Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of 2009 - Message from Other Voice in Sderot

Concluding the year with a voice of sanity from good friends in Sderot.
Shalom - Salam

*** Their Lives = Our Lives ***

We, residents of the Sderot/surrounding Gaza region, wish to live with peace and quiet.
Our neighbors in Gaza, wish to live with peace in quiet.
Life for them = Life for us!
We, members of Other Voice, call for an end to the siege, an end to the collective punishment, that is harming innocent people. We call for the co-creation of good neighborly relations, that are built on mutual respect and non violence.
Life for us = Life for them!
Visit our website - - and share your support for ending the siege on Gaza.
Please forward this message to your email contacts

אנו, תושבי האזור, רוצים לחיות בשלום ובשקט.
שכנינו בעזה רוצים לחיות בשלום ובשקט.
חיים להם = חיים לנו!
אנו, חברי 'קול אחר', קוראים להסרת המצור על עזה ולהפסקת הענישה הקולקטיבית הפוגעת באזרחים חפים מפשע. אנו קוראים לבנייה משותפת של יחסי שכנות תקינים, המבוססים על כבוד הדדי ואי אלימות.
חיים לנו = חיים להם!!
תבקרו באתר שלנו - - והביעו תמיכה בהסרת המצור.
אנא - תשלחו מייל זה הלאה לרשימות התפוצות שלכם!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gaza I know (Reposting Nancy Murray)

I have nothing to add - just pain and sorrow.
O yes, and shame.
Our church has this ongoing Christmas tree decoration throughout Advent. I went and placed Gaza on the tree. We, the noble "we" of the intelligent and powerful human beings, regularly decide that some people are a little less than people, a little less deserving of rights than others. Once the Blacks. Another time, another place, the Jews. Many times the "Natives." Today - Gazans, by all means.
Salam, ya salam!

For most Americans, the Gaza Strip is, at best, unknown territory. At worst, it is a hostile land whose "terrorist infrastructure" must be dismantled, no matter what the cost to its million and a half residents.

The Gaza I have been visiting for the past twenty-one years bears little relation to the dehumanizing imagery to which it has been reduced by the mainstream media. The Gaza I know is home to friends and strangers who are as welcoming and humane as they are resilient and determined to achieve their freedom. They have maintained their humanity despite enduring a brutal forty-two-year-old Israeli occupation that has cost them the destruction of their homes, land, economy and future and the loss of more than 4,000 lives since the dawn of the twenty-first century.

For the past two and a half years, this spit of sand--just twenty-five miles long and a few miles wide--has been virtually a closed prison. Since June 2007 Israel's blockade has prevented the entry of all but a handful of basic items, and the exit of patients who urgently need medical treatment and students with scholarships to study abroad. Then, a year ago, came the "shock and awe" of Israel's "Operation Cast Lead," intended as a knockout blow not just to the crude rockets fired from Gaza but to its life-sustaining infrastructure and the will of its people to resist.

A month ago, I finally obtained permission from the Israeli military to cross into Gaza to visit therapy programs for traumatized children. Half of the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants are children, and many have not emotionally recovered from Israel's military attacks.

And how could they? They are still living in the ruins of war. Blasted buildings tilt dangerously over streets. Unexploded ordnance lurks beneath concrete rubble. Israel, with the blessing of the United States, has prevented reconstruction materials and heavy machinery from entering the Gaza Strip - and just about everything else.

Aid agencies have at the ready the equipment needed to fix the destroyed sewage and waste water systems - but it is not permitted to enter. And so each day up to 80 million liters of untreated sewage spill into the Mediterranean and leach into the aquifer. Thousands of babies have "blue baby syndrome" and risk dying of nitrate poisoning; fish are dead; and the long sandy beaches--which had been the sole place of recreation in one of the most densely crowded places on earth --are now off limits.

The hundreds of dangerous, hand-hewn tunnels into Egypt through which Gazans haul bottled water, food and other supplies are at present a lifeline. So it is with a sinking heart that I read that Egypt, at the urging of Israel and the United States, is installing metal sheets under the ground to "curb smuggling."

I wonder how the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, John Ging, is digesting this latest calamitous news. When I met with him in November he told me that hope for tomorrow is just about gone. "We have run out of words to describe how bad it is here. Things are moving rapidly in the wrong direction. The best help we can get is to lift the siege and to begin to deal with human beings on a humane and legal basis."

In late December, to mark the first anniversary of Israel's war, some 1,200 internationals from forty-two countries will be doing what they can to get things moving in the right direction. They intend to enter Gaza from Egypt to participate in the Gaza Freedom March. Marchers include an 85-year-old American Holocaust survivor, Hedy Epstein, the acclaimed writer Alice Walker, civil rights movement veterans, Ronnie Kasrils, a leader of the South African liberation struggle and a substantial delegation from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

Invoking the spirit of Gandhi's Salt March and the Civil Rights Movement, these internationals of conscience will encounter the Gaza I know - the vibrant civil society of children, students and teachers, refugee groups and women's organizations, doctors and therapists, farmers and fishermen, musicians and dancers who are planning a tremendous welcome.

Together they will take part in cultural and solidarity activities. Then, on New Year's Eve, they will call for an end to the blockade in a massive march toward the Erez Crossing with Israel, as Israeli solidarity marchers converge on the other side.

Simultaneously, around the globe there will be "end the siege" actions demanding that the prison doors be opened. The lives of Gaza's babies hang in the balance.

Nancy Murray - The Nation 12/21/2009

To find out more, go to Gaza Freedom March.
Later this month thousands of international solidarity activists will take part in the Gaza Freedom March to end Israel's blockade. They deserve your support.

Nancy Murray is president of the Gaza Mental Health Foundation and a member of the international steering committee of the Gaza Freedom March.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Understanding East Jerusalem Policies of Israel

I wrote about a year ago (see here) that security was not the #1 concern of Israel. To understand Israel's policies, you need to first consider its demographic and then its geographic ambitions, which trump everything. Everything.

The video embedded below is well worth watching - it's a 20 minute documentary explaining the "Green Rule" of the municipality of Jerusalem--a totally out-of-thin air law, which allows to keep the pressure on Palestinians and force them out of their land. Sometimes indirectly, sometimes directly by way of home demolition.

In the meantime, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports today that:
House demolitions and displacement affecting East Jerusalem continue to be of concern. Israeli settler organizations intensify their efforts to take control of land and property in East Jerusalem and establish a sustained presence in Palestinian neighbourhoods. The Jerusalem municipality approve the construction of 900 new housing units in Gilo settlement. In Gaza, as winter approaches there is increasing concern for the families whose homes were destroyed or damaged as a result of the ?Cast Lead? military offensive. The continuing blockade has resulted in negligible reconstruction and repair, as essential materials continue to be denied entry: thousands of families continue to live in homes without window panes or solar panels due to the ban on the import of glass.
Watch the video and pass it forward.

ps: thanks to David and Nassim for pointing out the material in this entry.

Green Zone from Nimrod Zin on Vimeo.