Sunday, June 12, 2011

Everybody Loves a Parade

Everyone, young or old, loves a parade. It's a great opportunity to declare pride in your country, your religion or some political ideal. If the route of your march takes you through enemy territory then so much the better - you can rub their noses in your strength and superiority.

Each year, on June 1st, Israelis commemorate the establishment of Israeli control over all of Jerusalem following their victory in the 1967 war. In what has been called "A state-supported display of racism and hatred" thousands of Zionists parade through the streets, singing and  dancing, celebrating their victory. This year the parade received official permission to deviate through the Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and the Old City in order, it must be assumed, to further taunt and humiliate the indigenous inhabitants. Mobs of Israel's finest youth didn't disappoint: they congregated outside the mosque in Sheikh Jarrah chanting "Muhammad is dead", "Slaughter the Arabs" and "May your village burn down".

The depressing footage can be seen on YouTube at:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

From Bil'in to Benghazi

Good mates: Burlesquoni and Gaddafi (with Amazonian Guard).

 Reports are coming out of Libya that the city of Benghazi is under the control of protesters seeking to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, the vicious – some say deranged – ruler of that country.  Surrounded by his 40-strong Amazonian Guard of supposed virgins and attended by his voluptuous blonde Ukrainian personal nurse, outfitted like a mediaeval potentate, Gaddafi is a figure of fun to many in the West. Yet his risible posturings and pronouncements should not blind us to the fact that he has, for 42 years, crushed all dissent in Libya with utter brutality. The death toll in Libya grows daily; the dead join their fellow Egyptian and Tunisian martyrs for whom the incentives of freedom and justice were more powerful than fear for their lives.

Elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa the seeds of revolution against oppression are stirring. During their years of servitude under whichever dictator, king or unelected president was in power the people had an example, an inspiration, to which they could turn. For 43 years the Palestinian people have resisted the military occupation of their land by a foreign invader. From armed resistance to peaceful protest – both crushed with ruthless and disproportionate force – the Palestinian people have been a beacon to their Arab neighbours, indeed, to freedom loving people worldwide.

Last Friday the villagers of Bil’in in the Occupied West Bank celebrated the sixth year of their struggle against the Apartheid Wall and Israeli Occupation. Every Friday for the past six years people from the village, together with Israeli and international supporters, have marched to the Wall, behind which lies half the village lands, confiscated for Israeli colony settlements. (So blatant is the land grab that three years ago even Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the path of the Wall is illegal and must be re-routed. To no avail – not one inch of land has been returned to its owners.) The marchers are met by brutal force – arrests, beatings, water cannon and teargas are the usual methods employed.

The village of Bil’in also has its martyrs. The most recent was 36 year old Jawaher Abu Rahma, who died of toxic teargas inhalation in January. She joined her brother Bassem, killed 18 months ago, shot at close range by an Israeli soldier while peacefully protesting. Across Occupied Palestine and in Gaza the killings go on but the thirst for freedom and justice is undiminished. The resistance continues, an example to the world.

* For Robert Fisk's report go to:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Egyptian Miracle

Two good old buddies holding hands in better times. One is history, the other feels the reins of power slipping, after 30 years of despotic rule, from between his clenched fingers.

Who could have predicted that the Egyptian people might depose this tyrant? Mubarak, the American puppet who has lived in luxury while his people have starved, propped up by a corrupt and vicious police apparatus, who sacrificed his country's honour for a shameful peace with Israel, feels the ground shifting beneath his feet. He is not yet gone, but his departure looks immanent.

When asked to predict the future of Palestine/Israel, Uri Avnery, founder of Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc), remarked that unforseen and wholly unexpected events sometimes occur, changing the course of history. In modern times people power has swept the Shah of Persia from his perch and toppled the Berlin wall; in each case the dreaded Savak and the Stasi, powerful and repressive secret police forces, proved powerless to halt the will of the people.

Can something similar happen in Occupied Palestine? Sadly, no. In Tunisia, Egypt and in East Germany the armed forces were, finally, unwilling to fire upon their fellow countrymen. In the West Bank and Gaza the Israel Defence (sic) Force has shown itself more than willing to punish dissent and unarmed resistance with brutal, uncommensurate force. To IDF soldiers these are not their countrymen but a subject, lesser people, underlings not deserving of the same human rights as Israelis.

Still, don't despair. Who knows what lies around the corner? These are interesting times.