U.S. Ambassador
Samuel Hart





William "Jimbo" Simmons
Human Rights Leader,
American Indian Movement





Joe Meadors

Veteran & Survivor
of USS Liberty






Sister
Patricia Chaffee





Paul Larudee

Co-founder
Free Palestine
Movement












The battle for the soul of Alicia Keys - Part 2

There is a problem. You can vote as many times as you want with this poll. This means that one person with an algorithm and access to a dozen computers will be able to generate more than 100,000 responses per day.

This is great for BET, because it inflates their hit rate, but it makes the poll meaningless. If we want to, I'm sure that we could also generate hundreds of thousands of responses per day. However, is it worth the effort? How seriously will this poll be taken?

Obviously, the Zionists are using their resources to manipulate the poll. If we want to do the same, that's fine, but I'm not sure Alicia Keys will have much confidence in the results.

The FPM Team

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Dear Friends of Palestine,

We would not ordinarily bother you for an online poll, but in this case there is more to the story.

World wide appeals from Alice Walker, Roger Waters and more than 500 organizations have not yet dissuaded entertainer Alicia Keys from performing in Israel, but the voice of her public might do the trick.

Please go to http://www.bet.com/news/global/2013/06/12/poll-should-alicia-keys-perform-in-isreal and vote NO in the poll in the lower right section of the screen. In the early stages, the poll was reading more than 80% NO, but Israel pays teams of web surfers to mobilize other Zionists to give false readings on such polls. It is even possible that multiple voting is allowed. We should at least try to show that the Israeli propaganda machine can be defeated.

Will Ms. Keys cancel her performance? It depends upon her sense of social justice but also upon how she thinks it will affect her career. There is no doubt that the poll will be a factor.

Thank you for trying.

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Dispatch #5: 72 prisoners of conscience

by Paul Larudee on May 27, 2013

Dear friends,

I invite those of you who are Arab to correct me, but my fourteen years of living and working in the Arab world, plus 44 with a Lebanese spouse, have caused me to draw the conclusion that when a request is made - especially by a guest - Arab culture demands that it should not be refused. If, therefore, the host finds it impossible or unacceptable to grant the request, its fulfillment will be deferred indefinitely.

I regretfully must conclude that this is what is happening with respect to the request that the Mussalaha Peace and Reconciliation Mission made to the Syrian Minister of Justice on May 9, 2013, to release 72 nonviolent prisoners of conscience. Until now we have heard nothing but silence, which has only increased. The main figures in making the decision are silent and now even the intermediaries are silent.

The most powerful part of the Assad regime has always been the security forces, and it is clear that they would prefer to err on the side of what they view as "caution", i.e. to keep "troublemakers" locked up, regardless of whether they are nonviolent or not, and to make an object lesson of them, as well. Security forces anywhere are not known for viewing mercy and generosity as a means of improving security, but rather to maintain tension, fear and a constant threat. I know of no regime on the planet where police forces behave otherwise; it is in their nature.

It is only when other elements of a regime are more powerful that moderating influences come to bear and the security forces must take a back seat. In that case, a more nuanced view can prevail and non-security concerns can be given greater consideration, possibly enhancing public security in a way that the security forces alone cannot.

However, this is not something we can expect from a security state, which is perhaps the only form of government that is possible in Syria, cynical as this may sound. Certainly, it is hard to imagine anything else emerging from the current regime, and few if any of the armed groups arrayed against it are likely to inaugurate a liberal democracy.

The nonviolent resistance groups that attempted to bring about a "Syrian spring" in March of 2011 would be good candidates, but how long would the U.S. and other great powers permit such a democracy to go its own course - potentially in opposition to U.S. policy? History is not kind to such experiments, as Chile, Nicaragua and even the Palestinian Authority have shown. Regrettably, an authoritarian regime is perhaps the only possibility for Syria, in which case the only choice may be between a U.S. puppet state and an independent one that sets its own course, possibly in concert with others that do likewise.

Regardless of this, it is for the Syrian people to decide, and it is up to us to respect their choice. The price they pay for a change in their government may be very great, but they are the only ones that can choose to pay it or not. Outside interference can only make that price higher, which is exactly what Syrians are paying now, with their voice hardly being heard at all amongst those of the foreign usurpers, each trying to impose its vision upon the Syrian people.

Those of us who view U.S. attempts to coerce the entire world into a support role for U.S. interests (meaning the interests of corporate and other lobbies who run the government for their advantage) as pernicious and destined to promote perpetual war and misery also have limited choices: to support or allow these forces to immiserate us and the rest of the world for their benefit or to combine our forces to prevent and end war and to create a more just and equitable society.

In the context of Syria, I believe this means refusing to provide any aid of any kind - lethal or nonlethal - to armed groups in Syria, to assist when possible in ending the violence, and to offer opportunities for Syrians to resolve their own visions for their own future amongst themselves without recourse to violence. These principles were articulated throughout the Mussalaha Peace Mission and in its final declaration.

I am proud to have been a part of the delegation and to have shared in the formation of its pronouncements as well. I am also grateful for the fellowship of our dedicated and visionary hosts and the remarkable and diverse delegates from around the world that formed the mission. I believe that that we advanced the cause of peace and reconciliation to a degree that will only be known as further events unfold.

This may be the last dispatch in the series, although I will certainly alert you of any new developments with regard to the prisoner situation. The Free Palestine Movement (FPM) and its affiliates and sponsors will now consider a proposal to create a new project for Syria, so as to maintain the original mandate of FPM while following up on the Syria solidarity actions that so many of you supported.

With thanks for your continued support,

Paul Larudee, for the FPM Team

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Syria Dispatch #4: Declarations of the delegation; prisoner release
by Paul Larudee
Friday, May 17th, 2013

After all the delays and rescheduling of the Syria visit, most of my fellow delegates have now returned to their home countries, and are compiling their thoughts, film and photos.

Further to the sniper firing at the car transporting Mother Agnes, it apparently happened twice, both coming and going, and as far as she knows, the attack was not directed specifically at her, but rather towards all vehicles, with a view toward making the route impassable. The car was damaged but Mother Agnes is fine.

The government has decided not to release all of the 72 prisoners whose names we presented to the Minister of Justice. According to them, some of the prisoners are charged with crimes and will have to stand trial. They have said that they will announce on 20 May which prisoners will be released and when.

Obviously, any release is a good thing, but this is not a bold move to show good faith. A bold move would be the dropping of spurious charges against all 72 prisoners and their immediate release. The decision could mean several things:

The regime feels that it is in a strong enough position that it does not need to make concessions.
The regime considers our delegation too unimportant for such a request and that a more prominent one might have been more successful.
The regime considers the detention and imprisonment of leaders of the nonviolent movement to be strategically more to their advantage than their release for the sake of national unity.
Of course, it could mean all of these and more. If on Monday we see that twenty or more of the prisoners are being released immediately, we will know that our request had some effect. If all that we see is a list with a lot of future release dates, we most probably had no effect and these dates had already been previously determined.

In the fifth and probably last dispatch in this series, I will report to you on the prisoners and other developments, and offer some closing observations. During the visit, I and Canadian delegate Amir Massoumi were tasked with composing two declarations. The first was initially drafted in Lebanon just before leaving for Syria. I drafted the second before leaving, and my colleague Amir completed it later, at the conclusion of the delegation.

Declaration of the Mussalaha Delegation to Syria on the Refugee Situation in Lebanon – Friday, May 5th, 2013

The summary conclusion of the Mussalaha delegtion is that Syrian refugees in Lebanon are forced to rely mainly on their own resources and Lebanese hospitality, both of which are strained to the limit and portend a humanitarian tragedy when they are exhausted. Lebanon hosts a disproportionate share of refugees in both absolute terms and relative to its population (4.3 million). Reliable numbers are unavailable, but the most commonly quoted refugee figure is one million persons.

Since the cause of this crisis is the widespread violence in Syria, we call for an immediate end of all aid – lethal and nonlethal – to all combatants, an immediate and mutual ceasefire, and immediate negotiations among all the parties without preconditions.

With respect to the existing refugees, the lack of aid and support is disgraceful. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) claims that normal processing is 31 days, while in fact refugees wait up to four months, often without even tents for shelter. UNHCR also charges a registration fee of $100.

UNHCR says that it is overwhelmed and has insufficient resources. It should have facilities ready and waiting for new arrivals, and money should be flowing to the refugees, not from them to UNHCR. In order to make this possible, donor nations should immediately live up to their obligations. However, UNHCR also needs to be fully transparent, including an audit on the use and allocation of resources.

A lot of refugee care is happening at the individual level, as generous Lebanese and even Palestinian refugees in their camps open their doors with compassion to accommodate their Syrian brothers and sisters. However, this support is often untenable over the long term and insufficient for the numbers of refugees, leading to makeshift camps that do not meet minimum international standards. These camps often receive no supervision by UNHCR or any other agency for eight months or more.

In addition, the refugees become increasingly vulnerable to exploitation, including prostitution and human trafficking. These conditions bring shame to the agencies and committees and their sponsors charged with refugee rights and support. All refugees have a right to the basics of life and safety. They must have immediate access to support services and adequate protection from abuse.

Lebanese citizens, Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, Lebanese charitable institutions and other Lebanese civil society institutions deserve much credit for providing support that the international society has not done. However, a refugee influx of this magnitude is more than any society the size of Lebanon can accommodate without massive aid from the United Nations and its constituent members. It is a matter of urgency for them to make their actions match their words of sympathy and compassion.

Mussalaha team members at Baalbek preparing to cross into Syria

The Concluding Declaration of the Mussalaha Delegation to Syria – Friday, May 10th 2013

Syria exhibits a massive and terrible breakdown of human decency and respect. There are millions of innocent victims and many individual acts of heroism, but amongst the powerful we see an appalling degree of violence, hypocrisy and corruption. Tens of thousands have died, millions have been displaced, and nearly the entire population of 23 million lives in fear. The international community has stated and we confirm that the Syrian tragedy is possibly the worst since World War II.

States, political organisations and combatants are the primary causes of the misery, which they pursue for their own advantage, sewing terror and manipulating the suffering to reflect badly on their opponents while all too often refusing to compromise or even talk to each other.

These are the findings of our delegation, consisting of 16 human rights activists from seven countries. Over the course of nine days we visited refugee camps, affected communities, religious leaders, combatants, government representatives and many others – perpetrators and victims – in Syria and Lebanon.

We were already horrified by what we knew before coming, but what we have learned as a delegation brings shame to almost everyone involved.

