Remembering Gaza and Rachel on her 38th birthday, a message from Cindy Corrie

APRIL 10 – Remembering Gaza and Rachel – on her 38th birthday

Today is my daughter Rachel Corrie’s 38th birthday. In Olympia, Washington, where she grew up, we will mark the occasion with a gathering to inaugurate our Rachel Corrie Foundation (RCF) Gaza Committee. Rachel was killed in Rafah, Gaza, March 16, 2003, as she engaged in nonviolent direct action to challenge mass demolitions of Palestinian homes by the Israeli military. In the intervening years, our family, our community, and the Rachel Corrie Foundation have connected with Gaza in different ways. We have partnered with others throughout the U.S. and world who have made  those connections, as well.

There have been delegation trips to the Gaza Strip to meet with families Rachel  knew and organizations with which she worked. RCF programs have provided for a Gaza student to study at The Evergreen State College, for a recipient of our Leadership Studies Fellowship to learn and to teach in our community, and for speakers from Gaza to share their stories firsthand in the U.S. The Olympia-Rafah Solidarity  Mural Project in downtown Olympia has for many years been a visible reminder of our relationship, and at this month’s Olympia Arts Walk on April 28th will feature work from Gaza  artists and others who have contributed to creating the mural and making the connections. RCF Gaza projects have supported the grassroots efforts and imagination of Rachel’s Gaza friends and of Gaza youth who continue to find inspiration and hope in her story. The Gaza Sport Initiative, Remedial Education Project for Learning Disabled Children, and artistic and cultural youth performances through the Palestinian Cultural Palace are current efforts that keep the connections strong.

As we in the U.S. deal with our own challenges, and as terrible conflict continues and worsens in other parts of the Middle East and world, at the Rachel Corrie Foundation we feel a strong need to make sure Gaza is remembered. The people there continue to live with enormous hardship, under blockade and siege, with a failed economy, and with ever increasing threats to their health and safety.

Rachel wrote to me in 2003, “I do think that it’s important to recognize all the zillions of small things we can do for change…small revolutionary things.” Remembering her words, I thank those of you who have reached out to us this month with thoughtful messages and taken your own actions in support of the people of Gaza. Thank you, too, for the critical financial support you’ve sent for our RCF Gaza projects and efforts. We look forward to including you in the work of our new Gaza Committee. Our staff identified a fundraising goal of $15,000 for this period in order to support our current projects for youth and families in Gaza. Through your generosity, we are nearly 2/3 the way there! If you haven’t yet donated, and are able to do so, your support for Gaza on Rachel’s birthday will mean a great deal to all of us and to our colleagues in Gaza.

Many thanks,
Cindy Corrie

Rachel Corrie Foundation For Peace and Justice

How thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women are waging peace

The thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women who marched in Jerusalem and Jericho this month are not only demanding peace from their societies, they are reaching through stereotypes and artificial boundaries to find true partners.

By Riman Barakat

 

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Thousands of women from ‘Women Wage Peace’ march on the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence Jerusalem, October 19, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Less than a year ago a group of Palestinian and Israeli women spent a weekend in Tantur, situated between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, brainstorming what we could possibly do to break the cycle of violence and political stagnation. Everyone had their own personal reason for being there, whether it was the Israeli mothers who had to send their children to war or the Palestinian women who were exhausted by the daily incursions of the Israeli army, checkpoints, and the inability to live freely and imagine a hopeful future for their children. Personally, I felt torn apart having seen Jerusalem split into a hundred pieces, a place that should be the inspiration for coexistence instead oozing with the blood of Palestinians and Israelis on a near daily basis.

Over the last 11 years I have done my best to be involved in any possible initiative that attempts to bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace. Why is Women Wage Peace different? My belief has always been that if any group professes that they will bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace, they must have to want it so much so that they are willing to wed themselves to the cause. These women are of that character; they are unstoppable and determined but most of all, they believe they can create their own future. In order to create a different reality, we believe that we have to be that reality.

“We need to think outside of our surroundings,” Lily kept saying, and together we visualized the March of Hope, a march of togetherness — a cry to the whole world, coming from a mother’s womb, to stop the violence. We resolved not to stop, even in the midst of most terrible acts of violence. We met and shouted out, “ Enough! Enough!” in Arabic, Hebrew and English. We resolved to propose a shared language of hope, of humanity, of an unshakable commitment to peace, and we rejected the language of separation.

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The author, Riman Barakat, addressing the Women Wage Peace rally at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, October 17, 2016. (Gili Getz)

When I stood in front more than 500 women at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam earlier this month, I was not yet sure everyone truly understood or believed what was about to happen two days later — a joint march of thousands of Palestinian and Jewish women. As I called on the mostly Jewish group of women gathered there that day to come join hands with the Palestinian women, I felt the crowd cheering, moved by the thought of Palestinian partnership. Two days later, as the march commenced, a seemingly endless stream of Palestinian women descended from bus after bus, from Nablus, Hebron, East Jerusalem, Jericho, Jenin, Bethlehem. And mind you, they were there to really participate, and participate the did, singing out the words of peace.

