The children of Gaza - video

On Men and War: Misogyny and racism run parallel to Israel's militarism


"Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who's trying to kill u - u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.." tweeted American comedian and satirist, Bill Maher, who's once again, even in jest managed to demonstrate his worldly ignorance and bigotry. 

This presumed progressive continuously picks on women and ridicules Muslims and other people at the receiving end of power. He argues, rather ignorantly, that all religions are bad, but Islam is worse than the rest.

One dismayed writer responded to Maher with stunned incredulity, "So much sexism packed into one tweet!" adding: "his Israeli-Palestinian conflict commentary is dumb." Amen. 

Bill Maher and his ilk are either indifferent or refuse to see the full picture. They can't see how the "crazy woman" is merely resisting rape under the gun; how a military occupation, like rape, is a horrific forceful violation, whether it involves one person or an entire people.  It's just not funny. 


But then, idiocy, misogyny, vulgarity, and racism are not uncommon bedfellows. And these are mostly, but not exclusively the specialities of men, and in this case western men.

Misogyny and racism

Sadly, when it comes to this war, there are more than a few American and Israeli Mahers. Like-minded misogynists in Israel are usually thrilled by the war and amused by the abuse of women.

David Sheen reports that the city council of the coastal city of Or Yehuda hung a public banner that read: "Israeli soldiers, the residents of Or Yehuda are with you! Pound their mother and come back home safely to your mother." 

Such voices also make it to the mainstream Israel media and academia. Mordechai Kedar, a lecturer from Bar IIan University, told Israelis during a live radio broadcast that if Israel threatens to dispatch agents to rape a Palestinian militant's mother or sister as retribution for his crimes, it would serve as an effective deterrent. 


Inside Story - The US and Israel: A strained relationship?

Similar misogyny and racism was also expressed on social media with Gaza portrayed as an erotic woman to be violated.

This projection of male domination into collective violence and hatred through terrible physical abuse is widespread in the United States and Israel. In the latter, 61 percent believe that forced sex on an acquaintance is permissible. Indeed, Chris Hedges, in his two recent contributions: War is a Force That Gives us Meaning and Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, attempts to understand why support for war is so pervasive and how for men, war and pornography are intertwined. In both cases, violence or abuse is endemic.

"Porn has always primarily involved the eroticisation of unlimited male power, but today it also involves the expression of male power through the physical abuse, even torture, of women. Porn reflects the endemic cruelty of our society. This is a society that does not blink when the industrial slaughter unleashed by the United States and its allies kills hundreds of civilians in Gaza or hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan." 

It's estimated that porn makes up as high as a third of all online traffic; users spend more than double or triple the time on porn sites than on average news site. One major porn site generates 4.4 billion page views a month, more traffic than the most popular sports channel, ESPN or CNN. The same goes for the pervasiveness of violence and its glorification in cinema and other forms of entertainment - a subject for another day.

Abuse of women in Israel isn't limited to political slogans. Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was indicted for sexual harassment, and as Sheen reports, two potential presidential candidates, Silvan Shalom and Meir Sheetrit, were both accused of committing serious sex crimes during the presidential election campaign.   

No wonder, the feminist and the peace movements have long been mutually inclusive and intertwined causes.

As for the Palestinian women, the suffering has been too great to imagine and gets even worse with each and every war. They are at the centre of the family, the community and the nation. And it's they who tend to bear the brunt of the consequences of wars and violence. As the scholar Hamid Dabashi commented recently, nothing can express the terrible ordeal of children than "the reflection of their terror on the face of their grieving mothers."

That's not lost on other women, no less in the United States where a majority of men polled reckon Israel is justified in its offensive against Gaza. A recent Gallup poll shows that greater number among women and youth, believe Israel is not justified in its war in Gaza. Only a minority among the two demographics think the opposite. This is particularly important considering the government and mainstream US media are terribly slanted towards Israel.

As the Canadian writer, Naomi Klein noted two decades ago: "So long as Israel continues to usurp Palestine, it will be a country with racism and misogyny at the core of its being. Until this brutality ends, Israel is a country with blood on its hands and on its profile. […] Women's concerns about rape and brutality are considered trivial when men are busy worrying about death and war. But, in Israel, the feminist and the peace movements are closely connected."  

War is the "macho extension of diplomacy" argues the prolific Duch-Israeli military historian, Martin van Creveld, who is anything but a feminist and perhaps an anti-feminist. While he dismisses all bleeding hearts that loathe war, he reckons how, at the end of the day, war is about bored men looking for excitement.

Indeed, it's a man's war. But that's all to the reason why it's high time for women to step in and help end the horrific spectacle.

Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera. 

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Roma Holocaust 70th Anniversary Commemoration

For the Roma Holocaust 70th anniversary commemoration
Saturday 2 August 2014

Ensuring the right to remembrance and dignity for the Roma people

GENEVA / NEW YORK (2 August 2014) – On the 70th anniversary of the Roma Holocaust –‘Porrajmos’ or ‘Pharrajimos’– two United Nations human rights experts urge all governments around the world to ensure the right to remembrance for the Roma people.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, and the Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, call for stronger measures and initiatives to keep the memory of the Roma Holocaust alive and enable survivors, Roma communities and others to mark it in a recognized and dignified manner.

“Many people globally have little or no knowledge that Roma were targeted by the Nazi regime. Under the Nazis, Roma were subjected to arbitrary internment, forced labor, and mass murder. German authorities murdered tens of thousands of Roma in the German-occupied territories of the Soviet Union and Serbia and thousands more in the death camps.