We call on the international community to protect the territorial integrity of Syria and to respect the fundamental rights of Syria as a sovereign state. We deplore any intent to breach the integrity of Syria’s frontiers or to damage the unity and rich diversity of the Syrian people.

We recognise the legitimacy of the aspirations of the Syrian citizens for change, reforms, the eradication of State corruption and the implementation of a democratic life that respects and protects the fundamental rights of all citizens and minorities but we believe that effective and lasting reforms an only be achieved through non-violent means.

Our primary appeal is that all countries stop their interference in Syrian affairs – more specifically, that they halt the supply of arms and foreign combatants to both sides of the conflict. If foreign countries agree to eliminate the influx of arms and fighters, we are confident that Syrians can find their own solutions to their problems and achieve reconciliation.

We unequivocally oppose all aggression and foreign intervention against Syria under any justification. At the same time we appeal to all parties, including the government, to show restraint in response to the provocations that aim to escalate the violence and broaden the conflict.

We consider it beyond debate that the Syrian people have the right to determine their own government and their own future. Foreign interference is currently preventing the Syrian people from exercising their right to self-determination. We are concerned that such pernicious intervention is tearing apart the fabric of the country itself, with long-term consequences that can only be imagined.

The cautionary example of Iraq serves to remind us of the dire consequences of such international folly. This humanitarian crisis is already spilling into neighbouring countries. A collapse of Syrian society though will destabilise the entire region. We appeal to the international community to show that it can learn from history and make better choices in the case of Syria, which will spare further tragedy for the courageous Syrian people.

Secondly, we appeal to the international media to stop the flow of misinformation regarding the Syrian conflict. We believe that every Syrian, both in and outside the country, should be given the right to be heard and we do not see this reflected in the international coverage of this crisis.

Thirdly, while we entirely support the embargo on arms, we ask the international community to review and reconsider the crippling sanctions that are taking such a heavy toll on ordinary Syrian people.

Fourthly, we urge the international community to take seriously the vast number of refugees and persons who have been internally displaced by this conflict.

We look towards the cessation of all violence when these people might be allowed to return to their homes. In the meantime, however, humanitarian aid efforts must be expanded to meet the basic needs of such persons.

Our earlier report, the “Declaration of the Mussalaha Delegation to Syria on the Refugee Situation in Lebanon”, outlines the inadequacies of current refugee programmes. We appreciate that various government authorities have attempted to respond to the refugee crisis. We recognise though that the International Committee of the Red Cross and its affiliates, as well as other humanitarian agencies, must be allowed to set up centres inside Syria to care for internally displaced persons, so as to prevent these displaced persons from fleeing to foreign countries.

This work requires immediate and significant funding by the international community. While this will be a costly undertaking, we believe that the costs will in fact be only a fraction of the amount currently being spent on destroying Syria.

Finally, we appeal to all parties involved to put an end to all forms of violence and human rights violations – actions that target and terrorise innocent civilians and prisoners, indiscriminate terrorist attacks on the civilian population, the unjustified systematic targeting of vital state infrastructures, civilian installations, industrial zones, factories, communication facilities, agriculture reserves, health centres and hospitals, schools and universities, and religious and cultural landmarks – all of which results in the transformation of the residential areas into war zones, resulting in the flight of the civilian population.

We likewise oppose the use of religious decrees that encourage, trivialise and justify barbarity, rape and terrorism. We appeal to the entire religious community to call the faithful to nonviolence and peacemaking, and to reject all forms of violence and discrimination. We express our admiration and respect for the many Syrian religious leaders who have refused to endorse the use of violence and have dedicated their lives to working for a peaceful solution to this conflict, and we appeal specifically for the immediate release of the two abducted Christian bishops, both of whom were dedicated to the work of peace and reconciliations, as we appeal for the release of all Christian and Muslim clerics and other abducted Syrian citizens.

We conclude by commending the work of Mother Agnes Mariam and the Musalaha initiative. We have witnessed their work inside diverse communities across Syria. We offer our unequivocal and ongoing support to these brave people, and we commit ourselves to continue to work alongside them until Syria is truly at peace.

We thank the Patriarch, Gregorios III Laham, for his kind invitation and his ongoing support for Mussalaha. We likewise thank Mr. Jadallah Kaddour for his generosity that made our visit possible, and we express our gratitude to all those who have facilitated our path, most especially the Organization Committee of the delegation’s visit and the Popular Council for the National Reconciliation.

Damascus, the 10/5/2013

Mairead Corrigan Maguire in the name of the International Delegation to Syria for Mussalaha and Peace.

Signatories from the Mussalaha Delegation to Syria:

Francesco CANDELARI (Italy) His current role is International Coordinator of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and he has held previous positions at the United Nations and as journalist covering the Arab Spring. He has been in close touch with people from Syria and interested in looking for possible nonviolent solutions to the conflict in Syria.

Marinella COREGGIA (Italy) Italian journalist and writer in the field of ecological justice; and an ecological farmer, Marinella Correggia, has been active for peace since 1991. Associated with the No War Network, she co-organised many demonstrations in Rome, petitions to the UN, sending information to some Un missions in Geneva, writing articles and conferences.

Mel DUNCAN (USA) is Director of Advocacy and Outreach, Nonviolent Peaceforce. Mel Duncan is the founding Executive Director and current Advocacy and Outreach Director of Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP). Modeled on the Gandhian concept of Shanti Sena, Nonviolent Peaceforce is composed of trained citizens from around the world. Mr. Duncan has 40 years of experience organizing and advocating nonviolently for peace, justice, and the environment. He currently focuses on advancing the recognition, policy and funding support for nonviolent peacekeeping at the UN.

Tiffany EASTHOM (Canada) She is Country Director for South Sudan for Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) which is an international non-governmental organization (INGO) engaged in the creation of a large-scale unarmed peacekeeping force, composed of specially trained civilians. Prior to becoming NP’s Country Director in South Sudan, Tiffany served as Country Director at NP’s Sri Lanka project as well as Country Director for Peace Brigades International in Indonesia.

Denning ISLES (Australia) is a graduate of Welsey Institute, majoring in Audio Technology (2008). He currently works for Fr. David Smith with Fighting Fathers Ministries, in which he supports various youth and community organisations such as Dulwich Hill’s Holy Trinity Youth Center, Binacrombi Camp Site and the Dulwich Hill Gym.

Alistair LAMB (USA)

Franklin LAMB (USA) is an international lawyer based in Beirut-Washington, DC. A former Assistant Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee of the US Congress, Lamb has written widely on Middle East issues as part of his commitment to the cause of Palestine.

Paul LARUDEE (USA) is a former Ford foundation project supervisor, and Fulbright-Hays lecturer in Lebanon, and a U.S. government advisor to Saudi Arabia. He has been a faculty member at several universities in the San Francisco Bay Area,an organizer with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine and co-founder of the movement to break the Israeli siege of Gaza by sea, and was aboard the boats that succeeded in doing so in 2008 as well as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was attacked by Israeli forces on May 31, 2010. He is a cofounder of the Global March to Jerusalem.

Amir M. MAASOUMI (Canada) is a sociologist, specialist of contemporary Islam, intercultural and interfaith relations, dialogue among cultures and civilizations. He is also a peace, social justice and human rights activist.

Mairead MAGUIRE (Northern Ireland) is Nobel Peace Laureate (l976) Hon. President, Co-Founder Peace People, Northern Ireland. Mairead (Corrigan) Maguire is a Nobel Peace Laureate (l976) Hon. President and Co-founder of the Peace People, Northern Ireland. Mairead was responsible for co-founding the Peace People. She has received many honours and awards, including an honorary doctorate from Yale University, the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Distinguished Peace Leadership Award and the Nobel Peace Prize Award (l976).

Michael MALOOF (USA) is a senior writer for WND (WND.com), or World Net Daily, specializing in international political and economic reporting and analysis. He also writes a weekly column for subscribers only for WND’s G2Bulletin providing analysis in these areas. As part of his reporting, Maloof travels many times a year to Lebanon where he is expected to set up a bureau there for WND.

Ann PATTERSON (Ireland) is a family therapist at the Quaker Centre in Belfast, she works to provide counseling support for families from the divided communities. During the peace process in Northern Ireland, she worked with imprisoned paramilitaries from both sides, preparing them to enter into peace talks. She is founder member of the Peace People, a pacifist movement that played a critical role in promoting the Good Friday Agreement and advancing the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Antonio Carlos da Silva ROSA (Brasil) is the editor of TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS since its inception in 2008, he is also the Secretary of the Board of Conveners of TRANSCEND International-A Network for Peace, Development and Environment, founded by Johan Galtung in 1993.

Father Dave SMITH (Australia) started Fighting Fathers Ministries in 2002 – a company that aims to offer an alternative culture to young people, based on values of courage, integrity and teamwork. This work has been the subject of numerous TV documentaries and one short film. Particularly well-known for our use of boxing-training as a means to help young men overcome anger-management issues. He was twice nominated for Australian of the Year on the basis of this work. He is known for his friendship with Mordechai Vanunu (the Israeli ‘nuclear whistle-blower’), which started in Sydney in 1986, started my involvement in social justice work in the Middle East and has subsequently developed a strong profile in Australia as a Palestinian human rights activist.

Professor William Stanley (USA)

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Malcolm Shabazz was an stalwart supporter of Palestinian rights, as is Cynthia McKinney. We honor all those who take up causes not because they are popular but because they are unpopular, who defend those whose human rights are abused not because they are widely loved but because they are widely despised, who go where no one else will not because it is easy but because it is hard.

Malcolm Shabazz's Suspicious Death

by Stephen Lendman

On May 9, Amsterdam News (AN) headlined "Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X, killed."

AN said he was killed in Tijuana, Mexico. Unconfirmed reports said "he died early Thursday morning, May 9, 2013, from injuries sustained after he was thrown off a building or shot as he was being robbed."

Family members acknowledged his death. They haven't confirmed where or how.

Talking Points Memo (TPM) said it "independently confirmed his death through a (non-family) source with close knowledge of the situation." It said he "was beaten during a robbery Wednesday night in Mexico City."

A State Department source said:

"We are aware of the death of a US citizen in Mexico City. We have been in contact with family members, and at their request we have no further comment at this time."

Shabazz was Malcolm X's grandson. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm was killed as he was about to speak in Manhattan. In his autobiography, he commented on his possible death, saying:

"Every morning when I wake now, I regard it as a having another borrowed day."

