Archive for March, 2009

Physicians for Human Rights Israel documents Israeli violations of medical ethics and war crimes

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Talk Nation Radio for March 26, 2009

Iran attack in offing?

3-27 2nd UPDATE: Israel has now admitted the Sudan attack, they claim it was to destroy an Iranian convoy carrying weapons to be shipped into Gaza via Egypt. There has been no confirmation from any source that has been named, that would identify which particular weapons they ‘destroyed’. Anywhere from 39 to 100 people may have been killed.

Here is a February piece from PressTV that claims: “Israel has supplied a rebel group involved in the Darfur conflict in Sudan with a considerable amount of weaponry.”

Unnamed sources have been cited in the Sudan attack story in one story after the next.  What we do know is that the attack supposedly took place in January. Earlier reports on CBS indicated the US hit an Iranian convoy in Sudan, however, Israel actually carried out the attack.

Here fhttp://www.iht.com/articles/2009/03/27/africa/sudan.php for example is a story about two unnamed US sources. It states: ” Two American officials who are privy to classified intelligence assessments said that Iran had been involved in the effort to smuggle weapons to Gaza. They also noted that there had been intelligence reports that an operative with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had gone to Sudan to coordinate the effort.” Also, “But one former official said that the exact provenance of the arms that were being smuggled via Sudan was unclear.”

This story by Arron Klein also cites unnamed sources, this time claiming Hamas has confirmed the supposed weapons delivery.. “A source within Hamas,” he says, “has admitted a weapons convoy in Sudan meant for his Islamist organization was struck by a missile in January.”
–The story mentions all of the same sources used in previous stories beginning early on the 26th.

Haaretz has had the most comprehensive coverage, though their reports too seem incomplete when it comes to documentation, facts.. A Ynet story
Published 3/26 finally names a Hamas source who denies that there were weapons being smuggled to them via Sudan. See: “A senior Hamas official denied reports that a convoy of trucks allegedly attacked by Israeli planes in January was bearing weapons for Gaza. Salah al-Bardawil told the Quds Faras news agency that these were false reports meant to justify an attack on Sudan.”

The early sources on this story cite information from Sudanese officials. Thus far statements from the Bashir government in Khartoum to the international press have been viewed as largely rhetoric, not credible, particularly with regard to statements made by Bashir himself on the question of the ICC, International Criminal Court, and their issuance of a warrant for his arrest for war crimes in Darfur.

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1074434.html
“Luxembourg FM at EU summit: Israel must know that it’s not allowed to walk away from peace process.”

The outgoing Israeli PM Ehud Omert has claimed, “Israel hits every place it can in order to stop terror, near and far.” His adoption of the style and manner of former US President George W. Bush sounding ominous for two reasons. First, the Obama administration, President Obama himself, has stressed diplomacy in his dealings with Iran. Second, as we’ve said previously, Israeli forces are in Iran on a covert operation. There is no way to know the stage of this operation, or whether or not Israeli leaders intend on expanding it. What we can know is that US intelligence sources have said that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, yet newly powerful Israeli leaders keep suggesting they have one.

Where would an Israeli attack on Iran take US forces in the region? Unclear, but what is clear is that an Israeli attack on Iran would likely cause civilian deaths and right now it seems the US under President Barack Obama is not embracing the idea that war with Iran is necessary or a good idea. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has in fact said it is a bad idea.

Meanwhile in the interview below you will hear a comment from Ran Yaron, Director of the Palestine Division, PHR Israel, that the EU would be the best entity to investigate Israel’s actions in Gaza. Here is a recent Reuters story reprinted in Haaretz about the EU’s message to the Israeli leadership.

“Asked how a failure to commit to the goal would affect EU-Israel ties, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said: “Relations would become very difficult indeed. At one of our next ministerial meetings we would have to discuss what consequences the EU would draw from that.” ”

The piece also notes, “Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn said a long-mooted upgrading of EU-Israeli trade and political ties depended on Israel achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians.”

The EU had been in the process of working out an upgrade of Israel’s standing, but has put that on hold.

2-26 UPDATE: It appears that while some are reporting a US Air Force attacked Iranian convoy in Sudan, (CBS) here is seems that Israel and Olmert may be taking credit for the attack. See: Israel sends message to Iran, By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent and here for threat from Olmert at Herzliya conference.

