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January 18, 2009

The Moment of Truth Series #16: Resetting Our Global Moral Compass

Hello everysoul!

As the United States is now engaged into its much anticipated celebrations of Barack Obama's Inauguration Day, with billions of people around the world pinning on him their hopes that a new era is really about to begin for the US and the whole world - something which I fervently hope will come to be despite the enormous challenges he faces and the highly toxic mess the Bush junta is leaving behind - I wish to bring to your attention, one more time, the terribly harrowing drama that has just unfolded in Gaza.

At long last the Israeli government deemed that its objectives have been met and the killing has finally stopped... If you believe that what Israel just did, with the cheering support of most of its citizens (Israelis United on Gaza War as Censure Rises Abroad - January 12, 2009 - "Polls have shown nearly 90 percent support for the war thus far, and street interviews confirm that Israelis not only favor it but do so quite strongly.") and of the US public (Poll: American public backs Israel firmly in war with Hamas - January 13, 2009 - "Fifty-seven percent think that Hamas is using excessive force, while only 36 percent said Israel was."), was acceptable by any human or legal standard, then please read first the following account as well as the MANY others included in this compilation, including How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe near the end of it...

The Palestinians say: 'This is a war of extermination'

Ahdaf Soueif in Egypt - The Guardian, 17 January 2009

Everyone says something new is going on here; something different. The residents of Egyptian Rafah are used to the sounds of rockets and shells exploding on the other side of their border, but they've never heard the sounds they've been hearing over the last 20 days. Twenty-five miles further into Egypt the general hospital at el-Arish is used to receiving the Palestinian wounded. The staff have never seen injuries like these before. The hospital forecourt is swarming with ambulances, paramedics, press. The wounded are raced into casualty.

The Palestinians are mostly silent; each man working out where he finds himself and what he's going to do. Fearing for their wounded and fearing for those they've left behind, they are silent but unfailingly courteous.

They try to answer questions. They must be exhausted? "The people of Gaza," they say (not "we"; they're too proud for that), "the people of Gaza just wish for an hour's sleep." The case you're accompanying? "I'm here with my nephew. He's 19. Shrapnel in his head. He was sitting with his friends. He's a student. Architecture. The helicopter dropped a bomb and seven of the group were killed and six were injured. They found a boy's hand on a 3rd floor balcony."

Later, I see a boy sitting up in bed with a bandage round his head. He has wide brown eyes flecked with green and he frowns a little, as though he was trying to remember something important. In the next bed a 12-year-old also with a bandaged head is not quite conscious yet. He is flushed and fretful.

The Palestinians say: "This is a war of extermination." They describe bombs which break into 16 parts, each part splintering into 116 fragments, the white phosphorus which water cannot put out; which seems to die and then flares up again.

No one I spoke to has any doubt that the Israelis are committing war crimes. According to the medics here, to reports from doctors inside the Gaza Strip and to Palestinian eye-witnesses, more than 95% of the dead and injured are civilians. Many more will probably be found when the siege is lifted and the rubble is cleared. The doctors speak of a disproportionate number of head injuries - specifically of shrapnel lodged in the brain.

They also speak of the extensive burns of white phosphorus. These injuries are, as they put it, 'incompatible with life'. They are also receiving large numbers of amputees. This is because the damage done to the bone by explosive bullets is so extensive that the only way the doctors in Gaza can save lives is by amputating.

One of the nurses said to me that the nurses and paramedics were horrified by what they were seeing. "We deal with cases all the time," she said. "But what we're seeing these days we've never seen before or imagined."

Upstairs a professor of economics, accompanying his brother, sees me staring at my notes and says: "Exaggerate. Whatever you write will not be as bad as the truth."

In the silence that followed someone put a mobile in my hand.

"Look!" On a rubble-strewn street lay the body of a roasted and charred child. Two bones were sticking out where her thighs had been. "The dogs ate her legs," he explains. For a moment I put a hand over my eyes. The phone goes round the table, each man gravely contemplating the burned child on the screen. Then someone asks: "What will it take to make the Israelis stop?"


What you just read, very few Western media have reported and shown with such details and even fewer — if any! — have express criticism and outrage about Israel's actions. Even if most everyone was aware in some ways of what was going on, and judging by the nearly non existent reactions outside of the communities of people of Arab or Palestinian descent, very few — except some courageous Jewish voices — seem to be actually bothered or concerned by the fact that such atrocities were being committed.

Moreover, out of the over 3200 subscribers on this list, Elisa, Carl Landsness (item #2 below) and David Fiske (see his comment in the quote section below) are the only persons who sent me a comment on this situation in the past 3 weeks despite the fact I provided plenty of evidence in all I networked about the unjustifiable, unconscionable war crimes being committed. I must say that I find quite puzzling this lack of expressed empathy for the plight of the 1,500,000 men, women and children who have just been subjected to such a harrowing experience. Perhaps it is the fact that George W Bush and his legions of accomplices have done just so much worse (over 1.3 million Iraqi deaths due to US invasion at last count) that it makes Israelis' actions pale in comparison.

And yet, if the government of Israel thought it could unleash its carefully planned bombing campaign and get away with it, it is because these politicians believe they can flaunt all international laws and human rights, as they repeatedly did since this country has been created over 60 years ago, because each time there was no real negative consequences for them... I recommend you give a look at Silence is complicity and realize that their sense of impunity is born out of most everyone's complacency and lack of moral fortitude in the face of such outright violations of common sense and all human rights.

The point I'm trying to make here has nothing to do with encouraging any kind of revenge nor denying the rights of Jewish people to have a place on Earth they can call home and where they can enjoy a safe and happy life — a right they've consistently denied to all Palestinians. It is about standing for the sanctity of all Life and the responsibility we all share to ensure that every single human being on Earth is being offered the same opportunities to live a life devoid of slavery, oppression, violence, hunger, poverty, exploitation and pollution that we all take for granted in most of the First World. It is above all about enabling every soul being on Earth the chance to express their potential for love, caring, compassion and joy in a world that finally recognizes that the only sensible solution to conflicts is through dialogue, openness and mutual understanding.

As I wrote to David Fiske in my reply to his comment (see below) on Israel/Palestine: "It seems as if some kind of (emotional, psychic, spiritual?) numbness is preventing most people from actually concentrating their attention on what just happened in Gaza and express an opinion on this. I know it affects me as well as I didn't bring this up with anyone I've been in touch with around me here. Of course, this is not the only crisis worth mentioning as there is just so much suffering (think about Zimbabwe, or the 100,000 people who die from hunger or its immediate effects every day) and injustice, our immediate future is darkened with so many looming environmental catastrophes, and there has generally been so much violence on Earth in the past century that it is, as ever, really hard to wrap one's mind around this and stay focused on all the wrongs that need to be righted without getting the feeling of drowning into despair.

To stay afloat emotionally and spiritually, it is only sensible and actually necessary to block it all out most of the time, focus on the positive elements of "reality", remember that all of this is a mere illusion (a vast matrix-like maya!) and a stage upon which souls in incarnation here can test their real spiritual mettle and accrue precious experiences, spiritual realizations and "karmic credits" that will eventually enable them to graduate to a higher dimension of existence where our current trudging into the dark pit of forgiveness about Who We Are and separation from Creator Source will be a fading and yet deeply etched memory as we will gradually ascend back to where we came from aeons ago."

Good to keep that in mind as well... Finally, talking about the positive side of things, what is perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that the very extreme nature of these latest events will finally force everyone to stop putting on the back burner this simmering conflict and bring it the kind of sustained attention and action that may in the end succeed in shepherding the Israeli and Palestinian peoples towards a real long-lasting solution to their endless existential dilemma. One of the potential solutions - which in the circumstances may appear to be naive and unrealistic - is the one-state solution (as opposed to the two-state one) advocated for many years by various people and groups -- as explained in Seek democracy, not a two-state solution. As you will see below, Marianne Williamson has also written a most compelling article -- Towards a Miracle in the Middle East -- pointing in that direction.

To know where we go from here, we will need not only the commitment of all enlightened world leaders, but most importantly we need to reset our global moral compass so as to remain focused in the right upward direction, and never again relapse in the kind of dark age we just went through under the tutelage of the Neo-con Cabal.

It looks like we have much work to do! So let's roll up our sleeves and forge ahead with renewed determination and as guided from within... for the Highest Good of all!

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator

P.S. Please note that you will receive next Saturday the new Meditation Focus #195: Being Born Again Into The Light, to be archived HERE

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"Dear Jean, I totally agree with what you wrote to Elisa. It is so very difficult for those whose memories are short to understand the historical harm done to the Palestinians when collective guilt encouraged the Western world to form Israel. Of course the Israelis have every right to live without Hamas rockets and that is all people with no memory see. But the original injury remains. If the USA had cut off financial aid long ago to Israel they might have been forced to find a political solution rather than a military one. After 60 years it is hard to reverse an historical injustice, rather like Northern Ireland being swamped with protestant immigrants from England. Until the people in the area decide they want to live in peace and can rise above their prejudices and cultural perspectives the problem and suffering will remain. It is strange that if the financial cost of the conflict had been known earlier and the money spent on making life better for all the people in joint cooperative communal ventures things might well have been considerably better now. People choose to emphasise their differences rather than their shared destiny and don’t rise above this. The world is not composed of Mandelas who take an objective more universal view of things and not the petty personal seeking revenge. This why so many couples separate as the hurts go too deep for reconciliation. I am not optimistic and seem to see it all as one of the many catastrophes unwinding on earth to force real change of attitude and awareness."

- David Fiske (

"Between the extreme positions of the culture wars lies a third way, that of the Cultural Creatives. It is not simply a neutral center but a distinctive expression. Rather than defending an old way of life, Cultural Creatives are bridging an old way of life and a new one. They seem to be unraveling the threads of old garments and weaving new fabric, cutting original designs and sewing together a new one. Many (though not all) want to carry forward what is valuable from the past and integrate it with what's needed for the future. Often the integration involves spanning differences between diverse groups of people, or bridging disciplines, or both. For example, . . . Cultural Creatives are creating wellness centers that include both Western medicine and acupuncture. . . They want to see the big, inclusive picture, and they want to work with the whole system, with all the players. They regard themselves as synthesizers and healers, not just on the personal level but on the planetary level, too.

- Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson -- taken from 50 Thinkers and Activists (Try to) Describe the Radical Middle

"To "abstain" from taking a position "against" someone or something, in a highly polarized environment, is to become functionally invisible. Indeed, it is our resistance against someone or something that landed us in physical form in the first place! To unravel, bit by bit, each strand of judgment and condemnation--to begin to embrace all others as reflections of oneself---is to merge with a new vibration, a "homing beacon" of grace and peace for a new world."

- Channeled by Daniel Jacob -- Taken from NEO-SHAMANS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM

"Gaza is the largest concentration camp the world has ever known. Almost all of the million and a half people of Gaza belong in fact to the historic Palestine and are NOT from Gaza. When Palestinians launch their home made symbolic projectiles, they in fact strike back at their very homeland, at the very occupiers of their homeland. Israel is an occupier of other people’s land, nothing more and nothing less. As we have seen for almost a century, people will never give up their land, no matter how many of their babies or mothers you choose to kill."

- Nidal Sakr -- Taken from A World Without Israel


1. Towards a Miracle in the Middle East
2. Are we willing to reach higher?
3. Seek democracy, not a two-state solution
4. Gaza war recovery plans face huge obstacles
5. A “right” to defence is not a “strategy” for peace
6. Things one sees from The Hague
7. Israel Foreign Ministry preparing for 'day after' IDF leaves Gaza
8. The IDF has no mercy for the children in Gaza nursery schools
9. Still breathing in Gaza
10. She Sits in a Room that is Dark
11. PHR- Israel: 16.1.09 Report on the Protest, Solidarity and Aid Convoy to the Residents of Gaza
12. Israeli assault injures 1.5 million Gazans
13. Interview with Roi Ben-Yehuda and Raquel Evita Saraswati
14. Playing into the hands of Hamas
15. Journals of Ecstatic Hate
16. How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
17. Between a Rock and a Hard Place in Zimbabwe: Weighing the Military Option
18. Iraq's little-known humanitarian crisis
19. Do we really Care?


From: Harold W. Becker (
Subject: Global Love Day - May 1, 2009
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2009

Dear Friends,

In just a few months, we will celebrate our sixth Global Love Day on May 1, 2009. It began as a simple idea to unite humanity through love and with each passing year, we are witnessing it becoming a reality. Our theme “love begins with me” is expressed through these statements…

We are one humanity on this planet.
All life is interconnected and interdependent.
All share in the Universal bond of love.
Love begins with self acceptance and forgiveness.
With tolerance and compassion we embrace diversity.
Together we make a difference through love.

Since we started this unique initiative, we have connected with individuals and organizations from over 126 countries, presently have 40 volunteer country, regional and field coordinators, our flyers are in 30 languages (all available to download on our site) and we have 183 combined proclamations and greetings from governors, mayors, city councils and other prominent elected officials.

We are now accepting your art, essay and/or poetry submissions for our related sixth annual Art, Essay and Poetry Invitational held in conjunction with Global Love Day each year. Guidelines are available on our site and the postmark cut-off date this year for submissions is March 31, 2009.

Many of you are already beginning to share your amazing ideas and plans for celebration. We will start posting these on our site, so make sure and send us your information. You can forward this email, call or write to your friends, family, community, corporations, governments and media to announce this day.

Take a moment to see the Global Love Day pages for ideas and our vision by visiting our home page at

While you are there, check out our TLF YouTube nonprofit channel where you can see a variety of videos on Global Love Day along with inspirational ones too. We welcome you to join our own online forum and share your thoughts on unconditional love. We can also be found on several social sites like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gaia, Care2,, Hi5, Zorpia, Idealist, and others.

This is perhaps one of the most profound years on our planet – let’s make a difference through love!

Be a part of it - Spread the word

Love, light and peace,

The Board - Harold, John, Tam, Lanis, and Erik

The Love Foundation, Inc.
“Inspiring People to Love Unconditionally”

Think: Global Love Day
Feel: Love Begins With Me
Remember: May 1, 2009


One Drum - Simon Bailey - ONEderful!!!

Simon's work is being described as 'Conscious Rock'.
Theme is Spiritual awareness, Unity and Unconditional Love.


Look at you, look at me,
Raindrops in a big blue sea.
We are the love.

Everybody is a word,
Painted on the pages of
The book of love.

Definition is a wave,
But separation is my illusion....
Cause we're all in this together,
We're all beating on One Drum,
We are water, we are ocean,

Stranger in a distant land,
Offering an outstretched hand,
You are the love.

You and I have different ways,
Of singing along or dancing to
The song of love.

Satellite up in the sky,
Sees the world, as undivided...

Cause we're all in this together,
We're all dancing to One Drum,
We are water, we are ocean,

Kicking off these heavy shoes,
Of prejudice and hate,
Let's celebrate our differences,
With give and take.
It's not too late...

Cause we're all in this together,
We're all beating on One Drum,
We are water, we are ocean,

One drum, everyone.


Obama's journey begins (Jan 17, 2009)
WASHINGTON–America must draw inspiration from its founders to write "a new declaration of independence," Barack Obama said today as he readied to board the train that will take him to power in the Capitol. Speaking in the nation's birthplace, the President-elect told an audience at Philadelphia's 30th St. Station the selflessness of the men who invented the United States is the tonic for the times. "While our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not, Obama said. " What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives – from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry – an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels."Hundreds of excited people screamed and cheered as Obama waved from the back of his inaugural train when it rolled slowly through the station in little Claymont, Del., on the way to larger crowds at stops in Wilmington, Del., and Baltimore on the route to Washington. Unfazed by frigid temperatures, scattered groups stood waving at crossroads along the way."Starting now, let's take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union," Obama told several hundred people gathered for the sendoff. "Let's build a government that is responsible to the people and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable. ... Let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but the beginning and the hope for the future." CLIP

Lyrical Messages About an Inclusive America (January 18, 2009)
WASHINGTON — Gospel and soul set the tone on Sunday afternoon for “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.” The African-American music that finds the promise of hope amid tribulation was just about everybody’s music at an all-star event designed to be somberly uplifting and devout, as well as celebratory without triumphalism. (...) Bono also changed the lyrics of U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” to praise Mr. Obama and vow, “America is getting ready to leave the ground.” He also offered what may have been the concert’s only contentious, off-message moment; during “Pride,” he preached about Ireland, Europe and Africa sharing Martin Luther King’s dream and added, “It’s also a Palestinian dream.” CLIP

Live-blog: 'We Are One' concert at the Lincoln Memorial

Slideshow of the inauguration

At Long Last, Ready for the Real Deal (January 18, 2009)
In September 2008, I was invited to introduce Michelle Obama at an event in Greensboro, N.C. I had met her fleetingly during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, but I had no real sense of her personality.I telephoned Oprah Winfrey, aware that she knew the Obamas, and asked, "What is your take on Michelle Obama?"Oprah answered promptly and with conviction, "She is the real deal."I waited backstage in the Carolina Theatre wings. Mrs. Obama arrived, and we sat and talked for 45 minutes. We spoke about family, the economy, youth obesity, television, music, cooking and men. I was completely won over. She neither postured nor preened. I sensed no subterfuge in her conversation. She said what she thought and said it clearly, without bombast. When I was cued to go onto the stage, I shook hands with her warmly and went to the microphone. The theater was packed, and there was no standing room. I told the audience of some of Mrs. Obama's accomplishments, and then I told them of the conversation that I had had with Oprah. I ended my introduction by saying, "Now ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 'real deal.'" The room exploded with the tumultuous sound of whistles and shouts, feet stamping and hands clapping. CLIP

Obama's Inauguration
Read the latest news, updates and features on Barack Obama's inauguration.

Barack Obama Inauguration Tribute 01

Activists plan 'celebratory event' for inauguration (Jan 15, 2009)
WASHINGTON–CodePink, Arrest Bush, the Coalition for Peace and other liberal activist groups plan to hoist banners and wave signs at Tuesday's inauguration. It might look a lot like a protest rally. But don't call it that. "It's not a protest; it's a celebratory event," said Jose Rodriguez, a longtime activist who is co-ordinating an Arrest Bush demonstration in front of the FBI building. After almost a decade of being on the opposite side of presidential decisions on the Iraq war, Supreme Court appointments and a host of other issues, activists have a new problem: how to make demands without appearing adversarial. "We don't want to be seen as protesting against (Barack Obama) so much as pushing him to fulfill his promises," said CodePink founder Medea Benjamin. "It's totally, totally different." CLIP

Inauguration Day Prayers - Renewing America's Dream - Global Link Teleconference - January 20, 2009
Let us co-create a magnetic field of Peace, Compassion and Wisdom to prevail throughout the USA.Add your LIVE PRAYERS to This Global Link Teleconference

Obama on whether he'll appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bush (January 11, 2009)

Winners of the Ideas for Change in America Competition
After 656,991 votes for 7,847 ideas, we present the top 10 ideas for change - Develop & Implement a National Strategy for Sustainability by Rob Wheeler is one of them!!! Same thing for establishing a Department of Peace!

Wikileaks releases UN bombshell
Wikileaks has released over 600 United Nations investigative reports, over 70 of which are classified. The reports expose sensitive matters from allegations of hundreds of European peace-keepers sexually abusing--and impregnating--refugee girls, to generals in Peru using Swiss bank accounts to engage in multi-million dollar procurement fraud.

Have documents the world needs to see? We help you safely get the truth out. We are of assistance to peoples of all countries who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and institutions. We aim for maximum political impact...

Videos: DCA Cancer Cure
Dichloroacetic Acid (DCA) - Another inexpensive and non-patentable cancer cure which probably will never see the light of day because of the profit interests of big pharma.

What If Cancer Could Be Cured For Pennies?
Pharmaceutical companies' worst nightmare: a cheap, unpatentable drug that cures cancer. New Scientist reports on just such a drug. It kills cancer cells by restoring the normal process by which cells self-destruct: It sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their "immortality". The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe.It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs. (...) If this drug works, and was produced, it would mean a massive loss of profits up and down the health care system. At every level, the corporate responsibility to shareholder profits would require them to not only NOT pay to bring it to market, but to resist it's introduction. No evil required, just the demands of doing business.

Dichloroacetic acid
(...) Some doctors are treating cancer using DCA "off-label", and under a cloud of controversy. Drs. Akbar and Humaira Khan have since March 2007 treated cancer patients using DCA off-label at their private clinic, Medicor Cancer Centres, in Toronto. They have treated several types of cancer and said on their web site that some patients "are showing varied positive responses to DCA including tumour shrinkage, reduction in tumour markers, symptom control, and improvement in lab tests". Although, they have not published their results nor reported it at medical conferences, they have uploaded details of patient responses and overall statistics on their web site. CLIP

DCA Therapy (September 4th, 2008)
For the first time in the world, on December 7, 2007 we publicly shared our observational data from the treatment of 118 cancer patients with DCA. In March 2008 we updated our data from treating over 175 patients.As of August 2008, we have treated over 265 cancer patients with DCA.Results of the analysis of our latest data are very similar to our two earlier reports.We continue to see responses to DCA treatment in a variety of cancers including but not limited to lung, brain, colon, breast, ovary and pancreas. While we cannot comment on the cancer- specific response rates with confidence due to the relatively low numbers, our overall positive response rate continues to be between 60 – 70%. A positive response can be in the form of tumour shrinkage, cancer marker reduction, blood test improvement, symptomatic improvement, disease stabilization or a combination of any of these. In 30 - 40% of our patients we have not seen a response to treatment which is similar to our previous experience. CLIP

9/11 Truth Written into Script for "Rescue Me" TV Show (January 14, 2009) 2 min - MUST WATCH!! Wow!
Debunkers and hit piece-obsessed establishment media titans were hoping that 9/11 truth had faded into the background as we accelerate further away from the attacks which took place over 7 years ago. However, a scene from the second episode of the fifth season of Rescue Me, the wildly popular TV drama about New York City firefighters, reminds us that 9/11 remains at the forefront of American public consciousness. In the scene, the character played by Daniel Sunjata, who is a dedicated truther in real life, goes on a lengthy, detailed and vehement rant about how 9/11 was an inside job to an intrigued female character played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. The scene is part of a 9/11 conspiracy theme that runs throughout the fifth series, a fact revealed last month by Sunjata's fellow Rescue Me star, Dennis Leary. In part, Sunjata's character Franco states, "9/11? Inside job. Plain and simple. And all you gotta do is connect the dots. … I am talking about a massive neoconservative government effort, been in the works 20 years. Ever heard of PNAC? Project for a New American Century? According to them, the end goal of their effort is American global domination. Full spectrum dominance, they call it. Now, first question that pops into my mind is: How do you pull that off in this day and age?" Comment by Paul Joseph Watson

Splitting the Sky - 9/11: Follow The Money - 1:25:21 (18 déc. 2008)
Life-long activist, Splitting the Sky appeared at St. Ann's Academy on November 29, 2008. In this impassioned and authoritative speech he meticulously follows the bloody and labyrinthine trail of corruption and money, which leads him to conclude that a cast of top-level financiers and international secret service agencies were behind the events of 9/11.

