Friday, October 22, 2004

Fallluja,Pal Girl, Iraeli Left, Duke, Nablus

1) Due immediately after 2 Nov, and the reason that

the British troops were requested to support US ops
south of Baghdad. It's the blitzkrieg and war crimes
to come -- don't say you weren't warned. This will
happen no matter who wins the election:

Falluja in their sights

As soon as British troops are redeployed, the US will
again turn the city into a bloodbath

Patrick Graham
Thursday October 21, 2004
The Guardian

As the British government prepares to send its
soldiers north to free up the US army to attack
Falluja, it is necessary to focus on what this coming
onslaught will mean for the city and its people.
Falluja is already now being bombed daily, as it is
softened up for the long-awaited siege. It has been a
gruelling year for its people. First, they were
occupied by the US army's 82nd Airborne, an
incompetent group of louts whose idea of cultural
sensitivity was kicking a door down instead of blowing
it up. Within eight months of the invasion, the 82nd
had killed about 100 civilians in the area and lost
control of Falluja, leaving it to the US marines to
try and retake the city last April. After killing
about 600 civilians, the marines retreated, leaving
the city in the hands of 18 armed groups, including
tribesmen, Islamists, Ba'athists, former criminals and
an assortment of non-Iraqi Arab fighters said to be
led by the Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1332205,00.html


2) When this story first emerged, I thought the
officer simply went nuts temporarily. After reading
this, I think something far more insidious is to
blame:

A schoolgirl riddled with bullets. And no one is to
blame

Questions remain after Israeli unit commander is
cleared of Palestinian pupil's death

Chris McGreal in Rafah
Thursday October 21, 2004
The Guardian

The undisputed facts are these: it was broad daylight,
13-year-old Iman al-Hams was wearing her school
uniform, and when she walked into the Israeli army's
"forbidden zone" at the bottom of her street she was
carrying her satchel. A few minutes later the short,
slight child was pumped with bullets. Doctors counted
at least 17 wounds and said much of her head was
destroyed....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1332219,00.html


3) A powerful critique of the Israeli left:

A Bullet Fired for Every Palestinian Child
"Did You Two Squabble?"
By YITZHAK LAOR

Editors' Note: This trenchant essay by Israeli
novelist Yitzhak Laor was originally submitted to the
London Review of Books, which in the past has
frequently published Laor's writing. But they refused
to run this skewering of the Israeli Left with the
LRB's editor chiding Laor that "in my editorial
judgment (to be pompous) this piece won't help
anyone." CounterPunch is honored to publish it. AC /
JSC

One of the times I was detained (it was after a
demonstration), I shared a cell with a young burglar,
all blood and broken teeth, beaten twice. The first
time was when he tried to escape, as detectives came
to arrest him, since attempted escapes had become a
sort of free license for police violence. The second
time was a bit later when he was taken to hospital to
stop his bleeding. Handcuffed he entered the ER,
chained to a cop, and the doctor asked them both: "Did
you two squabble?" The burglar did what he had to do:
he spat his blood right into the face of the
enlightened MD, and of course was beaten again, right
there, still handcuffed, under the indifferent eyes of
the medical staff. I liked my cellmate, I cannot
forget his story, nor his pride. From that day on,
June the 8th 1982, the question "did you two
squabble?" became for me the image of the real
description for the bystander...

http://www.counterpunch.org/laor10202004.html


4) Why most Arabs ignore the U.S. presidential
election:

By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, October 20, 2004

For a region that impacts so much on U.S. foreign
policy and aspects of domestic well-being, the Middle
East is surprisingly uninterested in the American
presidential election. This is because most Middle
Easterners see no difference between John Kerry and
George W. Bush on the key issues that matter to them,
mainly Palestine-Israel and Iraq.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=9402


5) Duke Scandal:

BEHIND THE HEADLINES
In wake of pro-Palestinian meeting,
outrage over column in Duke paper
By Rachel Pomerance

NEW YORK, Oct. 20 (JTA) — The Fourth Annual Conference
of the Palestine Solidarity Movement may have gone off
at Duke University without a hitch last weekend — but
controversy has erupted immediately after its
conclusion. An inflammatory editorial in The
Chronicle, Duke’s campus newspaper, has prompted an
outcry by offended Jewish activists.

