Saturday, 21 February 2009

A semana do boicott.20/02


Organize for boycott Israel day of action
Appeal, Secretariat of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, 19 February 2009

In December 2008, Israel decided to mark the 60th anniversary of its existence the same way it had established itself -- perpetrating massacres against the Palestinian people. In 23 days, Israel killed more than 1,300 and injured at least 5,000 Palestinians in Gaza. The irony of history is that Israel targeted those Palestinians -- and their descendants -- whom it had expelled from their homes and pushed into refugeehood in Gaza in 1948, whose land it has stolen, whom it has oppressed since 1967 by means of a brutal military occupation, and whom it had tried to starve into submission by means of a criminal blockade of food, fuel and electricity in the 18 months preceding the military assault. We cannot wait for Israel to zero in on its next objective. Palestine has today become the test of our indispensable morality and our common humanity.

We therefore call on all to unite our different capacities and struggles in a Global Day of Action in Solidarity with the Palestinian people and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel on 30 March 2009.

The mobilization coincides with the Palestinian Land Day, the annual commemoration of the 1976 Israeli massacre of Palestinians in the Galilee in struggle against massive land expropriation, and forms part of the Global Week of Action against the Crises and War from 28 March 28 to 4 April.

We urge the people and their organizations around the globe to mobilize in concrete and visible boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) actions to make this day a historic step in this new anti-apartheid movementand for the fulfilment of the rights and dignity of the people and the accountability of the powerful. In our 30 March BDS actions, we will particularly focus on:

  • Boycotts and divestment from Israeli corporations and international corporations that sustain Israeli apartheid and occupation.
  • Legal action to end Israel's impunity and prosecute its war criminals through national court cases and international tribunals.
  • Cancelling and blocking free trade and other preferential agreements with Israel and imposing an arms embargo as the first steps towards fully fledged sanctions against Israel.

The time for the world to fully adopt and implement the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions is now. This campaign has to become an urgent part of every struggle for justice and humanity, by adopting widespread action against Israeli products, companies, academic and cultural institutions, sports groups, international corporations supporting Israeli policies of racism, ethnic cleansing and military occupation and pressuring governments for sanctions. It must be sustained until Israel provides free access to Gaza, dismantles the Apartheid Wall and ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands; recognizes the right of the Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respects, protects and promotes the rights of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) includes: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine; General Union of Palestinian Workers; Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions; Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations' Network (PNGO); Federation of Independent Trade Unions; Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations; Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI); General Union of Palestinian Women; Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU); Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW); Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba; Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ); Coalition for Jerusalem; and Palestinian Economic Monitor.

Friday, 20 February 2009

carta aberta.........20/02


To the President of the State of Israel and the Director of the Yad Vashem Memorial

Remove Our Grandmother's Name from the Wall at Yad Vashem


Following the example of Jean-Moise Braitberg, we ask that our grandmother's name be removed from the wall at Yad Vashem. Her name is Gertrud Neumann. Your records state that she was born in Kattowitz on June 6, 1875 and died in Theresienstadt.

M. Braitberg delivers his request with excellent reasons and eloquent personal testimony. His words are inspiring, but they give you – and those who stand with you - too much credit. I will instead be brief. Please take this as an expression of my disgust and contempt for your state and all it represents.

Our grandmother was a victim of that very ideal of ethnic sovereignty in whose cause Israel has shed so much blood for so long. I was among the many Jews who thought nothing of embracing that ideal, despite the sufferings it had inflicted on our own race. It took thousands of Palestinian lives before, finally, I realized how foolish we had been.

Our complicity was despicable. I do not believe that the Jewish people, in whose name you have committed so many crimes with such outrageous complacency, can ever rid itself of the shame you have brought upon us. Nazi propaganda, for all its calumnies, never disgraced and corrupted the Jews; you have succeeded in this. You haven't the courage to take responsibility for your own sadistic acts: with unparalleled insolence, you set yourself up as spokesmen for an entire race, as if our very existence endorsed your conduct. And you blacken our names not only by your acts, but by the lies, the coy evasions, the smirking arrogance and the infantile self-righteousness with which you embroider our history.

In the end, you will give the Palestinians some scrap of a state. You will never pay for your crimes and you will continue to preen yourself, to bask in your illusions of moral ascendancy. But between now and the end, you will kill and kill and kill, gaining nothing by your spoilt-brat brutality. In life, our grandmother suffered enough. Stop making her a party to this horror in her death.

Michael Neumann

I join my brother, Michael Neumann, in asking that any reference to our grandmother be removed from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.

I have been to this memorial. Its buildings, paved courtyards and plazas spread themselves authoritatively over many landscaped acres. It frames the Holocaust as a prelude to the creation of the state of Israel. It embalms memorabilia of the death camps and preserves them as national treasures. That treasure does not belong to Israel. It is a treasure only if it serves as a reminder never to permit any nation to claim an exemption for its chosen people from the bounds of morality and decency.

Israel has twisted the Holocaust into an excuse for perpetrating more holocausts. It has spent the treasure of the world's sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust on a fruitless effort to shield itself from all criticism as it massacres and tortures Palestinians and suffocates them under a brutal occupation. I do not wish to have the memory of my grandmother enlisted in this misbegotten project.

I grew up believing that Jews were that ethnic group whose historical mission was to transcend ethnicity in a united front against Fascism. To be Jewish was to be anti-Fascist. Israel long ago woke me from my dogmatic slumber about the immutable relationship of Jews to Fascists. It has engineered a merger between the image of Jewish torturers and war criminals and that of emaciated concentration camp victims. I find this merger obscene. I want no part of it. You have forfeited the right to be the custodian of my grandmother’s memory. I do not wish Yad Vashem to be her memorial.

Osha Neumann

The Braitberg letter, in French can be found at

and the translaton here:

Michael Neumann is a professor of philosophy at a Canadian university. He is the author of What's Left: Radical Politics and the Radical Psyche and The Case Against Israel. He also contributed the essay, "What is Anti-Semitism", to CounterPunch's book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. He can be reached at

Osha Neumann is a defense lawyer in Berkeley and author of Up Against the Wall MotherF**ker: a Memoir of the 60s with Notes for Next Time.

Peres e a solução de um estado.20/02

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Fearing One State Solution, Peres Serves Pabulum to Washington

'Peres (L) has participated in shaping the policies of Israel for most of its existence.'

By Franklin Lamb - Ain el Helwe Palestinian Refugee Camp, Lebanon

"Whatever will happen in the future, we shall not repeat the mistakes we made in leaving Gaza." - Shimon Peres to members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, 2/18/09.

"You take my water. Burn my Olive Trees. Destroy my house. Take my job. Steal my Land. Imprison my Mother. Bomb my country. Starve us all. Humiliate us all. But I am to blame: I shot a rocket back". - Sign carried near Hyde Park Corner during a demonstration in London on 2/15/09 by a Member of the British Parliament.

Israeli President Shimon Peres has participated in shaping the policies of Israel for most of its existence. His Washington Post Op-Ed last week billed as 'a peacepartners prod' to the Obama administration, evidences a major disconnect within the government of Israel concerning what is urgently required for that country's increasingly unlikely long-term survival.

According to a CIA study currently being shown to selected staff members on the US Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Israel's survival in its present form beyond the next 20 years is doubtful.

The Report predicts "an inexorable movement away from a Two State to a One State solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region."

To President Peres' chagrin, the Executive Summary states that "during the next fifteen years more than two million Israelis, including some 500,000 Israeli citizens who currently hold US green cards or passports will move to the United States. Most Israelis not in possession of these documents will receive 'expedited waivers'. The Report claims that "Alongside a decline in Jewish births and a rise in Palestinian fertility, approximately 1.6 million Israelis are likely to return to their forefather's lands in Russia and Eastern and Western Europe with scores of thousands electing to stay, depending on the nature of the transition."

In his Washington Post Op-ed piece President Peres desperately attempts to salvage a two state solution from a one, a three or even a four 'state' arrangement. He appears to realize that a two state solution is seriously jeopardized unless Israel dramatically and quickly changes course. With the tacking to the right in Israel and the likely make up of the next government once Peres selects Livni or Netanyahu in the next few days, and given the swelling mood among the occupied in favor of another Intifada, Peres plaintively asserts to the Obama administration that "a two states is the only realistic solution".

Peres instructed the American people and their government three times in his Op-Ed brief for a two state solution, that Israel is "the land of my forefathers'. He laments that the CIA predicted One State Solution would "Undermine Israel's legitimacy and the internationally recognized right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state in the land of my forefathers."

Peres knows that his forefathers had no connection whatsoever to Palestine as is the case with more than 95% of the Zionists who swept into the area over the past century and demolished close to 600 villages while expelling a majority of the native population. Historians have established that most arriving Jews were in fact Slavic converts to Judaism without any historical or genealogical nexus to Palestine or Hebrew tribes in the area.

