Archive for War Crimes

Remembering Qana

Posted in Lebanon, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 18/04/2012 by arabrhizome

Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the first Qana massacre perpetrated by the israeli armed forces in South Lebanon. During the murderous war of 1996 launched by israel and termed operation Grapes of Wrath, which on a side note makes me unable to actually read the book because I get so angry when I see the title, israeli forces shelled a UN compound in the village of Qana on the 18th of April. The compound was being used as a makeshift refugee camp for South Lebanese citizens who had been displaced by the israeli attack on their homes. That shelling killed 106 civilians and injured 106.

I remember this massacre very well, as that was the first attack by israel on Lebanon I remember. I was in Lebanon during the 1982 invasion, but do not remember that as I was two years old. This one however, is a very clear memory. I remember visiting friends when the first images from Qana were shown on television. An image that is etched into my memory, and which I recall everyday, is that of the little girl’s lifeless body being held to the camera. The child was missing half her head. She had been torn apart by the hellfire rained on that refugee camp by “the most moral army in the world”.

That little girl became a symbol for me, and probably everyone else who saw that photo, of the savagery of israel and its army. This was one of many massacres perpetrated by the israeli army in Lebanon. In fact, Qana would witness another massacre 10 years later when a civilian building was bombed and destroyed during the 2006 war. However, that massacre holds a special place for me. It is the first that I remember as an almost adult. I remember everything about it. I remember all the gruesome photos and videos that were taken there. Children, women, men, killed in a place where they were supposed to be safe, a UN compound.

Of course, that wasn’t the last time a UN compound was targeted by israel. In fact, UN compounds seem to be some of their favourite targets, along with schools, mosques, civilian buildings, hospitals, ambulances, power plants, and bridges. They basically like targeting civilian infrastructure. That is always very high on their target list. But returning to that particular massacre. I remember how I felt that day. I remember the amalgamation of anger, sadness, feeling of helplessness that I felt. I also remember the sense of determination it gave me. My anti-zionism was reinforced that day. I would never shift from that ideological position after witnessing that callous mass murder.

I will never forget the images from Qana. Those responsible must be brought to justice and tried for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN and Amnesty international both conducted independent investigations of the massacre. They both found that the evidence contradicted israel’s story. However, thanks to the US’s continued support the criminals are still free. This shows why we all need to do what we can to keep up the pressure on israel. Our governments have failed to hold israel responsible for its many crimes. We as citizens of the world must join the Palestinian led non-violent call for BDS against the state of israel until it complies with international law and human rights.

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Remembering Deir Yassin

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 09/04/2012 by arabrhizome

Today is the 64’th anniversary of one of the first, although not the first, massacres in Palestine perpetrated by zionist terrorist groups against unarmed civilians. Deir Yassin was a village that was attacked and 254 villagers, and the rest were forced out of their homes which were destroyed. This is one of the many similar actions undertaken by zionist groups in 1947-9 in order to ethnically cleanse Palestine and establish israel as a majority Jewish country. In the days, weeks, and months following the massacre of Deir Yassin Palestinians were forced out of their ancestral homes en mass. The number of Palestinians forcefully expelled is estimated at 800000, half of which were expelled before the establishment of israel.

Today we must remember this horrible day. It is unfortunately not the worst massacre that Palestinians suffered, nor was it the first or last. Deir Yassin should remind us that zionism is racist, supremacist, and murderous ideology that is responsible for great injustice and unspeakable crimes. We must fight against it with all our power. The greatest weapon we have is BDS, boycott Divestment, Sanctions, which is a non-violent call to boycott israeli products and put pressure on israel until it complies with international law and human rights and respects the rights of Palestinians. I ask you all to read the call and join the struggle for justice.

Bye Bye 2011

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30/12/2011 by arabrhizome

I thought I’ll write my post saying good bye to 2011 tonight, as I don’t know if I’ll be able to write more than a few words tomorrow. I thought that I would very creatively write a review of 2011. I know no one is blogging about that. I’m the only person in the world who’s ever thought of reviewing the year that’s just passed. Being serious for a second, I thought I’d write about my perspective on the year, with a mixture of personal and not so personal stories that made this year what it was for me. So, let’s start at the beginning.

The year started in a bad place for me. I had just gotten out of a long relationship and wasn’t feeling very good about myself. I had very little self esteem and was not able to get much work done. I felt slightly lost and was not sure what to do to get out of the hole I felt I was in. It was a difficult time and in many ways I’m still dealing with the aftermath of that. I am much happier today, not only because I’m able to be friends with my ex, which is brilliant, but also because I’ve moved on and I’m able to work again, which was another big problem this year.

