The Fire……Mazin Qumsiheh

Over 200 forest fires are raging in Palestine (now renamed the Jewish State
of Israel including its occupied Palestinian territories). Many countries
are helping put out the fires including four teams of Palestinian
firefighters (no body helped Gaza when it was being fire-bombed by white
phosphorous). But the fascist racist government of “Israel” blamed the
Palestinians for the fires! Even some decent Israelis pointed out that
fires are raging across Western Asia (aka the “Middle East”). Here is a map
put out by one Israeli website of location of fires across the region
including in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey:

Perhaps coincidentally or otherwise, right after war criminal Netanyahu
blamed Palestinians, new fires erupted near Palestinian communities. If you
really want to know who is to blame for the damage, it is clearly Zionism
as I wrote in many articles and books before. In 1901 at the World Zionist
Congress and despite objections of conscientious Jews, a Jewish National
Fund (Keren Keyemet Li’Israel, or KKL) was establish to further “Jewish
colonization” (the term they used) of Palestine. One of the tasks was to
raise money and they used the gimmick of collecting money for trees. Indeed
they did plant trees but it was unfortunately the highly flammable European
pine tree. After 1948-1949 when some 500 Palestinian villages and towns
were depopulated, their lands (cultivated with figs, almonds, olives and
other trees) were razed to the ground and again resinous and inflammable
pine trees were planted. The same happened after 1967 when here Palestinian
villages were demolished and their village lands planted with the same
European pines, one of those villages s the biblical Imwas (see photos
before and after here: ).

The choice of European pine trees was because a) they grow fast, b) they
give a European look to the otherwise “Arab” landscape, c) their leaves on
the ground make  acidic preventing growth or regrowth of endogenous trees.
In total KKL boasts that it planted 240 million pine trees. Resinous pine
is like petrol and burns with a ferocity. This was not the only
environmentally catastrophic decision by the Zionist movement in Palestine
(others include draining the Hula Wetlands and the diversion of the water
of the river Jordan and now the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal).  Environmentally,
the current fires are deadly to all living creatures regardless of their
origins and they do spread t the remaining few indigenous forests and to
human dwellings (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist without distinction).

We environmentalists (Palestinian and Israeli) have longed warned of the
catastrophic consequences of politically driven decisions guided by
colonial ideology but devastating to native animals and plants.  So here we
are the remaining native Palestinians watching our lands go up in flames
and being blamed for it. This is not unusual and we are the victims of
others from long ago. We even paid the price of what happened in WWII (by
Europeans to fellow Europeans). I am thinking now if a meteor hits earth,
we Palestinians will also pay a disproportionate price. 7 million of us are
refugees or displaced people.

We in the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Palestine Institute of
Biodiversity and Sustainability ( urge
protection of our nature. Environmental conservation is a priority for all
decent human beings including guarding biodiversity (and human diversity).

My presentation in Paris

How did Zionism became the dominant feature among Jews in the world? Here
is a clue from 1942 that, however, does not even mention that Palestine had
its native population who are now mostly refugees or displaced people (7
million of 12 million native Palestinian Christians and Muslims) thanks to
this colonial ideology called Zionism
“Zionism an Affirmation of Judaism A reply by 757 Orthodox, Conservative
and Reform Rabbis of America to a Statement Issued by Ninety Members of the
Reform Rabbinate Charging That Zionism Is Incompatible with the Teachings
of Judaism.” by “American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs New York
1942” [note that these Rabbis themselves use “colonial” anyway but without
mentioning natives but that is typical of such movements but also note that
they are responding to 90 decent Jewish Rabbis. Alas the struggle continues
between the two camps I discussed in my last weekly email]

Women’s March in Washington

OFFICIAL STATEMENT, National Organizers

On January 21, 2017 we will unite in Washington, DC for the Women’s March on Washington. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us–women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all. HEAR OUR VOICE.

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This is an INCLUSIVE march, and EVERYONE who supports women’s rights are welcome.

