I hope this finds you well!
I am pleased to report that Just World Educational has now completed "CastLeadPlus10", the multi-week information campaign we launched on December 27 to mark the tenth anniversary of Israel's deadly "Cast Lead" assault against Gaza.
In this campaign, we created significant new informational materials about that terrifying assault, and shared them on various web-based platforms. And as we went along, we also built an archive of all these resources that is now freely available to anyone who wants to learn more about Cast lead and its legacies. (At least 500 people have already visited the archive! Now, we hope many more of you will follow them.)
What you'll find if you visit the archive is the following:
** Links to two distinctive videos we produced: One is the archived version of the 30-minute "Facebook Live" session that Gaza-Palestinian activist Yousef Aljamal conducted for us, answering questions about his personal experiences of being in Gaza during Cast Lead and his take on its legacies. The other is a 10-minute slideshow we made of the daily slides we published throughout the campaign.
We hope you'll find this collection materials useful! Feel free to mix-and-match them to meet the needs of your community group, congregation, or classroom. All we ask is that you give due attribution to the creators of these materials, whether us or others-- and that you don't use them in any commercial way without getting prior permission.
** Links to the seven, roughly 30-minute episodes we released in the podcast miniseries we produced and released as part of this campaign. In this miniseries you can hear the voices of:
** A link to a downloadable PDF of the chapter in Laila El-Haddad's powerful book Gaza Mom in which she recounts her experience of having to watch from outside Gaza as Israel's US-supplied military pounded the very neighborhood in Gaza City in which her parents were living...
- Eminent international jurist Richard Falk
- Dr. Basel Naim, who in 2008-09 was Gaza's Minister of Health
- Prominent health-and-rights activist Dr. Alice Rothchild
- Veteran social-justice activist Joe Catron (also our Director of Outreach), who was in Gaza during the two later large-scale assaults that Israel waged against Gaza, in 2012 and 2014
- Beloved Gaza-Palestinian author author and activist Laila El-Haddad.
** Links to other materials that we and other organizations have produced that highlight the many lasting legacies of Cast Lead.
(And of course, donating to support our work would also be very welcome...)
Why the legacies of Cast Lead remain important today...
As we worked on this campaign, I was reminded again and again of how crucial it is to understand and remember the legacies of Cast Lead today. Here are, I think, the main reasons:
Now, in 2019, we may have high hopes in any one of a number of new leaders coming to Washington. But the record of what happened ten years ago makes it clear that we need a determined, disciplined, and well-informed grassroots movement here in the United States that stands up for the full rights of the Palestinian people and puts pressure on leaders to make that happen-- just as previous movements here succeeded in changing policy on other international issues like the US-Vietnam War, or US support for apartheid.
- The brutality of Cast Lead (its sheer cruelty, in Richard Falk's telling) has rarely been seen anywhere for many decades. The Israeli government, led by outgoing PM Ehud Olmert, forewent the many chances it had to reach a negotiated resolution of the concerns it had about the actions of the elected Hamas leadership in Gaza. Instead, on December 27, 2008, it used highly advanced, US-supplied weaponry to launched a massive "shock-and-awe" campaign against downtown Gaza City; and it sustained similar assaults by air, land, and sea against Gaza for the 21 days that followed. Gaza's Palestinian resistance groups had at their disposal only some very primitive homemade rockets and mortars and a range of light-infantry weapons. The asymmetry in the casualty toll, as shown in e.g. the Wikipedia chart at right, reflects this asymmetry in the two sides' arsenals.
- PM Olmert and his government had timed the assault so that the U.S. Presidency-- the only power on earth that could have stopped him-- was in a state of transition. Outgoing Pres. George W. Bush was not inclined to rein in Israel; and the Israelis made sure to finish the assault before Barack Obama was sworn in on January 20. For the 22 days the assault lasted, it gave the Israeli military many chances to test out its weapons and its tactics against a captive, overwhelming civilian population that had no way to protect itself against Israel's high-end, stand-off weaponry.
- Israel then escaped being held in any way accountable for the many violations of international law it committed during Cast Lead. The only power on earth capable of shielding Israel from accountability-- the U.S. government-- did so, completely. After Cast Lead, the United Nations established a fact-finding commission under Judge Richard Goldstone that could have been the prelude to the Security Council ordering sanctions, trials, or other actions to hold Israeli leaders accountable. That never happened. Now, it was Pres. Barack Obama who came to Israel's aid, blocking every attempt the U.N. made to move towards accountability.
