British military commanders tell Brown to withdraw from Iraq without delay

English (US)  August 19th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

By Raymond Whitaker and Robert Fox

LONDON _ Senior military commanders have told the Government that Britain can achieve "nothing more" in south-east Iraq, and that the 5,500 British troops still deployed there should move towards withdrawal without further delay.

Before the invasion in 2003, officers were told that the Army's war aims were to bring stability and democracy to Iraq and to the Middle East as a whole. Those ambitions have been drastically revised, the IoS understands. The priorities now are an orderly withdrawal, with the reputation and capability of the Army "reasonably intact", and for Britain to remain a "credible ally".

[More:]

Last month Gordon Brown said after meeting George Bush at Camp David that the decision to hand over security in Basra province – the last of the four held by the British – "will be made on the military advice of our commanders on the ground". He added: "Whatever happens, we will make a full statement to Parliament when it returns [in October]."

Two generals told The Independent on Sunday last week that the military advice given to the Prime Minister was, "We've done what we can in the south [of Iraq]". Commanders want to hand over Basra Palace – where 500 British troops are subjected to up to 60 rocket and mortar strikes a day, and resupply convoys have been described as "nightly suicide missions" – by the end of August. The withdrawal of 500 soldiers has already been announced by the Government. The Army is drawing up plans to "reposture" the 5,000 that will be left at Basra airport, and aims to bring the bulk of them home in the next few months.

Before the invasion in 2003, officers were told that the Army's war aims were to bring stability and democracy to Iraq and to the Middle East as a whole. Those ambitions have been drastically revised, the IoS understands. The priorities now are an orderly withdrawal, with the reputation and capability of the Army "reasonably intact", and for Britain to remain a "credible ally". The final phrase appears to refer to tensions with the US, which has more troops in Iraq than at any other time, including the invasion, as it seeks to impose order in Baghdad and neighbouring provinces.

American criticism of Britain's desire to pull back in southern Iraq has recently become public, with a US intelligence official telling The Washington Post this month that "the British have basically been defeated in the south". A senior British commander countered, "That's to miss the point. It was never that kind of battle, in which we set out to defeat an enemy." Other officers said the British force was never configured to "clear and hold" Basra in the way the Americans are seeking to do in Baghdad.

Immediate American discontent is said to centre on the CIA's reluctance to leave Basra Palace, an important base for watching Iran, which may explain why Britain has held on to the complex until now. But last week it was reported that US intelligence operatives were in the process of pulling out. Further ahead, the US is concerned over the security of its vital supply line from Kuwait, with some American commanders saying that if the British withdraw, American troops will have to be sent south to replace them. As the hub of Iraq's oil industry, Basra is also a tempting prize for the Shia militias battling each other for control.

There are fears that the bloody power struggle in Basra will escalate sharply if and when British troops depart, but commanders point out that up to 90 per cent of the violence is directed against their forces. They are understood to believe it was never the role of occupation troops to intervene in a "turf war" among factions from the same community, all of which have links to the government coalition in Baghdad.

Mr Brown will have to take these wider concerns into account, in reaching a decision that has political as well as military implications. At Camp David he stressed that "we have duties to discharge and responsibilities to keep" in support of the Iraqi government and "the explicit will" of the international community. The 15 September report on the progress of the security "surge" by the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the American ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, will be crucial to British as well as US military plans.

General Petraeus is expected to report mixed results, and to plead for more time for the surge to work. But the White House, under pressure from Republicans facing disaster in the 2008 elections, is likely to announce at least some troop reductions. British commanders, and some US commentators, believe that will enable the Prime Minister to spell out plans for a British withdrawal when MPs return in October, although the process may last well into next year.

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2876541.ece

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    Haniyya calls for early elections for the Palestinian National Council

    English (US)  August 19th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

    By IMEMC Staff

    Ismail Haniyya, the Palestinian Prime Minister of the Palestinian government which was dissolved by president Mahmoud Abbas, but still performing his duties in the Gaza Strip, stated on Saturday that Hamas recognizes the legitimacy of Abbas as a president and called for early elections for the Palestinian National Council (PNC).

    [More:]

    (The Palestinian National Council is the legislative body of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and includes representatives from the elected Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, and the approximately six million Palestinians living in diaspora.)

    The statements of Haniyya came during an interview with several Arab and international media outlets in Gaza.

    Haniyya said that his government recognizes Abbas as the president of the Palestinian National Authority but does not recognize his decrees which, according to Haniyya, violate the constitution.

    He reiterated the position of Hamas in rejecting the calls of Abbas to hold early presidential and legislative elections in order to end the current crisis.

    Haniyya also said that he does not believe that Abbas will hold these elections only in the West Bank, and stated that holding these elections require two conditions; national consensus and a constitutional background, “but both do not exist tight now”, he added.

    He stated that Hamas will not declare the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza without the West Bank and said that Hamas will not agree to a state which does not include all of the Palestinian territories.

    Commenting on negotiations with Israel, Haniyya said that in the current stage there will be no talks with Israel, and that nobody is now authorized to do so.

    “Any talks with Israel in this stage will include giving away the right of return of the Palestinian refugees, and giving away our national standards”, Haniyya said, “We will not authorize any person to do so”.

    He denied reports which claimed that his government is holding secret talks with Israel, but said that ministers in his government “have no problem in meeting with Israeli government ministers if this will facilitate the daily lives of the Palestinian residents”.

    Haniyya also slammed that Palestinian leadership in Ramallah and said that they are rushing to hold talks with Israel while the Israeli government wants to impose its own agenda.

    Responding to a question regarding “the existence of Al Qaida in the Gaza Strip," Haniyya said that there is no Qaida in Gaza, and that Hamas will never support the Qaida network.

    He said that such reports are false and described them as acts of incitement against the Gaza Strip in order to give Israel a chance to continue its military offensive and carry a large scale invasion into the Gaza Strip.

    Internaitonal Middle East Media Center

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      Mattel toys in Israel have no lead paint

      English (US)  August 19th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

      By Ronny Linder-Ganz

      Israeli parents who are worried that they may have possibly bought dangerous toys containing lead paint can relax: Tests conducted by the Israel Standards Institute on Mattel toys taken from store shelves show that all of the products meet the safety standards.

      [More:]

      U.S. toymaker Mattel ordered a recall in the last week of its Polly Pocket and Barbie dolls and sets and those of Tanner (Barbie's dog) and other items made in China due to the use of lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed by children.

      Less than two weeks ago, Mattel was also forced to recall other Chinese-made toys such as Dora the Explorer and Big Bird and Elmo dolls over concerns about lead paint used on the toys.

      The test results here were announced yesterday by the Industry and Trade Ministry, which said none of the products tested contained lead paint.

      Standards Institute inspectors said suspect items were removed from store shelves immediately after Mattel's announcement of the recall.

      The ministry emphasized yesterday that while in the U.S. and Europe, toy imports are allowed entry into the country on the basis of the manufacturer's claims, but here in Israel the Standards Institute tests samples of all imported toys.

      Haaretz

      209 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment1 comment

      1 response(s) to Mattel toys in Israel have no lead paint

      1. H.Schneider [Visitor] Email says:

        Mattel must have been aware, that Israel gets lead free paint toys and the rest of the world does not. Go to Mattels website/recalls and you can see, that this seems to be the case.The fact that the chinese contractor boss may have committed suicide (???) shows that there is far more to this story .

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      ANOTHER BOOK AIPAC IS UNHAPPY ABOUT

      English (US)  August 19th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


      Image 'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

      By DesertPease

      If Abe Foxman and his cronies are upset by the publication of a new book.... then IT IS DEFINITELY WORTH READING!

      [More:]

      The best endorsement to anything true is a condemnation from those trying to hide the truth!
      The new book in question is titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, coauthored by John J. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

      The following report from today's New York Times is the only endorsement I need to order my copy now!

      Backlash Over Book on Policy for Israel

      By PATRICIA COHEN

      “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” is not even in bookstores, but already anxieties have surfaced about the backlash it is stirring, with several institutions backing away from holding events with the authors

      John J. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, were not totally surprised by the reaction to their work. An article last spring in the London Review of Books outlining their argument — that a powerful pro-Israel lobby has a pernicious influence on American policy — set off a firestorm as charges of anti-Semitism, shoddy scholarship and censorship ricocheted among prominent academics, writers, policymakers and advocates. In the book, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and embargoed until Sept. 4, they elaborate on and update their case.

      “Now that the cold war is over, Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States,” they write. “Yet no aspiring politician is going to say so in public or even raise the possibility” because the pro-Israel lobby is so powerful. They credit the lobby with shutting down talks with Syria and with moderates in Iran, preventing the United States from condemning Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon and with not pushing the Israelis hard enough to come to an agreement with the Palestinians. They also discuss Christian Zionists and the issue of dual loyalty.

      Opponents are prepared. Also being released on Sept. 4 is “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control” (Palgrave Macmillan) by Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. The notion that pro-Israel groups “have anything like a uniform agenda, and that U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East is the result of their influence, is simply wrong,” George P. Shultz, a former secretary of state, says in the foreword. “This is a conspiracy theory pure and simple, and scholars at great universities should be ashamed to promulgate it.”

      The subject will certainly prompt furious debate, though not at the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Jewish cultural center in Washington and three organizations in Chicago. They have all turned down or canceled events with the authors, mentioning unease with the controversy or the format.

      The authors were particularly disturbed by the Chicago council’s decision, since plans for that event were complete and both authors have frequently spoken there before. The two sent a four-page letter to 94 members of the council’s board detailing what happened. “On July 24, Council President Marshall Bouton phoned one of us (Mearsheimer) and informed him that he was canceling the event,” and that his decision “was based on the need ‘to protect the institution.’ He said that he had a serious ‘political problem,’ because there were individuals who would be angry if he gave us a venue to speak, and that this would have serious negative consequences for the council. ‘This one is so hot,’ Marshall maintained.”

      Mr. Mearsheimer later said of Mr. Bouton, “I had the sense that this phone call pained him deeply.”

      Mr. Bouton was out of town, but Rachel Bronson, vice president for programs and studies at the council, said, “Whenever we have topics that are particularly controversial or sensitive, we try to make sure someone from another point of view is there.” In this case, she said, there was not sufficient time to set up that sort of panel before the council calendar went out. There are no plans to have the authors speak at a later date, however.

      “One of the points we make in the book is that this is a subject that’s very hard to talk about,” Mr. Walt said in an interview from his office in Cambridge. “Organizations, no matter how strong their commitment to free speech, don’t want to schedule something that’s likely to cause controversy.”

      After the cancellation Roberta Rubin, owner of the Book Stall, a store in Winnetka, Ill., offered to help find a site for the authors. She said she tried a Jewish community center and two large downtown clubs but they all told her “they can’t afford to bring in somebody ‘too controversial.’ ” She added that even she was concerned about inviting authors who might offend customers.

      Some of the planned sites, like the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, a cultural center in Washington, would have been host of an event if Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt appeared with opponents, said Esther Foer, the executive director.

      Mr. Walt said, “Part of the game is to portray us as so extreme that we have to be balanced by someone from the ‘other side.’ ” Besides, he added, when you’re promoting a book, you want to present your ideas without appearing with someone who is trying to discredit you.

      As for City University, Aoibheann Sweeney, director of the Center for the Humanities, said, “I looked at the introduction, and I didn’t feel that the book was saying things differently enough” from the original article. Ms. Sweeney, who said she had consulted with others at City University, acknowledged that they had begun planning for an event in September moderated by J. J. Goldberg, the editor of The Forward, a leading American Jewish weekly, but once he chose not to participate, she decided to pass. Mr. Goldberg, who was traveling in Israel, said in a telephone interview that “there should be more of an open debate.” But appearing alone with the authors would have given the impression that The Forward was presenting the event and thereby endorsing the book, he said, and he did not want to do that. A discussion with other speakers of differing views would have been different, he added.

      “I don’t think the book is very good,” said Mr. Goldberg, who said he read a copy of the manuscript about six weeks ago. “They haven’t really done original research. They haven’t talked to the people who are being lobbied or those doing the lobbying.”

      Overall Mr. Mearsheimer said he thinks the response to their views will be “less ferocious than last time, because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make the argument in a convincing way that anyone who criticizes the lobby or Israel is an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew.” Both Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt pointed to the growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq, criticism of Israel’s war in Lebanon and the publication of former President Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” as making it somewhat easier to criticize Israel openly.

      “This isn’t a cabal; this isn’t anything secretive,” Mr. Walt said.

      American Jews who lobby on Israel’s behalf are not all that different from the National Rifle Association, the anti-tax movement, AARP or the American Petroleum Institute, he said, “They just happen to be really good at it.”

      “It’s the way American politics work,” he continued. “Sometimes powerful interest groups get what they want, and it’s not good for the country as a whole. I would say that about the farm lobby and about the Cuba lobby.”

      To the authors, dual loyalty is as American as Presidents’ Day sales and “Law & Order” reruns. As Mr. Mearsheimer explained: “People are allowed to have multiple loyalties. They have religious loyalties, loyalty to family, to an organization and you can have loyalty to other countries. Someone who is Irish can have a loyalty to Ireland.”

      “The problem,” he said “is when you raise the subject of dual loyalty, many people tend to think of it in the context of the old anti-Semitic canard and making the argument that Jews are disloyal to the U.S.”

      In print and in interviews both authors have stressed that they hold no animus towards Israel or Jews. “We think Israeli policy is fundamentally flawed,” Mr. Mearsheimer said, “just as we think American policy is fundamentally flawed.”

      Posted on: http://desertpeace.blogspot.com/2007/08/another-book-aipac-is-unhappy-about.html

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        What law?

        English (US)  August 19th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

        The law of the land

        By Laila El-Haddad

        I've been following the situation closely back home. The past few months have really gotten me down-maybe its journalist fatigue.

        I get tired having to explain the "situation back home" every time someone finds out I'm from Gaza and have recently been there. This might sound odd for someone with such a public internet persona. But with many people I've come in contact with, I have to start from scratch... forget about ID cards and border crossings and a non-functional, non-sovereign authority split between two still-occupied territories divided by borders and air and water they don't control.

        And now we have Abbas the degenerate thinking he's actually running the show in the West Bank; suddenly the money starts coming in, some prisoners scheduled for release anyway are released, leaving thousands of others languishing; and Abbas and his cronies are the new "moderates". . . Amazing how just a few years ago Sharon flew to Washington to convince Bush Abbas was not a partner for peace.

        [More:]

        I suppose part of it is realizing my existence is at stake somehow in all of this. I have to renew my Palestinian "passport" soon (I and have that in quotations because the "passport" is, as stated in the first page, issued pursuant to the sham that is Oslo), but I can't go back to Gaza. I have no where to go to, no where to return to. At least not now. Permanence is transient. Transience is permanent.

        I've taken to doing some senseless things lately. Trying to clear my mind, regain some perspective. I watched a little bit of "Escape from Alcatrez" the other day. Funny, but it looked like paradise compared to Gaza now. I also just finished reading Ben White's "Brief Encounters with Che Guevera", a collection of short stories, many of them about Haiti and US involvement there. Naturally, I thought of our situation. I thought-can it get any more f****** up than t his? No really, I'm serious, can it?

        I'm not sure what it will take anymore for people to realize the absurdity of it all. I mean, sanctioning an occupied people for God's sake? Demanding an end to "violence" by those occupied people all while the US shells out another $30 billion in military aid to the world's third strongest army?

        And I'm not talking about the US only here. I'm talking about our very own Arab governments who, from day one, bowed in submission to US commands to freeze financial transactions to Hamas. Yes, the world, including the Arab world, has been complicit in the destruction of a society.

        And now we have Abbas the degenerate thinking he's actually running the show in the West Bank; suddenly the money starts coming in, some prisoners scheduled for release anyway are released, leaving thousands of others languishing; and Abbas and his cronies are the new "moderates"; was it worth it? A few weeks ago a friend working with a respected human rights organization asked Saeb Erekat whether there had been any talks or negotiations with Israel regarding re-opening Rafah Crossing. Plain and simple, he answered no. If only he'd exert so much effort in all his negotiations.

        Amazing how just a few years ago Sharon flew to Washington to convince Bush Abbas was not a partner for peace.

        And now there are calls for early elections that will exclude parties who "don't obey the law". And what law might that be, exactly?

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          Israel's ethnic cleansing and apartheid in Palestine

          English (US)  August 19th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


          The few Palestinian shopkeepers whose shops are still open in Hebron string netting above their shops to catch the garbage, including human feces, that illegal Jewish settlers squatting in the buildings above throw down onto the street, left. The illegal settlers spray the Star of David on Palestinian shopkeepers doors the same way Nazis painted the Star of David on Jewish homes before and during World War II (Photos by Gale Courey Toensing)

          By Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.

          I just returned from my latest trip to Palestine, or at least to the part of Palestine I still have access to as a Palestinian Christian. You see, we Palestinians from the Bethlehem area (the birthplace of Jesus) are now denied entry to over 90 percent of Palestine and even to our capital and major economic center, Jerusalem (which is merely 7 miles from Bethlehem).

          [More:]

          Israeli colonies dot the landscape from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan on land stolen from the native people. Six of the 10 million Palestinians in the world are now refugees or displaced people and the remaining Palestinians live in increasingly shrinking and impoverished ghettos (à la South African Bantustans at the time of Apartheid).

          In all areas we visited the trend is the same: maximizing geography (under Israeli control) and minimizing demography (Palestinians on their land). Israeli authorities have evolved ingenious ways of ethnic cleansing since the more direct uprooting practiced in 1947-1949, when 850,000 Palestinians were driven out. The details of how this is done differ from area to area. A few examples may illustrate this.

          The Gush Etzion block of colonies (Gilo, Har Gilo, Efrata etc) was successful in destroying the Palestinian economy in the Southern West Bank (from Jerusalem to Hebron). Jewish colonial settlers live in subsidized housing built on stolen Palestinian land and drive to Western Jerusalem or Tel Aviv without ever seeing the victims or noticing their plight. But movement of Palestinians is impossible between Arab Jerusalem and its suburbs like Bethlehem and Alkhader or areas farther south. This killed the Palestinian economy on both sides of the apartheid wall. Jerusalem's Arab old city is a ghost town compared to what it was just 20 years ago. And the unemployment rate in Bethlehem is twice what it was in the US during the height of the Great Depression.

          The old city of Hebron, near the Ibrahimi Mosque (the mosque of Abraham), is deserted. Tens of thousands of local Palestinians (and thousands of foreigners) used to flock to this busy commercial district until the few extremist Israeli settlers (with Israeli government support and protection) literally just moved in uninvited. They took over whole buildings or, in some cases, just the upper floors. They go on rampages, making life impossible for the native Palestinians. From the upper story rooms they squat in, they throw trash at the shops and pedestrians below. They routinely shoot at Palestinian civilians and destroy shops.

          Thus some 400-500 colonial racists (under the protective eye of over 5,000 Israeli occupation soldiers, many of them from the settlements) control the lives and destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of native Palestinians. It is as if 400-500 KKK members where put in the middle of New York's Harlem and were given permission and protection (with 5,000 white soldiers) to do what they want with the black population.

          In this season of fruits and vegetables, villagers still try to sell products from their shrinking land holdings. But this brings much less money than in the old days when they had more land and were free to move and sell their products in large cities like Jerusalem or Jaffa or Nablus (or even to other countries). The cancer of the settlements built on Palestinian lands grows more destructive, while politicians stall with talk of a fictional "two-state solution" and "Israeli [but not Palestinian] security". Israel's plan was to do ethnic cleansing and colonization and then use any Palestinian resistance as justification ("security") for further colonization activities. But Israel's colonization continued even in times of relative calm (e.g. the seven years between the first largely nonviolent uprising and the more recent and more violent uprising).

          All of this is done contrary to International law and with full US military, diplomatic, and economic support. It is also not in the interest of a just peace nor in our US national interests.

          While the US infrastructure is decaying, the Israel lobby convinced President Bush to propose giving Israel $30 billion more of our tax money over the next 10 years. If Congress succumbs, as it did in the past, the consequences for US interests can only be dire among 300 million Arabs and 1.5 billion Muslims (not only in increased violence but the erosion of US economic power and interests around the world).

          Palestinians and many Israelis are encouraged that civil society in Europe and North America has now engaged in other forms of struggle for peace with justice, including the growing movement of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) along the same lines that helped transform Apartheid South Africa. That effort must now be intensified for the sake of all inhabitants, not only of Western Asia but also in the USA and around the world.

          August 16, 2007 Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, Ph.D., is the author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle." He served on the faculties of Duke and Yale Universities. This article is posted at http://www.palestinechronicle.com

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            What comes next in Palestine? The view from Hamas

            English (US)  August 18th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

            Commentary by Ahmed Yousef

            Following the bloody events in Gaza in June many have wondered what next. Hamas' position is clear: the government headed by Ismail Haniyya will keep calling for dialogue. It will work toward this by exhorting Arab, Islamic and other international parties to encourage a Fatah-Hamas dialogue. This dialogue will aim at national reconciliation to end the disagreements and the boycott and install the political partnership that was rejected by influential parties who succeeded in hijacking the Fatah movement and determining its political direction.

            [More:]

            We know that the Bush administration is working to obstruct any dialogue between President Mahmoud Abbas and the prime minister of the Hamas-led government, Ismail Haniyya, indeed is planning to expand the rift between Palestinians, and we don't count on any breakthrough in the American position. But we are working with a view to the post-Bush phase by reinforcing our ties with European states even if at the unofficial level and behind the scenes. We have sensed there is a better European understanding of Hamas; that Europeans understand that the movement enjoys credibility and stays away from exercising violence outside the context of its legitimate resistance against the occupation.

            Thus it is important to clarify what happened in Gaza during those bloody days in June. First, what occurred was not a preplanned matter as some try to claim. It came as a result of the repeated failure of attempts to control the security chaos and the blatant violations against leading figures in and members of Hamas as well as parties sympathetic toward the movement. The escalation was a clear provocation and took on an unacceptable dimension to the point where killings were based on the shape of one's beard or attendance at prayers, and there were several violations against mosques and Imams.

            The response to these acts overtook attempts by Major General Burhan Hamad and the Egyptian security delegation and the National and Islamic Follow-Up Committees, and everyone was drowned in waves of war that no one planned - even if our information revealed that there was a wing inside Fatah that was storing weapons and mobilizing men to confront Hamas and launch a strike against its military wing.

            Second, neither logic nor reason underpins the claim that Hamas was manipulating the dialogue in Cairo set up to reform the security apparatuses to undermine national unity. As I recall the events of the past 18 months, whenever Fatah and Hamas approached reconciliation, there was always a party ready to frustrate the understandings. We used to inform Abbas of the details of these schemes and the identity of the elements behind these plans, and we appealed to him to discharge the elements of corruption and subterfuge in some of the security apparatuses but all our warnings went unheeded.

            Third, Hamas had no intention of turning the tables in the region. What happened was a result of rage among Hamas members after which matters developed very quickly at the security level. This was reflected in the collective and mass evacuation of the security headquarters because many members of the National Security Forces and the Presidential Guard didn't view this battle as their battle but considered it as an act taking place outside the national context. But by them departing to their homes, the whole affair appeared as if it were planned by the military wing of Hamas. It was not so. We have said it many times and we still say it: we were not fighting the Fatah movement and Fatah did not fight us. The battle was against elements that were working for external American and Israeli agendas.

            Fourth, Hamas has affirmed, through Haniyya, that it will not deviate from the principles it believes in, namely the unity of the homeland, the unity of the political system and respect for all Palestinian perspectives as expressed through the legitimacy of elections and the process of democracy.

            Fifth, all issues remain open to dialogue, whether the restructuring of the security services based on professional and national principles, the formation of a national coalition government, or political partnership along with serious efforts to reform and restructure the Palestine Liberation Organization so that it can act as the legitimate umbrella of the Palestinian national cause inside the homeland and abroad.

            Sixth, all institutions of the Palestinian Authority belong to the Palestinian people and not to Fatah or Hamas. They must remain separate from any factional considerations or disputes.

            Mediation efforts will eventually bear fruit, this month or next, and the situation will return to normal in terms of relations between the Palestinian factions because everyone knows that no one can lead the Palestinians to any political or military settlement without national consensus. Abbas will not succeed at the international conference in the autumn in light of the continued boycott against Hamas. He has to reconcile with Hamas and with the government of Haniyya so he can negotiate with strong cards in his hands. Otherwise, he will go to the conference empty handed and he will return with neither homeland nor dignity.

            Most probably, the November 2008 American elections will bring about the victory of a Democratic presidential candidate. All signs indicate that there will be radical changes in US policy toward better balance with regards to the Arab conflict with Israel. The United States is concerned to protect its strategic interests in the Middle East region, deeply damaged by the reckless policies of a Bush administration that is completely biased toward Israel. Combined with a reactivation of the European role, we are expecting a change in the political atmosphere.

            With the efforts of our nation, the justice of our cause and the awakening of the Western conscience, we can achieve our independence and freedom and we can establish our state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with Jerusalem as its capital.

            Ahmed Yusuf is an adviser to the deposed premier of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, Ismail Haniyya. This commentary first appeared at bitterlemons-international.org, an online newsletter.
            Daily Star

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              Peter Tosh: Equal Rights and Justice

              English (US)  August 18th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

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                The resistance lives on

                English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                Hizbullah's Sheikh Naim Qasim speaks to Omayma Abdel-Latif about the resistance movement one year after the US-backed Israeli war on Lebanon


                Sheikh Naim Qasim

                By Omayma Abdel-Latif

                There will be no fresh war in the near future between Hizbullah and Israel, according to the Islamic resistance movement's deputy secretary-general. Speaking to Al-Ahram Weekly from his office in Dahiya, Beirut, Sheikh Naim Qasim said Hizbullah does not expect an imminent Israeli attack. He also stressed that the party does not intend to attack Israeli targets for the time being.

                "Illusions about a decline in Hizbullah's popularity only exist in the minds of the enemies of the resistance," Qasim says.

                [More:]

                "From day one, our resistance has been one of self-defence. We do not initiate war against the enemy; rather we respond when we are being attacked," Sheikh Qasim said. Qasim adds that in the belief of Hizbullah, Israel did not restore its capacities to wage war on Lebanon. "Any adventure in that direction is likely to implicate Israel in a deadlock that is much more complex than the July [2006] war. We therefore believe that Israel is incapable of launching an aggressive war during the forthcoming period."

                Hizbullah, continued Qasim, remains vigilant and continues its preparations for worst-case scenarios.

                When asked if Hizbullah would respond if Iran and Syria -- said to be its two regional allies and backers -- are attacked by the US and/or Israel, Qasim responds: "Iran can defend itself and Syria can defend itself if attacked. But the question is what form this aggression will take. This aggression might extend to include other parties in the region, and since we don't know what form the aggression will take, we cannot rule out any possibility. What we can say is that the region will be extremely in danger."

                Regarding Lebanon, Qasim says that the current political conflict can be summed in one theme: refusing a US mandate over Lebanon, or accepting it. "If we, as Lebanese political forces, can reach an understanding over issues of contention we can then stop the US mandate over Lebanon. The problem lies in this," he said.

                On Tuesday, Lebanon commemorated one year after the end of the 33-day US- backed Israeli war last summer that left 2,023 civilians dead and 3,740 wounded, razing to the ground entire villages and towns in south Lebanon. Lebanon's Shia population were made to pay the heaviest price during the war. The ostensible goal was to break its support and sympathy for Hizbullah, destroying the resistance movement's social and political base.

                The reverse effect occurred. Qasim says that the party's popularity in the aftermath of the war was never higher. "Sympathy for the party grew during and after the war, and so too our popularity. We have full support from our constituency." Qasim points out that Hizbullah has been inundated with requests, most from Lebanese youth, to join the resistance.

                Qasim dismisses reports of a decline in the movement's popular standing after its soaring popularity during Israel's war. "The model the resistance presents continues to command the ability to mobilise across the region. By this I mean the cultural and spiritual mobilisation that is achieved by taking the example of the ethos of resistance. This does not necessarily mean interfering in the internal affairs of any country." Hizbullah, he continues, in resisting US hegemonic schemes and the "new Middle East" project, reflects the position embraced by Arab citizens across the Arab world. "Illusions about a decline in Hizbullah's popularity only exist in the minds of the enemies of the resistance," Qasim says.

                "The resistance was able to force change and abort all attempts to establish the new Middle East through the Lebanese gate. It also proved to our partners in power in Lebanon that they should acknowledge that Hizbullah is an effective political force and that only agreement over internal policies through partnership can work -- not by dictating orders." The victory of the resistance, according to Qasim, means the Arab world is no longer easy prey for US- Israeli schemes: "One great consequence of the war is the revival of the notion of military and political resistance across the region, and on this basis Hizbullah considers itself victorious."

                Hizbullah's detractors charge that the resistance's involvement in the Lebanese political scene and its opposition to the Western-backed government of Fouad Al-Siniora has turned traditional political rivalry in Lebanon between Muslim and Christian constituencies into Shia-Sunni tension between Hizbullah on the one hand and Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal (Saad Al-Hariri's Future Movement) on the other. In response, Qasim explains that the 1989 Taif Agreement, which ended the Lebanese civil war, has "protected Lebanon's sects from one another and has been fair to all of them." Any rhetoric about Sunni-Shia rivalry, Qasim continues, "has no foundation because there is a quota for every sect in a manner that cannot be infringed upon. Whatever the Sunnis or the Shias do they have a certain number of seats in parliament that will not be changed. This sectarian-based distribution of power set by Taif cannot be changed by demographic factors."

                Some viewed Hizbullah's fall 2006 civil disobedience campaign as a coup against Taif. Was there any truth to this? "No one in Hizbullah's leadership made a statement about changing or amending the Taif Agreement," Qasim responds. "Our discourse has always been one of honouring Taif because it is an agreement that Lebanon reached after a period of suffering that lasted for 15 years, and therefore we cannot talk about a new agreement."

                "In Hizbullah we believe that what is needed is to implement Taif and not to amend it. We were surprised that it was 14 March (the Hariri-led Western-backed parliamentary majority) that promoted a rhetoric suggesting that it is the opposition that wants to change the balance of power by talking about power-sharing ( Al-Muthalatha) between Sunni and Shia and Maronites, instead of the traditional formula of Muslims and Christians. They have made up this problem."

                Qasim accuses the Western-backed government of violating the Taif Agreement by continuing to rule despite the fact that a whole sect (the Shias, led by Hizbullah) is now excluded from the power-sharing process. For Qasim, this is part of a larger attempt to stir Sunni-Shia strife in Lebanon. He acknowledged that there were forces working to sow seeds of sedition among Lebanon's Muslims. "We have confronted those attempts and we have strived to stay away from fitna (strife). Hizbullah's Secretary-General [Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah] said that even if 1,000 of us are killed we would not respond, in order to stop the strife."

