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News :: Organizing : Palestine : War and Militarism
Bostonians March for End to Violence in Israel/Palestine
10 Jul 2014
Boston, MA - Hundreds of students, faith leaders, and activists from 15 local organizations marched today to protest Israel’s escalation of violence against Palestinians, citing 52 killed and 450 injured in Gaza in just the last two days. They picketed the downtown Boston locations of three companies they say are complicit in the violence: TIAA-CREF, Veolia, and Macy’s.
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Photo by Marilyn Humphries
At Park Street, Claire Gilbert from Grassroots International opened up the event by declaring that “The wrenching events unfolding in Israel and Palestine are not random; they are part of the system of occupation itself.”

The protest’s tone remained solemn in honor of the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost since mid-June. Karlene Griffiths, a pastor in formation in the United Church of Christ who recently returned from a delegation to Palestine, led a moment of silence and a reading of names. “We weep, we mourn, we move forward and we fight,” Griffiths said.

The crowd then marched to Macy’s, where they called for a boycott of Sodastream products produced in an illegal settlement, then to the Boston offices of Veolia Energy, whose parent company operates a light rail serving illegal settlements in East Jerusalem.

“Veolia is not above the law,” said Andre Francois of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, who is working locally to oppose Veolia’s union-busting. “No more abuses in Palestine or Boston.”

The final stop was at the offices of pension fund TIAA-CREF, where the demonstrators called for disinvestment from companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and prison contractor G4S.

“As we all witnessed Israeli jets bombing Palestinian civilian areas this week, Israeli troops storming Palestinian refugee camps and cities, and the killing of Palestinian civilians, I am reminded how complicit the US government, US corporations, and American taxpayers are in the human rights abuses committed by Israel,” declared Thomas Abowd, a professor at Tufts University and a shareholder of TIAA-CREF.

National Week of Action calls for Divestment from Occupation

This demonstration was one of 15 taking place across the country as part of the “We Divest National Week of Actions,” marking the progress of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to hold Israel accountable for violations of Palestinian human rights.

Protesters held signs emblazoned with corporate logos of companies targeted by BDS, detailing their role in Israel’s occupation and victories of campaigns against them. One sign read, “Veolia dumps settlement waste on Palestinian land. In 2013, TIAA-CREF dumps Veolia from its social choice fund.”

Other speakers included Dina Jacir, a Palestinian-American co-founder of Students for Justice in Palestine at Hampshire College; Holly Bicerano, a student at Boston University; Maria Peniche, an immigration activist who related her experience crossing the US/Mexico border to that of Palestinians; and Jason Lydon of the prison abolitionist organization Black and Pink, who condemned mass incarceration in the United States and in Israel.

Sponsoring organizations: American Friends Service Committee; Grassroots International; Jewish Voice for Peace Boston; United for Justice with Peace; National Lawyers Guild, Suffolk Law; Cambridge Bethlehem People to People Project, American Jews For A Just Peace; Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights; Boston Feminists For Liberation; Boston College Students for Justice in Palestine; Boston Alliance for Water Justice; First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain; Black and Pink; Ads Against Apartheid; Boston BDS

Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston is a local chapter of the largest US-based grassroots organization dedicated to promoting full equality, democracy, and self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians. JVP supports nonviolent efforts here and in Israel-Palestine to end Israel’s Occupation, expand human and civil rights, and implement a US policy based on international law and democracy. We Divest is a national, coalition-led initiative by Adalah-NY, the American Friends Service Committee, Grassroots International, Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and the US Palestinian Community Network
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Photo by Marilyn Humphries
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Photo by Marilyn Humphries

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New York protesters demand end to Israeli assault on Gaza
11 Jul 2014
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Several thousand people demonstrated Wednesday in front of the Israeli Mission to the United Nations in New York City demanding an end to the brutal bombardment of Gaza by the Israel Defense Forces.