Flo Whites "Money Bomb" (January 17, 2009)

Mars Anomalies, Water, Plants, Life! HD (Watch in high quality! Fascinating evidence!!!)
MUCH more on what's on Mars through - Make sure to explore this CIVILIZATION EVIDENCE DIRECTORY !

Beam me up: Scientists left baffled as mysterious columns of coloured light appear in the night skies (15th January 2009) MUST SEE! FASCINATING PHENOMENON!
These stunning images show mysterious columns of light streaming into the sky above the town of Sigulda in Latvia at the end of last month. Taken by designer Aigar Truhins with a standard digital camera, the photographs have prompted excited online discussions among amateur astronomists all over the internet.'My son exclaimed, 'The aliens are coming!'' Truhins was quoted as saying. 'It certainly looked that way,' he added. But experts are agreed there may be a more prosaic explanation - ice crystals in the air.The air above the town was notably cold and filled with suspended ice crystals. It is believed that the columns were formed by those reflecting light from the bright streetlamps and other lights on the ground - beaming it back downwards again. Skies all over Europe have been filled with such natural phenomena during the cold snap of recent weeks. Scientists at the website said: 'Truhin’s pillars are not the ordinary kind. Even eading experts in atmospheric optics can’t quite figure them out. "These pillars are mysterious. They have unexplained curved tops and even curved arcs coming from their base. Arcs in rare displays like these could be from column crystals to give parts of tangent arcs, others could be the enigmatic Moilanan arc or even the recently discovered reflected Parry arc. We do not know – so take more photos on cold nights!"

Mexico: On the Verge of a New Saucer Flap? (January 15, 2009)
Over the past month, from December 2008 to January 2009, there has been an increase in UFO sighting throughout Mexico. Daniel Sanchez Rosales has been a witness to this activity. He recorded several of these objects over the Moctezuma District, a neighborhood adjacent to Mexico City International Airport (MCIA).

UFO Reports: January 2009, part 1 (January 13, 09)
Seventy reports of UFOs were filed in the first eight days of January 2009 with the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). One incredible video capture by a New Jersey teen vacationing in California was one of nine triangular-shaped craft seen over eight states. Other sighting types during this time period included bright lights in the sky, continuing reports of a bright flash of light in the sky, cigar-shaped, oval-shaped and one report of a v-shaped craft in the city of Chicago. A selected number of these cases were arranged by type of sighting. These individual reports are unedited. CLIP

Indonesia: Another UFO spotted over a lake by multiple witnesses (14-1-2009)
Recently we reported a UFO sighting in Argentina involving a number of UFOs seen rising from a lake in the province of Entre Rios on January 2 2009 by numerous witnesses. Now we have received reports of a very similar sighting in Indonesia. The parallels are striking and raise many questions. The remarkable similarity of this sighting to the Argentinean sighting raises many tantalising questions. Are aliens hiding UFO bases at the bottom of lakes, possibly beneath the ground? It appears that lakes would provide the ideal camouflage. Does a network of tunnels connect these lake bottom bases at various points on the globe? The evidence at this stage seems to suggest that lakes are in fact very much a part of the aliens strategy for keeping us guessing in regards to their presence on this planet.

Another Eye Witness to Wind Turbine UFO
(...) Rebecca described how her horse stopped suddenly and gazed up at the sky as a bright orange light circled above the turbines.She said: "It was really bright and glowing, it went dimmer and then moved across horizontally". Shocked at her horse's reaction, Rebecca called her mum and sister shouting there was a UFO in the sky."Animals are more susceptible to things like that. Obviously we get a lot of airplanes flying over but she never normally gets bothered by them. I instantly thought it was strange". The story of the UFO sightings and the mystery of the falling blade took the world by storm with national newspapers and news crews the site of the wind farm. The fallen blade has since been sent to Germany for forensic testing. A spokesperson from the wind farm company, Ecotricity said: "The blade has been sent to Germany for analysis and hopefully we will get the results in by the end of the week - if there is a rational answer out there, we will find it". CLIP

Whistleblowers‚ evidence of NASA UFO fraud might kill UK hacker case (January 15, 09)
Evidence that U.S. space agency NASA has defrauded U.S. taxpayers for billions of dollars could scrap NASA's case against UK hacker Gary McKinnon. Credible witnesses have claimed that NASA has altered or destroyed its photos containing images of UFOs. This could become a legal and public relations nightmare for NASA. The space agency is attempting to prosecute McKinnon for hacking into NASA computer files. McKinnon has stated that he saw UFO-related files in NASA's computers. But NASA has denied any "cover-up". NASA's claim of innocence faces a serious challenge. Some of the whistleblowers are former NASA employees and contractors with inside knowledge of NASA's operation. If NASA's destruction of public property is confirmed, the alleged cost of McKinnon's hacking would be insignificant compared to NASA‚s annual funding of more than $17 billion. Even worse, NASA's year 2000 mission statement boasted that it is „ethical and honest‰ in all that they do. Part of NASA's mission is to look for signs of intelligent life in outer space. So asking for more money to 'look', after they've already destroyed evidence that they 'found', is a not going to be easy. CLIP

An experiment gone wrong (3 min 16 sec)
Food has become a great mystery to many Americans. It comes in boxes, it's to them passed over fast food counters, they don't know what's in it, they don't even know who makes it or where it comes from. Media experts speculate on the secret ingredient in the "French diet" or the "Mediterranean Diet."It's simple. It's called food.

The Daily Censored
This is the official release of The Daily Censored. As an extension of Project Censored, The Daily Censored is dedicated to bringing you news that the corporate media has either neglected or has twisted the details of. The best part is we can all contribute to the site, either by posting news stories or adding commentary. By creating this community of reporters and commentators, we can expose the type of news we don’t normally see from the often biased mainstream media, and we even have a section for editorials in the “Daily Journal” portion of the site. Sign up today to use The Daily Censored. You can view The Daily Censored in 20 different languages and also add the Live News Feed widget, and RSS to any website. Remember, the revolution will not be televised; it will be fought on the web, but not without your help.

Drug-Resistant Flu, Federal DNA Collection, Many "Pirates" Defending Their Communities, More

There is a new fad that has been going on for 2 years now and it is called "lip dub". Check this wikipedia entry to find out more on this - LINK - and watch the following examples:
Office Lip Dub - Everything's Under Control by Peregrine - CNET Australia office lip dub - Panic At The Disco Lip Dub by Jessica Alba Team Ibeatyou - Over a thousand more through this LINK

JibJab 2008 Year in Review


Israeli army withdraws from southern Gaza, main highway reopened (2009-01-18)
GAZA -- The Israeli army ground forces which seized positions into the former evacuated Jewish settlement of Nitzarim in southern Gaza City on January 4, withdrew on Sunday evening, witnesses said. The witnesses said that dozens of Israeli army tanks and vehicles withdrew from these positions as well as the position it seized on the main highway of Salah el-Dein that links Gaza City with central and southern Gaza Strip. Nine days after intensive Israeli airstrikes on hundreds of Islamic Hamas movement's targets in the Gaza Strip, Israel carried out a deep ground incursion into south, east and north Gaza city as well as into the northern Gaza Strip areas. On Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared an end of the Israeli military air and ground offensive. However, he said his troops would keep seizing positions until homemade rockets attacks on Israel stop. On Sunday, Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad (Holy War) said in a written statement sent to reporters that they accepted a ceasefire and gave the Israeli army one-week ultimatum to withdraw from entire Gaza Strip. However, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said in a statement also sent to reporters that it rejects any ceasefire with Israel, adding "armed resistance are to continue as long as there is one Israeli soldier in Gaza." CLIP

Gaza Rockets Threaten to Shatter Cease Fire

Palestinians find 95 bodies in rubble of Gaza (18/01/2009)
Many of the dead were women and children, according to Ma'an, who stayed in their homes during the clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants during Israel's 22-day offensive against Hamas. Ma'an put the Palestinian death toll at 1,234 with more than 5,450 wounded. Thirteen Israelis have been killed during the offensive, three civilians and ten soldiers.

Punishing the Palestinians by Ralph Nader (January 17, 2009)
In the long sixty-year tortured history of the Palestinian expulsion from their lands, Congress has maintained that it is always the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, and now Hamas who are to blame for all hostilities and their consequences with the Israeli government. The latest illustration of this Washington puppet show, backed by the most modern weapons and billions of taxpayer dollars annually sent to Israel, was the grotesquely one-sided Resolutions whisked through the Senate and the House of Representatives. While a massive bombing and invasion of Gaza was underway, the resolution blaming Hamas for all the civilian casualties and devastation-99% of it inflicted on Palestinians-zoomed through the Senate by voice vote and through the House by a vote of 390 to 5 with 22 legislators voting present. There is more dissent against this destruction of Gaza among the Israeli people, the Knesset, the Israeli media, and Jewish-Americans than among the dittoheads on Capitol Hill. The reasons for such near-unanimous support for Israeli actions-no matter how often they are condemned by peace advocates such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, United Nations resolutions, the World Court and leading human rights groups inside and outside of Israel, are numerous. The pro-Israeli government lobby, and the right-wing Christian evangelicals, lubricated by campaign money of many Political Action Committees (PACs) certainly are key. There is also more than a little bigotry in Congress against Arabs and Muslims, reinforced by the mass media yahoos who set new records for biased reporting each time this conflict erupts. CLIP

George Galloway "The West has DOUBLE STANDARDS when it comes to Israel"
George Galloway's powerful speech in the House of Commons debate on Gaza, Thursday 15 Jan 2009 (5.30pm), highlighting the hypocrisy and brazen double-standards of Western foreign policy towards Israel policies, including assassinations and other war crimes.

Two Films Now Available Online Expel Myths About Palestine (January 15, 2009)
Two excellent films that expel some of the commonly held myths about Gaza (Palestine) and the Occupation of Palestine are now online for free viewing. “As a result of the horrific events unfolding in Gaza, the Media Education Foundation is making its 2003 film Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land: U.S. Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict available online FOR FREE. We are taking this unprecedented step to offer critical perspective on how the U.S. news media are covering this crisis. While the film was made in 2003, its analysis of U.S. news coverage of the Middle East has never been more relevant or more urgent. The film traces a long-standing pattern of media bias in the U.S., providing much needed context for understanding American news coverage of events in Gaza now. The film has elicited widespread praise for its clear-eyed analysis of both the conflict and the often one-sided way it has been presented to Americans over the years.” You may also watch this 1 hr 27 min film HERE

Palestinian doctor who gave war dispatches to Israeli TV reports 3 daughters' deaths,0,7475024.story
The Palestinian doctor provided Israeli TV viewers with regular updates on Gaza fighting's human toll. But Friday's report was different - with sobs he told how his three daughters and a niece were killed by an Israeli shell.

Israel rejects suggestions of Gaza "war crimes" (Jan 17, 2009)
(...) A Palestinian rights group on Wednesday urged the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel, producing a 25-page petition alleging that Israel was using "terrorist weapons to conduct crimes against humanity". The ICC prosecutor in the Hague responded by saying the court had no jurisdiction to investigate in Gaza. The ICC can investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed on the territory of, or by a national of, a state.But Gaza is not a state. "In Gaza at present, the ICC lacks such jurisdiction," the prosecutor said in a statement. While Israel has not signed the Rome Statute that enshrined the ICC, it can still be investigated, but it would require the U.N. Security Council to call for such a move. Any such proposal would likely draw a veto from Israel's ally, the United States. "If you look at the ICC and the cases it has taken, whether it's the Congo, or Uganda, or potentially Sudan, they are looking at mass genocide or actions against children that are unprovoked or grotesque," said Jonathan Drimmer, an expert in war crimes issues at Steptoe & Johnson, a U.S. law firm. "I think it's unlikely that it has legs to go to the International Criminal Court... That's not to excuse completely Israel's conduct, but it is to say that you do have complicating factors in assessing possible prosecutions that don't exist in other cases that the ICC has taken," he told Reuters. Experts do believe, however, that both Israel and Hamas may have cases to answer on issues of humanitarian law. CLIP

White Phosphorous and Dense Inert Metal Explosives: Is Israel Using Banned and Experimental Munitions in Gaza? (January 14, 2009)
Israel is coming under increasing criticism for its possible use of banned and experimental munitions. Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of illegally firing white phosphorous, which causes horrific burns if it comes in contact with the skin, over crowded refugee camps in Gaza. Medics and human rights groups are also reporting that they are seeing injuries distinctive of another controversial weapon, Dense Inert Metal Explosive, known as DIME, that was designed by the US Air Force in 2006. Those struck by the weapon who survive suffer severe mutilations and internal injuries. We go to the Gaza border to speak with Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch and to Norway to speak with Dr. Mads Gilbert, who just returned from the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. He says Gaza is “truly a scene from Dante’s Inferno.” [includes rush transcript]

Turkey: Israel must be barred from UN (16 Jan 2009)
Turkey's Prime Minister has called for Israel to be barred from the UN as long as it ignores international calls to stop war on Gaza."How is such a country, which does not implement resolutions of the UN Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the UN (headquarters)?" Recep Tayyip Erdogan inquired on Friday. The remarks came before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's arrival in Ankara to discuss the conflict and amid growing outrage in Turkey over Israel's attacks on Gaza.Erdogan lashed out at the Israeli army's raids on civilians under the pretext of targeting the Palestinian fighters in the territory. He also accused the Israeli media of falsely suggesting that Hamas uses civilians as human shields in the Gaza Strip. The UN chief, who traveled to the West Bank on Thursday, has urged an end to the 'unbearable' situation in Gaza and called on Israel for a unilateral humanitarian truce. Last Thursday, the UN Security Council approved a resolution which demanded an "immediate" and "durable" ceasefire leading to the "full withdrawal" of Israeli forces from Gaza. It also called for "the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment."Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, however, vowed to resist outside pressure and push ahead with the military action against Gaza, while Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel would act 'only according to its interests'. Weeks of ceaseless Israeli airstrikes and tank shelling have so far killed more than 1,133 Palestinians across the impoverished coastal sliver, which has been under Israel's crippling blockade since June 2007. On Friday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul renewed calls for an immediate cease-fire and urged US President-elect Barack Obama to focus on a comprehensive, long-lasting and fair solution to the issue once he is in office.

Venezuela and Bolivia break diplomatic relations with Israel (15 January 09)
Venezuela and Bolivia have broken off diplomatic relations with Israel in protest over its military offensive in Gaza. (...) Mr Morales said that he was severing relations with Israel because of the Gaza offensive, and that Bolivia he would ask the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands, to bring genocide charges against top Israeli officials. He told Bolivia's diplomatic corps the Israeli attacks "seriously threatened world peace."

Canada votes alone for Israel (Jan 13, 2009)
We're the only one of 47 nations on UN rights panel to refuse to condemn military offensive in Gaza -- OTTAWA–Canada stood alone before a United Nations human rights council yesterday, the only one among 47 nations to oppose a motion condemning the Israeli military offensive in Gaza. The vote before the Geneva-based body shows the Stephen Harper government has abandoned a more even-handed approach to the Middle East in favour of unalloyed support of Israel, according to some long-time observers. Thirty-three countries voted for the strongly worded motion, which called for an investigation into "grave" human rights violations by Israeli forces, while 13 nations, mostly European, abstained.The United States, regarded as Israel's greatest ally, is not a member of the council. Marius Grinius, Canada's representative on the council, said the language of the motion, which accused Israel of sparking a humanitarian crisis, was "unnecessary, unhelpful and inflammatory."He said the text failed to "clearly recognize" that Hamas rocket attacks on Israel triggered the crisis. But observers say Ottawa's unwavering support of Israel in the current conflict – highlighted by yesterday's vote – is a break from more neutral positions of the past. CLIP

Why Canada backs Israel over Gaza (Jan 10, 2009)
How to explain Canada's position on Gaza? This country used to tread a delicate diplomatic line between Israel and Palestine. But today, both the governing Conservatives and opposition Liberals are hewing tightly to Israel. The carnage in Gaza is both lopsided and graphic. As the death toll among Palestinians rises, even neutral international bodies have become critical of Israel. The UN suspended relief supplies to Gaza after Israeli troops allegedly shot and killed one of its aid drivers. The International Committee of the Red Cross has broken its usual tactful silence to accuse Israel of breaching international humanitarian law. Yet both the Conservatives, through their junior foreign minister Peter Kent, and the Liberals, through newly-annointed leader Michael Ignatieff, insist that Israel bears no responsibility, that its destruction of Gaza is a measured response to Hamas' sporadic rocket attacks and that the Islamic organization is solely to blame.For a country that once prided itself on its even-handed approach to the Middle East, Canada's new position represents a curious shift. The reasons are twofold. The first has to do with 9/11 and the rethinking in many world capitals about organizations, like Hamas, that explicitly endorse terrorism.In Canada's case, this was heightened by the government's desire to cleave to U.S. President George W. Bush. The second reason, however, has to do with domestic politics and the succession of minority parliaments in Ottawa. In a world where no single party can command a majority of MPs, individual ridings become even more significant.And among some voters in some ridings, support for Israel is a make-or-break issue. CLIP

Petition the UK government for sanctions against Israel
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Introduce sanctions against Israel. More details - Deadline to sign up by: 27 January 2009 - You must be a British citizen or resident to sign the petition. Israeli must be punished for its failure to adhere to the Geneva convention concerning the collective punishment of the citizens of Gaza. Israeli tactics are cruel, malicious and demonstrate that Israel is not interested in the peace process or a Palestinian State. They are creating the ideal breeding ground for extremism, sabotaging peace efforts and squandering the good will they have been given. Recommended by Joanna Kossak-Cox (

U.S. may cut $1b in loan guarantees to Israel over West Bank settlements (January 16, 2009 )
The United States administration plans to cut about $1 billion from the balance of its loan guarantees to Israel because of its investments in the settlements. The balance currently stands at $4.6 billion. Washington has not officially informed Jerusalem of the cut. The assumption is that the announcement, and the decision over the exact extent of the cut, will come only after Barack Obama is sworn in as president next Tuesday. Israel has used about $4.4 billion of the $9 billion in loan guarantees extended by the U.S. in 2003 in the wake of the war in Iraq and to help shore up the Israeli economy. The guarantees have assumed greater importance recently in light of the global economic crisis and the Finance Ministry intention to use the guarantees to secure foreign loans to help pay for the expected government budget deficit. The loan guarantees arrangement specifies that the U.S. will reduce the guarantees by the amount the Israeli government spends on settlements in the West Bank. The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv monitors that spending and the administration informs Jerusalem of the amount it is holding back from the guarantees. CLIP
NOTE from Jean: How could Obama possibly support and reward the Israeli government's revulsive war crimes in Gaza through not withholding the entire remaining $4.6 billion in loan guarantees to Israel? If he keeps those loan guarantees in place, no matter any other political and strategic considerations, he will be seen very negatively by all those who have hoped that he would bring real changes in the US policies... The entanglement of US policies with the narrow, self-interested policies of Israel must cease and Israel must be shown its free ride is OVER. It must behave like a civilized nation, and be rewarded only if it does, or suffer the consequences if it continues on its current path towards self-oblivion.

Obama and the Perils of Gaza (January 16, 2009)
It's strange to think that a central hope of Barack Obama's presidency could be dashed before he puts his hand on Lincoln's bible. But as hundreds of thousands of protesters fill the streets from Beirut to Baghdad, from Paris to Athens to Sidney, it's increasingly clear that the perils of the President-elect's lame words on Gaza run deep. If Obama does not say unequivocally that Israel's current folly, with its 85:1 death ratio, is inhumane, unacceptable, and in no one's interest - least of all Israel's own - he will risk squandering his great promise to remake America's image in the world. Throughout the campaign, one of Obama's biggest appeals was in vanquishing George W. Bush's horrific international legacy: his presidential defense of torture, smug disregard for the rule of law, and lies in pursuit of war. Around the world leaders and ordinary people alike dared to hope that Obama, with roots in Africa, Indonesia and even Hawaii, could bring a worldly wisdom and empathy to peoples sickened by an America-first brutality. Now Israel's assault on Gaza threatens to smack down all such expectations. For nearly two weeks the Obama team justified its silence on Gaza with its convenient "one president at a time" mantra - one it's been quick to abandon on the economy, or the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Finally, after Israeli mortar shells killed 42 people at a U.N.-run school, Obama allowed that "the loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern." In a conflict whose latest chapter has killed more than 1000 Palestinians, compared with 13 Israelis, this faux even-handedness was as transparent as it was one-sided. Of course we should mourn all the innocent dead, but ignoring the outsized brutality of Israel's offensive, which is as bad for Israel as it is for America, presents huge hazards for the president elect. Against Obama's near silence rise ghastly mountains of rubble - the latest being the U.N. compound in Gaza City - there for all of the Arab and Muslim worlds to see. Atop one such pile, a schoolgirl's severed forearm; beneath another, an entire family. As these images build fury across the region and beyond, Obama deepens the pain with his tacit message that his American administration, in the end, may not be any different from the others. CLIP

Israel's free ride ends (13 January 2009)
As Israel pulverises Gaza, questions and doubts about Israeli policy are becoming more prominent in the American media -- It's a common, almost clichéd observation that the American media is less critical of Israeli policy than the Israeli media. In mainstream American depictions of the ceaseless misery of the Middle East, Israeli righteousness and Arab violence are routinely emphasised. The reality of Israeli settlements and Palestinian suffering have been, at best, a footnote. Conservatives often complain that the news isn't even more biased toward the Jewish state – or the most hawkish elements within it – but such carping both obscures and reinforces the real distortion in American Middle East coverage, serving as a pre-emptive warning to any outlet that might show too much sympathy for the Palestinians. (The crudeness of Israel's most vociferous detractors on the far left doesn't help, since it further marginalises criticism of Israel as the preserve of cranks who can't see a difference between Dachau and Jenin.) Slowly, though, something is changing. As Israel pulverises Gaza, questions and doubts about Israeli policy are becoming more prominent in the American media. The failure of the war in Iraq and the attendant discrediting of neoconservatism has opened up new space in the American conversation. With the American right dejected and weakened, there's less pressure on the press to display the kind of boorish one-sidedness that self-congratulatory conservatives like to call "moral clarity". Israel's disproportionate retaliation in Gaza is increasingly recognised as both brutal and, in all likelihood, ultimately futile. In destroying Gaza, Israel is also destroying the American taboo that has ensured the country such unstintingly favourable media coverage. CLIP

Speaking with David Rovics, the American singer who sings for Gaza
David Rovics, is an American folklore singer and political activist - Zionist Regime is tightening its grip over the innocent people of Gaza, selecting its victims eminently from infant children, women and the youth.The casualty rate of civilians is swelling unyieldingly and the global public opinions are astounded by the intolerable, tormenting silence of UN which turned itself into the docile "marionette" of Zionist lobby as easily as it would be possible. Independent nations, statesmen and even the outstanding figures of sports, science, culture and economy have collectively condemned the flagrant genocide of Zionist Regime over the helpless people of Gaza who are suffering from both the obstruction of Rafah crossing by a so-called Muslim government, Egypt, which simply prevents them from accessing to pharmacy, nutrition, energy and accouterment in one hand, and the multilateral onslaught of Zionist arsenal in the other.From the Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin to the famous Spanish athletes Iker Casillas and Rafael Nadal, everybody has condemned and inculpated Israel for the unprecedented massacre of Palestinian people, either expressed strong disappointment about the prospect of peace, humanity in the region and the "suspicious" inaction of Arab leaders. David Rovics, is an American folklore singer and political activist from Connecticut. Although most of Rovics' work is fully-copyrighted and commercially-distributed, Rovics has made all of his recorded music freely available on downloadable mp3 files from his website. He encourages the free distribution of his work by all non-profit means to promote his work and spread political messages. He has strong anti-Zionist, anti-Imperialist feelings and is a regular advocate of peace, establishment in the Middle East without the intervention of external hands; so far, has performed a bunch of concerts worldwide to dedicate their interests and benefits to the oppressed people of Palestine. In an exclusive interview with Tehran Times, David Rovics condemned the aggressive attacks on Gaza and proposed a lot of interesting subjects about the backgrounds, reasons and consequences of such atrocities in the region. Following you can read the whole text of interview with David Rovics, the American humanitarian singer. CLIP (Worth reading!)