“A Visit to Russia…. “

A Visit to Russia for “Life Extension” of the Planet


Brian Terrell


On October 9, I was in the Nevada desert with Catholic Workers from around the world for an action of prayer and nonviolent resistance at what is now called the Nevada National Security Site, the test site where between 1951 and 1992, nine hundred and twenty-eight documented atmospheric and underground nuclear tests occurred. Since the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the apparent end of the Cold War, The National Nuclear Security Administration, NNSA, has maintained the site, circumventing the intent of the treaty with a stated “mission to maintain the stockpile without explosive underground nuclear testing.”


Three days earlier, as if to remind us that the test site is not a relic with exclusively historic significance, the NNSA announced that earlier in the month, two B-2 Stealth Bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri dropped two dummy B61 nuclear bombs at the site. “The primary objective of flight testing is to obtain reliability, accuracy, and performance data under operationally representative conditions,” said the NNSA press release. “Such testing is part of the qualification process of current alterations and life extension programs for weapon systems.”


“The B61 is a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and the extended deterrent,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, NNSA’s principal assistant deputy administrator for military application. “The recent surveillance flight tests demonstrate NNSA’s commitment to ensure all weapon systems are safe, secure, and effective.”


General Lutton and the NNSA do not explain what threat the testing of B61 nuclear bombs is meant to deter. The military industrial complex, including the “life extension programs for weapon systems” the U.S. intends to spend a trillion dollars on over the next decades, is not a response to any real threat but exists only to perpetuate itself. For public consumption, however, expenditures of this magnitude require justification. The not so subtle message that this was a “dry run” of a nuclear attack on Russia was not missed by the media that picked up the story.


Shortly after leaving Nevada, I was in Moscow, Russia, as part of a small delegation representing Voices for Creative Nonviolence from the United States and United Kingdom. Over the next 10 days in Moscow and St. Petersburg, we saw nothing of the massive preparations for war there that are being reported in the Western media. We saw no sign of and no one we spoke to knew anything about the widely reported evacuation of 40 million Russians in a civil defense drill. “Is Putin preparing for WW3?” asked one U.K. tabloid on October 14: “Following a breakdown in communication between the USA and Russia, the Kremlin organized the huge emergency practice drill – either as a show of force or something more sinister.” This drill turned out to be an annual review that firefighters, hospital workers and police routinely conduct to evaluate their capacities to manage potential natural and manmade disasters.  


Over the past years I have visited many of the world’s major cities and Moscow and St. Petersburg are the least militarized of any I’ve seen. Visiting the White House in Washington, DC, for example, one cannot miss seeing uniformed Secret Service agents with automatic weapons patrolling the fence line and the silhouettes of snipers on the roof. In contrast, even at Red Square and the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian government, only a few lightly armed police officers are visible. They seemed mainly occupied with giving directions to tourists.


Traveling on the cheap, lodging in hostels, eating in cafeterias and taking public transportation is a great way to visit any region and it gave us opportunities to meet people we would not otherwise have met. We followed up on contacts made by friends who had visited Russia earlier and we found ourselves in a number of Russian homes. We did take in some of the sights, museums, cathedrals, a boat ride on the Neva, etc., but we also visited a homeless shelter and offices of human rights groups and attended a Quaker meeting. On one occasion we were invited to address students in a language school in a formal setting, but most of our encounters were small and personal and we did more listening than talking.


I am not sure that the term “Citizen Diplomacy” can be accurately applied to what we did and experienced in Russia. Certainly the four of us, me from Iowa, Erica Brock from New York, David Smith-Ferri from California and Susan Clarkson from England, hoped that by  meeting Russian citizens we could help foster better relations between our nations. On the other hand, as much as the term suggests that we were acting even informally to defend or explain our governments’ actions, interests and policies, we were not diplomats. We did not go to Russia with the intention of putting a human face on or in any way justifying our countries’ policies toward Russia. There is a sense, though, that the only genuine diplomatic efforts being made between the U.S. and NATO countries at this time are citizen initiatives like our own little delegation. What the U.S. State Department calls “diplomacy” is actually aggression by another name and it is questionable whether the U.S. is capable of true diplomacy while it surrounds Russia with military bases and “missile defense” systems and carries out massive military maneuvers near its borders.