"In any city, wherever I go, making speeches, holding meetings of my organisation, or attending to other business, black men are watching every move I make, awaiting their chance to kill me, I have said publicly many times that I know that they have their orders."

"Anyone who chooses not to believe what I am saying doesn’t know the Muslims in the Nation of Islam."

"I know, too, that I could suddenly die at the hands of some white racists. Or I could die at the hands of some Negro hired by the white man."

"Or it could be some brainwashed Negro acting on his own idea that by eliminating me, he would be helping out the white man because I talk about the white man the way I do."

Who killed Malcolm matters less than who wanted him dead and ordered it. Others will have to decide. Perhaps history will have final say.

The same holds for Shabazz. It's unclear who killed him and why. He once said he and his family were persecuted "by select businessmen and government officials. I've been a target my entire life. My family is targeted." More on that below.

On February 4, Press TV headlined "FBI arrests Malcolm X grandson en route to Iran," saying:

He was scheduled to participate in a Tehran Hollywoodism conference. At the time, the FBI "refused to provide any information about his whereabouts."

US media scoundrels reported nothing. This writer also participated in the conference via Skype from Chicago. Perhaps it was wise choice. At a time of increasing tyranny, Washington critics have good reason to fear.

Press TV published a statement Shabazz posted on Cynthia McKinney's Facebook page. In part it said:

"I sincerely appreciate the care & concern of the People over my well-being after Press TV’s report of the most recent events which have transpired regarding the FBI's harassment of me."

"Given the storm of lies, and half-truths that come with being associated with.Minister Malcolm.I will take this opportunity to properly & fully disclose what transpired."

"In the beginning of 2012, I had been informed that I was under investigation by the FBI's Counter Terrorism Task Force Unit located in Goshen, NY."

"The agents of this division-and in collaboration with others-have visited several residences of which I was known by them to frequent."

They told "surrounding residents to observe the house and to notify them if they saw me."

"These are the homes of long-time friends, and very close supporters. Yet, when federal agents begin knocking on someone's door on multiple occasions to snoop, and ask questions, whether one is guilty of an offense or not, it's enough to coerce people into distancing themselves from you."

"This cheap tactic employed by the FBI is a means of agitation & harassment. They seek to neutralize my networking abilities.

They have visited locations in California, Chicago, Miami and most aggressively in New York."

"People were advising me that if I had nothing to hide, then I should just contact them as requested and cooperate. Though I must say that in these kind of matters I am of a particular ethic."

For one, I have been engaged in no criminal activity of their concern, and they could have located me if they so chose. Secondly, I don’t recognize the authority in them beckoning me."

"It wasn't even until my mother informed me that they had been contacting her that I truly became agitated."

"She advised me to see what they had to say, and so I obliged the next time they came around looking for me. My encounter was with 2 federal agents of Goshen, NY's Counter Terrorism Task Force Unit. The primary agent identified himself as Special Agent Tom Brozicky."

"They expressed concern" in his "international travels."

"I have lived & studied in Damascus, Syria for over a year, and now the US is instigating conflict within the very same region."

"I went on ex-congresswoman/former presidential candidate Cynthia Mckinney’s delegation along with Dr. Randy Short to Libya, and met with Leader Muammar Gadhafi one week prior to NATO intervention, and I was most recently getting ready to travel to Tehran, Iran to be a participant of the International Fajr Film Festival and give a lecture addressing the issues of Hollywood and violence."

"I was picked up by authorities after I filed for a visa to Iran, and 2 days prior to my departure. A detective squad from the City of Middletown Police Department surrounded me in the street about 2 blocks from where I was residing."

"When I was brought before a Judge of City of Middletown court, I was surprised to be informed that I was being charged with Grand Larceny, and False Impersonation charge."

"Then I was sent to jail, and told to appear again 7 days later. Then following court date, the bogus charge of Grand Larceny, which they only put to justify stopping me in first place, was dropped."

"And they left me to face the False Impersonation. I was offered 90 days for the offense of giving the authorities the wrong name which I declined before bailing out after 2 weeks."

"When I was being held within the belly of the beast on trumped up charges, to my rescue came the journalist at Press TV based in Iran."

"The formula for a public assassination is: the character assassination before the physical assassination; so one has to be made killable before the eyes of the public in order for their eventual murder to then (be) deemed justifiable."

"And when the time arrives for these hits to be carried out, you’re not going to see a CIA agent with a suit & tie, and a badge that says 'CIA' "

"What they will do is to out-source to local police departments in the region of their target, and to employ those that look like the target of interest to infiltrate the workings in order to set up the environment for the eventual assassination (character, physical/incarceration, exile) to take place."

For several months prior to my arrest in late January, 2013, I faced a pattern of harassment from law enforcement which is usually reserved for important figures."

"With that being said, I was not arrested by federal agents. I was taken in by a squad from the City of Middletown, NY's Police Department."

"I was held in the Orange County Jail in Goshen, NY. However, from the time that I was booked at the precinct, to standing before a Judge the next day who told me to come back in 7 more, to being processed at the Orange County Jail and up until 7 days later, I was not permitted to make any calls to notify anyone of my status; as though I had just been kidnapped from the street."

Unfortunately, until this day, my family hasn't been fully abreast of my situation as I haven't had the opportunity to properly consult with any of them."

Given Shabazz's lineage and activism, he had good reason to fear. Details surrounding his death remain sketchy and suspicious.

Robberies seldom involve deaths. They rarely, if ever, occur atop buildings. Seldom is anyone thrown off one. It's unknown if any of this is true. It's unclear where Shabbaz died.

Activists like him are vulnerable. The FBI's COINTELPRO waged war on dissent.

It was conducted against alleged communists, political dissidents, anti-war activists, human and civil rights supporters, and organizations for ethnic justice and racial emancipation, as well as for economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines.

In their book "Agents of Repression," Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall said:

COINTELPRO "came to signify the whole context of clandestine (often illegal) political repression activities (including) a massive surveillance (program via) wiretaps, surreptitious entries and burglaries, electronic devices, live 'tails' and....bogus mail."

It was done to induce paranoia and "foster 'splits' within or between organizations."

    Other tactics included:
  • "black propaganda" through leaflets or other publications; they were "designed to discredit organizations and foster internal tensions;"
  • "disinformation or 'gray propaganda;'"
  • "bad-jacketing" to "creat(e) suspicion - through the spread of rumors, manufacture of evidence, etc. - that bona fide organizational members, (were) FBI/police informants;" it was done to turn some members against others violently;
  • "assassinations (of) selected political leaders;" and
  • "harassment arrests (on bogus) charges."

COINTELPRO never ended. It was reinvented earlier. It's now part of America's "war on terror." No one's safe anywhere. US citizens are vulnerable at home or abroad.

It's official Obama policy. He appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. He governs by diktat authority. Doing so affords justice to no one ordered killed.

Summary judgment means no arrests, no Miranda rights, no due process or habeas rights, and no trials. Diktats decide who lives or dies.

Anyone called Al Qaeda or accused of terrorist connections gets marked for death. Activists challenging imperial lawlessness are vulnerable.

Eliminating America's enemies alone matters. Methods include drones, death squads, targeted assassinations and other means.

Counterterrorism is cover for wholesale or retail killing. Whether Shabbaz was an imperial victim isn't known. His death remains suspicious. Challenging imperial lawlessness is risky. It's price sometimes is death.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/malcolm-shabazzs-suspicious-death/


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Syria Dispatch #3: prisoner release; attack on M. Agnes; Homs project

by Paul Larudee Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

In my previous dispatches I withheld some information from you. Over the last four months I have been in touch with Dr. Mohja Kahf, who is active in the Syrian Nonviolence Movement. Dr. Kahf has produced some excellent background material. It is not unbiased, in my opinion, but very informative nonetheless, and I have great respect for her work.

As early as January, she also began to compile a list of prisoners of conscience held by the Assad regime. By the end of April, the list had 72 names on it, and I took it with me with the intention to petition for their release. Dr. Kahf assured me that the list had been carefully vetted so that it contained only political prisoners that had engaged in nonviolent activity, sometimes including civil disobedience, sometimes not even that.


9 May, 2013 - Damascus - the delegation meets with the Minister of Justice and presents a petition for the release of 72 non-violent activists

I did not inform you previously because protocol dictates that the delegation must first agree to present the petition, and then consider whether public disclosure is in the interest of the prisoners and at what point in the negotiations for their release. I am now free to disclose this news because the Minister of Justice, Dr. Najm al-Ahmad, announced in his meeting with the Mussalaha delegation on Thursday, May 9, that the government had in principle approved the release of all the prisoners on the list, pending review of their cases.

The only reason I did not put this information in screaming headlines is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we are awaiting word of the review. If the government wants to make a strong impression of its good will, it will release all 72 at one time before the end of the week, in which case it will be big news. If it decides not to release all of them, it will probably do so in stages, without a lot of fanfare. Let us hope.


Mother Agnes-Mariam of the Cross

In a second bit of news, a vehicle carrying our primary host and delegation organizer, Mother Agnes-Mariam of the Cross, was attacked by gunmen on the road just outside Damascus. Three bullets penetrated the vehicle but thankfully hit no one. It happened just outside the "secure" areas. I wish I had more information, but will forward it as available. Was it a random attack that could have happened to any vehicle in that area or is there any reason to think that Mother Agnes was a target? I don't know, but I would be inclined to think that the attackers did not know who passengers were. Additional information may shed light on this question.

Finally, delegation members Mel Duncan and Tiffany Easthom of Nonviolent Peaceforce confided with me before my return home that they had been having private meetings in order to arrange an unarmed peacekeeper accompaniment program in and near Homs. That program is now approaching implementation, with possible sponsorship from Mussalaha and participation of members of the delegation that extended their stay for that purpose. I have few details at this time, but I spoke to Mother Agnes earlier today, and she is thinking in terms of a semi-permanent international peace delegation.

The developments remind me a little of the beginnings of the International Solidarity Movement, when the third international delegation became a permanent volunteer presence starting in March, 2002. Exciting times. Exciting possibilities.

For additional news see the excellent report of delegation member Father Dave Smith on his website.

Paul Larudee for the FPM Team

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Dispatch #2 from the Mussalaha delegation to Syria

by Paul Larudee
Friday, May 10th, 2013

As I begin to compose this, I hear what sounds like artillery and rocket fire in the distance, mixed with occasional small arms and possible explosions. Most of their targets must be far away, because I don't hear them hit. The explosions may or may not be something else.

