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Middle East

Animation: `Closed Zone', by Yoni Goldman, the animator of `Waltz with Bashir'

Despite declarations that it has "disengaged" from the Gaza Strip, Israel maintains control of the Strip’s overland border crossings, territorial waters and air space. This includes substantial, albeit indirect, control of the Rafah Crossing.

During the past 18 months, Israel tightened its closure of Gaza, almost completely restricting the passage of goods and people both to and from the Strip.

These policies punish innocent civilians with the goal of exerting pressure on the [elected] Hamas government, violating the rights of 1.5 million people who seek only to live ordinary lives –- to be reunited with family, to pursue higher education, to receive quality medical treatment and to earn a living.

Code violation, apartheid state

By Ibrahim Abraham

February 17, 2009 -- When one thinks of the Palestinian struggle, the topic of tennis doesn't readily come to mind. The only connection I can think of is Bjorn Borg attracting the violent ire of Baader-Meinhof (or was it the Japanese Red Army?) when he dressed up in an Israeli army uniform back in the 1970s. However, the liberal decentists are up in arms over the UAE's denial of a visa to an Israeli tennis player. "The United Arab Emirates' decision to refuse a visa to the Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer demands a strong response from the international sporting community" wrote Richard Williams in the British Guardian.

And you know what? He's right; it does demand a strong response. Israel must be banned from all international sporting competitions until it complies with international law and withdraws every soldier and settler from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Shebaa Farms, and ends the blockade of the Gaza Strip, or, it abandons its apartheid policies and becomes a democratic state granting equal rights to all regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Tariq Ali on Obama: Imperialism with a human face

Obama visits US troops in Afghanistan during the 2008 presidential campaign.

February 14, 2009 -- With US President Barack Obama to visit Ottawa, Canada, on February 19, renowned writer and anti-war campaigner Tariq Ali shares his thoughts on the new administration's foreign policy. In his recently published book, The Duel, Tariq Ali argues that expanding the war in Afghanistan will only sow more destruction in that long-suffering Central Asian country, and aggravate the already volatile situation in Pakistan.

In this interview, which first appeared at the progressive Canadian website rabble.ca, Ali discusses with rabble's editor Derrick O'Keefe the war, prospects for Palestine under Obama's watch and the rising left-wing tide in Uncle Sam's backyard. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with O'Keefe's permission.

* * *

COSATU: Actions against Israel's barbarism and in support of Palestinian resistance an unprecedented success

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is humbled by the inspirational messages from all over the world for our boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign against Israel.

By Bongani Masuku, COSATU international relations officer

February 12, 2009 -- The South African week of action against Israeli barbarism and in support of Palestinian heroism and resistance has been an unprecedented success. COSATU, its affiliates, particularly the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) and the rest of Palestinian solidarity movement in South Africa are humbled by the large number of letters of support we have received from trade unions, solidarity groups, workers, activists and people of conscience from all over the world for our stance in solidarity with the people of Palestine. In particular, letters congratulated SATAWU dock workers in Durban for their determined refusal to off-load goods from Israel carried on the Johanna Russ.

Messages of support included those from the Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, dock workers in Liverpool, trade unions in Australia and Canada, and solidarity organisations from around the world.

South Africa: Victory for workers' solidarity as Israeli ship sneaks out of Durban still loaded

Congress of South African Trade Unions and Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)

[See http://links.org.au/node/888 for more background information.]

February 6, 2009 -- The Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) is pleased to announce that its members, dock workers belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), achieved a victory last night when they stood firm by their decision not to offload the Johanna Russ, a ship that was carrying Israeli goods to South Africa. This, despite threats to COSATU members from sections of the pro-Israel lobby, and despite severe provocation.

Spain: Anti-apartheid protesters disrupt Israeli basketball team's game

Barcelona, February 5, 2009 -- Protesters opposed to Israel's apartheid policies and its atrocities in Gaza chanted slogans and waved Palestinian flags during a basketball match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Barcelona on Thursday, February 5, 2009. Despite tight police security, protesters managed to disrupt the game by running onto the court before being dragged away by aggressive cops and security guards. Tel Aviv was thrashed 85-65 by Barcelona.

Boicot del partit de bàsquet Barça -- Maccabi de Tel Aviv. Palau Blaugrana. 5 de febrer de 2009. Boicot a Israel. Solidaritat amb Palestina!!

