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Please note: This is a re-posting of Richard Falk’s blog post on his site today. Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, the author or co-author of 20 books, an activist on world affairs, and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories. He initiated his blog partly in celebration of his 80th birthday. He lives and teaches in Santa Barbara.

Hana Shalabi’s Hunger Strike has Ended, but not her Punishment

By Richard Falk
March 30, 2012

As with Khader Adnan, Israel supposedly compromised with Hana Shalabi on the 43rd day of her hunger strike in protest against administrative detention and her abysmal treatment. But Israel’s concept of ‘compromise’ if considered becomes indistinguishable from the imposition of a further ‘vindictive punishment.’ How else to interpret Israel’s unlawful order to coercively exile (not technically deportation because she is being sent to a location within occupied Palestine) Hana Shalabi for three years to the Gaza Strip, far from her home village of Burqin in the northern part of the West Bank, and more significantly, far from her grief-struck family?

Her older sister Zahra was quoted a few days ago as saying “I don’t want to immortalize her, I just want her to live.” We can join her in being relieved that Hana Shalabi did not join the Palestinian honor roll of martyrs, yet to transfer someone who is in critical medical condition to a slightly more open prison than what is experienced as an Israeli detainee, which is how Gaza has been described during its years of isolation and blockade. To call this release ‘freedom’ is to make a mockery of the word, even to call it ‘release’ is misleading.

Hana Shalabi is now being compared to Winnie Mandela who was also exiled to the remote town of Branford in South Africa, forbidden to leave, as a punishment for her nonviolent and militant resistance to the apartheid regime that had imprisoned her then husband, Nelson Mandela. When I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with her in 1968, a couple of years prior to her exile, she was a wonderfully radiant and magnetic personality with a deep political commitment to justice and emancipation from racism, yet a joyful presence who despite living under apartheid, was life-affirming and inspiring.

When she returned from exile, she was radicalized, embittered, joined in some violent oppositional tactics, seemingly exhibiting the alienating impact of the punitive effort by the South African government to diminish and marginalize her. This part of Winnie Mandela’s post-exile story should not be forgotten, nor should it ignored that she was not exiled when confronting the sort of life-threatening situation that Hana Shalabi faces as she seeks to recover from this long hunger strike.

Also, at least, Winnie Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zinzi, was allowed to accompany her, which was at least made an exception to the total separation from loved ones that has been decreed for Hana Shalabi, who in her current condition cannot even be considered a ‘political’ threat, much less a ‘security’ threat. Israel has compounded the crime of administrative detention with this shamefully gratuitous act of vindictiveness.

Article 49(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention reads as follows: “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”

The intent here is clear, even though the language leave room for lawyers’ quibbles: is the Gaza Strip another country? Israel itself claims that its 2005 disengagement from Gaza relieves it of responsibility. In any event, Israel’s order of banishment will be doubly enforced, neither allowing Hana Shalabi to leave Gaza nor to enter the West Bank where her family lives. As well, given mobility restrictions her family will not be able to visit her in Gaza.

Finally, it should be appreciated that this is a form of ‘collective punishment’ as it also adds to the pain and grief of Hana Shalabi’s family who will be denied even the opportunity to provide help and love that are obviously needed during what will be at best a long and difficult recovery period. In this sense, the spirit and letter of Article 27 of Geneva IV has also been violated in her arrest, detention, and now in this release: “Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious conviction and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.”

Denying Hana Shalabi’s any visitation rights while confided to an Israeli prison hospital prior to the time her order of ‘deportation’ is implemented, as well as denying the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel or Addameer the opportunity to examine and talk with her underscores the stone coldness of the Israeli prison administration.

It is up to the Palestinian solidarity movement to not let this experience of Palestinian hunger strikes be in vain. At best, it might be later seen as one of the earlier expressions of a Palestinian Spring. At the very least, it should become a key moment in an intensifying campaign against the practice of administrative detention in Occupied Palestine, as well as against abusive arrest procedures and general prison conditions that are habitually relied upon by Israeli military authorities.

