Tariq Ali Comes to Oakland

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Alameda (Calif.)–It is a bit of a London urban legend that the 1960s legendary rock group “the Rolling Stones,” had written their (infamous) single, “Street-Fighting Man” after Tariq Ali, the Anglo-Pakistani, whom we talked about a fortnight ago, and of which this article is a continuation of the reportage of his October visit to Oakland (Calif.). 

When Ali came to the San Francisco Bay, the Occupy Oakland Movement was in full swing, and had taken “center stage” away from New York City’s Wall Street, and, as your reporter begins to write writes today (the 12th), demonstrators are shutting down the Port here as well as other major Western North American Seaports.  The situation has degenerated into a “Revolutionary”-style crisis very similar to what happened in the Middle East’s Arab “Spring.”

Last week we left at Ali’s statement that it was the Colonial British Office that had installed the Bahraini Sunni monarch against which the Shia majority is presently rebelling.   Tariq Ali demonstrated a sharp and witty sense of history at his Oakland presence of October 29th!

“The selective vigilantism by the West I resent!”  Further, by damning their Colonial masters, “The Israelis use the holocaust to blackmail the Occident!”

The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) targets young (five to fourteen) year-old Palestinian Male youths.  For the Jews, one Hebrew is worth hundreds of Arab lives!  A Palestinian is denied his voice in his very homeland.   A former South African bureaucrat confided to Tariq that that their (S.A.’s) “Bantustans were much ‘better’ than the [present] Palestinian system.” 
Curiously, Ali, a Post- Colonial radical, did not have a good grasp on the essence of the Arab “Spring,” for he hoped it would revert to a Nasser-like Modernist revival over the Palestinian nation.  One of the chief elements of the “Spring” is to re-assert a place for Islam within the Body Politick.  The recent election in Tunisia and the ongoing one in Egypt show a preference for a democratic Islamism.  As your writer has remarked before, the Arab “Spring” has largely been a reaction to the corruption and repression of the second and third (degenerate) Nationalist generations.  Old fashioned Leftist ideas are not going to work in these times.  The religious or spiritual appears to be taking place as a central element in governance in the Arabic sphere.

The Palestinian Authority (P.A.’s) trip to the U.N. (United Nations) was no more than a charade for T. Ali.  What sort of State can be created by the G.A. (General Assembly)?  He does not think much of the 1967 boundaries.  In a sense I agree with him. For it would be wonderful if we could revert to the admirable multi-sectarian province that it was under the Ottomans and the Mandate under the British instead.  (Your writer in no way looks back nostalgically upon the alien repression that the Palestinians were subsumed under those Imperia, but rather the Civil Society they were able to build despite them  then.)  The only reason I still hold out for a two-State solution – and that is fading fast – Israel, unfortunately, is a reality that has to be dealt with for Palestinian Independence to finally be successful. 

Unfortunately, too, he doubts Israel (really) intends to leave the Occupied Territories.  Mr. Ali accused Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of being a fascist.  (Fascism is a charged word.   Fascism with a big “F” represents a very particular political philosophy; Lieberman is fascist-like in his secularism and vehement vicious anti- Arabism), but the West consents to recognize, and meet with him for political discussions!  Why?  (To be facetious, if you can answer this question, please send this scribe a memo!)

T. Ali favors a single State in what we term the Holy Land.  Everyone would be a citizen of a single admirable tri-Sectarian, Bi-ethnic State.  Succinctly, though, if a bi-State solution is not achieved under the Obama Administration; changing demographics there will make a Jewish State untenable!

The Arabs in and of themselves cannot destroy Israel.  It is a substantial nuclear-armed State with the sixth largest army in the world.  (Because its threats are nearby, its ability to wage war from a distance is limited, though.)  This makes Tel Aviv no more than a regional bully; thereby, its hegemony is limited, and, unless it can renounce its Settler Colonialism and integrate into the larger Middle East its days are numbered! 

Mr. Ali pointed out that many German Jews are now returning to their ancestral homes in Germany.  

(As for the biggest losers in displacement with the establishment of a Jewish State, it has not been so much the Muslims, but rather the Christians!)  Besides, “No one can push you [Israel] into the sea.”  Tariq Ali opines that “Israel is the last (Colonial) Imperial motherland in the twenty-first century!”

Positively, he deems that “The Arab uprising should resolve the Palestinian crisis.”  (It definitely will affect it positively, but whether it will be a bell weather of a solution is yet to be seen.) Further, a horrible propagandistic Islamophobia has ugly lifted its eyes over the culture of the Occident and in the West including America, too.  Strangely, what American Muslims have gone through during this last decade, is similar to what the Jewish immigrants of the first part of the Twentieth Century had to undergo. (All communes in North America have much to teach each other.)

It was a general article of belief that Arabs could not achieve democracy in and of themselves, but this “Spring” has changed the landscape. (America and the West must not continue their inane mantra that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East!)

