19 September, 2010


The two items below are both about civil disobedience, courage, and the battle against propaganda.  The difference is that in the US one stands a chance of convincing the judges of the truth. 

In Israel things don’t work that way.  First of all, any mention of the term ‘security’ immediately brings the courts to side with the perpetrators (i.e. colonists, military personnel, police).  Secondly, even without mentioning ‘security’ the Israeli Jewish expansionists stand a better chance of winning a case than do those defending justice and Palestinians.

The first item was forwarded to me by a dear friend, a Priest now in New York lecturing at Fordham University, but who spends ½ the year in Palestine, DJMoore, SJ.  The second was forwarded by Ran Greenstein. 

I realize that these on top of the compilation by Shadi Fadda is a lot of reading.  Do your best.  If you can’t finish it all today/tonight, pick it up when you have time.

All the best,



Dear Dorothy —

I am back here for the semester, doing some teaching and hopefully some writing. I thought you might like to know there are activists who are trying to alert Americans to US crimes as you an many others are doing in Israel. The enclosed was sent by one of the activists, Steve Kelly, who is also a close friend. (Steve must also go to trial for a similar action at the nuclear submarine base in Tacoma, Washington.)

Peace, blessings,

Donald M, sj

JUDGE DECIDES TO DEVOTE FOUR MONTHS TO STUDYING ISSUES AND TESTIMONY PRESENTED IN “CREECH 14” CASEFor Immediate Release:                                                                           Contact: Jim Haber 415-828-2506 (cell) September 14, 2010
                                                                                                 Kathy Kelly:
773-619-2418 (cell)
The “Creech 14” went to trial on September 14, 2010 in Clark County Regional Court in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The case originated during a week of demonstrations and vigils in April 2009, when the activists entered Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs to highlight the serious injustice of the U.S. military’s use of drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Crews at Creech control the drones used in these expanding wars, including killing civilians in remote controlled assassination attacks. The protesters were charged with trespassing.  Judge William Jansen scheduled the verdict for January 27, 2011. Judge Jansen allowed the pro-se defendants to call three expert witnesses – former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, retired Col. and former Embassy Official Ann Wright, and Bill Quigley, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Targeted assassinations by Predator and Reaper drones,” said defendant Renee Espeland, “must be catapulted into the court of public opinion.

  I am bound by the law of our land that makes it my duty to stop the killing of civilians and to protect U.S. soldiers being ordered to perform illegal acts.”

The judge limited the defense to questions strictly pertaining to the charge of trespass. However, through carefully crafted questions, the defendants were able to extract several key points from their witnesses:
– Intentional killing is a war crime, as embodied in U.S. constitutional law.

– Drone strikes by U.S. and coalition forces kill a disproportionate number of civilians.
– People have the right, even the duty, to stop war crimes.
– According to the Nuremberg principles, individuals are required to disobey domestic orders that cause crimes against humanity.
Defendant Brian Terrell delivered the group’s closing statement.

Referring to earlier mention of a classic metaphor used in cases invoking the necessity defense, he depicted a house on fire, with a baby trapped inside. “The house is on fire; the baby is in the house,” said Terrell, “We fourteen are ones who see the smoke, and will not allow a ‘no trespass’ sign to stop us from reaching burning children.” Terrell was speaking about the civilian deaths caused by U.S. drones in Afghanistan.

The Creech 14 include Fr. John Dear, SJ; Dennis DuVall; Renee Espeland; Judy Homanich; Kathy Kelly; Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ; Mariah Klusmire; Brad Lyttle; Libby Pappalardo; Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ; Brian Terrell; Eve Tetaz; Fr. Louie Vitale, OFM; and Fr. Jerry Zawada, OFM.

Vegas drone trial makes history

posted by Jason Whited

Sep. 14, 2010


Fourteen anti-war activists may have made history today in a Las Vegas courtroom when they turned a misdemeanor trespassing trial into a possible referendum on America’s newfound taste for remote-controlled warfare.

The so-called Creech 14, a group of peace activists from across the country, went on trial this morning for allegedly trespassing onto Creech Air Force Base in April 2009.

From the start of today’s trial, prosecutors did their best to keep the focus on whether the activists were guilty of allegations they illegally entered the base and refused to leave as a way to protest the base’s role as the little-known headquarters for U.S. military operations involving unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, over Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

But a funny thing happened on the way to prosecutors’ hope for a quick decision.

