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Welcome Home Stanley Cohen

Dearest Stanley,

We have been impatiently waiting for the day that we are able to enjoy your company once again.  We have read all of your articles and shared them to inspire others.  Your return home to those who have missed and loved you is a day of celebration.  Twitter has been a quiet place during your absence.  We know you have lost ones that you love during your time in the prison system and we have done our best to show them love and kindness in the hopes that we can follow your lead and display the strength that you have shown during the time that the Bureau of Prisons felt they needed a bit of your time and award winning personality.  But it’s time to come home now Stanley and so many are here waiting for you.  It’s time to return the Political Prisoners to the ones that need them.  Freeanons has been honored to be able to interact with you and to ensure that your needs are met (As much as a prison system will meet the needs of anyone we suppose).

It is with great pride and love that we send our welcome home wishes to you.  Your strength brings courage to many.  Your heart helps us to realize that this world is about the ability to assist others before oneself.   We had a dream while you were away, Stanley.  Owen was looking down on  as you slept in your bunk during a restless night sleep.  He was there to remind you that he is never far away from you.  He reminded us about the true love and respect he had for you.  He told us to be patient and that soon Stanley would be back with the ones that love him.  Well, it’s time, Mr. Big Mouth…Time to bring it on home and make the world a better place.

UP THE REBELS!!!

With much love from Freeanons to you.

Stanley Cohen Writings

The following song is dedicated to Stanley Cohen, please listen.

Declare Victory, Come Home-Stanley Cohen

Following the events in Paris Stanley has sent the following piece – as always please share widely – Up the Rebels (21 days and counting)

Declare Victory, Come Home

I have no idea who was involved in the latest atrocity in Paris, the Russian airplane bombing in the Sinai, the attacks in South Beirut or recent siege in Mali, but I’m pretty sure there will be a long line of those only too willing to take credit for the mayhem; and even more talking heads assigning blame based upon their “experience,” source information, or six figure paychecks from main stream media, as token resident “terrorism” experts for sale. Who cares.

The real issue is what, if anything, can be done to stanch the mindless bloodletting that has become routine in many corners of the world today. The answer is simple- as was successfully done in Vietnam, declare victory and get out.

Putting aside, for the moment, the lawlessness of it all, the days of identifying the “bad guy” and simply taking him or her out are long gone. Other than Israeli slaughters of Palestinians, the all too simplistic notion that there are tight- knit hierarchical organizations or a calibrated theology ultimately responsible for massacres of civilians, be it in France, Tunisia, Baghdad or Kenya, may sell to a now clearly numbed and frightened public, but ultimately it’s just so much fool’s gold. We all see how successful the targeted drone murders of “key” terrorists throughout the Middle East and Africa have been and, of course, the assassination of Osama Bin Laden did prove to be a watershed moment in turning back the clock to the warm comforting days of TV’s “Father Knows Best.” The bottom line: it’s all too little, too late, and if it wasn’t so damned deadly, downright silly.

For far too long, the civilian body count has grown higher and higher throughout the world, piled mostly with the remains of Muslims… some of whom just don’t seem to appreciate the superior Judeo/Christian traditions of peace and love which, to some degree, have fueled it… and who have long been the favorite targets of the marauding faith-based West and its surrogate states. Of course, when the mayhem is caused or viewed by the West as necessary to protect its own claimed interests or that of friends, or to fulfill so-called treaty obligations with other neo-colonial powers, the bombs, drones, and water-boarding they use are just fine; always, of course, carried out in the name of democracy and security. The bottom line: the West needs to get out of the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia completely leaving the folks on the ground to decide their own fate, in their own countries, in their own ways, as they, alone, determine their course for existence

For generations the West carved up foreign regions where most of the fighting is on-going today, stealing their natural resources, anointing archaic despotic regimes and promoting or turning a blind eye to human rights violations by regimes who host meaningless conferences in exotic ports with marching bands that can’t play their own national anthems yet are adept playing those of Western leaders who attend to protect their own colonial self-interests… even as those very interests crash and burn.

Unfortunately, at its core, the imperial notion continues that the “first” world has the best laid plans, the finest of motives and, of course, all the answers to dampen, if not extinguish, revolutionary fervor by hundreds of millions of mostly principled and determined women and men throughout the “third-world”, seeking nothing more than true independence and the ability to chart a future for themselves and their families… removed from shadows of world capitals thousands of miles from the streets and fields they call home. Tragically, it seems the cultural, religious and racial arrogance of the West is reason enough to cause an endless stream of alienated and angry youth to throw themselves under the proverbial bus and, in so doing, drag a bunch of other innocents along with them. To view today’s violence in a vacuum and simply the result of an age-old messianic religious call, is to guarantee future generations of death and destruction leading to continued head-scratching and failure to figure out reasons behind it.