I guess that after two years of fighting it is not surprising that the Syrians take it in stride, and life is surprisingly normal, if hard, for the slightly more than half of Syrians that have not been killed or displaced. It's a terrible statistic, equal to almost 10 million out of a total population of 23 million.

The delegation has been disrupted several times by changes of plan. Our visas were delayed, so our time was lengthened in Lebanon and shortened in Syria, with additional days added at the end. Then, on our first day in Syria, our appointment with Dr. Kinda Shammat, Minister of Social Affairs, was canceled by a cabinet meeting called by President Assad, leaving us with only an improvised outing to an affected neighborhood, which I missed because of a faulty telephone in my hotel room.

That evening was a large meeting of Mussalaha members from all over Syria talking about their war experiences and the intervention of Mussalaha to turn tragedy into reconciliation. One of them was the celebrated case of a nine-year-old Christian boy named Sari Saoud, killed by rebels in Homs. His body was taken by the rebels, but his mother, Georgina al-Jammal caught up with them, and her embrace of her dead son was captured on video by the rebels, who then falsified the account to make it appear that the boy had been killed by government forces.

Sari's mother with his body and two of the rebels after they allowed her to take the body.

I talked with Georgina, who supports the government, but blames it for leaving the area without protection. She told me that she recognized some of the rebels from the neighborhood, but that others were strangers. Part of the story can be found here, by Syrian Arab Television. It has a strong dose of propaganda but the important parts are factual and sincere. Another account is available here. It is cruder and more amateurish, and only party subtitled, but it includes some of the footage shot by the rebels and their clumsy attempt to disguise the killing. It is also quite graphic and captures the terrible moment of the Georgina's attempt to revive her dead son.

Shaikha Asya al-Mashi

I also met a woman by the name of Shaikha Asya al-Mashi, part of a prominent Muslim family in Raqqa. Her brother-in-law was offered an enormous sum of money to leave and turn over his properties to the rebels. When he refused, he was killed outside his home, where the family listened to him die. I offered to suppress her name and photo, but she defiantly insisted that I publish them.

I do not wish to dwell on these stories, but several things impressed me about them and the Mussalaha gathering:

  1. The witnesses and attendees represented a wide range of communities, both geographically and in terms of confession. Mussalaha is a diverse and accessible organization that reaches many Syrians.
  2. There are varying degrees of support for the regime itself, but there are clearly many Syrians that support the regime's attempt to restore order.
  3. Part of the evening's program consisted of an open mike where anyone who wanted could tell their story and ask for Mussalaha's intervention in their community.
  4. Much of the evening was lost on the delegates because it was all in Arabic and interpretation was inconsistent and hard to hear. My Arabic was of some help, but I missed a lot.
  5. We did not hear from the other side.

To elaborate on point number 5, there are Lebanese allies of the armed opposition and opposition fighters in Lebanon. I don't think it is impossible to meet them, but I'm not sure it is possible for Mussalaha to make such arrangements. Mussalaha has contacts with such parties for the purpose of prisoner exchanges and reconciliation. However, offering us the chance to confer with such parties could possibly put them in jeopardy with the regime. Mussalaha tries to develop trust with everyone, but I suspect that there is a line that they dare not cross for fear of losing their mandate to operate.

Having said that, my experience with the nonviolent opposition is that they, too, are intolerant of the point of view of Syrians that support the regime in any way, and do not want this rather large segment of Syrian society to have a voice in Syria's future, because that voice is necessarily the regime's. As long as some Syrians refuse to respect the views of other Syrians, I fear for Syria's future.

Early the next morning I began to feel the effects of stomach poisoning, so I spent the day in bed until we met briefly as a delegation. We then received a visit from Dr. Jihad Lahham, President of the Parliament. He made a point of the fact that he is from the opposition, but the "loyal" opposition, saying that he would like very much for Assad to find himself in the opposition for a few years. I left later that evening, still on an empty stomach.

Altogether, we had too many meetings with too many dignitaries, all of whom had essentially the same message. After one interview upon arrival, I stopped giving them for fear that I would appear to be part of a propaganda machine. Mairead and most of the others were careful to speak of our solidarity with the Syrian people, not the regime or any other party, but Syrian News kept filming us with dignitaries of the same general stripe.

Perhaps it was too much to expect anything different. For security reasons we were housed at the Dama Rose Hotel, the most secure hotel in Damascus, because there is no doubt that we were a potential rebel target and an opportunity to embarrass the government. However, the reason it is the most secure is that it is also the plushest and most expensive hotel, and therefore the hangout of all sorts of government VIPs. Even hosted by Mussalaha, which has built trust with a wide spectrum of elements in Syria, it is exceedingly difficult to get as full a picture as we wanted and needed.

Nevertheless, we learned a lot, and I had to leave before the end of the visit, because the schedule had migrated beyond my original departure date, which I could not change because of personal obligations. I am eager to know what happened after my departure, and may yet have some more hopeful news in a later report. I also helped to draft two declarations for the delegation and want to share them with you, but only after they have been approved by the group, with amendments. I may also have further news about initiatives that were developed as a result of the visit.

Thank you for continuing to support peace.

Paul Larudee for the FPM Team

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Dispatch #1 from the Mussalaha Delegation to Syria: "When can we go back?"

by Paul Larudee Sunday, May 5th, 2013

"When can we go back?"

This plaintive question of refugees since time immemorial was asked again of Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire at the United Nations High Commission on Refugees intake center in Zahleh, Lebanon, overlooking the vast Beqaa valley, now dotted with refugee camps wherever we look. The Mussalaha Delegation is spending longer than expected in Lebanon because of visa delays to Syria. However, if we wanted to find the effects of the war, Lebanon has plenty to show. There are one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which itself has a population of only 4.3 million. Many are from Syrian minorities, drawn to Lebanon by its large Christian and Shiite communities.

Children gather in front of their makeshift home at a camp in the Beqaa valley

Most of the camps fail to meet the minimum standards for hygiene and housing. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) claims it cannot keep up with the numbers, but there is reason to think that it may be dragging its feet in order to pressure its donors for more funds and supplies. Similarly, the Lebanese government does not want to encourage a greater influx, and is therefore slow to accommodate arrivals. They have their reasons, but the refugees are pawns in these bureaucratic and power games, which only increase their suffering.

At the UNHCR registration center in Zahleh, overlooking the valley, the backlog is as much as four months. One man told me that he and his family, including a newborn, had been living for more than two months in the space between two cars with whatever canopy they could manage and a few chairs. Others were living twenty to a room in warehouse space with mattresses taking up most of the floor space at night. To a very great extent, refugees are on their own, negotiating their accommodation wherever they can with whatever resources they have.

A young Syrian mother with newborn speaks to an interpreter at the UNHCR intake center in Zahleh, Lebanon

Most of the men and some of the women do not want to be photographed, but the children don't mind. Several people from Qusayr, a town on the Lebanese border said that when the demonstrations first began two years ago, they were nonviolent and the local officials would even clear the roads for them. However, as they became more violent, the central government failed to act and the town was eventually overrun by armed local elements and foreign fighters from Chechnya, Azerbaijan and other places. It was only after the population fled that Syrian troops finally came to quell the rebellion, which has apparently not yet been fully accomplished.

I have no way to assess the accuracy of these stories, nor to generalize them, but at least my modest Arabic skills allow me to strike up conversations with whomever I want, and there are no government minders in Lebanon. Nevertheless, we all want to meet with groups that have a very different story to tell, and Mother AgnŹs-Maryam has included such opportunities in our schedule, even Jabhat al-Nusrah, the al-Qaeda affiliate, with whom none of us expected to be able to speak.

Mother AgnŹs-Mariam of the Cross with delegation members

I have to say that Mussalaha exceeds our expectations, and that this is largely due to the leadership of Mother AgnŹs, as tough a nun as you could ever want to meet. She is fearless, tireless and relentless. Patience is not her forte, but compassion is, and without regard to the identity of the person in need. For this reason, Mussalaha has earned the respect – sometimes grudgingly – of a very wide range of communities in and outside Syria. Although Mussalaha has strong Christian orientation, its president is Dr. Hassan Yaacoub, a Shiite politician who belongs to the mostly Christian party of General Michel Aoun, who is allied with the Hezbollah party. You may be forgiven for finding that none of this agrees with whatever assumptions you may have held until now.

We have also had numerous meetings with religious leaders of the various faith communities in Lebanon, including the major Christian denominations, as well as the Shiite and Druze spiritual leadership. They are all in touch with the Syrian members of their faith, and had much to say. The message: first stop the fighting, then sit down together, push your agenda by peaceful means, and be ready to compromise. Regrettably, the grand mufti of the Sunni community in Lebanon had to reverse plans to meet with us. We have reason to believe that he might have conveyed the same message, but his community is divided on some of these issues, which makes it difficult for him to say anything at this time.

Mussalaha President Dr. Hassan Yaacoub and the delegation meet with Sheikh Hussain Qabalan, Vice Chairman of the Higher Shiite Council

It is regrettable that former Congressman Dennis Kucinich did not join us. However, the presence of Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire – another fearless and compassionate woman – provides inspirational strength and prominence to our group and brings us the exposure that we need. The rest of the group brings an excellent balance of skills and experience, and for such a diverse group we find ourselves working remarkably well together.

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and the Mussalaha delegation meet with clerical leaders in Lebanon

The next dispatch will be from Damascus, but I won't say when, and I will have another after I return to the U.S. Syria needs a miracle, but these folks believe in such things.

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Initial Report: Peace Delegation to Syria, May 2-10, 2013
April 30, 2013

Dear supporters of Palestine and Syria,

I will leave in a few hours to join the delegation. We will gather at the Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Lebanon just north of Beirut. During the first day and a half, we will meet with dignitaries and representatives in Lebanon, and with Syrian refugees. We will then go to Damascus for four days of meetings with members of a variety of communities in Syria, and to view as much as we are able. We then return to Lebanon for additional meetings and a final press conference, which I will unfortunately have to miss because I must return a day early.

Below is a list of participants, whose bios will soon be posted at the FPM website. Not listed there is Dennis Kucinich, who has said that he will come, but apparently has not confirmed. If any of you are in touch with him, please encourage him join us. I have also been trying to reach Ashley Judd, who has excellent humanitarian credentials, but I have been unsuccessful. If any of you has a means of contacting her, please do. I don't know her position on any of this, but if she advocates against U.S. support for either side, she needs to be a part of this team, and it may boost her credentials if she plans to run for office.

