This Is An Urgent Appeal To Aid Walaa al Ghussein

My name is M. Dennis Paul, PhD.  My friends and I have started this fundraiser for a brilliant young woman living in war torn Gaza (Palestine) who has been accepted as the first student from Gaza to enter Grad School at CUNY (City University of NY).  I ask that you read the following appeal and visit the links we have provided to learn more about this exceptional human being.

Getting out of Gaza is no easy proposition. Returning is often more difficult.  There are numerous legal and political hoops to jump through to make  either journey possible. Last year, we were successful in making it possible for the sister of this student to attend Portland State University where she is now making family, and all of us, very proud.  Our current student has prior history of attending Universities in the US and is acquainted with the hurdles.  We are confident she will make this journey. (SEE UPDATES)

We believe that once you read about the achievements accomplished so far, and under such brutal conditions as exists in the Gaza strip, by this special individual (and the others on whose behalf we work) you will understand the efforts made to help them further their education and life endeavours.

The funds we seek will satisfy both the conditions set by the State Department and the University. Any amount above these requirements will be maintained as a reserve for unforeseen expenses that may incur and then addition to the safety reserve for the student.

Time is of the essence as our student has been accepted to CUNY Spring semester and must quickly secure her place at the University. We will update as needed to stress the true deadlines she must meet.

As long time supporters of rights and freedom for Palestinians and having many friends and acquaintances there, we understand the severity of their living conditions, the depth of daily struggle to survive, and the drive toward betterment and success which fosters the hopes and dreams they carry within. Education is vitally important for these students and is something they do not take for granted.

We greatly appreciate however much you can contribute to help us make it possible for this next student to meet her goals.

Please go on to read the Pensive Quill article which explains more.  Follow the links to learn more about the desires and accomplishments of this brilliant young spirit..

THEPENSIVEQUILL
Censor Offender
ANTHONY MCINTYRE

Help Walaa Al-Ghussein
Saturday, October 29, 2016

(Stanley Cohen makes a funding appeal on behalf of Walaa Al-Ghussein, a resident of Gaza who is currently seeking to further her education in the US. Walaa Al-Ghussein has been actively involved in exposing Israeli terror against Palestinians.) 

Walaa Al-Ghussein is a treasure; one of those rare shooting stars that lights up the sky when all else seems dark and hopeless. Although truly one of a kind, she is not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of other national and international treasures that call Gaza home. Young women and men of determination and drive who against impossible odds have survived … survived to dream, to study, to grow, to look to a brighter future … one where they are no longer merely a political statistic played out in a decades old perverse, often deadly, game of power orchestrated by Israel with the acquiescence of much of the world.

Recently, after a great deal of struggle and sacrifice, Walaa obtained her undergraduate degree at university in Gaza. Previously she had attended a summer long academic program in the United States where she excelled. Most important, as a participant at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, she discovered the freedom of academic pursuit… one where classmates were not killed, where electricity existed (not a rare privilege) to study by, where podiums did not stand empty because faculty had been disappeared or were detained at a border crossing closed for the fall, or the winter … or permanently; where textbooks were not censored by Israel or recycled year after year from necessity because of a punishing embargo intended to break the spirit and will of millions as little more than a brazen criminal act of collective punishment.

Not satisfied with studies alone, Walaa has played an active and vibrant role in the life of her community especially among other young women who look to her as very much a role model of self-determination and independence. In that capacity, among other efforts, she organized and oversaw a series of training programs for youth in Gaza and the West Bank which focused on women’s empowerment and leadership. She presented a working paper on Young Women’s Leadership and its challenges at a conference held at the Women’s Affairs center in Gaza. She has mentored many young women trying to balance the tension between community and personal aspirations.

She has worked as a journalist and photographer whose articles and photographs have appeared in such prestigious publications as Al Jazeera and Mondoweiss. She has contributed to a number of powerful documentaries on Gaza and, herself, been the subject of a number of reports on life under Israeli attacks and the permanent siege of the coastal enclave of some two million people.

Walaa helped organize, and chaired, an international conference in Gaza which was one of 10 cities chosen worldwide as part of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos which focused on development skills for young entrepreneurs. In 2012 she was a member of the Palestinian Youth Delegation at a conference, “Evolution for Palestine”, held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia … and was the social media coordinator for the Conference. As part of her undergraduate studies, she worked as a teaching intern at both the Latin Patriarchate and Rosary Sister’s Schools in Gaza with 3rd and 10th graders.

Walaa was inspired by her time at Washington State University. Like no other place or experience, it was there that she discovered the world of academics, for her, a ticket to freedom … a boundless, exciting journey with the pursuit of graduate school a gateway to a future where she could not only realize great personal growth but share her passage and accomplishments back home with the many other young women and men of Gaza who look to her with a deep sense of pride and hope.

Recently, Walaa became the first student from Gaza to be accepted by the prestigious Graduate School of Middle East Studies at City College in New York. For her, CUNY… with its diverse population, world class faculty and location in the heart of the most vibrant City in the world has truly become a dream come true. She is scheduled to begin her studies this coming spring semester, which is not that far off. To enroll, Walaa must first obtain a student visa from the US State Department… a not quick procedure which ultimately is dependent upon sponsorship by a US citizen (who has just signed on) and a healthy level of financial security in her own bank account.