Listen to this week’s show here.

Ran Yaron, Director of the Palestine Division, PHR Israel, Physicians for Human rights group documents Israeli violations of medical ethics and war crimes.

Produced by I’m Dori Smith, FM 91.7 WHUS at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT
TRT:29:35
Download at Pacifica’s Audioport here or at Archive.org and Radio4all.net

Over the past few months we have been reporting on Gaza and the hundreds of civilians who have born the brunt of massive air and ground attacks by the Israeli IDF, Israeli Defense Force. Our decision to cover Gaza this extensively springs from an awareness that the US corporate press, FOX, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, NBC, have offered little intensive coverage of this war that has taken 1450 lives already, most of them civilians, and left at least 5,000 wounded.

Ran Yaron of Physicians for Human Rights Israel joins us for the half hour. He is an Israeli and director of the division on the Palestinian Occupied Territories, as we begin to discuss the painful subject of Israeli war crimes, and PHR’s reports that Israel also targeted medical personnel as they tried to help the wounded.

While the US press may not have covered Gaza extensively, the European press has, particularly in London. The Guardian’s Clancy Chassay spent a month in Gaza investigating war crimes and he and Julian Borger produced three short documentary films for the Guardian UK web site March 25th. (More from Guardian’s Peter Beaumont here. (See: The international criminal court is considering whether the Palestinian Authority is “enough like a state” for it to bring a case alleging that Israeli troops committed war crimes in the recent assault on Gaza: here and here and Haaretz story on Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur to Palestine, asks UN Security Council to investigate Israeli actions in Gaza here and here Falk seeks ICC investigation.) * more below.

In the Guardian films we hear Palestinian medics explain that they were fired upon by snipers, by IDF soldiers in helicopter gun ships, and by IDF air crews dropping fleschette laden rockets.

Fleschettes are small nails, and one shocking report describes the scene as an ambulance driver tries to load a man whose legs have been blown off into the ambulance, but the medic dies, his body filled with nails. There is report after report that the Israeli soldiers shot directly at ambulances and ambulance drivers trying to collect wounded civilians.

The Israeli Military commented to them as follows in a written message that indicates that the Palestinians took risks upon themselves when they went out in ambulances to try to save civilians, this due to the “special conditions of urban warfare” in Gaza.

In fact, Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians have relatively few personal weapons and no air force, no artillery, no ground force, no standing arming. They have been occupied over 60 years, and if you look at the map of Gaza you will see how Israeli settlements have eaten away at the land that was once farmed by Palestinians.

Over the years various Israeli leaders have exaggerated the threat posed by Palestinians, according to political analysts. Israel was also charged with exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

See Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, story by By Richard H. Curtiss, where he says an “Israeli legislator Yossi Sarid, now a member of the pro-peace opposition Meretz Party,” [called] “for a parliamentary inquiry on the performance of Israeli intelligence services. In addition, Curtiss notes, Peter Enav pf Salon Magazine reported, that “the article proved that Israeli intelligence assessments on Iraq caused Israel considerable damage by compelling it to prepare for ‘threats that did not exist.’” ”

In 2005, a US Government report by Sherifa Zuhur, of the Strategic Studies Institute states: “HAMAS? Its forces were estimated in Gaza at only 5,000 to 6,000 fighters, which were just a fraction of the 168,000 of the IDF.”

Moreover the report notes:

In March 2005, “Shaul Mofaz accused HAMAS of
obtaining Strela (SA-7) shoulder-fired anti-aircraft
missiles. Charges that HAMAS is gaining and
stockpiling weapons in Gaza, including anti-aircraft
missiles, are periodically reprinted in the Israeli press,
with no ascertainable accuracy. However, the Qassam
rockets that fell periodically on Sderot and surrounding
Negev towns were real. Some American analysts also
support the idea of an Israel reconquest of Gaza, with
the justification that the group was building its strength
and weapons capacity. –This argument makes sense
only if one would also call for a new Israeli invasion
of Lebanon, or for requiring an action by a UN force
to disarm Hizbullah. None of these actions will lead
to peace or security, and will not result in an end to
HAMAS or Hizbullah.”

