About Me

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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Power to the (Palestinian) People

By: Jeff Halper (A world-renowned Jewish Israeli human rights activist)
January 23, 2008
(photos from AP an Reuters, used for non-commercial purposes)

The people of Palestine have done it again, taking their own fate in their hands after being let down by their own "moderate" political leadership and, indeed, the entire international community in their struggle for freedom. Early this morning they simply blew up the wall separating Gaza from Egypt, breaking a siege imposed on them by an Arab government in collaboration with Israel.

We, the peoples of the world, should take great pride and encouragement in this quintessentially civil society refusal to accept subjugation, to abandon their fate to governments, including their own, for whom the lives of ordinary people are simply grist for their political charades – Annapolis and its subsequent "peace process" being but the last cynical expression. For the Palestinians represent far more than just themselves. Their refusal to submit to the dictates of governments, or to governments' lack of interest in the well-being of people in general, reflects the desire of billions of oppressed people for identity, freedom, a decent life and actualization of their collective and individual rights and potentials. Most of the oppressed, the "wretched of the earth" as Franz Fanon called them a half-century ago, are too preoccupied with the daunting daily struggle for survival to organize and resist. Others do resist in a myriad of ways, but are most often repressed by their own political and economic "leaders," disappearing anonymously from view. In a few cases they have managed to mount effective resistance to oppression, even to prevail – though the billions spent on "counterinsurgency" warfare by the US, Europe, Russia, Israel and many "developing" nations augur ill for peoples attempting to overthrow oppressive regimes.

In this the Palestinians stand at the forefront, in the front lines of peoples' insistence everywhere that their rights, well-being and fundamental values as human beings be respected by governments. And they do so (and I write this as an Israeli with great sorrow and shame) against one of the world's strongest and most ruthless military powers – a power that has dispossessed them from 85% of their land, which is trying to transform its occupation into a permanent regime of apartheid, which has spent decades impoverishing and disenfranchising them; the fourth largest nuclear power which nevertheless casts itself as the victim. Not only have the Palestinians experienced the dehumanization all oppressed and colonized peoples experience, not only have they been made into the embodiment of the rich and powerful's greatest fear, evil "terrorists" who may tear down their privileged "civilization," but they have been turned into guinea pigs. Israel is able to gain an edge in the counterinsurgency industry and win entree into the heart of the American military/hi tech complex by turning the Occupied Territories into a laboratory for the development of fiendish weaponry and tactics intended for use against people.

And yet the Palestinian people – and in particular those who remain sumud, steadfast, in Palestine – continue not only to resist but to surprise and confound its would-be Israeli master at every turn. Despite unlimited control, a complete monopoly over the use of force, utter callousness and a vaunted Shin Bet, Israel's military intelligence, Palestinians vote as they want, resist, carry on their daily lives with dignity – and blow huge holes in the walls and policies constructed in order to imprison and defeat them.

All this is not on the minds of those desperate people who surged into Egypt today. They may not have the "Big Picture." Yet they deserve the respect and gratefulness of every person who cherishes a better world based on human rights and dignity, a world that is inclusive. As an Israeli Jew, I have been saddened and mortified that my own people, after all they have experienced, cannot see what they are doing to others. But on a larger scale, not as an Israeli Jew but as a human being, I take heart in the Palestinians' active refusal to be ground under a global system that is producing unimaginable wealth and power for a few at the expense of the growing ranks of the wretched.

I am not a Palestinian; I am not one of the oppressed. I only hope I can use my privilege in an effective way in order to redeem the gift the people of Gaza have given all of us: the realization that the people do have power and can prevail even in the face of overwhelming power. We may each express our responsibility towards the people of Gaza in whatever way most suits us, but as the privileged we must do something. We owe the Palestinians and the Palestinians writ large at least that.

(Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

They neither see nor remember

By Amira Hass

A leading Jewish Israeli journalist who writes for one of Israel’s largest English newspaper, Haaretz
(photos from AP and Reuters, used for non-commercial purposes)

The security establishment was quick on Monday to boast of the success of its tactic of escalation against Gaza: Look, the number of Qassams declined. By the time these lines are published, the security establishment may spin another logical axiom: Since we renewed the supply of diesel fuel on a one-time basis, the Palestinians have gone back to firing Qassams. The conclusion: Continue the escalation. The logic of escalation is the middle name of the current defense minister, Ehud Barak, and many Israelis are adopting it.

Barak was prime minister in September 2000, when the Israel Defense Forces responded with escalation to popular demonstrations against the Israeli occupier and to the throwing of stones: lethal fire against civilians, among them many children. Not surprisingly, the Palestinians did not understand the lesson and turned to escalation tactics of their own. That is how we reached the point where we are now - homemade rockets of all kinds, which become even developed, the more Israel escalates its punishment measures in response to them.

Books, articles and one or two films have already discussed, albeit tardily, the foolishness of the tactic of escalation. But that does not matter to those who support the application of more and more pressure on the 1.5 million residents of the Strip. This shows that they - like their defense minister and the rest of the political leadership - are suffering from four failings: amnesia, shortsightedness, disorientation and learning disabilities.

Amnesia allows exponents of this position to ponder the ostensibly welcome results of the escalation for a period of time ranging from days to months. Israelis forget the deadly Israeli attack that preceded the last Qassam barrage. And because they do not connect today's Qassams to those killed at the beginning of the intifada, that is, to the steps of escalation that the army took seven years ago, they cannot imagine what the result will be of the interruption to the water supply due to the power cuts; the collapse of the sewerage system; the insult inherent in dealing only with food and the cold. Because of amnesia, Israelis do not think about the future: about the Palestinian, all-Muslim, all-Arab attitudes and positions that are being formulated at this very moment, which will end up shattering any temporary calm.

The shortsightedness of those who support escalation allows them to watch television broadcasts from Gaza - of children crying and spokesmen pleading or raging - and feel these are signs that the current escalation is working. They do not see beyond the screen. They do not see the mutual help, the resourcefulness and the humor people are showing, the stubbornness and the political and popular pressure on their Egyptian neighbor.

Disorientation causes supporters of escalation to believe that Gaza is really a separate geographic and demographic region, that it does not belong, that the fate of its inhabitants means nothing to Palestinians in other areas. Disorientation causes Israelis to relate to the Green Line and treat it as sacred only when Palestinians cross it and strike at them. They forget that they - that is, we Israelis - are crossing the Green Line at any given moment: with settlements and gunfire and separate roads, shelling and bombardment and military orders. And this began long before any Palestinians learned how to manufacture Qassams.

It all connects to learning disabilities. The escalation, its proponents are convinced, will lead to popular pressure on the Hamas government. But the Palestinians do not forget that various forms of siege and closure, economic attrition, land expropriation and foot-dragging in negotiations, are testimony to the failure of the Palestinian Authority and its elected president, Mahmoud Abbas, much more than they are to the failure of Hamas.

Those who champion escalation ignore the fact that hermetic closure of all crossings into Gaza reminds the world what it loves to forget: Israel is the occupier. The aggressor. The learning disabled and the short-sighted do not see the moral - and not just security - bankruptcy of the escalation policy. Others will do that in their place.

Palestinians break out of the Gaza ghetto

Monday, January 21, 2008

Video Israel Doesn't Want You and I to See

Why did Israel try to censor this video report? See this Canadian television (CBC) report for yourself.

Israel's genocide against the Palestinian people

Israel continues to engage in the illegal and immoral practice of collective punishment against the people of Gaza. Gaza today is a ghetto, possibly, the largest concentration camp in history, with over 1.4 million Palestinians denied free movement, medicine, food, and basic human needs.
Do your part to stop this war crime.

Genocide is illegal, even for Israel.