The American President and Vice-President both are giving public expressions of support to the Israelis; while the American CIA, military and Congress make Israeli policies possible with a continual flow of money, guns, and information. The American Secretary of State, born Black, has been ordered to stay away from the world conference on racism -- and as usual he lacks the conviction to speak up on such a crucial matter, preferring instead to personally identify with soft and easy issues like his "big brother" campaign for American kids.
The battle on the ground is being lost. No matter how brave and courageous the Palestinian resistance to the increasingly brutal and deadly occupation, they have been poorly prepared and they are terribly lead. They are now paying the horrendous price for so many years of mistaken policies, squandered resources, and incompetent representation.
The battle for public opinion has also been lost -- even Edward Said has admitted as much in print. In the crucial United States, the world's "only superpower", the miserable "client organizations" and the third-rate Arab-regime representatives have done such a terrible job for so long that everyone has come to expect they have no real capabilities or credibility. The Jewish and Christian "peace movements" have likewise failed miserably -- a great example the Michael Lerner/Gerry Seagal gathering at the National Cathedral in Washington in June which we haven't yet quite gotten around to mentioning for its pathetic ramblings.
But there is a very important ideological and diplomatic battle that is within reach, that can be won, and which possibly could have considerable significance in the dangerous and bloody years now ahead. And this is not just a matter for Arabs and Muslims, there are many Jews and Christians and people all over the world who feel that something dramatic of this kind should and must now be done. We've commented in much more detail in the past about these matters. Now let's just keep it very short and simple:
STEP 1: A major resolution should now come from the Durban conference condemning the Israeli occupation, condemning Israeli racism, condemning Israel's neo-Apartheid policies, condemning the U.S. for its support of Israeli policies and its refusal to even attend the conference knowing that nearly the whole world sees the situation completely differently than does the American government.
STEP 2: Insistence on a clear and firm vote in the United Nations General Assembly in October -- where the U.S. veto is not applicable -- on suspending Israel from that world body, just as was done regarding South Africa in the days of Apartheid.
Repeat, this is not just a matter for Arabs and Muslims and those who have a particular connection with the Palestinians. This is a matter for people of good conscience everywhere, most especially Jews and Americans who are the most complicitous in what is happening.
Tuesday; 28 August: The Israeli invasion and reoccupation of Beit Jala has been met with incredible and steadfast Palestinian resistance. Don’t believe the Israeli reports, which state to the contrary. Despite the Israeli plan to re-occupy Beit Jala in a few hours, until this very second (17 hours later) the battle continues. The Israelis have yet to accomplish their occupation and as time goes on, the chances of an Israeli success dwindle.
During the invasion, many of us stayed up all night watching the night sky, illuminated with tracers and bombs exploding, and we listened to the non-stop gun battles between the Goliath IDF and the fearless Palestinian resistance. The resistance continued even as I went to sleep at 7:00 am. Thanks to Uncle Sam, Palestinian civilians were terrorized by US made and paid for apache helicopters flying over the skies all night.
All around the Bethlehem area last night, the church bells rang and the mosques called on the people to wake up and defend their land from the Israeli invasion. Palestinians from all over went to the streets with whatever they had to fight the Israeli invasion. Deheishe camp residents took bulldozers, dug trenches and blocked the streets. Beit Jala residents put gas tanks on the roads to stop the Israeli tanks from advancing.
And as I write, at 3:00 p.m. reports from Aida camp are that the Israeli army has fled the houses it occupied earlier today as a result of the intense Palestinian resistance. And more reports are coming in that despite the Israeli action, shooting on Gilo continues. No force, not even the Israeli army backed by the most sophisticated US weapons can succeed in occupying another people indefinitely. The Israelis are a foreign army occupying a foreign land. The solution is not to dispatch international observers – that would just put an end to the legitimate Palestinian resistance to push out the Israeli occupation. We must all stand with the Palestinian resistance and call for one thing - end the Israeli military occupation now!
Israeli Occupation Forces Extend Control Over Beit Jala & Beit Sahour - International Human Shields to Step In
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT - 28 August: International Human Shields based in Palestinian territories and serving to protect Palestinian civilians from the brutal Israeli Occupation Forces simply by their presence in targeted areas of Israeli aggression are taking action this afternoon in Beit Jala to work to remove soldiers from the homes of Palestinian civilians. Additionally these Human Shields will spend the next nights in Beit Jala until the occupation forces leave the city, and cease their ongoing shelling and shooting of Palestinian civilians.