Numerous calls for investigations of Israeli War Crimes:

A series of reports have come out documenting Israeli war crimes in Gaza, there are international demands for independent investigations. Israel has been moving to the hard right. The 2008 election swept in the hard right Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman, along with new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The coalition forming with Netanyahu will have support from the Labor Party, but it is support organized by Defense Minister Ehud Barack, who has been controversial in Israel’s labor Party as a militant. The Labor Party has been fracturing as a result.

Many political analysts we have been interviewing over the past few weeks have warned that Israeli leaders seem determined to attack Iran, regardless of new US intelligence reports confirming that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, does not have a nuclear weapon or rockets to carry one, and has no present plans for one. The Obama administration has been set back in it’s own efforts toward negotiations as the Israel Lobby, AIPAC, has pushed to eliminate moderate Obama appointees like Charles W. Freeman. A story in Haaretz today offers allegations that are becoming common in the Israeli press as one newly powerful leader after another accuses Iran of having a nuclear weapon anyway. Israel today is in short much like America in late 2002 as the Bush/Cheney administration used propaganda to convince Americans that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to 9/11. In fact, Al Qaeda was not welcome in Hussein’s Iraq.

But regardless of the politics, the details of civilian deaths in Gaza speaks for itself about the trend Israel’s military is moving in. Over 1400 deaths, most of them civilians, including many children, killed in air strikes, burned by White Phosphorus dropped by Israel, an illegal weapon, or shot at point blank range by Israeli soldiers. Israeli soldiers have in fact come forward to talk about the shootings, the targeting of civilians, and have revealed that there was an undercurrent of racism to the attacks on Palestinians civilians. Certain orders were also given that are now being reviewed as compelling soldiers to carry out war crimes.

The international pictures have not been shown by corporate US press but they are in fact very difficult to look at. There is two year old Amal, her sweet face framed in a lovely red blanket, still charming enough to invite kisses and hugs, but Amal os dead. She died in an Israeli rocket attack in Gaza in early January. There are many like her. At massive demonstrations in London, protesters including some famous artists like Annie Lennox, held up these types of photographs as they called for investigations into the IDF’s actions.

On Friday March 27, 2009 we will air a one hour special, an interview with Ellen Brown on her book, Web of Debt. In this dramatic discussion we learn more details on what derivatives are, who controls the international banking system, and why the failure occurred plus advice on what the Obama administration can do to really straighten things out. Investors take note that we will also hear Ellen Brown’s assessment of the current status of Wall Street.

When President Obama criticized Israel’s blockade preventing even food getting into Gaza, the outgoing Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, gave in and lifted the blockade against all food. Israel is now under pressure to allow medical supplies in.

In the coming weeks we will outline some of the risks to Israeli and US security. Anti-American sentiment has swelled dramatically after the Gaza War. US President Barack Obama recently commented on CBS that Bush and Cheney policies on things like torture also turned many people against the US. However, Obama has now been criticized for not speaking out about the brutality exacted against civilians in Gaza. We will be looking at where things stand as Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition takes power in Israel, and newly powerful Israeli hard liners talk about an attack on Iran.

** Haaretz has reported Richard Falk’s allegations as follows: Israel’s alleged “targeting of schools, mosques and ambulances” during the December 27-January 18 offensive and its use of weapons including white phosphorus, as well as Hamas firing of rockets at civilian targets in southern Israel. He also charged Israel with further violations of the Geneva Conventions due to the 20 month long blockade of the coastal strip of 1.5 million people.

According to Haaretz, the UN’s Richard Falk has also alleged that the: “aggression was not legally justified and may represent a “crime against peace” – a principle established at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi criminals, according to the American law professor who serves as the Human Rights Council’s independent investigator.”

See Israel admits killing 189 children according to The Telegraph of London, rights groups like Human Rights Watch report illegal use of White Phosphorus. And there are differences over how Israel reports statistics on civilian casualties.

We speak with Ran Yaron, Director of PHR Israel’s Occupied Palestinian Territories section on their Gaza Report, IDF violations of medical ethics and war crimes

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

March 24, 2009
Dori Smith

Coming programs: Tune in Wed. at 5 PM, FM 91.7 in the greater Storrs, CT area to Rhode Island, Hartford, and parts of MA or find us on the internet at http://www.whus.org

We spend the half hour with Ran Yaron Director of PHR Israel, on Gaza Report, IDF violations of medical ethics and war crimes. He describes the difficulties their organization had during the bombing of Gaza as Palestinians contacted them in desperation, trying to get medical care and help with evacuations.

