The spiraling escalation of inhumane violence in Israel and Gaza over the last week is heartbreaking and unacceptable, but further bloodshed and the suffering of innocents cannot and will not resolve anything.
Today’s attack on the Anglican hospital that killed more than 500 people is just the next exhibit of untold horrors that awaits us on a path of total rage and revenge unleashed.
That is why we are calling on President Biden to use his trip to Jordan and Israel to insist on an immediate cease fire and the swift delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza before more lives are lost. Please help us send this message:
Dear President Biden,
As the largest provider of military aid to Israel the United States must use all its influence to call for restraint: An immediate ceasefire that allows for urgent humanitarian relief for Gaza as well as the safety and immediate release of hostages.
Wise leadership can turn this moment of extreme peril into an opportunity for peace.
Please President Biden, take the risks of true leadership for peace. Speak up for all the children of the region and their dreams to one day live in peace and freedom from fear.
It is not too late.
Traveling through our Reality Tours is not simply a trip, but rather a journey. We encourage you to immerse yourself into the ways of life of those surrounding you. We invite you to give way to all your senses and truly understand what it is to be a person living in the country you are visiting. We strive to make connections with others as a way to share stories, and grow our understanding of the world. Our trips challenge you to “Meet the People, Learn the Facts, Make a Difference” and move beyond stereotypes. The following is a story of how one of our participants found not only a new appreciation for a culture outside of their own, but understood the interdependence between herself and the people she met. Here is how she is making a difference.
(Search for your next adventure through Reality Tours here!)
Afghanistan was a faraway land that I had never imagined traveling to until the summer of 2002. Of course, after 9/11/2001 it had become a location mentioned frequently in the media and I had become consciously and painfully aware of it’s importance in the unfolding history of our time. I was visiting a friend in San Francisco in July 2002. He knew that I had been to the Middle East several times during the past one and a half years, and thought that I would be interested in a talk sponsored by Global Exchange. There was to be a discussion about the situation in the Occupied Territories. I was very much interested, so we went and six months later I was on my way to Gaza. (Another story!) Now, I had an inkling that I knew nothing about what was happening in the world. In the spring of 2003 I managed to travel to Iraq. (Another story!)
Several months later I contacted Global Exchange again. This time I asked if there was a country in the region that I could travel to where I could work with an individual instead of a group. After several discussions my request was accepted by Najibullah Sedeqe in Afghanistan, and so this story began.
It was a short visit, three days in October of 2003. I stayed in a small guesthouse and in a nearby park Najib and I would take a daily walk. At that time there were still more donkey carts and pedestrians than cars on the streets. For a moment I felt like I had traveled back in time. There was little evidence of western influence. Oh, how I long for those days! It was a fast and furious tour. We mad many visits including several schools that were recently opened for girls; something that had not happened during the previous decade because of the Taliban rule.
It is difficult to remember a time before I knew Afghanistan and Najibullah Sediqi, the in-Country coordinator for Global Exchange Afghanistan delegations. After approximately fifteen to twenty journeys to that mysterious and beautiful land, Afghanistan, has proven to be a perfect teacher. Each adventure “was the best of times and was the worst of times.” Each providing me with new insights and giving me great gifts for the soul. Photography, my work, especially in Afghanistan and the Middle East, has taught me many life lessons in the process of making great images. The sheer cultural shock that often brought excitement of something new also brought struggle, and often I was faced with discomfort, anger and selfishness. With much patience and kindness Najib and others guided me to be a more humble human being. The humility and a heartfelt wanting to return something to Afghanistan has now brought me to a place of action. Over the course of the next year, and with the assistance of Najib and Global Exchange, I will develop four to five Indie go-go campaign projects, each to raise funds for one Kabul family to purchase a tool or product that would enable them to begin to be self-sustaining. Each campaign will be in the amount of 300 to 800 US dollars.
Our first project is now live!
This project will be for the family of Zalikha for the purchase of an air compressor to re-inflate flat tires. There are many on the streets of Kabul. Please check out the project page to read Zalikha’s story and please continue to revisit for updates and new projects.
The following update is based on a press release issued by Code Pink. You can read the entire press release here.
CODEPINK Group Travels to Gaza to Bring Aid and Witness Devastation From Israeli Assault
In the wake of the ceasefire brokered by Egypt, a 20-person delegation of American journalists and peace advocates is traveling to the decimated territory to witness the hardships now facing the 1.7 million residents, deliver emergency aid and call attention to the need for a longer-term strategy to achieve peace and justice for Palestinians.
