Dorothy Online Newsletter


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC

Dear Friends,

Tonight Israel’s leaders are gloating—Obama has changed course.  If at the outset of the Egyptian revolt Obama was with the protesters and insisted that transition must begin immediately, now he says that Mubarak should not leave too soon.  He must first see to the transition—as if Mubarak could or would, and as if America really wanted a transition!  So now again American and Israeli policy march lockstep to keep things in Egypt as they were.  Disgusting!

Tonight’s 7 items begin with one on more colonization on Israel’s part.  Palestinians will be evicted to make way for Jews in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah.  Israel is running helter skelter to show Palestinians that they have no future here—that their lives will never be normal human lives, that they will never be able to be sure that their home today and of the past 50 years will be their home tomorrow, that their children won’t be jailed and tortured, that they will never have a voice in governing their destinies. Never!  If some other country treated Jews as Israel treats Palestinians the whole world might shout.  But who cares about Palestinians!!!

In item 2 Merav Michaeli argues that we have to get over our fear of Arabs as human beings.  This so-called fear is undoubtedly a characteristic that creates racism, and might be true of much of the population.  But leaders here and elsewhere have motives for stirring fear.  Israel’s leaders do not “fear Arabs as human beings.”  They might detest Arabs, feel superior to them.  But if they fear anything respecting Arabs it is the so-called ‘demographic threat.’  The Israeli Jew’s sense of superiority comes in part from propaganda and faulty education and in part from inbreeding.

In item 3 Akiva Eldar furnishes statistics to show that ‘unlike Egyptians, Israelis support restricting expression.’  Yep. Some people have told me when I have pointed out that Israel is not a democracy, that it is “an imperfect democracy, but a democracy nonetheless.”  Well, if freedom of speech is a key trait of democracy, Eldar’s stats throw that argument into question.

Item 4 is an interview of Diana Buttu.  I haven’t seen or spoken to Diana in a number of years.  But back then, when the Oslo Accords were born, and when she and Michael Tarazi, and other Palestinians did speaking tours in Israel trying to convince Israelis that the Accords would bring peace, I saw her quite frequently, and arranged as many speaking engagements as I could for Diana and Michael.  They, I thought, with their Western appearance, with their perfect English, and with their excellent speaking abilities, their capacity to respond to even ugly and demeaning questions intelligently and temperately would surely convince the majority of the people who heard them.

After all, they were just like us.   I was wrong.  Except for people like myself and others who leaned towards the Zionist left (as I did in those days, before I had learned to look and listen and think more carefully) and the other left (to which I now belong), they did not seem to convince other Israelis, not because of any failings on Diana’s and Michael’s parts, but because of Israeli fear and ignorance.  I look back at those days as naive ones on my part.  They were my baby steps into realizing that Zionism was never good for Jews (and of course horrid for Palestinians), that a country for people of a given religion, skin color, or culture was an idea that not only was wrong, but also had no footing in the West to which Israel so wanted to belong, though being situated in the Middle East.

While Western countries were going multicultural, Israel wanted to close itself off to any culture but the Jewish one—as if that were a single entity!

Seeing this interview with Diana below suddenly made me realize the huge distance that I have traversed since those days—days of innocence and hope.

Item 5 is a statement from the protesters in Tahrir square.  It is in English followed in Arabic (I reversed the order, which in the original had Arabic first).  It is a brave statement.  I can only wish with all my heart that the protesters will see their dreams fulfilled.  At the present stage the likelihood of this happening does not seem very promising.

Item 6 is by Sam Bahour, who is always worth listening to.  Sam was born and raised in Ohio, but came to Palestine about the time of the Oslo Accords hoping to play a part in rebuilding Palestine.  In the essay below he argues that “Palestine is the key to Arab democracy.”

Item 7 is merely good news: Wael Ghonim, a leader of the revolt, has been released after having disappeared over a week ago.

Am  hoping that all the detainees will soon be released, that there will be no more bloodshed, and that in the end the protests will gain their goals not only of deposing Mubarak but also of building a democratic society.  How anyone can argue that Mubarak must be there to manage the transition I cannot fathom.  Mubarak has no more an idea of what democracy should be than I have of what is going through Obama’s mind right now.

All the best,



1. Haaretz,

February 7, 2011

Jerusalem council set to approve Jewish housing in Arab neighborhood

Several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah will be evicted to pave way for two new buildings meant to comprise 13 apartments.

By Nir Hasson

The Jerusalem Municipal Committee for Planning and Building is expected to approve Monday the construction of two buildings that will include 13 apartments for Jewish residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

Backing the plan are settler organizations who currently occupy three homes in the neighborhood. Following the plan’s approval, it will be necessary to evict a number of Palestinian families living on the site in order for construction to commence.

The planning committee is also expected to approve a new access road south of Har Homa, which will enable the expansion of the neighborhood.