500 huddled inside Gaza hospital after Israeli strike: Red Cross (Jan 15, 09)
GENEVA (AFP) - About 500 people including patients were huddled in a Gaza City hospital that suffered a "direct hit" in an Israeli air strike Thursday, the international Red Cross said, condemning the incident as unacceptable. In an unusually sharply-worded statement, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that the situation in Gaza was "completely and utterly unacceptable based on every known standard of international law and universal humanitarian principles and values." The second floor of the Al-Quds hospital immediately caught fire in the strike on Thursday morning, severely damaging the pharmacy and parts of the building. The blaze was put out by fire engines that rushed to the scene escorted by the Red Cross. However, 500 people were still inside by mid-afternoon, "huddled on the ground floor ... in fear for their lives and choking on dust and fumes," according to the Federation. A French doctor in Gaza earlier said staff and patients were trapped by Israeli attacks in the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, at least one Palestinian Red Crescent warehouse with relief supplies was shelled by Israeli forces on Thursday morning and set ablaze. The Federation accused Israeli soldiers of firing on Red Crescent volunteers to stop them from putting out the fire. CLIP

UN Headquarters in Gaza Hit by Israeli 'White Phosphorus' Shells (January 15, 2009)
JERUSALEM - The main UN compound in Gaza was left in flames today after being struck by Israeli artillery fire, and a spokesman said that the building had been hit by shells containing the incendiary agent white phosphorus. (...) Lord Malloch-Brown, the Foreign Office Minister, said that there was "absolutely no excuse" for the shelling, which, he said, reminded him of a similar attack on a UN observation post during the Israeli offensive into Lebanon in 2006.He told peers: "With over 1,000 people now dead in Gaza, many of them civilians and children, the urgent need for a diplomatic solution is clear. A robust and immediate ceasefire is the only way the current situation in Gaza can be addressed." William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, said: "The shelling of the UN Headquarters in Gaza is unacceptable. This undercuts efforts to bring relief to the people of Gaza and is against Israel's own interests. The UNWRA provides food and aid to over a million Palestinian refugees in Gaza."The suspension of its operations will bring more misery to civilians. We desperately need a ceasefire by both sides, not further escalation. Both sides must meet their obligations to protect aid workers at all times.

Halt the Use of Illegal Weapons Prohibited by International Law
Based on information gathered from the media and additional sources about the army's use of phosphorus bombs in the Gaza Strip, seven human rights organizations in Israel turned to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence and the Attorney General, demanding an immediate halt to the use of all illegal weapons prohibited by International Humanitarian Law, including phosphorous and cluster bombs. The organizations emphasize that according to international law, the use of weapons that cause unnecessary suffering, beyond what is necessary to neutralize the military threat, is completely forbidden. This is one of the oldest regulations in the modern rules of war.

A Clear and present Danger - An Israeli Call for Urgent Humanitarian Action in Gaza (January 14, 2009)

Witness reports that Israeli soldiers shot woman waving white flag in Gaza Strip (13 Jan. '09)
A Palestinian who is besieged with his family in the Khuza'a area, in the south-eastern Gaza Strip, notified B'Tselem that soldiers had shot a woman waving a white flag and several civilians who were fleeing a bombed house on army orders. Munir Shafik a-Najar, a resident of Khuza'a village, told B'Tselem's researcher by telephone that as of 2.30 A.M., the army has been demolishing homes in his area, which lies near the border with Israel. The forces have been using gunfire to signal civilians to evacuate their homes. This morning, Rawhiya a-Najar, 50, stepped out of her house waving a white flag, so that the rest of the family could leave the house and walk behind her. The witness reported that she was shot and fell. Neither family members nor rescue workers have managed to reach her to ascertain her condition, but she is still lying motionless where she fell. This afternoon, the army announced on loudspeakers that residents are to leave their homes and walk to a school in the village center. Some 30 people left their houses carrying white flags. The witness reported that after they had walked approximately 20 meters, fire was opened at the group, killing three of his relatives: Muhammad Salman a-Najar, 54, Ahmad Jum'a a-Najar, 25, and Khalil Hamdan a-Najar, 80. Many others were injured. CLIP

No resting in peace for Gaza dead (Jan 14, 2009)
GAZA (Reuters) - Stench, debris and human remains greeted Palestinians in the city of Gaza on Wednesday after an Israeli missile strike at dawn -- but in this case no one died.A big explosion tore through the increasingly packed Sheikh Redwan cemetery, shattering tombstones and ripping bones and recently buried flesh from the earth."The planes have struck even the dead. There is nothing the planes have not hit in the Gaza Strip," lamented Abu Fayez al-Shurafa, leaning on a cane.He moved around the graveyard with others who live nearby, gathering remains, righting fallen grave markers, wincing at the smell. "I was shocked they would dare do this. The flesh of the dead flew in them streets and we are collecting them in bags."An Israeli army spokesman said the air strike had not aimed at the cemetery itself but at what he described as an arms dump and rocket-launching site on the edge of it. He said "secondary explosions" from stored weaponry had caused the main damage. Gazans were unimpressed, complaining that the bombing offended religious sensibilities common to Muslims and Jews. Leading cleric Abdel-Karim al-Kahlout, the city's grand mufti, said: "Jews would rise up if anyone so much as broke a tombstone in their cemeteries. Attacking the dead is forbidden in every religion and in every belief."People in Gaza have already been resorting to reopening old tombs in the Sheikh Redwan cemetery to bury some of the 1,000 or more killed since Israel launched an offensive on December 27 it said was meant to end Hamas rocket strikes on its towns.Above the wall, a sign prominently displays the message "Cemetery Full" and exhorts people to take their dead to a new site out of town. The problem is, that site is now on the far side of the Israeli lines around the city. So families had been coming back to Sheikh Redwan for fresh burials this month. Mufti Kahlout said most of the remains recovered on Wednesday would be re-interred in a single, mass grave.

Qatar, Mauritania cut Israel ties (16 Jan 2009)
Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, also called for Arab nations to cut ties with Israel [AFP]Qatar and Mauritania have suspended economic and political ties with Israel in protest against the war in Gaza, Al Jazeera has learned.¨The move announced on Friday followed calls by Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, for all Arab nations to cut ties with Israel.Addressing leaders at an emergency Arab summit in Doha, the Qatari capital, al-Assad declared that the Arab initiative for peace with Israel was now "dead". He said Arab countries should cut "all direct and indirect" ties with Israel in protest against its offensive in Gaza. CLIP

Why Israel Is At War: Video of Missile Hitting Ashdod, Israel (!!)

Cynthia McKinney: What is Dignity? (January 14, 2009) A real people's Hero!
More about her at her website


Stimulus for All? (January 14, 2009)
The staggering gulf between the rich in America and everyone else is the root cause of our financial crisis. We can only stimulate the economy if we solve inequality. There would have been no sub-prime mortgage crisis had there not been poor families with unstable jobs to trick with bad loans. There would not be outlandish interest rates and record consumer debt had credit schemes not been invented to sucker those with limited cash. Healthcare costs would not be bankrupting families if we had established health as public benefit not a private privilege. More to the point, these and other structural inequalities were allowed to spiral out of control because our government got out of the financial regulation business at the behest of big corporations and the super-rich who wanted their profit - and thus, inequality - to grow. Trying to revive our stalled and stumbling economy without addressing the fundamental problem of inequality that got us here is like trying to fix the flat tire on your car just by adding air. It's no solution at all: there's still a hole in your tire. There is a giant hole at the bottom of the American economy that has been engulfing poor families for decades but which many others are noticing for the first time as they too are falling through it. (...) The Campaign for Community Values, a national alliance of more than 150 community organizing groups organized by the Center for Community Change, is bringing grassroots leaders to Washington everyday to press this agenda on Capitol Hill. You can help by visiting and joining our list. In his inaugural address, President Kennedy said, "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." For the economic stimulus package to work, it has to get everyone working - and make our economy work for all of us. And that means finally addressing the inequality that got us into this mess.

Want My Bailout Money
I Want My Bailout Money is a new hip hop satire song by Michael Adams (the Health Ranger), editor of It's a strong commentary on the failed fiscal policies of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury which have plunged the U.S. into seemingly irreversible debt, and possibly even an approaching era of hyperinflation. NOTE: That's got to be the hit song of the New Depression - Check also A Deflationary Environment may be Just What America Needs

Democrats Finishing Up Stimulus Proposal (January 15, 2009)
Congressional Democrats are putting the final touches on an economic stimulus package worth almost $850 billion, hoping to have the details ready in time for President-elect Barack Obama to promote it during a trip to Ohio tomorrow aimed at building public support for the recovery plan. With its cost estimate almost tripling since shortly after Obama's November election victory, the stimulus package is expected to include at least $300 billion in tax cuts and nearly $550 billion in domestic spending, making the price tag of his first major legislative initiative almost equal to the annual cost of funding all federal agencies.Democrats vowed to support the broad outlines of Obama's initial ideas, but they continued to alter the details of the plan. Support continued to slip for his tax-relief proposals for businesses -- which were initially intended to appeal to Republicans -- and preliminary spending plans showed that more than half of the new domestic spending would go to the states to provide budget relief for health, labor and education services. CLIP

The Speech President Obama Should Deliver… But Won't by David Korten
David Korten's new book Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth outlines an agenda to bring into being a new economy—locally based, community oriented, and devoted to creating a better life for all, not simply increasing profits.In this special pre-publication excerpt, Korten summarizes his version of the economic address to the nation he wishes Barack Obama were able to deliver. Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. presidency on a promise of change. Before his inauguration, indeed before his election, I drafted the following as my dream for the economic address he might deliver to the nation during his administration in fulfillment of the economic aspect of that promise. It is the New Economy agenda presented in the style of candidate Obama’s political rhetoric. I suffer no illusion that he will deliver it. He has surrounded himself with advisers aligned with Wall Street interests in an effort to establish public confidence in his ability to restore order in the economy. Because there has been no discussion of any other option, to most people “restoring order” means restoring the status quo with the addition of a job-stimulus package, and that is most likely what he will try to do. This speech presents the missing option—the program that a U.S. president must one day be able to announce and implement if there is to be any hope for our economic, social, and environmental future. CLIP

Bush's Farewell Address: Still Delusional After All These Years (January 15, 2009)
Thursday night's valedictory speech was quintessential Bush: delusional from beginning to end. He made Afghanistan sound like a swell place to take a vacation when, in truth, only those with a death wish venture out these days without an armed convoy.He lauded Iraq as "a friend of the United States" -- without ever mentioning the fact that if Iraq has a BFF it is Iran, not America. He said his Medicare prescription drug plan "is brining peace of mind to seniors." Hardly. It's been widely derided as a poorly conceived, chaotic mess. He claimed that, on his watch America's "air, water, and lands are measurably cleaner." Who is doing the measuring, the same eco-unfriendly companies to which he handed both his environmental policies and our public lands? This is a man whose administration refused to open emails from its own EPA because they contained information about greenhouse gas emissions that are endangering public health. CLIP

What Bush Left Out of His Flat Farewell (January 15, 2009)
George W. Bush gave his final speech to the nation on Thursday night. I skipped it to see my daughter, who has known no other president, perform with her school chorus. But when I later sat before my television to see how the speech was being punditized on the cable news shows, I was surprised. The water-landing of a US Airways flight in New York City dominated the coverage. There was little chatter--almost nothing--about Bush's farewell. After watching the speech on the White House website, I understood why. It was flat and short. Bush said little of interest. He dwelled mostly on 9/11 and the so-called war on terror, once again (and for the last official time) characterizing the invasion of Iraq as part of his effort to take "the fight to the terrorists." (...) Ernest Hemingway, I believe, once observed that what one doesn't put on the page is as important as what one does. And what Bush did not discuss in his farewell address also defines his presidency. Here is a partial list:* Climate change* China* Russia* North Korea* Iran* Pakistan* Osama bin Laden* Nuclear weapons* Poverty* Health insurance* Foreclosures* Housing* Guantanamo* National debt* Budget deficit* Trade deficit* Wall Street* Financial regulation* Dow Jones* Retirement security* Social Security* Medicaid* Energy* Immigration* Automobile industry* Housing* Subprime credit* Wages* Jobs* FEMA... What else is there to say? In the end, after eight long and traumatic years, Bush did not have much to tell us. Who wouldn't rather watch a miracle airplane landing than a failure saying goodbye?

Assessing the Bush Legacy (December 17, 2008)
Global War, War On Americans, Torture Programs, Destruction Of Civil Liberties, And Mega-Theft

Keith Olbermann: Bush presidency, 8 years in 8 minutes
Keith Olbermann addresses the eight years of the Bush administration in eight minutes. Transcript at

Circuit City pulls plug on all its stores, including San Luis Obispo location (January 16, 2009)
Circuit City is the nation's second-biggest consumer electronics retailer.Back in November, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Friday, the retailer asked for court approval to close its 567 stores after it could not find a buyer or refinance. Circuit City is just another in a string of big box shops that have filed for bankruptcy recently. CLIP

Circuit City, I Won't Miss You (Jan 18, 2009)
I suspect that nobody's really surprised that Circuit City has finally bitten the dust. The fading electronics chain had been in a death spiral for quite some time, and all the cost-cutting in the world couldn't save it in the end. While a dreadful economy contributed to its downfall, Circuit City's real problem was getting stuck with bad management that ultimately drove the company out of business. Let's backtrack a bit. Back in March 2007, Circuit City fired more than 3,400 experienced sales people and other staffers simply because they were making too much money. Management then hired inexperienced, lower-paid workers to take their place. Bad move. Really bad move. This short-sighted decision may have looked good to then-CEO Philip Schoonover, who collected a cool multi-million bonus that year for his cost-cutting brilliance, but I'm convinced that it drove shoppers elsewhere. It certainly did in my case. (An aside: The Wall Street Journal named Schoonover the worst CEO of 2008 for his managerial bungling.) CLIP

200,000 war veterans homeless in US
300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans file disability claims with US federal government. -- For six years of war in Iraq, the Bush administration has done absolutely nothing to take care of the hundreds of thousands of wounded veterans coming home, said Aaron Glantz, a journalist who has been covering the stories of US military vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. "We've had people brought into the VA, turned away, who have committed suicide after coming back from the war with post-traumatic stress disorder. We've had people redeployed to Iraq, even after they were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. We have 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans coming home with traumatic brain injury, physical brain damage. We have 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who have filed disability claims with the federal government," Glantz told Democracy Now! on Thursday."In many cases, there is no medical services at all, because remember that many people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan come from rural communities where the VA doesn't even have a hospital," he explained. There are 200,000 homeless war veterans in the United States. "On every night, 200,000 people who have put on the uniform and served this country sleep homeless on the streets," said Glantz. "Imagine that you come home from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental wound, or traumatic brain injury, physical brain damage often caused by a roadside bomb. The first thing that you have to do just to get in the door at the VA is to fill out a twenty-six-page form where you substantiate exactly how you were wounded, where you get letters of support from your battle buddies, from your commanders. You subpoena your own Army records, often with the help of your congressperson. And you present to the VA a gigantic claim folder, which they then sit on for an extended period of time. And that's just to get in the door. So we take our veterans when they‚re most wounded and most vulnerable and exploit them by making them fill out a mound of paperwork just to get in the door," noted Glantz. CLIP

You are being lied to about pirates (January 5, 2009)
Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? The British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. But behind ... this tale there is an untold scandal. In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas. Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them.

U.S. Embassy in Iraq Largest, Most Expensive Ever (January 5, 2009),2933,476464,00.html
After much delay the United States opened its new $700 million embassy in Iraq on Monday, inaugurating the largest — and most expensive — embassy ever built. The compound is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the size of the National Mall in Washington. It has space for 1,000 employees with six apartment blocks and is 10 times larger than any other U.S. embassy. Critics have said that the embassy's fortress-like design and immense size show a fundamental disconnect between the U.S. and conditions on the ground in Iraq. “The presence of a massive U.S. embassy — by far the largest in the world — co-located in the Green Zone with the Iraqi government is seen by Iraqis as an indication of who actually exercises power in their country,” the International Crisis Group, a European-based research group, said in 2006. "The idea of an embassy this huge, this costly, and this isolated from events taking place outside its walls is not necessarily a cause for celebration," architectural historian Jane Loeffler wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2007. “Although the U.S. Government regularly proclaims confidence in Iraq’s democratic future, the U.S. has designed an embassy that conveys no confidence in Iraqis and little hope for their future. Instead, the U.S. has built a fortress capable of sustaining a massive, long-term presence in the face of continued violence.”

Positive News Issue Dec 31, 2008
It feels as if 2009 has arrived with force and there are some very testing situations to be addressed. Time of transition are always challenging and although there are a lot of difficulties to overcome, it is also a time of opportunity. Many exciting innovations and creative ideas are breaking through. In times like these I feel that every positive action helps, no matter how small. With this in mind I would like to tell you about one of the resources that we are featuring this month called “The Nag” They say: “With a new year upon us, many people will have made numerous resolutions. But, how many of us will actually keep them? For those who have some difficulty with this, there is now an online service that prompts you to make one sustainable change to your life every month. The Nag is a playful website that leads you step by step through a different low-effect, high impact action. From energy, to flying, clothes, water, food, fairtrade, rubbish, transport, chemicals, The Nag really does cover it all. Created out of a desire to make living more sustainably easy and accessible for everyone, The Nag gives information to those who want to do more, but are not too sure where to start. The idea is that thousands of small actions taken together can create significant and visible waves of change. If we use our power as citizens, consumers, communities and organisations, then we can encourage leaders in business and government to take the bold steps needed to create a better world.”

CLIMATE ALERT! Stop Rogue German Ship from Fertilizing Southern Ocean in Dangerous Geo-Engineering Experiment (January 17, 2009)
Many seek to "geo-engineer" a global solution to climate change; that is, modify the Earth's biosphere at a planetary scale. Is humanity so resistant to change that we will seek to construct a "Frankensphere", with dramatic unknown consequences, rather than reducing emissions, consumption and population? A rogue science ship is poised to carry out risky experimental fertilization of the Southern Ocean. This is likely the first of many coming attempts to begin "geo-engineering" the biosphere as a solution to climate change. RV Polarstern, a German research ship, is to dump twenty tons of iron sulphate over 300 square kilometres of the Scotia Sea, off Chile's coast, near the Antarctic Peninsula. The chemical cargo -- normally used to treat lawns and sewage -- is likely to provoke a massive algal bloom big enough to be seen from outer space. German and Indian scientists are hoping the experiment will show that such manmade algae blooms can provide a quick fix to climate change by absorbing carbon into the sea. Please write to the German government demanding that the RV Polarstern turn around and return to port. Insist that Germany agree to a permanent ban on large-scale geo-engineering experiments and implementation, until all other options are exhausted, and until global geo-engineering protocols are in place.

Agriculture Nominee Vilsack Splits the Organic Community (January 14, 2009)
WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) - Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack had no problem winning over both Democrat and Republican members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee during his confirmation hearing today, but he has not done as well with the growers and consumers of organic foods.A trial lawyer and two-term Iowa governor from 1999 to 2007, Vilsack owns a 590-acre Iowa farm, about half of which is planted to crops. He told the committee he supports federal programs that assist organic agriculture, but he has not managed to persuade the consumers of organic foods that he can be trusted to safeguard their interests. In the past, Vilsack has supported the genetic engineering of crops, which is viewed as a threat by organic farmers who cannot get organic certification for their produce if it is contaminated by pollen drift from transgenic crops. Official policy of the Agriclutre Department is that genetically engineered crops need not be regulated or labeled. Some in the organic community also see Vilsack as a friend of corporate agribusiness interests, and they have mounted a petition drive to express their opposition to his nomination.The Organic Consumers Association says it is "disappointed in this controversial appointment" of Vilsack and has gathered over 100,000 emails and petition signatures from organic consumers and farmers objecting to the appointment of the man they call a "biotech and biofuels booster." (...) "We were and still are optimistic that when Mr. Obama talked about 'change' during his campaign, that he included a shift away from corporate agribusiness domination at the USDA," said Mark Kastel, a farm policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. Organic farmers and consumers have many environmental concerns, among them genetic crop engineering, pest control, clean and sufficient water supplies, hormones in milk, manure management, the decline of pollinators such as honeybees, labeling of organic products, land use for biofuels, and a warming climate. In his introductory remarks, committee chairman Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa raised the issue of organic foods, pointing out that "the demand for locally-grown and organic foods continues to grow - the fastest growing part of the food chain - providing new and expanding opportunities in rural communities." CLIP

Chairman of Citizens for Health Declares FDA Should Review Approval of Splenda - New Study of Splenda and Sucralose Reveals Shocking New Information About Potential Harmful Effect on Humans (Sept. 22, 2008)
MINNEAPOLIS (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- James Turner, chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health expressed shock and outrage after reading a new report from scientists at Duke University. "The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side effects from using Splenda and this study, published this past week in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A, confirms that the chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning label," said Turner.Among the results in the study by Drs. Mohamed B. Abou-Donia, Eman M. El-Masry, Ali A. Abdel-Rahman, Roger E. McLendon and Susan S. Schiffman is evidence that, in the animals studied, Splenda reduces the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50%, increases the pH level in the intestines, contributes to increases in body weight and affects the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in the body in such a way that crucial health-related drugs could be rejected. Turner noted that the P-gp effect "could result in crucial medications used in chemotherapy for cancer patients, AIDS treatment and drugs for heart conditions being shunted back into the intestines rather than being absorbed by the body as intended."

