Resistance Studies Network

Supporting critical studies on resistance, organised by scholars at Gothenburg, Sussex & UMass Universities

Category: War (page 1 of 7)

COP: A Living Movement: Toward a World of Peace, Solidarity, and Justice

Joint Conference of PJSA and the Gandhi King Conference

Hosted by the Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN ~ October 21-23, 2011

The Peace and Justice Studies Association and The Gandhi-King Conference

Jointly present a dynamic conference experience:

“A Living Movement: Toward a World of Peace, Solidarity, and Justice”

The Peace & Justice Studies Association (PJSA) and the Gandhi-King Conference (GKC) are pleased to announce our first-ever jointly sponsored annual conference. The PJSA and the GKC are partnering this year to promote dynamic exchange among individuals and organizations working for a more just and peaceful world. This partnership promises a unique conference experience that combines the best of scholarly and grassroots perspectives on the pressing justice issues in our communities and around the globe.

We invite submissions for the 2011 Annual Conference, to be held on the campus of Christian Brothers University, in Memphis, Tennessee, from Friday October 21 through Sunday October 23, 2011. We welcome proposals from a wide range of disciplines, professions, and perspectives that address issues related to the broad themes of solidarity, community, advocacy, education, and activism as they are brought to bear in the pursuit of peace and justice.

Our goal is to create a stimulating environment where scholars, activists, educators, practitioners, artists, and students can build community and explore interconnections. We invite participants to engage in various modes of exploration, including papers and presentations, hands-on practitioner workshops, and a youth summit. We aim to foster an experience in which attendees will have multiple opportunities to meet and dialogue in both formal and informal settings, against the unique historical backdrop of Memphis, TN.

The deadline for proposal submissions is April 15, 2011. Abstracts are limited to 150 words, and must be submitted electronically through the PJSA website.

For more information, contact: or

COP: A Decade of Terrorism and Counter-terrorism since 9/11

A Decade of Terrorism and Counter-terrorism since 9/11: Taking stock and new directions in research and policy

Call for Papers

Organising body: Critical Studies on Terrorism Working Group (CSTWG) of the British International Studies Association

Supported by: The British Academy, Consortium for Research on Terrorology and Political Violence; Communication Research cluster, University of Strathclyde

Location(s): University of Strathclyde and Glasgow City Chambers, Central Glasgow.

September 11, 2011 will mark ten years since the terrorist attacks on America and the start of the global ‘war on terrorism’. The extensive changes engendered by these processes in the last decade have yet to be fully understood and appreciated. There is consequently a real need for rigorous and sustained retrospective analysis. In a year that will see a wide range of special commemorative and academic events, this conference will seek to assess the widespread impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism since 2001 from a distinctly ‘critical’ perspective. More specifically, the conference will foreground inter-disciplinarity and seek to review what we have learnt in a period of unprecedented interest in the study of terrorism and counter terrorism. There will be a range of debate sessions between ‘critical’ and ‘mainstream’ scholars, and engagement with policy actors, including speakers from the government ‘Contest II’/’Prevent’ campaigns, the police, legal officials, civil libertarians and Muslim community representatives.

Key note speakers include Joseba Zulaika (University of Nevada in Reno), Michael Stohl (University of California Santa Barbara), Michael Scheuer (ex-CIA), Richard Jackson (Aberystwyth) Caron Gentry (St Andrews) and Dr. Bob Lambert (Exeter, ex-Special Branch)

The conference is intended to play a significant role in the expansion of interest in, and the re-orientation towards a more empirically informed and theoretically sophisticated practice of, studies of terrorism and political violence. Subsidiary aims include to foster knowledge exchange between social science and natural science disciplines; and to contribute to the re-evaluation of policy on terrorism and counter terrorism.

Scholarship on terrorism has expanded exponentially in the past decade. The subject itself is clearly of major importance inside and outside the academy. While the conference is an initiative from scholars who are part of an openly ‘critical’ working group on terrorism, the conference organizers are concerned to open up dialogue on the shared problems of data, methods and theory which most observers agree are important issues in ‘terrorism studies’. We will bring together an unusually interdisciplinary group including exponents of both ‘orthodox’ and ‘critical’ terrorism studies, and those from other areas of social and natural science who are often not part of the mainstream discussion of ‘terrorism’.

There will be a strong policy and civil society element to the conference with policy actors and human rights activists debating responses to terrorism, civil liberties, and ‘suspect communities’.  We will also host roundtable discussions featuring those with experience of political violence from a variety of conflicts.