According to the plan to be brought today for approval, two buildings will be razed in the western part of the neighborhood where, until now, nearly no Jews live. In its place, two new buildings will be built. One will have 10 apartments and the other, three.

In both cases Chaim Silverstein, a well known figure in right-wing circles in Jerusalem, is proposing the plans to the municipality. The companies behind the project are registered in the United States, and are probably front companies set up by right-wing activists in order to transfer funds for the purchase of real estate in Israel.

Silverstein has power of attorney rights in both companies, Debril and Velpin.

For the past 18 months there has been a struggle between Arabs and Jews over the activities of settlers in Sheikh Jarrah and against efforts to evict Palestinian families from the neighborhood.

The settlers have been able to expand their hold in the neighborhood because prior to 1948 there was a Jewish neighborhood in Sheikh Jarrah. The court recognized the right of Jews who inherited properties to reclaim their properties. Since then, the settlers are working hard to convince the owners of the properties to sell them the rights so that they could evict the Palestinians and populate the area with Jewish families.

A Supreme Court ruling in 2001 included the possibility of applying for Jewish property rights in the western portion of the neighborhood, and right-wing activists announced that they intended to expand their activities in the area over that portion of Sheikh Jarrah.

“Continuing Jewish settlement in Sheikh Jarrah will seriously harm relations with the Palestinians and will break all agreements that Jewish neighborhoods will remain under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods will be under Palestinian sovereignty,” says Yosef Alalu, a Meretz city councillor.


2.  Haaretz,

February 7, 2011

Overcoming the primitive fear of Arabs as humans

It seems that British Prime Minister David Cameron and other white Westerners have a primeval fear of the Arab mob.

By Merav Michaeli

Overcoming our primitive fear of Arabs as humans

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the other day that multiculturalism in his country has failed. It did not succeed in promoting a uniform identity, based on the principles of democracy. Cameron – exactly like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said the same thing in October – doesn’t really mean multiculturalism in the sense of many and varied cultures, but is rather talking about the “existence of the ideology of extremist Islam.” This despite the findings of a poll by the Open Society Institute that found that an overwhelming majority of 86 percent of Muslims living in Britain (who constitute only 3 million out of 62 million residents ), define themselves as British, and only after that as Muslims.

Thus, without any relation to the facts, what Cameron is basically saying is that “this swarthy Islam doesn’t fit in so well in our nice white country.” It seems that the white Westerner’s primeval fear of the Arab mob is uncontrollable, and is sparked even if the mob is in Egypt and demanding freedom. Many Israelis who travel to London and return astounded by the fact that “the streets are full of Arabs,” can probably relate. Indeed, this white, Western fear exists here to the same extent, and here too it is reinforced by the masses demonstrating in Egypt. So there’s a good chance that we’ll soon hear the prime minister or one of his ministers taking a page from Cameron in justifying more measures against the Arab community in Israel.

Yet, there is a difference between Cameron – who, like Nicolas Sarkozy, is addressing anyone who is Western, Christian and white, and excluding everything that is black and Muslim – and Merkel, who in her remarks recognized Islam as part of Germany, and took responsibility for her country’s failure to integrate immigrants. Actually, she spoke a truth that is not uttered here: “We lied to ourselves, we thought they wouldn’t stay long, that they would disappear one day. But that’s not the reality.”

Merkel insists that her immigrants and Muslim citizens speak the local language, obey the law and find jobs. In Germany, Britain and Israel, the Muslim and Arab minority speaks the local language and obeys the law, but when it comes to finding employment, the true meaning of multiculturalism emerges.

The demand for multiculturalism arises only when a minority is excluded and discriminated against. When a private individual of any religion or origin achieves equality, when the job market is open to him, when he leads a dignified life, when his personal and civil rights, including freedom of religion and culture, are maintained – there is no need for multiculturalism. The demand by a particular group or nationality for multiculturalism arises when a minority suffers from rejection in a society or state that does not want to include that religious, ethnic or national minority.

The problem is not multiculturalism, but discrimination, racism and deprivation. When members of such a minority suffer from inequality, poverty, unemployment and violence, they segregate in their group, with its religious and cultural values, because society at large does not allow them to integrate and adopt its values.

For a long time Arab society in Israel had no demands regarding nationality or identity. But after many years of discrimination and deprivation directed at Arab society as a whole, and racism and exclusion aimed at Arabs as individuals, in addition to the protracted occupation of the Palestinian people – Israeli Arab society has gradually developed into a national minority with demands. Nevertheless, its overwhelming majority is eager to integrate. Israel knows in principle that economically this integration is in its best interest. The question is, can it overcome the primitive fear of Arabs as human beings.


3.  Haaretz,

February 7, 2011

Unlike Egyptians, Israelis support restricting expression

Nearly 40 percent of Israelis believe there is too much freedom of expression in Israel.