Appearing as witnesses for the Creech 14 today were some of the biggest names in the modern anti-war movement: Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson; Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel and one of three former U.S. State Department officials who resigned on the eve of the 2003

invasion of Iraq; and Bill Quigley, legal director for the New York City-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

By the time those three witnesses finished their testimony as to why they believed the activists had protested at the base, they’d managed to convince Las Vegas Township Justice Court Judge William Jansen to delay his verdict for four months — and had managed clearly to frustrate prosecutors.

For the better part of the day, Clark, Wright and Quigley testified under direct questioning from witnesses and a surly cross-examination from the Clark County district attorney’s office.
Each witness spoke eloquently, and at length, about the need for nonviolent civil disobedience in the face of criminal actions by the U.S. government — which is how most in today’s anti-war movement and many international observers have characterized America’s drone war.

“[People] are allowed to trespass if it’s for the greater good — and there are certainly exceptions [to the law] when there is an emerging, urgent need,” said Quigley, while on the stand.

By all accounts, the Creech 14 trial is the first time in history an American judge has allowed a trial to touch on possible motivations of anti-drone protesters.

No one knows how Jansen will ultimately rule, but most took it as a good sign when, at the end of the day’s proceedings, applause flooded the courtroom and Jansen sent the Creech 14 — all of them part of a robust Catholic anti-war movement — on their way by echoing the words of Jesus Christ with his call of “Go in peace!”


[forwarded by Ran Greenstein ]

Joel Beinin: Contesting Past and Present at Silwan

Posted by admin on Sep 18th, 2010 and filed under FEATURED

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By Joel Beinin, Middle East Report online – 17 Sept 2010
On September 1, Elad — a Hebrew acronym for “To the City of David” —
convened its eleventh annual archaeological conference at the “City of
David National Park” in the Wadi Hilwa neighborhood of Silwan. Silwan,
home to about 45,000 people, is one of 28 Palestinian villages
incorporated into East Jerusalem and annexed by Israel after the June
1967 war.

It lies in a valley situated a short walk beyond the Dung
Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. Elad, a militant, religious, settler
organization, claims that Silwan is the biblical City of David
mentioned in the second book of Samuel and that the Pool of Shiloah
(Siloam) located there watered King Solomon’s garden.

The public was invited to tour recent excavations and hear a program
of lectures advancing Elad’s thesis that its unearthed findings prove
its historical claims. Palestinian community activists in Silwan
joined with Israeli Jews from Ta‘ayush (Living Together) and
“Solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah” to organize a demonstration exposing
Elad’s political manipulation of archaeology.

The call for the demonstration explained: “We will be there to remind

everyone that the Elad Association is not a research institution interested in

archaeology, but a political tool for the Judaization of East
Jerusalem through the expulsion of the Palestinian inhabitants. We
will remind them that they are in an occupied village called Silwan,
and not in a Biblical tourist site.”

The protest organizers continued: “Various state organs that are
supportive of Elad’s project, like the Israeli police, the Jerusalem
municipality, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and many others,
are trying…to hide from the public eye the fact that these excavations
are carried out in the service of the settlements.”
Historical “Facts on the Ground”
The atmosphere in Wadi Hilwa was already heated. On August 26, for the
third time according to Arab residents, Elad settlers attempted to
break down the iron door of the mosque near the Pool of Shiloah using
an acetylene torch. Wadi Hilwa resident Muhammad Qara’in called the
Jerusalem police for assistance, but the duty officer hung up on him.
When clashes began between Arab residents and settlers the Border
Guards arrived and began shooting live ammunition and tear gas at the

Two settler cars were torched and the windshields of
several others were smashed in the melée. Police cordoned off Wadi
Hilwa. But this measure did not prevent the continuation of clashes
the next night, since the aggravating factors — the Elad settlers —
are in the middle of the neighborhood.

Since 1994 Elad has been underwriting archaeological excavations to
supply proof for its version of Silwan’s history. In the process, they
are destroying evidence of the presence of many other peoples and
cultures on the site – 21 strata dating from the time of the
Canaanites, who established the first permanent settlement in Silwan
some 5,000 years ago, and the levels of the Muslims who ruled the
place from the mid-seventh to the early twentieth centuries.
Elad also began seizing Palestinian homes in Silwan in 1991 and
settling Jewish families in them, using dubious legal maneuvers that
were criticized by a 1992 commission of inquiry appointed by the
Israeli government. But Jerusalem municipal executive authorities have
done nothing to remove Elad from the Palestinian homes it has
illegally occupied. Elad now controls about 25 percent of the Wadi
Hilwa neighborhood as well as other properties in Silwan.
Some Israeli archaeologists accept Elad’s claims that its excavations
are “scientific” and unrelated to its settlement project. Other
renowned Israeli archaeologists contest Elad’s version of Silwan’s
biblical history. According to Benjamin Kedar, chairman of the board
of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Elad is “an organization with a
declared ideological agenda, which presents the history of the City of
David in a biased way.” To date, no conclusive archaeological evidence
affirming the presence of King David or King Solomon or of a Jewish
temple on the scale described in the Bible has been found in Silwan or
Policing Protest
Although the Elad tour and conference were in a national park and open
to the public, police and Border Guards blocked the access of the
demonstrators on the grounds that, “You are leftists,” as one officer
put it. Daniel Dukarevich, a physician and an immigrant to Israel from
the former Soviet Union, attempted to cross the police barrier and
attend the conference. Border Guards seized him and beat him
viciously. Dukarevich was immediately surrounded by a group of young
women who bravely tried to protect him — and themselves after the
Border Guards began beating them as well. Several demonstrators
recorded the incident and later uploaded their video footage to

