27 February 2010

Israeli Apartheid Week - Beirut, March 1-6

The first-ever Israeli Apartheid Week to be held in Lebanon kicks off this Monday, at the American University in Beirut. AUB joins events in 40 other cities worldwide in a rapidly expanding international expression of solidarity with Palestine. Lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, film screenings, and a concert will explore the ways and means of Apartheid against the Palestinian people and Palestine's methods for coping with, challenging and overcoming the racist Israeli system.

In conjunction with the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) Campaign against Israel, the week's events will "educate, inspire and mobilize the next generation of students in the spirit of resistance to apartheid and injustice." For more information, visit Israeli Apartheid Week - Beirut here or check out the event on Facebook here.

Want to attend? Here's the week's schedule:
Monday, March 1, 2010
6pm : West Hall, Bathish
A poetry reading with Mourid Barghouti, followed by discussion (Arabic)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
12 noon : West Hall, Auditorium B
Student Round Table, Mapping Israeli Environmental Destruction (English)
Green Line
6pm : College Hall B-1
Connecting Struggles Against Zionism and Imperialism (Arabic)
Nahla al-Shahhal, Hana Ibrahim and Amer Jubran

Wednesday, March 3, 2010
12 noon : West Hall, Conference Room, Third Floor
Student Round Table, Israeli Apartheid (English)
Matthew Cassel, Electronic Intifada
3:30pm : College Hall B-1
Film Screening, Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony
A documentary film depicting the struggles of black South Africans against the injustices of Apartheid
5:30pm : Break with refreshments
6pm : College Hall, B-1
Historical and Contemporary Responses to South African and Israeli Apartheid (English)
Natasha Thandiwe Vally (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa), followed by a discussion moderated by Noel Ignatiev.

Thursday, March 4, 2010
3:30pm : West Hall, Auditorium A
Film Screening, Sling Shot Hip Hop
Discussion led by Shadia Mansour, Lowkey and Amal Kaawash
5:30pm : Break with refreshments
6pm : West Hall, Auditorium A
Women and the Struggle: A call to the next generation
Soha Bechara, being introduced by Jean Said Makdisi

Friday, March 5, 2010
Art Workshop and Lunch in Berj el-Barejneh refugee camp
Juan Fuentes
12 noon : West Hall, Auditorium C
Student Workshop, Resistance Strategies and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Rami Zurayk and Rania Masri
6:00pm : West Hall, Common Room
Concert: Free Palestine!
Shadia Mansour, Lowkey and Amal Kaawash
Admission: 5,000 LL

Saturday, March 6, 2010
12 noon : Ta Marbouta, Hamra
Presentation on the Egyptian wall and discussion of methods of confrontation
Stop Gaza Wall Campaign

19 February 2010

Protest disrupts Amre Moussa lecture, calls regimes "collaborationist"

Protesters rejected the League of Arab States' complicity in building the Wall of Shame during a lecture yesterday by the Secretary-General, Amre Moussa. Two banners, reading "Freedom for Gaza... Freedom for Palestine" and "Down with the Wall of Shame and the Collaborationist Regimes" were unfurled for several minutes before security seized the banners, as the demonstration drew applause and shouts from the audience.

The League of Arab States, a coalition of 22 Arab countries, has not condemned the Wall of Shame's construction. Along with most Arab governments, the League is complying with the Israeli Occupation and inhumane persecution of the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants.

The protesters, most of whom are AUB students, initiated a walk-out after proclaiming freedom for Palestine.

Amre Moussa appeared unmoved. "They are right - Gaza should not be abandoned. But there are a lot of confusion (sic)." This confusion may be his own. During the question-and-answer period, the Secretary-General alleged that the Wall's construction is merely a matter of business. "Ninety-nine percent [of Arab businesses] reject, refuse to deal with Israel," Moussa said. Of the one percent, "those cases are just exceptions... The rule is no normalization with Israel."

This is a false assertion. While the Arab Contractors are building the Wall, the Egyptian government facilitates the project, according the AC legal rights and heavy security in attempt to maintain the Wall's secrecy. If it was in Mubarak's interest, a 10-kilometer wall is easily forbidden by a regime that in the past has jailed college-age bloggers for insulting the Egyptian President. The Wall is the cherry on top of the years of assistance Egypt has provided Israel in the isolation, and then blockade, of the Gaza Strip. It is an unmitigated, unquestionable act of collaboration with the Zionist state.