Peace Delegation to Syria:

Francesco CANDELARI (Italy) His current role is International Coordinator of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and he has held previous positions at the United Nations and as journalist covering the Arab Spring. He has been in close touch with people from Syria and interested in looking for possible nonviolent solutions to the conflict in Syria.

Marinella COREGGIA (Italy) Italian journalist and writer in the field of ecological justice; and an ecological farmer, Marinella Correggia, has been active for peace since 1991. Associated with the No War Network, she co-organised many demonstrations in Rome, petitions to the UN, sending information to some Un missions in Geneva, writing articles and conferences.

Susan Anne Day DIRGHAM (Australia) has organized and helped lead tour of Syria for students from La Trobe University, Melbourne. She organised accommodation, transport, interviewees in Damascus (through Ministry of Information) for Australian film-maker Bruce Petty.

Mel DUNCAN (USA) is Director of Advocacy and Outreach, Nonviolent Peaceforce. Mel Duncan is the founding Executive Director and current Advocacy and Outreach Director of Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP). Modeled on the Gandhian concept of Shanti Sena, Nonviolent Peaceforce is composed of trained citizens from around the world. Mr. Duncan has 40 years of experience organizing and advocating nonviolently for peace, justice, and the environment. He currently focuses on advancing the recognition, policy and funding support for nonviolent peacekeeping at the UN.

Tiffany EASTHOM (Canada) She is Country Director for South Sudan for Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) which is an international non-governmental organization (INGO) engaged in the creation of a large-scale unarmed peacekeeping force, composed of specially trained civilians. Prior to becoming NP's Country Director in South Sudan, Tiffany served as Country Director at NP's Sri Lanka project as well as Country Director for Peace Brigades International in Indonesia.

Denning ISLES (Australia) is a graduate of Welsey Institute, majoring in Audio Technology (2008). He currently works for Fr. David Smith with Fighting Fathers Ministries, in which he supports various youth and community organisations such as Dulwich Hill's Holy Trinity Youth Center, Binacrombi Camp Site and the Dulwich Hill Gym.

Tim KING (USA) is the Editior of Salem-News in the USA (based in Salem, Oregon). Tim is well traveled in the Middle East and known for his efforts to change American policy toward Palesitne and the region. Has written widely about the criminal US war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Franklin LAMB (USA) is an international lawyer based in Beirut-Washington, DC. A former Assistant Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee of the US Congress, Lamb has written widely on Middle East issues as part of his commitment to the cause of Palestine.

Paul LARUDEE (USA)is a former Ford foundation project supervisor, and Fulbright-Hays lecturer in Lebanon, and a U.S. government advisor to Saudi Arabia. He has been a faculty member at several universities in the San Francisco Bay Area,an organizer with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine and co-founder of the movement to break the Israeli siege of Gaza by sea, and was aboard the boats that succeeded in doing so in 2008 as well as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was attacked by Israeli forces on May 31, 2010. He is a cofounder of the Global March to Jerusalem.

Alan LONERGAN (Ireland) has for many years been involved in campaigning for Palestine. He is a founding member of Sadaka the Ireland Palestine Alliance and currently serves on the board of Sadaka as their Church Liaisons Officer.

Amir M. MAASOUMI (Canada) is a sociologist, specialist of contemporary Islam, intercultural and interfaith relations, dialogue among cultures and civilizations. He is also a peace, social justice and human rights activist.

Mairead MAGUIRE (Northern Ireland) is Nobel Peace Laureate (l976) Hon. President, Co-Founder Peace People, Northern Ireland. Mairead (Corrigan) Maguire is a Nobel Peace Laureate (l976) Hon. President and Co-founder of the Peace People, Northern Ireland. Mairead was responsible for co-founding the Peace People. She has received many honours and awards, including an honorary doctorate from Yale University, the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Distinguished Peace Leadership Award and the Nobel Peace Prize Award (l976).

Michael MALOOF (USA) is a senior writer for WND (WND.com), or World Net Daily, specializing in international political and economic reporting and analysis. He also writes a weekly column for subscribers only for WND's G2Bulletin providing analysis in these areas. As part of his reporting, Maloof travels many times a year to Lebanon where he is expected to set up a bureau there for WND.

Alyssar MIDANI (France) founded and managed Arabesque (international intercultural association head quartered in Paris) She organised cultural activities (concerts, exhibitions, Syrian and Arab movie promotion, cultural days: Passeport pour la Syrie 2003), Support for Palestinian & Iraqi people. She is founding Member and member of the Board of trustees of NOSSTIA (Network of Syrian Scientists and innovators in Technology abroad) and was instrumental in ICTTA 04 Conference - Damascus Syria (organization & scientific committee) Open Source Software workshop - Damascus Syria)

Ann PATTERSON (Ireland) is a family therapist at the Quaker Centre in Belfast, she works to provide counseling support for families from the divided communities. During the peace process in Northern Ireland, she worked with imprisoned paramilitaries from both sides, preparing them to enter into peace talks. She is founder member of the Peace People, a pacifist movement that played a critical role in promoting the Good Friday Agreement and advancing the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Gianmarco PISA (Italy) is Secretary in IPRI - CPC NET (Civil Peace Corps) and President of "Operatori di Pace - Campania" [Peace-Workers - Campania], active in the National Program "Civilian Peace Intervention" and Regional Program "Scuole Aperte" about peace-education, Project Coord. in Peace Class: A.C.H.I.E.V.E. (Alternative Conflict Handling to Inhibit Emergencies and Violence Eradicate) and Program Coord. for Civilian Peace Service and Civilian Social Defence in Castelvolturno (S.C.P.C. Program). He is Founder of "IRA Mauritania – Italian Bureau" (IRA Mauritania – Bureau Italia) against slavery and for human-rights and Researcher in IRES (Training and Research) and RESET (Economy, Society and Territory) - Naples, for social inclusion and social rights.

Antonio Carlos da Silva ROSA (Brasil) is the editor of TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS since its inception in 2008, he is also the Secretary of the Board of Conveners of TRANSCEND International-A Network for Peace, Development and Environment, founded by Johan Galtung in 1993.

David B. SMITH (Australia)started Fighting Fathers Ministries in 2002 - a company that aims to offer an alternative culture to young people, based on values of courage, integrity and teamwork. This work has been the subject of numerous TV documentaries and one short film. Particularly well-known for our use of boxing-training as a means to help young men overcome anger-management issues. He was twice nominated for Australian of the Year on the basis of this work. He is known for his friendship with Mordechai Vanunu (the Israeli 'nuclear whistle-blower'), which started in Sydney in 1986, started my involvement in social justice work in the Middle East and has subsequently developed a strong profile in Australia as a Palestinian human rights activist.

Luke WATERS (Australia) is an award winning senior journalist, with experience filing reports for television, radio, print and on-line news services throughout Australia and overseas. Luke has anchored state and national news bulletins for the Ten Network as well as news and current affairs programs for the ABC. He has worked as a print, radio, on-line and television journalist, video journalist, presenter, producer and / or chief of staff on a range of programs. Luke's journalism has been recognized with selection as a finalist or winner of several media awards including the United Nations Media Peace Awards, The Australian Sports Commission Media Awards and the National Drug And Alcohol Awards for excellence in media reporting.

In solidarity,

Paul Larudee for the FPM Team

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Israel tourists face email inspections
Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 24 April 2013 12.53 EDT

Israel's internal security agency has been authorised to demand "suspicious" foreign travellers open their personal email accounts for inspection on entry to the country.

Shin Bet officials have been given approval for such action in what they deem to be exceptional cases by Israel's attorney-general, Yehuda Weinstein, despite a petition to overrule the measure by a leading civil rights group.

"The threat of using foreign citizens for terrorist purposes is a growing trend," said Nadim Avod, a lawyer in the attorney-general's office. "Searching an email account is to be carried out in exceptional cases only after suspicious or pertinent information has been identified."

However, the examination of email accounts must be carried out in the presence of the individual.

The authorisation stopped short of permitting security officers to demand passwords or other information that would allow email accounts to be accessed by Shin Bet officers.

Emails may be examined for incriminating information, which may be relevant to public or national security, wrote Avod. Foreign travellers can refuse to co-operate, but may be denied entry as a result.

The attorney-general's approval of the measure follows a petition lodged by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), based on media reports of individuals being requested to disclose email correspondence during interrogation at Ben Gurion airport.

One case reported by Associated Press concerned Sandra Tamari, a 42-year-old American citizen of Palestinian descent, who was suspected of being a pro-Palestinian activist. Tamari declined to give Shin Bet officials access to her email account and was refused entry to Israel.

Lila Margalit, a lawyer for ACRI, said: "'Consent', given under threat of deportation, cannot serve as a basis for such a drastic invasion of privacy. In today's world, access to a person's email account is akin to access to their innermost thoughts and personal lives. Allowing security agents to take such invasive measures at their own discretion and on the basis of such flimsy consent is not befitting of a democracy."

Security at Ben Gurion airport is notoriously rigorous. Passengers are routinely questioned on the purpose of their visit, luggage is frequently searched by hand and some travellers are forced to undergo strip-searches.

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Peace Delegation to Syria, May 2-9

April 21, 2013

Dear supporters of Palestine,

Two months ago we sent an appeal to those of you that are on our USPS mailing list. We appealed for both your advice and your funds with regard to the proposal to create a Syria Solidarity Movement separate from the Free Palestine Movement.

In order to determine whether there is sufficient interest and need, we asked you to vote with your opinions and your donations. Even if enough of you support the idea, the two movements will be separate.

The result is that, using only the funds you have donated specifically for this purpose, I will be traveling to Syria on April 30 as part of a delegation that includes Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Nonviolent Peaceforce co-founder Mel Duncan and many more. (I will send you the official announcement later.) Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence regrets that she will be unable to come due to her obligations in Afghanistan.

Our host is Mussalaha, which is a nonaligned group that excludes none of the factions in Syria. "Mussalaha" means "reconciliation" and this is what the group attempts to achieve through dialogue and humanitarian assitance. Although it is mainly composed of Syrian Christians, it includes participants from many of Syria's confessional and ethnic communities.

This trip is mainly to conduct fact finding and feasibility, and to bring attention to many of the voices that are not heard in the countries from which the international delegation is formed.

I thank those of you who supported this trip and I want to assure those of you that did not that your wishes for the Free Palestine Movement to concentrate only on Palestine will be respected. If, as a result of this trip, the decision is to form a Syria Solidarity Movement, it will be separate and will not draw upon the resources of FPM.

