Saturday, 25 July 2009

A realidade da Jerusalém "aberta"

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

The Reality of Israel’s 'Open' Jerusalem
Settlements in East Jerusalem are built on land declared 'state land'.

By Jonathan Cook - Jerusalem

No one would have been more surprised than Fawziya Khurd by the recent pronouncement of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, that Israel operates an “open city” policy in Jerusalem.

Mr. Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem following the 1967 war -- what he called the city’s “unification” -- meant that all residents, Jews and Palestinians alike, could buy property wherever they chose.

“Our policy is that Jerusalem residents can purchase apartments anywhere in the city,” he said. “There is no ban on Arabs buying apartments in the west of the city, and there is no ban on Jews building or buying in the city's east.”

Mr. Netanyahu was trying to justify recent construction in East Jerusalem by settler organizations in defiance of demands from the US that Israel halt all such work. In particular, US officials are objecting to the recent takeover of property by settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where Mrs. Khurd used to live, as well as the Old City, Silwan and Ras al-Amud.

According to experts, however, the reality is that in both a practical and legal sense Mr. Netanyahu’s “open city” is a fiction, extended only to the settlers and not to Mrs. Khurd or to the 250,000 other Palestinians of East Jerusalem.

Mrs. Khurd, for example, has been forced to live in a tent after settlers ousted her from her East Jerusalem home of five decades in November. She also has no hope of moving back to the house taken from her family in Talbiyeh, now in West Jerusalem, during the 1948 war that established Israel.

In addition, movement restrictions mean that almost all of the nearly four million Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are banned from entering the city or visiting its holy sites.

Inside Jerusalem, as in the West Bank, Israel enforces a strict program of segregation to disadvantage the Palestinians, said Jeff Halper, of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Israeli Jews have the freedom to live in both parts of the city, with 270,000 in West Jerusalem and a further 200,000 living in East Jerusalem in rapidly expanding settlements heavily subsidized by the state.

Palestinians, meanwhile, are denied the right to live both in West Jerusalem and in many residential areas of East Jerusalem. Even in their tightly controlled neighborhoods in the city’s east, at least 20,000 of their homes are subject to demolition orders, said Mr. Halper.

Daniel Seidemann, a Jerusalem lawyer, said that in his 20 years of handling residency rights cases for Palestinians he had never heard of a Palestinian with a Jerusalem ID living in West Jerusalem.

The reason, he pointed out, was that almost all land inside Israel’s 1948 borders, including West Jerusalem, has been registered as “state land” managed by a body known as the Israel Lands Authority.

The authority allows neither Palestinians nor Israelis to buy property on state land. Instead long-term renewable leases are available to Israeli citizens and anyone eligible to immigrate to Israel under the country’s Law of Return -- meaning Jews.

The settlements in East Jerusalem -- now covering 35 per cent of the eastern city, according to Mr. Seidemann -- are also built on land declared as “state land”, in violation of international law. Again this means that only Israelis and Jewish foreign nationals are entitled to lease land there.

Because they do not hold Israeli citizenship, the Palestinians of East Jerusalem are disqualified from acquiring property either in West Jerusalem or in the settlements of East Jerusalem.

“The extraordinary situation is that a Palestinian who had his land expropriated to build the settlement of Har Homa [on the outskirts of East Jerusalem] cannot lease land there, whereas a Jew from Paris or London who is not even an Israeli citizen can.”

Mr. Seidemann also pointed out that the country’s Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that a Palestinian family forced out of what became the Jewish quarter of the Old City in 1967 had no right to return to their property.

The court justified its decision on the grounds that each religious community should have its own quarter. “However, that ruling has not stopped the Israeli government from helping Jewish settlers to encroach on the Muslim and Christian quarters.”

This week, the Israeli media reported, several families from a settler organization, Ateret Cohanim, had moved into a building in the heart of the Muslim quarter. The property was bought by Ariel Sharon in the 1980s to assert Jewish sovereignty over all of the Old City, although he never moved in.

Mr. Halper said that, in addition, Jerusalem’s Palestinians, unlike its Jews, faced municipal policies designed to make life as unbearable as possible. Demolitions of Palestinian property are widespread. Police, for example, have torn down Mrs. Khurd’s tent on six occasions since November and she faces a series of fines.

“Even according to Israeli figures, East Jerusalem lacks 25,000 housing units to cope with the Palestinians’ minimal needs,” said Mr. Halper. “The land is available, it’s just that Israel wants to induce a severe housing shortage for Palestinians.”

The hope is that they would move to the West Bank, he said.

Mr. Seidemann said a handful of Palestinian families -- faced with this housing shortage -- had managed to rent homes short term from Israeli owners in East Jerusalem’s larger settlements, such as French Hill and Pisgat Zeev. This marginal phenomenon, he said, had been misleadingly trumpeted as proof of the “egalitarian nature” of Israel’s property laws.

According to the Israeli media, Mr. Netanyahu’s remark may have been intended to throw mud in the eyes of the US Administration as it steps up pressure on Israel to halt settlement building in East Jerusalem.

Mr. Seidemann said: “The [US] State Department understands these issues better than Mr Netanyahu. There is zero possibility that his comments will be treated as credible by any of their negotiators.”

- Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). He contributed this article to Visit: A version of this article originally appeared in The National - - published in Abu Dhabi.

Quem matou Arafat e por quê?

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Who Killed Arafat and Why?

Dahlan openly advocated the toppling of an elected government in Gaza.

By Ramzy Baroud

Who killed Yasser Arafat? When the Palestinian leader was declared dead in a French hospital on Nov. 11, 2004, there was no way of knowing how questions related to his death should be phrased. Was he killed or did he die from old age? If he was killed, then who killed him and why? The “mysterious” nature of his symptoms gave birth to a theory that he was poisoned over a period of time, provided enough evidence that foul play was involved, even accusing some of those closest to him. Although the man’s story has been recorded in the ever-growing chronicle of the Palestinian struggle and Palestinians have somehow moved on, recent breaking news has blown his story wide open once again, breeding new controversy and stories of conspiracy.

Nearly five years have passed since Arafat died. During those years, a number of high-ranking Palestinian leaders, especially from the Hamas movement, have been assassinated by Israel in various and consistently gory methods. Among Palestinians, Arafat is referred to like all those killed by Israel, as a “martyr”, an indication of the widespread belief that his death was hardly the result of natural causes.

If Arafat was indeed killed and since his death was not caused by an Israeli airstrike or an assassin’s bullet, a key question has been lingering, giving rise to all sorts of answers — who killed Arafat and how?

Israelis made little secret of their desire to see Arafat dead. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressed regret in a newspaper interview on Feb. 1, 2002 that he hadn’t killed Arafat decades earlier when he had had the chance. Sharon told Israeli newspaper Maariv that he should have “eliminated” Arafat during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. “Do you regret it (not killing Arafat)?” he was asked. “Certainly, yes,” he replied.

On the day of Arafat’s death, BBC news carried comments by then Israeli opposition leader Shimon Peres, saying it is “good that the world is rid of him...The sun is shining in the Middle East.” Held hostage in his bullet-riddled West Bank office for years, Arafat represented an international embarrassment for Israel. He was not “moderate” enough to concede all Palestinian rights, but ‘moderate’ enough to maintain an aura of international attention and support among Arab, Muslim, European and other nations.

Still, in the minds of some, Arafat was determined, and often declared to represent an ‘obstacle’. The PA’s truly “moderate” camp disliked him for his tireless compromises aimed at preventing factional infighting, thus blocking their attempts at dominating Palestinian society. Israel despised him for numerous reasons, not least his refusal to “concede” issues of paramount importance, such as refugees and Jerusalem. The Bush administration took every opportunity to discredit, discount and insult him, constantly propping up an “alternative” leadership, namely, Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan and others.

Strangely enough, even Abbas and other high-ranking PA officials refer to Arafat as a “martyr,” especially whenever they need to capitalize on his legacy among low-ranking Fatah members and ordinary Palestinians. But the story was meant to end here, with Abbas and Dahlan, carrying the torch of Arafat the “martyr” as they continue with their rhetoric-based “revolution” to liberate Palestine. That was the case until the second highest-ranking Fatah member and one of the PLO’s most visible leaders, Farouk Qaddoumi, went public with a document that contained some unanticipated surprises: that Abbas and Dahlan, along with Sharon, US Undersecretary of State William Burns, and others jointly plotted the assassination of Arafat. Qaddoumi’s document contained the minutes of that meeting, in 2004.

Qaddoumi broke the news in a press conference in Amman, Jordan on July 12, 2009, asserting that Arafat had entrusted him with the minutes of that secret meeting involving top Israeli, Palestinian and American leaders and officials. The plot, according to Qaddoumi included the assassination of other Palestinian leaders, some of them have indeed been assassinated since while others are still alive, thanks to the failure of Israeli missiles and car bombs.

Expectedly, the Ramallah-based Fatah leaders launched fierce verbal attacks against Qaddoumi, questioning his objectives, timing and even his sanity. Abbas accused Qaddoumi of wanting to torpedo the Fatah faction’s long-delayed congress, scheduled to convene in Bethlehem on Aug. 4. “He (Qaddoumi) knows full well that this information is false; he has released it to undermine the convention but we are continuing with the preparations,” Abbas said. Qaddoumi had in fact criticized the convention of a supposedly ‘revolutionary’ movement held with Israeli consent, if not support.