In addition, we will host advanced research training workshops for conference participants, together with interdisciplinary research sessions including a small number of ‘master classes’ where leading researchers will reflect on interdisciplinarity and on their own research methods and practice. We intend  to offer both early career and established scholars an opportunity to discuss practical questions outside the formality of the set-piece keynote addresses and we hope that this will encourage sharing of new and developing methods in the field especially in the context of the new opportunities and issues thrown up for methods by new digital technologies. We hope to use these methods workshops to focus in the interdisciplinary workshops on fostering research networking for the future.

Conference themes
The conference is intended to look back and review how we have understood terrorism and counter-terrorism, and attempt to think through where the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism should go from here. Themes in the conference include, among others:

•    ‘Non-state terrorism’, including but not limited to terrorism as an instrument of power;
•    ‘State terror’ and repression, including, but not limited to Western State terror;
•    ‘Counter-terrorism’, risk governance and ‘radicalisation’;
•    ‘Advances in terrorism studies’ with a particular focus on data, methods and theory, including the contribution of critical terrorism studies;
•    ‘Communicating terrorism’: cybersecurity, social media, influence agenda, public diplomacy, information operations and strategic communications;
•    Gender and terrorism/counter-terrorism;
•    Historical materialism, terrorism and counter-terrorism;
•    The war on terror and the global South;
•    The ways in which conflict resolution can inform the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism policy.

The conference will include a mix of plenaries, keynotes, panel, debate and workshop sessions.

Abstracts and Expressions of Interest
The organizing committee welcomes the submission of
1.    Abstracts (max. 350 words) on these and related topics;
2.    Panel proposals (with a minimum of 3 abstracts, plus a short overview of the panel (circa 250 words))
3.    Workshop proposals (with either a policy/civil society or methodological/practical orientation max 350 words of workshop description plus max 250 words on any individual elements)
All abstracts will be reviewed by the organizing committee to meet rigorous academic standards. Abstracts will be reviewed for relevance, conceptual quality, innovation and clarity of presentation. At least one author of accepted papers is required to attend the conference in order to present the paper.

Abstracts should be sent to Jan Bissett by Wednesday 1 June 2011.

Papers from the conference will be selected competitively for inclusion in either:
1.    A special issue of the journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism; or
2.    An edited volume on the conference theme published by a major academic publisher.
These outputs will be edited and overseen by an overlapping editorial team led by the organisers. It is anticipated that the journal will focus on advances in terrorism studies. The book will focus substantively on 9/11 and its legacies incorporating interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives. The edited collection will be divided into key sections reflecting the conference themes. It is important to note that the papers for the book will be needed in near final draft form in advance of the conference.
Costs: Conference costs  will be announced shortly. It is envisaged that full costs will be around £200 with reductions for student, policy and civil society participation. Accommodation will not be included in conference costs and should be booked separately. It is the responsibility of delegates to book their own accommodation. A list of hotels, hostels and B&Bs will be provided by the conference organizers.

Conference organizing committee
David Miller (Strathclyde) (convenor), Helen Dexter (Manchester), Piers Robinson (Manchester), Dave Whyte (Liverpool), Vicki Sentas (King’s), Bela Arora (University of Wales, Newport), Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet (Manchester), Jessie Blackbourn (Salford), Idrees Ahmad (Strathclyde), Roy Revie (Strathclyde), Steven Harkins (Strathclyde), Rizwaan Sabir (Strahclyde), Tom Mills (Strathclyde), Cyrus Tata (Law, Strathclyde), Rachel Hendrick (Strathclyde), Rani Dhanda (Strathclyde)

Administrative support Jan
Conference blog:

Keynote speakers
The conference will hear several keynote addresses from world leading authors on terrorism and political violence.  Each Plenary speaker will also run a Masterclass on research techniques in terrorism specifically aimed at Postgraduate students and early career researchers.

Keynote addresses confirmed so far:
Joseba Zulaika is the Director of the Centre for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada in Reno and an anthropologist by training. Among his research interests are the international discourse of terrorism. His 2009 book Terrorism: the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy was published by the University of Chicago Press. His recent explorations of terrorism focus in particular on the role of intellectuals and reflect on the domain of terrorism studies.