Agence France Press story here.

Their organization notes some 5,000 Palestinians were wounded and remain in Gaza. 1003 were evacuated with great difficulty, and many died because of delays in getting care.

Talk Nation Radio is produced at the studios of WHUS, FM 91.7, a Pacifica affiliate at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT and is syndicated through Pacifica Network.

We are also available at Archive.org and Radio4all.net. This week’s Sprouts was produced at WHUS by Dori Smith and hosted by Emily Corwin of the WHUS show, The Thought Spot.

Listen also to Dori Smith’s one hour special Friday March 27, 2009 at 6 PM EDT at WHUS. We interview Ellen Brown, author of the sensational book, Web of Debt, The Shocking Truth about our Money System and How we can Break Free.

Read her introduction here about the international banking cartel, President Andrew Jackson once called the banking cartel a “hydra-headed monster eating the flesh of the common man.”

We will be discussing who owns the mega banks, who has decision making interest in international banking, who owns the Federal Reserve, and which US entities or agencies have any type of control over these all important banking systems.

Plus we will look at the US stock market, invest/don’t invest? And consider how we can reverse the current economic catastrophe in the USA.

Dahr Jamail on US Military Policy in Iraq: Still a Failure and where do we go from here?

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Talk Nation Radio for March 19, 2009
Dahr Jamail on US Military Policy in Iraq: Still a Failure
and where do we go from here?

To listen to this week’s show click here.

TRT: 29:41 with 12 sec music fade
Produced by Dori Smith, WHUS FM 91.7 at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT
Download at Pacifica’s Audioport here:
Or at Archive.org and Radio4all.net

We are pleased to interview award winning journalist Dahr Jamail who returned from Iraq two weeks ago and has been writing about the January elections, ongoing violence, the loss of Iraqi culture, increasing poverty and internally displaced people, environmental damage, and lack of access to health care.

Dahr Jamail is author of the 2008 book, Beyond the Green Zone, Dispatches from an Un-embedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq. He spent eight months in Iraq covering the war on the ground during 2003 and 2004 as one of only a handful of journalists traveling without the US Military. We hear clips from interviews in 2003 and 2004.

Day after day Dahr Jamail wrote about US policy failures, documenting the US failure to reconstruct Iraq after destroying much of its infrastructure with heavy bombing. He wrote about the torture in US run prisons like Abu Ghraib even before the story was finally ‘broken’ by CBS news, and he covered the devastating mass arrest policy that terrorized civilians and helped turn Iraqis against US forces. He also covered two sieges of Fallujah, the massive US bombing and destruction of a city that catalyzed a flood of support for the Iraqi resistance.

In his initial reports about US soldiers serving in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, Dahr Jamail noted the decline in their sense of security, soldiers who were becoming increasingly nervous as more and more of them succumbed to the infamous IED weapons.

Eventually, he saw a large increase in the number of US soldiers willing to say no to the war, and in soldiers willing to talk about the horrors they had seen or participated in in Iraq. It was a story that evolved into the Winter Soldier tour which Dahr also covered. His forthcoming book is Military Resisters, Soldiers who Refuse to Fight in Iraq, another Haymarket book.

Dahr Jamail also covered the Lebanon war, and reported on millions of displaced Iraqis living in camps in Iraq or in whatever housing they can find as refugees in Jordan. He writes for Inter Press Service, Le Monde Diplomatique, and many other outlets. His stories have also been published in The Nation, the Sunday Herald in Scotland, Al-Jazeera, the Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, and the Independent and other publications. He reports for Democracy Now! has appeared on the BBC and NPR, as well as other stations around the globe including WHUS, and we’ve been privileged to be able to contact him for interviews over the years. He is also special correspondent for Flashpoints.

Dahr Jamail’s reporting has earned him numerous awards, including the prestigious 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards.

Beyond the Green Zone was described as “very prescient and brave” that from Seymour Hersh, lauded also by film maker John Pilger, and journalists Robert Fisk, Jeremy Scahill, Patrick Cockburn, and many more. His next book is about the GI resistance movement.