The fact is, we may never know the authenticity of Qaddoumi’s report without an independent investigation or irrefutable evidence. However, just as with Arafat’s death, conclusive evidence is not always required for the public to formulate an opinion. Considering Israel’s threats to Arafat, Palestinians have no reason to believe that Israel did not kill him. Similarly, ordinary Palestinians, especially those in Gaza, have little reason to trust that corrupt Palestinians were not involved in Arafat’s death. A clique of the Palestinian elite have made it clear that their personal interests surpass those of the Palestinian people; Dahlan openly advocated the toppling of an elected government in Gaza as the Ramallah-based “revolutionary” movement, was dispatching US-armed and trained Palestinian fighters to crack down on Israel’s enemies in various West Bank towns.

As bizarre as all of this may sound, it is at least enough to explain why Palestinians are willing to believe the recent statements made by Qaddoumi, a respected figure among all Palestinian factions. True, Qaddoumi’s accusations have yet to be authenticated by an independent investigation, but they are made in a fractious, if not peculiar political context that makes them most plausible and, in a sense, that is the real tragedy.

- Ramzy Baroud ( is an author and editor of His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming book is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London)

Palestina:Mesquita al Ibrahimi-al Khalil

fonte:Anis Hamadeh (artista palestiniano-Kiel Almanha)

Famílias comemoram a excelência acadêmica em meio do cerco


Families celebrate academic excellence amidst the siege
Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 24 July 2009

Abeer Shawish receives congratulations from her mother Umm Abed, at their family home in the Gaza Strip. (Rami Almeghari)

The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Education announced the results of the annual tawjihi -- the general secondary school examination -- on 21 July. Graduating high school students take exams either in the science stream or humanities stream, with those getting the highest grades best able to compete for university places.

It was the first time since Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 that the Ministry announced result for both the West Bank and Gaza. In spite of Israel's 25-month siege and brutal winter invasion of Gaza, students in the tiny coastal territory must find time to study for the exam.

Abeer Abu Shawish, 18, achieved the highest score on the humanities exam in all of Gaza. Abeer lives with her family in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Her father and three brothers are all unemployed. Abeer and her five sisters assist her mother, who is a homemaker, with the household chores.

Sitting cheerfully at home, Abeer explained that "I cannot describe my feelings today. I feel like I am flying. I am excited. I am overwhelmed!" She added, "I used to study 10 hours a day, since the beginning of the school year last September. And now I am harvesting the fruits."

Surrounded by her family, Abeer greeted the many visitors who came to offer their congratulations on Tuesday. She explained that, "We are an ordinary Palestinian family. We were raised by our now ailing father, who taught us how to succeed in school." She added that her sister Nour received the highest score in Gaza in 2006, and her sister Amal the fifth highest score in 1999.

During Israel's invasion, Abeer like other Gaza residents lived in a constant state of fear and uncertainty. Yet, she found time to study and prepare for the exam. She explained that, "Prior to the war in late December 2008, I had a plan for studying for the tawjihi. One day, in the middle of the war, I heard shelling nearby at 11:00pm. However, I took a long deep breath and continued my studies. Although I was extremely upset by the Israeli attacks from air, sea and land, I told myself that I must succeed in order to fight the Israeli occupation with my own way, education!"

Abeer's mother, Umm Abed, expressed her extreme joy at Abeer's results. She said, "Thank God for this great success, Abeer is my fourth daughter and her other sisters, Nour and Amal, got similar results in previous years." Umm Abed added, "God willing, my daughter will pursue her education under better conditions."

Mousa Nashwan, a close friend of the family, voiced his appreciation for Abeer's success amidst their "dire conditions." He explained, "I am really very happy for them. My dear friend Abu al-Abed -- Abeer's father -- who is now ailing, has nothing to live on. He has one daughter who is a teacher, she is the only one who helps them."

Another Palestinian home in the Maghazi refugee camp was celebrating on Tuesday. Amna Mousa received the second highest grade in Gaza on the humanities section of the tawjihi. Amna explained that, "Despite the circumstances, including frequent Israeli attacks, the Israeli siege as well as the political rift here, I was determined to achieve success." She added that, "After the recent Israeli war, I had to reschedule my study time and now I am so happy for the outcome. I dedicate this to the victims of the last war, to Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails, and to prime minister Ismail Haniyeh."

While embracing his daughter, Amna's father explained that, "I am proud of Amna, thank God. I have been expecting this success for Amna even more than she was. Sometimes, I used to have pity on her, telling her to get some more sleep."

Abeer and Amna's success provides hope for everyone in Gaza that amidst the siege and deprivation, excellence and even joy can be found.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

a trajetória do conflito no Médio Oriente

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Calculating the Trajectory of the Middle East Conflict

Several conflicts have been compared to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

By Dan Lieberman

Defined characteristics steer history to an eventual climax. Unless a dramatic intervention occurs, similar historical characteristics forecast similar results. If an earlier historical event has a narrative that is comparable with the narrative of the Middle East conflict, then the trajectory of that conflict can be predicted from the outcome of the earlier narrative; not exactly, but within a certain boundary. A corollary exists – if a conclusion can be forecasted from an earlier event that exhibited closely similar conditions, changing the conditions by intervention can modify the directed result.

Several conflicts have been compared to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Each narrative contained claims for land, clashes with indigenous peoples and a desire for separation due to fear and insecurity. Each conflict left a legacy that deserves consideration. Most prominently mentioned are:

(1) Apartheid South Africa.

(2) Colonial Algeria.

(3) Northern Ireland conflict.

(4) The American destiny.

(5) The Puritan experience.

Which of these conflicts is most comparable with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?

Realizing that the contestants of the 21st century conflict are culturally advanced in comparison to the contestants engaged in the earlier century conflicts and accounting for different eras and different stages in civilization, the most relevant comparison is the Puritan experience. To substantiate this assertion, let’s start with the principle characteristics that defined the Zionist agenda and its development into the Israeli state.

The Zionists at the end of the 19th century concluded Jewish populations, due to unique characteristics, would never find acceptance from Christian Europe. They would remain a persecuted minority if they did not assimilate and would lose their identity if they assimilated. In this no-win situation, Judaism and Jewish identity would eventually disappear. Relatively few Jews of that time agreed with or followed the Zionist agenda.

The Zionists sought a Promised Land, the same land that the Bible claimed God had awarded to the Hebrews. However, the pioneers did not arrive by invoking a phrase uttered by many later immigrants; “The land has been reserved for us by a promise from God.” Gaining national identity and social redemption by social labor and communal life guided their purpose.

Hardship and failure describe many of the early missions. After near failure, a limited success enthused compatriots in the World War I aftermath, and immigration to Palestine greatly increased. As immigration increased, the original purpose of “achievement of national identity and social redemption by social labor and communal life,” receded from the agenda.

The early Jewish immigrants to Palestine did not display an intention to replace the Palestinians. The land seemed sufficiently empty to accommodate a vast number of new immigrants without replacing the local populations. New agricultural and irrigation techniques would make the land more productive. However, some Palestinians, disturbed by the early intruders, others just bandits, attacked a number of settlements. After a few incidents, awareness that the Zionists could bring benefits - work and new technology – encouraged Palestinians to gradual acceptance of the newcomers. In the 1920’s the pioneering attitude changed and the welcoming attitude drastically changed.

In 1920, after the Zionist population had grown to 60,000 in a Palestine composed of 585,000 Arabs, a reporter noted that earlier settlers felt uncomfortable with the later immigrants.

“It may not be generally known, but a goodly number of the Jewish dwellers in the land are not anxious to see a large immigration into the country. This is partly due to the fear that the result of such immigration would be an overcrowding of the industrial and agricultural market; but a number of the more respectable older settlers have been disgusted by the recent arrivals in Palestine of their coreligionists, unhappy individuals from Russia and Romania brought in under the auspices of the Zionist Commission from the cities of Southeastern Europe, and neither able nor willing to work at agriculture or fruit-farming. ”- Zionist Aspirations in Palestine, Anstruther Mackay, The Atlantic Monthly, July 1920.

Israel’s development did not proceed from a colonial mission. A search for a new land to practice a unique way of life for an alienated group propelled the adventure. After 1920, the new immigrants created an insatiable demand for land, for coast, for plain and for hill. Land sales dispossessed Palestinians who sensed continuous usurpation of their ancient lands and destruction of their livelihood. An initial mildly cooperative relationship between Zionists and Palestinians deteriorated to each wanting to be rid of the other. Soon, Palestine quaked with total war. The Zionists won the battle and the Palestinians were directly and indirectly forced to leave their ancient lands. The Israeli state continued to use fear and insecurity to rationalize separation and extend its territory to more secure boundaries. Even those Palestinians willing to cooperate have been marginalized. History records the Palestinian people reacting to dispossession and fighting to prevent a slow and unyielding destruction.

How does this narrative compare to other narratives?

South Africa

In 1651, the Dutch East India Company established a settlement as a base for its ships passing the Cape of Good Hope. An influx in 1687 of a community of Huguenots changed the purpose of the base camp. During the following 300+ years the Protestant colony, together with British and Dutch farmers nurtured the white population.

The acquisitive British, seeking control of vital shipping lanes, determined the future of Africa’s southern region. The British seized the area in 1795 and the Congress of Vienna in 1815 recognized Britain’s sovereign control of the Cape. Discoveries of mineral resources provoked Great Britain to incorporate the Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State into one nation. On May 31, 1910, the English crown created another dominion - the Union of South Africa - precursor to the 1961 creation of the Republic of South Africa.

