Week of January 1, 2009

You can help send medicine to Gaza

Time for Change? - US Network Correspondents Come Home from Iraq - Troops Remain

LI Wins Blog: NAACP Installs Officers - Issues Statement on LI Hate Crimes

East Hampton Star: James Henry on Zellner's Civil Rights Memoir and Activism Today

"Community Discussion" on National Health Plans - Report from Dr. E. Fox

Congress to Bail Out Social Service Agencies-NOT

Peace and Justice Calendar - Ellen Frank's Cities of Peace at Cathedral of St. John the Devine - Wednesday Jan 7 - bus from East End

Suffolk Peace Vigils - East End Women in Black - Sunday January 4 - 3pm at Bridgehampton Monument

Casualties in Iraq - 31 December 08 - 14th soldier death for month- TV Networks Bring Correspondants Home!

Gaza Under Attack: Read, Listen and Act

Israel, U.S. Policies Aided Hamas- Warren Stobel, McLatchy Newspapers
Rabbi Michael Lerner: Right but not smart
Israel is still using a strategy of domination in its struggle with Hamas, trying to use force to gain security. But this is a recipe for endless war.
Palestinian Legislator Mustafa Barghouthi: Palestinian Guernica and Myths of Israeli Victimhood
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: A Call to End Attacks and Their Cause
Let’s be crystal clear. Israel’s massive attacks on Gaza today have one overarching goal: conflict management. How to end rocket attacks on Israel from a besieged and starving Gaza without ending the impetus for those attacks, 41 years of increasingly oppressive Israeli Occupation without a hint that a sovereign and viable Palestinian state will ever emerge.

Phyllis Bennis: The Gaza Crisis
Washington Post: Obama Silent on Gaza - Activists call for Change in Mideast Policy
WPKN "Between The Lines" Interview with Free Gaza Movement's Ramzi Kysia
US based Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) - Sending Medicines to Gaza Now
12-31-08: Barbara Lubin Director of MECA "I will be leaving next week to meet our Gaza Director Dr. Mona El-Farra in Egypt to receive five tons of medicine for infants and children that we purchased and had shipped from Holland. We will also purchase emergency supplies from a Palestinian pharmaceutical company in Cairo to help treat the thousands who have been wounded in the horrific Israeli attacks."

Recommended Reading-click here

The Bone in the Throat - Jeff Halper - Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Iraq, Before, After and Now
Lucero Killing Follows Months of Anti-Immigrant Agitation
Economic Contributions of Immigrants to Long Island

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On 27 December 2008, Dr. Elaine Fox hosted a community discussion on health care at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton. The discussion format was based on the guidelines provided by the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Mark Seidler assisted Dr. Fox by facilitating the discussion.

The instructions provided by the Transition Team framed this discussion as “part of the President-elect’s continuing efforts to reach out and directly involve the American people in their own government. Health care is a top priority for President-elect Obama, and he wants your help in designing a system that provides quality, affordable health care for all Americans.”

Participants responded to 7 questions concerning health care. The results of the discussion were recorded, and Dr. Fox will forward a summary of the group’s responses to the Transition team, as part of a nationwide dialogue process. Participants also completed a 3 question written survey and results are available by request.

There was an overflow crowd in the Maria Cooper room at the library. Among others, the questions asked participants to describe what they saw as the biggest problems in the American health care system, and what they thought were the best ways for policy makers to plan to address these problems.

Central issues discussed were, not surprisingly, the skyrocketing cost of both medical care and medical insurance premiums, the resulting bankruptcies and foreclosures, the impact on American businesses, and the rising numbers of uninsured and underinsured. Also raised were perceptions of waste, lack of transparency, and a general sense of disempowerment of individuals in relation to their health care system.

There was some concern that the major proposed alternative to the present system - the single payer system - was not sufficiently explored. This alternative was favored by many at the meeting.

The format provided by the instructions really only invited discussion around the plan currently being considered by Obama-Biden, which essentially focuses on working with and improving the current system. Even for those who questioned whether a single payer system is desirable or feasible, the time frame allowed only minimal exploration and debate on the complexities of that question.

