June 8, 2008
Film: USA vs Al-Arian

Sunday, June 8
7 pm
Escape Java Joint, 916 Williamson St.

This film about U.S. political prisoner Dr. Sami Al-Arian will be shown with remarks by Professor Mel Underbakke, a colleague of Al-Arian. Professor Underbakke is taking this film on a national tour to raise awareness of the Al-Arian case. For more information on the tour see www.freesamialarian.com.

Peregrine Forum, the Madison Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project are co-sponsors of this event.

Sami Al-Arian’s Long Ordeal

Stephen Lendman, Opednews.com, March 24, 2008

Sami Al-Arian is a political prisoner in Police State America. This article reviews his case briefly and updates it to the present.

Because of his faith, ethnicity and political activism, the Bush administration targeted Al-Arian for supporting “terrorism.” In fact, he’s a Palestinian refugee, distinguished professor and scholar, community leader and civil activist.

Nonetheless, the FBI harassed him for 11 years, arrested him on February 20, 2003, and falsely accused him of backing organizations fronting for Palestinian Islamic Jihad – a 1997 State Department-designated “Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).”

A week later, in spite of his many awards, impeccable credentials and tenured status, University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft fired him under right wing pressure.

Since February 20, 2003, Al-Arian has been imprisoned – first at Tampa, Florida’s Orient Road jail, then on to more than a dozen different maximum and other federal prison facilities. He’s currently on hunger strike at Warsaw, Virginia’s Northern Neck Regional jail after being transferred back March 18 from Butner, North Carolina’s medical prison.

Al-Arian’s trial began in June 2005 and was a travesty. It lasted six months, cost an estimated $50 million, and the prosecution called 80 witnesses, including Israeli intelligence agents and victims of suicide bombings to prejudice the jury. It introduced portions of hundreds of wiretapped phone calls from over a half million recorded; “evidence” from faxes, emails and what was seized from his home; quotes from his speeches and lectures; conferences, events and rallies he attended; articles he wrote; books he owned; magazines he edited; and various publications he read – all legal and in no way incriminating unless falsely twisted to appear that way.

After years of effort and millions spent, Al-Arian was exonerated. On December 6, 2005 after 13 days of deliberation, the jury acquitted him of all (eight) “terrorism” charges. They were deadlocked 10 – 2 for acquittal on nine others. All of them were false and unjust.

June 7 – October 18, 2008
Peregrine Forum 2008 "NAKBA" Series

PALESTINE HISTORY CLASS
March thru October at Escape Java Joint, 916 Williamson St., Madison

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1948 Palestine War and subsequent events, based largely on the book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe (One World Publications 2007), 313pp., $14.95 pbk, which can be ordered though Rainbow Books. The series began on March 22, but you can join anytime. Dates and topics follow; for more specific information contact dvdwilliams51 at yahoo.com • 608-442-8399

SAT. JUNE 7 • 2 – 5 pm “The Two ‘Nakbas’, 1948 and 1967: Parallel Conquests and Parallell Mythologies.” Screening and analysis of the 2007 WGBH Boston Public TV documentary “Six Days in June.”

Standard Israeli and American accounts of the 1948 War repeat a story of “David” versus “Goliath”: “Little Israel” threatened on all sides by overwhelming Arab forces bent on destruction of the Jews. In 2007 WGBH Boston presented “Six Days in June” on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 War, recycling the standard portrayals. It was screened on PBS affiliates across the U.S. without any rebuttal or countervailing points-of-view. Peregrine Forum will screen the film with critical commentary on inaccuracies and distortions.

SAT. JUNE 14 • 2- 4 pm “The ‘Arab-Israeli War’ of June-September 1948.” Reading from Pappe.

SAT. OCT. 4 • 2 – 4 pm “Completion of the Conquest: October 1948-January 1949, and Other Illegal Acquisitions.” Reading from Pappe.

SAT. OCT. 18 • 2 – 4 pm “1948 Palestine War and Its Legacies: Occupation, ‘Memoricide’, and the ‘Peace Process’. ” Reading from Pappe.

Free and open to all; donation requested.
Co-presented by David Williams & Steve Wolvin.
Contact: dvdwilliams51 at yahoo.com • 608-442-8399

Remembering The Nakba On Israel's 60th Anniversary

JUDITH LAITMAN and TSELA BARR, Wisconsin State Journal, May 16, 2008

This month, Jews around the world are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.

These celebrations reflect the understandable joy of Jews who view Israel as the symbol of 60 years of freedom from centuries of persecution, culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. While Israel provided a safe haven for many Jews, the terrible fact is that more than 700,000 Palestinians were made into refugees to make room for the future state of Israel. Sixty years later, that number has swelled to an estimated 7 million.