                Many question, however, in light of the unprecedented sectarian rhetoric embraced by key Lebanese political forces, what guarantees Hizbullah can provide that Lebanon will not slip into a replay of the 1975 opening of civil strife. Qasim acknowledges that the conditions for Sunni-Shia strife, or Muslim-Christian strife, exist because "there are those who use sectarian language day and night to stir sectarian sentiment, and we know that the Americans are pioneers of 'constructive chaos' of which sectarian strife is one form." Qasim insists, however, that there will be no sectarian strife in Lebanon because "there is a strong will on Hizbullah's part, and on the part of the Lebanese opposition in general, to prevent strife among the Lebanese. We engage in counter- mobilisation."

                Qasim further denies that Hariri's Future Movement fans the flames of fitna : "It does not incite on such action; however, part of its discourse needs to be amended because there cannot be a separation between the rhetoric and practice." Qasim disclosed that meetings take place between figures in the Future Movement and Hizbullah to abort attempts to stir sectarian strife among Sunnis and Shias.

                Hizbullah's position regarding the confrontation between the Lebanese army and the Fatah Al-Islam group in the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp is, according to Qasim, proof that the resistance movement wants to steer clear of attempts to exacerbate any existing Shia-Sunni divide. "Whoever monitors our discourse lately will find that we have avoided getting into a war of words with some takfiri [one in the Muslim faith that accuses another Muslim of disbelieving] groups. Hizbullah's top priority is to confront Israel and to obstruct the US mandate over Lebanon, whereas the priorities of some takfiri groups are different altogether. If we appear to be competing with them via the media we will plunge into strife."

                Qasim believes that the US-inspired classification of "moderates" versus "extremists", or rather moderate Sunni regimes versus extremist Shia regimes, "poses a great danger to our region". "The problem has never been one between Sunnis and Shias. The problem has always been with the existence of Israel that disrupted the balance in the whole region and made us pay the price of the occupation and the Israeli entity. There is no other more important problem. For example, some time ago we witnessed how Iranian-Saudi relations progressed, and relations with Egypt were improving, but US meddling disrupts this progression."

                According to Qasim, Hizbullah rejects any form of "mandate", regardless from whence it comes. The Syrian mandate over Lebanon, he said, was the result of an agreement made by the Saudis, the Syrians, the French and the Americans. "There were regional and international conditions that allowed Syria to be in Lebanon. It was an international rather than an internal decision," he said. Now that Syria is out of Lebanon, the US, according to Qasim, wants to lay its hands fully on Lebanon in the service of Israeli interests and its regional schemes. "We have got to stop this mandate, but we also don't want to replace one mandate by another. We want, as Lebanese political forces, to reach an understanding amongst ourselves in order to stop any attempted foreign intervention."

                Hizbullah, according to Qasim, understands the US decision to send arms supplies to some Arab countries as an attempt to goad Arab regimes into confronting Iran and Syria. "Iran and Syria are the two countries that stand in the face of US schemes in the region while other countries chose to be part of the US plan." Qasim says that Hizbullah does not believe that any of the Arab states considered part of the "axis of moderates" wants to launch a war against Iran or Syria. The US, he explained, is pushing these regimes to fulfil its own strategic interests.

                "We do not fear the arming of Arab countries. I am confident they are not going to use their weapons against other Arab regimes," Qasim said. These countries, he continued, are free to take weapons from the US, but they should not become American political tools causing strife in the Arab world. "We should realise that the real crisis in the region is the Israeli occupation. We don't want to divert attention from this."

                Al Ahram

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                  The one clear solution

                  English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                  A workable and just solution in Palestine is predicated on one principle, tested in South Africa: side with racism or be against, writes Azmi Bishara

                  By Azmi Bishara

                  The world looks different from the southern tip of Africa. There, in that country that liberated itself from a colonialist apartheid regime a decade ago, the people have embarked on a bold venture to build a nation. They have a sophisticated democratic constitution that officially recognises 11 languages within the framework of a multi- ethnic, multi-tribal, multi-religious civil polity founded on the concept of equal citizenship. This constitution embodies different aims and different priorities. It embodies a revolution that has transformed itself into a state, not only by means of the fight until victory but also by means of the arts of negotiation and compromise that made the transition possible.

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                  Some believe that compromise went too far. They say that while the African National Congress (ANC) won the right to rule, it failed to win effective economic and political power. The descendants of the white settlers, indeed the very children of the old order, still control the nation's major companies and the bulk of the media. There are still gross disparities in land ownership and standards of living, and chronic poverty among non-whites. The government is still encumbered by debts from the former regime and it is obliged to abide by all international agreements to which that regime committed itself, including those it signed with Israel.

                  On the other hand, there is no denying that there is a growing African middle class and that the South Africa is gradually changing in many other ways -- and radically so.

                  In South Africa, the victims of apartheid had to suffice with the confessions and pleas for forgiveness offered by their oppressors before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But those who issued the orders that led to crimes against humanity and those who carried out these orders with excessive zeal did not escape punishment. Still, the commission was the result of a spirit of compromise. In fact, some attempted to take advantage of this spirit and stretch it as far as they could. They held that the violence perpetrated by the ANC resistance should be treated no differently to the violence perpetrated by members of the white regime and, therefore, that ANC officials responsible for actions that led to the death of civilians should be brought to justice. More recently, there was even debate over whether the names of white "victims" should be etched alongside the names of the actual martyrs of the resistance on the liberation monument that would be erected in a large park in Pretoria. Such arguments are clearly indicative of a bid on the part of the remnants of the former regime to exploit the nation's historic breakthrough to re-write history. Their intent is to promote the idea that there had existed some kind of parity between the oppressor and the oppressed and to recast the victims and victimisers as equally empowered parties. To me, nothing could be more guaranteed to keep wounds open and to court losing battles.

                  The ANC and the apartheid elite struck a comprehensive and long-range deal. But ultimately that deal was founded upon the recognition of the justice of the cause of equality and the rejection of racism. It did not equate the state of liberty with a state of slavery, or the act of oppression with the act of resistance. It did not produce a middle ground between two antithetical rights: the rights of the victim and the rights of the criminal. The deal arose from the momentous and final defeat of the apartheid system, the recognition that its inherent racism and oppression were incontrovertibly evil, and the admission that it was now time for that system to consign itself to history. The deal, moreover, went into the details of how these principles should be put into effect: the steps that were needed, the timeframes of implementation, the costs they would entail and how to bring the past to account. But there was no leniency with that past. Leniency was shown to the people who had served as the tools of the old order and even with some of the people who had been in charge, as long as they were not directly responsible for crimes against humanity. The deal accomplished its objective. It abolished apartheid rule in a way that spared the country massive bloodshed and years of strife. It made it possible for the old order to dissolve itself and for the leaders of that order to relinquish power without fear of revenge against their own persons and against whites in general. This was the spirit of tolerance and magnanimity at work, not some obfuscation between the oppressor and the oppressed or between an unjust regime and the justice of the cause of those who fought to overturn it.

                  Isn't it amazing that discussions of this sort could arise at a time when the Palestinians and their cause against the colonialist apartheid system in Palestine are in such a tragic plight? While the Palestinians are mired in turmoil and confusion, their friends in South Africa and elsewhere are in a quandary over whether to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians: Should they support Hamas or Fatah? Is it right to boycott Israel when the Palestinian leadership, itself, is busily normalising relations with the Israeli government? One can understand their predicament. However, they should bear in mind that in Palestine this "normalisation" is taking place before any deal has been struck and that whatever deals are in the works do not aim to alter the existing racist order.

                  That was not the case in South Africa. But this country, which has made the transition from revolution to civil statehood, has the legitimate concerns and obligations of a sovereign state. There, for example, the dictates of political realism propel towards solid relations between South Africa and the US, in spite of the objection of the former to America's belligerency in the Gulf and in spite of the fact that the latter only sided against apartheid at a time when it seemed wise to abandon a sinking ship. To cite another example, South Africa still maintains relations with Israel, in spite of the fact that Pretoria has not renewed any military treaties that had lapsed. In this regard, pro-Israel advocates have seized on the pragmatic spirit to advance a rationale that curiously echoes the arguments of negotiators for the former regime. Not that this should be surprising, since many of Israel's staunchest supporters were members of the former regime. In all events, they hold -- at best -- that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a "dispute" between two sides that have equal, if contending, rights to the same land. Accordingly, Pretoria must support the "peace process," encourage "moderates on both sides," and adopt an even- handed position.

                  I was recently present in such discussions in South Africa. The participants were current leaders, many of whom had been prominent freedom fighters. They ranged from the most ardent proponents of freedom and national liberation to the most ardent pragmatists. But even the staunchest advocates of realpolitik held that South Africa could not remain neutral on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; that it had to side against the occupation and with the Palestinian right to self- determination. Nevertheless, they added, the only alternative on offer is the peace process aiming at the two-state solution, so this is what South Africa had to deal with. Last week, a prominent ANC leader told me, "long ago we advised the Palestinians not to accept Oslo. As you know, we are not in favour of the ethnic-state solution to problems of this sort. But this was their choice. We, too, did not want anyone from African or other friendly nations to meddle in our affairs." On the other hand, a former resistance hero who is now a top ranking minister admitted, "Israel is an apartheid regime. This is not a foreign policy issue for a country such as South Africa, regardless of the geographical distance."

                  Of course, if South Africa did not regard the fight against racism as a major component of its contemporary identity, problems could arise among future generations that had never experienced apartheid, or realised that Israel had been that regime's staunchest and last remaining ally. More immediately, the so-called two-state solution that is on the table between the two "sides" is not intended to produce two actual states, but rather to entrench the existing Zionist/apartheid state that was founded at the expense of a dispossessed people and a Palestinian "Bantustan". South Africans know only too well what a Bantustan is. They were semi-autonomous political entities with puppet chieftains, intended to alleviate the apartheid regime's demographic burden.

                  The two-state solution is not so much the product of one side's reluctance to accept expressions of solidarity as it is the product of the other side's refusal to permit it. It will not produce a truly sovereign Palestinian state. It is not in the nature of a historic deal that will help the Israelis dismantle the Zionist regime and assimilate into the region as Jews with a recognised identity and equal rights to others. Nor is a bi-national or multi-ethnic secular democratic state (unlike in South Africa, in Palestine national identity needs a voice) on offer as an alternative for the two-state solution that will not produce a real Palestinian state.

                  So what are friends of the Palestinian people supposed to do if they feel that racism and colonialism are universal moral questions and not foreign or domestic policy issues in this day and age? Here are Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the verge of producing some vague declaration of principles that will offer the Palestinians even less than what Barak proposed in Camp David II. There's a conference in the works that the Americans tentatively called a "meeting" (so as to spare the participants any embarrassment and so as to keep people from pinning too high expectations on what is essentially a PR gambit). But the contours of the outcome of that meeting have been clear for quite a while. They have been shaped by current balances of power. There will be no right of return for Palestinian refugees; East Jerusalem will not be the Palestinian capital; and there will be no dismantlement of all Israeli settlements and no return to pre-June 1967 borders. At the same time, the Zionist regime will remain fully intact and its inherent racism will become a domestic issue.

                  It seems that it is time to make a choice. Either people can go along with that settlement that will take endless years to put into effect while Israel milks the opportunity to normalise relations with Arab governments, while anything that could be termed Palestinian unity is reduced to a vestige, while even water and air become issues to be haggled over across the negotiating table and while prisoners of conscience becomes a cause that supersedes the cause they were imprisoned for; or they can come up with an alternative solution, one that lets everyone know what it means to take a stance against the occupation and for national liberation within the framework of a democratic political agenda.

                  But what does taking such a stance entail? Perhaps it is useful to consider the following. The boycott of the South African apartheid regime proved one of the foremost weapons to bring about its fall. Obviously, it would be difficult to turn this tool against Israel. But it is equally obvious that it takes less than a boycott to frazzle Israel. Israel does not depend on normal relations like South Africa used to; it lives on privileges and prerogatives. The very thought of a boycott makes some Palestinian leaders involved in the business of premature normalisation uncomfortable. They are embarrassed by the decision taken by British university lecturers to boycott Israeli universities, as are those Palestinian institutes that have joint projects with Israeli universities. Obviously, some otherwise very democratically minded Israeli professors are also adverse to the boycott. Nor is their objection necessarily inspired by chauvinistic or even personal professional reasons. However, they do not see that to take a stance against the occupation entails more than a couple of hours in a weekend protest or engaging in discussion circles with Palestinian intellectuals. Taking a stance means being ready to pay a price for this stance. Racism and its expression in the last colonialist question of our times are not domestic policy issues. Although a unified Palestinian strategy would be of considerable importance, as guidance, democratic forces in the world should not have to wait until such a strategy emerges in order to act. Indeed, perhaps by acting they will galvanise the Palestinians into taking the necessary decisions.

                  The Palestinian people have been torn by the occupation and by the consequences of the occupation. They need a unified national liberation programme opposed to the artifice of the current Palestinian-Israeli negotiating scheme. But this alternative programme must tell the Palestinian people and the world what Hamas truly wants (merely to return to a power-sharing formula with Fatah, for example?) and what Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a large segment of Fatah want. These forces must assume this responsibility before it is too late, even to the extent of neutralising conflicting ideologies so as to produce a truly democratic national alternative and to emerge as a strong and cohesive political force. Is this not what leadership is all about?

                  Al Ahram

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                    FBI, CIA Scriveners Edit Wikipedia Entries

                    English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                    According to Reuters, “CIA and FBI computers have edited entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo prison, according to a new tracing program.” No doubt, as well, the FBI and CIA have made other changes to “the world’s most important online encyclopaedia,” editorial changes not as grandiose as expanding former CIA chief William Colby’s entry, dumping a chart on Iraq casualties, or removing satellite images of the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. You can bet they edited scads of lesser entries as well.

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                    “The changes may violate Wikipedia’s conflict-of-interest guidelines, a spokeswoman for the site said Thursday,” although Wikipedia, of course, will do nothing about it, as they are not in the business of posting factual information, instead often serving as a platform for character assassination and slander, an area familiar to both the FBI and CIA, often tasked with neutralizing or at least harassing dissidents and those who believe the First Amendment means what it says.

                    “It violates Wikipedia’s neutrality guidelines for a person with close ties to an issue to contribute to an entry about it, said spokeswoman Sandy Ordonez of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia’s parent organization,” Reuters continues, feeding us a line of Wikipedia public relations nonsense. “However, she said, ‘Wikipedia is self-correcting,’ meaning that misleading entries can be quickly revised by another editor. She said Wikimedia welcomed the WikiScanner.”

                    So neutral is Wikipedia, the site insists I am an antisemite and Holocaust denier—two quite serious allegations in this day and age of highly polarized political correctness and corporate dominated political consensus—although they provide absolutely no evidence of this beyond a blog entry defending the free speech right of David Irving, convicted of not adhering to the official historical orthodoxy. Wikipedia allowed slanderous edits on my entry for months before “self-correction” kicked in.

                    “According to clues accumulated by ordinary citizens around the world, it could be that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are riding the information wave and planting disinformation on Wikipedia,” Ludwig De Braeckeleer wrote for OhmyNews last month. “If so, tens of thousands of innocent and unwitting citizens around the world are translating and propagating their lies, providing these agencies with a universal news network.”

                    Of course, this is nothing new, as the CIA has controlled the corporate and much of the so-called “alternative” media for decades, beginning with Operation Mockingbird in the late 40s. “Personally, I have come to the conclusion that the media is not only influenced by the CIA,” writes Mary Louise, “the media is the CIA. Many Americans think of their supposedly free press as a watchdog on government, mainly because the press itself shamelessly promotes that myth. One of the first tenets for the control of a population is to control all sources of information the population receives and mostly because of the pervasive CIA and Operation Mockingbird, the mainstream American Press is a controlled multi-national corporate/government megaphone.”

                    It would appear Wikipedia is not simply “populated by volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects,” as John Seigenthaler Sr., former assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, would have it, but is indeed an intelligence front, yet another puzzle piece of a sprawling, comprehensive, long-term, and quite effective propaganda effort.

                    Kurt Nimmo

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                      Bad News for All Americans--Especially Journalists

                      English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                      By Dave Lindorff

                      With habeas corpus a thing of the past, with arrest and detention without charge permitted, with torture and spying without court oversight all the rage, with prosecutors free to tape conversations between lawyers and their clients, and with the judicial branch now infested by rightwing judges who would have been at home in courtrooms of the Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany, for all they seem to care about common law tradition, the only real thing holding the line against absolute tyranny in the U.S. has been the jury.

                      [More:]

                      Now, with Jose Padilla--a US citizen who was originally picked up and held incommunicado on a military base for three and a half years, publicly accused (though never charged) with planning to construct and detonate a so-called "dirty" nuclear device (this a guy without a high school education!), all based upon hearsay, evidence elicited by torture, and a few overheard wiretapped conversations where prosecutors claimed words like "zucchini" were code for explosive devices-convicted on a charge of "planning to murder," we see that juries in this era of a bogus "war on terror" are ready to believe anything.

                      That last line of defense-the common sense or ordinary citizens in a jury box-is gone too.

                      The jury in this case apparently accepted the government's contention that Padilla was a member of Al Qaeda, and had returned from a trip to Pakistan full of plans to wreak mayhem on his own country. They cared not a whit for the fact that the government had used methods against Padilla (three years of isolation and total sensory deprivation that had driven him insane) which would have made medieval torturers green with envy. They cared not a whit that there was no real evidence against Padilla.

                      This was, in the end, a case that most closely resembled the famous Saturday Night Live skit in which witches were dunked underwater to "prove" whether they were in fact witches, and where if they drowned, they were found to be innocent. In the end, Padilla's jury simply bought the government's wild and wild-eyed story. They decided he hadn't drowned, so he must be guilty.

                      Padilla can now expect to spend what's left of his life in prison. Since the government has already driven him insane, he will have the added burden of being mentally unbalanced from the outset of his incarceration. His survival prospects are not good.

                      The president promptly thanked the jury for their "good judgment."

                      We can no doubt expect many more Padillas now that the way has been paved for this kind of totalitarian approach to law enforcement.

                      Beginning today, we can expect the government to begin arresting people on an array of trumped-up charges, locking them away in black sites, on military bases, or maybe even overseas, subjecting them to all manner of torture, and then finally bringing them to trial on trumped-up charges. We can also expect juries, made fearful by breathless warnings that "evil ones" mean us and our nation harm, to buy the government's stories.

                      Who is at risk? That's hard to say, but it's clear that it won't just be hardened terrorist types. A presidential executive order signed by Bush on July 17 declares that anything that "undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction (sic) and political reform (sic) in Iraq" could be deemed a crime making the perpetrator subject to arrest. Would writing essays critical of the president, the war in Iraq, or the "reconstruction" effort in Iraq meet that standard? Who knows? Would being interviewed for commentary as part of a news story on English-language Al Jezeera TV (which Bush and Cheney have declared to be supportive of the Iraqi insurgency, and which Bush reportedly at one point considered bombing!)?

                      And how about anti-war protesters? We already have Washington, DC, under pressure from Homeland Security, threatening the organization World Can't Wait with multiple $10,000 fines for posting flyers around the city announcing an anti-war march and rally on September 15. If they go ahead with the protest, will they be joining Padilla?

                      I have little doubt that this administration would love to lock up journalistic critics and protesters in military brigs, so the question is: how would juries respond to charges that American journalists and protesters against the war were treacherously undermining the Bush war effort?

                      I used to be confident that most juries would laugh such cases out of court. After the Padilla decision, I'm not so sure.

                      You want to think that your fellow citizens have at least some measure of common sense, but this case suggests otherwise--that they are easily frightened, gullible, and willing to believe the most fantastic claims of the government.

                      The future does not look good for freedom in America.

                      Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment",
                      co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

                      He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

                      Counterpunch

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                        PCHR weekly report: Eight killed, 31 injured, 61 kidnapped by Israeli occupation forces

                        English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                        By Saed Bannoura

                        The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR), based in Gaza, published its weekly report on the Israeli violations in the occupied territories in the period between August 9 and 15 – 2007. During the reported period eight Palestinians were killed, 31 injured and 61 were taken prisoner.

                        Since 1 June 2007 until this report was published, 74 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip; among them were 47 civilians, including 9 children and a woman.

                        [More:]

                        The center stated that three of the eight killed residents are ordinary civilians, and that one of them was killed by a guard of a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem. Among the killed was also a woman with mental problems.

                        During the reported period, Israeli troops carried 32 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the PCHR reported.

                        West Bank attacks:

                        Israeli soldiers continued their illegal activities in the occupied West Bank and abducted 61 residents in several areas.

                        The PCHR reported that one Palestinian was killed by an armed guard of a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem. The incident took place on August 10, the Palestinian man managed to grab the gun of the guard and fired several rounds before fleeing the scene, another guard chased him and he surrendered to him by raising his hands but the guard shot him dead.

                        A total of 62 Palestinians were taken prisoner by the army in the West Bank as troops carried 32 military invasions into Palestinian communities.

                        Two of the abducted residents are children, and two were kidnapped on Israeli military roadblocks.

                        In Hebron city, in the southern part of the West Bank, soldiers closed eight Palestinian shops and continued to impose strict measures which obstruct the movement of the residents.

                        Siege imposed over the West Bank was tightened, and the army totally isolated Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

                        Soldiers stationed at West Bank roadblocks continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians which comes in contradiction with the statements of Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, as he vowed to ease restrictions.

                        Attacks against nonviolent protests:

                        The army continued its illegal attacks against nonviolent protests against the Annexation Wall and injured eight protesters including a French cameraman, and four Palestinian children during the nonviolent protest against the Wall in Bil’in village, west of Ramallah in the West Bank.

                        Soldiers used excessive force against the Palestinian protests and international supporters and fired rubber collated bullets at them, in addition to attacking several protesters.

                        Five protesters, including a French cameraman were detained during the protest.

                        Settlers and Settlements:

                        Israeli settlers illegally living in the occupied West Bank continued their attacks against the Palestinian residents and their property.

                        The military commander of the Israeli army in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, ordered the sealing of eight Palestinian shops near Beit Romano settlement in the Old city of Hebron.

                        Also, soldiers installed a roadblock near Beqe’ot settlement east of Tubas, stopped some agricultural tractors and barred them from delivering water to sheep herders in the area.

                        Gaza Strip attacks:

                        Troops invaded New Abasan area, east of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, shot and killed seven residents and injured at least twenty-four. Four of the killed residents were resistance fighters; dozens of residents were injured during the attack.

                        The attack took place on August 14, two of the killed residents were civilians, including a 70-year old woman who stepped out of the house to see her injured son.

                        24 Palestinians, mostly resistance fighters, were injured in the invasion, and the army razed 60 Dunams of agricultural land. One resident was kidnapped by the invading forces.

                        Border terminals and crossings remained closed as a form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians.

                        The army continued to close the Rafah International terminal although Israel does not directly control it, and prevented European observers from reaching it.

                        The terminal was totally sealed in June 25, 2006 after resistance fighters attacked a military post in Kerem Shalom area, and since then the terminal was sealed and only partially opened for shot period to allow a few number of Palestinians to travel, but it was totally sealed off again after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip.

                        At least 6,000 Palestinians stuck in Egypt were allowed in the Gaza Strip through El-Ojah – Erez route. According to PCHR’s documentation, 19 Palestinians of those who are stuck in Egypt have died due to the deterioration in their health conditions, the PCHR reported.

                        The Al Mintar (Karni) crossing was partially opened, and Kerem Shalom Crossing, southeast of Farah, and Sofa Crossing north of the city, were opened.

                        It is worth mentioning that since 1 June 2007 until this report was published, 74 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip; among them were 47 civilians, including 9 children and a woman.

                        Maan News

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                          Israeli occupation forces injure five, including journalists, at weekly non-violent protest

                          English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                          Israeli occupation forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and sound bombs at the non-violent demonstrators who protest against Israel's illegal Apartheid Wall each Friday, injuring five people, including four journalist, Gifford Breslev writes.

                          By Gifford Breslev

                          The residents of the village of Bil'in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, joined by international and Israeli supporters, conducted their weekly non-violent protest against the wall this Friday.

                          [More:]

                          As is the case each week, shortly after Friday prayers, protesters marched towards the location of the wall. Before arriving at the area where construction is taking place, the protesters were stopped by an Israeli military barricade.

                          At the barricade, soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and sound bombs at the protestors, injuring 5, among them 4 journalists. The journalists were identified as Fadi Abu Eid, Bakkir Abu Argeila and Kamal al-Azraq, who all work for Ramatan News Agency, and Ayman al-Nubani, who works for an international TV station.

                          The protest lasted for several hours, during which Spanish and German clowns put on a show to cheer up the village children. As the organizers ended the demonstration, they promised to return next week.

                          International Middle East Media Center

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                            Abbas' US-backed security forces continue to arrest Hamas members

                            English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                            Hamas members arrested by Palestinian security services

                            JENIN, Palestine _ The Palestinian Security Services arrested three Hamas members in Al Yamoon, west of Jenin, on Friday.

                            Hamas sources said that the Palestinian Security Services arrested Amer Al Atr, Ali Taher Zaied Mu'alem, and his brother Hasan, who is in charge of the Islamic faction for teachers.

                            The source said the security services also arrested but soon released the Qabatiah court judge, Muhammad Freihat. They also arrested Isam Abu Al Haija', the muezzin of one of the mosques in Al Yamoon.

                            Maan News

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                              Two Palestinians killed in an Israeli military invasion to Jenin

                              English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                              By IMEMC Staff

                              Palestinian sources reported that two Palestinian youth were shot and killed in an Israeli military invasion to Kufur Dan village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin; one of the killed is the leader of Abu Ammar Brigades, one of the armed wings of Fateh movement.

                              [More:]

                              Eyewitnesses reported that troops invaded the eastern neighborhood of Kufur Dan village on Friday approximately at 6 p.m, and exchanged fire with resistance fighters of Abu Ammar Brigades, and Al Quds Brigades – the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad.

                              Resident Mahmoud Saleh Ashour Darweesh, 25, leader of Abu Ammar Brigades, was hit by several rounds of live ammunition and when one youth identified as Nour Mer’ey, 18, rushed to save him and move him to a different location soldiers shot him dead by several rounds of live ammunition. Both were killed in the military offensive and at least five residents were injured.

                              Medical sources in Jenin reported that Nour Mer’ey was hit by eight rounds of live ammunition, while Mahmoud Ashour Darweesh was hit by several rounds of live ammunition including one round in his head.

                              Abu Ammar brigades and Al Quds brigades stated that they will retaliate to this military offensive and called on all Palestinian armed factions to continue they attacks and resistance against the Israeli occupation.

                              Maan News

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                                Criminal proceedings lodged after Palestinian dies in ambulance denied permission to cross checkpoint

                                English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                BETHLEHEM, Palestine _ Unprecedented criminal proceedings have been lodged against an Israeli Civil Administration health coordinator in the case of an 18-year-old Palestinian boy who died at an Israeli checkpoint after the ambulance he was in was denied permission to cross into Israel, an Israeli newspaper has reported.

                                [More:]

                                Radi Al Wahash was being taken to hospital from Bethlehem to Jerusalem on June 29 after being critically injured in a road accident. The ambulance carrying him was denied permission to cross into Israel and he died of his injuries.

                                Ha'aretz reported that a criminal complaint was lodged with the Tel Aviv police on Wednesday by the group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) against the Civil Administration's health coordinator, Dalia Basa. They are accusing Basa of negligent homicide.

                                The case is the first time criminal proceedings have been lodged although many Palestinians have died after not being allowed through checkpoints into Israel from the West Bank to gain access to medical treatment.

                                According to a report by the PHR, Basa told the Red Crescent that although Alwahash could only receive the life-saving treatment he needed in a Jerusalem hospital he was prevented from entering Israel for "security reasons."

                                Neither the Israeli Defence Ministry nor the Civil Administration have given any information as to why Al Wahash posed a security risk, Ha'aretz reported.

                                Ha'aretz quoted a statement from the Civil Administration in which they said they were "unaware at this time of an official complaint against the health coordinator, Dalia Basa. The Civil Administration is aware of the tendentious claims against Basa by the Physicians for Human Rights, both in this and in other cases, and rejects them. The circumstances of the case have been checked following the organization's inquiry of the Civil Administration, and Basa's actions were found to be blameless."

                                A member of the Israeli Knesset is holding Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak personally responsible for Radi's death and expects him to take steps to ensure such "crimes" are not repeated.

                                Ha'aretz reported that Said Nafa, from the Israeli Balad party, sent a letter to Barak in which he stated: "The responsibility for this killing lies solely on your shoulders, as head of the establishment... what happened is not only a criminal crime. It is a crime against humanity."

                                Maan News

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                                  Israel closes fuel crossing plunging Gaza into darkness

                                  English (US)  August 17th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                  GAZA CITY, Palestine _ A Palestinian company cut off power to parts of the central Gaza Strip Friday after Israel closed a crossing through which fuel is brought into the Palestinian area.

                                  [More:]

                                  Several neighborhoods of Gaza City were blanketed in darkness a few hours after the Gaza Generating Company, which supplies the strip with about 25 percent of its electricity, said it would turn off three of its four generators.

                                  At a news conference Rafik Maliha, chairman of the Gaza Generating Company, said that the generators would be stopped from six in the evening local time (3 p.m. GMT), on Friday until Sunday morning. If more fuel supplies do not arrive at the power station by then, the fourth generator will also be switched off, he said. This will leave the crisis-stricken area almost completely without electricity.

                                  "For two days we have not received fuel," Maliha said. "The Israeli side is preventing vehicles from approaching the crossing."

                                  The power outage has affected more than half of Gaza's 1.4 million people.

                                  The Israeli army spokesman said the crossing had been closed since Wednesday for security reasons he could not detail.

                                  Israel has since Wednesday forbidden the company's supply trucks from approaching the Nahal Oz crossing, Malikha said. The company's fuel reserves, which are only enough to produce power for two days, have run out, he said.

                                  The company supplies power to Gaza City and other central areas of the coastal territory. The rest of the Gaza Strip receives electricity from the Israeli Electric Company and Egypt.

                                  The electricity supply to the Gaza Strip is so inconsistent that most households are without power for about five hours a day.

                                  Almost all supplies for the impoverished Gaza Strip, including food, fuel and raw materials, come from Israel and through crossings controlled by Israel. The passages are frequently closed by Israel, which cites attempts by Palestinian militants to attack them.

                                  Maliha denied that the power station had any strategic fuel stocks. He said that since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June, Israel has only supplied fuel to keep the generators working and that it had not been possible to amass a stockpile.

                                  He said that it was the security situation in the Gaza Strip that was preventing the Israeli army trucks from bringing the desperately-needed fuel supplies into area.

