February 14, 2013
Are They Just Waiting for Samer Issawi to Die? | CounterPunch
A Note to AP and Amnesty International
By Alison Weir
February 13, 2013
Samer Issawi has lived for 33 years, 1 month, and 27 days. I hope he lives another day.
He has been on a hunger strike now for six and a half months. Gandhis’ longest hunger strike was 21 days.
The IRA’s Bobby Sands and nine other Irish hunger strikers died in 1981 after strikes lasting from 46 to 73 days.
Issawi’s internal organs are starting to shut down, he can no longer walk, he is reportedly suffering loss of vision and vomiting blood, it is difficult for him talk, and he is increasingly near death. He has lost over half his body weight.
One of the main ideas behind such nonviolent resistance is that world awareness will bring pressure on behalf of the sufferer.
Yet, U.S. news outlets are not covering Issawi’s hunger strike. It appears that the Associated Press has not run a single news story on Issawi’s strike and refuses to answer queries on the subject.
AP’s lack of reporting on the situation is even more inexplicable given that there has been an international campaign on Issawi’s behalf.
There have been banner drops in Washington, D.C, Chicago, Cleveland, Austin, and other parts of the world; demonstrations and vigils in numerous cities; and Issawi’s plight has made it onto Twitter’s world-trending list at least four times this month.
The alleged “crime” for which Issawi is being imprisoned and may die – there has been no trial – is for having allegedly traveled outside Jerusalem. Issawi is one of the Palestinian prisoners released in a prisoner exchange in 2011, and such movement, Israel says, violated the terms of that release. (It is unclear whether Israel has formally charged Issawi.)
However, Issawi supporters point out that Issawi’s “travel” was to an area near Hizma, and Israel does not appear to dispute this, bringing into question Israel’s claimed reason for incarcerating him: Hizma is within Jerusalem’s municipal borders.
Israeli is holding Issawi under “administrative detention,” a system by which Israel holds Palestinian men, women, and even children for as long as the Israeli government wishes without trials or charges; sometimes for decades. Since 2000 Israel has reportedly issued 20,000 such detention orders.
In response to Issawi’s hunger strike, Israel has begun punishing his family. Israel arrested his sister for a period and reportedly cut off water to her house. In early July the Israeli army demolished his brother’s home.
It is difficult to think that if an Israeli soldier were held by Palestinians that the Associated Press would not run a single story about it. (AP ran many dozens of stories on Israeli tank gunner Gilad Shalit when he was held in Gaza.)
It is even more difficult to imagine that if an Israeli held by Palestinians (none are) had been on a hunger strike – let alone one that had lasted months and put him near death – the person would not have been the subject of a single AP report.
Moreover, Issawi is just one of a multitude of Palestinian hunger strikers, almost all ignored by U.S. media. Another, Ayman Sharawna, whose fast was interrupted for a short period, has been on a strike that, in total, is even longer that Issawi’s.
Amnesty International has also been inexplicably negligent.
I have just been informed that Amnesty International plans to issue an announcement about Issawi today. If it does so, this will be its first one on Issawi. In fact, during a hunger strike that lasted over six months, queries to Amnesty and searches of both the American and British websites, have turned up only one mention of him – in the last paragraph of an alert about other prisoners posted on the British site. It is not on the U.S. site.
Phone calls and emails over the past week to Amnesty’s Washington DC, New York, and London offices failed to elicit any information on Issawi or Amnesty’s decision not to alert the public to his situation. (Finally, unable to obtain a response from Amnesty, a few days ago I posted their lack of coverage on Facebook.)
While pro-Israel groups constantly attack Amnesty for insufficiently taking the Israeli line, in reality Amnesty’s record on the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan is often significantly at odds with the organization’s work on behalf of prisoners and human rights in other areas.
There have been analyses and objections to Amnesty actions that appeared to, in the words of one article, “shill for Mideast Wars.” Its executive director Suzanne Nossel spoke in favor of what she termed “hard force,” e.g. wars.
Nossel emphasized that at the top of Amnesty’s list was “defense of Israel,” despite Israel’s long list of violent aggression, ethnic cleansing, and human rights violations. Nossel blasted the UN report on Gaza’s 2008-9 massacre in Gaza as “not supported by facts,” despite massive evidence both in that report and and many others that its statements about Israel were quite accurate, if not slightly tilted toward Israel.
A lengthy article in CounterPunch examined Amnesty’s emphasis (and inaccurate coverage) on the Pussy Riot issue, and compared this to Amnesty’s lack of coverage on the incarceration of whistle blower Julian Assange and on other significant cases.
A 1988 analysis on human rights organizations’ work on Israel-Palestine found a number of shortcomings in Amnesty’s work, and in January 2012 Dutch-English writer Paul de Rooij complained of Amnesty’s “double standards” on Palestinian human rights.
In an email exchange with Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, de Rooij wrote that Amnesty’s “unwillingness to publish lists” of Palestinian Prisoners of Conscience and the extreme rarity of applying this designation to Palestinian prisoners “indicate that Palestinians can’t expect much from Amnesty International.”
De Rooij continued: “The brutal treatment and dispossession of Palestinians has been going on for decades; the situation is chronic and it has been systematic. But check for yourself in Amnesty’s reports or press releases: when was the last time that AI unambiguously indicated that Israeli actions amounted to crimes against humanity?”
De Rooij answered his own question: “You can count such instances with less than half the fingers on your hand.”
Susanne Nossel left Amnesty in January of this year and her replacement has not yet been chosen, so it is possible that its actions will change.
In the meantime, Samer Issawi’s life seems to be hanging by a thread.
Since Americans give Israel over $8 million per day, our tax money is helping to fund Israel’s actions. Those who wish to prevent at least one tragic death may wish to make their opinion known to the U.S. State Department (202-663-1848) and Associated Press (212.621.1500).
The name is also sometimes given as Samer Al-Issawi or Al-Eesawy. 
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. She can be reached at contact@ifamericansknew.org.
Copyright © 2013 CounterPunch.
[Photo: Samer Issawi.]