I am conscious of the need to be humble and not to overstate or claim any expertise. Our visit was less than two weeks long and we saw little of a vast country. Our hosts reminded us continually that the lifestyles and views of Russians outside their country’s largest cities might be different from theirs. Still, there is so little knowledge of what is going on in Russia today that we need to speak the little we have to offer.


While we heard a wide variety of views on many crucial issues, there seems to be a consensus among those we met about the impossibility of a war between Russia and U.S./NATO. The war that many of our politicians and pundits see clearly on the horizon as inevitable is not only unlikely, it is unthinkable, to the Russian people we talked with. None of them thinks that our countries’ leaders would be so crazy as to allow the tensions between them to bring us to a nuclear war. 


In the United States, Presidents Bush and Obama are often credited for “fighting the war over there so we don’t have to fight it here.” In St. Petersburg we visited the Piskaya Memorial Park, where hundreds of thousands of the one million victims of the German’s siege of Leningrad are buried in mass graves. In World War II, more than 22 million Russians were killed, most of these civilians. Russians, more than Americans, know that the next world war will not be fought on a faraway battlefield.


Russian students laughed at the joke, “If the Russians are not trying to provoke a war, why did they put their country in the middle of all these U.S. military bases?” But I ruefully told them that due to our nation’s professed exceptionalism, many Americans would not see the humor in it. Rather, a double standard is considered normal. When Russia responds to military maneuvers by the U.S. and its NATO allies on its borders by increasing its defense readiness inside its borders, this is perceived as a dangerous sign of aggression. This summer in Poland, for example, thousands of U.S. troops participated in NATO military maneuvers, “Operation Anakonda” (even spelled with a “k,” an anaconda is a snake that kills its victim by surrounding and squeezing it to death) and when Russia responded by augmenting its own troops inside Russia, this response was regarded a threat. The hyped up proposition that Russia might be conducting civil defense drills raises suspicion that Russia is preparing to launch World War III. Yet, a practice run, dropping mock nuclear bombs in Nevada, is not viewed in the West “as a show of force or something more sinister,” but only as an indication of a “commitment to ensure all weapon systems are safe, secure, and effective.”


The life extension of our planet needs to be a universal goal. To speak of, let alone pour a nation’s wealth into a program of “life extension programs for weapon systems” is nothing short of madness. Our Russian friends’ confidence in our collective sanity and the steadiness of our leadership, especially in the wake of the recent election, is a great challenge. I am grateful to new friends for the warmth and generosity of their welcome and I hope to visit Russia again before long. As important and satisfying as these “citizen diplomatic” encounters are, however, we must honor these friendships through active resistance to the arrogance and exceptionalism that might lead the U.S. to a war that could destroy us all.

White Trash by Nancy Isenberg

I just want to recommend a very historical comprehensive book on the divisions of people here in the  U.S.  Nancy Isenberg has researched this book so thoroughly.  I thought of some of the language used in the campaign reflected in the past like through presidents like Andrew Jackson (I thought that possibly Trump used Jackson’s strategy to get himself elected.)  I thought of the divisive classes of people who voted for one or the other candidate.

I found this book not a good book club read because of its heavy documentation and lack of easy reading, but it surely informed me as a citizen of this country where some of our language and prejudices and biases came from.

Paulette osfwhite-trash

It Has Become a Prison……Hebron

Hebron’s Old City, located in the “H2 area” under full Israeli military control, is subject todramatic new restrictions introduced last week. Israeli soldiers seized several homes in the Tel Rumedia area and barred the residents from going in or out, declaring the area a military zone and banning access to non-residents, in a move that parallels security restrictions imposed recently upon areas of East Jerusalem.

Since the beginning of last month 22 Palestinians have been killed in Hebron, and nine in the Old City that has been the epicentre of escalating tensions.

Even for the 50 families who live in Tel Rumeida, who had a mere few days to register their name and ID card to the Israeli authorities, the plans will severely restrict their freedom of movement, as they will have to undergo rigorous security searches every time they wish to leave or enter their homes.

According to a resident of Tel Rumeida, “They told me I have the number 36 [on the list with who’s allowed to go in and out], it’s just like in prison. They try to make you a number, you’re not a person”.

