Veterans For Peace Meetings at Knesset, Feb 28, 2017

 

 

-The first group photo with two of the Palestinian Members of Knesset

 

On the wall of the conference room.

-The photos of Rosa Parks and Dr. King on the wall of the Palestinian Members of Knesset conference room

 

They are called “Israeli Arabs” rather than Palestinians.

-Haneen Zoaby, fireball Palestinian Member of Knesset (and passenger on the Flotilla to Gaza, 2010)

 

-Two old “senior veterans, and…

 

-Two more recent veterans at table with Palestinian Members of Knesset.

 

 

More pics from Palestine

This brave man was convicted of leaking secrets because he blew the whistle on Israel’s nuclear bombmaking capabilities. He spend 18 years in prison, and he is not allowed to leave Israel. He’s also not allowed to meet with foreigners, unless it’s by chance, which this was.

“It’s another nakba for the families,” Jamal says. “And what does it produce? A pile of hatred.”

Ray makes a point

L to R: Matt Hoh, Ken Mayers, Tarak Kauff, a local Hebron resident, Issa Amro of Youth Against Settlements, Ray McGovern, Miko Peled, Mike Hanes, Will Griffin

The crowd sets off from the mosque to try to get to the checkpoint preventing entry to Shuhada Street.

Many of the activists gather back at the Hostel in Hebron, where we stayed earlier in the week. We reunite with Munther and give him one of our sweatshirts. He is delighted and promises to wear it to the demonstration in Nabi Saleh next Friday, when we will see him again.

Ray talks to the sheikh.

Aziz Al-Toury is the head of the village. He serves tea the VFP delegation.

Letter From Ken Mayers, Veterans For Peace Delegation to Palestine/Israel, Feb. 16 to March 4

 

I have been inspired to make this effort because of two tremendously moving experiences in the past two days.

 

Most of you on my address list are more aware of the situation in Palestine and Israel than the American public at large. You are a well-read group, and a few of you have visited this part of the world. Some have been much more closely connected to the situation than have I. And most of you have seen at least some of the photos that our intrepid journalist, Ellen Davidson has been capturing on our trip.

 

There have been some highly dramatic instances, but to me, the most meaningful experiences have been the quiet revelations of the past two days.

 

The first of these took place in Ramallah, the administrative home of the Palestinian Authority. The so-called “separation barrier” follows a snaky line intended to incorporate the maximum geographical area into Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries while eventually including the smallest number of Palestinian residents. To achieve this objective, the Israeli government deploys a variety of cruel strategies, many relying on the enforcement of unreasonable, unjust laws.   Probably the most common and the most visible is the demolition of homes built or expanded without a construction permit. And since the Israeli government never grants building permits to Palestinians, almost all homes are subject to demolition orders.

 

Yesterday afternoon, our Veterans For Peace delegation met with a gentleman who is one of the leaders of the resistance to the wall. He took us to visit one of the areas targeted by the government for “maximum geography, minimum demography” described above. In this neighborhood seven homes and two apartment buildings had been demolished. Demolition crews — caterpillar D9 bulldozers (made in America) protected by police and/or soldiers come in the middle of the night and give residents ten minutes to take what belongs they can carry and vacate the house. In a few hours, there is nothing left but rubble. After viewing several of these houses, our guide took us to a still standing house, adjacent to which was a pile of rubble. He took us into a small garden next to the house, where the owner welcomed us to his home and explained that the rubble behind the house had been a 4-unit apartment building that he had built at a cost of $200,000 to house his sons and their families when they finish their university studies. He then chased his younger children into the house to get glasses and a pitcher of water for his guests. We all sat down to chat with this kindly, gentle victim of Israeli cruelty, and soon coffee, tea, and dishes of fruit, vegetables, and hummus appeared on the table, a miracle of generosity to strangers from a man whose life-savings had been destroyed by a housing demolition order. His residence remained only because it had been built before the 1967 conquest of the West Bank by the Israeli army. For the time being, pre-1967 structures are exempt from demolition orders. I’m sure the taste of the fennel, apples, and oranges we were given in that garden will stay with us all.

 

Then today we all took the bus ride down to the Negev Desert to visit the Bedouin village of Al Araaqib, one of the dozens of Bedouin villages in the Negev that the Israeli government considers “unrecognized, and therefore ineligible for services such as water, electricity, and trash collection. Nonetheless, the village has been there for centuries as was recognized by the Ottoman Empire in 1905, the British Mandate in 1929, and even Israeli documents in 1975. In June, 2010, the Israeli government demolished the village, destroyed all the houses, bulldozing 4500 olive tree and 900 fruit trees (figs, avocados, lemons and oranges), as well as the water cistern and the electrical generator. Immediately after this disaster, the villages rebuilt the village insofar as the could and credited activist Jewish Israelis with helping them in the revival.   But not long thereafter, the government destroyed the reconstructed village. Since 2010, the village has been demolished many more times over the last 7 years. But the steadfast Bedouins persist. Each time their material belongings and surrounding deteriorate further, but the spirit of “sumud” is more powerful than the D9 bulldozers. When we visited Al Araaqib in 2013, they still had a number of travel trailers in the village, one of which served as a computer classroom. The Israeli government destroyed them all. They are poorer than ever, but as hospitable and generous as ever.

