Tag Archives: Gaza

Stories for the Weekend

1. Benighted wasteland Texas provides two stories, elected official Louie Gohmert, (R-Texas), reveals his understanding of a fiendish plot whereby terrorist pregnant ladies give birth in the US, then whisk their babies back to the Axis of Evil to rear them as Manchurian candidates…much like Barack Obama, himself.

…And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby,” said Gohmert. “They wouldn’t even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.

“Coddled”? And by the way, why wouldn’t they have to pay anything for the baby? I mean, babies are free, in the sense that they just come right out of your body, but usually there are at least hospital bills involved.

Rep Gohmert is apparently climbing aboard the “ignore the 14th amendment” bandwagon that is gaining ground among Constitution-loving Americans.

2. Which reminds me to post a link a to this cool campaign by United Farm Workers. You think Mexicans are stealing your jobs? Apply for those jobs here.

3. Also in Texas news, taking a page from shariah law, the state GOP includes recriminalization of oral sex in its party platform.

I assume somewhere it also says it wants less government interference in people’s private lives.

4. Israel has seized seven oxygen machines that were donated to the Palestinian authority.

Israel confiscated seven oxygen machines en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza based on the claim that there was a chance the generators attached to the machines would not be used for medical purposes, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Saturday.

5. Real Middle East expert Juan Cole is getting tired of dealing with fake Middle East experts. Also, this:

More recently I have provoked the ire of a burly former Israeli military prison guard at the notorious Ketziot detention camp during the first Intifada, who is among our foremost journalists of the Middle East and given a prominent perch at The Atlantic magazine–Jeffrey Goldberg.

Goldberg has not only not exactly been at the forefront of the peace movement, he has argued and agitated against doing anything practical to achieve this increasingly unlikely goal. He is the Rottweiler of ideologues when it comes to making sure that no Israeli policy is ever criticized by anyone without his branding the critics bigots and even genocidal. Since, as noted, Goldberg is possibly still an Israeli army reservist and actively served in the Israeli Army as a prison guard during the first Intifada or Palestinian uprising, I can’t understand why anyone takes him seriously when he lashes out at critics of Israeli policy. I mean, what would you expect? If an Arab-American had served in the Palestine Authority police, would anyone give him a perch at The Atlantic and routinely bring him on CNN to denounce critics of Mahmoud Abbas?

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Seriously, Israel?

AP story here.

JERUSALEM – Israeli commandos on Monday stormed six ships carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid mission to the blockaded Gaza Strip, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens

Twice in this story there’s a claim by the Israelis that the civilians on the ship used weapons seized from Israeli commandos. I’m trying to figure out how the civilians seized weapons from soldiers who hadn’t attacked them yet. I’m really trying to figure out how the civilians seized weapons from Israeli commandos at all.

Does this make sense to anyone? A little help here?

An Al-Jazeera reporter on one of the Turkish ships said the Israelis fired at the vessel before boarding it. The Israelis, who had declared they would not let the ships reach Gaza, said they only opened fire after being attacked by activists with sticks, knives and live fire from weapons seized from the Israeli commandos.

The Israeli military said troops only opened fire after encountering unexpected resistance from the activists. Activists attacked troops with knives and iron rods, and opened fire with two pistols seized from the forces.

Response so far:

The tough Israeli response drew condemnations from Turkey, France and the U.N.’s Mideast envoy, while Greece suspended a military exercise with Israel and postponed a visit by Israel’s air force chief.

About 10,000 Turks also marched from Israel’s Consulate in Istanbul toward the city’s main square, shouting slogans denouncing Israel. The protesters earlier Monday tried storm the Consulate building but were blocked by police.

The Israeli ambassadors in Sweden, Spain, Denmark and Greece were summoned for meetings, and the French foreign minister called for an investigation.

In neighboring Jordan, hundreds demonstrated in the capital Amman to protest the Israeli action and demand that their government breaks diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

The United Nations expressed “shock” and condemned the killings. “We are in contact with the Israeli authorities to express our deep concern and to seek a full explanation,” said a statement from the highest-ranking U.N. official in the region, Robert Serry.

Presumably the US response will be, “Israel has a right to defend its territory.” What do you think?

