Palestine

On May 31, Australian activists Ahmed Talib and Jerry Campbell were on board the Mavi Marmara, in international waters, en route to Gaza to deliver much needed aid to its besieged residents. Israeli commandos attacked the ship and shot dead nine solidarity activists. Talib was one of several activists shot and wounded. He and Campbell described the attack at a September 22 forum sponsored by Justice For Palestine.

Talib said: “The Israeli siege of Gaza had continued for three years, with world governments and international organisations not really doing anything against it.”

On September 2, direct talks began between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority with the US government acting as mediator.

US President Barack Obama has declared the success of these “peace talks” to be a main foreign policy goal of the last two years of his term.

But whatever their outcome, the talks cannot end the conflict because both sides are not evenly represented. The mediator, the US, is the major financial, political and military sponsor of one of the parties to the conflict, Israel.

By attacking the Gaza Freedom Flotilla (GFF) in international waters on May 31, Israel intended to deter people from attempting to break the siege of Gaza. However, since the attack, organisers have been inundated with calls and emails from people around the world wanting to join the next flotilla.

Coordination for the next fleet has begun and GFF supporters in Australia want to raise $145,000 to send a contingent of 17 people from Australia and send aid as well.

People will break the siege of Gaza, not governments.

Palestinian-Iraqi refugees are some of the forgotten victims of the Iraq war. In 1948, Palestinians were forced to flee from Palestine and became refugees.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around 34,000 Palestinian refugees were living in Iraq when the United States and its allies invaded in 2003.

After the invasion, many Palestinians faced harassment, threats of deportation, death threats, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder.

Review by Mat Ward

Fit to Print: Misrepresenting the Middle East
By Joris Luyendijk
Scribe Publications, 250 pages, $29.95

If you've ever felt like shaking your fist in anger at some of the reporting that comes out of the Middle East, this very honest book by a disillusioned Middle East correspondent will make you shake your head in wonder.

Joris Luyendijk says he had no journalistic experience when he was hired by a newspaper in his native Netherlands to report on the Middle East. He was taken on solely because he could speak Arabic.

It is a film that advocates peace, yet the head of the ABC decided it was too controversial to be viewed by the Australian public.

In May, the ABC pulled the plug on an independent film documenting daily life of Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank.

Now, thanks to the power of public pressure, the ABC is reconsidering whether to broadcast Inka Stafrace’s documentary Hope in a Slingshot.

Letters are flying thick and fast to the ABC, asking the broadcaster to air Stafrace’s film.

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, Friends of Palestine (WA — FOPWA) must be doing something right: Friends of Israel (WA) was launched on August 8.

The group’s website is a mix of nationalism and barely concealed racism. “Israel is in the front lines of the global battle between those who love life and those who glorify death”, it says.
The launch took place at the Victory Life Centre, a fundamentalist Christian church, in Osborne Park, Perth.

This open letter to Elton John was released on July 30 by Alexander Billet. It is reprinted from Sociarts.com. Billet’s blog on popular music can be read at Rebelfrequencies.blogspot.com.

* * *

Dear Elton,

First of all, I hope you don’t mind that I refuse to call you “Sir”. Knights swing swords and ride horses. You play a piano.

Australia role in Israel’s demolition?

The article is abridged from an August 11 Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report.

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The signs which dot the beach along the Gaza City waterfront read: "This beach is polluted.” Yet they serve only as obstacles for children running to the sea, rather than warnings of the serious health risks.

One need only stroll north along the beach for a couple hundred metres to see raw sewage being pumped directly into the Mediterranean Sea from one of the 16 discharge sites along the coast.

Yet thousands of people fill Gaza's beaches.

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