CODEPINK Returns From Delegations To Gaza/Palestine/Israel
Another delegation from Code Pink Women For Peace and other organizations brought humanitarian and emotional support to women and children in Gaza. According to human rights groups, the children of Gaza are suffering physically and psychologically for the continuing siege and the 22 day Israeli military attack last December and January. That attack killed more than 1440 Palestinians and injured nearly 5000. We talk with Code Pink organizer Helen Schiff and legal activist Dennis James about their experiences in Israel, Gaza and Palestine.
Dennis got into Israel through Egypt and delivered playground equipment. As we’ll hear in this interview, the 1.5 million people of Gaza are deprived of basic needs and humanitarian aid that’s stopped from getting into Gaza. Supplies are warehoused and food is left to rot at the hands of the IDF.
For the first time, Americans are partnering with Jewish and Arab Israelis to demand that the Israeli government end the siege. Earlier this year, we talked with Code Pink organizers about how the Israelis wear down the fighting spirit of the people in Gaza by forbidding pasta, jam, candy and any building materials. Desalinization plants were bombed, and children have kidney disease because Israelis have siphoned off the good water and there’s too much salt seeping into the wells.
So far Code Pink has coordinated five delegations into Gaza in the past two months, bringing nearly 200 activists from around the world to witness the destruction of the Palestinian people. Meanwhile, an aid ship heading to Gaza was intercepted by Israeli forces. Twenty one human rights workers were abducted, including former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Check out Mondoweiss (Philip Weiss’s blog)
Dennis James and Helen Schiff:
- Dennis James: On May 29-June 4, I was on a Code Pink Delegation to Gaza. 66 persons, 2 buses and a truckload of playground equipment and we gained entry through the Rafah crossing into Gaza Strip.
- The Southern end of Gaza; Israel often bombs the area. They estimate 1000 tunnels in the area.
- Helen Schiff: We did not get into Gaza through Erez crossing. We thought it was important to get publicity on that. We brought playground equipment.
- It’s important for them (Palestinians) to know that people are supporting them. Jimmy Carter was in Israel at the time and he had known about our attempt. Time magazine quoted Carter mentioning the delegation being refused entry.
- They don’t have to give you a reason for not entering.
- There’s a sinister twist when critically sick Palestinians are allowed to leave Gaza for medical treatment. They have to collaborate with authorities as a condition to get medical help. Anyone who gets surgery is suspect by the people they live in having had to collaborate with them. They ask people to rat on their neighbors basically.
- Everything looked as it did when on January 22. They (IDF) had a tank encampment 20 meters away that was doing target practice on the hospitals
- Fishermen, if they go beyond 2 kilometer, arbitrarily designated line by the Israeli defense force, are fired upon.
- No exports, only essential medicine and food is allowed in. It’s clear that Israel is trying to crush their identity as a people and try to reject any form of sovereignty they may exercise over their own fate.
- They’re (Palestinians) not having it. They’re determined to govern and provide for themselves. They have a literacy of 95-98 percent. 44 Percent between 18-24 attend university.
- Our trip was run also by Israeli Women’s Coalition for Peace. I wanted to see Israel, and the best way to describe it is there’s always a catch 22, no matter what. Israel says, we don’t withhold anything from Gaza, we deliver everything. They drop it off and then the Israeli Defense Force decides to send it to Gaza. The stuff rots in the warehouse. About 1/4 of the supplies are let in to Gaza.
- Dov Weinglass, an Israel official, says we’re going to put those people on a diet.
- The vindictiveness of the IDF was to bomb and kill as many animals as they could, so there’s no protein sources in the country.
- Jaffa now is being gentrified into a Williamsburg Brooklyn area for Israeli artists.
- I believe this is a time where there is a crack in the wall where ordinary Americans are beginning to listen. The Gazans want public attention, more than they even want the supplies, reconstruction material or money.
- Book: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe
Guests – Code Pink member Helen Schiff and legal activist Dennis James. Both had boots on the ground in Gaza and give their first hand accounts of the devastating aftermath.
Recently FBI Director Robert Mueller defended the practice of using informants to monitor mosques in the United States, despite being heavily criticized by attorneys, and Muslim American leaders. Last month a judge ordered the FBI to submit 100 documents detailing the Bureau’s surveillance of Muslim leaders in California, which revealed the FBI paid informants to be provocateurs. These cases fit into patterns where paid informants (often a former felon) entice innocent people into a crime, not unlike the Liberty 7 case, the Fort Dix case and the recent Memorial Day weekend terror plot in upstate New York. In the New York case, Mike German, a former FBI agent of 16 years and now an attorney with the ACLU told Law and Disorder, they “could have wrapped up without making it seem like they’re saving New York City from this terrible destruction.” The media then reports the story which will often prop up the ongoing “War on Terror.”
- Council of Islamic Organizations sent a letter to Attny Gen. Eric Holder complaining about the FBI infiltration and harassment
- We are baffled at this time, there is a great deal of surplus of rhetoric by the current administration and a deficit at the policy level.
- When Mueller says the FBI will escalate surveillance of mosques and the Obama Administration is silent, that disturbs me.
- This is legal religious bigotry; Mueller is lying in regard to they’re not surveilling the mosques but only the suspected individuals.
- I have stopped using the word provocateur, I shuffle between using the word provocateur and predator.
- Those targeted have pending immigration and naturalization files or converting from H1 visa to resident visa.
- When our community was doing outreach with public officers, I was in the FBI offices during 2003-2005, and I realized then I was being tailgated.
- My phone was tapped. A few times the phone automatically dialed the local police.
- My hope as a Muslim American is that good American people will stand up in these challenging times.
Guest – Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California