Azmi Bshara at AUB in commemoration of Nakba

Taken from Palestinian Cultural Club at AUB

In Commemoration of the 61st anniversary of the Nakba

The Palestinian Cultural Club in AUB

cordially invites you to a lecture by

Dr. Azmi Bshara

“Palestine: the Arab cause or the “Palestinians’ problem”?

Questions of history and the Nakba”

Time: Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 6.00 pm

Place: Issam Fares Hall, American University of Beirut

For further information, please call 70/637624 or 70/236010

Open invitation

في الذكرى الواحد والستين للنكبة

يتشرّف النادي الثقافي الفلسطيني في الجامعة الأميركية في بيروت

بدعوتكم لمحاضرة

الدكتور عزمي بشارة

فلسطين: قضية العرب أم “مشكلة الفلسطينيين”

أسئلة النكبة والتاريخ

الزمان: الخميس في 14 أيار 2009، الساعة السادسة مساء

المكان: قاعة عصام فارس، الجامعة الأميركية في بيروت

لمزيد من المعلومات، الاتصال على أحد الرقمين 637624-70 أو 236010-70

الدعوة عامة

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=78595612629

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"Human Rights" and Syrian and American Censorship of websites in Syria

This post is not well-documented for I don’t have the time to search for links to support my claims, hence I realize my argument is weak nevertheless I don’t think it’s baseless.

A lot has been said and done, both by Syrian netizens and by western human rights organizations, about the vicious no good evil Syrian regime censorship of websites in Syria. It’s the favorite topic for almost all of the human rights websites and organizations, alternative and mainstream ones, to pin point the illegal censorship policies of certain regimes mostly Syria and Iran.

Whenever a website is found blocked in Syria, these organizations hurry and publish their appealing reports to the western world condemning the act that devalues one of the most important human right to the western world, freedom of speech. A right I think it’s also important to us here in this region, but in a whole different context.

Whenever a prominent blogger or a Syrian/Iranian activist is arrested, or rather, whenever the Syrian regime commits the crime of censorship, reports in the western world never stop from flowing.

But what is not known to many people who follow and salute these human rights organization is that many Syrians are arrested and recently prevented from leaving the country for no explained reasons (which is now considered the threat to Syrians activists than imprisonment) and contrary to a stupid report published here calling US and European officials to put pressure on Syria concerning its human rights record. Only the prominent political prisoners get attention from these organizations and from the mainstream and alternative western media. Of course the case is relatively the same with Syrian human rights organizations, not every Syrian political prisoner or detainee get the same attention from local human rights organizations and many prisoners remain unknown.

My point is that the term “human rights” is never about people’s rights really. It’s one of the major political terms used heavily in political contexts to support or condemn certain people or regimes according to the organization’s agenda or its source of funding agenda. If an authorial regime arrests people who resist its authority, authorial human rights organization support authorial political prisoners and ignore “marginal” ones. If Syria censored websites, all western human rights organizations heavily condemn the illegal act, but these very organizations stay still, and thus become cooperatives, when censorship is practiced “legally” by American websites and corporations like Google, which prevents Syrian users from downloading most of its products like Google Talk, Chrome, Gears, Video chat and from uploading a video to Google Videos.

this-product

I cannot upgrade and renew my wordpress account from Syria, because wordpress deals with Paypal and Syria and Lebanon are not listed in its countries’ list to allow me to pay. I have to rely on my friends on other parts of the world to do so. And the only reason I reserved a domain on wordpress is because the domain blogspot is blocked in Syria and I fear wordpress domain might be blocked in the future as well.

So what did Amnesty or Human Rights Watch or Reporters Without Borders have to say about these websites who censor, as the Syrian regime, Syrian users from using their services?

Absolutely nothing.

Yes, these three websites have not published not one single report condemning Google or Linkedin or Paypal about their decisions to prevent Syrian users from using their services, but they did however, publish heavily on Syria’s act of censorship. These so called prominent human rights organizations do not condemn the act of censorship itself but rather the doer of that act, and this condemnation always goes hand in hand with the American foreign policy, sorry no, intervention, hmm not really, “imperialistic occupation” in the region, as Azmi Bshara rightly once called it.

From how I see it, human rights organizations are like the United Nations, their job is not to defend people’s rights but rather to show the world who’s in power at the moment. We can see that from Human Rights Watch reports on both of the Zionist war crimes on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza 2008-09. HRW reports on July war were clearly biased to Israel because the whole world was siding with it, whereas with Gaza, the story was slightly different; HRW can no longer ignore the heavy amount of documentations and visual proofs circulated widely around the world by the Gazans and activists condemning Israel of committing war crimes in sieged Gaza. HRW is not objective and certainly not condemning Israel as much is depicting a historical moment the world is processing right now against Israel as a war-crimes state.

