Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Gulamhusein A. Abba

Walter Hrozenchik, an 80 years old  multifaceted man (see his obituary at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newstimes/obituary.aspx?n=walter-hrozenchik&pid=155716134) passed away on the night of Jan 29 at Laurel Ridge Health Care Center .

He was a war veteran:  He served in the US Navy during the Korean Conflict aboard the U.S.S. Dixie. During his enlistment, he visited Hiroshima, Japan. Witnessing the results of the nuclear explosion there was transformative for him. He became an avid anti-war peace activist.

He was best known in Danbury for his anti-war activism and as the producer of Earth Matters, a weekly TV program.

He was a fixture in front of the Danbury Library for years, standing there evening after evening, sunshine, rain or snow,  protesting the Gulf war and other wars and wars in general. 

He used to organize vigils in remembrance of the victims of Hiroshima atomic bombing by USA. And, long years back, when hardly anyone talked about it, he campaigned against the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant at Buchanan, NY, within a 25 mile radius of which Danbury falls, pointing out the dangers it posed to millions of people.

To get the full measure of the man, it should be noted that he protested:
against  the sanctions on Iraq in the 90s (on the ground that they were killing innocent children without having any effect on Saddam and his family); 

against the 1991 Operation Desert Storm following Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait (on the ground that a peaceful resolution had been offered by Iraq but was spurned by the US); 

against the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by the “coalition of the willing”, led by US, in relation to alleged possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction and alleged imminent attack on the US by Saddam Hussein(on the ground that there was no evidence of stockpiling of these weapons by Iraq and no evidence of an imminent attack); 

against the continued US military presence and operations in Iraq even after the official cessation of combat operations 0n May 1; 

against the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in Manhattan (on the ground that Afghanistan had nothing to do with the said terrorist attack and, in addition, the Taliban had expressed its willingness to hand over Osama bin Laden to a mutually acceptable third country, but the US had rejected the offer)

He protested against these wars before they started and even when they were in full swing. These protests were not easy when the country was seemingly awash with American flags flying from every household and every car.

He was given the finger by drivers who drove past. Obscenities were hurled at him. He was called a traitor. One irate driver even attempted to run over him and Walter barely escaped.

Walter did not let any of this faze him. He had the courage of is convictions and he returned to his post in front of the Danbury Library with more signs and more fliers.

In addition to conveying his message through such vigils and protests, in 1987 he started producing and airing every week a 60 minute program, Earth Matters, at 7 pm every Wednesday, on the Public Access Chanel 23 of Comcast. He then  put together a network, and soon Earth Matters was being aired in all of Connecticut and beyond through cable companies that operated in those areas.

In the Comcast studio he produced and aired great shows of the kind that were not seen on mainstream media.

Shows on women’s suffrage, on animal and human rights and environmentalism, on the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, on the Iraq war, on Israel-Palestinian conflict.

One of the most controversial shows he aired was about the 1967 Israeli attack on USS Liberty, a lightly armed surveillance ship, while it was in international waters off the coast of Gaza during the Israeli Six Day War with Egypt and Jordan over Palestinian territory – an attack which resulted in 34 US sailors being killed and 174 injured, many badly.

A memorial service for Walter was held on Saturday, February 11 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury, 24 Clapboard Ridge Road, Danbury.

Present in the packed hall of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation were family members and, among others,  Lynn Taborsak, Dave King and Candiann of Comcast Cable Vision, Tony Barrett (he hosted many of the Earth Matters episodes) , Robert Garavel, Michael Toto (he now heads, with Bill Collins, Chapter 18/ local Veterans for Peace Org formerly chaired by Walter), Tracy, Andrew Ziegler, David Bonan and myself, a longtime friend of Walter, his companion in peace vigils and his helper in the production of Earth Matters and its distribution.  
An online  Memorial Guest Book for Walter has been created for leaving messages and memories. It can be accessed at:  http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/NewsTimes/guestbook.aspx?n=Walter-Hrozenchik&pid=155716134&cid=full&eid=sp_gbapprove


by Gulamhusein A. Abba

“Palestinians who have adopted non-violent forms of resistance are ignored.
Khader Adnan, who has yet to be charged with any crime, who has gone nearly
two months on hunger-strike, is still not ‘Gandhi-enough’ for the New York Times;
his selfless protest against the administrative detention of himself and other Palestinian detainees has garnered little sympathy from the West’s laundry-list
of non-violent enthusiasts” – Roqayah

“Israel denied Khader any fairness or decency, but maybe the rest of humanity
will show more mercy.” -- Randa Adnan, the wife of detained Khader Adnan

Many are the times the question “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi” been asked. And many are the times an answer has been given. The latest deserves attention. Appearing under the name of Roqayah the following appeared on February 16,2012 at  http://frustratedarab.com/2012/02/16/where-is-the-palestinian-gandhi-and-other-stale-adages/  At the end of the article are links to  four excellent articles on the subject. 

