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Seeds of Revolutions:

Shoes and Tear Gas Canisters

By Eileen Fleming

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 15, 2011


Former President George W. Bush cancelled his 12 February 2011, trip to Switzerland because of the call for mass protests from human rights activists seeking to bring a legal case against him for ordering the torture of terrorism suspects and calling for participants to each bring a shoe to the rally outside the Hotel Wilson, where Bush was scheduled to speak about freedom. 

The shoes were to remind the world of the moment an Iraqi journalist threw his footwear at Bush during a 2008 news conference. 

Several human rights groups including Amnesty International and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights had also planned to ask Swiss prosecutors to open a criminal investigation against the former president over the admission that he personally authorized the waterboarding of terrorism suspects. "Whatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he canceled his trip to avoid our case," the Center for Constitutional Rights and others said in a statement. [1]  

On the morning of 10 February 2011, as the world’s eyes focused on Egypt anticipating Hosni Mubarak’s announcement, I was on a conference call sponsored by The Institute for Middle East Understanding, regarding "What Egypt Means for Human Rights in the Region, from Cairo to Israel-Palestine and Beyond." [That discussion can be heard in full @

I asked the following question-with hope to also throw out a seed vis-à-vis those shoes for Bush-to Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian-British author, political and cultural commentator who has been reporting from Cairo. 

My inquiry was regarding the fact that the Popular Committees Against the Israeli Occupation has called for the beginning of a Global Intifada [Arabic for rise up and cast off] by requesting all free nations, especially in Europe and the US to demonstrate in front of Israeli embassies on 11 February 2011, under the slogan, "People can bring change and make the impossible, possible." [2]  

Because the tear gas used against the Egyptian protestors was manufactured in and supplied by America, I asked Ahdaf Soueif, if she were aware of any buzz on the streets of Cairo to emulate what Israeli activists did in protest of the New Year’s Day death of Bil’in’s Jawaher Abu Rahmah, when 25 Israeli activists ‘returned’ some of the spent tear gas canisters to the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, James B. Cunningham.

The tear gas used in the West Bank agricultural village of Bil’in, was manufactured by Combined Systems Inc., based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania and supplied to Israel by the U.S. Government.

The Israeli protesters who ‘returned’ loads of spent USA MADE tear gas canisters they had collected in Bil’in, also threw out a lot of seeds for thought and made a lot of noise throughout the U.S. Ambassador to Israel’s neighborhood. The activists informed the neighbors of how American military aid to Israel is being used to kill unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators in the West Bank and they chanted, “One, two, three, four stop the occupation stop the war. Five, six, seven, eight end the funding (US) end the hate.” [3]

Ahdaf Soueif, replied that while she has been given some of the tear gas canisters used against the Egyptian people, she had not yet heard of any demonstrations to return them. 

But inquiry was also my way to throw out a seed- and for seeds to survive poor growing conditions, a certain amount of embryonic development must also take place, but when the conditions are right the seeds swell, ruptures and burst forth from their underground dormancy into the light with freedom to spread more seeds.   





           In Solidarity YES WE CAN begin the world again.

Eileen Fleming,

A Citizen of Conscience for House of Representatives Founder of Staff Member of A Feature Correspondent for 

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




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