I write now to ask our extended family in Ireland, who better than most, have long known the pain of oppression and occupation, to help make Walaa’s dream a reality by contributing to a fund which we’ve set up under the supervision of a highly respected accounting firm in the United States.

For those interested in contributing by check, all it takes is an endorsement to Leonard Vona, CPA , with a reference to the academic fund for Walaa Al-Ghussein. For those who prefer a wire transfer from your bank account to the one overseeing this effort, under US law it’s a bit more complicated. Donors must first send an email to Mr. Vona identifying themselves and setting forth a very brief personal background. This will be followed up by information from Mr. Vona on how to complete the transfer.

==> Contributions, of course, can be made through this GOFUNDME Campaign

For a closer look at the thoughts and words of Walaa, I’m enclosing a link to her application statement to CUNY as well as a number of other links which reflect some of her work.

Many thanks.

Stanley Cohen.

Application Statement

Gaza’s female fixers

Walaa Ghussein

Articles by Walaa Ghussein   

Walaa Ghussein on the power (and vulnerability) of Palestinian journalists

Leonard W. Vona CPA CFE
2967 US Route 9 Suite 403
Valatie, NY 12184
Office: 518-784-2250
Fax: 518-784-2251
Mobile: 518-339-6748
lvona@leonardvona.com

ANTHONY MCINTYRE
Former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh, 4 years on the blanket andno-wash/no work protests which led to thehunger strikes of the 80s. Completed PhD at Queens upon release from prison. Left the Republican Movement at the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement, and went on to become a journalist. Co-founder of The Blanket, an online magazine that critically analyzed the Irish peace process.

UPDATES
#1 November 19, 2016

We are happy to announce that Walaa has safely made her way out of Gaza after several months of effort. We are, however, woefully shy of meeting the $15k needed to insure her place at CUNY.

Walaa will be the 1st Gaza student accepted in the prestigious Graduate School of Middle East Studies at CUNY. This is a great accomplishment for her, personally, and for Gaza.

We are so thankful to all our donors. We know that finances, for some, are tight in this season. Every gift, whether $1 or $1000, is celebrated by us as it makes the dreams of this shining star ever closer to reality. Please tell all your friends and family about this campaign, about Walaa, and ask them to help us help her.

#2 December 1, 2016
We are happy to announce that Walaa’s student visa has been approved. One more hurdle behind her now. There are still many more ahead and we are still woefully short of our $15K goal. Several donors have come back and donated additional amounts and we simply cannot thank them enough. But we need your donations and time is running out. If only half of our combined Twitter & Facebook followers donated just $3, our campaign could end tomorrow. Please consider a donation of any amount and make it now.
#3 December 10, 2016
We have less than 22 days to solidify all the steps necessary to insure that Walaa is safely established at CUNY. Of course, this means we need funds. At this point, we are only a little over the 1/3 mark for meeting our goal. We know the holidays can cut into giving but we are urging all our followers and friends ,,, and their followers and friends … to reach down deep and find that extra $1-3-5-10 (or what ever might be available) to donate now. Any and every amount counts. With less than 22 days, we are in desperation mode. Walaa’s visa has been approved and a sponsor found. Housing must still be secured and ready for her arrival. Other expenses require attention.. some immediate. We need some serious angels to pull all of this together. Please help us make this happen for Walaa.

“An Open Letter to American Jews”

Originally published in Counterpunch November 25, 2016

“An Open Letter to American Jews”

by Stanley Cohen

Proud Jews are those that can look others in the face who commit or support crimes against humanity in Palestine and, with no hesitation whatsoever, shout-out “J’accuse” … the self hating ones are those that commit the crimes or simply walk away in boneless silence.

Israel and its sightless, obedient supporters have now come full circle in absolute perverse denial. For years they’ve successfully packaged and sold the fairy-tale that Zionism and Judaism were one in the same… an historic enlightened conflation of shared purpose and belief which, in reality, was born of little more than vicious political convenience (or is it connivance?) in eastern Europe.

Like Malcolm said, the proverbial chickens have come home to roost. It’s finally backfired. It’s about time.

Through massacre after massacre, outrage after outage, whenever anyone dares to condemn Israel’s systematic brutality of millions of Palestinians the indictment always comes down the same… “anti-Semite”.

Challenge the illegal occupation… you’re a Jew hater. Confront Israeli apartheid… you’re a Jew hater. Battle ethnic cleansing… you’re a Jew hater. Support BDS… you’re a Jew hater. And if you’re Jewish and hold Israel accountable for the grand obscenity it’s proven to be since day one, you are worst of all…a self hater. On and on and on the crafted diversion goes and long has, fleeing the very public reality of Israel’s enduring inhumanity to millions of stateless people.

Of course, when hundreds of Holocaust survivors who live in Israel called the most recent high tech carnage in Gaza in 2014 “genocide”, it drew the line. Even the Zionist state was not so crass or politically craven as to publicly label them Jew haters because they had the principled audacity to call it to task for the slaughter of thousands of defenseless women, children and elders. No, that would be exploiting the exploitation called the Holocaust that Zionist cheerleaders have employed for 70 years as so much cover for one of Israel’s own making… as it thumbs its nose at the world and commits unspeakable mayhem against Palestinians. To Zionists, survivors who screamed out with dignity and honor… “genocide,” were pathetic… just old and feeble.

