September 28, 2014
DAVID ROVICS IN CONCERT

With Clare Norelle
Sunday, September 28, 4 – 6 pm
The Brink Lounge, 701 E Washington Ave, Suite 105

$10 at the door – proceeds benefit Gaza emergency relief and scholarships for children of Arcatao, El Salvador

DAVID ROVICS grew up in a family of classical musicians and became an early fan of populist regimes. After busking full-time in the Boston subways, by the mid-90's he was traveling the world as a professional flat-picking rabble-rouser. Now living in Portland, Oregon he tours regularly on four continents, playing at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls and protest rallies. He has appeared with a veritable who's whoof the left in two dozen countries, with his music featured on Democracy Now!, BBC, Al-Jazeera andother networks. The 200+ songs he makes available for free on the web have been downloaded more than a million times. Most importantly, he's really good. He’ll make you laugh, he’ll make you cry; he will make the revolution irresistible.

CLARE NORELLE is a local performer who sings in several languages and tells stories from around the earth, connecting with people in many places and promoting a message of acceptance and appreciation of cultural diversity.

Falasteen Habibti (Palestine My Love) – Love Songs for Palestine
A new 21-song CD of nearly all David’s songs about Palestine, a portion of sales at the concert benefits the Independent Middle East Media Center. One to be given as a door prize!

Co-sponsored by Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (Palestine), Madison-Arcatao Sister City Project (El Salvador), Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice, Playgrounds for Palestine – Madison, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – Madison, and Colombia Support Network

Palestinians in Gaza are still waiting for the siege to end

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 10 September 2014

Destruction everywhere

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

A new United Nations assessment published this week lays out the massive scope of the needs facing the nearly 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza following the “unprecedented” destruction wreaked by 51 days of Israeli bombing in July and August.

Israel’s assault – which it dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” – left at least 2,133 Palestinians dead and more than eleven thousand injured. More than 100,000 are permanently homeless as some 13 percent of Gaza’s housing stock – 44,300 housing units – was affected by the attack, with five percent rendered completely uninhabitable.

The UN report “Gaza Initial Rapid Assessment,” published by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), was conducted through August with the assistance of dozens of Palestinian and international aid agencies, organizations and experts.

It indicates that almost everyone in every part of Gaza faces some urgent need for basic protection, healthcare and rehabilitation, housing, water, food security or education.

The report came out the same day that the UN and the Palestinian Authority launched a $551 million emergency appeal to meet urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza.

The assessment also identifies the need for “legal support to address some of these protection needs, including pursuing accountability for alleged violations of international law resulting in deaths and injuries, as well as destruction of property as a result of the military operation.”

The siege is still the issue

These findings underscore the urgency of the call made by Palestinians in Gaza and human rights and humanitarian groups insistently: reconstruction, recovery and a normal, dignified life are impossible unless the siege is lifted.

There is a strong consensus in the international humanitarian aid industry that the siege must go.

“Only a full opening of all crossings to people and goods, including exports will enable Palestinian civilians in Gaza to restore their economy and escape the poverty the blockade has entrenched,” Oxfam has said. “The international community must press Israel for the blockade to be fully lifted, rather than only eased.”

And the International Committee of the Red Cross has long viewed the siege of Gaza as illegal collective punishment.

But since the 26 August ceasefire, uncertainty and mystery continue to shroud the understandings regarding the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza reached by Israel and Palestinian resistance organizations.

Although the ceasefire understandings were not made public, media reported that they “include opening all crossings to Gaza, allowing reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, allowing the entry of materials needed for reconstruction and permitting fishing for a distance of six to twelve nautical miles from shore.”

The parties to the deal also agreed to return to Cairo within a month to resume negotiations on a long-term truce. Those discussions have yet to begin, but a Hamas official said they would start in mid-September.

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September 12 – 13, 2014
Gaza “Wall of Shame” at Fighting BobFest

We will be displaying the Gaza “Wall of Shame” at the entrance to the BobFest events this weekend, both Friday, September 12 at the Barrymore, beginning around 6 pm, and Saturday, September 13 at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, beginning around 8:30 am.

The wall is four large panels of pictures from the Gaza assault, plus a sign and leaflets asking why progressive icons (and BobFest featured speakers) Senators Baldwin and Sanders voted, along with the entire US Senate, to give Israel a green light to slaughter the people of Gaza.

We will have Free Gaza stickers to hand out to participants to show their solidarity, and will be staffing a table in Baraboo. We have informed organizers of our intentions.

40 Holocaust survivors condemn ‘massacre’ of Palestinians, call for BDS against Israel

Alex Kane, Mondoweiss, August 26, 2014

Holocaust survivors printed an ad in the New York Times condemning Israel’s attacks on Gaza. (Photo: Alex Kane)

A group of Holocaust survivors and descendants of those targeted by Nazi Germany have harshly criticized Israeli actions in Gaza and called for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Following a letter from survivors of the Holocaust printed in the New York Times on Saturday, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, which helped coordinate the letter, organized a press call Monday, where some of those who signed the letter spoke out against the assault on Gaza.