Are They Just Waiting for Samer Issawi to Die? | CounterPunch

A Note to AP and Amnesty International

By Alison Weir

February 13, 2013

Samer Issawi has lived for 33 years, 1 month, and 27 days. I hope he lives another day.

He has been on a hunger strike now for six and a half months. Gandhis’ longest hunger strike was 21 days.

The IRA’s Bobby Sands and nine other Irish hunger strikers died in 1981 after strikes lasting from 46 to 73 days.

Issawi’s internal organs are starting to shut down, he can no longer walk, he is reportedly suffering loss of vision and vomiting blood, it is difficult for him talk, and he is increasingly near death. He has lost over half his body weight.

One of the main ideas behind such nonviolent resistance is that world awareness will bring pressure on behalf of the sufferer.

Yet, U.S. news outlets are not covering Issawi’s hunger strike. It appears that the Associated Press has not run a single news story on Issawi’s strike and refuses to answer queries on the subject.

AP’s lack of reporting on the situation is even more inexplicable given that there has been an international campaign on Issawi’s behalf.

There have been banner drops in Washington, D.C, Chicago, Cleveland, Austin, and other parts of the world; demonstrations and vigils in numerous cities; and Issawi’s plight has made it onto Twitter’s world-trending list at least four times this month.

The alleged “crime” for which Issawi is being imprisoned and may die – there has been no trial – is for having allegedly traveled outside Jerusalem. Issawi is one of the Palestinian prisoners released in a prisoner exchange in 2011, and such movement, Israel says, violated the terms of that release. (It is unclear whether Israel has formally charged Issawi.)

However, Issawi supporters point out that Issawi’s “travel” was to an area near Hizma, and Israel does not appear to dispute this, bringing into question Israel’s claimed reason for incarcerating him: Hizma is within Jerusalem’s municipal borders.

Israeli is holding Issawi under “administrative detention,” a system by which Israel holds Palestinian men, women, and even children for as long as the Israeli government wishes without trials or charges; sometimes for decades. Since 2000 Israel has reportedly issued 20,000 such detention orders.

In response to Issawi’s hunger strike, Israel has begun punishing his family. Israel arrested his sister for a period and reportedly cut off water to her house. In early July the Israeli army demolished his brother’s home.

It is difficult to think that if an Israeli soldier were held by Palestinians that the Associated Press would not run a single story about it. (AP ran many dozens of stories on Israeli tank gunner Gilad Shalit when he was held in Gaza.)

It is even more difficult to imagine that if an Israeli held by Palestinians (none are) had been on a hunger strike – let alone one that had lasted months and put him near death – the person would not have been the subject of a single AP report.

Moreover, Issawi is just one of a multitude of Palestinian hunger strikers, almost all ignored by U.S. media. Another, Ayman Sharawna, whose fast was interrupted for a short period, has been on a strike that, in total, is even longer that Issawi’s.

Amnesty International has also been inexplicably negligent.

I have just been informed that Amnesty International plans to issue an announcement about Issawi today. If it does so, this will be its first one on Issawi. In fact, during a hunger strike that lasted over six months, queries to Amnesty and searches of both the American and British websites, have turned up only one mention of him – in the last paragraph of an alert about other prisoners posted on the British site. It is not on the U.S. site.