For years, with little more than sleight of hand and a large Western rubber stamp, Zionists have been able to package and vend, with brazen bully success, the message that one cannot attack deadly and criminal Israeli policies without mechanically crossing the line into the hinterland of antisemitism. Well… those days are gone… as team Israel has finally foisted itself upon its own petard.

One need not have surgical precision in their view of the political universe to observe that as the world has become increasingly educated and, thus, more sympathetic to the desperate plight of Palestinians, Zionists have raced to develop new, even more brutish, strategies to recast a narrative based on little more than pure Hollywood fiction. Sorry… Exodus is very much an obsolete illusion, today, with all of its heroic figures long since passed on to old age.

The hallway of Zionist hard-sell is today very public. In its most glaring form it includes intimidating Western countries such as the UK, Canada, France, and Netherlands who shudder at the mere thought of being called “anti-Semitic” for the audacity of permitting their citizens to speak their minds openly and freely about the malevolence that is Israel. To them, and other states that seek to silence those who support BDS as a peaceful grassroots means of expressing opposition to a tyrannical state, Israel owes a great debt of thanks. After all it’s not easy to welcome, indeed embrace, conspicuous ignorance as you draw a deep cloud of denial around the object lesson of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. No matter what your flag, war crimes are still war crimes whether carried out against or by you.

In other ways, demonstrably racist activity has moved Israel into a leading role in the effort to stage-manage 21st Century cyberspace. For example, under the autocratic shine of national honor, it has inspired, if not empowered, Zionist hackers to attack pro Palestinian web sites worldwide spewing forth Islamaphobic rage at those with the temerity to seek an alternative view about unfolding events in Palestine otherwise largely ignored or censored by Western media.

So, too, it has employed an army of social media activists skilled enough to read jejune slogans but completely at a loss when confronted with the dark, fact-based truth that is Israel. After-all, how many times can a cue card equate Muslim with Jew hater before a mindless 18 year old paid $10.00 an hour finally says enough and saunters off to the beach?

Likewise, during its last two onslaughts upon Gaza, Israel moved quickly to shut down all of its internet passage-ways in an unmistakable effort to prevent the world from learning in real-time about the nature and extent of its brutal assault upon the enclave’s two million defenseless residents.

While these are but a few of the most recent public moves by Israel to intimidate or silence political or social opposition, with alarming frequency its policy has been to break bread with some of the most hateful, supremacist groups and activists in the world.

How long ago was it that neo-Nazis sought to march in Skokie Illinois, in Nazi uniforms screaming out zeig-heil while they carried placards that read “White Free Speech” and “Free Speech for the White Man” to a community with a population of thousands of stunned Holocaust survivors? And in that same year, the KKK sought to hold, in the same town, a rally for its brand of racist ideology.

Yet, today, Zionists seem to have no problem whatsoever sitting down strategizing with proud supporters of the Klan and other white supremacist groups. Indeed, the Zionist Organization of America will fete, this weekend, noted white supremacy and antisemitism promoter, Steven Bannon, at its yearly hate fest.

This celebration of religious and racial supremacy and intolerance should come as no surprise given the organization has signed onto the Trump plan of profiling Muslims, calls Black Lives Matter a “hate group” and has warned college students against inviting such notables as Noam Chomsky and former President Jimmy Carter to speak at campus assemblies lest they spread their “dangerous messages.”

Make no mistake about it Bannon and his fellow purveyors of hate have never been shy in exploiting abhorrence of Jews and a host of other minorities based upon race, religion, sexual identity or immigrant status. Nor have they been timid at all when it comes to exalting calls for violence to sweep clean an America they perceive as being too black, too immigrant, too Jewish, too Muslim and too soft.

Indeed Bannon is a member of a Facebook page that has openly featured explicit racist and violent material replete with overtures for deadly criminal activity. Thus, for example, their posts feature an image of the president dressed as an SS officer. In other places they celebrate the Confederate flag and urge a military coup in the United States. Elsewhere, they highlight a photo shopped picture of Obama with a watermelon and praise a police officer who called the President a “Fucking Nigger”… that ought to be “executed as a traitor.” This is the message that inspires the President’s chief advisor.

Yet, today, Zionists celebrate Bannon as he and his Klan buddies have finally figured out it doesn’t take much to get a free pass for their palpable hatred of Jews… all they need do is to offer up their much in demand backing of an Israeli state driven by the same treacherous supremacist views.

It seems to Zionists a healthy dose of unabashed antisemitism… directed at Jews… is suitable today as long as it’s dressed up in obedient support for Israel… especially when it comes from the mouth of the top advisor of the President-elect and his inner circle of friends.

Bannon has long been denounced by democrats, republicans and civil and human rights organizations, alike, for having made the Breitbart website a welcome forum for neo-nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites. Nevertheless, his appointment was welcomed by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States who noted that “… we look forward to working with the Trump administration… including Steve Bannon, in making the U.S.-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”

There is nothing at all new about the selective application of the all too expedient brand “anti-Semite”. Indeed, it is the mark of Cain quickly applied to principled students and faculty who support the peaceful effort of BDS to bring about justice for Palestine, yet is completely ignored when confronted by classic anti-Semitic vitriol coming from the mouths of pro Israel patrons.