This self-reflexive focus – which is comparatively rare in academic work on terrorism – is the reason why we particularly want Prof Zulaika to deliver a keynote at the conference.
Michael Stohl is Professor of Communication at the University of California Santa Barbara. Stohl’s current research focuses on organizational and political communication with special reference to terrorism, human rights and global relations. Stohl’s foundational work on state terrorism, his focus on Terrorism as communicatively constituted violence, and his current work on terrorism networks and counter terrorism are the key reasons why he is being invited to deliver a keynote. He will also lead a workshop on network analysis in relation to terrorism.

Michael Scheuer (invited) spent 22-years with the CIA in which he held various positions including Senior Adviser for the Usama Bin Laden Department, Chief of the Southwest/Southeast Asia Counternarcotics Operation, and Chief of the Sunni Militant Unit. Dr. Scheuer is the author of Imperial Hubris. Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism (2004) and Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of the United States (2003), as well as Marching Towards Hell: America and Islam After Iraq (2008).

Richard Jackson Professor in International Politics (Aberystwyth). He is the founding editor of the journal Critical Studies on Terrorism. Together with Jeroen Gunning and Marie Breen Smyth, Richard Jackson is co-editor of the Routledge Critical Terrorism Studies Book Series. Richard Jackson has published numerous books and articles on terrorism-related issues and international conflict resolution.

Caron Gentry was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas and has recently taken the post of Lecturer at the University of St Andrews. Her previous work has been published in the journal Terrorism and Political Violence.  Her research interests are gender, terrorism and political violence.

Bianca Jagger: We Must Declare a Non-Violent Revolution

From Huffington Post

I am calling for a non-violent revolution. A call to arms, without weapons.

On Tuesday the 8th of March, I joined Annie Lennox, Cheri Lunghi, Jude Kelly, Natasha Walter and hundreds of women on a march along London’s Southbank to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day (IWD).

It was encouraging to see so many women come together, but we should have been thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions perhaps? The first march in 1911 saw over a million women and men campaign to end discrimination against women and to demand equal rights.

Are we so complacent that we feel we do not need to demand gender equality? Many women are convinced there is equality between men and women. The fact however is that the US has never had a female president and, in the UK there has been just one female prime minister out of 52 male leaders. Shouldn’t this be a wake up call to all those who think we have achieved gender equality?

It is true that much progress has been made since the original march for IWD, and women are excelling in many fields. We may have different lives to those of our grandmothers and even our mothers but gender equality has far from been achieved.

Non-Violent Revolutions

In recent months we have seen women at the forefront of revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Asmaa Mahfouz, a 25-year-old Egyptian woman has been credited by some as sparking the revolution in Egypt when she posted a YouTube video calling for people to join her in Tahrir Square in a fight for democracy. Of the hundreds of thousands of people who joined Asmaa Mahfouz there was as many women as men. This is a pivotal time in history for the Middle East, and women are playing a significant role in its progression towards democracy and freedom.

After such progress, it was shocking to see this week, a peaceful march led by women in Tahrir square to mark International Women’s Day met with aggression and sexual harassment from a gang of over 200 men.

In many countries around the world women have to physically fight for their voices to be heard. We in the west are lucky that we have a voice, but it must come with an obligation to fight for those women who don’t.

As we see women around the world risk their lives to fight for fairness and freedom, we should be inspired to stand up for our rights, our right to be equal; a right which was passed in 1948, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is yet to be fully achieved.

In response to those who deny the existence of gender discrimination I let the statistics speak for themselves.

Gender Inequality

Women now carry out 60% of the world’s work and produce 50% of the world’s food but only earn 10% of the world’s income and only own 1% of its property. According the UN women make up 70% of the worlds poorest. Two thirds of the 774 million illiterate adults worldwide are women. This is because 70 million girls each year are denied the right to the most basic education.

Women around the world face severe restrictions in freedom and in some cases are condemned to death for allegedly breaking bias moral and religious codes, enforced by men.

Death Penalty

In recent years many cases of gender discrimination, gender related violence and honor killings have been brought to public attention. Some of the most egregious cases I have come across are; Mosammet Hena a 14-year-old girl from Bangladesh, who was allegedly raped and was whipped to death for crimes against honour.

The disturbing case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, who was sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for adultery and murder, crimes she has repeatedly denied. Death by stoning is a mandatory sentence for “adultery while married” in Iran. After intense public outcry and campaigning by the international community, human rights organizations including my own The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, the Iranian authorities have since announced that her death sentence has been “suspended”. At present, the outcome of her case remains unclear.

