Pope Francis historical address to the American Congress

Pope Francis raises victory sign
Mr. Vice-President,

Mr. Speaker,

Honorable Members of Congress,

Dear Friends,

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time — to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice — some at the cost of their lives — to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States — and this Congress — have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue — a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons — new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

People’s voices and consumer power have Israel worry for its future

by Marivel Guzman

Neturei Karta member in Jerusalem holding a Palestinian flag with the text, “Boycott Israel”.

Israel loves the spotlight of the cameras but this time the spotlight is for Boycott Divestment and Sanction which recently has been taking center stage in every major news outlet, alternative media and blogging system. Everyone is writing about BDS and its power over Israel. This time Israel can not control the camera and the narrative, this time consumer power and aware people are making the waves.

“The Israeli government is dependent on a strong export-orientated economy. Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner. Almost 200 organizations representative of a broad spectrum of Palestinian civil society – trade unions, professional bodies such as all the academic unions and associations, medical unions, and most of the major NGOs – have called on the international community to endorse the call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, similar to that which helped to end the apartheid regime in South Africa.” Ireland BDS campaign

Peace activists are directing the tune of the BDS campaign. There is no big money behind the efforts of boycotting Israel products, artists, academia and or financial Israel supporters but a broad movement of activists using social media like twitter, facebook and youtube between others to spread activities of boycott: products produced in any of the 125 illegal settlements like SodaStream

“Israeli Extremism Will Encourage Global Boycott-Israel has elected the most fanatic government in its history. But many Palestinian human rights activists and politicians expect this government, an unpalatable cocktail of right, far-right and fundamentalist Jewish parties, to be the mother of all silver-lined clouds.” NYTimes.com, May 11, 2015

Never in the past newspapers dared to publish news that would tarnish Israel public relations but now days Israel arrogance had made impossible for newspapers and even governments to keep quiet in front of the facts.

“Israel’s Rightward Shift Helps Make It Its Own Worst Enemy,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning for the State Department, It is a difficult and immensely frustrating time to be a friend of Israel, Salughter said for an opinion piece for the NYTimes.com

The boys killed in the beach in front of the international media are images difficult to make up.

The bodies of the four children Mohammed Baker, 9-year-old; Ahed Baker, 10-year-old; Zakaria Baker, 10year-old; and Mohammed Baker, 11-year-old, are seen here being mourn by his male relatives.

The bodies of the four children Mohammed Baker, 9-year-old; Ahed Baker, 10-year-old; Zakaria Baker, 10year-old; and Mohammed Baker, 11-year-old, are seen here being mourn by his male relatives.

Images such this had changed people’s perception of Israel. Last massacre in Gaza put Israel face in the news under its true colors. No public relation campaign could change the images of children killed and entire families wiped out of the map.

Israel Missiles destroys buildings in Gaza city, July 2014, Gaza, Palestine

Israel Missiles destroys buildings in Gaza city, July 2014, Gaza, Palestine

 How can Israel justify bombing entire neighborhood killing entire families and expect the world to support its actions

Finally people said; enough!
When tax time rolls around each year, every American citizen gives $21.59 in military aid to Israel, according to the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation. But that’s not the only way American citizens contribute to the Israeli military, which has occupied Palestinian land for 46 years, and the West Bank settlement project that accompanies the occupation.

Consumers may not know it, but buying products like Sabra hummus and Sodastream helps fuel Israel’s military control over Palestinians. Some companies have factories located in one of the 125 officially recognized settlements in occupied Palestine, which are illegal under international law. Other companies contribute to the maintenance of an occupation through cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), whose main goal is to protect illegal settlements and exercise dominion over the lives of millions of Palestinians. Buying these products gives profits to companies who exploit Palestinian land and resources. Alternet.org

Israel is suffering the fruits of its intransigence, arrogance and criminal activities in Occupied Palestine. Its friends are abandoning the boat before it sinks.
There should be no surprise, history repeat itself, but, lets be clear on Israel intentions; it will try its gimmicks until the end. There wont be 2 state solution, because Israel will be dismantled the same way Apartheid South Africa did. The criminals will start running for cover like the Nazi did after Germany felt to the allies. They will change their names, their religion and will try to disappear into country friends, and is doubtful that will be another Operation Paperclip for Israelis scientists, because as its stand now thousands of Israelis enjoy double nationality. You can have a glimpse of the operation paperclip in the CIA webpage.

