Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 14th, 2014

Israel Bans the famous doctor Mads Gilbert from Gaza and for life? Under which authority?

Israeli authorities cited security reasons for shutting Doctor Gilbert out from the Gaza Strip.

And it refused too the International investigative team to enter Gaza.

The Norwegian 67-year-old has travelled to and from Gaza to treat Palestinians.

This summer, the chief physician who lives and works in northern Norway, was back working at Shifa hospital, Gaza, where he spend more than 50 days treating many of the 11,000 injured.

14 Nov 2014

A Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert, has been hit with a lifetime ban from entering Gaza by the Israeli government.

The doctor was attempting to return to the region in October to help in the hospital and was stopped by Israeli officials from entering.

Gilbert says: “When we came back to the Erez border station, the Israeli soldiers told me that I could not go in to Gaza.”
Now the Israeli government is stating that Gilbert is banned for security reasons, according to an email from the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv.
The embassy took up the case on Gilbert’s behalf after he was refused entry last month.
Norway’s Secretary of State, Bård Glad Pedersen, said to VG:
 “From the Norwegian perspective, we have raised Gilbert’s exclusion from Gaza and asked Israel to change their decision. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is still difficult and there is a need for all health workers.”
Gilbert himself believes the decision is connected to his critical comments against the state of Israel.
The outspoken peace activist wrote a letter to the global media in July this year in which he spoke about the extreme conditions at the Gaza hospital where he worked.

Israel announced Wednesday it will refuse entry to United Nations human rights investigators who seek to probe potential war crimes committed in the latest 50-day military assault on Gaza.

The 47-member UN Human Rights Council in July approved the inquiry into “all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Gaza Strip in the context of military operations conducted since mid June,” focusing on the actions of Israel as well as Hamas.

Twenty-nine nations voted in favor of the investigation, with the U.S. issuing the sole “no” vote.

In a Wednesday evening statement reported by numerous media outlets, Israel’s foreign ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon announced that Israel will not cooperate with the rights council’s commission, which is headed by international law professor William Schabas.

As a result, the investigators will not be allowed to enter Gaza through the Erez crossing, which is under Israel’s control. The Rafah crossing was recently closed off by the Egyptian government, meaning that entry is likely to be difficult for the UN team.

In his statement, Nahshon accused the rights council of “obsessive hostility toward Israel,” echoing Israel’s previous condemnation of the investigation as a “kangaroo court.”

Critics charge that the UN, in fact, does not go far enough, as U.S. veto power prevents the international community from acting on this and other inquiries, including the Goldstone Report, which reviewed a previous Israeli military attack on Gaza in 2009.

Nahshon’s statements are in keeping with Israel’s repeated dismissal of criticisms for the war on Gaza, which killed at least 2,194 Palestinians, at least 75% of them civilians and over 500 of them children.

Seventy-two Israelis, six of them civilians, also died in the conflict. Israel destroyed over half of Gaza’s hospitals and health centers and struck six UN schools sheltering Palestinians, including in cases where the UNRWA formally submitted coordinates of the shelters to the Israeli military. Israel has been accused of possible war crimes in the offensive by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. 

This is not the first time Israel has publicly criticized the rights council. Israel severed ties with the body in 2012, following the council’s launch of an investigation into Israeli settlements in the West Bank, considered illegal under international law.

It’s business as usual for Israel to commit severe human rights violations and war crimes and refuse to be held accountable,” Ramah Kudaimi of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation told Common Dreams. “Now it’s time for the international community to take real action and sanction Israel.”

Note: The letter of Gilbert that antagonized Israel establishment

“The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24hrs shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment at all in Shifa for the last 4 months).

They care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans.

HUMANS. Now, once more treated like animals by ‘the most moral army in the world” (as Israel disseminate this propaganda).

“My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless; my closeness to the Palestinian sumud [steadfastness] gives me strength, although in [some of the] glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that: nor can they.

“Ashy grey faces – oh NO! Not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding: we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out. The cleaners [are] everywhere, swiftly shoveling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away… [only] to be prepared again, to be repeated all over.

More than 100 cases came to Shifa [in the] last 24 hrs, enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here [there is] almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterdays hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormous[ly] resolute.

“And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flow, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!

And then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16, the sickening drones (Arabic ’Zennanis’, the hummers), and the cluttering Apaches. So much made and paid in and by US.

“Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?

“I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe.

I am convinced, 100%, it would change history. Nobody with a heart AND power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.