Honor Killing

Honor killings are increasing in the western world, the recent cases of the television executive Muzzammil Hassan who was found guilty of beheading his wife in a suspected honor crime and the Iraqi father, found guilty of running over his 20-year-old daughter in a Arizona car park have shocked America. In 2009 police recorded over 250 incidents of “honor”-based violence in London alone, according to the Guardian.

Female Genital Mutilation and AIDS

Female genital mutilation and AIDS are another threat to women around the world. Action Aid estimates that 75% of all young people in Sub-Saharan Africa with AIDS or HIV are women. 92 million women and girls around the world are believed to have undergone female genital mutilation.

Rape as Weapon of War

Rape has long been used a weapon of war, during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, it is estimated between 250,000-500,000 women were raped. UN Special Reporter Rene Degnu-Segui stated, “rape was the rule, it’s absence the exception”. In 1993 I traveled with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) personnel through Bosnia and Croatia on a fact finding mission to document the mass rape of women, I had been asked to testify before the Helsinki Commission in the US Congress. I listened to hundreds of shocking testimonies of women, who had been brutally raped. It is estimated that during the Bosnian war up to 50,000 women were systematically raped.

Although the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia issued arrest warrants based on the Geneva Conventions and Violations of the Laws or Customs of War, rape continues to be used as a weapon of war. In 2009 we learned of the brutal raping of 8,000 women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, described the country as “the rape capital of the world” speaking of the violence she explained “if women continue to suffer sexual violence, it is not because the law is inadequate to protect them, but because it is inadequately enforced.”

In countries such as Saudi Arabia, women are not even allowed to drive, let alone vote. In Saudi Arabia and in places such as Chechnya, Afghanistan and Somalia women are routinely punished for not adhering to strict dress codes, and can be flogged in the street for showing their faces.

Seven UN member states have not signed the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan and Tonga. The United States, along with Niue and the Vatican City have not yet ratified it!

Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence

These stories are not freak occurrences, every day women face gender related abuse. I was shocked to learn that globally 60 million girls are sexually assaulted on their way to school each year. In the UK only 7% of rape cases end in conviction and only between 10-20% of rapes are thought to be reported. In the US one in four women can expect to experience domestic violence, and according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes each year.

Decision Makers

Globally there is severe disparity between men and women in parliament, and women make up only 19% of the worlds parliament seats. As of 2011 there were only 17 female Senators in the US out of 100 and 76 women in Congress out of 435. In the UK there are 144 members of parliament out of 650. In a world where leaders such as Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, Burlesconi, Putin, Gaddafi, Mubarak make headlines daily, we hear relatively little of Gillard, Rousseff, Patil and Fernández de Kirchner, some of the world’s 18 female heads of state. Is it perhaps because they make up such a small percentage of world power or is it because we underestimate the power of women in leadership positions?

The reason why I have emphasized the statistics in this article, is because they speak for themselves. Nevertheless they are easily ignored, but we cannot afford to ignore the reality they represent.

Call to Action

We have the tools to change the world, we can make a difference, we can even change the course of history. The time for further excuses, postponement, or procrastination, for hesitation and prevarication has long passed. Now is the time for courage and leadership. We must take concrete steps to empower women, achieve gender equality, equal legal rights and justice.

We must demand that all countries adhere to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and meet the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty, achieve universal primary education, improve maternal health and reduce child mortality, and combat HIV/AIDS.

We can, and we must embark upon a non-violent revolution. We cannot afford to be apathetic, for the sake of the women suffering at the hands of violence, persecution and injustice. For the sake of our daughters and grand daughters we cannot sit still or we will jeopardize their future.

I call on governments, academics, NGO’s, and people across the world to do what it takes to achieve gender equality.

I will be speaking tomorrow at 4.30pm at The Women of the World Festival, Southbank Centre, London

You can follow me on Twitter @BiancaJagger and join my foundation’s Facebook fan page at the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation.

Follow Bianca Jagger on Twitter:

Next Resistance Seminar: 2 and 3 March, Gothenburg University

Resistance Studies Seminars
March 2 with Angie Zelter and Nätverket Ofog – Peace Activists.

War starts here – let´s stop it here!

I Norrbotten finns Europas största krigsövningsområde NEAT, North European Aerospace Testrange. På detta 24000km2 stora område tränar NATO, USA och många andra på krig i form av t.ex. bombfällning. NEAT används också för att utveckla förarlösa bombplan och annat krigsmateriel. Förberedelserna för krig pågår för fullt här och nu. Krig börjar här. Och det är skrämmande tyst om det.