Indeed, the net balance affect has long been a significant driving force in determining when blatant sign-posts of antisemitism were to be over-looked for the broader “good” of Israel; where those who challenge Israeli policies were to be vilified and those who praise them applauded no matter how much or long their distaste for Jews.

The late “Christian Zionist”, Jerry Falwell, is one such prime example. Denounced by Jewish critics for having said that he believed the “Antichrist” would be a Jew, despite this, and other like anti-Semitic statements, Falwell was ultimately resurrected by Zionists who found greater benefit in his overall political support of Israel than his marked distaste for Jews as a whole.

There is nothing remarkable about today’s Zionist reach to build hate fueled bonds with supremacist groups both in and outside of the United States. Zionists have shown a willingness, if not an ease, throughout their 130 plus year history of working with classic anti-Semitic governments and groups to further their revisionist self-centered view of history. There is abundant precedent.

Beginning long ago in Czarist Russia, the Zionist marriage of political convenience went on to flourish with some in the Axis powers during World War II. It later found comfort with its Balfour friends in Palestine, and has reached new heights in the West through an apparently unbreakable bond with the bigoted evangelical right.

Thus, parliamentary votes throughout the member states of the EU to recognize the sovereignty of the State of Palestine have been opposed by a unique marriage of Zionist and local neo-Nazi interests. This coalition of convenience and hatred should come as no surprise however given a joint effort to target a wave of desperate Muslim refugees and a shared aversion to any semblance of Justice for Palestinians.

In Ukraine, Israel abandoned the safety of its shrinking Jewish population to the political expedience it reaped from its support of the neo-Nazi putsch that ousted its elected pro-Russian president. In France, the National Front, with proud age old roots in French fascism has once again risen to significant power. Not at all shy about its racist and anti-Semitic image, the Front has found support nonetheless from Israel which paid one of its leaders a warm welcome when he traveled to the Holy Land to curry votes from French Jews who now call it home. Sound familiar?

There is nothing remarkable or new about Israel’s recent rapport with some of the worlds most repressive … indeed totalitarian and racist regimes. It has never shied from a march down a long passage way filled with the painful screams of political prisoners, dissidents, or those perceived by virtue of their race, religion or activism to pose a threat to the autocratic rule of the state, be it in Israel or elsewhere.

Israel’s support for South African apartheid, ’til literally its very end, is well known, providing materials for the building of its nuclear weapons. Long after UN-imposed sanctions against apartheid Rhodesia, it continued to provide Uzis and helicopters. In more than a dozen other African countries Israel funded and trained military repression of anti-colonial uprisings and/or dictatorship. It sold arms and provided training to Rwandan military and Hutu militia that carried out genocide against the Tutsis.

In South America, Israel armed Guatemalan death squads, Nicaraguan Contras, Pinochet’s Chile, and the military junta in Argentina which resulted in the “disappearance” of thousands of opponents of a regime which not only openly espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric, but specifically targeted and disappeared numerous Jewish civilians.

In Southeast Asia, Israel provided aid to the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia and, in the Pacific Region, funded the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. In Iran, during the rule of the Shah, the secret death squad (SAVAK) received training from Israel and purchased over 150 million dollars in arms from it. Never known for its selfless virtue, Israel was to benefit… the Shah was one of the first leaders in the region to recognize it as a state.

These are but a few glaring examples of dozens of instances where Israel has supported, if not propped up, supremacist and racist regimes… many known for their utter and extreme anti-Semitic vitriol and manifest hatred of Jews. But, with remarkable agility, if not indifference, it has become practiced… indeed expert… at balancing the self interest of its own rapacious agenda with the reality of the often anti-Semitic neo-fascist regimes and movements its supports throughout the world.

With this practiced experience it seems that Zionists are eminently equipped to handle the emerging face of antisemitism, nay, overt odium for Jews which, with Steve Bannon and company, will soon move from the inner sanctum of Trump Towers to the inner circle of the White House.

Given its history of support for anti-Semitic allies it comes as no surprise that Zionists believe they will be able to stage manage overt hatred for Jews and other minorities from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. What is, however, stunning is that, for the first time in recent memory, they appear perfectly willing to abandon the false conflation of Zionism and Judaism by supporting a collective of white ethnocentric supremacists who support the Zionist agenda in Israel yet hate Jews in whose name it is claimed that agenda has been built.

Israel: 1984 Everlasting

caged but undaunted

Originally published in Counterpunch OCTOBER 28, 2016
Israel: 1984 Everlasting
by STANLEY L. COHEN


Empty Declarations of Democracy… Vacant Boasts of humanity

For decades, Israel has held itself out as being the lone “democracy” in the Middle East; a state where the rights of individuals could not and would not be held hostage to the autocratic whims of royalty, but rather a full partner to a free and robust electoral process that guarantees not just meaningful input from the governed but the ability to challenge state policies as the winds of change blow from “the river to the sea.”