A nation that contained an estimated 67% black African, 9% colored and 2.5% Asian became a state designed for its white population. The new nation certified apartheid by a series of laws that started with the Natives' Land Act of 1913. The Act initially restricted the Black population ownership of land to only 7% of the country. The original Crape Coloreds (not White, Black or Indian), who were able to vote, became totally disenfranchised in 1948, after the Nationalist Party took control of the Union’s legislature.

South Africa started as a colonial enterprise. Colonialism led to a conflict between the descendants of white settlers and the native population. The conflict was almost entirely due to Apartheid Laws that denied economic and political power to the non-white populations. Native populations were misplaced and races were segregated. The conflict could only be resolved by repeal of the Apartheid laws. In 1994, the repeal occurred.

The South African experience is often compared to the Middle East conflict because of its positive outcome – why can’t the former be a guide to the other? All oppression of populations have similarities. Nevertheless, the characteristics of the settling of the two areas and the nature of the conflict are entirely different. There was no colonialism involved in the establishment of Israel. There are no civil laws to cancel in order to resolve the Middle East conflict. Rather than misplacements, there have been population replacements and displacements. Apartheid defined the South Africa struggle and sanctions convinced the authorities that changing the apartheid laws were preferable to world enmity. Apartheid is a side factor in the more complicated Middle East conflict. It will take much, much more than sanctions to resolve the conflict.

The South Africa legacy: The world community can successfully pressure nations to discard racial prejudice and grant equal rights to all its citizens.


Algeria, under French rule, was an example of pure colonialism.

Expanding from a blockade in 1827, caused by an assumed insult to a French consul in Algiers, to invasion in 1830, France colonized Algeria. By 1848, the French controlled most of northern Algeria, and the Second Republic recognized the occupied lands as an integral part of France. Initially separated from the new economic infrastructure, native Algerians became French subjects in 1856. Nine years later, Napoleon III allowed the native Algerians to apply for full French citizenship. Although seemingly beneficial, this maneuver had problems; it legalized France’s occupation and replaced a right to be governed by sharia in personal matters, which meant internal conflict.

After a century of verbal and sporadic warfare, the French National Assembly in 1947 approved legislation that created an Algerian Assembly with Muslim representation. It was an insufficient gesture. A protracted Algerian War of Independence, fought from 1954-1962, resulted in an independent Algeria and the retreat of the French colonists to their home country.

Similar to Israel policies, which strengthened Palestinian identity, the French awakened an Algerian national identity. Nevertheless, by being a colonial adventure, which brought economic separation, and later tried to legally integrate the native population into the French nation, the Algerian narrative does not track the Israel narrative. The Palestinians would be pleased with an outcome similar to the resolution of the Algerian conflict. Israelis prefer that conditions don’t change to resemble the narrative which forced an Algerian nation.

The Algerian conflict legacy: Even after a century of struggle, native populations can win their right to self determination against a major power.

Northern Ireland

Ireland had been conquered and re-conquered several times by English royalty. During the turn of the 16th century, England established a central government that ruled the entire emerald island.

Colonization followed conquest. England sent Protestants colonists to Irish provinces, mostly to those which would later be a part of Northern Ireland. Constant strife culminated in a complicated arrangement by which Ireland was temporarily partitioned in 1921 between Northern and Southern Ireland. Following a brief war and a treaty between the English parliament and Irish representatives, the Irish Free State came into existence as a dominion of the British Commonwealth. In 1949, Ireland became a republic and left the Commonwealth.

By being awarded autonomy, Northern Ireland received special consideration in the 1921 partition plan. Almost immediately, the Northern Ireland Parliament voted to leave the Irish free State and remain as a part of the United Kingdom, but with its own parliament. A boundary commission failed in its duty and a large minority of Catholics found inclusion in a Protestant directed Northern Ireland. The Protestants dominated the political and economic life and reduced the Catholics to a struggling minority. Discrimination and the desire to unite Northern Ireland with Ireland guided the Catholic Nationalists to an armed contest against the Protestant Unionists.

Paramilitary groups fought in the streets of Belfast until 1994, when the IRA and the Unionist paramilitary groups agreed to a truce. According to Cain Web Service, between the years 1969 and 2001, 3,526 people were killed in the conflict. Approximately 60% of the dead were killed by IRA supporters, 30% by Unionists and 10% by security forces.

A 1997 peace agreement between the antagonists approved the formation of an Assembly elected by proportional representation. Considering the violence preceding the Good Friday power sharing arrangement, Northern Ireland has had relative calm. The Assembly has been suspended on several occasions, at one time for four and one-half years. Some violence has occurred. At the July 2009 Protestant Orange parade, “approximately 23 police officers were injured, numerous vehicles were hijacked, burned and pushed towards officers, and shots were fired at police. Rioters, approximately 200 of them youths, threw gas bombs, bricks, bottles and other missiles at the police. In turn, the police fired plastic bullets and used water cannon to disperse the crowd.”

‘Peace walls,’ which are kilometers of concrete and wire barricades that began to be erected during the 1970’s in the city of Belfast, still separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. Sound familiar?

The Northern Ireland experience has key words that relate to the Middle East conflict – partition, militias, immigrant pioneers, separation wall, violence, terrorism, religious strife, nationalism, and two cultures finding themselves together and wanting to separate. An end to the strife resulted in two viable and adjacent states at peace with one another. Ireland is composed of one ethnicity. Northern Ireland combines two ethnicities which have tacitly resolved their differences and are willing to share power, an arrangement that parallels not what is, but what could be in the Middle East. Many perceive the path of the Irish conflict as the route to resolving the Middle East conflict. However, characteristics of this route weren’t formed and didn’t combine in the same manner as in the Middle East.

  • The Irish conflict proceeded from a colonial adventure that happened 400 years ago.
  • The principal conflict was between the Irish and the English government.
  • The United Kingdom guided the resolution of the conflict.
  • Refugees and land seizures were not principal factors in the conflict.
  • Economic injustice mostly characterized the conflict.
  • Partition didn’t create two new nations. It created an Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion of the United Kingdom and allowed Northern Ireland to separate and join the United Kingdom.
  • Rather than refugees being created by exclusion, Catholic refugees were created by inclusion in Northern Ireland.
  • Northern Ireland has its own Assembly but is an integral part of another nation – the United Kingdom.

The Northern Ireland legacy: Disparate cultures and religions can compromise their differences and operate together as one nation.


Settlement of the Americas seems to more closely parallel the Israel narrative.

Adventurers of many types sought a new life in a new world. A nation’s military superiority conquered a continent and pioneer fear destroyed the native populations. The American story of coast to coast expansion is well known, but the narrative is too magnificent, too complicated, and too controversial to make comparisons with the Israel narrative. The United States of America transitioned from settlements to a British colonial adventure, to the American Revolution, and to a new nation. The new nation started with a constitution, contained slaves, fought many wars, both external and internal, had excessive, rather than scarce, land and resources, welcomed immigrants of all races and religions, and considered itself to have a manifest destiny that would supersede all nations.

The American legacy: Seemingly harmless incursions can lead to great tragedies, especially when nations perceive themselves as exceptional


A small congregation of Puritans differentiated themselves from their co-religionists by being unwilling to reconcile their independent organization with the established Church of England. Desiring to preserve their identity and feeling constantly persecuted, they sought new places to live their unique social and communal life. In the year 1621 they concluded they would never be accepted in Europe and sought an opportunity in America. They were called the Separatists and because they made a voyage on the Mayflower to what they termed ’their Promised land,’ (not a land promised to them) they became known as the Pilgrims.

The Separatists had no intention to uproot native communities they anticipated they would encounter. Surprisingly, in the immediate weeks of their arrival, few Indians appeared. Because they did not know that a series of contagious diseases resulting from contacts with European fishermen on the Maine coast had reduced Native populations, the Pilgrims concluded the area was sparsely populated and land was available. Due to the plagues, the land was sparsely populated, but the entire area was controlled by the Pokanoket Tribe and Federation, led by Chief Massasoit. After being wary of the newcomers to his territory, Massasoit came to highly regard the English. The huge Mayflower boat, perceived as a ‘walking island,’ iron plows, muskets and other material goods entranced the Indians and they saw themselves benefiting from a cordial relationship with the Pilgrims.

After word reached England that the Pilgrim adventure, which had several times been near failure, had finally succeeded, due principally to Pokanoket assistance, other English – Puritans, entrepreneurs, adventurers, merchants, farmers – booked passage to the New England. They and Pilgrim descendants acquired an insatiable thirst for land and detoured from the Separatists’ original mission.

“The Pilgrims bought their land from the Natives, but the Natives expected to continue to use the land's resources. The colonists built fences where no fences had ever been before, closing off their property to make the land their own. Tensions had long existed due to the two cultures’ different ways of life. Colonists' livestock trampling Native cornfields was a continuing problem. Competition for resources created friction. Regional economic changes forced many Natives to sell their land.” Nathan Philbrick, Mayflower.

The Pokanoket Indians became fearful of losing all their land, agriculture, and fishing rights. Their fear and insecurity generated fear and insecurity in the Puritans. After 40 years of a peaceful and helpful relationship, both sides contemplated a future without the other. Massasoit’s son, who gave himself the name of King Philip, felt betrayed by the Puritans and started a 14 month to drive out the English – a war for survival, which he almost won.

