Crisp. Clear. Succinct.
This shot video captures the Palestinian narrative and issue so perfectly that I think it will be a good tool to use when speaking with people entirely uninformed and unaware of the issue.
Please watch and pass this on.
Crisp. Clear. Succinct.
This shot video captures the Palestinian narrative and issue so perfectly that I think it will be a good tool to use when speaking with people entirely uninformed and unaware of the issue.
Please watch and pass this on.
As Dr. Ahmet Doğan drove from his home town of Kayseri to the Istanbul airport on 3 June 2010 — three days after Israel attacked the Mavi Marmara and killed nine unarmed activists taking humanitarian aid to the occupied Gaza Strip — he was still firmly confident his son Furkan was returning home to him. When the recent high school graduate was not among the crowd who disembarked from three planes bringing back Turkish flotilla passengers who had been detained in Israel, Doğan still did not lose hope.
And when he’d heard reports that Israeli commandos threw overboard some passengers of the Mavi Marmara — the ship Furkan had been on — he sat down, buried his head in his hands and “felt that boiling water was poured over me,” he said. But even that momentary panic passed when the president of the human rights organization IHH, which sponsored some of the flotilla’s vessels, said three Turkish residents were still being detained at the airport in Israel. There was also the possibility Furkan had been injured and diverted to Ankara with others. Or because he carried American — but not Turkish — citizenship, perhaps he’d been sent to the United States.
Such were the racing thoughts of a loving father desperately trying to learn the whereabouts of his youngest child, three days after the Israeli navy commandeered the Freedom Flotilla’s six vessels in international waters, in contravention of international maritime law. After calling relatives in Ankara and Chicago to no avail, Doğan began to consider the unfathomable: perhaps Furkan was one of the three unidentified bodies lying in the morgue at the forensics department in Istanbul.
So he left the airport and went the short distance to the forensics building. He found his 19-year-old son lying among the unidentified victims, his young body riddled with bullets that, according to a UN report, were fired execution style at “point-blank” range. The report was published and submitted to the UN General Assembly on 27 September 2010.
The report, the result of an independent investigation conducted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), found Israel responsible for “grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” and guilty of “willful killing, torture or inhumane treatment, and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury.” Furthermore, the killings of at least six of the passengers were in a manner “consistent with arbitrary and summary execution” (“Report of the international fact-finding mission …” [PDF]).
While recently recounting his story at a Chicago-area hotel, the mild-mannered but stoic accounting professor suddenly fell silent and looked off into the distance, his words spent. What had started out that June day as a confident journey portending reunion had turned unexpectedly into mindless tragedy.
And now this week, Doğan and his lawyers Ramazan Aritürk and Uğuur Sevgili, of the Istanbul-based Elmadag Law Office, are in Washington DC, “considering all their options,” which may include filing a civil case against Israeli authorities. The trio is holding meetings with officials from the US State Department, the Department of Justice and the Senate Appropriations Committee through Friday. They want to ask the United States to initiate its own investigation into Furkan’s death. Doğan also wants to know why American authorities have shown such little interest in the execution of his son.
Since the flotilla attack on 31 May 2010, Doğan has received scant information or help from US officials. Out of four letters requesting meetings sent to the US consulate in Istanbul and the US embassy in Ankara, Doğan received one response — a form letter stating his letter had been received, Sevgili said.
A letter sent last fall to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains unanswered.
“We’re disappointed with the approach of the US,” Doğan said in Turkish on Sunday. Sevgili acted as an interpreter during the interview for this article. “The fact is, the United States does not protect its citizens.”
On 31 May, US President Barack Obama issued a statement on the flotilla incident, saying the loss of life was “regrettable,” which was similar to the statement put out by the State Department. On 3 June, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed Furkan was among the dead and said “We are in constant contact with the Israeli government, attempting to obtain more information about our citizens.”
A report published by the independent Congressional Research Service on 23 June 2010 indicated the US response to the attack was predicated upon politics rather than condemnation of Israel’s violations of international law.
“The United States is caught between two long-time allies — Israel and Turkey — and the Obama administration is interested in finding a path between them that will not antagonize either party. … The administration’s first reaction was circumspect, if not muted,” the report stated.
The reasons are not justifiable to Doğan or his lawyers. To them, US policies and actions are biased and discriminatory.
“According to US policy, all the action taken by Israel is legitimate and legal before the US. Such a double standard has never existed within the history of law,” Aritürk said.
“I am disappointed, but let us see what we can get from legal actions in the US,” Doğan added.
According to Noura Erakat, an adjunct professor of international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown University, if Doğan does file suit, it will get thrown out before making it to trial because of the political question doctrine that stipulates the “judiciary should defer to the executive branch” in cases that could impact US foreign policy or the relationship with an ally, she said.