Of note: In covering the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, Martha Gellhorn wrote, quote: “We consider this man, and everything he stands for, with justified fear. We belong to the same species. Is the human race able — at any time, anywhere — to spew up others like him? Why not? Adolf Eichmann is the most dire warning to us all. He is a warning to guard our souls; to refuse utterly and forever to give allegiance without question, to obey orders silently, to scream slogans. He is a warning that the private conscience is the last and only protection of the civilized world.”

Our music is by Fritz Heede

Messages from Gaza, CODEPINK’s Pam Rasmussen and Gael Murphy

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Talk Nation Radio for March 11, 2009

Messages from Gaza
CODEPINK’s Pam Rasmussen and Gael Murphy

Listen to this week’s show here

We hear about the delegation’s progress, learn more about what they have been seeing, and hear a first hand report about a war crime as described to CODEPINK by survivors.

Produced by Dori Smith, FM 91.7 WHUS Radio at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT
TRT:30:08
Download at Pacifica’s Audioport here or at Radio4all.net and Archive.org in various formats.

Two members of a peace delegation to Gaza speak out whlie there about what they found. It is a time of mixed emotions. There was hopeful enthusiasm at the mere fact that 60 of them gained entry to Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. The leaders of CODEPINK and Women for Peace thought they might have to camp out in protest if they were denied access. And then there were some feelings of encouragement now that aid has finally been getting to hospitals. But the hospitals have been bombed too, and clinics destroyed. Ultimately, the harsh reality of the war and its victims affected these members of the peace delegation deeply.

Pam Rasmussen has been blogging about the trip at the web site codepinkalert.org. She joined us March 9th.

Then the co-founder of CODEPINK, Gael Murphy, joined us for an update recorded the morning of March 11th. Murphy stayed in Gaza after her fellow peace delegates began the journey home because there were so many untold stories there. The international press has been granted only very limited access throughout the air and ground war that began in late 2008.

A survivor told Gael Murphy about the day his three children were shot, only one survived. And when the ambulance arrived the Israeli soldiers refused to allow him to put his wounded children into it.

Sporadic bombing has continued, and the ripple effect from the war has been felt throughout the Middle East. But the group hopes the success of the CODEPINK, Women for Peace, delegation will mean that more people of good will can cross into Gaza, and eventually push the borders open for Palestinians as well.

The Palestinians have been treating Cindy and Craig Corrie like rock stars, and are thrilled to see them. The Corrie’s daughter Rachel was killed by an Israeli soldier driving a bulldozer as she was trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition. The driver ran over her. The writer Alice Walker was also on the delegation.

Coming Soon, Gaza update from Pam Rasmussen

Monday, March 9th, 2009

The political is personal, says Pam Rasmussen who is touring Gaza with 60 peace delegates from the US and other countries. Our interview with her will be aired on WHUS Radio in Storrs, CT on Wed. March 11, 2009 at 5 PM. Click here to listen live.

She is encouraged by the unity this delegation has brought to the peace movement in general. Also, the fact that these 60 delegates were able to make it into Gaza despite the blockade is possibly going to push open doors for other aid deliveries into the region and for the ending of the 18 month long blockade that has been devastating for Palestinian civilians.

Pam’s blog is here.

We talk about citizen diplomacy, the efforts of CodePink in this first effort for the people of Gaza. Another delegation is already being discussed.

CodePink arrived in Gaza with baskets filled with items not normally available to the women of Gaza, and these came with messages of hope from people all over the world who want to see an end to the conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

Also discussed are topics related to the bombing, the damage to hospitals, and other important news.

Talk Nation Radio can also be heard on Pacifica network affiliate stations and community and LPFM or internet radio stations.

We will try to offer early upload on this program as it is so newsworthy.

Dori

Women for Peace, CODEPINK peace Delegates Cross into Gaza

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

March 8, 2009

60 Peace Delegates cross into Gaza with aid and good will. See interview links with Ret. US Col Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, more, and look for updates on Democracy Now.

International Women’s Delegation Granted Entry to Gaza
Novelist Alice Walker, parents of Rachel Corrie and 58 others to spend International Women’s Day in war-torn territory

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP – A 60-member aid delegation was allowed entry into war-torn Gaza today through the Egyptian border crossing today. Story on Democracy Now March 9, 2009 here.