That was another feature of the year. The clear lack of work. I kept trying and sometimes wrote some stuff, but it was never good enough. It wasn’t even slightly acceptable. However the more common occurrence was me spending most of the year sitting in front of my laptop trying to write but not being able to concentrate. This spell was broken at the end of November and the beginning of December. I was able to write a work in progress which went down very well. That gave me a great boost in confidence in the work department. But the year wasn’t all bad.

To remain within the personal for a bit this year also involved me discovering comic books and Dungeons and Dragons. Well if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know all about Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve met some great people through it and I’m enjoying the great adventure that Andy our Dungeon Master has thought of for us. I’ve also met some new friends who are really brilliant through Remi’s poetry reading. I hope that I’ll get to see more of them  in the coming year. Nothing like meeting some great activist, feminist, pro-Palestine, vegan, anti-capitalists. I can’t wait to hang out with them soon. That also speaks to the other great thing that happened in my world this year. I became a vegan. I have to say that I still feel like this was the best things I’ve ever done. But I’ve written a whole post about that, you can read it if you want to know more.

Another highlight of the year was the wedding of two of my friends. I am not a fan of marriage but if there ever were two people who can make the institution work it’s those two. It was a wonderful wedding, with lots of emotion and many laughs. I met some very interesting people and enjoyed their company. Hopefully I’ll get to see more of them this year. Congratulations again to Mike and Becky. It was a beautiful wedding and I wish them all the happiness in the world. That was definitely a great day.

But how can we talk about 2011 and not talk about the great upheaval that shook the entire world starting in a village in Tunisia in 2010 when a fruit seller set himself on fire out of desperation and in so doing started a movement in the arab world that we are still living through. First it was Tunisia, then Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. We’ve also seen protests in Kuwait, Saudi, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. Dictators fell others are still clinging to power, either through the help of Western imperial powers and their Arab lackeys, or through brute military force. We’ve seen what the West’s intervention in Libya has done, and so even though I fully support the Syrian revolution, I’m not happy to see it repeated in Syria.

The revolutions also moved to Europe, North America, South America, and parts of Asia. The occupy movement made a difference, apart from Occupy Wall Street’s refusal to show solidarity with Palestinians because of some zionist pressure. I point this out because it is important. There can’t be no justice without solidarity between all oppressed people. Occupy Wall Street’s refusal to show solidarity is a stain on their record and needs to be rectified. The rest of the movements showed a lot more solidarity, including occupy Boston, LA, Oakland, Chicago, and others. We also saw how much the US’s political system is sold to corporations. The incredible brutality with which the police responded to those protests, which was reminiscent of some of the worst dictatorships in the world, showed that at the end of the day Corporations mattered more to the US political system than the people.

There was also the riots of the summer in the UK. I saw many people who call themselves leftists, when faced with the actual raw reality of class warfare and the real anger caused by police brutality and economic pain, turned to fascist language about the rioters. I was shocked, but not surprised, to see how many arm chair activists are happy to abandon all of their supposed beliefs when the poor stand up, however clumsily, and are ready to adopt rightwing narratives. The riots showed that a large section of the British society are disenfranchised and feel completely disconnected from their communities. What we saw, in my opinion, is the result of Thatcherism and Reganomics combined with the clear police brutality felt by the youths of deprived areas in Britain.

Then there was Palestine. This year so much in the struggle for justice in Palestine. I can’t cover all of it, however, I’ll write about a few events that marked me. First there were the protests on Nakba. For the first time, Palestinian refugees from neighbouring countries walked to the borders of Palestine demanding their internationally recognised right of return. Israel responded the only way it knows how, with brutality and without any regards for civilian life or international law. They fired across international borders killing and injuring dozens. This year the BDS movement kept growing and becoming more and more mainstream. There was also much unnecessary death and destruction. Palestinian human life is still too cheap in the eyes of israelis and the world.

However, I am feeling optimistic. I believe that public opinion is changing. The world thanks to the incredible work of many activists who work very hard to bring the truth about the Apartheid state of israel and the brutal racist policies of the zionist state to the world. I trust that when people see and understand the deep injustice in Palestine they can’t but find themselves in the anti-zionist camp. What we also saw was that israeli propaganda and intimidation tactics aren’t working as well as they used to. As many have said, the truth is that the facts are anti-zionist. On this note, I hope you all had a very good year. It certainly was an interesting one. Stay safe everyone. Live long and prosper.

