Friday, August 31, 2007

1950 film on Palestine Arab Refugees,
"Sands of Sorrow" (about 28 minutes in length)

Council for the Relief of Palestine Arab Refugees:

"Sands of Sorrow" (1950)

[This film is narrated by the eminent journalist Dorothy Thompson. She was the first U.S. journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany, in 1934.]

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This 28-minute film shows Palestinian refugees, two years after the Israeli conquest of Palestine.

Dorothy Thompson speaks on the refugee problem. Palestinian refugees live in tents in the Gaza Strip, are given blankets and food by Egyptian soldiers, and receive flour from UNICEF. A Lebanese priest conducts services. Refugees work as plumbers, carpenters, tailors, and shoemakers in the city of Jerusalem. Doctors vaccinate refugees against disease. The film shows the squalid living conditions in refugee camps, starving children, and emphasizes the hopeless condition of the refugees.

This item is part of the collection: Feature Films

Producer: Council for the Relief of Palestine Arab Refugees
Audio/Visual: sound, black and white
Keywords: Documentary; Palestine; Gaza; refugees

Creative Commons license: Public Domain

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Downloaded 5,974 times Average Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Reviewer: jimelena - 5 out of 5 stars - December 13, 2006
Subject: Oh man.

First let's look at the historic population of Palestine, then make a judgement.
Second, find out where these refugees originated from, it wasn't Palestine.
European intervention the previous 100 years in Palestine before this should be examined also.
It will take a lot of reading, don't just assume this movie is accurate.

Reviewer: on-a-quest - 5 out of 5 stars - August 14, 2006
Subject: Israeli War Crimes

instead of wondering why saudi arabia was not helping the refugees you have to ask why are the palestinian refugees in the first place.You cannot deny the fact that the palestinians are the modern version of the native americans. They were kick out their homes in the most unhumane fashion possible.Israel has committed and still is committing crimes against humanity.David Ben Gurion who is know as the chief architect of the state of Israel and revered as Father of the Nation said it best:

"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.�

Reviewer: Amfortas - 5 out of 5 stars - July 9, 2006
Subject: What a piognant and sad historic film,,,

And to the reviewer above , this was the 1950's , at that time Suadi Arabia was not a wealthy country yet.

Reviewer: bestpbx - 1 out of 5 stars - July 7, 2006
Subject: Where are their Arab "brothers"

Someone explain to me why any Arab would have to live in a refugee camp under squalid or any other kind of conditions?
Why don't the wealthy Arabic nations help these people? Saudi Arabia has piles of money.
There is something fishy about this.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

"Call to boycott Israeli items stirs controversy at co-op:

"People's Food Co-op members to vote on protest action"

by Jo Collins Mathis, Staff Reporter

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ann Arbor, Michigan

* In the "Ann Arbor News", with news photo, at:

* In the main "Ann Arbor News" site, without photo, at:


"Anne Remley, left, and Linda Wotring, both of Ann Arbor, stand out in front of the People's Food Co-op on Fourth Avenue in Ann Arbor, with a photograph of two Palestinian women sitting a pile of rubble that once was their home. The pair are heading a group from Ann Arbor called B.I.G., Boycott Israeli Goods. They are upset that the People's Food Co-op is carrying Israeli couscous."

The last couple of times the People's Food Co-op of Ann Arbor held a boycott, nobody protested the protest. After all, it wasn't exactly controversial to boycott grapes at the urging of United Farm Workers, or tuna caught at the expense of dolphins.

This time, it's different.

Co-op members next month will be asked to decide if the co-op should boycott all Israeli goods.

"We definitely hear from people on both sides of the issue almost on a daily basis," said Kevin Sharp, marketing and member services director for the co-op, which has been the city's community-owned natural foods grocery since 1971.

It all started last winter when a few shoppers noticed some Israeli couscous for sale.

They formed a group called Boycott Israeli Goods, stood outside the co-op and collected about 600 signatures of co-op members who believe the issue should be put to a vote. That was enough to force a referendum on the issue among the nearly 6,000 members.

Because only a handful of the store's products are made in Israel, a boycott would be mostly symbolic.

A full page spread in the current issue of the co-op's newsletter gives members the low-down on the proposed boycott referendum, including voting procedures, and viewpoints from both sides of the issue.

The pro-boycott calls it a "time-honored peaceful protest against state violence and repression," while the other side says it runs counter to the mission of the food co-op; irrationally singles out Israel for condemnation; and is counterproductive to peace in the region.

BIG member Anne Remley said the campaign highlights the need to show resistance to Israel's military occupation of Palestinian land.