Last year the mood was already changing in Czech Republic; the winds of change were started being blown in the press, “At present the Czech Republic’s approach to the Middle East is slowly changing. The nascent Cabinet of the Social Democrats (ČSSD) and the centrist ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) no longer intends to give preferences to the Prague-Tel Aviv axis, Šídlová said in her Analysis: Czech gov’t to shift from Israel

Czech Republic minister in its recent visit to occupied Palestine leave some very clear to Israel government,  “As a close friend of yours, it is important for the Czech Republic to say that if the situation does not change it will be hard to maintain our position,” Zaorálek, who was visiting Israel, warned. “We want to avoid initiatives against Israel, but it is getting more difficult with the current government and with the opposition to the two-state solution,” he said. “What is the alternative, to deteriorate towards apartheid? Israel long time allies are finding more difficult every day to support Israel in the international arena. United States the closest Israel supporter had put the cards on the table.

Haaretz published last week Obama’s interview where the president said that “Stalled peace process makes it harder for U.S. to defend Israel at UN” and showed slights indications that the U.S. won’t veto French resolution on ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations Security Council.

“Indulging Israel hasn’t worked – maybe the boycott will

How long will Netanyahu act like Putin, Erdogan and Berlusconi, but ask to be rewarded like Nelson Mandela?” Haaretz.com

“Suddenly, again, Israel is seeing new threats everywhere. The latest come not from rockets, the Israelis say, but from students armed with petitions and Palestinians seeking sanctions against the Israeli soccer team.” WashingtonPost.com

Israel is unable to make peace. It has to go forward in domination, expansion, apartheid, and its legitimacy will be more and more contested. And I believe the zioniste state will come to en end.Jacob Cohen, Jewish Moroccan author said in a facebook interview.
The stories are building Israel case in front of the world. Israel’s shows of racism, oppression, repression, murder, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide, extreme violence, apartheid, segregation and the wall are sinking Israel long propaganda of the only democracy in the middle east.

A report from the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem [link]: “IDF soldiers expel Palestinians from pool in Palestinian village to Enable Settlers to Bathe”

Also mobile Apps are helping in the BDS campaing. Buycoott the mobile is designed to find products in the list of boycotted products. Long Live Palestine boycott Israel campaign has the first place in the buycott app with 417,410 members. Buycott is a tool that lets you organize your consumer spending to help causes that you care for, and to oppose those that you don’t.

Ultimately Israel is its worse enemy and will fall by its own hands.
“When those in power refuse to act to stop this injustice(All of Palestinian occupation) we need a Global Citizens Response to stand along side Palestinians in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality” ‪#‎BDS‬ but this is just the beginning of restoring complete Palestinian’s rights to their land.

Days of Palestine, Memorial to Naji Al Ali- Palestinian cartoonist and journalist

Original posted at: Posted in Censorship and Freedom , Calls by paginatransversal on June 7, 2015


On Saturday June 5, In the Al-Andalus Library in the city of Cordoba, it was held the “Conference for Palestine. Memorial To Naji Al Ali.“ The event was organized by the International Organization Against Impunity, HOKOK, such event was structured around the memory of the famous Palestinian cartoonist killed in London in 1987, Naji Al Ali, and had as main themes besides: denouncing the brutal Palestinian occupation by the Zionist entity called Israel, the claim of freedom of expression and the free exercise of the right to information, both severely hampered by the Zionist occupation forces and their lobbyists groups throughout the world.

The relevance and the need to hold events like this were demonstrated even before the celebration of the event (Days of Palestine), by the repressive totalitarian attitude, and censorship by certain associations that takes the arrogant attitude of exclusivity  to address the Palestinian issue in Spain and, accompanied by the usual spokesmen ideological persecution from his journalistic tribunes, have highlighted the need to persevere in the defense of pluralism and freedom of expression and against the attacks of totalitarianism and ideological persecution, wherever they come from, whether from the international Zionism, since the allegedly democratic penal code, or from sectarian organizations and democratic proceed doubtful that, relying on the label “Red Solidaria”, intended to hijack the free and plural voice of the Palestinian people.


However, the impunity, the nerve to use lies of victimization and hysteria that characterizes totalitarian regimes, are these Zionists in disguise or “solidarity,”  usually little or nothing can be doneagainst the will of those who are free enough to avoid being drag by hate and yes by compromise. Thus, those attending the ceremony in Córdoba could see first hand the terrible situation facing the Palestinian people and the difficulties of journalists to do their work in the occupied territories  – at least the truthers, and not the mere intoxicators that are the voice of their master.