The delegates include CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin; former State Department official and retired Col. Ann Wright, and Voices for Creative Nonviolence co-coordinator Kathy Kelly.
“The U.S. government allowed Israel carte blanche for eight days while it pounded more than 1,000 sites in Gaza, disproportionately killing civilians,” noted Wright. “Americans of conscience must witness and report back on the heavy price exacted by our support of Israel, so that taxpayers back home will call for a more humane, productive use of their hard-earned dollars.”
A total of 162 Palestinians were killed during the attack. An estimated 73 percent were civilians, including more than 25 children. Five Israelis were killed. “We mourn the loss of lives on both sides,” said CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, “but we think it’s important to recognize the that the Palestinians have suffered much greater losses, and that the Israeli armaments used in the attack were financed largely by the United States, which sends Israel $3 billion in military funds every year.”
Continue here to read the complete Press Release.
- Follow along: Delegation members will post reports on twitter, facebook and on www.codepink.org.
- Support GAZA! There are a number of actions you can take to support Gaza listed here.
The following post is cross-posted on Common Dreams.
By Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis
Given that President Obama daily authorizes the firing of hellfire missiles and the dropping of cluster bombs in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it was awful odd seeing him wax eloquent this week about the “moral force of non-violence” in places like Egypt and Tunisia. But there he was, the commander-in-chief of the largest empire in history, praising the power of peaceful protest in countries with repressive leaders backed by his own administration.
Were we unfamiliar with his actual policies – more than doubling the troops in Afghanistan, dramatically escalating a deadly drone war in Pakistan and unilaterally bombing for peace in Libya – it might have been inspiring to hear a major head of state reject violence as a means to political ends. Instead, we almost choked on the hypocrisy.
Cast beforehand as a major address on the Middle East, what President Obama offered with his speech on Thursday was nothing more than a reprisal of his 2009 address in Cairo: a lot of rhetoric about U.S. support for peace and freedom in the region contradicted by the actual – and bipartisan – U.S. policy over the past half-century of supporting ruthless authoritarian regimes. Yet even for all his talk of human rights and how he “will not tolerate aggression across borders” – yes, a U.S. president said this – Obama didn’t even feign concern about Saudi Arabia’s repressive regime invading neighboring Bahrain to put down a pro-democracy movement there. In fact, the words “Saudi Arabia” were never uttered.
It was that kind of speech: scathing condemnations of human rights abuses by the U.S.’s Official Enemies in places like Iran and Syria and muted criticism – if any – of the gross violations of human decency carried out by its dictatorial friends in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen.
Obama predictably glossed over the reality of U.S. policy and, in an audacious attempt to rewrite history, portrayed his administration as being supportive of the fall of tyrannical governments across the Middle East and North Africa, ludicrously suggesting he had supported regime change in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt – a claim betrayed by the $1.3 billion a year in military aid his administration provided to Mubarak’s regime right up until the moment he resigned. The president’s revisionism might fool a few cable news personalities – what wouldn’t – but it won’t fool Egyptians, less than one in five of whom even want the closer relationship with the U.S. that Obama offered in his speech, at least one that involves more military aid and neoliberal reforms imposed by the International Monetary Fund.
And Obama’s remarks shouldn’t fool their primary audience: American voters.
Contrary to the rhetoric of Obama’s speech, if the U.S. has sided with Middle Eastern publics against their brutal dictators it has not been because of their dictators’ brutality, which in the case of Mubarak was seen as a plus in the age of the war on terror. Nor has that support for the oppressed come in the form of – hold your laughter – non-violence. Rhetoric of change aside, how best to use the liberating power of bullets and bombs continues to be the guiding principle of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
And Obama certainly isn’t apologizing for that. In his speech called the war in Iraq, which conservatively speaking has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, “costly and difficult” – and, grotesquely, “well intended” – but that was as much an acknowledgement as he was willing to make of the deadly failure of U.S. policy toward the region in recent decades. Indeed, Obama argued it was not a failure of policy but merely a failure of rhetoric, a “failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people” that had prompted the “suspicion” the U.S. pursues its own interests at the expense of those living in the countries it invades or whose dictators it supports.
But the truth of these suspicions was evident when Obama explained why the U.S.’s supposed national interests were at stake in the Middle East, claiming that “our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security.” Notice which came first (and just so you know: both have to do with oil).