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UPDATE: the AP story at the link now is not the same story I linked to this morning. Additional information has been added and quotes have been removed. Sorry about that; I have no control over altering the news.
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UPDATE: Swedish novelist Henning Mankell was on board one of the ships and is reported to be fine.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is publishing some editorials highly critical of the raid. I wish we would publish such things here in the US. A couple of titles:

Seven Idiots in the Cabinet

and Gaza Flotilla Drives Israel into a Sea of Stupidity.

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Surfing in Gaza

Here’s a BBC story about surfing in Gaza, titled Gazan Surfers Brave the Sewage–ick.

The waves can be bad though.

The sea around Gaza is heavily polluted with at least 60 million litres of raw and partially treated sewage being pumped into it every day.

“We have to choose the days carefully when we surf,” says Mr Abu Jayab, “and some parts of the beaches are cleaner than others.”

Most of the surfers are young men in their twenties and thirties.

Mr Caberetti says a lot of them are unemployed and have time on their hands.

The United Nations say unemployment is more than 40% in Gaza.

The inspiration for the surf club came from overseas, thousands of kilometres away in California.

Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz is a surfing legend.

The 89-year-old has been surfing for more than 70 years and still surfs today.

Several years ago he read an article in the Los Angeles Times newspaper about a couple of men surfing in Gaza.

“I saw the picture of the two Arabs in the newspaper and they had one lousy beat-up board between them,” he said in an interview with the BBC near his home in southern California. “And I said this simply won’t do.”

Gaza has been under a tightened Israeli and Egyptian blockade for almost three years, with only limited humanitarian aid allowed in.

Israel says this is necessary to stop weapons being smuggled into Palestinian militants and to pressure the Islamic movement Hamas which controls the territory and refuses to renounce violence or recognise Israel.

But the blockade means it has been very difficult to get surfboards into Gaza.

Mr Paskowitz, who is Jewish himself, decided to personally hand deliver 15 new boards to Gaza in 2007.

But when he arrived at the Erez border crossing, the main Israeli checkpoint into Gaza, he was told by Israeli security officers he was not allowed to pass and the Gaza surfers were not permitted to cross the border to collect the boards.

“I said to the Israeli soldier ‘I came half way around the world, 12,000 miles, to deliver these boards. Would you let an old Jew fail?'”, says Mr Paskowitz.

“I said to the guy, these guys are 50ft away. Are you going to let them come through here and get these boards?”

Mr Paskowitz describes how he leant over and kissed the Israeli border guard before the soldier eventually allowed the Palestinian surfers to come and collect the boards.

Here’s another, somewhat longer story on the topic from Der Spiegel online.

Israeli settlers surfed in Gaza before the military occupation ended in 2005. But the sport was slower to take hold among Palestinians. The first Palestinian surfer in Gaza is considered to be Salah Abu Khamil, now a dignified-looking man in his forties with short salted hair and a wrestler’s build. He made his first board from a wooden plank in about 1983. “He was working in Israel, and he saw surfing on Israeli TV,” Mohamed said, translating. “But he started here, in Gaza. He painted his homemade board, and used knives for fins.”

Gaza Surf Relief web site here.

Gaza Surf Club bilingual web site here.

Surfing for Peace website here.

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Amnesty Intl Report on Gaza Blitz

Reported in BBC News:

Israel committed war crimes and carried out reckless attacks and acts of wanton destruction in its Gaza offensive, an independent human rights report says.

Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed using high-precision weapons, while others were shot at close range, the group Amnesty International says.

Israel has attributed some civilian deaths to “professional mistakes”, but has dismissed wider criticism that its attacks were indiscriminate and disproportionate.

Amnesty says some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the 22-day Israeli offensive between 27 December 2008 and 17 January 2009, which agrees broadly with Palestinian figures.

More than 900 of these were civilians, including 300 children and 115 women, it says.

In March, Israel’s military said the overall Palestinian death toll was 1,166, of whom 295 were “uninvolved” civilians.

The 117-page report by Amnesty International says many of the hundreds of civilian deaths in the conflict “cannot simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage’ incidental to otherwise lawful attacks – or as mistakes”.