Finally, this ambiguous punitive release of Hana Shalabi was apparently agreed upon not only on the 43rd day of her hunger strike, but on the eve of the 36th commemoration of Land Day by Palestinian activists within Israel and in Occupied Palestine. It is important for all of us to recall that it was on this day in 1976 that Israel killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were protesting, in violation of a curfew then in effect, Israel’s expropriation of their land.

The protests on Land Day 2012, especially near the Qalandiya Checkpoint have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannon, apparently with some Palestinian injuries. Two Palestinian activists, Sam Bahour and Jafar Farah, living in the West Bank summarized the situation with these words: “After the Arab revolutions, there’s awareness of the importance of popular participation. This has rattled the Arab regimes, and now it’s frightening the Israeli government.”

It does appear that these hunger strikes, augmented by sympathetic and symbolic strikes within Israeli jails, in Palestine, and around the world, as well as vibrant protests on Land Day, and a worldwide BDS movement are all signs of a Palestinian reawakening that will gather political leverage as its momentum builds. This is my hope for the year ahead.

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Her writing is spare, precise, and deeply evocative. It somehow finds the color, even the haunting loveliness, of horror and tragedy, which makes it all the more human and all the more quietly devastating.

She blogs here, and her winning entry for a writing contest at Mondoweiss can be found at this link. Here’s Phil Weiss’s description of her and how impressed he was when he met her in a political session via Skype from Gaza.

Her prize for winning the Mondoweiss competition was a stack of books of her choice. The problem, of course, was getting the books into Gaza. It took more than a year to get the books to her. But they are finally in her hands.

Here’s a close-up of her stack of books:

I nearly fell out of my chair the day I saw this photograph. There were tears in my eyes. It made my day, my week, my year for my book to come full circle like that, for such an amazing and talented writer in Gaza to have heard of my humble attempt to capture at least some parts of her situation in a way Americans can relate to, and to want to read it for herself.

Below is a sample of her writing, my favorite of hers that I’ve read. After you read it, you’ll understand why I’m so honored to be in that collection in her hands. It’s so humbling to be a part of this community.

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A Little Girl

Rawan Yaghi, 17 years old, Gaza Strip

Sleep in here sleep little girl
I would keep you so warm
Sleep… darling I’ll hold you so firm
You’re here in my lap no need for fright
Keep on your happy sight
Sun will shine
Birds will wake the sleepy night
You’re my…

My Mom suddenly stopped singing and stopped calmly feeling my hair. Her hand also stopped shaking. She was keeping me on her lap, trying to keep me warm in that cold night. It was too dark that I could barely see her face. She was very warm, but she gradually lost that comforting heat. I tried to keep it, so I covered her with the small blanket she was covering me with and I stayed in her lap. Some minutes passed; however, she didn’t continue singing, and her body kept going colder. There was so much going on outside. I could hear a man weakly weeping. I thought she was listening to the sounds outside trying to know what was happening.

I sat beside her, for, then, she was so cold that I couldn’t stay in her lap. “Mama, why is the man outside crying?” She didn’t answer. She kept listening. I said no word afterwards. I may have slept for a short while after the noise was a little bit lower.

When I woke up I saw my mother with her eyes closed covered with my blanket. I thought she must have been awake the whole time I was sleeping, that’s why I didn’t try to wake her up; she would get in a really bad mood if I do. I poured her some water and put it in front of her. She was still cold. I was cold too but I thought she was so much colder. I sat right in the opposite of her and kept waiting her to wake up and drink my glass of water and then thank me for it. Thinking of my dad and two brothers who got out of the house carrying a white shirt and how much noise happened after they got out, while my mother followed them so fast and came back so slow, with that noise frequently coming back, I kept staring at her cold body.

Now, two years later I understand it all, the cold, the whimper, my dad’s white shirt, my brothers, everything, even the mess outside. I understand why the men who came that morning took only me and why they wouldn’t listen to me yelling at them saying that my mother is still there feeling very cold.

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It’s called Simple eBook Formatting for the Technophobic Author, available for Amazon Kindle and priced at only $2.99. Please grab a copy if you think it might be useful to you!

Here’s the description on the book’s Amazon page

So you’ve finished your manuscript. Congratulations! Now it’s time to turn your words into an electronic version that can be read worldwide on an array of eReading devices. Hopefully it will turn your hard work and inspiration into a source of supplementary income–anything from latte money to those rare and lucky people who can quit their day jobs and write full-time.

