UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis Executed US Citizen Furkan Dogan

Gareth Porter, Truthout, 27 September 2010

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Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was aboard the Mavi Marmara when he was killed by Israeli commandos. (Photo: freegazaorg)

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time" before being shot in his face.

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Fighting Bob Fest Israel/Palestine Panel Now Online

Israel and Palestine: A Progressive View

This workshop, sponsored by a large number of Wisconsin groups including the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and the United Nations Association Dane County, represents one of the first times that Fighting Bob Fest has ventured into the area of international social justice.

This groundbreaking presentation, moderated by Progressive Magazine editor Matt Rothschild and featuring panelists Cathy Sultan, Sol Thea Kelley-Jones, and George Shalabi, is available online.

The site www.archive.org also has recent UNA programs featuring Joe Elder and Jeremi Suri.

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October 7, 2010
Fall Educational Series on the History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
122 State St, Rm 407, Madison
6:30 pm

Organized by the Peregrine Forum and supported by the Wisconsin Network for Peace Justice (WNPJ). The first class will provide broad historical background of the Middle East and the Abrahamic religions up to the 19th century and is a Prologue to our examination of the development of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from the 1880s onward.

Admission is free but there will be some cost for recommended readings. The main text for the core classes is David Hirsts epic narrative history The Gun and the Olive Branch: the Roots of Violence in the Middle East (Nation Books, 3rd edition 2003). Hirst is a veteran British journalist who has covered the Middle East for decades; his book was first published in 1977. The book is available new in paperback for $18 and may also be available used. Of course, we urge you to purchase it through Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative.

In addition to the Hirst book there will be from time-to-time photocopies of various materials. The first of these is a copy of Palestine In a Nutshell by Amanda Roraback (Enisen Publishing 2004) which provides broad historical background useful for the first class. This reading is optional and we ask for a $5 donation to cover the cost.

The sequence for the core classes is:

    1) Prologue: History of the Middle East and the Abrahamic Religions;

    2) Historic Palestine and the early Zionist Movement Through World War I (1880s-1919);

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September 19, 2010
PALESTINE: DANGEROUS PASSAGE TO SCHOOL

Goodman Community Center
149 Wabesa St, Madison
Room Bolz B
5 7 pm [Map]

Free and open to all — light refreshments

A report on the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) work in the south Hebron hills, as part of an ongoing project in the small town of Tuwani, providing witness and support to Palestinian children as they travel each day to school.

Sponsored by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. Contact: Stefania at stefania (at) wnpj.org or 608-250-9240. To learn more, go to wnpj.org.

Why Israelis Don’t Care About Peace with Palestinians

Karl Vick, Time, September 2, 2010

Jerusalem Heli and Eli sell condos on Exodus Street, a name that evokes a certain historical hardship in a neighborhood that suggests none at all, the ingathering of the Jews having entered a whole new realm here. The talk in the little office is of interest rates and panoramic sea views from handsomely appointed properties selling on the Ashdod waterfront for half what people are asked to pay in Tel Aviv, 18 miles (29 km) to the north. And sell they do, hand over fist never mind the rockets that fly out of Gaza, 14 miles (22.5 km) to the south. Even when the Qassams fell, we continued to sell! says Heli Itach, slapping a palm on the office desk. The skull on her designer shirt is made of sequins spelling out Love Kills Slowly. What the people see on the TV there is not true here, she says. I sold, this week, 12 apartments. You’re not client, I tell you the truth.

The truth? In the week that three Presidents, a King and their own Prime Minister gather at the White House to begin a fresh round of talks on peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the truth is, Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. Theyre otherwise engaged; theyre making money; theyre enjoying the rays of late summer. A watching world may still define their country by the blood feud with the Arabs whose families used to live on this land and whether that conflict can be negotiated away, but Israelis say they have moved on. (See pictures of 60 years of Israel.)

Now observing 2 years without a single suicide bombing on their territory, with the economy robust and with souls a trifle weary of having to handle big elemental thoughts, the Israeli public prefers to explore such satisfactions as might be available from the private sphere, in a land first imagined as a utopia. Listen to me, says Eli Bengozi, born in Soviet Georgia and for 40 years an Israeli. Peace? Forget about it. Theyll never have peace. Remember Clinton gave 99% to Arafat, and instead of them fighting for 1%, what? Intifadeh. (See TIMEs photo-essay Palestinian Day of Rage.)

