen of Israel should be alarmed and ashamed that this type of action is happening to your Christian and Muslim neighbors. Israel is morphing into Nazi Germany.”

I knew my comment was provocative, it was meant to be. I want people to wake up!  But rather than challenge my comment as true or false, a friend chastised me for making the comparison at all. “To compare Israel the jewish homeland to a country and ideology that was bent on destroying jews wholesale is something to be ashamed of.”

My friend’s response, I believe, is an example of cognitive dissonance.  I’m not a psychologist and so I welcome any correction or clarification by a professional. However, when information is so contrary to the reality in which we live that we can’t absorb it without extreme discomfort, that is cognitive dissonance.  We reject the information outright.

In this comparison between Nazi Germany and Israel today, people who glorify Israel as a homeland for the Jews, knowing that the Jews were victims of the horrific Holocaust in Germany, might not be able to wrap their minds around the idea that the Israeli government could perpetrate the same horrific crimes against another.

This poignant poem about the Holocaust helps make my point.

Never again we swore that day,

In that country so far away.

Never again would the ground be dyed red

With the blood of those so recently dead.

Never again would fires light the night sky

As days, weeks, months flew unheeded by.

Never again would a people cry out

So abused and so hated their own worth they did doubt

Never again will people die

While others watching stand idly by.

(The full poem is Never Again, A Poem of the Holocaust)

This poem stabs my gut every time I read it. So simple, so real. To be sure, there are no gas chambers in Israel but the comparison is still apt.

Read the poem twice. In the first instance, think about the 6 million Jews who were sent to their deaths in gas chambers in Nazi Germany. Breathe deeply! Feel the pain of the survivors! Imagine the guilt of the observers who did nothing until it was too late.

Now, read the poem a second time – slowly. Think about the 1.8 million Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip, prohibited from leaving, dependent on Israel for nearly everything (food, electricity, their livelihoods, everything)!! Think about the UN’s warning that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. Think about Israel’s Operation Cast Lead that killed approximately 1,400 Palestinians in 22 days, most of them civilians and more than 300 children. Think about the children  in Gaza routinely killed by Israeli soldiers. Yes, routinely. As the international community watches in silence.

Hala Ahmad Salman Abu Sabikha, 2, was killed in her yard when an Israeli tank targeted her home in Al-Mughazi refugee camp, central Gaza, on December 24, 2013. Israeli soldiers shot Adnan Abu Khater, 16, in the leg with live ammunition on January 2, 2014, and he died the following day. Mohammad Rafiq Shinbari, 17, was shot and wounded in the leg with live ammunition on December 15.

Tragically, I could go on and on.

The only difference between Nazi Germany and present-day Israel in my view — there are no gas chambers in Israel, and the killing has been occurring over a span of decades in Palestine. In many other respects, the two are nauseatingly similar.

  • Both brutally subjugated (are subjugating) a group of people by singling them out and treating them as inferior human beings.
  • Both prevented (are preventing) freedom of movement for the group of people they want to control.
  • Both required (are requiring) a group of people to wear or hold special identification labeling them as a group to be treated differently from the rest of their citizens.
  • Both had (have) judicial systems which treat the designated group of people differently from the rest of their citizens.
  • Both used (are using) property rights to control and disenfranchise the designated group of people.
  • Both passed (are passing) laws to legalize their inhumane treatment.
  • Both killed (are killing) members of a group of people with  impunity and were (are) not held accountable. The international community turned (is turning) a blind eye to the suffering of the victims.
  • Both used (are using) disproportionate force and violence against peaceful protesters.

I think there are more comparisons to draw, but you get my drift.

I welcome responses to my comparison between Nazi Germany and present-day Israel, but not verbal attacks or disparaging remarks. Everyone who loves Israel as the homeland for the Jews should be concerned and awake to the harsh realities of what’s going on today.

Never again will people die

While others watching stand idly by.

Never Cast Lead again.

Journalists were not allowed into Gaza during Operation Cast Lead but many journalists and Israeli citizens sat on the hill outside of the Gaza Strip and watched.

Journalists were not allowed into Gaza during Operation Cast Lead but many journalists and Israeli citizens sat on the hill outside of the Gaza Strip and watched.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Israel Defense Forces

Why do I want to go back to Gaza?

Family and friends have been asking me “why do you want to return to Gaza?” 

I was very fortunate to visit Gaza between September 2012 and May 2013. I had the experience of a lifetime —- met wonderful people, learned a lot about a new (for me) culture and the cruel realities of Israel’s occupation and siege, experienced the horrors of Israel’s 8 days of bombardment of the Gaza Strip, and grew as a person of conscience.

Boat with Free Gaza flags at the beach.

Boat with Free Gaza flags at the beach.

Maybe the experience of a lifetime can’t (or shouldn’t) be repeated. Seriously. I was blessed once and should count my blessings — learn from them and move on.

But I can’t. Can’t move on, that is.  My conscience wasn’t only pricked, it was stabbed.

Young Palestinians learning to speak English.

Young Palestinians learning to speak English.

Just as a bell can’t be unrung (is there such a word?), I can’t pretend that the Israeli occupation doesn’t exist or that my country isn’t responsible for perpetuating the misery and injustices that I witnessed in Gaza.

So I’ve been thinking about my conscience. About what I want to do, what I should do, which might be very different.

I’m 60 years old — perhaps an old woman to some but in my mind I’m strong, experienced and have many skills and talents to share.  Where and how should I share them?

Beautiful smiles

Beautiful smiles

The window of opportunity is rapidly closing. If I’m lucky, I have only 5-10 years of strength and mental faculties left when I can truly contribute and make a meaningful difference. After the window closes, I’ll be content to sit on my porch and read good books and tend the vegetable garden, if Allah-God-Yahweh grants me more time. When it’s my time to bite the dust, I don’t want to have any regrets.  

