Fresno will shortly be treated to a film and a visit from a pair of pro-Palestinian — actually, it is probably more correct to call them pro-Hamas — activists.
I’m really tempted to make fun of their costumes, but unfortunately we need to take them, or rather the phenomenon that they represent, seriously. Let me quote from their website:
Darlene Wallach and Donna Wallach, Jewish anti-zionist social justice activists, recently returned to the Bay Area after living in Gaza Strip, Palestine from August – December 2008. Along with 41 other human rights workers they broke the Israeli blockade of Gaza onboard the two Free Gaza movement boats, SS Liberty & SS Free Gaza, which arrived to Gaza in August 2008. Darlene and Donna remained in Gaza with four other international volunteers and re-established International Solidarity Movement Gaza Strip. While accompanying Palestinian fishermen and farmers, and living among the people, they witnessed Israeli occupation force soldiers constantly violate the six month June 2008 ceasefire, and perpetrate collective punishment on the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. Listen to them speak about the spirit, resilience, kindness, generousity [sic], and sense of humor of the Palestinian people and the peaceful ways they survive the brutal and genocidal Israeli blockade and Occupation.
Just a few comments on the above:
There was never a ‘blockade’ of Gaza in the sense of an attempt to prevent necessities like food and medicine from reaching the Palestinians. On several occasions crossing points were closed in response to Hamas mortar attacks against the crossings. Israel tried to prevent access by sea — although it allowed the ‘free Gaza’ boats entry — due to concern about arms and explosives being smuggled into the Strip. During the period that the ‘activists’ were in Gaza, the ‘Sinai Subway’ — literally hundreds of tunnels under the Egyptian border with Gaza — flowed with everything from ammunition and explosives to consumer goods to zoo animals. Here’s a picture of British ‘activist’ Lauren Booth in a Gaza grocery store during the ‘genocidal blockade':
The cease-fire was broken in November 2008 when Israeli soldiers entered Gaza to destroy a tunnel that had been dug close to the border with the intent to capture Israeli soldiers, like Gilad Shalit who has been held since June 2006. Six Hamas terrorists were killed in the operation, which culminated in a huge explosion as a booby-trapped building over the tunnel entrance exploded. Should Israel have waited for Hamas to put the tunnel to use? I should add that the cease-fire was accompanied only by a reduction in, not a cessation of, rocket fire into Israel.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
is a Palestinian-run organization which recruits ‘internationals’ (mostly Europeans and Americans) to take part in demonstrations, interfere with IDF activities, sabotage the security fence, etc. This serves a dual purpose: they can get away with activities for which Israeli citizens or Palestinians would be arrested, and they become passionate advocates of the Palestinian cause in their home countries. Rachel Corrie was an ISM member.
In the US, the ISM is known as the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, or PSM. It has connections to other anti-Israel groups such as al-Awda (”the right of return”) and others. It employs a highly effective propaganda approach in which support for the destruction of Israel is linked to themes popular among young people, such as environmentalism, human rights, civil rights, and opposition to the Iraq war. It presents Israel as a racist apartheid state.
ISM/PSM turns the truth upside down, and uses the language of peace, freedom, human rights, anti-racism, justice, and nonviolence to support a project which is being implemented by means of terrorism, which is genocidal in its goals, and whose practitioners are racist, sexist and homophobic. — FresnoZionism, “The ISM: ‘non-violent’ support of terrorism“
The ISM especially seeks out Jewish conscripts, both because of the propaganda value of Jews denouncing Israel and because many Jews have a highly-developed social conscience and sense of empathy.
Something which Donna and Darlene did not put in their description was the word ‘Hamas’. Hamas is the Islamic fundamentalist organization which controls Gaza, having seized power in a bloody coup during which they shot Palestinian opponents in the knees before pushing them off tall buildings. Hamas explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel — not just the return of occupied territories — and the murder of Jews everywhere. According to Hamas, all of historical Palestine is Islamic territory and the only way to redeem it is by violent Jihad. All of the above and more can be found in the Hamas covenant, here.
Hamas, despite being an offshoot of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, has allied itself with Shiite Iran, which sees American-allied Israel as an obstacle to expanding its influence in the region. Although ideologically diverse, they share the desire to wipe out Israel; and today Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah are the major weapons in Iran’s proxy war against Israel.
Since 2000, Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis by suicide bombings, rockets, mortars, shootings, etc. Hamas established itself in Gaza when Israel withdrew from there in 2005 and took complete control in 2007. Since then it has waged both a military and information war against Israel, combining rocket fire — over 1,500 in 2008, despite the 6-month cease-fire — with highly effective propaganda, such as the manufactured ‘siege of Gaza’.
In December 2008, Israel launched a military campaign to finally put an end to the rockets. Although the IDF took measures unprecedented in modern warfare to reduce civilian casualties and unnecessary damage, Hamas conducted a campaign of exaggeration and outright lies, accusing Israel of war crimes and deliberate brutality. This was lapped up by anti-Israel media and non-governmental organizations, which repeated Hamas fabrications as fact.
Because of a combination of Israeli timidity and US pressure, the war was ended before significant practical gains could be made against Hamas’ military capability. The information war waged by Hamas, however, was wildly successful.
One of the most effective anti-Israel techniques has been to present the conflict as a struggle for human rights for weak, victimized Palestinians against a powerful colonialist power, rather than as a large cooperative enterprise to eliminate the Jewish state. Hamas understands well that while it cannot defeat the IDF on the battlefield, it can manipulate Western nations to force Israel to make concessions.
This presentation is part of the information war being waged against Israel. The film and speakers will doubtless focus on Palestinian suffering, real and invented, while ignoring or excusing the racist and murderous nature of Hamas, and without reference to the context of the Iranian-financed campaign to destroy the Jewish state.
Darlene and Donna’s presentation is being sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, along with Peace Fresno and the Center for Nonviolence. Since it serves Hamas, an organization devoted to violent jihad, one wonders if any of them have the slightest idea of what they are doing.
Update [9 Jun 2009 2207 PDT]:
I went to the event. Here is my report.