Many live in 58 registered refugee camps dispersed throughout the Middle East, and some 4 million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories continue to endure reprehensible collective punishment to this day.

That is why the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or the Catastrophe to Palestinians.

Any peaceful future depends on recognizing both the Palestinian and the Israeli narrative. And yet, just as the names of more than 400 pre-1948 Palestinian towns and cities have been deliberately erased from maps, the history of the Palestinian Nakba itself has been all but erased from consciousness.

Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-Semitism and Hitler’s genocide.

Today, because much of the world has forgotten, we remember that: In April, 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin, Plan Dalet was put into operation. It authorized the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state.

On May 22, 1948, Jewish soldiers from the Alexandroni Brigade entered the house of Tantura residents killing between 110-230 Palestinian men.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March.

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person “has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

Israel has never accepted this basic human right as a basis for peace negotiations, whether by return, compensation, or resettlement.

May 8, 2008
“No Time to Celebrate” demonstration at UW-Madison

Jewish Voice for Peace – Madison, May 15, 2008

JVP’s Madison Chapter held a very successful “No Time to Celebrate” demonstration in partnership with several other area groups on May 8 on the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Library Mall.

The demonstration was a counter to an Israeli Independence Day birthday celebration put on by Hillel students also being held on the Library Mall. Their event featured birthday cake, free food, and a “moon bounce.” We actually outnumbered them during a three-hour time frame. We had from 45-50 people on our side with a very visually impactful presence including black balloons, a “puppet” figure dressed as a Palestinian refugee, Palestinian flags, banners, and signs. We also passed out a lot of leaflets putting the Israeli celebration in perspective and listing the 418 Palestinian Communities Destroyed in Al-Nakba. Our chapter reprinted the UK statement to pass out with our contact info.

Endless War


Mivtza Nikayon — Operation Cleaning


Arab refugees in northern Israel on the road to Lebanon, November 1948. (Associated Press)

DAVID MARGOLICK, The New York Times, May 4, 2008

1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
By Benny Morris
Illustrated. 524 pp. Yale University Press. $32.50.

It was not one of the celebrated moments of what the Israelis call the War of Independence and the Palestinians call Al Nakba, the Catastrophe. But it is one of the more arresting ones.

In late August 1948, during a United Nations-sanctioned truce, Israeli soldiers conducting what they called Mivtza Nikayon — Operation Cleaning — encountered some Palestinian refugees just north of the Egyptian lines. The Palestinians had returned to their village, now in Israeli hands, because their animals were there, and because there were crops to harvest and because they were hungry. But to the Israelis, they were potential fighters, or fifth columnists in the brand new Jewish state. The Israelis killed them, then burned their homes.

As much as in any other scene in this meticulous, disturbing and frustrating book, the ineffable tragedy of Israelis and Palestinians resides in that brutal, heartbreaking image. On the one hand, the Jews were fighting for a safe haven three years after six million of them had been murdered. Undoubtedly some of those soldiers on patrol that day were survivors themselves, who’d lost their entire families in Europe and been handed rifles after washing ashore in Haifa or Tel Aviv.

And then there were the Palestinians, who had watched in horror over the past 75 years as these aliens first trickled, then poured, into their homeland. Were he an Arab leader, David Ben-Gurion once confessed to the Zionist official Nahum Goldmann, he, too, would wage perpetual war with Israel. “Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them?” he asked. “There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country.”

The history of the 1948 war desperately needs to be told, since it’s so barely understood or remembered and since so many of the issues that plague us today had their roots in that struggle. Much of that history is military: how the dramatically outnumbered Jews managed to defeat first the Arabs of Palestine, then the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria, along with a smattering of Sudanese, Yemenites, Moroccans, Saudis, Lebanese and others. But arguably even more important than the soldiers are the civilians, specifically the 700,000 Palestinians who fled as the war raged. To understand the Palestinians who now fire rockets from Gaza or become suicide bombers from Nablus, it helps to know how their fathers and grandfathers wound up in Gaza or Nablus in the first place.

No one is better suited to the task than Benny Morris, the Israeli historian who, in previous works, has cast an original and skeptical eye on his country’s founding myths. Whatever controversy he has stirred in the past, Morris relates the story of his new book soberly and somberly, evenhandedly and exhaustively. Definitely exhaustively, for “1948” can feel like 1948: that is, hard slogging. Some books can be both very important and very hard to read.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a plan to split Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The as yet unnamed Jewish state — or, as they say in Arabic, “Zionist entity” — would be tiny and divided: nearly half its citizens would be Arabs. Still, the Jews danced the hora that day on the streets of Tel Aviv. Ben-Gurion, who’d spent 40 years working toward that end, didn’t join. “I could only think that they were all going to war,” he said.