"We are inviting the members of the co-op to stand up for Palestinian human rights and to send that message to the government of Israel from the well-informed, ethical, caring people who tend to be co-op members," said Remley, a co-op member for 36 years.

Robert Oppenheimer of Ann Arbor, a co-op member since 1986, is against the boycott. He said he has a photograph of Nazi storm troopers in 1933 boycotting his grandfather's shoe store in Cologne, Germany, and doesn't like the idea of boycotts in general. Also, he's offended every week by pickets outside Beth Israel Congregation protesting Israel's actions in the Middle East conflict.

"As a Jewish peace activist, I think this is not a good approach," he said. "Engaging with Jewish and Palestinian peace activists is a better approach."

He predicts the referendum will fail because, he said, co-op members are thoughtful and considerate.

But Remley thinks it will pass for the same reason.

"Co-ops are committed, and this one in particular, to a sustainable community for all," she said, adding that a boycott would allow the co-op to join a world-wide humanitarian movement.

Co-op board president Linda Diane Feldt said the issue has been divisive, generating about 100 or so e-mails and phone calls., mostly from people unhappy with the idea of a boycott.

The co-op usually gets about 40 new members a month. In July, 87 people joined, including some who want to vote in September. Those who join after July 31 are ineligible to vote.

Sales have not yet been affected, but Feldt predicts a loss of members either way the vote goes.

Although the board is facilitating the referendum, and therefore not taking positions on either side, Feldt has spoken out against the degree of nastiness she's seen in the past weeks, particularly from two anti-Zionists who are not members of B.I.G. In fact, she said, the board is no longer allowed to use the Kerrytown meeting space it had used free of charge for five years due to the outbursts and profanity used by one of those two protesters last month.

She said the boycott has dominated the board's time for several months, and because five of the seven board members were new in May, "normal business has been highjacked."

"People are stirred up," said Feldt. "We support the democratic process that is the co-op, and defend the members' right to bring this initiative. But we need to figure out a way that is not as disruptive and harmful to the co-op."

Co-op vote

• Members of The People's Food Co-op, 216 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor, will vote in September on whether the co-op should boycott products from Israel.

• Ballots are available in the store or on the Web at .

• Ballots must be turned in to the ballot box by 10 p.m. Sept. 30.

• The Ann Arbor B.I.G. (Boycott Israeli Goods) Campaign will show a film on the issue Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. A discussion will follow.


--Jo Mathis can be reached at or 734-994-6849.

[End of Article]


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"The last taboo"-- Any public discussion of Palestine

Professor Edward Said, Columbia University.

The unspoken premise of this total blanketing of the mainstream press is that no Palestinian or Arab position on Israeli police terror, settler-colonialism, or military occupation is worth hearing from.

"In fine, American Zionism has made any serious public discussion of the past or future of Israel-by far the largest recipient ever of US foreign aid-a taboo. To call this quite literally the last taboo in American public life would not be an exaggeration."

--Edward Said, "America's Last Taboo", November 2000.

On the Web at:


"Striking back against the empire"

"Freedom Next Time: British journalist John Pilger tracks contemporary social justice struggles from Palestine to South Africa and the island of Diego Garcia"

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Tony Blair made us forget so very much. It was with breathtaking thoroughness that the late (politically speaking) British prime minister reshaped his Labour Party in the course of lining the UK up behind America's wars and relegating the party's traditional union base to the shadows.

So when the country's largest unions -- the 800,000-member British Transport and General Workers' Union and the 1.3-million-member public workers union, UNISON -- recently joined the smaller professors' and journalists' unions in calling for boycotts of Israel, of the sort once imposed on the settler government of South Africa, the events came as a total shock stateside.

The real problem, though, with these news items' reaching us as bolts from the blue is not how little the American news media tell us about British labor politics, but how little they tell us of Palestine, the cause for the boycott, and about the harsh daily existence of Palestinians throughout 40 years of occupation.

Fortunately, there are a handful of British journalists who present the English-speaking world with a decidedly different slant on Middle East events, notable among them Robert Fisk and John Pilger. The latter's latest collection of essays, Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire, recently out in paperback, covers the struggle of ordinary people for justice around the world, from the giant subcontinent of India to the tiny Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, the battlefields of Afghanistan, occupied Palestine, and the disappointment of South Africa.

The Australian-born Pilger has certainly not become mainstream in his adopted UK home, but his views are widely circulated there (he has produced 50 films in addition to his print journalism), and as the chapter on Palestine in Freedom Next Time demonstrates, they have many adherents.