We need to allow ourselves to bring down the barriers within and without, to dare to look each other in the eye and see the humanity. A long time has passed with us here and them there. The first step is to breach that psychological barrier and allow ourselves to be welcomed by those we call the “other.” I can’t recall the last time so many Israelis and Palestinians met and walked together. I believe I was much younger then, during the Oslo Accords. Yet after more than 20 years of separation, thousands of women are once again uniting for a common cause. It is a historic moment, and even those who try to ignore it will find it harder and harder to do so as it continues to grow.

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Thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women from ‘Women Wage Peace’ march near the West Bank city of Jericho, October 19, 2016. (Flash90)

When my dear friend Huda Abuarqoub from Hebron stood on the podium at the end of the march outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, declaring loudly, bravely and clearly, “Enough with the myth, I promise you, you have a partner,” it almost felt like a dream, like we were on a different planet. I watched the shock and elation of my Israeli friends. It was as if Huda herself was from another planet. But she was real, here, in the flesh, loud and clear. And everyone saw the magic that morning, only it wasn’t magic. There is a partner and the partner is real. It’s time to stop constantly demanding proof.

Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowye, who came from Liberia to join us in our march, invited the audience to take part in what she called “the open mind challenge,” picking up on what I said earlier in my speech about seeing the humanity of the other. She told us a story from her childhood about an old woman who lived on top of a hill in the forest, whom everyone thought was a witch who ate little children. Leymah’s grandmother insisted on taking the children to visit her. What was the point? The moral of Leymah’s story is that we need to cross those borders within ourselves, to deconstruct the stereotypes we’ve built about each other — an accumulation of many “thin walls,” as she called them. All it takes is one simple act of courage to traverse a border or boundary of fear, to challenge ourselves, and dare to truly meet the other.

What we witnessed on October 19 was an unsurprising surprise, that yes, those on the other side are human beings, full of love, who also want life and peace. Yet there we were, all of us aghast, my Israeli friends and I, as we listened to Huda stating nothing but the obvious. The myth of the evil witch on the top of the hill was shattered right then and there, and the partner for peace was among us, present in every shape and form.

 

Riman Barakat is a Palestinian peace activist, the CEO and founder of Experience Palestine for International Missions and Delegations, and a board member of ALLMEP ( The Alliance for Middle East Peace). Previously she was co-director of IPCRI (Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives) as well as he Palestinian executive director for Breaking the Impasse.

A comprehensive overview on the Palestine/Israel Conflict

The preface of Psyclone states that ‘whatever you see on television, hear on the radio, or read in the newspapers has been, at the very least, allowed. More often than not though, it has been meticulously designed using principles of behavioural psychology and linguistics toward very specific aims. Put another way, if your channels of information are confined to those listed above, then your awareness, your reality, is being manipulated and compromised.

Information that backs up that statement can be found within the extensive appendix of the novel. Talking with people recently has proved the final sentence, and moved me to edit and repost an article written five years ago in 2009, the last time Gaza was experiencing an all-out air attack from one of the most well-equipped armies in the world. As the title of the article says, Those Who Forget History Are Condemned to Repeat it

How to Deal With Raised Levels of Radioactivity in the Food Chain

1297541458598_ORIGINALThere has recently been an uptick in discussions regarding elevated levels of radiation in seafood as a result of the Fukushima incident. Prompting the discussions have been reports of the findings of an Alberta, Canada student who tested samples of seafood with a Gieger counter. Bronwyn Delacruz’s findings contradict the statements of the ‘scientists’ and ‘experts’ who have been downplaying the effects of the Fukushima incident.

But one doesn’t have to be an expert to reasonably presume that the hundreds of tonnes of contaminated water used in an attempt to cool the damaged reactors and then flushed into the sea would result in increased levels of radiation in the oceans and their content. This post progresses from that assumption and concentrates on immediately implementable strategies for mitigating that situation.

The most immediate strategy would be to stop eating seafood, which would address that potential source, but would ignore other areas that have been contaminated. Caesium 134, an isotope made exclusively by fission has been found in rainwater in British Columbia. Again, elementary school level science tells us that given the mechanics of the water cycle, contaminated seawater is bound to fall as rain on land. In another example, a report from the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the UK showed that DU aerosols from the ‘Shock and Awe’ bombing of Baghdad had been carried over the UK in concentrations that were high enough to warrant notifying the Environment Agency. (The page listing the report also contains a report on  evidence of global contamination from alpha-emitting particulates from Fukushima.)

A distressing aside to these examples is that the scientists and experts getting any airtime are downplaying the potential effects, which may move one to question just who these spokespeople are and on whose payroll.

So if we can’t avoid it, what can we do about it? Fortunately, Nature provides an answer. Spirulina and Chlorella are known to bind to radioactive particles thus facilitating their removal from the body. Bentonite clay has the same effect. Each was used extensively and effectively following the Chernobyl incident. Below are links to articles elsewhere on this website with more information.