The protest was organized by a coalition of groups including American Muslims for Palestine and Al-Awda NY. Demonstrators displayed Palestinian flags and carried homemade signs with slogans such as Stop the War and Palestine Resists. Many youth of Palestinian and Arab descent participated as well as American students of all backgrounds. Marchers chanted, “Free, Free Palestine” and, “Intifada! Intifada!”

Lamis Deek, one of the rally’s organizers, told the media: “We are standing here to demand an end to the hate, incitements and attacks of the settlers that have been happening not just in the past two weeks but that we’ve been enduring since the Israeli occupation.”

A smaller pro-Zionist demonstration was organized across the street.

As is usual for any rally in New York City that expresses opposition to Washington’s policies, the New York Police Department penned protesters behind metal barricades and surrounded them with a disproportionately large number of officers.

Protesters marched to the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation on Avenue of the Americas. News Corp is owner of FOX News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, among the most vile propagandists for Israeli aggression, although demonstrators were quick to point out that the rally in front of the building was meant to oppose all of the mainstream media, including the New York Times, for their failure to report the situation in Gaza and West Bank in an evenhanded manner.

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to many of the protesters, all of whom expressed anger at the Israeli assault on Gaza. Most readily agreed with the WSWS’s view that the attack had been planned in advance and that the kidnapping of three Jewish youth was used by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stoke anti-Palestinian sentiment in Israel itself.

“Innocent civilians are getting killed,” Jana Suleiman told us. “We need to broadcast this on the news. We have to help people understand what is really going on.”

Sulafa Khirfah, a high school student from Jordan vacationing in the US, and Robert Walker, a college student from New Jersey, came to the protest together with family members. Sulafa told the WSWS, “We are here because we want justice. What is happening now is unbelievable, inhumane. Would you like it if your son got burned because he was American?

“The same thing applies to Palestinians. I am from Jordan and came here on vacation but when I saw this I had to join. I am half Palestinian but live in Jordan. I know a lot of Palestinians and they and my granddad tell me a lot of stories.”

Robert added, “The way [the Israelis] treat the Palestinians, and the children in particular, is really horrible. They kidnap them, put them in jails, storm houses at night. I want to see peace.”
Israelis celebrate the bombing of the Gaza Ghetto
11 Jul 2014
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Israelis celebrate war.jpg
Danish journalist Allan Sørensen ‏posted this image on Twitter, which shows residents watching and celebrating Gaza being bombed. Sørensen has confirmed he took the picture on Wednesday night (July 9) at a hilltop in the frontline Israeli city Sderot. Sørensen is the Middle East correspondent with the Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad.

Some western media outlets like the Telegraph, have said Sderot is being battered by missiles and rockets from Gaza. The article “Israel's front line town of Sderot battered by missiles“ published by the Telegraph on June 9, around the time Sørensen took this picture, says: “Residents of the ‘city of rockets’ just a mile from Gaza describe the fear of living under bombardment by missiles.” Sderot has a population of 24,000 people and covers a five-square-kilometer area.

Earlier this week Israel launched the massive “Operation Defensive Edge” against Gaza, which has killed over 80 Palestinians so far, many of them women and children. From Gaza, Hamas, which has ruled the strip since 2007, has fired missiles into Israel. As of July 11, Israeli officials reported that no Israelis had been killed as a result. Most of the rockets coming into Israel have caused no serious damage, due in part to the US-funded Iron Dome aerial defense system, which has intercepted at least 70 projectiles so far, according to the Guardian.
Re: Bostonians March for End to Violence in Israel/Palestine
11 Jul 2014
The Death Knell is Blaring - Burning Alive in Gaza by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

With these words still hovering around his mouth, “We reject all cruel behavior”, Benjamin Netanyahu launched yet another attack with yet another movie title, Operation Protective Edge, on the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in a state of siege and oppression in the Gaza Strip.

All this week, I’ve wandered online sites, taking the pulse of my US neighbors whose tax dollars and mine support the war crimes. On a random stopover that’s not one of my usual destinations, I read this reader comment: “Muslims understand one thing better than anything else, that is the point of a gun in their face. I hope Israel goes in and makes a parking lot out of the damn place.”