I shouldn’t return to Gaza if I’m merely trying to satisfy my own needs. The white savior complex is disgustingly all too real and I don’t want to fall into that trap. (Read this very thoughtful piece about the white savior industrial complex by Teju Cole, available here.)

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I don’t want to add greenhouse gases by my air travel unless my purpose of traveling outweighs the potential GHG impact.

I also don’t want to be part of the second occupation. Gaza is occupied by NGOs, many of which have created a dependency for decades and sapped the initiative and desire of many Palestinians to take charge of their future. I have a hunch that some of the NGOs have a self-interest in prolonging Israel’s occupation, so they can justify their work. Foreigners who collect big salaries and drive around in large SUVs waving little flags are rather perverted IMHO (in my humble opinion).

UN predicts Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

UN predicts Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

So why do I want to return to Gaza?

I know that a perfect storm is brewing there. I think the next 5-10 years are going to be decisive in determining how Palestinians in Gaza weather this storm. For my foreign friends, here’s the definition of “perfect storm.”

  • The United Nations predicts that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.  See here. There’s no evidence that anyone is taking this dire warning seriously.
  • The impacts of climate change are not going to bypass this coastal enclave and Palestinians are currently ill-equipped to respond or prepare, as witnessed just this winter with the horrific flooding that followed torrential rain storms.
  • A political solution to the occupation and internal division between Fatah and Hamas appears to be further away than before Kerry initiated the “peace talks”.
  • Gaza is a population time bomb. It’s going to explode – no doubt about it.

So I want to return to Gaza to do the following:

  • See my friends
  • Use my planning and legal skills to respond to this perfect storm
  • Use my writing skills to inform Americans about what I witness in Gaza
  • MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

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I’d like to hear from friends (either responding on the blog or to my email LoraLucero@aol.com) about my reasons for returning. What should I be adding to this equation?

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Filed under Climate Change, Environment, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Occupation, Politics, Video

The Hundredth Monkey

Let me tell you a story.

Years ago, a group of scientists traveled to a remote island in the South Pacific to study a species of monkey called the قرد.

قرد = “monkey” in Arabic.

They observed the قرد every day and watched them climb to the top of the tall mango trees, shake the fruit off, and then climb down to eat it.

south pacific island

This didn’t seem so unusual, but one day something strange happened. A scientist noticed a single monkey high in the tree shaking his fruit off. When it fell, the  قرد climbed down and picked up the fruit and took it over to the water’s edge to wash off the sand before he ate it. Maybe he didn’t like the gritty taste of the sand and wanted to try something new.

The next day, the scientists noticed a few other monkeys mimic the same action as the first.

hundredth_monkey

During the following days and weeks, more and more monkeys were washing their fruit off at the water’s edge before eating — a totally new phenomenon that had never been observed in this species of قرد anywhere in the world.

The scientists were so excited, they called their colleagues back in California and announced their new discovery.

Astonishingly, their colleagues had observed the very same behavior with the قرد in California that same week.  *!*!*!

Inexplicably, the new idea had spread from one monkey to many monkeys on the island, and then jumped across the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean where more monkeys adopted the same new habit, sight unseen.

When that magic number — lets say the Hundredth Monkey — had learned the new idea, suddenly every monkey, everywhere, picked up the new habit of cleaning his fruit before eating it.

Ken Keyes, Jr.

Ken Keyes, Jr.

I love that story, but must confess it’s not mine. I’ve only provided my mangled version of the story that Ken Keyes, Jr. wrote in 1982.

Hundredth Monkey bookhundredth monkey coverHundredth-Monkey01

The message of the story, true or not, can be summed up this way:

Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people.

But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!

I think about The Hundredth Monkey often in the context of the crisis in Gaza.  Hundreds of people have visited Gaza in delegations to show support and solidarity with the Palestinians. They have witnessed first-hand the deplorable conditions. Many people are aware of the United Nations’ report issued in August 2012 that predicts Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.  Yet, nothing changes despite the warnings. In fact, the situation is more dire today than it was in 2012.

Gaza is affected by one the most serious energy crises in recent years, with potentially serious humanitarian ramifications. Since November, following the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant as a result of a lack of fuel, households are experiencing power outages of up to 16 hours per day. The operation of all 291 water and wastewater facilities has been affected, leading to sewage spills of tens of thousands of cubic meters in various locations, including in a residential area of Gaza City. Shortages of affordable fuel used to operate backup generators have severely disrupted the normal functioning of critical hospital functions, such as emergency rooms, operating theatres, and neo-natal care. While immediate mitigating measures are being sought to support the most critical functions, medium and longer-term solutions are urgently needed to avoid even greater humanitarian risks and improve the living conditions of average households.

This is a man-made crisis with a man-made solution. Many people know it. ISRAEL MUST END THE ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF PALESTINIAN LANDS, INCLUDING GAZA.

Friends tell me “the conflict seems intractable” . . . “its been going on for so long” . . . “it is too complicated for outsiders to understand”.

I want to find that Hundredth Monkey (aka the critical mass in the United States) to push Congress to do the right thing. Americans can end this occupation. Congress can end this occupation, I’m convinced of it.

American taxpayers subsidize the Israeli occupation to the tune of more than $3 billion each year. The U.S. Administration coddles Israel at the United Nations, shielding it from the world’s condemnation. Look at all the US vetoes since 1972. If we ended (or curtailed) our financial support, and joined the community of nations to demand an end to the occupation . . . Netanyahu would bend.

We only need the critical mass, the tipping point in the United States and so I’m looking for the Hundredth Monkey.

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