There Are No Words

Posted in Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/12/2011 by arabrhizome

It’s very hard for me to write a coherent post today. I am angry and sad. Today Mustafa Tamimi, one of the many Palestinian Gandhis that liberal spineless orientalist westerners and their house arab lackeys keep asking for while simultaneously ignoring, has died as a result of the injuries he suffered yesterday. He is one of the many brave Palestinians who for years now have been staging peaceful weekly protests in West Bank villages affected by settlement activity and the Apartheid wall stealing their land, water supply, and cutting them off from their crops. He was shot in the face by a high velocity tear gas canister fired at close range from an armoured israeli military jeep.

Mustafa Tamimi was 28 years old. A life snuffed by the brutal military occupation force of the apartheid regime. That in itself, unfortunately, is not a remarkable event in the eyes of the world it would seem. We have grown accustomed to Palestinian deaths. They are numbers and statistics. Casualties of what is often represented as an intractable conflict that has plagued the land for centuries. Of course this analysis is flawed on several levels. The conflict is around 60 years old and is very simple. A native population is colonised and being ethnically cleansed at varying speeds since 1948 by a brutal racist ideology, zionism.

What happened today is not remarkable because for too long Palestinian deaths have been reduced to numbers or shorthand words that dehumanise the murdered. The dead are referred to as militants, protesters, rock throwing youths. Make no mistake all these terms are designed to obscure and hide the fact that these are human beings with stories, families, experiences, and histories. They are not just nameless statistics, or faceless numbers. They are human beings like Mustafa Tamimi with friends and families who will never be able to see them again. Who have to continue to live under a brutal military racist occupation. We must never lose sight of that.

The story however is even more disgusting than that. Mustafa’s sister was not allowed to get to her brother’s body after he was deliberately shot in the face with a high velocity American made tear gas canister at close range from an armoured military jeep. Medical services were deliberately delayed and were not allowed to tend to him straight away. Occupation soldiers laughed in the face of the other protesters as they cried because a young man, their friend, neighbour, and family member, was laying with a broken face on the floor unattended. The soldiers showed no remorse because they have been raised within a racist system that teaches them that they are the chosen people and that Palestinians are not human beings.

Mustafa’s father, and other members of his family, were not allowed to visit him in hospital. Eventually he died as a result of the injuries he sustained after being deliberately shot in the face with high velocity American made tear gas canister fired from a rifle at close range from an armoured military jeep. I hope that me repeating this fact bothers you and makes you uncomfortable because it should. These words should never be a sentence. These words however are the actual description of what happened. This is what the israeli army does to the Palestinian Gandhis. Remember that the next time you hear a liberal say something stupid like “where are the Palestinian Gandhis?” Remember Mustafa Tamimi’s name and deliberately shoot it in their face. Tell them this is where they are! Why don’t you open your eyes and see them?

I am angry. Mustafa is not the first to die, he won’t be the last. In fact, many have died this week in Gaza because of fighter jets bombing the besieged territory. There are no words to express how I feel. I am aware that no matter how angry or sad or outraged I might feel, it is nothing compared to how the families and friends of those who are being killed everyday must feel. I know that my anger, being righteous or not, is nothing. I did not know Mustafa Tamimi, now I never will. I recommend you read this article which articulates the anger that is felt today better than I ever could. I also recommend you read this article about the disgusting and stomach churning IDF attempts at justifying the murder of Mustafa Tamimi on twitter. And for those who think that this post is not balanced, please tell me what justification do you have for the deliberate shooting in the face of an unarmed 28 years old Palestinian named Mustafa Tamimi in the face with a high velocity American made tear gas canister fired from a rifle by an occupation soldier from an armoured military jeep?

Propaganda Comics

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 06/11/2011 by arabrhizome

I wasn’t able to do any work today. I decided to buy some comics to read in order to do something, as academic reading was just not happening, let alone writing. I ended up buying a few comic books called Men of War. They’re part of the DC Comics New 52 relaunch. I had a feeling I wouldn’t like them, as they are about the US military. It turns out that not only do I not like them but they made me angry beyond words. They are the most barefaced propaganda I’ve ever read. I cannot urge you not to buy them enough.