At what’s considered a liberal news venue there was this entry:

“I guess the ‘civilized’ world expects Israel and the Jewish people to just sit there like idiots and absorb the blows. IMO Israel would be justified in leveling Gaza. Enough is enough.”


Logical response to a rain of rockets. Now the Palistinians [sic] want world sympathy for the wreckage they wrought on themselves. So, the cries go out for restrant [sic] but how do you restrain the rocketeers? Tough solutions in a tough neighborhood.

The people of Gaza are labeled militants, as terror explodes their lives, terror unleashed by the Israeli military, terror funded by the US. Last week, after a sixteen-year-old Arab was burned alive in a reprisal killing to avenge the deaths of three Israeli teens, Netanyahu uttered that condemnation, rejecting “all cruel behavior…”—adding that this “could not be accepted by human beings.” But Israel is burning alive the people of Gaza, burning alive the children of Gaza, burning that could not continue without US complicity.

And it is nothing new. It’s been going on for decades. The unacceptable is accepted, and getting worse.

As Israel persists with the genocide of Palestinians, I think about the propaganda I believed when I was young—that my country intervened heroically and always on the side of justice. This misinformation is required to perpetuate the myth of the USA—as a benevolent nation.

It’s Wednesday evening and I’ve just read that Israel has struck 200 Gaza sites. Netanyahu asserts that Israel “rejects all cruel behavior” but 12 children are reported dead. One was 18 months old. Most likely, many more are injured, traumatized. Israeli ground troops are amassing for an incursion. (During the 2008-09 three-week assault called Operation Cast Lead, 353 children were killed and another 860 were injured.)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, “The war is not against Hamas or any faction, but against the Palestinian people.”

The death knell is blaring. Gaza is burning. Palestinians are burning alive. Operation Protective Edge is not an effort to defend a perimeter; it is part of a plan, conceived to obliterate a population.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat (at)
Thousands Protest Gaza Strikes in London, Paris
12 Jul 2014
Demo US planes.jpg
Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators turned out on the streets of London and Paris on Friday to call for an end to Israeli military strikes on Gaza.

Several thousand people crowded the streets outside the Israeli Embassy in west London, waving placards that read "Gaza: End the Siege" and "Freedom for Palestine." Sign said "Defend The Palestinians!" and "Stop the Israeli War Machine." The crowds blocked an entire road, and several protesters managed to climb on top of a double-decker bus stuck in traffic, but police said the protest was largely peaceful.

A smaller protest took place in Paris Friday, where about 100 people demonstrated near the French Foreign Ministry. Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags. One woman shouted "Palestine will survive" had the flag painted on her cheeks.

Stephane Frappreau, who identified himself as Jewish, said the demonstrations were about "defending humanity and about stopping the massacre."

"I think that people tend to forget that Palestinians are people who are suffering, kids and women, who are dying every day," Frappreau said. "And I think that people shouldn't confuse things or come to quick conclusions, because being against Israel as we are today is not about being anti-Semitic."

France has both Western Europe's largest Jewish community and its largest Muslim population, and the French government has been walking a careful line on the Gaza developments. President Francois Hollande issued a statement earlier this week in support of Israel that prompted criticism because it failed to mention Palestinian victims. He later spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, then issued new statements expressing support for each and concern for all victims. He condemned violence and urged a return to peace talks. More demonstrations were planned for the weekend.

In London, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier he supported Israel in the face of attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians.
Israel’s Strategy and America’s Mythology
12 Jul 2014
Bombs are falling and people are dying in Gaza. It’s headline news in America’s mass media. As usual, though, we get only today’s events, with no historical context to explain what’s really going on and why.

The crucial piece of history our mass media ignore is that one basic principle has always guided Israel’s foreign policy: Keep the perceived enemies divided; never let them unite.

