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International Court Welcomes Palestinians as 123rd Member

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In this Oct. 18, 2014 file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Fatah revolutionary council in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Palestinians formally join the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, as part of a broader effort to put international pressure on Israel and exact a higher price for its occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

In this Oct. 18, 2014 file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Fatah revolutionary council in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

MIKE CORDER, Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Palestinian Authority became a member of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, saying it wanted “justice not vengeance” for alleged Israeli war crimes.

Joining the court is part of a broader effort by the Palestinians to put international pressure on Israel and comes at a time when the chances of resuming negotiations on Palestinian statehood are seen as slim following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent election victory and tough campaign rhetoric.

“In the face of the great injustice our people are enduring and the repeated crimes committed against it, Palestine has decided to seek justice, not vengeance,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said after a brief welcome ceremony.

Palestinians signed the court’s founding treaty in January and Palestinian membership came into force Wednesday. International justice activists hailed the occasion as an opportunity to bring accountability to years of conflict between Palestinians and Israel.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, but the country’s military and civilian leaders could now face charges if they are believed to have committed crimes on Palestinian territory. Israel had no immediate comment Wednesday.

The court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, opened a preliminary investigation in mid-January after the Palestinians formally accepted the court’s jurisdiction dating back to just before last year’s Gaza conflict.

Malki said the Palestinian Authority was waiting to see the result of the preliminary probe. However, he stressed the Palestinians were ready to call for a formal investigation if the initial examination of evidence took too long, though he did not say how long that would be.

Some preliminary examinations have taken months, others are continuing after years.

Human Rights Watch welcomed the Palestinian Authority as the court’s 123rd member and stressed it is now up to Bensouda to weigh whether there is strong enough evidence to merit a full-scale investigation.

“Any decision whether to pursue an investigation and against whom is not in the hands of the Palestinians or the Israelis,” said Balkees Jarrah, international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch.

The review will likely focus initially on last year’s Gaza conflict. The Palestinians suffered heavy civilian casualties, prompting allegations by some rights groups that Israel committed war crimes. Leaders of Hamas, which rules Gaza, could also face charges because the militant group fired rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilian areas.

In a statement, Hamas official Ismail Radwan called Wednesday’s move “a step in the right direction.” He said Palestinian leaders must use the opportunity “to pursue the (Israeli) occupation and fight it until it’s punished for its crimes against the Palestinian people.”

Prosecutors could also look at the issue of Israeli settlement building, considered illegal by much of the world. However, prosecutors in The Hague do not have jurisdiction over events that happened before the Palestinians joined the court.

William R. Pace, convenor of the Coalition for the ICC which supports and promotes the court’s work, said Palestinian membership “gives hope to victims in both Palestine and Israel that they might see justice done and the conflict brought to a peaceful end.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Activism

No Valid Reason for Failing to Condemn Hamas’ Act of Terrorism

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas terrorists crossed the Israel-Gaza border and indiscriminately slaughtered Israeli civilians in their homes. They killed nearly 300 young people at a music festival and took at least 200 hostages including 30 children. The atrocities they committed included massacres of families, abduction of the elderly and children, burning of babies and rapes of women.

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iStock image.
iStock image.

By Joe W. Bowers Jr.

California Black Media

OPINION

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas terrorists crossed the Israel-Gaza border and indiscriminately slaughtered Israeli civilians in their homes.

They killed nearly 300 young people at a music festival and took at least 200 hostages including 30 children. The atrocities they committed included massacres of families, abduction of the elderly and children, burning of babies and rapes of women.

The horrific surprise attack deserves universal and unequivocal condemnation. President Joe Biden called what Hamas did “an act of sheer evil” and pledged to defend the lives of Israelis and Jewish Americans.

He said, “Let there be no doubt. The United States has Israel’s back. We’ll make sure the Jewish and democratic state of Israel can defend itself today, tomorrow, as we always have.”

Hamas killed approximately 1,400 people including 32 Americans. Citizens from 40 different countries including the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, and Thailand were killed or reported missing.

Hamas fighters breached Israel’s border defenses on the final day of Sukkot while soldiers were away due to the holiday and launched attacks on 22 towns outside the Gaza Strip. This security lapse has been described as a catastrophic failure of Israel’s intelligence agencies..

Hamas is an extremist Islamist militant organization that has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007. It is recognized as an Iranian-backed terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union and has a long history of violence against Jews and Palestinians, the latter of whom they often use as human shields.

While there have been plenty of groups who have unequivocally condemned the massacres, there are a number who haven’t, including organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Black Alliance for Peace, Red Nation, and independent Black Lives Matter (BLM) chapters (excluding the national Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation).

The DSA San Francisco chapter put out a statement on Oct. 9 that said, “Socialists support the Palestinian people’s, and all people’s, right to resist and fight for their own liberation. This weekend’s events are no different.”