“But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another Dahiya onslaught on Gaza. The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.

Please. Do what you can. …This cannot continue.”

Who is doctor Mads Gilbert?
  • Born in Oslo, 1947.
  • Head physician specializing in anesthesiology at University Hospital of North Norway.
  • Over 30 years working in international conflict areas, especially Gaza.
  • Awards include Fritt Ords Honorary Prize (2009).
  • Appointed Commander to the Order of St Olaf (2013).
  • Received PhD at University of Iowa.

The Local Europe AB
Östgötagatan 12
116 25 Stockholm


When child abuse is more social norm than crime

Beating kids as punishment is widespread in Egypt.
What are the consequences, and how can it be stopped?
Every week, Ramy Latchinian gives a free taekwondo class to underprivileged children at his gym in the upscale Cairo district of Maadi – and he struggles to keep them under control.
The decorated master knows instructing kids can be challenging, but he finally realised what made this class extra hard when one of the students suggested how he could better control the hyperactive, disobedient group.
Sherif Tarek, published this Nov. 9, 2014

Two female students in a Cairo primary school on the first day of the on-going school year (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
“Why don’t you just hit them, coach?” said a 12-year-old boy, after repeated attempts from Latchinian to talk the students into behaving. “This is how they are used to being treated. They won’t do as told unless you beat them.”

Having spent most of his life in western countries, and living in Cairo since 2008, the Egyptian-American instructor didn’t comprehend the situation at first. When he asked the kid why he thought roughing up his colleagues was a remedy, Latchinian was stunned to learn that it was the everyday treatment they received at school.

“They told me stories about how they are physically abused daily, not to mention verbally assaulted,” Latchinian said.

“When I asked them how many schoolmasters hit them, there was only one who didn’t, a female math teacher. Even service employees sometimes beat them to force them to clean up classrooms.

“They told me about one boy who had his head cut open when a teacher hit him with a baton. A girl, a student of mine, suffered a seriously swollen arm when she was beaten in a similar manner.”

All the children at the special Taekwondo sessions for underprivileged youths, aged 7 to 12, didn’t want to talk or reveal their names out of fear they would be beaten more by their teachers for speaking out.

“When I asked them what they do when teachers strike them, they told me they hide under benches and place their bags on their heads to protect themselves,” recalled Latchinian. “It was a staggering answer, especially since I only asked them to see what their parents do about it.”

His students are enrolled at the public Degla Primary School, located near the posh Cairo American College in Maadi. They come from poor families; most of their fathers are doormen in the neighbourhood.

Many Egyptian parents would probably say that corporal punishment – whether in schools or at home – is an essential part of child rearing and turning them into disciplined and well-mannered adults.

Latchinian says he was “shocked” when he met his students’ parents to tell them about the abuse he saw.

“A father told me ‘what’s wrong with that?’ while others seemed to accept or even endorse it for the sake of their children’s manners,” he said.

But the parents’ reaction isn’t unusual.

In 2011, parents in a village in the Nile Delta governorate of Gharbiya staged a protest to call for the release of primary teacher Magdy El-Shaer, who had been arrested for appearing in a video beating students with a ruler on different parts of their bodies.

The parents said they beat their kids and that they wanted El-Shaer to spank them some more to straighten them up.

Some parents will take action against teachers only when the beating is seriously harmful.

Latchinian’s student who was beaten on the arm at Degla Primary School says her teachers stopped beating her after her father threatened to file a police report.

Orphans most tormented

While parents might step in when their kids get injured or severely beaten, orphans (no father) at the same school are mostly at the mercy of their teachers.

The vast Awlady (My Kids) Orphanage is right next to Degla Primary School and sends many of its orphans there. According to Latchinian’s students, it’s the orphans who bear the brunt of the daily corporal punishment.

The orphanage’s general manager, Nagwa Hamed, confirmed that children in her establishment “get bruises and sustain injuries on a regular basis as a result of beatings at the hands of teachers.”

She brought in six kids – aged from 7 to 12 – who had all been beaten that day in the school.

Among the students, who all looked terrified, were a girl with finger marks on her swollen right cheek and another with red welts on her back. When asked who beat them, they mentioned some of the same teachers that Latchinian’s students had referred to while speaking of their daily suffering.

When asked why they were smacked, they cited a forgotten book and a request to go the bathroom, among other reasons.

The beating of the 6 kids is deemed “mild” in comparison with many previous cases, stressed Nefisa, a senior psychologist at the private orphanage.

