Monday, December 24, 2012

O little town of Bethlehem

“O little town of Bethlehem/How still we see thee lie…”

A massive 25 foot high concrete separation Wall enchains the city and confines and chokes its Palestinian Christian and Muslim inhabitants. The Israeli government continues building thousands of housing units in existing and ever-increasing Jewish-only settlements. “Above thy deep and dreamless sleep/ The silent stars go by.” Many cannot see the stars anymore. Bethlehem’s land is controlled by a ring of settlements, military zones, highways for settlers and Israelis only. Bethlehem’s agricultural lands have been confiscated, sacred olive trees uprooted and water resources stolen. “Yet in thy dark streets shineth/ The everlasting Light…” Families are separated from each other, their jobs, hospitals, schools, churches, mosques. The biblical and literal path from Nazareth to Bethlehem is blocked by checkpoints and 25 foot high slabs of concrete. “And praises sing to God the King/ And Peace to men on earth.” Let us raise our voices to ending racism, occupation, and apartheid. Let us dedicate the NewYear to rebuilding a Holy Land for people of all faiths.

Jane Toby

Monday, December 10, 2012

Festival of Lights

Of course, Israel has the right to defend itself. But Israel does NOT have the right to block food and medicine to Palestinian men, women, and children. Israel does NOT have the right to steal Palestinian land to build thousands of illegal homes in illegal settlements. Israel does NOT have the right to confiscate or demolish Palestinian homes. Israel does NOT have the right to steal Palestinian water and resources. Israel does NOT have the right to imprison over one and a half million Palestinian refugees in Gaza and then bomb them from F-16 fighter jets, shell them from battleships, or assassinate them with drones. In short, Israel does NOT have the right to inflict collective punishment on innocent Palestinians.

As long as Israel continues to oppress, humiliate and brutalize Palestinians there is little hope for a lasting and just peace. Perhaps, during this festival of lights, Israel will see the light. Until Israel's military occupation ends, until displaced Palestinians can return to their stolen homes and farms, until there is justice and equality for all (Israelis and Palestinians) the light of peace will not shine on Israel.

Eli Kassirer

Sunday, December 9, 2012

National Disgrace

The price of our country's alliance with Israel is a forbidden topic in our media. The figure of 3 billion a year is sometimes given, although that amount is always exceeded by armament shipments and other giveaways. 

Money given to Israel is only a small part of the price we pay as US citizens. The Israeli lobby has turned our electoral process into a sham, and our elected representatives into sycophants to Israel's rightwing leadership. Congress pays much more attention to currying favor with Israeli war hawks than trying to keep young Americans out of another Middle Eastern conflict. And there is nothing our elected leaders won't do to please their foreign masters. The spectacle of our representatives pledging allegiance to Israel at meetings of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee is enough to turn one's stomach.

Our government's one sided relationship with Israel has also eaten away at our rights as citizens for a fair trial. Take the case of Ghassan Elashi, sentenced to 65 years for founding a Palestinian charity, the Holy Land Foundation. His trial had a special witness, a nameless Israeli secret service agent whose qualifications and testimony couldn't be cross examined. Among the agent's inflammatory statements was the declaration that, "there was a smell of Hamas" about the Palestinian charity group. Dr. Elashi's rights for due process as an American citizen were destroyed by our court's "special relationship" with Israel. 

And then there is slaughter in Gaza. America's support for Israel is a national disgrace.

Fred Nagel

Almost Unimaginable Degree of Injustice

Letter to the Editor:

I'm one of the people who stand in front of Starbucks to bring attention to the desperate plight of the Palestinians, and I'm writing in response to Suzanne Federman's letter (12/6/12) questioning our knowledge and our motives. Yes, Ms. Federman, most of us have been to Israel and to the West Bank, some of us multiple times. We are highly informed—please stop and talk to us next time. We protest because of what we have witnessed firsthand: the almost unimaginable degree of injustice and human rights violations endured by Palestinians daily. 

Certainly there are individual Israeli Jews who are principled, compassionate, and courageous, and we applaud them. But their government is impervious to demands for justice. Boycotting products made in the illegal West Bank settlements, calling for sanctions, and divesting in Israeli corporations are our only way of creating pressure that we hope will eventually lead to change, as it did in apartheid South Africa. 

Jo Salas