Against the historical backdrop of the past century of nearly global rejection of colonialism, his claim of settled international acceptance of "Israel's legitimacy" is a major stretch. "Legitimacy" is what the conflict continues to be about-- whether a 19th Century colonial enterprise can violently uproot and massacre an indigenous population taking over a land declaring God promised it to them, as they terrorize and expel the local inhabitants. Contrary to Peres' claim of Israel as a 'legitimate State', there is no internationally recognized right for Israel to exist on stolen land without the consent of the dispossessed. Peres assures his American benefactors that Israel's legitimacy is based "in international law or morality". In point of fact, both International law and morality require the right of return of those whose lands were taken and lifting the brutal occupation. Surely Peres is aware, as the CIA Report asserts, that a majority of the 192 countries which make up the membership of the United Nations would vote this evening to establish one State of Palestine if given the chance.

The Report concludes that what went wrong will be debated for many years. In essence the problem was the premise, that a 'chosen people' with no link or rights to a land could impose a state by force. Many Middle East observers believe that the Two State solution is essentially over, but for the packing, finger pointing and assuredly more violence.

Increasingly repelled by Israeli crimes, the international community is moving toward the majority position of Palestinians and is coming to believe that the realistic solution to the Middle East conflict is one State, secular, multicultural, democratic, and based on one person one vote.

Peres is loath to accept One State and claims, in promoting a two-state solution, that he has "personally witnessed the remarkable progress we have made with the Palestinian Authority in recent years".

Does he AS in mind the increasing bantusization (what Chomsky calls "unviable fragments") the ever snaking apartheid wall and other barriers, the illegal outposts which increased yet again last year? The blockade of and depraved slaughter in Gaza?

Or does President Peres have in mind this week's announcement by outgoing Prime Minister Olmert that Israel has the right to keep building in large West Bank settlement blocs, including Efrat, by adding 423 acres so that 21,000 more residents can join the current 9,000, according to Efrat mayor Oded Revivi? Olmert claims its part of the annexation that will be considered in a future final peace deal with the Palestinians.

President Peres, has passed nearly a lifetime devoted to undermining prospects for a viable Palestinian state and offering a wink and nod to the building of more than 430 colonies while offering lip service to the 'peace process'. His 'Message to the American People' fails to communicate what the Israeli and Palestinian public knows well about the real nature of the Two State option he has in mind and which he considers to be "the best resolution to this age-old conflict." Both populations know that the Two State option that long time politician Peres has consistently run on, is the Yigal Allon Plan.

The Allon scheme to expel the Arab population from Palestine has been Peres' electoral platform during his campaigns in 1974, 1977, 1981, 1984, and 1987 and it shaped Israel's settlement policies from 1967-1977. Peres worked to make the Allon Plan part of the 1978 Camp David agreement and 1993 Oslo Accords.

As the American public begins to stir from its long slumber on the Question of Palestine and hopefully dramatically changes its Middle East policy, it should consider that the Peres favored 'moderate' Allon Plan continues to be Israeli policy. As formulated by its author and adhered to by successive Israel governments, it contains the following "moderate" elements:

- seeking "maximum land with minimum Arabs;"
- annexing approximately 40% of the West Bank and Gaza, taking the choicest parts;
- dispossessing Palestinians from land Israel wants for Jews.

After Israel's attack in 1967, Allon presented to the cabinet a solution to the Arab problem. The Allon Plan called for annexing the following areas: "a strip of land ten to fifteen kilometers wide along the Jordan River; most of the Judean desert along the Dead Sea; and a substantial area around Greater Jerusalem, including the Latrun salient." The plan was crafted to include as few Arabs as possible in the area claimed for Israel and included building permanent colonies and army bases in these areas.

The two state solution that Peres is trying to sell the American public and administration is a Palestinian 'state' in 76.6% of the West Bank, carved up into sealed enclaves, with the largest of the 430 plus settlements/colonies remaining in place under Israeli sovereignty. Israel would take another 13.3% outright and continue to occupy the remaining 10.1% for a period of up to thirty years. During this period Israel would continue building new and expanding current settlement/colonies. The above percentages do not include the subtracted East Jerusalem and the territorial waters of the Dead Sea. In point of fact the 76% offer is based not on 100% of the occupied territories, but merely those parts that Israel was willing to discuss. Consequently, the "just and moral solution" President Peres favors would amount to slightly less than 16% of historic Palestine being given to those driven from their homes and land.

Peres claims Israel has worked tirelessly for peace. Yet the record is clear that Israel has only worked tirelessly for expansion at the expense of the indigenous Arab population while obstructing more than two dozen 'peace initiatives' over six decades, while targeting the Palestinian people, culture, and economy.

Peres claims in his Op Ed that Libyan leader Qadaffi agrees with Israel it deserves Palestine and that "this is salient in his fundamental and central premise that the Jewish people want and deserve their homeland." Peres takes Qadaffis' words out of contest and misrepresents his thesis which in fact calls for one State shared by both peoples. Qadaffi insists that the Middle East welcomes Judaism but not racist Zionism. It is the latter which underpins the founding of Israel and which has led to history's condemnation..

As the President of Israel seeks yet more indulgence and largesse from the American taxpayers and the Obama administration, there is something he can do to shore up waning trust and waxing disillusionment with the two state option. He can announce immediately that he fully accepts UN Security Council Resolution 242 and advocates the removal of all settlements and the total withdrawal of the Israeli military from the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel's President urges the American people and government to, "commit our most concerted effort to allow two states to flourish." Unless he and his fellow leaders of Israel are prepared, without further delay, to commit to a complete withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 armistice line, in a serious effort at peace, Israel will continue to lose American and International support and One State is the likely future for Palestine.

Israeli President Peres can avert his eyes from reality, but the Obama administration and the American people cannot afford this fatal delusion.

- Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

Milhares de sem abrigo em Gazan.19/02


Thousands of Gazans remain homeless
Report, The Electronic Intifada, 18 February 2009

Azza Abed Rabu with her neice and four-year-old daughter, who sustained serious head wounds during the family's evacuation. She and her family are now living in a tent in the Abed Rabu area of Jabaliya. (Erica Silverman/IRIN)

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip remain homeless after their houses were badly damaged or destroyed during Israel's recent military offensive there.

The Israeli army began with aerial bombardments of the enclave on 27 December and added a ground assault from 3 January. Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on 18 January while Hamas, the de facto ruling authority in the Strip, declared its own ceasefire later that day.

According to a 16 February report by Save the Children Alliance "at least 100,000 people, including 56,000 children, remain displaced with many continuing to take shelter in tents or crowding into remaining homes with other families, one month since the Gaza ceasefire was declared."

The non-governmental organization estimated that some 500,000 people, including 280,000 children, were forced from their homes at some point during the conflict and added that "tent cities" had sprung up where whole neighborhoods were destroyed. Many tent residents are without access to clean drinking water and toilets, it said.

The tents are small and offer no protection from the low temperatures at night, which can reach below 7-8 degrees Celsius, according to Save the Children UK's chief executive Jasmine Whitbread, speaking from Gaza on 16 February. She said that some camps of up to 40 families share one or two toilets between them, posing health risks.

Most of the tents have been provided by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), UNICEF and other international and local aid organizations.

UNRWA said it had distributed emergency food parcels and non-food items, such as mattresses and blankets, to tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza who had been affected by the conflict. This was in addition to UNRWA's regular food distribution to 900,000 refugees in the Strip.

Tented communities

According to UNRWA, tented communities have been set up in densely populated areas that came under fire by Israeli tanks. These are the northern areas of Jabaliya and Beit Lahiya, the Zeitoun area in south Gaza City, Rafah on the southern border with Egypt and around Netzarim, a former Israeli settlement, where Israeli forces constructed a temporary military base during their operation.

Hundreds of tents stand in the Abed Rabu area of Jabaliya.

"Over the past two weeks we have distributed relief to 310 individuals who completely lost their homes and to 310 whose homes were damaged," said Fadi (he declined to give his family name), a volunteer with Islamic Foundation, a local NGO that supports Hamas, as he put emergency water and food supplies into packs in a tent.

The parcels contained soap, potatoes, flour, milk and a protein supplement provided by the Hamas government. The Red Crescent delivered the water supplies and UNRWA the blankets and mattresses, Fadi said.

"The Israeli troops bulldozed my home to enter the area with tanks," said Azza Abed Rabu, 27, while clutching her four-year-old daughter, who she said sustained serious head wounds during the family's evacuation. "We have narrow streets; they [Israeli forces] were searching for tunnels beneath the homes."

Thirty Abed Rabu family members are sheltering in two tents.

At least 4,000 homes were destroyed and about 17,000 badly damaged, according to a recent UN Gaza flash appeal, while 50,000 residents took shelter in UNRWA facilities during the height of the conflict and tens of thousands took refuge with family and friends.

A UNDP-led survey of damaged and destroyed housing throughout Gaza conducted immediately following the ceasefire found the greatest destruction in the two northern governorates of north Gaza, where 1,436 houses were completely destroyed, and Gaza governorate, where 752 houses were completely destroyed.

UNRWA estimates that an average of $4,000 will be needed to repair each housing unit.