As frequently as politicians such as Amre Moussa affirm their commitment to Palestine's freedom, their actions exhibit a disdain for the rights and humanity of the Palestinian people. By attempting to pass off the Wall of Shame as a regrettable business relationship, the Secretary-General absolves the League of Arab States from any responsibility - where the League could object to the project and work for its termination.

As his lecture concluded, Moussa informed the audience of his newly-acquired souvenirs. "I understand that the banners that were calling for the rights of the Palestinians are still here, and will be presented to me as a gift - which I accept."

16 February 2010

[video] Cairo demonstration against Wall of Shame

Down with Mubarak's Wall of SHAME! from Hossam on Vimeo.

"Down with Mubarak, Netanyahu's dog," read signs at the Cairo demonstration. While Mubarak's government has repeatedly disassociated itself from the Wall of Shame's secretive construction, Al-Masry Al-Youm, and Egyptian-based news organization, has confirmed the subterranean Wall. Built of steel panels lowered 18 meters into the ground, the Wall will strangle the smuggling tunnels that have kept Gaza alive during the sustained blockade... [read more]

[photos] Sit-in closes road outside Egyptian Embassy

15 February 2010

Sit-in closes road outside Egyptian Embassy

Falastine Horra shut down the road in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Beirut on Saturday, demonstrating against the Wall of Shame's construction on the southern border of Gaza. The protest was coordinated with a demonstration outside the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate in Cairo, with upwards of 300 in attendance.

In Beirut, protesters marched from Shatila refugee camp to execute a peaceful sit-in at the Egyptian Embassy, closing Camille Chamoun Avenue for half an hour. Traffic on the prominent thoroughfare just south of Cola taxi park was funneled to a single lane, intermittently allowed past the embassy beneath a large Palestinian flag.

The sit-in's disruption brought the Wall of Shame to a popular consciousness threatened by normalization of the Occupation and complicity with the daily assault on Gaza's inhabitants. Protesters decried Hosni Mubarak's betrayal of the Palestinian cause, the international community's blind eye to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and the United States' influence in the Arab regimes' complicity.

Protesters in Cairo denounce the Wall of Shame. Courtesy of Tabula Gaza

"Down with Mubarak, Netanyahu's dog," read signs at the Cairo demonstration. While Mubarak's government has repeatedly disassociated itself from the Wall of Shame's secretive construction, Al-Masry Al-Youm, and Egyptian-based news organization, has confirmed the subterranean Wall. Built of steel panels lowered 18 meters into the ground, the Wall will strangle the smuggling tunnels that have kept Gaza alive during the sustained blockade.

A local driver on the Sinai peninsula, which abuts Gaza most significantly at the typically closed Rafah border crossing, described shuttling employees of The Arab Contractors, an Egyptian construction group tasked with the Wall of Shame's construction. "Two months ago, an engineer hired me to drive engineers, technicians and workers every day from Al-Arish city to the town of Rafah," he said. The construction site has also been affirmed by Electronic Intifada, BBC News, and Ma'an News Agency.

The coordinated protests mark the beginning of a joint movement in Cairo and Beirut to inspire a popular condemnation of the Wall of Shame where Arab and international governments have hesitated to raise a finger. Falastine Horra will continue to initiate actions in Beirut in conjunction with other activist movements in the city, in Cairo, and internationally.

12 February 2010

Protest the Wall of Shame, Feb 13

Tomorrow a protest will be held demonstrating against Egypt's construction of the Wall of Shame on Gaza's southern border. At 11am, demonstrators will gather at the cemetery in Shatila camp, beginning a march to the entrance of the Egyptian embassy.

Courtesy of Ma'an Images

The Wall of Shame is nearing completion. Built along the southern border of the Gaza Strip near Egypt's Rafah crossing, the covert project spans 10-11 kilometers where the majority of the tunnels bringing goods into the Strip are located. Massive steel panels, manufactured in the United States, will be lowered 18 meters into the ground by The Arab Contractors, an Egypt-based construction company. The Arab Contractors will then pump saline water from the sea into the tunnels.

Since Israel imposed a severe import and export blockade on Gaza in 2007, smuggling through the tunnels has been the Strip's lifeline. Weapons, but also medicine, food, industrial materials, agricultural supplies, and simple goods like textiles and cigarettes bypassed Israel's and Egypt's closed checkpoints. Gaza Gateway, an online organization monitoring the blockade, calls the tunnel operations “one of the largest branches of Gaza’s economy”:

• Two-thirds of Gaza's imports come through the tunnels

• Today, trucks carrying imports into Gaza are 25% of what was permitted in 2007

• Truckloads materially can not meet Gaza's needs, forcing the use of smuggling tunnels

Courtesy of Gaza Gateway

Approximately 30,000 Gazans stand to lose their jobs from the tunnels' closure, and the effect upon Gaza's livelihood is inestimable. Moreover, the Wall of Shame will cause massive damage to the Strip's aquifer, contaminating the already limited supply of clean water for Gaza's 1.5 million residents.

