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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Credible Voices declare Palestine Besieged Not Forever

“Only extreme arrogance” believes a beleaguered people will forever tolerate 
intolerable cruelty
Editing by Carolyn Bennett
What we are doing in the Middle East and against the peoples of these great lands falls far short of America’s promise as a great nation. Outstanding political activist Hanan Ashrawi says what many others think. “So far, the United States has not lived up to any expectations. …   

As they (the United States) should be on the side of genuine peace and human rights, everything we have seen from the United States has been fully supportive to Israel and the Israeli violence and occupation against Palestinians.

 Ismail Haniyeh

Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
“The demands of our people are clear,” Ismail
Haniyeh says. “The aggression must be stopped, and a guarantee should be given [that] it would not be repeated.

“This unjust blockade that our Palestinian people are living in… the blockade must be lifted.”

Ismail Haniyeh was born in the Al-Shati refugee camp in the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ismail Haniyeh’s parents became refugees after fleeing their homes, which were located close to what is now Ashkelon, Israel.  He attended United Nations-run schools and in 1987, graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza with a degree in Arabic literature.


   n an interview with U.S. interviewers on Sunday July 20, 2014, Hanan Ashrawi said that she cannot take the “language,” “the propaganda,” “the mantra that Israel has a right to defend itself.

“Against whom,” she asks: “Against innocent civilians? More than 80 children torn to bits-- Is this self-defense?” These, she said, “are war crimes being committed before the world, before the eyes of the whole world and I just cannot understand how people sit back and say [it is] self-defense.”

Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian legislator, activist, scholar, Member of the PLO Executive Committee
Palestinians to UN
International Criminal Court in The Hague
International Court for Justice at UN

International Criminal Court
Two years ago Hanan Ashrawi spoke of Israeli crimes, the prosecution of these crimes, justice for Palestinians and their self-determination.

“If Israel is not guilty of war crimes or crimes against humanity, then it has no reason to worry and to fear the International Criminal Court and International Court for Justice. 

“…The attack on Gaza indicates that finally we do need to deal with the real causes. We need a real solution. We don’t need ceasefires and we don’t need bandage treatments. It is time that the Palestinians gain their freedom and their right to self-determination.”

Going to the United Nations, “we do not believe can in any way be misconstrued as being unilateral; it is not. It is a commitment to international law and to responsibility as an equal player on the international arena and if there are to be negotiations then this would form the basis of negotiations because international law should be the basis of negotiations -- something Israel has rejected and Netanyahu has refused to acknowledge. That means that Israel will be a neighbor negotiating with a state and occupying another state, rather than pretending that our territory is up for grasp or is  only disputed.”

“We don’t have unrealistic expectations, we know the occupation will not disappear, we know that there might be certain consequences because Israel or the U.S. feels that they have to punish us.… Lately Canada feels like it has to outdo Israel in terms of its positions; they are also threatening to cut aid and relations.… [However]

As we are moving ahead, Israel and the U.S. and a handful of countries will find themselves on the wrong side of morality, justice, and on the wrong side of the law ….

“Hopefully, [the United States] will grasp the opportunity quickly to show that they can rectify their position and undo a serious mistake that has undermined the American standing and interest throughout the region, and that they can demonstrate that they really are for those principles that they say they support in the ‘Arab spring’ and yet they deny us as Palestinians those principles and rights.”

Hon. Hanan Ashrawi
Hanan Ashrawi is author of Anthology of Palestinian Literature (ed); The Modern Palestinian Short Story: An Introduction to Practical Criticism; Contemporary Palestinian Literature under Occupation; Contemporary Palestinian Poetry and Fiction; Literary Translation: Theory and Practice; This Side of Peace: A Personal Account.

Her activism extends to the early 1970s. Ashrawi serves on advisory boards of the World Bank Middle East and North Africa (MENA), United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), the International Human Rights Council and others. She received academic (undergraduate, graduate, doctoral) credentials at the American University of Beirut and the University of Virginia (USA).

Beleaguered Forever?


oday, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman asked what constitutes the siege of Gaza. “When you talk about the siege,” she said, “it is not something that’s covered very much in the United States.  Can you just elaborate more fully what you mean when Palestinians say ‘lift the siege.’?” Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who is an Egyptian-born journalist and Democracy Now correspondent answered.

Palestinians can’t get in or out of Gaza.
They are prevented by Israel.
They are prevented by Egypt-- which largely executes U.S. and Israeli policy.

Foods, basic goods, the right to import and export, all of these things are [prohibited]

This has devastated Gaza’s economy. It has devastated people’s lives. People feel trapped. They often speak of how they live in the biggest open-air prison in the world.