- That lack of accountability allowed Israel to launch two major additional assaults against Gaza, in 2012 and 2014. In the 2014 assault, Israel killed more than 2,100 Gaza Palestinians. These assaults became so routine that Israelis obscenely started to refer to them as merely "mowing the lawn." Under Obama, Israel also tightened the siege it had maintained around Gaza since 2006 and continued, quite illegally, to implant thousands more Israeli settlers into East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Obama's response? To lock in an unprecedented agreement to supply Israel with $34 billion of weapons over the next ten years.
- Many of us had had high hopes in Obama, but they were cruelly rebuffed. On January 22, 2009-- his second day in office-- Obama went to the State Department and with great fanfare launched a new version of a US-led Israeli-Palestinian "peace process." It led nowhere, and rapidly came to seem like just another attempt at "keeping the Palestinians occupied"...
Without such a movement, any collection of leaders will merely fall victim to the large, experienced, and extremely well-funded lobbying effort that Israel has maintained inside this country since 1956. But with such a movement, real change can happen-- and quite possibly, much faster than we've previously judged possible.
There are several encouraging signs. In the past six weeks we've seen the emergence in The New York Times of the powerful phenomenon of "the Two Michelles":
I am myself someone who's been targeted numerous times with false charges of "anti-Semitism" and other smear campaigns, on account of my work standing up for Palestinian rights and recording the extent of Israel's 70-plus-year record of denying and obliterating them. I think all of us who have spoken up for the rights of Palestinians know that these smear campaigns exist-- and that frequently they can have a very powerful silencing effect.
- On December 7, the thoughtful Jewish-American columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote the very well argued piece, "Anti-Zionism Isn't the Same as Anti-Semitism".
- On January 19, fearless African-American public intellectual Michelle Alexander wrote "Time to Break the Silence on Palestine", an essay in which she confessed quite forthrightly that, "Many civil rights activists and organizations have remained silent [on Palestine] as well, not because they lack concern or sympathy for the Palestinian people, but because they fear loss of funding from foundations, and false charges of anti-Semitism. They worry, as I once did, that their important social justice work will be compromised or discredited by smear campaigns."
The attempts to silence Israel's critics certainly continue-- including, in the resolution recently presented in the new U.S. Senate that would uphold the rights of states to criminalize support for the pro-Palestinian boycott movement.
But it is wonderful to see these two powerful intellectuals, the Two Michelles, speaking out clearly on this matter-- and to see their words being published by the New York Times, no less.
Nonetheless, 60 years of intensive (and well-funded) work by the Israel's most fervent and ideological supporters to suppress essential information about the status of the Palestine Question have had a many-layered effect in distorting the way that most Americans think and talk about Palestine at this point. So there remains a massive need for the kind of clear-eyed, fact- and law-based, and deeply humanistic materials on Palestine that Just World Ed provides. I hope you can consider supporting us. Here's the information on how to do so:
Our big thanks for any help you can send!
And... coming up next we have the following projects on our agenda for this Spring:
We have lots of useful materials about all those issues already in place on our website, so be sure to check it out. Also, if you're on Twitter or Facebook, do follow our accounts on those platforms. You can use these buttons to do so:
- In mid-March, we're planning to bring Algerian national-liberation legend Zohra Drif back to the United States-- this time, to do some speaking gigs on the west coast. (If you or anyone you know is located there and would like to invite her to speak-- let us know as soon as you can!! Her schedule is now starting to gell.)
- Later in March, we'll be organizing a number of activities to mark the first anniversary of the Gaza-centered #GreatMarchOfReturn campaign, which started on the Palestinians' Land Day, March 30, last year. If you want to work with us on that, please contact Joe Catron as soon as possible.
- Leading up to April, we'll be reconnecting with the #WarHurtsEarth campaign that we launched last year in an attempt to get the deeply harmful effects of U.S. militarism onto the radar of the big environmental organizations in the lead-up to Earth Day.
Finally, do send us any feedback you have on the #CastLeadPlus10 campaign or any of our other programs. We really rely on strong partnerships with a range of individuals and organizations in oder to make our work effective.
Warmest wishes to friends and colleagues everywhere--