You could pay someone to do this for you, but why waste money, and take all the creative power out of your hands, when you can do it yourself?

The process of ePublishing is free, and though it is a little tedious, it’s not particularly difficult. What is difficult is wading through endless ePublishing web forums and bulky Formatting Guides and confusing Help and About sections to figure out where to publish, how to format your eBooks, and how to upload and manage them.

Luckily author Pamela Olson, who has six eBooks to her name, found a way to streamline the process considerably. She presents it here for you for the bargain price of only $2.99. It’s virtually guaranteed to save you many hours (possibly days, and maybe even an ulcer or two). No prior knowledge is required other than a working knowledge of Microsoft Word and internet web browsing.

Simple doesn’t mean ‘plain,’ however. In this guide, you’ll learn how to create, upload, and manage eBooks that include:

– Beautifully formatted text, chapter titles, and headings
– Pictures, captions, and fleurons
– A clickable table of contents
– Clickable links

Once you master the techniques outlined in this guide, there will be plenty of room for adding your own personal flair to the design of your books. You’ll also learn about the benefits and downsides of the various ePublishing platforms, how the pay structures work, and how to track sales and royalties. And the Resources section at the end points you toward your next step: Marketing!

From the Author

By now, I’ve published six eBooks, and formatting and uploading them is a piece of cake.

But when I first got started last year, I had to wade through a bewildering array of help pages and tutorials. Most of the free formatting guides were bulky, inelegant, difficult to follow, and geared toward steering the user toward one ePublisher or another.

It was hard to find objective comparisons of the various publishing platforms, and once I hunted through endless blogs and forums and chose the platforms that worked best for me, it was another huge headache to figure out how to format my manuscript for each of them. The free formatting guides and help pages were either bulked up with information I didn’t need or stripped down to the point where it was practically useless. I was at my wits’ end trying to sort everything out. It literally took weeks.

Well, it shouldn’t have. And it doesn’t have to take weeks for you.

After I finally mastered the complicated ways they wanted me to format my eBooks, I discovered several steps that were unnecessary or overly belabored. When it was time to publish my next eBooks, I eliminated or streamlined them. Now, for me, publishing a robust and elegant eBook is a simple matter of a couple of hours of work that is, to be sure, somewhat tedious, but it’s no longer difficult or frustrating.

I’m writing this guide to bring this same experience to you, along with information on how to upload and manage your new eBooks. It’s one-stop shopping for anyone who wants to publish their first eBook.

Readers are also welcome to email me if they have any questions or frustrations (my email address is included in the guide). I’ll do my best to help, and also to continually update and improve this guide.

Happy publishing!

Click to download it now

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Something I posted on Mondoweiss today. I don’t know how to embed the videos here, so go to their site to easily watch all the videos. Or you can use the links in the headings below.

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This Monday and Tuesday, Jon Stewart dedicated three segments of The Daily Show to Israeli belligerence and American intransigence in the Middle East.

The first was an interview of Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour that took jabs at the US government’s determination to veto Palestine’s application to the UN for statehood. The second made fun of the US, Iran, and Israel equally for their warmongering during an election season. And the third took on the Israel lobby, and the fact that no American politician dares criticize Israel while politicians in Israel itself are allowed a much broader spectrum of dissent.

I think it’s another blow to the silence and complicity surrounding all these issues in a major vehicle of American liberal culture.

Feel free to judge for yourself. Below are the clips and partial transcripts.

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John Oliver [voiceover]: “For seventy years, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been utterly intractable. President after president has tried and failed to propose a lasting solution. But recently the Palestinians attempted a new tactic.”

Candy Crowley on CNN: “Palestine wants full membership from the United Nation.”

Fox News: “Palestinians now want the UN to recognize them as the state of Palestine.”

John Oliver [sitting down to do an interview with Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour]: “I think first it’s important that we agree to some pre-conditions for this interview.”

Ambassador Riyad Mansour: “I will be willing to hear it, yes.”

John: “First, this entire interview must be conducted with a 1967 vocabulary. Is that groovy with you?”