Israeli Occupation Forces stormed into Beit Jala and Beit Sahour with tanks, soldiers and Apache helicopters under the cover of darkness and reoccupied areas of the town and houses of innocent civilians. This, combined with the political assassination of Abu Ali Mustapha yesterday
represents a significant escalation of the conflict by the Israeli government, and another move towards Prime Minister Sharon’s endgame in which all Palestinian lands are occupied and Palestinians are forced to leave their homes or face the wrath of the Israeli military – one of the most sophisticated and deadly armed forces in the world.
And what are the Palestinians to do? If they do nothing, they face ethnic cleansing, condemned by the world in places like Kosovo, Bosnia and Rwanda, but accepted with silence in Palestine. If they resist with nonviolent means through demonstrations and protests, they face the wrath and force of the Israeli army, border police, and special security forces that use rubber bullets, sound grenades and live ammunition. If they use force – as glorified by Western countries with respect to their own histories in fighting occupation, resistance to despots and liberation – with their limited weapons and complete tactical and military disadvantage, then they are condemned for being "true to themselves" as if they only know violence, and face advanced military technologies, such as Apache helicopters, F-15 and F-16 fighter jets and the most advanced tanks in the world.
The so-called "conflict" here is actually a war – prosecuted by arguably the most capable military machines and militarized societies in the world (Israel), against an occupied civilian population that has been condemned throughout the world as aggressors, when in fact it is the victim of repeated and ongoing brutality, force and occupation for over thirty years.
The International Human Shields, through their own efforts and in putting themselves at grave personal risk, will bring these self-evident truths to light through their efforts in stopping the aggression of the Israeli Occupation Forces. No country, no government has the right to terrorize a civilian population, and it is the responsibility of all good men and women to stand up and say, "NO!" to these illegal and immoral actions by the Israeli government.
[Palestine Media Center – PMC - 28 August - 9:02 am]: Since last night, Israeli occupation forces occupied the Virgin Mary Church, an adjacent hostel under construction, and the Beit Ibrahim guesthouse, used for meetings between Christian, Moslem, and Jewish spiritual leaders.
The Palestine Media Center contacted Father Khadder Musallam, the host father at the Evangelical Lutheran House, a boarding home for children from broken families, to get an accurate account of the events. Father Musallam told PMC the following:
Currently there are forty-five children, ages 6 to 17 as well as four educators in addition to me in the Boarding home. Israeli occupation forces are holding us hostage and using us as human shields.
At around 1:00am, a secretary working in the school called us and informed me that Israeli occupation troops had begun an incursion into Beit Jala. When I looked outside, I could see the tanks approaching. Since the children sleep in the upper levels of our five-story building, I went upstairs and calmly woke them up. I explained to the children the situation and asked them to get dressed quickly and come down stairs. As soon as the children and the teachers were downstairs, our building, the Church, and the adjacent buildings in the compound were under attack. When I peeked from the window, it seemed as if it was raining bullets and tank shells on Beit Jala. The view was terrifying.
Suddenly, we heard violent banging on the window and the doors of the guesthouse. I saw an Israeli soldier peeking through the window and banging it. When I approached him, he demanded that I give him the key to the guesthouse. I told the soldier that this is a Church and that he had no right to come in. The soldier quickly replied that this issue was irrelevant and that I should not argue with him. I then told him that there are children here. To that he said, "I know". When I insisted on refusing, he pointed his rifle at my head and demanded the keys again. I had no choice but to comply.
They are now stationed at the rooftops. They fire towards Beit Jala knowing that they are placing us directly in harm's way.
I moved the children to the basement and then quickly called the authorities in Beit Jala and informed them of the situation. They informed me that so far, one Palestinian officer has been martyred and at least seventeen civilians were injured. I was then assured that they would not respond to the Israeli fire coming from our rooftops in order to ensure our safety.
[Beit Jala, Palestine, 28 August 2001, 09:30]: Yesterday's extra-judicial killing, authorized by Israel's "small security kitchen" composed of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Benyamin Eliezer, of Palestinian leader Abu Ali Mustafa was immediately followed by Palestinian protests and violent confrontations with the Israeli occupation forces all over the 1967
occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Among others, shooting was renewed yesterday in the early evening hours between Palestinian forces in the West Bank town of Beit Jala (Bethlehem) and Israeli army forces stationed in the Israeli settlement of Gilo next to Jerusalem, resulting in the slight injury of an Israeli settler. Consequently, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon felt called upon to fulfill his promise, made several weeks ago, that "one more shot on Gilo, and Israeli will enter the PA controlled town of Beit Jala."