“Regardless of your political stance or position on
the PSM conference, it is impossible to ignore the
unprecedented outpouring of pro-Jewish, pro-Israeli
support in defiance of free speech at Duke,” columnist
Philip Kurian wrote in an Oct. 18 Op-Ed titled “The
Jews.”....

http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?strwebhead=Jews+outraged+by+Duke+column&intcategoryid=4&SearchOptimize=Jewish+News


6) Here's the original op-ed written by the Duke
student editor, referred to in entry #5:

October 18, 2004
The Jews
by Philip Kurian

You are not required to complete the work, yet you are
not allowed to desist from it.

—Pirkei Avot (The Book of Principles), 2:21

Such describes the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam.
Perfecting, preparing or repairing the world: a credo
that, to many Jews, prescribes what role they should
play in the wider concerns of our society. Judging by
the opposition to this past weekend’s Palestine
Solidarity Movement conference, however, I cannot help
but conclude that the powerful Jewish establishment
has distorted the meaning of this age-old teaching.

It is well known that Jews constitute the most
privileged “minority” group in this country. Among the
top 10 universities, Jews enjoy shocking
overrepresentation: Only the California Institute of
Technology has an undergraduate Jewish population
below 10 percent, and four schools have particularly
stark Jewish advantages—Harvard (30 percent), Yale (23
percent), UPenn (31 percent) and Columbia (25
percent). Keep in mind that, at best estimate, no more
than 3 percent of all Americans are Jewish....

http://www.chronicle.duke.edu/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/10/18/4173b1de57041


7) US Marines as Crusaders:

James Hider reports from Yusifiyeh today in The Times:

"... Yusufiyah is the site of an ancient city. The
resistance has been using the archaeological sites to
bury their weapons, and have been using the mounds as
a vantage point to fire. I was with the Marines when
they found a cache of arms buried in one of these
mounds ... I have seen some signs that the Marines
lack awareness to local sensitivities ... This
particular squad calls itself the Crusaders and they
have the word Crusader painted on their helmets ..."

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-3-1321629-6047,00.html


8) US Military Flyers in Iraq:

http://www.centcom.mil/galleries/leaflets/images/izd-027a.jpg
http://www.centcom.mil/galleries/leaflets/images/izd-027b.jpg
http://www.centcom.mil/galleries/leaflets/images/izd-027.jpg


9) Margaret Hassan Biography:

'Everywhere she went, people just beamed ... if anyone
can cope with this, it is Margaret Hassan'

By Terry Kirby Chief Reporter
21 October 2004

She has been described as a secular Mother Teresa: a
very quietly spoken, slightly built, almost frail,
woman, aged about 60, with a core of steel and a
determination to achieve what she wants.

Last night, the friends and family of Margaret Hassan,
the aid worker held hostage since Tuesday, were
fervently hoping the very qualities which had enabled
her to bring help to ordinary Iraqis for more than
three decades of brutal dictatorship, wars and
sanctions, would help her survive the ordeal of being
kidnapped. Memories of the death of Kenneth Bigley
remain fresh...

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=574431


10) Juan Cole and Nancy Youssef on Iraqi Universities:

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/9960893.htm
www.juancole.com

Democracy and Iraqi Universities

Nancy Youssef of Knight Ridder gives us an excellent
piece on the democratic process and debates at Iraq's
universities. An excerpt:

' Students hold protests and sit-ins, sign petitions
and go on marches, all new since Saddam Hussein fell.
This week, a group of students from al Mustansiriya
University protested Iraqi national guard officers
using their dormitories, saying that space should be
reserved for students...

The debates are steeped in religion. Most universities
have only two major political student associations: a
Shiite Muslim one and a Sunni Muslim one. Each group
from Iraq's historically rivalrous Islamic traditions
is advocating a different style of university life,
and how much religion should shape it.

Should women be forced to wear head scarves and should
they be allowed to wear pants? Can students put up
posters of their favorite candidates or would that
offend others? Can a Shiite student be treated fairly
at a school administrated by a Sunni president, and
vice versa? . . .