Let us continue our discussion within the forthcoming time period ahead.

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Gaza Defiant

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Sacramento–Several weeks ago I reported on (former) Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s rousing description, which she delivered here at the Salim Center in California’s capital city, on how she successfully — after two previous attempts – “ran” the Israeli blockade into Gaza.  Equally, as inspiring was the Senior Lecturer from the University of California, the Palestinian-American firebrand Hatem Bazian, on the history of the struggle and the aftermath now a year later on the smaller Palestinian country sandwiched between (West) Jerusalem and Cairo.

Just today as your reporter writes it is being relayed that Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) had submitted their rejoinder to the U.N. (United Nations’) Report of “alleged” atrocities.  The Hamas government in Gaza City itself said it did not commit any War crimes because of the overriding preponderance of their casualties (over 1400 and a decimated infrastructure) in comparison which attested to the violation of the International Law of Proportionality governing the conduct of Warfare; therefore, they have not submitted their justification defense for their self-defense.

With such a morbidity rate it is clear that Tel Aviv meant to kill and maim innocent civilian lives.  Any rockets that the Arabs shot up were infused into the battlefield as a feeble attempt at self-defense, and not to destroy human life (which, in fact, rarely hit Jewish citizens).

The lead author of the 575-page Report of the United Nations’ Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Judge Richard Goldstone — who gained fame for his fairness and courage as a Constitutional Judge in his native South Africa helping to end Apartheid and to set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission during Nelson Mandela’s Presidency in the multi-racial government of his native South Africa, and, of recent — in this his later career — he has served in executive judicial capacities on several of the more high-profile War Crime International Tribunals, and his latest service, on the circumstances of Gaza of which Report is commonly referred to under his name, the Judge stated the root of the violence in Gaza “…is [the Israeli] occupation.” 

Mr. Bazian illustrated the extent of occupation in his talk:  U.N. Resolution 242 (November 22, 1967) instructed Israel to withdraw from the territory they had gained in the 1967 War.  The infamous Jewish Settlements in the (Israeli) Occupied (Palestinian) Territories are immensely illegal under International Law, but they have only increased since the Oslo Accords (of 1993) which agreement was meant to end the Hebrew expansion into Arab land.  In fact, Settler Colonialism has expanded their presence on Palestinian soil since then.  Palestinian borders and the sea lanes are controlled by the Hebrews.  The citizens of Gaza are in a penitentiary!   Further, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) claims the right of “hot pursuit” under their interpretations of its necessity.  (That is, they claim an extra-legal prerogative in the determination for its implementation.)

(George W.) Bush demanded the 2006 elections which Hamas won evenhandedly according to the international observers – including (former U.S.) President Jimmy Carter!

The culpability and corruption of Fatah, the Palestinian-controlled party in the West Bank cannot be denied either.  Egypt would not sell the occupation Army cement, but Ramallah smoothed it over, and the Apartheid walls have resulted; stealing the Palestinian natural resources and driving the indigenous Arabs — mainly Islamic but, also, Christian – from their lands. 

Palestine is not permitted to have an abiding militia but merely a police force.  Also, irregular guerillas operated outside International approbation protect and resist the oppressors.  On the other hand, the Hebrew forces are the fifth largest in the world with a nuclear arsenal to match.

While Washington has gifted Tel Aviv our most sophisticated weaponry, the homespun Qassam rockets possessed by the Palestinians are most primitive.  The military balance is ridiculous!  Yet, “We are blamed for [our] resistance!”

The fact is that Israel broke the ceasefire (as your correspondent has documented previously on these pages).  “We [Americans] have to change our frame of reference!”  The Jewish State is a criminal in the context of global edicts.  According to Dr. Bazian, irregular soldiers are not considered in the same framework under International norms.  (This is a debatable legal point, and that is why Goldstone accused the Gazan Administration of War criminality which, in turn, their officials denied based on the proportionality employed against them.)  “The IDF didn’t make distinctions between combatant and non-combatant.”  Thus, under conflict directive the counterattack can only be relative to the primary aggression, (and this absolved the Gazan Palestinian Arabs, for their counter-offensive upon Sderot and Ashkelon for Israel violated the Law of Proportionality against the citizenship on the Strip). 

Succinctly, Hamas and the Gazan people they represented did not constitute a security threat at all.  The Hebrew government assaulted this miniscule State because they did not wish an Islamist-dominated country on their Southern border, and, again, in Hatem’s view, the Jewish Labor Party-led government had to make up face for their very real lose to Hezbollah in 2006 north in the Galilee.

A majority of military observers agree that the Gazan War was a defeat for the Israeli Defense Forces; for they failed to create the “regime change” they had hoped to do because the native stakeholders in this ancient land of the Philistines did not rise up against their democratically elected representatives. 