Within hours, he was right. Through the following May, when the British Mandate expired, civil war raged in Palestine. On paper and on the ground, the Palestinians had the edge: there were twice as many of them, they occupied the higher altitudes and they had friendly regimes next door. But isolated and outnumbered as they were, the Jews were far better organized, motivated, financed, equipped and trained than their adversaries, who were so fragmented — by geography and tradition and clan — that the term “Palestinian” was either unwarranted or at least premature. The war became a rout once the Jews took the offensive, and the Palestinian refugee crisis began (if “crisis” can be used to describe anything so chronic). On all this, Morris excels.

Transfer — or expulsion or ethnic cleansing — was never an explicit part of the Zionist program, even among its more extreme elements, Morris observes. The first Arabs who left their homes did so on their own, expecting to return once the Jews lost or the fighting stopped. The Jewish mayor of Haifa begged Arab residents to stay; Golda Meir, then head of the Jewish Agency Political Department, called the exodus “dreadful” and even likened it to what had befallen the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. While Jewish atrocities — notably, the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin — were very real, apocalyptic Arab broadcasts induced further flight and depicted as traitors those who chose to stay behind.

But once the Palestinian exodus began, Jewish leaders, struck by their good fortune, first encouraged it, then coerced it, then sought to make it stick. After all, the country needed room for Hitler’s victims, as well as for those Jews fleeing Arab countries. And it also had to protect itself against insurrectionists in its midst. The Arabs, it was said, had only themselves to blame for the upheaval: they’d started it. And, Morris notes, the Jews were only emulating the Arabs, who’d always envisioned a virtually Judenrein Palestine.

Matters took another turn in May 1948, when the British left, Israel declared statehood and the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq marched in. Again, for all their numerical superiority, the Arabs were ill-equipped, inexperienced, unprepared. Some Arab leaders knew they were in over their heads. But given the anger over the Jewish state on their streets and their own tenuous hold on power, not to invade was even more perilous.

Within five and a half months, they were crushed, militarily and psychologically. But for international intervention, their defeat would have been still worse; the Egyptian army would have been annihilated. Only King Abdullah of Jordan, with the best (British-trained) army and limited objectives (not to destroy the Jewish state, but to annex the West Bank), got what he wanted. Meanwhile, Israel grew beyond the partition lines, gained more defensible borders and — by destroying Arab villages — further reduced the Palestinian population.

The Israelis, Morris says, committed far more atrocities than the Arabs, but this was partly a function of success: they had far more opportunities. But had the Israelis committed systematic ethnic cleansing, he argues, there would not be 1.4 million Arabs in Israel today. Of course, by promptly driving out their own Jews, the vanquished Arab leaders became the greatest Zionist recruiters of all.

Deep inside Morris’s book is an authoritative and fair-minded account of an epochal and volatile event. He has reconstructed that event with scrupulous exactitude. But despite its prodigious research and keen analysis, “1948” can be exasperatingly tedious. The battlefield accounts, dense with obscure place names and weapons inventories, are so unrelenting, and unrelentingly dry, that you are grateful for the full-page maps (which themselves are hard to follow). The narrative cries out for air and anecdote and color.

United Methodist Divestment Efforts

Your help is urgently needed. In the face of many false attacks, United Methodist volunteers have put up a web site to explain the concept of divestment from companies that sustain the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. This site contains information on Israeli apartheid, and explanations of proposals that will be before the United Methodist General Conference (our policy-making body) later this month.

This web site has been prepared by clergy and lay volunteers from the United Methodist New England Conference, Baltimore Washington Conference, New York Annual Conference, Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, and Rocky Mountain Conference. It answers questions about divestment proposals before the 2008 General Conference and responds to the many misrepresentations that have been made about these proposals. We hope you will find it helpful. If you have additional questions, please contact us at UMDivestment at aol.com.

Time is short, and we need to get the word out. There have been many false reports about these proposals and about Methodists who support them. It is urgent that we respond. The site is www.unitedmethodistdivestment.com.

If you have a web site of your own, please place a temporary link to our site on yours, and be sure to click on it to visit our site. Linking our site to others is the surest way to move it up in the Google listings. Having many visits to the site will also help. Please also share the information in our site with others.

With many thanks,
Susanne Hoder
Member, Divestment Task Force
New England Conference of the United Methodist Church
www.unitedmethodistdivestment.com