Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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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.

 


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How did all this happen?

In 1907 British civil servants prepared a report on the Middle East for the Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. As the United States does now, the British imperial regime treated the rest of the world as its private estate.

A key paragraph of the Bannerman report lays out the foundation for all that followed, including the current assault on Gaza:

“There are people [MR: the inhabitants of the Middle East] who control spacious territories teeming with manifest and hidden resources. They dominate the intersections of world routes. Their lands were the cradles of human civilizations and religions.  These people have one faith, one language, one history and the same aspirations.   No natural barriers can isolate these people from one another … if, per chance, this nation were to be unified into one state, it would then take the fate of the world into its hands and would separate Europe from the rest of the world.  Taking these considerations seriously, [bold added] a foreign body should be planted in the heart of this nation to prevent the convergence of its wings in such a way that it could exhaust its powers in never-ending wars. It could also serve as a springboard for the West to gain its coveted objects.”

[Dan Bar-On & Sami Adwan, THE PRIME SHARED HISTORY PROJECT, in Educating Toward a Culture of Peace, pages 309–323, Information Age Publishing, 2006.]

Ten years later, in the now infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British government prepared the ground for planting that “foreign body”. In a letter to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour declared:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Just like that. So easy.  At the stroke of a pen.

Gaza City, ruinsGaza City, under Israeli bombs, July 2014.

 

 

 

 


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Stop arming Israel

TAKE ACTION NOW.

israeli attack jetIsraeli attack jet.

Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression.

Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and arms trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world.

Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams have published an open letter calling on the UN and governments around the world to impose a military embargo on Israel.

Add your voice to the call here.

Other signatories include Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, playwright Caryl Churchill, US rapper Boots Riley, João Antonio Felicio, the president of the International Trade Union Confederation, and Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions [and many others].

By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Call for a military embargo here.

The international call will be presented to the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights when they take up their post in September 2014.

Please give this message wings, pass it on widely.

Fact sheet: The case for a military embargo on Israel.

Our Way to Fight: voices of resistance in Palestine and Israel.

 


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“Please, do what you can.”

A letter from Mads Gilbert, Norwegian emergency room doctor, at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, July 19, 2014. Via Mondoweiss.

Gaza ruinsGaza City neighborhood of Shuja’iyeh, after July 19 Israeli air and ground assault.

Dearest friends,

The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24 hour shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment, all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS!

Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!).

My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” [endurance, steadfastness] gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.

Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away…to be prepared again, to be repeated all over.

More then 100 cases came to Shifa last 24 hours. Enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday’s hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormously resolute.

And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flows, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!

And then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16s, the sickening drones (Arabic ‘Zennanis’, the hummers), and the clattering Apaches [assault helicopters]. So much made and paid in and by the US.

Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?

I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe.  I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.

Nobody with a heart AND power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.

But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another “dahyia” assault on Gaza. [Dahyia: an Israeli military doctrine in which the army deliberately targets civilian infrastructure, as a means of inducing suffering for the civilian population].

The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.

Please. Do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue.

Mads Gilbert
Gaza, Occupied Palestine

Mads Gilbert volunteers in Gaza. He is Professor and Clinical Head, the Clinic of Emergency Medicine, at the University Hospital of North Norway, in Tromsø, Norway.

 


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UPDATE – From inside Gaza

In case you joined this blog in the past few days, and have not received notice of the previous post (From inside Gaza…), here’s an update:

July 17, Day 10 of the Israeli military assault continues against Gaza, the world’s largest prison.

  • Palestinians killed: 211, including 179 civilians, 32 of them women, 45 of them children.
  • Palestinians wounded: 1458, mostly civilians, including 253 women, 432 children.
  • Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Gaza, which has a good reputation for accuracy.

Stop funding Israeli terrorPhoto: Ted Majdosz

Many of us feel enraged but helpless in the face of Israel’s war crimes, and the active complicity of elected governments across Europe and North America. The rage is justified,  but we are not helpless. There is something we can do.

Here is an urgent call to action from inside Gaza, via the international BDS Movement:

“We Palestinians trapped inside the bloodied and besieged Gaza Strip call on conscientious people all over the world to act, protest and intensify boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it ends this murder…”

Read the full call from inside Gaza here.

Here are 9 ways to support Gaza.