                                  Israel closed all of the crossings after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, ousting members of President Mahmoud Abbas' security forces who had allied with a violent family clan known for its thuggish activities in Gaza and plotted to destroy members of the democratically elected Hamas party.

                                  The United Nations has warned of a growth in poverty since Hamas' wrested control of Gaza, with unemployment on the rise and humanitarian aide in high demand.

                                  Sources: Agencies

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                                    Nearly All the War Crimes Were Israel's: The Second Lebanon War, A Year Later

                                    English (US)  August 16th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                    By Jonathan Cook

                                    This week marks a year since the end of hostilities now officially called the Second Lebanon war by Israelis. A month of fighting -- mostly Israeli aerial bombardment of Lebanon, and rocket attacks from the Shia militia Hizbullah on northern Israel in response -- ended with more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians and a small but unknown number of Hizbullah fighters dead, as well as 119 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians.

                                    [More:]

                                    When Israel and the United States realised that Hizbullah could not be bombed into submission, they pushed a resolution, 1701, through the United Nations. It placed an expanded international peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, in south Lebanon to keep Hizbullah in check and try to disarm its few thousand fighters.

                                    But many significant developments since the war have gone unnoticed, including several that seriously put in question Israel's account of what happened last summer. This is old ground worth revisiting for that reason alone.

                                    The war began on 12 July, when Israel launched waves of air strikes on Lebanon after Hizbullah killed three soldiers and captured two more on the northern border. (A further five troops were killed by a land mine when their tank crossed into Lebanon in hot pursuit.) Hizbullah had long been warning that it would seize soldiers if it had the chance, in an effort to push Israel into a prisoner exchange. Israel has been holding a handful of Lebanese prisoners since it withdrew from its two-decade occupation of south Lebanon in 2000.

                                    The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who has been widely blamed for the army's failure to subdue Hizbullah, appointed the Winograd Committee to investigate what went wrong. So far Winograd has been long on pointing out the country's military and political failures and short on explaining how the mistakes were made or who made them. Olmert is still in power, even if hugely unpopular.

                                    In the meantime, there is every indication that Israel is planning another round of fighting against Hizbullah after it has "learnt the lessons" from the last war. The new defence minister, Ehud Barak, who was responsible for the 2000 withdrawal, has made it a priority to develop anti-missile systems such as "Iron Dome" to neutralise the rocket threat from Hizbullah, using some of the recently announced $30 billion of American military aid.

                                    It has been left to the Israeli media to begin rewriting the history of last summer. Last weekend, an editorial in the liberal Haaretz newspaper went so far as to admit that this was "a war initiated by Israel against a relatively small guerrilla group". Israel's supporters, including high-profile defenders like Alan Dershowitz in the US who claimed that Israel had no choice but to bomb Lebanon, must have been squirming in their seats.

                                    There are several reasons why Ha'aretz may have reached this new assessment.

                                    Recent reports have revealed that one of the main justifications for Hizbullah's continuing resistance -- that Israel failed to withdraw fully from Lebanese territory in 2000 -- is now supported by the UN. Last month its cartographers quietly admitted that Lebanon is right in claiming sovereignty over a small fertile area known as the Shebaa Farms, still occupied by Israel. Israel argues that the territory is Syrian and will be returned in future peace talks with Damascus, even though Syria backs Lebanon's position. The UN's admission has been mostly ignored by the international media.

                                    One of Israel's main claims during the war was that it made every effort to protect Lebanese civilians from its aerial bombardments. The casualty figures suggested otherwise, but increasingly so too does other evidence.

                                    A shocking aspect of the war was Israel's firing of at least a million cluster bombs, old munitions supplied by the US with a failure rate as high as 50 per cent, in the last days of fighting. The tiny bomblets, effectively small land mines, were left littering south Lebanon after the UN-brokered ceasefire, and are reported so far to have killed 30 civilians and wounded at least another 180. Israeli commanders have admitted firing 1.2 million such bomblets, while the UN puts the figure closer to 3 million.

                                    At the time, it looked suspiciously as if Israel had taken the brief opportunity before the war's end to make south Lebanon -- the heartland of both the country's Shia population and its militia, Hizbullah -- uninhabitable, and to prevent the return of hundreds of thousands of Shia who had fled Israel's earlier bombing campaigns.

                                    Israel's use of cluster bombs has been described as a war crime by human rights organisations. According to the rules set by Israel's then chief of staff, Dan Halutz, the bombs should have been used only in open and unpopulated areas -- although with such a high failure rate, this would have done little to prevent later civilian casualties.

                                    After the war, the army ordered an investigation, mainly to placate Washington, which was concerned at the widely reported fact that it had supplied the munitions. The findings, which should have been published months ago, have yet to be made public.

                                    The delay is not surprising. An initial report by the army, leaked to the Israeli media, discovered that the cluster bombs had been fired into Lebanese population centres in gross violation of international law. The order was apparently given by the head of the Northern Command at the time, Udi Adam. A US State Department investigation reached a similar conclusion.

                                    Another claim, one that Israel hoped might justify the large number of Lebanese civilians it killed during the war, was that Hizbullah fighters had been regularly hiding and firing rockets from among south Lebanon's civilian population. Human rights groups found scant evidence of this, but a senior UN official, Jan Egeland, offered succour by accusing Hizbullah of "cowardly blending".

                                    There were always strong reasons for suspecting the Israeli claim to be untrue. Hizbullah had invested much effort in developing an elaborate system of tunnels and underground bunkers in the countryside, which Israel knew little about, in which it hid its rockets and from which fighters attacked Israeli soldiers as they tried to launch a ground invasion. Also, common sense suggests that Hizbullah fighters would have been unwilling to put their families, who live in south Lebanon's villages, in danger by launching rockets from among them.

                                    Now Israeli front pages are carrying reports from Israeli military sources that put in serious doubt Israel's claims.

                                    Since the war's end Hizbullah has apparently relocated most of its rockets to conceal them from the UN peacekeepers, who have been carrying out extensive searches of south Lebanon to disarm Hizbullah under the terms of Resolution 1701. According to the UNIFIL, some 33 of these underground bunkers ­ or more than 90 per cent -- have been located and Hizbullah weapons discovered there, including rockets and launchers, destroyed.

                                    The Israeli media has noted that the Israeli army calls these sites "nature reserves"; similarly, the UN has made no mention of finding urban-based Hizbullah bunkers. Relying on military sources, Haaretz reported last month: "Most of the rockets fired against Israel during the war last year were launched from the 'nature reserves'." In short, even Israel is no longer claiming that Hizbullah was firing its rockets from among civilians.

                                    According to the UN report, Hizbullah has moved the rockets out of the underground bunkers and abandoned its rural launch pads. Most rockets, it is believed, have gone north of the Litani River, beyond the range of the UN monitors. But some, according to the Israeli army, may have been moved into nearby Shia villages to hide them from the UN.

                                    As a result, Haaretz noted that Israeli commanders had issued a warning to Lebanon that in future hostilities the army "will not hesitate to bomb -- and even totally destroy -- urban areas after it gives Lebanese civilians the chance to flee". How this would diverge from Israel's policy during the war, when Hizbullah was based in its "nature reserves" but Lebanese civilians were still bombed in their towns and villages, was not made clear.

                                    If the Israeli army's new claims are true (unlike the old ones), Hizbullah's movement of some of its rockets into villages should be condemned. But not by Israel, whose army is breaking international law by concealing its weapons in civilian areas on a far grander scale.

                                    As a first-hand observer of the fighting from Israel's side of the border last year, I noted on several occasions that Israel had built many of its permanent military installations, including weapons factories and army camps, and set up temporary artillery positions next to -- and in some cases inside -- civilian communities in the north of Israel.

                                    Many of those communities are Arab: Arab citizens constitute about half of the Galilee's population. Locating military bases next to these communities was a particularly reckless act by the army as Arab towns and villages lack the public shelters and air raid warning systems available in Jewish communities. Eighteen of the 43 Israeli civilians killed were Arab -- a proportion that surprised many Israeli Jews, who assumed that Hizbullah would not want to target Arab communities.

                                    In many cases it is still not possible to specify where Hizbullah rockets landed because Israel's military censor prevents any discussion that might identify the location of a military site. During the war Israel used this to advantageous effect: for example, it was widely reported that a Hizbullah rocket fell close to a hospital but reporters failed to mention that a large army camp was next to it. An actual strike against the camp could have been described in the very same terms.

                                    It seems likely that Hizbullah, which had flown pilotless spy drones over Israel earlier in the year, similar to Israel's own aerial spying missions, knew where many of these military bases were. The question is, was Hizbullah trying to hit them or -- as most observers claimed, following Israel's lead -- was it actually more interested in killing civilians.

                                    A full answer may never be possible, as we cannot know Hizbullah's intentions -- as opposed to the consequences of its actions -- any more than we can discern Israel's during the war.

                                    Human Rights Watch, however, has argued that, because Hizbullah's basic rockets were not precise, every time they were fired into Israel they were effectively targeted at civilians. Hizbullah was therefore guilty of war crimes in using its rockets, whatever the intention of the launch teams. In other words, according to this reading of international law, only Israel had the right to fire missiles and drop bombs because its military hardware is more sophisticated -- and, of course, more deadly.

                                    Nonetheless, new evidence suggests strongly that, whether or not Hizbullah had the right to use its rockets, it may often have been trying to hit military targets, even if it rarely succeeded. The Arab Association for Human Rights, based in Nazareth, has been compiling a report on the Hizbullah rocket strikes against Arab communities in the north since last summer. It is not sure whether it will ever be able to publish its findings because of the military censorship laws.

                                    But the information currently available makes for interesting reading. The Association has looked at northern Arab communities hit by Hizbullah rockets, often repeatedly, and found that in every case there was at least one military base or artillery battery placed next to, or in a few cases inside, the community. In some communities there were several such sites.

                                    This does not prove that Hizbullah wanted only to hit military bases, of course. But it does indicate that in some cases it was clearly trying to, even if it lacked the technical resources to be sure of doing so. It also suggests that, in terms of international law, Hizbullah behaved no worse, and probably far better, than Israel during the war.

                                    The evidence so far indicates that Israel:

                                    * established legitimate grounds for Hizbullah's attack on the border post by refusing to withdraw from the Lebanese territory of the Shebaa Farms in 2000;

                                    * initiated a war of aggression be refusing to engage in talks about a prisoner swap offered by Hizbullah;

                                    * committed a grave war crime by intentionally using cluster bombs against south Lebanon's civilians;

                                    * repeatedly hit Lebanese communities, killing many civilians, even though the evidence is that no Hizbullah fighters were to be found there;

                                    * and put its own civilians, especially Arab civilians, in great danger by making their communities targets for Hizbullah attacks and failing to protect them.

                                    It is clear that during the Second Lebanon war Israel committed the most serious war crimes.

                                    Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the author of the forthcoming "Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State" published by Pluto Press, and available in the United States from the University of Michigan Press. His website is www.jkcook.net

                                    Counterpunch

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                                      U.S, Comptroller General: U.S. government on unsustainable economic "burning platform"

                                      English (US)  August 16th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                      Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned

                                      By Jeremy Grant in Washington

                                      The US government is on a ‘burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned.

                                      [More:]

                                      David Walker, comptroller general of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future in a report that lays out what he called “chilling long-term simulations”.

                                      These include “dramatic” tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt.

                                      Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”.

                                      “Sound familiar?” Mr Walker said. “In my view, it’s time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time.”

                                      Mr Walker’s views carry weight because he is a non-partisan figure in charge of the Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of the US Congress.

                                      While most of its studies are commissioned by legislators, about 10 per cent – such as the one containing his latest warnings – are initiated by the comptroller general himself.

                                      In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Walker said he had mentioned some of the issues before but now wanted to “turn up the volume”. Some of them were too sensitive for others in government to “have their name associated with”.

                                      “I’m trying to sound an alarm and issue a wake-up call,” he said. “As comptroller general I’ve got an ability to look longer-range and take on issues that others may be hesitant, and in many cases may not be in a position, to take on.

                                      “One of the concerns is obviously we are a great country but we face major sustainability challenges that we are not taking seriously enough,” said Mr Walker, who was appointed during the Clinton administration to the post, which carries a 15-year term.

                                      The fiscal imbalance meant the US was “on a path toward an explosion of debt”.

                                      “With the looming retirement of baby boomers, spiralling healthcare costs, plummeting savings rates and increasing reliance on foreign lenders, we face unprecedented fiscal risks,” said Mr Walker, a former senior executive at PwC auditing firm.

                                      Current US policy on education, energy, the environment, immigration and Iraq also was on an “unsustainable path”.

                                      “Our very prosperity is placing greater demands on our physical infrastructure. Billions of dollars will be needed to modernise everything from highways and airports to water and sewage systems. The recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis was a sobering wake-up call.”

                                      Mr Walker said he would offer to brief the would-be presidential candidates next spring.

                                      “They need to make fiscal responsibility and inter-generational equity one of their top priorities. If they do, I think we have a chance to turn this around but if they don’t, I think the risk of a serious crisis rises considerably”.


                                      The Financial Times

                                      540 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                        THE UNITED STATES OF ISRAEL: Israel "agrees" to accept $30 billion arms gift from American taxpayers

                                        English (US)  August 16th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                        US has agreed to provide Israel with $30bn in defence grants over the next decade, a 25 per cent boost aimed at countering a "resurgent" Iran and its allies.

                                        [More:]


                                        At a signing ceremony in Jerusalem on Thursday, Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of state, said the US would help Israel to maintain a military advantage over its enemies.

                                        Burns said these enemies include Iran and Syria to groups within Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories.

                                        He added that the "Middle East is a more dangerous region now even than it was 10 or 20 years ago and that Israel is facing a growing threat."

                                        "The United States faces many of the same threats from the same organisations and countries as Israel does, and so we felt this was the right level of assistance."

                                        A statement from the office of Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, who met the US envoy on Wednesday, said the deal "illustrates the depth of the relationship between the two countries."

                                        The agreement represented "the commitment of the United States to the defence of Israel and preserving its qualitative superiority," the statement said.

                                        Gulf arms deal

                                        The aid deal will raise the US defence aid given to Israel from $2.4 billion to $3 billion a year over 10 years.


                                        Israel has pledged to stop Iran developing
                                        nucelar weapons. Does this mean the Zionist state will bomb Iran as it did Iraq?

                                        The Bush administration said last month that it would also offer weapons worth $20 billion to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

                                        Egypt stands to get $13 billion in defence assistance over the next decade, similar to present levels.

                                        The package - which awaits approval in the US Congress - is designed to reassure Israel and Gulf nations of Washington's commitment to the Middle East despite its problems in Iraq.

                                        It will also well as to strengthen them in the face of the growing power of Iran and its nuclear programme.

                                        Israel has been overhauling its armed forces since it suffered setbacks in last year's war against Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.

                                        It is the only recipient of US defence aid allowed to spent some of the money - 26.3 per cent - on its domestic arms industries.

                                        The rest must spent using US defence suppliers.

                                        Israeli officials say the funds are vital for developing technologies that are used to upgrade US-supplied military hardware and guarantee a "qualitative edge".

                                        Iranian 'threat'

                                        Assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, Israel has vowed to prevent Iran acquiring the bomb.

                                        Iran denies its nuclear programme has military aims. "We have an exceptionally heavy defence burden," said Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Burns's co-signatory.

                                        "The fact that the United States is willing to share a significant part of that burden ... is a critical element in the budget."

                                        Burns and Fischer said the sides had not finalised details on what weaponry would be supplied to Israel under the new deal.

                                        Source: Agencies

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                                          BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT & SANCTIONS NEWS: Boycott movement targets Israel

                                          English (US)  August 16th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                          By George Bisharat

                                          When does a citizen-led boycott of a state become morally justified?

                                          That question is raised by an expanding academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel. The movement joins churches, unions, professional societies and other groups based in the United States, Canada, Europe and South Africa. It has elicited dramatic reactions from Israel's supporters. U.S. labor leaders have condemned British unions, representing millions of workers, for supporting the Israel boycott. American academics have been frantically gathering signatures against the boycott, and have mounted a prominent advertising campaign in American newspapers - unwittingly elevating the controversy further in the public eye.

                                          [More:]

                                          Israel's defenders have protested that Israel is not the worst human-rights offender in the world, and singling it out is hypocrisy, or even anti-Semitism. Rhetorically, this shifts focus from Israel's human rights record to the imagined motives of its critics.

                                          But "the worst first" has never been the rule for whom to boycott. Had it been, the Pol Pot regime, not apartheid South Africa, would have been targeted in the past. It was not - Cambodia's ties to the West were insufficient to make any embargo effective. Boycotting North Korea today would be similarly futile. Should every other quest for justice be put on hold as a result?

                                          In contrast, the boycott of South Africa had grip. The opprobrium suffered by white South Africans unquestionably helped persuade them to yield to the just demands of the black majority. Israel, too, assiduously guards its public image. A dense web of economic and cultural relations also ties it to the West. That - and its irrefutably documented human-rights violations - render it ripe for boycott.

                                          What state actions should trigger a boycott? Expelling or intimidating into flight a country's majority population, then denying them internationally recognized rights to return to their homes? Israel has done that.

                                          Seizing, without compensation, the properties of hundreds of thousands of refugees? Israel has done that.

                                          Systematically torturing detainees, many held without trial? Israel has done that.

                                          Assassinating its opponents, including those living in territories it occupies? Israel has done that.

                                          Demolishing thousands of homes belonging to one national group, and settling its own people in another nation's land? Israel has done that. No country with such a record, whether first or 50th worst in the world, can credibly protest a boycott.

                                          Apartheid South Africa provides another useful standard. How does Israel's behavior toward Palestinians compare to former South Africa's treatment of blacks? It is similar or worse, say a number of South Africans, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, U.N. special rapporteur in the occupied territories John Dugard, and African National Congress member and government minister Ronnie Kasrils. The latter observed recently that apartheid South Africa never used fighter jets to attack ANC activists, and judged Israel's violent control of Palestinians as "10 times worse." Dual laws for Jewish settlers and Palestinians, segregated roads and housing, and restrictions on Palestinians' freedom of movement strongly recall apartheid South Africa. If boycotting apartheid South Africa was appropriate, it is equally fair to boycott Israel on a similar record.

                                          Israel has been singled out, but not as its defenders complain. Instead, Israel has been enveloped in a cocoon of impunity. Our government has vetoed 41 U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli actions - half of the total U.S. vetoes since the birth of the United Nations - thus enabling Israel's continuing abuses. The Bush administration has announced an increase in military aid to Israel to $30 billion for the coming decade.

                                          Other military occupations and human-rights abusers have faced considerably rougher treatment. Just recall Iraq's 1990 takeover of Kuwait. Perhaps the United Nations should have long ago issued Israel the ultimatum it gave Iraq - and enforced it. Israel's occupation of Arab lands has now exceeded 40 years.

                                          Iran, Sudan and Syria have all been targeted for federal and state-level sanctions. Even the City of Beverly Hills is contemplating Iran divestment actions, following the lead of Los Angeles, which approved Iran divestment legislation in June. Yet the Islamic Republic of Iran has never attacked its neighbors nor occupied their territories. It is merely suspected of aspiring to the same nuclear weapons Israel already possesses.

                                          Politicians worldwide, and American ones especially, have failed us. Our leaders, from the executive branch to Congress, have dithered, or cheered Israel on, as it devoured the land base for a Palestinian state. Their collective irresponsibility dooms both Palestinians and Israelis to a future of strife and insecurity, and undermines our global stature. If politicians cannot lead the way, then citizens must. That is why boycotting Israel has become both necessary and justified.

                                          George Bisharat is a professor of law at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and writes frequently on law and politics in the Middle East.

                                          San Francisco Chronicle

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                                            Can You Hear the Cries from Gaza?

                                            English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                            By Sonja Karkar

                                            No one seems to hear the cries from Gaza enough to act, despite the reports that talk about imminent economic collapse, dangerous food shortages, total aid dependency and impending humanitarian disaster. Neither the cries nor the reports appear in the headlines or news alerts in our mainstream media. And, while the statistics make shocking reading when they do emerge, it is the cries that we should be hearing because they come from people like us--real flesh and blood people who bleed, feel pain and grieve. They are the cries that give rise to the statistics, the cries of Palestinians no less human and no less vulnerable than any one of us would be as prisoners of Israel's merciless occupation.

                                            [More:]

                                            For all the recent news about the infighting that has gripped internal Palestinian politics, there is no mistaking under whose suffocating matrix of control, the Palestinians are actually forced to live. Israel has threatened the Palestinians' right to exist on their own land since it was created and it has no more disengaged from Gaza than it has from the West Bank. Instead, Israel has made a prison of Gaza and completely sealed it off from the West Bank and the outside world. Deeming it a place too dangerous to visit, Israel likes to portray the Palestinians as a violent people whose acts of resistance threaten Israel's existence and necessitate the punitive measures that Israel takes against them. However, according to international law, resistance is a legitimate response of an occupied people and collective punishment by an Occupying Power against a civilian population is prohibited. The outrage in all this is the world's acquiescence to Israel's suppression of the Palestinians and the oppressive force it uses to reduce them to a sub-human existence. This cuts to the core of our humanity and it is simply not enough to say, "there but for the grace of God go I".

                                            Grim as the facts and figures are, they can never make us feel the agony of the mother who does not have a grain of rice left to feed her starving children, the desperation of the father who cannot get his sick child through the closed border crossing for treatment in Egypt, the terror of the child who wets the bed every night wondering if the soldiers will come again to ransack the house, the constant fear of schoolchildren knowing that even school is no haven from soldiers' bullets and mortar fire, the despairing distress of families who are not even given time to save their belongings as bulldozers come to tear down their homes, the desolation of thousands of people with no jobs to go to, the helplessness of thousands more who have received no wages for months and the wretchedness of the starving families who depend on the jobless and the unpaid. An entire population is in shut down--more than a million stories of agonising pain and overwhelming grief. But, no one is hearing the cries.

                                            The shortages are getting worse by the day. Food is running out, fuel is running out, medicines are running out. There has been almost no electricity since Israel bombed Gaza's only power plant last year. Without electricity, water cannot be pumped. Without fuel, sewage cannot be pumped and the sewage is spilling out onto the streets contaminating the meagre water supplies left. The stench of open sewage hangs over every neighbourhood increasing the risk of disease and contagion. Running water is a luxury few have now, most having to queue to buy it. Children go out with plastic bottles and buckets to get their rations of water when and if supplies arrive. There is no refrigeration for fresh foods and in any case no fresh food is available. Even a staple like wheat is running out as the 600 tons of wheat needed daily is not getting through the Karni commercial crossing. Wherever one looks, there are faces of despair, but the very human cries from the depths of all this misery are not being heard.

                                            Hospitals are overflowing with wounded people from Israel's aerial attacks and mortar shelling. Operating equipment is unusable as generators can no longer run without fuel. There are no medicines for the heart patients, diabetics, cancer sufferers and so many others. Doctors, nurses and health care workers are stretched to the limit trying to save lives and stop the pain when their own situations are desperate at home. Essential services can no longer cope with the demand. People are dying in their homes because they cannot get critical health care. Children are literally wasting away from malnutrition as they try to survive on a daily diet of bread and tea. Extreme hunger has driven many to scavenging the rubbish tips to find what they can to feed their families. And everywhere one looks, the greyness of dying has dulled the lifeblood of the people and still no one hears the cries of the sick and the wounded, the starving and the homeless and the keening sounds of people mourning their dead.

                                            The list of impossible deprivations is about as awful as anyone wants to imagine. And with that come the daily, even hourly humiliations and indignities as Palestinians are pushed, prodded and targeted by Israel's soldiers, bombs, tanks, gun ships, warplanes and armed helicopters--an awesome military line-up against a population that has nothing even comparable to fight back. This tiny teeming piece of Palestine has been reduced to a gigantic penitentiary in which the entire one and a half million Palestinian population is permanently incarcerated. And, it is in this violent unforgiving world that Israel continues to indiscriminately punish the people, their cries only muffled by the firing of mortar shells and the explosion of bombs dropped from the sky.

                                            Amidst all this chaos, the effects of the sanctions are painfully obvious. One by one, factories and businesses have closed, government services have folded and jobs have become non-existent. So draconian are the sanctions and closures that the Palestinians in Gaza are likely to become one hundred per cent aid-dependent indefinitely. It is almost impossible now for an economy that had shown some promise before the imposition of sanctions, to recover. The lush market gardens that produced an abundance of fruit and vegetables lie dry and fallow without water while those first crops intended for export markets ended up rotting on trucks as they waited in long queues for clearance to leave Gaza, and none ever did. Nothing can get into Gaza either except for the most basic food aid, forcing many factories, unable to produce without the necessary materials, to shut their doors. Without supplies, businesses have also been forced to close, plunging both shop and factory owners into penury along with the rest of the population.

                                            The deliberate ruination of the Gazan economy and the gradual disintegration of Palestinian society are entirely man-made. As the eye takes in the bombarded landscape, it is hard to imagine that the old Gaza was once a wealthy and important trading place where proud and dignified people welcomed travellers who came by land and sea. It is hard to imagine that its capital--Gaza City--was really once a beautiful metropolis with wide roads and parks, swaying palm trees and an expansive seascape. Over the years, hospitals, universities, schools and municipal council buildings have added a modern layer to one of the world's oldest cities, developing and expanding despite Israel's occupation. But all that has been destroyed and nobody seems to care what will happen to the shadows of people merging into the rubble. The worst of it is that Israel is supported - even praised - for what it is doing in the name of security when by any other name it is purely and simply ethnic cleansing. And with every moment of our silence, we acquiesce and give support to the atrocities that are being committed in our name.

                                            As the siege on Palestinian life in Gaza tightens further, nobody asks what Israel plans to do with the Palestinians. For more than a year, various bodies have warned about the imminent collapse of Gaza's economy and social order. The list is formidable--the World Bank, Oxfam, UNRWA, CARE International, the World Food Program, B'Tselem, World Vision, UNOCHA, Amnesty International, ECOSOC to name a few, but nothing has been done other than to provide basic food aid. Israel, on the other hand, has only increased the pressure by refusing to open border crossings between Gaza and the outside world, refusing the transfer of funds and monetary aid and refusing to allow international NGOs to operate their assistance programs in Gaza. Its acts of violence have not ceased either. Rumours of a large-scale Israeli military operation which were already circulating well before Hamas ousted Fatah forces in Gaza, is more than likely still on the table. It will only be a matter of time before Israel will act to quell any eruption from this suffocating mass of humanity, no doubt citing a security threat as is Israel's wont. The action then is likely to be just as merciless as it was last year when Israel's bombers strafed the Gazan landscape targeting everything in sight--cities, villages, farmlands, schools, hospitals, government buildings, roads, bridges and essential services and the civilian population that could find no refuge anywhere and could not even flee out of Gaza.

                                            Despite all the warnings and evidence on the ground, Gaza continues to slide dangerously towards a humanitarian disaster and world governments have done absolutely nothing to stop it. There has not been a word of censure against Israel and the international community's craven silence will only embolden Israel to continue its cruel, punitive actions against Gaza's already traumatised and dying people. We can choose to hear their cries or ignore them, but we certainly cannot say that "we did not know".

                                            Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. See www.womenforpalestine.com

                                            Counterpunch

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                                              The Peculiar Relationship: "No American President Can Stand Up to Israel"

                                              English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                              By Paul Craig Roberts

                                              "No American President can stand up to Israel."

                                              These words came from feisty Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations (1967-1970) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1970-1974). Moorer was, perhaps, the last independent-minded American military leader.

                                              Admiral Moorer knew what he was talking about. On June 8, 1967, Israel attacked the American intelligence ship, USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 173. The Israelis even strafed the life rafts, machine-gunning the American sailors leaving the stricken ship.

                                              [More:]

                                              Apparently, the USS Liberty had picked up Israeli communications that revealed Israel's responsibility for the Seven Day War. Even today, history books and the majority of Americans blame the conflict on the Arabs.

                                              The United States Navy knew the truth, but the President of the United States took Israel's side against the American military and ordered the United States Navy to shut its mouth. President Lyndon Johnson said it was all just a mistake. Later in life, Admiral Moorer formed a commission and presented the unvarnished truth to Americans.

                                              The power of the Israel Lobby over American foreign policy is considerable. In March 2006, two distinguished American scholars, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, expressed concern in the London Review of Books that the power of the Israel Lobby was bending US foreign policy in directions that serve neither US nor Israeli interests. The two experts were hoping to start a debate that might rescue the US and Israel from unsuccessful policies of coercion that are intensifying Muslim hatred of Israel and America. The Israel lobby was opposed to any such reassessment, and attempted to close it off with epithets: "Jew-baiter," "anti-semitic," and even "anti-American." Today Israeli citizens who oppose Zionist plans for greater Israel are denounced as "anti-Semites."

                                              Many Americans are unaware of the influence of the Israel lobby. Instead they think of the US as "the world's sole superpower," a macho new Roman Empire whose orders are obeyed without question or the insolent nonentity is "bombed back to the stone age." Many Americans are convinced that military coercion serves our interest. They cite Libya, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now they are ready to bring Iran and Pakistan to heel with bombs.

                                              This arrogance results in the murder of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of men, women and children, a fate that many Americans seem to believe is appropriate for countries that do not accept US hegemony.

                                              Coercion is what American foreign policy has become. Macho superpatriots love it. Many of these superpatriots derive vicarious pleasure from their delusions that America is "kicking those sand niggers' asses."

                                              This is the America of the Bush Regime. If some of these superpatriots had their way every "unpatriotic, terrorist supporter" who dares to criticize the war against "the Islamofacists" would be sent to Gitmo, if not shot on the spot.

                                              These Bush supporters have morphed the Republican Party into the Brownshirt Party. They cannot wait to attack Iran, preferably with nuclear weapons. Impatient for Armageddon, some are so full of hubris and self-righteousness that they actually believe that their support for evil means they will be "wafted up to heaven." [see

                                              It has come as a crippling blow to Democrats that "their" political party is comfortable with Bush's America, and will do nothing to stop the Bush regime's aggression against the Iraqi people or to prevent the Bush regime's attack on Iran.

                                              The Democrats could easily impeach both Bush and Cheney in the House, as impeachment only requires a majority vote. They could not convict in the Senate without Republican support, as conviction requires ratification by two-thirds of Senators present. Nevertheless, a House vote for impeachment would take the wind out of the sails of war, save countless lives and perhaps even save humanity from nuclear holocaust.

                                              Various rationales or excuses have been constructed for the Democrats' complicity in aggression that does not serve America. Perhaps the most popular rationale is that the Democrats are letting the Republicans have all the rope they want with which to produce such a high disapproval rating that the Democrats will sweep the 2008 election.

                                              It is doubtful that the Democrats would assume that men as cunning as Karl Rove and Dick Cheney do not understand the electoral consequences of a low public approval rating and are walking blindly into an electoral wipeout. Rove's departure does not mean that no strategy is in place.