Even access to the sea, fishermen cannot go out more than a couple of kilometers (2 kilometers are equivalent to 1.2 miles) to go fish, where Israeli warships await them.

This war exacerbates all those effects, he said.
You feel [and] hear drones in the air. You hear the booms of the ships.

Even if you wanted to leave, you couldn’t. Even if journalists wanted to leave today, they couldn’t. Erez crossing was closed, the border with Israel, and the Egyptian border is closed, as well. There are no shelters.

Walled out and walled in

Wikipedia notes: “Entry into the Gaza Strip by land is through five crossing points: the northern Erez Crossing into Israel, the southern Rafah Crossing into Egypt, and the eastern Karni Crossing used only for cargo. Other cargo crossing points are the Kerem Shalom Crossing on the border with Egypt and the Sufa Crossing farther north.”  [To attempt passage for goods and services, tunnels have been built.]

“The Israel−Gaza barrier is a border barrier first constructed by Israel in 1994 between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The barrier was extended in 2005 to cover the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt (the Egypt-Gaza barrier). The fence-- made up of wire fencing with posts, sensors and buffer zones on lands bordering Israel, and concrete and steel walls on lands bordering Egypt-- runs along the entire land border of the Gaza Strip.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Gaza_Strip_barrier]

Sharif Abdel Kouddous continues

There is no air defense system, no sirens [to alert the people]. There is nowhere to run. You don’t know where is safe.

People are dying inside their homes and inside hospitals—not from their wounds, but from being bombed and wounded again by the Israeli military.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous is an Egyptian-American journalist based in Cairo, a correspondent for Democracy Now and a fellow with the Nation Institute (USA). Before his current position, according to a Wikipedia article, “Kouddous was an investment banker in the leveraged buyout division of Bank of America and volunteered with Democracy Now then became a full-time DN producer and occasional correspondent and co-host. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharif_Abdel_Kouddous]

Cruelty not forever endured

Also in interview today on Democracy Now was Israel-born Gideon Levy who marveled at what the Israeli siege of Gaza did or did not accomplish. “Any siege can be broken for certain purposes,” he said, “but the siege breaks the people of Gaza and pushes them again and again to the corner --to the corner of violence and to the corner of desperation.”

“Israel has to react and has to defend itself, but,” Levy, directing a series of questions to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asks “Where did it start?

[Did] those rockets fall on our heads just by chance?  
[Is] there no context to this?
[Was there not] the breaking of the political negotiations by the Israelis refusing to release some few veteran prisoners?

[Was there] not a war declared on Hamas in the West Bank after the kidnap and the murder of three Israeli youngsters, arresting 500 Hamas activists who were not involved in this kidnap?
Gideon Levy

Did Israel not stop the salaries—stop the transfer of the salaries to 40,000 Hamas workers, employees in Gaza?

What did Israel think?

Wasn’t Israel against the [Fatah-Hamas] unity government?

Did Israel think that all this will pass like nothing and Hamas will accept everything?

 “I have news,” Levy concludes, “Those who believe that nothing will happen were either extremely arrogant or blind or both.”

Gideon Levy was born in Tel Aviv, the son of Heinz Loewy, who had been born Czechoslovakia and had fled the Nazis in 1939. In 1974, Levy was drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces and served as a reporter for Israel Army Radio. He later was an aide to then Israeli Labor Party leader, Shimon Peres. IN the early 1980s, he began his work as a journalist with the Israeli daily Haaretz and he is quoted saying it is here that his views on Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians began changing. Today Gideon Levy is credited with being an Israeli journalist who writes opinion pieces and a weekly column for the newspaper Haaretz that often focus on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_Levy]. Today Levy told Amy Goodman that he has to have security around him because his life is often threatened because of his writings.

Sources and notes

Ismail Haniyeh translation excerpted at Democracy Now July 22, 2014, http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/22/what_does_hamas_really_want_israeli

“Ashrawi: Israel Commits War Crimes in Gaza: RAMALLAH, July 21, 2014 (WAFA) - PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi described during a TV interview the Israeli killing of Palestinians in Gaza as ‘war crimes’ and a ‘deliberate massacre.’” http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=25948

“Ashrawi: Voting for Palestine, is Voting for Justice and Peace” by: Tala Al-Rimawi,

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi speaking Ramallah, November 28, 2012 (WAFA)

“‘A Place of Indescribable Loss’: As Ceasefire Talks Begin, Israel Bombs Hospital, Mosques and Homes,” July 22, 2014, http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/22/a_place_of_indescribable_loss_as

“What Does Hamas Really Want? Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy on Ending the Crippling Blockade of Gaza,” July 22, 2014, http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/22/what_does_hamas_really_want_israeli


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