© 2009 Sott.net
Some of the speakers at the emergency meeting on Gaza Jan. 14th 2009
Organized by the Revolution Books in Manhattan, an unprecedented Emergency Town Hall Meeting took place last night at the New York City Society for Ethical Culture on 2 West 64th Street. The focus of the evening was the intolerable humanitarian catastrophe that is being inflicted on the Palestinian People by the Israeli military in Gaza.

SOTT.net editors attended the event, this is their report:

A crowd of over 500 was attracted by an impressive line up of speakers;

Cynthia McKinney, congressional representative for two terms, a 2008 presidential candidate under the Green Party and who recently was on a Free Gaza Movement boat bearing 3 tonnes of medical supplies for Gaza's beleagured hospitals. The boat was rammed by the Israeli Navy on December 29, 2008.

Adam Shapiro, human rights activist and documentary filmmaker, who co-founded the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine,

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer prize winning journalist, former New York Times Mideast Bureau Chief and author of many books,

Peter Weiss, Vice President of the Center of Constitutional Rights

Vanessa Redgrave, world renowned actress and human rights campaigner and member of the Peace and Progress Party

Najla Said, playwright and actress, daughter of Edward Said (1 November 1935 - 25 September 2003) Columbia University Professor and Palestinian American literary theorist, cultural critic, and an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights.

Alan Goldman, writer for Revolution newspaper

It was an intense evening that featured honest, credible and shocking accounts of the situation in Gaza -- and called for immediate action of all people of conscience to put immediate maximum pressure on their governments to stop the brutal and horrific murder of Palestinian civilians, largely women and children, by the Israeli military.

Here is a short rundown of the most salient points:

Adam Shapiro
© 2009 Sott.net
Adam Shapiro speaking at the emergency meeting on Gaza Jan. 14th 2009
Adam Shapiro spoke of how Israeli soldiers on the ground now carry photographs of the handful of journalists allowed into Gaza -- with direct orders to murder them on sight. He made the point that the world must be made aware of the fact that the cause of the conflict is due to one simple fact - the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the state of Israel and the regular and brutal oppression of the occupied Palestinians by the Israeli military.

© 2009 Sott.net
Chris Hedges speaking at the emergency meeting on Gaza Jan 14th 2009
Chris Hedges gave a concise summary of 60 years of Israeli oppression and the meticulously planned and executed genocide currently being carried out by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. He explained how the casualty ratio between Israelis and Palestinians has been steadily growing in Israel's favor since the conflict started when Israel invaded the country in 1948. Today the ratio stands at 100 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces for every Israeli death.

He further discussed the propaganda and lies that are propagated by the Israeli government and the mainstream media to make the genocide look like a "war" with two opposing parties. "It is not a war" Mr. Hedges proclaimed, "it is murder". One example of such propaganda cited by Mr Hedges was the claim that "terrorists" are hiding among the Palestinian population and that therefore 'collateral damage' is unavoidable. Gaza is the most densely populated region on the planet and is completely surrounded by a hostile and overwhelmingly superior military. The result is that nobody in Gaza can get away from the "population".

Peter Weiss detailed the war crimes that are committed every hour and minute of the day in Gaza by the Israeli military and what constitutes them. We heard of shocking experiences of Red Cross aid workers that found, when finally allowed into the Gaza Getto for example, a room filled with 9 corpses with two surviving children and one adult lying next to their entire dead family, too weak to get up without help.

We learned that the Israeli military, having controlled the region for decades, has detailed knowledge as to when children come from and go to school and that if they strike a school at that exact time it is not a "mistake" as portrayed in the world press -- but a deliberate massacre targeting a maximum amount of innocent children in order to break the moral of the people of Palestine.

This is a direct testament to the psychopathic nature of the people who give such orders.