Western human rights organizations are only tools used by authorial western countries to put political pressure on Syrian and Iranian regimes exactly because of their support to Hezbolla and Hamas, the one thing that pleases me about these regimes.

Syrian regime censor websites and arrest people to secure its domination over the country, some American websites prevent us from using their websites because we support Hamas and Hezbolla. President Assad did not claim not once that Syria is a democratic country, but these websites, coming from proud democratic and civilized nation that is, are punishing us Syrians for our democratic choice; supporting resistance. So please, don’t ever talk to me about democracy, human rights and freedom of speech before, and as a starter, put Bush and his soldiers on trial and fucking kill him in front of his people (who elected him) on Christmas as you killed Saddam in front of his people (who did not elect him) on Eid.

Documentary on "Crimes of Honor" in Occupied Palestine-AR (EN Subtitles)

Today I have discovered a new bloggeress from Syria, her name is Hanadi and her blog seems promising. She posted a documentary on “crimes of honor” in occupied Palestine, and it tells the stories of four women accused of bringing shame to their families.

Check Hanadi’s blog here and watch the documentary here.

Below are the details of the documentary as appeared on Culture Unplugged website:

Maria’s Grotto : Director: Buthina Canaan Khoury | Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2007

Synopsis: A gripping portrait of women, whose lives were dictated by a moral code, Maria’s Grotto is a painful true film about the issue of honor killings in Palestine. Khoury explores the issue through the stories of four women: one is wrongly accused of dishonoring her family and then murdered; the second dies after being forced by her brothers to swallow poison; the third survives repeated stabbings inflicted by her brother; and the fourth is a Hip-hop singer who dares speak out about honor killings, and faces death threats. Through these stories, Khoury exposes the magnitude of honor killings in Palestine.

Arab Jews Against Zionism

Some Mizrahi are very blunt about the link between Zionism and their plight. “If Israel had not been established, nothing would’ve happened to the Iraqi Jews,” opines the Iraqi-Jewish poet Me’ir Basri.

But the suspicion and distrust did not end there. Their resemblance to Arabs – in fact, you could argue that they are also “Israeli Arabs” – in everything but religion caused them to be viewed with a mixture of condescension, contempt and even fear. This kind of culture shock is, at one level, understandable, as it is a myth to expect the simple fact of belonging to a single faith automatically means that people are the same. “We have here a people whose primitiveness sets a record,” wrote a Ha’aretz reporter in 1948, not of the Palestinians, but of Mizrahi refugees.

This anti-Mizrahi prejudice among the Ashkenazi elite (European Jews) translated into them being whisked away to live in the remotest parts of Israel and populate what are known as “development towns” that failed to develop into anything beyond a receptacle for broken promises and shattered dreams.

The Ashkenazi elite also set about “civilising” the Mizrahi Jews and shaping them into modern “Israelis”. Of course, to a certain extent, this happened to all immigrants, but since the Ashkenazi were calling the shots, it was their culture that most influenced the Israeli ideal.

Today, mizrahim still make up the bulk of Israel’s poor and undereducated; they are often stereotyped in the media as pimps, hustlers and whores; their culture is seen as somewhat inferior; and their accent, although it is the more accurate form of Hebrew, is scorned.

[…]

the Mizrahi experience resembles that of the Palestinians, and this is increasingly leading to joint activism at the grassroots level, such as when Israeli Arabs joined Mizrahi Jews protesting eviction in a village on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, even though it had once been a Palestinian village.

In addition, a vocal Mizrahi minority have been at the forefront of the peace movement for decades. For instance, it was a Mizrahi organisation, the radical Black Panthers, which was the first Israeli group to recognise the PLO, and a couple of years before the Madrid peace conference, Arab Jewish and Palestinian politicians, writers and academics held their own informal peace conference in the Spanish city of Toledo.

And even if it is misguided to believe that the chasm can be bridged, those who wish to work for peace and coexistence must continue to stretch as far across it as they can. As Sasson Somekh, the Iraqi-born professor of Arabic literature and long-time friend of the late Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, expressed it: “I am aware that I did not produce any important results, but I’m not going to stop.

(Thanks Marcy for the link).

Noam Chomsky On Gaza

For readers inside Syria who cannot view the video because of the block, please install UltraSurf 9.4 and WJ if you’re using Firefox browser. Follow the instructions to install Wj and let me know in the comment section if you have questions. I am sorry I tried to upload the video on Google Videos but Google is joining the US sanctions on Syria apparently so I cannot use the Google Video product.

Or, you can go here and watch the whole video if you have a good internet speed.