Today, much of the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia are in the midst of a tumultuous revolutionary period like that of the West not so very long ago. It’s bloody indeed. In these regions, Western, and now Russian, forces are holding on for dear geopolitical life as they see final vestiges of their imperial run collapse in the face of indigenous aspirations of people fighting to eradicate lingering images of foreign intervention, still running and ruining their lives..

The historical road of freedom, tragically paved with the blood of today’s civilians, runs parallel to centuries of colonial exploitation of these regions. Specifically, in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine in the Middle East, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, the Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia on the African continent… and elsewhere… the streets exploding with nationalist bombs were designed and long controlled by France, Great Britain, Germany and Italy. Still, today, these and other former colonial powers have apparently missed the message… there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is no longer Jacque, Neville, Hans or Billy Bob.

Indeed, as long as the West continues to interfere with, or tries to micro-manage, the destinies of age-old regions, by direct intervention or through the repressive control of hand chosen home grown agents, we simply will not see an end to militant, often deadly, resistance in the capitals of third world states or mindless revenge carried out in the streets of the more “civilized” West. Its all too easy and convenient to forget there’s nothing uniquely Western about the natural instinct of people to crave freedom or resist occupation, be it political, military, or economic, home grown or foreign.

History regales those generations who fought to chart their own course in the light of the needs, priorities, and aspirations of their own developing states and people. Indeed, the thirst for independence is very much a constant of life dating back to man’s beginnings eons before the West’s greed-driven redesign of the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia in the nineteenth century to suit its own economic and political self-interests. How conveniently forgetful are historical memory banks of the United States, France and Russia in overlooking those millions who sacrificed their lives in home-grown revolutions to gain freedom from colonial or monarchical rule.

Not ones to weary from the drain of their own deadly roots, many in the West returned not long thereafter to vicious and deadly internecine warfare often destroying large swaths of their own countries in pursuit of domestic political power. No more damning example can be found than in the case of the U.S. Civil War. In four years of carnage there were more than a million casualties. One out of every 30 who lived in the U.S. at that time was a victim of this horrible bloodbath. During this dark period, dozens of cities, villages and farmlands throughout the South were burned to the ground… including Atlanta, Georgia which was leveled to accomplish little more than terrorizing its civilian population. This devastation was carried out without the aid of today’s high-tech weaponry, communication systems, or outside intervention.

The descendents of those who fought and died to obtain freedom from earlier colonial architects unfortunately forgot the price their ancestors paid, or why, as they themselves later established their own colonial fiefdoms well beyond the shores of their own countries. With missionary zeal that typically reduced highly sophisticated millennium-old religions, cultures and traditions to mere trappings and idolatry of “savages,” Western powers took control of entire continents by military might and economic force. When the smoke cleared, millions of so-called rebels lay dead with new states artificially created everywhere to suit the needs of their occupiers and the iron-fisted rule of their obedient local surrogates.

In Southwest Africa men, women and children were driven by Germany into the desert where they were forced into labor camps and denied food and water. Hundreds of thousands perished. Germany repeated this “trail of tears” in East Africa where it burned countless villages to the ground, murdering upwards of 300,000 natives. In its South African “burn and capture” campaigns, after destroying 20,000 farms, Great Britain displaced hundreds of thousands of Africans… relocating them to isolated tent cities behind barbed wire without sufficient food, medical attention, and blankets to survive. Tens of thousands, mostly women and children, died of malnutrition and disease. In Ethiopia, and elsewhere, Italy used poison gas to put down rebellions by restive nationalists.. In Afghanistan, during the Soviet invasion and occupation, upwards of a million Afghanis lost their lives as Russia bombed and depopulated rural areas creating a refugee flight of some four million. Sound familiar?

Today we enter the seventh decade of rebellions in many of these once occupied lands where, one by one, Western powers have been defeated by local uprisings. In the mid-twentieth century, Algerians rose up and overthrew the colonial tyranny of France that had long oppressed and exploited them for their natural resources. In that rebellion, it’s estimated that there were upwards of one million Algerian casualties. While hundreds of thousands of civilians were detained and tortured, millions more were forcibly displaced as their homes and businesses were destroyed. Under France’s scorched earth policy numerous peasant villages were eradicated by napalm. For many years, France remained no less a colonial tyrant to millions in Syria and Lebanon. Even today, its deadly military reach rages on in the Middle East and Africa with its forces deployed in Syria, Iraq, Mauritania and, not long ago, even in tiny Mali. Of course, U.S., British, and German missiles also continue to rain down throughout these regions driving more and more civilians into the camp of the desperate… those willing to risk and sacrifice all, including others, in the name of self-determination.

