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[Orlando, Florida] – It wasn’t just a hot one in O’Town on the last Sunday of February because the thermometer registered 83 degrees in the shade at Lake Eola during the first Arab American Cultural Festival, but because of the heat that emanated from voluptuous belly dancers, award winning Debkeh dancers, singers and passionate hip hop poets who energized the crowd of thousands and caused hundreds to dance in celebration of a culture that most of the non-Arab Americans in attendance had never experienced before.
Hip Hop artist, Omar Offendum is also “an MC/Architect hailing from the great nation-state-of-mind known as ‘SyrianamericanA’ where everything is connected and everyone is welcome.”
SyrianamericanA" is also the title of Omar’s first solo CD.
From center stage that was adorned with an American flag draped on top and flanked below with flags from the United Arab Emeritus, Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia, and other Arab states, Omar explained that hip hop is the modern incarnation of the blues, jazz, rock and roll, reggae and as over 60% of the population of the Middle East is under 30, Rap has become the music of The Revolution.
Inspired by the power of the people of Egypt that recently rose up, several notable musicians from North America teamed up to release a song of solidarity and empowerment, entitled "#Jan25" which commemorates the date the Egyptian protests officially began in Egypt, and its prominence as a trending topic on Twitter.
Omar Offendum, appeared on Al Jazeera to explains that this track is a testament to the revolution's effect on the hearts and minds of today's youth, as well as all who unite in the spirit of resistance in solidarity for justice for oppressed people:
Omar informed this reporter, “My family is Arab Syrian and I use Hip-Hop as a platform to express opinions of my community to make our struggle relate-able to the average American, as our struggle is the universal struggle for peace and justice.”
Remi Kanazi, is a Palestinian-American poet whose kinetic energy and unabashed poetry of resistance and searing indictments of the military occupation and ethnic cleansing of his homeland awed me.
Remi’s "POETIC INJUSTICE: WRITINGS ON RESISTANCE AND PALESTINE" is a collection of poems and includes a CD, highly praised by Pulitzer Prize winners, award winning journalists, drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Ronnie Kasrils, the former South African Government Minister and anti-apartheid activist.
Remi brought me to tears with "A POEM FOR GAZA" not because I am Palestinian or Arab, but because I grew up comfortable in Greenwich Village and on Long Island, but after my first of seven trips to Palestine beginning in 2005, I have not been able to look away because the injustice made me hot, loud, angry and political.
On September 29, 2009 the Goldstone Report was released and it accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes perpetuated during the 22 days of assault on Gaza when the Israeli military launched Operation Cast Lead; a full-scale attack on Gaza that killed 13 Israelis and 1,400 Palestinians.
Operation Cast Lead also injured over 5,000 Palestinians and 400,000 were left without running water.
Operation Cast Lead destroyed 4,000 homes and rendered tens of thousands homeless because of Israel's targeted attacks upon them, their schools, hospitals, streets, water wells, sewage system, farms, police stations and UN buildings.
Operation Cast Lead's, 22 days of attack on the people of Gaza was enabled by US-supplied weapons and we the people of the US who pay taxes provide over $3 billion annually to Israel although Israel has consistently misused U.S. weapons in violation of America's Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.
America is the worlds largest arms supplier to Israel and under a Bush negotiated deal with Israel-which Obama signed onto during Christmas 2009, we the people who pay taxes in America will now also provide another $30 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade.
For Operation Cast Lead's assault on Gaza, "Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME. The weapons required for the Israeli assault was decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation!) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza. 
In a 71-page report released March 25, 2009, by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.
"Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza," provides eye witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza.
"Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January.
"Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime.
“In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops," said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. "It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died." [Ibid]
During the 22 days of attack on Gaza, the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, International Red Cross, and global voices of protest rose up and demanded a ceasefire, but both houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions to support a continuation of Israel’s so called "self defense."
In November 2006, Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza warned the world:
"Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry...people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope.
"Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles...Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate...Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom.
"Gaza cannot sleep...the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love. These actions are War Crimes!"
I asked Remi what is the one thing he wants non-Arab American’s to understand and he replied, "Fundamentally when people come together they can make a difference-not the cliché Barak Obama way-but in the Tunisian, Egyptian, South African and Palestinian way, which is an anti-apartheid struggle."
On July 5, 1950, Israel enacted the Law of Return by which Jews anywhere in the world, have a "right" to immigrate to Israel even if they have no historical ties to the land which is known as Palestine.
Israel’s very statehood was contingent upon upholding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines Article 13:
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
But ever since the state of Israel was established in 1948, they have denied that inalienable right to the indigenous people.
The following nine categories make up the necessary, sufficient, and defining characteristics of apartheid regimes:
Also at the festival at Lake Eola, was Dr. Khaled Diab, whose life was the inspiration for my first book, KEEP HOPE ALIVE
Dr. Diab stated, “For those who say that it is not the right time to have a Festival when so many are dying in the Middle East, I say we celebrate the victories and the bright future that Democracy and Freedom will bring. We pray for the Martyrs who gave their lives to give us better life and future. According a verse from the Quran, ‘Wala tahsabanna allatheena qutiloo fee sabeeli Allahi amwatan bal ahyaon AAinda rabbihim yurzaqoona.’”
Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord -3:169
Dr. Diab continued, “Freedom and Democracy will come to all the Middle East Arab nations no matter how long it takes. I pray and support freedom and democracy similar to what we have and enjoy and not for the false democracies that sponsors Occupation and Dictatorships. I am also very certain that it will come to the Palestinians and they will be free from Occupation. Here is a manifest that is being circulated by the youth of Palestine.”
We call on the governments of the West Bank and Gaza to respond to the legitimate demands of the people:
Another manifest by Remi Kanazi - Coexistence
Truly audacious hope was understood by St. Augustine who wrote, "Hope has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are and the second is COURAGE to do something about it."
And truly audacious hope also makes one hot, loud, angry and political for justice!
2. Paraphrased from pages 71-73, Apartheid Ancient, Past, and Present Systematic and Gross Human Rights Violations in Graeco-Roman Egypt, South Africa, and Israel/Palestine, By Anthony Löwstedt. Page 77.
In Solidarity YES WE CAN begin the world again.
Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"
Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory" and BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010
Only in Solidarity do "we have it in our power to begin the world again."-Tom Paine
Until April 5, 2013 the 1984 American science fiction-horror film, directed by John Carpenter could be streamed or downloaded from a number of websites. They Live (Full movie)" was in the playlist below created by Buddy Huggins.
These days you can’t swing a cat or open your mailbox without being hit by a flood of emails about the memorials, tributes, condolences, and donation sites for the victims of these tragedies that the conspiracy theorists say were created -- not right after the event, but right before the event.
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