Where Is The Palestinian Gandhi?
And Other Stale Adages
by Roqayah Chamseddine
February 16, 2012

Protests calling for Khader Adnan's release have been held across the occupied West Bank and in Gaza City [REUTERS]

Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?  The non-violent heroin, the passive resister? The Palestinian who withstands blow after blow from Israel’s industry of occupation, yet refuses to strike back?

It is a fairly popular brain-teaser tossed around amongst orientalist’s; the Thomas Friedman’s, Nick Kristof’s and other backseat taxi-cab reporters.
The Palestinian prophet’s of peace are many. They have been jailed, taken captive by Israeli forces in the darkest of hours, routinely denied due process by Israeli courts, shot at close range with tear-gas canisters, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Their villages have been ransacked, their homes occupied by Israeli settlers armed and often trained by the Israeli military. Palestinian non-violent resisters have gone on hunger-strikes, most recently of which was Khader Adnan, who is entering his 61st day on hunger-strike, who lays emaciated, dying, and chained to an Israeli hospital bed.

 “Protests have been held to support [Khader Adnan] around the world,” writes Nathan Stuckey, of the International Solidarity Movement:
“Hundreds of Palestinians have joined hunger strikes in solidarity with him.  Today, in Beit Hanoun, we marched in solidarity with him.  We gathered by the half destroyed Beit Hanoun Agricultural College, we passed out posters of Khader Adnan, we raised the Palestinian flag, and we set off into the buffer zone.  Above us were three Israel Apaches, a drone, and an observation balloon, in front of us was a giant concrete wall with towers full of soldiers, and a jeep and a tank on a hill.”

In the village of Bil’in, a Palestinian village struggling to avoid being ethnically cleansed, Abdallah Abu Rahmah was convicted in an Israeli military court of incitement and “organizing illegal demonstrations.” Israel has annexed close to 60% of Bil’in, destroying much the villages olive groves and resources, and the villagers remain defiant in spite of Israel’s colonial ambitions.

In Sheikh Jarrah, a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem where Israeli forces have arrested hundreds of protesters, demonstrations are held against Israel’s routine house demolitions, discrimination and evictions:“On February 13th, 2012 at 7:00 AM, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, accompanied by the police, demolished a Palestinian community center and playground in Wadi Hilweh, Silwan.”

Palestinians who have adopted non-violent forms of resistance are ignored. Khader Adnan, who has yet to be charged with any crime, who has gone nearly 2 months on hunger-strike, is still not ‘Gandhi-enough’ for the New York Times; his selfless protest against the administrative detention of himself and other Palestinian detainees has garnered little sympathy from the West’s laundry-list of non-violent enthusiasts.

Yet this is not a plea for understanding or sympathy. The Palestinians are not looking for a feature in the mainstream media, nor are they sitting on their hands pleading for you to understand; they continue to withstand Israel’s apartheid with dignity regardless.

As Khader Adnan and thousands of Palestinians like him face imminent death inside the walls of Israel’s prisons and behind the wall’s of Israel’s brutal occupation we should ask instead: Where is the international community?

Randa Adnan, the wife of detained Khader, still holds on to the hope that her husbands struggle will not end in his death:
“Israel denied Khader any fairness or decency, but maybe the rest of humanity will show more mercy.

About the author:Roqayah Chamseddine is a US based Lebanese-American journalist, commentator and international activist; she was a member of the first Gaza Freedom March which took place inDecember of 2009 in Cairo, Egypt.During the winter of 2010-2011 she independently documented the lives of men, women and children living in the Palestinian Refugee Camps of Lebanon including the camps of Sabra and Shatila and Burj el Barajneh. She is a 2011 University graduate, holding a Bachelors degree in both Political Science/Pre-Law and Journalism with emphasis in International Criminal Law; she will be seeking an MA in Journalism in 2012 in Australia.She is currently working on her first book, We Refuse To Perish, meant to document historical background and personal accounts of events in Lebanon, specifically Southern Lebanon, prior to and after the 2006 July War.

