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WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence


Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 23, 2007

June 23, 2007

There has been Too Much BAD News lately,

But, in spite of the darkness and violence that surrounds;

HOPE still abounds.

The first post today, was written by a CPTer/Christian Peacmaker Teams who serves in Hebron; the most painful place I have ever been. Every CPTer I have ever met, are among the most humble and selfless people I have ever known.

The second post is written by an activist in Ta'ayush [Arabic for "life in common"] a grassroots movement of Arabs and Jews working to break down the walls of racism and segregation by constructing a true Arab-Jewish partnership. Their vision is that a future of equality, justice and peace can be reality and that by engaging in daily actions of solidarity to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories will bring about full civil equality for all the people who live there.

In clean up position, is a commentary by an Arab American illuminating how the root of the violence in the Holy Land, leads us once again to the Israeli Occupation and USA culpability in its continuation.

But what I found hopeful, is that it was published by the Chicago Tribune without censoring the word "Occupation" out.

And if more like it follow in the mainstream media;

ALL things good are indeed most possible...

22 June 2007
AT-TUWANI REFLECTION: Behind the scenes of a civil war
by John Lochtefeld

Life slows down in At-Tuwani as the weather gets hotter.  Both Palestinians and settlers take refuge from the afternoon sun, reducing the amount of confrontation that occurs.  It does not, however, stop.  Young settlersb still find opportunities to launch rocks at Palestinian shepherds. Bored soldiers roll through the village in their jeeps, stopping random vehicles, sometimes unscrewing and confiscating the license plates from Palestinian cars, alleging they are stolen or their Israeli plates faked.

Worst of all, the nearby village of Susiya is under imminent threat of the army destroying it, and no amount of cooperation on their part with the Israeli civil authorities seems to be good enough.  So when news comes through word of mouth of the intensifying conflict between Hamas and Fatah, it still seems far away, even as it spills into the West Bank from Gaza and creeps down as far south as Ramallah.

The South Hebron Hills remain a world apart.  Here the threat of violence remains the monopoly of extremist Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers. Here the conflict is still defined by an ever-tightening occupation and efforts by Palestinians to go on with life in its shadow.  Here a group of villagers, shepherds and farmers, carry the struggle forward by meeting on a hot Friday afternoon to strategize on how to prevent the dismantling of Susiya and the subsequent loss of land.

Resistance in At-Tuwani retains a level of integrity that seems to have been lost in not so far away cities where cousins have turned their guns on each other, fighting over the scraps of food that fall from the oppressors' table.  Sadly, he fratricide occurring to the north and west will overshadow the nonviolent efforts of the villagers.  Cable news stations will descend upon Gaza and Nablus like vultures, looking for sensational stories of civil war.  They will probably not pause to consider any of the underlying causes of the strife, such as the tightening Israeli noose that reduces Palestinians to desperation, or the crippling international sanctions levied upon them as punishment for their exercise of democratic choice.  And the press surely will not take time to report on the people of At-Tuwani, Susiya, Bethlehem, and Bil'in--among many other places--who carry the struggle forward nonviolently.  Their courage and commitment is on par with that of Mandela, King, and Gandhi.  Yet, they do not ask for the fanfare these giants enjoyed, but merely a little moral support from the outside world.

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Everything is possible
Yigal Bronner, The Electronic Intifada, 22 June 2007

It feels strange to discuss possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Do we prefer a one-state formula or two states, one next to the other? Which of the two solutions is more possible? These questions sound so remote from the harsh reality on the ground, where a resolution of the conflict never seemed so distant.

Currently, Israel is dramatically and unilaterally changing the regional landscape. The project misleadingly called the "Security Fence" is perpetuating and vastly expanding the colonies Israel has established in the areas it occupied in 1967, while sacrificing a handful of settlements located in the remote and most populated Palestinian areas. The project also complements the system of Jewish-only roads and numerous checkpoints that already fragment the West Bank -- it concentrates the Palestinians in densely inhabited, impoverished enclaves, and ensures complete Israeli control over the region's most precious resources: open land and water.

Many Palestinian communities in the West Bank are already fenced in from all sides (and sometimes also cut in the middle) by a system of trenches, concrete walls and barbed-wire fences. Gaza too is sealed. Movement between the Palestinian pockets is extremely difficult. Access to healthcare, education, and work is limited and in some cases impossible. Poverty is everywhere (60 percent of the population is under the UN poverty line of two dollars of income a day). In a matter of months, the project will be successfully completed. It will lock the Palestinians in small ghettos, connected by subterranean roads that will be controlled by Israel. There will be no airport, seaport, and the passage by land to neighboring countries will be manned by Israeli soldiers. The end result -- already in place in the Gaza Strip and several West Bank "strips" -- is a system of crowded, open-air prisons. And if the inmates will get out of hand and revolt, the wardens will target them with air raids and artillery shells.