Fourteen months of attacks and counter attacks devastated New England. The Puritans survived, but many of the area’s tribes lost their homes, their culture, and their way of life. Within a century, “Indians of cape Cod had been reduced to several hundred people, most of them living on reservations in the towns of Mashpee on the Cape and in Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. The Sakonnets dwindled from about four hundred (survivors) to six men and nineteen women by 1774.”

The Puritans arrival in America, which eventually became the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and their fatal encounter with the native population, set the stage for the settlement of the entire coast to coast territory. Insecurity and mistrust guided the relations between what became a nation of Americans and the indigenous populations. Superiority of U.S. military forces enabled American pioneers to move inexorably from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Wherever the Americans arrived they found native peoples. Wherever they settled, the native peoples, even those who cooperated, like Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe, were decimated.

The Separatist Puritan narrative closely follows the Zionist Jewish narrative. Succeeding Puritan developments parallel those of the nation of Israel. Let’s hope the trajectory can be detoured and the Israelis don’t prove to be the New Puritans.

- Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. Dan’s many articles on the Middle East conflict have circulated on websites and media throughout the world. He Contributed this article to Contact him at:

Friday, 24 July 2009

o melhor sitio no mundo


"The best place one could be on Earth"
Alice Walker, The Electronic Intifada, 24 July 2009

Alice Walker in Gaza with Palestinian member of parliament and mother of five, Huda Naim.

Last March, poet, novelist and feminist Alice Walker joined a delegation organized by Code Pink, to travel to the Gaza Strip just weeks after the 22-day Israeli bombardment and invasion. Walker, globally acclaimed for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Color Purple, had also traveled to Rwanda, Eastern Congo and other places where she witnessed cruel and barbaric behavior that left her speechless. In an essay on her blog entitled "Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters "the horror" in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel," Walker recounts the stories of the people she met, and offers a lyrical analysis that ties their oppression and struggles to what she and her community experienced growing up in the violence and fear of the segregated American South. The excerpt below begins with her arrival in Gaza after a long overland journey through Egypt.

Coming "home" to Gaza

Rolling into Gaza I had a feeling of homecoming. There is a flavor to the ghetto. To the Bantustan. To the "rez." To the "colored section." In some ways it is surprisingly comforting. Because consciousness is comforting. Everyone you see has an awareness of struggle, of resistance, just as you do. The man driving the donkey cart. The woman selling vegetables. The young person arranging rugs on the sidewalk or flowers in a vase. When I lived in segregated Eatonton, Georgia I used to breathe normally only in my own neighborhood, only in the black section of town. Everywhere else was too dangerous. A friend was beaten and thrown in prison for helping a white girl, in broad daylight, fix her bicycle chain.

But even this sliver of a neighborhood, so rightly named the Gaza Strip, was not safe. It had been bombed for 22 days. I thought of how, in the US perhaps the first use of aerial attacks on US soil, prior to 9/11, was the bombing and shooting from biplanes during the destruction by white mobs of the black neighborhoods in Tulsa, Olklahoma in 1921. The black people who created these neighborhoods were considered, by white racists, too prosperous and therefore "uppity." Everything they created was destroyed. This was followed by the charge already rampant in white American culture, that black people never tried to "better" themselves.

There is ample evidence in Gaza that the Palestinians never stop trying to "better" themselves. What started as a refugee camp with tents, has evolved into a city with buildings rivaling those in almost any other city in the "developing" world. There are houses, apartment buildings, schools, mosques, churches, libraries, hospitals. Driving along the streets, we could see right away that many of these were in ruins. I realized I had never understood the true meaning of "rubble." Such and such was "reduced to rubble" is a phrase we hear. It is different seeing what demolished buildings actually look like. Buildings in which people were living. Buildings from which hundreds of broken bodies have been removed; so thorough a job have the Palestinians done in removing the dead from squashed dwellings that no scent of death remains. What this task must have been like, both physically and psychologically, staggers the mind.

We pass police stations that were simply flattened, and all the young (most Palestinians are young) officers in them killed, hundreds of them. We pass ministries, bombed into fragments. We pass a hospital, bombed and gutted by fire. If one is not safe in a hospital, when one is already sick and afraid, where is one safe? If children are not safe playing in their schoolyards, where are they safe? Where are The World Parents of All Children? The World Caretakers of All the Sick?

My companion and I are assigned to the home of two sisters who share their space with friends and relatives who come and go. One morning I get up early to find an aunt sleeping on the floor in the living room. Another time, a cousin. In the middle of the night I hear one of the sisters consoling her aged father, who sounds disoriented, and helping him back to bed. There is such respect, such tenderness in her voice. This is the same place that, just weeks earlier, was surrounded by rocket fire, a missile landing every 27 seconds for 22 days. I can only imagine what the elderly residents must feel, as, even in their old age they are subjected to so much fear. Each morning we are sent off to learn what we can in our four days in Gaza, well fed on falafel, hummus, olives and dates, sometimes eggs, tomatoes, salad and cheese. All of it simple, all of it delicious.

More delicious because we realize how difficult it is to find such food here; the blockade keeps out most of it. Delicious also because it is shared with such generosity and graciousness. Always the culinary student, I try to learn to make the especially tasty dish that consists mainly of tomatoes and eggs. I learn the tea I like so much is made out of sage!

Dance in the face of disaster

On International Women's Day we leave for the celebration for which we have come, a gathering with the women of Gaza. Gael Murphy, Medea Benjamin, Susan Griffin and I, along with 20 or so other women had been arrested for protesting the war on Iraq on International Women's Day, 2003. If the world had paid attention we could have saved a lot of money, countless sons' and daughters' lives, as well as prevented a lot of war-generated pollution that hastens globe-threatening climate change. How doofus humans are going to look -- we thought as we marched, sang, accepted our handcuffs -- still firing rockets into apartment buildings full of families, and dropping bombs on school children and their pets, when the ice melts completely in the Arctic and puts an end to our regressive, greed sourced rage forever. That had been a wonderful day; this International Women's Day, of 2009, was also. It was the kind of day that makes life, already accepted as a gift, a prize. Early in the morning of 8 March, we were shuttled to a women's center in the north of Gaza City, to meet women who, like their compatriots, had survived the recent bombardment and, so far, the siege.

This center for women was opened under the auspices of the United Nations, which has been administering to the Palestinian people since 1948, when thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes under Israeli attack, became refugees. It is a modest building with a small library whose shelves hold few books. It isn't clear whether most of the women read. The idea, as it is explained to us, is to offer the women a place to gather outside the home, since, in Palestinian culture the mobility of most women is limited by their work in the home as mothers and caretakers of their families. Many women rarely leave their compounds.

However, today, International Women's Day, is different. Many women are out and about, and women who frequent this particular center are on hand to welcome us. After arranging ourselves around a table in the library, we, about 30 of us, sit in council. I learn something I'd heard but never experienced: Arabs introduce themselves by telling you they are the mother or father of one of their children, perhaps their eldest. Then they tell you how many children they have. They do this with a pride and joy I have never seen before. Only one woman had one child. Everyone else had at least five. There is a feeling of festivity as the women, beautifully dressed and wearing elegant headscarves, laugh and joke among themselves. They are eager to talk.

Only the woman with one child has trouble speaking. When I turn to her, I notice she is the only woman wearing black, and that her eyes are tearing. Unable to speak, she hands me instead a photograph that she has been holding in her lap. She is a brown-skinned woman, of African descent, as some Palestinians (to my surprise) are; the photograph is of her daughter, who looks European. The child looks about six years old. A student of ballet, she is dressed in a white tutu and is dancing. Her mother tries to speak, but still cannot, as I sit, holding her arm. It is another woman who explains: during the bombardment, the child was hit in the arm and the leg and the chest and bled to death in her mother's arms. The mother and I embrace, and throughout our meeting I hold the photograph of the child, while the mother draws her chair closer to mine.

What do we talk about?

We talk about hatred.

But before we talk about hatred I want to know about headscarves. What's the deal about wearing the scarf? Why do so many women wear it? I am told something I'd never considered: in desert countries most of one's hydration is lost at the back of the neck, which can quickly lead to heat stroke, so a headscarf that wraps around the neck is essential to block this loss. The top of the head is covered because if a woman is living a traditional life and is outside a lot, the sun beats down on it. This causes headache, dizziness, nausea, stroke, and other health problems. In Gaza, one of the women pointed out, there were many women who did not wear scarves, primarily because they worked in offices. This was true of the women in whose home we were sheltered. They seemed to own a lot of scarves that they draped about themselves casually, just as my friends and I might do in the United States.

Because I had shaved my head a week or so before going to Gaza, I understood exactly the importance of the headscarf. Without a covering on my head I could not bear the sun for more than a few minutes. And, indeed, one of the first gifts I received from an anonymous Palestinian woman was a thick black and red embroidered scarf, which I wore everywhere, gratefully.

Our host told us a story about the uglier side of the headscarf business: On the first day of bombing she was working downstairs in the basement and wasn't aware that her apartment building was next to one that was being shelled. When the policemen came to clear her building, and she stepped out of the elevator, one of them, a political and religious conservative, was taken aback at the sight of her bare head. So much so that instead of instantly helping her to a shelter, he called a colleague to come and witness her attire. Or lack thereof. He was angry with her, for not wearing a headscarf, though Israeli rockets were tearing into buildings all around them. And what could we do but sigh along with her, as she related this experience with appropriate shrugs and grimaces of exasperation. Backwardness is backwardness, wherever it occurs, and explains lack of progressive movement in afflicted societies, whether under siege or not.