As of 5 February, the Gaza health ministry said the Palestinian death toll from the three-week conflict had reached 1,440, including 431 children and 114 women. Some 5,380 were injured, including 1,872 children and 800 women, according to the ministry.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

El genocidio y sus fantasmas.19/02

El genocidio y sus fantasmas

Como ahora en Gaza, los políticos europeos se escudaron en el "todos son igualmente culpables" para no hacer nada ante el cerco de Sarajevo y la matanza de Srebrenica. Se repite la misma musiquilla analgésica


En un artículo aparecido en este periódico (La nueva trama de Sarajevo, 18-10-2008), Beatriz Portinari examinaba la actual narrativa de la ex Federación Yugoslava escrita por autores que vivieron las guerras en los distintos Estados que componían aquélla o que, oriundos de ellos, escogieron el exilio europeo o norteamericano y permanecen en él después de los paticojos acuerdos de Dayton, la independencia de Montenegro y de Kosovo, la muerte de Milosevic en La Haya y la captura de Karadzic. Antes del funesto Memorándum de la Academia de Ciencias de Belgrado y del discurso de Milosevic en el Campo de los Mirlos, la literatura yugoslava conocida fuera de las fronteras de la ex federación se reducía a un par de nombres: el Nobel Ivo Andric y Danilo Kis. Sin descartar los méritos y pasajes inolvidables del primero, la obra de Kis, judío de Voivodina -esto es, de una provincia periférica de Serbia, poblada de diferentes etnias-, refleja antes y mejor que nadie, en razón de su singularidad cultural y artística, la tragedia que se gestaba: su narrativa no cabe en los límites de la llamada literatura balcánica, pertenece, como la de Kundera, al núcleo de la gran literatura europea de la segunda mitad de la pasada centuria. El desencanto, la amargura y el humor negro respecto al nacionalismo patriótico y al relato heroico de la Gran Serbia desmonta avant la lettre la retórica de Dobrica Cocik y demás paladines intelectuales de la siniestra limpieza étnica.

Como dice el escritor montenegrino Marko Vesovic, profesor en la Universidad de Sarajevo, a Isabel Núñez en sus Conversaciones en torno a la guerra de los Balcanes, sobre el núcleo de intelectuales serbios que alimentaron la retórica ultranacionalista de Milosevic, "probablemente ésta sea la única guerra de la historia plantada y dirigida por escritores". La única no, pero sí la más sangrienta y de efectos perdurables. La implosión de la ex Yugoslavia afectó especialmente a aquellos ciudadanos de la misma que no encajaban en ningún casillero étnico ni tribal, como el propio Vesovic ("Estoy viviendo en un país donde no existo. Estaba luchando por un país que ya no existe, que luchaba para que no lo fragmentaran y lo han hecho pedazos") o la sarajevita Ferida Durakovic ("No fue una guerra entre grupos étnicos distintos, sino entre nacionalistas retrógrados y gente que creía en otra forma de vida, más libre, abierta y tolerante").

Para Ozren Kebo, autor del conmovedor Bienvenue en enfer. Sarajevo, mode d'emploi, "Bosnia fue vendida y traicionada por la Unión Europea. (...) ¿Qué hicieron sus políticos para evitar la matanza? ¡Nada! Se sentaron a contemplar el genocidio y pronunciaron discursos huecos sobre la igualdad de culpas (de las partes implicadas). (...) Pero, según datos de la ONU, el 90% de los crímenes de guerra fueron perpetrados por las fuerzas serbias, el 7% por los croatas y el 3% por los bosnios". El resumen de lo acaecido entre abril 1992 y setiembre 1995 es exacto (¿habría durado el asedio de Sarajevo 42 meses si los asediadores hubieran sido musulmanes -laicos y democráticos- y los asediados cristianos?), y coincido con Kebo en que, fuera de las minorías ultranacionalistas de Belgrado y Zagreb, la guerra no respondía a un odio interétnico: éste se originó a causa de ella. La convivencia multiétnica de Sarajevo, defendida por el Gobierno bosnio, fue una víctima más del cerco. Como pude comprobar en mis recientes visitas a la ciudad, las distintas comunidades que componen su población tienden a vivir replegadas en sí mismas, y el voto municipal del pasado otoño confirmó mis temores: los partidos nacionalistas serbios, croatas y bosnio-musulmanes se afianzaron en sus correspondientes feudos de la República Sparska y de la Federación Bosnio-croata mientras que los partidos multiétnicos, como el Partido Socialdemócrata, retrocedían.

Si las cosas han mejorado en Croacia desde la muerte de Tudjman -lamento tan sólo la desaparición del Ferald Tribune, el equivalente demócrata del Oslobodenje sarajevista-, las entrevistas de Isabel Núñez a varios escritores serbios reflejan las contradicciones dolorosas de una sociedad traumatizada por los desastres del conflicto y la aceptación acrítica de una buena parte de ella del discurso del odio de Milosevic y de sus asesores mitológicos. Mientras algunos reducen el conflicto a una "guerra de vecinos", como lo fue en bastantes pueblos de la Península durante la Guerra Civil española -"fulano no iba a misa, votó republicano"-, Slavenka Drakulic, de origen croata, apunta al odio patriarcal y rural de la ex Yugoslavia a las mujeres modernas y libres de los núcleos urbanos -como dijeron cuatro acusados de crímenes de guerra en el enclave musulmán de Foca, ellos no habían matado a nadie, "sólo habían violado" a varias mujeres, algo que les parecía natural y no constitutivo por consiguiente de delito alguno-, o el silencio y el negacionismo, tanto serbio como croata, de las tropelías y matanzas cometidas por el propio bando. Con mayor ironía y humor, Dusan Velickovic (Amor Mundi, Ed. Del Bronce, 2003) escribe: "Un bombardeo es el momento idóneo para poner en orden mi biblioteca". Como apostilla Isabel Núñez, "en Sarajevo, durante el asedio, muchos usaban los libros para calentarse ante la falta de electricidad en el duro invierno balcánico y elegían qué libros quemar primero y qué libros conservar a toda costa, convirtiendo el drama en un sistema de prioridades literarias".

La entrevista más significativa del libro quizá sea la de Miroslav Toholj, novelista y editor del bardo-psiquiatra-genocida-curandero practicante de medicina alternativa, Radovan Karadzic. Toholj, ex ministro de Información de la República Sparska, tras descalificar la prejuiciada visión exterior de la guerra y exculparse de su participación en ella, afirma rotundamente que "su amigo es uno de los mejores poetas, no sólo de poetas serbios de Bosnia, sino de toda Yugoslavia". Ésta no era en modo alguno la opinión del crítico sarajevita que me entrevistó en un sótano en enero de 1994: según él, el criminal de guerra actualmente detenido en La Haya era un mero perpetrador de versos facilotes que, despechado con él por su opinión negativa de los mismos, bombardeó con saña con su artillería el piso del edificio en el que residía y del que tuvo que huir de estampía al comienzo mismo del cerco.

Lamento únicamente que un libro tan oportuno como el de Isabel Núñez no haya recogido la opinión de quienes más sufrieron el asedio y lucharon con sus plumas contra él, como el poeta Abdulá Sidran ("lo único que se puede escribir hoy en Sarajevo es una crónica necrológica"), Zladko Dizdarovic (periodista de Oslobodenje, en el que publicaba su Diario de guerra), Asaf Dzanic (editor y traductor, comandante de la Armiya mientras duró el sitio), Nezad Ibrisimovic (novelista superviviente del destruido e incomunicado barrio de Dobrinja): como me dijo en 1995, él no quemó sus libros para calentarse, pero se sirvió de ellos para cubrir los huecos abiertos en las paredes de su domicilio por la artillería de Karadzic. Sus testimonios hubieran enriquecido el abanico de puntos de vista recogidos en el libro.

No conozco toda la bibliografía documentada por Beatriz Portinari en el ya citado artículo, pero entre las obras que comenta yo escogería, por su valor literario, La cuestión de Bruno de Aleksandar Hemon (Anagrama) y, sobre todo, Sarajevo. Diario de un éxodo y Sara y Serafina de Dzevad Karahasan (Galaxia Gutenberg / Círculo de Lectores). La huella fecunda de Danilo Kis es visible en ambos.

En el plano estrictamente testimonial, resulta sobrecogedora la lectura de Postales desde la tumba, de Emir Suljevic (Galaxia Gutenberg / Círculo de Lectores). Su descripción del exterminio de Srebrenica en julio 1995 entronca con la mejor literatura de los sobrevivientes del genocidio nazi: "Entre mi supervivencia y su muerte (la de ocho mil y pico varones musulmanes fríamente asesinados por Mladic) no hay ninguna diferencia porque permanezco vivo en un mundo que está marcado para siempre, de forma indeleble, por su muerte".

Evocaré, para concluir -aures habent et non audient- el vergonzoso silencio cómplice de Unprofor, Unión Europea y Naciones Unidas respecto a este genocidio, oculto por espacio de ¡45 días! a los medios informativos, pese al hecho de tratarse de la mayor matanza acaecida en Europa desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial. El primer testimonio de ella, una entrevista con un fugitivo de la misma que alcanzó la capital bosnia y se reponía de su traumática odisea en el hospital sarajevita de Kosovo, fue publicado con mi firma en EL PAÍS (Cayó sobre nosotros un diluvio de fuego, 24 de agosto 1995). ¿Será necesario recordar a los políticos de la Unión Europea, tan cínicos o impotentes como los de hoy respecto a Gaza, que Srebrenica y Sarajevo eran "enclaves protegidos" por la comunidad internacional? Para oprobio de todos la historia repite, con variaciones sinfónicas, la misma musiquilla analgésica y adormecedora sobre una "tragedia" sin responsable alguno.