Else Schmidt was seven years old when taken in the summer of 1942 from her home in Hamburg. She remembers two men in military coats marching her to a warehouse on the docks where they left her among crowds of Gypsies already gathered there…
(A testimony from the book “Porrajmos” – Recollections of Roma Holocaust survivors)

On the night of 2 to 3 August 1944, all remaining 2,897 Roma men, women and children in the so called ‘Gypsy family camp’ in Auschwitz-Birkenau, were taken to gas chamber V and were murdered by the Nazis.

…Else had no idea why she had been brought there. In fact, she had no idea what a ‘Gypsy’ was...

Much remains to be done to establish the right and possibility for Roma to remember and commemorate with dignity. In several countries where evidence suggests that Roma fell victims to the Holocaust, governments should make 2 August an official day of remembrance for the victims of the Pharrajimos. All the world’s governments and the international community, including the United Nations, must make sure that they include reference to the suffering of Roma in their Holocaust education and commemoration events.

…Else’s parents drew a veil at home over her torment…

In order to allow appropriate commemoration, Roma graves and mass graves, including those that have not yet been marked, must be identified and preserved to enable survivors to remember and mourn in dignity.

…Humiliation at school worked more brutally: ‘I have very bad memories of school, because I still had my concentration camp number tattooed on my arm with just a plaster to hide it…

Violence against Roma is not only a matter of history but is a sad reality for many Roma communities today, also. We must realize that the hatred and the dehumanization of the victims of the Holocaust that characterised the Nazi era, still exist in the hearts and minds of some individuals in Europe today. These individuals are capable of committing violence against our fellow Roma citizens simply because of who they are.

…On the first day, the teachers, who were bad Nazis, forced me to stand up in class…

We must make sure that governments remain vigilant to this risk and take appropriate measures against signs of hatred and stigmatization. They must step up their action against hate speech and incitement to hatred before it is manifested in violence and atrocities. We call on all States to meet their responsibilities by implementing effective measures to protect their populations from discrimination and violence based on their identity.

…They said to me: You must stand here until you have told everyone what is under the plaster…

The growing presence of and support for extremist parties and ideologies, which often target Roma and other minority populations, including immigrants, is of increasing concern in Europe. It is in the interest of all European governments and democratic political parties to step up their efforts to establish necessary integration policies and platforms to ensure that all populations, including the Roma are considered and treated equally, can live in security and raise their children without fear.”

From that day, for eighteen years, Else spoke with no one about what had happened to her in Auschwitz and Ravensbrück aged 8 and 9.

Life In Gaza Explained

Protest the Invasion of Gaza in Santa Rosa

You are invited to join the North Coast Coalition for Palestine Wednesday, July 23, from 5 to 6 p.m., to protest the Israeli invasion and bombardment of Gaza. Click through for more info.

Sonoma County D.A. Announces No Charges Against Erick Gelhaus

Today, Monday, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that there will be no charges filed against Erick Gelhaus, the Sonoma County Sheriff Deputy who shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez on October 22th, 2013. Click through to read more.

Statement About Iraq - From The Peace and Justice Center

The Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County supports the peaceful resolution of conflict in Iraq, and opposes any US bombing or military intervention. Some of the dispute can be traced to the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq.  We mourn the deaths of Iraqis, Americans and others. While the resolution is unclear, we hope the US has learned from the recent past, and the pitfalls of military action.

State Dept. Dropped Blackwater Probe After Manager Threatened to Kill Investigators

The State Department abandoned a probe of the private military firm Blackwater in Iraq after a company official threatened to kill the government’s chief investigator. The New York Times reports investigators began looking into Blackwater’s Iraq operations just weeks before company operatives shot dead 17 Iraqi civilians in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. The investigators found widespread misconduct and warned of an "environment full of liability and negligence." But according to government documents, the previously undisclosed investigation was quashed after Blackwater’s project manager in Iraq, Daniel Carroll, issued a threat "that he could kill" the chief investigator, Jean Richter, and "no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq." The U.S. Embassy in Iraq ended up siding with Blackwater, ordering Richter and a colleague to leave the country and calling them "unsustainably disruptive" and "unnecessarily hostile" to "contract personnel." The New York Times says the investigators’ unheeded warnings "make clear that the [State] Department was alerted to serious problems involving Blackwater and its government overseers before Nisour Square." The trial of four Blackwater operatives accused in the massacre began this month after years of delay.

Story courtesy of Democracy Now

Police fail to report many deadly shootings

Sheryl Bell, mother of Julian Alexander, holds a candle during a vigil for her son on the one-year anniversary of his death outside his Anaheim home in 2009. Julian Alexander was shot and killed by an Anaheim police officer who was chasing four juvenile burglary suspects.
Orange County Register investigation shows that one in five fatal incidents across region isn't disclosed.

Published: June 28, 2014 Updated: June 30, 2014 10:58 a.m.

California’s system for tracking deadly police shootings is plagued by confusion and inadequate oversight, further clouding public knowledge of an officer’s greatest power.

At least one in every five fatal shootings across Southern California isn’t counted in official statewide and national homicide reports, a Register investigation has found. Police shoot and kill more often than the numbers reflect.

The newspaper identified widespread reporting flaws by comparing state data and district attorney records from hundreds of shootings between 2007 and 2011, the latest year available. At least 67 fatal shootings weren’t disclosed as required by state law.

The unreported shootings involved 31 law enforcement agencies, most of which were unaware the cases hadn’t been counted in official reports until contacted by the Register. Most acknowledged error and promised an internal review of reporting practices.

Read full article

Verizon - Helping Law Enforcement Militarize Your World

I know that we're asking a lot, but if you can separate yourself from Verizon, please do. We are going to be the targets of this some day. Don't go along. Switch to Credo, if you can. If you have other less militarized services to recommend, please let us know.