By Akiva Eldar

While the newspaper headlines the world over excitedly told of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, most of them young, demonstrating day and night at Tahrir Square in favor of democratic reforms, a small report appeared in Israeli newspapers. It recounted that in a new survey held among Israeli Jews, 52 percent of those asked agreed to the need to restrict freedom of expression where a report threatens the image of the state. The survey, carried out by the Geocartography firm for the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, shows that 64 percent of those surveyed are willing to see the state limit the freedom of expression in conditions of a security threat. Similar results were shown on limiting academic freedom.

The Israeli Democracy Index for 2010, published recently by the Israel Democracy Institute, shows that nearly 40 percent of Israelis believe there is too much freedom of expression in Israel. 59 percent of Jews who identify with the right, 49 percent of those who say they are center, and 39 percent of those who believe they are left, think that human and civil rights groups such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and B’Tselem cause damage to the country. Avigdor Lieberman knew what he was doing when he declared war on them.

President Hosni Mubarak must be jealous of his Jewish neighbor who heads the “only democracy in the Middle East.” The subjects of Benjamin Netanyahu applaud as they watch television (unless they are absorbed by the show Big Brother ). The Democracy Index has shown for some years now that 80 percent of Israelis do not believe they can influence government policy. In the eyes of a large portion of citizens, civil order precedes the right to protest and demonstrate; moreover, six out of 10 Jews believe that the police must disperse demonstrations, even if they do not threaten human lives or property and only disrupt traffic.

Indeed, there is no room to compare the Egyptian worker, who lives on humus and pita and has the price of his flour raised, to the Israeli clerk who is required to pay a few more shekels for a tank of gasoline. True, in Israel they do not arrest bloggers for insulting the president’s honor. On the other hand, Egypt does not hold for more than 43 years millions of people under military occupation, at an enormous cost to its security, political standing and economy. Even the prime minister of the right, Benjamin Netanyahu, said at Bar-Ilan University that this cannot go on, and announced his support for a two-state solution.

So he said. Did anyone hear about any protest against the fact that Israeli governments have ignored the Arab Peace Initiative of March 2002, which offers Israel normalization with all the Arab states in return for withdrawing to the 1967 borders (the Arab League is supporting an exchange of territory ) and an agreed solution to the refugee problem? “Israeli society prefers conformity, self-censorship and willing obedience,” notes political psychologist Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University. “This attitude is a recipe for arrested thought, blindness and deafness.”

Bar-Tal, who researched the obstructions to peace, says that the authorities and the army have, for years, flooded the public, with the help of conscripted media, with information that fits the narrative they want to pass on (“there is no partner,” “unified Jerusalem,” “the fate of Ariel is that of Tel Aviv” ). He says that from this point of view our situation is much worse than that in “closed societies” like the eastern bloc of the 1970s. In those countries the citizens knew that the regime was giving them false information, sought other sources of information and worked for reforms that would bring change.

The Israeli public believes the authorities and worships “security sources.” It shuts its ears to different voices and prefers to shut the mouths of those few who dampen the joy and warn of isolation and bloodshed.

According to the Democracy Index, 60 percent of Israelis (Jews and Arabs ) support the view that “a number of powerful leaders will be more useful to the country than all the discussions and the laws.” It is not surprising that many Israelis, perhaps most of them, including senior analysts, share the sorrow of President Mubarak and are disappointed with President Barack Obama, who abandoned him.

Netanyahu should offer his Egyptian friend political asylum. Mubarak will feel here like his better days at home.


4.  [from Mondoweiss February 5, 2011; forwarded by Ofer]

Only serious dissent on the Palestinian street will change the game: Former PLO negotiator Diana Buttu on the ‘Palestine Papers’ and the Egyptian uprising

Feb 04, 2011

Alex Kane

The publication of nearly 1,700 leaked files by Al Jazeera on negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority has been largely overshadowed by the uprising in Egypt. But that doesn’t mean they don’t matter for the future of Israel/Palestine.

I recently caught up with Diana Buttu, a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Negotiations Support Unit, a team that is mentioned throughout the “Palestine Papers” and where it is suspected the leak came from. Buttu discussed the meaning of the “Palestine Papers,” what they say about the “peace process,” and the current Egyptian uprising and what it may mean on the Palestinian street.

Alex Kane: Could you talk about your overall take on the leaked documents that have been published by Al Jazeera?

Diana Buttu: Having now gone through a lot of the documents—of course, not all of the documents, but many of them—the overall impression that I’m left with is that of a very powerful party, which is Israel, trying to continue their control and authority over a very weak party being the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But the story doesn’t just stop there.

I think that it’s become, at least clear to me and perhaps to others, that this mantra we’ve been hearing for many, many years—that we all know what a solution is going to look like, we all know what a settlement is going to look like—is actually not the case, particularly when you read the transcripts of the Israeli officials. That’s one major thing that I come away with.

