[News] Palestine - Hey Hollywood, time to put your money where your morality is
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 27 11:17:18 EDT 2010
'Hope' Floats: Hey Hollywood, time to put your money where your morality is
Shirazi Jul 27th, 2010
A coalition of nearly twenty U.S.-based human
rights and peace groups has joined the global
justice community and numerous foreign
governments in vowing to send more humanitarian
aid ships to break the
Israeli blockade of Gaza this coming Fall. The
coalition, united under the mantle
<http://ustogaza.org/>US To Gaza, includes
activist organizations such as CodePink, Jews Say
No, Veterans For Peace, Voices for Creative
Non-Violence, and Jewish Voice For Peace.
In the wake of the
Israeli raid on an international
carrying over 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid and
hundreds of civilian passengers, during which
(if not outright
by Israeli commandos in international waters, the
global call to end the US-backed Israeli siege has grown even more forceful.
Later this year, boats from Europe, Canada, South
Africa, India, and the Middle East are expected
to set sail for Gaza once again. US To Gaza,
which states on its
"America pays for the blockade with our tax
dollars; Americans must join together to end this
collective punishment of 1.5 million
Palestinians," aims to add a vital American
element to this new Freedom Flotilla.
The U.S. boat, which will be named The Audacity
of Hope (irony intended), is expected to carry an
American peace delegation of forty to sixty
passengers and will join its international
flotilla partners en route. But purchasing a
suitable ship, securing a sailing crew, obtaining
the needed licenses and registration, gathering
tons of humanitarian aid, and sailing for Gaza is
a costly endeavor. It is estimated that at least
$370,000 needs to be raised from private donors
in the next month for the U.S. ship to become,
not merely hopeful audacity, but a necessary reality.
All in all, $370,000 isn't that much money. For
instance, South Carolina Republican Congressman
hundreds of thousands of
donors giving less than $200 just because he
called Barack Obama a liar. If a jackass like
Wilson can raise that kind of money for shouting
falsehood, raising funds for a just cause like
breaking the illegal Gaza blockade shouldn't be that hard.
Sure, the fund-raising goal can be hit with 3,700
people each pledging $100 or a mere 370 donations
of $1,000 each. But why is the bar for funding
justice and fighting illegal
punishment so low? Where are the big donors who
could single-handedly buy a boat and subsidize
the entire delegation? Why does it seem like such
a stretch for American supporters of human rights
and international law to send an armada of siege-breaking ships to Gaza?
Perhaps, in order to open borders and ship a
little bit of hope to suffering Palestinians in
the Middle East, US to Gaza organizers should be
looking for a lot of financial support from open wallets on the West Coast.
Hollywood has no shortage of outspoken Israel
supporters, ethnic cleansing enthusiasts, and
racist, right-wing nutjobs. The Zionism, publicly
professed or not, of famous musicians and movie
stars takes many forms and runs the gamut of
willful ignorance to actively insane.
There are those who ignore or condemn the
<http://bdsmovement.net/>Boycott, Divestment, and
Sanctions Movement and promote Israeli
Rogen, Robert Duvall, Halle Berry, Lenny Kravitz,
Ed Zwick, Chazz Palminteri, Paul Reiser,
Cronenberg, Norman Jewison, Saul Rubinek,
Seinfeld, Lisa Kudrow, Sacha Baron Cohen,
Driver, and Natalie Portman (who was also a proud
assistant of Alan Dershowitz and is thanked in
his appalling book The Case for Israel); there
are those who
resistance to Israeli aggression and expansion
and laud Israeli assaults that take the lives of
thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians
like actors Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone,
Bruce Willis, Danny De Vito, Don Johnson, James
Woods, Kelly Preston, Patricia Heaton, Doug
Liman, Gary Sinise, Kristen Chenowith, Michael
Chiklis, Vivica A. Fox, Nicole Kidman, Pat Sajak,
and William Hurt, along with filmmakers like
Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, William
Friedkin, Ivan Reitman, Richard Donner, and Sam Raimi.
There are those, like producer Lawrence Bender,
who see Israel as an eternal victim, besieged by
oppressive Palestinians, and
that "Nobody realizes how badly the Israelis are
suffering. Obviously the Palestinians are
suffering but people need to understand that
Israel needs help" and there are those, like
actor Joshua Malina, who are
that "somehow Israel is the bully and the Palestinians are the underdog."
There are Zionist zealots like
Maher and there's also
There are celebrities who advocate for peace,
love, and understanding, like
yet somehow believe a "Jewish" state isn't
inherently discriminatory. There's Jason
Alexander, who, despite his
with the two-state promoting
Peace project, was an
guest at last year's Friends of the Israeli
Defense Forces [sic] Fundraising Gala and shill
programming that endorses violent, fanatical
Zionist settler ideologies. There are fashion
designers like Elie Tahari, who
a whopping $100,000 at this year's IDF love-fest in March.