Radiation Strategy – Spirulina

Radiation Strategy – Bentonite

A Dirty Dozen in Afghanistan

Today is the 12th anniversary of the US/NATO invasion of Afghanistan and the launching of the “Global War on Terror” which has resulted in over a million deaths in Iraq, untold thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan, millions displaced from their homes, and institutionalised torture.

I thought now would be a good time to reflect on a little history. But don’t worry, this isn’t a wade through the mire of the most recent debacle in that unfortunate piece of ground. Rather it’s a glance back some one hundred and sixty six years to another ‘Afghan campaign’.

José Maria de Eça de Queiros
From Afghanistan and Ireland (1880)
Translated by Ann Stevens

In their troubled Indian Empire the English are attempting to discover whether there is any truth in the eighteenth-century witticism that ‘History is like an old woman who keeps on repeating herself.’

Fate, or Providence, or whatever Being it is up there that directed the events of the Afghan campaign in 1847, is simply making a slavish copy now, thus apparently showing an exhausted imagination.

In 1847 the English, ‘for a reason of State, a need for scientific frontiers, the security of the Empire, a barrier to the Russian domination of Asia…’ and other vague things that the politicians concerned with India solemnly mutter as they twist their mustaches – invaded Afghanistan, and proceeded to annihilate ancient tribes, destroy towns, lay waste cornfields and vineyards; finally they took possession of the holy city of Kabul: they turned out a terrified old Emir from the seraglio and installed another of a more submissive race, whom they had brought with them ready in their baggage, along with some slave-girls and carpets; and as soon as the newspaper correspondents cabled the victory, the army camped beside the streams and in the gardens of Kabul, undid their belts and smoked the pipe of peace…And that is exactly what is happening in 1880.

At the moment, precisely as in 1847, energetic leaders, native Messiahs, are travelling through this territory and with fine words like Homeland and Religion, are inciting their brethren to a holy war: the tribes are assembling, feudal families hasten to offer their mounted troops, rival princes join forces in their hereditary hatred for the foreigner, and in a short time all will be a-glimmer with the lights of encampments on the hill-tops overlooking the narrow paths which form the route to India….And when the bulk of the English army appears on the approaches to Kabul, with a mass of artillery, and makes its hurried way through narrow passes in the mountains or along the dry river beds, with its long caravans of camels, the savage horde falls upon them and annihilates them.

So it was in 1847 and so it is again in 1880. The disbanded remains of the army then seek refuge in one of the frontier cities, which might be Ghazni or Kandahar; the Afghans rush in pursuit, and set siege to them, a slow siege, an Oriental, leisurely siege: the besieged general, who in these Asiatic wars can always communicate with the outside world, cables to the Viceroy of India, indignantly demanding reinforcements, sugar and tea! (This is literally true: it was General Roberts who made this gluttonous appeal a few days ago; the Englishman without his tea fights only half-heartedly.) Then the Indian government spends millions of pounds like water and hastily sends off enormous parcels of restorative tea and white mountains of sugar and ten or fifteen thousand men. Enormous black war-transports leave England, like great steam-powered Noah’s arks, carrying camping equipment, numerous horses, parks of artillery, a complete, awesome invading force. So it was in 1847, and so it is in 1880.

This host disembarks in Hindustan, joins up with other columns of Indian troops, and is led day and night to the frontier in express trains at a speed of 40 miles an hour; then an exhausting march begins with fifty thousand pack-camels, telegraphists, hydraulic machines, and an eloquent company of newspaper men. One morning Kandahar of Ghazni is sighted; and in a flash the poor Afghan army is wiped out, dispersed in the dust of the plain, with its melodramatic scimitars and its venerable culverins of the same model that fired in former days at Diu. Ghazni is liberated! Kandahar is liberated! Hurrah! Immediately a patriotic song is made of this, and the exploit is popularized all over England by an engraving where the liberating general and the besieged general can be seen passionately shaking hands in the foreground, amid rearing horses and grenadiers as handsome as Apollo who are nobly breathing their last! So it was in 1847, so it must be in 1880.

In the meantime, on hill-tops and narrow paths, thousands of men who either defended their homeland or died for the sake of the scientific frontier, lie there, food for the crows – which is not, in Afghanistan, a respectable rhetorical image: there it is the crows which clean up the streets in the cities, eating the filth, and on the battlefield purify the air by devouring the remains of the defeated.

And what is eventually left after so much blood and agony and mourning? A patriotic song, an idiotic engraving in a few dining rooms, later on a line of prose in a page of some chronicle…

A consoling philosophy of wars!

In the meantime England enjoys the prestige of ‘the great victory of Afghanistan’ for a short while – certain of having to begin once more in ten or fifteen years, because they can neither conquer and annex a vast kingdom, as large as France, nor allow the existence of a few million hostile fanatics at their side. Their policy, therefore, is to weaken them periodically with a devastating invasion: such violence is required of a great Empire. Far better to possess only a little garden with a cow for milk and a couple of lettuces for summer snacks…