Chérifa Serrajd, teacher and social educator opened the conference with presentations dedicated to gloss the figure and works of Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al Ali, and focused on the censorship of the media about the unprecedented situation that exists in Gaza, the situation of the Palestinian people following the recent acts of genocide perpetrated by the Zionist occupation forces, especially the attacks of 2014  that left about 2,500 dead and 11,000 wounded, and destroyed much of Gaza, whose reconstruction work have not yet begun.

Adnan Ezzeddine, lawyer and secretary general of HOKOK, denounced the impunity of the Zionist state called Israel and its strategy of applying the politics of fear and accusation of “anti-Semitism” in both the media and through the courts, as well of terror through military force, all under coverup by governments and institutions worldwide. Similarly he denounced the bigots who had called to boycott the event on absurd charges  of  “racism”, “anti-Semitism”, etc.  With whom he would rather sit at a round table to interexchange positions. He then proceeded to describe a brief overview of the current situation in the Middle East, and accused the US and the Zionist entity called Israel of being behind the terror of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State,” terror already used since the war in Afghanistan to achieve the geopolitical objectives and economic of their sponsors.


Rafael Sanchez Avello

Meanwhile, veteran journalist Rafael Sanchez Avello, professional TVE,  information coordinator and editor, specialized in scientific journalism and in the Sahara conflict. He focused his speech on the right of free expression, to ensure human rights and the need for a committed journalism (see journalists as “fetters of our consciousness” that only active solidarity will silence some day). Then he drew the raw data recorded in 2014 with regard to the exercise of journalism (128 journalists killed, 16 in the attack on Gaza, 13 in Syria, 12 in Pakistan, 10 in Iraq, 60 etc .; killed so far in 2015, etc.) and reported the situation of conflict, journalist that before were protected under the media outlet that them to report, and now mostly professionals independent (freelance) underpaid. In this sense he also denounced the installed prejudice in society regarding the exercise of journalism, which they attribute to journalists dishonesty or truth or misrepresenting it, prejudices and recalled what he heard from the mouth of the well-known journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski: “There are no more journalists but mediaworkers, “ so we should not blame the true professionals, but the media themselves and their owners. Avello Sanchez recalled that without free press there is no democracy and that the fundamental mission of the journalist is to give voice to the voiceless and to make visible the invisible.

Then spoke the young Palestinian Mohammed Matter, who came from Germany, where he lives and

Mohammed Matter-Palestinian political activist from Gaza, Palestine

studies, to tell this personal experience in daily life of Gazawans, especially during the criminal attack on Gaza in 2014 by the army of the Zionist occupation. He denounced the obstacles to the free movement of Gazawans locked in “the biggest prison in the world” and the complicity of the Egyptian authorities in collusion with Zionist and United States in relation to the closure of the borders and passage of supplies and people (when is not closed, the border opens and only can cross a maximum of 50 people a day from a list of more than 42,000 people who want to leave Gaza for some reason or other). Matter emphasized the heroism of Gazawans to defend their meager assets against the Zionist aggression ( for example arriving in mass to a private house after receiving the call in the same the occupation forces threatening to bomb it), and  by individual and communitarian examples of struggle and resistance by the Palestinian people, and more specifically by Gazawan in an area without water, without light, and controlled by the Zionists to the number of daily calories consumed  by every Palestinian. Matter expressed doubts about a possible peace between Israelies and Palestinians because, on the one hand, “the Israelies do not want peace” and on the other, the Palestinian people can not embrace the Israeli people as it is literally “amputated”  by bombing and Zionist aggression. He also denounced the Palestinian Authority for its collusion with the Zionists even though they consider the Palestinians as “terrorists.” To achieve any kind of peace, Matter stressed the need to do justice first and urged the audience and citizens in Europe and around the world to increase their support to Palestine and the Palestinian people, making this visible support through mobilizations on the streets, and by boycotting products of the Zionist entity called Israel.

With this call to commitment and denouncing the Zionist outrage, extended to other abuses, ridiculous in comparison but also fruit of the hatred of freedom, plurality and coexistence, the “Conference for Palestine were closed. Memorial Naji Al Ali “, in the city of Cordoba.

A Personal Journey- Photography expression by Jennifer George

by Marivel Guzman

Exposing Scars

Domestic Violence- Trapped in a bubble of indecision, fear and love.