A while ago, she said, “one girl was lashed over her eye and along the cheek with a plastic electricity hose and sustained an ugly injury. She came to us immediately and we filed a report with the police against the female teacher who hit her.”

Nefisa couldn’t recall any other cases that were taken that seriously.

And not only has Awlady Orphanage done little in terms of legal action to stop the beating of its kids, but a good number of its staff believe, like many parents, that physical punishment is important to discipline naughty children.

“There should be disciplinary action for children who are not obedient and wreaking havoc here or in school,” said Basma, one of the orphanage’s female supervisors. “And it’s not like you beat them to death.”

Nefisa explained that supervisors at Awlady Orphanage are allowed to “lightly beat” kids when needed, as per a condition in their contracts. “Sometimes a new supervisor might have a short fuse, so she will beat a girl harder than permitted. I can excuse newcomers twice, but afterwards action will be taken against them.”

In September a manager of a Giza orphanage appeared in a leaked video violently beating a group of children. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Other similar cases have also been reported, raising further questions over the treatment of orphans.

Orphans are estimated at 10,000 nationwide – in 148 orphanages and 83 schools that both shelter and teach young orphans – according to official estimates from Egypt’s ministry of social solidarity. The number of undocumented street kids would raise the figures much higher.

Nefisa assured that “only a light smack on the shoulder or the backhand” is allowed in Awlady Orphanage. “Nothing like how some people savagely beat children, like in the [Degla Primary] school,” she claimed.

‘Inhumane, illegal – yet needed’

Hanging on a wall in the principal’s office at Degla Primary School is a sign that reads: “Teachers are people you can count on.” When speaking of how they treat their students, however, teachers clearly have mixed emotions.

Principal Khaled Tantawy and other teachers find no shame in admitting that they beat children, yet in the same breath they stress that it’s “inhumane.” They think it’s the only choice they have “under the circumstances.”

“If you had over 50 pupils in one class and they were all disobedient, that would be the only way to correct them,” said Tantawy. “When kids are used to being beaten, they won’t respond to any other methods. This is what almost all our students are like, whether from the orphanage or those who have parents, though orphans are more undisciplined.”

This reporter was brought by the principal to a crowded third-grade classroom and then left alone with over 50 students.

In less than 10 minutes, students continuously talked out loud all at once, walked on benches, beat each other, threw water at each other, complained to this reporter about some of these acts and repeatedly asked to go to the bathroom in an apparent attempt to skip class. Verbal attempts to control the room from this reporter – who’s not qualified to be a teacher – mostly failed.

Mohamed Abdullah, a gymnastics instructor who also acts as an Arabic teacher, pointed out that a lack of facilities and activities makes children restless in the classroom. “The school is so small, we don’t have a proper playground to let them play football for instance, so they use up their energy during classes in a negative way.”

“I know beating isn’t good, but when they go wild I spank them. It’s the way we were raised after all,” Abdullah said.

Pupils are beaten when they disturb a class, forget their homework, beat or tease a colleague, disrespect a teacher or sabotage facilities, among other reasons. Teachers react to students’ misbehaviour on their own accord; there are no clear rules concerning how to deal with such cases, explained Tantawy.

“We don’t like beating children, but we all do it for their best interest, to make sure they learn and behave. We don’t do it to browbeat students into private tuition like many other teachers. Most students here are orphans anyways.”

“I wish there was a better way but there isn’t. I know it’s inhumane and illegal, yet it’s needed,” the principal said.

Teachers have been convicted in Egypt for beating students on different occasions. In one infamous incident in 2008, Haitham Nabil, a math teacher in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, killed a primary student when he kicked him in the chest. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison for manslaughter.

Degla is one of 15,755 public primary schools across the nation, in which over 9 million students are registered, almost half the country’s students, according to 2013-2014 statistics provided by the education ministry.

“If you want to stop beatings in schools, you have to fix the child raising culture and the whole system, of which teachers are just a tiny part,” said Tantawy.

Vicious circles

Biological families or substitute parents – whether foster parents or orphanage supervisors – along with teaching staff, community members and the mass media all affect children and shape their behaviour, explained Eman Dewdar, a psychologist specialising in children and adolescents.

“All four channels are connected to each other. Parents should be in contact with teachers to follow up on kids’ conditions. The community must be aware of how to treat children properly and that will be promoted by the mass media,” she said.

“In Egypt, we have some individual efforts to fight violence against children amid a lack of awareness or action on all four levels; there are no clear healthy standards or rules for child treatment.”