With friends like these, it's no wonder that the
IDF, a foreign military that oppresses and
occupies an indigenous population,
over $20 million in one night at the
Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan. But donors here in
the United States don't only fund the Occupation,
they also fund
Jewish settlements to the tune of
hundreds of millions over the past decade that
over 42% of the West Bank.
So where are their anti-occupation,
pro-international law counterparts, especially
the ones with equally deep pockets? The truth is they're everywhere.
Mortensen, Julie Christie, Wallace Shawn,
Demme, Stephen King, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Irwin,
Tilda Swinton, Wim Wenders, Uma Thurman, Debra
Kirkland, Terry Gilliam,
Glover, Oliver Stone, Ed Asner,
Kasem, and Jeremy Pikser, celebrity support for
Palestinian freedom and an end to the Israeli
occupation and blockade is widespread in Tinseltown.
Actresses Salma Hayek, Halle Berry, Drew
Barrymore, Brooke Shields, Andie MacDowell, Lucy
Liu, Whitney Houston and Sharon Stone all had
from the website of blood diamond dealer Lev
Leviev after being alerted to Leviev's criminal
funding of illegal West Bank settlements.
Def, Laurie Anderson, Boots Riley, Steve Earle,
all publicly oppose Israel's systematic
oppression and land theft and support the
<http://www.pacbi.org/>Palestinian Campaign for
the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel.
spoke out against the 2008-9 Israel slaughter of
over 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza and, more
recently, Rage Against The Machine's
de la Rocha condemned Israel's Gaza blockade
stage during a concert in London. This past
Saturday, July 10, for the first time in five
years, Pink Floyd's
teamed up to
at a <http://www.hopingfoundation.org/>HOPING
Foundation benefit, which
£350,000 (over $538,000) for Palestinian children
living in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza,
Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The organization was
co-founded by fashion designer (and Siggy's
Freud in 2003.
Megastars Dustin Hoffman and Meg Ryan
their attendance at this year's annual Jerusalem
Film Festival the day after Israel's bloody raid
on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and recent
Pixies, Elvis Costello, Gorillaz Sound System,
Scott Heron, and Snoop Dogg were also
for similar if not identical reasons.
All of these well-heeled celebrities should take
of Israeli apartheid and aggression even further
by funding more humanitarian aid ships. With
their help, supplementing the support of small
blockade can indeed be broken.
The Israeli policy of
blockade is clear. In 2006, after Palestinians
democratically elected Hamas to the shock and
chagrin of both Israel and the US (who had
insisted on the elections in the first place), an
economic and commercial siege was put into place
by Israel as a
for Palestinian self-determination. As Dov
Weisglass, adviser to then-Israeli Prime Minister
declared, "It's like an appointment with a
dietitian. The Palestinians in Gaza will get a lot thinner, but won't die."
Collective punishment, via forced deprivation and
near-starvation, is unequivocally illegal.
International law is quite clear in this regard.
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which
has governed Israel's occupation of the West Bank
and Gaza since 1967 (and has been repeatedly
affirmed by both the UN Security Council and General Assembly), states plainly:
"No protected person may be punished for an
offence he or she has not personally committed.
Collective penalties and likewise all measures of
intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."
Furthermore, though the Israeli intention may not
have been to kill Palestinians in Gaza via food
and medicine shortages, they have more than made
up for it with their subsequent use of bombs,
missiles, tank shells, bullets, depleted uranium,
flechettes, white phosphorous, and DIME weaponry.
Still, Israeli officials such as former-Prime
Minster, now Defense Minister, Ehud Barak and
Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Yossi
to claim that "there is no shortage in
humanitarian aid to Gaza, as food, fuel and
supplies are regularly transferred into Gaza by international organizations."
No mention is made of the fact that all building
material, such as cement, plaster and dry wall,
is banned from entering Gaza, in
to the absurd
of so-called "dual use" medicines, rope, wood,
razors, light bulbs, textiles and fabrics, sewing
and hypodermic needles, sewing machines, candles,
matches, mattresses, bedsheets, pillowcases,
blankets, cutlery, books, newspapers, coffee,
tea, cigarettes, clothing, shoes, pencils and
paper, fresh meat, seeds, nuts, cilantro, sage,
cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, vinegar,
biscuits, candy, potato chips, jam, chocolate,
french fries, canned or dried fruit, notebooks,
empty flowerpots, fishing rods or line,
livestock, musical instruments, and children's toys.
