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Show me your papers

Show me your papers

The President of the “United” States, Donito Trumpolini, has empowered hundreds of thousands of racist police to racially profile all non-whites as potential “illegal” humans who are subject to deportation ostensibly for criminal activity. Such activity, believe it or not, might be as simple as jay-walking or spitting on the sidewalk. Technically, the “crime” of entering the US “illegally” is sufficient criminality warranting detention/deportation. Worse, it can be at the discretion of the police that an individual might, in his/her opinion, pose a threat to citizens and/or “National Security”. This amounts to “Stop & Frisk” on steroids nationwide. “Show me your papers.”

Since Donito took office, thousands of immigrants with varying status have requested church sanctuary and/or headed to the “welcome arms” of our Northern neighbour, Canada. Doors are being knocked and kicked in by ICE and Border Patrols are chasing down anyone who looks like he/she may have once picked grapes or strawberries or cleaned a rich man’s house. Mothers and fathers are being separated from their children (and even children are being detained) and either held in unsanitary cages called “detention” centers or deported to the countries from where they escaped in fear for their lives… countries torn apart by US interference in their elections and economies: often supporting the regimes brutalizing these immigrant humans.

In recent days, incidents of ICE agents waiting outside churches and church shelters to grab handfuls of Latinos… and stalking schools in wait of parents dropping off their children only to be pounced upon and shackled to the sound of frightened tears have surfaced. And Donito, while it is actually happening, suggests he is “considering” separating children from their parents as they cross the US Mexican border.

This, on top of Donito’s “Travel Ban” dictates, which target Muslims (and those who look like they might be Muslims), and that have been temporarily shut down by numerous federal judges across the nation, now supposedly rewritten yet essentially the same, are, despite the claimed urgency of “National Security”, a month later, again delayed for at least another week. Apparently not so urgent, these dictates, but no less a hovering threat to hundreds of thousands of immigrant humans and potential immigrant humans.

And if there is any doubt that racism is behind all of this, one need only look at the “White Power” advocates surrounding Donito as advisors. Stephen Bannon of the “alt-right” (White Power) Breitbart hate site and avowed racist, Stephen Miller, recently shown flashing, despite claims by Snopes to the contrary, White Power hand signals (a stretch by Snopes to suggest he was adjusting his suit and the ADL in believing Jews embracing White Power are not accepted by this “movement”). The histories behind these two close advisors to Donito as well as Donito’s own history and recent examples of racism (ranting at a black reporter to schedule a meeting for him with the Congressional Black Caucus as if it were her job to do his bidding and the assumption that all blacks know each other… and his blasting a Jewish questioner for asking a, to Donito, complex question and barking at him to sit down).. let alone comments made during his campaign toward Hispanic/Latino people, Muslims and others as well his total disregard for Native Americans… speak volumes.

Donito Trumpolini, who professes to be the great uniter who will end the divisions of race, color, religion, national origin etc has, in one month in office, done more to enhance existential divisions and, in so doing, create an atmosphere of fear, distrust, hatred and nationwide anxiety.. and panic.

Historical Prejudice and Migration

In the history of the United States, there have been several occasions where individuals and groups of individuals have had to flee either the states or territories in which they lived… and even the US, itself. Many people, having been taught limited perspectives of US history mistakenly believe a famous mechanism for such escape, the Underground Railroad, began with Harriet Tubman. In fact, such a mechanism began shortly after white immigrants “illegally” entered the Turtle Island and declared it’s ancient inhabitants “heathens” subject to slaughter or slavery. Leaders of tribes and the tribes, themselves, were often declared wild animals subject to hunts. Some were so severely persecuted that families sought help from distant tribes as well as empathetic settlers (though there were few) to safely gain passage to lands away from the hunters. Natives from the colonies were forced to move both West and North.

The Underground Railway of Harriet Tubman was a series of passages, deceptions and safe houses used to help fleeing black slaves gain safety in the relatively less racist North where, as opposed to being viewed as animals, they were perceived as partial humans.

The Vietnam travesty of corporate/military imperialism saw a resurrection of the Underground Railroad where were used some of the very same churches, safe houses and passages used by Harriet Tubman and others… this time to aid deserters and conscientious objectors. Further found and created were passages into Canada … some once used as prohibition era back roads and trails for the smuggling of illegal alcohol.

Most every ethnic peoples having, over the history of the US, entered this land as an immigrant, legally or not, has had to use some form of escape from the hatred of others… most often created through the manipulations of politicians and wars. Each group would wind up in segregated areas such as The Acre in Lowell, Ma., where Jack Kerouac was raised, or the Five Points in Manhattan, to name just two. Persecuted in the lands from where they came or forced by economic hardships and wars, millions of immigrant humans entered the US with a promise and a belief that circumstances would be better. The US was not, and never has been, the land of milk and honey. It was, and remains, the land of avarice and bitter unwarranted hate toward the “other”. From the settlement centers such as the 2 above, further escape eventually became necessary as jobs became scarce due to recessions… and one ethnic population grew larger than the others or newer ethnic migrant groups arrived. This lead to a false perception of a homogeneous population and culture as the various groups thinned out into other towns and states. Propagandists have called this the Great American Melting Pot. This “thinning”, in reality, merely spread the prejudices and resulting turmoil to other towns and states.

As example, having supplanted the Irish, French Canadians became dominant in The Acre… and with the immigration of Greek families moving into The Acre, eventually diminishing job prospects in the factories there, French Canadians moved to New Hampshire… and as newer groups of immigrant labour moved to The Acre, Greek families moved across state lines in their search and found that factories were again dominated by French Canadian workers and so the process of supplanting the French Canadians began anew.. creating fear, dissension and hate.

But then came the “niggers” (Southern Blacks, Jamaicans, Haitians, Dominicans) and the “spics” (Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Central & South Americans)… and the “gooks” (Cambodians, Laotians,Hmong and Vietnamese). All who had been fairly recent arrivals to the settlement areas and were slowly infiltrating white suburbia and inner cities. History repeats. Ignorance repeats. Hate repeats.

As Northern labour markets decided cheaper labour was needed, Central and South American immigrant humans were sought out and moved to the region. Viewed as hapless beasts of burden, the factories and farms took great advantage. An area of lush orchards, Jamaicans were also sought (taller than the Hispanic/Latinos). What was once the mainly South Western Bracero under a limited agricultural worker exchange program became a blind eye undocumented factory worker program in the North and North East.

By the late 80’s and early 90’s, Central and South Americans were a common work force in these regions… then the factories closed one by one and the farms and orchards failed. Only a few survived. The migrant humans took whatever jobs they could possibly find and many fell prey to the drug dealers and cartels… many of whom were ruthless Colombian cartel soldiers and Salvadorians with long established gang affiliations.

Gangs and Criminality

There were always gangs. Whether it was the French Canadian migrant, the Irish, the Lithuanian, Greek, Jew, Vietnamese or whomever, there were always gangs. Criminality afforded a perception of survival and protection. Such offerings and acquaintances were, and likely always will be, easier and more common to experience than one might believe. It comes as no surprise that many who left Central and South America were hoping to escape gangs as well as rogue governments only to find more and different gangs (as well as those they ran from) and only slightly less repressive government.

Human nature is to survive. The dream is to thrive. Gangs offered the desolate an opportunity to make money where little existed… and very little exists in the inner city enclaves where the no longer needed nor wanted are pushed to hide and be hidden. Too, they offered the hospital, jail or the grave. The police and government, not surprisingly similar to the gangs, offer the same.

America has now been fed the perception, bolstered by a racist president, that these gangs represent the immigrant… that the immigrant brings the crimes of these gangs across the border and threaten the lives of everyone (meaning every white one). And those who are not in gangs are, there being no longer an existing Bracero Program and so few factory jobs, a threat to the labour force in America.

Snake Oil, Jobs and Immigration

The Great Divider, Donito Trumpolini, believes he can muster enough factory jobs by blackmailing companies who, rather than import labour, set up factories to the South and to lesser developed countries across the globe. Automation guarantees the opposite. More jobs have, in the last few decades, been lost to automation as opposed to immigration. Yet, even with the historically low southern migration of the last 8 years (due in part to the 2008 recession, Obama’s silent mass deportations and the growth of jobs in the South), Donito has stirred up a hornets nest of fear and anxiety… along with hatred about the possibly 11 million migrants still living here… many far too old or too young to throw a gang sign if ever they knew one.

Based on the images bandied about in the media and the constant imbecilic refrains from Donito, one might think the majority of those currently migrating to the US or overstaying their visas are primarily Mexican. Big mistake. It may surprise that one of the largest groups of “illegals” who have overstayed their visas in recent years are Canadians. From the Southern border, the makeup of immigration is from Central and South America as well as sub-Saharan Africa. While over half of all undocumented humans in the US currently are believed to be Mexican, they have been steadily returning South on their own due to increased opportunity there as opposed to here. Those remaining here do so mostly as a result of having children born here. Most have now been here for 20 years or more. Despite Donito’s “clarification” of deportable humans being those, undocumented, for less than 2 years, the media is finding no shortage of cases where mothers and/or fathers, here for decades, are shackled and deported.

The Result of Negative Policy

In the past eight months, the Underground Railroad has reopened for business… and some unscrupulous individuals are viewing it as a business as they charge anywhere from $50 to $500 per head to take undocumented humans, and those with expired visas or possibly past or present criminal charges, to the Canadian border and, in some cases, across.

There are numerous locations along a still porous north and northwest border used to attempt avoiding the unnecessary hassle of US Border Patrol trying to enforce apprehension/deportation prior to families attempting the 3rd Safe Country Passage Protocol at major US-Canadian Border centers. People make the mistake of going to monitored US-Canadian crossings in the belief this program will protect them. They will still be subject to US Border controls and given the royal run around. If, by some chance, anyone in the party has an unpaid parking ticket, are on some list, or appear, to the agent, a threat they are likely to be held for deportation and not allowed to continue on to Canada. Should they make it through to Canada, they will be subject to the Canadian Border Customs policies… although they will likely be allowed to apply for refugee status.

People brought to the porous border, know, or should know, that if not first apprehended by local police, ICE or US Border Patrol, they will be arrested immediately in Canada. The US Border Patrol, when asked, give a standard political response that US and Canada Customs work closely together to insure all crossings are conducted legally. News reports show Canadian Mounties assisting illegal crossers with luggage and children at various foot path areas. No attempts are made to turn them away with orders to enter only at official crossings. Humanity and civility do exist.

No agency, on either side of the border, can give accurate numbers of those crossing illegally but estimates range in the thousands from the West Coast to the East. Prior, it was a trickle. For a time, it was more likely that Mounties would be greeting Central and South Americans, however, with the advent of the Trumpolini Executive Order, increased numbers of people from the notorious 7 banned states have been noted. The Canadian side does not record data on origins at the border. Services inside Canada will have a better grasp on this.

From various sources, very little intrusion exists once arrested. Phone dumping is rarely reported. Papers are examined, Criminal records searches are made. Charges are brought for illegal entry and a court date is set. Depending on case loads, this can take 2 weeks to 2 months. In the interim, immigrant people are assisted in filing for refuge status and housing/shelter is found. Other services such as health are also provided. No detention cages and children remain with their parents. Refuge status can be a very lengthy process when done from outside Canada… as long as five years. Once inside Canada, it is a relatively short process to obtain determination of status. Some, such as Syrians and Eritreans can get immediate status with exceptionally few being turned down.

Fear and Choices

A fearful refugee family has to make a choice. Stay in the US and likely be scooped up at some near point by either police, ICE or Border patrol, try to exist in sanctuary for indeterminable amounts of time with little to no ability to sustain themselves, risk passage to, and likely failure at, an official border crossing, spend high dollars amounts per head in an attempt to be smuggled through an official border crossing or port, spend high dollar amounts per head to be transported to a known Mountie patrolled/manned foot path, risk doing so on foot, risk passage to unmanned territory where they can then try to cross and assimilate much as they have in the US. This latter choice presents extreme health risks such as loss of digits and limbs, even life, to harsh weather conditions.

Under the Canadian system of services, it is likely, having chosen the last option, they will eventually wind up detained. Canada is pretty forgiving so they may still be able to apply for refugee status but there are no guarantees. Once detained, however, they become eligible for health and housing services which, while now becoming stretched due to the ever increasing numbers of people crossing the border, remain available.

Guidance and Actions

It is essential that travelers attempt to locate responsible and respectable assistance to make safe journeys from where ever they may be. One who might accept cash for gas but no more. Many sanctuaries can help to locate such individuals.

Preparation is needed and based largely on the choice families/individuals make as to how they will attempt refuge. Special concerns regarding the needs of children, weather, communication are important. Sanctuary helpers are rapidly becoming savvy to such needs and can be most helpful in preparing for refuge seeking.

Every day, more people join the sanctuary movement. And despite any oddball claims coming from the mouth of, or administration of, Donito Trumpolini… Canada has indicated no intentions to limit the number of refuge seekers crossing the border regardless of the route they may take to do so.

Still, more people need to come forward. The US, and the world, has at least 4 years of the madness from Donito Trumpolini and his White Power government (Unless he somehow strangles himself in his own stage rigging). That means more families needing help, more compassionate and savvy assistants… and lots of common sense.

Get friends and family to support sanctuaries, organize and attend town meetings and Representative Town Hall Meetings and speaking engagements. Go to Trump campaign rallies.. Yes.. he will continue to do these rallies. They boost his sagging ego. Confront and question. Demonstrate. Run as independents against both Democrats and Republicans in every open Congressional and Senatorial Race. 2018 will come quickly… so get going. Let everyone know that the only way to stop Trumpolini is to stop the Republican advantage. Democrats are a bunch of corrupt, useless idiots who only know one game. Stop the game. Stand up! Be independent of the corporate parties. Be clear on why you are independent.

Trumpolini investigated the possibility of unleashing 100,000 National Guard troops to carry out his sadistic immigration policies. The realities of that plan caused him to retreat. He still threatens withholding of funds from sanctuary states and cities. These entities can either buckle under or sue and/or threaten right back with notice that all supports will no longer be afforded to federal agencies and representatives. Think of what it might look like if a town or state suddenly refused protection for one of Trumpolini’s campaign rallies or Federal agency requests for data or support in investigations. NYC, on the East Coast and Several cities on the West Coast are likely to be a first test as their mayors have refused to allow the city’s police to act as immigration officers. Governors have also begun announcing their refusals. (Sadly, NYC’s, DiBlasio’s twisted thinking still supports the Broken Windows policing that criminalizes immigrant humans making them more susceptible to detention and deportation).

Last Thoughts

No government is perfect. Man is an imperfect being… something not likely to ever change. However, man has the capacity to grow.. to further civilization… to advance. History shows us that dark periods arise… and do so under our own neglect to support advancement… usually when someone emerges to exploit the basest fears and ignorance of man… the deeply rooted prejudices of centuries man has failed to extricate from his heart and mind. Donito Trumpolini is just such an historical character. Quoting, with a fondness, the words of Benito Mussolini, Donito stands in stark comparison. Larger than life obfuscators of political perceptions and abusers of the fragility felt by the masses …with the goal of imposing their delusional wills and being loved and respected for so doing. It is notable that Trumpolini, like Mussolini, appears happiest when surrounded by obedient minions… but more so when embraced by large crowds echoing his oddness. Il Duce was killed along with his minions and had a very large crowd present as his brutalized body was hung upside down from a metal girder above a service station. The crowds that once supported him, gathered to cheer his demise. Not wishing upon him a similar fate, still pondering, how large will be the crowd that ushers in, and cheers, whatever fate has in store for Il Douche.

No Expectation (Poem)

I have no expectations beyond the next breath
These cards I hold are a dead-man’s hand
on which I’m prepared to fold
No bluff convincing
Weariness is a tell
Push against the table yet neither it nor chair accepts the force

I’ve used up all the loves this life alloted
shared all the dreams
felt the breaking as each one crushed beneath the weight of choices I’ve made
No sparkle, no glimmer nor flicker remains in these eyes
In others seeing only darkness of soul reflected from once upon

Nothing and no one born of this earth to complete me
a soul outside a body dancing
laughing
prodding a ripening body from one folly to another
now, no other

Each sunlight in the world around
each shadow of noon
every moonless or moon lit night
ever more war, hunger, greed. longing, deception,
desperation
fear
panic
dying and death

I lay upon an altar built by dreams
surrounded by priests festering in sin
peddling more suffering with promise of redemption
but curse of damnation

All I did in life was chide Sancho
as he carried me from windmill to windmill
my lance and sword ever ready
my dagger
my quest a dream

From biological lust to elusive ghosts of love
to demon after demon erasing thoughts
words
emotion
all now upon a ship upon and endless sea

Beyond this next breath
perhaps another
One madness struggles to conquer
then another to kill the beast
all madness succumbs with a soft rush of air

I have no expectation

 

— m. dennis paul

An Open Letter to American Jews

caged but undaunted

Originally published in Counterpunch November 25, 2016

“An Open Letter to American Jews”

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…

View original post 2,175 more words

How I Found Optimism Through Fear And Loathing Surrounding Donald Trump

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 was nothing trenchant at all. From the streets to the lofts of the ceaselessly cawing main stream pigeons to the towers of power bathed in the whitest of detritus came the howls of the criminally and undeniably insane. And ‘murica, ever hungry for semi-edible crap from a preferable coloured bag, lined up with grateful spoons and napkins. Tweedle Dee was a fat slobbering caricature and Tweedle dumb no different.

The reality… the sorry state of reality… is that “murica long ago surrendered any intelligence it might have gained in history when it allowed Civics to be turned into a pile of festering goo.

Brush away the flies and every 4 years ‘murica convinces itself that dung ball “A” is somehow more preferable than dung ball “B” or vice versa and dutifully performs its beetle task of attempting to push one or the other up the steaming heap. It mattered not to ‘murica that both emanated from the same corruption spewing bowels of JP Morgan, Citi Corp, Wells Fargo and all the rest of the beasts, foul and sinister, splashing their tails in their illustrious mire. What mattered most was the colour of the bag they would get to gorge from over the ensuing four years and endlessly lamenting that if you voted not for their colour you necessarily voted for the other… even if you were remarkably one of the few too smart to vote. And let’s face it, Bernie was just a coin purse of anal seepage… sufficient only to lure hungered straying sheep to the inevitable dip.

The modern history of ‘murica is a slow march to the right and a wobble to the left every four or eight years. Like drunken sailors whose minds are edging a syphilitic apocalypse, the scent of putrid meat in a bun, on a stick or in high heels and fishnets guides them from one side of the murky alley toward the other. Too, a preference for neon hues of red or blue influence the zig and wobble. Confusing when a Pabst sign offers both.

So… just where in hell is the optimism I’ve found?

Having lived through the fear and loathing of the Nixon years (and having, along with Groucho Marx, been arrested for supposedly threatening the life of that glorious wine drenched beast) I learned that the greatest motivator of rebellion… taking to the streets and the barricades… comes from that soul crying urge to thrust an upward finger in the face of that person you both loath and admire… that person who by his very existence on the planet he so salaciously destroys brings out your inner desire to fight.. and fight unflinchingly to the death… ripping the flesh from his bones and grinding those bones into a fine paste to mix with the rich tones of your palate for texture in painting a different future. Such inspiration comes to a lifetime rarely to the degree it now does. At least for me, had the patri-idiotic dung beetles successfully pushed Hillary to the top of the heap, I might be equally disposed to the sounds of the grist mill. I did, however, secretly hope that Trump would perch on top of the excreta of DC. Perhaps a bit perverse but I admit to wanting that lasting glimpse of Hillary and the Klinton Klan eating a dish of “fuck you”. Long deserved, that dish,

I’m old now, and likely in the way, but for the last 18 months I’ve had a Geritol rush where emerged a jubilant “YIPPIE!” and an urge to once again commandeer the corporate soda trucks on the National Mall and levitate the Pentagon. Deep in my rotting bones I feel a world rising from its very recent mistakes of cowardly turning toward the indefensibly stupid nationalist right. I sense the youth (not that wasted generation that rode the “screw you… I’m a be rich” limo straight to Wall Street from college) that tried an experiment with Occupy and the Black Lives Matter movement, the remaining human section of the planet still capable of human thought, slowly waking up from the Bernie burn and realizing trenches need to be dug, barricades erected and a better than the ’60’s revolution brought to the fore.

In the ’60’s and ’70’s, we stopped the draft and we forced the end of a sick, depraved war but then we set about to have babies, took jobs we mostly hated after the country was saturated with candlemakers and our bellbottoms were too tattered to use as polish cloths for our mid-size and ridiculously compact cars, and neglected to continue the fight so we reaped a net loss by having a zig and a zag to a depressing economy that steered our kids toward enlisting and fighting more sick, depraved wars which lead to a false economy that ushered in greed which lead to crash that lead to a dark-faced massa which has now zagged to a vile smelling beast from the intestines of the devil himself.

You just have to believe we’ve learned something opening our eyes to the reality of the White Whitehouse of Trump. If not, we remain a nation of cloned self-flagellating pinheads walking in ever decreasing circles.

Another bit of optimism equally as dark as the above is the reality that our economy is cyclical and roughly every seven years the masters concoct a taking (prior to Bill Clinton, these takings were farther apart) based on the expected diminishing of ability to fool a group of degenerate gamblers that the Ponzi scheme is working, intact, sustaining. The next crash .. the next taking destined to reduce pensions and savings of deluded quill eaters and force greater foreclosures, pain and suffering for the thread hanging middling class… will happen on Donald’s watch.

Already foreclosures are on the rise, defaults are growing, bankruptcies increasing, Obama, with his much touted and ludicrously manipulated job-creation knew it was only a matter of time before 30hr a week “employment” in sub wage box stores, fast food drive-throughs and temp positions of standing on one’s head waste deep in hapless mediocrity lead to the return of the problems he had no intention of ever repairing. Bill Clinton showed him how to snow a nation and Obama learned to ski.

Trump, who knows everything about running businesses into the ground, will hasten the fall as the GOP monkeys of doom in their $5k suits with “I took an intern’s cherry” tie clasps and matching cufflinks cheer him on. They will benefit from the insider scoops and take away as much as their grubby little hands can carry, order up another bailout of Wall Street.. only this time the banks will use their new weapon of taking directly from the checking and saving accounts of the innocents, and the illusion will be reconstructed for about 7 more years once the “engines” are primed and running. When Trump declares the US bankrupt, at a lavish dinner for all his golden parachute friends, the real class war will begin, The barricades will erupt, the trenches sunk and the youth will lead their parents against the bloated and belching caviar crowd. Or not. Self-flagellation, to some, is sexy.

But I’m an optimist. I can smell the gunpowder.

 

yipviet
** M. Dennis Paul, PhD is a ’60’s radical who wrote under many names in a number of Underground newspapers on both coasts, played with the YIPPIES!, worked with the Black Panther Party & WU as well as others, worked, directed and performed at the infamous Farenheit 451 Bookstore, performed at and directed the Laguna Beach Summer Poetry Festival, ran a concert/nightclub security service eventually moving to a private Counseling & Mediation practice all the while doing things he cannot discuss (so don’t ask). A former writer for several web publications including the Salem-News, he is now retired but still gets urges to rumble in the streets and occasionally update his blog, rebel.lio. , maintain Stanley Cohen’s blog, Caged But Undaunted , contribute to Uprooted Palestinians‘ blog & maintain artist/writer Joni Sarah White’s website “WE THE PEOPLE

Personal Statement Walaa Al-Ghussein Gaza

Personal Statement

Walaa Al-Ghussein

Gaza

While standing in line at the passport control at Cairo International Airport, my friend and I were made to follow a frowning, uncommunicative officer who took our passports. “What’s going to happen to us?” I asked repeatedly. He avoided eye contact; instead, he busied himself accepting bribes from other travelers in return for easing their passage through customs. Finally, he responded “You’re Palestinians? There is no way you are going to pass”. What followed was a long night of humiliation and pleading with the Egyptian officers to let us pass to the Gaza Strip. We were heading home and had no intention of staying in Egypt, we only needed one night’s rest in Cairo as we had slept in another European airport the night before and had been traveling for three days.

They finally agreed to let me go, but my friend was detained at the airport as he was to be escorted by security personnel to the Gaza border in the morning. After they allowed me passage, I stayed at Cairo airport for four additional hours in the middle of the night with no idea what to do and where to go, at a time when many Egyptians harbored great animosity towards Palestinians. This was shortly after the elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was removed from office; he had been regarded as being relatively sympathetic to the Palestinian people. During those hours at the airport, strangers harassed me and propositioned me to leave with them. This is the sort of humiliation I had come to expect while traveling, but could never become accustomed to.

We were never supposed to travel through Egypt; rather, we were supposed to fly to Jordan and take a land route to Gaza from there. However, as Palestinians, we were denied the necessary prior approval to enter Jordan. I stayed in Cairo that night and left for home (a perilous 6-hour road journey) the next morning. I was the last person to cross the Rafah border gate before it was closed by the Egyptian authorities for another extended months-long interval during which Palestinians in the Gaza Strip remained virtually sealed off, with nobody able to leave or enter. This episode illustrates what it is like to be a Palestinian traveling in the Middle East. Nowhere am I confronted with the perils of being a Palestinian than when I stand at a border crossing point.

As it happened, I was returning from the United States after I had spent a summer attending a journalism exchange program at Washington State University, where I was motivated to write about my life’s struggle as a Palestinian. The incident at the airport was a classic example of the nature of these struggles. In this case, however, it was also a trigger to put my newly acquired training in journalism to good use.

As a Palestinian, my sense of identity has always been nebulous. I have been defined by war or by the one-dimensional images of CNN reports and New York Times editorials. My own personal identity is something I had never explored, as I only strove to present myself as a person who can be accepted in my society. Still, I was raised on certain values; my family instilled in me the ability to think and act according to my own persuasions, which were those of a free-thinker. I had always been an intrigued girl who wanted to know everything.

Thus, from my besieged city, I began using social media to explore the outside world, follow politics, and interact with people from different cultures. Through my small screen and poor Wi-Fi connection, I opened brand new horizons of knowledge and critical thinking. I read many blogs and articles by activists, journalists, and political writers such as George Orwell, Noam Chomsky, and Edward Said, whom I came to greatly admire. These experiences culminated in an unwavering ambition to achieve in words what such accomplished writers once did or still do.

I am now a 24-year-old woman who recently completed my bachelor’s degree in English Education at Al-Azhar University of Gaza, a major I grudgingly settled on because of the extremely limited educational options in Gaza. However, the courses I took during my studies enhanced my English language skills dramatically; moreover, I took the opportunity to actually teach English to children and teenagers for a year. Additionally, I engaged in multiple freelance tasks while a student, and have already published articles in major media outlets as well as my own blogs [URLs of some of my articles are listed at the bottom of this essay]. I have also presented my experiences to various audiences. I thrive on being critiqued; I think of myself as an achiever, someone who tends to be both realistic and idealistic, rational yet creative. People go through various phases of life searching for what they love to do. Discovering journalism was the turning point in my own life; I no longer needed to find myself, as my own writings found me.

At CUNY, I will be able to greatly widen my intellectual and academic horizons,and journey deeper into the world of ideas, theories, and history. I will be better able to understand social, economic, and political relationships and how they affect our day-to-day lives. I am enticed by the academic rigor and interdisciplinary philosophy because, as an aspiring writer, it is necessary for me to acquire as wide an array of knowledge as possible. If accepted, I look forward to being among ambitious and intelligent students who would challenge my thinking as I would theirs. It is for these reasons that I apply to your esteemed institution, and look forward to this next chapter in my life.

Links to selected articles and some profiles:

Walaa Al Ghussein on the power (and vulnerability) of Palestinian journalists. Published in Mondoweiss on April 12, 2015 [http://mondoweiss.net/2015/04/vulnerability-palestinian-journalists/]

My profile for Aljazeera English Web [http://www.aljazeera.com/profile/walaa-ghussein.html]

My profile on International Business Times [http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/reporters/walaa-ghussein]

My story of Al-Hashash family as part of the web documentary Obliterated Families[http://obliteratedfamilies.com/en/story/al-hashash/]

The Arab Journalism Project – USA [https://arabjournalismblog.wordpress.com/students/walaa-fatma/]

Featured in Gaza’s Female Fixers on Aljazeera English Web. Published on Sep 11,2015 [http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/09/gaza-female-fixers-palestine-150910060213178.html]

Hosting local session from Davos 2016 in Gaza – organized by Walaa AlGhusseinon January 26, 2016. [https://www.globalshapers.org/news/hosting-local-session-davos-gaza]

Leaving Palestine (poem)

Leaving Palestine

Whisper what in this life have I left, Mother?
Please don’t try to hold me back

In seeking dreams of promise I cannot go East or West, Brother
Please, don’t hold me down

There are no silver flights from here, Mother
So chained are my legs upon this sorrowed ground

Gilded vessels have no arrival to our shore, Brother
Anchored firm are we to shallows in the sound

Whisper what have I left in this life, Mother?
Nothing but futures of young now draw me on

In promises and dreams I cannot go North or South, Brother
Embarkation roads are only barriers now

Sleek paved routes belong to someone else, Mother
Our blood of decades spills and soaks in ancient sand

No one comes triumphant here to set us free, Brother
Fading clock ticks our end upon this dying land

Cold walls they’ve built all around, Mother
Yet I can hear so many living sounds

Life exists fully on another side, Brother
Life muted in our crumpled towns

Mother, what have they left that I can hold?
If not yet taken then a taking marked by time

Brother, what have I left that I can give?
Always a hand in waiting between us

Brother, whatever else can I do than this?
Trust in Allah’s outstretched welcome arms

Mother, kiss this bruised forehead one last time
I welcome the sting of their merciless harms

Some choose to die in service to life, Brother
Others choose to live in service to death.

Forever we are Palestinians, Mother
I choose the former be my last breath

Be brave for me in the face of what remains, Brother
Ever more so when punishment follows my erasure

Brave, too, be you, beloved Mother
Regret for this, hearts left with only tears

–m. dennis paul

American Nightmare: the Criminal, Justice System

caged but undaunted

Originally published October 7, 2016 Counterpunch

–By Stanley L. Cohen

Several days ago a story appeared in Al Jazeera about Ramsey Orta the courageous citizen Samaritan who video recorded the final minutes of Eric Garner’s life taken by New York City police officers in July of 2014. Mr. Garner, an asthmatic, held in a deadly choke hold and unable to breathe, repeatedly yelled out for help; his desperate pleas eventually ending as his last breath of life was stolen, by cops, from his limp body. His crime… being a black man on the streets of New York City, or Chicago, or Ferguson or Tulsa or any other of a hundred cities that dot the United States from coast to coast.

The Al Jazeera story itself dealt largely with Mr. Orta who is on his way to prison having pleaded guilty to a number of criminal charges that arose after he…

View original post 2,574 more words

Attica Lives

Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Work Stoppage September 9th, 2016

caged but undaunted

Attica Lives

September 9th is fast approaching- a day that stands out in the celebrated history of domestic resistance against official State terror and institutional slavery in this country. On that day in 1971 thousands of prisoners entombed in an upstate prison in rural New York, perhaps the worst in the United States at the time, said enough as they seized Attica. They said no to slave wages, no to physical abuse and no to psychological torture; they demanded improved living conditions, medical treatment, religious freedom and educational and training opportunities. Most important, they demanded an end to the systemic assault upon their dignity as human beings.

4 stan 1

Although much has been written about the take over and ensuing assault on the prison by state police and national guard troops some four days later which resulted in the murder of forty three individuals, including ten hostages, one statement by a 21…

View original post 1,713 more words

Announcement Of Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage September 9, 2016

prison end slavery

SEPTEMBER 9th NATIONAL ACTION TO END SLAVERY IN AMERICAN PRISONS

http://insurgenttheatre.org/sprdocs/strikepamphlet_notlocal.pdf

https://t.co/nmGqxAF39A

https://t.co/LTI8HbRNhq

 

BDS is a war Israel can’t win

BDS is a war Israel can’t win

Israel’s apologists would call the BDS campaign “immoral”, but the slander is laughably false.

By Stanley L Cohen

Israeli think-tank fellow Yossi Klein Halevi, writing recently in the Los Angeles Times would have American readers believe that the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement is “immoral” and threatens the peace of “the region’s only intact society”, while simultaneously boasting it can’t touch Israel’s health and global economic integration.

 

Yet his reasoning from “morals” rings hollow, and amounts to little more than the shilling of the professional apologist industry deployed on Israel’s behalf throughout the Western media, in the never-ending defence of the oppressive status quo in Palestine.

 

Halevi excoriates BDS, disingenuously, for making the Jewish state “the world’s most pressing problem” today, while extolling Israel’s freedoms and national righteousness. Of course, his complaint manages to engage in both self-pitying and craven boosterism at the same time – a kind of perverse humble-brag.

 

No, Mr Halevi, Israel is not the world’s greatest problem – rather, Israel is Palestine’s great, existential, enduring problem for a people who have lived their whole lives under the constant, brutal and de-humanising occupation of this enlightened state.

 

Palestine’s ordeal

 

Most of the world has been content to overlook Palestine’s ordeal – fatigued by 68 years of this conflict, and understandably inured to the epic suffering of its people, who understand that their tragic condition can only hold its attention briefly.

 

The endless failed international “peace” efforts, the vicissitudes of negotiations, and periodic spasms of violence have become like the weather – always there.

 
This is precisely why the BDS movement has come to figure so prominently in Palestinian hopes – it side-steps the moribund “peace process” and banks on people-power as leverage against state and institutional power, applied against a responsive economy, such as Israel’s.

 

In the view of Palestinians, the state of Israel has never possessed legitimacy, not by international standards, as it was founded on expulsion, land-theft and military occupation. The BDS movement approaches this abstract issue by offering practicable action for citizens in the West, while the official international community dithers away the decades, leaving Palestinians worse off than ever before.

 

That such leverage should be applied to Israel is entirely justified. After all, autocratic dictatorships with closed economies, lacking – in Halevi’s celebratory words – “an independent judiciary, a free press, universal healthcare and religious freedom” are not typically responsive targets to protest campaigns for justice, like that of the BDS movement.

 

Citizens in America don’t propose a boycott of North Korea – the US government does that for them, making it illegal to do business with that outlaw state: yes, the very same US government which blocks every effort by the United Nations and international courts to address the illegality of Israeli settlements, military occupation, collective punishment, economic enslavement, and wholesale destruction and murder of a captive population.

 

Advantages of civil society

 

If America’s obstruction of international law did not shield Israel from accountability, there would be no need for BDS.

 

Because Israel possesses all the institutions and advantages of civil society, then presumably its economy and citizens would therefore be responsive to an effective grassroots campaign of boycott and economic push-back.

 

And if the campaign were to succeed, this same society might be expected to search its collective soul over its choices – and challenge its government’s policies.

 

This obvious point seems to have escaped Halevi, and others, who brand the movement as “immoral, because it perpetuates the lie that Israel is solely or even primarily to blame” for the Palestinian condition. Yet if we look around the room, who else is there?

 

Who attacks Palestinians’ cities with warplanes and tanks, walls them in, isolates them from contact with the world, cuts off their electricity, destroys their infrastructure, takes their water, and builds on their land after evicting them?

 

Who puts their teenagers in jail, takes their farms, cuts down their olive trees? It isn’t North Korea; it isn’t Putin’s Russia; it isn’t a rapacious China. Israel is the author of the present Palestinian condition, as it has been for decades, with its American backers, and there isn’t much point rehashing the failure of Camp David, or Oslo, or the Palestinian leadership since 1936, or 1948, or 1967.

 

BDS leaves that debate to “think-tank” intellectuals like Halevi and others. Justice for the Palestinians will not be achieved through debating societies.

