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January 2, 2009
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OF PALESTINE & ISRAEL
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
We recognize that any statement on this crisis is likely to be controversial. The situation in Palestine and Israel itself provokes strong feelings and heated debate. But, as the statement says, silence in the face of such suffering is unsupportable for an organization devoted to peace and social justice.
At the core of this statement is the principle of international working class solidarity, which does not take the side of any government but rather takes the side of all the working people of the region.
In releasing this statement, we are not proposing to change the mission or primary focus of USLAW. But, just as we recognize that the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan are interrelated, we also understand that real peace and stability in the Middle East will not be achieved without a resolution to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. The present crisis could easily spiral out of control and lead to a wider war. The role played by our government is central to this conflict and its resolution.
We are greatly disturbed by the escalation of conflict in the Middle East, particularly Israel's military assault on Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on the planet, and by its ongoing collective punishment of the people of Gaza. The bombing that Israel has undertaken has led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians and the wounding of many hundreds more. Those who seek peace and justice must not remain silent in the face of this aggression and the suffering it has inflicted. We believe that such actions do not and will not serve the interest of peace and greater humanity in the region. Neither Israel nor Hamas is justified in attacking the civilian population of the other.
The U.S. government supplied Israel with the military means to carry out this attack and has generously underwritten the Israeli government and military with tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars. Our government's failure to condemn this latest action makes it complicit. The economic crisis which daily deepens in the US requires that we seriously reorient our foreign policy and stop spending hard earned taxpayer dollars on proxy wars and reinvest the needed resources right here at home.
The U.N. Security Council, issued the following call:
The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza and called for an immediate halt to all violence. The members called on the parties to stop immediately all military activities.
The members of the Council called for all parties to address the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza and to take necessary measures, including opening of border crossings, to ensure the continuous provision of humanitarian supplies, including supplies of food, fuel and provision of medical treatment.
The members of the Council stressed the need for the restoration of calm in full, which will open the way for finding a political solution to the problems existing in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.
We support the call for an end to the violence. We note, however, that the Security Council's inability to take effective actions to uphold the UN Charter, its own previously adopted resolutions and international law - in great part due to the objections of the U.S. - has been part of the problem.
We urge all parties to agree to an immediate cease fire and seek peaceful and lasting solutions. Recent history demonstrates that bombings, rocket attacks, blockades and military invasions won't provide the best road to peace and security for the peoples of the region. Quite the contrary, such actions perpetuate the cycle of death, destruction, fear and heightened insecurity among the people of all countries, including us here in the US, USLAW was founded on the principle of international solidarity, opposition to militarism and respect for international law. We reject the use of military means to resolve international conflicts. The road to peace and security can never be paved with war.
We are guided by the belief that international working class solidarity offers a path to mutual understanding and peace. Working people of the U.S., Iraq, Iran, Israel, Palestine and throughout the Middle East must reach across the borders of our differences to create a common ground for mutual understanding that will create the peace, prosperity and security to which we all are entitled.
If Gaza falls . . .
Israel's siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then. Israel's siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt. That is why the Israelis tolerate the hundreds of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt around which an informal but increasingly regulated commercial sector has begun to form. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. In fact the prospect of steady employment is rapidly disappearing for the majority of the population.
On 5 November the Israeli government sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. Food, medicine, fuel, parts for water and sanitation systems, fertiliser, plastic sheeting, phones, paper, glue, shoes and even teacups are no longer getting through in sufficient quantities or at all. According to Oxfam only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza in November. This means that an average of 4.6 trucks per day entered the strip compared to an average of 123 in October this year and 564 in December 2005. The two main food providers in Gaza are the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). UNRWA alone feeds approximately 750,000 people in Gaza, and requires 15 trucks of food daily to do so. Between 5 November and 30 November, only 23 trucks arrived, around 6 per cent of the total needed; during the week of 30 November it received 12 trucks, or 11 per cent of what was required. There were three days in November when UNRWA ran out of food, with the result that on each of these days 20,000 people were unable to receive their scheduled supply. According to John Ging, the director of UNRWA in Gaza, most of the people who get food aid are entirely dependent on it. On 18 December UNRWA suspended all food distribution for both emergency and regular programmes because of the blockade.
Balance of article . . . .
Talking Points #63
The Gaza Crisis: December 2008
By Phyllis Bennis
Institute for Policy Studies
28 December 2008
The death toll in Gaza continues to rise. The carnage is everywhere - city streets, a mosque, hospitals, police stations, a jail, a university bus stop, a plastics factory, a television station. It seems impossible, unacceptable, to step back to analyze the situation while bodies remain buried under the rubble, while parents continue to search for their missing children, while doctors continue to labor to stitch burned and broken bodies back together without sufficient medicine or equipment. The hospitals are running short even of electricity-the Israeli blockade has denied them fuel to run the generators. It is an ironic twist on the legacy of Israel's involvement in an earlier massacre - in the Sabra and Shatila camps, in Lebanon back in 1982, it was the Israeli soldiers who lit the flares, lighting the night sky so their Lebanese allies could continue to kill.