The second major conclusion that I walk away with is that of a PLO leadership stubbornly sticking to one strategy, and only one strategy: negotiations, and only negotiations, despite the fact that there are so many other options out there. It’s as though they’ve cornered themselves by demanding negotiations, and then when they actually happen, they didn’t have any other strategy to get out of negotiations in the event that Israel was going to be stubborn.

AK: What would you say these revelations mean for the entire “peace process”?

DB: I don’t think there really is a “peace process.” There’s been a lot of process, but not a whole lot of peace, and I just don’t think that things are going to change. It hasn’t changed over the course of the past 17 years. I don’t think this is going to make the United States wake up, and it’s certainly not going to make the Israelis wake up, and in fact I don’t think the PLO will wake up, unless there’s some very serious dissent, and I just don’t see that happening right now, even though diaspora Palestinians are quite upset about what’s going on. But we haven’t seen that translate into anything on the streets of Palestine. I don’t think this is going to change anything in the “peace process.” They’re going to continue doing this over and over again because this is the way they’ve done it for the past 17 years, and unless there is a sea change of opinion that makes the PLO stand up and take notice or makes any of the other parties stand up and take notice, I’m afraid that it’s just going to be the same old, same old.

AK: Given that there’s been a muted reaction on the Palestinian street at the same time that there’s an uprising going on in Egypt, do you see any possible connection between these events in the future?

DB: Right now I don’t see that there’s going to be a connection. It’s important to step back: part of the reason why we’re seeing a muted reaction in Palestine is because of the way the documents were presented. Whether you believe the documents or you don’t believe the documents—and I have no reason to question the documents, particularly after members of the PLO have come out and verified the authenticity of the documents—the main problem is that they were presented in somewhat of a sensationalist way.

One example that I can give is that Al Jazeera tied the assassination of al-Madhoun, who is a member of Fatah, of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and they tried to claim that because the Israelis made a request for this man to be assassinated, that somehow the PA acquiesced or condoned his killing. That’s a bit of a stretch. There is a lot of security cooperation that takes place between the PA and Israel—and it’s outrageous, it includes torture and mass arrest—but there was really no proof to bring it to the level that the PA was actually collaborating with Israel over this man’s killing.

And so, in the way that the documents were presented, the debate in Palestine now has not turned into a debate over the main issues, which are accountability, transparency, red lines, whether we should believe in this negotiations process, and whether the PLO has adopted alternative strategies. None of that is going to take place because instead the debate is currently over whether Al Jazeera crossed the line. And until we see something different, where it’s not a question of shooting the messenger, but we have the message that’s presented in a coherent way without the sensationalism, then I don’t think we’re going to have any real debate any time soon, unfortunately.

AK: Would you say that there’s been a marked shift in the negotiating posture of Palestinians since you last were part of a team involved in negotiations, is that shift represented in the “Palestine Papers,” and lastly, if so, what does that shift represent?

DB: Yes, there’s definitely a shift, and the reason why there was a shift is twofold. One is that the second intifada took place, and the PLO was suddenly stuck. Rather than capitalizing on the intifada, and the people power that it brought them, they ended up somehow being apologetic for the intifada and therefore backtracked on some positions. What were the positions they backtracked from? At the time that I was there, there was still a claim for the right of return.

It’s interesting, if you look at the documents from roughly 2000-2004, the positions that are taken are actually quite principled in some instances. For example, there is a demand for the right of return. There is the notion that all of the settlements are illegal. There is then a little bit of a backtrack by saying “land swaps,” but on a one-to-one basis. And so you see this kind of principled position, but then there’s a backtracking, and one of the reasons was the intifada and the complete failure on the part of the PA to use the intifada to their advantage, to actually harness popular support and alter their negotiating position.

The second reason, and I think this is the much more dangerous reason, is that during the period that I was there and a little bit after, you saw initiative after initiative come forward, and all of these initiatives, while never accepted by the PLO directly, were tacitly accepted by the PLO. For example, the Geneva Initiative was something that was never adopted by the PLO, and yet, you see a couple of things that are interesting. The first is those commercials you saw with Erekat and others in which they come forward and say “I need a partner”—those were all sponsored by the Geneva Initiative. And if you see, for example, the statements that American officials have come forward and said, they’ve all been saying the same thing, which is that “this reflects what happened during the negotiations.” But it didn’t. It reflects what happened after the negotiations fell apart. It was their own initiatives that they were putting forward—the Nusseibeh-Ayalon initiative, the Geneva Initiative—and this is where it becomes dangerous, because the Americans and others seem to assume that silence equals acquiescence. And unfortunately, the PLO falls into the trap of de facto acquiescing to these initiatives, when they align themselves with these things, such as they did with the various commercials, and when they don’t come out and completely reject them. I think this is why we’re now seeing a shift. While there were principled positions, if you believe in a two-state solution, the PLO has consistently undermined its own position because they didn’t really know how to deal with the intifada and because they never really objected to these major initiatives that were put on the table.