At Baghdad University, students are debating whether
women should be forced to wear uniforms: long gray
skirts and white shirts. Last year, students largely
tossed out the idea of a uniform. But when the school
year began earlier this month, it appeared to make a
comeback.

At al Mustansiriya, women are forbidden from wearing
pants on the grounds. Guards monitor those entering
the main gate, and any woman in pants who attempts to
enter will be required to leave. '

Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports a telephone interview with
the interim Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Tahir
al-Buka'. Iraq has 20 universities and more than 24
technical institutes, with a total population of
enrolled students of 360,000, according to Dr.
al-Buka'. He said that all the universities are up and
running, including those in the Kurdish areas, with
the sole exception of the university at Ramadi in
Anbar province (a center of the Sunni Arab
insurgency). The president of the university in
Ramadi, Dr. Abdul Hadi al-Hiti, had been kidnapped and
held hostage for 2 months before being released. He is
recuperating at home, with a broken arm and a broken
thigh. His family paid $100,000 for his release.

There are 16,500 instructors at these institutions of
higher learning, but most of them only have Master's
degrees, not doctorates. Dr. al-Buka' complained that
this was a huge defect that he intended to remedy.
Since the ministry does not have money to pay for
Iraqi students to do Ph.D.s abroad, it is dependent on
the scholarships offered Iraqi students by foreign
universities.

Dr. al-Buka' said that education through the Ph.D. in
Iraq is free (this is common in petroleum producing
countries).

He said security was the biggest problem his ministry
faced, and that a large number of security guards had
been placed on campuses.


11) Nablus Eyewitness Report Update:

“Because I’m Crazy”
10.20.04
Deir Al Hatab, West Bank

With crusty eyes and little sleep, 15 internationals
awoke this morning at 6:45 am to prepare for a day of
olive picking in Deir Al Hatab, a village very close
to Nablus. After a short time of playing
“jaesh-fighting” tunes on an itty bitty guitar I found
in Rafidia to alleviate accruing stress (Jaesh is
Arabic
for soldier), we conjured the motivation and energy
needed to support our Palestinian farmer friends
threatened by the Israeli settlement Elon Morah—the
same settlement affecting Salem Village. The
international activists were relatively new but had
two days worth of experience after harvesting in Beit
Furik.

We piled into our hero, the taxi driver’s van and
pulled away from our flat like a herd of clowns in a
VW Beetle. The bumpy ride into the village, over
boulders and through open sewage, massaged out some of
the tension in our necks and backs. Personally, it
helped push some of the funk out of my lungs, which
were damaged by yet another fairly serious chest cold.


At the point of exit from the taxi, a family stood by
in anticipation of our arrival. They wanted to
continue onto their land, which at 8:30 am was
already occupied by soldiers. We enthusiastically
joined them as men put wooden ladders onto their
shoulders and women carried bundled tarps on their
heads. The internationals initialized cameras and
mobile phones as we came up the rear. As soon as
everything was laid out under the first olive tree and
we began picking, a Jeep pulled onto the village road.
Out stepped—take a guess—the same arrogant soldiers
that tried to push us all down the mountain the week
before.

Three internationals went to speak with the soldiers
but their response was a stone thrown in their
direction by one of the soldiers. Luckily, it missed.
The soldiers pushed forward while the negotiating team
moved backwards. Right away everyone assumed their
planned positions and stuck to them as the
soldiers approached and immediately began pushing us
around for no reason. The man who appeared to be the
leader of the troupes shook the Palestinian farmer’s
hand and patted him on the back as the other soldiers
began kicking and punching the internationals.
Needless to say, we were rather confused at their
tactic and didn’t quite understand who they were
after. But they clarified their objectives
when they said to us, “The Palestinians can pick their
olives, but you can’t be here.” Obviously we were not
their to escalate the situation and were
only there because the family asked us to accompany
them, so we quickly decided to move back provided the
soldiers posed no threat to the Palestinians.

As we explained our position to the soldiers and began
to move along, they spotted one of our coordinators
“Ahmad” and asked him for his ID.
Because he is from Balata Refugee Camp—a main target
for Israeli forces in Nablus, they immediately reacted
violently and began pulling on his arms and clothes
with no explanation other than, “You’re coming with
us!” While the soldiers have no authority to arrest
internationals, they are allowed to take
Palestinians at will and because we knew how
aggressive they were, we had no choice but to
dearrest him through whatever means possible—or else
he could face unspeakable torture if taken. This is a
risk that Ahmad—only 25—has faced his entire life,
especially when working and travelling with us; yet he
continues to fight the occupation through non-violent
means, and is an absolute inspiration to
every activist.

