Global Palestine: Contemporary Collisions

John Collins (@djleftover), author of Global Palestine (Hurst/Oxford UP, 2011), explores the global politics of violence and the representation of violence, paying particular attention to the microcosmic and prophetic location of Palestine in relation to these processes.  (Image: Diego Lopez Calvin)

Letter - Israel's bombing is a war crime

This letter to the editor by an impressive array of lawyers and international law experts appeared yesterday in The Times (London):

Israel's bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence - it's a war crime

ISRAEL has sought to justify its military attacks on Gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of “self-defence” as recognised by Article 51, United Nations Charter. We categorically reject this contention.

The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity.

A voice from Gaza

I regularly receive first-person reports from international solidarity volunteers working in Palestine.  These people come from all over the world and risk their lives (remember Rachel Corrie?) to stand and work nonviolently with Palestinians who are living under occupation, document what is happening, and get the word out to the world.  Today I thought I would reprint one particularly powerful example of the kind of testimony that these solidarity workers can provide:

More Gaza context

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies offers some helpful perspective on the need to understand the deeper historical context behind Israel's assault on Gaza:

Putting Gaza back in context

Perhaps because I'm a bit of a media masochist, I have been watching a fair amount of mainstream media coverage of Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza.  In my more optimistic (wishful thinking?) moments, I do notice some changes, most notably the growing number of Palestinian voices that are now being given airtime.  (In this sense, as Robert Fisk argues, Israel's policy of banning international journalists from Gaza has backfired, since news organizations have increasingly turned to Palestinians on the ground in order to get an accurate sense of what is happening.)  At the same time, I continue to be distressed by the journalistic tendency to discuss Gaza in a way that is completely divorced from its political and historical context. 

On the value of Palestinian lives

When it comes to political violence, some people argue that it's dangerous to play the numbers game, endlessly comparing the numbers of dead as if human life could be reduced to mere statistics. And there is much to recommend such a cautionary view.  The Israeli assault on Gaza, however, is one of those moments when a look at the numbers is an essential part of understanding what is happening and what it means.   For a bit of perspective, consider this: as a proportion of total population, the death of nearly 200 Palestinians in a single wave of aerial bombing is equivalent to the death of roughly 6,000 Americans. 

Eyewitness reports from Gaza

I just stepped off an airplane to discover that over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.   I'll have much more to say about this in the coming days and weeks, but for now, here is an important news release from the activists at Free Gaza:

Is Justice Finally Coming to Blackwater?

Back in early 2007, before the Weave launched its new site design, Weave blogger Derek Tracy was following the very underreported story of Blackwater USA and other private military contractors that were playing such a large, underreported, and unregulated role in the US occupation of Iraq.  Today, with the news that five Blackwater guards are facing criminal charges in the deaths of Iraqi civilians, the Blackwater story has finally become big-time news. 

India violence: the aftermath

The world's news media continue to cover the aftermath of the horrifying terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India during the past week.  As is often the case when the world is faced with this kind of violence, the theories (including the conspiracy theories) are flying thick and fast.  It will be interesting to see how the story "settles" in the coming weeks.  Meanwhile, I thought I would run through a few of the responses I have been reading. 

The Inner Dialogue: Between Euphoria and the Hard Road Ahead

As I wake up this morning to hear the sound of the phrase "President-Elect Barack Obama" all around me, it is difficult to know how to process the range of emotions I am feeling.  Many parts of me - the leftist, the internationalist, the skeptic, the critic of creeping militarization - are struggling to begin a dialogue with the other parts of me that are thrilled beyond measure at the historic result of last night's election and its profound significance for so many people both inside and outside the United States. 

Free Gaza: War on Fishermen?

After successfully breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza back in August, the Free Gaza movement is making good on its promise to continue calling attention to Israel's policy of punishing all Gazans for the actions of a few.  Sailing in a boat called the SS Dignity, activists recently landed in Gaza again and then went on a mission to witness the harassment of Palestinian fishermen by the Israeli navy.