Juan Goytisolo es escritor.

fonte:El Pais (obrigado Sonia)

Waltz com Bashir revisited.19/02


Film review: "Waltz with Bashir"
Naira Antoun, The Electronic Intifada, 19 February 2009

A still from Waltz with Bashir.

Waltz with Bashir, an animated documentary film charting the director's quest to recover his lost memories of the 1982 massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila in Beirut, Lebanon, has been released to international acclaim. The film presents itself, and has largely been received, as a soul-searching and honest account of a journey to face up to guilt and responsibility. More than a quarter of a century after the atrocities in Sabra and Shatila, during which approximately 2,000 civilians were brutally murdered, we are witnessing a perverse moment: an apparently "anti-war" Israeli film wins several Israeli and international film awards in a context not only of Israel's ongoing brutal occupation, violations of international law, racism and denial of refugee rights, but also while fresh atrocities are committed by Israeli forces in Gaza.

One night in a bar, a friend tells director, Ari Folman, about a recurring dream connected to his time in Lebanon in 1982, and Folman is alarmed to discover he has no memory of his own army service in Lebanon when he was 19. This serves as the point of departure for Folman's cinematic journey. In an attempt to piece together what happened, he talks to several old friends who also fought in Lebanon. They are a motley assortment of middle-aged men, self-deprecating, liberal, essentially likeable characters. One of Folman's first stops is with an old friend he served alongside and who now lives in Holland, having made a living selling falafel. "Healthy and Middle Eastern food is popular" he remarks wryly, unperturbed by the wholesale appropriation of Palestinian and Arab culture. But Waltz with Bashir has bigger fish to fry than falafel; it is a film charting an Israeli quest to remember -- or to unforget -- the Israeli role in the brutal massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila. Or at least, this is the film's ostensible purpose.

Several times, Folman talks to his psychologist friend, who appears wise and grounded and acts as a moral compass throughout the film. He is an Ashkenazi secular Jewish version of a priest -- the couch is a kind of confessional, where one goes to seek validation and also redemption. When Folman first talks to him about his flashbacks, his friend -- speaking in the voice of therapist, priest and philosopher -- offers reassuring reflections on memory: "We don't go to places we don't want to," he says. "Memory takes us where we want to go." To read against the grain of the film's tropes of memory, remembering and moral reckoning, is to recognize this comment as an apt description of the entire film -- the remembering that the film undertakes does not take Israelis to places where they really would not want to go.

To say that Palestinians are absent in Waltz with Bashir, to say that it is a film that deals not with Palestinians but with Israelis who served in Lebanon, only barely begins to describe the violence that this film commits against Palestinians. There is nothing interesting or new in the depiction of Palestinians -- they have no names, they don't speak, they are anonymous. But they are not simply faceless victims. Instead, the victims in the story that Waltz with Bashir tells are Israeli soldiers. Their anguish, their questioning, their confusion, their pain -- it is this that is intended to pull us. The rotoscope animation is beautifully done, the facial expressions so engaging, subtle and torn, we find ourselves grimacing and gasping at the trials and tribulations of the young Israeli soldiers and their older agonizing selves. We don't see Palestinian facial expressions; only a lingering on dead, anonymous faces. So while Palestinians are never fully human, Israelis are, and indeed are humanized through the course of the film.

We most often see Palestinians -- when we do see them -- being blown to pieces or lying dead, but there is one scene where mourning Palestinian women occupy a street. They don't speak; they cry and shout. We don't see the hard lines of their grief, we don't see their tears. Rather, the focus zooms into the face of the younger Folman watching them as his breathing becomes more shallow, functioning as the emotional anchor of the scene. This is very typical of the film in that the suffering and experiences of Palestinians are significant principally for the effects that they have on the Israeli soldiers, and never in their own right.

Several critics have noted the real -- and horrifying -- footage from Sabra and Shatila at the end of the film. Indeed the only people portrayed in the film who are not animated are Palestinians in this footage. There is a woman screaming and crying. She shouts "my son, my son" in Arabic. She repeats again and again in Arabic "take photos, take photos," "where are the Arabs, where are the Arabs." But her words are not subtitled; she is just a screaming woman and her words are irrelevant and incomprehensible. So even in the same gesture whereby we are reminded that the massacre was no animation and it was a real event, the victims of that massacre are presented to us in a way that is deeply dehumanizing and "othering." The coping of the wailing Palestinian mother cannot compete with the quiet reflection and mild manners of the Israeli veteran. Folman does not talk to any Palestinians and the only Palestinians we see are in flashbacks and this footage at the end of the film. Not only are Palestinians essentially absent then, they are also of one time -- Sabra and Shatila. Palestinians are not part of time's passage; they are frozen in an incomprehensible, and in effect inaudible, wail.

It is not that the absence of Palestinians is necessarily a problem per se. There are indeed films where what is absent is key, and therefore has a presence that is all the more significant. In Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rebecca, for example, the haunting absence of the true central character, the traces of her, the allusions to her, make Rebecca all the more present. Not so with the Palestinians in Waltz with Bashir. They are peripheral to the story of the emotional life of Israeli veterans, a story of Israeli self-discovery and redemption. Indeed, it transpires that the filmmaker does not need to find out about Sabra and Shatila for a full understanding of his own role there, of what happened, of his responsibility, of truth. Rather, Sabra and Shatila are a portal to "other camps." The psychologist-friend cum philosopher-priest-moral-compass tells Folman that this is in fact all about "another massacre," "those other camps." At this point it transpires that Folman's parents were camp survivors. "You were engaged with the massacre a long time before it happened," the psychologist says, "through your parents' Auschwitz memory." The solution that he suggests is for Folman to go to Sabra and Shatila to find out what happened. Everything falls into place. This is the meaning of Sabra and Shatila -- a means, a mechanism, a chapter in Israeli self-discovery and coming to peace. The Palestinians are doubly absent.

Folman's psychologist friend, like many psychologists one presumes, often talks in therapist mode, in addition to his priest-philosopher mode. He puts forward the idea that Folman suppressed the memories because his 19-year-old self -- with the Palestinian camps as simulacrum for those "other camps" -- unwittingly associated himself with the Nazis. But, he reminds Folman now, at Sabra and Shatila Folman did not kill, he "only lit flares." So while Folman has been teetering on the edge of an overwhelming guilt, his psychologist friend drags him from the precipice. Folman and his contemporaries need not carry the guilt of being perpetrators -- they were accomplices. They lit flares so that Israel's ally in Lebanon, the Phalange militia butchering Palestinians could see what they were doing.

The question of who was doing whose dirty work is not so easily answered however Israel was nobody's sidekick when it invaded Lebanon. The film does not show us the Israeli shelling of Beirut that led to 18,000 deaths and 30,000 wounded, the violations committed against civilians, the destruction of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance. And what about the fact that the Palestine Liberation Organization and armed resistors had been evacuated more than two weeks before the massacres, and that it was the day after multinational forces left Beirut that Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon made it known that 2,000 "terrorists" remained in the camps? The focus of Folman's quest for responsibility in Waltz with Bashir hones in on lighting the flares as the Phalangists "mopped up" the camps. That two months before the massacres Sharon had announced his objective to send Phalangist forces into the camps, that the Israeli army surrounded and sealed the camps, that they shelled the camps, that snipers shot at camp dwellers in the days before the massacres, and then having given the green light to the Phalangists to enter Sabra and Shatila, the Israeli army prevented people from fleeing the camps -- all of this is absent in Waltz with Bashir.

In the film, it is on the shoulders of the Lebanese Phalangists that responsibility for the massacres is unequivocally placed. The Israeli soldiers have qualms and do not act on them, the Israeli leadership are told and do nothing, while it is the Phalangists who are depicted as brutal and gratuitously violent. But just as this is not a film about Palestinians, nor is it a film about the Lebanese Phalangists -- it is a film about Israelis. The point seems to be to set up the young Israeli soldiers as morally superior to these blood-thirsty beasts, not only in that it was not they but the Phalangists who actually massacred and executed, but also in their very way of being in the world, they are superior.

In a moment of what is presumably supposed to pass as brutal honesty, one of Folman's friends remarks sadly of how he realized that he "wasn't the hero who saves everyone's life." Essentially this is the limit of the notion of responsibility in this film: the Israeli veteran's guilt at not having been a hero. The pain of having done nothing at the time, although there were stirrings in their consciences, even then -- which the film contrasts with the Israeli leadership, and most starkly with the Phalangists.

The immediate aftermath of Sabra and Shatila witnessed a rare, if limited, moment of Israeli self-reflection. It seems odd that an Israeli film grappling with responsibility for the massacres completely elides this moment in Israeli history and collective memory. After demonstrations of more than 300,000 persons, the Kahan Commission was set up by the Israeli government to undertake an inquiry into what happened at Sabra and Shatila. The inquiry had several limitations, and one of its conclusions was that Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was indirectly, but personally, responsible for the massacres, and his ministerial portfolio was taken away. Of course the same Ariel Sharon was later elected and re-elected prime minister of Israel.