Domestic Violence- Trapped in a bubble of indecision, fear and love.

Last April I found myself inside Orange Coast College Gallery admiring a photography exposition “A Personal Journey-Exposing scars” by Jennifer George a student in Orange Coast College. Admiring is not the right word to say it, because it is hard to watch the horror that every photography denounces. Every photography carries a story of domestic violence whether is physical, verbal or emotional; the scars are deep and painful.

Being there I meet a lady in her 70s that related to the exposition as she was a victim of domestic violence as well. You can not help but to fell sad and even with teary eyes to read every story next to a photo. Some of the women on the exposition were killed by their husbands and boyfriends others have escaped the ordeal.

“In the exhibit student photographer Jennifer George strongly exposes the world to domestic violence, giving abused women a voice with her unique style of photography and bold statements through her own experiences.“said Brando Lien, staff writer for CoastReport.com

Click on a photo to enlarge and start slide show

Universal Youth Club for Palestine

by Marivel Guzman

Last day of the 2015 World Social Forum ended with a parade through Tunis streets as a reminder of Palestine land day. Participants to the event calls it "Land Day rally." The parade marched through Tunis' streets to Palestine embassy in a show of solidarity with Palestinian people.

Last day of the 2015 World Social Forum ended with a parade through Tunis streets to celebrate Palestine land day. and to show solidarity with Palestinian people. Participants to the event calls it “Land Day rally.” The parade marched through Tunis’ streets to the Palestine embassy .

Universal Youth Club for Palestine (UYC4Pal), Iranian branch, is a social movement composed mostly of youth found between facebook users.

  1. Worldwide, there are over 1.39 billion monthly active Facebook users which is a 13 percent increase year over year. (Source: Facebook as of 1/28/15) What this means for you: In case you had any lingering doubts, statistically, Facebook is too big to ignore.
  2. Taking advantage of this social phenomenon called facebook the founder of UYC4Pal decided to act forming this movement.

UYC4Pal  was present at the World Social Forum 2015 celebrated in Tunis from 24-28 March, at Al Manar University Campus where 4398 organizations engaged the participants in its different activities.

Organizations from around the world find this social forum the perfect avenue to bring ideas and discuss solutions for the our world’s problems.

Iran society find itself at the vanguard on the international fight for the liberation of Palestine from the Zionist entity and its youth take active role in this initiative.

The Palestine issue is one of the focal points in the event:

“This situation makes difficult any perspective of fair solution to the Palestinian issue, and gives to Israel all the space to reinforce its hold on the occupied Palestinian territories and its domination in the region.  

Beyond the Palestinian issue, it’s the existence of the nation-states themselves that is challenged. Whether it is in Syria or in Libya, there is a major risk to see the definitive explosion of the historical balances that founded those States existence, and to watch the born of autonomous territories on bases of religion or ethnicity, subject to manipulation by the big and regional powers of time.” WSF2015 official page

UYC4Pal was founded last year by a group of Iranian youth that thought on taking advantage of social networks youth participation, said Whaid Mardane in a facebook interview.  Knowing that young people spend great part of their life engaged in internet forums and specially social networks like facebook they thought on bringing them together using facebook walls.

Wahid Mardane, one of the representatives of the Iranian branch of  UYC4Pal said, that ‘Universal Youth Club for Palestine’ was formed on 2014 with a group of Iranian students found in facebook.

As we speak, this Iranian social network movement has nearly 400 members and the Tunisian group  has reached  1000, he said.

Being at the Tunisia World Social Forum was a very great opportunity to meet the youth and invite other groups to participate, hundreds of students signed out for membership for the UYC4Pal at the event.

Palestinian ambassador to Tunis, Salman Al Harfi greets Reza Barekati, the Iranian representative for  Universal Youth Club for Palestine greets Palestinian at Al Manar University during the World Social Forum 2015

Palestinian ambassador to Tunisia, Salman Al Harfi greets Reza Barekati, the Iranian representative for Universal Youth Club for Palestine, at Al Manar University during the World Social Forum 2015

Mardane said that facebook is full with youth that supports Palestine so they decided to form UYC4Pal to bring them together and help them organize the strategies to fight for Palestine in the social networks. The UYC4Pal was well received and had resulted very fruitful said Mardane,  between the two clubs, more than 1000 participants signed at the event for UYC4Pal membership.

