Tag Archives: Colonialism

Gaza Surreal: The Juxtaposition of real life and virtual activism

It’s midnight. I’m seated at my over-sized oak dining room table in my University of Michigan sweats, a cup of cold coffee off to the side next to by BlackBerry.

I’m blogging, writing media advisories, press releases, and action alerts while mining media reports. I’ve got that familiar cold fear in the pit of my stomach,waiting for the inevitable.

With each passing minute the Freedom Flotilla, with its 800 volunteers and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid and  medical supplies, chugs ever more closely to Gaza’s waters and the waiting Israeli gunships. Everyone expects Israel to act disproportionately. Actually anything Israel does to commandeer those vessels whether shots are fired or not will be disproportionate merely because it will be  illegal.

Israel has no right to patrol Gaza’s waters. It also has no right – no legal basis for the three-year-old blockade it has imposed upon 1.5 million – but it continues to act with impunity. The United States continues to fund the Israeli imperial colonial enterprise to the tune of $7 million per day.  A full 75 percent of Congress’ 535 members are bedfellows with AIPAC and other pro-Zionist lobby groups, as evidenced by their signatures on AIPAC-sponsored letters decrying President Barack Obama’s stance on Israel’s illegal settlement construction earlier this spring.

Because of this ‘close relationship’ (as Vice President Joe Biden likes to stress), 800 people from around the world are risking their lives to break the siege. They are supported by legions of people like me, taking to cyberspace and desperately trying to garner attention, hoping to educate just one more person and open just one more mind.

Meanwhile, life has a way of continuing on its bumbling way, seemingly oblivious of the momentous events unraveling half a world away.

My 75-year-old father drove more than six hours from Michigan to visit. He’s staying at a hotel, though, five minutes from my home.

Seventy-five.

At this time in his life, my father should be enjoying his just rewards of a life well-lived.  But I have brought much sadness to him in these ends years. First with my conversion to Islam. And now with my full-time activism for Palestine.

So he made the effort to come and visit. But he’s staying in a hotel. I didn’t even know he had arrived. I ran into him accidentally at the local mall.

And while we hugged and kissed and made small talk about his trip, I kept glancing at my BlackBerry.

I was genuinely happy to see my father.  My smiles, though, belied the fear in my stomach, the worry of the fate of those 800 aboard the flotilla. So while we made plans for tomorrow, I was thinking about the impending confrontation between Israel and the peace activists. And my father most likely was remembering earlier days when I was less complicated and less worrisome.

Meanwhile, the world keeps spinning and time keeps marching on – inexorably on.

~ Kristin Szremski 5/29/2010

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Top Secret Israel-South Africa nuclear documents declassified

Check out the highlighted signature from 1975. It’s from Shimon Peres, then Israeli minister of defense. He, along with South African Defense Minister P.W. Botha, signed the document that sealed the nuclear weapons agreement between the countries. The Guardian has a timeline of events leading up to the agreement as well as historic documents.

In this letter, dated 11 November 1974, Peres says Israel and the South African apartheid government share a “common hatred of injustice” and urges a “close identity of aspirations and interests.”

Really? Can Israel’s Zionist leadership be so deluded they believe the meaning of injustice doesn’t apply to them and their oppressive policies? That both countries shared a ‘common hatred’ is clear. However, I believe that hatred extended to the indigenous peoples and the idea that the only way the minority rulers could continue their ‘cozy’ and lucrative colonial enterprises was to dehumanize, oppress and isolate the majority populations in segregated Bantustans.

Thankfully, liberty has come to South Africa, thanks in large part to the boycott, sanctions and divestments movements.

But Israel’s Zionists can’t rest easy. Liberty and self-determination for the Palestinian people are knocking at the gate. The global BDS movement, which began in Palestine, has taken root and is flourishing around the world. Palestinian civil resistance is also growing stronger.

Now, worldwide pressure on Israel to reveal the extent of its nuclear weapons arsenal and to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is another gust of wind already battering Israel’s flimsy grasp on the occupation. A gale force is coming. Israel’s house of cards is tottering.

Kristin Szremski 5/26/2010

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Israelis, Jews join civil protests against occupation; time for Americans to take second look at US support for Israel

By Kristin Szremski

This May marks the passage of 62 years since two major events that together have shaped the course of modern history. On May 15, Jews celebrate the creation of the state of Israel while on that day Palestinians commemorate Al Nakba, or the Catastrophe, which resulted in the deaths of 13,000 Palestinians and the expulsion of nearly one million more at the hands of Zionist Jews.