Once again, recent events have proven this to be just so much a perverse myth… empty rhetoric… second only to the brazen unfounded Israeli boast of having the “most humane army in the world,” even as the body count of Palestinian children grows in cemeteries and prisons that have become very…

View original post 2,226 more words

How I Found Optimism Through Fear And Loathing Surrounding Donald Trump

rebel.lio

How I Found Optimism Through Fear And Loathing Surrounding Donald Trump
by M. Dennis Paul, PhD

It was inevitable.. yes, I said inevitable (and I knew it months ago) that a bullish, under educated spoiled slob son of generations of racism, greed and sexism would rise from the bottom feeding ocean depths to bask in the plain old spittle from blathering mouths of mental and moral degenerates populating the pusillanimous states of ‘murica. It could easily have been the daughter, cheap slut of the entitled, in vulgar pantsuits but arrogance masked in expensive eau de toilette (called “skunk” in her favourite state of Israel) was less palatable to the cretinous masses than plain old Uppercrust, NY flatulence.

It mattered not what semblance of distinction one might foolishly toss out to pacify a falsely perceived superiority of one candidate over the other. What was pissed into the foul wind of politics…

View original post 1,348 more words

Help Gaza Student Attend CUNY

7

Help Gaza Student Attend CUNY

My name is M. Dennis Paul, PhD.  My friends and I have started this fundraiser for a brilliant young woman living in war torn Gaza (Palestine) who has been accepted to a special program at CUNY.  I ask that you read the following appeal and visit the links we have provided to learn more about this exceptional human being.

Getting out of Gaza is no easy proposition. Returning is often more difficult.  There are numerous legal and political hoops to jump through to make  either journey possible. Last year, we were successful in making it possible for the sister of this student to attend Portland State University where she is now making family, and all of us, very proud.  Our current student has prior history of attending Universities in the US and is acquainted with the hurdles.  We are confident she will make this journey.

We believe that once you read about the achievements accomplished so far, and under such brutal conditions as exists in the Gaza strip, by this special individual (and the others on whose behalf we work) you will understand the efforts made to help them further their education and life endeavours.

The funds we seek will satisfy both the conditions set by the State Department and the University. Any amount above these requirements will be maintained as a reserve for unforeseen expenses that may incur and then addition to the safety reserve for the student.

Time is of the essence as our student has been accepted to CUNY Spring semester and must quickly secure her place at the University. We will update as needed to stress the true deadlines she must meet.

As long time supporters of rights and freedom for Palestinians and having many friends and acquaintances there, we understand the severity of their living conditions, the depth of daily struggle to survive, and the drive toward betterment and success which fosters the hopes and dreams they carry within. Education is vitally important for these students and is something they do not take for granted.

We greatly appreciate however much you can contribute to help us make it possible for this next student to meet her goals.

Please go on to read the Pensive Quill article which explains more.  Follow the links to learn more about the desires and accomplishments of this brilliant young spirit..

THEPENSIVEQUILL
Censor Offender
ANTHONY MCINTYRE

Help Walaa Al-Ghussein
Saturday, October 29, 2016

(Stanley Cohen makes a funding appeal on behalf of Walaa Al-Ghussein, a resident of Gaza who is currently seeking to further her education in the US. Walaa Al-Ghussein has been actively involved in exposing Israeli terror against Palestinians.)

Walaa Al-Ghussein is a treasure; one of those rare shooting stars that lights up the sky when all else seems dark and hopeless. Although truly one of a kind, she is not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of other national and international treasures that call Gaza home. Young women and men of determination and drive who against impossible odds have survived … survived to dream, to study, to grow, to look to a brighter future … one where they are no longer merely a political statistic played out in a decades old perverse, often deadly, game of power orchestrated by Israel with the acquiescence of much of the world.

Recently, after a great deal of struggle and sacrifice, Walaa obtained her undergraduate degree at university in Gaza. Previously she had attended a summer long academic program in the United States where she excelled. Most important, as a participant at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, she discovered the freedom of academic pursuit… one where classmates were not killed, where electricity existed (not a rare privilege) to study by, where podiums did not stand empty because faculty had been disappeared or were detained at a border crossing closed for the fall, or the winter … or permanently; where textbooks were not censored by Israel or recycled year after year from necessity because of a punishing embargo intended to break the spirit and will of millions as little more than a brazen criminal act of collective punishment.

Not satisfied with studies alone, Walaa has played an active and vibrant role in the life of her community especially among other young women who look to her as very much a role model of self-determination and independence. In that capacity, among other efforts, she organized and oversaw a series of training programs for youth in Gaza and the West Bank which focused on women’s empowerment and leadership. She presented a working paper on Young Women’s Leadership and its challenges at a conference held at the Women’s Affairs center in Gaza. She has mentored many young women trying to balance the tension between community and personal aspirations.

She has worked as a journalist and photographer whose articles and photographs have appeared in such prestigious publications as Al Jazeera and Mondoweiss. She has contributed to a number of powerful documentaries on Gaza and, herself, been the subject of a number of reports on life under Israeli attacks and the permanent siege of the coastal enclave of some two million people.