I will also do my best to send reports from Syria, as circumstances allow. As always, your advice is welcome. Many thanks for your continued support for peace in the Middle East.

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US Senate: Will back Israeli attack on Iran

Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate votes in favor of resolution stipulating that US will support Israel in case it was forced to take military action against Iran

Yitzhak Benhorin Published: 04.17.13, 01:00 / Israel News

WASHINGTON — Members of the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee have adopted "Senate Resolution 65," according to which the US will support Israel in case it is compelled to take military action and actualize its right to self defense in the face of an Iranian threat.

The resolution stipules that Israel will enjoy Washington's diplomatic, economic and military aid.

According to the resolution, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Lindsey Graham, the US's policy is to halt Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Senate Resolution 65 has successfully gained the support of 70 of the 100 senators.

In a statement issued by AIPAC it was noted that "The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has sent a very clear and enormously important message of solidarity with Israel against the Iranian nuclear threat—which endangers American, Israeli, and international security."

President Barack Obama sent his holiday wishes to Israel on its 65th Independence Day, stating: "On this date 65 years ago, the Jewish people realized their dream of the ages – to be masters of their fate in their own sovereign state."

"The strong and prosperous Israel we see today proves Herzl's vision – 'if you will it, it is no dream," the US president added.

AFP contributed to this report

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In violation of ceasefire agreement, Israel tightens fishing restrictions on Gaza
By By John Space - April 09, 2013 Photo by CPS Gaza.

According to numerous media reports, Israel has cut the fishing zone in Gaza in half, from six nautical miles to three, causing extreme hardship for fishermen trying to make a living in the harsh conditions imposed by the occupation. The Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemned Israel's tightening of the fishing restrictions in a report released March 24. "According to Al Mezan's field investigations, at approximately 12:30 am on Friday, 21 March 2013, the Israeli Navy opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, which were around the six nautical mile mark off of the Gaza City coast," the report stated. "In his affidavit to Al Mezan, one of the fishermen heard an Israeli soldier via amplifier saying in Arabic, 'this is a decision from the State of Israel: you have to withdraw your boats to three nautical miles. Any boat that goes beyond three nautical miles will be sunk.'" According to the report, Al Mezan has documented 44 attacks against fishermen in Gaza resulting in four injuries since the ceasefire agreement that ended the Israeli assault on Gaza known as Operation Pillar of Cloud. Additionally, occupation forces have arrested 44 fishermen, damaged fishing equipment in five separate attacks on fishermen and confiscated nine boats. "The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the Israeli restrictions on the fishing zone as it is collective punishment placed on the people of Gaza," the report said. "Al Mezan reiterates its previous calls on Israel to end violations against Palestinian fishermen and to lift the closure of the Gaza Strip." The Israeli human-rights organization B'Tselem released a separate report the same day that also highlighted the injustices of Israel's restrictions on fishermen. "Reduction of the fishing range in the Gaza Strip in response to missile fire on southern Israel constitutes collective punishment and severely damages the livelihood of Gaza fishermen," the B'Tselem report said.

According to the report, Al Mezan has documented 44 attacks against fishermen in Gaza resulting in four injuries since the ceasefire agreement that ended the Israeli assault on Gaza known as Operation Pillar of Cloud As the B'Tselem report noted, the Israeli military says the fishing area was restricted in response to rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in recent weeks, including several fired during President Obama's visit to Israel and the West Bank. This statement by the Israeli military openly admits that the restriction on the fishing range is an act of collective punishment, which is considered a war crime under various international statues, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, of which Israel is a signatory. "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited," the text of the Fourth Geneva Convention reads. Under the Convention, "protected persons" are all those "taking no active part in the hostilities." This clearly includes the fishermen of Gaza, a purely civilian group. The fishing restrictions obviously have no bearing on the number of rockets fired, as the sea is on the opposite side of Gaza from the border with Israeli cities under rocket fire such as Sderot and Ashdod. Furthermore, it would be extremely difficult to fire a rocket from a fishing boat, particularly since all fishermen in Gaza are under constant surveillance by Israel while at sea. Cutting the fishing area in response to rocket fire therefore serves no purpose whatsoever except punishing a civilian population for rocket fire they had no part in. This fact was noted in the B'Tselem report. "The decision to once again reduce the fishing range in response to missile fire by armed groups constitutes collective punishment imposed on fishermen for the actions of others," the report stated. "Article 33 in the Fourth Geneva Convention forbids collective punishment and states that a person must not be punished for an act that he or she did not commit." The B'Tselem report highlighted another war crime routinely committed by Israel against the fishermen of Gaza.

"Over the past few years, B'Tselem has collected dozens of testimonies from fisherman apprehended via the dangerous and humiliating 'swimming procedure': fishermen were compelled to undress at gunpoint and swim from their boat to a navy craft, regardless of weather conditions," the report said. "Based on fishermen's testimonies and data from their boats' GPS, some were apprehended this way even without having strayed beyond the military's designated fishing limits." The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." Forcing someone to undress at gunpoint certainly meets the criteria of "humiliating and degrading treatment." The report further stated that since 2000, four fishermen have been killed during the "swimming procedure." This is, of course, in addition to countless other human-rights violations committed by Israel on a daily basis.

And it's not the first time Israel has arbitrarily reduced the size of the fishing area for Gaza's fishermen. As detailed in both the B'Tselem and Al Mezan reports, the Oslo Accords mandate a fishing area of 20 nautical miles. Israel has never honored this, however, as the largest fishing area ever allowed was 12 nautical miles, later reduced to six. After the end of Operation Cast Lead, Israel reduced the fishing area to three nautical miles before expanding it again to six after Pillar of Cloud. The B'Tselem report states that between 2000 and 2010, the number of fishermen in Gaza dropped from 10,000 to 4,000 as a result of the restrictions.

Israel's conduct toward fishermen in Gaza is unacceptable and must be condemned by the international community. Unacceptable as the tightened restrictions may be, however, they are far from surprising, as they are merely the latest in a long history of Israeli war crimes and human-rights abuses committed against the Palestinian people.

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Israeli Journalist Amira Hass Sparks Furor at Home for Defending Palestinian Right to Resist
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Is the Custodian of Absentee Property Awaiting the Absentees?

by Paul Larudee / April 8th, 2013

cus-to-di-an n. 1. One who has charge of something: caretaker
– The Heritage Illustrated Dictionary of the English Language, International Edition, 1973

The office of Ronen Baruch, the current Custodian of Absentee Property for Israel, is in an ancient Arab home at 8 Yoel Salomon Street in Jerusalem. A house of this type is not unusual in this part of Jerusalem, and this one has few markings to indicate its function. Even its mail is delivered to the main building of the Ministry of Finance in another part of the city. Searching the Internet will not yield this information unless you read Hebrew, and even then not much else. Much more is available about the Mossad, but perhaps only because it is bigger and more interesting. Information about the Custodian is not necessarily secret, just possibly of little interest to journalists. However, it has no website and does not advertise its contact information. It is almost as if Israel would prefer that no one knows it is there. Despite this, the office plays a pivotal role in the existence of Israel. Most Israelis live and work on land that was once in the charge of the Custodian of Absentee Property, an office created less than two months after the Israeli state and existing to this day as part of the Ministry of Finance.

The apparent location of the Office of the Custodian of Absentee Property

Who or what is the Custodian of Absentee Property?

To many of the indigenous nations of North America, the European notion of land ownership was strange. The role of humans was to be custodians of the land and for the land to be the custodian of its human inhabitants. Similarly, the rulers of Makkah and Medina have historically referred to themselves as custodians, not owners, of the holy shrines.

Thus, when Israel created the Office of the Custodian of Absentee Property in July, 1948, to take charge of property belonging to refugees that fled or were expelled, was its intention for the custodian to be a steward and trustee for the property of these refugees while they were away? Certainly, the title of the office implicitly acknowledges that the property belongs to the absentees, not the Custodian, which land registry documents in fact confirm.

Of course, land and the structures on it – some dating back a thousand years or more – were not the only property that came into the charge of the Custodian. Many millions of dollars of gold, jewelry, antiques, cars and other items made their way into the inventory. However, real estate was by far the most important and valuable. The absentee owners were almost all Palestinian Arab refugees and exiles, both rich and poor. A few were Jews, and their property was quickly returned to them. Not so for the rest, except a tiny fraction that were able to prove that they had not fled at all.

How much of the territory within the 1949 ceasefire line did the absentees leave behind? Prior to the proclamation of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, some 6% of Mandate Palestine was Jewish property (Sami Hadawi, Village statistics: 1945). Considering that Zionist forces seized 78% of Palestine, however, the proportion within those areas would have been closer to 8%, excluding Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, the remnant of the Palestinian Arab population that was not expelled retained some of their lands and homes, currently estimated to be less than 3% of the same areas. Roughly half of the captured territory was state land of the government of Palestine, mostly the Naqab (Negev) desert.

It is likely that all the rest, roughly 39%, was declared absentee property, and placed under the control of the Custodian. This figure agrees with an inventory made by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) of 7,069,091 dunams. If the Custodian also took charge of state lands, the total would have been 89%. This information has not been released, but a statement by Jacob Manor, the Custodian in 1980, to journalist Robert Fisk (Pity the Nation, p. 45) indicates that the higher figure may be more accurate.

Of course, Israel had no intention of respecting the legal records of land ownership. The Absentee Property Law of 1950 made clear that the job of the Custodian was to “release” the property in its custody to other agencies, which would use the land without regard to the registered owners.

Thus, in effect, the Custodian of Absentee Property became Israel's largest “fence” for stolen property. Under the powers authorized by the Absentee Property Law, the Custodian “released” the land to the Israeli state, the Development Authority and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), with the combined lands (93% of the state of Israel) under the management of the Israel Land Administration (ILA). The ILA thus became the largest recipient of stolen property in Israel, notwithstanding the international racketeers and blood diamond traffickers that have found a safe haven there.

Curiously, however, the ILA has until recently been prohibited from offering the land for sale, but rather to lease it to users, although in 2009 plans were made to begin granting title. This policy was promoted in the 1950s allegedly as an enlightened socialist program of collective ownership borrowed from the institution of the kibbutz. Was it instead a means of protecting individual Israeli citizens from the accusation of receiving stolen goods? If so, it constitutes another implicit admission that the property legally belongs to expelled Palestinians and not to either the Israeli government or its citizens.