According to Dewdar, physical punishment usually poses as the easiest way for parents, caregivers and teachers to correct kids. Pressure from daily life also acts as a catalyst.

“Teachers in schools or supervisors in orphanages sometimes take their anger out on kids and there are no pre-emptive procedures. They should undergo tests to verify they are psychologically fit to deal with children, and of course receive the requisite training.”

“We have nothing of that [in Egypt]. I regularly give lectures to orphanage supervisors and teachers on child psychology, and I know that most of them are anything but competent.”

Orphanage supervisors are inspected monthly, said Aziza Amar, head of the Central Administration for Social Care, a body affiliated with the ministry of social solidarity that is responsible for orphanages nationwide.

She assures that child beating is totally prohibited, but when asked about kids who get spanked in orphanages and if there are possible additional measures to preempt such incidents, Amar took a swipe at the media.

“Some supervisors abide by the no-beating rule while others don’t, which is normal. Everyone makes mistakes; it is the media that blows things out of proportion,” she said in a defensive tone. “Those who raise their hands against kids get salary sanctions, deductions or even fired.”

A spokesman for the education ministry, Hani Kamal, said in a very brief statement that the ministry’s governorate departments periodically send guides to schools who are supposed to advise teachers on how to appropriately deal with young students, among other duties.

When taekwondo coach Latchinian filed a complaint at the education ministry over the beating of his students at Degla Primary School, the ministry sent representatives to the school who took down students’ testimonies. No action was immediately taken, as the kids say teachers still spank them.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is impossible to accurately measure child abuse due to a lack of data, as many incidents are never reported. The organisation’s website estimates that 500 million to 1.5 billion kids globally are subjected to violence every year.

Children in Egypt are estimated at more than one third of the over 90 million population.

To communicate with kids, Dewdar says, “you need to go down to their level, you don’t treat them as grown-ups. You punish them by depriving them of recreational activities, by isolating them for a while and the punishment should be equivalent to their wrongdoing.”

“You reward them when they do something good. You treat them all equally and always engage them whether in studying or other activities. You don’t beat them. You don’t make them feel they’re outcasts.”

Babies are responsive to violence from their very early days onwards, she says.

In the first 6 years of their lives, verbal or physical abuse can cause sleeping problems, a lack of self-confidence and fear. Afterwards, it can result in difficulty focusing and in aggressive behavior,” Dewdar said.

“They will know they cannot retaliate against the source of power, parents at home and teachers at school, so they will take their frustration out on objects such as toys, or a peer, a colleague, for example. They will be restless in general and hard to control.”

Even worse, she explains, is that kids who are often beaten are more prone to sexual abuse. “Their bodies have already been violated, and consequently become less valuable to them. With many people beating them, they might not feel something is wrong if someone touches them the wrong way.”

Children that are beaten can turn into adults with a lack of self-esteem or decision-making abilities, problems that will increase according to the frequency of their beatings. “They could turn into violent persons, thugs or sexual harassers. Violence generates more violence.”

Don’t Ask How to Feed the 9 Billion

Should our slogan Not be “let’s feed the world,” but rather “let’s end poverty?

At dinner with a friend the other night, I mentioned that I was giving a talk this week debunking the idea that we need to grow more food on a large scale so we can “feed the 9 billion” — the anticipated global population by 2050.

She looked at me, horrified, and said, “But how are you going to produce enough food to feed the hungry?”

I suggested she try this exercise: “Put yourself in the poorest place you can think of. Imagine yourself in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now. Are you hungry? Are you going to go hungry? Are you going to have a problem finding food?”

The answer, obviously, is “no.” Because she — and almost all of you reading this — would be standing in that country with some $20 bills and a wallet filled with credit cards. And you would go buy yourself something to eat.

The difference between you and the hungry is not production levels; it’s money.

There are no hungry people with money; there isn’t a shortage of food, nor is there a distribution problem. There is an I-don’t-have-the-land-and-resources-to-produce-my-own-food, nor-can-I-afford-to-buy-food problem.

And poverty and the resulting hunger aren’t matters of bad luck:

1.  they are often a result of people buying the property of traditional farmers and displacing them,

2. appropriating their water, energy and mineral resources,

3. and even producing cash crops for export while reducing the people growing the food to menial and hungry laborers on their own land.

Poverty isn’t the only problem, of course. There is also the virtually unregulated food system that is geared toward making money rather than feeding people. (Look no further than the ethanol mandate or high fructose corn syrup for evidence.)