Talk Nation Radio interview with Ann Wright here and with Medea Benjamin here.

The delegation, which includes Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker, organized by the peace group CODEPINK, was allowed through the Rafah, Egypt crossing in time for International Women’s Day, March 8. The crossing has been closed by the Egyptian government almost continuously since July 2007. However, Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, chairman of the Egyptian Red Crescent (similar to the Red Cross) and president of the National Women’s Committee, communicated her “blessing” of the mission through the Red Crescent team that escorted the delegation through the crossing.

“Given the fact that so many organizations and individuals wanting to help the people of Gaza have been turned away from both the Egyptian and Israeli border crossings, it is amazing that we were ushered through with such ease,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. “We feel extremely fortunate to be able to be with our Gazan sisters on International Women’s Day. But we also want to send a message to the governments of both Egypt and Israel that the borders must be opened to all individuals and organizations. Long-term peace and prosperity are not possible without freedom of movement.”

The Red Crescent estimates that 1,000 truckloads of supplies and other goods are needed every day to meet the needs of the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip. Yet, the UN reports that the daily average has been only 125 truckloads since the borders closed about 18 months ago.

The CODEPINK delegation was invited to the region by the Gender Initiative of the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a program dedicated to promoting the rights of girls and women in the Gaza Strip. It will meet with social-service organizations and deliver more than 1,000 gift baskets to Gazan women. Also among the participants are Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, who was struck and killed six years ago this month by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to block the demolition of a Gazan home.

”Rachel chose to come to Gaza as a volunteer just as the U.S. invasion of Iraq was beginning, because she believed that the war would worsen the plight of the Palestinian people – and that this is the most forgotten part of the Occupied Territories,” said Cindy Corrie, as the group’s bus prepared to roll through the Rafah crossing. “She discovered, and shared with the world through her writing, that the people of Gaza are struggling to make a good life for their families, and are so in need and worthy of our support. The situation has only gotten worse since then, and Craig and I are devoting our lives to carrying on Rachel’s work, in partnership with organizations such as CODEPINK.”

Before completing the crossing into the Gaza Strip, the delegation sang peace songs both in front of the border gate and inside, by the passport counter.

“We hope our visit makes a lasting impression that neither the Egyptian government nor the people of Gaza will soon forget,” Benjamin said.

For more information and interviews, contact Jean Stevens, national media coordinator, at 508-769-2138 or Medea Benjamin at 018 9561919.

Press Coverage here Jewish Telegraphic Agency and here (Hartford Courant) and here on Haaretz.

CODEPINK and Women For Peace near Rafah Crossing and Gaza, USM Col Ret. Ann Wright speaks to Dori Smith

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Talk Nation Radio special for Friday March 6, 2009

60 Member Strong Codepink and Women for Peace delegation near the Rafah Crossing,

Dori Smith interviews USM Retired Col. Ann Wright

Listen to this special broadcast here in MP3 format or download below in various formats and podcasting.

Produced by Dori Smith, WHUS, FM 91.7 at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT

TRT: 28:44
Download at Pacifica’s Audioport or Archive.org and Radio4all.net

CODEPINK and Women for Peace organized a peace delegation to Gaza and are now gathering at the Rafah crossing with mostly women and a few young people and men. The delegates come from various countries including Pakistan, Egypt, and the US, and they will be meeting up with Israeli women and others in Rafah who are all seeking to call attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza on International Women’s Day March 7, 2009. If they can get into Gaza.

The Codepink delegates will be handing out gift baskets for women in Gaza. They are traveling at the invitation of the Gaza Gender Initiative of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Group leader Medea Benjamin says they will all camp out at the Rafah border if Egyptian authorities prevent them from entering Gaza. At issue they say are thousands of Palestinians who are suffering ill health and even starvation due to a blockade of all goods including food, medicine, and other vital supplies.

Hollywood actors and actresses have been organizing support for civilians in Gaza, and world famous writer Alice Walker has joined the delegation. The parents of peace activists Rachel Corrie, an American who was killed in Gaza while protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes, are also with the delegation.