Obviously, Israeli officials take no note of the
findings of the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the UN which has reported that
of Gazans are "food insecure," of which
are children under 18 years;" the level of anemia
in infants is as high as 65.5%, about 70% of
Gazans live on less than $1 a day, 75% rely on
food aid, and 60% have no daily access to water.
As Rebecca Sargent of the Peace and Collaborative
"Much of the population remains unemployed and
thus have no money to buy supplies for
resolution 1860 calls for the unfettered access
of aid and commercial goods to Gaza, although it
would appear this call has been mostly ignored by
the Israeli government's blockade."
Also, as of the end of 2009, a
report found that "insufficient food and medicine
is reaching Gazans, producing a further
deterioration of the mental and physical health
of the entire civilian population since Israel
launched Operation Cast Lead against the
territory," and also "blamed the blockade for
continued breakdowns of the electricity and
sanitation systems due to the Israeli refusal to
let spare parts needed for repair get through the
2007, "the number of Palestine refugees unable to
access food and lacking the means to purchase
even the most basic items, such as soap, school
stationery and safe drinking water, has tripled"
and over 80 UN and aid agencies
that "the formal economy in Gaza has collapsed."
On May 31, the six-ship Gaza Freedom Flotilla was
attacked in international waters (the ships had
no intention of sailing through Israeli
territory) about 80 miles (130 kilometers) off
the Gaza coast in an early morning raid by elite
Israeli commandos. The attack was conducted after
Israel cut off all communications from the ships
the flotilla with over 20 naval vessels and
warships, along with multiple helicopters. In
addition to the 45 highly-trained and
who rappelled onto the largest ship, the
Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, murdering at least
9 civilians and wounding about 60 more, about 650
other Israeli troops, including surveillance and
support troops alongside those who actually
boarded the ships, took part in the illegal assault on the flotilla.
The Mavi Marmara carried 10,000 tons of
humanitarian aid on board including 6,000 tons of
cement, more than 2,000 tons of iron, 100
prefabricated houses, 500 wheelchairs, crutches,
medical equipment, wood and glass for building,
electric generators, water purifiers, a mobile
dental care facility, and food and had even been
not to be transporting any weaponry by authorities before its departure.
Another aid ship, the
Rachel Corrie, carrying 550 tons of cement, 20
tons of paper for printing school books, 25 tons
of school supplies, 12 tons of sports equipment
and 150 tons of medical supplies, was also
by the Israeli Navy a few days later.
On June 24, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu announced an "easing" of the
four-year-long Gaza siege,
"Today, after we lifted the civilian blockade of
Gaza there is no reason or justification for further flotillas."
Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz
that "The highlight of the new policy is to be
the creation and distribution of a detailed
'black list' of goods that will not be permitted
into the Gaza Strip," continuing that, now, "Only
weapons or 'dual-use' materials that could be
used to manufacture weapons will be on the list.
Any item not on the list will be permitted into Gaza."
As a result of this new policy, items such as
parts, agricultural and fishing tools, cosmetics,
juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips,
cookies and candy are now being imported into Gaza.
Nevertheless, the siege has
ended. Even though coriander, chocolate, and
Coca-Cola are now allowed through Israel's
military checkpoints, goods such as cement,
steel, iron, fertilizers, gas tanks, drilling
equipment and water disinfectant are still
In fact, The Los Angeles Times
that "the new list of banned and restricted
items, which fills several hundred pages, still
includes goods and supplies vital to Gaza's economic recovery."
Consequently, Karin Laub of Associated Press
that "because Israel will continue to ban most
travel and exports and restrict the import of
desperately needed construction materials, the
new rules are unlikely to restore the territory's
devastated economy or allow rebuilding of all
that was destroyed in last year's war [sic]."
In short, Israel's ongoing
against humanity in Gaza continues. As long as
Israel maintains its military control of Gaza's
economy, land and sea borders, airspace,
restricts (or outright denies) the freedom of
movement of its 1.5 million imprisoned
inhabitants, and continues murdering Palestinians
with Apache helicopters, F-15 and F-16 bombers,
unmanned drones and
machine guns, Gaza will not be free.
international attention Israel received after the
Mavi Marmara massacre led to the so-called
of the Gaza siege, there's no telling what a
constant barrage of boats might do. Therefore,
until this collective punishment of innocent
civilians ceases completely and Israel is
accountable for its crimes, more boats must
continue to sail to Gaza. Among those boats
should be a massive American contingent, funded
by bold and steadfast believers in
self-determination, human rights, and
international law. We have paid for the Israeli
oppression of Palestine for so long with our tax
dollars, it's now time to fight for Palestinian
freedom with our tax-exempt donations.
And so, to all you stars of summer blockbusters
and sold-out stadiums, start giving generously so
that a fleet of blockade-busting boats can start their engines.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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