But if we are serious about ending this carnage, this time, we have no choice but to try to analyze, try to figure out what caused this most recent massacre, how to stop it, and then how to continue our work to end the occupation, end Israel's apartheid policies, and change U.S. policy to one of justice and equality for all.
The Israeli airstrikes represent serious violations of international law - including the Geneva Conventions and a range of international humanitarian law.
The U.S. is complicit in the Israeli violations - directly and indirectly.
The timing of the air strikes has far more to do with U.S. and Israeli politics than with protecting Israeli civilians.
This serious escalation will push back any chance of serious negotiations between the parties that might have been part of the Obama administration's plans.
There is much work to be done.
Balance of Talking Points . . . .
Poll: Majority of Democrats
Oppose Israeli Attack on Gaza
More oddities in the U.S. "debate" over Israel/Gaza
Friday Jan. 2, 2009 05:34 EST
This Rasmussen Reports poll -- the first to survey American public opinion specifically regarding the Israeli attack on Gaza -- strongly bolsters the severe disconnect I
documented the other day between (a) American public opinion on U.S. policy towards Israel and (b) the consensus views expressed by America's political leadership. Not only does Rasmussen find that Americans generally "are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip" (44-41%, with 15% undecided), but Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive -- by a 24-point margin (31-55%). By stark constrast, Republicans, as one would expect (in light of their history of supporting virtually any proposed attack on Arabs and Muslims), overwhelmingly support the Israeli bombing campaign (62-27%).
Balance of article . . . .
Gaza today: 'This is only the beginning'
By Ewa Jasiewicz Date : 12-28-2008
Throughout the course of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Ewa Jasiewicz, born in Poland but now residing in England, has been a stalwart supporter of the Iraqi workers movement and in particular of the Federation of Oil Unions. She has organized solidarity actions and support for the unions of Iraq and the people of Palestine. She was present in Gaza when the attacks occurred. Here she documents the human toll of the Israeli attacks.
As I write this, Israeli jets are bombing the areas of Zeitoun and Rimal in central GazaCity. The family I am staying with has moved into the internal corridor of their home to shelter from the bombing. The windows nearly blew out just five minutes ago as a massive explosion rocked the house. Apache's are hovering above us, whilst F16s sear overhead.
UN radio reports say one blast was a target close to the main gate of Al Shifa hospital - Gaza and Palestine's largest medical facility. Another was a plastics factory. More bombs continue to pound the Strip.
Sirens are wailing on the streets outside. Regular power cuts that plunge the city into blackness every night and tonight is no exception. Only perhaps tonight it is the darkest night people have seen here in their lifetimes.
Balance of article . . . .
Israel's 'victories' in Gaza
The Jewish ethical tradition
means embracing Palestinians, too.
By Sara Roy
from the January 2, 2009 edition
Cambridge, Mass. - I hear the voices of my friends in Gaza as clearly as if we were still on the phone; their agony echoes inside me. They weep and moan over the death of their children, some, little girls like mine, taken, their bodies burned and destroyed so senselessly.
One Palestinian friend asked me, "Why did Israel attack when the children were leaving school and the women were in the markets?" There are reports that some parents cannot find their dead children and are desperately roaming overflowing hospitals.
As Jews celebrated the last night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights commemorating our resurgence as a people, I asked myself: How am I to celebrate my Jewishness while Palestinians are being killed?
Balance of article . . . .
readiness for "cease-fire"
01.01.09 - 19:53
ImageGaza / PNN - For the fourth time since the Israeli massacre on the Gaza Strip began on Saturday morning, the Hamas government says it will accept a "cease-fire."
Although Hamas's armed resistance wing, Al Qassam Brigades, is just one of several that launch crude weapons from the Strip, international claims of responsibility has remained in the party's lap.
The Israeli and American administrations have referred to "Hamas rocket attacks" dozens of times as being to blame for the Israeli killing spree that has left 417 Palestinians dead as of 7:30 pm Thursday.
This time Hamas is again saying that it is ready to accept the Paris initiative, which it also accepted yesterday when it was issued, and the day before when it was suggested. The Israeli administration refused the request for a 48 hour "cease-fire" to allow humanitarian aid into the Strip which came out of the European Union Foreign Minister's meeting held in the French capital.
Balance of article . . . .
to Stop the Bloodshed
Petition to the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Arab League and the USA:
We urge you to act immediately to ensure a comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, to protect civilians on all sides, and to address the growing humanitarian crisis. Only through robust international action and oversight can the bloodshed be stopped, the Gaza crossings safely re-opened and real progress made toward a wider peace in 2009.
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