One of the triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement is that when you travel through the American South today you do not feel overwhelmed by a residue of grievance and hate. This is the legacy of people brought up in the Christian tradition, true believers of every word Jesus had to say on the issue of justice, loving kindness, and peace. This dovetailed nicely with what we learned of Gandhian nonviolence, brought into the movement by Bayard Rustin, a gay strategist for the Civil Rights Movement.

A lot of thought went into how to create "the beloved community," so that our country would not be stuck with violent hatred between black and white, and the continuous spectacle, and suffering, of communities going up in flames. It is astonishing, the progress, and I will always love Southerners, black and white, for the way we have all grown. Ironically, though there was so much suffering and despair as the struggle for justice tested us, it is in this very "backward" part of our country today that one is most likely to find simple human helpfulness, thoughtfulness and impersonal courtesy.

I speak a little about this American history, but it isn't history that these women know. They're too young. They've never been taught it. It feels irrelevant. Following their example of speaking of their families, I talk about my Southern parents' teachings during our experience of America's apartheid years. When white people owned and controlled all the resources and the land, in addition to the political, legal and military apparatus, and used their power to intimidate black people in the most barbaric and merciless ways. These whites who tormented us daily were like Israelis who have cut down millions of trees planted by Arab Palestinians; stolen Palestinian water, even topsoil. They have bulldozed innumerable villages, houses, mosques, and in their place built settlements for strangers who have no connection whatsoever with Palestine; settlers who have been the most rabid anti-Palestinian of all, attacking the children, the women, everyone, old and young alike, viciously, and forcing Palestinians to use separate roads from themselves.

It feels very familiar, I tell them, what is happening here. When something similar was happening to us, in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, I say, our parents taught us to think of the racists as we thought of any other disaster. To deal with that disaster as best we could, but not to attach to it by allowing ourselves to hate. This was a tall order, and as I'm talking, I begin to understand, as if for the first time, why some of our parents' prayers were so long and fervent as they stayed there, long minutes, on their knees in church.

And why people often wept, and fainted, and why there was so much tenderness as people deliberately silenced themselves, or camouflaged atrocities done to or witnessed by them, using representative figures from the Bible. At the end of the table across from me is a woman who looks like Oprah's twin. In fact, earlier she had said to me: Alice, tell Oprah to come see us. We will take good care of her." I promised I would email Oprah, and, on returning home, did so.

She laughs, this handsome woman; then speaks earnestly. We don't hate Israelis, Alice, she says, quietly, what we hate is being bombed, watching our little ones live in fear, burying them, being starved to death, and being driven from our land. We hate this eternal crying out to the world to open its eyes and ears to the truth of what is happening, and being ignored. Israelis, no. If they stopped humiliating and torturing us, if they stopped taking everything we have, including our lives, we would hardly think about them at all. Why would we?

There is, finally, a sense of overwhelm, trying to bring comfort to someone whose sleeping child has been killed and buried, a few weeks ago, up to her neck in rubble; or a mother who has lost fifteen members of her family, all her children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, her husband. What does one say to people whose families came out of their shelled houses waving white flags of surrender only to be shot down anyway? To mothers whose children were, at this moment, playing in the white phosphorous laden rubble that, after 22 days of bombing, is everywhere in Gaza? White phosphorus, once on the skin, never stops burning. There is really nothing to say. Nothing to say to those who, back home in America, don't want to hear the news. Nothing to do, finally, but dance.

The women and I and everyone with us from Code Pink went across the hall to a big common room where music was turned up full volume. At first I sat exchanging smiles and murmurs with an ancient grandmother who was knitting booties, and who gave me two pairs, for my own grandchildren. Sitting didn't last. Without preamble I was pulled to my feet by several women at once, and the dance was on. Sorrow, loss, pain, suffering, all pounded into the floor for over an hour. Sweat flowing, wails and tears around the room. And then, the rising that always comes from such dancing; the sense of joy, of unity, of solidarity and gratitude to be in the best place one could be on Earth; with sisters who have experienced the full measure of disaster and have the heart to rise above it. The feeling of love is immense. The ecstasy, sublime. I was conscious of exchanging and receiving Spirit in the dance. I also knew that this Spirit, which I have encountered in Mississippi, Georgia, the Congo, Cuba, Rwanda and Burma, among other places, this Spirit that knows how to dance in the face of disaster, will never be crushed. It is as timeless as the wind. We think it is only inside our bodies, but we also inhabit it. Even when we are unaware of its presence internally, it wears us like a cloak.

Our silence will not protect us

I could have gone home then. I had learned what I came to know: that humans are an amazing lot. That to willfully harm any one of us is to damage us all. That hatred of ourselves is the root cause of any harm done to others, others so like us! And that we are lucky to live at a time when all lies will be exposed, along with the relief of not having to serve them any longer. But I did not go home. I went instead to visit the homeless.

Coming out of a small grouping of tents, with absolutely nothing inside them, no bedding, no food, no water, were middle-aged and elderly people who looked as if their sky had fallen. It had. An old, old man, leaning on a stick, met me as I trudged up a hill so I might see the extent of the devastation. Vast. Look, look! He said to me in English, come look at my house! He was wearing dusty cotton trousers and an old army great coat. I felt dragged along by the look in his eyes. He led me to what had been his house. It had obviously, from the remains, been a large and spacious dwelling; now he and his wife lived between two of the fallen walls that made a haphazard upside down "V." She looked as stunned and as lost as he. There was not a single usable item visible. Near what must have been the front entrance, the old man placed me directly in front of the remains of bulldozed trees: They broke my house, he said, by bombing it, and then they came with bulldozers and they broke my lemon and olives trees. The Israeli military has destroyed over two and a half million olive and fruit trees alone since 1948. Having planted many trees myself, I shared his sorrow about the fate of these. I imagined them alive and sparkling with life, offering olives and lemons, the old man and his wife able to sit in the shade of the trees in the afternoons, and have a cup of tea there, in the evenings.

You speak English, I observed. Yes, he said, I was once in the British army. I supposed this was during the time Britain controlled Palestine, before 1948. We walked along in silence, as I did what I had come to do: witness. Code Pink members and my companion and I walked through the rubble of demolished homes, schools, medical centers, factories, for half an hour. After the bombing the Israelis had indeed bulldozed everything so that I was able to find just one piece of evidence that beauty had flourished on this hillside; a shard from a piece of colorful tile, about the size of my hand. Someone in our group wanted it, and I gave it to her. They had taken pains to pulverize what they had destroyed.

Coming upon another grouping of tents, I encountered an old woman sitting on the ground in what would have been, perhaps, the doorway of her demolished, pulverized home. She was clean and impeccably dressed, the kind of old woman who is known and loved and respected by everyone in the community, as my own mother had been. Her eyes were dark and full of life. She talked to us freely. I gave her a gift I had brought, and she thanked me. Looking into my eyes she said: May God Protect You From the Jews. When the young Palestinian interpreter told me what she'd said, I responded: It's too late, I already married one. I said this partly because, like so many Jews in America, my former husband could not tolerate criticism of Israel's behavior toward the Palestinians.

Our very different positions on what is happening now in Palestine/Israel and what has been happening for over fifty years, has been perhaps our most severe disagreement. It is a subject we have never been able to rationally discuss. He does not see the racist treatment of Palestinians as the same racist treatment of blacks and some Jews that he fought against so nobly in Mississippi. And that he objected to in his own Brooklyn-based family. When his younger brother knew he was seeing me, a black person, he bought and nailed over an entire side of his bedroom the largest Confederate flag either of us had ever seen. His brother, a young Jewish man who had never traveled South, and had perhaps learned most of what he knew about black history from Gone With the Wind, expressed his contempt for black people in this way. His mother, when told of our marriage, sat shiva, which declared my husband dead. These were people who knew how to hate, and how to severely punish others, even those beloved, as he was, of their own. This is one reason I understand the courage it takes for some Jews to speak out against Israeli brutality and against what they know are crimes against humanity. Most Jews who know their own history see how relentlessly the Israeli government is attempting to turn Palestinians into the "new Jews," patterned on Jews of the Holocaust era, as if someone must hold that place, in order for Jews to avoid it.

Lucky for me, my husband's family were not the only Jews I knew, having met Howard Zinn, my history teacher at Spelman College in 1961, as my very first (secular) Jew, and later poet Muriel Rukeyser, at Sarah Lawrence College, who like Grace Paley, the short story writer, raised her voice against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the horrible mistreatment of the Palestinian people. There are my Jewish friends of the planet: Amy Goodman, Jack Kornfield, Noam Chomsky, Medea Benjamin, and Barbara Lubin, who are as piercing in their assessments of Israeli behavior as they have been of African or African American, or Indian, or Chinese, or Burmese behavior. I place my faith in them, and others like us, who see how greed and brutality are not limited to any segment of humanity but will grow wherever they are unchecked, in any society whatsoever.

The people of Israel have not been helped by America's blind loyalty to their survival as a Jewish State, by any means necessary. The very settlers -- they've used American taxpayer money to install on Palestinian land -- turn out to be a scary lot, fighting not only against Palestinians, but against Israelis, when they do not get their way. Israelis stand now exposed, the warmongers and peacemakers alike, as people who are ruled by leaders that the world considers irrational, vengeful, scornful of international law, and utterly frightening.