Most humanitarian groups and aid workers have been denied entry by both Israeli and Egyptian authorities, so UN and independent non governmental organizations have been pressuring the U.S. government to demand that they lift the blockade. CODEPINK delegates are also asking the US to demand that Israel halt the latest round of plans for settlement expansion into Palestinian lands.

We followed the group’s journey with Retired US Colonel Ann Wright who is also a former diplomat. Colonel Wright stunned the world when she resigned her post in protest to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

After seeing the devastation from Israeli bombs that leveled 30,000 homes in Gaza, Ann Wright’s post in Huffington Post blog raised the question, Can Gaza be Rebuilt through Tunnels?

In addition to the leveling of civilian homes, Israeli war planes leveled government buildings, schools, medical clinics and also targeted the UN compound in Gaza where civilians had run for shelter. 1,330 people were known to have been killed and between 5 and 6 thousand were wounded.

We first reached Ann Wright on March 5th as she met with 60 other people of good will in Cairo who were all preparing to meet up with Israeli women at the Rafah border crossing March 7th. Together they might be able to reach Gaza and help international peace groups put more pressure on the Israeli, Egyptian and American governments, asking them to open the border to Gaza and let the people of Gaza rebuild their lives.

Then we hear another update from Ann Wright taped March 6th as the group continued to make their way to the Gaza crossing to try to get into Gaza.

Colonel Wright joined Pulitzer prize winning novelist Alice Walker, Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of peace activist Rachel Corrie who went to Rafah with the International Solidarity Movement and was killed while trying to stop the Israeli Defense Force from demolishing civilian homes.

Another ISM member, Tom Hurndel, was also killed. His case led to a high profile trial that established the guilt of an Israeli sniper, Taysir Hayb, convicted of manslaughter and obstruction of justice in an Israeli military court and later found guilty of having intentionally killed Tom Hurndel when a British inquest was held.

The actions of Israeli forces in the Gaza War have been criticized by human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Political turmoil in Israel has led to even more confusion than usual over which leaders will determine Gaza policy.

The recent Israeli election led to such a close result that while Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the Kadima Party got one more vote than Likud Party head Benjamin Netanyahu, it was Netanyahu who won support from Israel’s hard right and he was asked to try to form a unity government. Israeli civilians and the military are still watching efforts to determine who will assume the most powerful leadership positions.

The Obama Administration at first held back from commenting on its policy on the Gaza War. Then President Obama appointed former Senator George Mitchell as his Palestine envoy. Mitchell was sent to the region, and later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel for talks on a role set for America by the outgoing Bush administration during which an agreement was made that US troops would assist with security at Israel’s borders. That decision has proven dicey as tensions have grown within Arab states and European ones over the harshness of Israel’s bombing assaults in Gaza.

President Obama then appointed former US envoy to Saudi Arabia, Charles W. Freeman, known as Chas, to chair the National Intelligence Council. An appointment that has become controversial, though Freeman is known as someone who can negotiate effectively between the US and Arab states.

The US State Department has been revealing more about US policy toward Gaza. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the US would make efforts to try to strengthen Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah and would deny any aid to Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas though has became very unpopular in Gaza after he was seen as working with both Israeli and US leaders during the time Gaza was being heavily bombed. Secretary of State Clinton has also issued calls for an end to rockets from Gaza, and she has promised more US millions for reconstruction that will be sent into the Palestinian Authority, not through Hamas. Arab states have also contributed to Gaza reconstruction but unless the region can be stabilized it is difficult to see how reconstruction and aid work can get started.

To make matters even more complicated, not all of the rockets into Israel have come from Hamas. The Telegraph UK has been reporting that Hamas was not responsible for some rockets launched toward Israel after a fragile peace was negotiated with Hamas. This according to Israeli security officials. The Fatah movement was thought to have launched the strikes, and at least one militia group affiliated with Fatah claimed responsibility for some of the launchings.

These are just some of the complexities peace activists and aid workers must contend with as they try to support a brokered peace and get desperately need food into civilians in Gaza.

For peace enthusiasts hoping to see lives saved in Gaza and an immediate end to hostilities, the lack of cooperation from the Israeli government and the US has been a source of growing frustration. The blockade continues, wrote Retired Colonel Ann Wright in late February. A Retired US Colonel, well known for her outspoken views on the Iraq War during the time George W. Bush was in office, Ann Wright returned to the region with 60 peace delegates that are now poised to try to cross into Gaza through Rafah in solidarity with the women of Gaza for International Women’s Day.