Walaa helped organize, and chaired, an international conference in Gaza which was one of 10 cities chosen worldwide as part of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos which focused on development skills for young entrepreneurs. In 2012 she was a member of the Palestinian Youth Delegation at a conference, “Evolution for Palestine”, held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia … and was the social media coordinator for the Conference. As part of her undergraduate studies, she worked as a teaching intern at both the Latin Patriarchate and Rosary Sister’s Schools in Gaza with 3rd and 10th graders.

Walaa was inspired by her time at Washington State University. Like no other place or experience, it was there that she discovered the world of academics, for her, a ticket to freedom … a boundless, exciting journey with the pursuit of graduate school a gateway to a future where she could not only realize great personal growth but share her passage and accomplishments back home with the many other young women and men of Gaza who look to her with a deep sense of pride and hope.

Recently, Walaa became the first student from Gaza to be accepted by the prestigious Graduate School of Middle East Studies at City College in New York. For her, CUNY… with its diverse population, world class faculty and location in the heart of the most vibrant City in the world has truly become a dream come true. She is scheduled to begin her studies this coming spring semester, which is not that far off. To enroll, Walaa must first obtain a student visa from the US State Department… a not quick procedure which ultimately is dependent upon sponsorship by a US citizen (who has just signed on) and a healthy level of financial security in her own bank account.

I write now to ask our extended family in Ireland, who better than most, have long known the pain of oppression and occupation, to help make Walaa’s dream a reality by contributing to a fund which we’ve set up under the supervision of a highly respected accounting firm in the United States.

For those interested in contributing by check, all it takes is an endorsement to Leonard Vona, CPA , with a reference to the academic fund for Walaa Al-Ghussein. For those who prefer a wire transfer from your bank account to the one overseeing this effort, under US law it’s a bit more complicated. Donors must first send an email to Mr. Vona identifying themselves and setting forth a very brief personal background. This will be followed up by information from Mr. Vona on how to complete the transfer.

==> Contributions, of course, can be made through this GOFUNDME Campaign

For a closer look at the thoughts and words of Walaa, I’m enclosing a link to her application statement to CUNY as well as a number of other links which reflect some of her work.

Many thanks.

Stanley Cohen.

Application Statement

Gaza’s female fixers

Walaa Ghussein

Articles by Walaa Ghussein   

Walaa Ghussein on the power (and vulnerability) of Palestinian journalists

Leonard W. Vona CPA CFE
2967 US Route 9 Suite 403
Valatie, NY 12184
Office: 518-784-2250
Fax: 518-784-2251
Mobile: 518-339-6748
lvona@leonardvona.com

ANTHONY MCINTYRE
Former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh, 4 years on the blanket andno-wash/no work protests which led to thehunger strikes of the 80s. Completed PhD at Queens upon release from prison. Left the Republican Movement at the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement, and went on to become a journalist. Co-founder of The Blanket, an online magazine that critically analyzed the Irish peace process.

Help spread the word!

An Appeal To Aid A Bright Young Student From Gaza

Walaa Al-Ghussein is a treasure; one of those rare shooting stars that lights up the sky when all else seems dark and hopeless. Although truly one of a kind, she is not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of other national and international treasures that call Gaza home. Young women and men of determination and drive who against impossible odds have survived… survived to dream, to study, to grow, to look to a brighter future… one where they are no longer merely a political statistic played out in a decades old perverse, often deadly, game of power orchestrated by Israel with the acquiescence of much of the world.

Recently, after a great deal of struggle and sacrifice, Walaa obtained her undergraduate degree at university in Gaza. Previously she had attended a summer long academic program in the United States where she excelled. Most important, as a participant at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, she discovered the freedom of academic pursuit… one where classmates were not killed, where electricity existed (not a rare privilege) to study by, where podiums did not stand empty because faculty had been disappeared or were detained at a border crossing closed for the fall, or the winter… or permanently; where textbooks were not censored by Israel or recycled year after year from necessity because of a punishing embargo intended to break the spirit and will of millions as little more than a brazen criminal act of collective punishment.

Not satisfied with studies alone, Walaa has played an active and vibrant role in the life of her community especially among other young women who look to her as very much a role model of self-determination and independence. In that capacity, among other efforts, she organized and oversaw a series of training programs for youth in Gaza and the West Bank which focused on women’s empowerment and leadership. She presented a working paper on Young Women’s Leadership and its challenges at a conference held at the Women’s Affairs center in Gaza. She has mentored many young women trying to balance the tension between community and personal aspirations.

She has worked as a journalist and photographer whose articles and photographs have appeared in such prestigious publications as Al Jazeera and Mondoweiss. She has contributed to a number of powerful documentaries on Gaza and, herself, been the subject of a number of reports on life under Israeli attacks and the permanent siege of the coastal enclave of some two million people.

Walaa helped organize, and chaired, an international conference in Gaza which was one of 10 cities chosen worldwide as part of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos which focused on development skills for young entrepreneurs. In 2012 she was a member of the Palestinian Youth Delegation at a conference, “Evolution for Palestine”, held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia… and was the social media coordinator for the Conference. As part of her undergraduate studies, she worked as a teaching intern at both the Latin Patriarchate and Rosary Sister’s Schools in Gaza with 3rd and 10th graders.