Mardane as one of the members of the Iranian branch of UYC4Pal stated that one of the activities at the event was to enroll new members in the club and participate in the “Land Rally,” an event that follows at the end of the forum.  Thousands of Palestinian activists took part on this parade throughout Tunis major streets and finalized at the Palestinian Embassy building.

 Some young Palestinian activists from different nationalities decided to make a social network named ” Universal Youth Club for Palestine, this is a social movement that trying to find youth in social networks as facebook to have a unity and awareness regarding Palestine’s plight.  Nowadays the youth live in facebook more than in their home and rooms! in this regard we as Iranian branch of this movement were invited and participated in World Social Forum 2015. On the other hand the Tunisian branch of Universal Youth Club for Palestine was formed as to strengthen the Palestinian Youth movement.  Our wish is to see other branches of this movement in other countries, the most important of this movement is a total virtual movement and they can form their own clubs if they wish to develop their own activities, but the main emphasis should on absorbing  facebook’s youth to use their time on humanity, specially in activities for Palestine in any modern ways they prefer. Whaid Mardane, Iranian activist and representative of UYP4Pal, Iranian branch.

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“The International Council’s decision to organize  the WSF 2015, again in Tunis (Tunisia) was decided  in Casablanca (Morocco), last November. It responds to a wish formulated by regional and international social movements, after evaluating the social impact of the WSF 2013 in Tunisia, they estimated that it was still necessary to; consolidate the dynamics of changes born thanks to the Tunisian revolution and to the democratic movements in the region.

  • To deepen the debates held about the liberal model crisis and about the civilization crisis, and to  expand the debates about new geopolitical issues, and to promote new alternatives which respect the people rights, and which are based on peace and social justice.” Official World Social Forum webpage.

Human rights groups , non-profit organizations,  cultural institutions and a variety of grassroots organizations  gather every year at the World Social Forum to present their ideas and discus alternative solutions for the present world problems, “Many organizations, networks and movements participates at the WSF 2015, to make another world possible,” states WSF official website.

Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, and Reza Barekati Iranian-representative of Universal Youth Club for Palestine. Al Manar University during the 2015 World Social Forum.  photo/Ali Bagheri

Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, and Reza Barekati Iranian-representative of Universal Youth Club for Palestine. Al Manar University during the 2015 World Social Forum. photo/Ali Bagheri

The Iranian branch for UYC4Pal encourages the youth to form their own clubs in their nations of origin to strengthen the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, that is growing rapidly and strong every day  around the world said Mardane, stating that the Tunisian branch   was formed also and it is growing very fast, he said  at the moment  the Iranian UYC4Pal  facebook official forum has almost 2500 members.

Israel Breaking Palestinian Bones and Article 32 of the IV Geneva Convention




Geneva 1949 Diplomatic conference for the revision of the statutsThe High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents.
The principle stated in Article 27 of absolute respect for the human person might have constituted a sufficient guarantee for protected persons in itself. However, the memory of the barbaric acts of which there were only too many examples in the two world wars showed the need to strengthen this principle and to prohibit expressly all acts contrary to it.
C. Corporal punishment and mutilation.- These expressions are sufficiently clear not to need lengthy comment. Like torture, they are covered by the general idea of “physical suffering.” Mutilation, a particularly reprehensible and heinous form of attack on the human person, is also included in the list of “grave breaches’ and is mentioned formally in Article 147 among “acts willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.” Furthermore, it is expressly forbidden by Article 3 of the Convention.

The four 1949 Conventions have been ratified by 196 states, including all UN member states, both UN observers the Holy See and the State of Palestine, as well as the Cook Islands.

Will violations of International of International Law will send Israel to the ICC?

Who or what is the ICC?

  1. The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, warcrimes, and crimes against humanity. Its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002.

Who is watching Israel?

“Israeli forces killed at least 15 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, most in circumstances that suggest the killings were unlawful. Israeli authorities destroyed homes and other property under discriminatory practices, forcibly displacing hundreds of Palestinian residents in West Bank areas under Israeli control, as well as hundreds of Bedouin citizens of Israel.” Human Rights Watch

“Israeli forces committed war crimes and human rights violations during a 50-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip that killed over 1,500 civilians, including 539 children, wounded thousands more civilians, and caused massive civilian displacement and destruction of property and vital services.” Amnesty International 2014 Report
“The ICRC started work in Israel and the occupied territories in 1948, following the first Israeli-Arab conflict. Its presence became permanent in the aftermath of the 1967 war. The organization focuses on the protection of civilians and the welfare of detainees held in Israeli and Palestinian places of detention, and helps the most vulnerable. The ICRC supports the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom (the Israeli National Society).” ICRC  in the Palestinian Occupied Territories

Mainly these three organizations have the legal authority to investigate, and collect evidence that can help to prove the allegations of human rights violations in the occupied territories, but due to the wide spread International Solidarity Movement, its members live in the occupied territories, are both; victims and witness of Israel crimes, for several years its member has been collecting evidence against Israel.