It’s been more than twenty years since the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. The attack on a U.S. military base in Dahran, Saudi Arabia occurred three years later. The so-called Twin Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania occurred in 1998 and the attack on the U.S. Cole some two years later in the port of Aden in Yemen. The destruction of the World Trade Center is now rubbing up against some fifteen years of blind, often mindless revenge triggered in part by their destruction. Over two decades of the West’s so-called war on terror, we have seen well more than a million and a half civilians slaughtered in the Middle East alone… largely by Western military intervention. Although these attacks have been carried out at times under the umbrella of NATO or the United Nations, in reality, most of the death and destruction has been meted out through the hands of the United States and its immediate allies… in particular France and Great Britain. Indeed, in the most recent run-up by the West to bring “freedom, security and prosperity” to the third-world, we’ve seen once vibrant states destroyed with millions reduced to refugees fleeing violence profitable not only to those making armaments but to international conglomerates poised to swoop in and exploit natural resources from regions aflame with carnage caused or funded by foreign armies. Over this period, much of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia have been left in ruins… largely leveled by foreign-employed or supplied high tech weapons and policy decisions reached many thousands of miles away from the burning fields of the Middle East and Africa.

I mourn for the hundreds of civilians recently slaughtered in France and on a Russian airliner. To target, take hostage, or murder civilians for political ends, indeed for any end, is evil in its most evil form. However, it is no more evil than state sponsored terrorism carried out by the West and Russia for decades in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere that has left a trail of mass death and destruction where they have put their own political and economic self-interests above those of the billions who call these regions home.

Today, Congress is once again exploiting a tragedy as it debates extension of the largest domestic surveillance operation in history, recently uncovered and declared illegal by federal courts under U.S. Law, all in the empty guise of national security. Predictably, numerous U.S. governors and other petty politicians are posturing to win votes at the expense of a relative handful of vulnerable and desperate refugees fleeing mayhem largely caused by American dollars through their unconstitutional demand that we pick and choose who can come to the United States, and who cannot, based on little more than their national roots and religious beliefs.

Religion and belief-based fear mongering is not at all new in this country. Once, our ancestors feared witches and burned women. Long ago, it was unleashed during the so-called Palmer Raids in the early twentieth century when immigrants… then mostly Jews and Italians… were rounded up and jailed; many deported because of their political leanings, associations, and religious beliefs. In World War II, we interred hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans solely on the basis of their ancestry…destroying families, businesses, and entire communities along the way. In the shadow of 9-11, we saw the same xenophobic hatred unleashed through ugly political rhetoric, harassment, and physical attacks upon vulnerable Muslims and recent immigrants of color. Often, Muslims, Arabs, and Africans who neither broke the law, nor urged others to do so, were detained… some for years through illegal immigration and “security” sweeps. Many found themselves added to no-fly lists, saw bank accounts frozen or attended mosques that were illegally surveilled and harassed. Hundreds of thousands of mainly Middle Eastern, African and Southeast Asian immigrants eventually fled the United States… once again seeking safety from the tyranny of those who terrorize because they can.

Not to be undone, throughout Europe, doors are now being kicked in as “anti-terror” forces swoop down to detain, often indefinitely, those unfortunate enough to be named Mohammed or Nadia and who arrived in their new homes through earlier refugee flights to find safety and start new lives, only to once again be subjected to religious and race based hatred fueled by events in which they played no role. How long before European newspapers, mosques and borders are closed, refugees refused and immigrants deported in a mad futile rush to make communities in the West “safe” by further punishing the most vulnerable among them, civilians already victimized, in the countries of their birth, by mass carnage from which they fled.

Meanwhile, US drones, French jets, British tanks and Russian missiles are being readied to unleash another day of vicious, punishing attacks too often upon defenseless civilians abroad whose only crime is to live in the wrong place at the wrong time as they are caught up in a political crossfire between the new and very old worlds warring over which will control the economic and political destiny of several billion people in the years to come.