There are differing opinions about this, of course, but my belief is that when a country primarily instills fear in the minds and hearts of the people of the world, it is no longer useful in joining the dialogue we need for saving the planet. There is no hiding what Israel has done or what it does on a daily basis to protect and extend its power. It uses weapons that cut off limbs without bleeding; it drops bombs into people's homes that never stop detonating in the bodies of anyone who is hit; it causes pollution so severe it is probable that Gaza may be uninhabitable for years to come, though Palestinians, having nowhere else to go, will have to live there. This is a chilling use of power, supported by the United States of America, no small foe, if one stands up to it. No wonder that most people prefer to look the other way during this genocide, hoping their disagreement with Israeli policies will not be noted. Good Germans, Good Americans, Good Jews. But, as our sister Audre Lorde liked to warn us: Our silence will not protect us. In the ongoing global climate devastation that is worsened by war activities, we will all suffer, and we will also be afraid.

Finding our voices

The world knows it is too late for a two-state solution. This old idea, bandied about since at least the Eighties, denounced by Israel for decades, isn't likely to become reality with the massive buildup of settlements all over what remains of Palestinian land. Ariel Sharon is having the last word: Jewish settlements exactly like a Pastrami sandwich; Palestinian life erased, as if it never existed, or crushed under the weight of a superior Israeli military presence and a teaching of Jewish supremacy sure to stunt Palestinian identity among Arabs living in Israel.

What is to be done? Our revered Tolstoy asked this question generations ago, speaking also of War and Peace. I believe there must be a one-state solution. That Palestinians and Jews, who have lived together in peace in the past, must work together to make this a reality once again. That this land (so soaked in Jewish and Palestinian blood, and with America's taxpayer dollars wasted on violence the majority of us would never, if we knew, support) must become, like South Africa, the secure and peaceful home of everyone who lives there. This will require that Palestinians, like Jews, have the right of return to their homes and their lands. Which will mean what Israelis most fear: Jews will be outnumbered and, instead of a Jewish state, there will be a Jewish, Muslim, Christian country, which is how Palestine functioned before the Europeans arrived. What is so awful about that?

The tribunals, the generals will no doubt say. But both South Africa and Rwanda present a model of restorative justice in their Truth and Reconciliation Councils. Some crimes against humanity are so heinous nothing will ever rectify them. All we can do is attempt to understand their causes and do everything in our power to prevent them happening, to anyone, ever again. Human beings are intelligent and very often, compassionate. We can learn to heal ourselves without inflicting fresh wounds.

Watching a video recently about Cuba's role in the ending of apartheid in South Africa, I was moved by the testimony of Pik Botha, once a high ranking official of white South Africa. He talked about how liberating it had been when South Africa was forced to attend talks prior to negotiating Nelson Mandela's release from prison and a change from a fascist, white supremacist regime to a democratic society. He said the feeling of not being hated and feared and treated like a leper everywhere he went was wonderful. The talks were held in Egypt and for the first time he felt welcomed by the Egyptians and took the opportunity to visit the pyramids and the Sphinx and to ride on a camel!

As a white supremacist representative of a repressive, much hated government, he'd never felt relaxed enough to do that. His words demonstrate what we all know in our hearts to be true: allowing freedom to others, brings freedom to ourselves. It is true that what one reads in the papers sometimes about the birthing pains of the New South Africa can bring sadness, alarm, and near despair. But I doubt that anyone in South Africa wishes to return to the old days of injustice and violence that scarred whites and blacks and coloreds so badly. Not just citizens of South Africa were demoralized, oppressed and discouraged by white South Africa's behavior, but citizens of the world. Israel helped keep the racist regime in power in South Africa, giving it arms and expertise, and still the people of the world, in our outrage at the damage done to defenseless people, rose to the challenge of setting them free. That is what is happening today in Palestine.

The world has found its voice and though the horror of what we are witnessing in places like Rwanda and Congo and Burma and Israel/Palestine threatens our very ability to speak, we will speak. And we will be heard.

Alice Walker is a poet, novelist, feminist and activist whose award-winning works have sold over ten million copies. These excerpts, reproduced with the author's permission, first appeared on her blog ( as part of the essay "Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters "the horror" in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel."

Photo by Kim Kim.

Os soldados israelitas atacaram a manifestao semanal de Nil'in com agua toxica


Soldiers attack the Ni'lin weekly Protest with Chemical water

Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinian villagers along with their international and Israeli peace supporters during the weekly non-violent protest against the wall in Ni'lin village in central West Bank on Friday.

The army attacks nonviolent protesters in the West Bank - photo by Haytham Al katyeb 2009
The army attacks nonviolent protesters in the West Bank - photo by Haytham Al katyeb 2009

As the villagers marched towards the location of the Israeli wall, Israeli soldiers attacked people by firing tear gas at them.

Later troops used water canon with Chemical to spray the protesters, which caused cases of poisoning, and side effect among the protestors. Others suffered effects of tear gas inhalation.

Israeli soldiers attacked those injured and tried to kidnap them by the village managed to stop the soldiers.

Palestina: fábrica de sabão

fonte:Anis Hamadeh (artista palestiniano-Kiel Almanha)

Z street-o novo grupo extremista zionista

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Z Street - The New Zionist Extremist Group

Zionist ideology is contemptuous of Judaism's moral values and ethical principles.

By Stephen Lendman – Chicago

On July 6, co-founders Lori Lowenthal Marcus and Allyson Rowen Taylor announced: "Z Street is launched, Will end J Street Treason."

Continuing they said: "welcome to Z street! No more appeasement, no more negotiating with terrorists, no more enabling cowards who fear offending more than they fear another Holocaust. Z STREET is for those who are willing not only to support - but to defend - Israel, the Jewish State."

Never mind that no nation threatens Israel nor has for decades. It's a regional superpower - nuclearized and defended by the world's fourth most powerful military, armed with the latest state-of-the-art weapons and technology, and not reluctant to use them.

Its only adversaries are self-made and are needed to justify oppression, a culture of violence, an ethnocracy, exclusivity, privilege, and Jewish exceptionalism over others deemed inferior, legitimate enemies, and terrorists.

Zionism is corrosive, destructive, racist, extremist, undemocratic and hateful.

-- it claims Jewish supremacy, specialness and uniqueness as God's "chosen people;"

-- espouses violence, not peaceful coexistence;

-- confrontation over diplomacy;

-- strength through militarism, intimidation, and naked aggression;

-- is what Joel Kovel calls "a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses" led by real terrorists posing as democrats;

-- what others say is repugnant, indefensible, destructive and malignant; and

-- what author Alan Hart calls "the real enemy of the Jews;"

-- an ideology contemptuous of Judaism's moral values and ethical principles;

-- the driving force behind a re-awakened anti-Semitism; and

-- a monster that's consuming its host and threatening humanity.

That's what Z Street supports.

Its Founders Have Disturbing Resumes

Based in Philadelphia, Lori Lowenthal Marcus writes about Israel and the Middle East for media outlets like the pro-Israeli American Thinker. She's also affiliated with the extremist Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

From Los Angeles, Allyson Rowen Taylor is associate director of the 2001-founded Stand With Us, a pro-Israeli front group calling itself:

-- "an international education organization that ensures that Israel's side of the story is told in communities, campuses, libraries, the media and churches through brochures, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and thousands of pages of Internet resources."

In other words, it's a pro-Israeli mouthpiece promoting Zionist extremism at the expense of truth and an equitable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some of Taylor's Amazon book review comments give her away:

-- on (Fox News) Sean Hannity's "Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism," she "wonder(s) if anyone other than those who respect and understand the issues of Jihad, Marxism and 'Facism' will read this book. But I recommend it....I love Sean."

-- on John Mearsheimer's "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," she rants about authors blaming everything on Jews. This "book should have been funded by Henry Ford, or the 'Thrid' Reich. Even Norman Finkelstein, a staunch hater of the Israeli State, found flaws in this sad excuse for a book....Give me a break, 'Anti Semites' are just 'anti Semites,' " and

-- on Jimmy Carter's "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," she calls the book "a mess....This is a work of a man who 'clarly' is in cahoots with the radical should be filed in the 'fiction' section of the library."

Taylor is also CEO and president of the August 2008-founded People Against Hate Speech, another pro-Israeli front group affiliated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, notoriously pro-Zionist with over 300,000 global members and support from prominent figures like George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Senator Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Z Street's Charter

"Z STREET is an organization of Zionists who join together at this time of great danger to the Jewish State of Israel and, increasingly, to world Jewry.

Fact check: Israel creates its own enemies through extremism, lawlessness, wars of choice, and decades of contempt for Palestinians, other Arabs and Islam.

"I. Z STREET proudly asserts the right of the Jewish people to a state."

Fact check: Israel denies one to Palestinians, occupies their land, and expropriates it for its own use in violation of international law.

"II. Z STREET proudly reclaims the words 'Zionist' and 'Jewish State' as ones to wear with pride, in direct opposition to their recent branding as shameful or impolite terms."

Fact check: Zionism's extremist, destructive ideology is explained above.

"III. Z STREET maintains that Jews have the right to live anywhere in the world, including, and especially, within greater Israel."

Fact check: Palestinians are denied all rights, including living securely on their own land in their own country in peace.