Tillsammans med Angie Zelter, känd fredsaktivist från Storbritannien och mottagare av Right Livelihood Award och Nobels alternativa fredsprise 2001. Angie Zelter och det antimilitaristiska nätverket Ofog kommer för att prata om Sveriges del i det globala krigsmaskineriet med fokus på vad som pågår i Norrbotten. Angie Zelter kommer ge exempel från aktioner hon har deltagit i och vi kommer även att prata om det internationella aktionsläger mot NEAT som vi arrangerar 22-29 juli i sommar och vad annat vi kan göra för att stoppa denna förödande utveckling.

! Seminar is in English and Swedish. March 2 . Wednesday 15:15-17.00 at the Annedalseminariet at Room 419 !


March 3 with The Journal Dissident – Från kritiken av den politiska ekonomin till motstånd.

Ungdomsarbetslösheten är en viktig faktor för att kunna förklara de stora upproren i Tunisien, Egypten och Libyen. Samtidigt pågår det runtom i Europa protester mot förändringar i utbildningssystemet och i Grekland fortsätter strejkerna och kravallerna mot regeringens åtstramningspolitik. Vi tycks se en mängd resningar mot det faktum att en växande del av världsbefolkningen upplever sig vara överflödig och oanställbar.

I tredje bandet av Kapitalet utvecklar Marx ansatser till en överbefolkningsteori. Kapitalismens utveckling av produktivkrafterna gör att färre och färre arbetare blir nödvändiga för produktionen, vilket skapar en strukturell överbefolkning i förhållande till ekonomin. I väst märks detta främst genom en alltmer prekär och osäker arbetsmarknad, men globalt sett är denna tendens en brutal verklighet i världens kåkstäder. Kapitalismen skapar en sorts utsida till sin egen produktionsprocess, en överbefolkning som ofta är beredd att jobba under de mest vidriga villkor för att överleva. Men detta är bara ena sidan av myntet, det andra är att motsättningen mellan arbete och kapital har omstrukturerats. Vi ser alltmer kamper på gatorna: alltifrån rödskjortornas intåg i Bangkok 2010, demonstrationerna i Wisconsin till kampen på Tahirtorget i Egypten. Vad betyder det för klasskampen att en allt större del av arbetarklassen gjorts
onödig för kapitalet? Vilka arenor för kamp finns det då?

I det här föredraget diskuterar vi Marx’ kritik av den politiska ekonomin som en överbefolkningsteori, men också som en teori för motstånd och revolt. Studiet av kapitalismen var nämligen för Marx först och främst studiet av den verkliga rörelse som avskaffar de nuvarande tillstånden.

! First part of a stand-alone seminar series in three parts with focus on workplace struggles.

Seminar is in Swedish. March 3 . Thursday 15:15-17.00 at the Annedalseminariet at Room 419 !

War opponents arrested at White House

From AlterNet

Dozens of activists, including the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War, were arrested Thursday at the White House as they protested the Afghanistan conflict and defended WikiLeaks.
Activists rally during an anti-war protest in front of the White House in Washington, DC on Thursday. Dozens of the activists, including the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War, were arrested as they protested the Afghanistan conflict and defended WikiLeaks.

As President Barack Obama unveiled a war review strategy inside, more than 100 war opponents — many of them veterans — marched through snow to the White House, chanting “Peace now!” and refusing to step down from the fence’s ledge.

Police waited before gradually sealing off the area and escorting remaining protesters — who had vowed to stay until their arrest — into two waiting buses.

Daniel Ellsberg, who as a government consultant leaked the Pentagon Papers that revealed war planning in Vietnam, saluted Bradley Manning, the young army officer suspected of leaking secret US documents to website WikiLeaks.

Ellsberg predicted that Obama would intensify the Afghanistan war as “presidents don’t like to say they were wrong.”

“I’m afraid that will happen indefinitely unless more people follow the example of Bradley Manning, whose courageous act of civil disobedience probably confronts him with life in prison,” Ellsberg said to cheers.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the Code Pink women’s peace movement, noted that Afghanistan ranks near the worst in rankings on development and corruption despite billions of dollars a month in the US war effort.

“It is high time that President Obama get a clue and understand that we need, as our signs says here, a real peace president,” she said.

“We need men that understand that the best thing we can do for our security and the security of the people of Afghanistan is to take the money that we are spending on war and invest it in people, invest it in health care, invest it in education at home and in Afghanistan,” she said.