Writing in "The Last Taboo" that Israel has "defied 246 Security Council resolutions and more than twice that number of UN General Assembly resolutions," and that the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland "has been reaffirmed by the international community 135 times in the period 1948-2000," Pilger isn't reporting something never mentioned in the American press. It's just that these items are treated here like the question of whether or not scientists have found microbes on Mars: as news from another world, slightly interesting but unessential to daily life.

Pilger takes his chapter title from the late Palestinian author Edward Said, who wrote that even to talk of Palestine is to break "the last taboo." After all, Israeli prime minister Golda Meir once declared, "There was no such thing as Palestinians; they never existed." And even if there actually are such people, we're told they're quite an unreasonable bunch, pretty much terrorists who won't consider sensible proposals to settle the situation. Not so, says Pilger. Countering "the absurd claim that [former Israeli prime minister Ehud] Barak had offered '90 per cent' of the West Bank" in the Oslo talks, "reported without challenge across the Western world," he cites "one of the architects of the peace, [current Israeli president] Shimon Peres," reassuring the Israeli public: "'The deal kept the following in Israeli hands: 73 per cent of the lands of the territories, 97 per cent of the security, and 80 per cent of the water.'"

And as for the latest Palestinian "terrorist" organization, Hamas, whose popularity constitutes a current justification for treating Palestinians as nonentities, Pilger notes that "the Israelis themselves had actually helped to set up and fund Hamas" in " 'a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,' in the words of a former Middle East CIA official.

All of this may go down a little rough in the United States, which maintains something of a Hollywood "Exodus" vision of an Israel heroically founded for survivors of the Holocaust. The reasons for this continued stance may include the political impact of the country's Jewish population, historic national guilt over not having accepted more European Jews during the Holocaust, and our leaders' desire for a Western ally in the oil-rich Middle East. But whatever the full explanation, the fact is that much of the rest of the world is now asking whether Israel's occupation of Palestine for the past 40 years has come to resemble the old South African concept of apartheid....


I卐RAEL uses tanks, guns, U.S. money, and Caterpillar bulldozers to crush Palestine

"Of broken bodies and unbreakable laws"

by Laurie King-Irani, The Electronic Intifada, Mar 19, 2003

On the Web at:

Photo: An ISM protest in Gaza against Israel's shooting of Palestinian children.
On the right, Rachel Corrie. (ISM Handout)

Civilian deaths in the Occupied Palestinian Territories hardly rate as news anymore. Such deaths are by now daily occurrences -- a dime a dozen. Whether by gunfire, Apache helicopter attacks, prevention of access to medical care, or by bulldozer, hundreds of innocent Palestinian men, women, and children have died at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) or Israeli settlers since the start of the Second (Al-Aqsa) Intifada in September 2000. Given the lack of any concerted, effective, and timely international efforts to halt these daily killings, which constitute clear violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the civilian death toll is only likely to rise.

Last weekend, though, the murder of a civilian by the IDF in the Occupied Gaza Strip dominated international news headlines, evoking sorrow and outrage throughout the world. The victim in this case was a bright, eloquent, and courageous 23-year-old American activist, Rachel Corrie, a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington who had been serving as an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) observer in Gaza since January. Rachel, like thousands of other concerned and committed human rights activists from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan, had left the comfort and security of home behind in order to assume the considerable risks of monitoring and lessening an increasingly lethal and lawless conflict.

Rachel went to Occupied Palestine to witness and prevent daily Israeli infractions of international law. From her reports on the International Solidarity Movement's website, it is evident that she possessed true grit and a maturity beyond her years. Day after day, she and her comrades faced dangers, stood their ground, and never wavered in their commitment to protect the rights and even the lives of vulnerable Palestinian civilians.

Rachel's murder last Sunday was not the first time she experienced IDF hostility. Despite constant dangers and recurring nightmares of menacing tanks and bulldozers, which she chillingly conveyed in e-mail letters to her mother, Rachel never got cold feet or ran away.

As an academic who is frequently asked by colleagues, "Aren't you afraid to write and speak so openly about Palestinian rights? Is it really wise to take on Ariel Sharon?" I am humbled by Rachel's courage, and feel embarrassed for my American colleagues who cannot muster the spinal fortitude to stand up in the relative safety of a classroom to speak truth to power. Clearly, Ph.D.s are not awarded for bravery or integrity.

Rachel's bravery stemmed not from her intellect alone, but from something deeper: an unshakeable conviction that all human beings deserve freedom, safety and dignity. Rachel believed that International Humanitarian Law should be upheld and respected in the Occupied Territories, the site of a well-documented pattern of massive human rights abuses spanning nearly 40 years. Time and again Rachel, like other ISM activists, put her body in the path of the instruments of a brutal military occupation in order to defend and protect those rights and their holders: Palestinian men, women, and children, all of whom lack even the most basic legal protection of citizenship, since they also lack a state.