"IV. Z STREET is dedicated to maintaining and strengthening the Jewish State of Israel in the firm belief that there can be no compromises or agreements with, and no concessions to, any Terrorist Entity or any individual Terrorists."

Fact check: For over six decades, Israel has committed slow-motion genocide against indigenous Palestinians who want peace, not conflict; are willing to recognize the Jewish state in return for their own; and who deserve equal rights to Jews and all others, but are denied them by an oppressive occupier.

"V. Z STREET is dedicated to rejecting and refuting the condemnation of any actions taken by Israel which are not similarly condemned when taken by any other individuals or political entities."

Fact check: Israel acts lawlessly, chooses violence over peace, and calls legitimate self-defense "terrorism."

"VI. Z STREET is dedicated to constantly and consistently declaring and affirming the facts which fully support the legal, moral and historical right of the Jewish State to exist in peace and security without physical or verbal assault against its sovereignty or legitimacy. This necessarily entails adamantly opposing the dismantling of and/or handing over territory to any other entity or entities."

Fact check: Israel demands special rights as "God's chosen people" but denies any to indigenous Palestinians. In addition, its settlements and human rights abuses violate international law.

"VII. Z STREET is dedicated to constantly and consistently declaring and affirming the facts that reveal the fallacious narratives of Terrorist Entities, Terrorists, and their supporters undermining the legal, moral and historical right of the Jewish State to exist in peace and security without physical or verbal assault against its sovereignty or legitimacy."

Fact check: The "narratives" are true, and so-called "Terrorists" are, in fact, peace-loving people who by law may defend themselves when attacked.

"VIII. Z STREET insists that terrorists or other threats against Israel be unequivocally condemned, and that those members of the world community failing to actively condemn those threats also be branded as active or passive supporters of a second genocide against the Jewish people."

Fact check: Israel is the region's real terrorist threat.

"IX. Z STREET declares that Israel's respect for women's, religious and other minorities' rights, provides a welcome beacon - particularly in the Middle East - to be acknowledged and respected by all people of good will."

Fact check: Israel promotes Zionist extremism, demeans Arabs and Islam, and calls Muslims "Islamofascists."

"X. Z STREET recognizes the existence of 22 officially Muslim countries and 19 Christian countries, whose status the world does not challenge, while only Israel, the Jewish State, is demonized for asserting its legitimate right to be a religion-affiliated State, and which religion, Judaism, is the world's oldest monotheistic faith."

Fact check: Israel denies equal rights to its non-Jewish citizens, a practice found nowhere else in the civilized world.

"XI. Z STREET recognizes the value of other Zionist organizations whose activities include lobbying, producing publications, the sponsorship of scholars and scholarship centers, honoring generous donors and/or other important programs. Z STREET is not intended to supercede those other Zionist organizations. Z STREET is intended to serve as an alternative to many mainstream and other Jewish organizations that, to meet donors' requirements or for ideological reasons, cannot affirm the principles set out in the Z STREET Charter."

Fact check: All Zionist organizations are extremist, hateful, and preach Jewish supremacy over Islam and Muslims.

"XII. Z STREET has no need to, and will not negotiate with, nor seek to gain the approval from, any government, Israeli or Diaspora organization, or individuals supporting the diminution or weakening of Israel either because of ideological conviction, animosity towards a strong, Jewish State, cowardice, or the misguided belief that compromise with Terrorist Entities can lead to peace in the Middle East or global peace."

Fact check: Like Israel, Z Street is uncompromisingly hard line, extremist, militant and racist.

"XIII. Z STREET will serve as an educational force that will FIGHT WITH FACTS. Z STREET undergirds its positions with facts and provides that essential ingredient to exponentially increasing its membership ranks."

Fact check: Z Street distorts facts to fit its ideology and attract new extremist members.

"XIV. Z STREET is a new, entirely volunteer organization for those who affirm the foregoing and dedicate themselves to upholding and ensuring respect for these principles. Its primary purpose of which is to provide a proud banner for Zionists behind which to rally."

Fact check: Z Street supports Zionist extremism, militancy and racism. It demeans other views and affirms that "Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people," no others, "and must remain a Jewish state." It challenges critics as neo-Nazis and calls persons, groups, or entities defending themselves against Israeli aggression "terrorists." It champions Jewish exceptionalism and demeans Arabs as inferior Islamofascists.

It believes Jews have colonization rights to dispossess indigenous Arabs for a "greater Israel" in all Judea, Samaria, the Golan, Jerusalem and Gaza.

Z Street's Opposition to J Street

Z Street was founded to counter more moderate Jewish organizations like Americans for Peace Now and J Street, a US-based Israeli advocacy group. Founded (in April 2008) by its Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami, it calls itself "The new address for Middle East peace and security (as) the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement" and says:

"(It) was founded to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. (It) support(s) a new direction for American policy in the Middle East and a broad public and policy debate about the US role in the region."

It represents Jews and non-Jews "who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own - two states living side-by-side in peace and security....based on the 1967 borders with agreed reciprocal land swaps (and) resolution of the refugee issue within the new Palestinian state and in current host countries."

It supports "a new regional approach to cooperation and security;" diplomatic solutions over military ones; multilateral conflict resolution, including with Iran; an equitable Israeli-Syrian peace agreement; dialogue instead of confrontation; and for America to provide leadership to achieve it.

It "oppose(s) alliances with the religious right or any radical religious ideologues in the name of supporting Israel as well as efforts to demean and fan fears of Islam or of Muslims." It omits Zionism or Zionist goals in its Statement of Principles, Issues, Policy, and Actions.

Executive Director Ben-Ami held a number of senior positions as Bill Clinton's Deputy Domestic Policy Advisor and Howard Dean's presidential campaign Policy Director. He's also been a senior vice president at Fenton Communications and was communications director for the pro-Israeli New Israel Fund. His father was born in Israel, and much of his family still lives there.

On October 27, Z Street supporters plan a pro-Israeli White House rally at the same time J Street holds its first annual meeting in Washington - the organization it accuses of "Treason."

Co-founder Marcus said, "the presence of Z Street will ensure that the true Zionist voice will be heard: that we will not stand by quietly as apartheid is imposed on Jews in the Israeli territories, and we will not stand by quietly as the Iranians continue racing madly towards obtaining weapons to wipe whole peoples off the globe while politicians send polite letters and invitations to parties."

Co-founder Taylor added: "This grass roots effort will compete for media attention with the slick packaging of several well-funded anti-Zionist organizations (specifically J Street), and unless those of us who are committed to maintaining a strong, unified Jewish State of Israel stand up and speak out together, the weak will continue to appear strong and the strong will continue to appear weak."

In October on Washington streets, Z Street's extremism will be vocal in full public view against J Street's message of peaceful resolution and equity for all sides of the Middle East conflict.

- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He contributed this article to Contact him at: (Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues.)

um artista sobrevivente de Gaza encontra alento na pintura


Gaza artist, survivor finds power in paint
Eman Mohammed, The Electronic Intifada, 23 July 2009

Palestinian artist Ziad Deeb next to an image that he made of his family members killed during Israel's attacks on Gaza last winter.

From the entrance of the house, one can observe the whole tragedy. On 6 January 2009, an Israeli artillery shell landed in the front yard of the Deeb family home in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza strip. A large, wide hole in the ground and two missing walls are all that remain. Sitting in his wheelchair in the corner, Ziad, 22, is the last survivor of the Deeb family. He lost both legs during the attack, and 10 relatives were killed including his father, grandmother, brothers, nieces and nephews.

Ziad choose a different and unlikely way to mourn. He was a graduate of Gaza's College of Fine Arts when Israel's winter invasion began. When it was over, he started drawing -- on wood, on the walls of the city streets, in front of destroyed government buildings, and public squares.

Ziad explained that his art is "the best way I can express myself." He added that, "It took me only seconds to look around and see my family members drowning in their own blood. I didn't hear the explosion, it was only a loud whistling sound, and dark smoke blocked my vision. But I could smell the strong odor of blood and when I tried to move myself I saw my legs ripped apart. Then the smoke became less and I saw everyone around me was dead and I thought I was too."

Ziad outside his uncle's home in the Gaza Strip.
Ziad next to some of his paintings.

Ziad says that memories of the massacre inspire him "to keep painting more and more, I believe this is the only thing that can't be taken away from me and my disability can't be an obstacle." He adds that "as weird as it might sound, this ugly memory urges me to go further with my arts. If I can't be heard, my paintings can be seen. I draw for peace, now that's how much I believe in the power of colors, paintbrushes and art itself."

Mohammed Deeb, 33, Ziad's uncle was only few meters away when the attack occurred. Ziad now lives with his uncle who helps him to move around and tries to help him live something like a normal life. Mohammed expressed his admiration of his nephew's courage stating that, "He survived a catastrophe. I have no idea how he got this strength, but I do believe God gave him patience and creativity to overcome such a difficult ordeal. His art is unique in Gaza." He added with teary eyes that, "He is special, there is no doubt about that."

In spite of the tragedy, Ziad still enjoys spending time with his friends and playing the oud and other musical instruments. As his uncle explains, "they took his family's life but they couldn't take the life out of him."

Ziad showed his excitement for new art projects and exhibitions he is planning to participate in by starting new techniques of wood-based carvings copied from paper paintings in color and black and white. He explained that "I have dreams to pursue, if not for myself, then for the memory of my family. They are in a better place, I just know this for a fact. Losing them caused me wounds that can never heal but I won't allow the sadness to defeat me. In the end that's what it takes to make great art, to never be defeated."