Intimately tied to this choice (incremental improvement vs. radical change) is the question about the actual and desirable role of the insurance companies. Many in the group saw them as the core of the problem, while others pointed out that they are a political reality, and that any efforts at reform need to include them in the process. Many participants wanted further dialogue, and expressed the desire to have input into the political process as the reform initiatives develop at the national level.

For further information and potential follow-up events, please contact: Dr. Elaine Fox at 631.287.1093, or efoxmd@optonline.net

US Network Correspondants Come Home from Iraq - Troops Remain

Two news items appear today, December 31, 2008 on the web-site icasualties.org

1) 12/31/08 Soldier dies from wounds

The un-identified soldier is the 4,221 st US death since the invasion of Iraq was launched almost six years ago.

2) TV News Winds Down Operations on Iraq War

Palestine’s Guernica and the myths of Israeli victimhood -By Mustafa Barghouthi

Ma'an News Agency

Palestine’s Guernica and the myths of Israeli victimhood -By Mustafa Barghouthi
Date: 30 / 12 / 2008 Time: 18:04
تكبير الخط تصغير الخط
Cartoon by Abu Yusef
The Israeli campaign of ‘death from above’ began around 11am on Saturday morning and stretched straight through the night into Tuesday. The massacre continues as I write these words.

The bloodiest single day in Palestine since the War of 1967 is far from over following on Israel’s promise that this is ‘only the beginning’ of their campaign of state terror. At least 360 people have been murdered thus far, but the body count continues to rise at a dramatic pace as more mutilated bodies are pulled from the rubble, previous victims succumb to their wounds and new casualties are created by the minute.

What has and is occurring is nothing short of a war crime, yet the Israeli public relations machine is in full-swing, churning out lies by the minute.

Once and for all it is time to expose the myths that they have created.

1.Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.
While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.

Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.

2. Israel claims that Hamas violated the cease-fire and pulled out of it unilaterally.
Hamas indeed respected their side of the ceasefire, except on those occasions early on when Israel carried out major offensives in the West Bank. In the last two months, the ceasefire broke down with Israelis killing several Palestinians and resulting in the response of Hamas. In other words, Hamas has not carried out an unprovoked throughout the period of the cease-fire.

Israel, however, did not live up to any of its obligations of ending the siege and allowing vital humanitarian aid to resume in Gaza. Rather than the average of 450 trucks per day being allowed across the border, on the best days, only eighty have been allowed in –with the border remaining hermetically sealed 70% of the time. Throughout the supposed ‘cease-fire’ Gazans have been forced to live like animals, with a total of 262 dying due to the inaccessibility of proper medical care.

Now after hundreds dead and counting, it is Israel who refuses to re-enter talks over a cease-fire. They are not intent on securing peace as they claim; it is more and more clear that they are seeking regime change – whatever the cost.

3. Israel claims to be pursuing peace with peaceful Palestinians.
Before the on-going massacre in the Gaza Strip, and throughout the entirety of the Annapolis Peace Process, Israel has continued and even intensified its occupation of the West Bank. In 2008, settlement expansion increased by a factor of 38, a further 4,950 Palestinians were arrested – mostly from the West Bank, and checkpoints rose from 521 to 699.

Furthermore, since the onset of the peace talks, Israel has killed 546 Palestinians, among them 76 children. These gruesome statistics are set to rise dramatically now, but previous Israeli transgressions should not be forgotten amidst this most recent horror.

Only this morning, Israel shot and killed a young peaceful protester in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, and has injured dozens more over the last few hours. It is certain that they will continue to employ deadly force at non-violent demonstrations and we expect a sizable body count in the West Bank as a result. If Israel is in fact pursuing peace with ‘good Palestinians,’ who are they talking about?