Phone calls and emails over the past week to Amnesty’s Washington DC, New York, and London offices failed to elicit any information on Issawi or Amnesty’s decision not to alert the public to his situation. (Finally, unable to obtain a response from Amnesty, a few days ago I posted their lack of coverage on Facebook.)

While pro-Israel groups constantly attack Amnesty for insufficiently taking the Israeli line, in reality Amnesty’s record on the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan is often significantly at odds with the organization’s work on behalf of prisoners and human rights in other areas.

There have been analyses and objections to Amnesty actions that appeared to, in the words of one article, “shill for Mideast Wars.” Its executive director Suzanne Nossel spoke in favor of what she termed “hard force,” e.g. wars.

Nossel emphasized that at the top of Amnesty’s list was “defense of Israel,” despite Israel’s long list of violent aggression, ethnic cleansing, and human rights violations. Nossel blasted the UN report on Gaza’s 2008-9 massacre in Gaza as “not supported by facts,” despite massive evidence both in that report and and many others that its statements about Israel were quite accurate, if not slightly tilted toward Israel.

A lengthy article in CounterPunch examined Amnesty’s emphasis (and inaccurate coverage) on the Pussy Riot issue, and compared this to Amnesty’s lack of coverage on the incarceration of whistle blower Julian Assange and on other significant cases.

A 1988 analysis on human rights organizations’ work on Israel-Palestine found a number of shortcomings in Amnesty’s work, and in January 2012 Dutch-English writer Paul de Rooij complained of Amnesty’s “double standards” on Palestinian human rights.

In an email exchange with Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, de Rooij wrote that Amnesty’s “unwillingness to publish lists” of Palestinian Prisoners of Conscience and the extreme rarity of applying this designation to Palestinian prisoners “indicate that Palestinians can’t expect much from Amnesty International.”

De Rooij continued: “The brutal treatment and dispossession of Palestinians has been going on for decades; the situation is chronic and it has been systematic. But check for yourself in Amnesty’s reports or press releases: when was the last time that AI unambiguously indicated that Israeli actions amounted to crimes against humanity?”

De Rooij answered his own question: “You can count such instances with less than half the fingers on your hand.”

Susanne Nossel left Amnesty in January of this year and her replacement has not yet been chosen, so it is possible that its actions will change.

In the meantime, Samer Issawi’s life seems to be hanging by a thread.

Since Americans give Israel over $8 million per day, our tax money is helping to fund Israel’s actions. Those who wish to prevent at least one tragic death may wish to make their opinion known to the U.S. State Department (202-663-1848) and Associated Press (212.621.1500).

The name is also sometimes given as Samer Al-Issawi or Al-Eesawy. 

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. She can be reached at contact@ifamericansknew.org.

Copyright © 2013 CounterPunch.

[Photo: Samer Issawi.]

November 30, 2012
we-hate-war:

The first seat of the State of Palestine in the United Nations

we-hate-war:

The first seat of the State of Palestine in the United Nations

October 28, 2012
Albright "Apologizes" | FFF

By Sheldon Richman

November 7, 2003

In 1996 then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked by 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, in reference to years of U.S.-led economic sanctions against Iraq, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

To which Ambassador Albright responded, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”

That remark caused no public outcry. In fact, in January the following year Albright was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as President Clinton’s secretary of state. In her opening statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was considering her appointment, she said, “We will insist on maintaining tough UN sanctions against Iraq unless and until that regime complies with relevant Security Council resolutions.”

Apparently no member of the committee asked her about her statement on 60 Minutes. Albright was confirmed.

Why bring this up now? Albright has just published her memoirs, Madam Secretary, in which she clarifies her statement. Here’s what she writes:

I must have been crazy; I should have answered the question by reframing it and pointing out the inherent flaws in the premise behind it. Saddam Hussein could have prevented any child from suffering simply by meeting his obligations…. As soon as I had spoken, I wished for the power to freeze time and take back those words. My reply had been a terrible mistake, hasty, clumsy and wrong. Nothing matters more than the lives of innocent people. I had fallen into the trap and said something I simply did not mean. That was no one’s fault but my own. (p. 275)

In the paragraph before this one she complains about the 60 Minutes report because “little effort was made to explain Saddam’s culpability, his misuse of Iraqi resources, or the fact that we were not embargoing medicine or food.”

When one reviews the facts, it is clear that Albright’s explanation is woefully inadequate. First, it contains an apparent contradiction. She says food and medicine were not embargoed, but then she says Saddam Hussein could have avoided the suffering “simply by meeting his obligations.” Does that mean more food would have been available had Hussein done what the U.S. government wanted? If so, weren’t American officials at least partly responsible for the harm done to the Iraqi people? Hussein certainly did not let his people starve. The New York Times and Washington Post have reported that in answer to the sanctions, Saddam Hussein maintained an elaborate food-rationing program for rich and poor, presumably to hold the loyalty of the Iraqi people, which the sanctions were supposedly intended to dissolve. Iraqis are reported to be reluctant to give up the program even though Hussein is gone and the sanctions are over.