Vanessa Redgrave
© 2009 Sott.net
Vanessa Redgrave speaks at the emergency meeting on Gaza Jan. 14th 2009
Vanessa Redgrave elaborated on the complete hopelessness of the situation; of a trapped starved and systematically slaughtered people that have absolutely no means to defend themselves - other then their almost completely useless self-made rockets. [editor's note: there is serious questions as to the authorship of these rockets] She also expressly addressed the psychopathic nature of the perpetrators of the killings and their supporters. Her main point was the shared guilt of all Israel-enablers that provide money and weapons to the Israeli state, specifically the US, the UK and other European nations.

Najla Said
© 2009 Sott.net
Najla Said speaks at the emergency meeting on Gaza Jan. 14th 2009
Najla Said, performed an excerpt from her play Palestine, which recounts her second visit to Gaza in the early nineties with her parents when she was 18 years old. She described in great detail how she perceived the experience coming from a well-off, sheltered, carefree child from Manhattan stepping into a hot, smelly, people-packed war-zone (in 1992) that was utterly incomprehensible for her and changed her forever. Her reading was deeply emotional and moving leaving no one in the audience untouched.

Cynthia McKinney
Finally congresswoman Cynthia McKinney elaborated on her efforts to personally deliver 3 tonnes of humanitarian aid from Cyprus to Gaza. She explained how the Israeli military had been briefed on the trip beforehand through multiple official channels but that the Israeli Navy nevertheless attacked them with several war ships. Unprovoked and without warning the Israeli navy rammed the boat from multiple angles in complete darkness and almost sank the vessel. McKinney told how the Israeli military later lied by claiming that the aid bearing vessel tried to out run the Navy and that they thought that they were "terrorists". She gave witness of how a CNN reporter on board was on the phone with CNN at the time, entrenched in a hot argument as CNN tried to convince their own reporter to report the story with the Israeli propaganda spin, which the reporter opposed vehemently. McKinney then informed the audience that Israel of course is unaware that the whole incident has been recorded on videotape.

Furthermore, the congresswoman elaborated in great detail how The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) controls and manipulates 95% of the US Senate and how she herself was pressured when first becoming a congresswoman, to sign papers declaring full loyalty and support for the state of Israel. She also eloquently described her reaction to this "request" and that she soon chose to resist. It is as a direct result of this total control that the US government is currently blocking the call for a cease-fire in Gaza. Chris Hedges added that AIPAC is not an official body but merely a 'private interest group'. Hedges shared an anecdote from the time when Yitzhak Rabin the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, who served two terms in office, 1974 - 1977 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995, came to visit Washington. Approached by AIPAC to meet with them Rabin refused their request. Asked why, he answered: "I don't talk to scumbags."

The bottom line of the evening's discussion was that the situation in Gaza is beyond comprehension. A defenseless, densely populated concentration camp of Palestinian civilians is being relentlessly pounded by an overwhelming Israeli military, using US-supplied F16 fighter jets, Apache Helicopters, 'Bunker-buster' bombs and Gun Boats targeting schools, mosques, hospitals and women and children. The Israeli military, under direct orders from the Israeli government, is also using horrendous chemical weapons such as white phosphorus and depleted uranium shells. Over 1000 people have already died and several thousand wounded men, women and children will die, slowly, bleeding to death, as aid is deliberately denied, and all of it sanctioned by the US, British and French governments (to name but a few). No one can escape in Gaza, borders are closed and even UN and refugee centers are being shelled. The hospitals are flooded with victims. Dead and wounded lie next to each other in all available rooms and hallways that are filled with the screams of dying adults and children, and the 3-week-long nonstop day and night pounding of Gaza continues.

If you lay claim to your own humanity, then you and everyone you know must raise your voices against the silence and pressure your government, by any legal means at your disposal, to stop Israel's indiscriminate and gruesome slaughter of innocent civilians.

Never before have people come together like they did last night to openly discuss the reality of the situation - that Israel is perpetrating a holocaust against the Palestinian people, and it is happening right before the eyes of the world.

We the people must reclaim our voices. People of conscience have to stand up and face the psychopaths. Now!