At around 01:00 this morning, Israeli tanks and ground forces moved into Beit Jala, coming from the northwestern hill tops. The Israeli movement was confronted with the resistance of Palestinian security forces and residents of the area. One Palestinian security officer, Muhammad Sammour (25) from the Gaza Strip, was reported killed and several persons injured, among them a journalist of the Voice of Palestine radio. As for now (Tuesday, 09:00 a.m.), the Israeli invasion has come to a stand-still, with Israeli tanks stationed in the upper part of the center of Beit Jala in the area of the Orthodox Club. Israeli armed forces control the whole north-western section of the town adjacent to the Gilo settlement and have imposed a curfew on the residents.
Israeli media report that the army has taken control of five Palestinian homes from which fire was allegedly opened on the Gilo settlement. A decision is yet to be taken by the Israeli security cabinet about the possible demolition of these homes, and about whether the current invasion will be permanent or temporary. According to reports of Palestinian residents of the adjacent Aida refugee camp, Israeli armed forces have also occupied a building on the north-western border of the camp. The inhabitants, a family of 20 persons, have been locked into one room, while Israeli soldiers use the rest of the house as a base serving to back-up the Israeli forces present in the center of Beit Jala. Shooting continues, and according to Palestinian sources, the Israeli attack against Aida refugee camp is intensifying and Israeli forces have reached the UNRWA school in the camp.
BADIL Resource Center calls for massive protests against the Israeli policies of de-legitimizing the Palestinian leadership and popular resistance, extra-judicial killings, and the re-invasion of Palestinian controlled territories in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. We are in urgent need of world-wide and strong solidarity to stop the current escalation of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people. In particular, we call upon the participants at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban to take all possible action in order to set the foundations of a world-wide solidarity movement that can isolate the racist and colonialist positions and policies of Israel and its main supporter, the United States, by combining the forces of Arab and international solidarity with the Palestinian people and the worldwide movement against globalization. Only sustained solidarity can put an end to occupation, colonialism, and racism in Palestine and re-establish justice and peace in our region.
August 28, 2001 - Durban, South Africa
Sorry for being out of touch again for a while. Today is the first time I got in hold of Internet access after we left Dheisheh over a week ago.
A group of us - Jihad Abbas, Ziad Abbas, Susanne Abu Tair and Wafa Khatib from Ibdaa Cultural Center, and Barbara Lubin, Executive Director of Middle East Children's Alliance and myself - are here in Durban, South Africa, to participate in World Conference Against Racism (WCAR). As I write this, the opening ceremony of NGO Forum of WCAR is taking place in Kingsmesd Stadium outside of this computer room. The crowd - NGOs and activists from around the world - is cheering to the speech by President Mbeki.
Prior to arriving in Durban 2 days ago, our group spent several days in Johannesburg where Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) of South Africa organized many events on Palestine. Our group was busy being on radio interviews and meeting with human rights activists and community organizations. There is very strong solidarity and support of Palestinian cause here in South Africa. South Africans see the Palestinian struggle paralell to theirs - the injustice, exploitation, oppression and apartheid at hands of colonialists-racists. When we visited the Soweto uprising memorial, our friend and Soweto activist Selva said: "When I see a 9-year old Palestinian Hector Peterson (the first victim of Soweto uprising) standing in front of a tank with a stone in his hand, I see myself."
The US boycott on the conference and flatout rejection of the discussion on Zionism as racism only worked in favor of Palestine solidarity organizing here, by putting the subject on the agenda in the media. PSC already has organized many successful public events, including a Palestine solidarity march in Cape Town attended by 25,000 people. One evening in Johannesburg, PSC organized "Cultural Evening" where Palestinians from Dheisheh and South Africans shared speeches, poetry, music and committment to fight against justice. It was an extremely moving and inspiring evening when over 300 people packed the venue.
Here at the Durban conference, the Palestine question is one of the most important on the agenda. So many people - Arabs and non-Arabs - are wearing kaffiya and T-shirts with various Palestine solidarity or anti-Zionism messages. Each time the word "Palestine" is mentioned in the opening ceremony, cheers and clapping fill the whole stadium. Right now, the entire crowd is singing and dancing with Bob Marly's "One World." After this song, we will have a meeting to organize a mass Palestine march on the 31st, when PSC is planning for an official kick-off for the Anti-Apartheid Campaign Against Israel. more later - Shirabe