Enough is enough. Declare victory. End the madness. Come home.

https://cagedbutundaunted.wordpress.com/

Forgotten Words-Stanley Cohen

We are always honored to post messages from our Anons in prison.  Stanley Cohen has asked that we share his articles and it is our honor to do so.  Stanley hasn’t given up his fight and it’s an honor to call him a friend to Freeanons.

Forgotten Words

Lately I’ve had a number of letters and emails from young activists who understandably are feeling distressed about the world that is ours today- one seemingly on fire everywhere that we look. Some seem to be questioning their own ability to make a meaningful impact upon a world which, at times, appears to be dangerously out of control and unresponsive to resistance from progressive forces or action.

Many years ago I took off and have not looked back since. My own struggle to make this world a better, more just and humane place for us all has taken many twists and turns and embraced a full range of expression from words to direct action- of all kinds. Along the way I’ve been fortunate to work with and be mentored by some legendary giants in many different fields and places who inspired my by their drive, determination and indefatigable spirit to rage on and on. Although there have been times that I’ve questioned my own ability to travel those last few steps to the proverbial mountain top I saw just above, I’ve never failed to reach that peak for want of trying. This is after-all a very, very fast march- we live, we fight, we die.

Sitting around in prison the last few nights as I contemplated my release on December 15th I started to play around with some verse that hopefully talks to the need to rage on from beginning to end. Lets face it, I’m certainly not a poet and though I enjoy the texture of words, its typically a feeling that comes out best while on my feet in courtrooms or at a podium or, I’ve been told, in some of my so-called polemics. Never one to run from a principled fight however, I decided to challenge myself the last few days and to try and create some poetic verse that speaks to the speed of our journey and our need to keep fiercely determined in pursuing our dreams. With that, I hope you enjoy “Forgotten Words.” Up the Rebels.

Forgotten Words

Spring’s bloom, frenzied in its reach,
unbridled, the genesis of our seductive teach.
Summer’s smile a stretch of grand allure,
with still the tease of that much more.
Yet, fade of Autumn with color’s gray
now harkens gloom of twilight’s day.

Life’s promise forgotten, now but barnacles time faded
fancied discourse- long tired, passe- so much jaded.
Smiles veiled and soft, breath soured by fleeting time
shorn of hope and elegance, honeyed taste of once sweet thyme.
Laughter withered, moments missed, endless bays;
echoes of silence long in brood hushed ways.

Musty tattered texts; rhymes well past sleep-
verse resound, far ever-wide in sweep.
Now dark and bitter creased with yellowed page
passion, dissent reduced to muted rage.
Night’s darkest fear, morn’s once rise to hope-
bled of all its bright and early blissful cope.

Spring’s rush-so swift the tide to winter’s end.
Forgotten words; letters ne’er post to send.
The journey begun with boundless seam
unfinished, untold a shattered dream.
With haste, verse passed- scant a try;
the lion’s mighty roar now but a mournful sigh.

Can it be so fleeting- a blink of an eye- all past
vision come and gone, left with but bombast.
Tis now the time to reach for one last chance,
one last step, one final sweeping dance.

“We Are Truly Legion” By Stanley Cohen

A message from Stanley Cohen:

“We Are Truly Legion”

I don’t know personally Nour AlGhussein but I do know her sister, writer Walaa AlGhussein, pretty well and for a long time. They are among the five children- four girls and one boy born to Fatma and Khalid in Gaza. The AlGuhssein children are our future- all our futures. From what I know, they are very smart, independent, giving and passionate about making a meaningful difference in the lives of their family, Nation and world. And while so many others among us have seemingly given up, surrendered to events which some unfortuantely feel they cannot impact, let alone change for the better, the children of Fatma and Khalid have refused to go silently unto the night. Though young and in the early stages of their life’s journey- its a travel of purpose, pride and accomplishment despite the great deprivation and danger that their family — indeed, all families in Gaza — faces every day. To be Palestinian and young is not easy.

Following in her older sister Walaa’s very large and capable footsteps, this past summer, Nour attended Portland State University as part of an exchange program of sorts with young women and men from all over the world, largely impoverished communities at that, to attend universities in various countries outside their own. To accomplish this was no small task in its own and wrought with a large degree of uncertainty and at times, danger, given the circumstances in the communities from which they come.

For many of these young students, its the first and only time they’ve been able to escape the daily stress and strain that can be living a life not just in poor communities but, as in the case of Nour, a deadly war zone under constant siege that has cost the lives, health and well-being of many hundreds of thousands of her community for no reason other than they are Palestinian and civilians- easy and vulnerable targets. And while some of the world just does not give a shit- we do !!