                                              So what does explain the complicity of the Democratic Party in a policy that the American public, and especially Democratic constituencies, reject? Perhaps a clue is offered from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune news report (August 1, 2007) that Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison will spend a week in Israel on "a privately funded trip sponsored by the American Israel Education Federation. The AIEF--the charitable arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)--is sending 19 members of Congress to meet with Israeli leaders. The group, made up mostly of freshman Democrats, has plans to meet with Isreali Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and [puppet] Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The senior Democratic member on the trip is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has gone three times. . . . The trip to Israel is Ellison's second as a congressman."

                                              According to the Star-Tribune, a Republican group, which includes Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, Minn), led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R, Va) is already in Israel. According to news reports, another 40 are following these two groups during the August recess, and "by the time the year is out every single member of Congress will have made their rounds in Israel." This claim is probably overstated, but it does show careful Israeli management of US policy in the Middle East.

                                              Elsewhere on earth and especially among Muslims, the suspicion is rife that the reason the war against Iraq cannot end, and the reason Iran and Syria must be attacked, is that the US must destroy all Muslim opposition to Israel's theft of Palestine, turning an entire people into refugees driven from their homes and from the lands on which they have lived for many centuries. Americans might think that they are merely grabbing control over oil, keeping it out of the hands of terrorists, but that is not the way the rest of the world views the conflict.

                                              Jimmy Carter was the last American president who stood up to Israel and demanded that US diplomacy be, at least officially if not in practice, even-handed in its approach to Israel and Palestine. Since Carter's presidency, even-handedness has slowly drained from US policy in the Middle East. The neoconservative Bush/Cheney regime has abandoned even the pretense of even-handedness.

                                              This is unfortunate, because military coercion has proven to be unsuccessful. Exhausted from the conflict, the US military, according to former Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, is "nearly broken." Demoralized elite West Point graduates are leaving the army at the fastest clip in 30 years. Desertions are rapidly rising. A friend, a US Marine officer who served in combat in Vietnam, recently wrote to me that his son's Marine unit, currently training for its third deployment to Iraq in September, is short 12-16 men in every platoon and expects to be hit with more AWOLs prior to deployment.

                                              Instead of re-evaluating a failed policy, Bush's "war tsar," General Douglas Lute, has called for the reinstitution of the draft. Gen. Lute doesn't see why Americans should not be returned to military servitude in order to save the Bush administration the embarrassment of having to correct a mistaken Middle East policy that commits the US to more aggression and to debilitating long-term military conflict in the Middle East.

                                              It is difficult to see how this policy serves any interest other than the very narrow one of the armaments industry. Apparently, nothing can be done to change this disastrous policy until the Israel Lobby comes to the realization that Israel's interest is not being served by the current policy of military coercion.

                                              Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

                                              Counterpunch

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                                                Kucinich: 'Belligerent' Bush Admin. trying to 'deceive' US into 'yet another war'

                                                English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                By Nick Juliano

                                                Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), one of the most anti-war members of the House, accused the Bush Administration's labeling of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization a prelude for war there.

                                                [More:]

                                                "The belligerent Bush Administration is using this pending designation to convince the American public into accepting that a war with Iran is inevitable," Kucinich said. "This designation will set the stage for more chaos in the region because it undercuts all of our diplomatic efforts."

                                                Kucinich, who is mounting a second dark horse race for the presidency, has called for Vice President Dick Cheney's impeachment. Introducing an impeachment resolution in April, Kucinich accused Cheney of manipulating intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and "rattling the sabers of war against Iran," as RAW STORY reported at the time.

                                                On Wednesday, reports emerged that the Bush administration was considering classifying Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organizations. The Revolutionary Guard would be the first national military included on the list.

                                                "This new label provides further evidence for Iran's leaders that there is no point to engage in diplomatic talks with the United States if our actions point directly to regime change," Kucinich said in a statement released by his office. "Our nation is better served by demanding sensible and responsible diplomatic foreign policy initiatives from the Bush Administration.

                                                "This is nothing more than an attempt to deceive Americans into yet another war-this time with Iran," Kucinich concluded.

                                                Raw Story

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                                                  US anti-war group ordered to take down Iraq demo posters

                                                  English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                  A US anti-war group has been warned it will be fined 10,000 dollars if it does not remove posters in Washington announcing a march in the capital next month against US involvement in Iraq, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

                                                  "The ANSWER Coalition has received citations from the authorities in Washington threatening to fine us 10,000 dollars unless several hundred posters announcing the September 15 march on Washington DC are removed," Sarah Sloan, the staff coordinator for the anti-war group, told AFP.

                                                  "We have until Thursday to take down the posters," she said.

                                                  [More:]

                                                  Several hundred yellow posters have been put up around Washington announcing the protest, which is timed to coincide with the release of a report by the US military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, on progress in the US "surge" strategy of raising troop levels.

                                                  Washington city authorities said the posters have to come down because they were stuck on with adhesive that did not meet city regulations.

                                                  "The charge about adhesives is false," Sloan said.

                                                  "This is a definitely a calculated political move aimed at disrupting the demonstration, which has been organised on a day when the world's eyes will be on Washington for the Petraeus report," she said.

                                                  Demonstrators from at least 90 cities around the United States and Canada have already pledged to come to Washington for the march, which will be part of a week of anti-war protests led by veterans of the Iraq war, according to Sloan.

                                                  A petition calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, allegedly carrying one million signatures and endorsed by former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, will also be submitted to officials during the week's activities.

                                                  Raw Story

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                                                    Hamas pleased with "positive" European change

                                                    English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                    Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri

                                                    By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

                                                    Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said Tuesday they were encouraged by the "positive" change in the position of some European countries toward the Islamist movement.

                                                    [More:]

                                                    Fatah, on the other hand, expressed concern over increased calls in Europe to negotiate with Hamas and warned that such a move would undermine the moderates among the Palestinians.

                                                    Meanwhile, Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said he expected Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to disappear from the political scene before the end of the year.

                                                    "After he goes to the international conference in the fall, he will discover that he made a mistake by depending on the Americans and Israelis," he said, referring to the peace conference called by US President George W. Bush. "He will then be forced to resign. Abbas is a dictator and his attempts to undermine Hamas are doomed to fail."

                                                    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his movement was prepared to launch talks with the Europeans without delay. "They are beginning to realize that the boycott of the Hamas government is ineffective and pointless," he said.
                                                    Hamas, he said, welcomes calls to talk with the Europeans.

                                                    "The new voices we are hearing in Europe are an admission that the policy of boycotting the Hamas government was a mistake," said Muhammed al-Madhoun, a senior aide to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. "The boycott and the sanctions that were imposed on the Hamas government were a grave mistake because they only complicated the situation in the Middle East."

                                                    The Hamas official welcomed "positive" changes in the position of Italy and Britain toward Hamas and called on other European countries to follow suit. He also welcomed statements by Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who called for negotiating with Hamas to help the movement "develop politically."

                                                    Prodi told journalists Monday at a press conference, "Hamas exists. It's a complex structure that we should help to evolve - but this should be done with transparency. One must push for dialogue so that it happens, and not shut anyone out."

                                                    A spokesman for the Italian prime minister later clarified that Prodi was not suggesting that Hamas be included in negotiations between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas.

                                                    A report by non-partisan Britain's House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee released Monday also recommended that lawmakers "urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas."

                                                    The committee appealed to former prime minister Tony Blair to join the effort to reunite Hamas with Abbas's Fatah faction. "The international community must bear in mind that Hamas came to power as a result of a democratic and free election," al-Madhoun added.

                                                    He accused the US and Israel of exerting pressure on Abbas not to talk to Hamas.

                                                    Riad Malki, the Information minister in the Ramallah-based government of Salaam Fayad, said the Europeans were making a mistake by thinking that Hamas could be a partner. He said the only way to deal with Hamas was by further isolating the movement on all fronts.

                                                    A senior PA official in Ramallah said he was "disgusted" to hear that some Europeans were calling for negotiations with Hamas. "Those in Italy and Britain who want to talk to Hamas are undermining moderate Palestinians and emboldening the radicals," he said. "We hope that the Europeans will wake up and refrain from committing such a huge mistake.

                                                    Jerusalem Post

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                                                      Speechless in Chicago: Scholars Mearsheimer and Walt speech canceled under Zionist pressure

                                                      English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                      Jay Solomon reports on controversy over a planned speech.

                                                      By Jay Solomon

                                                      The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has canceled a September speech on U.S.-Israel relations and Washington’s pro-Israel lobby by two prominent U.S. political scientists.

                                                      John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were scheduled to use the Sept. 27 address to outline their upcoming book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” which is expected to be released by Farrar, Straus & Giroux early next month. But the president of the Chicago Council, Marshall Bouton, canceled the event under pressure from critics who were uncomfortable with the academics’ arguments, according to a letter drafted by Mearsheimer and Walt to the Council’s board.

                                                      [More:]

                                                      These opponents of the event argued that the two political scientists could only address the Chicago Council if someone from the opposing side, “such as Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, concurrently appeared on stage with the authors.

                                                      “One might argue that our views are too controversial to be presented on their own,” Mearsheimer and Walt wrote. “However, they are seen as controversial only because some of the groups and individuals that we criticized in our original article have misrepresented what we said.”

                                                      Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Walt, on the faculty at Harvard, set off a political firestorm last year when they penned an article for the London Review of Books, called the “Israel Lobby,” that argued pro-Israel interest groups had distorted U.S. policies in the Middle East. They also argued that these groups played a central role in promoting the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq.

                                                      Since the original article appeared in March 2006, the two academics have appeared at a number of ventures to explain their views, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Press Club and Georgetown University. But a number of leading Jewish-American organizations, such as the ADF and the American Jewish Congress, have consistently charged that Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s views are anti-Semitic and overemphasize the power of the pro-Israel lobby.

                                                      Mearsheimer and Walt deny being anti-Semites and said the charges are designed “to discourage respected organizations like the Council from giving us an audience.”

                                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                      Comments

                                                      It has been the worst kept secret that Israel and all of its support groups have been influencing United States’ policy since the end of World War II. This has been true even if an Iraeli government position is in fact adverse to what should be the U.S. position. Anyone, ANYONE, who takes an adverse position is automatically an anti-semite and should not appear anywhere in any forum whatsoever. Even Alan Dershowitz, that supposed strong proponent of the Free Speech, promptly falls in line if the speech considered to be anti-Israeli. Years ago when Marlon Brando made a supposedly anti-semite comment on Larry King, one would have thought that war was declared. After he apologized on air, Saturday Night Live correctly commented that Mr. Brando after his apology was advised that he can work again in Hollywood. Israel is no longer a weak little nation. It is a powerful nation and should be able to take adverse comments. Why can’t it?
                                                      -- Comment by Art Robinson - August 8, 2007 at 1:58 am

                                                      America will never be able to get its policy in the Middle-East right as long as it is being dominated by the interests of AIPAC. Branding any dissent from the AIPAC party line as anti-Semitic is a short sighted strategy. What will happen when the American public wakes up the reality that they must blindly support the Israel’s every military and strategy position but are not allowed to question or criticize it? Worse, those who seek sincere, responsible discussion (like Messrs Walt and Mearsheimer) are prevented from doing so. All that needs to be said that can’t be said. I can’t see how the tone of the discussion, once it finally breaks through (and it’s just a matter of time), will only grow more shrill and emotional after years of being bottled up.
                                                      -- Comment by E. 66th and Lex - August 8, 2007 at 7:11 am

                                                      I can’t see how the tone of the discussion, once it finally breaks through (and it’s just a matter of time), will only grow more shrill and emotional after years of being bottled up.

                                                      Well said E.66th!

                                                      The censors have won every battle; I can’t help but wonder how much unspoken anti-semitism and bad will towards Israel this has engendered.

                                                      I suspect that once the genie is out, there will be a backlash against our current policies.
                                                      -- Comment by Chiguy31 - August 8, 2007 at 2:22 pm

                                                      One would hope that in our democratic society all points of view could be represented without the necessity of having them all represented at the same time.
                                                      -- Comment by Jessie K. Palmer - August 9, 2007 at 10:59 am

                                                      “the president of the Chicago Council, Marshall Bouton, canceled the event under pressure from critics who were uncomfortable with the academics’ arguments, according to a letter drafted by Mearsheimer and Walt to the Council’s board.”

                                                      Well thank goodness we have Mearsheimer & Walt to explain exactly why they were canceled.

                                                      The point is that there is a qualitative difference between writing a book and having to answer questions face-to-face, and after all the press their paper has had, a serious debate is long past due.

                                                      Of course, after hearing Mearsheimer’s interview with Pajamas Media (See YouTube: John Mearsheimer At Yearly Kos 2007) and hear him defend the Iranian murder of American soldiers in Iraq as being “a very small percentage”–I can understand why they would want to avoid serious questions from people who know the subject.

                                                      Who are the ones who are really uncomfortable with their opponents’ arguments? Once again, M&W give themselves far too much credit.
                                                      -- Comment by Daled Amos - August 10, 2007 at 12:13 am

                                                      Proof again that THERE IS NO LOBBY! Don’t even THINK that anyone is trying to control what gets said about Israel and Middle East policy!

                                                      What could possibly have given M&W such a silly idea?
                                                      Comment by David G. - August 10, 2007 at 12:18 pm

                                                      Posters have mentioned the inevitable backlash to this kind of heavy-handed bullying. Well, look at the bright side: any backlash will be great for aliyah numbers, and Abe Foxman will have an easier time raising money.

                                                      Not everyone hates “antisemitism”.
                                                      -- Comment by Alana - August 10, 2007 at 1:16 pm

                                                      Daled Amos, I have yet to see any credible evidence that any American soldiers in Iraq have been “murdered by Iranian[s]”.

                                                      Unless you mean the shaped “Iranian IED” factory which turned out to be…in Iraq, run by Iraqis.

                                                      Perhaps you are confusing Iran and Iraq. Or perhaps you are making the mistake of listening to Dick Cheney.
                                                      -- Comment by agum - August 10, 2007 at 5:12 pm

                                                      I suppose Foxmans denial of the armenian genocide isn’t controversial to these fellows.
                                                      Comment by lester - August 10, 2007 at 10:47 pm

                                                      Why are W&M fear a discussion? reminds me of Jimmy Carter - does “free speech” mean a monopoly?
                                                      On the other hand, it seems that too many educated Americans believe in conspiracy theories - probably it makes the world looks simpler. This particular “conspiracy” looks similar to those who claim to be abducted by aliens. Frightening indeed.
                                                      -- Comment by Maoz - August 11, 2007 at 3:36 pm

                                                      W&M fear a discussion? Isnt it the other way around? Its funny how the word conspiracy can get thrown around at even the most obvious of issues, and how some would insist theres no elephant in the room even if they were standing right next to one.
                                                      -- Comment by J. Bryce - August 11, 2007 at 10:06 pm

                                                      It seems that Walt-Mearsheimer, Carter, Jim Baker, Prof Polk are all part of a concerted, planned effort to weaken Israel internationally, and to even demonize it and the American-Jewish community. W-M’s arguments are false. They claim that Israel has always controlled US policy towards the Middle East. Ridiculous. Otherwise, please explain the huge amounts of American foreign aid that have gone to Saudi Arabia over the years [disguised as “foreign tax credits” for ARAMCO]. Please explain all of those retired US officials on the payrolls of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc. Please explain the huge weapons sales to Saudi Arabia by the United States. How about the funds –almost always being raised by a few dozen millions, so it seems– given to the “Palestinian Authority”??? Why is Prez Bush advocating another Arab-Muslim state, to be called “Palestine,” as a supposed solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict? Such a state would likely intensify the conflict with Israel. That hardly indicates friendship for Israel.
                                                      -- Comment by Elliott A Green - August 12, 2007 at 6:07 am

                                                      Sorry, you have a false argument. The U.S. isn't completely suicidal in neglecting its own own greater interests, it has tremendous strategic and economic interests tied to the region which includes protecting and supporting those Arab states that supply it and the rest of the world with energy. And it prefers those states to look after themselves as much as they can without direct U.S. military involvement - quite simple and elementary. And all arms sales to those Arab states have plenty of clauses and conditions (as well as technical limitations) that basically render them useless against Israel. In a conflict with Israel, how would they expect the U.S. to resupply them with spares and ammunition? Their militaries would grind to a halt in a few days of conflict without resupplies. The Israelis otoh, have managed to turn these latest arms sales into a huge windfall for them, they’ve extricated another $10 billion of military aid from the U.S. as recompense for what was already a virtual non-threat to them. Furthermore, U.S. influence and leverage in the region would have lessened substantially if those states got their weapons from elsewhere. Unfortunately many probably know these elementary facts yet use such arguments (Hasbara?) hoping to hook the clueless into agreeing.

                                                      As to Palestine having a state side by side to Israel, its a logical solution to defusing instability and extremism in the region - and this too if or when it happens, will have tremendous conditions imposed upon it basically making it far less of a threat than without statehood. Unfortunately - and as all Israelis know but dont like to admit - its not the security issue that is behind their opposition to a Palestinian state, its their Zionist ideology that considers “Judea and Samaria” indivisible parts of Israel… and damn the worlds laws and UN resolutions referring to them as “Occupied Territories” requiring them to be handed back.
                                                      -- Comment by J. Bryce - August 12, 2007 at 8:40 am

                                                      John Mearsheimer spoke at daily kos convention in Chicago, and in the middle of video taping them, a high ranking dkos member told them to stop taping. Ironicly, the week before there was a purging of Israeli critics from the site. This democratic website has become decidedly zionist, as most others.
                                                      -- Comment by daily kos. - August 12, 2007 at 12:24 pm

                                                      Bruce, you are correct and like the Holocaust, this one will also be brought about by the actions and machinations of the political Zionists seeking to achieve their goals, using any method or peoples best suited.
                                                      -- Comment by Shari Peterson - August 12, 2007 at 2:18 pm

                                                      Obviously, the Israeli Lobby have enough power to prevent criticism of Israel in many venues.

                                                      Sure, let Abe Foxman join the talk. But if they insist on presenting a counter-balancing view, then the media should never discuss the issues of Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah, etc. without allowing a speaker who represents the opposite view a chance to counter.

                                                      When talking about the Holocaust, perhaps we should insist that holocaust deniers be given a chance to air their points of view whenever someone talks about it. Of course, in Europe or Canada, you’ll end up in jail for that. It is only a matter of time before it becomes illegal in the US, too.

                                                      What are the ADL so afraid of? Why won’t they let the holocaust deniers speak? After all, we don’t stop theories of a CIA plot to kill JFK or faked moon landing footage or a government conspiracy to cover up alien spacecraft at Area 51. Doesn’t the ADL have enough faith that the majority of people can look at the facts and that truth will win out? Do they think that all Americans are so dumb that they will be swayed by anti-Semitic remarks or that they will mistake LEGITIMATE criticism of Israeli policy to mean that we should wipe out the Jews?

                                                      Doesn’t sound like they have a very high opinion of us, does it? I guess our founding fathers, in protecting free speech, had a little more faith in Americans. We’ve reached a low point when our allies don’t trust us to make rational decisions anymore or to be exposed to controversial or even just plain wrong information without us falling for it hook, line and sinker.

                                                      To be honest, the ADL and AIPAC do more harm to Jewish interests than any anti-Semite could. Plus, anti-Semitism, by definition, includes many Arabs since they too can be Semitic peoples — so there would be a lot of Jewish Americans and Israelis who could legitimately be called anti-Semitic, too. I have nothing against Jews. I have personally never met a Jewish person that I have ever had problems with. But I do have some issues with Israeli policy and it does engender some ill will whenever someone who criticizes Israel, no matter how mildly or carefully they do it, gets charged with being anti-Semitic. By stifling true and open debate, the ADL risks creating a lot of pent up resentment of the “special” relationship the US has with Israel that prevents anyone from daring to criticize it. If I can criticize Bush openly, why is it taboo to criticize Israeli treatment of Palestinians — which is starting to rival the same treatment the Jews received from the Nazis? Even if I am 100% wrong, I still have the right to express my opinion. As long as someone isn’t advocating discrimination of or violence against the Jews ,(or any other group) they should be allowed freedom of expression. If Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are permitted to open their mouths — anyone should be allowed to say what they will.
                                                      -- Comment by Scarlett - August 12, 2007 at 2:43 pm

                                                      How long have the Israeli lobbyists been running your country?
                                                      -- Comment by Israeli Lobby - August 12, 2007 at 4:28 pm

                                                      Shhh guys. AIPAC and ADL are the most destructive thing that could happen to Israel. Now if only we can let these two entities get the US to bomb Iran for them Israel will have come full circle to it’s own demise.
                                                      -- Comment by Robert - August 12, 2007 at 4:33 pm

                                                      The issue is not AIPAC. It is the API — and its battles against alternative and clean energy, and its battles against raising CAFE, and its battles against nuclear power — keeps us forever in the ME.
                                                      -- Comment by Dick PE (Chemical and Petroleum) - August 12, 2007 at 4:35 pm

                                                      How about some new hate crime legislation?

                                                      1. Whosoever shall publish, or cause to be published, any statement that refers to another as an anti-semite in response to the other’s criticism of the state of Israel, shall be guilty of a felony hate crime and shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed six million, ummmh.., six years, at a federal re-education facility and a fine not to exceed six million dollars.

                                                      May you live,
                                                      in liberty
                                                      -- Comment by liberty mike - August 12, 2007 at 4:37 pm

                                                      “Any company in the extraction industries that shall discriminate against any employee or prospective employee on the basis of race, religion, creed, national origin, age, gender, gender identification, or disability in compliance with any boycott shall lose its corporate charter, and Santa Clara County versus Southern Pacific Railroad shall not apply thereto.”
                                                      -- Comment by Dick PE (Chemical and Petroleum) - August 12, 2007 at 4:47 pm

                                                      This is all about the First Amendment. Let’s not follow the gov’t down the path of censorship. After all, censorship is becoming America’s favorite past-time. The US gov’t (and their corporate friends), already detain protesters, ban books like “America Deceived” from Amazon and Wikipedia, shut down Imus and fire 21-year tenured, BYU physics professor Steven Jones because he proved explosives, thermite in particular, took down the WTC buildings. Free Speech forever.
                                                      Last link (before Google Books caves to pressure and drops the title):
                                                      http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?&isbn=0-595-38523-0
                                                      Comment by Fred T - August 12, 2007 at 4:51 pm

                                                      ANTI-SEMITIC ???? Ashkenazims Jews (the real power brokers) are not even semitic, they are mostly a mix of asiatic and indo-european stock. By definition the only semitic people are the Sephardims and other Arabic tribes. So, once again the deceptions by Zionist go much deeper than AIPAC.
                                                      Comment by Robert - August 12, 2007 at 4:54 pm

                                                      Yes Robert they go much deeper than AIPAC. All the way to “The City” and it’s owners/operators the Rothschild cabal.
                                                      Comment by bonanzaman - August 12, 2007 at 5:11 pm

                                                      The M&W paper is dangerous because it strips away the safety-rationale for the war in Iraq. Any intelligent man can look at the facts and realize this wasn’t about WMD or liberation or democracy or terrorism. So the false rationale of oil safely gives something for the Noam Chomskeys of the world to go after, because on its surface it is a strong argument. Lots of oil, control of resources, pipelines… Pure greed. Makes sense. But if you consider that Saddam was a reliable patsy of the US and big oil for decades, it doesn’t make sense. We’ve been controlling the Middle East for a century now and had it down to a brutal science. Without the interventionism in 1990 and 2003, all the puppet regimes in the Middle East would still be buying oil in US dollars and balancing each other militarily and suppressing any populism among their own people. Screwing up such a perfect system only happened after the Neocons got into power and Israel’s agenda became our agenda. Israel’s agenda is the agenda of the ruling Likud Party (not all Jewish people) and the Likud Party has historically been the party of political Zionism. That is what right-wing Zionist-Jewish organizations like the ADL and AIPAC don’t want people thinking about, because it exposes them.
                                                      Comment by Clem - August 12, 2007 at 5:24 pm

                                                      Phew…what’s that stench? All the Nazi filth on this thread, that’s what.
                                                      Comment by Jimbo - August 12, 2007 at 5:29 pm

                                                      What are they afraid of?

                                                      They’re afraid that Americans will want the right to freely discuss our middle east policy That isn’t allowed, ever. It is and will remain our prime taboo.
                                                      Comment by Ghugh Hader - August 12, 2007 at 6:13 pm

                                                      Hey Jimbo, The racist Zionist have far more in common with Nazism than anything written on this blog or the numerous blogs out in blogland. I find a very high caliber of rational arguments against the current activities of AIPAC and ADL.
                                                      Comment by Robert - August 12, 2007 at 6:34 pm

                                                      “ . . . I want to tell you something clear,
                                                      don’t worry about American pressure on Israel,
                                                      we the Jewish people control America,
                                                      and the Americans know it.”-Ariel Sharon

                                                      What happened to Russia in 1917 has happened gradually to America since Wilson and now America is on the brink of becoming a totalitarian state, It is only one dirty bomb away. Now an unchained America has become a nightmare for the rest of the world.

                                                      US|SU, note the symmetry.
                                                      Comment by Stuyvesant - August 12, 2007 at 6:36 pm

                                                      This may be the last few days of this blog as Rupert Murdock, a rabid Zionist himself will soon take over the helm of the Wall Street Journal. He will do to the WSJ what he has done to everything he’s touched, CENSORSHIP !!!!
                                                      Comment by Robert - August 12, 2007 at 7:07 pm

                                                      The first letter in “AIPAC” is for American. That organization, consisting of Americans, is run from Washington, D.C., not Israel. Any allegations of “Dual loyalty” are the creation of critics of the U.S.-Israeli alliance and those determined to eradicate Israel, not settle the conflict through creation of a state for Palestinians. It seems that the real “dual loyalists” on this page are loyal to Hitler and the Third Reich and would have been properly imprisoned, as was Fritz Kuhn of the German American Bund! The stench of anti-Semitism here is readily apparent. Its foul oder is far stronger than the smell of sulpher alleged by Hugo Chavez in the U.N. The refusal of M and W to debate Foxman or Dershowitz in Chicago exposes the real motivation of their one-sided screed. Has anyone examined the role of CAIR, Paul Findley, or other anti-Israel lobbyists in the U.S.? That should be M and W’s next work! It would demonstrate some objectivity, something obviously lacking in their current so-called “work!”
                                                      Comment by U.S. Veteran 43-45 - August 12, 2007 at 7:10 pm

                                                      There is a big difference between being a Jew and zionofascist. Zionists in the US have placed themselves as gate keepers in all strata of US institutions with the powerful individuals in the current administration dictating foreign policy. They hold duel nationality and have split loyalty. Israel’s interests are not always the same as US interests. The trouble is spotting the difference while these people in charge.
                                                      Comment by Friend of America - August 12, 2007 at 7:24 pm

                                                      Dear Veteran of 43-45, Your denial goes deep. I put a question to you. Has AIPAC in all it’s efforts brought Israel closer to a secure world ? Do you really believe that a thirt-five foot wall can save Israel from what’s coming thier way next? American Jews have blinded themselves into a corner. You really should start thinking about how you’ll apologize to those none Jews that have been fighting and dying for your cause. A cause that is rifed with falsehoods of history and plays a dangerous game with other folk’s lives.
                                                      Comment by Robert - August 12, 2007 at 7:42 pm

                                                      ‘U.S. Veteran 43-45′ (whose style of writing reveals that he cannot be a 85-year old) wants to fool us that AIPAC is an ‘american’ organisation. Listen Schmull, this medium, the internet, is going to be you coffin. The awareness about the truths behind all your crimes, like the russian revolution, the armenian genocide, the causes behind both world wars, the ‘holocaust’, the multicultural destruction of the West, which is all your work, the response to all this is going to be devastating for you. There will no place to hide for you criminals.
                                                      Comment by Stuyvesant - August 12, 2007 at 7:44 pm

                                                      “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for
                                                      people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
                                                      -Noam Chomsky
                                                      Comment by Ben Van Meter - August 12, 2007 at 7:47 pm

                                                      Shocking. Someone who says anything critical about Israel is immediatly labeled anti-semite and their speech is censored. Geez, that’s never happened before. Welcome to what the rest of the world has experienced for the last 30 years.
                                                      Comment by Anon - August 12, 2007 at 7:49 pm

                                                      The ADL is one of the most un-American organizations in existence in the world today. Absolute criminals hell bent on destroying the Constitution and getting their “hate law” legislation through Congress.

                                                      Remember what Israel did to the USS Liberty?

                                                      Stay away from my 1st Amendment Foxman!!!!
                                                      Comment by AdamT - August 12, 2007 at 7:53 pm

                                                      I agree that some of the posts on this board are anti-semitic anti-Jewish. But there are loons on every internet board. I do not see how their posts negate the original premise that ADL labels any discussion or hypothesis they disagree with as anti-semitic. Ad hominem argument is never credible. Neither is any attempt to stifle free speech.

                                                      I personally believe that Bush/Cheney et. al. and Mossad conspired to create 9-11. That doesn’t mean I am prejudiced against Americans, and no one accuses me of that. Why should it imply I am anti-semitic? I am not. But you have to call ‘em like you see ‘em, even when you wish it were not the case. No affiliation with any nation, race or creed confers the right to engage in criminal conduct.

                                                      But any suggestion that all Jews are responsible for the actions of the Israeli gov’t is as absurd as saying all Americans are war criminals just because Bush is.

