Saturday, April 21, 2007

This week Puerto Rican peace activist Tito Kayak and Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan participated in peace demonstrations in Palestinian village of Bilin, where a wall continues to be build taking valuable farm land from the Palestinian owners.

Corrigan, who won the prize in 1976 for her work in encouraging a peaceful solution to the Northern Ireland dispute, was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet and was transferred to a hospital for treatment. She was also said to have inhaled large quantities of teargas.

Policemen and soldiers used teargas grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the routine Friday protest against the security fence near the Palestinian village of Bilin and were confronted by a hail of stones.

"I salute the residents of Bilin for their peaceful struggle in a region that is so violent and I call on the Israeli public, whom I know
is for justice and peace, to support the residents' struggle,"
Corrigan told Ynet.

"I want to say that this separation wall, contrary to what the Israeli say, will not prevent attacks and violence. What will prevent attacks and violence is a peace agreement between the two peoples, and I sure the Israeli people, like the Palestinian people, wants peace," Corrigan added.

Kayak was a key figure in the sucessful 1999 Navy-Vieques protests in Puerto Rico against the US Navy's use of the Vieques Island for bombing exercises. The navy was forced to end the use of the island.

"All I did was to express my identification with the villagers against the wall which is believed to evil and illegal by the whole world and many leaders like Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and the United Nations," Kayak said.

As previously been noted, the Palestine economy is failing and the children suffer most:

'Malnutrition common for Gaza kids'

About 10 percent of Palestinian children suffer permanent effects from malnutrition, according to a survey published Wednesday, a result of widespread poverty in the West Bank and Gaza.

The root cause is poverty, according to Khaled Abu Khaled, who directed the study for the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. He said the numbers are up slightly over the past two years.

One obvious effect of malnutrition is stunted growth among children, which has increased about three percent in the last two years, he said.

"This is chronic. Even with interventions, the rates don't go down fast," he said.

I wrote a diary last week on the power of the settlers/coloniziers in the West Bank The Cottage Industry of Settlements in the West Bank and their influence over Israeli politicians. Some kossacks said the settlers have little power, well an Israeli newspaper differs in opinion.

In the year that has come and gone since last Independence Day, the settler showdown, which was really the basis for the political change the current government was relying on, was all but forgotten. New troubles pushed out the old. Preoccupation with the war in Lebanon and political corruption created a distraction. Moreover, the art of distraction is a field in which Ehud Olmert excels: He gave up the "convergence plan," on the strength of which he was elected, almost parenthetically. His colleagues in the Labor Party accepted the shelving of this plan with the same meek indifference with which they accepted the National Union as a coalition partner and the systematic rejection (until recently) of every peace plan or proposal for withdrawal.

It is no coincidence that Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin, the toughest of our generals, dared to stand up to the settlers. Both were cut down, and the battle ended with their fall, perhaps forever. What Sharon never managed to do is not going to be done by someone else. And we don't need a slippery wimp like Olmert and his bewildered ministers to understand that. Who is going to be the "bulldozer," and move something around here? Olmert? Ophir Pines-Paz? Benjamin Netanyahu? Beilin, who yelled "Crazies, go home" at the settlers this week, like some grouchy neighbor?

A year has passed, and everyone has gone back to being themselves - the settlers, brazen and defiant; and the politicians, shuffling and weak. The statement by the Yesha Council (of Jewish settlements) this week about the "great strategic importance of the house in Hebron" and the important link it provides in "territorial contiguity," issued in that same overlording tone, was a victory whoop to remind us who the real boss was for 40 out of the 59 years that Israel has been around. Was, and still is.

I hope in our new budget for Israeli foreign aid, not one penny for the Wall (easily marked for security), or loan guarantees the settlers.

With permission:

Hagit Borer: There is little question in anybody’s mind about the special relation between Israel and the United States. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid to the tune of more than $3 billion dollars a year, plus miscellaneous additions like surplus weaponry, debt waivers and other perks. Israel is the only country that receives its entire aid package in the beginning of the fiscal year allowing it to accrue interest on it during the year. It is the only country which is allowed to spend up to 25% of its aid outside of the United States, placing such expenditures outside US control.

Apart from financial support, the United States has offered unwavering support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and for the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians, and has systematically supported Israel’s refusal to make any effective peace negotiations or peace agreements. It has vetoed countless UN resolutions seeking to bring Israel into compliance with international law. It has allowed Israel to develop nuclear weapons and not to sign the nuclear anti-proliferation treaty and most recently it strongly supported Israel’s attack on Lebanon in July of 2006. Support for Israel cuts across party lines and is extremely strong in Congress where criticism of Israel is rarely if ever heard. It also characterizes almost all American administrations from Johnson onwards, with George W. Bush being possible the most pro-Israel ever.

What is the reason for this strong support? Opinions on this matter vary greatly. Within strong pro-Israeli circles, one often hears that the reason is primarily moral: the debt that the United States owes Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust; the nature of Israel as the sole democracy in the Middle East; Israel as the moral and possible strategic ally of the United States in its War on Terror. Within circles that are less supportive of Israel and which are less inclined to view Israel and Israel’s conduct as moral, opinions vary as well. One opinion stems from the position of Israel being a strategic ally of the United States – its support is simply payment for services rendered coupled with the stable pro-American stance of the Jewish Israeli population. Noam Chomsky, among others, is a proponent of this view. According to the opposing view, the United States’ support for Israel does not advance American aims, it jeopardizes them. The explanation for the support is to be found in the activities of the Israel Lobby, also known as the Jewish Lobby, or as AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee), which uses its formidable influence to shape American foreign policy in accordance with Israeli interests. The opinion as most recently been associated with an article published in the London Book Review, co-authored by Professor Merscheimer of the University of Chicago and Professor Walt of Harvard University.

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