But wait. Deep down (you can almost hear the outside world ask), dont Israelis know that finding peace with the Palestinians is the only way to guarantee their happiness and prosperity? Well, not exactly. Asked in a March poll to name the most urgent problem facing Israel, just 8% of Israeli Jews cited the conflict with Palestinians, putting it fifth behind education, crime, national security and poverty. Israeli Arabs placed peace first, but among Jews here, the issue that President Obama calls critical for the world just doesnt seem critical.

Another whack for the desk. The people, Heli says, dont believe. Eli searches for a word. People in Israel are indifferent, he decides. They don’t care if there’s going to be war. They don’t care if there’s going to be peace. They don’t care. They live in the day.

Copyright © 2010 Time Inc

Hamas, the IRA and Us

ALI ABUNIMAH, The New York Times, August 28, 2010

(Chicago) GEORGE J. MITCHELL, the United States Middle East envoy, tried to counter low expectations for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations by harking back to his experience as a mediator in Northern Ireland.

At an Aug. 20 news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, announcing the talks that will begin this week, Mr. Mitchell reminded journalists that during difficult negotiations in Northern Ireland, “We had about 700 days of failure and one day of success” — the day in 1998 that the Belfast Agreement instituting power-sharing between pro-British unionists and Irish nationalists was signed.

Mr. Mitchell’s comparison is misleading at best. Success in the Irish talks was the result not just of determination and time, but also a very different United States approach to diplomacy.
The conflict in Northern Ireland had been intractable for decades. Unionists backed by the British government saw any political compromise with Irish nationalists as a danger, one that would lead to a united Ireland in which a Catholic majority would dominate minority Protestant unionists. The British government also refused to deal with the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, despite its significant electoral mandate, because of its close ties to the Irish Republican Army, which had carried out violent acts in the United Kingdom.

A parallel can be seen with the American refusal to speak to the Palestinian party Hamas, which decisively won elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006. Asked what role Hamas would have in the renewed talks, Mr. Mitchell answered with one word: “None.” No serious analyst believes that peace can be made between Palestinians and Israelis without Hamas on board, any more than could have been the case in Northern Ireland without Sinn Fein and the I.R.A.

The United States insists that Hamas meet strict preconditions before it can take part in negotiations: recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by agreements previously signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, of which Hamas is not a member. These demands are unworkable. Why should Hamas or any Palestinian accept Israel’s political demands, like recognition, when Israel refuses to recognize basic Palestinian demands like the right of return for refugees?
As for violence, Hamas has inflicted a fraction of the harm on Israeli civilians that Israel inflicts on Palestinian civilians. If violence disqualifies Hamas, surely much greater violence should disqualify the Israelis?

It was only by breaking with one-sided demands that Mr. Mitchell was able to help bring peace to Northern Ireland. In 1994, for instance, Mr. Mitchell, then a Democratic senator from Maine, urged President Bill Clinton — against strenuous British objections — to grant a United States visa to Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader. Mr. Mitchell later wrote that he believed the visa would enable Mr. Adams “to persuade the I.R.A. to declare a cease-fire, and permit Sinn Fein to enter into inclusive political negotiations.” As mediator, Mr. Mitchell insisted that a cease-fire apply to all parties equally, not just to the I.R.A.

Both the Irish and Middle Eastern conflicts figure prominently in American domestic politics — yet both have played out in very different ways. The United States allowed the Irish-American lobby to help steer policy toward the weaker side: the Irish government in Dublin and Sinn Fein and other nationalist parties in the north. At times, the United States put intense pressure on the British government, leveling the field so that negotiations could result in an agreement with broad support. By contrast, the American government let the Israel lobby shift the balance of United States support toward the stronger of the two parties: Israel.

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Israeli rabbi remarks on Palestinians deeply offensive: US

Agence France Presse, 29 Aug 2010

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Sunday condemned as deeply offensive remarks by an influential Israeli rabbi who said he hoped Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas would vanish from our world.

We regret and condemn the inflammatory statements by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement.