That’s why Israel aided the creation of Hamas in the 1980s. The Israeli government feared the prospect of all Palestinians uniting under the flag of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, dominated by Yassir Arafat’s Fatah party. Hamas seemed to offer a counterweight.

The recent reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah raises that specter again. Israeli leaders want to stop it at all costs, to drive a wedge into the uneasy peace between the rival Palestinian parties. Hence the onslaught against Hamas and Gaza.

Though he’s in his 90s, the veteran Israeli politician and commentator Uri Avnery can see it all quite clearly. After three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped in the occupied West Bank, “the Netanyahu government immediately saw in the incident an auspicious opportunity. Without the least evidence (as far as we know) it accused Hamas. The next day,” he wrote, the Israelis “started an attempt to eradicate Hamas in the West Bank,” with massive arrests of Hamas leaders.

“The main aim,” Avnery posits, “is to pressure Mahmoud Abbas to abandon the inter-Palestinian reconciliation and to destroy the new experts-only Palestinian government. Abbas resists. He is already widely denounced in Palestine, because of the ongoing close cooperation between his security forces and the Israeli ones, even while the Israeli operation is continuing.”

Avnery wrote that before Israel began bombing Gaza, where Hamas rules. Surely he, and Israeli government strategists, knew that the crackdown on Hamas would provoke some ineffectual rocket fire by splinter groups in Gaza, giving Israel an excuse to blame Hamas for those rockets, too, and begin bombing Gaza.

Now that so many Palestinians have died, the pressure on Abbas to “get tough” is all the greater. So is the pressure on Hamas to fight back, to abandon the nonviolent policy that was so basic to the Fatah-Hamas unity government. The more rockets fly out of Gaza, the harder it will be to patch up the Fatah-Hamas split. And the easier it will be for Israel to go on making its disingenuous case: How can we negotiate a peace with “terrorists” who want to destroy us?

The Israeli government must have predicted all this when it first pinned blame on Hamas for the kidnappings, although it could present no evidence to support the charge. Anyone who has followed the conflict for very long could have predicted it. The logic of Israel’s strategy, however deadly, is easy enough to see.

So why is that strategy so glaringly absent from U.S. press coverage of the current conflict? Are American journalists in Jerusalem just too ignorant to get it? That’s possible, but it doesn’t seem likely.

What’s more likely is that their perceptions and the perceptions of their editors are in a sort of tunnel vision. They can only see what long-standing American myths allow them to see. Two myths have dominated the history of American perceptions of the Israel-Palestine – or what’s often called, more broadly and misleadingly, the “Israel-Arab” – conflict.

From the time that the State of Israel was born in 1948 and immediately plunged into war with neighboring nations, the US news media tended to treat it as a “tit for tat” struggle. It’s a story that’s been familiar to Americans since colonial times: In the Old World, there’s just this inexplicable urge for nations to fight each other. “Inexplicable” means we don’t have to try to understand the context, nor the motives of each side. They just hate each other and will go on fighting forever.

That’s a widespread view, in this country, of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. It’s showing up once again in headline after headline that all boil down to “Israel and Hamas Trade Bomb Attacks” – period, as if nothing more need be said.

In the aftermath of the Six-Day War of 1967 a second myth came to the fore in the US, one that saw Israel as a permanent victim of constant hatred and attack from its neighbors. It’s familiar to Americans from endless hours of watching television: cowboys against Indians, cops against robbers, and any number of other variants on the “good guys against bad guys” myth – with no doubt allowed, in this case, that Israel is the good guy. Maybe we should call it the “Israel can do no wrong” myth.

That’s also a widespread view showing up now in headlines in this country, even in our most influential newspapers, like: “Rockets Hit Israeli Heartland as Offensive Begins.” Though the story speaks of Israel’s offensive against Gaza, the cursory reader (and aren’t most readers cursory?) who sees only headlines would assume that it’s Hamas on the offensive – “as usual,” the mythic voice adds subliminally. After all, that voice says, Hamas is a “terrorist organization,” isn’t it? Israel’s just defending itself, isn’t it?