As Folman and those he speaks with recount what happened when they were in Lebanon, there is a lot of "while they're shooting at us from all directions," "we are attacked, we retaliate." There is no sense that Israel invaded Lebanon -- the word "invasion" is barely used in the whole film. The soldiers are young men going off to war in fighting spirit, fantasizing about women, wondering at how to prove their masculinity, licking the wounds of being dumped by girlfriends. They are singing songs with upbeat tunes and lyrics such as "Good morning Lebanon ... you bleed to death in my arms," "I bombed Sidon," "I bombed Beirut, I bombed Beirut every day." These lyrics are supposed to grate, but one nevertheless gets a sense of naive hapless kids who have no sense of the trauma that they are unwittingly walking into. One imagines that Folman would respond to the criticism that Israel's role is not made clear in the film, that these hapless kids are also members of an invading army committing acts of aggression, by saying that this would be going into the realm of politics, and rather this is intended to be a human film. One of the more disquieting views coming from admiring quarters is that the film is great for a general audience because one doesn't need to know any background information to appreciate the film. That Israel launched a brutal offensive that led to the deaths of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians is apparently not relevant. With "politics" and the "background" rendered off-limits, we are left with something that is misleading and inane. Its principal message becomes "war sucks." And why does war suck? Because it is traumatizing -- principally for the soldiers. When Waltz with Bashir won the Golden Globe for best foreign film in January, while the force of the Israeli military machine was being unleashed against Gaza, while war crimes and atrocities were being committed by Israeli soldiers, Folman could only muster, "My film is anti-war, and therefore would, sadly, always be relevant." Given the evasion of responsibility and decontextualization that lie at the core of this film, this was hardly surprising.

In the final analysis, this is what Waltz with Bashir is about: the evasion of responsibility. It is not that the self-reflection offered by the film is only partial, and that we would simply be nay-sayers to be dissatisfied with it. Because there is no sense of what the Israeli role in Lebanon was, because it is about ethically and morally redeeming the filmmaker and his contemporaries -- and by extension the Israeli self, military and nation, the Israeli collective in other words -- because of all this, the film is an act not of limited self-reflection but self-justification. It is a striving towards working through qualms to restabilize the self as it is currently constituted; it does not ask challenging questions that would destabilize that self. And we are reminded of the psychologist's comment near the start of the film: "We don't go to places we don't want to. Memory takes us where we want to go." Perhaps this explains how at the same time that Gaza was being decimated, Israel heaped acclaim and awards on Waltz with Bashir; in addition to numerous international awards, the film scooped up six awards at the Israeli Film Academy. Indeed, the same Israelis who flocked to see the film gave their enthusiastic approval to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. According to a poll released on 14 January by Tel Aviv University, a staggering 94 percent of Israeli Jews supported or strongly supported the operation.

What is alarming is not the approbation that the film is enjoying. That is to be expected. What is so disturbing about the reception of Waltz with Bashir are those liberal Arabs, Palestinian and others, who have been gushing. There is no reason to be so easily satisfied, to ask for so little from Israelis. If Palestinians do not continue to call Israel to account, then who will?

In his anti-colonial classic, The Wretched of the Earth, psychiatrist and revolutionary Franz Fanon includes at the end a series of case studies of his patients. There are torture victims. But there are also torturers who are unsettled, who are suffering, who are having nightmares. Fanon brings out the absurdity -- and inhumanity -- of the notion that they want therapy to be at peace with what they do, and clearly have every intention of continuing to do. Waltz with Bashir answers the collective Israeli call for precisely this kind of therapy.

Naira Antoun lives in London and works in the field of education.

as raízes do ódio na ideologia sionista.19/02

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

The Roots of Hatred in the Zionist Ideology

'Lieberman (is) viewed as the Israeli duplicate of contemporary European fascists.'

By Salim Nazzal

In 1939 Europe turned a blind eye to the rise of Nazism. The British foreign minister Neville Chamberlain believed that a policy of appeasement would work with Hitler; it did not. Hitler attacked Poland, giving the world a costly lesson - a policy of appeasement does not work with fascism. The outcome is well known: Europe was ruined and around 50 million lost their lives. Yet thanks to the Norwegian "home front" resistance, Hitler was deprived of the heavy water needed for manufacturing the nuclear bomb; had he acquired enough material to do so, the history of humanity might have been dramatically different to that which we know.

The fact that Hitler was democratically elected by the German people did not legitimize his policy of mass murder; in the same way the Israeli election of fascists and war criminals should not legitimate the Zionists' policy of mass murder. However, if Hitler is the starkest model of the democratic electoral system that brought Nazism to power in Germany, the recent Israeli election is a more recent example of an election that brought another known fascist, Avigdor Lieberman, widely viewed as the Israeli duplicate of contemporary European fascists like Jorg Haider or Jean Marie Le Pen, to power.

The evidence is the program of Lieberman's party, Yisrael Beiteinu ('Israel is our home'), and his hateful threats to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians who comprise 20 percent of Israel's population. To make the picture clearer, imagine that the Norwegian government decided to ethnically cleanse the Lapp minority from the country or to demand a written oath of loyalty from each individual Lapp. Imagine that the British government demanded that each Northern Irish citizen sign a pledge of loyalty. Who could believe this is happening now in the 21st century? And furthermore, who would not find it shocking that a Jew is demanding a vow of loyalty in the 21st century, which is equivalent in significance to enforcing the wearing of the Star of David in Nazi Germany in the middle of the 20th century.

The rise of fascism in the Zionist culture is, as I shall explain below, an aspect entrenched in Zionist culture from its earliest establishment; the recent Israeli election (in February 2009) has only made it more visible to public opinion. For years Zionists have used the phrase "Israel is the only democracy in the middle east" as an ideological weapon to demonize Arabs and to justify its crimes. Today, after the war on Gaza which showed the world the ugly face of Zionism, the rise of Israeli fascism is yet evidence that Zionism and racism, as the UN declared in 1975, are twins; the recent elections in Israel showed us that Zionism and fascism are synonyms. Yet I must note that there is a major difference between the Nazi and the Zionist fascist, this difference does not lie in the culture of hate, which is the basis of both, but rather in the fact that the Zionist fascist has nuclear capability, enough, according to military analysts, to destroy a large percentage of the human population globally; this fact has, unsurprisingly, raised serious concerns both in the Middle East and around the world.

Even prior to his election, knowing the great support he already had among new generation of Israelis instilled for years with the culture of hate, the Moldavian fascist Avigdor Lieberman, brought to Israel in 1978, told the media that they must get used to the idea of him as the next Israeli defense minister. What does it mean when the majority in a society elects ultra-right wing and fascist parties? It can mean anything, but it is definitely not a healthy sign and shows a society for which the logic of 'might makes right' has become synonymous with it very existence.

A recent psychological study might explain the reasons behind the rise of the far right and war criminals to position of power in the state of Israel. The research was conducted by Daniel Bar-Tal, who is, according to Haartz newspaper, one of the world's leading political psychologists and Rafi Nets-Zehngut, a doctoral student. It found that "Israeli Jews' consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering" (Haartz, 30.01.09).

It seems that many in the Arab world did not initially take Lieberman's threats to nuke Gaza and his promises to conduct a policy of 'transfer' against the 1.5 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship seriously; now, however, it would be politically naïve to ignore his threats. The Arab observers who I've talked with recently believe that the ascent of fascists to the leadership position in Israel will sooner or later create an arm race in the Middle East and probably put pressure on Arab countries to develop weapons of mass destruction to defend themselves, especially given Lieberman's repeated threats to use atomic bombs on Gaza. Indeed, if Lieberman proposed to nuke Gaza in response to its resistance fighters' use of rockets less powerful than the fireworks used to celebrate New Year's Eve, what would he be capable of doing in a wider regional conflict?

The situation that we have reached now is unprecedented in modern history. The fear that a group of terrorists might acquire access to weapons of mass destruction has become a reality and the danger is very real indeed. A group of ultra-far-right extremists which has, for years, presented an illusion of their being the "permanently oppressed" figures, now represents an existential threat to the Middle East and the whole world. Avigdor Lieberman has made it clear on more than one occasion that he will strike Iran. Benyamin Netanyahu, who is likely to form the next Israeli government, is no less willing than Lieberman to hit Iran; the result of any such strike would be to destabilize the whole region, causing a state of complete chaos as never before.

According to some Arab observers, if any such war were to take place it would very probably extend to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, drowning the region in a sea of blood. Those who support this assumption base their view on the fact that the state of Israel has lost its deterrent capacity in terms of its traditional arsenal of weaponry. This would mean, in their view, that Israel would be much more likely to use weapons of mass destruction in future wars.

It is essential, therefore, at this time is to send a clear message to the Norwegian, French, British and American governments who made the grave mistake of aiding Israel in its nuclear arms build-up to assume responsibility and to move quickly to impose the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution issued in 1981, which Israel has never honored because it put Israel's weapons of mass destruction under international surveillance.

This naturally poses the inevitable question of attempting to understand the sociopolitical conditions that allowed this ideology to appear at this time, bearing in mind that sociological factors are complicated phenomena, which are not born overnight, but form a dynamic process that accumulates over time.