These remarks are not only deeply offensive, but incitement such as this hurts the cause of peace.
Ovadia, who heads a religious party in Israel’s ruling coalition, expressed hope in his weekly sermon Saturday that all the nasty people who hate Israel, like Abu Mazen (Abbas), vanish from our world.
“May God strike them down with the plague along with all the nasty Palestinians who persecute Israel”, he said.

Crowley pointed out that the remarks did not reflect the view of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due in Washington this week for direct peace talks with Abbas.

The talks will be the first face-to-face discussions since December 2008, when the Palestinians broke off negotiations over a deadly Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat condemned the remarks as an incitement to genocide, and urged the Israeli government to do more about peace and stop spreading hatred.

Netanyahu’s office dismissed the comments in a statement that said the government wants peace with the Palestinians.

Yosef’s comments do not reflect the views of Benjamin Netanyahu or of his government which seeks a peace settlement with the Palestinians, it said.

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ADL explains why Foxman lobbied against imams Auschwitz trip

    O you who believe, stand up firmly for justice as witnesses to Almighty God. (Holy Quran, al-Nisa The Women 4:135)

    We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where over twelve million human souls perished, including six million Jews. We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics. We condemn anti-Semitism in any form. No creation of Almighty God should face discrimination based on his or her faith or religious conviction.

    –Statement by American imams and Muslim leaders

Justin Elliott, Salon, Aug 23, 2010

Earlier this month eight American imams and Muslim leaders took a trip to the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps accompanied by the Obama Administrations envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, and its official representative to the Muslim world, Rashad Hussein. At the end of the emotional trip, the imams released a joint statement (.pdf) condemning Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

It all seemed like a perfectly good idea, which is why some were surprised that Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League which counts Holocaust education and battling anti-Semitisim as core missions actually lobbied against the participation of U.S. officials in the trip.

(The ADL also came under intense criticism recently when Foxman spoke out against the proposed Islamic community center near ground zero.)

Foxmans opposition to the Auschwitz trip was first reported by Laura Rozen of Politico earlier this month: Continue reading

Maia – MECA’s Gaza Water Project

We ask you to help us give the gift of
Clean WATER for Rafah’s Children

Children at the Tuyor Al-Jena Kindergarten in Rafah were excited to receive a Maia Project water desalination and filtration system provided by Madison-Rafah Sister City Project in memory of MRSCP member Ken Coffeen.

There is a growing water crisis in Palestine that affects the health of virtually every adult and child. In the Gaza Strip, poor sanitation and over-extraction have polluted the limited water supply. Israeli military attacks and the blockade have prevented repairs to water infrastructure. Water to Gaza is restricted and often too expensive for families to purchase from a safe source.

On July 28, 2010 the UN General Assembly declared that “Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights.”

The MAIA (Arabic for water) project began when children at a UN school in Gaza were given the opportunity to choose the one thing they wanted most for their school. They chose clean drinking water!

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project has joined with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide water filter systems for schools in Rafah. We first raised $1,995 to install a filter for the Tuyor Al-Jena (Birds of Paradise) kindergarten, where children are now enjoying clean, safe water.

We next collected $13,700 for a second and much larger filter system at the UN Girl’s Elementary school in the Rafah Refugee Camp. This donation on June 7, 2011 helped supply 1,800 young girls with a very basic human right; something children and parents in Wisconsin take for granted.

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Break the Silence Mural Project

mural, olympia, palestine

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2010

THE RACHEL Corrie Foundation and Break the Silence Mural Project unveiled the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural on May 8 at Labor Temple building, in downtown Olympia, WA. The mural tells a tale of two cities linked through tragedy: Olympia, WA, where Rachel Corrie grew up and attended Evergreen State College, and Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine, where she was killed in 2003—crushed by an Israeli army Caterpillar. It is also the tale of people working together for a better world. The mural features an enormous olive tree with more than 150 leaves representing issues of environmental justice, racism, colonialism, rights of indigenous peoples, and anti-war movements.

The mural uses technology to include artists from Palestine who are forbidden to travel. Viewers can use a cell phone to call and listen to the creator of each leaf talk about its meaning and theme. For more information visit <www.olympiarafahmural.org>.

—Delinda C. Hanley