                                                      All humans that can conduct their lives lawfully and peacefully should enjoy the unbridled blessing of liberty, freedom and equal protection under the law, no matter what their race or creed. Those that can not, should not, no matter what their race or creed. No get out of jail free cards for anyone.
                                                      Comment by Iceberg - August 12, 2007 at 8:43 pm

                                                      America a Constitutional Republic and not a Democracy not a democracy and not a democracy
                                                      It’s population has been brain washed into believing it is a demoracy for in order to desmatle the constitution
                                                      the people must have the idea that Americans live in a Democracy
                                                      When the people are so dumbed down that they dont even understand the difference
                                                      they will accept the nwo with open arms
                                                      and if the people dare speak out against Isreal or AMerican policy or should they revolt in any way
                                                      the NWO will let the other foot drop
                                                      which will be total collapse of the economy the doll\ar worth 10 cents and the people will then go down on their knees to beg for the NWO
                                                      give up the constitution without so much as a wimper
                                                      what is coming will knock your knees shiver your timbers and your teeth will gnash
                                                      they now own your vertical and your horizontal
                                                      and when oil goes away as it will soon they will ome to slaughter 9/10ths of you
                                                      this is their agenda this is the American nightmare
                                                      Comment by dave - August 12, 2007 at 8:53 pm

                                                      The toothpaste is out of the tube and shrill Zionist stooges cannot put it back in, try to censor and censure all they might. Now that the truth is out about AIPAC let’s turn the spotlight toward Israel’s HUNDREDS of nukes and what effect that is having on Middle East affairs.
                                                      Comment by WestIndian - August 12, 2007 at 8:58 pm

                                                      Although anti-Zionist and anti-AIPAC, I dont appreciate anti-Semitism. There are many Jews themselves who abhor Israeli policies and Zionism and how their operatives conduct themselves in America through the likes of AIPAC. Often Zionists themselves realizing the abhorrent nature of anti-semitism use that and pose in some forums or comment sections as fierce anti-Semites to stain legitimate criticism of Zionism or Israel, something like the Stuyvesant fellow above appears to be doing.
                                                      Comment by J. Bryce - August 12, 2007 at 9:00 pm

                                                      Apparently someone didn’t like that I mentioned Karl Marx was Jewish…

                                                      Anyway, Henry Ford said it best…

                                                      “The real split in Jewry will come if and when Jews of vision begin to support the attempts which have been made to liberate the Jews from their leaders. This internal squabble means nothing but the squabble of leaders; but when the Jews themselves divide, one side for twentieth century light and the destruction of the power of selfish leaders, then we may begin to hope.”
                                                      Comment by CDM - August 12, 2007 at 9:32 pm

                                                      YouGotItBackwards - Do you have any idea HOW MANY TIMES Israelis have actually been busted in high profile incidents committing acts of terrorism posing as Arabs over the decades? Which proves terrorism obviously has great benefits to Israel.
                                                      Comment by Anonymous - August 12, 2007 at 9:45 pm

                                                      CONFUSION ABOUT THE TERM ANTI-SEMITE. First off semites have virtually nothing to do with AIPAC or ADL or the numerous other nafarious Israel-Firsters groups. These groups are controlled by Ashkinazims a non-semitic people that converted to Judaism around 740 ad. They have no history in the middle-east whatsoever. They are a great people but they are none-semitic in origin. If you do not set the history right then you add to the confusion of what Israel is all about. At this point in history it is very important for Zionist that all non-congratulatory speech about Israel be filtered through fellow Zionists critical eye. This has worked very well with the mainstream media,(TV,radio,magazines,newspapers,etc) The next stage of censorship will be the internet. You can bet that the same folks that set us up for this war in the middle-east are working feverishly to shut down the free speech that you are now enjoying. Then and only then should one take up arms.
                                                      Comment by Robert - August 12, 2007 at 9:55 pm

                                                      YouGotItBackwards makes sense to the Red Staters,but not the Blue.I should know,I have lived in suburban areas of Illinois and Florida.I hate to demean Florida,but there is not to many critical thinkers here,if you get my drift.New York,Chicago and California are home to the majority of Fortune 500 companies and the best public schools(in the suburbs).They are blue states and critical of Bush and the Kosher Salami that is up his Administrations kiester.
                                                      Comment by Kevin - August 12, 2007 at 10:35 pm

                                                      As a German-American.I ask myself,what is beneficial to me and my race.Losing my life to a people out to defend their land or ignore a pernicious people who use others for their personal gain.
                                                      Comment by Jamie - August 12, 2007 at 10:47 pm

                                                      What credibility the ADL had, it is losing rapidly. Being effectively censured by the ADL will soon be a badge of honor.
                                                      Comment by John J - August 12, 2007 at 11:20 pm

                                                      At Some point the Jewish and Israeli interest groups are going to have let this discussion take place. Eighty years ago in Germany their grandfathers also stifled all criticism of Jews in business and government and it got to the point where the only voice the people had was through a dictator who seized control of the country and took the world to war.

                                                      Just what do the Jewish groups think is going to happen here if the continue to dominate our policy and allow no voice or dissent from the citizenry or it’s representatives?
                                                      Comment by Mike From Queens - August 13, 2007 at 12:08 am

                                                      “When it comes, and believe me it is coming soon…..there will be a real Holocaust…”

                                                      So far, it hasn’t come throughout millennium of pretty much the same behavior…

                                                      “Doesn’t the ADL have enough faith that the majority of people can look at the facts and that truth will win out? Do they think that all Americans are so dumb that they will be swayed by anti-Semitic remarks or that they will mistake LEGITIMATE criticism of Israeli policy to mean that we should wipe out the Jews?”

                                                      absolutely. Those who can look at the facts are not even minority, they are minuscule. Vast majority of Americans are 100% loyal to Israel by definition. They sincerely believe that Israel is incarnation of Jewry, and has full rights to do anything without any limits because of the Holocaust.

                                                      “But any suggestion that all Jews are responsible for the actions of the Israeli gov’t is as absurd as saying all Americans are war criminals just because Bush is.”

                                                      The vast majority of Jews do support Israeli government. To find out the real degree for yourself, tune to a radio station of their community, read their newspaper… the storm of telephone calls to any newspaper or university that dares to peep something not entirely sympathetic to Israel, is coming not from aliens, and not from Israel. It’s coming from Americans. AIPAC and ADL, by the way, also consist of Americans. As for Bush, the main reason why he is able to commit war crimes is because he had been elected by Americans. Twice.
                                                      Comment by stl - August 13, 2007 at 1:08 am

                                                      Render makes the point but that won’t stop the Mearsheimer/Walt book from being published and widely read. I would say time is running short for the lying Zionist machine. The thing that really scares the hell out of these thugs is not what I say but the fact that more and more Israelis are buying one way tickets out of Israel as the Lakudics have reached the bottom rungs of moral depravity. Twenty years ago Germany had around 23,000 Jews. Today the number is 240,000+ former Israelis. The U.S. number of Israeli citizens is close to 600,000 in New York alone not counting the Fl,Ca,etc,etc. This reverse exodus is not a good sign for the future of Israel but the final dismantling of Israel is most likely the final solution for this tragic period in our history. Of course, the Renders of the world will have to go back to the good old fashion everday crime. They love the sick world they’ve created.
                                                      Comment by Robert - August 13, 2007 at 1:10 am

                                                      The last entry was by some other Robert. Please use another by name. I see jews as such no big problem. It’s the Zionist pipe dream turned nightmare that I find repulsive
                                                      Comment by Robert - August 13, 2007 at 2:52 am

                                                      You poor Americans are under the same grip my people were under the Communists. Maybe one day a majority of Americans will recognize they are one in the same
                                                      Comment by Stu - August 13, 2007 at 3:21 am

                                                      Ok.
                                                      Comment by Robert II - August 13, 2007 at 3:23 am

                                                      Zionist Jews and Israel are the real enemys of America.Not the Arabs.
                                                      Comment by Randy Hosman - August 13, 2007 at 4:56 am

                                                      Read The Controversy of Zion here:
                                                      http://knud.eriksen.adr.dk/Controversybook/

                                                      Written in the late 40s and early 50s, by London Times journalist, Douglas Reed. It explains much. Well referenced and well written. It took 25 years to find a publisher with the courage to print it.
                                                      Comment by Scott Freigh - August 13, 2007 at 6:12 am

                                                      WSJ blogs

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                                                        "Quiet transfer" -- aka ethnic cleansing -- pushes Palestinians out

                                                        English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                        By Peter Hirschberg

                                                        JERUSALEM, Aug 15 (IPS) - Arab residents of East Jerusalem are finding themselves increasingly under threat of what one Israeli human rights organisation calls "quiet transfer."

                                                        [More:]

                                                        According to information obtained by the B'Tselem rights group from Israel's Interior Ministry, the number of Arab residents on the eastern side of the disputed city who had their permanent residency status revoked in 2006 increased dramatically -- more than six fold. While the number stood at 272 in 2003 and was 222 in 2005, last year 1,363 residents of East Jerusalem had their residency status revoked.

                                                        Permanent residency status grants the quarter of a million Arabs who live in East Jerusalem most of the rights afforded to Israeli citizens. They can't vote in parliamentary elections, but they can vote in municipal elections, can work in Israel and are eligible for state social security benefits and state-provided healthcare. These benefits make East Jerusalem residency a valuable and prized status.

                                                        After Israel annexed the eastern side of Jerusalem in 1967 -- a move never recognised by the international community -- the Arab residents there were allowed to apply for full Israeli citizenship. But most refused to do so, because naturalisation required they swear allegiance to the State of Israel and renounce any other citizenships they may have.

                                                        Because of the disputed nature of Jerusalem -- the Palestinians claim the eastern part as the future capital of an independent state, while Israel claims sovereignty over the entire city -- and the refusal of the Arab residents to recognise Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem, rights groups like B'Tselem have argued that the status of these residents is different to that of permanent residents in other countries.

                                                        Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for B'Tselem, told IPS that Israel needed to be sensitive to the unique and dilemma-ridden position in which Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem find themselves. "Israel should relate to these people as if they were citizens (and not just permanent residents)," she says.

                                                        The mass revocation of residency status in East Jerusalem first began in 1996, when Israel began cancelling the residency of hundreds of Arab residents who had moved outside of the city's municipal boundaries, either to somewhere in the West Bank or abroad. In 1997, the number reached 1,097, but was still lower than 2006, the highest ever.

                                                        The Interior Ministry policy of revoking permanent residency is based on a 1988 decision by the Israeli High Court, which determined that unlike naturalisation, permanent residency status is "an expression of the reality of a permanent stay." In other words, when permanent residency is no longer in effect, the status "cancels itself."

                                                        Btselem's Michaeli accuses the government of a policy of "quiet transfer" -- an accusation levelled by more than one Israeli civil rights group, who say successive governments have used the policy of revoking permanent residency status in a bid to tilt the demographic balance in Jerusalem in Israel's favour. In the mid-90s, for instance, Israel's interior ministry made it increasingly difficult for East Jerusalem residents to get construction permits, which led to a housing shortage for Arabs, leaving them no choice but to search for housing outside of the city, a decision that often cost them their permanent residency status.

                                                        In 2000, the Interior Ministry told the High Court it would revert to its pre-1995 policy when less stringent criteria were in effect regarding the revoking of residency status. That meant residents of the city who were living in Jordan or elsewhere in the West Bank could renew their status even if they had been living outside the city for several years. And they wouldn't have to provide documents like water and electricity bills in order to prove uninterrupted residency.

                                                        As a result, the number of residents having their status revoked dropped sharply, and hundreds of Palestinians who had lost their residency status had it reinstated.

                                                        Now, however, the policy seems to have changed again. In correspondence with Shalom Benamo, a senior official at the Interior Ministry, B'Tselem was told that most of the cases of revoked residency between 2005 and 2006 "involved people who immigrated abroad and acquired foreign citizenship." The rest of the cases, he said, involved people who had lived outside of Jerusalem for seven years or more.

                                                        When questioned by B'Tselem over the sudden surge in the number of residents having their status revoked, the ministry insisted there had been no change in policy and put it down to "growing efficiency at the office and better supervision of borders."

                                                        Civil rights groups are skeptical.

                                                        Inter Press Service

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                                                          War in Iraq, Poverty in America

                                                          English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                          By Bill Boyarsky

                                                          They’re closing a hospital in my city, but I’m sure nobody in the rest of the country gives a damn.

                                                          [More:]

                                                          If Robert F. Kennedy were alive and running for president, he’d tell America about the demise of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in South Los Angeles and what it means to America. He’d make Americans give a damn.

                                                          If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive, he’d be speaking at the hospital. After hearing his words, people across the country would realize Los Angeles’ loss was also their own. Dr. King would make them give a damn.

                                                          One of the most important, now forgotten, aspects of the tragic year of 1968 was the way Sen. Kennedy and Dr. King saw the relationship between the Vietnam War and poverty at home. If the war continued, poverty would too.

                                                          They carried this message throughout the country. It was not popular. Even some of those who loved him thought Dr. King should stick to his subject: civil rights. And too many opponents of the war thought Kennedy was muddying up the antiwar campaign by diving into the complexities of poor brown and black America. But the two persisted, and if Kennedy had been elected in 1968, more Americans would have been persuaded to care. Assassination—King in April and then Kennedy in June—silenced them.

                                                          Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital is located around 120th Street and Wilmington Avenue in the heart of South Los Angeles, where the population, once almost all African American, now is also heavily Latino.

                                                          The hospital was built after the 1965 Watts riot. Watts is a relatively small community near the hospital, but its name became attached to a riot that raged widely through South Los Angeles. In those days, Los Angeles, which liked to consider itself enlightened, had many of the attributes of the Old South: a brutal, heavily white police department, a rotten public transportation system that did not serve poor areas, and segregated housing and public schools. There was no hospital for miles around. That’s what sparked and fed the riot.

                                                          King was built by the county to remedy the situation. But over the years, it became a victim of the dysfunctional politics of poor areas. The hospital offered jobs and was a boon to the then-dominant black population. After a time, jobs became more important than standards. First in the 1980s and then in 2004, the Los Angeles Times exposed bad conditions in a hospital that had become known as “Killer King.” An incompetent county Board of Supervisors did nothing. Federal authorities investigated. Last week they cut off federal aid, and now the hospital is closing.

                                                          This is the kind of issue that John Edwards is talking about in his presidential campaign, just as Robert Kennedy did in 1968.

                                                          Edwards speaks out more strongly than any of the other Democratic presidential candidates on the direct link between the Iraq war and the increasingly desperate plight of the poor, as well as the growing financial troubles of the middle class.

                                                          In July Edwards replicated a tour Kennedy took in 1968 through an Appalachia that remains impoverished. The national political reporters and commentators greeted him with the cynicism, scorn and irony so popular in a mainstream media trying desperately to sound up to date. They commented on his tactics: They were so irrelevant, so outmoded, so 1968. Newsweek’s Jonathan Darman said, “By the time the tour reached its halfway point, Edwards was barely making the national papers.” In the bored and world-weary tone of many American political journalists, he commented, “[T]o a weary nation worried about the war in Iraq, the threat of terror and the health of the planet, his words sound like more empty promises from a politician.”

                                                          I think reporters such as Darman should be required to spend several days exploring the area around Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital. It is an area where “the threat of terror” is daily and immediate—gang bullets, uninsured drunken hit-run drivers, and drug dealers in control of streets. To people in South Los Angeles, “the health of the planet” is a somewhat vague concept compared with immediate health concerns of diabetes, poor nutrition, high rates of cancer, high blood pressure, gunshot wounds and other afflictions associated with poor neighborhoods.

                                                          And if the reporters don’t want to travel to California, let them visit Grady hospital in Atlanta, where my daughter, a nurse, encountered the same conditions as she worked in the emergency ward. Or they could go to any other public hospital and the surrounding poor neighborhood in urban America.

                                                          I am not dumb enough to believe poverty is curable. But it can be ameliorated, and a big step toward helping the poor would be some sort national health insurance—preferably Medicare for everyone. Edwards was the first to come out with a comprehensive healthcare plan and, while not perfect, it’s the best that’s been offered.

                                                          With patients covered by national health insurance, public hospitals like King could become private or community hospitals run by independent administrators, not captives of a government bureaucracy. They could impose strict standards on doctors, nurses and the other caregivers, free from interference by bureaucrats and their politician bosses.

                                                          And national health insurance, with everyone carrying a Medicare card, would permit the poor to get the examinations—breast, colon, prostate, heart and the rest—that help prevent long-term and severe illness. The ill could go to any hospital. Those suffering from cancer, for example, could choose the hospital with the most experienced cancer specialists.

                                                          We can’t do this unless the war ends. There isn’t enough money. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. saw the connection. If they had been around today, their words would have been so powerful that the political journalists couldn’t ignore them. Kennedy and King would have led, and the country would have followed.

                                                          Truthdig

                                                          988 words posted in American Empire, Health, , Iraq warLeave a comment

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                                                            Fisk: Lebanese Strike a Blow at U.S.-Backed Government

                                                            English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                            By Robert Fisk

                                                            They’ve done it again. The Arabs have, once more, followed democracy and voted for the wrong man.

                                                            Just as the Palestinians voted for Hamas when they were supposed to vote for the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, so the Christian Maronites of Lebanon appear to have voted for a man opposed to the majority government of Fouad Siniora in Beirut.
                                                            Camille Khoury—with a strong vote from the Armenian Tashnak party—won by 418 votes the seat that belonged to Pierre Gemayel, murdered last November by gunmen supposedly working for the Syrian security services.

                                                            [More:]

                                                            While the Maronite vote had increased against Gemayel’s showing in 2005 elections, the result was a stunning blow to the American-backed government—how devastating that phrase “American-backed” has now become in the Middle East—in Lebanon and allowed Hizbollah’s ally, ex-General Michel Aoun, to claim that “they cannot beat me”. Mr Aoun is a candidate in presidential elections later this year.

                                                            True, the voting figures showed huge support for Pierre Gemayel’s father Amin—himself an ex-president—who was standing for the parliamentary seat of his murdered son. Although he was a weak and fractious leader—Amin paid a state visit to Damascus to re-cement “fraternal” ties after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon—he proved himself a brave man in the aftermath of his son’s murder, calling upon Lebanese to support the government rather than submit once more to the domination of Syria.

                                                            Khoury’s score in the Metn hills above Beirut—and a 418 conquest out of 79,000 votes is hardly a crushing political victory—yet again emphasises the divisions among the Christians of Lebanon who have traditionally fought each other—rather than their more obvious enemies—throughout Lebanese history. The Crusaders fought each other in Tyre when Saladin was at the gates of the city; in 1990, Mr Aoun’s own Lebanese army fought the Christian Phalangist militia while still trying to defend themselves from the Syrians. They lost both battles.

                                                            Amin’s father Pierre—grandfather of the MP murdered last November—founded the Phalange in 1936 after being inspired by the Nazi Berlin Olympics. “I thought Lebanon needed some of this order,” he admitted to me shortly before his death; the original Phalange dressed in brown shirts and gave the Hitler salute. But they had turned themselves into a neo-respectable right-wing party by 1982 when they were enthusiastically supported by the invading Israeli army which hoped that Amin’s brother Bashir would be elected president. Alas, Bashir turned out to be less pro-Israeli than the then-defence minister, Ariel Sharon, hoped, and was himself murdered in a bomb attack shortly before his inauguration.

                                                            Old Pierre of Olympics fame is long dead—he did not even know his own age when I last spoke to him—and Amin’s brother and son were both assassinated. For the government, there was one electoral light yesterday [Aug. 6]: the victory of Mohamed Itani in Beirut, a Sunni Muslim who scored 85 per cent of the vote for the seat of Walid Eido who was himself blown up by a bomb in June.

                                                            One begins to wonder, in Lebanon, whether the election results are more surprising than the means by which MPs are liquidated.

                                                            http://news.independent.co.uk/fisk/article2841338.ece

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                                                              Dick Cheney's "Quagmire" in 1994

                                                              English (US)  August 15th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

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                                                                Uber Zionist Netanyahu re-eleced to lead Likud

                                                                English (US)  August 14th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                General elections are due in 2010 but Netanyahu, left,
                                                                could challenge Olmert, right, as early as 2008 [EPA]

                                                                Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli opposition leader, has been re-elected head of the Likud party, partial results show.

                                                                [More:]


                                                                With about 80 per cent of ballots counted in Tuesday's election, the former prime minister had 75 per cent of the vote, according to Gad Arieli, the party's executive director.

                                                                Moshe Feiglin, a West Bank settler who ran against Netanyahu, won 20 per cent while a third candidate, Danny Danon, a junior Likud politician, took five per cent.

                                                                Earlier on Tuesday, analysts said they expected Netanyahu, seen by many as the main challenger to Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, to take more than 50 per cent of votes in the election.

                                                                Netanyahu has seen his ratings soar in opinion polls since the rise of Hamas and Israel's war with Hezbollah fighters last year.

                                                                Israeli general elections are due in 2010 but, with Olmert's near record low approval ratings, some commentators anticipate a face-off between him and Netanyahu as early as next year.


                                                                Source: Agencies

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                                                                  Summertime -- and the living under U.S. occupation is horrific

                                                                  English (US)  August 13th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                  Those Summertime Blues

                                                                  By Layla Anwar
                                                                  Arab Woman Blues

                                                                  Suffocating heat, scorching sun, dryness, pallor, dehydrated limp bodies trudging along, searching for a tiny corner of coolness, a bit of air...

                                                                  [More:]

                                                                  Searching desperately for a whiff of freshness, a caress of a breeze...nothing.

                                                                  Nothing but heat and sitting in pools of sweat. Water, search for water. Maybe we should drink our own sweat instead.
                                                                  A drop here, a drop there, counting them like precious little diamonds. The river is next door, eaten up by the Green zone...

                                                                  Evenings are long, tediously long. A light bulb here and a candle there, generators pumping, then stopping then pumping again...sometimes there are none.

                                                                  Fridges, freezers, air coolers, AC, fans, ventilators, forget it...only in the Green zone. Only in the comfort zone of the Brothel.

                                                                  Thirst, infants dying of thirst and the river still eaten up by the brothel holders...

                                                                  Quenching with the morning dew. Hoping it will change, maybe today, tomorrow, a little here and a little there, a piecemeal of hope, a tiny ray of light. But no, nothing.

                                                                  And the genocide goes on...and on and on...

                                                                  Have a look at the river, look at it - dirty, foul, still, water heavied with corpses, and yet, some take their cans, pots and pans and fill up. Water, water, water...

                                                                  Water in the Brothel only.

                                                                  For the whores to shower after each client. The clients of petro dollars, the clients of political religious sectarianism, the clients of Death...

                                                                  So they shower and they drink and they sit naked, with bellies bulging, pregnant with blue infants, dead of thirst...And they quench theirs, mixing blood with whiskey, mixing blood with water and signing their dollar notes in red...Red from the red zone, red as the sunset, red as...

                                                                  Summertime.

                                                                  And I, in the background, have been humming it all day. That old Billie Holiday tune -

                                                                  "Summertime and the living is easy..."

                                                                  Yes easy, and my mind wanders to those easy days, easy simple days where I belonged to something, where I felt I connected to someone, a group, a place, a city...

                                                                  Red zone and the dryness of life. The repetitiveness to the point of banality. The banality of death, the banality of existence…

                                                                  Time has stopped. It turns around itself, in some robotic motion and delivers the same each day.

                                                                  And in between the numbness, despair and grief creep out, like worms from a cracked wall. Slowly twisting their way, crawling back into my skin, underneath, tickling me and lodging there, nesting there...

                                                                  I smoke away the night...inhaling the temporary silence and puffing it away, blowing a breeze of smoke, in the stillness, in the inertia, in the black, in the gaping wound that lays bare open, red open, very red, like the red zone, like our lives...

                                                                  “Le rouge et le noir” from a Stendhal novel, forever mixing in the colorless palette of our days and our nights...

                                                                  I throw myself back and fall on a cushion of memories...
                                                                  I try hard to dig them up and out, excavate them, then I brush them one by one like some ancient archeological relic, and place them in front of me.
                                                                  One by one...like little statues. Then I name them, give them dates, faces and colors...I revive them one by one, by recalling their sound, their texture, their shapes, their forms...

                                                                  Summertime and the living was easy...

                                                                  Sometimes lounging by an acqua blue pool, sipping chilled fruit cocktails. At other times, maybe a fancy dinner or a simple take away. Sometimes a stroll by the flowing river, under a luminous starry night, smelling the cooling palm trees. And sometimes, a drive around the city of Lights, listening to my favorite tunes...

                                                                  Summertime and the living was good...

                                                                  Reclining in a shady garden, bathing in the scent of jasmine, feeling the earth rock solid under my bare feet, solidly immutable, as if nothing will ever touch it...shake it.
                                                                  Slowly tasting cold bright red grenadine juice or maybe an icy lemon sherbet with hues of fresh green mint leaves floating on the surface...listening to the ice cubes clicking in the glass as in a dance…

                                                                  Summertime and Dance Festivals. All kinds of dances from all over the world.
                                                                  Bodies in motion, in movement, expanding, contracting, breathing on stage, drawing life and giving it back to us...Pushing forth the possible.

                                                                  Summertime and Art. Exhibtions, galleries, artists, paintings...
                                                                  Splashing living colors on an asleep canvas, animating it, infusing it with outbursts of passion, with a primal scream, the scream of life.
                                                                  And awakening it to a beauty made of different shades...etching them, engraving them in us like a pristine melody...Pushing forth the potential.

                                                                  Summertime and Music Festivals. All sorts of music...
                                                                  A medley of singers, musicians, instruments from the four corners of the world. Vibrations lulling us, rocking us, transporting us with their rhythms, sounds,lyrics and tunes to unknown places...Pushing forth a reality in the making.

                                                                  Summertime and reality unfolding, growing, shaping its way, designing us and us designing her.
                                                                  We were that reality and she was us. And we communicated with her and she responded and she grew and took form, pulsating with energy, with the possible, the potential, the unexplored...The blue sky was the limit.

                                                                  Yes, summertime and those little moments of leisure, those moments of pleasure, awakening the senses, teasing them, ushering them in a new direction and reminding them that life could be good, was good, as good as it can be.

                                                                  You may think this is all very "bourgeois". What you think is no longer relevant. You are no longer relevant.

                                                                  Or maybe you think pleasure and leisure are only reserved for you. Or maybe you think that we are due to suffer so you can remain in your comfort zone judging...
                                                                  Or maybe you think, we are not even entitled to the daily things that you take for granted... My, what a despicable lot you are.

                                                                  What a despicable lot of thieves. Thieves of the potential, thieves of the possible, thieves of a reality that was in the making.

                                                                  Just the thought of you has snatched me away from my rêverie. And I am reminded again, of yesterday, today and tomorrow...
                                                                  Dots on a straight line...the same over and over again.

                                                                  Summertime and the pools of crimson red blood. Summertime and the sounds of explosions, bombs, guns and tanks. Summertime and the dreary colors of green and grey army uniforms. Summertime and drinking molotov cocktails. Summertime and the stench of sewage and piled garbage. Summertime and inert lifeless cold bodies. Summertime and a river that stood still, murky with Death.

                                                                  And you tiptoe back into my mind, writhing your way back and I know you want to steal these memories too... dissecting them one by one, smashing my little statues just like you have smashed all that reminds me of us...of me.

                                                                  Thieves of the night, thieves of Life.

                                                                  Summertime and the living was easy. Am still humming it till the bitter end...

                                                                  “...one of these mornings, you're going to rise up singing
                                                                  then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take the sky
                                                                  but till that morning...hush...don’t you cry.”

                                                                  Painting : Iraqi artist, Ali Al-Tajer.

                                                                  1215 words posted in American Empire, Iraq warLeave a comment

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                                                                    ARAFAT WAS POISONED

                                                                    English (US)  August 12th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                    "Be certain that Yasser Arafat's final days are numbered, but allow us to finish him off our way, not yours. And be sure as well that ... the promises I made in front of President Bush, I will give my life to keep." Those words were written by the Fatah warlord (Abbas'a former security chief) Mohammed Dahlan, whose US- and Israeli-backed forces were routed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip in June, in a 13 July 2003 letter to then Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz and published on Hamas' website on 4 July this year. from Ali Abunimah at Electronic Intifada

                                                                    Arafat's doctor: There was HIV in his blood, but poison killed him

                                                                    By Danny Rubinstein, Haaretz Correspondent

                                                                    Late Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat's blood contained the deadly HIV virus, Arafat's personal physician told Jordanian media over the weekend. Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi stressed, however, that Arafat did not die of AIDS - which is caused by the virus.

                                                                    [More:]

                                                                    Jordanian news site Amman quoted al-Kurdi - a former Jordanian health ministry official - as saying that the virus had been injected into Arafat's bloodstream close to his death, and that the real cause of the chairman's death was poison.

                                                                    Hours earlier, al-Kurdi was interviewed on television news station Al-Jazeera. However, the network cut short the live interview with al-Kurdi as soon as he mentioned that the former chairman had contracted HIV.

                                                                    To Amman, al-Kurdi said that Arafat's death was suspicious in several other respects. "I would usually be summoned to attend to Arafat immediately, even when all he had was a simple cold," said al-Kurdi, who served as Arafat's personal physician for 18 years. "But when his medical situation was really deteriorating, they chose not to call me at all."

                                                                    According to al-Kurdi, Arafat's wife, Suha, refused to allow the doctor to visit Arafat in the private Paris hospital where he was being treated. Al-Kurdi added that he was denied access to Arafat's body after his death. In the Amman interview, he demanded the French government set up a commission of inquiry.

                                                                    However, al-Kurdi did not explain why he did not come forth sooner and reveal the information. On September 9, 2005, al-Kurdi told Haaretz that "any doctor would tell you that [Arafat's symptoms] are the symptoms of a poisoning."

                                                                    Arafat was pronounced dead on November 11 at the age of 75. The exact cause of his illness is unknown. Arab journalists and opinion-shapers have repeatedly accused Israel under former prime minister Ariel Sharon of poisoning Arafat.

                                                                    Haaretz

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                                                                      Politics Unmercifully Trespass Humanitarian Borders in Gaza

                                                                      English (US)  August 12th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                      By Nicola Nasser

                                                                      The major political players who are involved in sealing off 1.5 million Palestinians into an open air prison in the world’s most densely populated 360-square-kilometre area of the Gaza Strip are unmercifully trespassing humanitarian borders there; they perceive in the collapsing economy of the Mediterranean coastal strip, which is rapidly developing into a humanitarian crisis, a political “window of opportunity.”

                                                                      Linda S. Heard in an opinion column on Online Journal on August 2 quoted “an old expression that goes, ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,’ which has its origins in Virgil's rendition of the Trojan horse legend. Another translation reads ‘Trust not their presents, not admit the horse’ … change the word ‘Greeks’ to ‘Americans’ (and) the warning may well be valid today.”

                                                                      [More:]

                                                                      Ironically they are counterproductively citing security and peace making as their casus belli, but they are creating on the ground an explosive humanitarian disaster that could blow off the local as well as the regional security in a way that precludes any credible efforts towards reviving a deadlocked peace process, moribund since 2000. Human rights and morality as well as realpolitics are facing a critical test in the Gaza Strip, where the culprits of the tragic status quo perceive a “window of opportunity.”

                                                                      According to Yoram Meital, Chairperson of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies & Diplomacy at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (ynetnews.com on August 6), the first to point to this “window of opportunity” was the U.S. president, George W. Bush, who last month vaguely proposed an ambiguous public relations “international” conference on Middle East in the fall with the aim of advancing the peace process. In parallel, the Israeli prime minister suggested an “agreement of principles” for a final-status deal with the Palestinians. On August 8, Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni joined Bush’s new “vision” on the opportunity: “Gaza creates a security threat for us, while the other part (West Bank) controlled by the new Palestinian government (of Salam Fayyad) can create an opportunity,” she said.

                                                                      A flurry of diplomatic traffic followed. Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the region and met with Palestinian President Mahmoud abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before they held their latest bimonthly meeting in Jericho, the special envoy of the Quartet of the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia Tony Blair also made a regional visit, which coincided with another historic and first of its kind by the foreign ministers of Egypt, Ahmed Aboul Ghei, and Jordan, Abdul-Ilah Khatib, to Israel to present the Arab Peace Initiative of the League of Arab States. None of these events cared to put the looming disaster in Gaza on the agenda.