Note that what is happening in the territories occupied in 1967 is not essentially new. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not 40 years old but 120 years old. Throughout this period, the Israeli Yeshuv-turned-state used a variety of means to seize as much land as possible and displace or strangle the native population. A major breakthrough in this effort took place during the 1948 War, when at least 700,000 Palestinians either fled in fear or were forced out of their towns and villages at gun-point. Their homes were systematically razed to the ground by the newly founded sate of Israel and they were not allowed to return.

As for those Palestinians who in 1948 held fast to their homes (and who withstood a further round of expulsions in the 1950s), they were granted Israeli citizenship and today constitute 20 percent of Israel's population. But policies of displacement and land grab have continued to be practiced consistently also inside Israel, against its own Arab citizens. In the Negev, to give just one example, some 80,000 Bedouins live in "unrecognized villages," which the state refuses to supply with water, electricity, adequate schools and medical facilities. As we speak, Israeli forces are hard at work to involuntarily resettle this population in crowded townships. Hardly a week passes without homes, sometime whole villages, being destroyed, cattle confiscated, and fields extirpated, while the government is generously distributing lands in this area to Jewish settlers. This is just one front of push-and-grab operations inside Israel. Overall, the opinion that the state should revoke the citizenship of its Arab citizens and that they should be fenced out or even expelled is becoming mainstream among Israeli Jews.

In the late 19th century Jewish immigrants to Palestine were rallied by the slogan: "A land without people for a people without a land," and it seems that the Zionist movement has never given up on emptying the land of its native people. Another well-known slogan spoke about the redemption of "an acre here and an acre there" (dunam po ve-dunam sham). The ingeniousness, historical vision and relentlessness of the Zionist project are all apparent in this slogan, taught to us in school: different patches of land may be obtained by resorting to different means -- some bought, other confiscated, yet others taken by force. The land won may initially not be contiguous, some of it here and some of it there, but in the end, "acre-by-acre," it will all be taken.

There is nothing in the slogan about the people already inhabiting those acres. As late as the 1970s, Israel's Prime-minister Golda Meir insisted that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people. And Ariel Sharon, who had a profound impact on Israel's colonization of the West Bank since the late 1970s, repeatedly said that if the Palestinians want a state they should find it in Jordan. And yet, in recent years, the same Sharon suddenly adopted the rhetoric of a two-state-solution, and called for the establishment of a Palestinian entity in areas Israel occupied in the 1967 war.

Coming from the man who masterminded the settlements, the outposts, and, most recently, the strangling of West Bank towns with walls, this new rhetoric signals a historical achievement. The fruits of 120 years of "an acre here and an acre there" are finally within sight. The Arab population of the historical Palestine has become sufficiently disintegrated and dispossessed. The tenuously related, landless enclaves of the West Bank are being terminally fixed -- they have nowhere to expand to. Sharon, Olmert and Barak can now change their language -- to the applause of the Bush administration and the Western nations.

If the Palestinians hoisted their flag in their isolated ghettos, or held elections, Israel couldn't be happier. Calling the open-air prison-system a state will allow it to wash its hands off the impoverished inmates.

So, is a solution possible? Some say that the reality that Israel has created on the ground is irrecoverable and that the partition of the historical Palestine into two states is no longer practical. Others argue that it is the one-state solution which is infeasible, as Israelis will never agree to a power-sharing deal of the Northern Ireland type.

Both arguments are wrong -- nothing is impossible. De Gaul pulled all of France's million settlers out of Algeria when few believed he would. For decades, South African whites said they will never agree to share power with the country's black majority, and then, overnight, they agreed to do exactly that. The Iron Wall fell, and so did the Berlin Wall. As we do not know the future, we have no way of ascertaining the impossible.

But if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to find a just and stable solution -- one state, two states, some other solution -- this will have to involve a true sharing of land, water, and, indeed, power. It will have to be the result of bilateral negotiation between two equal partners. It will have to allow both groups to exercise their cultural and political rights, to hold on to their narratives, languages, and religious traditions.

To such true sharing, the Zionist movement has never agreed. Some argue that the 1947 partition plan amounted to a sincere offer to share the land. But everyone who studied the history of the region knows that the Jewish subscription to this plan was meant to seize an "acre here" while waiting for the "acre there" to materialize. The Yeshuv had no intention to settle for what it was offered then. Others say that in Oslo Israel truly intended to share the land with the PLO, but ask any Palestinian in the West Bank: The Oslo 1990s, when Israel doubled the settlements' population, built many new colonies, and erected the outposts, were the worst decade of Israeli occupation -- until the 2000s, that is.

The well-oiled machine of push-and-grab has been running for decades without ever stopping. Indeed, it steadily gained momentum and has almost a life of its own now. The ears of Israelis have become so accustomed to its constant sound -- the rattle-and-hum of demolition and uprooting to make room for new settlers -- that they no longer hear it. They hear their occasional calls for peace. They hear when they are shot at. But they long ago stopped hearing the monotonous drilling of the colonizing machine, and they cannot imagine the quiet that will result from turning it off.