New book, lawmaker expose Big Brother technology in the living room
Interactive TV Spies on Viewers Ground-breaking legislation in California is fighting Microsoft and AOL to stop them creating the machine George Orwell foresaw - the TV set that watches you. At the same time, a new book titled Spy TV exposes the methods by which digital interactive television will observe and experiment of viewers. It describes how neural network software will be used to create "psychographic profiles" and then "modify the behavior" of individuals.This year broadcasters will celebrate interactive TV in public, using words like "convenience" and "empowerment". AOL TV is rolling out with the TiVo personal video recorder (PVR), that helps viewers find and save programs they might like. Microsoft is launching its own PVR called Ultimate TV, claiming "It puts you in control!". But while you may be sold on home shopping and chat, broadcasters have been selling advertisers their new power to monitor everything you do with your remote. At industry conferences on interactive TV, Microsoft has been handing out specifications of its new platform. Their Microsoft TV Server, for instance, enables "optimizes revenue opportunities by providing rich personalization and targeting of content and ads to consumers based on their television viewing and Web surfing histories and preferences."Matthew Timms, of Two Way TV in London, describes this surveillance in the home in plain English: "Somehow they feel they're sitting there - it's just them and the television - even though the reality is it's got a wire leading straight back to somebody's computer." Now in bookstores, Spy TV is the backbone of an effort by White Dot, the anti-television campaign, to educate the public about this invasive technology. CLIP

Our Oceans: What Could Happen
(...) Scientists now predict with a great degree of certainty that unless we switch to a clean energy economy, climate change will result in increased severity and intensity of storms, melting sea ice, rising sea level, changes in food production and drinking water availability and importantly, the acidification of our oceans and a mass extinction of corals. CLIP

Omega-News Collection 17. January 2009

EMF-Omega-News 17. January 2009



Forwarded by Ed Elkin ( on 14 Jan 2009


Towards a Miracle in the Middle East

By Marianne Williamson -- January 04, 2009

Today is a day to cry for Israel. Today is a day to cry for the Palestinians. Today is a day to cry for all of us.

Today is a day of war.

War anywhere, at this point in our history, is an action that threatens peace everywhere. Particularly when it comes to the Middle East. From its spiritual significance to its political significance, it is humanity's hot spot. It always has been and probably always will be. It's where all the rivers of human perspective meet, to become either a cauldron of hatred or an ocean of love.

While it might be tempting to “take sides” between Israel and the Palestinians, spiritually there are no sides to be taken. God does not give us victory in battle but rather lifts us above the battlefield. As a generation, our moral imperative is to end war period, to somehow move beyond the idea that war is an acceptable means of solving problems. Anything less then that makes us attitudinal conspirators with a line of probability leading to nuclear catastrophe.

According to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, humanity's biggest problems cannot be solved; they must be outgrown. Our task is to create a field of consciousness in which the idea of war has dropped from the ethers.

So how do we outgrow war?

The first thing we do is to accept the possibility that the end of war is possible. In fact, in the words of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, “We must challenge the belief that war is inevitable.” We must embrace the possibility that a world without war could exist.

Secondly, we must mature beyond the belief that the thinking that got us into this mess is thinking can lead us out of it. “The problems of the world will not be solved on the level of thinking we were at when we created them,” wrote Einstein. We must realize that the mortal ego will not provide us with a solution to the existence of war, because it itself is the problem. Notions such as, “The Israelis have a right to defend themselves,” and “The Palestinians have taken so much abuse; what do you expect them to do?” are both insidious drivers of war masquerading as principled stands. They keep us attached to the very duality that is the root of separation and war.

On a spiritual level, our greatest service to both Israelis and Palestinians is to reach for a higher truth within our own minds. An essential principle of metaphysical reality is that all minds are joined; as any of us are drawn to higher thoughts, then all of us are drawn to higher thoughts. As we ourselves embrace a higher truth, we help create an anti-gravitational force field that lifts all minds above separation, hatred and war.

For all our talk about wanting to be the change, how many of us are siding now against one side or the other in the current Mid-East conflict? If you really want to help the situation there, ask God to remove from your heart any judgment you have against the Israelis or the Palestinians. Any thought of judgment you hold is like a gun that you yourself are firing.

The human race is evolving to the realization that what is happening on the level of consciousness both precedes and determines what happens in the world. War is just an effect, not a cause. With the power of our minds, we can move beyond the level of effect to the level of cause. There, and only there, can we wipe out what President Franklin Roosevelt called the “beginnings of all war.”

As Americans, we have a creed --- a set of principles enshrined and institutionalized in our founding documents. First and foremost among them is that “all men are created equal.” Period. End of story. Don't be lured into thinking that either Israelis or Palestinians have been either the perfect innocents or the perfect victims here; such thinking serves neither. The greatest gift you can give to both is to realize that on a spiritual level, Israelis and Palestinians are one. Their only true reality is the reality of whom they are in this moment, freed from any thoughts of the past.

Complexity is of the ego; do not linger there. Of course there is a complicated history to the struggle currently playing out in the Middle East, and that complicated history has significance and relevance for traditional political formulation. So leave that to the traditional politicians. Our task as seekers and purveyors of a higher human consciousness is to move beyond traditional political notions, to a holistic politics that embraces the relevance of psychological and spiritual realities to the political issues of our time. As students of Gandhi and Dr. King, we know that moving beyond the violence in our own hearts is essential if we are to be conduits for the creation of a world at peace. The truly new politics goes beyond mere “post-partisan” hand-shaking and collaboration among former rivals. It takes us to a new kind of thinking as a basis for the creation of a new kind of world.

Traditionalists can call us naïve all they want to. But anyone who thinks that human hatred can simply be bombed away…they are naïve. Anyone who thinks we can continue to tolerate violence on this planet at ever-increasing levels and have such conflagrations not lead to the ultimate cataclysm of nuclear catastrophe… they are naïve. Anyone who thinks that the narrowness of a rationalistic, mechanistic human perspective can lead us out of the hell which that perspective itself has created…they are naïve. And those who see prayer as merely “symbol, not substance”… they are naïve. Prayer is hardly just symbol; it is a mover of hearts, and thus a mover of mountains.

Mountains we now need desperately to move.

Through the grace of God we are not powerless; according to A Course in Miracles, moving mountains is small compared to what we can do. War is at heart a spiritual problem and it can only be eradicated with a spiritual solution….a solution that lies within all of us.

Martin Luther King Jr. said there is a power in our hearts more powerful than the power of bullets. He described Mahatma Gandhi as the first person in the world to take the love ethic of Jesus Christ and turn it into a broad scale social force for good. (To Gandhi himself, non-violence was not just the love ethic of Jesus, but rather the heart of all religion and the heart of reality itself.) On today's geo-political landscape, we see hatred turned into a political force all around us; the politics of non-violence turns love into a political force. The question for any conscious human being, much less spiritual seeker, is, “How can I help do that?” Only the power in our hearts will be able to eradicate the idea of war, then the reality of war, from the experience of the human race.

According to Gandhi, the problem with the world was that humanity was not in its right mind. And arguably, we still are not. War, quite simply, is insane. For those of us who wish to be part of the solution to war - not part of the problem -- it is time to change our own minds, to accept a healing of our own war-like thoughts, in order to create a new field of possibility. Whether dealing with the transformation of the individual or of the transformation of the world, only what is changed on the level of consciousness becomes a fundamental change in the conditions of the world.

For five minutes each day, be a spiritual activist.

You probably already know what to do. Turn off the TV; neither CNN, MSNBC or FOX know the news. They only know data.

Turn off the bright lights. Put down the newspaper. And go within.

However you do it, turn your attention to the God of your understanding. Surrender your own hatred, give over your own wars, and ask that this year you be lifted above the violence that still lives inside your heart.

With your eyes closed, see on one side of your inner vision the Israeli people. See their physicality, their mannerisms, as you recognize them on the material plane. Now see a light within their hearts, and slowly watch that light expand, extending beyond the confines of their bodies. See the bodies begin to fade before the greater light of their eternal selves.

Now with your inner eye look to the other side of your inner vision, and see there the Palestinian people. See their physicality, their mannerisms, as you recognize them on the material plane. Now see a light within their hearts, and slowly watch that light expand, extending beyond the confines of their bodies. See the bodies begin to fade before the greater light of their eternal selves.

Now using your inner eye - your greatest source of power - bear witness to what happens as the inner light of the Israelis begins to merge with the inner light of the Palestinians. Bear witness to the merging of their spiritual selves. Simply watch and focus, for what you focus on grows stronger.

You are bearing witness now to a higher truth, thus using the power of your mind to draw a heavenly truth into material manifestation. In the presence of higher thought forms, lower ones fall of their own dead weight. In the presence of light, darkness disappears. In the presence of eternal truth, temporal lies begin to fall away.

In the words of Dr. King, “No lie can last forever.” The idea that the Israeli and Palestinian people are truly separate, or have separate needs, is simply a lie of the mortal mind. Spiritually, we are all one. Israelis and Palestinians were created by the same God; in Him they are equal and they are joined eternally. Only thought forms have separated them. Thought forms of guilt and separation have been handed down to children born innocent of such lies, generation after generation; those are the true enemy here, not either group of people.

As any of us move beyond the fear-based thought forms of separation and guilt to the truth of our eternal oneness, it becomes easier for everyone else to do so as well. Let's give up the way-too-easy, so-American way of chiding either Israelis or Palestinians for their difficulty in forgiving the past. What both peoples have endured is almost unimaginable, and only the truly sainted among us should even for a minute consider judging either side.

We don't have to; and when in our own right minds, we don't want to.

Use the power of your mind to create a new possibility… a miracle in the Middle East.

As the poet Rumi wrote so eloquently, “Out beyond all ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. I'll meet you there.” So go there now. Such thoughts are not just poetry, or even symbol, any longer. In the world that's being born, they're the stuff of a new politics.

No more simply asking, “But what can I do?” Go even further, to “What can I think? What can I pray for? What can I meditate on?” Pray for the removal of all walls that separate any of us from any of us, not only on our earth but also in our minds. Pray for the removal of the guns that still fire within your own mind as you accuse or withhold your forgiveness from anyone. And pray that at this perilous hour, those of us whose lives have not been touched by the horrors of war can be of service to those whose lives have been.

Dear God, please deliver them.

And dear God, deliver us all.


Date: 16 Jan 2009
From: I AM Carl Landsness (
Subject: Are we willing to reach higher?


I am quite moved by your words to Elisa re the Jewish/Palestinian challenges. This latest situation really hit me... seeing it as very pivotal to our global future... macro to micro.

As I've struggled with massive inner conflicts, I've gained a deeper appreciation and compassion for the people and issues of this very challenged region. My mortal brain and emotions get totally overwhelmed in despair (for me and them)... reaching for higher perspectives and powers (e.g. higher self, ascended masters, etc.). Even THEY are challenged by this situation.

The below letter I wrote last night reflects my attempts to reach for such powers, make peace with myself, and contribute to the greater peace.

May peace be with you,



As we approach MLK Day and this epic inauguration, I am reminded how Dr. King inspired me to reach deep inside (five years ago) to co-create (with him and Spirit) a heart and soul plea to Americans to reach higher... taking his dream to the next level.

I had a very mystical encounter with Dr. King in 2005 during a personal pilgrimage to America's birthplaces. Arriving in DC at 1AM on July 4th... I walked and communed (all night) with the energies of this nation... arriving the Lincoln Memorial just before dawn. Sitting on "his spot", I felt his passion, purpose, and presence emerge with the sunrise... shining new power of hope to a nation in disillusionment, disharmony, and disenfranchisement.

Is Dr. King the "opening act" for Obama's inauguration?
Are Americans reaching high enough?
Might we need even more?

Such possibilities are below:

Soul of America
A deeper perspective of who we are

America's Higher Purpose
Few Americans are aware of the higher purpose behind the founding of this nation. We could champion a rebirth of this purpose.
Offers many ideas to unite and inspire enemies on a shared vision, a higher purpose, a new American Dream.

Partnership Way
Possibilities for shifting our exhausted dominator paradigm to an energized partnership paradigm

Nonviolent Communication and Consensus
Tools for transforming conflict into win-win synergy

Conscious Evolution
A higher perspective of what's happening

The Work
Seeing the hidden blessing, message, or mirror in the people and issues that trigger us

Swami Beyondananda
The immense value of humor when we get too serious

Legend of the Peacemaker
The roots of our Constitution... and inspiration for today

Messages and images from a higher perspective
Inspiring hearts and souls to higher levels

May we find the courage, wisdom, and strength to reach higher (and not expect Obama to rescue us).

Carl Landsness
"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.



Seek democracy, not a two-state solution

John V. Whitbeck -- January 15, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama has a problem. Particularly in the wake of Israel's holiday-season attack on Gaza, he is under heavy pressure to focus immediately on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to "do something." However, if he were simply to announce an intention to work harder to achieve an impossible goal by means that have repeatedly failed - a decent two-state solution through bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations - such a commitment to further years of time-wasting would kill hope rather than inspire it.

Furthermore, he has let it be known that he would like to make a major speech in a Muslim country early in his presidency. A welcome gesture, to be sure, but what would he say? If he were simply to promise more of the same, as he did during his campaign, his frustrated audience might be tempted to throw shoes. What could he say that would truly represent change in American policy and would inspire genuine and justified hope that Middle East peace really is possible?

Imagine a speech that concluded as follows:

"During the 20 years since the Palestinian leadership formally committed itself to seeking peace with some measure of justice through a two-state solution, virtually the entire international community has, at some point, come to subscribe, at least formally, to that goal. Unfortunately, during those same 20 years, the realistic possibility of actually achieving a decent two-state solution has become more remote with each passing year. Constantly expanding facts on the ground that render a viable and coherent Palestinian state virtually inconceivable have aggravated the multitude of excruciatingly complicated and difficult final status issues that have proven too sensitive even for serious discussion between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships. As a result, the most knowledgeable and realistic observers have reluctantly concluded that a decent two-state solution is no longer possible.

"I therefore call on Israelis, Palestinians and all who truly care about peace, justice and the best interests of both Israelis and Palestinians to consider the only other acceptable alternative - democracy: a single state in all of the land that both Israelis and Palestinians love and consider rightfully theirs, with full and equal rights for both peoples and free of any form of discrimination based on race, religion or any other distinction.

"Just as marriage is vastly less complicated than divorce, democracy is vastly less complicated than partition. A democratic solution to this century-old conflict would not require any borders to be agreed, any division of Jerusalem, anyone to move from his home or any assets to be evaluated and apportioned. Full rights of citizenship would simply be extended to all surviving natives still living in the country, as happened in the United States in the early 20th century and in South Africa in the late 20th century.

"The obstacle to such a simple and morally unimpeachable solution is, of course, ethical, intellectual and psychological. No one would suggest that the ethical, intellectual and psychological transformations necessary to achieve a democratic solution will be easy. However, because the only transformations necessary would be in the human mind, they could occur suddenly under proper leadership and inspiration.

"In this context, Israelis should reflect upon the experience of white South Africans. The transformation of South Africa's racial-supremacist ideology and state system into a truly democratic one has liberated white South Africans, as well as black South Africans, and has transformed white South Africans from international pariahs into people welcomed throughout their region and the world. It has also ensured the permanence of a strong and vital white presence in southern Africa in a way that prolonging the flagrant injustice of a racial-supremacist ideology and state system and imposing fragmented and dependent independent states on the natives could never have achieved. This is not a precedent to dismiss. It is one that could and should inspire.

"I solemnly call upon not only Israelis and Palestinians but on nations and peoples everywhere to unite to make this vision of peace through democracy and equal rights a reality and, by doing so, to make our world a far better and safer world."

Likely? Of course not. Possible? Absolutely. If President-elect Barack Obama dared to advocate democracy as the path to peace for Israelis and Palestinians at the start of his presidency and to press for its achievement in the years remaining to him, it might well happen. No greater service to mankind can be imagined.

John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel, is author of "The World According to Whitbeck."


Related articles and websites:

The one-state solution is the most visionary AND the most sensible - Brilliant solution!
Whoever has eyes to see and ears to hear knows that the choice is between another “hundred years of conflict” ending in annihilation, and a partnership among all the inhabitants of this land. -- Olga Document (Israel), June 2004 (...) Publicly, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and every major Western government all support the two-state solution. Vociferously and unbendingly. But behind the headlines, the one-state solution is gaining traction. Here’s what Hobart College political scientist and democracy activist Virginia Tilley recently discovered: My own recent experience in [Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Europe, and South Africa], not to mention extensive Internet activism, has confirmed that the death of the two-state solution has become the elephant in the room for diplomats, human-rights activists, and the “Arab street” alike. Judging by confidential reports, belief that a one-state solution has become inevitable is circulating within the Palestinian Authority. . . . Nor is this analysis confined to Palestinians: broad layers of diplomats and other staff from European states and the U.N. are privately discussing the one-state solution. Moreover, some of the most eloquent endorsements for such a solution are from prominent Jewish professionals in Israel and abroad. Tilley’s observations are confirmed by a wide variety of thinkers and activists. For example, Ha’aretz Online editor Peter Hirschberg notes that “a growing number of Palestinian intellectuals” are taking up the one-state model. And Palestinian-American writer and Internet activist Ali Abunimah contends that ordinary Palestinians are significantly more supportive of the one-state solution than are Palestinian intellectuals!In Israel, syndicated global affairs columnist Helena Cobban detects “increasing numbers of intellectuals” moving to the one-state solution. And one-state supporter Miko Peled -- son of famed Israeli General Matityahu Peled -- happily reports that “a tremendous amount of change [is] in the air.” In the U.S., you can detect that people from every political camp may be ready for one-state: (...) Put the ideas of the most responsible advocates of the one-state solution together, as I’ve done here, and you’ll not only discern the outlines of a holistic solution that could make peace possible. You’ll discern the outlines of a solution that could make daily political, economic, and cultural life more attractive -- for all concerned -- than would be possible if Israel and Palestine resolved themselves as two solitudes . . . two separate states. (...) Jeff Halper, an Israeli anthropologist, expects that the one state -- seamlessly combining the talents and energies of Israeli Jews and Palestinians -- would become one of the “leading forces for democratization and development” in the world. Gavron couldn’t agree more, claiming that “the integration of all the different peoples . . . into one pluralistic entity will release enormous forces of inventiveness [and] creativity.”Cobban goes so far as to say that a binational Israel-Palestine “could be the start of a hopeful new chapter in human history.” The least you can say is that Iran or any other bad actor in the region might not feel compelled to bomb Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, etc., if those were centers of a Middle-East-committed, development-assistance-dispensing, multi-ethnic and multi-religious civilization. CLIP - Recommended by Da Vid ( who wrote: "We support a ONE STATE SOLUTION for Israel/Palestine and a U.N. resolution acknowledging "the Old City" of Jerusalem, as an International City of Peace ... We acknowledge that Real Peace is rooted in spiritual awareness." Da Vid also recommended the 3 following items...

Israel's core messages, listed below, argue for the justice of its invasion of Gaza in late December, 2008, cast Israel as the victim and endeavor that its "war on Hamas" not be seen against the background of prolonged occupation, closure and sanctions, but of the broader Western "War on Terror."The alternative view presented below argues otherwise. As Israelis committed to human rights, international law and a just peace as the only way out of our interminable and bloody conflict with the Palestinians, we contend that security cannot be achieved unilaterally, especially as Israel shows no signs of fully relinquishing its 41 year Occupation so that a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian may emerge. In that context, Israel's attack on Gaza can be considered merely another attempt to render its Occupation permanent by destroying any source of effective resistance. The immediate pretext of Israel's attack, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, does not explain the disproportionality of its attack, especially given the unrelenting sanctions, attacks and assassinations carried out by Israel throughout the cease-fire. Indeed, we argue that Israel could have avoided all attacks upon it over the last twenty years, as well as the rise of Hamas to power, if it had accepted the PLO's offer of a two-state solution proffered already in 1988 and has entered into negotiations in good faith. Instead, Israel, the strong party in the conflict and the sole Occupying Power, chose to dramatically increase its settler population, construct a permanent infrastructure of separation and control, remove "Greater Jerusalem" from Palestine and encircle the West Bank with its expanded borders: that of the Separation Barrier incorporating Israel's major settlement blocs and the "security border" of the Jordan River. Israel is not a victim; it is the active perpetrator of a permanent apartheid regime over all of Israel/Palestine. It is toward that goal that Gaza is being violently pacified today, Israel's killing with impunity scores of Palestinian civilians constituting nothing less than State Terrorism. The following pages present the essential elements of the Israeli government's framing of its assault on Gaza, followed by a critical re-framing that introduces context, policies and aims which the government's version purposely omits. CLIP

The Hope - The New Jesuralem
To Realize the Vision of Jerusalem in our Lifetime: The City of Peace, a House of Prayer for all the Nations

1st International Conference on Religion, Conflict, and Peace
Walking The Talk Through Fear of the Unknown To Understanding And Harmony -- March 13-15 , 2009 Oakland University ~ Rochester, Michigan USA -- A Multi-disciplinary, Multi-cultural Conference



Gaza war recovery plans face huge obstacles

By Adam Entous -- January 17, 2009

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - International aid plans for post-war Gaza call for rushing in food and medicine and restoring water and power, but a wholesale reconstruction of the enclave is a long way off, Western diplomats said on Saturday.

Preliminary estimates of the cost of rebuilding from Israel's devastating military offensive top $1.6 billion, according to the diplomats. But they said a full accounting of the damage had yet to begin and would take weeks to complete.

Representatives of the European Union, the United Nations and the World Bank held an emergency meeting in Jerusalem on Saturday to prepare an initial response to Israel's unilateral ceasefire, which starts at 2 a.m. (0000 GMT) on Sunday.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised Israel would be "mindful of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and will continue to do our best to facilitate humanitarian solutions on the ground in cooperation with international humanitarian bodies."

But without an accord with Hamas on who will control Palestinian border crossings, diplomats feared Israel would limit the inflow of goods, hampering recovery work and creating more hardship for Gaza's 1.5 million residents.

Food, cooking gas, fuel, electricity and running water are scarce, and Israel's bombing of smuggling tunnels under Gaza's border with Egypt will only increase Palestinian dependence on the limited supplies the Jewish state and Egypt let in.

At least 1,203 Palestinians have been killed, including 410 children, and 5,300 wounded, since the Israeli offensive began on December 27, Hamas health officials said. About 45,000 Gazans fleeing battle zones are sheltering in U.N.-run schools.

The first stage of the international emergency response will center on bringing medical and humanitarian supplies through Israeli and Egyptian border crossings.

Another priority will be restoring electricity, water and sanitation services to pre-conflict levels, diplomats said.

With nearly all sewage and water pumps out of action due to fuel and power shortages, health officials fear an outbreak of waterborne diseases unless those systems are quickly restored.

Donors' conferences are already in the works, including one announced on Saturday by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Diplomats said the conference in Egypt would take place in February and include the Quartet of Middle East mediators -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, will play a central role in the reconstruction effort, restoring, Washington hopes, some of its influence in Hamas's stronghold.

But Iranian-backed Hamas, which won a 2006 Palestinian election and seized control of Gaza 18 months later, still sees itself as the legitimate authority and wants to spearhead reconstruction after the fighting ends.

"It's going to be a very complicated issue," a senior Western diplomat said of the reconstruction, pointing to the problems of Palestinian infighting and corruption.

Rebuilding will also require Israel to keep border crossings with Gaza open to enormous amounts of aid and building supplies like steel and cement, as well as cash to pay local contractors. Israel has long limited such imports, arguing that they can be used by Hamas to build rockets, bunkers and smuggling tunnels.

An official involved in coordinating with the Israeli army said it was "premature" to focus on long-term reconstruction because it was unclear who would be in charge of Gaza's crossings after Israel leaves.

If Abbas's Authority controls the passages on the Palestinian side, reconstruction efforts would still be difficult but might have a chance, the diplomat said.

But if Hamas tries to assert control there, Israel would most likely clamp down, making reconstruction impossible.

According to a partial estimate by the Palestinian Statistics Bureau, more than 20,000 residential buildings have been damaged in Israeli air, sea and ground attacks, and some 4,000 totally destroyed.