This will be my point of departure with the aim of digging for the roots of fascism in Zionist thinking.

MJ Rosenberg, the Israeli Policy Forum's director of policy analysis, has observed that the state of Israel has been moving to the right for years. 30 years after its establishment, it elected a right wing party in the 1977 elections. (Los Angeles Times, Feb 11 2009). Rosenberg gives no account, however, of how he would explain the rise of this far right phenomenon, which reached its peak in the fact that Lieberman's fascist party has become the country's second far-right wing party, bearing in mind that Kadima is just an offshoot of the right wing Likud party.

According to one Palestinian expert in Israeli affairs, crime levels within Israeli society have increased dramatically in recent years because the soldiers who regularly murder Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza become acclimatized to solving their everyday problems through the use of violence. It is unlikely that the soldier capable of murdering a Palestinian child without any feeling of guilt will behave in a civilized way with his own family. Violence goes back to its perpetrator, changing his character and, to a large extent, the society's character. This has made violence a predominant ideology in Israeli society, the very foundation of which was built on practicing violence against native Palestinians; indeed, its continued existence as a state in the Middle East has become largely dependent on using violence against Palestinians.

Therefore I argue that the Israeli elections which brought the ultra-right wing, war criminals and fascists to power reflects a serious crisis in a society where the culture of violence, force and war has become one of its most obvious behavioral traits, where the whole culture has been based on glorifying military generals and militaristic values which naturally happens at the expense of the civil values of tolerance, peace, understanding etc.

Let me first contest the thesis that adopts the oppression theory used to justify the rise of Zionism, which I view as the legislative mother of the fascist phenomenon in the state of Israel. I refute the oppression theory on the basis that other communities have not suffered less than Jews, yet did not develop its form of Zionism.

There are numerous examples to sustain this hypothesis. The native peoples of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zeeland, millions of whom were murdered and ill treated for centuries, didn't develop any form of Zionism .The Africans were treated almost as subhuman, joined with chains and thrown into the European slave ships with zero regard for their humanity. Indeed, this was only the beginning of their long suffering, yet nobody has ever heard of 'African Zionism.' We can compare, for instance, the reaction of both communities to oppression. The founding father of Zionism Theodor Herzl's response was to internalize the culture of hatred that laid the ground of the Zionist culture, to plan to colonize Palestine, to uproot its people, to build a military base in the Middle East which has now ended up a quasi-fascist state.

The African response, as formulated by Martin Luther King, was to assert that Africans, after centuries of oppression, must dream of freedom and justice and a day to come when "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

The differences between the two ideologies are clear to everybody with the minimum of commonsense:

The political fruit of Martin Luther King and the African-American struggle for justice has resulted in the election of Obama and his discourse about change. The political fruit of Herzl and his Zionist discourse, meanwhile, has resulted in the election of the fascist leader Avigdor Lieberman and his agenda of ethnically cleansing Palestinians.

It must be stated, however, that in the course of creating Zionism not all European Jews embraced it; there was a liberal trend (Haskalah) that never fused Judaism with nationalism.

Those following the Haskalah school of thought pressed for integration and believed that the emancipation of European Jews could be achieved only through struggling alongside other democratic forces in Europe for justice and equality for all citizens; in other words its approach lay in the struggle for integration with the majority. This trend wanted to "close" the physical and psychological Jewish ghettoes and reach towards wider, more inclusive perspectives.

Zionism represented the exact opposite; it wanted Jews to retain a culture of ghettoisation, but with the difference that the ghettoes would be moved from Europe to the Middle East and would acquire a form of legitimacy by means of making Judaism a nationality rather than simply a faith. The two main sources from which Zionism benefited were the settler movement in the so-called New World, and the racist theories of the 19th century.

The Zionist response to the culture of anti-Semitism, therefore, lay in identifying itself with the basis of that very culture through developing an ideology of hatred towards others and a culture of verbally and physically terrorizing anybody who disagreed with them. Zionists view themselves as the sole possessors of absolute truth; their interpretation of Jewish history has been sanctified to an extent that nobody may challenge their version of events. Their interpretation of Palestinian history must be accepted, they insist, as the only truth. They assert, for instance, that they returned to Palestine after 2,000 years as if this were a short trip from London to Paris, as if Palestinian history were frozen until they came "back," and as if Palestinians were expected to welcome them with roses. This made of Zionist thinking a Machiavellian mindset par excellence, a total fusion of myth and reality on the one hand but a total separation between politics and morality on the other. They want to steal Palestinian lands, they want to murder Palestinians, but they become hysterical at the slightest criticism. In this way Zionism defends itself against its critics with racist-based charges of anti-Semitism, purely because Zionists reserve for themselves the right to hide behind these theories which blame all others for an "unimaginable eternal Jewish suffering".

The sharpest example of this lies in the Zionist response to the concept of anti-Semitism. The natural response of the oppressed should be in developing a strong stance against all sorts of racism and discrimination. That is what we witnessed with the experience of the ANC in South Africa which, after the collapse of the white apartheid regime there, focused on the concept of opposing discrimination and promoting tolerance; this, naturally, is the response which one expects from those who have themselves been oppressed. The word tolerance, however, is one rarely found in Zionist literature, but then this is no surprise when one considers that the whole ideology is based on murder, theft and oppression and that its literature has been created to justify and rationalize this creed.

In reality, the Zionists have adopted the fascist culture of hate, replacing the Nazis ideology which demonized all Jews with an ideology which demonizes all others; in other word, it has become 'anti-other,' 'anti-non-Zionist' or 'anti-others who disagree.'

The benefit of this is clear; it puts the blame on the entire world for the oft-cited "eternal Jewish suffering."

Numerous terms in Zionist literature like "the world left us dying," "the world did nothing for us," "never again" and similar expressions help to support my argument that the Zionists have responded to anti-Semitic ideology by replacing it with an 'anti-others' philosophy. In other words Zionists replaced the culture of hate with a mirror form of hate; this, Zionist hatred, however, was not even directed against the repressive European regimes which tyrannized Jews but against the entire world as a generalized perception. The most obvious implementation of the Zionist "anti others" ideology is clearly in the case of Palestinians. In Palestine, Zionists use the so-called 'eternal guilt of the west' and Europe's 'eternal sin' towards Jews to effectively pressurize Europe into supporting their oppression of Palestinians and silencing the critical voices raised against Israeli occupation.

The clearest crystallization of this 'eternal sin of Europeans towards Jews' has become an accusation of anti-Semitism convenient to use against whoever criticizes Israel, to the extent that even those individuals who generally support Israel, like President Carter who criticized it for its racist policy, did not escape this allegation. In this context, the 'anti others' concept was one of the principal constituents of the construction of Zionist theory, as we have seen in the Zionist literature of the past century. It must be necessarily noted that the 'anti others' concept carries the same fictional ideas as the fictional notions of the 'anti Semite,' with the anti-Semite blaming all Jews for the world's problems and the anti-other blaming all others for Jewish suffering.

The Zionist representation of Jewish history in Europe never wanted to dig down far enough to understand the development of the anti-Semitic phenomenon, being rather selective as if this oppression has taken place in all times and all nations which of course does not match with the historical facts. Both assumptions are no more than the products of selective thinking and the fantasy theories of the conspiracy theorist mindset, which have no roots in the real world. It is obvious that Zionists are fond of this theory of constant victimization and its affinity and linkage with this 'world-phobia,' which is the basis of the 'anti-other' mindset, since it has for them become a form of insurance against any criticism, especially after the colonization of Palestine. The reality which Zionists never like to hear is that their anti-Nazi rhetoric and literature were never an honest position towards Nazi culture, but rather a means of legitimizing the violence of Zionist ideology.

The alternative to this culture of hate is a culture which is in accord with human rights and human decency. This is exactly what happened in South Africa, whose people suffered centuries of discrimination; the alternative offered by the ANC was to promote a tolerant and inclusive culture in post-apartheid South Africa. Africans have been subjected to every form of historical oppression, yet did not develop African Zionism. Zionism did not develop as an emancipation movement to liberate Jews from oppression as its literature claims it did; rather it followed almost in the same footsteps as those fascist ideologies it professed to oppose. The Zionist disease has even affected many of the world's Jews, in particular American Jews who traditionally supporting the left wing movements in American society; today, however, most American Jews form the financial and propaganda store for supporting the state of Israel.

If Zionists were sincere in their opposition to Nazi culture how would it be possible for them to morally justify the destruction of Palestine at the hands of those who claim to be the Nazis' victims? How could they justify their deeds that inflicted and continue to inflict enormous pain on the Palestinians? The Zionists' frankly sickening 'fifth floor fire' analogy, which suggests that a man fleeing a fire on the fifth floor can be forgiven for accidentally or 'unintentionally' killing someone on the first floor by landing on them when he leaps over the balcony to escape the flames, is easily refuted. The acknowledged historical reality is that Zionists very deliberately aimed to colonize Palestine. They planned it, knowing that Palestinians would oppose it (see David Ben Gurion's memoirs, Jabotinsky and others) and knowing that they would be resisted. They cooperated with the imperial powers to invade Palestine, and acquired arms specifically to kill Palestinians. If all this is an "unintentional accident," I wonder how we can define an intentional deed! The Holocaust and Jewish suffering in Europe was used not as a lesson teaching them to fight the culture of hate but rather as a useful benefit to justify a near-identical hateful ideology.