All images by Eman Mohammed.

Eman Mohammed is a Jordanian-Palestinian freelance photojournalist and reporter based in the Gaza Strip since 2005.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

o coração de Gaza

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

The Heart of Gaza

A mother with her wounded baby in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on January 5, 2009.

By Flora Nicoletta – Gaza

It was just the beginning. The first day of the war launched by Israeli Occupation Forces against the Gaza Strip, was Saturday 27 December 2008. In Gaza City, many targets were bombarded; among them, the Arafat police compound (Al-Jawazat), Al-Mashtal interrogation and detention center, Al-Abbas main police station, the headquarters of the Security and Protection Force, the Saraya security compound - including Gaza Central Prison. The destruction of the Ministry of Interior, located in the compound of ministries, started at 1:30 three nights later, on Tuesday, 30 December.

I saw what I thought to be collaborators already on duty on the very first afternoon in front of the destroyed Al-Abbas police station. I saw the same spies in the evening at Al-Shifa hospital in front of the morgue.

There, lined up on the tarmac, were lying twenty, thirty corpses of martyrs. Since the early morning, families came to collect their loved ones and more and more bodies were brought in. It was like a nightmare. Blankets, sheets, newspapers were insufficient to cover all of them. The morgue was too small and their number too big. Nothing was sufficient to cope with such carnage.

The third evening of the war I lost my small bag containing the two keys to my home. At that point there was nowhere for me to report the loss of the bag; all uniformed officers and police vehicles had disappeared.

A few days later, in a completely deserted street, in the early afternoon, I saw two young men. They could be only from the security. I asked them to help me because I didn't know what to do or where to go. They replied: "Don't worry, we are here and we work in the street." They made a call, and shortly thereafter, a couple of young security men arrived and collected all the information concerning my bag. The appeal was forwarded on their wireless.

Later on, I met a police officer who used to patrol the fishing harbor. He told me the police were in the street, under the tree. The man I met there was acting like a simple policeman. He introduced himself as a colonel. He wore his winter police jacket, dating back from the time he was an officer under the Fatah regime. He was a real colonel, confident and spoke good English. Although he used to be a commander, he looked fragile and vulnerable. He sent two security people to speak to the owner of my flat. And then I could see first hand how the police were always present and bravely worked under the shelling of the city. But that is another story.

I ventured daily to Al-Shifa hospital to admire with my own eyes the exceptional results of precise Israeli air strikes, US smart bombs thrown by the Israeli air force, the we-hit-Hamas-only and, alas, the unfortunate collateral damage.

The main entrance of the hospital was kept free for the continuous arrival of victims transported in ambulance, private vehicle, taxi, truck and by human transport – victims carried in the arms of family or friends. And a lot of people were going there, even after the old Al-Burno mosque was bombarded and entirely destroyed, on Sunday, 28 December, 2008, at 1:00, just a few steps from Al-Shifa, causing heavy damage all around and to the hospital itself.

The colonel was present each and every day, somewhere in the city, working in the open under the evergreen trees. The citizens could find the police force and the security at their disposal. It was surreal. They were like magicians trying to make things happen with little or no resources, under the constant threat of F16 warplanes, drones, helicopters, bombings, explosions, demolitions, shootings and the blaring of ambulance sirens. One morning, I saw a group of armed men fleeing. Their mission was to arrest someone who was selling overpriced flour to a desperate public.

In the streets, one would come across people wearing long jackets. Their beards were cut. Sometimes, the butt of a rifle was coming out from the bottom of a jacket. With the passing of days and the increase of the military aggression more and more, they appeared to be former Fatah forces in civilian clothes. Perhaps, it was a tactic from Hamas to disguise themselves... or, perhaps, Fatah militants joined them indeed.

One morning, in Al-Shifa courtyard, appeared several new ambulances. It was written on each of them: a gift from the Turkish government. An ambulance driver told me: "Ankara has given fifteen ambulances to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah [the second government of the Palestinian people]. They have kept ten for them and given five to Gaza. Maybe, in Ramallah, they don't know there is a war here."

Then came to help foreign doctors from Europe and the Arab world. One Algerian told me that they faced enormous difficulties to cross into Gaza on the Egyptian side of Rafah. My friend, an independent UK surgeon, with a Greek TV crew had to battle several days at the Rafah border before being able to enter Gaza. She saw two senior Iraqi surgeons turned back at the border by the Egyptian police and two ambulances sent by the Dubai government were turned back too.

One afternoon, an inert man covered in blood was brought to the Emergency Dept on a donkey cart. Another afternoon, in the courtyard, we saw very elegant ambulance drivers and paramedics wearing orange and green overalls and caps, the same colors of their ambulances. They were sent by the Cairo government.

Not a single place was safe. Under the constant threat of Israeli air strikes, Al-Shifa hospital - the main treatment provider in the Strip - became the center of life and death in Gaza in every sense of the word. The compound was a bee-hive soaked in blood. The heart of Gaza was beating in Al-Shifa.

In the astonishing always cleanliness of the courtyard one morning my friend from Al-Daya family was standing alone: "Today [Tuesday 6 January], at 6:00, they bombarded a building inhabited by my relatives in Al-Zaytoun, twenty-six were killed." Finally, the death toll was only twenty-two and one injured.

Here, in the courtyard, I saw the boy Loa'i Soba, 10, who lost his eyes to the white phosphorous - on Wednesday 7 January, in Beit Lahia - taken by ambulance to Egypt. Here, the beloved John Ging, head of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, spoke to the media: "I'm not a doctor... but I have seen horrible injuries!"

Here, I met my friend Nahed Abu Harbeed from Beit Hanoun, a former journalist with the now defunct local radio station Voice of Freedom: "One week before the war one of my brothers was martyred. During the war, [on Saturday 3 January] a missile was fired at the doorstep of our house: one brother was killed, another one lost his two legs amputated in the middle of his thighs, the third one lost one leg."

It is here that one of his colleagues informed me that my friend Hamza Al-Sharnubi had been martyred, on Saturday 3 January, in Al-Zaytoun neighborhood. Hamza worked with the security unit in charge of the foreigners' protection. I met him first in August 2008 when arrived the first two boats from Larnaca. Hamza, 22, father of a baby girl, was tall and handsome, flamboyant and superb, elegant and sweet. Last autumn he was riding a motorcycle with his eternal smile... a smile to conquer the world. He was a resistance fighter. Everybody loved Hamza.

One evening, the always present Nidal, always in black, always in the street with his rifle on the stomach - a sort of secretary-bodyguard for the colonel - lent me five shekels to have some drink in the cafeteria of the hospital. Established a few years ago, the cafeteria was like an oasis, raised in the middle of green belts and medical buildings: handsome and modern, with beautiful colors, lighted thanks to the hospital generator, and with a TV set. There, the Palestinians were watching themselves in the hands of barbarians, in their solitary confinement in the Gaza Strip, on Al-Jazeera TV.

With the passing of time, maybe the colonel found it more comfortable to work behind a desk. So he installed an old table and a broken chair under eucalyptus trees, in the street. An extremely precarious location. I was trembling for the colonel. Till the end he never lost his smile and his kindness, only a few times I saw him with a very grim face.

When we woke up, on Monday 19 January 2009, "Operation Cast Lead' was over. We all went out of our homes and we were speechless... we found the desert around us. Israel, famous for having made the desert bloom, had made the desert in the Gaza Strip. However, we congratulated each other for being alive.

We saw on television the enemy ground troops leaving Gaza. Perched on the top of their monstrous tanks the soldiers were making with their fingers the "V" sign for their spectacular victory in the land of milk and honey.

It is true I have never seen my small bag again and was homeless most of the time, but I have seen the best of the Palestinian people, the best of humanity here. I have seen indescribable suffering. I have seen an immense chain of solidarity during a genocide in progress. I have seen heroes, but also cowards, altruists and crooks. I have seen the courage of anonymous and humble citizens, of the local media, the human rights field workers, the civil defense, the ambulance drivers, the police and the security apparatus, their steadfastness and efficiency. I had the privilege to be a witness of contemporary Palestinian history. The Gazan people were left completely alone. The people won.

Nidal got his first star and 100 dollars as a reward the day after the war ended for his bravery in the street. One of the commanders of Hamza Al-Sharnubi told me: "Nothing has been left of Hamza, not even the nail of his little finger. One-ton bomb was dropped on the building." The old Al-Burno mosque was rapidly rebuilt: a metal structure covered with different kinds of nylon sheets.

I heard the salaries of the police were paid during the war passing from hand to hand. Ali, a young police investigator and one of the survivors of Al-Abbas - 9 killed, 23 injured - blamed me: "Despite everything you knew I was injured you didn't come to visit me... you didn't even take the pain to call me...." Three months later, with his usual gentleness, he added: "You're my sister... you were wrong!"

After the war the international media were authorized to enter the Gaza Strip. The foreign NGOs returned precipitously with their flags like a cloud of hungry crickets. The international community came to count the dead.

However, the injuries didn't heal and the limbs of the amputees didn't grow back…The spring that followed was an autumn.

- Flora Nicoletta is a French freelance journalist who lives in Gaza. She is currently working on her fourth book on the Palestinian question. She contributed this article to

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