Now these two myths are working together to put blinders on American journalism.

The “tit for tat” myth is probably dominant, for historical reasons. Beginning with Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, when its army stood by knowingly while hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Palestinians were massacred in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps, American journalists began to back away from the “Israel can do no wrong” myth. Over the years, they’ve increasingly informed us that some blame must be ascribed to Israeli policies.

In US coverage of the current situation, though, even the rare explicit critique of Israel usually reinforces the mythic perspective.

For example, the New York Times’ Isabel Kershner briefly mentioned one criticism: “Israeli experts often describe Israel’s periodic campaigns in Gaza in terms of ‘mowing the grass,’ with the limited goals of curbing rocket fire, destroying as much of the militant groups’ infrastructure as possible and restoring deterrence. Critics say the use of such terminology is dehumanizing to Palestinians and tends to minimize the toll on civilians as well as militants.”

But anyone reading Kershner’s report, or viewing the Times’ web video on “Mowing the Grass,” is likely to conclude that, even if the terminology is dehumanizing, the practice makes perfect sense, because the war can be understood only as “tit for tat” or “good guys against bad guys.” In such a war, the stronger nation would naturally want to “mow the grass” every so often.

There is no place in American mass media coverage for any other viewpoint – and certainly not for the aim that so obviously motivates Israel’s current attack on Hamas and Gaza: destroying the infant rapprochement between the two Palestinian parties and thus easing the international pressures on Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and the isolation of Gaza. That just doesn’t fit into the prevailing mythic framework.

Of course Israel’s strategy is shaped by its own long-standing mythology. I’ve called it the myth of Israel’s insecurity – the story that says Jews will always be under attack from enemies who want to destroy their state simply out of anti-Semitic hatred. Avnery calls it “the ghetto reflex, formed by centuries of persecution, for Jews to stand together against the evil goyim [gentiles].” This myth is now powerful enough among Israeli Jews to drive the political policies of their government.

Every political myth has some elements of fact wrapped up in its imaginary structure. Surely there is anti-Semitism among some Palestinians. Surely Hamas is under pressure from other militaristic factions in Gaza and therefore uses its rockets to keep its political power. Surely there is now such a long history of animosity that it’s a difficult cycle to break.

But in myth the imaginary overwhelms the factual, dictating that many facts – often the most crucial facts – be left out.

So the Israeli government, and the vast majority of Israeli Jews, ignored the obvious fact that whoever kidnapped and presumably killed those three Israeli teenagers did not act on behalf of Hamas, much less the Palestinian people as a whole. On the contrary, the kidnappers no doubt intended to break up the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas. They were able to understand, as clearly as Avnery, that the Israelis would react with violence and thus undermine the reconciliation. Tragically, as so often, the extremists on both sides became partners in pushing toward a common goal.

More basically, the Israelis have ignored for years the Hamas offer of a long-term truce during which the two sides would negotiate a permanent peace, including a de facto recognition of Israel by Hamas.

Here in the US, the Hamas offer was beginning to get some notice a couple of years ago; there was a glimmer of possibility that a new myth, more true to the facts, was in the making.

But now it has disappeared. Hamas is routinely described as “committed to Israel’s destruction.” That, too, is once again part of the prevailing mythology, making it easier for US media to restrict coverage of the current events to the “tit for tat” and “good guys against bad guys” myths.

The combination of these two myths dictates that Americans must be given the Israeli version of events: The kidnappers become not isolated individual criminals but merely “Palestinians,” and the mythic tale of Hamas, or perhaps simply “the Palestinians,” launching a deadly attack on an innocent Israel now passes for reality. Meanwhile, the obvious strategic purpose of Israel’s response is ignored.

Yet the history of the US mass media’s reporting on Israel shows that mythic frameworks can change. Another change, bringing myth closer to reality, is always possible. And if not now, as a famous Jew once said, when?