See also:
The Myth of Gandhi and Palestinian Reality By Ali Abunimah

The Invisible Gandhi By Samah Sabawi

Between Violence and Non Violence By Amira Hass

Should Arafat do the Gandhi? By Gulamhusein Abba

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Confronting intimidation, working for justice in Palestine

Introduction: As 2012 begins in earnest, Ilan Pappe’s words arecertainly worth reflecting on. For too long have our leaders particularly, but also much of the public, been held in thrall by the dramatic Israel tableau – biblical entitlement, land redemption, the light of the world – without any regard for the real human drama going on behind the pastiche of concocted stories. Only very recently have the cracks begun to show a very ugly side to the Jewish narrative of longing for Zion and another people’s narrative that has been deliberately hidden and demonised. Aside from the gross injustice Israel’s creation had perpetrated on the indigenous Palestinian population and society of the time and which its subsequent actions have never attempted to make right, Israel’s apartheid character is being exposed every day, and with it the quest for Jewish supremacy. It is impossible to ignore when even Israel’s politicians are quite blatant about their intentions to make all of the land – historic Palestine - exclusively Jewish. 

 For more than 60 years, most Palestinians have been living as prisoners and pariahs in their own land or as stateless people caught frozen in time in the refugee camps still clinging to their inalienable right to return home. Others in the Diaspora may have been more fortunate, but it does not make the pain of loss, indignity and separation any less. If Israel hoped to see the Palestinian identity ground into the soil of their homeland or wither away waiting to return, it is beginning to realise that no matter what atrocities or hardships it imposes on the Palestinians, these long-maligned people are not about to go quietly into the sunset. Millions of Palestinian men, women and children have not forgotten, will not forget and remain steadfast in their determination to get justice. Finally, public opinion is seeing Israel for what it is, but timidity and intimidation still prevent a good number from speaking out and holding Israel accountable. Too many of our politicians, journalists and other public figures fear that their positions, ambitions and good standing will be compromised if they criticise Israel, so they “cower” says Ilan Pappe. Turning public sentiment into political action is the challenge we face today. It is not impossible. 

Sonja Karkar 
Editor http://australiansforpalestine.com

Confronting intimidation, working for justice in Palestine
 by Ilan Pappe
The Electronic Intifada
9 February 2012

Demonstration in commemoration of the killing of Mustafa Tamimi,

 Nabi Salih, West Bank (16 December 2011). 
(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

If we had a wish list for 2012 as Palestinians and friends of Palestine, one of the top items ought to be our hope that we can translate the dramatic shift in recent years in world public opinion into political action against Israeli policies on the ground.

We know why this has not yet materialized: the political, intellectual and cultural elites of the West cower whenever they even contemplate acting according to their own consciences as well as the wishes of their societies.

 This last year was particularly illuminating for me in that respect. I encountered that timidity at every station in the many trips I took for the cause I believe in. And these personal experiences were accentuated by the more general examples of how governments and institutions caved in under intimidation from Israel and pro-Zionist Jewish organizations.

A catalogue of complicity

Of course there were US President Barack Obama’s [1] pandering appearances in front of AIPAC, [2] the Israeli lobby, and his administration’s continued silence and inaction in face of Israel’s colonization of the West Bank, siege and killings in Gaza, ethnic cleansing of the Bedouins [3] in the Naqab [4] and new legislation discriminating against Palestinians in Israel[5].

The complicity continued with the shameful retreat of Judge Richard Goldstone [6] from his rather tame report on the Gaza massacre [7] — which began three years ago today. And then there was the decision of European governments, especially Greece, [8] to disallow campaigns of human aid and solidarity from reaching Gaza by sea.

On the margins of all of this were prosecutions in France [9] against activists calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) [10] and a few u-turns by some groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Europe caving in under pressure and retracting an earlier decision to cede connections with Israel.

Learning firsthand how pro-Israel intimidation works

In recent years, I have learned firsthand how intimidation of this kind works. In November 2009 the mayor of Munich was scared to death by a Zionist lobby group and cancelled my lecture there. More recently, the Austrian foreign ministry withdrew its funding for an event in which I participated, and finally it was my own university, the University of Exeter, once a haven of security in my eyes, becoming frigid when a bunch of Zionist hooligans claimed I was a fabricator and a self-hating Jew.

Every year since I moved there, Zionist organizations in the UK and the US have asked the university to investigate my work and were brushed aside. This year a similar appeal was taken, momentarily one should say, seriously. One hopes this was just a temporary lapse; but you never know with an academic institution (bravery is not one of their hallmarks).