The problem, of course, has nothing to do with Palestinians as Palestinians. The Zionists would have used exactly the same murderous policy had they created the state of Israel in Uganda, which Herzl also suggested as a Jewish homeland. Zionists have defined Palestinians as enemies only because they view them as obstacles to the Zionist project. The Zionist psyche could not or would not see that the Palestinian people love their homes and families, that they value their hopes, feelings and dreams like every community on earth. Indeed, the Zionists did not even want to be part of the Middle East region culturally; as Ben Gurion put it, "We shall not become Arabs any more than Americans became red Indians." They did not want to integrate into their original societies and did not seek to integrate in Palestinian society because integration would mean returning the Palestinians rights that they took by force.

They saw the Palestinian natives as obstacles to be removed in the same way as road builders would demolish a rock standing in their way. The few left wing Zionists' voices calling for a democratic state in Palestine were quickly lost in the violence of mainstream Zionist thinking.

Israel Zangwill, one of Herzl's earliest and strongest supporters, observed that Jerusalem was twice as heavily populated as the United States. The solution to this in his view was to use the sword against the native Palestinians. The paradox of this, of course, is that Israel Zangwill invented the biggest lie in modern history, that Palestine was "a land without people for a people without land."

The Zionists knew almost nothing about Palestinian culture, and I believe that they did not even want to know because that knowledge might disturb their worldview, which had rewritten past and future history to follow their hatful ideology. Having already decided to displace and to kill, there was no need to discover anything about their future victims apart from the knowledge which aid them to occupy.

This has been the path of Zionism, an ideology founded on war, occupation and oppression, deception and falsification. Zionism turned Palestine, which should be a country of peace, into a centre for spreading a culture of hate against Palestinians, against Arabs, against Muslims, against anti Zionist Christians and against anti Zionist Jews and against everybody and anybody who asks Zionists to look at the mirror and see the true, ugly face of their ideology. It has turned the beautiful Palestine into a centre that spreads poison between the US and the Islamic world, between Europe and Arabs, between Arabs and Iranians, between Arabs and Arabs and even between Palestinians and other Palestinians.

The emergence of the ultra-fascist tendencies in the state of Israel is the natural consequence of a century of building a culture of hate towards the other. It is not at all a sudden phenomenon which landed by parachute, but rather the logic outcome of a poisonous culture which was transplanted in Palestine. Today the political map of Israel strongly indicates the disappearance of the left wing and of the rational voices that seek to find a just and peaceful solution; this gives the world a strong indication of the dark direction in which the Middle East is heading.

- Salim Nazzal is a Palestinian-Norwegian historian on the Middle East. He has written extensively on social and political issues in the region. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

vidas enterradas nos escombros em Gaza.19/02


Lives buried under the rubble in Gaza
Report, PCHR, 19 February 2009

Maysa al-Louh, 16, sitting on the rubble of her home with the bombed Sakhnin school in the background. (Sarah Malian/Christian Aid)

Three weeks after the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, 16-year-old Maysa al-Louh sits stoically on the pile of sand that consumes half her home in Beit Lahiya. Under the sand, churned up by Israeli bulldozers during incursions into the area on 4 January 2009 lie all her report cards and school awards that were testament to her excellent academic record.

Nearby her grandmother tries to heat water on a pile of ash. The smell of decomposing chicken carcasses is overwhelming: the family's chicken coop that provided them with eggs, as well as their vegetable garden, were all destroyed by the bulldozers and tanks.

Thirty-five people lived in the three-story al-Louh house. The contents of home life -- a refrigerator, notebooks, framed pictures, and plastic flowers, lie scattered over the area. The adjacent Sakhnin Elementary School was also damaged by artillery shells and some of its classrooms are now a masse of mangled chairs, steel rods, shattered concrete and broken glass. Israel says militants were firing rockets from the school grounds.

"We were trapped in our home for two days while the Israeli army was based in the school nearby and operating in the area," says Maysa's 32-year-old mother Najat. "I had to give my children water from the toilet cistern to keep them alive. Then they ordered us to leave our house."

"As soon as we left the house they opened fire on the area and some of our neighbors were killed. My husband and I said our goodbyes to each other when the tanks came," Najat adds. "We thought it was the end."

Najat is three months pregnant with her eighth child. Her youngest daughter Sara who lies listlessly nearby, has been unwell for days, with vomiting and a high fever. They have been unable to get her to a doctor.

When the family returned to their home after Israel's unilateral ceasefire they discovered it had been shelled twice and all their animals killed. 250 meters away, and visible through a hole in the side of the house, is the toppled minaret of the local mosque, which took a direct hit. An air strike also hit Beit Lahiya's large Ibrahim al-Maqadmah mosque on 2 January 2009, killing 16 people and injuring dozens more. A total of 2,400 homes were completely destroyed during the three week offensive and over 12,000 were partially damaged.

International organizations have established a number of tent camps around the Gaza Strip. But in search of adequate shelter from the elements, some displaced and homeless people have moved in with extended family members in other areas. This is further squeezing Gaza's urban centers and placing an extra burden on already densely populated areas. It also means the scale of the problem of internally displaced people in Gaza is less visibly apparent.

On what was the second floor of the house, Najat's sister-in-law Faiza, 44 picks through the remains of their children's clothes. "Sometimes I wish we'd died rather than this ..." she says. "There were no militants near our house. Is this not sinful? Destroying homes, bombing mosques, killing chickens. Is that not sinful?"

Maysa has been too upset to study since the end of the offensive. "She had 99 percent in English, but all her school reports and prizes are under that sand," says her mother Najat. "What will happen to her future?" She shows me her bedroom now consumed by a mound of earth, and the edge of her bed that pokes out of the sand. "I had a few savings under my mattress," she says. Who knows if I'll ever find them."

International law and the destruction of civilian property

"Operation Cast Lead," or what Israel calls its 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 had a devastating impact on Gaza's physical infrastructure.

The preliminary list of damage to civilian property includes:
  • Two thousand and four hundred homes destroyed, and at least 12,000 homes damaged.
  • Sixty police stations and 30 mosques completely destroyed.
  • Twenty-one private enterprises, including cafeterias, wedding halls and hotels.
  • Twenty-eight public civilian facilities, including ministry buildings, municipalities and fishing harbors.
  • One hundred and twenty-one industrial/commercial workshops destroyed and at least 200 damaged.
  • Five concrete factories and one juice factory destroyed.
  • Five media and two health institutions destroyed.
  • Nine educational facilities including schools damaged or destroyed.
  • Thousands of dunums (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters) of agricultural land razed to the ground.

Israel's destruction of property and land belonging to Palestinians has been a feature of its occupation since 1967 and is in clear violation of international law. It has also contributed to the steadily deteriorating humanitarian situation in the occupied territories.

Despite Israel's withdrawal of its forces and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel remains in control of Gaza's seas, external borders, and airspace. The Gaza Strip is defined as occupied territory in accordance with international law. Consequently, as the Occupying Power, Israel remains bound by international humanitarian law. The targeting of civilian property violates the most basic tenets of humanitarian law, and is explicitly prohibited by both customary international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the targeting of civilian property, except where such destruction is rendered "absolutely necessary by military operations." As the Occupying Power, Israel has specific legally-binding obligations towards the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. If the destruction of property is found to be disproportionate to the direct military advantage gained, this would constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions.

The systematic nature of Israel's destruction of Palestinian civilian property and its use of heavy artillery, tanks and fighter jets against heavily populated residential areas has resulted in a disproportionately high number of civilian deaths and injuries, as well as extensive damage to civilian objects. The attacks are therefore illegal; they violate the principles of distinction and proportionality, and as such constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is calling upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to prevent such crimes, as well as their legally-binding obligation in accordance with Article 146 to bring persons alleged of committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions to justice.

This report is part of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights' series "Aftermath" that looks at the aftermath of Israel's 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing impact it is having on the civilian population.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Ouvir os Palestinianos.18/02

Fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Just Listen to the Palestinian People

By Antoun Issa

A culmination of events in recent years, and more importantly the past two months, has thrown the entire structure of the peace process upside down.

Ironically, the two main protagonists in the region (Israel and Iran) have assisted each other at the only common goal they share ... destroying the peace process. Iran, adhering to its strict theocratic obsession to liberate Islam's holy Jerusalem, has used its might to thwart any attempt by the Israelis and Americans to impose a puppet state in the Palestinian territories.

Israel, for its part, has also worked tirelessly at ending the process because, as I've noted here, it still follows its own warped extreme ideology (Zionism) that calls for a greater Jewish state in historic Palestine.

Only what these two bitter enemies fail to realise is that they cannot destroy a peaceful settlement. Extremism in all of its forms, be it fascism, communism or religious zealotry, will never last as a governing system. The more controls you put in place, the more people will try to break free. Neither Israel nor Iran offers a logical, natural solution/conclusion to the never-ending Middle Eastern cycle of violence. Consider the following:

Israel wants to cleanse all of historic Palestine of its native Arabs (whose numbers are heading towards a majority), and pray that its surrounding 200 million Arabs won't mind.