As soon as we arrived we were offered tea and water.

 

Then Aziz, our host started preparing coffee, while telling us how important morning coffee is to the community. He started with raw beans, roasting them in a skillet in which he was continually flipping them while telling of his culture and the attempts of the Israeli government to destroy both their culture and their history. But he started this commentary by saying that the first thing every morning when he wakes up, he raises thanks to God for his life, and then raises thanks to the activist Jews who help the community survive. He teaches his son that he must not hate Jews. He may hate the police, the army, the “green patrols,” and the JNF (Jewish National Fund) — all of which are trying to drive them off the land. But he must not hate the people — or any people.

 

When the coffee beans were roasted to his satisfaction, his friend Saleem pounded them into power in an iron mortar and pestle. He poured the grounds into a beautiful brass pitcher which had been boiling over a flame while the beans were being pounded. He gently shook the pitcher for a while, the dropped a handful of cardamom branches into the mortar and ground them up, eventually adding a handful of cardamom to the coffee. Finally he poured coffee for us all. Our colleague Mike Haines declared it the “best coffee ever!” We all agreed. It had been made with love.

 

Then Aziz took us on a tour of the village fields. At one point he grasped a handful leaves from a plant that Mike said was called “mallow” in English. It grows wild in the winter in Al Araaqib and since time immemorial has been one of the staples of the Bedouin winter diet. But the Israeli government has declared it illegal to pick and had made violation subject to an 800 shekel fine (roughly $225 dollars.) He pointed out several more edible wild plants, all enthusiastically tasted by “forager Mike.” Then we were called back to the welcoming tent where a feast of Bedouin dishes had been set out for us. So once again, people from whom nearly everything had been taken were once again giving us loving hospitality so deeply rooted in their culture that it survives monstrous abuse.

 

After the feast, we joined them in their annual Sunday protest at the Lehavim highway crossing. Then the long bus ride back to Jerusalem.

 

What amazing human beings these are !!!

 

Peace,

Ken

Photos from Palestine – Ray will be back in the US March 5th

Miko and Ray discuss prospects for peace.

Back at the checkpoint, we are approached again to pose with this sign (as we were yesterday).

The reeds on the right are part of a filtration and aeration system for the pond.

In the greenhouse, they are trying different methods of hydroponics.

This is the “greenwall,” again using recycled plastic bottles to create a vertical garden.

And a shot of our group plus the staff–Mari from Norway on the left, Mazin in the middle, Yusuf, our driver next to him, and Annabel and Jesse on the right end.

Yusuf insists that I get into the shot too.

We stop for a photo op under the key.

He points out how this list of those massacred contains many clusters of people from the same family–you can see the same last name over and over.

Miko Peled and Ray McGovern

We then proceed to march up the street toward the wall, where soldiers are stationed on the other side.

Chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” we march up the hill with our banner.

We get near the gate.

A close-up of the soldier

Tarak notices the soldiers looking

They decide to turn the banner around

Munther knocks on the gate, telling them we are unarmed and we would like them to see our banner.

It looks like it’s only a tear-gas launcher, but it’s not reassuring to have it pointed directly at me from about five feet away.

They can seriously injure or kill people if fired directly at them–soldiers are supposed to shoot them into the air.

He goes away.

He returns and gestures us to leave.

We go out on a tour of the area to see how some villages have been cut off by the wall

We pull out our banner and set up in front of the roadblock.

When Will notes that the soldiers seem to be darker skinned and asks if they are more inclined to be symopathetic to Palestinians, Miko explains the skin-color hierarchy of Israel and says that in fact they are less inclined, since they are striving to emulate the white-skinned European Jews who are top of the heap.

Ray Puts Anti-Missile Defense in 45-Year Perspective

At the request of the Task Force to Stop THAAD and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific, which is trying to enhance awareness of the dangers inherent in deploying the U.S.THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile system in the Far East, Ray attempted to put the issue of anti-ballistic missile defense in some context during a Webinar on February 13.

 

Members of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch Ray led in the 70s and Ray were personally involved in supporting the U.S.-Soviet SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) in Vienna and Helsinki which drafted the ABM Treaty concluded in May 1972. Ray had the privilege of being in Moscow when President Nixon came to sign the treaty and other arms agreements. The ABM Treaty was the linchpin of strategic stability until Bush and Cheney pulled the pin out in 2001.

 

Ray used four visuals to show the more recent trend in U.S.-Russian “non-negotiations” (since 2012), the real reasons behind the “Star Wars” ABM program, how seriously President Putin views recent developments, and the implications for strategic stability “going forward” (as they now say) after going backward for 16 years.

 

(special thanks to Veterans For Peace colleague Will Griffin for uploading it onto his Peace Report channel)

 

February 13, 2017 (14 minutes)