                                                                      Ignoring the time bomb that is clicking in Gaza, their message was conveyed by way of default and contrast. Making the life of Palestinians under the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank look easier, economically promising, and diplomatically and politically in interacting contact with the civilized world is meant to be a contrast for comparison by their compatriots in the “liberated” Gaza Strip, locked in by the Israeli military siege, the economic blockade and the political and diplomatic isolation.

                                                                      ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’

                                                                      To confirm their message and sustain the inter-Palestinian divisive status quo, Bush recently unveiled a U.S. aid package for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, which is expected neither to alleviate the economic distress in the West Bank nor avert the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, but would exacerbate the Gaza’s isolation as well as its political rift with the northern compatriots.

                                                                      Bush promised to provide the Palestinians with $190 million in aid and $80 million in security assistance. The biggest chunk — $140 million — is the budget that is already scheduled for the UNRWA. The other $50 million of the $190 million in aid is money attached to political conditions to be channeled through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a think-tank based in Washington, said: “The president continued to promote deepening divisions among the Palestinians, insist on preconditions to a two-state solution and display an unwillingness to outline his own parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian endgame deal,” Levy told IPS.

                                                                      Linda S. Heard in an opinion column on Online Journal on August 2 quoted “an old expression that goes, ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,’ which has its origins in Virgil's rendition of the Trojan horse legend. Another translation reads ‘Trust not their presents, not admit the horse’ … change the word ‘Greeks’ to ‘Americans’ (and) the warning may well be valid today.”

                                                                      More than ten billion dollars of donors’ aid since 2000, $6 billion of European taxpayers’ money given in aid to Palestinians between 1993 and 2004, an annual average of $350-450 million injected into the PA from 1994-2000 and about $650 million annually from 2001-2007, which amounts to over $7 billion, more per capita than anyplace in the world except for Israel, which is heavily subsidized by the U.S., have all failed to stave off the current collapse of the Palestinian economy, polity and society or to secure a permanent opening of even one border crossing between Gaza and the outside world.

                                                                      All those billions of donors money were squandered in vain, because:

                                                                      “The Palestinians have been too grateful and too helpless for too long to be critical of the political agenda of their donors who have practically nailed them down as political hostages to the donors' money, which was promised initially to help build an independent Palestinian state, but ended up as a political instrument effectively used by the Israeli occupying power,” as this author wrote in the Middle East Times on September 7, 2006.

                                                                      “The internal political crisis is only a result of the deeper economic and humanitarian crisis, which is crushing the Palestinian people to the brink of a “social revolt,” especially in the “ticking time bomb” of Gaza Strip, and the donors-sustained Palestinian Authority (PA) to the brink of collapse since the donors tightened the Israeli military siege by imposing a suffocating financial blockade early in the year. The ensuing Palestinian divide is being further exacerbated by the donors' public siding with one party of the divide, to the detriment of the people whom the donors are trying in vain to reach out for,” this author added. Less than one year on, this donors’ role is reinforced.

                                                                      Had Gandhi Been Alive

                                                                      Only an international nonviolent resistance project, “The Free Gaza Movement,” is “taking action” to alert the world public opinion to the threatening status quo in Gaza to hopefully awake to the danger simmering there and defuse the clicking time bomb. Up to 100 international volunteered Palestinian, Israeli, American, European, African and Asian rabbis, imams, Christian and Buddhist clerics, British MPs, entertainment celebrities, and internationally known journalists as well as Nakba and Holocaust survivors will sail from Cyprus to Gaza in 2 to 6 seagoing vessels of 12 to 60 passengers each, prospectively on August 15.

                                                                      Their declared mission is to: “1.To open Gaza to unrestricted international access, i.e. Palestinian sovereignty, 2. To demonstrate that Israel still occupies Gaza, despite its claims to the contrary, 3. To show international solidarity with the people of Gaza and the rest of Palestine, 4. To demonstrate the potential of nonviolent resistance methods.” More than 35 organizers from 13 countries have consulted Greenpeace among others for logistical support to sail safe through expected highly risky Israeli security impediments and restrictions.

                                                                      The Daily India, on August 4, reported that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi alias Mahatma Gandhi, the world’s spiritual leader of nonviolence and “Father of the Indian Nation,” would have headed for the Gaza Strip to fight for the freedom of Palestinians had he been alive, says his 72-year-old grandson. According to Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, the son of Devdas Gandhi, the Mahatma's youngest son, “If he (Mahatma Gandhi) was around today, my grandfather would have been in the Gaza Strip, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Palestinians.”

                                                                      Warnings Fall on Deaf Ears

                                                                      None of the same or lesser caliber figures is even thinking of heading for Gaza, but several prominent humanitarian spokesmen and women have at least voiced their warnings against the unfolding humanitarian disaster there, including the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, the acting director of World Bank activities in the Palestinian Authority territories, Faris Hadad-Zervos, who warned of a “severe humanitarian impact,” exacerbation of “the economic crisis,” and “risk of virtually irreversible collapse” of the “pillars of Gaza’s economy.”

                                                                      Commissioner General of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Karen AbuZayd, warned that, “the Gaza economy will collapse” unless the crossings are “opened for exports and not just for imports.” Director of the UNRWA in Gaza, John Ging, noted that 1.1 million of Palestinians in Gaza are dependent on international aid and the impending humanitarian crisis could overwhelm U.N. resources. The United Nations has suspended vital construction projects such as homes, schools and sewage treatment in Gaza. “Some $93 million [£46 million] of projects are on hold because cement and other building supplies have run out,” said Ging. UNRWA’s construction projects employ 121,000 people in a territory where about 80 per cent of people live on $2 a day. Michael Williams, a coordinator for the U.N.'s regional efforts, told the Security Council early this month that 75 percent of factories have closed since June. He quoted World Bank data that since June, 68,000 jobs have been lost in the teeming strip.

                                                                      Oxfam warned against the “increasing desperation of Gazans as shortages of fuel, water and food are reported” and that “thousands of refugees across Gaza will face imminent cuts in water and sewage services if more fuel is not provided in the coming days and weeks.” The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, in an “Urgent Appeal from Israeli Human Rights Groups to Israeli Defense Minister,” raised its alarm” “Open Gaza's Borders to Prevent a Humanitarian Crisis.”

                                                                      Food shortage is another great cause for concern. UNRWA officials are anxious about running down their reserves. The World Food Programme has also been noticing growing food insecurity in Gaza. The cancellation of the Gaza customs code by Israeli authorities also meant that more than 1,300 containers of commercial materials destined for Gaza remained stranded at Israeli ports, and essential items such as milk powder, baby formula, vegetable oil and medical supplies were now in short supply.

                                                                      “There is no doubt, Gaza is becoming aid-dependent,” said Liz Sime from CARE International. “They want aid in the form of job-creation programs.” Such programs may remain a “pipe dream” if the borders stay shut, Sime said. The Association of Palestinian Businessmen warned that if the closure continues, at least 120,000 workers in Gaza could lose their jobs; more than 65.000 already did. Oxfam’s Michael Bailey agreed. If the crossings between Gaza and Israel aren't opened soon, “the slide into all-out dependency will be swift and inevitable,” he said.

                                                                      The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on August 3 that the vast majority of import-dependent industries have temporarily closed down and only 10 per cent of Gaza’s industries remain partially functional. “We need to see all crossings at least as operational as they were before 9 June, or risk facing serious social, economic and humanitarian concerns,” the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, warned in a press release. Gazan industry is based on enterprises ninety-five percent of which rely on the importation of raw materials. On July 26 The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) meeting in Geneva demanded that Israel comply with the Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

                                                                      Palestinian Authority Ambivalent

                                                                      U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross on August 1st warned in the New Republic: “We cannot ignore that providing assistance to Gaza now requires someone to deal with Hamas. It need not be us, but total isolation and a cut-off could produce a humanitarian disaster. If we don't want others in the international community to feel compelled to establish normal contacts with Hamas, we need to forge an international consensus on how to deal with the realities in Gaza,” Ross wrote, adding: “There is a need to avoid a humanitarian crisis. There may be a need to permit at least some limited commerce to prevent a complete economic collapse.”

                                                                      However all warnings are falling on deaf Israeli, American, European, Arab and even Palestinian ears. For example no word has so far been heard from the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, the Swiss Jean Ziegler, to draw attention to the hunger in Gaza. May be he is waiting for hunger to bite more or waiting for an “official” word from the Palestinian Authority (PA), or others, to act on the looming disaster, a word that politics would expectedly play a game of brinkmanship with hunger to make Gaza “scream” before the outcry is voiced out as a state of emergency, despite the “state of emergency” declared by the PA on June 14 for political reasons. The PA’s passive ambivalence seems to keep similar human rights organizations with enough excuse to stay disconnected.

                                                                      Senior Abbas aide and Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said it would be “short-sighted” to try to exploit the Gaza closure for political gain: “No one thinks like that in Abbas' office.” Separately, Nimr Hamad, an adviser to Abbas said: “We need to differentiate between punishing the people of Gaza and weakening Hamas. We don’t want the people to suffer.”

                                                                      However, at least by default the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah seems ambivalent vis-à-vis the Gazans’ plight. Objecting they had not been in advance consulted about it, they welcomed on July 30 the withdrawal of a statement proposed to the U.N. Security Council, drafted by Qatar and Indonesia, on the situation in Gaza, demanding the reopening of all Gaza crossing points, a move that would ease the isolation of Hamas as well as the deploring conditions there. The draft was withdrawn, but the PA had to contain the diplomatic blundering arising therefrom.

                                                                      The PA’s former foreign minister, Nabil Shaath visited Indonesia as a special envoy for President Abbas; Gaza needed humanitarian assistance, he said and appealed to the international community to help end Israel's siege, saying in Jakarta the siege is “pushing Palestinians towards starvation.” Shaath sounded contradictory with the measures taken by the PA on the ground, described by Egypt’s Al-Ahram Weekly on 2 - 8 August as bringing the conflict to “the limits of absurdity.”

                                                                      Abbas suspended the Gaza Strip attorney general's work and ordered the police to stop working. Instructions were issued not to implement court verdicts, and forbade the courts to collect money, paralyzing the civil courts. Each of the two governments fails to acknowledge the legitimacy of the other's security agencies. The PA warned its employees not to continue working in Gaza; while guaranteeing their rights, it has threatened those who go to work with “breaking the law and the legal and administrative measures of the government,” in orders issued by the Ministry of Transportation in the Fayyad government.

                                                                      “Why did the Fayyad government order its police not to report to their units and threaten those undertaking their duties with loss of pay? They are destroying the judiciary,” said the director of the Gaza – based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Raji Al-Sourani, a lawyer.

                                                                      The PA Salam Fayyad’s government announced the weekend to be on Friday and Saturday while the Gaza government of Ismael Hanniyah, which Abbas dissolved, still observes the weekend on Thursday and Friday. The health sector was paralyzed as each of the two governments has appointed a director for the major hospitals in the Gaza Strip; moreover the Ramallah government has issued an order for fees not to be collected for examinations, treatment, and other health services, so that they do not go into the Haniyeh government's treasury. Yet the other government has asked patients to pay fees, albeit with flexibility. There is also fear that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will not be able to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca this year because each of the two governments has an agency for pilgrimage and each is conducting a lottery to select those who will be allowed to undertake the journey. It has become possible for Gazans to drive their cars without licences; the Ramallah government has issued instructions to close all PA license offices in the Gaza Strip. Most recently the Fayyad government delayed announcing the high school matriculation exam results and threatened not to recognize the results of exams held in the Gaza Strip as they have not been authorized by the Ministry of Education in the Ramallah because the Haniyeh government does not have the right to approve the results because it is an “illegitimate” government.

                                                                      Moreover, and more importantly, the PA was not sending the right message for international humanitarian intervention. On July 10 President Abbas linked Hamas, now ruling in Gaza, to al-Qaeda: “Yes, through Hamas, al-Qaeda has entered Gaza and through Hamas, al-Qaeda is protected,” he told Italian Rai TV in Rome. Earlier he decreed to outlaw the military wing of the Islamic movement as a “terrorist” organization. These and similar introductory statements were necessary to demand that an international force should be deployed in the Gaza Strip to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered, as if Hamas, and not Israel, was responsible for blocking the flow in of the urgently needed aid. Most likely the catastrophic evolution of the humanitarian crisis could unfold before his proposal is seriously considered by the world community.

                                                                      The Case for Military Intervention

                                                                      Israeli officials, who had all along rejected older Palestinian similar demands as a buffer force to spare Gazans the still ongoing Israeli military incursions, were quick this time to promote Abbas’ controversial demand internationally, which is widely opposed internally by Palestinians.

                                                                      Most likely therefore is that if military intervention was to come it will be Israeli and not international. Since Hamas took over in Gaza in June media reports were ample on a possible Israeli large scale military operation there.

                                                                      “With Gaza being defined as a hostile entity and its whole population as allied to Hamas, there is no doubt that it will be, in the near future, the target of a brutal Israeli aggression: eventual military incursions, bombardments and starvation. This is why our top priority, in Israel as well as throughout the world, is to organize solidarity with Gaza and its population,” Michel Warschawski, a journalist who co-founded the Alternative Information Center (AIC) in Israel, wrote on July 12 (Global Research, ZNet).

                                                                      Israel acknowledges the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza but blames Hamas for it.

                                                                      “I am not saying the situation in Gaza is good,” said Shlomo Dror, from Israel's Ministry of Defense, but he was “not convinced” the economy would irreversibly collapse: “We are working to prevent a humanitarian crisis. But if the Palestinians have complaints, they should put pressure on Hamas.”

                                                                      On July 16, Sari Bashi, the executive director of the Israeli human rights group, GISHA, said Israel was violating international law by strangling economic activity in Gaza; she was inflicting “collective punishment” on the 1.5 million Palestinians by closing the main commercial crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip at Karni.

                                                                      “This amounts to the implementation of a policy of collective punishment which is in breach of international law because it involves the intentional inflicting of suffering on a civilian population,” Miss Bashi said (telegraph.co.uk).

                                                                      Refuting Israel’s security pretexts, Bashi earlier told the Voice of America: “Israel has legitimate security interests in protecting its personnel at Karni crossing, but those security interests are being used as a pretext to keep Karni closed. Karni can be opened; people in the private sector have offered to secure the crossings to coordinate re-opening the crossings but they need Israeli cooperation in order to do so.”

                                                                      Israel completely controls the Gaza air space and territorial waters. The Gazan foreign trade is conducted almost solely with Israel or via Israeli ports through five border-crossing points under Israeli control (Erez, Karni, Nahal Oz, Sufa, and Kerem Shalom), closed since June 10.

                                                                      The Rafah crossing point with Egypt, the only outlet of Gaza to the outside world, was closed in June, stranding more than 6.000 returning Palestinians on the Egyptian side for more than two months, which resulted in the death of 33 of them according to the U.N.; more than 90 people, many of them seriously ill, who went to Egypt for treatment, were trapped at the airport, according to a joint statement by 12 human rights organizations active in PA territories.

                                                                      The major player in Gaza’s evolving tragedy is the Israeli occupying power, who has shuttered the security of the Palestinian people and the peace of their life and mind since Israel trespassed into their territory over the borders demarcated by the United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947 and is displacing ever since more than four million refugees who constitute now more than 75 percent of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. “This” expanded Israel is now sarcastically citing a security threat to tighten the screws of the siege her crushing war machine has been imposing on an area torn by her blockade and military onslaughts very long before Hamas even came into being to overrun Gaza in June this year.

                                                                      “They hope that, with progress in the West Bank, stagnation in Gaza and growing pressure from ordinary Palestinians, a discredited Hamas will be forced out or forced to surrender. They are mistaken … as long as the Palestinian schism endures, progress is on shaky ground. Security and a credible peace process depend on minimal intra-Palestinian consensus,” an “executive summary” of the International Crisis Group concluded on August 2. Similarly, it would be disingenuous in the extreme to minimize the role of the U.S. and the European Union in particular. “Through their words and deeds, they helped persuade important Fatah elements that the unity government was a transient phenomenon and that their former control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) could be restored … Paradoxically, the more successful the strategy of strengthening Abbas, the greater Hamas’s motivation to sabotage it,” the ICG added.

                                                                      *Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine; he is based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli – occupied territories.
                                                                      Atlanitc Free Press

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                                                                        Western Shosone, Lakota, Navajo, Hiroshima, Korea, Iran, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. . .

                                                                        English (US)  August 12th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                        Letter from Nagasaki

                                                                        By David Rovics

                                                                        Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

                                                                        I met Eduardo and Lilly Zaragoza two years ago at an event I was singing at, the annual fundraising dinner of the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center. Eduardo was 79 years old at the time. A short, gentle, quiet man, he had joined the US Navy at the age of 17 and was sent off to occupy the defeated nation of Japan. One month after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, his ship docked in the port, beside the many melted, ruined ships that sat lifelessly in the harbor. He and his shipmates took a walk around the annihilated city, the vast expanse of charred and melted rubble that used to be the city of Nagasaki. On that day, Eduardo joined the ranks of what the Japanese call the hibakusha, radiation survivors.

                                                                        [More:]

                                                                        His life has never been the same since. No matter how much he has tried to forget, the nightmares of the visions he saw have never ceased. The masses of bloated bodies floating in the water. The horribly burned, disfigured, screaming survivors in the makeshift hospital wards he visited. Like the rest of the hibakusha, Eduardo was mentally scarred by what he saw. His body has also never been the same. The symptoms of what we now know as radiation sickness began on his first day off the ship. When I met him, he and his wife were both struggling with cancer.

                                                                        Eduardo and Lilly described to me how they had had four children, not including the miscarriages. One was stillborn. Two others died of the same rare disease as young adults. Their last surviving child was suffering from cancer when I met them. Both of them came from families with a history of longevity and no history of cancer.

                                                                        Eduardo was one of many thousands of US soldiers who were purposefully exposed to nuclear radiation. Many of the others, in experiments easily worthy of the Nazi Dr. Mengele, were ordered to walk through desert areas where nuclear bombs had just been exploded. The horrifying results on their fragile human bodies were quite predictable, just as predictable as the military’s denials of reality.

                                                                        Corbin Harney died of cancer last month at the age of 87. Untold numbers of other hibakusha in what we now call the Southwestern United States did not live to such a ripe old age, but Corbin was special, he was a Western Shoshone medicine man, from a long line of medicine men. Corbin was a veteran of World War II. Upon returning home, his reward for his service was for his home, the Western Shoshone Nation, to become, technically, the most bombed nation on Earth. He was to spend most of his adult life campaigning against nuclear testing in his homeland, the area now generally known as Nevada.

                                                                        Corbin believed in the healing power of natural hot springs, among other things. I met him at his home, the Poo Bah ranch, in Nevada near the California border. For decades, Corbin got up before dawn every morning to greet the sun in a ceremony to which anybody was invited to join. The ceremony always began with Corbin playing a drum in front of a small fire. When people gathered with him around the fire, on the morning I joined him, like thousands of other mornings, he alternated between singing in his Shoshone language and speaking in English about the importance of the different elements of life.

                                                                        He spoke first about the dark, and how important that was, how everything needs to rest, how the light comes from the dark, and how important the dark was “in the times when we were hunted” by the white invaders, to hide. He spoke about the rocks, how they are all alive, how some of the rocks are radioactive, which is fine, as long as they are left in the ground where they belong. He spoke about the wind, and the wind gusted. He spoke about the light, and just then, the sun poked up above the horizon. He spoke about the rain, and in this arid desert, for a few brief seconds, right then, the rain fell.

                                                                        A few days before Corbin died on July 10th, he joked with his friends and relatives present that he would die at 11:00. Not to anyone’s surprise, he kept his word. After he died, his relatives saw four dog soldiers appear from the fog outside his window to take him away. I believe them.

                                                                        I remember reading in a book how there was a brief period when the Indians were more or less left alone, near the beginning of the 20th century. After decades of “shoot on sight” genocidal warfare against the Indian nations of the west, after the lifeblood of so many people, the buffalo, were systematically slaughtered nearly into extinction by the Army and the settlers, after the last of the free Indian people were driven at gunpoint onto barren reservations and then starved to death en masse by corrupt government officials, there was a brief time when they were allowed to try to survive on their barren reservations. A brief period where although the buffalo were gone, their land was stolen, their previous means of livelihood were robbed of them, at least they were not being slaughtered by the Army.

                                                                        Then on the Lakota and Navajo reservations and elsewhere, oil, coal and uranium were discovered. For so many hundreds of thousands of people ever since then, life has once again been a nightmare of uranium and coal mines, back-breaking labor, poisoning of the water, land, and air, and premature death by cancer -- or by bullets, for daring to resist the uranium-mining corporations, such as the dozens of unsolved, uninvestigated murders of American Indian Movement activists in the 1970’s.

                                                                        I remember reading somewhere that the cancer rate on the Navajo reservation – where there are hundreds of uranium mines, some closed, some still functioning, all toxic wastelands – is eight times the national average. It was sometime after that, in the early 1990’s, after the first US invasion of Iraq, that I read another statistic, that the cancer rate in Iraq had also risen by eight times what it had been before the invasion. And in southern Iraq, where most of the US artillery had been fired and bombs had fallen, so many of them full of “depleted” uranium, vaporizing on impact, the cancer rate was far higher.

                                                                        I write this from Japan, where I’m doing a concert tour. I was unprepared for the extreme heat and humidity here, it’s like Houston or New Orleans, and with climate change kicking in it’s even hotter than usual. Seeking respite from the heat, I found myself in my air conditioned hotel room in Hiroshima, reading Robert Fisk’s most recent, magnificent book, The Great War for Civilization. That day I was on the chapter about the “Gulf War” and it’s aftermath. He didn’t use the word, but Fisk was writing about Iraq’s hibakusha, the innumerable children turning up at the overstretched hospital wards of Basra with “rare” cancers – children with leukemia (cancer of the blood), brain cancer, young teenage girls with breast cancer. Cancers the experienced Iraqi doctors had never seen in people so young, and certainly in nothing like the kind of numbers they were having to deal with at that time, and ever since then.

                                                                        I arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport just about a month ago, and witnessed the almost completely rebuilt megalopolis that is Tokyo, and the seemingly unending expanse of cities surrounding it. During the war with the US, almost every major city in Japan was bombed into oblivion. Hundreds of thousands of children, women, senior citizens and others were indiscriminately slaughtered from the air. A few cities were being saved as potential A-Bomb targets, and the beautiful city of Kyoto was the only major city to survive the war structurally intact. After the USAF began running out of major cities to destroy, they started bombing small cities and larger towns. Indiscriminately bombing hospitals, schools, temples, churches, houses, entire neighborhoods – and yes, factories, too. All this with “conventional” weapons.

                                                                        At my first hotel room there by the airport, NHK (Japan’s equivalent of the BBC) was delivering the news, talking at length (with English overdubs available at the push of a button for some of the programs) about the earthquake that had just hit northern Japan before I left Portland, and about the nuclear reactor – the world’s largest in terms of electrical output -- that had caught fire and leaked radioactive water as a result. Usually this time of year northern Japan is bustling with visitors, but tourism in the area over the next weeks was down by 90%, NHK said. Apparently most Japanese people didn’t believe the government’s assurances that the radioactive leak was “insignificant.” After all they’ve been through with radiation, it’s easy to understand why.

                                                                        On NHK they were also broadcasting the Asian Cup, the Asian version of the World Cup, one of the most-watched sporting events on the planet. (Except for in the US, where the 45 minutes of uninterrupted play make soccer a commercially unviable sport for TV.) Iraq won, and in halting English, the Iraqi team’s captain spoke out in front of the world’s media against the US occupation of his country, and said that after the game he was going to Qatar because it wasn’t safe to live in Iraq. He spoke of some of his dead friends and family members.

                                                                        And then it occurred to me, not for the first time, but there in Japan for the first time, the thought hit me that the United States has been bombing a nation somewhere in Asia for most of the past 66 years. So soon after the virtual annihilation of Japan from the air, the USAF went ahead and did the same thing in Korea, dropping even more bombs on Korea than all sides in WWII combined, killing millions of innocent people and half a million Chinese soldiers (did you even know, dear reader, that we fought a war with China?).

                                                                        In the same year that that war ended, we were sending in Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson, Kermit, to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Iran, replacing him with one of history’s most tyrannical dictators, the Shah, who was to rule Iran with unspeakable brutality for the next quarter century. Then a few years later we were to invade Vietnam, completely destroying the country over the course of fifteen very long years, in the course of which we also invaded Laos and Cambodia, killing an estimated three million innocent civilians through indiscrimate carpet-bombing of three countries, leading directly to the insane Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia which then proceeded to kill so many more. (And I wretch every time I hear yet another person in the US say that “55,000 people died in Vietnam.” Just what defines “people” to those who would utter such a scandalous sentence?)

                                                                        There are always pretenses for these invasions, and they are never called invasions. We support dictatorships in the name of democracy, overthrow democracies in the name of fighting “communism,” and when that bogeyman no longer inspired fear, then “terrorism” became the new watchword. And every day, more people worldwide die in car accidents than die in a year from non-state terrorism. Every day, more people die from falling down the stairs than those who die in a year from non-state terrorism. Every day, far more people die from breathing the toxic air – of cancer – than those who die in a year from non-state terrorism. But we invade countries and kill millions to stop the “terrorists,” while we relax environmental laws (in the name of “the economy”) which results directly in the deaths of millions more.

                                                                        And when people in “America” doubt the wisdom of these invasions, when people raise questions about our government spending more every year on “defense” than the rest of the world combined while our cities are flooded, our bridges are collapsing, and millions of our children are going to bed hungry, sick and without health care, or the ability to read or write, we are told that we mustn’t be “isolationist.” We are told that there are “evil men” and “evil regimes” in this world that we must stop before they acquire nuclear weapons.

                                                                        But they are mostly arming themselves to defend themselves from a possible – even likely – invasion by us. This is the historical reality, whatever the pundits say, whatever the textbooks say, whatever the politicians say. (And if you’d like to see the hard evidence, please pick up a copy of Joseph Gerson’s excellent book, Empire and the Bomb.)

                                                                        Somehow we are never the ones who started it. Somehow we need to have these 10,000 nuclear weapons, each one 1,000 times deadlier than the bomb that annihilated Hiroshima. And if you don’t believe it, they say, if our arguments about evil regimes and WMD’s and democracy are not convincing, remember World War II. Remember Hitler, remember the Nazi holocaust, remember the “Good War.” (Now, if you believe that the US entered the war in Europe to save my Jewish relatives then maybe you also believe that we’re in Iraq to save the Kurds and the Shiites, and I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Minneapolis, but I’ll save that tract for another essay.)

                                                                        Remember the Good War. Remember the Rape of Nanking, when Japanese occupation soldiers raped and murdered their way through China, killing an estimated 100,000 in Nanking alone. Remember Hitler, who systematically killed millions in an orchestrated orgy of death unlike anything the world had ever seen -- well, at least not since the Turks and their Kurdish underlings did the same thing to the Armenians, with nobody seriously doing anything to stop them, one short generation earlier, during the dying throes of the defeated Ottoman Empire.

                                                                        Systematic killing of millions in an orchestrated, high-tech genocide, aimed at wiping out entire populations of human beings.

                                                                        Walking around the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the reminders of the atomic bombings, and of the desire of the people of these cities for a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons, are everywhere. On plaques, in museums, in the parks. Everywhere I went, walking around beneath the blazing sun that shines mercilessly, constantly, after the rainy season ends every summer, I just kept getting the same cold, eerie feeling I remember well from visiting the concentration camps that have been preserved for posterity in Germany.

                                                                        Visting Buchenwald I remember the feeling, how can such an unspeakable horror as the Nazi holocaust possibly be represented effectively within the walls of a building? How can pictures, videos, hair, shoes, teeth, the few remains of the many dead, how can these things project the scope of this nightmare? They can’t, really. But somehow, being there – and I know I’m not alone in this feeling – the ghosts are alive. Sit quietly for a few minutes in Buchenwald and you can hear the screams of the dying, feel the silence of the dead. The single candle burning in the middle of the empty room in the former gas chamber, with the Jewish prayer for forgiveness in the background, somehow communicates more than you might imagine if you haven’t been there.

                                                                        It’s like that in Hiroshima. Seeing the few documentaries that ever make it onto TV in the US, hearing the testimonies of the hibakusha who occasionally visit the country that destroyed their cities and speak to the relatively few people who come to hear them, just isn’t the same. These cities were wiped out. They ceased to exist. Everything was gone. How can nothingness be memorialized? It can’t. But of the three steel-reinforced, concrete structures in Hiroshima that partially survived the apocalypse of August 6th, 1945, what is known as the Atomic Dome has been left as it was on that day. Mostly destroyed, but still recognizeable as a building. Most of the concrete turned to rubble, steel beams bent like straw, the inside completely gutted and burned long ago, when my parents were children.

                                                                        This is what happened to an earthquake-proof, steel-reinforced structure. But this was a city of small wooden houses with clay tile roofs. All around this dome for miles, in this city surrounded by mountains, in this valley as far as the eye could see, were just flattened houses. In and around those houses, 70,000 people died in a matter of seconds, mostly women, children, and senior citizens.

                                                                        Thousands more lived long enough – sometimes only a few minutes, sometimes a few hours – to walk, naked, their clothes having been burned off of them, their bodies charred black and red, their skin hanging off of them like seaweed, their arms outstretched, crying, walking on top of the collapsed houses of their neighbors, stepping over the dead and dying, walking towards one of the two rivers that flowed through the city. Many died before they got to the river, others died once they got to the river, and the rivers turned red from blood, and then black from radioactive ash that rained down from the sky. There were so many bodies in the river that they piled up and formed a huge dam.

                                                                        Standing between those rivers, there in front of the dome at 3 am one evening, the words of the hibakusha I had had dinner with earlier came back to me. They were recounting the bits that they remembered, that trauma-induced amnesia had not obliterated. Every time was like reliving the experience, but they felt duty-bound to tell the stories to those who would listen.

                                                                        Dr. Shoji Sawada was 13 when the bomb fell. He was sick that day, and unlike most people in Hiroshima, at 8:15 am he was not up and about, but was in bed, shielded by walls from the initial flash of light that burned tens of thousands of people to a crisp instantly. Shoji suddenly found himself covered in the rubble of his house, but managed to squirm out from under it.