Iran's ambition to destroy Israel is driven by its theological dreams of liberating Al-Aqsa, Islam's third holiest mosque, from the new Crusades and establish a Shi'ite Islamic empire. It would then, of course, turn its attention to the 'blasphemous' Saudi family that occupies Mecca.

Neither of these conclusions sound reasonable or logical.

Enters the US and Europe waving the banner of compromise and a peaceful solution. The concept of compromise does sound realistic and logical, and must eventually come to pass. However, Israeli attempts to thwart such a peaceful compromise has reached the halls of Washington where its legions in AIPAC et al do all it can to ensure the US steers far and wide from a compromising solution.

Former President Bill Clinton came up with a draft 'compromise' that the Israelis have largely avoided. Bush retitled it "road map", then threw it in the back filing cabinet.
Obama ascends to power and suddenly there's a resurgence of hope. Will he draw out the "road map"?

Indeed, many analysts and leading publications have swung behind the peace campaign, particularly in light of the Gaza War, virtually pleading with Obama to engage in "tough love" with Israel and force a compromise that will end this long bloody conflict. One such article was in the Economist. Much discussion has centred on what kind of compromise to follow. The two-state solution has indeed been the popular call for the past two decades, although some analysts have recently called this plan dead. I, for example, believe in a one-state solution.

Whilst I applaud the Economist for joining the "tough love" bandwagon, there remains one problem that is persistent in the West's handling of this saga. The West often draws up solutions that stem from the primary interest of ensuring Israel's security. It rarely takes into consideration the strong Palestinian sentiment of injustice, the same sentiment that has driven its resistance for the past 60 years. Whilst the West has done the bidding on Israel's part, the Palestinians have been forced to take the backseat as its destiny gets shuttled back and forth between world capitals in a diplomat's suitcase.

Failure to listen to the calls of injustice by the Palestinian people means no peace will ever succeed. Peace must be made on equal terms, with the sentiments of both sides equally listened to and represented. This is why the two-state solution cannot work under the current framework, because it simply doesn't include the Palestinians' demand for full equality.

The two-state solution during the Clinton era didn't survive for obvious reasons. On the one hand, Israeli hardliners adhering to Zionism didn't want to concede any bit of territory or sovereignty to the Palestinians. On the other hand, many Palestinians felt that their concerns hadn't been adequately met. Whilst Yasser Arafat shook hands with Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn, new radical groups such as Hamas were emerging in impoverished Palestinian streets. The West has often avoided recognising popular Palestinian sentiments by providing smokescreens, previously through Arafat and Oslo, and today with Mahmoud Abbas. Ignoring the reality has proven detrimental, as we continue to see today. Democratic countries should be the most aware that ignoring public sentiments will ultimately bring political failure.

Nevertheless, the two-state solution from the Clinton era continues to be revived today as the main peace policy directive for the Obama administration.

The following example from the Economist demonstrates this failed vision of peace:

"Palestinians would be granted a symbolic right for their refugees to return on the understanding that only a small and carefully calculated proportion of them would actually do so. Palestine would be sovereign but demilitarised, with an international force, perhaps led by NATO, securing its borders, both along the Jordan valley and maybe between Gaza and Egypt. A road-and-rail link, internationally monitored, might well connect the 50km (30 miles) or so between Gaza and the West Bank."

There are two problems with this proposal.

Firstly, the "symbolic" right for their refugees to return. In reality, only a handful out of the 2-3 million external refugees will ever cross into 1/4 of what remains of historic Palestine and will be forced to live in camps, villages and towns not of their own.

The right of return is crucial for Palestinians and Arabs. As Israel's security is considered nonnegotiable by Israelis, correcting this injustice against expelled Palestinian refugees who have been dwelling in inhumane camps for three generations remains at the heart of the Palestinian cause. The failure of the West to understand and listen to such strong sentiments has automatically rendered any peace-making effort futile.

Secondly, Palestine would be demilitarised and a NATO force would secure its borders.

The key error that started this conflict was that the destiny of one people was chosen by another. The West imposed its own vision upon the natives, without ever consulting the Palestinian people. The mass migration of European Jews into British Palestine was done without the consultation of the native Palestinian people. The partition of Palestine that awarded the majority of arable and economically fruitful land to a minority of immigrants was done without the consultation of the Palestinian people, who have dwelt on this land for thousands of years. And there the conflict began.

The main quibble Arabs have with the West is that nothing in the region was determined by them. The states, the borders, the dictators, and the monarchs were all carved out and hand picked by Western leaders. This is the root cause of the grand divide between Islam and the West, and the drive for extremist ideologies. To turn around and dictate how a future Palestine is to function (i.e. demilitarised) is repeating the same mistakes of the past. And the same mistakes will reap the same consequences.

To solve this conflict, the West must listen to the Palestinian people. Listen to their sentiments, to their deep feeling of injustice, and their resentment of it. Hamas is not merely an Islamist movement, but representative of 60 years of Palestinian resistance to everything unjust that has been imposed on them. Yasser Arafat - secular and left-wing - was that symbol 30-40 years ago, Hamas is the symbol today. Whether there'll be a need for a resistance symbol tomorrow depends on the West's willingness to listen.

- Antoun Issa is a Lebanese-Australian journalist. He contributed this article to Visit his blog:

um milhão e meio de corações quebrados.18/02

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

One Million and a Half Broken Hearts

'My friend's eyes are now an ocean of sadness.' (Photo: John Harvey)

By Natalie Abu Shakra - Gaza

Tears drop on her hands, hands that he had once kissed passionately, on her engagement ring, that ring he chose for her, on her cheeks that oust the redness of burning coals within her. The funeral is over now; his body is away, but the memory of him is as vivid as his own being yesterday. Dreams of a wedding, now written in the history of numerous deaths, is beyond of what reality can bring.

Her name is Hanaa, what means felicity. But, Hanaa shall know no felicity for many years now, overcoming the killing of her lost love, Mohammed, who was killed by Israeli occupation forces whilst at the Abu Middeen police station on December 27th, 2009. Red roses are thrown over Mohammed’s tomb as he is carried through the streets of his neighborhood. Hanaa, her head bent towards the ground, stroking the ring on her right hand, nods her head accepting a reality imposed, one of which she had no choice in determining.

This is the case of many here in Gaza, where love has been targeted, where intimacy has been destroyed, where sentiments are victims of slaughtering and massacres. “We are just numbers in the media,” says Hanan, a student at the Aqsa University in Gaza. “But, behind the numbers are stories, are loves lost, are childhoods devastated, choked.”

As I visited my friend’s house in the eastern neighborhood of Jabalya Town, I saw beds being torn apart, as the holes in them mark the aiming of an Apache rocket in the middle during the twenty two day attack on Gaza.

Since we are living in a culture of a so-called ‘human rights’ production, then perhaps those that declared those aforementioned rights can issue a declaration of a right to love.

“How can one express the broken dreams inside of him? How can one express himself?” asks the late Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani in “I have Married You, o Freedom!” a similar rhetoric now demanded on the streets of Gaza.

“There are no theatres, no cinemas, not even public libraries!” There is not even the right to go to the sea… to smell the ocean. Three years ago, the adolescent Huda Ghalyeh came out of the sea after she was swimming to find the eleven members of her family, slaughtered on the coast. The Israeli gunboat had missed shooting at her as she swam far from where her family was walking. Huda came out of the ocean as she heard the nearby sounds of the ambulance siren and people screaming to the images of killings. From three years of living within what is now described as the largest collective prison modern history has witnessed to what has become a largest concentration camp of killings and slaughtering, that many compare to the Warsaw and Auschwitz concentration camps, which still bring shivers to those who recall it during WWII.

In Gaza, where normality of habit and routine does not exist, in Gaza where the thought of a coming death is a consistent companion, amid a struggle to maintain a meaning to one’s life. “After one’s home is demolished, leveled down to ruins, one’s love, one’s family no longer existent… can you tell me what is worth living for?” asks twenty five year old Firas, who lost it all. He works at a local media agency, and manages to control the torn life that dwells bellow his childlike facial expressions.

“I missed eating fruits. We had no fruit. But, after the killings, they opened the crossings for a day or two to bring in fruit… I was nauseated by the fruit they [IOF] allowed to enter. I do not want to eat any fruit anymore after they killed 1500 of us” I hear from a young lady.

On the balcony of a friend, I observe the sun setting down on Gaza. My friend’s eyes are now an ocean of sadness. His expressions changed since before the war; he now looks into empty space, losing everyone around him. When he jokes and we laugh, his smile returns back to the land of forlornness, and it leaves a façade of an expressionless existence. We speak about the numbers of the dead, but there are also those six thousands citizens who have lost a body part, who are now physically challenged. How will they live the rest of their lives? How will the rest of the million and a half broken hearts in Gaza go on living in a time where the human condition is too worthless to be a condition from the start?

When asked about hell on earth, my answer is not Gaza: Gaza’s hell is… other people.

- Natalie Abu Shakra is from Lebanon and is affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement. She defied Israeli orders for Lebanese citizens not to go to Gaza and was able to get in with the Free Gaza movement. She contributed this article to

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