San Francisco trade unionists support boycott of apartheid Israel


San Francisco trade unionists support boycott of apartheid Israel, protest in soldarity with the Palestinian people, January 10, 2009.

Chavismo: Christian, pro-Muslim, pro-Jewish and anti-Nazi

By Roy Chaderton Matos, Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States. Translated by Yoshie Furuhashi for MRZine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

January 30, 2009 -- Watching television footage of one of the necessary and legitimate protests against the Israeli Embassy in Caracas, I spotted a lone sign with a slogan that left me thunderstruck.  The slogan was something like: "We condemn Hitler for not having completed his work of extermination..."

The frightening message, totally alien to the Bolivarian process and the Chavista commitment to liberty, democracy, equality and social justice, shows that, every now and then in our struggles and protests, "loose cannons" come dog us and that we have to detect them and neutralise them and expel them like any foreign body.

South African dockworkers announce ban on Israeli ship; Palestinians salute decision

FREE PALESTINE! ISOLATE APARTHEID ISRAEL!

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) launch Week of Action for Palestine supported by the Young Communist League and other progressive organisations

February 3, 2009 -- In a historic development for South Africa, South African dock workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, February 8, 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.

The pledge by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) members in Durban reflects the commitment by South African workers to refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe.

Solidarity map of Israel's Gaza massacres

By Solidarity Maps

Solidarity Maps is a project from a group of Lebanese and Palestinian designers, architects, researchers, media people, and many other random activists who have worked together previously, mainly doing media and mapping work during the summer 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, and some of them later on advocacy and design for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp.

To download PDF: Gaza - Dec. 27 -18 Jan, 2009 - Map of Bombing Intensity & Casualties (PDF)

Available in French, Spanish and Arabic.

Italian metalworkers, Western Australian maritime workers call for boycott of apartheid Israel

Italy's metalworkers: Prosecute Israeli war crimes, suspend EU-Israel agreement

Federazione Impiegati Operai Metallurgici nazionale (FIOM), the largest metalworkers' union in Italy, whose membership numbers 360,000, called for prosecution of Israeli officials for war crimes and suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, as well as of the military cooperation agreement between Italy and Israel. The following is FIOM's January 13 2009 statement on Gaza, published on the union's web site.

Federazione Impiegati Operai Metallurgici nazionale, Corso Trieste, 36 - 00198 Roma, tel. +39 06 85262341-2 fax +39 06 85303079, http://www.fiom.cgil.it/, email: protocollo@fiom.cgil.it.

COMITATO CENTRALE F.I.O.M.

13 gennaio 2009

GAZA

Hamas and Palestine’s right to exist

By Tony Iltis

January 28, 2009 -- If Western politicians and media are to be believed, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) is an anti-Semitic, religious fundamentalist, terrorist outfit that forms part of an al Qaeda- (or, alternatively, Iranian-) led movement which seeks to violently impose Islamic law on the world, and is dedicated to the annihilation of Jews. 

However, what is Hamas’s actual practice and the source of its strong popularity among Palestinians?

Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections, which international observers described as the most democratic in the Arab world. In government, it has attempted to eradicate corruption and gangsterism.

The demonisation of a democratically elected political leadership has become the justification for war crimes. The entire infrastructure of Gaza — hospitals, mosques, government offices, schools, water and energy, food stores, emergency services, orphanages — can be defined as “Hamas infrastructure” because Hamas remains the civil authority.

“Hamas infrastructure” is equated with “terrorist infrastructure”, providing Israel and its Western backers with justification for deliberately targeting such civilian institutions, in flagrant violation of international law.

Lessons from South Africa for the fight against Israeli apartheid

Salim Vally of the Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa (http://psc.za.org/), addressing a meeting on February 7, 2008, part of Toronto's Israeli Apartheid Week (http://www.apartheidweek.org/), draws on the experiences of the South African anti-apartheid movement to inspire the Palestinian anti-apartheid movement. Salim Vally was deeply involved in the South African anti-apartheid movement.

The aid appeal that the BBC does not want people to see

By Dave Riley

January 27, 2009 -- LeftClick -- That emergency appeal for humanitarian aid for Gaza that the BBC refuses to broadcast? Watch it for yourself:

The video was made when the death toll was "just" "a few hundred" and it is completely apolitical (the word "Israel" doesn't even appear in the script). The power of its images alone is self-evident, making it clear why the BBC doesn't want it seen. Reality, in this case, has an anti-Israel bias. The decision provoked protests across Britain.