For those of you who have watched in horror the crimes of Israel or who have followed this blog or my work over the years, there is no need for me to repeat here the nightmare that is the occupation, genocide, ethnic cleansing and collective punishment that never takes a rest in Palestine, especially in Gaza, at the hands of Israel under the watchful and approving eyes of the West and their system of regional surrogate states. Despite this nightmare, or maybe because of it, lots of young Palestinians have pursued knowledge and, often against impossible odds, formal education with a passion and determined reach that is second to none, including those of us who may have come from privileged societies or backgrounds.

Nour spent this past summer at PSU in a peaceful supportive community of the young and not so young where she flourished as a student, representative of Palestine and just being a “kid,” among many others. While in school she participated in and graduated from PSU’s Middle East Partnership Initiative Student Leader’s program. In addition, Nour recieved further recognition for her work at PSU by receiving its prestigious ‘International Student Award’ for her overall accomplishments during the summer. Predictably, Nour made many new friends from all over the world and was for the first time in her young and difficult life able to read when she wanted, walk where she wanted and just hangout with whomever she wanted untouched by anything but her own desires, drive and intellectual appetite. For one all-too brief period at PSU, unlike the constant deprivation and isolation that is Gaza, in Portland Nour was able to pursue her dreams solely on the basis of her own vision of who she is and what she wants for herself, her family and her Nation.

At summer’s end, Nour returned to Gaza, where the duck of bombs, frequent wail of sirens and the struggle to survive has once again become a constant roar in her life- its just the way things are there no matter how warm, wonderful and wise you may otherwise be in a land under incessant attack of one sort or another by one of the most deadly killing machines in the world. To be Palestinian is to be targeted, every day. However, to be young and Palestinian, does not mean that you stop dreaming or working to may your dreams become reality.

Before returning to Gaza, Nour applied for and was accepted by Portland State University as a full-time student beginning this January. To do so is not however an easy, inexpensive or emotionally comfortable experience. To leave your family behind in the life and death struggle that is Gaza not knowing what the future holds for them, or for you, is just not like it was or is now for many of the rest of us. Typically, when we’ve gone off to school, often its been a climb into the family car to travel some short hours away from the love and the safety that has been our home to go to a campus knowing that those we love and need are just a simple call or vacation away. To be Palestinian and thousands of miles from your home often left without electricity, running water or phone service is never an easy or painless journey.

Nour needs our help. She is fiercely proud, determined and driven to succeed. And when she does, mark it up as another victory for our community- one which struggles to take control of the world that is ours and to change its contours in warm, peaceful and humane ways that embrace people of all race, religion, politics, gender and choice and does so without the dictate or confines of anthems, borders or flags.

Please contribute what you can to https://www.indiegogo.com/…/nour-s-educational-…/x/12568693…

Please watch her story:  Nour’s educational fund at PSU

Help Nour to realize her dreams and ours.

Up the Rebels.

Business as Usual by Stanley Cohen

This article is written by the currently incarcerated, Stanley Cohen.  As always, please share widely. Up the Rebels and Bless the Resistance!

Business as Usual by Stanley Cohen

The list of settler ambushes upon Palestinian women and children and unarmed men in the West Bank is endless- it grows day by day with more and more ferocity. In fact, there have been more than a thousand such documented attacks by rabid settlers on Palestinian civilians, although many more go unreported as futile- of late the victims of settler violence have begun to include other Jews.

With predictable panic, once again the Israeli government is running about aimlessly blaming the victim for inviting their own victimization. This time it was a youthful Eritrean Jew who foolishly ventured out in public where he was slaughtered by a frenetic mob of Zionist settlers because they thought he was Palestinian. As the mortally injured Jew was evacuated from the clutches of the mob that had stomped and beaten him, his killers screamed over and over again “Death to Arabs”; hundreds of others raced off through the streets of Jerusalem crying out for more Palestinian blood in a frenzied search for new victims. In another recent attack by one Jew on another, a masked settler attacked Israeli-American Rabbi Arik Ascherman, co-founder of the anti-Zionist group, Rabbis for Human Rights, an association of religious leaders that often accompanies Palestinian farmers to protect them from settler attacks as they work their groves in the occupied West Bank. The settler kicked and punched the rabbi before holding a knife to his neck apparently threatening him for his efforts on behalf of Palestinians.