The Absentee Property Law is in fact contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Declaration of Human Rights, both of which were constituted less than two years earlier and to which Israel became a signatory. This discrepancy came to light in the case of the Jerusalem residence of the Consul General of Belgium, which has been located since 1948 on absentee property known as the Villa Salameh. In order to be in compliance with international law, Belgium elected to pay rent to the exiled Palestinian owners of the property rather than to any Israeli authority or to Israeli businessman David Sofer, who claims to have “bought” (leased) the property from the Israeli government since 2000.

Surprisingly, Israel has been one of the strongest proponents for the restoration of absentee property to its original owners or their rightful heirs. One of the best examples of this is the HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce) Project, established in 2011 with more than $2.5 million per year funding from the Israeli government, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel. Its purpose is to seek restitution for Jewish property seized by the Nazi government in Germany. Other victims of the Holocaust, such as Slavs, Poles, Romanies (Gypsies), disabled persons, non-Europeans, political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others are apparently ineligible for this service, as well victims of the 1948 Israeli ethnic cleansing project known to Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe).

Although the extent of past Israeli property theft is well known to students of such matters, popular awareness is lagging. Current activists are likely to consider the more recent thefts of Bedouin property in the Naqab (Negev), confiscation of Palestinian property in Jerusalem and West Bank land seizures, house demolitions and village eradications as the major problem without taking into account the much larger scale of earlier crimes. They might be shocked to learn, for example, that the land stolen from Palestinian owners prior to the 1949 ceasefire is equal in size to more than the total area of the West Bank and Gaza combined.

The issue is sometimes raised when defining “Arab land” in the Palestinian context. If, for example, “Arab land” is defined only as that which was seized in the June 1967 war, it disregards the enormous amount of property that was confiscated without compensation from “absentee” Palestinian refugees and exiles in 1947-49 and soon after. Is the Custodian of Absentee Property awaiting the return of the absentees to reclaim their property? In a sense probably so, though not with a sense of joy. Rather, all who are responsible for the theft of the property and for the ethnic cleansing and other crimes committed in furtherance of that theft know that a day of reckoning always awaits those who think they are above the law.

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WATCH: Hebron's Shuhada Street: Authorized entry only
By Social TV |Published April 3, 2013

How would you feel if you were suddenly forbidden from walking down the main street of your city? This theoretical scenario, inconceivable to most, is reality for the Palestinian residents of Hebron. Shuhada Street was a pivotal and vibrant main street in Hebron but since 2000, entry has been blocked for Palestinians – even those who live on it. The closure of Shuhada Street is just another example of Israel’s undeclared racial segregation policies

Israel Social TV is an independent media NGO working to promote social change, human rights, social justice and equality, and to mobilize its viewers towards activism.

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Dying prisoner treated cruelly by Israeli doctors over many years

Linah Alsaafin, The Electronic Intifada, Ramallah, 1 April 2013

Fatah supporters in the West Bank city of Hebron carry a poster of Maysara Abuhamdia during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian political prisoners, 26 March 2013. (Mamoun Wazwaz / APA images) On 28 March, Palestinians in the Israeli jail of Eshel released a statement informing the world that 64-year-old prisoner Maysara Abuhamdia had lost his ability to move his body, and is expected to die at any moment. The statement was made public on the website Facebook by a prisoner support group called Kasr al-Qeid, or Breaking the Chains. The prisoners stated that the next statement that they would release would not be another call for help, but a letter of condolences to Abuhamdia’s family. The day before, the prisoners sent out another statement titled “Maysara is not alone” and called on Palestinians to do anything they can to secure his release. Abuhamdia began complaining of sickness in his throat and swelling of his neck in August 2012. According to his lawyer Rami al-Alami, from August to December, Abuhamdia was only admitted to hospital a couple of times, where doctors ran biopsy tests on him and but refused to say what he was suffering from. “Instead of providing him with the correct treatment, the doctors gave him flu shots that caused severe pain in his chest, which he could hardly sleep after,” said al-Alami. Two months later — after Abuhamdia lost his voice completely and 15 kilograms in weight — the doctors examined his swollen neck and told him that he only had a few days to live. Abuhamdia’s sister Itidal last visited him in January, and confirmed that his voice was almost entirely gone.

“It’s hard to understand him,” she told The Electronic Intifada by phone. “I was supposed to see him in March but Eshel prison is under collective punishment and there are no family visits until we are further notified.” Itidal said that her brother does not stay in a hospital, and is transferred from the Eshel prison in Bir al-Saba (Beersheva) — a city in the Negev (Naqab) region of southern Israel — to the Saroka hospital for treatment. “The doctors knew it was cancer but did not tell Maysara this,” said al-Alami. “It was only in March when they finally told him about his cancer and it was during this month when he finally began to receive chemotherapy sessions at the Saroka hospital.” The sessions have temporarily stopped because of the Jewish holidays. “I can’t imagine the pain he goes through just to get to the hospital,” Itidal, Maysara’s sister, said. “Transferring prisoners in the bosta [a prison vehicle with no windows and a corrugated metal interior with no seats] is already hard, but for a cancer patient it must be hell.”

Resistance and exile

Maysara’s oldest son, 30-year-old Tariq Abuhamdia, is completing his PhD in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech in the United States and administers the Facebook page Freedom for Maysara Abuhamdia, which provides information about Maysara’s biography and publishes updates on his condition in both Arabic and English. Born in Hebron in 1948, Abuhamdia joined the revolutionary ranks fighting the Israeli occupation when he was 20 years old.

Abuhamdia’s first arrest came in 1969, when he was accused of belonging to the Union of Palestinian Students. He later studied electronics in Cairo and received a diploma from there. Afterwards, he moved to Lebanon and then Syria, where he joined Fatah’s military camps. He tried to obtain a degree in law at the University of Beirut between 1970 and 1975 but due to his constant arrests and pursuit by Israeli intelligence and Arab collaborators, he couldn’t finish his studies, and instead worked in Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait and Jordan. Whenever Abuhamdia would come home back to the West Bank, he would be arrested during that time period. He was held as part of the Israeli policy of administrative detention, a form of internment that holds prisoners indefinitely without charge or trial. In Lebanon he was a resistance fighter and a member of the Jurmuq Brigade, a Fatah resistance group that was mostly made up of students under the leader Muin Taher. The group included the fighter Dalal al-Mughrabi, who carried out an operation in Tel Aviv in 1978 during which she was killed along with several other militants and 38 civilians. In 1976, Abuhamdia was arrested by Israeli forces and spent two years held under administrative detention, after which he was exiled to Jordan. In Jordan, Abuhamdia worked in the offices of Abu Jihad al-Wazir, the commander of Fatah’s armed wing al-Assifa, who was also expelled from Lebanon along with fighters from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) after Israel’s invasion in 1982. (Abu Jihad was later exiled from Jordan to Tunisia in 1986, and was assassinated by agents with Israel’s spy agency Mossad on 16 April 1988 in his home in Tunis.) After the signing of the Oslo accords between PLO officials and Israel in 1993, the Israeli authorities refused to include Abuhamdia as one of the “returnees” to Palestine. It wasn’t until 1998 that Abuhamdia finally returned to Palestine, after Yasser Arafat’s intervention. Abuhamdia settled into life in the West Bank once again, and worked in the newly-formed Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security Force. He was arrested during the second intifada on 28 May 2002 with a long list of charges issued against him, some of which dated back to 1991. “My father spent 105 days at the Moskobiyeh detention center under interrogation,” Abuhamdia’s son Tariq said, referring to the notorious Jerusalem interrogation facility known in English as the Russian Compound. “He never gave the interrogator any information. Israel found great difficulty in determining which faction he belonged to. In the seventies, they thought he was working with the PFLP [the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine]. Now they are accusing him of being affiliated with Hamas while at the same time cooperating with Fatah.”

Writer and teacher

On 2 June 2005, Abuhamdia was sentenced to prison for 25 years. Two years later — on 22 April 2007 — the Israeli military prosecutors appealed his sentencing and his was sentence extended to 99 years in prison. Abuhamdia is looked to as a leader by the other prisoners due to his older age and sentence, and spent the years in Eshel prison. He was studying history in Gaza’s Al-Aqsa University via correspondence before his health took a turn for the worse. “My father loved literature. In addition to Arabic, he could read Hebrew and English,” said Tariq. “In prison, he was basically a writer and a teacher. He wrote about life in prison, political analysis and other topics and was published in many journals. He loved Russian literature, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, and gave daily lectures to prisoners about the modern history of Palestine and geopolitics to raise their level of knowledge and awareness. The younger prisoners consider him as a father for them.”

Intentional negligence

In 2007, Abuhamdia became another victim of the Ramleh “slaughterhouse” after he was admitted to that prison clinic because of a painful stomach ulcer. He wrote a letter describing the deliberate medical negligence of the Israeli Prison Service and the cruel behavior of doctors toward the sick prisoners, who he said were subjected to medical experimentation without their consent. In an excerpt translated and posted by Tariq and found on the Facebook support page, Maysara Abuhamdia states: “The intentional negligence starts during the treatment, when the doctors receive orders to not cure the patient but to give him painkillers without any restoration of the damaged parts.” He adds, “These instructions come from the Israeli security apparatus, and the goal is to keep the prisoners alive but not cured to be a lesson to others.” In his letter Abuhamdia refers to the ill-treatment afforded to other sick prisoners at Ramleh, such as Alaa Hassouneh, who is described as suffering from heart disease but is only given painkillers. Another prisoner, Mansour Maqoudeh, was shot in the spine during his arrest by the occupation forces in 2002, which left him paralyzed. He was given injections in his abdomen by the Israeli Prison Service that caused him intestinal damage. Maqoudeh suffers from bouts of convulsions and unconsciousness, and can only urinate through a plastic bag, as Maqoudeh’s lawyer told the Arabic-language outlet Donia Alwatan last month. It is no secret that the sick prisoners in Ramleh are cruelly mistreated. Former hunger striker Khader Adnan once described to this author the inhumane way these prisoners were treated by Israeli authorities, as they lay helpless and in pain on their hospital beds. “Some were beaten occasionally, others were chained by their arms and legs to their hospital beds, still others were placed in some sort of cages and totally ignored,” Adnan said. “It’s simply a horrifying place.”