AK: And lastly: I know that you don’t think the papers will have a huge impact on the ground, but with the combination of what the “Palestine Papers” revealed and the unrest and uprising in Egypt, do you think that any of this popular anger in Egypt might be translated onto the street in Palestine and directed at either the PA or Israel?

DB: Optimism is one thing, but if I’m to speculate, I think the answer is going to be no. And I think it’s important to keep in mind that what’s going on in Egypt is a little bit different than what’s happening in Palestine, and there’s a lot of issues mitigating against another uprising.

The first is that the government of Salam Fayyad has tried to do a good job, using donor funds, to create a middle-class, and to give credit, and all of these sorts of things, and they’ve largely managed to silence a lot of dissent.

The second major factor is that there is a very repressive police regime that is now in place. It hasn’t been in place for as long as the Mubarak regime was in place, but nonetheless this is something new for Palestinians.

A third factor is that people aren’t really examining the merits of the papers, but rather in the way they were presented.

And the fourth thing is that the Palestinian street is already very divided, and if there’s one message that people are calling for, it’s that of national unity. And I think that people fear that going against the authority will somehow serve to undermine any attempts at national unity, even though there really are none right now. There also may be a fear factor of not wanting Hamas to take over.

It’s not ripe in the same way that Egypt was ripe. Again, not to say that it won’t happen. I just don’t think it’s going to happen in the short term.

Alex Kane blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia at  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.


5.  [forwarded by Sarah Hawes]


Arabic follows the English

A Statement from the protesters at Cairo’s Tahrir square

to the Egyptian people

The President’s promises and the bloody events of Wednesday February 2

We the protesters who are currently on sit-in at Tahrir (liberation) square in Cairo since January 25, 2011 strongly condemn the brutal attack carried out by the governing National Democratic Party’s (NDP) mercenaries at our location on Wednesday February 2, under the guise of “rally” in support of President Mubarak. This attack continues on Thursday February 3. We regret that some young people have joined these thugs and criminals, whom the NDP is accustomed to hire during elections, to march them off after spreading several falsehoods circulated by the regime media about us and our goals. These goals that aim at changing the political system to a one that guarantees freedom, dignity and social justice to all citizens are also the goals of the youth. Therefore we want to clarify the following.

Firstly, we are a group of Muslim and Christian Egyptians; the overwhelming majority of us does not belong to political parties and have no previous political activism. Our movement involves elderly and children, peasants, workers, professionals, students and pensioners. Our movement cannot be classified as “paid for” or “directed by” a limited few because it attracted millions who responded to its emblem of removing the regime. People joined us last Tuesday in Cairo and other governorates in a scene that witnessed no one case of violence, property assault or harassment to anyone.

Secondly, our movement is accused of being funded from abroad, supported by the United States, as being instigated by Hamas, as under the leadership of the president of the National Assembly for change (Mohamed El-Baradie) and last but not least, as directed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many accusations like these prove to be false. Protesters are all Egyptians who have clear and specific national objectives. Protesters have no weapons or foreign equipment as claimed by instigators. The broad positive response by the people to our movement’s goals reveals that these are the goals of the Egyptian masses in general, not any internal or external faction or entity.

Thirdly, the regime and its paid media falsely blame us, demonstrators, for the tension and instability in the streets of Egypt in recent days and therefore for damaging our nation’s interests and security. Our answer to them is: It is not the peaceful protesters who released the criminal offenders from prison to the unguarded streets to practice looting and plundering. It is not the peaceful protesters who have imposed a curfew starting at 3 o’clock PM. It is not the peaceful protesters who have stopped the work in banks, bakeries and gas stations. When protesters organized its one-million demonstration it came up in the most magnificent and organized form and ended peacefully. It is not the protestors who killed 300 people some with live ammunition, and wounding more than 2,000 people in the last few days.

Fourthly, President Mubarak came out on Tuesday to announce that he will not be nominated in the upcoming presidential election and that he will modify two articles in the Constitution, and engage in dialogue with the opposition. However the State media has attacked us when we refused his “concession” and decided to go on with our movement. Our demand that Mubark steps down immediately is not a personal matter, but we have clear reasons for it which include:

* His promise of not to run again is not new. He has promised when he came to power in 1981 that he will not run for more than two periods but he continued for more than 30 years.

* His speech did not put any collateral for not nominating his son “Gamal”, who remains until the moment a member of the ruling party, and can stand for election that will not be under judicial supervision since he ignored any referring to the amendment of article 88 of the Constitution.