The president also didn’t deviate from his policy of “unshakable” support for Israeli militarism, typified by his administration’s efforts to safeguard the Jewish state from accountability for its war crimes in Gaza – crimes that left some 1,400 Palestinians dead – and his determination to hand an already wealthy nation more than $3 billion a year in military aid, even as it flaunts the “peace process” and colonizes ever more Palestinian land.
Though typical of his first two years in office, Obama’s duplicity was more evident – and his rhetoric more sloppy – than usual. Mere seconds after proclaiming that “every state has the right to self-defense,” Obama called for the creation of a “sovereign, non-militarized state” for Palestinians, meaning one incapable of defending itself. And while he spoke of Israeli parents fearing their children “could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes,” he did not deign to mention the much for frequent and deadly Israeli violence perpetrated against Palestinians, saying only that the latter suffered “the humiliation of occupation,” as if Palestinian parents feel embarrassment, not pain, at the loss of child killed by an Israeli strike.
Obama’s remarks on the killing of Osama bin Laden were likewise delivered with a complete lack of self-awareness. Describing the latter as a “mass murderer,” Obama – who since taking office has the blood of hundreds of Afghan and Pakistani civilians on his hands – said bin Laden’s philosophy of using bloodshed to achieve desired political changes had been discredited “through the moral force of non-violence” that has swept the region. Peaceful protests, Obama proclaimed, had “achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades” – and more than decades of U.S. wars and occupations, he might have added.
Talking up the virtues of peaceful protest is great and all, but the pretty words lack their power coming from the commander-in-chief of the most lethal and widely deployed military force in world history. Mr. Obama, if you want talk about the evils of violence, great – but follow your own advice.
Charles Davis (http://charliedavis.blogspot.com) is an independent journalist who has covered Congress for public radio and the international news wire Inter Press Service.
Dalit Baum, Ph.D., is the founder of “Who Profits from the Occupation”, an activist research initiative of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel. During the last four years, “Who Profits” has become a vital resource for dozens of campaigns around the world, providing information about corporate complicity in the occupation of Palestine.
Dalit is a feminist scholar and teacher in Israel, teaching about militarism and about the global economy from a feminist perspective in the Haifa University and the Beit Berl College. This year she is visiting the U.S. as an activist in residence with Global Exchange, directing a new program titled Economic Activism for Palestine, which aims to support existing divestment campaigns in the U.S. as well as help new ones through education, training, networking and the development of dedicated tools.
The following is an excerpt from a letter Dalit sent out to Global Exchange’s Economic Activism for Palestine email list this week. If you’d like to join this email list to stay updated about this new project you can sign up here.
Who really profits from the Israeli occupation? What economic interests further entrench the colonization and exploitation of Palestinian land and resources? How can we influence corporate policies affecting Palestine – and through this work weaken and isolate the occupation?
I’m Dalit Baum, and as a feminist anti-occupation activist teaching gender and the global economy at Haifa University and Beit Berl College in Israel, I found these questions crucial to our work for justice in Palestine. To try to answer them I helped start and have coordinated an activist research initiative called Who Profits from the Occupation within the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel. During the last four years, Who Profits has become a vital resource for dozens of campaigns around the world, providing information about corporate complicity in the occupation of Palestine.
The Economic Activism for Palestine project responds to the July 2005 Unified Call of Palestinian civil society for a wide variety of initiatives such as boycotts, divestment and sanctions until Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. Through our new project, Global Exchange will increase its participation in a growing network of civil society initiatives around the world, dedicated to changing corporate policies and making the occupation less profitable. We will support existing campaigns for divestment and corporate accountability nationally, as well as help create new ones through education, training, networking and the development of dedicated tools.
I am very excited to be part of this new project and look forward to working with you for justice in Palestine through corporate accountability.
Ways To Get Involved With Dalit’s Work:
- Get in touch about the work you are doing in your community by e-mailing Dalit.
- Download the article “Economic Activism: Working from Within.”
- Invite Dalit to speak in your community.
Topics Dalit Covers:
- Corporate involvement in the Israeli occupation: developing effective responses
- Economic Activism for Palestine: learning from our successes
- The feminist anti-occupation movement in Israel and BDS
- Activist workshop 1: Corporate research effective campaigns: sharing our knowhow
- Activist workshop 2: Strategic target choice for BDS: where is the salt?
Listen to my interview today on WBEZ’s (Chicago NPR) Worldview radio program to learn more about rising oil and gasoline prices, turmoil in the Middle East, speculators, Big Oil, and offshore oil drilling.
Please take a listen and share the interview with others!