“As we demand that Israel acknowledges and respects international law and put an end to apartheid and its occupation, we must also stand firmly against any form of prejudice, regardless of the target.  We oppose any form of bigotry directed at people based on ethnicity, physical appearance, origin, gender, sexuality, physical ability, age, religion and are not limited to just these concerns. We support full equality of all people and expect all ISM volunteers to adhere to these beliefs and take a strong stance against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Zionism. In line with a 2012 Palestinian declaration, we object to the baseless use of the term anti-Semitism as a tool for stifling criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism, partly as this falsely conflates being Jewish with support for an ideology, Zionism, or the colonial and apartheid policies of a state, Israel.” International Solidarity Movement

Celebrities for Palestine; Cultural Activism with Ben Rivers

by Marivel Guzman

A talk by Ben Rivers on Playback Theatre and Popular Struggle in Occupied Palestine. Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K

A talk by Ben Rivers on Playback Theatre and Popular Struggle in Occupied Palestine. Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K

Since December 2011, The Freedom Theatre’s Freedom Bus has engaged thousands of Palestinians and people from abroad in cultural actions that address Israel’s practice of settler colonialism, military occupation and structural apartheid. The Freedom Bus partners with village cooperatives, popular struggle committees and grassroots organizations to hold multi-day “solidarity stays” and “freedom rides” in villages, towns, refugee camps and Bedouin communities throughout the occupied West Bank. These events involve community visits, interactive seminars, guided walks, Hakawati (traditional storytelling), building construction, and protective presence activity.

A central feature of Freedom Bus events is the use of Playback Theatre. Through this method, a troupe of Palestinian actors and musicians invite stories from the audience and subsequently transform each account into a piece of improvised theatre. By sharing stories about the realities of life under colonization and apartheid, community members aim to mobilize audience members in the broader struggle for freedom and equality in historic Palestine.

Irene Fernández Ramos writes for her Storytelling, Agency and Community-building through Playback Theatre in Palestine What is Playback Theatre?
Playback Theatre is a form of non-scripted, interactive community-based theatre created in the 1970s in the United States by Jonathan Fox. A Playback Theatre event usually lasts around seventy-five minutes and it is constructed from the stories of members of the audience who are invited by a conductor to share short or long stories, or ideas, with the rest of the audience. The new storyteller steps forward and sits on the edge of the stage, where he or she is seen by the performers and by the audience. With the help of the conductor’s questions, this new ‘storyteller’ narrates his or her experience allowing the performers to understand the personal feelings lying behind the story and to translate them into improvised theatrical language. Read more on her essay here 

Endorsers of the Freedom Bus include personalities such Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Maya Angelou, Noam Chomsky, Omar Barghouti and Peter Brook. (Click for the full list of endorsers).
The Freedom Bus is also endorsed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Code Pink in between other organizations.

Freedom Bus The heart and art of playbackUsing stories, photographs and video, Ben Rivers speaks about the Freedom Bus initiative and its role within the popular struggle movement.

Palestinian Solidarity Committee in India and 1 Shanthiroad last February organised a talk (Video) by Ben Rivers, a British-Australian drama therapist and co-founder of The Freedom Bus Initiative with The Freedom Theatre in Palestine, on playback theatre and popular struggle in Occupied Palestine. In the talk Ben focused on the cultural activities of the Freedom Bus Initiative, including ‘solidarity stays’ in which the team resides in a village for some days, acting as a protective cover or re-building homes . “We also work very closely with grassroots, popular struggle groups and organisations. We organize political actions together.” Excerpt from the Hindu.com

In his talk, Ben narrated some of his experiences working with the communities in occupied Palestine.

“In the South of the West Bank, in a region known as South Hebron Hills, we were on the outskirts of a village called Atwani, where a very small community lives. A lot of their land was stolen by people of a settlement nearby who were hostile. Palestinians who are grazing their sheep on the hills are regularly attacked by them. Palestinian children used to be stoned by the settlers as they walked to to school.”


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