Basically the first three issues include two stories, one main one and a secondary one. The secondary one was a three issue thing and was this complete and utter bullshit story. Basically it’s about some Navy Seals who are illegally in some unspecified arab country and are about to blow up a school filled with explosives. One of them gets injured and so they need to get a chopper to evacuate him but they’re afraid that someone has an RPG and is about to blow the helicopter down. It turns out some evil arab men are using a family as human shields and so the brave american soldiers liberate them. While doing that, and I’m not making this up, they help a woman give birth just after shooting a man with an RPG who was in her room. How fucking disgusting is that?

The main story also involves army units doing covert and illegal actions. Of course non of this is ever questioned. The fact that this flies in the face of every form of international law is completely overlooked. Then comes the third installment where the group goes to Somalya and are then attacked by locals, remember they are there illegally, and they go one to shoot a bunch of them. Of course the bad black people are evil simply because they exist. I was sick to my stomach. This kind of shit is despicable. I wanted to tear the comics but then felt bad for the paper that was used to print them on. Please do not buy that shit. It is offensive and completely and utterly morally reprehensible. It must not be supported.

A Sad Anniversary

Posted in Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 16/09/2011 by arabrhizome

Today is a very sad anniversary. 29 years ago today one of the bloodiest, but not the only one sadly, massacres in the history of the Palestinian struggle began and continued for three consecutive days. After having invaded Lebanon in 1982 the israeli army surrounded the refugee camp of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut and unleashed their fascist Lebanese allies of the Lebanese forces and Phalanges onto the civilian population. For three days the fanatic christian militias went through the camp killing, maiming, and raping the civilian population. The israeli army gave them it’s full tactical support and shelled the camp. The most conservative estimate, which is completely unrealistic, is that 800 Palestinian civilians were murdered during those three days of frenzy. More serious estimates put the number of deaths over 3000. The added tragedy that many of the dead will remain faceless and nameless is very disturbing.

Interestingly, the military leader responsible for that massacre, Ariel Sharon, went on to become the prime minister of israel. Clearly, the supervision of the murder of thousands of civilians and the invasion and subsequent 22 year occupation of a sovereign country are political capital in israel. He is now in a coma having never faced justice for his crimes, of which there are many, both in Lebanon and the occupied territories. The lack of accountability for israeli war criminals isn’t anything new. Many war criminals like Olmert and Levni are still honoured guests of western dignitaries and campuses. They are paid a great amount of money to give talks that whitewash their crimes and the crimes of their Apartheid state.

One of the Lebanese leaders responsible for the massacre, Elie Houbaika, was murdered in a car bomb shortly before he was going to give evidence on the massacre. Obviously this crime, which was clearly orchestrated, if not executed, by israel was not investigated. Something that might implicate israel doesn’t deserve the attention of the international community it seems. I do not like Elie Houbaika, in fact I despise him. He was a war criminal, a fascist, a fanatic, and a corrupt and disgusting little shit. He is a murderer and a warlord. However, his testimony would have been invaluable. Now, we will never know what he had to say about one of the bloodiest massacres of the Lebanese civil war.

It is a painful day for anyone who cares about Palestine and about international law and human rights. On this day 29 years ago a great atrocity has taken place, yet very few media outlets remember it. The names of the dead are not read out, one reason is that many of them were too disfigured to be recognised. Another reason is that entire families were murdered and no one was left to remember them and their names. The ceremonies remembering them were not beamed all across the world. Great selling bands didn’t play in a memorial service for them. No justice is given to the families and the survivours of the horrors of those three days of a bloody murderous frenzy. When it comes to Palestinians, and Palestinian refugees in particular, international law and the international community seem to be blind, deaf, and completely uninterested.

However, today we have a great strategy on our side. A strategy that is already starting to have incredible results. That strategy is BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against israeli products, physical, intellectual and artistic, and against the companies that profit from and promote the Apartheid policies of the israeli regime. Already a company that was deeply invested into the occupation and the Apartheid regime has gone into liquidation, agresco, and Veolia has lost many multi-million contracts all around the world. The TUC here in Britain has voted for cutting ties with israeli racist trade unions. Any event that tries to whitewash Apartheid is disrupted and not permitted to go ahead without an incident, just like the wonderful disruptions of the israeli philharmonic orchestra’s appearance on the BBC Proms. Also, israeli companies have been finding that their products aren’t selling as well as they used to. It is clear that BDS has achieved in 6 years a lot more than the oslo accords have in 20. So on this day, while I feel pain and I remember the dead, the wounded, and the traumatised, I also feel hopeful. We are getting closer to justice for all Palestinians, that means not only those living in Gaza and the West Bank, but also the Palestinian residents of israel and the Palestinian refugees and in the diaspora. We need to escalate our BDS and we need to keep educating people and getting them to join the movement. Soon Palestine will stop being an Apartheid state and we will achieve equality and a one-person one-vote system from the river to the sea in a single undivided country.