I have witnessed this unrelenting machine in action. With my friends in Ta'ayush and other peace groups we have built homes that it has tore down, only to see them demolished again, and again, and again, five times over. The bulldozers always come back. Or take the struggle of the residents of Susya, in the South Hebron hills. Years of tremendous efforts of hundreds of people on the ground, in court, and in the media, have by no means secured the fragile status quo of the handful of families clinging to their tiny, simple huts. Israeli soldiers knocked them down at the time of prime-minister Barak, and despite all efforts, the bulldozers will return at some point, to clear the area for the nearby settlers.

The machine of displacement never tires. It continues its work in the occupied territories and in Israel proper, from Rafah to the Negev, from Hebron to Jerusalem, from Budrus to Bil'in, from Jenin to Sakhnin. It grabs an acre here and an acre there. Let me be clear: no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is possible so long as it continues its work.

But dismantle it, and everything is possible.

Yigal Bronner teaches South Asian Literature at the University of Chicago. He is an activist in Ta'ayush: Arab-Jewish Partnership and a refusenik who spent much of the past decade fighting for peace and against injustice in Israel/Palestine.

"You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. FEAR NOT the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens."-Rilke

In search of justice in the Middle East
'3-state solution' is no path to peace

By Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American and the author of "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."
Published June 21, 2007

The U.S. decision to back Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the recent turmoil virtually guarantees an escalation in violence. Abbas has installed an unelected "emergency" government to replace the democratically elected Hamas-led national unity government.

Some have portrayed Hamas' takeover of Palestinian Authority security compounds in Gaza as a "coup." But many Palestinians do not view it that way. In January 2006, Hamas decisively won legislative elections, giving it the right to form an administration. The U.S., despite its rhetorical support for democracy, decided to crush Hamas rule, imposing sanctions that have harmed ordinary Palestinians in the hope that Hamas would be forced out.

 When it won the elections, Hamas had already observed a one-year unilateral truce with Israel, and had suspended the suicide bombings against Israeli civilians that had made it notorious. It tried to enter mainstream politics through the front door, to play by the rules, but was undermined at every step. The bitter conclusion for many Palestinians is that the U.S. is not interested in supporting real democracy, and will intervene relentlessly to overthrow leaders it does not support, regardless of the will of the Palestinian people.

The militias that Hamas took on and defeated in recent weeks were particularly hated in Gaza because they had abducted, tortured and killed many Hamas members and were widely seen as thoroughly corrupt. It so happens that these militias received arms and funding from the United States and had vowed to take on and defeat Hamas, overturning the result of the election.

We have seen this strategy before. Does anyone remember the Nicaraguan contras? Despite the power-sharing deal Fatah and Hamas signed in Mecca last February, key Fatah leaders refused to place their militias under the control of an independent interior minister. He resigned in frustration, and the U.S. continued to funnel in weapons.

Following its dramatic rout of Fatah positions, Hamas leaders gave televised speeches emphasizing that they were not at war with Fatah's rank and file (many of whom did not even fight) and did not want to seize power or overthrow Abbas, whose legitimacy they explicitly reaffirmed. Their problem, they said, was only with the U.S.-supported militia leaders, such as Mohammed Dahlan and Rashid Abu Shbak, who had made the job of the elected Hamas-led government impossible. As a goodwill gesture, Hamas leaders issued a general amnesty for all captured Fatah commanders and appealed for dialogue, reconciliation and reconstructing a national unity government.

Abbas rejected these appeals and has opted to form an unelected government and rule by decree even though Palestinian law denies him that authority. This government will have little real power and will be considered illegitimate by a significant part of the Palestinian public.

After more than a year of sanctions against the Palestinian people, Hamas is stronger and more popular than ever. Throwing more U.S. support behind Abbas and his unelected Cabinet will not reverse this trend.

There has been much talk that the events in Gaza herald the birth of a "three-state solution" -- Israel, plus a Hamas stronghold in Gaza and a Fatah-led West Bank. In reality, the West Bank and Gaza had already long been isolated from each other by Israeli policy. Ultimately, neither Hamas nor Fatah controls the fate of Palestinians; they remain under crushing Israeli military rule.

Some Israelis assert that intra-Palestinian fighting proves that Palestinians are incapable of democracy. They hope that all the heat will be off Israel as it entrenches Bantustan-like separation and discrimination against non-Jews under its rule.

The reality remains that 11 million souls -- half Palestinians and half Israelis -- inhabit a small country. Closing off Gaza and allowing it to descend into further misery, and propping up a Fatah-led Palestinian Authority that has lost legitimacy, while Israel continues to build Jewish-only settlements across the West Bank, is not the path to peace.

Intra-Palestinian dialogue without outside interference, and South Africa or Northern Ireland-style peace talks aimed at ending all forms of military occupation, inequality and discrimination, with strong outside support, may yet save the situation. But so far there are no signs that the Bush administration will heed these obvious rudiments of peace.,0,4877386.story?coll=chi-newsopinioncommentary-hed

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune


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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa

“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946

The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright

“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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