Obama, an early opponent of the Iraq war, has tripled troop numbers in Afghanistan but pledged to start a withdrawal next year. The United States sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 terrorist attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda, which had found sanctuary in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

In the review, Obama said there was “significant progress” in curbing the Taliban and stifling Al-Qaeda, but warned more time was needed.

A Video from the action.

Destroying Palestinian Olive Trees

By César Chelala in The Globalist

Olive trees have been mentioned in the Bible, the Qur’an and the Torah. Olive oil is a key product of the Palestinian national economy, making up 25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank. César Chelala explores why the Israel Defense Forces have been accused of uprooting olive trees to facilitate the building of settlements.

Why do Israel Defense Forces and settlers destroy olive trees?

Why do Israel Defense Forces and settlers destroy olive trees?

During the last few years, Palestinian olive trees — a universal symbol of life and peace — have been systematically destroyed by Israeli settlers.

“It has reached a crescendo. What might look like ad hoc violence is actually a tool the settlers are using to push back Palestinian farmers from their own land,” stated a spokeswoman for Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization monitoring incidents in the West Bank.

The tree and its oil have a special significance throughout the Middle East. It is an essential aspect of Palestinian culture, heritage and identity, and has been mentioned in the Bible, the Qur’an and the Torah. Many families depend on the olive trees for their livelihood.

Olive oil is a key product of the Palestinian national economy, and olives are the main crop in terms of total agricultural production, making up 25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank.

Palestinians plant around 10,000 new olive trees in the West Bank every year. Most of the new plants are of the oil-producing variety. Olive oil is the second major export item in Palestine.

For the last 40 years, over a million olive trees and hundreds of thousands of fruit trees have been destroyed in Palestinian lands. The Israel Defense Forces have been accused of uprooting olive trees to facilitate the building of settlements, expand roads and build infrastructure.

The uprooting of centuries-old olive trees has caused tremendous losses to farmers and their families. At the same time, restrictions to harvesting have come through curfews, security closures and attacks by settlers.

The uprooting of olive trees by the Israel Defense Forces and by settlers are done to protect the settlers, since they are supposedly used to hide gunmen or stone throwers. “The tree removals are for the safety of settlers…No one should tell me that an olive tree is more important than a human life,” declared IDF army commander, Colonel Eitan Abrahams.

As a result of the attacks on farmers by the IDF and by settlers, the farmers “can’t get to their lands and work them. The settlers chase the farmers, shoot in the air, threaten their lives, confiscate their ID cards and damage the crops,” declared B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.

Yesh Din has declared that not even one of 69 complaints filed during the past four years on damage to Palestinians trees in the West Bank has resulted in an indictment. The toll includes thousands of trees from several areas, from Susya in the southern Hebron Hills to Salem in northern Samaria.

Rabbis for Human Rights has declared that, in recent weeks, the olives from about 600 trees near the settlement of Havat Gilad were stolen before their Palestinian owners could harvest them.

In a review he wrote on this issue, Atyaf Alwazir, a young Muslim American, stated that the uprooting of trees from Palestinian lands violates the Paris Protocols, The Hague and Geneva Conventions and the Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights.

According to Sonja Karkar, founder of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia, uprooting olive trees is contrary to the Halakha (the collective body of Jewish religious law) principle whose origin is found in the Torah: “Even if you are at war with a city….you must not destroy its trees.”

What do settlers actually want? To destroy Palestinians’ livelihood with impunity? To create a barren land, unfit for trees and people? Perhaps they should be reminded of the A.E. Housman verses:

Give me a land of boughs in leaf,

A land of trees that stand;

Where trees are fallen there is grief;

I love no leafless land.

IDF soldier faces silent protest at ASU

From Waging Nonviolence

When Nadav Weinberg, a soldier who had served with the Israeli Defense Forces, spoke at Arizona State University last week, the room was filled with protesters. Rather than disrupt his speech, which is often the tactic taken at such events, the demonstrators found a much more powerful way to voice their dissent: silence.

Here you can see a seven minutes video from the action

After taking their seats, the demonstrators took off their jackets to reveal red t-shirts with signs bearing the names, ages and dates that civilians were killed by Israeli troops. They then took red tape and covered their mouths with it.

Folks in the back of the room held a sign that read: “Giving Voice to Civilians Silenced by IDF Policy.” (I like the emphasis on policy rather than on the individuals within the military, which I think is always an important distinction for nonviolent activists to make.)