The political questions doctrine originated as a way to define the boundaries between the judicial and the executive and legislative branches of government, and is applied when court cases touch areas such as foreign policy or the ratification of constitutional amendments. However, the rule is vague and is open to broad interpretation. In cases in which Palestinians are plaintiffs against the State of Israel or Israeli authorities, its use is “so extreme as to demonstrate bias,” Erakat said. “It is not just the merits of the case” that determine whether it will proceed through the court system, but its impact on foreign policy or on the relationship between the US and an ally, she said.
“While US federal courts have, through the [Alien Tort Claims Act], become formally available for redressing violations of international human rights, Palestinians have found no judicial recourse in these courts almost without exception. As defendants, Palestinians have no defenses available to them; as claimants, their claims do not withstand judicial scrutiny,” Erakat wrote in an article titled “Litigating the Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Politicization of US Federal Courtrooms,” published in Vol. 2 of the 2009 Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law.
This time, however, if Doğan decides to file the lawsuit, the plaintiff would be the estate of an American citizen. But the fact the defendant would be Israeli authorities already precludes a successful outcome, Erakat said.
“The fact the United States does not accept the UN Fact Finding Mission but condemns it, and the fact the executive branch says everything [regarding Israel and the Palestinians] should be decided by direct negotiations leaves no room for the United Nations. It leaves no room for the courts to decide,” Erakat said. “You would need a really creative judge to find an outcome that doesn’t contradict US foreign policy and that’s impossible.”
So, in effect, legal cases involving Israel are politicized because of the judiciary’s deference to the executive branch, among other things.
Whether the Turkish trio decides to pursue legal action in the United States remains unclear and may not be decided until after they finish with all their meetings in Washington this week. Likewise, State Department spokesman John Sullivan deferred commenting on the issue until after the meetings take place, he said in an email.
Putting legal wrangling aside, Doğan boiled down the predicament to one thing: “What I understand from US policy is if Israel is the issue, they can ignore [Furkan’s] citizenship.” Doğan added, “Israel has priorities in its continuing relationship with the US.”
In October, Aritürk and Sevgili were among a delegation of lawyers representing approximately 300 victims of the flotilla raid who filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Sevgili said. The claim, filed under Article 15 of the Rome Statute, charges Israel with committing war crimes and asks the ICC prosecutor to conduct his own investigation.
“Furkan was generous and helpful,” Doğan said. “You die as you live, and you’re resurrected as you die. Furkan is an example of this. He became a symbol for young people.”
Kristin Szremski is an independent journalist and currently the director of media and communications for the American Muslims for Palestine. Doğan recently was given the Al Quds Award by the American Muslims for Palestine at its annual dinner in February.
(CHICAGO 01/10/2010) – The best way to honor the victims and survivors of Operation Cast Lead is to become active in the cause for Palestine. That was the main message at events in Milwaukee and Chicago commemorating the passage of two years since the Israeli onslaught against the Palestinians of Gaza that killed more than 1,400 people and wounded 5,300.
“Two Years Later: Besieged Gaza Still Standing Tall,” is the theme of a series of nationwide events hosted by the American Muslims for Palestine, which kicked off during Christmas weekend at the MAS/ICNA convention in Chicago. Throughout the weekend, several hundred guests filled the halls at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, the Islamic Community Center of Illinois in Chicago and Al Aqsa School in Bridgeview to listen to presentations by Laila El-Haddad, author of “Gaza Mom,” her new book based upon her blog of the same name. She was joined by attorney and activist Othman Atta in Milwaukee and Bridgeview.
El-Haddad, who is from Gaza but now lives in Maryland, presented a Power Point filled with unique videos and compelling pictures from her recent visit to Gaza. While documenting the still-deteriorating conditions in the Strip, which Israel has held under siege for four years, El-Haddad also focused on signs of rebirth and the indestructible spirit displayed by the Palestinians living there.
“People there really resent it for Gaza to be called a place with no food. There’s a siege on freedoms, not a siege on food,” El-Haddad said.
El-Haddad was in Gaza for several months last summer conducting research for her next book. She interviewed dozens of people and mood was the same everywhere, she said. “People are sick of the siege. They just want to live normal lives,” she said.
Yet, the spirit of the Palestinians of Gaza is not broken, which is proven especially by the creative ways in which they are adapting to the facts on the ground.
From fish and oyster farms and dairy farms to the manufacturing of ovens from clay and grinding gravel from debris left over from Israel’s demolition of thousands of homes, factories, schools, mosques and municipal buildings, the residents of Gaza are showing true entrepreneurship and fortitude in dealing with the inhumane situation in which they are living, El-Haddad said.
