Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

Leave a comment

Freedom Theatre under attack – again

In the early hours of March 19, Israeli soldiers took Mustafa Sheta from his home.  Sheta’s arrest came a few days before the Freedom Theatre’s annual General Assembly in Jenin.

Mustafa Sheta, Freedom TheatreThis is the latest in a long series of assaults by the Israeli occupation forces on personnel of the Freedom Theatre, a vibrant cultural centre in the Jenin refugee camp.

Thirty-five, father of three children, Mustafa Sheta is secretary of the Theatre’s board. He is also a researcher and journalist, with a well-known commitment to social and humanitarian activism. He works with the United Nations, and is currently studying for a Masters degree.  Recently he won an honours award and plans to pursue further studies in London, England later this spring.

“Since Mustafa joined the board last year he has been a tremendous resource for the theatre”, says Jonatan Stanczak, managing director of The Freedom Theatre. “His dedication, involvement and communication skills have meant a lot to us.  We are doing all we can to follow his case.  Until recently there was no information at all available but we just learned that there will be a court hearing in a few days.”

For more on Freedom Theatre programs, go here.

For a vivid portrait of the Freedom Theatre in action, see Our Way to Fight, chapter 2.

Leave a comment

Israel: the morning after

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gestures to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv

Two Jewish responses to yesterday’s elections in Israel.  Both are published on Mondoweiss, March 18, 2015.

Netanyahu won.  Now what?  Avigail Abarbanel.

Who can save Israel now?  Philip Weiss.

Avigail Abarbanel: “The message to those of us who support the Palestinians is to get ready to escalate our support. It is about to get very very tough.”

BDS: more than ever, the best chance for real change.



1 Comment

War crimes

Day 19 of the Israeli attack on Gaza. The toll until now:

  • 928 Palestinians killed, 764 of them civilians, including 215 children and 118 women
  • 4,663 Palestinians wounded, mostly civilians, including 1,358 children and 932 women
  • 561 houses destroyed and hundreds of others extensively
  • thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced
  • Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a non-governmental organization based in Gaza City.

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZAThe Israeli military assault also continues in the West Bank: Six Palestinians killed (on July 26) in West Bank protests against Gaza slaughter.

These war crimes could not continue without enablers, accomplices.

On July 23 the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) met in special session to consider the matter of war crimes, and decided “… to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after….”

The 47-member council voted 29-1 in favor of the resolution. 17 members (11 of them European) abstained. Only one country voted to oppose the commission of inquiry: the United States. (Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are members of the council.) Despite the US, the commission of inquiry will proceed.

For people of conscience who feel helpless to stop these war crimes, the international boycott, investment & sanctions (BDS) movement offers these suggestions for action.


Leave a comment

“We will not be silent.”

Q (usually rhetorical, not wishing to hear an answer): Where are the Palestinian Ghandis?

A:  Through six decades of Israeli military occupation, countless Palestinians have engaged in nonviolent resistance to the occupation. Many Ghandis have been killed by the Israeli military, and several thousand are currently held in Israeli prisons, many without charge.  The Israeli authorities keep trying to break the resistance with terror and violence.  Non-violent resistance complicates their perpetual propaganda goal: to equate Palestinian resistance with terrorism, and to portray Israelis as perpetual victims.  But still, despite everything, resistance continues.

This is the story of one Palestinian Ghandi who needs our help – or at least our voices.

Hassan KarajahHassan Karajah

Grassroots International, which “works to create a just and sustainable world by building alliances with progressive movements,” reports:

Can you imagine what it would be like if military forces came to your home in the middle of the night, searched your mother, brother, and sisters (including a young child), ransacked your family’s belongings,  blindfolded and arrested you, all without any known charges?

This is what happened just two weeks ago to Hassan Karajah, Youth Coordinator of Grassroots International’s partner, Stop the Wall.  (More detail about Hassan and the arrest.)

Will you stand with us to take action and demand Hassan’s immediate release?

For years, he has been organizing Palestinian youth throughout the West Bank to defend their human rights, develop leadership skills and mobilizing nonviolent resistance to the Wall and to the Israeli occupation.

Hassan played an important role in the coalition of youth groups, farmers and trade unions which, together with international supporters, came together in January to occupy land in an area slated by the Israeli government for settlement expansion in the West Bank, Bab Al-Shams.  Is it a coincidence that Hassan was arrested just two weeks after the Israeli government forcibly evicted Palestinians from this area?

In a May 2012 interview, Hassan Karajah said: “The repression we are currently facing…is simply an attempt to cancel our right to freedom of expression and assembly…. We are apparently asked to sit at home and watch our last lands being confiscated, our homes demolished and thousands of Palestinians being taken away to Israeli jails, many even without trials or charges.  But we will not sit at home and we will not be silent.”

For the past two weeks, Hassan has been held in an interrogation facility, and has reportedly been badly beaten.  No known charges that have been brought against him, and as of this writing he has not been allowed to see his lawyer.

This is not the first time that Israeli forces have detained partners of Grassroots International without charges. Recently leaders of both Stop the Wall and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees were summarily arrested and thrown into detention facilities.

Your action – and the support of thousands of others like you – successfully pushed for the release of human rights defenders in the past.  Together with the efforts of Stop the Wall and international allies, we can do it again, at the same time demanding an end to the criminalization of all human rights defenders and social movements everywhere that fight for rights to land, water, and food sovereignty.

“We will not be silent,” Hassan Karajah said.

Please take a minute to make your voice heard on behalf of Hassan, here via Grassroots International, or here via Stop the Wall.