Part way through Weinberg’s speech, the group proceeded to stand up and slowly walk out of the room, leaving it close to empty.

A similar action took place at the University of Michigan recently, which is a hopeful sign that IDF soldiers will not be able to share their viewpoints on American campuses uncontested.

A Study in Middle East Nonviolence

Movie Review of Budrus from NYT

American audiences watching the documentary “Budrus,” about a pioneering effort in nonviolent protest by Palestinians in the West Bank, will find many of the images familiar. The marching, the chanting, the nerve-racking encounters between protesters and jumpy, heavily armed young policemen and soldiers: it’s “Eyes on the Prize” with olive trees.

The writer and director Julia Bacha has fashioned an engrossing and sometimes inspiring account of the confrontations that took place in the village of Budrus in 2003 and 2004 over the building of the Israeli security fence, relying on footage shot at the time by more than a dozen people. At first she keeps the larger and more intractable issues in the background, focusing on the stark contrasts of unarmed Palestinian women jumping in front of bulldozers and being beaten and gassed by the Israeli police.

As the protests, led by the quiet, tough-minded mayor, Ayed Morrar, and his teenage daughter Iltezam, succeed in stalling construction of the fence (which threatens to destroy 3,000 of the villagers’ olive trees), the Israeli news media take notice, and the situation grows more complex. Mr. Morrar, having invited women to participate — an unusual step — goes further and welcomes Israeli peace activists. Soon both the Israeli army and Palestinian politicians are involved; neither is a welcome presence. The cycle of violence the Morrars sought to end seems inescapable.

Ms. Bacha doesn’t duck the dispiriting aspects of the story: she shows us how young Palestinians eventually began throwing stones, and Israeli troops began shooting. “Budrus” makes a convincing case for the courage of the protesters (while giving ample screen time to the commander of the Israeli border police unit they confronted, who happened to be a very attractive young woman). The ultimate value of nonviolent protest in the occupied territories, however, is beyond the film’s scope.


Written and directed by Julia Bacha; directors of photography, Shai Pollack, Monalisa Sundbom, Jonathan Massey, Ms. Bacha, Riyad Deis and Mohammed Fawzi; edited by Geeta Gandbhir and Ms. Bacha; music by Kareem Roustom; produced by Ronit Avni, Ms. Bacha and Rula Salameh; released by Just Vision. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. In Arabic, Hebrew and English, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 21 minutes. This film is not rated.

Why Israel Criminalizes Nonviolence

This text is copied from

An Israeli military court convicted Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, of incitement and holding illegal demonstrations. The eight-month long ordeal, during which the peaceful activist was imprisoned, also ended with his acquittal on two other charges: stone-throwing and possession of arms.

Abu Rahmah gained international attention for his leading role in the growing nonviolent protest movement in occupied Palestine. His central West Bank village is the site of weekly protests against the encroachment of Israel’s wall and other occupation policies. The wall was considered illegal under international law by the International Court of Justice in a 2004 advisory opinion.

Quite often, Israeli military forces use violence and coercion against unarmed protesters there. Last week, Israeli soldiers in riot gear injured several of them, as well as a journalist. They detained two activists, one Palestinian and one foreign.

Increasingly, Israel criminalizes Palestinian protest, thereby reaffirming its cause and giving way to only more nonviolent opposition.

His conviction through the machinery of the laws of occupation highlight the fact that he, and other Palestinian prisoners, are processed by an illegitimate court administering an occupation and apartheid structure that contravenes international law and norms of justice. Legal prohibitions and enforcement against nonviolent resistance illustrate the inherent criminality of the system, a point made by purveyors and practitioners of civil disobedience, from Thoreau to Gandhi and King Jr.

Civil disobedience, as suggested by the philosopher John Rawls, is a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies. The organizers of protests in Bil’in, as well as in Nilin, Budrus and other Palestinian areas, are working in the spirit of this definition.

The severity of the case against him demonstrates Israel’s official fear of nonviolent resistance. Abu Rahmah, himself, believes that this illegitimate campaign against him and the Bil’in activists will only inspire further activism:

Israel’s military campaign to imprison the leadership of the Palestinian popular struggle shows that our non-violent struggle is effective….Whether we are confined in the open-air prison that Gaza has been transformed into, in military prisons in the West Bank, or in our own villages surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, arrests and persecution do not weaken us. They only strengthen our commitment to turning 2010 into a year of liberation through unarmed grassroots resistance to the occupation….This year, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee will expand on the achievements of 2009, a year in which you amplified our popular demonstrations in Palestine with international boycott campaigns and international legal actions under universal jurisdiction…

Elements of the conviction indicate the political motivations behind his arrest. The indictment cited this as evidence of indictment: Abu Rahmah collected spent Israeli tear-gas projectiles and bullet cases from the sites of demonstrations to prove that the violence was being used against demonstrators.

