Occupation pep talk

Iraqi policemen get a pep talk from the American occupation. I like the part where the US soldier accuses them of lying about their alliances, he’s probably right. I’m sure a lot of them would like to resist the foreign occupiers of their land. Some logic though: if they care about Iraq then they better listen to him. What a moron, this soldier and anyone who supports this war.

Fred Hampton

Federal Plaza, downtown Chicago. (image: matthew cassel)
Federal Plaza, downtown Chicago. (image: matthew cassel)

Fred Hampton spoke here. 1969, the world was revolting — against what? Most who took part probably couldn’t even articulate their reasons well. But it didn’t matter. It was an energy amongst the people, a feeling of unity, a feeling that we’re not used to.

Who should be expected to explain why a war is bad? I remember when I was 21 and I was asked by a reporter, “Why are you against this war?”

A simple question that I couldn’t answer. Thinking back, I should’ve answered with the question, “Why is anyone for it?”

We all struggle every day. To make it to work, to pay our bills, to be at peace with our loved ones. So why kill and destroy?

I am tired, we are all tired, some more than others.

Who knows what they’re doing in Washington. I’ve seen them on TV: happy, fat, white, rich. And they are my saviors, our saviors. They determine what I will eat tonight, or how much time I can spend with my daughter, or if someone can help me about this persistent pain in my chest.

I hear them talking about what is best for me. But do they know? Do they ever think to ask?

I am against war because I am a person like any other. I want a family, I want time to smile, to relax, to live.

Fred Hampton understood. And he was killed. Many others also understood, maybe at one point we all did. Maybe right now we all do.

Four dead in Gaza tunnel collapse

From Yahoo News:

GAZA CITY (AFP) – Four Palestinians were killed on Sunday when a tunnel used for smuggling between the Gaza Strip and Egypt collapsed on top of them, medics said.
The victims were between the ages of 17 and 25, they said. The tunnels were thought to have collapsed after torrential downpours that hit the region over the last several days.

image: matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

Along the border with Egypt, there are hundreds of young men working in the tunnel trade. With the Israeli siege few jobs are available to people in Gaza and many are forced into jobs such as crawling underground to bring goods into the territory. Among the tunnel workers I spoke to, there is also a general feel that it’s not only a low-paid job for most, but it’s also a form of resistance against the siege that denies the most basic goods into Gaza.

Sonic boom

I had never heard one before my recent trip to Gaza. I have heard plenty of American-made Israeli-piloted F-16s fly over the West Bank or Lebanon, but never the sonic boom. I remember being in Beit Hanoun photographing a group of kids. All of a sudden I heard an F-16 in the distance, I looked around to see if it was coming in the skies above us. Then all of a sudden, “booooooooom.” The windows of the shop next to me shook and ground trembled beneath my feet. I worried a bit that they were bombing nearby. I turned to my friend and asked, “are they bombing? What’s going on? Is it close?” He smiled at me, “no no, it’s just a sonic boom, no bombing don’t worry.”

For years Israel has constantly flown its fighter jets at a speed fast enough to create a sonic boom. Often, they do these just a few hundred meters above the ground. Sometimes, at 7am, 3pm, 2am, 230am, 3am, etc… you never know.

I call on you

matthew cassel
image: matthew cassel

“Onadikum” or “I call on you” by the Palestinian poet Tawfiq Zayyad. Translated by As’ad AbuKhalil.

I call on you
I press your hands
I kiss the ground under your feet
and I say: I sacrifice myself for you
I give you as a gift
the light of my eyes
and the warmth of heart, I give you
My tragedy that I live
Is my share of your tragedies
I call on you
I press your hands
I kiss the ground under your feet
and I say: I sacrifice myself for you
I did not humiliate myself in my homeland
and I did not lower my shoulders
I stood facing my oppressors
orphaned, naked, and bare foot
I call on you
I press your hands
I kiss the ground under your feet
and I say: I sacrifice myself for you
I carried my blood on my palm
I never lowered my flags
and I cared for the green grass
over the graves of my ancestors

Anti-semitism

Dozens of mosques were destroyed during the recent Israeli war on Gaza. And meanwhile some punks writing slurs in red marker on the walls of a synagogue in Venezuela is front page news. There is a big difference here. The attacks on the Venezuelan synagogue were carried out by a few people and were condemned by the Chavez government, while the attacks on the Palestinian mosques were done by an army representing the Middle East’s “only democracy” as Israel if often called by many in the West.

Where is the coverage of these blatant attacks on places of worship? Did you know about it? Probably not unless you read the Arabic press. Attacks on any religious buildings or other holy places should be covered, and should be condemned equally.

matthew cassel
A man walks past a destroyed mosque in Gaza City. (image: matthew cassel)
matthew cassel
Men pray next to a destroyed mosque in Gaza City. (image: matthew cassel)
matthew cassel
A destroyed mosque in Beit Hanoun. The mosque was still being built when it was targeted. (image: matthew cassel)
matthew cassel
A man prays next to his destroyed home in Beit Hanoun. (image: matthew cassel)