4. Israel is acting in self-defense.
It is difficult to claim self defense in a confrontation which they themselves have sparked, but they are doing it anyway. Self-defense is reactionary, while the actions of Israel over the last two days have been clearly premeditated. Not only did the Israeli press widely report the ongoing public relations campaign being undertaken by Israel to prepare Israeli and international public opinion for the attack, but Israel has also reportedly tried to convince the Palestinians that an attack was not coming by briefly opening crossings and reporting future meetings on the topic. They did so to insure that casualties would be maximized and that the citizens of Gaza would be unprepared for their impending slaughter.

It is also misleading to claim self-defense in a conflict with such an overwhelming asymmetry of power. Israel is the largest military force in the region, and the fifth largest in the world. Furthermore, they are the fourth largest exporter of arms and have a military industrial complex rivaling that of the United States. In other words, Israel has always had a comprehensive monopoly over the use of force, and much like its super power ally, Israel uses war as an advertising showcase of its many instruments of death.

5. Israel claims to have struck military targets only.
Even while image after image of dead and mutilated women and children flash across our televisions, Israel brazenly claims that their munitions expertly struck only military installations. We know this to be false as many other civilian sites have been hit by airstrikes including a hospital and mosque.

In the most densely populated area on the planet, tons upon tons of explosives have been dropped. The first estimates of injured are in the thousands. Israel will claim that these are merely ‘collateral damage’ or accidental deaths. The sheer ridiculousness and inhumanity of such a claim should sicken the world community.

6. Israel claims that it is attacking Hamas and not the Palestinian people.
First and foremost, missiles do not differentiate people by their political affiliation; they simply kill everyone in their path. Israel knows this, and so do Palestinians. What Israel also knows, but is not saying publically, is how much their recent actions will actually strengthen Hamas – whose message of resistance and revenge is being echoed by the angry and grieving.

The targets of the strike, police and not Hamas militants, give us some clue as to Israel’s mistaken intention. They are hoping to create anarchy in the Strip by removing the pillar of law and order.

7. Israel claims that Palestinians are the source of violence.
Let us be clear and unequivocal. The occupation of Palestine since the War of 1967 has been and remains the root of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Violence can be ended with the occupation and the granting of Palestine’s national and human rights. Hamas does not control the West Bank and yet we remain occupied, our rights violated and our children killed.

With these myths understood, let us ponder the real reasons behind these airstrikes; what we find may be even more disgusting than the act itself.

The Israel I leaders are holding press conferences, dressed in black, with sleeves rolled up.

‘It’s time to fight’, they say, ‘but it won’t be easy.’

To prove just how hard it is, Livni, Olmert and Barack did not even wear make-up to the press conference, and Barack has ended his presidential campaign to focus on the Gaza campaign. What heroes…what leaders…

We all know the truth: the suspension of the electioneering is exactly that – electioneering. Like John McCain’s suspension of his presidential campaign to return to Washington to ‘deal with’ the financial crisis, this act is little more than a publicity stunt.

The candidates have to appear ‘tough enough to lead’, and there is seemingly no better way of doing that than bathing in Palestinian blood.

‘Look at me,’ Livni says in her black suit and unkempt hair, ‘I am a warrior. I am strong enough to pull the trigger. Don’t you feel more confident about voting for me, now that you know I am as ruthless as Bibi Netanyahu?’

I do not know which is more disturbing, her and Barack, or the constituency they are trying to please.

In the end, this will in no way improve the security of the average Israeli; in fact it can be expected to get much worse in the coming days as the massacre could presumably provoke a new generation of suicide bombers.

It will not undermine Hamas either, and it will not result in the three fools, Barack, Livni and Olmert, looking ‘tough.’ Their misguided political venture will likely blow up in their faces as did the brutally similar 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

In closing, there is another reason - beyond the internal politics of Israel - why this attack has been allowed to occur: the complicity and silence of the international community.

Israel cannot and would not act against the will of its economic allies in Europe or its military allies in the US. Israel may be pulling the trigger ending hundreds, perhaps even thousands of lives this week, but it is the apathy of the world and the inhumane tolerance of Palestinian suffering which allows this to occur.

‘The evil only exists because the good remain silent’

*** Mustafa Barghouthi is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative