Protest on July 26

On July 26, over 150 people gathered in Seoul, South Korea to condemn the ongoing assault on Gaza and demand an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. With testimonies from Palestinians, a powerful performance, several “die-ins,” and a march past the Israeli embassy, the demo attracted positive attention from passers-by in downtown Seoul.

The rally began with a performance in which participants solemnly laid white flowers on an enormous Palestinian flag, in memory of the more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, killed in the current attack on Gaza. A series of speakers, including Palestinians living in Korea, described the devastating impact of Israel’s current operation and the constant violence of the occupation. Demands included a halt to Korean arms sales to Israel, a suspension of diplomatic support of Israel, and, more broadly, an end to the current attack, the crippling siege of Gaza, and the occupation of Palestine.

After staging a “die-in” of dozens of people, the group marched through central Seoul, with several more die-ins along the way. The hundreds of people who received fliers from the marchers were, in general, receptive to the message of solidarity with Palestine.

Though police arbitrarily prevented protesters from marching directly in front of the Israeli embassy, they were able to pass within shouting distance. The embassy has been the target of all-day “one-person” protests every day since July 15, which will be maintained until Israel ends its assault. Weekly rallies, which began on July 19, will also continue to be held every Saturday.

This Saturday’s action was organized and supported by a range of South Korean pro-Palestinian organizations, unions, and political parties. A large contingent of foreigners, especially from the Muslim and Arab world, also took part in the demo.

summary by PPS activist

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The Prawer Plan – a talk by Noura Mansour, 7:30pm, Tues, Aug 6

Time and Date: 7:30pm, Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Location: Cafe Tripti, 2nd Floor, Geumyong Building, 107-61 Nogosan-dong, Mapo-gu – near Sinchon Subway Station (see map at bottom of page)
Entrance: Free
RSVP: CLICK HERE

Please join us for an evening with Noura Mansour who will deliver a public lecture on Palestinian history since 1948 and the Prawer Plan to ethnically cleanse the Naqab (Negev) Desert of tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins. Noura is a Palestinian educator and political activist living inside Israel. She is a member of the National Democratic Alliance (Balad) political party which has Palestinian representatives in the Knesset. Her talk will be translated into Korean from English and will be followed by a Q&A session.

You can read more about the Prawer Plan here.

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The view from Korea (24 June 2013)

In its Protection of Civilians report for the period 4-17 June, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory reported that in 2013 Israeli forces have killed 3 Palestinians and injured 2,593 others and demolished 273 Palestinian structures leaving 501 Palestinians displaced. In the two-week period covered by the report, 17 Palestinian-owned structures were destroyed and 35 persons displaced. There were also 191 incidents of settler violence leading to either Palestinian casualties of property damage which includes damage to 540 trees in the reported period alone. For the period 13-19 June, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights is reporting that Israeli forces carried out 82 incursions into the West Bank.

Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine continues, but a rare cultural achievement is being celebrated as a victory for all Palestinians. Yesterday 23-year-old Muhammad Assaf from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip took home the title of Arab Idol in the television show of the same name. Palestinian flags were waved by many in the crowd as he performed on stage after he become the first Palestinian to win the title. Shortly after it was announced that he will serve as a ambassador for the UN’s largest agency, UNRWA.

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The Unending Nakba – 65 Years is Enough!

Today marks 65 years since the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in which over 750,000 of its Palestinian inhabitants were driven from their homes and land, Palestinians whose familes had lived there for generation after generation. The Nakba or Catastrophe continues with the ongoing Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the illegal siege of Gaza that continues to strangle its people.

This graphic from Visualizing Palestine offers a visual representation of displacement, dislocation and loss of homeland through the forced exile of Palestinians.

Disappearing Palestine

As this Al Jazeera documentary shows, the plan to cleanse the land of its Arab inhabitants goes back at least to a conquering and war hungry Napolean but took shape through the Zionist project with British colonial support involving Jewish militias and terror groups.

The massacre at Deir Yassen is the most well known symptom of this violent history but the loss of Palestinian culture and heritage through the organized robbery of Palestinian books is violence of another form. As this excellent documentary from Al Jazeera shows, the fact that these books remain inside Israel in a library that most Palestinians cannot visit is symbolic of the ongoing Nakba.

A commemoration of a tragic event that is still unwinding in military occupation and apartheid must be fuled by tears, but there are many sources of strength and hope. It is to the struggle of some of the most oppressed people on the planet we share that we must turn our attention also. As sweat next to tears, the cries of resistance are as deep as the wounds. Here is a collection of poems read aloud in his own voice by Palestine’s late national poet Mahmoud Darwish to the music of Le Trio Joubran.

“If the Olive Trees knew the hands that planted them, Their Oil would become Tears.”  – Marmoud Darwish

And, finally, here is a selection from Fatma Kassem’s 2011 book, Palestinian Women: Narrative histories and gendered memory (Zed Books) in which she tells the story of the ongoing Nakba through the lived herstories of Palestinian women now living inside the State of Israel on what was once Palestinian land.  I shall let the author describe in her own words which are taken from the opening lines of her book:
“This book traces and documents the gendered memory and narrative histories of a group of ordinary urban Palestinian women who witnessed the events of 1948, when the State of Israel was founded. Importantly, these women have all remained on their homeland after it subsequently became Israel, the Jewish state. Told in their own words, these women’s experiences serve as a window for examining the complex intersections of gender, history, memory, nationalism and citizenship in a situation of ongoing colonization and violent conflict between Palestinians and the Zionist State of Israel. Known in the Palestinian discourse of nationalism as the Nakba, or the Catastrophe, this event and those that have followed since 1948 still exert a powerful influence on the present-day lives of these women – as women, as members of the broader Palestinian community to which they belong and as Israeli citizens. Examined from a sociological perspective, the unique experiences of these Palestinian women from the margins can shed more light on the multiple continuing effects of the Nakba.”

The Nakba must end. Palestinians will be free. Until then, those of us with the freedom to raise our voices against injustice must.

Palestine: the view from Korea (May 6, 2013)

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the IDF arrested 32 Palestinians including 7 children in the West Bank and conducted 63 invasions into Palestinian communities in the besieged Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank in the week ending May 1.

There are signs that Israel may be gearing up for another assault on Gaza. A popular Israeli web portal has reported that Israel may be preparing a second Operation Pillar of Defense as it conducted last November in which 160 Palestinians were killed and countless more wounded. The article, as reported by Press TV, is claiming that the IDF may carry out another military operation in order to destroy Hamas’ military infrastructure.

War and Peace

The revised peace deal put forward by the Arab League for a settlement between Israel and Palestine has been rejected outright by Hamas. The Arab League’s proposal is a weaker version of that first suggested and rejected by Israel in 2002 and includes potential land swaps. Mondoweiss is reporting that Netanyahu’s backing of the proposal is in part fueled by his fear of an eventual one-state solution: “The purpose of the future agreement with the Palestinians is to prevent the eventuality of a binational state and to guarantee stability and security.”

Over the weekend Israel reportedly bombed a number of sites including a military research facility near the Syrian capital of Damascus, purportedly targeting advanced Iranian-made missiles that were earmarked for Hezbollah. One report suggests 100 soldiers were killed in the strikes. The U.S. has predictably defended Israel’s right to bomb a sovereign nation. You would be forgiven if the varying accounts had left you rather confused about the whole situation.

It is important to note that Israel was the first and has been the loudest to claim that the Assad regime has been using chemical weapons, especially given that the U.S. may use this as a pretext to escalate its involvement (thus far through covert training operations) in backing Syrian opposition forces with lethal force. Interestingly, while there is no hard evidence of the Assad regime using chemical weapons, a recent Haaretz article reports that the United Nations has gathered testimony that indicates that opposition rebel forces have been employing saran gas.

The last time Israel bombed Syria was January 31, but this time the bombings were reportedly on a much larger scale. Such a move could certainly provoke a response that could quickly escalate into a larger regional conflict. As Larry Derfner suggests that it is in part a show of strength, “The rules of this game are that Israel continually flies spy planes over Lebanon, bombs Syria now, and may bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities later, secure in its belief that the targets can’t do much in return… In other words, Israel’s air strikes in Syria were meant to maintain its ability to carry out continued acts of aggression against its enemies without fear of challenge. This is the game, and this is what Israel doesn’t want anyone to change.”

Resistance is Never Futile

Despite the threat of a future Israeli attack on Gaza and the ongoing occupation, Palestinans remain resiliant and defiant. Members of Jenin’s Freedom Theatre in the occupied West Bank recently performed a play depicting the resistance of the villagers of Nabi Saleh based on the testimonies of children from the village itself.

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