Standing up to pressure 

But there were examples of courage — local and global — as well: the student union of the University of Surrey under heavy pressure to cancel my talk [11] did not give in and allowed the event to take place.

The Episcopal Bishops Committee on Israel/Palestine in Seattle faced the wrath of many of the city’s synagogues and the Israeli Consul General in San Francisco, Akiva Tor, [12] for arranging an event with me in September 2011 in Seattle’s Town Hall, but bravely brushed aside this campaign of intimidation. The usual charges of “anti-Semitism” did not work there — they never do where people refuse to be intimidated.

The outgoing year was also the one in which Turkey [13] imposed military and diplomatic sanctions on Israel in response to the latter’s refusal to take responsibility for the attack on the Mavi Marmara [14]. Turkey’s action was in marked contrast to the European and international habit of sufficing with toothless statements at best, and never imposing a real price on Israel for its actions.

Do not cave in to intimidation

 I do not wish to underestimate the task ahead of us. Only recently did we learn how much money is channeled to this machinery of intimidation whose sole purpose is to silence criticism on Israel. Last year, the Jewish Federations of North America [15] and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs [16] — leading pro-Israel lobby groups — allocated $6 million to be spent over three years to fight BDS campaigns and smear the Palestine solidarity movement. This is not the only such initiative under way.

But are these forces as powerful as they seem to be in the eyes of very respectable institutions such as universities, community centers, churches, media outlets and, of course, politicians?

What you learn is that once you cower, you become prey to continued and relentless bashing until you sing the Israeli national anthem. If once you do not cave in, you discover that as time goes by, the ability of Zionist lobbies of intimidation around the world to affect you gradually diminishes.

Reducing the influence of the United States 

 Undoubtedly the centers of power that fuel this culture of intimidation lie to a great extent in the United States, which brings me to the second item on my 2012 wish list: an end to the American dominance in the affairs of Israelis and Palestinians. I know this influence cannot be easily curbed.

But the issue of timidity and intimidation belong to an American sphere of activity where things can, and should be, different. There will be no peace process or even Pax Americana in Palestine if the Palestinians, under whatever leadership, would agree to allow Washington to play such a central role. It is not as if US policy-makers can threaten the Palestinians that without their involvement there will be no peace process.

In fact history has proved that there was no peace process — in the sense of a genuine movement toward the restoration of Palestinian rights — precisely because of American involvement. Outside mediation may be necessary for the cause of reconciliation in Palestine. But does it have to be American?

If elite politics are needed — along with other forces and movements — to facilitate a change on the ground, such a role should come from other places in the world and not just from the United States.

One would hope that the recent rapprochement between Hamas [17] and Fatah [18] — and the new attempt to base the issue of Palestinian representation on a wider and more just basis — will lead to a clear Palestinian position that would expose the fallacy that peace can only be achieved with the Americans as its brokers.

Dwarfing the US role will disarm American Zionist bodies and those who emulate them in Europe and Israel of their power of intimidation.

Letting the other America play a role 

This will also enable the other America, that of the civil society, the Occupy Wall Street movement, [19] the progressive campuses, the courageous churches, African-Americans marginalized by mainstream politics, Native Americans and millions of other decent Americans who never fell captive to elite propaganda about Israel and Palestine, to take a far more central role in “American involvement” in Palestine.

That would benefit America as much as it will benefit justice and peace in Palestine. But this long road to redeeming all of us who want to see justice begins by asking academics, journalists and politicians in the West to show a modicum of steadfastness and courage in the face of those who want to intimidate us. Their bark is far fiercer than their bite.

The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.

[1] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/barack-obama>
[2] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/aipac>
[3] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/bedouin>
[4] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/naqab>
[5] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinians-israel>
[6] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/richard-goldstone>
[7] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/goldstone-report>
[8] <http://electronicintifada.net/content/how-greece-abandoned-palestine/10171>
[9] <http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ali-abunimah/blow-israel-french-bds-activists-acquitted-crime-calling-boycott>
[11] <http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ben-white/british-campus-watch-organisation-student-rights-attacks-palestine-solidarity>
[13] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/turkey>
[14] <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/mavi-marmara>[15]<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/jewish-federations-north-america>
[16]<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/jewish-council-public-affairs> [17]<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/hamas>

ORIGINAL LINK: http://electronicintifada.net/content/confronting-intimidation-working-justice-palestine/10746
AFP LINK: http://www.australiansforpalestine.net/58286#more-58286