These measures are necessary because despite Israeli occupation authorities’ promises last June to ease the blockade, the clamp down in many cases has only become worse, according to the United Nations and various NGOs. Most building supplies and many foodstuffs are still prohibited, and except for a few truckloads of strawberries, exports from Gaza still are not allowed.
“The stated policy of the siege is to keep Gaza on the brink of economic collapse,” the journalist and mother of two told the crowd. “But the Palestinians of Gaza are adapting. They have no choice. They just want to live a normal life, like everyone else.”
“Palestinians are steadfast. They will prevail.”
Those were the word with which Atta opened his portion of the presentation. Even so, it is incumbent upon people of faith and conscience to become active in the cause and to work to try to change U.S. foreign policy, he said. Commemorating the victims of Israel’s three-week assault that took place from Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18, 2009, is honorable, but with that commemoration must come action, he said.
“Are we here to just mourn dead people, or are we here to learn what we can do?” Atta asked.
Atta encouraged the audience to educate themselves and to become active in any number of ways, from interacting with the media to contacting elected officials. He encouraged those in attendance to avail themselves of the free information and booklets provided by AMP and to join AMP’s mailing list so they’ll be informed of action alerts, events and other activities.
Joyce Guinn, of Germantown, Wis., attended Milwaukee’s event. She is one person who takes Atta’s words to heart. She’s been active in the cause since 2005, when her curiosity lead her to take her first trip to Palestine.
Information about the Middle East conflict provided by mainstream media “didn’t seem to make sense,” Guinn said, so she traveled there to see the situation for herself. She’s made that trip three times now and has plans to return this winter.
“I’ve never met nicer people than the Palestinians,” she said. “Seeing the situation once was enough to convince me. I’m extremely into the Palestinian issue.”
Other featured speakers during the weekend included Sheikh Jammal Said, director of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview; Imam Zaid Hamdan, of ICCI; and journalist Deanna Othman.
Future AMP Gaza commemoration events will be held in Minnesota, California, New York and Virginia.
AMP also is facilitating book signing events for El-Haddad through February in various states, including California, Washington and Oregon.
The American Muslims for Palestine is a national, grassroots organization, whose mission is to educate the American public about issues related to Palestine and its rich, cultural heritage. For more information, visit www.ampalestine.org, email email@example.com or call 888.404.4AMP.
(CHICAGO 12/21/2010) – The American Muslims for Palestine – in coordination with other peace and social justice activists – will be marking the second year since Israel launched its deadly assault against the Palestinians of Gaza with a march and rally at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 27, at 32nd and 6th Avenues, in New York City.
On Dec. 27, 2008, dozens of Israeli war planes unleashed a rampage of bombing and shelling, killing hundreds of people within a few hours. By the time the three-week assault ended on Jan. 18, 2009, more than 1,400 Palestinians were dead and more than 5,300 were seriously wounded. Critical infrastructure such as water treatment and electrical plants were destroyed, as were schools, mosques, municipal buildings and thousands of homes. More than 50,000 people were displaced.
And the situation in Gaza has only grown worse. Israel’s total blockage on Gaza has prevented most rehabilitation work to take place. Some 25,000 people still are homeless; 80 percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million people rely upon the United Nations for food aid; more than 40,000 children were turned away from UNRWA schools this fall for lack of space. Despite Israel’s promise to ‘ease’ the blockade, recent United Nations reports show that while there was some very slight improvement in some areas they did not reach 2007 levels, which already were in decline because of the siege. But in most economic and humanitarian sectors, the siege has grown tighter and the Palestinians of Gaza have grown poorer and hungrier.
Meanwhile the United States continues to block international legal bodies from pursuing the findings laid out in the Goldstone Report of war crimes committed during the attacks. Nor has Israel been held accountable for its ‘execution-style’ murder of nine unarmed, humanitarian activists aboard the Mavi Marmara in May 2010.
Since Operation Cast Lead, global mobilization against the occupation and Israel’s illegal and inhumane practices continues to grow. There is an increasing and unprecedented focus and isolation of the Israeli Apartheid policies.
But this has brought with it retaliation against Palestinians and their supporters, from harassment by campus officials to raids and grand jury subpoenas by the FBI.
This repression is a sign that the Zionists and their sponsors in Washington are worried — not only that further crimes will be met with equally fierce resistance, but also because they know Palestinians are more determined than ever to fight on until total liberation, until every refugee can return, until the land of Palestine is free from the river to the sea!
For more information:
Sponsored by: Al-Awda NY: the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Hunter Students for Justice in Palestine, Columbia SJP, American Muslims for Palestine-NJ, American Muslims for Palestine-NY, US Palestinian Community Network-NY, Palestinian Club-Brooklyn College, Siege Busters Working Group, International Action Center, United National Antiwar Committee-NY, New York City Labor Against the War, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Labor for Palestine, International Socialist Organization, Socialist Action
As we approach the horrific anniversary of the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s three-week onslaught that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza – including at least 352 children.