Deaths in custody

Since 1967, 51 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have died from medical negligence. There are currently 700 prisoners in need of medical attention, and 18 in the Ramleh prison hospital, according to the Palestine News Network. The Israeli authorities are careful not to let Palestinian prisoners die in the hospital, and send them home once they know that the prisoner is on his deathbed, such as the case with Zuhair Lubada, from Nablus, and Ashraf Abu Thrae, from Hebron, who died on 21 January this year. Lubada died on 31 May 2012 — one week after his release from Ramleh. In a coma when he was released, Lubada was transferred directly to the National Government Hospital in Nablus. He had spent a total of 14 years behind bars and reportedly suffered from kidney failure, sclerosis of the liver, a lung tumor and Hepatitis B. Speaking at that the time of Lubada’s death, researcher Ahmad al-Beetawi, who works for the International Solidarity Foundation, stated, “Israel makes sure that seriously ill detainees die shortly after their release. This way Israel avoids confrontation with the detainees and tries to excuse itself from blame” (“Ailing detainee, released one week ago, dies in hospital,” IMEMC, 31 May 2012). For Tariq Abuhamdia, living thousand of miles away and dealing with his father’s cancer and impending death is incredibly tough. Tariq wishes his two young daughters, who Maysara has never seen except through photographs, and whom he asks about in all his letters, would have the chance to sit on their grandfather’s lap. “I feel heartbroken that I cannot take care of him,” Tariq said. “I last saw him three years ago and his morale was very high. I imagine him sitting on his bed breathing with difficulty, [while he] cannot eat, cannot change his clothes and I cannot do anything about it. Your dreams and wishes narrow.” “We did appeal to everyone you can think of to secure the release of my father,” he added. “I think that these organizations are waste of time. It’s also a big disgrace that my father has the rank of Major General in the PA [Palestinian Authority], but the PA is not able to release him while at the same time continues its security coordination with Israel. It’s not even coordination, they are following orders like slaves.” Rami al-Alami, Abuhamdia’s lawyer, believes that the Israeli Prison Service will stick to their policy of releasing sick prisoners only when they are on their deathbeds. “I’ve presented the court with Maysara’s case and I have yet to hear back from them in terms of whether a date has been set for his appeal,” he said. “Unfortunately, just like the case of Zuheir Lubada and Ashraf Abu Thrae, I fear that Israel will release Maysara when they are sure that he is dying.” Linah Alsaafin is a graduate of Birzeit University and a writer based in Ramallah, West Bank.

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Three Syrian Peace Initiatives...and what you can do to help

January 26, 2013

Dear supporters of Palestine,

Later today, I will board a flight to Geneva to attend the Syrian International Conference for a Democratic Syria and a Civil State, which is sponsored by the Scandinavian Institute for Human Rights (SIHR), in collaboration with the Horan Citizen Forum & the Arab Commission for Human Rights.  This is one of three initiatives from a larger number of groups committed to a nonviolent resolution to the Syrian conflict. 

You don't hear much about these groups, but they exist and they are important.  Hopefully, you will hear much more as the warring parties find themselves in a stalemate and look for a peaceful alternative.

In addition to the Geneva conference, which brings together international delegates with representatives of the Syrian groups, two international delegations are planning to visit Syria in February.

The first of these is Mussalaha, a Syrian group that is dedicated to reconciling the Syrian factions and that has already interceded to achieve prisoner exchanges, release of hostages and other reconciliation actions at the local level.  Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire is allied with this effort, which has also invited four members of the Global March to Jerusalem, including myself.  The Syrian Christian community is very active in this initiative, along with other Syrian faith communities.  The international delegates will visit Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Idlib as part of the week-long fact-finding mission 10-17 February.

The second delegation is from the International Peace Initiative for Syria
(IPIS) This group has already sent two small fact-finding groups in September and November, 2012, and is now putting together a high-profile delegation to begin the task of negotiation and reconciliation.  This group is also planning to go to Syria in mid-February.

We have no illusions.  The task is not an easy one and there are many obstacles.  However, we have to start somewhere.

Here is how you can help.

None of these missions receives funding from any government source.  Nevertheless, SIHR is funding my attendance at the Geneva convention, including airfare.  The Mussalaha delegation will pay all expenses except airfare.  The International Peace Initiative for Syria has already spent most of its meager funds, and its mission may be unable to pay the way of some major figures to attend.  $1000 will enable one of our delegates to participate in the Mussalaha mission.  $3000 will help all four attend.  Each additional $1000-2000 will enable a major international figure to be in the IPIS delegation (depending upon country of origin). 

Unfortunately, we cannot use existing FPM funds for this purpose.  Until now, Syria is not part of the mission of the Free Palestine Movement, and its funds were donated for another purpose (currently the billboard ad campaign).  We can therefore only use new funds donated specifically for this purpose.  If you wish to help, please
go to www.freepalestinemovement.org/donate.html and donate on line, but please specify that it is for the Syrian Peace Initiative.  As usual, it’s tax deductible.  If you are sending a check, please send it to:


FPM (Syrian Peace Initiative)

405 Vista Heights Rd.

El Cerrito, CA 94530


Many thanks for your continued support for peace in the Middle East.

 

Paul Larudee for the FPM Team

Some other Syrian peace groups dedicated to nonviolence:

The National Coordination Board for Democratic Change

The Syrian Nonviolence Movement and their Facebook page

Nabd


Your tax-exempt donations support our work.  PLEASE DONATE HERE

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October 30, 2012


Clarification of our previous message concerning the Sacramento billboard

To clarify our earlier message below: the Free Palestine Movement is proud to have provided the funds for the Sacramento billboard. We are not the sponsors, however, of this billboard or of this new Stop the Blank Check campaign.  The sponsors are the Council for the National Interest and If Americans Knew.

If you want to donate directly to the Stop the Blank Check campaign to educate the American public via billboards and other media, please send your contribution directly to either of these organizations, with a note specifying that these are for the Stop the Blank Check campaign: These can be made at http://stoptheblankcheck.org/donate.html#.UI7tf4UYIVA or at http://ifamericansknew.org/about_us/donate.html or https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/586/donate_page/donate

The FPM Team



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Public advertising is the new battleground for Palestinian and American interests

October 28, 2012

Here is the new billboard, paid with your donations.  It is viewed from US-50 westbound, just before it meets with I-80, southwest of Sacramento, which is a section of the main highway belt of the city, receiving major traffic.



As you can see, the billboard was designed to appeal to persons not particularly informed about the issue, and not even necessarily sympathetic to Palestine.  This is deliberate: there is no point trying to win people who already sympathize with us.  The billboard has been up for two weeks now, and will remain for another two weeks or more.  It connects to a website that offers additional information and is another donation site.

As we previously announced, our coalition is taking the campaign national, and we expect to announce additional advertisements in other states before long, subject to your donations.  Please continue to support our work by sending your tax-exempt check to the address below, or go to our website www.freepalestinemovement.org/donate.html and donate on line.  It’s tax deductible either way, and we encourage you to sign up for automatic monthly payments to assure continuous funding.  If you are sending a check you can mail it to:

FPM (Bus Ad Campaign)

405 Vista Heights Rd.

El Cerrito, CA 94530

In other news, the anti-Palestinian group Stand With Us has begun its own ads on the sides of buses in San    
Francisco.  These ads are shown and pilloried in the satirical article below:


http://glossynews.com/top-stories/unamerican-world-news/201210280801/bus-ad-tells-congress-dont-support-hamas/

Many thanks for your continued support for Palestinian human rights.

The FPM Team

Your tax-exempt donations support our work.  PLEASE DONATE HERE


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Dear Supporter of Palestinian Rights,

Further to our message of Sept. 6, 2012 (below), we are pleased to report that as a direct result of your donations, the bus ads were extended another four weeks and an additional ad in the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) was introduced in a downtown San Francisco Station. (See photo.)

We and our allies have also contracted for yet another newly designed ad to be displayed soon in our area, and we will send another report as soon as it is public, probably in a week or so.  We intend to keep doing this until your contributions dry up - hopefully never. 

Please continue to support our work by sending your tax-exempt check to the address below, or go to our website www.freepalestinemovement.org/donate.html and donate online.  It’s tax deductible either way, and we encourage you to sign up for automatic monthly payments to assure continuous funding. 

We are now working with several organizations that are in the process of forming a national coalition and strategy for the placement of ads in critical locations throughout the U.S. and in various media.  Hopefully, we will be able to report more fully to you about these developments in our next report.  In addition, we will provide you with a report on donations received and expenditures made as soon as we receive the invoice for the latest contract.  (It is expected that this will result in a total expenditure of most of the funds received to date.)

Many thanks for your continued support for Palestinian human rights.

The FPM Team


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Update on the San Francisco bus ad campaign for Palestinian rights



Dear Friends and Supporters of Palestinian Rights,

Thank you for your generous donations in response to our appeal.  You will be pleased to know that we have raised $11,000 thus far, and additional donations are being received.  In addition, another group, Bay Area Stop 30 Billion, formed in parallel to our effort and has already published the ad that we were considering, as shown at right.

In view of their success in placing the ad so quickly, we have chosen to support their effort, and are therefore forwarding $5000 of your donations to them immediately.  We are also continuing to negotiate with them and other local organizations for use of the remaining funds (and whatever else you might wish to send) for additional ads in our area.  Our hope is still to be able to devote a total of at least $20,000 to the effort, and possibly more.

We will report to you again soon with further progress.  In the meantime, you can continue to support our work by sending your tax-exempt check to the address below, or use our donation page at this website www.freepalestinemovement.org/donate.html and donate online.  It’s tax deductible either way. 
Many thanks for your continued support for Palestinian human rights.

The FPM Team

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Dear Supporter of Palestinian Rights,

You may have heard about the horrible hate ad below that Pamela Geller of the racist anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim "American Freedom Defense Institute" placed on San Francisco buses only a week ago.  Here is the news report from local station ABC 7.

The Free Palestine Movement is one of several SF Bay Area organizations mobilizing to counter this ad with one of our own.  FPM has received pledges of $12,500 toward this effort, but we need another $8000 to put the ad on 50 buses for four weeks.

Time is of the essence!

The issue is still hot and Ms. Geller has unwittingly given us an opportunity, because now the SF Transit Authority cannot refuse our ad without incurring a lawsuit. We promise you that our ad will be a lot more respectful than Ms. Geller’s!

Will you help us raise the remaining $8000 that we need to run the ad?  Please send your tax-exempt check as soon as possible or go to our website www.freepalestinemovement.org/donate.html and donate online.  It’s tax deductible either way.  Every penny of your donation will go to the ad campaign until it is fully paid. 

Many thanks for your continued support for Palestinian human rights.

The FPM Team







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