If poverty creates hunger, it teams up with the food system to create another form of malnourishment: obesity (and what’s called “hidden hunger,” a lack of micronutrients).

If you define “hunger” as malnutrition, and you accept that overweight and obesity are forms of malnutrition as well, than almost half the world is malnourished.

The solution to malnourishment isn’t to produce more food. The solution is to eliminate poverty.

Look at the most agriculturally productive country in the world: the United States. Is there hunger here? Yes, quite a bit. We have the highest percentage of hungry people of any developed nation, a rate closer to that of Indonesia than that of Britain.

Is there a lack of food? You laugh at that question.

It is, as the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler likes to call it, “a food carnival.”

It’s just that there’s a steep ticket price.

A majority of the world is fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, some of whom are themselves among the hungry. The rest of the hungry are underpaid or unemployed workers. But boosting yields does nothing for them.

So we should not be asking, “How will we feed the world?,” but “How can we help end poverty?”

Claiming that increasing yield would feed the poor is like saying that producing more cars or private jets would guarantee that everyone had one.

And how do we help those who have malnutrition from excess eating? We can help them, and help preserve the earth’s health, if we recognize that the industrial model of food production is neither inevitable nor desirable.

That is, the kind of farming we can learn from people who still have a real relationship with the land and are focused on quality rather than yield.

The best method of farming for most people is probably traditional farming boosted by science.

The best method of farming for those in highly productive agricultural societies would be farming made more intelligent and less rapacious. That is, the kind of farming we can learn from people who still have a real relationship with the land and are focused on quality rather than yield. The goal should be food that is green, fair, healthy and affordable.

It’s not news that the poor need money and justice. If there’s a bright side here, it’s that it might be easier to make the changes required to fix the problems created by industrial agriculture than those created by inequality.

There’s plenty of food. Too much of it is going to feed animals, too much of it is being converted to fuel and too much of it is being wasted.

We don’t have to increase yield to address any of those issues; we just have to grow food more smartly than with the brute force of industrial methods, and we need to address the circumstances of the poor.

Our slogan should not be “let’s feed the world,” but “let’s end poverty.”

Urban Lebanese Rich Kids: Syrian refugees in the neighbourhood cramping life-style

I can’t remember the last time I had brunch comfortably, like with no thoughts in my head. I feel weighed down all the time,” shared Jad, 17.

“Going to brunch is now like a chore: I see Syrian refugees under my building. When I give my car to the valet there’s always a Syrian beggar standing right there. Why aren’t these kids in school? I mean seriously, just go to school in Syria.”

In what can only be described as an atrocious tragedy, the Syrian conflict has managed to harvest a new set of victims.

Though there is already a ton of coverage on the Syrian people, the children, the mothers, and the displaced, this new set of victims has been gravely affected by the war, but has not been represented in the media at all. This group is the rich kids of Lebanon.

What were once days filled with champagne, sushi brunches, and body kits for their obnoxiously extravagant cars, has turned into a daily dose of a grim reality they would much rather ignore.

While they may have had ways to shut out most other conflicts (such as, but not limited to: attacks on the South of Lebanon and conflict in Tripoli), the Syrian crisis permanently changed everything by forcing them to stare into the eyes of devastation. This staring is often literal staring, done through the tinted windows of their Range Rovers.

Somewhere in between their world of “you can’t arrest me, my dad will kill you,” and “you can’t fail me, my dad will kill you,” these teenagers have finally been forced to stare reality in the face, and they don’t like what they see.

Despite having refuge of their own in their $2.3 million homes scattered around Beirut, the teens’ harrowing brush with Syrians is not limited to brunch time. Their Goldschläger filled nights are also tainted by what they so aptly call “the Syrians.”

Marc, who plans on working his way up from son of Member of Parliament to Member of Parliament, clarified that he’s cool with “the ones who have money” and doesn’t consider them to be a part of the aforementioned Syrians who bother him.

“We stay indoors more now,” says Marc, a smug look on his face, which he probably inherited from his mother. “It’s just too much to look at; aren’t we entitled to look at happy and nice things? We’re so young and we’re forced to see all this sad stuff, it’s not fair, it’s not cool.”

But while Marc isn’t willing to accept the refugee crisis as a permanent situation, he promises to do something so he and his friends can go back to the life they know and love; citing that he will be sure to bring up the problem the next time his father has lunch with the prime minister.




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