How much easier would it be if only those damn Arabs would simply start to wear a yellow crescent stiched onto their clothing so that the racist hatred that is Zionism can find a fail-safe way to attack them, and not other Jews, as the Zionists pursue the “final solution” which so many seek. Or, perhaps a prominent shiny number tattooed on the inside arm of all Palestinian men under 40 years of age would do the trick. Why 40? It’s the cut-off point for Palestinian access to prayer at Al Aqsa, in Jerusalem. That’s right, under Israeli law, you must be over forty years of age to pray in one of the most revered sites in all of Islam- a religion fast approaching almost two billion people; a quarter of the world’s population! It seems the combination of relative youth and faith is a deadly combination for all who embrace it- just ask the Zionist settlers from Brooklyn armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and fire bombs in the West Bank because they not only have a sacred right to bear high-tech weapons, but apparently a divine mandate to use them, or other means of deadly violence, against Palestinian civilians because of their race, religion or politics whenever the “spirit” moves them.

Just last month the spirit obviously moved settlers who burned to death 18 month old Ali Dawabsha and his parents as they were asleep in their West Bank home- according to Israel it was the isolated work of so-called “vigilantes.” Before that it was 16 year old Mohammed Abu Kdair who was burned alive following his abduction by settlers last year from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. In the days leading up to his slaughter, settlers marched throughout Jerusalem shouting out “Death to Arabs” all the while under the protection of Israeli security forces. Before that, a settler ran over a 5 year old Palestinian boy in the southern occupied West Bank. Zakariya Mohmoud al-Umour survived, however 5 year old Enas Khalil was not so lucky. She died following an earlier hit-and-run attack by a settler not far from Ramallah, the putative seat of power for the Palestinian Authority. It’s “business as usual.”

Meanwhile, not to be undone by the march of recent history, Israeli ethnic cleansing is in full swing in East Jerusalem with the government erecting more and more of its Warsaw ghetto- like walls around an ever expanding area of the ancient Holy City which, along with numerous heavily armed checkpoints, is part of a strategic effort to completely isolate, indeed choke off, its dwindling age-old Palestinian community and to tightly monitor and control its every movement. Underground streets and age old Suqs once teeming with Palestinian workers, shoppers and students are now entirely deserted with shops shuttered, and local residents too terrified to venture out into streets now controlled by cops, soldiers and rampaging mobs of explosive settlers. Of course, its done for “security” reasons- it always is.

Not to worry, however, as the number of potential targets for this very public 21st century pogrom is fast dwindling. Indeed, countless Palestinian families have been forcibly evicted from Jerusalem with their residency “rights” revoked by Israel over the last decade or so as their historic homes have been demolished to make room for new illegal Zionist settlements, or other development projects funded largely by US based Christian Zionist supporters. During this period, almost a thousand Palestinian homes have been destroyed or simply handed over in-tact to Zionists in East Jerusalem, with but a few building permits issued to those other than Jews or Christians.

For those shocked by the now very public face of racist chants, some things just don’t change. Long before the theft of Palestine in 1948, “Death to Arabs” was a popular chorus among adoring Zionists ever-ready to applaud acts of savage terrorism used against Palestinians in the Holy Land, almost always, civilians the intended victims. It rang out loudly in the early 1930’s when hundreds of Palestinians were killed, shot or lynched, and their homes and businesses burned to the ground by roving gangs of immigrant European Zionists. Not much later in the same decade “Death to Arabs” once again echoed throughout their homeland as hundreds of Palestinians were murdered by bombs placed in various urban centers where they were known to congregate- in one such bombing 53 civilians were murdered in Haifa. Never at all very far from the settler mindset or language, “Death to Arabs” was again prominent during last year’s murderous assault on Gaza when settlers picnicking on hill tops overlooking Gaza were heard to shout it out as they cheered each new artillery shell, missile or bomb that exploded on the defenseless civilian population below.

From the very beginning of Israel, Palestinian civilians have been a prime target of its “para-military” and military forces. Thus, in the April 10,1948 official Red Cross report of it’s findings about what occurred at Deir Yassin, its representative Jacques de Reynier noted upon entering one of the houses in that small farming community:
“I found some bodies cold. Here the ‘cleaning up’ had been done with machine guns, then hand-grenades. It had been finished off with knives, anyone could see that. The same thing in the next room, but as I was about to leave, I heard something like a sigh. I looked everywhere, turned over all the bodies, and eventually found a little foot, still warm. It was a little girl of ten, mutilated by a hand-grenade, but still alive . . . everywhere it was the same sight.”