                                                                        Then he heard his mother calling. He looked around and couldn’t see her. Then he realized she was beneath him, pinned underneath a smoldering beam of wood. He tried with all his might to move the beam, but it was far beyond his physical abilities. He looked outside for help, but everyone around him was dead or dying. He went back in and tried to move the beam again, to no avail. The initial blast was as hot as the sun, which is what instantly killed anybody within a kilometer of it who was directly exposed, and most people within several kilometers of it. Immediately following this was a massive gust of wind many times stronger than the strongest typhoon, which is what flattened all the houses and snapped all the trees like toothpicks (leaving only parts of those few aforementioned steel structures, and a number of smokestacks, their cylindrical shape protecting them from the blast of wind).

                                                                        Just after the wind, Shoji-san explained, everything combustible immediately caught fire. With the flames lapping at his legs, unable to move the beam of wood, he said, “forgive me, mother,” and ran towards the river. “Study hard and be a good student,” were her last words. And then she was burned to death, as her son survived the rest of the day in the river, surrounded by what can only be described as hell on Earth. Every day he remembers his mother, and her last words, and feels the pain and the guilt of the survivor once again.

                                                                        Now multiply this scene by 70,000.

                                                                        This was premeditated, high-tech mass murder targeted at civilians. Genocide. It was the Japanese holocaust. It was done to a country that was in complete ruins, whose government was in the process of attempting to surrender, but the “Allies” were pretending not to hear these messages because they wanted to drop the bomb first, to “send a message” to the Soviet Union, among other reasons. It was done to a country that had virtually no functioning industry. Yes, Mitsubishi had an armanents factory in Hiroshima, I learned from a visit to the museum there, but what the museum didn’t mention was that the workers were going there and waiting for parts which never arrived. Japanese industry was essentially totally crippled by the summer of 1945. There was no military value to the city of Hiroshima – even if having military value could possibly justify slaughtering 70,000 civilians.

                                                                        Against the advice of most of the top military brass, Truman and Churchill connived to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima, knowing full well that it would result in indiscriminate death and destruction to an entire city.

                                                                        And then they did it again, three days later, in Nagasaki, after the Japanese emperor had personally become involved in attempting to surrender to the “Allies,” under the same conditions of Germany’s surrender at Potsdam. Incidentally, the bomb over Nagasaki was dropped directly above the biggest concentration of Catholics in East Asia, almost directly over the biggest cathedral in East Asia, over a city that contained a POW camp, and all this was known to Truman and Churchill and his advisors who supported dropping the first and second bombs.

                                                                        Completely annihilating one city full of civilians, and then doing it to another – after raining down death from “conventional” bombs indiscriminately throughout almost every population center in the nation. This “conventional” holocaust of unprecedented proportions was carried out by “FDR,” that great hero of the working class in the United States. Nuclear hell on Earth was brought to Hiroshima and Nagasaki by that down-to-Earth hoosier who never went to college, Harry Truman, and by his good friend Winston Churchill, the man lionized in the history books for saving Britain from Nazi tyranny. The fact that he also ordered the gassing of Iraqis a few years earlier and supervised the firebombing of Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg and most other major cities in Germany, himself responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of German civilians, is usually conveniently overlooked.

                                                                        There was no “Good War.” Every war the US has been involved with since the “American” Revolution has been a war for empire, based on lies just as blatant as Colin Powell’s 31 lies he presented to the UN a few short years ago, as the corporate media hung on every ridiculous word. The victors write most of the histories, but many other histories are out there, often out of print, growing mold on the book shelves in the libraries of “America,” rarely used. As a result, we are a nation made up largely of idiots (thank you, Green Day). A Gallup poll two years ago asked people in the US whether they thought the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan was “necessary” to end the war. 57% said it was. This is beyond shameful, not to mention completely ahistorical, proof of the effectiveness of the bald propaganda of the victors of this “Good War.”

                                                                        What if you asked a modern-day German whether they thought the holocaust was “necessary” -- perhaps “necessary” to garner support for the German occupation from the largely anti-Semitic populations of the nations of eastern Europe? Even the very question would be appalling. Anyone answering “yes” would be considered something akin to a holocaust denier, some kind of monster, appropriately enough. What if you asked a modern-day Japanese person if the rape of Nanking was “necessary”? If he was a politician and answered in the affirmative to this question he would probably be driven out of office, just like Prime Minister Abe’s Defense Minister last month.

                                                                        No, the Japanese Holocaust was not “necessary.” By any reasonable accounting of history, what was done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a holocaust as horrible in scope as what the Nazis did to Europe, except that it was carried out in a matter of seconds rather than years. By any reasonable accounting of history, Harry Truman and Winston Churchill were morally equivalent to Adolf Hitler. By any reasonable accounting of history, those in charge of the US Air Force were moral equivalents of the SS.

                                                                        And why does it matter whether long-dead presidents were war criminals or not? Because the cliché is true: if you don’t understand history, you are doomed to repeat it. Because many of the hibakusha in Japan and around the world are still alive, and they deserve some ounce of dignity. Because if you believe the billionaires that run this country are capable of fighting a “Good War,” capable of defending the rights of the oppressed somewhere in the world, you might believe they could do that again. But they never have, they aren’t now, and they never will. Not in Vietnam, not in Afghanistan, not in Iraq, not in Iran, not in Syria, not in North Korea, nowhere.

                                                                        They are running an empire -- a vicious, genocidal empire that’s been dominating much of the world for many decades. Kennedy was running it – he nearly ended life on Earth twice in his short tenure as president. Eisenhower, the butcher of Korea, was running it. Johnson, the butcher of Vietnam, was running it. Nixon, the butcher of Cambodia, was running it. Clinton was running it – he, like the rest, threatened to use nuclear weapons against both Iraq and Korea. He said “nuclear weapons are the cornerstone of our foreign policy.” His wife, Hillary, has also said “all options are on the table.” And we hopefully all know about Bush.

                                                                        All of these people were (and in the case of the Clintons and the Bushes, are) terrorists of the worst kind. They are nuclear terrorists. What they seem to have learned from history is that it’s OK to kill and to threaten to kill millions of innocent civilians – and to risk the lives of billions more, including hundreds of millions of vulnerable people inside the United States – if they deem that it serves their interests.

                                                                        What is clearly in our interests – and certainly in the interests of other human beings around the world – is to rise up against these “democratic” despots. If there is any possibility of redeeming the soul of this place we call “America,” this madness must be stopped. We may have exported our entire manufacturing base to China, but the weapons of mass destruction (and most of our “conventional” weapons) are still made in the USA.

                                                                        The functioning of the government requires the consent of the governed. It can and must be withdrawn. One by one, or hopefully, in our millions. The most important lesson of history, the one that the rulers of “America” most want to keep from us, is that mass movements can achieve everything. That another world is possible. That democracy is in the streets. And that “evil” does not usually come in the form of a frothing-at-the-mouth dictator.

                                                                        Evil, as has been pointed out before, is more often banal. Evil pays taxes. Evil pushes papers. Evil designs missiles, programs computers. Evil drops the bombs, but evil also sits by while others do that, and evil watches and fails to act. Evil is silent. Evil is patriotic. Evil waves a flag. Evil writes lying propaganda for textbooks and newspapers. Evil believes that genocide could possibly be excusable, let alone “necessary.”

                                                                        www.davidrovics.com
                                                                        drovics@gmail.com

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                                                                          Far From the Reservation, but Still Sacred?

                                                                          English (US)  August 12th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                          By Nelson D. Schwartz

                                                                          Yuma, Ariz.
                                                                          SQUINTING against the harsh desert sun, Mike Jackson, leader of the Quechan Indians, looks out past his tribe’s casino and the modern sprawl of Yuma and points to the sandy flatlands and the rust-colored Gila mountain range shimmering in the distance. “They came this way,” he says, describing how his ancestors followed the winding course of the Colorado River and ranged over hundreds of miles of what is now western Arizona and southeastern California. “There’s a lot of important history here, both for the Quechan and the U.S.”

                                                                          [More:]

                                                                          And if it’s up to him, that history will go a long way in determining the future of this corner of the West, one of the fastest-growing parts of the country and a place where developers are increasingly running up against newly powerful but tradition-minded American Indian leaders like Mr. Jackson.

                                                                          As president of the Quechans over the last decade, Mr. Jackson is leading a new kind of Indian war, this time in the courts. The battlegrounds are ancient sites like the religious circles, burial grounds and mountaintops across the West that Indians hold sacred and are protected by federal environmental and historic preservation laws. After successful smaller battles, Mr. Jackson is now challenging a bigger project, arguing that the construction of a planned $4 billion oil refinery in Arizona could destroy sites sacred to his tribe.

                                                                          What makes this case different from more traditional fights between Indians and developers is that the refinery isn’t on the Quechan reservation or even next to it. In fact, the refinery is planned for a parcel of land some 40 miles to the east of the reservation, on the other side of Yuma and the Gila mountain range. But Mr. Jackson and the tribe’s lawyers argue that before the land can be transferred to the company building the refinery, Arizona Clean Fuels, or construction can start, an exhaustive archaeological and cultural inventory must take place.

                                                                          The Quechans are not a large tribe. Also known as the Yuma Indians (they prefer the name Quechan, which means “those who descended”), they number about 3,300 and their reservation on the California-Arizona border covers roughly 70 square miles. That is a small fraction of the size of lands the federal government set aside more than a century ago to better-known nations like the Apaches or Navajos. Mr. Jackson has already stopped two planned projects — a low-level nuclear dump and a $50 million gold mine on the California side of the border — both also well away from the Quechan reservation. This year, he helped defeat the nomination of a Bush administration official who favored the mine to a federal appellate court.

                                                                          LIKE the land itself, the fight over the refinery reflects a tangle of cultures and centuries of bitterness between Indians and newcomers. Mr. Jackson says it’s about respect for Quechan culture, and a new willingness on the part of Indians to stand up to the local establishment after centuries of not having a say. Business and political leaders in Yuma argue that it’s little more than a land grab by Mr. Jackson, a dubious attempt by the tribe to block much-needed development and assert claims to territory lost long ago.

                                                                          What’s more, says Glenn McGinnis, chief executive of Arizona Clean Fuels, a preliminary inspection failed to turn up evidence of ruins near the site, which was privately owned for decades by local farmers but was later bought by the federal government to acquire water rights.

                                                                          In any case, Mr. McGinnis says he’s committed to protecting any sacred remains that turn up once construction begins. But doing the more extensive survey sought by Mr. Jackson and the Quechans now would not only delay the project by months, it would also cost about $250,000, which Arizona Clean Fuels would be obligated to cover.

                                                                          The dispute is about more than money, though. It has also brought resentment of the tribe’s newfound clout to the surface. David Treanor, vice president of Arizona Clean Fuels, calls the Quechans’ stance “psychological imperialism” and compares Mr. Jackson to Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s left-wing leader.

                                                                          Casey Prochaska, chairwoman of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors, adds: “My grandmother probably went across here in a covered wagon. This country didn’t stop because they walked over this land.”

                                                                          Indeed, the refinery isn’t even the main issue for some business leaders. “It’s a question of how far does their sphere of influence go,” says Ken Rosevear, executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce. “Does it go clear to Phoenix? To Las Vegas? The whole West?”

                                                                          Mr. Rosevear may be exaggerating, but his fear illustrates just what’s at stake. If the Quechans’ lawsuit succeeds, it would bolster the efforts of other, larger tribes to block development on territory where they also once lived and prayed.

                                                                          ALREADY, in northern Arizona, Navajos, Hopis and other Indians have effectively stopped plans to expand a ski resort roughly 50 miles from the nearest reservation, after convincing a federal appellate panel in March that using wastewater to make artificial snow would desecrate peaks long held sacred.

                                                                          Leaders of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, meanwhile, have been using similar arguments to block drilling for coal-bed methane near their reservation in Montana. Pumping water out of underground aquifers to extract natural gas will harm the spirits that inhabit the springs and streams where the Northern Cheyenne worship, says Gail Small, a Northern Cheyenne tribe member who heads Native Action, an environmental group she founded after graduating from law school.

                                                                          Adding weight to her argument is the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, passed by Congress in 1978, which acknowledges the link between native American religion and land both on and off the reservation.

                                                                          “You’re seeing a real renaissance of tribes becoming aware of their cultural resources and heritage, and reclaiming that heritage even when it’s off the reservation,” says Robert A. Williams Jr., a law professor at the University of Arizona who has advised tribes on the legal issues surrounding off-reservation sacred sites.

                                                                          And, thanks to the rise of casino gambling on Indian reservations, many tribes now have the money to challenge natural resource companies, real estate interests and other wealthy players who have long held sway in the West.

                                                                          “Tribes no longer have to hope for or rely upon the efforts of outside environmental groups or pro bono law firms,” says Joseph P. Kalt, director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. “Not only are they much more sophisticated, but they have the money to fight for themselves.”

                                                                          Mr. Jackson doesn’t dispute that the opening of the popular Paradise Casino on his reservation in 1996 has shifted the balance of power in these parts. “It’s made all the difference in the world,” he says. “We didn’t have the money to hire attorneys before; we didn’t have the tools. We also learned how to play the political game in America that’s been played against us in the past.”

                                                                          During the winter months, when snowbirds fill local hotels, it’s hard to find a spot in the Paradise Casino parking lot on some nights, and the casino generates an estimated $45 million a year in net revenue for the Quechans.

                                                                          Mr. Jackson isn’t always against new development. The Quechans are considering building a second casino on the California side of the border, and he has faced protests of his own from tribal elders who argue that the $200 million project also happens to be on sacred ground. In June, the Quechan police force arrested tribe members protesting at the site of the new casino. Yuma officials like Ms. Prochaska call that hypocrisy, but Mr. Jackson says it’s not up to them to decide what is sacred to Indians and what’s not.

                                                                          The son and grandson of tribal leaders, Mr. Jackson, who is 60, says that in the past, “the government gave us funds just to survive and they didn’t hear a word from our people.” Now, he says, local leaders like Mr. Rosevear have to come to him. “They come, smile, and shake my hand, but they don’t like it. Too bad. That is how the process is now.”

                                                                          Glamis Gold, the Canadian mining company that sought to build the California mine, learned that the hard way several years ago. After investing $15 million, the company watched Mr. Jackson tie up the project with regulators. It was finally killed when Gray Davis, then the governor of California, issued an emergency order.

                                                                          Charles A. Jeannes, an executive at Glamis at the time, says the company tried to negotiate with Mr. Jackson. “We’d told them we’d discuss any number of kinds of compensation,” says Mr. Jeannes, now executive vice president of Goldcorp, which acquired Glamis in 2006. “But we never got specific because they made it clear they wouldn’t accept the mine.”

                                                                          Mr. Jackson has a slightly different recollection. “They came and offered money, trucks and other things,” he says. “I told them I’m not going to take one penny, and to get out of my office.”

                                                                          In Quechan lore, dreams are sacred — they are a literal path to knowledge and power. So perhaps it’s fitting that the refinery has been a business dream in Arizona for two decades, a long-talked-about project that if completed, would be the first new refinery constructed in the United States in more than 30 years.

                                                                          It’s also a vision that could prove hugely profitable. Refining margins in the Southwest are among the healthiest in the country, while gasoline demand in Arizona, Nevada and California has been growing at twice the national average. And until Mr. Jackson and the Quechans challenged their plans, the 1,400-acre site seemed like the rare spot in America where a refinery might actually be welcomed.

                                                                          The last fruit orchard on the site died out decades ago, after the federal government acquired the land and bought up the water rights. The nearest homes are miles away. Now the silence is broken only by the sound of passing freight trains and the occasional rumble from the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground.

                                                                          Earlier this year, the government transferred the land intended for the refinery to the local irrigation district, which in turn sold it to Arizona Clean Fuels for $15 million in March. It’s this transfer that the Quechans are challenging in their suit, arguing that procedures required under federal law to protect Indian sites were not followed properly.

                                                                          Mr. McGinnis, a soft-spoken veteran refining executive who retains the accent of his native Toronto, says he is sensitive to the tribe’s worries. And unlike other officials, he shies away from criticizing Mr. Jackson or the Quechans.

                                                                          “But there’s not a whole lot here,” he says, pointing to the furrowed ground and a few remaining tree stumps bleached white by the sun. “The probability of finding any relics is next to zero because the land has been disturbed and farmed for a long, long time. But we’ll bring in surveyors to walk the site, and I committed to that two years ago.”

                                                                          Bringing in experts once the project is under way isn’t enough for Mr. Jackson. He says that he’s not against the refinery but merely wants experts to survey 100 percent of the land now, before any land transfer is approved by the courts. Still, it’s clear he’s not happy that the government is selling land to private buyers like Arizona Clean Fuels. “If they have no use for it, give it back to us,” he says of the federal government’s move. “We know how to protect it; it’s our ancestral land.”

                                                                          FOR Arizona Clean Fuels and Mr. McGinnis, the Quechan lawsuit couldn’t have come at a worse time. After years of negotiations, the company renewed its state emissions permit last September. Now, Arizona Clean Fuels, which is owned by individual investors in the Western United States, is seeking an outside institutional backer with deep-enough pockets to put up the initial $1.5 billion to start construction and eventually borrow an additional $2.5 billion to finish the refinery by 2011.

                                                                          Mr. McGinnis says he’s negotiating with two investor groups over that crucial $1.5 billion initial investment. But the lawsuit is a distraction for him, and a worry for any potential financial backer. “We spend half our time dealing with our attorneys on this when we should be dealing with other things,” he says.

                                                                          The tribe’s effort to seek a preliminary injunction was rejected in federal district court in late June, but now the Quechans are appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, a traditionally liberal panel that has been sympathetic to Indian claims in the past, including the suit over the ski resort.

                                                                          Both sides seem to be digging in, even though Mr. Jackson has never visited the refinery site, and Mr. McGinnis has never spoken directly to Mr. Jackson. “We’ve had many doors slammed in our face in the past,” says Mr. Jackson, sitting in the tribe’s council chambers on the reservation. “But that’s the old way. Today, my foot is in the door and I’m going to kick it wide open for my people.”

                                                                          Mr. McGinnis avoids responding to that challenge. Because of the lawsuit, he says he hasn’t picked up the phone to call Mr. Jackson directly, but adds that “our attorneys have requested meetings and I’ll sit down with him anywhere and anytime he wants.”

                                                                          That’s not likely to happen soon, and Mr. Jackson says he is willing to take the suit to the Supreme Court if necessary. As was the case with the gold mine, he doesn’t seem interested in a financial settlement with Arizona Clean Fuels but is focused on the land itself. “We’re a tenacious people,” he says, citing earlier fights of a different kind between the Quechans and the Spanish, the Mexicans and the United States cavalry. “We’re still here. The cavalry is gone.”

                                                                          New York Times

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                                                                            La Trobe, “Bundoora Arabesque” & Aboriginal Ethnocide

                                                                            English (US)  August 12th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                            "Bundoora" in Arabic means "tomato."

                                                                            By Gideon Polya

                                                                            MELBOURNE, Australia _ “Bundoora Arabesque” is a huge 4-seasons abstract expressionist painting that represents an ecumenical and amity-promoting fusion of Islamic, Renaissance Italian and contemporary styles overlaid with abstract expressionist figurative elements reminiscent of Jackson Pollock and of 20,000 year old cave paintings from Europe and Australia.

                                                                            [More:]

                                                                            “Bundoora” is my local area and means “the country that kangaroos like” in the Aboriginal language of this region. Indeed I often see kangaroos in the early morning and evening in the local bushland (see if you can spot them as well as local bird life in this complex painting).

                                                                            Bundoora is the Outer Melbourne suburb in which La Trobe University is located. La Trobe ranks about #10 among Australia’s 40 odd universities and some major scholars with international reputations have variously been associated with La Trobe. The university is named after 19th century Victorian governor Charles La Trobe, a traveler, mountaineer and author who is also notorious for setting up the Victorian Native Police who were involved in the Aboriginal Genocide in South East Australia. This ambiguity is reflected in a life-size upside-down statue of La Trobe at La Trobe University in which the head is on the ground and the plinthe in the air.

                                                                            My “Bundoora Arabesque” painting was inspired by the beautiful local area through which I walked frequently some months ago when I was delivering a big theory and practical course to second year science students at La Trobe University. The painting has a quite unintended ”Aboriginal” feel to it in striking support of Australian feminist guru Germaine Greer’s idea that European Australians have become unwittingly imbued with love of land that is so intrinsic to Indigenous (Aboriginal ) Australian culture.

                                                                            Unfortunately, completion of this huge (1.3 x 2.9 metre) painting has coincided with the appalling MILITARY invasion of Aboriginal communities in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) by the extreme right-wing, Bush-ite Australian Federal Government. The “excuse” was an expert NT Report “Little Children are Sacred” that detailed huge problems of alcohol, violence and poverty in NT Aboriginal communities. However the media and right-wing politicians have run with the revelations of appalling NT Aboriginal child sexual abuse that provided the climate for the Federal Government “invasion” of isolated NT aboriginal communities using soldiers in camouflage dress.

                                                                            This has now culminated in passage of a 500-page Bill (with cowardly Labor Opposition support) that allows for racially-specific expropriation of NT Aboriginal land; race-based constraints on what Aborigines can read, see, drink, consume and purchase; and race-based withholding of NT Aboriginal social welfare payments.

                                                                            This Bill involves breaching the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act 1975 that (among other things) stopped Federal violation of Aboriginal Australians who had suffered 2 centuries of what genocide experts call the Aboriginal Genocide. The Indigenous population dropped from about 1 million to 0.1 million in the first century of European colonization; the 20th century saw the forcible removal of 0.1 million Aboriginal children from their mothers; and indeed Aborigines were only finally “counted” as Australians after a Referendum in 1967. Their long struggle to regain Land Rights has been compounded by conservative opposition and horrendous living conditions in one of the richest countries in the world.

                                                                            According to the Australian Human Rights, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 gives effect to Australia's obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Its major objectives are to (1) promote equality before the law for all persons, regardless of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin, and (2) make discrimination against people on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin unlawful.

                                                                            The obscenely-rushed racist legislation prompted an Editorial in the liberal conservative Melbourne newspaper The Age entitled” “Legislate in haste, PM, and you may repent in leisure” (Wednesday 8th August, 2007; links to the Age.)

                                                                            “Has democracy in Australia come to this? Parliament reduced to a rubber stamp? Whatever the legislative details, the executive's show of contempt for Parliament is alarming. The plan includes undeniably discriminatory and draconian elements. . . will [the] spending be effective in ending the epidemics of sexual assault, violence and drug and alcohol abuse in the affected communities?"

                                                                            This editorial goes on to observe that the Opposition only had 24 hours to peruse the 500-page Bill; that the Federal Government will be seizing control of 73 NT Aboriginal communities; the Bill fails to adopt any of the 97 recommendations of the NT Report “Little Children are Sacred” which provided the ostensible excuse for the Federal Government action; and that cost will be A$587 million for the first year of operation.

                                                                            The militant, extremist, extreme right wing, Federal Australian Government already weeks ago sent soldiers in battle dress camouflage into NT Aboriginal communities. Now with cowardly and unprincipled Opposition support it has brought in profoundly dangerous and offensive racially-discriminatory legislation that grossly violates Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 1975 that gave effect to Australia's obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and which formally ended 2 centuries of race-based discrimination underlying the Aboriginal Genocide.

                                                                            This is happening in one of the richest countries of the world because of deliberate and sustained neglect – Australian Aboriginal health services are funded at about 50% of what they should be according to the Commonwealth Grants Commission (2001) report “Report on Indigenous funding” (quoted by a recent and very detailed report on Indigenous Australian Health by N. Thomson et al: “Overview of Indigenous Health, 2004”:

                                                                            The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates “total per capita medical expenditure at average exchange rate ($US)” (2004) as $14 (US-UK-Australia-Occupied Afghanistan), $58 (US-UK-Australia-Occupied Iraq) versus $3,123 (Occupier Australia)

                                                                            With an Indigenous population of about 0.5 million that is funded at roughly the national average (despite huge morbidity and remote location problems) the extra funding required is about US$1.5 billion annually – as compared to the US$0.4 billion now offered, and this largely for Army and bureaucratic personnel and infrastructure.

                                                                            Many Australian Aborigines live in Third World conditions; the “annual under-5 infant death rate” is over 3 times higher for Aborigines than that for White Australians; 1 in 5 Australian Aborigines have diabetes (mostly type 2 diabetes) which has huge attendant problems such as cardiovascular complications, kidney problems and blindness; the Australian Aboriginal life expectancy is 17 years less than that for White Australians; and a top Australian diabetologist has warned that Indigenous Australians may actually die out by the end of the century.Image

                                                                            The deficient medical expenditure statistics are reflected in an “annual avoidable death rate” (annual excess death rate) of Indigenous Australians is 2.2-0.4 = 1.8% as compared to 0% for New Zealand and for White Australia, 0.4% (South Asia), 0.5% (Occupied Iraq), 1.0% (non-Arab Africa) and 1.8% (Occupied Afghanistan).

                                                                            1.8% per year of 460,000 times 11 years = about 90,000 Indigenous Australians have died avoidably under the 11 year rule of the Coalition Government.

                                                                            The Indigenous infant death rate is over 3 times that of Australia as whole. The difference translates to over 146 avoideble under-5 Indigenous infant deaths annually or over 146 x 11 = about 1,600 avoideble under-5 year old Indigenous infant deaths under the Coalition Government.

                                                                            However to illustrate the sheer hypocrisy and dishonesty of the racist, Australian Government it is useful to examine the Northern Territory Child Sexual Abuse reality in a quantitative way.

                                                                            There is no doubt from the shocking anecdotal accounts in the NT Report “Little Children are Sacred” that from a qualitative perspective Aboriginal Child Sexual Abuse is occurring and must be urgently stopped. However the Report (p57) states that “it is not possible to accurately estimate the extent of child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory” while documenting that 34% of females and 16% of males in Australia as a whole experience child sexual abuse (Dunne, M.P., Purdie, D.M., Cook, M.D., Boyle, F.M. & Najman, J.M.(2003), Is child sexual abuse declining? Evidence from a population-based survey of men and women in Australia, Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 27 (2), pp141-152).

                                                                            No doubt there is significant Aboriginal child sexual abuse and other horrendous problems that need to be addressed by urgent provision of exactly the same services that are provided to White Australians– decent infrastructure, decent housing, security, police, justice, nurses, doctors, teachers and other welfare workers. Those defaming Indigenous Australians for child sexual abuse in the absence of concrete figures are simply lying in a racially-specific way – it is akin to the deadly anti-Jewish anti-semitic canards of past millennia (e.g. “drinking the blood of Christian children”) and indeed to the current anti-Arab anti-Semitic and Islamophobic carnards (“terrorists”, “extremists”, “fanatics”, “militants”) that are routinely trotted out every day in the Australian and Western media. Those indulging in this race-specific propaganda have no idea as to whether the incidence of Aboriginal child sexual abuses is greater or less than the appalling figure for Australia as a whole.

                                                                            Let’s be clear about what this legislation does and how it grossly violates Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (specifically Articles 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 17, 19, 22 and 30;. NT Aboriginals will be circumscribed about what they can read, see, drink, consume and purchase in ways that do NOT apply to White Australians and their Land (Sacred to Indigenous Australians) and their Communities will be seized and controlled by the Federal Government - a contemptible, racist Government that presides over 9,000 avoidable Aboriginal deaths annually and which still refuses to say “sorry” for the past horrendous Aboriginal Genocide and Ethnocide. Indeed the Aboriginal Genocide continues – it took 90,000 lives in the last 11 years alone of rule of Australia by these racist, Bush-ite extremists.

                                                                            A friend of mine from the tiny and vulnerable Lipari (Aeolian) Islands off the tip of Italy observed that the World War 2 experience instructs that we are all Jews. Just imagine the deserved national and international outcry if these obscene, racist laws were applied to Australian Jews.

                                                                            My family was wiped from the face of Europe by the racist Nazis – our homes and lands are still expropriated in the Old Country. The post-Holocaust crie de coeur of “Never again” means “Never again to any people”. My wife is a Black Australian – I will make sure that the world is informed of this return to the pre-1975 Racist White Australia in gross violation of Australian anti-racism legislation and of International anti-racism Conventions.

                                                                            Sanctions and boycotts worked against racist Apartheid régime in South Africa which had an “annual avoidable death rate” of 0.4% (1993) as compared to 2.0% for Northern Territory Aborigines in Racist White Australia today. The Racist White Australians – on a bi-partisan basis – are now imposing human rights-abusing racial discrimination on these vulnerable people in addition to this ongoing carnage.

                                                                            The World needs to act urgently to stop the egregious racism of Racist White Australia and to stop the ongoing Aboriginal Genocide and Aboriginal Ethnocide – there must be zero tolerance for racism.

                                                                            Dr Gideon Polya, MWC News Chief political editor, published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003), and is currently writing a book on global mortality.

                                                                            Meida with Conscience News

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                                                                              Mahmoud Abbas' war against the Palestinian people

                                                                              English (US)  August 10th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                              Sabotaging Palestine behind closed doors: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with the Council of Ministers in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 4 July 2007.
                                                                              Omar Rashidi/MaanImages/POOL/PPO

                                                                              By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 10 August 2007

                                                                              "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was apparently more delighted by the banquet prepared for him by the wife of Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat than he was with meeting President Mahmoud Abbas in Jericho the day before yesterday," the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported on its website on 8 August, citing Israel's Channel 10 television station.

                                                                              [More:]

                                                                              Channel 10's correspondent spoke of the "hospitality and warmth" that marked Abbas' reception of Olmert and his delegation, noting that "Erekat's wife insisted on personally preparing and serving" the banquet. Olmert, the report added, "was unable to conceal his delight and appetite for the rich food and for the hospitality and generosity" the Israelis received from their Palestinian hosts.

                                                                              Behind all the theater, the results of the meeting were as meagre as can be expected. Olmert publicly affirmed his commitment to the "two-state solution," while spokesmen briefed the press that Israel was not ready to discuss any fundamental issues, such as borders, halting colonial settlements, or the rights of refugees. The exercise was aimed at maintaining the fiction of a "peace process" from which Abbas will supposedly one day be able to deliver results.

                                                                              Yet while he treats Olmert to delicacies in Jericho, Abbas is doing his best to ensure that Palestinians in Gaza continue to suffer and starve due to the closure of the commercial and civilian crossings and tightened siege imposed by Israel since Hamas fighters routed US- and Israeli-backed Fatah militias in early June.

                                                                              A source who works directly with Abbas' ministers in the unelected and illegal "emergency government" of Salam Fayyad in Ramallah wrote to me that "Abbas has explicitly ordered the Rafah border to close and remain closed with the purpose of strangling Hamas." The source, who was motivated to speak out by his outrage, but requested anonymity because he fears reprisals, added that Abbas "is ready to see his own people die for his political games." The source added that while Abbas' official public relations pronouncements are that the border is to be opened at once, "what is going on in the meetings is the opposite."