Student organizations at a number of universities and colleges in California signed a solidarity statement titled “Resistance Uprising in Gaza” from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The statement attributes the violence of the Hamas attack to what it refers to as Israeli apartheid and occupation.

The SJP statement written by Bears for Palestine at UC Berkeley says, “We support the resistance, we support the liberation movement, and we indisputably support the Uprising.”  Essentially, these students are indirectly associating themselves with Hamas’ barbaric acts under the guise of “resistance.”

Signing the statement were 51 student organizations including those from Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, UC San Diego, CSU Sacramento, and USC.

A statement signed by 34 Harvard student organizations said, “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”

Many university leaders, where these students are enrolled, have been guilty of failing to unequivocally condemn Hamas and for inadequately addressing their students’ expressed support for Hamas.

Several Stanford faculty members, including three Nobel laureates, condemned Stanford’s administrators’ weak response to acts of terrorism and the expression of pro-Hamas sentiments by students on campus.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. It dismantled 21 Israeli settlements in the territory and handed them over to the Palestinian Authority.

The assault by Hamas on Oct. 7 was not an ordinary clash with Israel. Hamas’ actions resulted in the deadliest single day for Jews since the Holocaust.

While there are valid reasons for protesting Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and a real reckoning with the Israeli government on its policies is long overdue, nothing justifies Hamas’ attack.

Israelis who were killed largely had nothing to do with the conditions of Palestinians in Gaza. Some of the victims weren’t even Israeli — they were just tourists.

The students blaming Israel for the atrocities committed by Hamas have faced criticism. Some groups have withdrawn their endorsements because of the backlash aimed at them. Others have doubled down on their activism. SJP held a “National Day of Resistance” on several campuses.

Several CEOs have asked Harvard to disclose a list of members from the organizations assigning responsibility to Israel to insure they do not hire any of their members. A Berkeley law professor has also urged firms not to hire his students who have publicly blamed Israel for the war.

This California Black Media report was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.

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Activism

Oakland Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield Meets Legislators in France

Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, deputy mayor of the City of Oakland, met with elected officials in France, including two members of the French National Assembly, and visited several educational programs, where she spoke with educators and students. Dr. Mayfield was able to visit France after a visit to London with the Hidden Genius Project and Oakland Natives Give Back to participate in Black History Month, which takes place in October in England. No public money was spent.

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Attending the meeting at the French National Assembly were (L to R): Kimberly Mayfield, Danièle Obono, Nadège Abomangoli, and Robyn Wilkes. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Mayfield.
Attending the meeting at the French National Assembly were (L to R): Kimberly Mayfield, Danièle Obono, Nadège Abomangoli, and Robyn Wilkes. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Mayfield.

By Ken Epstein

Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, deputy mayor of the City of Oakland, last week met with elected officials in France, including two members of the French National Assembly, and visited several educational programs, where she spoke with educators and students.

She met with Danièle Obono and Nadège Abomangoli, both members of the French Parliament, where they discussed many issues, including policymaking, racism, and immigration.

Dr. Mayfield was able to visit France after a visit to London with the Hidden Genius Project and Oakland Natives Give Back to participate in Black History Month, which takes place in October in England. No public money was spent.

Obono, has represented the 17th constituency of Paris in the National Assembly since 2017. A member of La France Insoumise (FI), she was reelected in the first round of the 2022 legislative election.

Abomangoli, also a member of La France Insoumise, was elected to Parliament for Seine-Saint-Denis’s 10th constituency in the 2022 French legislative election. She was born in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.

The two leaders had lots of questions about current conditions in the U.S., Dr. Mayfield told the Oakland Post. “They wanted to know what it means for Oakland to be a sanctuary city, what my thoughts were on the upcoming presidential elections, and what I thought the prospects were for Biden and Trump,” she said.

They also wanted to find out about Black fraternities and sororities in the U.S., and what people did to mobilize the vote, so that voter suppression would not be able to determine the outcome of elections.

They pointed out that, as in the U.S., people in France are dealing with police brutality, and the handful of Black members of Parliament sometimes face hostility when they speak out.

With an extensive background as an education professor and administrator, as well as a public-school teacher, Mayfield said she was excited to have the opportunity to visit a primary and a middle school and had a wide-ranging conversation with young people at Réseau Etudiant, an after-school study program.

She also met with residents and elected officials from Gennevilliers, a small port city close to Paris, which is similar to Oakland in demographics and politics.

Zahir Meliani, a resident of Gennevilliers, made arrangements for Mayfield’s meetings at the Parliament and her visit to his city.

She was welcomed by Mayor Patrice Leclerc and one of his deputies, Celine Lanoiselée, and they toured areas of the town. They discussed some differences in city governance structures between France and the U.S. and explored the potential for exchange visits between young people in the two countries.

“I am excited to work on improving our cities and contributing to peace in the world by using the potential for online and in-person visits to learn from each other,” said Mayfield.