Israel is trying to strangle Gaza's inhabitants out of existence. While claiming that the blockade is necessary to prevent the rise of Hamas, and that smuggling operations must be halted to disarm Hamas' resistance, the Zionist government has created the social and economic conditions in which Gaza is left no alternative but to smuggle in its daily bread.

A smuggler transports livestock into Gaza. Courtesy of Angry Arab

Hosni Mubarak's regime is no longer just complicit - Egypt is actively strengthening the Occupation, assisting in the murder of Gaza's people. This is beyond shameful - and the shame is on all Arab regimes, and the international community, for embracing the Wall's construction with silence.

Therefore, We must speak up.

Falastine Horra, in collaboration with numerous other activist groups and individuals in Beirut, held a protest on January 23 outside the Egyptian embassy.

A protester holds her shoe towards the Egyptian embassy. Courtesy of JustImage.Org

Police attempted to disburse the spirited protest with violence.

But, We shall continue to gather, continue to raise Our voices in lieu of the timid, servile governments that permit the massacre of Gaza's people. Join us tomorrow!

09 February 2010

Falastine Horra - Free Palestine

Sixty-two years after its villages were razed, its olive groves set aflame, its people set adrift on a refugee's road, Palestine is still alive.

One year has passed since the massacre in Gaza, and for all its sputterings the international community has not acted. Yet with the blockade in full force, an Arab-constructed wall erected on Gaza's southern border, and continuing airstrikes by the Occupier, Palestine remains defiant.

A night past the daily torments of occupation. Yesterday, a farmer was denied a fair share of water for their crop. Yesterday, a concrete wall prevented a family sharing a meal. Yesterday, a refugee could not find employment in a country that does not want them. But all the hardships of tomorrow cannot quell Palestine's resistance.

Today we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Palestine, still defiant, still resisting. We stand in solidarity with all those who reject injustice, despise despotism, dream of a human freedom, and who see that freedom's realization will not come of governments. Because Palestine is more than just a land.

The governments have failed. Arab regimes stand mute by the travesties of Occupation, or willingly enforce it in their own lands. Saad Hariri deplores Israeli aggression against Lebanon while his government denies civil rights and fosters a discriminatory society against Palestinian refugees. Abdullah and Rania, the humanitarian darlings of the Middle East, enforce an autocratic reality, treating half their people like unwanted tenants. The Gulf, awash in oil, has unabashedly exchanged principles for profit. The wizened, fractured Palestinian Authority has become an accomplice to the occupation of its own people. And leading the despots, the Mubarak regime in Egypt - long at the beck and call of the West and submissive to the Israeli Occupation, Mubarak has buried the Nasserite tradition of resistance beneath a Wall.

Gaza is under siege. For nearly three years, a complete economic blockade has denied the import of food, medical supplies, livestock and agricultural wares, industrial materials and the flow of exports, strangling the already impoverished Strip. Tunnels, dug beneath the southern border into Sinai, have prevented starvation, saved the sick, and slowed the collapse of Gaza's economy. But the chokehold tightens.

Covert construction of a Wall is nearing completion on Gaza's southern border. It runs underground - panels of allegedly unbreakable steel will penetrate eighteen meters beneath the desert, spanning more than ten kilometers to crush the flow of goods into the Strip. Yet unlike the miles of grey concrete in the West Bank, this Wall of Shame is built by an Arab regime. As the steel panels lower into the earth, we hear the applause of the international community, we hear words of friendship whispered into Mubarak's ear by the Occupier, and from the Arab regimes we hear - nothing.

But Palestine will resist! Today we all look to it as our home, for if in our cities and villages we do not have walls and soldiers, we still are under Occupation. Our governments, even if they do not call themselves Zionist, still carry out Zionism's aims. And so our lands, no matter their names, are still not our own. Our neighbors, even if they do not dream of return, are still denied their freedom to think, to express, and to create. For Palestine's freedom is Our Freedom.

And so we call upon our comrades, stand up! Our sisters and brothers in Palestine, in Egypt, in the whole world - tear down this Wall of Shame, tear down the walls imprisoning your freedom! We reject Zionism, we reject imperialism, and we reject this sour and shameful complicity. Sixty years on, and still we resist - and still we dream.

Falastine horra, wa kulna ahrar!