Where did Rachel, who grew up in a peaceful and idyllic town in Washington State, find the courage to face tanks, shelling, angry soldiers, and, on the last day of her life, a US-supplied armoured D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer that approached her threateningly more than once before actually running her down, crushing her body and leaving her mortally wounded on the sandy ground of Gaza? How did this young woman, who in her photos appears to be delicate and shy, muster the courage to defy a massive and well-funded military machine, megaphone in hand, commanding a gargantuan bulldozer to cease and desist its task of illegally demolishing yet another Palestinian home? Who gave Rachel this authority, this sense that she had not only the right, but also the duty, to say "no" to Israeli violations of Palestinians' human rights?

The spirit and texts of International Humanitarian Law surely motivated and inspired Rachel to a great degree. Her own personal political and spiritual beliefs and convictions can be gleaned from the moving letters she wrote to her family and friends, but the rights she was attempting to defend, and the bases of their defense, are clearly encoded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions.

The Fourth Geneva Convention clearly establishes rules that safeguard the dignity and physical integrity of persons living under military occupation, including detainees and prisoners. It prohibits all forms of physical and mental torture and coercion, collective punishment, and reprisals against protected persons or property. It also prohibits the transfer of parts of the Occupying Power's civilian population into the occupied territory (as seen in Israel's now entrenched settlements policy); forcible transfer or deportation of protected persons from the occupied territory, and destruction of public infrastructure or personal property, except when such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.

Although International Humanitarian Law is broken daily throughout the world, like the bodies of civilians crushed beneath tanks and bulldozers, its spirit and vision endure, remaining strangely unbreakable and compelling. Maybe because it remains so necessary, or perhaps because its directives and implications are so unequivocal: All who have ratified the Geneva Convention are put on notice that they have not only the right, but indeed the duty, to bring violators of International Humanitarian Law to justice, to ensure accountability, prevent impunity, and thus defend the rights of civilians everywhere.

Clearly, those entrusted to uphold International Humanitarian Law (IHL) are the signatories to the conventions and the treaties comprising this body of laws. In legal parlance, they are known as "High Contracting Parties." They are nation states, not young women holding megaphones. It is their duty, not that of college students from Olympia, social workers from London, retired accountants from Ann Arbor, or photographers from Madison and Tokyo to ensure Israel's compliance with IHL and thus safeguard the rights and physical integrity of Palestinian civilians living under an increasingly harsh and vicious military occupation.

Over the last four years, two attempts were made to convene meetings of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention with the express intention of preventing Israeli violations of the Conventions, one in July 1999 and the most recent in December 2001. In addition, the UN General Assembly and Security Council have, on numerous occassions, called upon Israel to abide by the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of the people and lands it occupies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Besides some informative press releases, eloquent speeches, and extensive bureaucratic documentation, however, nothing much has come of these efforts.

In an official statement delivered to the Conference of High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention on 5 December 2001 in Geneva, then-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson stressed that:

"The protection of the victim should be the overriding concern of the UN and its agencies and programmes. However, the failure to resolve the fundamental problem of occupation -- an occupation which has continued for over 34 years -- combined with the failure by successive Israeli governments to comply with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international human rights standards, has left the population of the occupied Palestinian territories in a vulnerable situation, lacking protection and exposed to a wide range of violations.

"Protection needs to be accorded to the people of the occupied territories in strict compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention. ...Article 1 of the Convention places a duty on the High Contracting Parties 'to respect and ensure respect of' the provisions of the Convention 'in all circumstances.' To meet this challenge, legal and diplomatic mechanisms are available under the United Nations Charter, in addition to those created by the Convention itself.

"I would like to reiterate my call for the establishment of an international monitoring presence in the occupied Palestinian territories. I urge both Israelis and Palestinians to work towards ending the mutually destructive cycle of violence and to seek a return to negotiations, the aim of which should be to achieve peace through a just and durable solution, in conformity with fundamental standards of international human rights and humanitarian law."

In the absence of US backing for, and Israeli acceptance of, Robinson's proposals, it has fallen on the frail shoulders of young women like Rachel Corrie to uphold the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Israeli-Occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank. Without the backing, support, and affiliation of the High Contracting Parties to that Convention, Rachel and other ISM observers lack the necessary powers and protection accorded foreign ministers, UN peace-keepers, and diplomatic representatives to undertake this urgent task. Yet it is brave people like Rachel who keep alive the spirit of International Humanitarian Law, guarding its wavering flame during dark times such as ours.
Rachel Corrie lies crushed after the Israeli bulldozer driver drove over her, Rafah, Gaza, 16 March 2003. (Joe Smith/ISM Handout)
Rachel Corrie died for the sins of all High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions who have neglected to discharge their legally binding obligations to protect human rights and prevent impunity for confirmed rights violators. It should not fall on the shoulders of college seniors from Olympia, Washington to rectify the disasters and tragedies that nation states helped to create and are obligated to prevent.