According to official reports of British authorities assigned the investigation of the Israeli attack on Deir Yassin, 260 men, women and children had been butchered to death. The survivors, at the point of hysterical collapse from shock and grief, recorded their hideous experience for the British authorities: “families had been lined up and shot down in a barrage of gun-fire; young girls raped; a pregnant mother was first slaughtered and then had her stomach cut open by a butcher’s knife; a girl who tried to remove the unborn child from the woman’s womb was shot down. Some of the victims were slashed to pieces with cutlasses . . . women had bracelets torn from their arms and rings from their fingers, and parts of some of the women’s ears were severed in order to to remove ear-rings.”

Not long thereafter the small town of Ramleh located near the new “Jewish” city of Tel Aviv was also attacked; its villagers were rounded up and warned that if they resisted they too would suffer the same fate as had occurred in Deir Yassin- news of which had already spread throughout Palestine. With the town surrounded by troops, the villagers sought sanctuary in a local church. Outside, the Archbishop, who held a white flag, told approaching soldiers “we are civilians, not soldiers, not fighters, leave us in peace.” Ignoring him, several soldiers entered the church where they seized some of the young villagers and took them away, never to be seen again. Later, bodies were found scattered on the road and in-between the houses and down the side-streets. According to a twelve year old eye-witness, Khalil Wazir, “No one not even women and children, had been spared if they were out in the street. This was the first stage. After that, they dismissed us- they drove us out of the homes and out of town.” Khalil Wazir, who never forgot that day, was to become known as Abu Jihad and along with Yasser Arafat went on to found Fatah.

Throughout its history, Israel has continued to target Palestinian civilians with brutal overwhelming force designed to extract a deadly price from those who fight on, even if only through their dignity and determination to resist. In October of 1953 Israeli troops, more particularly, “special force” Unit 101, headed up by Moshe Dayan who would later become Israel’s Prime Minister, assaulted the rural village of Qibya. After the troops withdrew, UN observers arrived there and reported:

“Bullet-riddled bodies near the doorways and multiple bullet hits on the doors of demolished houses indicated that the inhabitants had been forced to remain inside until their homes were blown up over them … witnesses were uniform in describing their experience as a night of horror, during which Israeli soldiers moved about in their village, blowing up buildings, firing into doorways and windows with automatic weapons and throwing hand grenades”

That night, Unit 101 slaughtered sixty-six Palestinian men, women and children. Although shocking, it was to pale against the wanton brutality of future attacks in which civilians and civilian infrastructure have been routinely targeted by the Israeli military as part of a conscious campaign to terrorize non-combatants for political purposes.

Even today, the teeming refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in West Beirut, Lebanon remain home to tens of thousands of Palestinians, some of whom were driven out of their country while still youngsters during the Nakba (the catastrophe) of 1948- the others, almost all descendants of those who fled that first wave of full-on Israeli ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Some three decades ago, Israeli troops invaded Lebanon during its civil war. Although the full extent of the carnage will never be known, between September 16 and September 18, 1982 up to 3,500 mostly Palestinian civilians, largely women, children and the elderly were raped, tortured, killed and mutilated in Sabra-Shatila by Christian Philangist allies of Israel who attacked the camps under the watchful eyes of Israeli troops that had surrounded their perimeters preventing anyone from escaping the slaughter or stopping it.

After the butchery had ended and Israeli troops withdrawn, journalists and observers from the Multinational Peacekeeping Force entered Sabra and Shatila. It was reported that “Many of the bodies, after the massacre, were severely mutilated. many of the boys had been castrated, and some were scalped. Some had crosses cut into their bodies.” In a letter to her husband, Janet Lee Stevens, an American journalist wrote, “I saw dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an alley wall; children with their throats slit; a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles.”

Late in 1982, the U.N. General Assembly declared the carnage an act of genocide, condemning Israel in the “strongest terms for the large-scale massacre of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.” However, neither the UN nor any other international body ever took direct action against it for the massacre, although an Israeli Commission laid personal responsibility for it on Ariel Sharon, the then-Defense Minister, for failing to prevent it. Ultimately, he was punished by becoming Israel’s 11th Prime Minister in 2001 and given another chance to slaughter more Palestinians, this time in their own homeland.