Noam Chomsky spoke on the recent US-backed Israeli war on Gaza in an event co-sponsored by the MIT Center for International Studies and its Program on Human Rights and Justice. I think he mentioned some interesting points. There are eleven videos posted on Youtube of the event, I am posting the first one in this post but you can view the rest below:

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Israelis Are Beginning to See the Power of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions)

From The Alternative Information Center:

In recent years, there has been a gradual growth in the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, calling to put economic pressure on Israel until it recognizes the rights of the occupied Palestinian people and puts an end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, starting on 27 December 2008, which lasted for nearly a month, has given this movement a powerful reason to redouble its efforts. Dozens of BDS campaigns have gained momentum and publicity; dozens of new ones were launched during or immediately after Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

These campaigns range from calls to boycott goods from the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, to calls to stop all economic contacts with Israel altogether. They include protests at sporting events, two countries cutting diplomatic ties with Israel (Bolivia and Venezuela), and many demonstrations around the world, attended by hundreds of thousands of protestors.

The growing protest against the atrocities committed by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip have begun to change something in the Israeli political discourse, and the first indication of this can already be seen in the Israeli economic media.

Although the Israeli economic media doesn’t concern itself with the moral dimension of the attacks on Gaza, the economic dimension of recent events have created a rising level of concern. In order to demonstrate this trend, here are summaries of four articles that appeared in the Israeli The Marker magazine for economic news:

1. On 2 February, Guy Grimland warned about a growing phenomenon of boycott of Israeli high-tech companies, and several Israeli companies received letters from European and U.S. companies explaining that they cannot invest in Israel for moral reasons.

2. In 3 February, Nehemia Strassler, one of Israel’s most famous economic correspondents, attacked the Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Eli Yishai, for calling on the Israeli military to “destroy one hundred homes in Gaza for every rocket that falls in Israel.” Strassler had nothing to say about the Palestinians living in these homes or about the loss of life, but he warned:

“[the minister] doesn’t even understand how the operation in Gaza hurts the economy. The horror sights on television and the words of politicians in Europe and Turkey change the behavior of consumers, businessmen and potential investors. Many European consumers boycott Israeli products in practice. Intellectuals call for an economic war against us and to enforce an official and full consumer boycott.

Calls are heard in board meetings of economic corporations to boycott trade relations with Israel. So far deals were cancelled with Turkey, the UK, Egypt and the Gulf States, and visits by economic delegations were cancelled. It’s much easier now to switch providers while abandoning Israeli providers. Many company boards are required to take wide considerations into account with regards to the good of society and the environment, and they put political considerations in that slot as well.

Of course there is an economic cost to severing diplomatic ties. Qatar cut its trade relations with Israel, Venezuela and Bolivia cut diplomatic relations. Mauritania recalled its ambassador and the relations with Turkey worsened considerably—and this bad ambience seeps into the business sector decisions. Here, just yesterday Dudi Ovshitz, who grows peppers for export, said that ‘there is a concealed boycott of Israeli products in Europe.'”

3. On 6 February, Shuki Sadeh wrote about even more companies that have decided to boycott relations with Israel. A Turkish company demanded that Israeli companies sign a document condemning the Israeli massacre in Gaza before they can offer their services for it. Sadeh quoted Naomi Klein’s recent call for boycott, the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott and Israeli organizations that support the boycott and provide information for the global BDS movement. Sadeh’s article also had concerned quotes by Israeli businessmen who demanded government intervention to protect them from the growing boycott.

4. In 11 February, Ora Koren reported that the Israeli business sectors feel the effects of the attack on Gaza. She reported that Israeli businessmen in Turkey are hiding their names so that the local BDS organizations won’t learn about their activities, and that the situation is even worse in the UK.

These four articles are a sign that there is a shift in the effectiveness of the BDS movement against Israel, and that if the momentum is maintained and strengthened, Israeli businessmen may decide to move their headquarters away from Israel, or to begin to put pressure on the Israeli government to begin respecting international law, and ending the occupation.

Hamas is Family

You know, Hamas might not like me, HezbAlla might not like me either, and maybe some Palestinians might not like me too, hell, some leftits, Anarchists and LFTBQs dont like me at all for supporting “islamic” groups, but who says that I should be liked by the people I support? I support resistance, period. I support people’s right to self-determination, period. If Arab leaders and Arab armies have done their duty and lauched a war on the Zionist state we wouldnt have seen alternative armies like those of Hamas and Hezbolla in the first place. If we have seen the Arab countries supporting Hamas and Hezbolla we wouldnt have seen Iran doing it. I am not threatened by Islam, Muslims, or Islamic militarilty groups, I am threatened by Zionism, by occupation and by apartheid. If you can’t get that, I don’t think you cant get anything about our region.