Others chanted, “Brave soldiers are beating [female]
demonstrators,” while drummers, a regular presence at demonstrations,
kept up a military cadence. Dukarevich was eventually dragged away by
police with blood streaming down his face. Police can later be seen
ushering a settler car through the barricade.

Veteran CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl and a crew from “60 Minutes”
happened to be on the scene to do a story about Jewish settlement in
East Jerusalem. Stahl’s jaw dropped and her face became visibly
strained as she watched the beating. When some semblance of calm was
restored, she interviewed a Wadi Hilwa resident who told her,

“The Elad organization will not be successful in its attempts to falsify
the history of this region and to ignore the indigenous people of the
village. The collusion between Israeli authorities and ‘private’
settlement enterprises such as Elad are clear to us all — highlighted
by the military’s attempts to shut down this demonstration today.”
Stahl’s story has not yet aired.

Later, ten more Jewish demonstrators who attempted to enter the
conference were arrested. They were taken off to the jail and
courthouse complex housed in former pilgrim hostels in the Russian
Compound — a picturesque plot of land in central Jerusalem originally
owned by the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox cathedral. After the
British conquered Jerusalem in 1917 they expropriated the area, except
for the church itself, to build a government center. The state of
Israel compensated the Soviet Union for the land in 1964 with $3.5
million worth of oranges.
Five of the detained demonstrators were released at 1:30 am the next
day. One of them, Matan Cohen, is a student at Hampshire College and a
member of Students for Justice in Palestine on that campus. He was one
of the prominent organizers of the campaign that led to Hampshire’s
February 2009 divestment from six corporations with holdings in
companies complicit in Israeli human rights violations in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. (College administrators claim the divestment
was unrelated to the activists’ demands, though the president
acknowledged “the good work of Students for Justice in Palestine that
brought this issue to the attention of the committee.”) Cohen had
spent most of his summer break working with the renowned Israeli
filmmaker, Udi Aloni, teaching film to youth in the Jenin refugee camp
in the northern West Bank.

As a condition of his release, police officers demanded that Cohen sign a

document consenting not to return to East Jerusalem for three months.

Although he was due to return to Hampshire for his senior year within days, he told them,

“I’m not signing anything and I’m not leaving before the others are also
released.” Frustrated with Cohen’s resolute stand, the police eventually let him go without conditions.

When the court opened for business on September 2, Cohen and ten
others who had participated in the demonstration were present to check
on the status of those who had not yet been released. There they met
Nasir Ghawi, the head of household of one of the four Palestinian
families who have been evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah
neighborhood of East Jerusalem, also to make way for Jewish settlers.
Further evictions are threatened. Ghawo is the most articulate
spokesperson for all the Sheikh Jarrah evictees. He and his lawyer
were in court to argue that someone acting for the Sephardic Community
Committee, which claims to own his home, had falsified the eviction
order by adding names not included on the original court document to
it. “I only want basic justice,” he said.

 “If the document is falsified, than we should be returned to our home and the settlers
removed until the case is settled.” The court postponed the hearing on
the forgery question until November and the Ghawi family remains in
the street. It had earlier ruled similarly with regard to the Hanun

The relationship between the Jews who had participated in the Silwan
demonstration and Nasir Ghawi was warm, familiar and mutually
supportive. All of the Jews present were regular participants in the
weekly demonstrations held at Sheikh Jarrah since November 2009 to
protest the eviction of Palestinian families from the neighborhood.
Ghawi knew most of them by name or face.

He speaks fluent Hebrew, which makes it easier for those who do not

speak Arabic to get to know him well. (Ta‘ayush has members who are

Palestinian citizens of Israel, but the Jerusalem branch is an entirely Jewish group today,
although they work closely with Palestinians in both Sheikh Jarrah and
the south Hebron hills.)