Under Sharon’s tenure, the Second Intifada began in earnest when, in a provocative show of force, he suddenly appeared at Al Aqsa with a thousand heavily armed police shouting out “the Temple Mount is in our hands” – an incendiary repeat of what Israeli soldiers had proclaimed when Israel seized Quds in the 1967 war. Later, in April 2002 he approved of a plan in which the refugee camp in Jenin, home to some 15,000 Palestinians living within one square kilometer, was attacked- purportedly to route out “terrorist” cells. For ten days hundreds of Israeli tanks, attack helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and F-16 jets were involved in the onslaught on Jenin which was sealed off and then struck round-the-clock by a wide assortment of heavy weaponry. Thousands of shells and missiles rained down on Jenin destroying more than a third of its buildings and rendering useless all of its infrastructure including its water and electricity networks. Although more than a hundred bodies – mostly civilians – were accounted for during the attack, to this day the exact number of those killed, injured and missing remains unknown because after it’s end, Israel would not permit NGO’s to enter Jenin for many days during which time countless rotting corpses were buried in mass graves, some located far away in the Jordan Valley.

The ruthless attack on Jenin was to become a very dark model for future assaults on the tiny Gaza strip enclave which certainly stand among the most savage and criminal in recent history. To say that the 50 day onslaught on Gaza during the summer of 2014 — its third in six years by Israel– was horrific and shocks the conscience of humanity is to understate an evil that has become very much the Israeli standard whenever it seeks retribution for any perceived or concocted slight.

No narrative of the Israeli massacre can do justice to the pain and suffering meted out to a defenseless population of almost two million civilians – 80% already refugees – by one of the world’s most ruthless and proficient killing machine which used some 40,000 tons of explosives on Gaza during its summer-long rampage. At its end, some 2200 were slaughtered, including 550 children, and some 10,000 injured- almost all the victims were civilians. More than 1900 children are now orphaned. Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain internally displaced with 20,000 homes, 26 NGO service providers, a half-dozen dozen UNRWA facilities, 23 hospitals and health-care facilities, 133 schools, 360 factories, 50,000 acres of crop lands and half of Gaza’s poultry stock targeted and destroyed or damaged by Israel. NGO’s are in agreement- if Israel eases its now almost ten year old siege on Gaza, it will still take at least a generation or more to restore it to the poverty levels it knew before the most recent onslaught.

A year has come and gone in Gaza- large chunks of it remain in ruin, electricity and clean running water are scarce, open sewage still runs down some of its streets into the Mediterranean on which it sits because of the Israeli targeted destruction of its infrastructure. Food and medicine are always in short supply as a result of the on-going embargo that strangles its borders. With the world’s highest unemployment rate which now stands at 43% for adults and 60% for teens, there are currently 40,000 young women and men with graduate degrees and PhD’s unable to find work in their chosen fields or any other. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is now just so much a way of life in Gaza with studies indicating that 92% of its children and up to 50% of its teens and adults are either symptomatic, or suffering from its full-on effects.

Meanwhile children sit antsy in classrooms- some ready themselves to take the place of their older brothers and sisters in the Fourth or Fifth Intifada- whatever it takes. They look around classrooms and see empty seats, seats once occupied by friends and neighbors or brothers and sisters, now gone- murdered by Israel last year. They read from books held together by recycled tape and follow their youthful teachers as they write lesson plans on chalks-boards now broken and cracked by Israeli shrapnel- at night, they study at home by candlelight. Like all children they dream of a better tomorrow, one filled with toys and trips and parties. But, deep down they know that one day it will be their turn to follow a long painful trail of resistance that began at Deir Yassin decades ago.

With Gaza completely surrounded and being slowly starved or bombed to death, the West Bank entirely occupied, and mostly annexed, and the Judaisation of Jerusalem now in full swing, is it any wonder that Palestinians continue to resist against a long implemented Israeli plan for their extermination, one way or another? Indeed, some might reasonably argue that a handful of very much isolated and spontaneous vehicle and knife assaults, along with continuing stone attacks by Palestinian youth, no matter what their tragic results, are but a token and not at all coordinated militant response to the full on and long-term ethnic cleansing and genocide well underway in Palestine. While the Israeli government, as always, seeks to charge Hamas with ultimate responsibility for the recent up-tick in Palestinian resistance, it’s clear that the early stages of what appears to be very much the Third Intifada are — like the first two– in the able-bodied hands of Palestinian youth. By the thousands, they have taken to the streets throughout their homeland in a determined effort to challenge the occupation and the ethnic cleansing that is the norm of their life. To them, there can be no business as usual for Israelis, any Israeli, as long as Palestinians by the millions remain stateless and powerless, reduced to little more than convenient vulnerable targets for annihilation by IOF jets or wanton settler brutality, while much of the world looks the other way. Its hard to argue with reason.

Tragically, for many Palestinians it seems as if our world has left them little but two choices to get back home again- victory or death. Its business as usual.

You can read all of the writings of Stanley Cohen during his incarceration here:  https://cagedbutundaunted.wordpress.com/