Riyad: “Groovy? It is agreeable to me, yes.” [Is this poking fun at the Palestinians’ insistence on pre-conditions or Israel’s refusal to consider them?]

John: “Moving on… Actually, before we do, is it hot in here?”

Riyad: “It’s fine.”

John: “So you’re not hot? Because I’m definitely hot.”

Riyad: “I am not.”

John: “OK, look, Ambassador, I think before we do anything, we are gonna have to come to a provisional status agreement on the temperature in this room.”

Riyad: “If you want to lower the temperature, it’s fine with me.”

John: “But who’s going to control the thermostat?”

Riyad: “The thermostat… should be shared by all of us.”

John: “Don’t even think about dividing this thermostat.”

Riyad: “We will not divide the thermostat, but it should be accessed by all those who cherish it and think that it is a holy place that should be accessed by everyone.” [Is he implying the PA doesn’t want to divide Jerusalem, or that Palestinians don’t want to divide Palestine?]

John Oliver [voiceover]: “After three and a half hours of laborious negotiations, we finally came to an agreement.”

John: “We agree that at an unspecified time in the future, we will announce a summit to discuss the possibility of discussing a negotiation towards an agreement on temperature. Yes?”

Riyad: “Yes.”

John: “Shake hands for the camera. Thank you, Ambassador, this is a historic day.”

Riyad: “Yes indeed.”

John [Quietly]: “You’re not touching that thermostat.”

Riyad: “We’ll see.”

John Oliver [voiceover]: “So progress is possible. Unfortunately, the Palestinian UN application has one little star-spangled obstacle.”

Fox News: “The Obama Administration has pledged to veto any move toward statehood.”

John: “That’s right. We’re vetoing an application to an organization that even has Libya, Syria, and North Korea as members. But the Ambassador just doesn’t get it.”

Riyad: “We have 131 countries recognizing us as the state of Palestine.”

John: “But how many that matter?”

Riyad: “Well, all countries to us are important. We are not in the business [of] differentiating between small countries and big countries.”

[The whole time he’s talking, John is holding up one finger, implying that only one country matters.]

Riyad: “We know, one country, one country, yes. We understand. We understand. Even the one country, the United States of America, in principle they support the recognition of the state of Palestine. They’re just saying it’s only a question of timing.”

John Oliver [voiceover]: “And that time is emphatically not now. But perhaps there was one other way we could get them in.”

John: “So you definitely want to become a member of the UN.”

Riyad: “Yes. We don’t want to be the exception to the rule. We are like the rest of humanity.”

John: “OK. That brings us to the game show portion of this interview: Who wants to be a member of the UN?”

At this point there’s a bit with a trivia question and a bonus round, and the ‘prize’ is a US veto.

Riyad: “If we are vetoed once, we will come back again until we prevail… We are determined to be a member of the UN.”

The show ends with a disclaimer-type voiceover: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is not responsible for the outcome of this contest. All ‘mystery box’ results have been pre-determined by the US Department of State.”

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Jon Stewart [after playing a clip of preposterous Netanyahu fearmongering about a ‘nuclear duck’ and Iran calling Israel a cancer]: “Israel and Iran are taunting each other with overheated war rhetoric. America, can we get a responsible party to break up this schoolyard fight before someone gets hurt?”

[Clips of Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich threatening Iran.]

Jon: “So in other words, simmer d— Wait, what? Oh, right. It’s an election year. Candidates are obviously talking tough. I’m sure Iran knows not to take those guys literally. They would know that, right…?”

Jon turns to Camera 3 to speak with Iran: “Here’s the thing. You’ve probably been hearing a lot of talk about America and bombs… on you. Um. Let me explain to you why we’re saying this. Are you familiar with Florida? It’s a region in the South that we’ve filled with old Jews and young Christians. And whoever wins it wins the presidency. And in Florida, they would like to bomb you if they could. So the talk of war is not actually meant for you, it’s meant for Florida. It’s an election season. Our rhetoric gets somewhat distorted, hyperbolic. Probably a cultural thing.”

[Fox news reveals that Iran is having elections of its own soon.]

Jon to Iran: “This explains your rhetoric! You’re having an election, too! … Israel, meet me at Camera 2.”