* He also considered our movement a “plot directed by a force” that works against the interests of the nation as if responding to the demands of the public is a “shame” or “humiliation”.

* As regards to his promise of conducting a dialogue with the opposition, we know how many times over the past years the regime claimed this and ended up with enforcing the narrow interests of the Mubarak State and the few people who control it.

And the events of Wednesday proved our stand is vindicated. While the President was giving his promises, the leaders of his regime were organizing (along with paid thugs and wanted criminals equipped with swords, knives and Molotov bombs) a brutal attack plot against us in Tahrir square. Those thugs and criminals were accompanied by the NDP members who fired machine guns on unarmed protesters who were trapped on the square ground, killing at least 7 and wounding hundreds of us critically. This was done in order to end our peaceful national popular movement and preserve the status quo.

Our movement is Egyptian – Our movement is legitimate- Our movement is continuing

The youth of Tahrir Square sit-in

February 3, 2011


بيان للشعب من معتصمين بالتحرير – الرجاء النشر والتوزيع

بيان للشعب

أول القصيد: وعود الرئيس وأحداث الأربعاء 2 فبراير

نحن محتجون منذ 25 يناير الماضي، ومعتصمون في ميدان التحرير، ندين  بشدة الاعتداء الغاشم الذي نفذته مرتزقة الحزب الوطني علينا في مقر اعتصامنا يوم الأربعاء  2 فبراير تحت غطاء المظاهرة المؤيدة للرئيس لمبارك ويستمر العدوان يوم الخميس 3 فبراير. ونأسف لدخول البعض من شباب مصر مع البلطجية والمجرمين ممن اعتاد الوطني تأجيرهم في الانتخابات، وساقوهم علينا بعد أن أشاعوا اكاذيب عديدة يروجها النظام وإعلامه بخصوصنا وبخصوص اهدافنا المنادية بتغيير للنظام السياسي يكفل لنا ولجموع المواطنين الحرية وكرامة العيش والعدالة الاجتماعية، والتي هي ايضا من اهداف هذا الشباب، ولذلك نريد توضيح الاتي:

أولا، نحن مجموعة من شباب مصر مسلمين ومسيحيين، أغلبيتنا الكاسحة لا تنتمي لأحزاب سياسية ولا لها نشاط سياسي من قبل. حركتنا ضمت شيوخا وأطفالا، فلاحين وعمال ومهنيين، طلبة وموظفين على المعاش. حركتنا لا يمكن تصنيفها على أنها مدفوعة أو محركة من قلة بحكم الملايين الذين استجابوا لشعاراتها باسقاط النظام، وانضموا اليها يوم الثلاثاء الماضي في القاهرة والمحافظات، في حدث لم يشهد حالة عنف واحدة أو اعتداء على الممتلكات أو تحرش من أحد بأحد.

ثانيا، حركتنا متهمة بأنها ممولة من الخارج، وتمدها الولايات المتحدة، وأنها قامت بتحريض من حماس، وبأنها تحت قيادة وبتنظيم رئيس الجمعية الوطنية للتغيير محمد البرادعي، وأخيرا وليس آخرا، بأنها موجهة من قبل الاخوان المسلمين. وتعدد الاتهامات بهذا الشكل في حد ذاته يثبت زيفها. المحتجون كلهم مصريون أهدافهم أهدافا وطنية واضحة ومحددة. المحتجون ليس لديهم لا سلاح ولا معدات أجنبية كما يدعي المحرضين. واستجابة الناس الواسعة لها تكشف أنها هي ذاتها أهداف جموع المصريين عموما، وليس أي فصيل أو كيان داخلي وخارجي.

ثالثا، يلقي النظام وإعلامه المأجور زورا وبهتانا بالمسئولية عن التوتر وعدم الاستقرار الذي شهدته شوارع مصر في الأيام الماضية، وبالتالي عما يسببه ذلك من أضرار لمصالحنا ومصالح أمتنا ولأمننا جميعا، على الشباب المتظاهر. فليس المتظاهرون سلميا هم الذين أخرجوا المجرمين من السجون ليخلقوا حالة السلب والنهب في شوارع المحروسة. ليس المتظاهرون هم الذين فرضوا حظر تجول يبدأ من الثالثة وأوقفوا العمل في البنوك والمخابز ومحطات الوقود. وحين نظم المتظاهرون مظاهرتهم المليونية خرجت في أحلى حلة وأفضل تنظيم، وانتهت سلميا. المتظاهرون ليسوا هم من قتلوا 300 شخص بعضهم بالرصاص الحي، وجرحوا أكثر من ألفي شخص في الأيام الماضية.