Since the fighting began, 13 Israelis have been killed -- 10 soldiers and three civilians hit by Hamas rockets.

Many more related news through this LINK



A “right” to defence is not a “strategy” for peace

by Lisa Schirch

15 January 2009

WASHINGTON, DC - From an Israeli perspective, the cost in international outrage and Palestinian civilian lives of the current attacks on Gaza is worth the price of crushing Hamas’s firepower. The goal is seductive, and Israel will likely succeed in slowing the development of rockets by Hamas in the short term. But just like Israel’s siege of Lebanon in 2006, the Israeli “shock and awe” military strategy in Gaza will not undermine Hamas’s leadership or bring long term security.

Both Israel and Gaza have a right to defend themselves. But there is a difference between a right to defence and an effective strategy for ending the attacks and ongoing violence.

The key ingredients of Hamas’s rockets are not metal casings and bags of explosives brought through tunnels from Egypt, and then built and launched from Gazan garages.

Blasting Gazan infrastructure and killing members of Hamas do nothing to destroy the motivation that compels a young Palestinian boy to pick up a rock or strap explosives to his body.

The real recipe for Hamas’s rockets is an environment of desperation and humiliation spawned by a complicated brew of poverty and political impotence.

Gaza is a prison with 45% unemployment, the highest in the world according to the United Nations. Half the population is under 18 and a third of the population lives in refugee camps. Palestinians have little land and few rights. This fuel of despair and humiliation gives rise to new generations of extremists and an ambition for more sophisticated rockets.

The siege of Gaza could consolidate extremist leadership in the Palestinian territories in the same way Israel’s 2006 attacks on Lebanon strengthened Hizbullah. The attacks undermine the development of moderate leadership in Gaza and the West Bank as moderate leaders look impotent to their people in the face of Israel’s attacks.

Since only moderate leaders in Gaza are willing to look at a future of coexistence with Israel, one wonders with whom Israel expects to negotiate in the future. Israel’s military strategy will make security that much more difficult to achieve.

The same is also true for the prospects of more moderate leadership in Israel.

Hamas’s attacks make it more difficult for moderate Israeli politicians to negotiate for peace. Hamas’s rocket attacks ensure that Palestinians will remain isolated and cut off from international support.

The rockets prolong the Palestinian wait for a homeland and for their legitimate human rights.

Achieving both Israel’s goal of security and Hamas’s goals of land and human rights for Palestinians requires a better, smarter strategy. The recipe for peace and security comes not from one-sided plans. Rather, it requires equal attention and empathy from both sides.

The strategy starts with a new, more inclusive narrative of cause and effect. The predominant Israeli narrative vis-à-vis the current attack on Gaza starts with the inexcusable shower of Hamas rockets on Israeli homes and schools and resonates with a history of more than 2000 years of discrimination and fear. The predominant Palestinian narrative centres on the devastating loss of their land, homes and businesses to others, causing many to become refugees crowded into small, barren enclaves.

An effective strategy must acknowledge legitimate grievances present in the narratives on both sides. Both Palestinians and Israelis have a historical legacy in the region.

Both know what it is like to be a people without a land and share the passion to retain what they see as their land. Both feel victimised by the other.

A smarter strategy would be for Hamas to recognise Israel’s right to existence and safety and for Israel to recognise and address the economic and political fuel of desperation among Palestinians. Palestinians need a state, freedom of movement and international assistance to create jobs.

Public opinion polls show there are plenty of people on both sides who support these steps. It’s time the United States and the international community stood behind Israeli and Palestinian moderates, rather than allowing themselves to be distracted by the militants on both sides who search for an elusive military solution to this political and economic problem.



Things one sees from The Hague

By Gideon Levy -- 12/01/2009

When the cannons eventually fall silent, the time for questions and investigations will be upon us. The mushroom clouds of smoke and dust will dissipate in the pitch-black sky; the fervor, desensitization and en masse jump on the bandwagon will be forever forgotten and perhaps we will view a clear picture of Gaza in all its grimness. Then we will see the scope of the killing and destruction, the crammed cemeteries and overflowing hospitals, the thousands of wounded and physically disabled, the destroyed houses that remain after this war.

The questions that will beg to be asked, as cautiously as possible, are who is guilty and who is responsible. The world's exaggerated willingness to forgive Israel is liable to crack this time. The pilots and gunners, the tank crewmen and infantry soldiers, the generals and thousands who embarked on this war with their fair share of zeal will learn the extent of the evil and indiscriminate nature of their military strikes. They perhaps will not pay any price. They went to battle, but others sent them.

The public, moral and judicial test will be applied to the three Israeli statesmen who sent the Israel Defense Forces to war against a helpless population, one that did not even have a place to take refuge, in maybe the only war in history against a strip of land enclosed by a fence. Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni will stand at the forefront of the guilty. Two of them are candidates for prime minister, the third is a candidate for criminal indictment.

It is inconceivable that they not be held to account for the bloodshed. Olmert is the only Israeli prime minister who sent his army to two wars of choice, all during one of the briefest terms in office. The man who made a number of courageous statements about peace late in his tenure has orchestrated no fewer than two wars. Talking peace and making war, the "moderate" and "enlightened" prime minister has been revealed as one of our greatest fomenters of war. That is how history will remember him. The "cash envelopes" crimes and "Rishon Tours" transgressions will make him look as pure as snow by comparison.

Barak, the leader of the party of the left, will bear the cost of the IDF's misdeeds under his tutelage. His account will be burdened by the bombing and shelling of population centers, the hundreds of dead and wounded women and children, the numerous targetings of medical crews, the firing of phosphorus shells at civilian areas, the shelling of a UN-run school that served as a shelter for residents who bled to death over days as the IDF prevented their evacuation by shooting and shelling. Even our siege of Gaza for a year and a half, whose ramifications are frighteningly coming into focus in this war, will accrue to him. Blow after blow, all of these count in the world of war crimes.

Livni, the foreign minister and leader of the centrist party, will be remembered as the one who pushed for, legitimized and sat silent through all these events. The woman who promised "a different kind of politics" was a full partner. This must not be forgotten.

In contrast to the claims being made otherwise, we are permitted to believe that these three leaders did not embark on war for electoral considerations. Anytime is good for war in Israel. We set out for the previous war three months after the elections, not two months before. Will Israel judge them harshly in light of the images emanating from Gaza? Highly doubtful. Barak and Livni are actually rising in the polls instead of dipping. The test awaiting these individuals will not be a local test. It is true that some international statesmen cynically applauded the blows Israel dealt. It is true America kept silent, Europe stuttered and Egypt supported, but other voices will rise out of the crackle of combat.

The first echoes can already be heard. This past weekend, the UN and the Human Rights Commission in Geneva have demanded an investigation into war crimes allegedly perpetrated by Israel. In a world in which Bosnian leaders and their counterparts from Rwanda have already been put on trial, a similar demand is likely to arise for the fomenters of this war. Israeli basketball players will not be the only ones who have to shamefully take cover in sports arenas, and senior officers who conducted this war will not be the only ones forced to hide in El Al planes lest they be arrested. This time, our most senior statesmen, the members of the war kitchen cabinet, are liable to pay a personal and national price.

I don't write these words with joy, but with sorrow and deep shame. Despite all the slack the world has cut us since as long as we can remember, despite the leniency shown toward Israel, the world might say otherwise this time. If we continue like this, maybe one day a new, special court will be established in The Hague.


Related articles:

Israel defense officials back immediate Gaza cease-fire (14/01/2009)
The officials expressed reservations about launching the third phase of Operation Cast Lead, preferring for it to remain a threat at this stage. They added that it is better to cease the offensive now, just several days before the inauguration of new U.S. President Barack Obama. Israel has proven, the officials said, that it is no longer deterred from either launching such an operation, from a confrontation with Hamas, from deploying ground forces or from using its reservists. Some of the officials said that Israel can withdraw from Gaza even before Egypt deals with the issue of arms smuggling into Gaza from underground tunnels, as long as Israel threatens to respond swiftly and harshly to any Hamas truce violations.

Diplomats: Gaza op causing long-term harm to Israel's image (14/01/2009)
A few days ago, I met a European ambassador stationed in Israel. The man, a great friend of Israel, launched an emotional monologue and spoke from the bottom of his heart. "Make no mistake," he said. "I understand why you embarked on the operation in Gaza, and many of my colleagues also understand and even support it, but a few days ago you started to cross red lines." The ambassador continued, reiterating his support and his love for Israel. "We too would like to damage Hamas, we too would not sit by quietly if they were firing rockets at us," he said. "It was clear to us that innocent people would be hurt in any operation in Gaza, and we were prepared to accept that up to certain limit, but in the past few days it seems that your action is getting out of control, and the harm to civilians is tremendous." The straw that broke the camel's back for that ambassador was the Red Cross report from Gaza that small children had been found wounded, near the corpses of their mothers, under the ruins of their homes, and other reports of civilians on the verge of dying in places ambulances could not reach because of the fighting."The international organizations in Gaza are talking about 200 dead children," he said. "I don't know how to explain these things to myself, never mind to my government," added the ambassador. "Your action is brutal and you don't realize how much damage this is causing you in the world. This is not only short term. It's damage for years. Is this the Israel you want to be?" A similar message also came across in a conversation that President Shimon Peres had with the delegation of European foreign ministers who came to Jerusalem a week ago. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union Commissioner responsible for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, said to Peres: "You have the right to self-defense, but what is happening in Gaza is beyond all proportion. I am telling you, Mr. President, Israel's image in the world has been destroyed." CLIP


Note from Jean: Dismaying paradox of Israeli policy: Sowing utter devastation and mass carnage while proffering an image-conscious and strategically prompted desire to increase assistance to Palestinians!... Hard to be more twisted than that! And yet in truth, not only should Israel unconditionally assist their Palestinian brothers and sisters out of their current misery, but they should do it out of a true and sincere willingness to atone for their past deeds and finally create the condition for true lasting peace and love to flourish in their own hearts and in everyone's hearts around them, throughout the entire Middle East, just as the United States did when it helped Japan and Germany to get back on their feet after World War II and to eventually become the economic powerhouses and magnificent examples of a peace abiding countries they now are.


Israel Foreign Ministry preparing for 'day after' IDF leaves Gaza

By Barak Ravid -- January 16, 2009

The Foreign Ministry has created a special task force to prepare for the aftermath of the Israel Defense Forces' Gaza operation. The team will submit proposals for two of the army's main concerns - Iran and Hamas taking control of Gaza's postwar reconstruction, and the harm the offensive might cause to Israel's image abroad.

One of the task force's missions is to draft recommendations for the Strip's rehabilitation. The ministry hopes to avoid a situation similar to the one in southern Lebanon after the 2006 Second Lebanon War. There, Iran sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Hezbollah to transfer to families whose homes had been destroyed, burnishing the militant group's reputation among the population.

The goal is to allow the Palestinian Authority, as well as Arab and international entities, to lead reconstruction efforts and funding, taking credit for Gaza's rehabilitation in place of Hamas or Iran.

The task force will also be charged with repairing damage to Israel's image abroad as a result of the Gaza operation. The working assumption is that Israel has suffered a blow to its image in the West in the wake of heavy civilian casualties in the Strip.

Israeli officials believe after the fighting stops and foreign journalists are allowed entry into the territory that negative sentiment toward Israel will only grow as the full picture of destruction emerges.

The task force's preliminary recommendations highlight the need for Israel to project two kinds of messages abroad. The Arab world must receive a deterrent message indicating Israel will not accept a reality in which its civilians have to endure rocket fire.

The Western world, however, must be presented with the message that despite the scale of destruction rained on Gaza, Israel is a democratic state with a similar worldview to countries in Europe and the United States.

Still, Foreign Ministry officials are convinced that these public relations efforts will not suffice to restore Israel's image and will need to be backed up by diplomatic progress with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Israel is redoubling efforts to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and hopes to continue participating in aid transfer after the hostilities end and to participate in Gaza's reconstruction. To this end, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog as government coordinator between Israeli and Palestinian aid agencies.

Wednesday, Herzog convened the first meeting in his new capacity with representatives of the Foreign Ministry, other government ministries and the IDF. Today he will meet with the secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, and the head of the International Red Cross, to hear their requests on humanitarian issues.

The government is also reviewing several ideas for increasing assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, including allowing more Palestinians wounded by military strikes to Israeli hospitals and setting up field hospitals in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry has expressed tentative support for this.



The IDF has no mercy for the children in Gaza nursery schools

By Gideon Levy, Haaretz Correspondent -- January 16, 2009

The fighting in Gaza is "war deluxe." Compared with previous wars, it is child's play - pilots bombing unimpeded as if on practice runs, tank and artillery soldiers shelling houses and civilians from their armored vehicles, combat engineering troops destroying entire streets in their ominous protected vehicles without facing serious opposition. A large, broad army is fighting against a helpless population and a weak, ragged organization that has fled the conflict zones and is barely putting up a fight. All this must be said openly, before we begin exulting in our heroism and victory.

This war is also child's play because of its victims. About a third of those killed in Gaza have been children - 311, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 270 according to the B'Tselem human rights group - out of the 1,000 total killed as of Wednesday. Around 1,550 of the 4,500 wounded have also been children according to figures from the UN, which says the number of children killed has tripled since the ground operation began.

This is too large a proportion by any humanitarian or ethical standard.

It is enough to look at the pictures coming from Shifa Hospital to see how many burned, bleeding and dying children now lie there. History has seen innumerable brutal wars take countless lives.

But the horrifying proportion of this war, a third of the dead being children, has not been seen in recent memory.

God does not show mercy on the children at Gaza's nursery schools, and neither does the Israel Defense Forces. That's how it goes when war is waged in such a densely populated area with a population so blessed with children. About half of Gaza's residents are under 15.

No pilot or soldier went to war to kill children. Not one among them intended to kill children, but it also seems neither did they intend not to kill them. They went to war after the IDF had already killed 952 Palestinian children and adolescents since May 2000.

The public's shocking indifference to these figures is incomprehensible. A thousand propagandists and apologists cannot excuse this criminal killing. One can blame Hamas for the death of children, but no reasonable person in the world will buy these ludicrous, flawed propagandistic goods in light of the pictures and statistics coming from Gaza.

One can say Hamas hides among the civilian population, as if the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv is not located in the heart of a civilian population, as if there are places in Gaza that are not in the heart of a civilian population. One can also claim that Hamas uses children as human shields, as if in the past our own organizations fighting to establish a country did not recruit children.

A significant majority of the children killed in Gaza did not die because they were used as human shields or because they worked for Hamas. They were killed because the IDF bombed, shelled or fired at them, their families or their apartment buildings. That is why the blood of Gaza's children is on our hands, not on Hamas' hands, and we will never be able to escape that responsibility.

The children of Gaza who survive this war will remember it. It is enough to watch Nazareth-born Juliano Mer Khamis' wonderful movie "Arna's Children" to understand what thrives amid the blood and ruin we are leaving behind. The film shows the children of Jenin - who have seen less horror than those of Gaza - growing up to be fighters and suicide bombers.

A child who has seen his house destroyed, his brother killed and his father humiliated will not forgive.

The last time I was allowed to visit Gaza, in November 2006, I went to the Indira Gandhi nursery school in Beit Lahia. The schoolchildren drew what they had seen the previous day: an IDF missile striking their school bus, killing their teacher, Najwa Halif, in front of their eyes. They were in shock. It is possible some of them have now been killed or wounded themselves.



Still breathing in Gaza

Caoimhe Butterly writing from the occupied Gaza Strip

15 January 2009

The morgues of Gaza's hospitals are overflowing. The bodies in their blood-soaked white shrouds cover the entire floor space of the al-Shifa hospital morgue. Some are intact, most horribly deformed, limbs twisted into unnatural positions, chest cavities exposed, heads blown off, skulls crushed in. Family members wait outside to identify and claim a brother, husband, father, mother, wife, child. Many of those who wait their turn have lost numerous family members and loved ones.

Blood is everywhere. Hospital orderlies hose down the floors of operating rooms, bloodied bandages lie discarded in corners, and the injured continue to pour in: bodies lacerated by shrapnel, burns, bullet wounds. Medical workers, exhausted and under siege, work day and night and each life saved is seen as a victory over the predominance of death.

The streets of Gaza are eerily silent -- the pulsing life and rhythm of markets, children, fishermen walking down to the sea at dawn brutally stilled and replaced by an atmosphere of uncertainty, isolation and fear. The ever-present sounds of surveillance drones, F-16s, tanks and Apache helicopters are listened to acutely as residents try to guess where the next deadly strike will be -- which house, school, clinic, mosque, governmental building or community center will be hit next and how to move before it does. That there are no safe places -- no refuge for vulnerable human bodies -- is felt drastically. It is a devastating awareness for parents -- that there is no way to keep their children safe.

As we continue to accompany the ambulances, joining Palestinian paramedics as they risk their lives, daily, to respond to calls from those with no other life-line, our existence becomes temporarily narrowed down and focused on the few precious minutes that make the difference between life and death. With each new call received as we ride in ambulances that careen down broken, silent roads, sirens and lights blaring, there exists a battle of life over death. We have learned the language of the war that the Israelis are waging on the collective captive population of Gaza -- to distinguish between the sounds of the weaponry used, the timing between the first missile strikes and the inevitable second -- targeting those that rush to tend to and evacuate the wounded, to recognize the signs of the different chemical weapons being used in this onslaught, to overcome the initial vulnerability of recognizing our own mortality.

Though many of the calls received are to pick up bodies, not the wounded, the necessity of affording the dead a dignified burial drives the paramedics to face the deliberate targeting of their colleagues and comrades -- 13 killed while evacuating the wounded, fourteen ambulances destroyed -- and to continue to search for the shattered bodies of the dead to bring home to their families.

Last night, while sitting with paramedics in Jabaliya refugee camp, drinking tea and listening to their stories, we received a call to respond to the aftermath of a missile strike. When we arrived at the outskirts of the camp where the attack had taken place, the area was filled with clouds of dust, torn electricity lines, slabs of concrete and open water pipes gushing water into the street. Amongst the carnage of severed limbs and blood we pulled out the body of a young man, his chest and face lacerated by shrapnel wounds, but alive, conscious and moaning.

As the ambulance sped him through the cold night we applied pressure to his wounds, the warmth of his blood seeping through the bandages reminder of the life still in him. He opened his eyes in answer to my questions and closed them again as Muhammad, a volunteer paramedic, murmured "ayeesh, nufuss" (live, breathe) over and over to him. He lost consciousness as we arrived at the hospital, received by the arms of friends who carried him into the emergency room. He, Majid, lived and is recovering.

A few minutes later there was another missile strike, this time on a residential house. As we arrived a crowd had rushed to the ruins of the four-story home in an attempt to drag survivors out from under the rubble. The family the house belonged to had evacuated the area the day before and the only person in it at the time of the strike was 17-year-old Muhammad who had gone back to collect clothes for his family. He was dragged out from under the rubble still breathing -- his legs twisted in unnatural directions and with a head wound, but alive. There was no choice but to move him, with the imminence of a possible second strike, and he lay in the ambulance moaning with pain and calling for his mother. We thought he would live, he was conscious though in intense pain and with the rest of the night consumed with call after call to pick up the wounded and the dead, I forgot to check on him. This morning we were called to pick up a body from al-Shifa hospital to take back to Jabaliya. We carried a body wrapped in a blood-soaked white shroud into the ambulance, and it wasn't until we were on the road that we realized that it was Muhammad's body. His brother rode with us, opening the shroud to tenderly kiss Muhammad's forehead.

This morning we received news that al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was under siege. We tried unsuccessfully for hours to gain access to the hospital, trying to organize co-ordination to get the ambulances past Israeli tanks and snipers to evacuate the wounded and dead. Hours of unsuccessful attempts later we received a call from the Shejaiya neighborhood, describing a house where there were both dead and wounded patients to pick up. The area was deserted, many families having fled as Israeli tanks and snipers took up position amongst their homes, other silent in the dark, cold confines of their homes, crawling from room to room to avoid sniper fire through their windows.

As we drove slowly around the area, we heard women's cries for help. We approached their house on foot, followed by the ambulances and as we came to the threshold of their home, they rushed towards us with their children, shaking and crying with shock. At the door of the house the ambulance lights exposed the bodies of four men, lacerated by shrapnel wounds -- the skull and brains of one exposed, others whose limbs had been severed off. The four were the husbands and brothers of the women, who had ventured out to search for bread and food for their families. Their bodies were still warm as we struggled to carry them on stretchers over the uneven ground, their blood staining the earth and our clothes. As we prepared to leave the area our torches illuminated the slumped figure of another man, his abdomen and chest shredded by shrapnel. With no space in the other ambulances, and the imminent possibility of sniper fire, we were forced to take his body in the back of the ambulance carrying the women and children. One of the little girls stared at me before coming into my arms and telling me her name, Fidaa, which means to sacrifice. She stared at the body bag, asking when he would wake up.

Once back at the hospital we received word that the Israeli army had shelled al-Quds hospital, that the ensuing fire risked spreading and that there had been a 20-minute timeframe negotiated to evacuate patients, doctors and residents in the surrounding houses. By the time we got up there in a convoy of ambulances, hundreds of people had gathered. With the shelling of the headquarters of the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees and the hospital there was a profound awareness that nowhere in Gaza is safe, or sacred.

We helped evacuate those assembled to nearby hospitals and schools that have been opened to receive the displaced. The scenes were deeply saddening -- families, desperate and carrying their children, blankets and bags of their possessions venturing out in the cold night to try to find a corner of a school or hospital to shelter in. The paramedic we were with referred to the displacement of the more than 46,000 Palestinians now on the move as a continuation of the ongoing Nakba of dispossession and exile seen through generation after generation enduring massacre after massacre.

Today's death toll was over 75, one of the bloodiest days since the start of this carnage. At least 1,110 Palestinians have been killed in the past 21 days; 367 of those have been children. The humanitarian infrastructure of Gaza is on its knees, already devastated by years of comprehensive siege. There has been a deliberate, systematic destruction of all places of refuge. There are no safe places here, for anyone.

And yet, in the face of so much desecration, this community has remained intact. The social solidarity and support between people is inspiring, and the steadfastness of Gaza continues to humble and inspire all those who witness it. Their level of sacrifice demands our collective response and recognition that demonstrations are not enough. Gaza, Palestine and its people continue to live, breathe, resist and remain intact and this refusal to be broken is a call and challenge to us all.

Much more through such as "Twenty years of a life erased" - Palestinian legislator assassinated, families murdered in Gaza - The plot against Gaza - No honeymoons in Gaza - UN school attacked; civilians left to bleed to death -



She Sits in a Room that is Dark

Marc Gopin -- December 31 2008


She sits in a room that is dark. There are no lights, there is no gas or oil. There is no heat, there is no electricity. Those were rare luxuries even before the bombs fell because she is in prison. A place of blockades cut off from the rest of the world for over a year. But now there is no heat at all, and it is freezing cold at night. And, more importantly, she must keep all the windows open for if not they will all shatter from the vibrations of buildings exploding nearby and the glass will explode onto her children.

So she huddles with her children under ten blankets. The children cannot drink milk nor find any meat because she cannot afford these luxuries. She was brought up by a Sufi sheikh, and she was taught so many times that hate is not a part of one’s vocabulary.