The indomitable courage and will that Rachel demonstrated in confronting not only the bulldozer that killed her, but also the policies rooted in impunity that it represented, are commendable -- nay, breathtaking. But without similar displays of resolve and courage from the United States and other High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, more Palestinian civilians, and undoubtedly more ISM observers, will be murdered by the IDF in the coming days and weeks, as Ariel Sharon is expected to maximize the advantages provided by a US war on Iraq to undertake additional ethnic cleansing in Occupied Palestine.

Confronting the face of impunity

The last face Rachel saw, as she peered at the driver in the cabin of the bulldozer that snuffed out her too-short life, was not the face of Israel or the Jewish people. Rather, it was the banal and ugly face of impunity, the face of total disregard for international law, justice, and morality; an image of the triumph of might over right. An inhuman face.

Ironically, Rachel's killer was granted an honor and privilege few of us will ever know: He looked directly into the eyes of a humanitarian young woman of utter bravery, deep conviction, and selfless courage, a person who, when confronted with violence and hatred, refused to strike back to save herself or those she had pledged to protect, but relied instead on the sheer force of her spirit and her firm belief in the sacred principles of International Humanitarian Law. He saw humanity at its very best. She was a victim of humanity at its very worst.

In Gaza, Rachel is not being mourned as a victim, but rather, celebrated and honored as a martyr, a shaheeda, which is also the word for "witness" in Arabic. Though Rachel went to Gaza to be a witness in the conventional, legal sense of the term, and did not plan or hope to die, she, like all ISM participants, knew that death or injury was a distinct possibility. In giving her life, though, she became a witness to higher truths, principles, and imperatives in the same way that those killed during the US Civil Rights movement of the 1960s witnessed their faith in the struggle for the eventual triumph of justice and democracy.

Rachel's body was fragile, no match for a US-supplied armoured Caterpillar bulldozer; it is broken now, her life extinguished. The goals and visions for which she sacrificed her life, however, are as tough and resilient as was her spirit, and not so easily expunged. May the tragedy of her death, and the nobility and courage of her life, inspire all High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to do their sacred duty and halt Israeli impunity.

--Dr. Laurie King-Irani, one of the four co-founders of Electronic Intifada, is North American Coordinator of the International Campaign for Justice for the Victims of Sabra and Shatila ( She teaches social anthropology in Victoria, British Columbia.


Israeli Apartheid Wall is "the distance from London to Zurich"

Palestine Campaign

On the Web at:

(Click on photo to enlarge it)

Watch War on Want's Separation Wall Film >>

Palestine is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The UN reports that 70% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are now living in acute poverty, a figure comparable to poverty levels in sub-Saharan Africa. Over 50% are now dependent on food aid.

This poverty is a direct result of 40 years of Israeli occupation. According to the UK government's Department for International Development: "Poverty in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a product of occupation and conflict." Only by ending the occupation can the root causes of poverty be addressed. Israel has confiscated thousands of acres of fertile Palestinian land in order to build its illegal Separation Wall. The UN estimates that 60% of farming families are now cut off from their land due to lack of permits. Palestinian homes, farms and water systems have been purposefully destroyed. The Wall is nearing completion, despite the International Court of Justice’s 2004 ruling that it is in contravention of international law.

When finished, the Wall will be 703km (436 miles) long. That’s the distance from London to Zurich. Human rights are being violated on a daily basis, while restrictions on movement have devastated the Palestinian economy and created a series of impoverished ghettos.

There are currently over 500 checkpoints and physical obstacles restricting Palestinian movement within the West Bank. As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan confirmed,“The Israeli closure system is a primary cause of poverty and humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian territory." As Israel’s principal trading partner, the European Union has been called on to suspend the trading preferences which Israel enjoys as a result of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.The Agreement is based upon respect for human rights, yet UN representatives have made clear these rights are regularly violated by Israeli forces. Despite its being in breach of the Agreement, the EU continues to reward Israel with trading preferences.

By contrast, the Palestinian people have faced increased poverty as a result of the decision by the UK and other EU member states to suspend direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.This has led to 165,000 government employees going without pay, and dramatic increases in poverty. Palestine is in crisis.We must put pressure on our government to play its part and end the injustice.

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