Friday, November 20, 2009

Medea Benjamin on the Gaza Freedom March set for December 29, 2009

Talk Nation Radio for November 19, 2009

Medea Benjamin on the Gaza Freedom March set for December 29, 2009

We discuss the climate for war vs peace, America and the Middle East as the group Codepink gears up for the Gaza Freedom March. Hundreds of international citizens are set to pour across the Egyptian border carrying a message of hope about peace and justice.

Codepink is also calling on people who cannot visit Gaza to engage in activities in support of peace at home. Days of Action December 29, 2009

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Medea Benjamin is founder of Global Exchange and co-founder of CODEPINK. We asked her to respond to recent headlines about Israel's decision to bulldoze more Palestinian homes, this time in Eastern Jerusalem, to make way for some 900 new Israeli settlements.

Codepink's previous delegations found starving kids in need of clean drinking water and working toilets. One year after Israeli air strikes on this tiny strip of densely populated land, there is still a profound lack of medical care as Israel's blockade is continued. Hospitals and schools were a major target of the IDF, and most people go with limited health care. Educational programs have slowed to a crawl. Among the dead were some 1400 civilians. Thousands more were wounded, most of them civilians, hundreds of them kids.

These were the kinds of troubling details found by the United Nations, which also came under attack in Gaza, as well as human rights organizations and NGOs. Even so, when Justice Richard Goldstone, famous for his work on the Balkans and Rwanda, called for credible investigations into war crimes by both Israel and Hamas, he was condemned by Israeli and US government officials. Goldstone expressed surprise at what he called the violent reactions. According to Haaretz he said: "I had hoped that our call to take legal steps and pursue people at a national level would fall on more open ears." (Haaretz site down, story also here.)

Congress voted to support Israel last year even as the wounded were still trying to get across borders to save their lives. House Resolution 34 condemned only Hamas, and reaffirmed America's strong support for Israel. On November 3, 2009 there were 344 yeah votes in the House for a resolution effectively condemning the efforts of Justice Goldstone.

It is in this climate that the Netanyahu government announced some 900 new settlements for East Jerusalem and the bulldozing of Palestinian homes there has already been increased.

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