That is what her father tells me in his East Jerusalem home, with riot troops down the street waiting for action, where he thinks of how he can get his daughter some food, and how he can get food for everyone there, as he has done since the blockade. He wonders aloud to me, “We are human beings….The rockets against Israel, they are terrible. I understand. 18 people died in three years. Terrible. But 300 people in a few hours? A thousand people wounded? They are not targeting civilians? What does this mean, I do not understand. They are human beings. I do not want to hate, but we are human beings. I love all people, how can I distinguish between those who died from rockets and those who died from bombs in Gaza? We are one family.”

I look at the father and I listen, as I always have, but I cannot stay in his presence. The words are too piercing, too haunting. His daughter’s shadow is too strong. Night is falling, the troops may enter Gaza at any moment and maybe East Jerusalem will burst from the anger of a thousand cousins glued to the TV going mad with hurt. But we insist they be quiet. Like asking Jews in Queens to be quiet when their cousins and brothers and daughters in Brooklyn are being killed and living in hell.

Gaza is a total of about thirty miles, twice the size of Washington DC. It houses about a million and a half people, twice the population of Washington, DC. They are all related by family to Palestinians everywhere. At least 100 tons of explosives have dropped on these thirty miles. I will not begin to discuss with the father that Israel is sending in tons of food at the same time, and tons of medical supplies. He would not understand. I could explain that the nightmare scenario for Israeli strategy is a collapse of all life in Gaza so that they then will be burdened with administering the place. And that is why they are sending supplies. But he would not understand. I try to hope in my heart that Olmert and others are also giving these supplies because they earnestly want to attack Hamas for years of rockets, not the population. But then I cannot understand the years of blockade which only harmed the population and made them side with Hamas.

I try and try and I do not understand the logic of this and previous wars. They are about smashing things and smashing people. It is the final straw of the Bush years and the neoconservative nightmare. It is the nightmare that I have watched overtake significant portions of my own community. It is the nightmare of addiction to violent, brutal punishment as a way to make the world and its people be the way you want them to be. It is worse than criminality because it comes with a sincere delusion of moral righteousness. Someday, after negotiations are well underway and the bombs have been silenced, after there are reliable tables of bargaining set up for Iran, for Syria, for Palestine, after sane leaders in the United States once again join the universe of rational, interest-seeking states, their people will look back and ask themselves how they could have been so barbaric.

We find repeatedly everywhere that abuse is a poverty of alternatives, that people hit their spouses and children because they feel they have no alternative, that there is no other way to quell their anger or get what they want and need, or when they have simply inherited this habit as the only way to live. And right after they hit and permanently do damage they wonder why they hit. Because they only got hatred in return, the last thing they wanted and needed from family. I could try to explain these things to the father but he would not understand. He is too distracted. His eyes betray him, as they look far away into the distance, seeking a glimpse of his daughter who he loves as life itself.


Date: 16 Jan 2009
Subject: PHR- Israel: 16.1.09 Report on the Protest, Solidarity and Aid Convoy to the Residents of Gaza

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel 16.1.09

Report on the Protest, Solidarity and Aid Convoy to the Residents of Gaza

Half of the participants were turned back by large police forces before reaching the southern region of Israel. The other half were stopped in a separate location.
Improvised protests were held by participants in Tel Aviv and in Yad Mordechai near Gaza
Two supplies trucks entered Gaza

This morning, over 300 members and supporters of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel), Jews and Arabs, set out to accompany an emergency dispatch of medical supplies to the Gaza Strip, as a sign of solidarity and protest at the current military attack staged by the Israeli government in the Gaza Strip.

PHR-Israel believes that not only for Palestinian civilians but also for Israeli civilians, and especially those living under the threat of rocket attacks in the south of Israel, the only path to safety and protection is an immediate ceasefire and a political solution to end the occupation and the violence.

Since the beginning of the current military invasion, PHR-Israel has sent four dispatches of much-needed aid to the hospitals of the Gaza Strip, purchased from the donations of hundreds of individuals and organizations, both locally and worldwide, from Moslems, Jews and Christians.

For the fifth dispatch, in the shadow of ever escalating  violence, PHR-Israel decided to speak out against the extreme and disproportionate force exerted by the Israeli government against the population of Gaza, against the targeting of civilians, medical personnel and medical facilities, and against the prevention of access of the sick and wounded to timely and appropriate medical care.

PHR-Israel called on its supporters to accompany the fifth dispatch of emergency medical supplies to the transfer at Kerem Shalom Crossing, and to hold a demonstration there calling upon the government of Israel to cease fire, to stop the killing of civilians, to stop the targeting of medical teams and aid convoys, and to stop preventing the evacuation of the wounded.

Unprecedented numbers of people responded to our calls and decided to join our convoy despite the necessity of drawing near the areas of hostilities in the south of Israel and Gaza.

Three full buses left Tel Aviv, and additional buses left Jerusalem, Taybeh, and Beersheba. In addition, dozens of residents of the villages of the south of Israel – those very areas under rocket attacks – expressed their support for our message and came to the event in their cars. The very fact of this participation has shown us that although the voice of dissent is silenced in Israel – it does exist, and many feel the pain we do at the immoral acts of our government.

Unfortunately, the Israeli authorities decided to prevent our convoy at any cost. At 10am the Chief of Police of Sderot in the south of Israel telephoned the organizers, telling them that there was a military order against any demonstration in that area. We explained that we had no intention of disturbing the peace, or of congregating in a way dangerous to the participants or others – but only to reach Kerem Shalom crossing area in order to accompany the medical supplies before the transfer, and to hold a quiet protest rally there. The police commander told us that this was not authorized and said the police and army were "preparing to meet us".

Before we could reach the area of the Gaza border, some 20 kilometers to the north of Erez Crossing, at Askelon Junction, large police forces stopped the first three buses from Tel Aviv, took the drivers off the buses, locked the bus doors, confiscated the driving licenses and identifying papers of all three drivers, and ordered them to turn around. After they did so, one or two police escorts were sent to accompany each bus, and the drivers' papers were not returned to them until they had reached Tel Aviv. About 10 people managed to get out of the buses before they were turned back. A fourth bus from Jerusalem was stopped and returned in the same way a little later. Any attempt by the participants to parley with the police was met by shouts and threats of violence.

Only the buses from Taybeh and from the South of Israel succeeded in getting further south, to the Yad Mordechai Junction (just north of the Gaza Strip), where police met them yet again and confiscated the drivers' papers, but allowed them to remain in the parking lot at the junction. Several private cars from the southern area of Israel arrived at Ashkelon junction, and drove the 10 Tel Aviv demonstraters down to Yad Mordechai.

The group, now split into two, decided to hold two improvised demonstrations simultaneously – one outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv and the other at Yad Mordechai Junction.

At the Ministry of Defense, the 200 Tel Aviv and Jerusalem participants held a protest rally, and were joined by some passers-by.

At Yad Mordechai, the police and armed border guards made clear that the two buses, including participants more than half of whom were from the south of Israel, would be prevented from continuing southwards to meet the supplies truck. The participants – over 100 people – held an improvised demonstration there, calling for a ceasefire, and against the use of brute force against civilians in the Gaza Strip. Several Israeli passers-by shouted slogans against the demonstrators.

The police informed the demonstrators that they were holding an illegal congregation and threatened to use force if they did not disperse. After about an hour, the demonstrators left, and were "escorted" by police vehicles all the way back to Tel Aviv and Beersheba.

As regards the supplies convoy, about an hour after the demonstrations had begun, two trucks, bearing ICU beds, ICU equipment and supplies, medical equipment for operating rooms, and consumables, were allowed to unload at Kerem Shalom Crossing and all the supplies, to a value of about 500,000 US dollars, were sent to Gaza hospitals.

The Israeli government, in preventing a quiet and well-organised civil action and the free expression of civilians, has taken a step further away from democratic principles. As chanted by the demonstrators today – the transfer of humanitarian supplies alone cannot atone for the crimes committed against the civilians of the Gaza Strip.

Despite the sorrow and disappointment felt by all participants at the prevention of the action, PHR-Israel believes that the very fact that so many people, many of whom usually do not attend demonstrations, were willing to take part is encouraging.

The simple act of sitting together in the bus with a common message in mind has also strengthened those people in Israel, who feel alone in their positions of criticism towards government policies.

Today has shown that there are people here who still support peace and justice – even if their power to make political change is small.


Related article and update:

The Sulha Peace Project Brings Hope to the Holy Land (8 January 2009)
We are mourning the loss of lives and are praying for the safety of our friends who are in danger in both Gaza and southern Israel. We pray that both peoples come to true compassion and forgiveness toward the other. With the only news coming from the Holy Land being about the war, we send some news of another picture from the Holy Land. Though we Palestinians and Israelis who work together for peace are being tested more than ever, the relationships we have built stay strong. The Sulha Peace Project continues to aspire to create a new reality and prepare the people in the region for a life of mutual respect and trust. Not long ago, over three days last August 26-28, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians met for the seventh annual 'On the Way to Sulha' gathering on the grounds of the Latrun monastery between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The Sulha Peace Project worked in full partnership with the Palestinian organization, Al-Tariq, to plan the event. Israelis and Palestinians came from all over the Holy Land, including 200 Palestinians from the West Bank cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. Our partners in Gaza who have been with us at previous events sent messages of blessing and support. CLIP More pictures of this wonderful peace gathering through this LINK Carl Landsness who recommended this above also mentioned: "My friend, Carrie Cameron (who provided the article), has much more familiarity with Sulha... and visited there with James Twyman. Very glad to see the higher perspectives of Marianne Williamson. (Towards a Miracle in the Middle East included above) Someone who has helped me see higher perspectives of oneness (including embracing our shadow) is Daniel Jacob.

The following is taken from the PHR-Israel Gaza Update 15.1.09

Direct hit on AlQuds hospital
Before midday the Israeli army attacked a hospital in Gaza in the Tel AlHawa Neighborhood of Gaza. The strike destroyed the entire administration level of the building. In some hospital wards a fire broke out. About 300 people were in the hospital at the time, including 40 staff members and the patients. 15 of the patients were in the ICU or connected to equipment. Attacks were staged around the hospital for several hours, and it was surrounded by the army. The majority of the patients and staff were taken down to the basement to hide, while ICU patients were left in their beds. At least 3 injuries were reported.
Update 22:30 latest reports from AlQuds: a fire has broken out again in the building due to renewed attacks on it. ICRC are evacuating injured. No further details available at present.

Testimonies of trapped families

Hamdouna family
Dr. H Hamdouna phoned PHR-Israel on the morning of 15.1.09 and reported that he is trapped with 9 other family members, including 3 children, at Tel AlHawa. He said they are all huddled in a corner and fear to leave their home, look out of the window or anything else. Tanks came to the area about 2 or 3am and since then they cannot leave their homes or move. During the conversation a loud explosion was heard by PHR-Israel's caseworker. All the members of the family started shouting, Dr. Hamdouna started to cry and begged for help with evacuation. Contact with the family was cut at 4pm.

Qdeih family
Today, Thursday 15.1.09 at about 11am the Qdeih family from Tel AlHawa phoned PHR-Israel asking for help with evacuation due to harsh battles near their home. The family, which lives near the AlQuds hospital, includes 8 people including 4 children. Attempts made by PHR-Israel to coordinate their evacuation via the army failed and the family remained at home.

Testimony of Abdallah Q.
I live in a 3-story house. On 7.1.09 at 3.30 am a plane without a pilot passed over my house and dropped a small bomb on its roof. I didn't understand what they want from me because I am guilty of nothing, I worked in Israel from 1974 to 2002 (the speaker speaks fluent Hebrew). I didn't leave. A few minutes later another small plane flew by and dropped another small bomb onto the roof. I didn't want to leave but neighbors and the ICRC came and told me to leave now because everybody knows that small bombs are followed by an F16. I got out with the kids, all barefoot. All the money, all our belongings, everything stayed inside. Then the F16 came and dropped a bomb on the house and destroyed it completely. I worked in Israel for years. All my children are small, under 13. I have no contact to any organisations. If I am guilty of anything I am willing to come and be put to trial in Israel. Let them explain why?? MUCH more through



Israeli assault injures 1.5 million Gazans

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 16 January 2009

This week the death toll in Gaza passed the 1,000 mark, after three weeks of Israeli air and ground attacks. But surprisingly, no one has reported an even more appalling statistic: that there are some 1.5 million injured Palestinians in Gaza. How is is possible that such an astounding figure could have passed the world's media by?

The reason apparently is that they have been relying on the highly unreliable statistics provided by official Palestinian sources. It appears that the Palestinian health ministry only records as wounded those Gazans who need to stay in hospital because of the severity of their injuries.

That means they only count the more than 4,500 Gazans who have suffered injuries such as severe burns from exploding Israeli phosphorus shells; shrapnel wounds from artillery rounds; broken or lost limbs from aerial bombardment; bullet wounds; physical trauma from falling building debris; and so on.

But in fact there is another, far more reasonable standard for assessing those injured, one that provides the far higher total of 1.5 million Gazans -- or every surviving Palestinian in Gaza. The measure I am referring to is the one employed by Israel.

Here is an example of its use. In September 2007, the international media reported that 69 Israeli soldiers had been wounded when Palestinian militants fired a rocket into the Zikim army base near the Gaza Strip. The rocket struck a tent where the soldiers were sleeping.

It is worth noting the details of the attack. Israeli officials related that, of the 69 wounded, 11 had moderate or severe injuries and one was critically injured. A few more had light wounds. The rest, probably 50 or more, were injured in the sense that they were suffering from shock.

So, if we apply the same standard to Gaza, that would mean 1.5 million Gazans have been wounded. Or is there still some doubt about whether the weeks of bombardment of Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on earth, have left the entire civilian population in a deep, and possibly permanent, state of shock?

Talking of Gaza's civilians, where did they all go? Israel's so-called "war" on Gaza must be the first example in human history of a conflict where there are apparently no civilians. Or, at least, that is the impression being created by the world's leading international bodies, from the World Health Organization to the United Nations. Instead they refer to a new category of "women and children."

Thus, those 1,000-plus dead Gazans are broken down into percentages defined in terms of "women and children" and the rest. The earliest figures stated that about 25 percent of Gaza's dead were "women and children," and that has steadily climbed close to the 50 percent mark since Israel's ground invasion got under way.

The implication -- one with which Israel is presumably delighted -- is that the rest are Palestinian fighters, or "terrorists" as Israel would prefer us to call them. It also suggests that every man in Gaza over the age of 16 is being defined as a non-civilian -- as a combatant and, again by implication, as a terrorist. In short, all Gaza's men are legitimate targets for Israeli attack.

This is not very far from the position recently attributed to Israeli policy makers by the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post. The newspaper reported that officials had come to the view that "it would be pointless for Israel to topple Hamas because the population [of Gaza] is Hamas."

On this thinking, Israel is at war with every single man, woman and child in Gaza, which is very much how it looks. Maybe we should be glad that the category of "women and children" is still being recognized -- at least, for now.

The myths about the blockade of Gaza are so legion it is almost impossible to disentangle them. But let's try tackling a few.

The first is that the blockade was a necessary response to the election of Hamas.

Tell that to John Wolfensohn, special envoy to the Quartet, comprising the United States, United Nations, Europe and Russia, from May 2005. His job was to oversee the disengagement. Wolfensohn was succeeded by the far less principled Tony Blair, the former British prime minister.

In an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz in 2007, Wolfensohn explained why he had resigned a year into his job, in April 2006. Shortly after the disengagement in summer 2005, he said, Israel and the US had violated the understandings made to ensure the border crossings into Gaza remained open after the Jewish settlers left. "Every aspect of that agreement was abrogated," he said.

The economy collapsed as a result, as Gaza's farmers saw their produce rot at the crossings, and unemployment and disillusionment among Gazans rocketed. "Instead of hope, the Palestinians saw that they were put back in prison. And with 50 percent unemployment, you would have conflict."

It was the closure of the crossings that Wolfensohn believes partly explains Hamas' success in the subsequent elections, in early 2006. So, according to Wolfensohn, Israel's blockade pre-existed Hamas' rise to power and began when Fatah were still the rulers of Gaza.

The second myth is that the blockade was an attempt, if a futile one, to get Hamas to recognize Israel's "right to exist."

Tell that to Dov Weissglas, former prime minister Ariel Sharon's fixer in Washington. It was he who suggested the true goal of the blockade, which Israel intensified immediately following Hamas' electoral triumph. The policy would be "like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die."

In short, according to Weissglas, Israeli policy in Gaza was "collective punishment" inflicted on the civilian population for choosing Hamas -- a policy that, should it need pointing out, is a grave violation of international law and a war crime.

The hope, it seems, was that Gazans would, as they sank into abject poverty, manage to summon up the energy to overthrow Hamas. It didn't happen.

The third myth is that the blockade was designed to put pressure on Hamas to end the rocket fire into Israel.

Tell that to Ehud Barak, the defense minister, and Matan Vilnai, his deputy. This pair were plotting an invasion of Gaza throughout the six-month ceasefire with Hamas, and in fact much earlier.

In truth, they ignored every diplomatic overture from Hamas, including offers of indefinite truces, while they invested their energies in the coming ground invasion. In particular they worked on plans, noted in the Israeli media back in spring 2008, to "level" Gaza's civilian neighborhoods and create "combat zones" from which civilians could be expelled.

One aspect of the blockade that seems to have been overlooked is the way it has been used to "soften up" Gaza, and Hamas, before Israel's attack. For three years Gaza's population has been denied food, medicines and fuel.

Every general knows it is easier to fight an army -- or militia -- that is cold, tired and hungry. Could there be a better description of the Hamas fighters, as well as those "women and children," currently facing Israel's tanks and warplanes?

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is ">



Interview with Roi Ben-Yehuda and Raquel Evita Saraswati — Part 1 & 2

by Margarida Santos Lopes

08 January 2009

NEW YORK – Lopes: Can you, Raquel Evita and Roi - a young Muslim and a young Israeli, who are friends - explain why there is so much hatred, and why we must choose a camp - Israeli or Palestinian, but not both?

Ben-Yehuda: Suffering, contrary to some romantic ideals, is not ennobling. All the wars and violence have left scars on our people. Our hearts, like eggs in boiling water, have become hardened. It's not that Israelis and Palestinian are intrinsically lacking in compassion; it's just that the reality on the ground has made it all but impossible to recognise each other’s humanity.

Yet my friendship with Raquel Evita, along with many other Muslims, continually reboots my faith in the possibility of reconciliation and coexistence. As experience creates enmity, it also creates possibility. The more positive contact Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims have with one another, the closer we will get to peace from the ground up.

As for the idea that we must be polarised into either pro-Palestinian or Israeli perspectives, I see that as an unfortunate but reasonable response to conflict. In times of crises, when people's lives and identities are under threat, it is understandable that their cosmopolitan worldview (if it ever existed) collapses upon itself. But we must recognise that creating positive and negative dichotomies often contributes to the problem. I say that if you have to choose camps, choose to be with the peacemakers, no matter which side of the “border” they live behind.

Saraswati: I believe that sometimes hate is the only way people know how to channel their pain, the only way humans process their suffering. I don't believe that people want to hate. Yet when a young Palestinian knows nothing but statelessness, nothing but the shame of a checkpoint, and nothing but the sight of bodies bloodied; and when a young Israeli sees a bus trip as imminent death, watches a child his own age strap ammunition to himself to murder and destroy in the name of God—then reason is lost. Reason, which would drive a human heart to compassion, to reconciliation, to mercy and justice, cannot be.

In the words of writer Salman Rushdie: "The world is incompatible, just never forget it... ghosts, Nazis, saints, all live at the same time; in one spot, blissful happiness, while down the road, the inferno." No people know this better than the people of Israel/Palestine. They grasp for peace, for simple decency, and yet the evil of destruction is ever-present.

My friendship with Roi is one of the most important relationships of my life. In him, I see a person whose life has not been spared the ugliness of violence but whose heart has refused the toxicity of hate. So many of us talk about the "other side"—we speak of the nameless "Palestinian" and "Israeli", yet this abstract knowing is not enough. Our media and our politicians demonise our counterparts, and we all too often follow even this most obvious manipulation of our minds and hearts. What we, the new generation of Muslims and Jews calling for peace, must do is this: we must make the conversation our own. Our minds must not be battlefields trampled by old thinking and simmering hate. We must reject the very idea that our religious identity or ethnicity determines our "camp." We can meet one another – virtually, even personally – and re-imagine this region. Beyond the desire for reconciliation, we can and must take action for peace.

Lopes: Are Israeli and Palestinian leaders addicted to violence?

Ben-Yehuda: I hate to disappoint some of your readers, but Israelis and Palestinians, leaders included, don’t get up in the morning and say, “I need my fix of violence.” That would make them monsters, not human.

Most Israelis and Palestinians engage in violence due to a perception that they are under threat, and the belief that they are acting in self-defence and for the cause of justice. It is not, therefore, a sadistic impulse to cause bloodshed. At the same time, it is clear that far too many Palestinians and Israelis have an unhealthy confidence in the efficacy of violence. We have both placed too much faith in what I call the algorithm of violence: the notion that force is the optimal method for resolving conflict. This faith has led many to tragically dismiss peaceful forms of conflict resolution.

While the violence seen in Gaza may in the short-run produce a temporary calm, it will never bring an end to this conflict. As American musician Michael Franti put it: “You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb into peace.”

The real challenge facing Israel/Palestine today is how to transform people’s faith from the algorithm of violence to the algorithm of peace. I see my job as a writer to find creative and thought-provoking ways to produce this transformation.

Saraswati: I'm not sure that Israeli and Palestinian leaders are addicted to violence as much as they are unable to see beyond violence as a means to solve the conflict. When parties feel attacked – as both legitimately do – violence often seems to be the only viable response. This has been the case since the dawn of mankind, and people of every ideology have, at some point or another, used violence when they perceive themselves to be at risk. In this case, diplomacy has been nothing more than a placeholder between acts of violence. Even the most supposedly meaningful negotiations have been almost theatrical in their presentation. People living on the ground – often literally! – can't really look, once again, at foes shaking hands a world away and instantly believe that their neighbour will not kill them.

What we need is a shift in ideology. Both sides paint themselves as victims, and in fact both sides are victims to a degree. It is unjust to say that Palestine "wants" to be seen as the victim, when it is this very claim of victimhood that has driven Israel to target Gaza. Both sides are home to victims and the victimised, the powerful and the powerless.



Lopes: Rockets and suicide attacks are not offering a state to Palestinians, but all negotiations are also a fiasco. Israel is demanding security and peace, but is expanding settlements into the West Bank and is repressing every attempt to demonstrate peacefully against the occupation. Which advice will you, Raquel Evita, give to Palestinians (and other Arabs and Muslims)? And which advice will you, Roi, give to Israel? And which advice will you, both, give to us – the rest of the world?

Ben-Yehuda: My advice to everyone is to increase their capabilities for empathy. President-elect Obama got it right when on a visit to Israel he said, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I am going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same.”

This is what the world needs to do before it calls Israel a “cancer among the nations”. I challenge your paper’s readership to ask themselves how much restraint they would show if a political/military organization would bombard their cities with missiles on a daily basis. How much tolerance would they have as their towns and cities become paralyzed with fear?