رابعا، خرج الرئيس مبارك علينا مساء الثلاثاء ليعلن عدم ترشحه في الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة وتعديله لمادتين في الدستور، وخوض حوار مع المعارضة. وقد هاجمنا الاعلام الرسمي عندما رفضنا “تنازلاته” وقررنا المضي في حركتنا. إن مطلب التنحي الفوري لمبارك ليس مسألة شخصية. لكننا نستند في ذلك على أسباب واضحة من بينها:

الوعد بعدم الترشح ليس جديدا. فقد وعد مبارك عندما جاء رئيسا في 1981 بعدم الترشح لأكثر من فترتين، ليستمر بعدها لأكثر من 30 عاما. كما أن الخطاب لم يضع أي ضمانات لعدم ترشح ابنه جمال، الذي يظل حتى هذه اللحظة عضوا في الحزب الحاكم، ويستطيع ترشيح نفسه في انتخابات لن تتم تحت اشراف قضائي، إذ تجاهل الخطاب الاشارة الى تعديل المادة 88 في الدستور. كما اعتبر الخطاب حركتنا مؤامرة من قوى تعمل ضد مصالح الوطن، وكأن الاستجابة لمطالب الجماهير عار وعيب. وأما فيما يتعلق بالحوار مع المعارضة فكم من حوارات ادعى النظام انه سيقوم بها خلال السنوات الماضية وانتهت بمضي دولة مبارك في طريق المصالح الضيقة لمن يسيطرون عليها.

وجاءت أحداث الأربعاء لتثبت صحة موقفنا. فبينما كان خطاب الرئيس يوعد، كانت قيادات نظامه ترتب مع البلطجية والمسجلين خطر من المأجورين مؤامرة الاعتداء الوحشي في التحرير بالسنج والمطاوي وقنابل المولوتوف، يصاحبهم أعضاء الحزب الوطني بإطلاق الأعيرة النارية بالبنادق الآلية على المتظاهرين العزل المحاصرين في الميدان، الذي أدى إلى مقتل سبعة على الأقل وإصابة المئات، منهم بإصابات بالغة، وذلك لإنهاء حركتنا الشعبية الوطنية والتمهيد لبقاء الحال على ماهو عليه.

حركتنا مصرية – حركتنا مشروعة – حركتنا مستمرة

شباب معتصم بالتحرير


6.  The Guardian,

February 07, 2011

Palestine is the key to Arab democracy

Protesters in Egypt and Tunisia can learn from events in Palestine, the region’s barometer for reform

Sam Bahour

Civil uprisings in the Arab world ‘were coined in the Palestinian context’. Photograph: David Furst/AFP/Getty Images Current events in Egypt and Tunisia have the entire region and beyond glued to their television sets. The all-too-spoken-about Arab street has risen, seemingly from the dead. But while it is satisfying to see a dictatorial head of state being ousted by his own people, it is far too early to rejoice.

What we are witnessing is the removal and replacement of leaders, not an upgrading of the political systems that allowed someone like the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to remain in power for 30 years and then have the audacity to position his son to succeed him, while the Egyptian people sank into deepening poverty. Unrest across the region will force these reactionary regimes to make some minimal changes, such as introducing term limits, which should have been done decades ago. But these knee-jerk legislative changes are solely aimed at persuading the demonstrators to go home.

Likewise, no one should belittle the fact that hundreds of thousands of average citizens are challenging their governments in the streets. This is not like demonstrations as we know them in western countries. It is the real thing. Serious conviction – and sustained repression – is the prerequisite to get many people to challenge a police state that ignores even the most basic human rights.

In the Arab world, civil uprisings – or intifadas, as they are frequently called – were coined in the Palestinian context. However, the context of the first Palestinian intifada was very different to what we are seeing today. Back in 1987 Palestinians genuinely became fed up with the foreign military occupation that Israel maintains to this day. Communities across the West Bank and Gaza took to the streets and sustained their efforts for nearly six years. Demonstrations were only part of the story. The real ingredient to the Palestinians’ ability to remain steadfast was much more complicated. Palestinians are highly political, and they organised themselves in a decentralised fashion and knew how to operate out of Israel’s sight.

But the first intifada was aimed solely at a foreign entity, Israel, and ended with the signing of the infamous Oslo peace accords, which have failed multiple times over the past two decades. The Palestinian leadership tried to pick the fruits of their intifada prematurely and paid a dear price in human, political, economic and social loss.

Egyptians would be well advised to learn from the Palestinians that the window of opportunity for real change comes all too infrequently. They should therefore be very clear on what they desire from this historic episode. I’d guess that the US state department already has more than a few scenarios in place and dealing with these is what the Egyptian people will really be up against in the coming weeks.

The second Palestinian intifada in 2000 had many more similar elements to today’s upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt. Following the collapse of the Camp David II talks and continuing Israeli provocations, the Palestinian street erupted. Although this second uprising was quickly steered to target Israel, the undercurrent at the time was boiling against a Palestinian leadership that was seriously corrupt and refused to shift gear politically, opting instead for a never-ending US-sponsored peace process.