Israel’s military authorities effectively prohibit the collection of evidence against their policies and practices.

Under military law, incitement is “The attempt, verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order” (section 7(a) of the Order Concerning Prohibition of Activities of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda (no.101), 1967), and carries a 10 year maximum sentence.

The sentencing of Abu Rahmah, which begins next month, will be premised on the absurd argument that documenting Israel’s use of force against unarmed demonstrators disturbs the public peace. Public order in the case means the security of the military occupation. The prosecution is expected to recommend a two-year imprisonment sentence.

Beyond the criminality of the charges, the evidence presented against him should raise eyebrows. The prosecution presented the testimonies of minors who were arrested in the middle of the night and questioned without access to legal counsel. Under fair judicial systems testimonies by children made under duress would be inadmissible as evidence. The trial itself is testimony to the police state nature of the occupation.

Abu Rahmah’s case harkens back to the intifada that began in late 1987. This prosecution was the first use of the organizing and illegal demonstrations regulations since then. Military ordinances define “illegal assembly” in a much stricter way than Israeli law does (another example of the apartheid-nature of the occupation). It forbids any assembly of more than 10 people without a permit from the military commander.

The hidden charge, the one not expressly conveyed, is that Abu Rahmah was gaining international visibility, and was rising as a powerful voice of conscience against the forty-three year-old Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Israel is well aware of what damage a Palestinian figure of international stature could cause to Israel’s status quo.

After all, how often have western commentators criticized the Palestinians for lacking a Gandhi? This question was more often a function of the questioner’s ignorance than a reflection of the state of Palestinian nonviolent resistance — which has always been ubiquitous. From circumventing checkpoints, to refusing to pay fees to Israel, to building without permits, Palestinians fundamentally disobey Israel’s overbearing authority on a nearly continuous basis.

It is when leaders emerge that Israel targets them. In 2008, exactly a year before the Israeli military arrested Abu Rahmah in the middle of the night, he received the Carl Von Ossietzky Medal for Outstanding Service in the Realization of Basic Human Rights, which was awarded by the International League for Human Rights in Berlin.

The delegation of international figures and statesmen known as The Elders — including Mary Robinson, Fernando Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and others — visited the memorial of the fallen Bil’in organizer, Bassem Abu Rahmah, in August 2009. Abu Rahmah accompanied them, and is pictured with them in the photo to the left. After his arrest in December, 2009, the South African former archbishop and anti-Apartheid Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu called for his release.

As with other nonviolent political prisoners, such as Mohammad Othman and Jamal Juma’, Abu Rahmah is intended to be made an example. Mubarak Awad was when he was deported by Israel in 1988 for organizing nonviolent resistance campaigns. However, Abu Rahmah’s case is an example of the excesses and authoritarianism of an occupation regime, one that suffers declining political support and increasing international ostracism.

The occupation is so rooted in violence and coercion that its only answer in the face of nonviolence is more of the same repression that inspires the protests. Because Israel’s occupation runs on force, it cannot distinguish physical and ideational threats by criminalizing them both. Its legal system punishes both through detentions, stripping what few freedoms there are, and through programs of state-sanctioned violence. Knowing that nonviolence has a powerful potential to politically shatter the occupation, the authorities see a need to punish it ruthlessly.

The ideological aims of occupation and settler-colonialism are embedded in this legal administration, making the system morally bankrupt.

For more information on Abu Rahmah, see the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee’s website.

Full text.

Resistance to occupation in Afghanistan

To resist a military occupation is a deadly business. Occupation forces have a tendency to focus on their own losses and do their best to hide the killing of civilians. There is no reliable overview of the civilians killed in Afghanistan, but it looks like this Wikipedia-page is doing their best to collect all different calculations: Civilian casualties of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)

The conclusion from this counting is that direct & indirect deaths adds up to something between 14,643 and 34,240 since the last period of occupation started 2001.

Most probably a more careful study of the material from Wikileak will add to these figures.

And as a comparison:

Updates on the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan:

US Deaths in Afghanistan: Obama vs Bush. Click here to learn more.

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