It says “disturbing questions” remain unanswered as to why children playing on roofs and medical staff attending the wounded were killed by “highly accurate missiles” whose operators had detailed views of their targets.

Lives were lost because Israeli forces “frequently obstructed access to medical care,” the report says. It also reiterates previous condemnations of the use of “imprecise” weapons such as white phosphorous and artillery shells.

The destruction of homes, businesses and public buildings was in many cases “wanton and deliberate” and “could not be justified on the grounds of military necessity”, the report adds.

The document also gives details of several cases where it says people – including women and children posing no threat to troops – were shot at close range as they were fleeing their homes in search of shelter.

The Amnesty report says no evidence was found that Palestinian militants had forced civilians to stay in buildings being used for military purposes, contradicting Israeli claims that Hamas repeatedly used “human shields”.

In the cases it had investigated, Amnesty said civilian deaths “could not be explained as resulting from the presence of fighters shielding among civilians, as the Israeli army generally contends”.

However, Amnesty does accuse Israel of using civilians, including children, as human shields in Gaza, forcing them to remain in houses which its troops were using as military positions, and to inspect sites suspected of being booby trapped.

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Mostly Just Links

A couple odds and ends that didn’t quite inspire me to write a whole post about them.
The US embassy in Baghdad is finally open for business.

BAGHDAD – The United States inaugurated its largest embassy ever on Monday, a fortress-like compound in the heart of the Green Zone — and the most visible sign of what U.S. officials call a new chapter in relations between America and a more sovereign Iraq.

U.S. Marines raised the American flag over the adobe-colored buildings, which sit on a 104-acre site and has space for 1,000 employees — more than 10 times the size of any other American Embassy in the world.

You may not remember that this behemoth was supposed to open in September of 2007. I was kind of hoping they’d take Mr Shamoo’s advice and donate it to Iraq as a university, instead, but no dice. Instead the US is going to monopolize 104 acres (> 80 football fields) of prime riverfront property, no matter how much the Iraqis resent it.

No word on how many of the 1,000 employees speak Arabic. At last check, it was either six or ten.

Raed Jarrar settled for $240,000 in his lawsuit against Jet Blue and the TSA, who still claim they did nothing wrong and they just didn’t want to keep paying legal fees. If you don’t remember, airline and TSA employees flew into a tizzy because Jarrar terroristically wore a t-shirt with *gasp* Arabic writing on it. One federal employee told him that was like walking into a bank wearing a shirt saying, “I’m going to rob you.”


This is Raed Jarrar.

Incidentally, if you want a tee shirt with Arabic on it, try Calligraphize, over in my blog roll over on the right side of the screen. You can even custom order.

And here’s an interactive guide to the Israeli attacks on Gaza. On day 16 there are 846 Palestinians dead and 3200 injured.

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More on Israel’s “Screw You” to Us All

From Juan Cole’s blog, Informed Comment:

Israel blames Hamas for primitive homemade rocket attacks on the nearby Israeli city of Sederot. In 2001-2008, these rockets killed about 15 Israelis and injured 433, and they have damaged property. In the same period, Gazan mortar attacks on Israel have killed 8 Israelis.

Since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Israelis have killed nearly 5000 Palestinians, nearly a thousand of them minors. Since fall of 2007, Israel has kept the 1.5 million Gazans under a blockade, interdicting food, fuel and medical supplies to one degree or another. Wreaking collective punishment on civilian populations such as hospital patients denied needed electricity is a crime of war.

The Israelis on Saturday killed 5% of all the Palestinians they have killed since the beginning of 2001! 230 people were slaughtered in a day, over 70 of them innocent civilians. In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas. The infliction of this sort of death toll is known in the law of war as a disproportionate response, and it is a war crime.

and

The US, which for some odd reason holds an irrational hatred of the Palestinians, branded the dead Gaza policemen “thugs” and blamed the massive aerial strikes solely on Hamas, the fundamentalist Muslim party that controls Gaza.

I wish I could say that I hope for better under an Obama administration, but realistically, I don’t.

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I changed the title because I realized not everyone would realize I was being sarcastic.

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A Letter to Santa

Another WordPress blog has a Palestinian Muslim’s letter to Santa.

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