Participants in the press call included Edith Bell, whose parents died in concentration camps and who was taken to four camps herself; Suzanne Weiss, whose mother was murdered in Auschwitz and who was hidden by French peasants; and Liliane Kaczerginski, whose father Schmerke was a Jewish fighter against the Nazis in Lithuania. Also joining the call were Monadel Herzallah and Hani Jamah, two Palestinians with family in Gaza who expressed appreciation at the descendants’ and survivors’ efforts.

40 survivors of the Holocaust signed the letter and 287 descendants of victims also added their names.

“I resent anybody who will use those events as an excuse to exterminate Palestinians,” said Bell, who said she survived concentration camps by “pure luck.”

The letter printed in the New York Times has garnered international media attention from the likes of the BBC and Ha’aretz. “As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine,” the letter says. “We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. ‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”

The advertisement cost $18,000. The funds were raised by some of the signatories.

“I applaud your courage for doing such a statement like that, that speaks from the heart,” said Herzallah, a member of the US Palestinian Community Network whose family was expelled from what is now Israel into Gaza. “I’m not surprised when I see these courageous statements by Holocaust survivors and their families…Our children and grandchildren will learn together in Gaza and all over Palestine that never again truly means never again for anyone.

The impetus for the letter came from Holocaust survivors and descendants of victims of the Nazis who were outraged that Israel used their histories to justify assaults on Palestinians. One of the signatories who helped organize the letter was Dr. Hajo Meyer, a German-Dutch physicist who survived Auschwitz and who died the day before the letter was printed in the Times. Meyer was an outspoken critic of Israel, telling the Electronic Intifada that he “had to quit grammar school in Bielefeld after the Kristallnacht…Therefore, I can fully identify with the Palestinian youth that are hampered in their education. And I can in no way identify with the criminals who make it impossible for Palestinian youth to be educated.”

The letter calls out Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who was the author of another advertisement that ran in the New York Times calling on Hamas to reject “child sacrifice” and casting the Israel/Palestine conflict as a “battle of civilization against barbarism.”

“Reading the Elie Wiesel ad made me literally sick to my stomach,” said Maia Ettinger, whose mother and grandmother survived the Holocaust by escaping the Warsaw ghetto. “The ad is an act of towering and transparent projection because what is barbaric is collective punishment, and what is barbaric is indiscriminate bombing.”

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network says that much of the response they have received has been positive, though there have been violent messages sent to their e-mail address. +972 Magazine’s Ami Kaufman reported that some Israelis have expressed revulsion at the letter on Facebook.

“It’s a shame Hitler didn’t finish the job,” one Israeli named Asher Solomon said, while another, Katy Morali, added that “Holocaust survivors who think like this are invited to go die in the gas chambers.”

Correction: This article originally reported 47 Holocaust survivors had signed the letter. The actual number is 40.

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane. Other posts by .
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Strike near UN school in Gaza leaves 10 dead


Palestinians evacuate a survivor of an Israeli air strike that hit the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. At least 40 people were inside the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah Camp when it was targeted by Israeli jet fighters, according to the Red Crescent and Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Many have been confirmed dead and over two dozen have been wounded. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

TAMER ZIARA AND IBRAHIM BARZAK, ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 3, 2014

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — A United Nations school sheltering displaced people in the southern Gaza Strip was hit Sunday by what a U.N. official said appeared to be an Israeli airstrike, as the military struck the Hamas-ruled territory despite signaling a possible scaling back of its 27-day offensive.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said at least 10 people were killed and 35 wounded after the strike near a boys’ school in the town of Rafah. Robert Turner, the director of operations for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said preliminary findings indicated the blast was the result of an Israeli airstrike near the school, which had been providing shelter for some 3,000 people. He said at least one U.N. staffer appeared to be dead.

“We don’t have confirmed details yet but the initial report says that there was some kind of airstrike in a street outside one of our shelters,” Turner said.

Witnesses said the attack happened while people were waiting in line for food supplies. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

In a chaotic scene inside the compound of the U.N. school, several bodies, among them children, were strewn across the ground in puddles of blood. Bloody footprints stained the ground where people had rushed the wounded into ambulances.

“Our trust and our fate is only in the hands of God!” one woman cried.

Some of the wounded, among them children with bloody head bandages, were transported to the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah and others were treated in what seemed to be a makeshift clinic underneath a tent.

Several dead bodies, wrapped in white cloth, were lined up on the floor.

At least six U.N. facilities, including schools sheltering the displaced, have been struck by Israeli fire since the conflict began, drawing international condemnation. In each case Israel has said it was responding to militants launching rockets or other attacks from nearby.

In nearly four weeks of fighting, more than 1,700 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed as well as nearly 70 Israelis, almost all soldiers.

Israel launched an aerial campaign in Gaza on July 8 to try to halt Palestinian rocket fire that has reached major cities, and later sent in troops to dismantle a sophisticated system of cross-border tunnels built by the militants in order to carry out attacks.

Israel struck several targets in Gaza on Sunday. Artillery shells slammed into two high-rise office buildings in downtown Gaza City and large explosions could be heard seconds apart, police and witnesses said. Al-Kidra said 30 Palestinians were killed Sunday, including nine in a single strike in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel said it carried out 180 strikes Sunday.

While fighting continued, several Israeli tanks and other vehicles were seen leaving Gaza. In a televised address late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested troops would reassess operations after completing the demolition of Hamas military tunnels under the border. Security officials said the tunnel mission was winding down.

At the same time, Netanyahu warned the territory’s Hamas rulers that they would pay an “intolerable price” if militants continued to fire rockets at Israel and that all options remain on the table.

The Israeli military death toll rose to 64 after Israel announced that Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old infantry lieutenant feared captured in Gaza, was actually killed in battle. His funeral is later Sunday. Three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side since hostilities began.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon revealed on his Facebook page Sunday that he is a distant relative of Goldin.

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Judith Laitman: A Jewish grandmother’s plea to Barack Obama

JUDITH LAITMAN, Cap Times, Jul 25, 2014

I’ve learned a few things during my more than seven decades on this planet. One of the most important is that when we are witness to evil and we do nothing about it, then we are complicit in that evil.

As a Jew born in 1942, I was imbued with the idea that Israel was a homeland for my people, who had been so horribly treated in the Holocaust. Today, that ideal has been destroyed, as Israel has become not so much a sanctuary for the victimized as a victimizer itself.

Today, I reject the idea that Israel has anything at all to do with my faith, or the values that it taught me. Today, my heart aches as I watch the mighty military power of Israel once again bombing the citizens of Gaza. And so I make my plea:

Mr. Obama, you say that Israel has every right to defend itself from Hamas rockets, and that no country in the world would put up with this. But that argument wrongly assumes an equivalence in power. It also assumes that Hamas committed the first act of war and Israel is merely responding. Neither of these assumptions is true.

Though Israel relocated its Jewish settlers from Gaza to the West Bank in 2006, it never relinquished control of the area. It controls everything that goes in and out, limiting the movement of people, restricting necessities like electricity, food, gas, and medical and building supplies. Under international law, Gaza is still occupied. Many people have referred to Gaza, with its 1.8 million residents, as the largest open-air prison in the world.

In the current conflict, Israel keeps telling us it is just responding to attacks from Hamas. According to the last cease-fire, signed in 2012, Israel was to open border crossings and ease the siege on Gaza. Israel broke that cease-fire just days after it was arranged, by firing on Palestinian fishermen, killing two. This pattern has continued with Israel shooting into Gaza at will, resulting in the death and injury of many Palestinian civilians even as Hamas for the most part upheld the cease-fire. Israel never did ease the siege, and so it has never upheld the cease-fire agreement. In fact, a siege and all it entails is considered an act of war in international law. No people would put up with that without resistance.

In the West Bank, where no rockets are fired, Palestinians have endured countless acts of aggression by Israel, including the demolition of hundreds of homes, the destruction of thousands of olive trees, mass arrests without charge, hundreds of checkpoints, an apartheid wall that separates Palestinians from their own territory, and ever-expanding Jewish-only roads and settlements on Palestinian land. International law states that all of these actions are illegal activity by an occupying power.

This has trapped us in an endless cycle of violence and oppression. It continues because the U.S. government continues to repeat Israel’s propaganda points, provides cover for Israel’s crimes in the U.N., and sends Israel billions in military aid every year.

Mr. Obama, you have the power to change this situation by lending your moral support to the oppressed, instead of the oppressor. Here’s one idea: Get on Air Force One and go to that Gaza beach where four boys were slaughtered. Or visit the now-leveled neighborhood of Shujayea, where the Israeli military just indiscriminately massacred more than 70 men, women and children.

There, make a speech to the world.

You are the most powerful man in the world. So why are you choosing to not use your power? What are you afraid of? Would donations dry up for the Democratic Party? Would you be criticized? Do any of these things matter more than the life of a single Palestinian child, or the future of a whole generation of Palestinian children?

If Nelson Mandela had worried about such things, where would South Africa be today? If Lyndon Johnson had worried about Southern Democratic votes, when would we have ever had civil rights legislation? These men made their mark on history not by doing what was politically expedient, but by doing what was right.

Now it is your time to choose. You can continue on your current course as Israel’s apologist-in-chief, or you can give hope to millions of people living under oppression. In just over two years, you will not have this power. I’ve learned a few things about regret in my life. You will almost certainly regret not using your current power to end the lies that you are now perpetuating.

Mr. President, it’s time to earn your Nobel Peace Prize.

Judith Laitman is a member of Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Under Siege: A Report from Gaza on WORT FM

Broadcast on the WORT 89.9 FM program Third World View:

  • Mahmoud Abu Rahma, the Communications and International
    Relations Director at the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights –
    Gaza, and
  • Mimi Rosenberg & Ken Nash of Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report
  • Mahound Abu Rahma recently wrote in “Understanding Israel’s Actions”:

    “It is essential that U.S. citizens understand that this
    conflict should not continue to be viewed as a symmetrical one anymore
    and while they largely do not hear about it there are vicious violations of
    international law against Palestinians every day; including closures/
    blockades, settlement activities (population transfer on our land)
    displacement, killings, detention and torture.”