Send your complaint to the BBC HERE.

What does Obama mean for the world?

By Barry Sheppard, San Francisco

January 23, 2009 -- More than 1 million people gathered in bitter cold in Washington DC to witness the historical inauguration of an African American as president.

The crowd was disproportionately Black, but majority white — and jubilant. Celebrations were held in Black communities throughout the country, and in other sectors of the population.

He was sworn in by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, itself historic. In the aftermath of the election, he enjoys overwhelming support according to polls, far higher than his margin of votes. This indicates a large swing of whites among those who voted for the Republican candidate John McCain.

Hopes are running high that he will do something to turn around the accelerating downturn in the economy. On “inauguration day”, it appeared that the crisis in the banks and other financial institutions was once again critical.

With rising unemployment, rising home foreclosures, falling wages, failing retail chains and US$1 trillion poured down what one economist called a bottomless pothole to apparently no avail, the working and middle classes have experienced a massive shock.

The “free markets will solve all” ideology is a dead duck. US people are demanding that the government take action. Obama has promised to do just that.

`What we expect from President Obama on Palestine' (+COSATU solidarity message to the people of Gaza)

Joint statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions

January 20, 2009 -- In a few hours, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as president of the United States of America, the largest and most powerful empire in recorded history. His inauguration comes at the end of a long and hard election campaign which rode on his campaign promise of ``Change'', a promise which captured the imagination of his voters and of people across the world. The change that Obama promised -- for the people of the United States and for the rest of the world -- is welcomed for the break that it suggests with the depraved capital-centred and imperialist policies of the George Bush administration.

We are confident that Obama will make some changes. We welcome his commitment to closing down Guantanamo Bay prison, an institution which makes a mockery of international law and human rights, and his commitment to eliminate torture techniques as a form of interrogation. We welcome his commitment to withdrawing troops from Iraq. We welcome his commitment to ensuring that the state, in the US, improves the health care provisions to its people. Our concern, however, is about those things that Obama is determined not to change.

What won't change?

Obama's intention to increase military personnel in Afghanistan and continue the military occupation of the country reflects both a commitment to sustaining an imperial agenda and a disrespect for the lives and choices of people in the Global South.

British MP: `My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza'

By Liam Macuaid

January 15, 2009 -- This snippet is taken from MRzine. Gerald Kaufman is on the rightwing of the British Labour Party and it's so exceptionally rare for him to say much that the readers of this site would agree with that it’s worth posting.

Peace requires justice — freedom for Palestine! Maintain solidarity!


Thousands protest against Israel's war on Gaza in Tel Aviv and Yaffa, January 17, 2009. Below: 10,000 people protested in Melbourne on January 18, 2009. Photos by Margarita Windisch.

Palestine government salutes Venezuela's Hugo Chavez

Palestinian National Authority

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Deputy Office, Gaza

January 12, 2009

In the Name of God; the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

President Hugo Chavez,

Your Excellency, President Hugo Chavez,

We, the people of Palestine, commend your courage to speak and act upon your conscience regardless of your detractors' criticism or cowardice.

Mr. President, we have watched death rain upon our families and children in Gaza for weeks; and yet we stand proud and ready for any outcome. We are a resilient people who wish for peace but will fight rather than bow to injustice. We live and die by the codes of our forefathers -- codes of honor, integrity, truth and bravery.

Throughout history, in a just conflict, there always emerges a champion, a single hero who, by his actions, embodies all the virtues the masses aspire to. You have demonstrated that you are such a man.

COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi: Sanction and boycott apartheid Israel!

Protesters call for boycott of apartheid Israel, Johannesburg, January 2, 2009.

By Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

January 14, 2009 -- From our own experience, we know how painful and dehumanising is the system of segregation, otherwise known as apartheid. Apartheid is a system based on the assumption that one group or race is superior to others and therefore has a right to all the privileges and virtues associated with that particular status. It has a right to run and determine the lives of others, excluding them from certain privileges, merely because they do not belong to the “chosen” group.

What other definition would so fittingly define a system based on different rights and privileges for Jews and Arabs in the Middle East? The bantustanisation of Palestine into pieces or strips -- West Bank, Ramallah, Gaza Strip and so on -- run by Israel and with no rights whatsoever for the Palestinians, is definitely an apartheid system.

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