Albright is being disingenuous. Although food wasn’t formally embargoed when the sanctions began in 1990, Iraq was hampered in importing it because initially Iraqi oil couldn’t be exported. No exports, no imports. The UN’s “oil for food” program, started six years later, after Hussein dropped his opposition, was supposed to remedy that. But it didn’t entirely. Counterpunch.org reported in 1999, “Proceeds from such oil sales are banked in New York…. Thirty-four percent is skimmed off for disbursement to outside parties with claims on Iraq, such as the Kuwaitis, as well as to meet the costs of the UN effort in Iraq. A further thirteen percent goes to meet the needs of the Kurdish autonomous area in the north.” With the remaining limited amount of money, the Iraqi government could order “food, medicine, medical equipment, infrastructure equipment to repair water and sanitation” and other things. But — and here’s the rub — the U.S. government could veto or delay any items ordered. And it did.

As Joy Gordon reported in the November 2001 Harper’s,

The United States has fought aggressively throughout the last decade to purposefully minimize the humanitarian goods that enter the country…. Since August 1991 the United States has blocked most purchases of materials necessary for Iraq to generate electricity, as well as equipment for radio, telephone, and other communications. Often restrictions have hinged on the withholding of a single essential element, rendering many approved items useless. For example, Iraq was allowed to purchase a sewage-treatment plant but was blocked from buying the generator necessary to run it; this in a country that has been pouring 300,000 tons of raw sewage daily into its rivers.

For Albright to say that food and medicine were not embargoed is to evade the fact that critical public-health needs could not be addressed because of the sanctions. Preventing a society from purifying its water and treating its sewage is a particularly brutal way to inflict harm, especially on its children. Disease was rampant, and infant mortality rose because of the sanctions. Let’s not forget that destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure was a deliberate aim of the U.S. bombing during the 1991 Gulf War.

No wonder two UN humanitarian coordinators quit over the sanctions. As one of them, Denis Halliday, said when he left in 1998, “I’ve been using the word ‘genocide’ because this is a deliberate policy to destroy the people of Iraq. I’m afraid I have no other view.”

Albright now writes that her answer to Stahl was “crazy” and that she regretted it “as soon as [she] had spoken.” Yet she did not take back her words between 1996 and Sept. 11, 2001. According to journalist Matt Welch, after being plagued by student protesters she “quietly” expressed regret for her statement in a speech at the University Southern California shortly after 9/11. But neither her office nor the Clinton administration issued a prominent clarification to the American people or the world. Could that be because her initial answer was sincere and that her belated apology was issued with her legacy in mind? We can be sure of one thing: word of her response spread throughout the Arab world. Maybe even among some of the 9/11 terrorists.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, and editor of Ideas on Liberty magazine and author of “‘Ancient History’: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East since World War II and the Folly of Intervention.”. Send him email.

Copyright © 2003 The Future of Freedom Foundation. All rights reserved.

September 24, 2011
Netanyahu targets UN and militant Islam in GA speech | Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

(Source: occupiedpalestine, via fattouch-deactivated20121111)

September 23, 2011
bntfalesteen:

 
A hand-made olive-wood chair, fashioned to look like the blue seats at the United Nations, is set to tour Europe to raise support for a Palestinian bid to join the world body.
The chair was commissioned by a Palestinian NGO which is hoping to rally support for the campaign to secure full U.N. membership for a Palestinian state when the General Assembly meets in New York this month.

bntfalesteen:

A hand-made olive-wood chair, fashioned to look like the blue seats at the United Nations, is set to tour Europe to raise support for a Palestinian bid to join the world body.

The chair was commissioned by a Palestinian NGO which is hoping to rally support for the campaign to secure full U.N. membership for a Palestinian state when the General Assembly meets in New York this month.

(via zari3a-deactivated20110928-deac)

11:51pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZK1xOy9s0g23
  
Filed under: palestine un olive chair 
September 22, 2011
israelfacts:

An Orthodox Jew protests against Israel near the United Nations headquarters September 21, 2011 in New York as the annual UN General Assembly continues. (Getty Images)

israelfacts:

An Orthodox Jew protests against Israel near the United Nations headquarters September 21, 2011 in New York as the annual UN General Assembly continues. (Getty Images)

(Source: fajrarmy, via brownnippleafficionada-deactiva)