Motasem Isied, 28, is a resident of Hebron and spoke to Mondoweiss about recent events: “It’s pretty disturbing what is happening here. As Palestinians we are familiar with these incidents – night raids, tear gas and so on – but everybody is incredibly frustrated and sad about what is happening in Hebron, because it has never been like this”.

“Now areas are controlled by names, so if you’re not on the list you are not allowed in. Some residents aren’t even on the list, so they can’t reach their homes. Those who can are completely socially isolated”.

Israel rights group B’Tselem claimed that the “immoral” moves are “draconian and not dictated by reality”, and “constitute collective punishment of residents of Hebron who are suspected of nothing and are forced to suffer serious disruptions in their daily lives”.

An IDF official commented claiming the measures are in reaction to the recent rise of violence, and are aimed at separating the Jewish and Palestinian populations of the city.  Dubbed operation “Breathing Closure”, the plans have been enacted for vague “precautionary measures” to “contain potential attacks in the future and maintain the safety and well-being of Israelis”.

‘Young Palestinians are constantly a target’

On Oct. 26, Saad al-Atrash, 19, was shot seven times whilst walking in the Old City and left to bleed to death for 40 minutes, in what Amnesty International have called an “especially egregious case” of killings that seem more to resemble extrajudicial executions than acts of self-defense. Three days after al-Atrash was killed, another Palestinian identified as Mahdi al-Muhtasib, 23, was shot dead near the Ibrahimi Mosque.

“It was bad before, but the new order is shoot to kill, and then confirm the killing. They shoot then ask questions”, says Issa Amro, a local activist from Youths Against Settlements. “In the past, soldiers targeted people in the resistance, now there is the feeling among people that they will kill anyone”.

Dania Ersheid’s inert body and blood-soaked headscarf presented a particularly shocking image of the grave situation unfolding in the city. The 17-year old student was fatally shot on Oct. 22nd on her way to school by the Ibrahimi checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. According to a news report “the teen raised her arms and stated “I don’t have a knife” before she was shot with “eight to 10 bullets” before she fell to the ground”.

Also among those killed was 23 year-old Houmam Adnan Isied, Mostaem’s cousin. Speaking of the incident, Mostasem said, “It is all happening to young people, they are being targeted in cold-blooded killings, including my relative. He was killed in an area with a lot of CCTV cameras, and they claimed he was trying to stab a soldier, so we demanded to see them. Of course they refused.”

“We haven’t been able to even bury him yet, he was supposed to be released this week. Then they made a condition that they would release him only at midnight, and we had until 3am to bury him. But they still haven’t given him back.”

When voicing his fear over the unpredictable aggression of the Israeli military, Motasem said, “I can remember what was happening in the 1990s during the first intifada, and I fully lived through the second. Even though it was really dangerous, everybody agrees that we have never felt unsafe in the way we do now. Because you never know when, or where, or what the soldiers are going to do to you. As a young Palestinian, you are targeted at any time and at any place in Hebron.”

An international activist living in Hebron told Mondoweiss: ” I’ve witnessed the Israeli armies continuous crackdown on Palestinians, not only in Tel Rumeida, but everywhere in the H2 area. Seeing body-searches of Palestinians at gunpoint is not a rarity anymore – all while settlers are freely walking the streets and are never stopped or checked at all.”

To date, 80 Palestinians have been killed in the spate of violence across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories that began at the beginning of last month. Of this figure, at least one third of Palestinians fatalities occurred in Hebron; where on average one Palestinian was wounded or killed every 3 hours in the city throughout October.

“It’s a ghost town now”

Hebron is unique compared to other cities in the West Bank due to the presence of 800 Zionist settlers living throughout the city, alongside double their number of Israeli soldiers who are predominantly based around 18 military checkpoints, which restrict the movement of 30,000 Palestinian inhabitants. Whilst the city is no stranger to violence and harsh military control, such extreme measures have not been imposed since the aftermath of the Goldstein Massacre in 1994, when Israeli authorities sealed access to certain areas and imposed a 24-hour curfew for six months. Residents are praying that these new military restrictions will not be as long-lived.

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