Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Haydar 'abd al-Shafi: RIP

The sad news from Gaza this morning was the passing of the great Haydar 'abd al-Shafi after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. My friend had this to say about him:

A few hours ago, Dr. Haydar 'Abd al-Shafi passed away at his home in Gaza
City. He was 88 years old.

For those who may not have known, Dr. 'Abd al-Shafi was a leading independent Palestinian political figure. He led medical and relief efforts during the 1948 and 1967 wars, was a founding member of the PLO (later serving on the executive committee), and was founder and director of the Gaza Red Crescent Society. Dr. 'Abd al-Shafi endured imprisonment and exile at the
hands of the Israeli military.

Dr. 'Abd al-Shafi will be best remembered for leading the Palestinian delegation to the 1991 Madrid peace conference and the subsequent talks in Washington. His eloquence and calm passion helped communicate the aspirations and arguments of the Palestinian Intifada to a global audience. But his insistence that any good-faith peace efforts required a halt to Zionist colonization in the 1967 territories led Israel to stonewall the talks and Yasir 'Arafat to circumvent them, thus producing
the Oslo Accords. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Dr. 'Abd al-Shafi's strenuous criticism of the Oslo regime's perpetuation of the occupation confirmed his status as a leading independent voice in Palestinian politics. During the 1996 Palestinian Legislative Council elections, he won more votes than any other candidate; he later resigned from the PLC after concluding that it had no power to improve the situation.

If you have a moment, it may be worth glancing at Dr. 'Abd al-Shafi's famous speech from the Madrid talks. It may serve as a reminder of more hopeful times.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

You are now entering Hostile Territory

Firstly, a blessed and joyous Ramadan to everyone. I only wish it was so joyous an occasion for my friends and family in Gaza.

Today Israel officially announced Hamas a "hostile entity" (although that sort of had me confused-is this to say they were of "friendly entity" status before??). My friend Darryl congratulated me on what he called a "Status Upgrade". "Its like getting bumped up to first class" he said. So now I am both hostile and stateless-is that some kind of new record?

The new classification if of course an an attempt by the Israeli government to grant itself a legal green light to do whatever the hell it wants in Gaza, without being bound by the restrictions of an "Occupier"; in the words of al-Haq human rights organization, it is "a deliberate attempt by Israel to obscure its continued Occupation of the Gaza Strip"...not that the law has stopped them before.

But fear not, country folk. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confirmed reassuringly that the U.S. "would not abandon the innocent Palestinians". Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also said that Israel will continue to supply Gaza's humanitarian needs..., just not "all the needs that are more than the humanitarian".

... like fuel, for example. Oh, and electricity. So don't worry, people of Gaza, you won't starve (remember: you are on a diet). You will get to eat your (cold) Ramadan iftars,-only in the dark, and of course no water to wash down that meal (or your clothes, for that matter) since the pumps are driven by electricity.

And no gas to heat your food or houses with come winter. And you'll have to consume what you get quickly, since the refrigerators (both yours and the supermarket's) won't work without power. And don't even THINK about getting sick-prevention is your best insurance policy now. Hospital ICUs will have to be powered by generators. Kidney dialysis? Start writing a will. Baby formula? Breastfeed. Vaccinations? Stay home from school.

"Civilian levers" is what the Israeli cabinet has mockingly decided to call these "measures" of collective punishment. No doubt this sick euphemism was the brain-child of the ever-reliable Dov Weisglass, of "the Gaza diet" fame.

And remember, you are the "innocent Palestinians" stuck in the middle of all of this.

Now how about some thank you notes to Condi? Its Ramadan, after all, the month of mercy, forgiveness and thanks.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Watch Tunnel Trade online!

Someone kindly pointed out I confused my days with my times when advertising for the Tunnel Trade film in a previous post! Each of those dates I posted for when teh film will air correspondents to a day earlier (i.e. Sept. 2 is a Sunday, not a Monday).

The correct schedule (including re-runs) as well as a summary and link to the film on YouTube can be found here.