I was the first to grab onto Ahmad while assuring him
I wouldn’t let go. I stood paired up with him as
though we were in a kinder embrace, but I was
terrified when I saw the soldier grab his neck and put
him in a headlock as we all fell to the ground. I
thought for sure that they were going to break his
neck. I felt the most overwhelming sense of fear for
his life. My face was deeply pressed into his stomach
because of the international pileup and I nearly
started crying. When he had the chance to barely lift
his head, he looked up at me and said with a smile,
“Haram! It’s Ramadan!” We both started laughing even
though we were still smashed between bodies. He meant
it was haram—against God’s will—to have all of the
women on top of him, but I told him there must be an
exception in this case.

Our group consisted of men and women of all ages and
backgrounds, and every last one of them was a target.
The soldiers had Ahmad’s ID and were not willing to
give it back, nor were they willing to let us leave
unharmed. They continued to try and pull people off of
the pile and began to beat the internationals walking
about, especially those with cameras. The situation
was total chaos, but the most organized chaos I have
witnessed on behalf of the activists. No
one broke down, no one gave in, and everyone looked
out for each other, namely the Palestinians who
continued to pick despite the turmoil at their feet.
They were incredible!

We tried several times to talk the soldiers into
checking Ahmad’s ID so we could get it back and leave,
but the majority of them were totally
uninterested, as signaled to us by their completely
blank and evil faces. We even tried to get up and move
Ahmad away while “Kate” negotiated with the captain,
but his buddies, blatantly disobeying orders, followed
us as we walked away and repeated
the first episode of beatings. Only this time they
were really after the internationals. When asked why
they continued to beat us, the buzz cut soldier boy
replied, “BECAUSE I’M CRAZY!” Another accused one of
the activists of punching a soldier in the face. And
yet another targeted a Swedish chap Greg (on his first
day out with us) and really lit into him. The women
did their best to create a shield, but it didn’t stop
the fuzzy hair soldier boy with a
little freckle on his cheek from sticking his M16 into
Greg’s temple. ALL of the soldiers took notice of his
outrageous action and began yelling, “Dye!
Dye!” which we later found out meant, “Stop! Stop!” in
Hebrew. I suppose they finally summoned some sort of
conscious or perhaps work ethic and realized that
shooting an unarmed international point-blank in the
head wasn’t kosher. They finally obeyed orders:
retreated, let us all go, and even gave the
confiscated Ids back to the village mayor.

Every last one of us was taken aback by their
aggression. Internationals who were out there for the
first time expressed how outraged they were at
the soldiers’ behavior. Of course, I wasn’t completely
surprised, but surprised at how well the Palestinians
and activists reacted. At the end, no one was
arrested, the Palestinians kept picking, and the most
severe injuries thus far are bruises; although, I’m
suffering what I can only describe as
whiplash. What we didn’t know at the time was that
there was at least one press person taking pictures
from atop the hill, but the soldiers got to him and
deleted all of his photographs. Fortunately, our own
media people did such a good job of filming and
photographing, we managed to walk away with quite a
bit of footage—only as a result of quick thinking and
secretive handoffs.

So how do I feel about this? Personally, I’m just as
affected as the first day I stepped into an action.
But I have to say that with this new wave of activists
I’m reassured that the message of freedom and justice
for Palestine will continue to move throughout all
circles and will eventually have a positive affect the
outcome of this situation.

To be thanked at the end of the day by the village
mayor—even though we really didn’t do much other than
get our asses kicked—was nice, but it was even nicer
to see the family walk away with bags full of olives.
I can’t help but think about the symbolism of the
olive branch and how atrocious it is that
Palestinians have to suffer so much hardship even
after their repeated attempts to find peace for all
people in Palestine.

It was a long day indeed, but I hope that our
testimonies are worth something for those of you who
can’t be here with us or for those of you who just
don’t know what is happening.

Salaam!
Rebecca







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