We as a nation have to take responsibility for our part in the carnage!  

Now, 92% of the surviving children are suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome.  The medical infrastructure has further, been destroyed! 

Up on the West Bank, the Hebrew State has set up 462 checkpoints.   

As Americans, we must see that all Israel’s weaponry came with the stamp of “Made in America.” 

While back in Gaza itself; there is 44% unemployment a 96% of the foreign consulates that were there have had to close.  External aid that has already been pledged has been denied delivery by the blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt.

The Goldstone Report conservatively attests to War and, possibly, Crimes against Humanity instigated by the Israeli Army.  It has been referred to the General Assembly for further discussion and hopefully action.  

There will be an educational Conference on Palestine in San Anselmo (Calif.) in Marin County just north of San Francisco on March 5th-6th at the First Presbyterian Church there (415) 456-3713 where Dr. Hatem Bazian is scheduled to give one of the workshops.  Also, there will be two Conferences in Honolulu and Seattle this month.  Information on those gatherings can be gathered directly from Sabeel North America at (503) 653-6625.

Professor Bazian concluded his Sacramento speech by exclaiming “Palestine wants to be free… [America] needs to speak out!”

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AL-AWDA Convention

May 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

Palestinians comprise the largest refugee population in the world today. The Israelis drove out approximately 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948. The legal basis for their right of return cannot be disputed. In their treatment of Palestinian refugees, the Israelis not only forced Palestinians to leave ancestral lands, but, through their treatment of them from 1948 until today, they have destroyed a culture.

In the 61st year of the Nakba (the catastrophe), AL-AWDA once again has brought national and international attention to this situation.

The seventh annual convention of AL-AWDA, the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition, was held in Garden Grove, Ca. this past weekend. This well attended, exciting and educational event, titled “Freedom for Palestine”, began Friday evening with a meet and greet session enhanced by outstanding Arabic food.

After the convention opening and welcome, activists from solidarity organizations addressed the audience. These activists included, but were not limited to: John Parker, the West Coast Coordinator of the International Action Center; Richard Becker, a founder and current leader of the ANSWER Coalition, and Cindy Sheehan, a prominent anti-war activist and campaigner for human rights.

A showing of “Salt of the Sea” closed the evening’s activities. This motion picture tells the story of a young Palestinian woman, born in the United States to Palestinian refugees. When she becomes aware that at the time of the Nakba the Israelis froze her grandfather’s bank account in Jaffa, she travels to Palestine to reclaim what she believes is her due. As she sees the conditions of Palestinian existence and meets a young Palestinian man, she comes to realize that what needs to be reclaimed is far more than a bank account.

On Saturday forums were held throughout the day dealing with such timely issues as: “Palestinian Refugees – Background and Current Status”  with Dr. Jesse Ghannam. Dr. Ghannam has established mental health clinics in Gaza and travels there frequently. The clinics and his participation in them are under the auspices of the Gaza Community Mental Health program. In the United States, Dr. Ghannam is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of Medical Psychology at the University of California San Francisco.

“Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions” was conducted by Lubna Hamad of Adalah (The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East) New York of which she is co founder. Ms Hamad was a legal consultant for UNICEF in Jerusalem with a specialty of child protection.

George Galloway, British MP and international human rights advocate, conducted a forum on “Viva Palestina”.

MP Galloway also addressed an evening session on “Growing our Global Movement – Freedom for Palestine” which session included fundraising.

Keynote addresses on Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli attack and the situation in Jerusalem highlighted the luncheon session.

A parallel youth program was held.

The final session of the Convention, held on Sunday, dealt with reports, challenges and future plans.

The Sacramento chapter, which had at one time been part of the San Francisco chapter, reported growth and successful participation in anti war events, BDS and educational series. The Phoenix chapter also reported growth and public engagement.

A suggestion was made to encourage tourism to Palestine,specifically Jerusalem, as the Israeli government is trying to cripple East Jerusalem economically. Tourists should stay at Palestinian run hotels; eat at Palestinian run restaurants, and purchase from Palestinian run shops.

Further, a suggestion was made to coordinate AL-AWDA activity here with AL-AWDA groups in Europe where the movement is extremely active.

Still another suggestion, unanimously and enthusiastically accepted, was to send a small delegation to the Egyptian Consulate to express our dismay at Egypt’s cooperation in making crossing into Gaza through Rafah difficult and erratic.

Booths on display at the AL-AWDA Convention included but were not limited to: Palestine Online Store; A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; International Action Center; Free Gaza Movement, and Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California in San Diego.

Host committee organizations of the AL-AWDA Convention included but were not limited to: Palestine Aid Society; Muslim Students Association at UCSD, Palomar College, and Mira Costa and the Muslim Students Union at UCR; Free Palestine Alliance, and Palestinian American Women Association.

AL-AWDA may be accessed at: www.al-awda.org.

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