At the same time, I would also challenge Israelis to do the same with the Palestinians. To imagine what it is like be under occupation, or to live under siege. To look at the pictures of the dead and wounded, to stare into the faces of the oppressed, and imagine their own families. Imagine that these people, just like them, had plans; that they too wanted to live and be free. I would make this mental exercise part of the education curriculum in Israel.

So my advice to everybody is to step into the shoes of whomever they cast as villains. Doing so may not provide the same high of righteous indignation, but it will make it much harder to dehumanize and physically/culturally destroy the other. The battle for Israel/Palestine is not a good vs. evil scenario, and treating it as such is doing no one a favour.

Saraswati: The welfare of man is reliant on our ability to communicate across the self-imposed boundaries of religious identity, so therefore I must reject the idea of speaking only to the "camp" this question would have me address. This false dichotomy is the essence of conflict in every case.

I am an American Muslim who has never stepped foot on the soil of Israel/Palestine. However, the lives in Israel/Palestine are connected to my own - not just because my lineage shares blood with theirs - but also because the welfare of Palestinians, of Israelis and of human beings the world over - is impacted by what happens in that region. Therefore it is our collective responsibility to make positive change.

As a woman, I have experienced the kind of violence only the worst and most vile of men can perpetrate, yet I do not hate men. I have seen death, I have seen disease and desperation - yet I do not resent God. I cannot claim to know the life of a Palestinian or an Israeli, but I do know that we are greater than the sum of our anger and the scars of our pain. The world would be wise to intervene in material ways - economy, security, diplomacy - but we must also highlight the voices of those Palestinians and Israelis who sincerely call for peace. Images of hate serve only our most destructive aims - a masochistic appeasement of the worst of ourselves. It is far more uncomfortable to see the enemy's real humanity. I call for us all to take personal responsibility in bringing a new generation of peacemakers forward. May we be not just heard, but may we be taken seriously. It is up to us because the old guard has proven itself useless. The lives of our children are worth far more than what we are doing to one another today.

Lopes: If you were living in Palestine or in Israel, not in New York, would your opinions on the conflict be different?

Ben-Yehuda: I have lived in Israel for half of my life, and I return there frequently. My political outlook matured and solidified in Israel, and I don’t think that living there today would change anything in that respect. If I were a Palestinian living in Palestine, I would like to think that I would be part of a some kind of non-violent response to the occupation. I know that this is easier said than done, but that is how I would like to envision myself as a Palestinian.

Saraswati: I think most of us would like to think of our values as timeless - stronger than circumstance and greater than our surroundings. However, honesty demands the recognition that our values - and the opinions resulting from them - are very much connected to what we've lived. That having been said, I'd like to believe that I'd be a lover of freedom, of peace, of reason and justice - regardless of my birthplace. I know that many Palestinians, and indeed many Muslims - love these values as I do. Unfortunately, many cannot express their views in the way that I do. Whether by blatant, ruthless restriction by their superiors - or as a result of utter devastation from the outside - many Muslims simply do not have the freedoms we enjoy in the United States and in the West.

I must also acknowledge that I, as a Muslim woman, benefit even more significantly from these liberties. While prejudice in the U.S. is real and even vitriolic at times, my citizenship entitles me to certain freedoms I'd never have under Sharia law or in most Muslim countries. It becomes not just my privilege, but also my responsibility to use those freedoms for the betterment of humanity. I sincerely believe that if I, as someone with enormous privilege, do not use that very privilege for the benefit of those without it - I am worth less than the air in my lungs.

* Roi Ben-Yehuda ( is an Israeli writer based in New York, and a regular contributor to Ha'aretz, Jewcy and France 24. Raquel Evita Saraswati ( is a Muslim, activist and scholar, whose main interests lie in religion and human rights, conflict resolution, and the reconciliation of culture with modernity.


Related article:

An unsung hero rescuing lives at the Gaza-Israel checkpoint (15 January 2009)
TEL AVIV - At the end of last month, with fighting between Gaza and Israel already in full swing, Israeli medic Moshe "Moshon" Vaknin drove an ambulance to the Erez Crossing, between Israel and Gaza, and got ready to evacuate an injured Palestinian child. With Israeli mortars fired on one side, and bullets passing overhead from the other, Vaknin, the deputy director for the south district at Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's version of the Red Cross, risked his life to bring the Palestinian child out of Gaza and take him to an Israeli hospital for life-saving treatment. (...) Vaknin is responsible for all the humanitarian efforts at the Erez checkpoint. "Every day, almost, we're taking injured and sick people to Israel through the Erez crossing," he says. "We have a coordinator in Gaza working with us. He will tell us if it's a baby in an incubator, a child, an adult, or an elderly person. It's pretty unpredictable, and I've stopped asking questions. Sometimes they will tell us to expect a five-year-old child. When we get to the crossing it's a one-month-old baby." Each month, the MDA normally transfers about 120 Palestinians for care. "Taking the ICU car, we get to the border and walk down to the cement fence," he says. Palestinians can throw stones, Qessams or sniper fire at them, he says noting that the reaction is the same whether he is trying to rescue a child, an adult, or even a baby in an incubator. (...) In the last week, the checkpoint has been closed, and the Palestinian coordinator has stopped calling. News reports suggest that the Palestinian Authority has reversed its long-standing policy and is now banning all medical transfers to Israel.




Playing into the hands of Hamas

By Bernard Avishai and Sam Bahour

Israel and Hamas are not equals on the battlefield - not at all, clearly - and when the power to harm or control others is this uneven, it is meaningless to speak about moral symmetry. But as the current onslaught in Gaza unfolds, it is sadly evident that both sides are continuing to respond to real provocations in ways that are not morally right, or even politically smart.

If Hamas thought that lobbing missiles into Israeli civilian neighborhoods was a decent or proportionate response to the grim realities of the occupation, they were wrong. On the other hand, if Israel thinks it can bludgeon the Palestinians into political surrender, or get Hamas - or the Palestinian community at large, for that matter - to acquiesce to military occupation then it, too, is wrong.

There is no military solution to this conflict. Until both sides fully grasp this, the world can expect only continuing violence and vendetta, with civilians on both sides paying the price for leaders who - because of pressure, ambition or hubris - feel that they must do the most damage, fire the last shot or make the most credible threat. Indeed, it is sad, and repellent, to hear military correspondents speak of "teaching a lesson," "increasing pressure," "making a statement," achieving "deterrence," when those they are reporting on are really trying to control the news cycle, or win arguable (and in any case temporary) psychological advantage, by killing, or accepting the deaths of, people at random on the other side.


Operation Cast Lead - the heart-wrenching death and wanton destruction the Israeli army is inflicting on Gaza as we write - is the product of just such thinking. In the first week, Israeli air raids killed over 500 people, many of them non-combatants; invading ground forces have now killed 100 more. Israelis knew in advance that Hamas forces are not a regular army; they will not come out of hiding and be mowed down like soldiers in World War I. To go after them effectively, in, of all places, the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places on earth, the IDF would have to level its towns and cities, block by block, and intensify the nightmare of the Gazan population, more than half of which is children under the age of 15.

This cannot succeed in achieving Israel's stated aim of degrading Hamas' long-term capabilities and motivation. It will certainly not undermine Hamas' appeal, especially since the electricity and water infrastructures are also inevitably targeted. Now that Israeli soldiers have been killed in this tragic operation, there are the unavoidable cries that the IDF "go all the way," so their deaths would not have been in vain. But Israel cannot make Hamas surrender - it cannot "win." Meanwhile, the carnage will help Hamas, and other Palestinian military factions, make their case - not only in Gaza, but across the West Bank too. A glorious stand will even turn them into cultural heroes among Israel's Palestinian Arab citizens.

It should be clear by now that Hamas' appeal only grows when Israelis attacks Palestinians. It increased when Israel insisted that occupied territory was merely "disputed," ignoring its obligations under international law, and tried to dissociate its unilateral "disengagement" from Gaza from the continuing occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Hamas appealed to circles upon circles of Palestinian youth, who, grieving for friends or relatives killed in clashes with occupation forces, or appalled by iron-fist policies, succumbed to rage or survivors' guilt. Its appeal increased in the absence of any concrete progress toward peace, indeed, when the peacemaking process seemed endlessly stalled.

Hamas' appeal spread, finally, when Palestinian economic life seemed futile, or inevitably corrupt - when a fight to the last martyr seemed the only chance at a meaningful life - or death. Give Gazans open borders, relief from grinding poverty, and business opportunities with West Bank and foreign partners and, over time, this will win over Hamas-controlled tunnels and smuggling every time. The Palestinian private sector, centered in Ramallah, has begged Israel and the international community for 18 months to allow it access to Gaza, to build new businesses. Israel refused. Tragically, many who have been killed this past week were not Hamas militants, but rather Palestinians who worked in Hamas-run ministries or institutions because they had no choice if they wanted to feed and clothe their children.

The critical point, surely, is that one cannot do in two weeks with force what you need to do over a generation with reciprocity. Even as it worked toward an overall solution to the conflict, Israel could have respected international law regarding occupation, observed the Geneva conventions, helped build Palestinian civil society, stopped settlement construction, invited international monitors, and allowed Palestinians to compete non-violently, politically, economically and socially. It could have, in short, allowed for unity and rationality in Palestinian politics. This is not, well, rocket science.



Journals of Ecstatic Hate

Published by Marc Gopin -- January 16, 2009

Sometimes in the construction of a better world, it is necessary to go into the heart of darkness, to quote Conrad. Sometimes it is only in exploring our heart of darkness that we can figure out where we are, so that we know how to get beyond our current fallen state. I am drunk with blood these days, thoughts of blood, fear of blood, the rage of boiling blood, and so is anyone for whom Palestine and Israel are a fixation.

This report of carnage in a Gaza hospital in all its horrifying details is typical of the innocents who are being cut to pieces. What stands out is the report of the impatient, smiling Islamic Jihad fighter who is just thrilled with the blood of his own people. New recruits to his cause. He sees around him a man with his brain spilling out, and his family wailing, other people cut to pieces, a girl screaming from shrapnel in her leg, a baby wounded and dazed. But this man is thrilled, and impatient to get a doctor to fix his minor leg wound so that he can go out and fight. He says, “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.” I think of the ecstatic smile on his face, the eagerness for blood spilled, his people, his own, the Israelis, does not seem to matter, for the situation has created more recruits and that is all that matters, to continue the bloodfest.

I try to remember my spiritual discipline which calls upon me to sympathize with those who suffer, even with those who suffer due to their own sin. Mostly I fail to sympathize but I keep trying. Every day I am bombarded by propaganda from the anti-Palestinian side, from very clever PR firms and volunteers working for the so-called pro-Israel side, whose job it is to make me hate and fear the Arabs, with Hamas being a great pretext. They have recruited my own family to ensure that the peacemakers are completely isolated. It is so easy to look at this man in the hospital, bloodthirsty, so that I can ease my conscience and say to myself, “We had no choice but to attack. Such a man can only be killed. That is the only thing his family will understand.” This is a powerful way that millions of people, including major global leaders, East and West, are easing their conscience about the carnage in Gaza. Apparently Israel convinced even the Palestinian leadership that they could ‘take out’ Hamas with minimal loss of civilian life, and because Hamas has created a war against fellow Palestinians as well, it was easy for the Palestinian leaders to be duped into this. Now they regret it, dazed by the Israel Defense Forces’ capacity for mass violence.

They remind me of we, the American people, who were duped by the Neoconservatives and the White House into making the destruction of Saddam Hussein into the final battle with extremism, and meanwhile we had given the green light to destroy an entire civilization, and to torture its men to death. This is our responsibility, for we were duped by people who were duping themselves with a failed and mad ideology.

The folly of war, the bizarre psychology of child-like obedience to authority, was alive and well when I was in Israel, and I knew it well from the post-911 period in the U.S. Good people really believed that this war would be the final blow to Hamas, then Fatah would return and we would have a good two state solution in the offing again. Good people believed this, I know them. Good people who have not seen with their hearts any of the carnage of Gaza, any of the piles of corpses of children cut in pieces, live in a world of their own self-righteousness. More ominous, they are making bedfellows with even more damaged people such as the tens of thousands of followers of Avigdor Lieberman who wants to send a nuclear bomb on Gaza, on Iran, and expel all the Arabs from Israel. His is the political party that will benefit most from this thirst for blood. Blood thirst is addictive, it is never satisfied. The Jewish people, unused to this thirst, are learning this the hard way, and I am finding more and more refugees from the organized Jewish community who no longer recognize their fellow Jews. My sympathies to their state of mind, to their sickness right now.

Other good people, absolutely outraged by those same dead bodies of Palestinian children, want to strike back. They too have become attached to and drunk with violence. They try to find the most hateful ways to injure Jews that they can possibly find. They reframe all tragedy, all loss of life in Gaza, all crimes of Israel, as Nazi crimes, as a holocaust, in order to hurt Jews the most, in order to deprive them of the legitimacy of their history as victims. We all know the motivation for this in terms of a political process of making Israel more and more of a pariah state.

I understand the logic, but it is the logic of total war and demonization. These people cannot stop obsessing with sending as many pictures of the dead around the internet as possible. It would be like Jews referring to every act of war against them as a Naqbeh, the Naqbeh of 2006 where thousands of Jews had to flee their homes in the North from Lebanese bombs and the Naqbeh of 2009 where so many thousands of residents in the South have to run from the bombs, traumatized by three years of unpredictable explosions. So what would be accomplished by this rhetorical disrespect of the Palestinian tragedy of 1948?

And so one who is in the middle, like I have been my whole life thanks to loving parents, is in constant reception of hate mail from both sides, designed to make me hate with as much venom as possible, in order to justify murder. My sympathies to all of them, for they are drunk with the hysteria of war, an hysteria that never produces the long term results that we all seek, safety, security, justice, peace.

Then I think back to a bus ride a few days ago. I took a bus from Jerusalem going south towards Eilat. I was going to meet wonderful Jews and Arabs who work and study together at the Arava Institute. On the bus in front of me were two young men, and one wanted to know who I was. As usual my work makes everyone want to give me their opinion on the war. His friend pipes in. His friend has an infectious smile, insists in Hebrew on knowing what kind of beer I drink (I don’t), and then gives me his opinion. With a crazy smile he says in Hebrew, “We have to kill all the Arabs, that is the solution.” As if I did not understand, he gets up and demonstrates while the bus tears down the narrow Dead Sea highway at 60 miles an hour. In a year he enters the IDF. So he shoots with his hands, and makes the sound, ‘tat-tat-tat-tat’, aiming in a broad arc, smiling, showing me how he would shoot a whole village.

I maintain my composure, weary but persistent in doing my job. So I thought about it and asked earnestly, “Why do you like to kill peopIe so much?” He has no reply, just smiles. I ask him if he is religious and does he think it is right to kill. He says he is not Jewish. “What are you?” “Christian,” he says. My mouth drops a little. Where do you live, “Kiryat Arba”, a central enclave of radical settlers. Nothing surprises me here anymore. Not missing a beat, I ask him if he thinks Jesus would want him to kill a whole village. So he says, “Yes!” with a big smile. So I start quoting from the New Testament. I say in Hebrew, “What do you think of the verse in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God’”, quoting from Mathew. So here I am, a rabbi, quoting Jesus, to a Christian, who is a settler, with murder on his mind and a twinkle in his eyes.

After the bus ride I managed to go to the Arava Institute in order to meet with wonderful peace seeking students, Jewish and Arab, all trying to cope with the madness around them. I went to my room that night, had a minor medical problem that made me bleed profusely. I could not get it to stop. I imagine I had to spill some blood in obedience to the world I was in. Two days later the blood was gone, but the stain remained.

It is the smile on the bus that will stay with me, and it reminds me of its exact parallel to the smile of the jihadi in the Gaza hospital. I am thinking today that the fundamental mistake of policy makers is to think that you can bully someone into peace, with sanctions, with bombs, with threats, with hate. What these acts of violence really generate is not obedience or negotiated agreements but young people sucked into the madness of war.

The inescapable reality is that people have to really want peace. They have to work for it really hard, and if they are not ready to work really hard for it then it never comes, and no policy makers and no third party can accomplish anything if they do not lead people toward that desire. Diplomacy without people is folly, something Washington still does not understand. Of course, these two young men, ecstatic over murder, are not the norm, they are just casualties of worlds gone mad, men who act out, however, what so many others are feeling. What is more ominous is that Israeli news is completely focused on Israeli pain, victims of the rockets, soldiers’ families. That’s it. While on the internet I am bombarded by Palestinian pain, and the world will want to hear nothing anymore from Israelis and their story. I get the sense that even my closest friends view me with greater suspicion as a Jew since the Gaza war, whereas other Jews who support this war speak to me less and less. And this is the predictable course of war since the dawn of humankind, for we recognize the humanity in each other less and less with every drop of blood spilled in our name.

Then I think of the extraordinary women peacemakers who I filmed in Israel, trying to help the sons survive war and its madness, with their souls intact. I meet these women everywhere. I think of the few sons they created who are my fellow peacemaking men. I think of sanity as something as rare as a desert flower. I think of how much in history, in religious history, that men, theologians, political philosophers, tough men, associated women with irrationality, a paucity of reasoned thinking. And I am amused, and comforted.




How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

Avi Shlaim -- The Guardian, 7 January 2009

The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza's prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.

Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion's share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

Israel's settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel's propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel's terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

The timing of the war was determined by political expediency. A general election is scheduled for 10 February and, in the lead-up to the election, all the main contenders are looking for an opportunity to prove their toughness. The army top brass had been champing at the bit to deliver a crushing blow to Hamas in order to remove the stain left on their reputation by the failure of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006. Israel's cynical leaders could also count on apathy and impotence of the pro-western Arab regimes and on blind support from President Bush in the twilight of his term in the White House. Bush readily obliged by putting all the blame for the crisis on Hamas, vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and issuing Israel with a free pass to mount a ground invasion of Gaza.

As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted - a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, "crying and shooting".

To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party in this conflict. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak - terror. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza until Egypt brokered a six-month ceasefire last June. The damage caused by these primitive rockets is minimal but the psychological impact is immense, prompting the public to demand protection from its government. Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel's entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.

The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It di d so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel's objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. After eight days of bombing, with a death toll of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis, the gung-ho cabinet ordered a land invasion of Gaza the consequences of which are incalculable.

No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.

- Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and of Lion of Jordan: King Hussein's Life in War and Peace.


Related video and transcript:

Leading Israeli Scholar Avi Shlaim: Israel Committing “State Terror” in Gaza Attack, Preventing Peace (January 14, 2009)
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] CLIP




Between a Rock and a Hard Place in Zimbabwe: Weighing the Military Option


The International Association of Genocide Scholars issued a statement of concern over "signs of genocide and political murder in Zimbabwe" accusing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of "committing genocide by attrition" by deliberately inflicting conditions meant to bring the destruction of his "political and ethnic enemies."

While I'm not sure that the situation in Zimbabwe constitutes genocide --- see my recent post "What Genocide Is, and What it Isn't" for more on my take on the importance of definitions --- one thing is clear: Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party are engaged in a multi-layered, systematic brutalization of the Zimbabwean population, all with the aim of maintaining their iron grip on power.

Systematic Brutalization, at Every Turn

A devastating report issued earlier this week by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) weaves together, in painstakingly documented detail, Mugabe's 28-year history of egregious human rights violations with the collapse of the country's health systems:

"The health crisis in Zimbabwe is a direct outcome of the violation of a number of human rights, including the right to participate in government and in free elections and the right to a standard of living adequate for one's health and well being, including food, medical care, and necessary social services. Robert Mugabe's ZANUPF regime continues to violate Zimbabweans' civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights."

Mugabe's veritable smorgasbord of human rights violations truly runs the gamut, from abduction, torture, rape, and murder to the politicization of health services and the denial of food to political opponents. As recently as December 31, 2008, according to PHR, a World Food Program donation was diverted from its intended recipients to ZANU supporters. These violations do not occur in isolation, but rather are a calculated, systematic effort to attack Zimbabwean society from all sides --- a thorough package of repression developed over decades and carried out with absolute and total impunity.

And just to give you an idea of the appalling scale of the most recent violence, the PHR report cites documentation on politically motivated violence gathered for part of 2008:

"The Zimbabwe Peace Project, a human rights coalition of local NGOs and faith-based organizations, recorded 20,143 incidents of human rights violations between January and September 2008 including: 202 murders, 13 attempted murders, 41 rapes, 21 attempted rapes, 411 cases of torture, 463 kidnappings and abductions, 3,942 assaults, 444 cases of unlawful detention, 10,795 cases of harassment or intimidation, 2,290 forced displacements, 195 cases of discrimination (e.g., being denied access to government-subsidized food), 419 cases of looting or theft, and 907 cases of malicious damage to property.43 The majority of these human rights violations were politically motivated: 73% of victims are said to be supporters of the opposition MDC, and 80% of the perpetrators of violence are alleged to be ZANU-PF supporters."

(Note: The director of ZPP, Jestina Mukoko, was abducted herself in early December.)

The situation is, in a word, appalling. And the question remains: What is the way out?

A brief overview of the political dilemma:

- Mugabe lost the election in March but remains in power through a combination of brutal repression within Zimbabwe and strong-arming transition negotiations led by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The fact that he's buddy-buddy with the mediator, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, has done more than a little to solidify his position.

- Despite the best efforts of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the talks have essentially failed, and really, seemed doomed from the start. A unity agreement signed on September 15 never stood a chance, and Mugabe has made no bones about the fact that he will not relinquish his power. The fact that South Africa and others in the region continue to push negotiations, often placing the onus on Tsvangirai rather Mugabe, is beyond me. (Suggestions for new SADC taglines: "The Shrinking Violet Brigade," or perhaps "Complicit in Crimes Against Humanity.")

- Mugabe appears to be moving towards setting up a government unilaterally, having already made several cabinet appointments outside of the bounds of the September agreement.

We could try this...

Donald Steinberg of the International Crisis Group argues for the establishment of an independent, non-partisan transitional authority to deal with the immediate humanitarian crisis and pave the way for fresh elections. In this scenario, Mugabe would be offered immunity from prosecution and go gracefully into exile. While the idea of an independent transitional authority is appealing, and setting aside the thought that immunity for Mugabe is unconscionable, there are crippling flaws in this scenario:

1. Where does the leverage to push Mugabe out come from?

2. Who would lead the transitional authority, and who would guarantee its security?

3. Related to both points above, how would the threat from the military and the notorious ZANU "war veterans" and youth militias be mitigated?

Steinberg fatally dismisses the problem of the military and allied armed factions in the current situation as well as any future scenario. Mugabe truly has a monopoly of violence in Zimbabwe, and the upper echelons of the military have a vested interest in keeping him in power. In fact, many speculate that a "military coup by stealth" occurred after the March 29 elections, with the Joint Operations Command (JOC) calling the shots from that point on:

"A senior Western diplomat traced the military takeover to the days after the March 29 election, when a stunned Mr Mugabe was preparing to stand down before the generals moved in. ‘The generals didn't let him go,' the diplomat said. ‘Afraid that Mr Mugabe's departure would expose them to prosecution, they struck a deal guaranteeing his reelection.'"