Gaza

Posted in Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/08/2011 by arabrhizome

So for the past month, more or less, israel has been looking for a fight. The israeli army entered Lebanese territory a few days ago and there was an exchange of fire. There has been an intensification of the daily raids and kidnappings in the West Bank, including members of the freedom theatre in Jenin. There have been a series of bombings and shootings in Gaza resulting in a few deaths. Yesterday a disabled boy was shot to death repeatedly because he was too close to the border fence in Gaza. The night before a man was run over by a military jeep and killed in Jerusalem while making his way to work.

Those are a few examples of what israel has been doing for the past few weeks. They have been doing this for the last 63 years but there has been a clear intensification of actions in the past few weeks. The reason for that is very clear for anyone who follows politics in the region. There have been some protests in israel about the cost of living. I haven’t written about the protests because they have been, from my perspective, completely uninteresting. My main problem with them has been the absolute refusal of the protestors to recognise their own privilege and that this privilege is predicated on occupation and apartheid. Everytime the occupation or the status of Palestinian citizens of israel is brought up people would say that it is too political and that these protests are about social justice.

In fact, I’ve seen some terrible racism and zionist nationalism directed at anyone who dares criticise their silence on the Palestinian plight. The point though is that the protests have eroded the popularity of the far right government of israel. A proven and guaranteed way for an israeli government to gain popularity is to wage a war. You can look at the history of israel and see that whenever israel wages a war the government gets very popular. This government by intensifying its harassment tactics, as I explained above, has been poking potential targets expecting a retaliation and then using that retaliation as an excuse to wage war.

Anyway, today it seems they got just that. I woke up, very late but that’s irrelevant, to the news that there was an attack in the south of israel in the region of Eliat. The news wasn’t very clear, it’s still not completely clear. The IDF spokes person on twitter tweeted first that 5 soldiers were killed and a number of others injured. Then they changed their story saying the dead and injured were civilians. Although it is now, at least it seems to me, accepted that the 6 or 7 people who were killed were in fact soldiers. Now let us be clear, I do not advocate violent acts, but if someone is engaged in a situation of militant resistance than soldiers are fair game. It is wrong to say that an attack on soldiers is a terrorist attack, it isn’t. Soldiers are legitimate targets in a state of war.

Anyway, as I said the details of the attack are still not very clear. People said that the assailants might have entered israel form the Sinai in Egypt. We are also unclear about who is behind the action. Although israel was very quick to accuse Gazan groups of carrying the attacks. Everyone so far in Gaza denied involvement, and if there is something we know about Palestinian militant resistance factions is that they will always claim responsibility for such attacks. It is increasingly obvious that Gaza had probably nothing to do with it. However the israeli response was as hysterical as anyone familiar with the region would expect.

Israel accused Gaza and started a large scale operation of arial bombing of the Gaza strip killing at least 6 people including a 9 year old child. It seems that the attacks have calmed down for now. it is yet unclear if this is going to be the beginning of a large scale operation like Cast Lead, which led to the death of over 1400 Palestinians the absolute majority of whom were civilians, or if it’s going to be used in order to justify the continuation of the constant daily harassment of Gazans. When I say harassment, people might think it isn’t that bad, but we are talking about bombings and shootings that lead to death and injury, mainly for a civilian population that is already under an inhumane and illegal siege.

Anyway, today was awful I spent all day following the news, and will probably spend the rest of the night doing so. I feel angry and frustrated because the media have been completely silent about all the deaths before today and only spoke of the region when israel was attacked. The deaths of the Palestinians are clearly seen as unimportant. Clearly to the editorial teams of the BBC, Sky News, CNN, and others israeli lives are a lot more precious and important than Palestinian lives. If you are disgusted by this and if you feel like you want to help than please join the BDS campaign and boycott israeli products, write to your representative and ask them to defend the rights of Palestinians, Write to your local supermarket and ask them to stock Palestinian products and boycott israeli ones, join marches of solidarity, get involved. The people of Palestine need us to be their voice. We must not let them down.