This year, though, these commemorations are occurring against a surprising backdrop: Increasingly more Israeli and American Jews are joining the growing network of activists protesting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Israeli groups such as Breaking the Silence, soldiers documenting military abuses against Palestinian civilians, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions; as well as American groups like the Jewish Fast for Gaza or Jewish Voice for Peace, to name a few,  protest the Israel’s flagrant violation of international law. Internationally, there are groups like International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

Israeli Jews and Palestinians are cooperating as well. The Arab and Jewish organization Who Profits keeps a tally on companies profiting from the occupation industry, for instance, while Israeli Jews join Palestinian and international activists in peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in West Bank villages such as Ni’iln every week. Recently, Adalah, the Palestinian legal organization advocating for rights for Palestinian residents of Israel, and the Israeli Association for Civil Rights in Israel teamed up in a case before the Israeli Supreme Court.

And these are just a few of the  many collaborative organizations battling the occupation together.

Jews in the United States are increasingly feeling disenfranchised from Israel’s right-wing Likud leadership under Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu or  he Yisrael Beiteinu party, founded by Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Last fall, members of J Street, a progressive American Jewish organization, harshly criticized Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for his refusal to attend its annual conference. Meanwhile, Israel’s right wing Zionists roundly criticized J Street for publishing a poll that found a full 69 percent of respondents backed President Barack Obama’s efforts toward peace, even if it meant disagreeing publicly with Israel.

Moshe Yaroni recently wrote in the online magazine Zeek, supported by the Jewish Forward, that Israel’s vision of democracy is crumbling. “For years, the peace groups in Israel have been warning that occupation cannot co-exist with democracy without one eventually strangling the other.” Yaroni makes the point that Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, coupled with the fervent Zionist ideology, is consuming its own citizens from within.

“Defining a humane Judaism in the 21st century means condemning the brutal military occupation in the West Bank and resisting the ongoing siege of Gaza,” Antony Lowentstein wrote in “Why Aren’t Jews Outraged by Israeli Occupation,” published in Haaretz on July 17, 2009.
These are all compelling reasons for the American public to take a second look at the Middle East.

For more than 60 years, Palestinians have cried out about their dispossession but the world has not been listening. Now, however, the truth is getting harder to ignore because Israeli society is becoming increasingly divided over Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians. Yaroni writes in Zeek: “Israel is moving toward a very frightening future; a future where most Jews will no longer be able to support Israel.”

We need to ask ourselves, if Jews are finding they no longer can support Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestine, how then can the American government continue to lend unconditional support to the tune of more than $3 billion a year in foreign aid?

After 62 years, it is time for a new accounting. It is time to start looking for information about Israel and Palestine outside the mainstream American press. It is time to start calling upon our lawmakers to hold Israel accountable; to insist that Congress withhold aid unless Israel complies with international law and ends the siege and occupation.

It is time finally to stand with the values upon which this great country was founded and to admit that the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness extend to all people – including the illegally occupied people of Palestine.

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Map of illegal Israeli colonial outposts

I found the following report on the Web site for the Applied Research Institute for Jerusalem. The following is an excerpt on a report about how the government of Israel was secretly funding illegal colonial outposts:

The Sasson Report, an official Israeli government report published on March 8, 2005, concluded that Israeli state bodies had been discreetly diverting millions of shekels to build settlements and outposts in occupied West Bank that were illegal under Israeli law. The report was headed by the former head of the State Prosecution Criminal Department Talia Sasson. The report detailed how officials in the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Housing and Construction and the settlement division of the World Zionist Organization spent millions of Israeli shekels from state budgets to support the unauthorized outposts.

The report states:

  • The Israeli Ministry of Housing supplied mobile homes for outposts on private Palestinian land
  • The Israeli Ministry of Defense approved the positioning of trailers for the new outposts
  • The Ministry of Education paid for nurseries and their teachers
  • The Ministry of Energy facilitated work to connect outposts to the electricity grid
  • Roads to outposts were paid for with taxpayers’ money

The settlement expansion initiative was backed by Ariel Sharon when he was serving as foreign minister under Binyamin Netanyahu government at that time, In 1998 he publicly urged settlers to seize hilltops in order to break up the contiguity of Palestinian areas and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying: ‘Let everyone get a move on and take some hilltops! Whatever we take, will be ours, and whatever we don’t take, will not be ours!’.

This Web site is definitely worth bookmarking.

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