Walaa was inspired by her time at Washington State University. Like no other place or experience, it was there that she discovered the world of academics , for her, a ticket to freedom… a boundless, exciting journey with the pursuit of graduate school a gateway to a future where she could not only realize great personal growth but share her passage and accomplishments back home with the many other young women and men of Gaza who look to her with a deep sense of pride and hope.

Recently, Walaa became the first student from Gaza to be accepted by the prestigious Graduate School of Middle East Studies at City College in New York. For her, CUNY… with its diverse population, world class faculty and location in the heart of the most vibrant City in the world… has truly become a dream come true. She is scheduled to begin her studies this coming spring semester, which is not that far off. To enroll, Walaa must first obtain a student visa from the US State Department… a not quick procedure which ultimately is dependent upon sponsorship by a US citizen (who has just signed on) and a healthy level of financial security in her own bank account.

I write now to ask our extended family in Ireland… who better than most, have long known the pain of oppression and occupation… and around the globe to help make Walaa’s dream a reality by contributing to a fund which we’ve set up under the supervision of a highly respected accounting firm in the United States.

For those interested in contributing by check, all it takes is an endorsement to Leonard Vona, CPA , with a reference to the academic fund for Walaa Al-Ghussein. For those who prefer a wire transfer from your bank account to the one overseeing this effort, under US law it’s a bit more complicated. Donors must first send an email to Mr. Vona identifying themselves and setting forth a very brief personal background. This will be followed up by information from Mr. Vona on how to complete the transfer.

For a closer look at the thoughts and words of Walaa, I’m enclosing a link to her application statement to CUNY as well as a number of other links which reflect some of her work.

Many thanks.

Stanley Cohen.

Application Statement

http://www.thedawn-news.org/2016/06/30/gazas-female-fixers/

http://www.aljazeera.com/profile/walaa-ghussein.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/reporters/walaa-ghussein

mondoweiss.net/2015/04/vulnerability-palestinian-journalists/

Leonard W. Vona CPA CFE

2967 US Route 9 Suite 403

Valatie, NY 12184

Office: 518-784-2250

Fax: 518-784-2251

Mobile: 518-339-6748

lvona@leonardvona.com

The lone wolf of Gaza

The lone wolf of Gaza

Originally published in Al Jazeera October 21, 2016

The lone wolf of Gaza
Hamas bears no responsibility for rogue actions by individuals striking at Israel.
by Stanley L Cohen

Military historians tell that the first rockets appeared on the battlefields of central Asia, in the Mongols’ 13th century invasions of the Chinese and the Eastern European fringe, as they burst from the steppes like a force of nature.

Adapting Chinese black powder fireworks, they added the innovation of hollow tubes that could travel over enemy lines, run out of burn-fuel, fall and burst. Seven hundred years of development brought the 1969 Moon landing, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and not incidentally, telemetry computing, which makes possible the GPS miracle in everyone’s pocket. In the 1960s, every high school in the United States had a model rocket club dedicated to the art of flight … the whizz and the bang of boyhood.

Two weeks ago, a small rocket, just over a metre in length, sailed from the north end of the Gaza Strip, flew for a few seconds, sputtered and fell to earth leaving a scorched patch of asphalt on a street outside the Israeli town of Sderot.

A crude affair

A crude affair, it lacked any guidance capability, or telemetry control, or significant destructive power and, like its 13th-century predecessors, was a “burn out and fall” style of rocket.

Photos of the impact site show Israeli policemen standing around what looks like crumpled light-weight metallic industrial tubing, broken in pieces, with the road surface blackened, but not otherwise damaged.

The Israeli army reported that 10 residents of Sderot were treated in hospital as a result, “for anxiety attacks”, suggesting an underlying public health problem of uncertain dimensions among the town’s nervous residents.

A Salafist group, the Grandsons of the Companions of the Prophet – an aspiring Islamic State franchise – at least some of whose members had only recently been rounded up by Hamas, Gaza’s governing authority, claimed responsibility in a statement in Arabic and Hebrew, openly mocking hardline Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Well, as with our hobbyist model rocket clubs, one might conclude “Boys will be boys”, even in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison camp … now in its 11th cruel year of total blockade and crippling privation at the hands of Israel’s military machine.

Predictably, Israel retaliated within hours with artillery and air strikes and, over the next week, with pre-dawn waves of F-16 attacks against Gaza … wounding several residents while destroying private homes, agriculture, commercial and government buildings in densely populated urban areas … and sparking a fire in Gaza City that burned down a block in the al-Tufah neighbourhood.

Under Article 33 of the conventions, an occupying power may not inflict any mass punishment on occupied people and states plainly, in broad language, a simple test for the war crime …

It was a minor miracle that there were not dozens dead. While the Israeli army cited Hamas’ “terror infrastructures” as their explicit targets, it acknowledged simultaneously that it can’t be expected to “…go after every little group in Gaza with a couple of dozen members that goes out one night and fires a rocket,” so instead will target and punish Hamas’ rule, as well as the citizens of Gaza, holding Hamas accountable as “… the sovereign in the Gaza Strip, which bears responsibility for every terror incident emanating from it”.

Right to strike?