Since most East Jerusalem Palestinians speak at least some Hebrew,
there is less pressure on Jewish activists there to learn Arabic. Sara
Benninga, who was prominent in the demonstration at Silwan (and also
in the Sheikh Jarrah demonstrations), due to her extraordinary stamina
in leading chants in Arabic, Hebrew and English, said: “We know we
should learn Arabic. I have tried to do it several times. But it is
hard to find the time while working, going to school and maintaining
political activity.”

The language dynamics are somewhat different in
the West Bank, where many of the prominent young Jewish activists
speak at least enough Arabic for basic communication and several, like
Matan Cohen, are totally fluent. Many West Bank men, of course, speak
Hebrew because of their extensive experience in Israeli jails. But for
Cohen and his peers in Anarchists Against the Wall, the language of
communication whenever possible is Arabic.

More surprising than the cordiality between Arab and Jewish protesters
is the intimacy between Jewish protesters and the police. The police
and the protesters recognize each other and address each other by
name. It is obvious who the police commanders are; the officers
imagine that the demonstrators have a similar hierarchy, although this
is far from the case. At the Silwan protest, the police commander
asked Asaf Sharon, a Ph.D. student in political philosophy at Stanford
University, to step aside and speak to him one on one.

Sharon later reported that the officer told him, “If you calm your people down,
there won’t be any more arrests. If you don’t, I will start arresting
more of you” (Dukarevich had already been taken away). Sharon held up
his wrists as though they were already handcuffed and said, “Take me
first.” He was later arrested for trying to enter the conference area.

A New Protest Generation
At Sheikh Jarrah and in Silwan, as in the villages of the West Bank,
the Jewish protesters demonstratively disregard the authority of the
Israeli state, although Palestinians must be more circumspect since
they would likely suffer grave consequences for openly challenging the
occupation authorities. The Jewish protesters aim to make the police
and the army pay as high a price as possible for continuing the
occupation. Every demonstration requires the deployment of extra
police or soldiers to a place where they would not normally be.

Every arrest requires the time and energy of the court system, whether or
not detainees are eventually charged. Every instance of gratuitous
police brutality — and there have been many in East Jerusalem, even
according to Israeli courts — delegitimizes the police, exposes their
political bias and draws more establishment personalities into the

Intense direct confrontation with the authority of the Israeli state
is a considered strategy, according to one of the influential
behind-the-scenes organizers of the Jewish participation in the
protests in Sheikh Jarrah. It is designed to produce “a transition
from protest to struggle…. We are there to struggle in a subversive

The protest organizers are consciously striving to create a
conflict between the many “left Zionists” among whom it has become
fashionable to attend the weekly demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah —
people like prestigious Hebrew University professors Menachem Brinker,
Moshe Halbertal, Avishai Margalit and Zeev Sternhell, novelist David
Grossman, and former speaker of the Knessset Avraham Burg, who
typically function as a loyal opposition — and the Israeli state
apparatus. But the young organizers are not concerned with ideology as

Some call themselves Zionists; some do not. Some are secular; some are
modern Orthodox or formerly observant but respectful of religion. As
such, the new protest generation has a very different social makeup
than the mostly older and resolutely secularist “left Zionists” of
Peace Now, the nearly defunct Meretz party and the Labor Party. The
protests are animated by social networks that have been formed over
the last decade in struggles against Israel’s separation barrier and
efforts to protect the Palestinians of the south Hebron hills from the
depredations of violent, radical settlers.

The Arab and Jewish protesters regard the creeping Judaization of

East Jerusalem — which is now most aggressive in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah —

as a mortal threat to Palestinian-Israeli peace. Rather than ideology, the glue
that binds the Jewish protesters together and the Jews and the
Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan to each other is moral
outrage over blatant injustice and discriminatory application of
Israeli law.

However many states there may or may not be on the horizon in Israel
and Palestine, the new generation of Israeli protesters see themselves
as building a culture of peace and living together with Arabs in
opposition to the segregationist version of peace — “us here, them
there” — long promoted by the “left Zionist” peace camp. This approach
to peace remains marginal in Israeli society, although it has many
Palestinian proponents, even among those who remain committed to a
two-state solution. It is surely more hopeful than the diplomatic
exercise now underway.
Joel Beinin is professor of Middle East history at Stanford University
and a contributing editor of Middle East Report. He filed this article
from Jerusalem.

Ran Greenstein
Johannesburg, South Africa

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