Colonel Ann Wright spent 26 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. She was a diplomat in the State Department for 15 years, serving in the U.S. embassies of Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua. She resigned in 2003 in protest of the then-impending invasion of Iraq. In 2009, she co-authored, Dissent, Voices of Conscience.

http://www.codepinkalert.org/

For more information about the peace delegation please call Jean Stevens, national media coordinator, at 508-769-2138

We welcome Reality Radio WPRR 1680 AM, to our growing list of stations airing Talk Nation Radio. WPRR is a Pacifica affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

You can also hear Talk Nation Radio on:

Portsmouth Community Radio 106.1 LP-FM, KRFP, Radio Free Moscow in Idaho, WKNH-Keene 91.3 FM, and 98.3 FM, radiodriftless KWMD FM, 90.7 in Alaska, Radio, Veronica, WCRS Columbus Community Radio, 102.1 and 98.3 Fm in central Columbus Ohio, No lies Radio online, and if we didn’t mention your station this time please let us know at talknationradio@gmail.com and we will continue to update our list of weekly stations.

Karl Frisch and Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Talk Nation Radio for March 5, 2009
Karl Frisch and Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America

Listen to this week’s show here in MP3 or download below

Right Wing Conservatives at CPAC spew rage, NPR covers event as if all in good political fun and form, Karl Frisch on upcoming battle for 2012 election, conservatives plan to try more redistricting ala Tom Delay’s Texas schemes, and the conservative little mouse that continues to ‘roar’ a big lie.

We also hear from Jordan Elgraby, Executive Director of the Levantine Cultural Center, where Hollywood celebrities joined in a live video link up between L.A., Cairo, and Gaza, featuring CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans, Eric Roberts and others, including Medea Benjamin and author Alice Walker in Cairo, and activists on the ground in Gaza. This aired on KPFK 3-4-09 and is available at their web site here.

Total Running Time: 29:39 music fades
Produced by Dori Smith, WHUS Radio, FM 91.7 at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT

Download at Pacifica’s Audioport here for users or go to free sites Archive.org and Radio4all.net.

Karl Frisch, Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, joins us as we ask what if any changes there have been in the corporate press since George W. Bush left office and Democrat Barack Obama stepped in. The media watchdogs, historians and headline analysts, at Media Matters for America continue to track such questions as they document what gets said, then fact check it.

You can find them online at Media Matters dot org, and their blogs County Fair and the new Limbaugh Wire about conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

See Eric Boehlert’s work here. County Fair page where former US Ambassador to the UN under George W. Bush, John Bolton, jokes about a nuclear attack on Chicago here.

We hear clips of NPR news programming, Mara Liasson, ‘At Conference, Conservatives Assail Budget Plan’ see
Morning Edition, February 27, 2009·

Media Matters for America blog County Fair on CPAC Conference here The ghost of CPAC past… and soon to be present, Published Thu, Feb 26, 2009 12:08pm ET by Karl Frisch, and also see Down for the Count: The Real Fight for 2012 as Karl Frisch looks at the upcoming fight to change voter redistricting, remember Tom Delay’s Texas efforts?

Karl Frisch has worked on numerous political campaigns over the past decade. He served as multimedia communications director and member of the renowned Web team for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. In 2005, Frisch worked as press secretary for Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) on the House Rules Committee. Most recently, he served as national press secretary of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Prior to his work with progressives, Frisch worked for Republicans for several years, including Sen. John McCain (AZ), during his 2000 presidential campaign, among others. Frisch now serves as a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, the nation’s preeminent progressive media watchdog.

See press release: 50 international delegates to arrive in Gaza with gift baskets for Gazan women Vows to camp on border if blocked, demand its opening. 50 international delegates to camp out at Gaza border until allowed inside; plan to meet with women’s groups, call for end to blockade.

WASHINGTON — A 50-member international delegation will attempt to cross the Egyptian border into war-torn Gaza early next month, carrying 2,000 gift baskets to pay tribute to Gazan women on International Women’s Day, March 8. more here.