A similar round of retaliatory strikes occurred in August following an earlier rocket launched by a different lone wolf from the north end of the Strip.

Western press reporting on the air strikes and their rationalisations gave a group-think nod of assent, as if to say, “Yes, of course, Israel is justified”, while passing silently over Israel’s admission of Hamas’ “sovereignty” short of statehood.

Yet it is important to situate the official Israeli position that it has a “right” to strike the governing authority of Gaza and its residents in retaliation for the offending acts of individuals within international law. All the elements of collective punishment are present in these air strikes and, thus, it constitutes a war crime by legal standards.

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 added collective punishments to its list of war crimes as a direct response to calculated attacks made by World War II occupying powers – notably, Nazi Germany and fascist Japan – against citizens to terrorise populations into obeying the occupier or as reprisal violence against innocent parties, meant to snuff out organised resistance to occupation.

The German SS relied on this tactic, infamously in the Warsaw Ghetto and at the Ardeatine Caves, when Nazis occupying Rome took revenge against Italian partisans by selecting 10 Romans for every SS policeman killed in a bombing, executing 335 Italians in a single massacre.

Yet collective punishment need not be so blatantly lethal or even so mathematically quid pro quo. Under Article 33 of the conventions, an occupying power may not inflict any mass punishment on occupied people and states plainly, in broad language, a simple test for the war crime:

Article 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

Pillage is prohibited.

Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

Gazans, as an occupied population, fit the definition of “protected persons”.

The occupier’s duties

Further articles in Section III (“Occupied Territories”) of the Convention set forth the occupier’s duties, including maintenance of infrastructure for medical, health and hygiene, non-interference with food and necessities and the protection of private property from destruction.

In general, the Conventions constrain the occupying power from mistreating those under occupation in any way and generally imposing upon it the duty to care for occupied persons under military rule.

Zionism’s enablers and protectors love to argue that, because Palestinians have no state, Israel has not been at war with them all these years and that, as non-state actors and stateless citizens, Article 33 is irrelevant and, therefore, the Geneva Convention is inapplicable.

Alternatively, if they grudgingly call Gaza a de facto state, it is only to claim that Israel does not occupy Gaza after its 2005 withdrawal from the Strip and that the total blockade and military control over Gaza and its residents do not constitute an occupation, thus, they are free from the onus of law placed on occupying armies.

In reality, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza took place after years of resistance. Its former regime of military rule and Jewish settlement of Gaza has since been replaced by a de facto occupation through a complete blockade of land, sea and air, with total economic subjugation of the Strip.

All exchange of goods, food, medicine, energy, drinking water, travel and outside contact chokes down to a single checkpoint which can be closed on a whim. Gaza does not possess a “free” seaport, airport, or any freedom of travel, in or out, not directly controlled by the Israeli military. In other words, it is occupation by other means.

By international law, according to Rule 149 “Responsibility for Violations of International Humanitarian Law”, Israel’s explicit October admissions that it targeted Hamas, a governing entity, and the residents of Gaza, protected persons, in retaliation for acts by individuals they acknowledge are unconnected to Hamas (or, for that matter, to other Gazans), is simply and plainly a war crime.

Israel’s startling admission

As recognised by the applicable International Red Cross covenants, a state itself can only be held accountable for acts it carries out directly, or subrogates to others, or permits others to carry out. Any nexus connecting Hamas to the Grandsons is here absent.

Whether or not Israel recognises Hamas as a state entity, Hamas bears no responsibility for rogue actions by individuals striking at Israel and has, in fact, arrested and punished “lone wolf” attackers.

Moreover, Gaza’s residents bear no collective responsibility for individual acts. The standard here is clear and Israel’s startling admission should trigger prosecution.

This latest crime stands at the front of a long line of war crimes for which Israel must be brought to account. Since the late 1980s Israel has used reprisal attacks on the Palestinians of the West Bank and in Gaza as a means for enforcing its larger agenda of conquest, subjugation and annexation, in contravention of international law.

As a simple thought-experiment, imagine the inverse: individual Israelis have for many years acted with terrorist violence against Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza.

Should the Israeli state apparatus, its military and cities, have been targeted by Palestinians in justifiable reprisal?

When Baruch Goldstein killed 29 worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron; or when 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and burned to death by settlers in East Jerusalem; or when rampaging Hebron settlers in 2008 burned Palestinian homes; or when settlers in the autumn of 2013 cut down or burned more than 1,000 olive trees in Palestinian-owned groves, should each of these crimes have justified attacks on Israeli targets?

No one countenances the idea that Palestinians have a legal “right” to reprisal attacks. The Israeli state was expected in each case to apprehend the Jewish criminals and prosecute them. Hamas, in fact, had been active in doing just that by arresting members of the Grandsons only the month before.

Israel’s point in claiming it has the “right” to launch million-dollar F-16 sorties against Palestinian property, wounding Gazans, fails any legal test. Home-made $100 rockets from the 13th century hardly pose an existential threat. Israel’s disproportionate response seems once again intended to collectively punish Gazans for any vestige of resistance.

This may make Defence Minister Lieberman stand taller in the eyes of his right-wing constituency, yet simultaneously, his increased stature surely makes him the obvious target of who to put in the dock should international war crimes law ever be applied.

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