Whatever form a hypothetical transitional government takes, it will have to deal with the very important fact that it will not have the support of the military. Even more, in order for free and fair elections to take place, an incredibly robust international force would need to guarantee the safety of the Zimbabwean people from ZANU's many armed elements. People with guns and a political cover to preserve tend not to fade easily into the woodwork.

...or this:

And then there's John Prendergast's provocative new piece in the Christian Science Monitor, which calls on neighboring countries to intervene to forcefully oust Mugabe:

"When the situation in Idi Amin's Uganda spiraled out of control and he began destabilizing neighbors, Tanzania intervened in 1979 and overthrew Amin's regime. When Charles Taylor's destruction of Liberia and Sierra Leone became untenable, Nigeria and other neighbors sent troops, and the US sent warships off Liberia's coast in a concerted regional push to successfully urge Taylor to resign and leave the country in 2003. When Congo's Mobutu Sese Seko's divide-and-conquer approach to government began creating security problems for neighbors, they supported rebel groups to overthrow him in 1997."

It is, indeed, hard to imagine any other way to remove Mugabe. As my friend Blessing Zulu said, thousands of people have died at Mugabe's hand --- he needs to be pushed out of power, and taken to The Hague. But, in another conversation, Michael Kleinman brought up very compelling counterpoints (or counter-questions, more like) to Prendergast's argument:

"1. Who, exactly, is going to intervene?

2. What will be the result? What are the unintended consequences? (Interesting that he mentions Congo in 1997 as an example of overthrowing a tyrannical regime, seeing as how that led to a war which killed four million people. Not sure that's my measure of success.) Who will stick around to rebuild Zimbabwe? If Afghanistan and Iraq have proven anything, it's that you can't simply invade and then hope that everything turns out for the best."

Frankly, I've come to the end of this marathon blog post, after hours upon hours of discussion and thought, completely torn. As Kleinman said, you have to ask "whether any of the scenarios to push [Mugabe] from power would create a situation even worse than the present." But as Prendergast writes,

"It will probably be messy in the short run and not without unintended consequences. But the status quo will guarantee that any hope for Zimbabwe - and huge numbers of its people - will eventually cease to exist."

Rock, meet Hard Place.


Related articles:

In Zimbabwe, Deal Likely to Fly or Fail This Week (January 18, 2009)
JOHANNESBURG — Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, and its prime minister in waiting, Morgan Tsvangirai, haven’t agreed on much of anything since they signed a deal four months ago to run the government together. But on Sunday they seemed to find common ground on at least one thing: their power-sharing deal will either come to fruition this week or collapse. If it does fail, there is no clean outcome. Mr. Mugabe’s party can form a government on his own, but the opposition and a small breakaway faction control a majority in Parliament that could thwart his ability to pass a budget or get legislation adopted.The men are scheduled to meet Monday in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, with the current and past presidents of South Africa present to mediate. Mr. Mugabe, in power since 1980, told the state-owned Sunday Mail that his ruling party, ZANU-PF, will make no further concessions until after the new government is in place.

Zimbabwe's cholera death toll tops 2,200: UN (January 16, 2009)
The cholera outbreak affecting most of Zimbabwe has killed 2,225 people and is spreading out of control, a United Nations agency said Friday. The news came as Zimbabwe's central bank revealed it will issue a new series of banknotes up to $100 trillion in Zimbabwean dollars as it struggles to keep up with hyperinflation, according to the state-run media. Reuters estimated the bill is worth about $33 US on the black market. Only four days ago, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced it would be printing new $50-billion notes. Zimbabwe's economic collapse has caused infrastructure to crumble, allowing the cholera outbreak that began last August to continue its spread as residents are left without clean water and prompt medical help. The UN says about 1,550 new cases are reported every day, with a total of 42,675 people affected to date. Cholera outbreaks are common in developing countries but don't typically kill more than one per cent of people infected. The UN World Health Organization estimates Zimbabwe's fatality rate is around five per cent. CLIP

Hunger stalks rural Zimbabwe as food aid dwindles (Jan 16, 2009)
CHIRUMANZU, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Maxmore Mhazo brightens as he talks about how food handouts from aid agencies have saved lives at his Zimbabwean village, but he is worried by the dwindling size of the portions. "Many of us would be dead were it not for these donations," the 74-year-old retired mine worker said as he and scores of others in Chirumanzu lined up for food packages distributed by aid agency Oxfam and the World Food Program (WFP). Each got 10 kg (22 lb) of maize, a pint of cooking oil and a bar of laundry soap, but that was less than they had received in the past three months because of the strain put on donors trying to fight Zimbabwe's multiplying problems. "We are doomed without this program," Mhazo said at the village in central Zimbabwe. The food crisis is due to the collapse of the agricultural sector and economic meltdown, exacerbated by political deadlock between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition. An estimated five million Zimbabweans, about 40 percent of the population, are surviving on food aid. Donors expect that number to grow, but they are also diverting money from food aid to fight a cholera epidemic that has already killed over 2,100 people and their appeals for more funding are not being met in full. Although the southern African nation has had good rains during the current growing season, many farmers did not receive enough seeds or fertilizer to enable them to grow enough maize, which is the staple. CLIP

More related news through this LINK


Iraq's little-known humanitarian crisis

HAROON SIDDIQUI -- Nov 01, 2007

AMMAN, Jordan–It is said that Iraq is the world's best-known conflict but the least well-known humanitarian crisis.

In the United States, where public attention span is low but the capacity for denial high, Iraq's daily carnage no longer commands headlines. American public discourse long ago shifted to the domestic political implications of Iraq for George W. Bush et al.

Those who do think of Iraq think mostly of the murderous sectarianism of the Sunnis and Shiites. If Muslims are killing each other, there's not much America can do, Iraq being another Yugoslavia – once the iron grip of Saddam Hussein or Josip Tito was gone, all the old animosities re-emerged.

But in Iraq, there was no such suppressed hatred. Shiites and Sunnis had always lived in harmony. Inter-marriage was common. The bombed-out Shiite shrine in Samara was in a Sunni neighbourhood.

The more apt parallel is with the 1947 partition of British India that precipitated a mass migration and a massacre among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who had lived in harmony for centuries.

When the state abrogates its most basic role of maintaining social order, anti-social forces and criminals can send scared people into a frenzy of primitive behaviour.

What's happening in Iraq is the direct result of American war-mongering and criminal incompetence.

Since the 2003 U.S. invasion, between 75,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed (depending on who's counting). This is in addition to the 1 million Iraqis, half of them children under 5, who died slow deaths during the 1991-2003 U.S.-led United Nations economic sanctions (a UNESCO estimate).

More than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced. Half have fled to Syria, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere.

This is the largest forced migration of people in the Middle East since 1948, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.

Nearly 8 million Iraqis – one in three – are in need of humanitarian aid.

Nearly half the internally displaced people do not have access to the Public Distribution System of ration cards and permits.

Only a third of Iraqis can access safe drinking water. The health system is collapsing. The drug distribution system has broken down. The sewage system has collapsed and only a fifth of Iraqis have access to a functional sanitary system.

Three-fourths of the internally displaced are either women (28 per cent) or children (48 per cent).

"Ninety per cent of those who die violent deaths are men, leaving huge numbers of widows and orphans without support," according to a special Iraq edition of Forced Migration Review, a publication of the Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford (

"In the short term, there appears to be no way to address the protection vacuum in much of Iraq. Multinational Force Iraq and the Iraqi Security Forces are incapable of protecting civilians."

Prostitution is on the rise. "Young girls are increasingly obliged to contribute to family incomes. Consequently, the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence is on the rise," say Jose Riera and Andrew Harper, of UNHCR ( "Child labour and other means of exploitation are increasingly reported."

UNICEF estimates that 4.5 million children are under-nourished. One child in 10 is under-weight. One in five is short for their age. In some areas, up to 90 per cent of children are not in school.

This is one reality show you won't see on your television.


Related article:

U.S. Faces Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq (12/29/2008)
There is a humanitarian crisis brewing in Iraq which -- if not averted -- could further tarnish the image of the United States as a party to a crime against humanity. Recent remarks by the Iraqi National Security Advisor, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, indicating his intention to expel and possibly extradite to Iran nearly 3,800 Iranian dissident refugees in Camp Ashraf Iraq who are under the protection of American forces could be a prelude to mass murder. After all the sacrifices by the Iraqi and American peoples for an Iraq adhering to international and humanitarian conventions, the current government, under pressure from Tehran, may well be paving the way for these dissidents’ wholesale massacre. It will be up to the incoming Obama administration to either live up to our obligations, or shoulder the blame for our failure to do so. CLIP


Sent by Joe Cachia ( on 16 Jan 2009


By Joseph M. Cachia (Malta)

‘Peace on Earth!’ Not even once a year?

It is such a meaningless platitude. Though achieving it seems so elusive, we must not stop to keep on striving to attain this worthy ideal.

There is reason to believe that until we establish a mass public education and mobilization program, the financial turmoil we are seeing will be followed by even more catastrophic occurrences than already exist in the world as a result of Global Climate Change, the Mass Extinction of Species (as many as 70-100 per day), Militarism (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, U.S.A., etc), Poverty (more food riots and worse), Oil Shortages, Water Shortages, Agricultural Contamination and on and on.

Today, the general will of nations is calling for fundamental change. Demands for change, demands for transformation, demands for a return to human values are fast becoming the foremost demands of the nations of the world.

The impact that consciousness change instills on the policy-making process can never be overestimated. Many historical events provide evidence of how changes in consciousness led to profound changes despite the opposition of powerful interest groups. Historic social movements, such as anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, environment, peace, etc., all arose from consciousness changes among citizens the world over on key political issues. The consciousness changes ultimately led to private citizens mobilizing to force political elites to change their support away from outdated ideas and policies. As Victor Hugo, the celebrated French philosopher once said: “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Hopefully, it’s the right time for honest and sincere human rights!

The history of brutality reads like an unbroken thread all down the centuries till the present day. Look at the world at this time.

Take Palestine! Thousands wounded, hundreds killed, innumerable lost and unaccounted for.

Governments negotiate a cease-fire without any hurry. The U.S. President-elect is forever silent. Our government is just sitting on the wall, deploring and condemning nothing. Silence please – game on! How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?

Meanwhile… the genocide continues. Parents search beneath the collapsed walls for remains of their children. Shattered concrete, random arms and legs, broken glass tossed together in a bloody horrible mess.

It seems that some can get away with anything. However, people will suffer for what they have done, as consciousness is quite profound. We are ONE and what we do to others, we do to ourselves.

The world cannot afford any more war… the challenges that plague us demand that we learn to work together towards solutions in support of sustaining life, not misery for far too many.

We fool ourselves into believing that we are immune to the savagery and chaos of wars and conflicts. Take away the rigid social structure, let society continue to break down and we become, like anyone else, brutes. After all, is man nothing more than a cruel animal? I do not think that humans are any more cruel than they are kind, however, we are blind to our hypocrisy.

Let’s take the next picture show.

Hunger in the world is increasing dramatically. A child under ten dies from starvation every five seconds, and 100,000 people die from hunger or its immediate effects every day, 923 million people are constantly and seriously undernourished. This daily hunger massacre is intensifying. This world order is not only murderous; it is absurd!

In an online synopsis of aid operations, CARE stated, that “aid was too short-term, late and focused entirely on saving lives – not preventing situations where emergency food aid was needed.” While providing food and medicine prevents people from dying for a time, it does not prepare them for the next crisis.

We need to have an action plan ready to bring in aid before it is urgently needed and hold all nations accountable for pledged humanitarian aid.

Let’s stop Vulture Funds! The activities of vulture funds highlight the flaws in the global financial system, which we all now recognize is in dire need of reform.

What is wrong with us? Do we not care? Are we so absorbed in our own lives or groups or in competition with others that pity for the less fortunate has disappeared from our souls? Do we justify our inaction by stubbornly holding on to weak excuses for our inactivity?

Are we aware that the future development possesses the tendency for a revolutionary world crisis? Rebellion of the oppressed is not a crime!

My fond hope is that when those all too many of us, while not pleased with the status-quo, are unwilling to take sides and simply straddle the fence so to speak, will find themselves being shot at from both sides.

This may sound a very bleak outlook, but truth demands it, if we really care to listen to it. Such voices have been ignored long enough. I’d just like people to hear them. Fortunately, there is a way; unfortunately there is no will. However, despite what’s thrown my way, I won’t give up on humanity!

I honour the place in you where Spirit lives
I honour the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,

then we are One.

- Ancient saying according to the Sanskrit


Related articles:

Jean Ziegler : “This World Order is not only murderous : it is absurd.” (18 novembre 2008)
HUMA : The debate over the nature of the crisis is ongoing. Some consider that it as something more than a crisis of the financial system that needs to be corrected : a multi-dimensional crisis that some even qualify as civilisational. Do you share this opinion ?
ZIEGLER : Yes. The jungle capitalism is losing its mask. There is, on one hand, the suffering of American workers : 25 million families evicted from their houses since last March, to which you can add 10,000 tenants evicted each day since September. Thousands of pension funds disappeared into thin air. Unemployment is rising quickly in France. Social budgets are going to be cut. One has to weigh the importance of these disasters. At the same time, we witness an extraordinary event : the masks of neoliberalism have fallen. Theories legitimising current capitalism are shredded into pieces ; namely : market self-regulation, the free transfer of capital, services and merchandise, the privatisation of all public sectors, the claim that economic laws are laws of nature, slander against the national State and its normative strength. This ultraliberalism that renders workers powerless is now at bay. The real player, the “invisible hand,” against which we were said to be powerless, has become visible : the predators, the speculators, the oligarchies of the stock market that know only greed, cynicism and an obsessional lust for power. This unmasking opens onto a path of awareness of the actual nature of globalised capitalism and of the cannibalistic order that it imposes on the planet.

HUMA : According to you, have we realised the impact that this crisis has on countries in the South ?
ZIEGLER : “When the rich lose weight, the poor starve to death,” goes a saying. Hunger in the world is increasing dramatically. A child under ten dies from starvation every five seconds, and 100,000 people die from hunger or its immediate effects every day. 923 million people – that is, more than one in six – are constantly, seriously under-nourished. This daily hunger massacre is intensifying. At the same time, President Nicolas Sarkozy has massively reduced public development aid. In Africa, projects have been postponed. The UN has identified eight tragedies to eradicate as a matter of priority. These are the objectives to accomplish by 2015 : suppress extreme poverty and hunger ; enable all young children to acquire basic schooling ; promote sexual equality and women’s autonomy ; reduce infant mortality ; improve mothers’ health ; fight against AIDS ; guarantee the safe-guarding of the environment ; establish a world pact for development. These objectives’ cost is estimated at 82 billion dollars per year over five years. Since 2000, the West says that there is no money. Yet, last October 12, at the Elysée, 27 countries of the European Union have liberated 1,700 billion euro in three hours and a half for interbank credit and to increase the lower limit of bank’s actual capital by 3 to 5%. To eliminate the eight tragedies that strike third-world countries, only 1% of these 1,700 billion would be sufficient. This world order is not only murderous : it is absurd.” CLIP

Kenya appeals for $406M in urgent food aid (January 16, 2009)
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's president declared the country's food crisis a national disaster Friday and asked international donors to contribute $406 million toward emergency food aid.However, Germany's ambassador urged the Kenyan government to tackle corruption in its agricultural sector, saying "somebody out there is taking advantage of the famine to enrich themselves."Nearly a third of Kenya's 34 million people face food shortages because of crop failures after drought last year. Tens of thousands of farmers also were unable to plant crops last year when they were displaced from their land during postelection violence that saw more than 1,000 people killed, President Mwai Kibaki said. The government has set aside 5 billion shillings ($63.4 million), but the country needs a total of 37 billion shillings ($469.5 million) for its emergency needs until August, Kibaki told diplomats and senior government officials. The government will also sell fertilizer at affordable prices and cut the price of seed by 10 percent so that farmers can easily plant crops in the coming season, which begins in March, the president said. CLIP

WFP Launches Operation Lifeline Gaza
Rome, 16 January 2009 - WFP has responded to growing hunger needs in Gaza by launching Operation Lifeline Gaza, which aims to ramp up the distribution of food -- including ready-to-eat food such as date bars -- to people caught in the conflict in the occupied Palestinian territory.Read news releaseWFP is launching a one-year emergency operation (EMOP) to provide food assistance to a further 100,000 people, raising its caseload to 365,000, or 80 percent of the non-refugee population of the Gaza Strip. The EMOP will require funding of US$81.2 million - Despite high levels of insecurity, WFP staff in Gaza have continued working throughout the conflict. Since the latest fighting broke out on 27 December, two-month and three-month rations have been distributed to more than 137,000 people. Enduring ceasefire -- Continuing fighting and problems with access are hampering WFP’s efforts to reach its beneficiaries. There is a vital need for all crossing points into Gaza to be reopened and for an enduring ceasefire to allow WFP and its cooperating partners to scale up distributions. WFP has made repeated appeals for a rapid expansion of humanitarian access to Gaza, where people are finding it increasingly difficult to find food.Operation Lifeline Gaza aims to meet growing hunger needs by providing ready-to-eat, culturally acceptable food to hundreds of thousands of people.

Haiti's storm emergency fades, but hunger remains (Jan 16, 2009)
GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) — More than 150,000 people are surviving on donated food in the flood-battered city of Gonaives and the United Nations says more aid is urgently needed to stave off famine in parts of Haiti four months after ravaging storms. Families are repairing mud-caked homes and markets have reopened, but the storms endangered a country already struggling with chronic malnutrition. "What we are going to do now, from January onward, is to support the vulnerable people, to support the children so they keep growing healthy," U.N. World Food Program country director Myrta Kaulard said Thursday during a tour of affected areas. The WFP is asking countries to donate $100 million for Haiti, saying the organization's current funding will last only through February. It requested the same last year but received only $68 million.U.N. and U.S.-sponsored groups say half Gonaives' population can now feed themselves. To encourage local markets and tackle chronic hunger, they are scaling back public food pistributions that had sustained nearly the entire city of 300,000 for months. They are shifting instead to a more sustainable approach targeting those most at risk, such as children and pregnant women. Food is distributed through school lunch programs, neighborhood canteens and programs rewarding work on streets, sewers and anti-erosion projects. CLIP

Yemen facing starvation fears as world food prices rise (Jan 17, 2009)
The ancient civilisation that thrived in the mountain valleys of Yemen was famed for cultivating bountiful crops with a system of cisterns and aqueducts.But today the country is threatened with a major food crisis that experts fear could destabilise the poor neighbour of the Middle East's oil and banking giants.In remote villages, families are regularly skipping meals and spending more than two-thirds of their income on food because of high international prices, forcing some to pull children out of school because they cannot afford it, says an assessment by the World Food Programme."All they've got in some villages is bread and tea and that's all they're feeding their children," said Adam Taylor-Awni, a consultant involved in the study. And noting that most Yemenis live in remote rural villages, he said: "There aren't mechanisms in place to get food to people."Yemen has been faced with steadily decreasing supplies of water and a burgeoning population, and international aid agencies warn the rise in global food prices is bringing it close to starvation. Economists and other authorities say the food crisis could further unbalance the already precarious nation of 23 million and, worse yet, spread violence and terror to its wealthy neighbours.

SOMALIA: Three teaspoons a day to keep starvation at bay?
JOHANNESBURG, 12 January 2009 (IRIN) - Ready-to-eat blended food has revolutionised the treatment of children who are acutely malnourished. In a pilot project, the UN Children's Agency (UNICEF) will use a similar product not to treat, but to prevent malnutrition in conflict- and drought-ridden Somalia. In the biggest trial of Plumpy'doz, a variation of Plumpy'nut, a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), UNICEF plans to reach 100,000 children by mid-January. Plumpy'doz is similar to Plumpy’nut in that it is possible to treat a child at home, without refrigeration, even where hygiene conditions are poor. Somalia has one of the world’s highest levels of malnutrition, with Global Acute Malnutrition rates of an estimated 18.6 percent, topping 20 percent in some areas, and 28 percent in displaced people’s camps in Bossaso, northeast Somalia. Anything over 15 percent can be regarded as an emergency. CLIP

SRI LANKA: More civilians fleeing fighting
COLOMBO, 16 January 2009 (IRIN) - The residents of Mullaithivu, deep in the conflict-affected areas known as the Vanni, in the north, have witnessed an escalation of clashes between government troops and cadres from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the past year. Since April 2008, the conflict has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. According to UN statistics, as many as 230,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain trapped in areas east of Mullaithivu town, unable to flee to safety. According to the Defence Ministry, 1,168 people from the Vanni are living at two welfare camps in Vavuniya District. The ministry also said the LTTE was forcibly preventing civilians from escaping the fighting. (...) A fact-finding mission in the Vanni between 29 and 30 December by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) found that civilians were in a precarious situation as the fighting escalated. "The mission noted increasing vulnerability of the civilian population due to several factors including: ongoing fighting, new and repeated displacements into an increasingly compressed area, flood damage and reduced capacity and material to address urgent shelter and sanitation needs," IASC said in a situation report released on 12 January.UN and other international agencies left Mullaithivu and the adjoining Kilinochchi districts in September 2008, at the government's behest, amid a deteriorating security situation. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only international agency with a permanent presence in the Vanni. The World Food Programme (WFP) has dispatched 10 food convoys into the Vanni since October. On 10 January, the latest convoy transported 811MT of food supplies, in 57 trucks, enough to feed 230,000 people for seven days, the government said in a statement. CLIP

HEALTH-LATAM: Too Many Women and Children Dying
SANTIAGO, Jan 15 (IPS) - "Latin America is not in the tragic conditions of the least developed countries, but an average rate of 130 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births is very high," UNICEF representative Egidio Crotti told IPS.Along with Chilean Planning Minister Paula Quintana and Public Health Minister Jeannette Vega, Crotti took part in the local presentation of UNICEF’s (United Nations Children’s Fund) "The State of the World’s Children 2009" report Thursday in Santiago. The report was launched in South Africa. Every day, 1,500 women worldwide -- more than 500,000 a year -- die while giving birth. But the risk of dying of complications during pregnancy or delivery is 300 times greater for women in developing countries than in the industrialised world, the report says. And for every woman who dies, another 20 suffer illnesses or injury. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest maternal mortality rates, averaging 920 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to a rate of eight per 100,000 in industrialised countries. CLIP

Hunger Facts: International - World Hunger and Poverty: How They Fit Together
923 million people across the world are hungry. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes--one child every five seconds. In essence, hunger is the most extreme form of poverty, where individuals or families cannot afford to meet their most basic need for food. Hunger manifests itself in many ways other than starvation and famine. Most poor people who battle hunger deal with chronic undernourishment and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, which result in stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness. Countries in which a large portion of the population battles hunger daily are usually poor and often lack the social safety nets we enjoy, such as soup kitchens, food stamps, and job training programs. When a family that lives in a poor country cannot grow enough food or earn enough money to buy food, there is nowhere to turn for help. CLIP - You'll also find there... Facts and Figures on Population - Facts and Figures on Hunger and Poverty - Facts and Figures on Health - Facts and Figures on HIV/AIDS

WFP Interactive Hunger Map - MOST REVEALING!!

Much more info on hunger through including World Hunger Facts 2008


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