 

BDS offers to its supporters a non-violent, crowd-sourced, material response to the intransigence of Israel and her rampant, continuing illegality. Israel’s apologists would call the campaign “immoral”, but the slander is laughably false.

 

The logic of justice

 

BDS compels no one to join it; it constrains no one but by force of reason, and the logic of justice.

 

In Halevi’s topsy-turvy morality, it is the BDS movement that sins against moral law, in persuading people, institutions and governments to vote with their wallets and their consciences on the rights of Palestinians – rather than Israel, which claims legitimacy to the world, even as it continues to build new settlements on Palestinian land, and subjugates its people to military occupation, dispossession and violence, in violation of international law.

 

The propagandists of Israeli power understand all too well that BDS is the first clear-eyed, internationalist movement of people – not governments, not Western “quartets”, not the UN Security Council – to look at Palestine with fresh eyes and accurate information. It demands that until Israel ceases its occupation and oppression of millions of Palestinians, there cannot, and should not, be any “business as usual” with the regime.

 

If Israeli critics want to smear BDS as “bigoted” – a dog-whistle for “anti-Semitic” – because of its endorsement of the Palestinian Right of Return, let them address the historical truth: at least 800,000 Palestinians were expelled en masse, in the creation of the Israeli state – that number has since grown to 7,000,000 stateless refugees with another 4 million internally displaced within their own nation.

 

No effort has ever been made by official Israeli society to acknowledge and address this simple reality – that many elderly Palestinians living in UN camps, or Gaza City slums, or the West Bank, remember their homes in places such as Jaffa, Yibna, or the numerous towns and villages erased from the map.

 

It serves no use to deny this fact – perhaps a good starting point for intellectuals like Halevi would be in saying, yes, it is not too late to admit those rights and seek redress, together with the Palestinians.

 

BDS is brave enough to put the Right of Return up front, as a moral position; if Israel were ready to move forward, it could do the same. Who knows – perhaps good things could come from starting from the truth.

 

And what of Israel’s boast of its progressive freedoms? They do not withstand scrutiny in the slightest – religious freedom, for example, is under clear attack for every Muslim who wishes to worship at al-Aqsa, or travel to Jerusalem, or leave Gaza and return again, with access routinely denied.

 

Through Israeli military travel bans on Palestinians, families are separated, unable to worship or observe religious rituals together, or attend the mosque of their choice.

 

Likewise, any progressive Reform Jew or Jewish American visiting will tell you that Orthodox Judaism does not welcome them, either – Israel’s Rabbinate monopolises official control over the very legitimacy of being Jewish, and denies marriage rights to thousands of couples, even going so far as to jail couples marrying illegally, or rabbis conducting such ceremonies.

 

Orthodox cultural control

 

Under Orthodox cultural control in Jerusalem and elsewhere, women are subordinated literally to a “back of the bus” status, and segregated without access to full social freedom and the right to work.

 

As for an independent judiciary, Palestinians never see it, instead enduring the injustices of military courts and the state security apparatus leaving thousands of them including children as permanent political detainees denied the most fundamental rights, while its civil courts refuse jurisdiction over Palestinian complaints.

 

And Israel’s “free press” leaves much to be desired. Halevi appears to be ignorant of the targeting of Palestinian journalists in recent years for arrest and prosecution in military courts under “incitement” laws; or the Israeli Defence Forces’ censoring of social media in the Occupied Territories.

 

The absurd equivocation of  Halevi and his colleagues in the “Love Israel” industry hits a shrill note, asking American readers to accept that the BDS movement “is itself a crime”.

 

But free and open debate of the true status of Israeli occupation in Palestine, and the organising efforts to convince states, businesses and people to stop investing in Israel’s bloody enterprise, is hardly criminal. In America, it is known as “the marketplace of ideas”.

 

We are all free to argue for justice as we see it, and BDS has had more than a decade of mounting success because its arguments convince reasonable people of the truth – no one is buying any more the tired, old brand of “Israel, the Enlightened Democracy”.

 

BDS is the brave and steady labour of people of conscience to move the stalled, bogus “peace process” forward by applying economic pressure, plain and simple.

 

The old narrative of a blameless Israel, fighting off Palestinian “terrorists”, is a hard sell, and BDS will continue to build on its successes because Israel’s defenders can no longer suppress the truth, or sweep it under some wishful fantasy of a benevolent, progressive Israel that doesn’t exist, and never has.

 

Originally appeared in Al Jazeera Opinions

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/07/bds-war-israel-win-160711070045873.html

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stanley-cohen-sheikh-yassin_20120811_1946049197

**Stanley L. Cohen is a U.S. based attorney and human rights activist who has done extensive work in the Middle East and Africa. He has handled prominent international cases including that of Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook. He has served as a consultant to Middle East governments and Movements including Hamas and Hezbollah and NGO’s and foundations in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. He has sued Israel, the US and Egypt on behalf of Palestinians for human rights violations and represented Radio Station 786 on a free speech case in South Africa. A frequent visitor to the region Cohen has been the subject of numerous interviews in all media over many years and addressed numerous human rights conferences in the Middle East, Gulf and Africa. The list of those he has defended and worked for throughout his career is extensive and can be found on istanleycohen.org He also has a blog at https://cagedbutundaunted.wordpress.com/

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