Israel is counting on the world to forget, banking on those innocent faces fading into the recesses of our collective memory.
In honor of those fallen children and so that we may all remember them – and the 1.5 million Gazans still under siege- here is the list of those children Israel so wants us to forget.
The list comes from the Defence for Children Internation/Palestine section.
DCI-Palestine confirms the deaths of 352 children (names below) as a direct result of Israel’s military offensive “Operation Cast Lead” in the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009.
Furthermore, DCI-Palestine confirms the deaths of five children caused indirectly by Operation Cast Lead: one baby born prematurely during a raid and unable to survive for long; three children killed by unexploded ordnance on 23 January; and one child who had undergone heart surgery a week before the offensive, was of weak constitution, and died in June unable to overcome health complications resulting from inhalation of white phosphorous fumes during Operation Cast Lead.
(AMP 08/18/2010) – Not only does the United States support Israel with more than $3 billion in unconditional military aid every year, but the Jewish state is also the beneficiary of American strong-arm tactics when it comes to other countries in the Middle East.
Earlier this month, the United States threatened to withhold U.S. foreign aid payments to Lebanon and Turkey because of their relationships with Israel. In fact, the U.S. is withholding a $100 million payout to Lebanon because of a border skirmish with Israeli soldiers that left four people dead on Aug. 3. This, despite the fact an Associated Press photograph proves the Israeli soldiers instigated the incident by trying to uproot trees on the Lebanese side of the border.
U.S. representatives Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, voted to withhold the aid out of fear the Lebanese army may be using the money to purchase weapons it could use against Israel, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In a related move, the London Financial Times newspaper reported on Monday that White House officials threatened to cut off aid to Turkey if that country doesn’t improve its relations with Israel. Those relations – which already were strained because of Israel’s attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008/09 that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians – took a turn for the worse after Israeli commandoes killed nine unarmed Turkish citizens, who were part of a flotilla taking humanitarian aid to the besieged residents of Gaza, in May.
One senior administration official said: “The president has said to (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress]. . . about whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally. That means that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry … will be harder for us to move through Congress,” the Financial Times reported.
The White House has since denied any such statements were made.
“Both incidents show what sway the pro-Israel lobby has with U.S. congressmen. It also proves that the United States can, and does, use foreign aid payments as a leverage to manipulate the behavior of recipients,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman and professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “Activists for years have called on Congress to use the exact same tools to force Israel to improve its abysmal human rights record when it comes to its treatment of the occupied Palestinian people.”
The American Muslims for Palestine reaffirms its call to Congress to force Israel to end the occupation of Palestine and the siege on Gaza by withholding U.S. aid to Israel that is the equivalent of $7 million per day. Israel’s occupation is illegal and in direct violation of several international laws as well as United Nations Resolution 242. Israel’s human rights abuses are recorded regularly by several American, Palestinian and Israel human rights groups. The abuses are also documented annually by the U.S. Department of State.
Provocation, shelling show Israel not interested in peace with its neighbors
(CHICAGO 08/03/2010) – The American Muslims for Palestine, a national, grassroots organization dedicated to educating Americans about Palestine, condemn in the harshest possible terms Israel’s attack at the Lebanese border today that resulted in the deaths of three people, including a journalist.
Though Israel claims it was fired upon first, the Associated Press is reporting that the confrontation occurred after Israeli soldiers tried to remove a tree from the Lebanese side of the border. An AP photo shows a soldier standing on crane that is reaching over the border fence into Lebanon, the AP reported.
Furthermore, media reports indicate Israel has continued shelling the Lebanese border intermittently.
“This latest aggression against Lebanon by Israel, its war-mongering over Iran, and its recent deadly attack against the unarmed humanitarian aid effort, the Freedom Flotilla, proves that Israel is not interested in peace in the region,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman and professor of Near East and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “Israel continues to prove it is a rogue state that is in a perpetual state of war readiness.”
While the United States continues to struggle with recession and has cut spending to education, senior citizen programs and other social programs, it continues to send Israel more than $5 billion every year in unconditional military aid, loan guarantees, other grants and reduced cost or free weaponry.
AMP demands the U.S. hold Israel accountable for its illegal and unjustifiable actions by withholding the more than $7 million per day of taxpayer money that is sent to Israel and used to support that country’s internationally illegal activities.
The American Muslims for Palestine is a national, grassroots organization whose mission is to educate the American public about issues relating to Palestine and its rich, cultural heritage. For more information, contact Kristin Szremski, director of media and communications, at 708.598.4267 ext. 22 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, go to www.ampalestine.org.