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Bay Area

It’s Filipino American History Month a Note from an Asian American Israeli

As a pacifist, I find that the news from the Middle East is depressing. The death tolls will rise higher before any talks can begin between the sides. So, I pray for people I know there, an estimated 35,000 Filipinos in Israel, a small part of the 2-3 million Filipinos in the Middle East. But one friend is unique. A Filipino American born in the U.S., he married the Israeli sweetheart of his youth and moved to Israel nearly a decade ago. He is essentially an Asian American Filipino Israeli.

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OPINION

By Emil Guillermo

It’s my birthday this week. I am 118.

No lie.

Prior to this week, I figured age was just a number, and stopped counting.

But now I’m into counting each and every year. With honor.

It hit me as I prepared for talks commemorating October as Filipino American History Month.

My father would have been 118 this year. And only now have I realized that his life has been my life; History is my story.

He was born in the Philippines under the American flag in 1905.

That’s seven years after the U.S. bought the country from Spain after the Spanish American War in 1898. The Treaty of Paris sealed the deal 125 years ago. The U.S. paid $20 million mostly for the Catholic artifacts. Note, that’s less than the Golden State Warriors pay some of their star players.

Through the treaty, my father became more than a Filipino. He was a colonized American national, and able to come to America without papers.

He was legally undocumented.

But when my father came to California in 1928, he was not lucky enough to immediately start a family. Not in 1928, ’38, ’48, but in the ’50s.

What happened? Was he a bumbler in loud, unappealing clothes? Or was he just caught in Filipino American history, a racist one where Filipinos were plugged up, stopped up, dammed up.

Or maybe just damned.

Men like my father were brought in to replace excluded Chinese and Japanese labor, which made the male-to-female ratio among Filipinos around 14-1. You couldn’t find a Filipino wife. Anti-miscegenation laws were also in play. Filipinos were shot or lynched just for looking at a white woman. That often caused riots where angry whites protested the “peaceful penetration” of Filipinos.

My father was only able to start a family well after World War II when Filipino women were allowed to come more easily to America. But my father didn’t take part in the segregated U.S. Army. His health and age prevented him from enlisting. But that meant he couldn’t get the biggest boost into the American middle class and generational wealth—the GI Bill.

We never owned a home, never owned a car, and lived paycheck to paycheck.

If you didn’t serve in the military, you relived the ’20s, the ’30s, and the ’40s in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.

But he did meet my mother. Though not a traditional Filipina “war bride,” she had survived the Japanese occupation of Manila. She hid under sewing machines at a seamstress shop to avoid being forced to become a Filipina ‘comfort’ woman to Japanese soldiers.

She was saved by a Spanish citizen who took her under her wing and brought her to San Francisco.

When she met my father in the early 1950s, it was well after the war. But then, the delayed second generation of Filipino Americans began.

As part of the second generation, I was born in the U.S. But I was always treated like the first, my father’s generation.

Filipino American history has always controlled my life. Even when I break glass ceilings, I am wounded by the shards.

During Filipino American History Month, it only makes sense to honor my father. My story begins with his on the day he was born under the American flag in the Philippines. A colonized American national who was too often treated as less than in America.

So today, this week, is my birthday. I am 118. I will always gladly explain how. It’s in the history of our treatment in America.

A Note from An Asian American Israeli

As a pacifist, I find that the news from the Middle East is depressing. The death tolls will rise higher before any talks can begin between the sides.

So, I pray for people I know there, an estimated 35,000 Filipinos in Israel, a small part of the 2-3 million Filipinos in the Middle East.

But one friend is unique. A Filipino American born in the U.S., he married the Israeli sweetheart of his youth and moved to Israel nearly a decade ago.

He is essentially an Asian American Filipino Israeli.

When Israel was attacked, I contacted him to make sure he and his family were fine.

“We are fine, away from the southern conflict areas,” he wrote to me. “A major intelligence and operational failure by the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces]. The watchmen were sleeping. Israel’s 9/11.”

I was relieved to hear he was safe.

“There should have been a trigger with troops rushing in if there was a breach of the high-tech security fence. A quick reaction force. Failure of intel component,” he continued.

But he knew on Sunday something bigger and more deadly was brewing.

“The West Bank is ringed with troops. The northern border is on high alert. And Hezbollah leader Hassan Nazrullah learned his lesson in 2006,” he said. “A big ground war is coming. Two months tops on the fighting. But it is going to be bloody.”

I asked him if he was leaving for safety.

He said he’d canceled a planned trip to the U.S. and was sure he would volunteer for security duties once things were organized.

But he sounded clear and determined as you’d expect an Asian American Filipino Israeli.

“We aren’t leaving.”

He said it with a fearless defiance, full of pride and the willingness to endure whatever it takes in the fight for the right to exist.

It’s the reason the deaths will keep rising, until someone says enough. And then talks will begin.

That’s too late. For me, it’s enough already.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a micro-talk show on www.amok.com

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