The Palestinian president at the time, Yasser Arafat, knew that the second intifada had the potential to turn on him and the house of cards that he had created, the Palestinian Authority. Arafat knew how to shrewdly get his people to vent their anger elsewhere – towards Israel, the foreign occupier. Arafat thought, like today’s Mubarak and the many other leaders of his generation, that the US would come to his rescue and make things happen. He was wrong. Every major Palestinian political crisis witnessed the traditional Palestinian leadership taking minute steps forward to keep the masses at a distance. Often these steps meant rearranging the cabinet while paying lip service to the demanded structural reforms. Expect the same in Egypt and Tunisia.

Over the years, Palestinians have been able to maintain pressure on their occupier and keep their own quasi-government in check because they were organised at the grassroots level for many years beforehand. This level of deep, sustained organising has been weak to non-existent in most of the Arab world. The police-state governments in Egypt, Tunisia and across the Middle East made sure civil society remained obedient – as the media and the private sector were made to be.

The obvious question is: if Palestinians are so experienced in taking to the streets, why then are there so few serious demonstrations in Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem or Gaza in solidarity with the Egyptian people? The reason is that the Palestinian Authority has been co-opted by a US-dominated and foreign-funded agenda which, in times of crisis, understands a single tool: force. The same applies to the Palestinian government in Gaza, for different reasons. Since the last Palestinian elections, which ended in infighting, the US has equipped, trained and led a new generation of Palestinian security services to serve their old model of Arab world governance – police states and banana republics. Expect the US not to embrace real democracy in the Arab world, but rather to put a new, younger facade on an old and corrupt system of governance.

If you want a barometer for today’s Middle East political temperature, follow Egypt; however, if you want a barometer for tomorrow’s possibilities for serious, sustainable reform, keep your eye on the Palestinian people who are in a dual struggle – one to shed themselves from 43 years of a brutal Israeli occupation and one to create the first Arab model of truly representative and accountable governance. The main factor preventing the Palestinians from continuing on their path to structural reform, following their first genuine elections in 2006, is the refusal of the US to accept the results of those elections. Expect a similar US veto on any forthcoming Egyptian move towards electoral reform that encompasses true representation.

Until the people of the Middle East take reforms seriously and transform their mass demonstrations into sustained, organised efforts that address all aspects of society – political, legislative, economic and social – then the blood and tears invested in this latest round of civil outcry will be wasted.


7.  New York Times,

February 07, 2011

Egypt Releases Google Executive, Company Says


Wael Ghonim, the Google marketing executive and Egypt revolt hero who disappeared there more than a week ago, was released on Monday by Egyptian authorities, according to Google.

“Freedom is a bless that deserves fighting for it,” was posted to Mr. Ghonim’s @ghonim’s Twitter account at 8:05 p.m. local time in Cairo.

The company confirmed his release in an email statement and on Twitter. “It is a huge relief that Wael Ghonim has been released,” the company said in an email. “We send our best wishes to him and his family.”

Before his family lost contact with him on Jan. 28, Mr. Ghonim had written an ominous post on his @ghonim Twitter page that troubled friends and family, raising concerns about his whereabouts: “Pray for #Egypt. Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die #Jan25.”

His friends and family initially searched area hospitals for him, while human rights activists became convinced that he was being held by the government authorities for inspiring some of the young digital-savvy Egyptian political organizers to use technology, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to help promote the protests on Jan. 25. For the last eight months, human rights advocates in Egypt have been able to build an online community of more than 470,000 people on the We are all Khaled Said Facebook page and thousands more on YouTube after they focused their social media efforts on police abuse and the case of Khaled Said, a 28-year-old Egyptian man who was beaten to death at the hands of police in Alexandria last June.

Last Friday, members of the April 6 Youth Movement, , a group of young advocates known for first using Facebook in early 2008 to raise awareness about labor strikes and human rights abuses, announced that they had designated Mr. Ghonim their spokesman.

Habib Haddad, a Boston-based businessman and a good friend of Mr. Ghonim, said he spoke to Mr. Ghonim after his release on Monday. “Not sure I ever heard someone that happy and emotional,” Mr. Haddad posted on his Twitter account.

Mr. Ghonim was among many in Egypt who have gone missing in the two-week-old revolt there. A Google spreadsheet has been set up here with the names and information about other people reported missing on or about the Jan. 25 protests. Also, a couple of new Facebook pages were created, Help us Locate Wael Ghonim, in recent days.

Mr. Ghonim, the head of marketing for Google in the Middle East and North Africa, is based in Dubai. On his Twitter bio, he describes himself as “Constantly changing. Serious Joker. Internet Addict. Love challenging status quo. “ There has been much speculation about what role Mr. Ghonim played behind the scenes in helping human rights activists to harness the power of technology with the Facebook and YouTube campaigns against police abuses.

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