To Israel: “I don’t think Iran’s really gearing up to nuke Tel Aviv. It’s just crazy overblown election rhetoric. … The United States and Iran are slaves to their electoral calendars… So it’s up to you guys not to get caught up, and perhaps muffle the drums of war a little bit, Israel.”

Then Jon realizes: “Netanyahu could be calling parliamentary elections as soon as this fall? So your over-heated rhetoric is all just pre-election schvantz-waving, too? Son of a… America! Camera one!”

Jon addresses the United States: “Dude. Iran and Israel are also in an election year. We’re all just overhearing each other’s stump speeches and freaking out! And if we’re not careful, these to dickheads are gonna drag us into another war.”

Jon turns to Israel: “Did I say dickhead? I meant respected ally!”

Jon turns to Iran: “I didn’t say dickhead, I said proud and ancient culture that has much to teach us!”

Back to America: “Look, we gotta stop this before it gets out of hand. Because if Israel starts a war, you know we’ll have no choice but to dive into it with them.”

To Israel: “Which doesn’t mean you should start a war!”

To America: “Did I just commit our troops to Israel? Because I think I f—ked that up. A war would only strengthen the Iranian dictatorship.”

To Iran: “Not that you should start one!”

Finally Jon gives up and starts singing to everyone, then appeals to God to sort it all out. God does not reply. Perhaps he’s in an election season, too.

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Jon: “Super Tuesday [is] a political event… with ten states up for grabs in the highly-contested Republican primary, the top three candidates paid special attention to apparently the most important state: Israel. That’s right. Each one took time out today, from the biggest primary yet, to address the American-Israeli Political Action Committee [AIPAC actually stands for American Israel Public Affairs Committee—a common mistake]. They love Israel. Not like that other guy they’re running to replace…”

[Clips of Fox News pundits talking about how hostile Obama is to Israel.]

Jon: “That’s why it was kind of surprising that Barack Obama also appeared at AIPAC. I guess he’s gonna tear them a new one, ugh… This could get ugly!”

Obama is shown at AIPAC spouting the usual tropes (albeit with a clenched and angry expression):

“Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable.”

“My administration’s commitment to Israel’s security has been unprecedented.”

“There will be no lasting peace until Israel’s security concerns are met. When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.”

“I’m so in love with you.” [OK, this one was taken out of context a bit…]

“I’ve said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table… That includes all elements of American power. A political effort… a diplomatic effort… an economic effort…”

Jon: “Is he gonna say it?”

Obama: “And yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.”

Jon: “There you have it. That’s the guy who hates Israel. Basically the parameters for debate in the United States about Israel range all the way from ‘I unequivocally support them and might bomb Iran’ to ‘I unequivocally support them and will definitely bomb Iran.’

“Although to be fair, there are some prominent politicians willing to criticize the Israeli government. Even willing to say stuff like, ‘Israel is not about to be destroyed… with his crazy analogies, the Prime Minister is diverting attention from Iran to his fearmongering.’ Or, ‘(Netanyahu’s words on Iran) sound like a calculated preparation for a reckless adventure.’ Or, ‘Israel is making a mistake in its unwillingness to recognize a Palestinian state.’

“Oh man, I’d love to play sound bites of those quotes for you. But they’re in Hebrew. Because they were said by members of the Israeli Knesset. Because apparently in Israel, you are allowed to criticize Israel and still hold public office.”

Hi everyone,

Today’s the day — Go to Amazon now to download your free Kindle copy of Fast Times in Palestine! See the next post for more details, but it’s pretty simple:

Click on this link any time on Saturday or Sunday, March 3 or 4 — http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00513NHNI — make sure the price is still $0.00, and click “Buy now.”

Enjoy, and please spread this info as far and wide as you can! Thank you!

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Books I Love


A Doctor in Galilee,
by Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh

The Hour of Sunlight, by Sami al Jundi and Jen Marlowe

The Goldstone Report, edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and Philip Weiss

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe

Zabelle, by Nancy Kricorian

Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

Impro, by Keith Johnstone

Improv Wisdom,
by Patricia Ryan Madson

Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau

To Kill a Mockingbird,
50th Anniversary Edition,
by Harper Lee