                                                                              What my source confirmed had already been revealed by Haaretz in a 8 July article that reported that Abbas "asked Israel and Egypt prevent the movement of people from Egypt to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing" and that "Abbas and a number of his aides asked that the request not be made public" ("Abbas asks for Rafah Gaza-Egypt crossing point to remain closed," Haaretz, 18 July 2007).

                                                                              Abbas' policy of colluding with Israel to starve his own people is having its effect. The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA issued a desperate appeal for the borders of the besieged strip to be reopened. Filippo Grandi, the agency's deputy commissioner general warned in a 9 August statement that within weeks Gaza could "be one hundred percent aid dependent" (Press Statement by Filippo Grandi, Deputy Commissioner General, UNRWA, Gaza City, 9 August 2007.)

                                                                              All 600 garment factories in Gaza have shut down because they cannot import raw materials and 90 percent of factories involved in the construction industry have closed, the BBC reported on 9 August, citing figures given by the UN. As many as 120,000 workers in Gaza are likely to lose their jobs, and even UNRWA and the United Nations Development Programme have had to halt construction of shelters for refugees. ("UN warns over Gaza economic woe," BBC News, 9 August 2007.)

                                                                              In what might be a tacit admission of Abbas' complicity, Grandi made a direct appeal not only to Israel, but to the "Palestinian authorities" to take "immediate steps to open up the Karni Crossing, to imports and exports, as well as humanitarian goods." He added, "Only this will allow the little that remains of Gaza's economy to survive."

                                                                              As the people in Gaza suffer strangulation, thousands of their relatives were stranded in desperate conditions on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, refugees exiled even from their place of exile. Many are people in poor health who went to Egypt to seek medical treatment, and at least 31 have died while waiting to return home.

                                                                              On the political front, Hamas has continued to react to Abbas' escalating war with equanimity, issuing daily calls for dialogue, reconciliation and a return to a national unity government. Despite the siege, it has also continued to hold its own successfully, paying the wages of thousands of government employees whose salaries Abbas and Fayyad had confiscated.

                                                                              Abbas, while literally embracing the occupier and colonizer, has continued to angrily reject any intra-Palestinian dialogue. Yet it is doubtful how long this position will be tenable. Abbas, under a veto from the Bush administration refuses to talk, even as some senior Israelis have started to advocate direct dialogue with Hamas.

                                                                              One of those is Efraim Halevy, the former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Halevy said, "I don't say we should talk to Hamas out of sympathy to them. I have no sympathy whatsoever for Hamas. I think they are a ghastly crowd ... But I have not seen anybody who says the Abbas-Fayyad tandem is going to do the job" ("What if Israel Talked to Hamas? Ex-Spymaster's Plan, Seen as Heresy by Some," Wall Street Journal, 1 August 2007).

                                                                              Halevy expressed doubts about the US strategy of trying to prop up Abbas and isolate Hamas, calling it "political fantasy." He called for Israel to negotiate a long-term truce with Hamas, something the movement has already offered. Halevy, the Journal reported, "is part of a small band of public figures who now say that, because of Hamas's growing clout, it is becoming impossible to avoid such a dialogue. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell joined the group in a recent interview with National Public Radio."

                                                                              Unashamed, Abbas carries on; he recently received another large arms shipment -- 1,000 rifles -- coordinated by Israel and Jordan to strengthen his militias against Hamas. All these provocations are having an effect. While Hamas' civilian leadership continues to offer olive branches, the rank and file of the resistance movement are showing signs that their patience is wearing thin.

                                                                              Following Fayyad's recent call for all resistance forces to unilaterally disarm in front of the occupation, and the subsequent publication of his "government program" that omitted mention of armed struggle, the Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC) issued an ominous warning. In a 28 July press conference a spokesman for the group -- a coalition of resistance fighters from various factions including Fatah, responsible for capturing the Israeli prisoner of war Gilad Shalit -- "dubbed Abbas, Fayyad and other members of the government the 'Ramallah traitors' and vowed they will receive an 'identical response as to the Israeli occupation'" ("PRC: Fayad and 'Ramallah traitors' targets for attack," Haaretz, 28 July 2007).

                                                                              Meanwhile, another Hamas member, Mou'aiad Bani Odeh, 22, died in an Israeli hospital after being transferred from al-Juneid prison, run by Abbas' forces. Bani Odeh, Hamas alleges, succumbed to injuries resulting from torture inflicted by Abbas' men, who continue their campaign of repression against Hamas members throughout the West Bank. ("Hamas member dies after being tortured in jail run by Palestinian Authority," Ma'an News, 10 August 2007.)

                                                                              The signs are that unless Abbas and his entourage reverse course and end their war against the Palestinian people, the apparent calm that now prevails will soon be shattered by another storm.

                                                                              Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

                                                                              Electronic Intifada

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                                                                                Henry Siegman: The Middle East Peace Process Scam

                                                                                English (US)  August 10th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                London Review of Books
                                                                                http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n16/print/sieg01_.html

                                                                                By Henry Siegman

                                                                                When Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush met at the White House in June, they concluded that Hamas’s violent ousting of Fatah from Gaza – which brought down the Palestinian national unity government brokered by the Saudis in Mecca in March – had presented the world with a new ‘window of opportunity’.[*] (Never has a failed peace process enjoyed so many windows of opportunity.) Hamas’s isolation in Gaza, Olmert and Bush agreed, would allow them to grant generous concessions to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, giving him the credibility he needed with the Palestinian people in order to prevail over Hamas.

                                                                                All previous peace initiatives have got nowhere for a reason that neither Bush nor the EU has had the political courage to acknowledge. That reason is the consensus reached long ago by Israel’s decision-making elites that Israel will never allow the emergence of a Palestinian state which denies it effective military and economic control of the West Bank.

                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                Both Bush and Olmert have spoken endlessly of their commitment to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it is their determination to bring down Hamas rather than to build up a Palestinian state that animates their new-found enthusiasm for making Abbas look good. That is why their expectation that Hamas will be defeated is illusory. Palestinian moderates will never prevail over those considered extremists, since what defines moderation for Olmert is Palestinian acquiescence in Israel’s dismemberment of Palestinian territory. In the end, what Olmert and his government are prepared to offer Palestinians will be rejected by Abbas no less than by Hamas, and will only confirm to Palestinians the futility of Abbas’s moderation and justify its rejection by Hamas. Equally illusory are Bush’s expectations of what will be achieved by the conference he recently announced would be held in the autumn (it has now been downgraded to a ‘meeting’). In his view, all previous peace initiatives have failed largely, if not exclusively, because Palestinians were not ready for a state of their own. The meeting will therefore focus narrowly on Palestinian institution-building and reform, under the tutelage of Tony Blair, the Quartet’s newly appointed envoy.

                                                                                In fact, all previous peace initiatives have got nowhere for a reason that neither Bush nor the EU has had the political courage to acknowledge. That reason is the consensus reached long ago by Israel’s decision-making elites that Israel will never allow the emergence of a Palestinian state which denies it effective military and economic control of the West Bank. To be sure, Israel would allow – indeed, it would insist on – the creation of a number of isolated enclaves that Palestinians could call a state, but only in order to prevent the creation of a binational state in which Palestinians would be the majority.

                                                                                The Middle East peace process may well be the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history. Since the failed Camp David summit of 2000, and actually well before it, Israel’s interest in a peace process – other than for the purpose of obtaining Palestinian and international acceptance of the status quo – has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and an occupation whose goal, according to the former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, is ‘to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people’. In his reluctant embrace of the Oslo Accords, and his distaste for the settlers, Yitzhak Rabin may have been the exception to this, but even he did not entertain a return of Palestinian territory beyond the so-called Allon Plan, which allowed Israel to retain the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank.

                                                                                Anyone familiar with Israel’s relentless confiscations of Palestinian territory – based on a plan devised, overseen and implemented by Ariel Sharon – knows that the objective of its settlement enterprise in the West Bank has been largely achieved. Gaza, the evacuation of whose settlements was so naively hailed by the international community as the heroic achievement of a man newly committed to an honourable peace with the Palestinians, was intended to serve as the first in a series of Palestinian bantustans. Gaza’s situation shows us what these bantustans will look like if their residents do not behave as Israel wants.

                                                                                Israel’s disingenuous commitment to a peace process and a two-state solution is precisely what has made possible its open-ended occupation and dismemberment of Palestinian territory. And the Quartet – with the EU, the UN secretary general and Russia obediently following Washington’s lead – has collaborated with and provided cover for this deception by accepting Israel’s claim that it has been unable to find a deserving Palestinian peace partner.

                                                                                Just one year after the 1967 war, Moshe Dayan, a former IDF chief of staff who at the time was minister of defence, described his plan for the future as ‘the current reality in the territories’. ‘The plan,’ he said, ‘is being implemented in actual fact. What exists today must remain as a permanent arrangement in the West Bank.’ Ten years later, at a conference in Tel Aviv, Dayan said: ‘The question is not “What is the solution?” but “How do we live without a solution?”’ Geoffrey Aronson, who has monitored the settlement enterprise from its beginnings, summarises the situation as follows:

                                                                                Living without a solution, then as now, was understood by Israel as the key to maximising the benefits of conquest while minimising the burdens and dangers of retreat or formal annexation. This commitment to the status quo, however, disguised a programme of expansion that generations of Israeli leaders supported as enabling, through Israeli settlement, the dynamic transformation of the territories and the expansion of effective Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan River.

                                                                                In an interview in Ha’aretz in 2004, Dov Weissglas, chef de cabinet to the then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, described the strategic goal of Sharon’s diplomacy as being to secure the support of the White House and Congress for Israeli measures that would place the peace process and Palestinian statehood in ‘formaldehyde’. It is a fiendishly appropriate metaphor: formaldehyde uniquely prevents the deterioration of dead bodies, and sometimes creates the illusion that they are still alive. Weissglas explains that the purpose of Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, and the dismantling of several isolated settlements in the West Bank, was to gain US acceptance of Israel’s unilateralism, not to set a precedent for an eventual withdrawal from the West Bank. The limited withdrawals were intended to provide Israel with the political room to deepen and widen its presence in the West Bank, and that is what they achieved. In a letter to Sharon, Bush wrote: ‘In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.’

                                                                                In a recent interview in Ha’aretz, James Wolfensohn, who was the Quartet’s representative at the time of the Gaza disengagement, said that Israel and the US had systematically undermined the agreement he helped forge in 2005 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and had instead turned Gaza into a vast prison. The official behind this, he told Ha’aretz, was Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser. ‘Every aspect’ of the agreement Wolfensohn had brokered ‘was abrogated’.

                                                                                Another recent interview in Ha’aretz, with Haggai Alon, who was a senior adviser to Amir Peretz at the Ministry of Defence, is even more revealing. Alon accuses the IDF (whose most senior officers increasingly are themselves settlers) of working clandestinely to further the settlers’ interests. The IDF, Alon says, ignores the Supreme Court’s instructions about the path the so-called security fence should follow, instead ‘setting a route that will not enable the establishment of a Palestinian state’. Alon told Ha’aretz that when in 2005 politicians signed an agreement with the Palestinians to ease restrictions on Palestinians travelling in the territories (part of the deal that Wolfensohn had worked on), the IDF eased them for settlers instead. For Palestinians, the number of checkpoints doubled. According to Alon, the IDF is ‘carrying out an apartheid policy’ that is emptying Hebron of Arabs and Judaising (his term) the Jordan Valley, while it co-operates openly with the settlers in an attempt to make a two-state solution impossible.

                                                                                A new UN map of the West Bank, produced by the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, gives a comprehensive picture of the situation. Israeli civilian and military infrastructure has rendered 40 per cent of the territory off limits to Palestinians. The rest of the territory, including major population centres such as Nablus and Jericho, is split into enclaves; movement between them is restricted by 450 roadblocks and 70 manned checkpoints. The UN found that what remains is an area very similar to that set aside for the Palestinian population in Israeli security proposals in the aftermath of the 1967 war. It also found that changes now underway to the infrastructure of the territories – including a network of highways that bypass and isolate Palestinian towns – would serve to formalise the de facto cantonisation of the West Bank.

                                                                                These are the realities on the ground that the uninformed and/or cynical blather in Jerusalem, Washington and Brussels – about waiting for Palestinians to reform their institutions, democratise their culture, dismantle the ‘infrastructures of terror’ and halt all violence and incitement before peace negotiations can begin – seeks to drown out. Given the vast power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians – not to mention the vast preponderance of diplomatic support enjoyed by Israel from precisely those countries that one would have expected to compensate diplomatically for the military imbalance – nothing will change for the better without the US, the EU and other international actors finally facing up to what have long been the fundamental impediments to peace.

                                                                                These impediments include the assumption, implicit in Israel’s occupation policy, that if no peace agreement is reached, the ‘default setting’ of UN Security Council Resolution 242 is the indefinite continuation of Israel’s occupation. If this reading were true, the resolution would actually be inviting an occupying power that wishes to retain its adversary’s territory to do so simply by means of avoiding peace talks – which is exactly what Israel has been doing. In fact, the introductory statement to Resolution 242 declares that territory cannot be acquired by war, implying that if the parties cannot reach agreement, the occupier must withdraw to the status quo ante: that, logically, is 242’s default setting. Had there been a sincere intention on Israel’s part to withdraw from the territories, surely forty years should have been more than enough time in which to reach an agreement.

                                                                                Israel’s contention has long been that since no Palestinian state existed before the 1967 war, there is no recognised border to which Israel can withdraw, because the pre-1967 border was merely an armistice line. Moreover, since Resolution 242 calls for a ‘just and lasting peace’ that will allow ‘every state in the area [to] live in security’, Israel holds that it must be allowed to change the armistice line, either bilaterally or unilaterally, to make it secure before it ends the occupation. This is a specious argument for many reasons, but principally because UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 of 1947, which established the Jewish state’s international legitimacy, also recognised the remaining Palestinian territory outside the new state’s borders as the equally legitimate patrimony of Palestine’s Arab population on which they were entitled to establish their own state, and it mapped the borders of that territory with great precision. Resolution 181’s affirmation of the right of Palestine’s Arab population to national self-determination was based on normative law and the democratic principles that grant statehood to the majority population. (At the time, Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population in Palestine.) This right does not evaporate because of delays in its implementation.

                                                                                In the course of a war launched by Arab countries that sought to prevent the implementation of the UN partition resolution, Israel enlarged its territory by 50 per cent. If it is illegal to acquire territory as a result of war, then the question now cannot conceivably be how much additional Palestinian territory Israel may confiscate, but rather how much of the territory it acquired in the course of the war of 1948 it is allowed to retain. At the very least, if ‘adjustments’ are to be made to the 1949 armistice line, these should be made on Israel’s side of that line, not the Palestinians’.

                                                                                Clearly, the obstacle to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict has not been a dearth of peace initiatives or peace envoys. Nor has it been the violence to which Palestinians have resorted in their struggle to rid themselves of Israel’s occupation, even when that violence has despicably targeted Israel’s civilian population. It is not to sanction the murder of civilians to observe that such violence occurs, sooner or later, in most situations in which a people’s drive for national self-determination is frustrated by an occupying power. Indeed, Israel’s own struggle for national independence was no exception. According to the historian Benny Morris, in this conflict it was the Irgun that first targeted civilians. In Righteous Victims, Morris writes that the upsurge of Arab terrorism in 1937 ‘triggered a wave of Irgun bombings against Arab crowds and buses, introducing a new dimension to the conflict.’ While in the past Arabs had ‘sniped at cars and pedestrians and occasionally lobbed a grenade, often killing or injuring a few bystanders or passengers’, now ‘for the first time, massive bombs were placed in crowded Arab centres, and dozens of people were indiscriminately murdered and maimed.’ Morris notes that ‘this “innovation” soon found Arab imitators.’

                                                                                Underlying Israel’s efforts to retain the occupied territories is the fact that it has never really considered the West Bank as occupied territory, despite its pro forma acceptance of that designation. Israelis see the Palestinian areas as ‘contested’ territory to which they have claims no less compelling than the Palestinians, international law and UN resolutions notwithstanding. This is a view that was made explicit for the first time by Sharon in an op-ed essay published on the front page of the New York Times on 9 June 2002. The use of the biblical designations of Judea and Samaria to describe the territories, terms which were formerly employed only by the Likud but are now de rigueur for Labour Party stalwarts as well, is a reflection of a common Israeli view. That the former prime minister Ehud Barak (now Olmert’s defence minister) endlessly describes the territorial proposals he made at the Camp David summit as expressions of Israel’s ‘generosity’, and never as an acknowledgment of Palestinian rights, is another example of this mindset. Indeed, the term ‘Palestinian rights’ seems not to exist in Israel’s lexicon.

                                                                                The problem is not, as Israelis often claim, that Palestinians do not know how to compromise. (Another former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, famously complained that ‘Palestinians take and take while Israel gives and gives.’) That is an indecent charge, since the Palestinians made much the most far-reaching compromise of all when the PLO formally accepted the legitimacy of Israel within the 1949 armistice border. With that concession, Palestinians ceded their claim to more than half the territory that the UN’s partition resolution had assigned to its Arab inhabitants. They have never received any credit for this wrenching concession, made years before Israel agreed that Palestinians had a right to statehood in any part of Palestine. The notion that further border adjustments should be made at the expense of the 22 per cent of the territory that remains to the Palestinians is deeply offensive to them, and understandably so.

                                                                                Nonetheless, the Palestinians agreed at the Camp David summit to adjustments to the pre-1967 border that would allow large numbers of West Bank settlers – about 70 per cent – to remain within the Jewish state, provided they received comparable territory on Israel’s side of the border. Barak rejected this. To be sure, in the past the Palestinian demand of a right of return was a serious obstacle to a peace agreement. But the Arab League’s peace initiative of 2002 leaves no doubt that Arab countries will accept a nominal and symbolic return of refugees into Israel in numbers approved by Israel, with the overwhelming majority repatriated in the new Palestinian state, their countries of residence, or in other countries prepared to receive them.

                                                                                It is the failure of the international community to reject (other than in empty rhetoric) Israel’s notion that the occupation and the creation of ‘facts on the ground’ can go on indefinitely, so long as there is no agreement that is acceptable to Israel, that has defeated all previous peace initiatives and the efforts of all peace envoys. Future efforts will meet the same fate if this fundamental issue is not addressed.

                                                                                What is required for a breakthrough is the adoption by the Security Council of a resolution affirming the following: 1. Changes to the pre-1967 situation can be made only by agreement between the parties. Unilateral measures will not receive international recognition. 2. The default setting of Resolution 242, reiterated by Resolution 338, the 1973 ceasefire resolution, is a return by Israel’s occupying forces to the pre-1967 border. 3. If the parties do not reach agreement within 12 months (the implementation of agreements will obviously take longer), the default setting will be invoked by the Security Council. The Security Council will then adopt its own terms for an end to the conflict, and will arrange for an international force to enter the occupied territories to help establish the rule of law, assist Palestinians in building their institutions, assure Israel’s security by preventing cross-border violence, and monitor and oversee the implementation of terms for an end to the conflict.

                                                                                If the US and its allies were to take a stand forceful enough to persuade Israel that it will not be allowed to make changes to the pre-1967 situation except by agreement with the Palestinians in permanent status negotiations, there would be no need for complicated peace formulas or celebrity mediators to get a peace process underway. The only thing that an envoy such as Blair can do to put the peace process back on track is to speak the truth about the real impediment to peace. This would also be a historic contribution to the Jewish state, since Israel’s only hope of real long-term security is to have a successful Palestinian state as its neighbour.

                                                                                Footnotes

                                                                                * Rashid Khalidi writes about Hamas and Fatah on p. 31.

                                                                                Henry Siegman, the director of the US/ Middle East Project, served as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations from 1994 to 2006, and was head of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994.

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                                                                                  Hamas member dies after being tortured in jail run by Palestinian Authority

                                                                                  English (US)  August 10th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                  NABLUS, Palestine – Hamas have said that Palestinian security sources in the West Bank have confirmed the death of a Hamas member they claim was tortured in a Palestinian security prison.

                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                  Twenty-two-year-old Mou'aiad Bani Odeh from Tamon in the north of the West Bank Tobas, died in an Israeli hospital after he was transferred from Al Junied Jail in Nablus.

                                                                                  The Palestinian media centre said that according to Palestinian sources, "Bani Odeh died after he was severely tortured in Al Junied Jail, which is run by the Palestinian Authority.

                                                                                  Bani Odeh's family are blaming the Palestinian security services for their son's death.

                                                                                  In a news conference Hamas said that this is an example of the torture their members are facing in Palestinian Authority jails.

                                                                                  Maan News

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                                                                                    Gaza: The Auschwitz of our time

                                                                                    English (US)  August 10th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                    Comment by Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

                                                                                    In 1940, several months after invading Poland in September 1939, the Nazis forced about 500,000 Jews into the Warsaw Ghetto, surrounding it with a high wall. Tens of thousands died from hunger and disease. Eventually, 300,000 were sent to death camps, mainly Treblinka in eastern Poland.

                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                    Similarly, Israel is now incarcerating nearly a million and a half helpless Palestinians in the Gaza Strip into a hell similar in nature to the Warsaw Ghetto. The Gaza concentration camp is not only fitted with a wall, but also with every conceivable tool of repression, such as electric fences and watch towers manned by Gestapo-like trigger-happy Jewish soldiers who shoot first and ask questions later.

                                                                                    Moreover, thousands of Israeli soldiers, are surrounding Gaza in a hermetic manner, shooting and killing any Palestinian trying to escape, e.g. enter Israel to search for work or even food.

                                                                                    Palestinian kids survive on bread and tea

                                                                                    Even Palestinian kids playing soccer near the hateful fences, are routinely riddled with bullets or reduced into pieces of human flesh by the "most moral army in the world."

                                                                                    As a result of these genocidal designs, Gazans in the thousands are dying of malnutrition and illness resulting from anemia. Moreover, children in great numbers are surviving on a meager and totally inadequate diet consisting mainly of bread and tea.

                                                                                    This week, this writer contacted several Gaza families and asked to speak with the kids. The answers I received were truly horrifying. I did speak with 10 kids and was shocked to find out that seven of the kids told me their diet during the previous week consisted mainly of bread and tea in addition to some tomatoes.

                                                                                    The grown-ups, especially the parents, wouldn't reveal the extent of the unfolding tragedy they are facing. They would only say a terse "al hamdulillah" (thank God). But the tone of their voices tells us that they are in real distress.

                                                                                    Turning the Gaza Strip into the largest detention camp in the world
                                                                                    The harsh blockade of Gaza didn't start in mid June when Hamas took over the small seaside region after defeating and ousting the American-backed Fatah forces led by Muhammed Dahlan and cohorts who had been planning, with American dollars and arms, to murder the Hamas leadership in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from the Bush Administration and Israel.

                                                                                    In fact, Gaza has been effectively under siege since 2000 when the second Palestinian intifada or uprising broke out. Since, then Gazans have been barred from exporting their products and produces.

                                                                                    Moreover, Israel, which has been telling the world that it had ended its occupation of Gaza, still retains full control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, thus reducing the Gaza Strip into the largest detention camp in the world.

                                                                                    To make a long story short, Gazans are being pushed into a situation very similar to that which prevailed at the Ghetto Warsaw. They are not allowed to work (unemployment in Gaza stands at more than 70%), they are not allowed to travel abroad, they are not allowed to enter Israel for work, they are not allowed even to go fishing offshore since Israeli gunboats would open fire at any fishing-boat daring to go more than a mile off the shore.

                                                                                    The criminal and draconian measures are meant to further impoverish Gazans to the extent that they won't be able to purchase food.

                                                                                    The declared Israeli goal behind starving and tormenting the people of Gaza is to force them to revolt against the democratically-elected government, led by the Hamas movement, and settle for a quisling-like government that would sell-out Palestinian national rights, including the paramount right of return for Palestinian refugees uprooted from their homes and villages by Jewish gangs in 1948, when Israel was created.

                                                                                    It is believed that up to two thirds of the inhabitants of Gaza are refugees. Hence, the intensive repression and coercion being meted out to these people in order to force them to give up their right to return to their homes and villages in what is now Israel.

                                                                                    It is crystal clear that Israel is steadily but certainly effecting a Nazi-like approach toward the people of the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                    The PR-conscious Israeli government, however, is hoping that the world will not take proactive measures to expose the creeping genocide in Gaza. This is why Israel is allowing limited shipments of food products, such as flour and cooking oil, into Gaza, to avoid a possible international outcry.

                                                                                    However, the supplies are conspicuously meager and don't meet the basic nutritional needs of the vast bulk of Gaza children.

                                                                                    Unfortunately, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) seems to be conniving and colluding with Israel to keep the unfolding Gaza tragedy as silent as possible.

                                                                                    UNRWA officials do make idle statements from time to time, warning of an impending "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza. However, the UN agency often refrains from "saying it as it is," probably for fear of upsetting the Israelis and the Americans, who apparently don't like to hear words like "starvation, and concentration camps" with regard to the situation in Gaza find their way to the international media.

                                                                                    Israel is undoubtedly the central culprit in this man-made tragedy in Gaza, since it is up to her to allow Gazans to obtain food and export their products and especially their produces to the West Bank. Such a step, which would cost Israel nothing, would help Gazans obtain some meager income to feed their children.

                                                                                    However, Israel, as always, has apparently chosen to be faithful to long traditions of callousness and moral depravity, not unlike the way the Nazis treated their victims.

                                                                                    US administration, Abbas as guilty as Israel
                                                                                    But Israel is not the only guilty party in this tragedy. The US is actually as criminal as Israel, since the Bush administration is urging Israel to keep up the pressure on Gaza.

                                                                                    In fact, American officials keep congratulating their Israeli colleagues on the "success" of the blockade against Gaza. I wonder what kind of politicians are those who enjoy watching children starve to death? Are they human beings or cannibalistic beasts? This question ought to be directed to Condoleezza Rice whose behavior toward the Palestinian people is probably a thousand times worse than the behavior of the worst American white slave masters toward here forefathers.

                                                                                    Maybe it is naive to appeal to Rice's sense of justice and morality since her manifestly criminal record with regard to the Palestinian cause leaves no doubt as to the woman's unethical and evil character.

                                                                                    But if the Bush administration, which has been carrying a holocaust in Iraq, and Israel, which has been effecting ethnic cleansing in Palestine in the name of Jewish nationalism, can be "excused" on the ground that only evil can be expected from evil governments, the Palestinian regime of Mahmoud Abbas has no excuse whatsoever to collude and connive with Israel against the very people it is claiming to serve.

                                                                                    Such behavior, including the tacit and implicit encouragement of Israel to tighten the blockade of Gaza, and keep hundreds of thousands of encircled Gazans hungry and thoroughly tormented, characterizes quislings and agents of a foreign occupation.

                                                                                    Clearly, Abbas and his aides have much to explain to the Palestinian people. They also have much to atone for. This is if they still possess any sense of shame.

                                                                                    Palestine Info

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                                                                                      Israeli occupation army in collaboration with Abbas’s forces hounded, rounded up Hamas activists in West Bank

                                                                                      English (US)  August 10th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                      Israeli occupation forces and masked militiamen belonging to the American-backed Palestinian Authority regime in Ramallah raided Palestinian population centers and arrested dozens of Hamas supporters and activists earlier this week, local sources and relatives of the detainees said.

                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                      The campaign coincided with a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, which took lace in the Palestinian town of Jericho Monday afternoon.

                                                                                      In the central West Bank, near Ramallah, Israeli occupation troops on Sunday arrested three Palestinian activists at the village of Abu Falah, north west of Ramallah. A fourth activist was arrested at the Jalazone refugee camp also near Ramallah. The Israeli army said it arrested a fifth young Palestinian in the Hebron region.

                                                                                      In the Nablus region, the Israeli occupation army Sunday night arrested “three wanted persons,” an allusion to Palestinians suspected of resisting the Israeli occupation.

                                                                                      At the small town of Shoyoukh near Hebron , masked PA security personnel reportedly raided several homes and arrested 18 suspected Hamas activists.

                                                                                      Samih al Seifi, Abbas' alleged “commander of the Hebron region,” told a local news agency that the detainees were suspected of being members of the executive force.

                                                                                      Seifi said “the arrest was carried out in accordance with the law.”

                                                                                      However, relatives of the detainees vehemently denied that people arrested had any connection with the executive force.

                                                                                      “These people are ordinary Muslims. They have nothing to do with the executive force,” said Muhammed Halayka, whose cousin was among the detainees.

                                                                                      “I think this is part of an overall onslaught against the Islamic movement; it is meant to impress the Israelis and the Americans and obtain a certificate of good conduct from them.”

                                                                                      Another resident of the town, Yousuf al Mashni, accused the Abbas regime of colluding with Israel against “the Palestinian people.”

                                                                                      “There is no difference between the two, I mean Israel, the PA. They both carry out the same task, that is repressing the Palestinian people.”

                                                                                      Hamas on Monday issued a strongly-worded statement castigating the “gangsterly and treacherous onslaught” against Hamas supporters at the town of Shoyoukh.

                                                                                      The statement said that as many as a hundred vehicles and 900 security personnel from all over the West Bank raided the Palestinian towns and arrested 18 activists, some of them have been released from Israeli custody.

                                                                                      The statement said the attackers fired heavily into the ether, terrorizing civilians.

                                                                                      According to the statement, the detainees’ list includes the following: Ibrahim Halyaka, Rami Rizq Halayka, Mahmoud Hamdi Halayka, Muhammed Saher Halayka, Muhammed Saher Halayka, Bassam Shehdeh Halayka, Abdul Karim Halayka, Khalid I’wedat, Muhammed Radi Halayka, Rizq Halayka, Bassam S’ifeean, Muhammed Jabr Warasneh, Ayed Hamed Halayka, and Ahmed Munir Halayka.

                                                                                      Hamas said the raid on al Shoyoukh took place in full coordination with the Israeli occupation army.

                                                                                      Earlier, masked men belonging to Fatah rounded up three other people, including Jasser Abu Arqoub from Ramallah, Ahmed Shehab from Tulkarm and Murad Shehab and Ahmed Badran from Anabta.

                                                                                      Meanwhile, gangs of Jewish settlers went on the rampage in downtown Hebron Monday, beating and terrorizing Palestinians and setting Palestinian property on fire.

                                                                                      Eyewitnesses said heavily-armed settlers set a local mosque on fire in full view of Israeli occupation soldiers who didn’t try to stop the settlers.

                                                                                      Earlier, a Jewish settler’s car ran over a young Palestinian in downtown Hebron. The settler reportedly told the police he tried to kill the Palestinian in a protest against government orders to vacate two Palestinian stalls at the wholesale vegetable market.

                                                                                      On Sunday, dozens of Jewish gangsters rioted outside the settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron, attacking Palestinians and vandalizing their property.

                                                                                      The armed settlers reportedly threw Molotov cocktails and stones on Palestinian homes.

                                                                                      The Israeli occupation army normally treats settlers with exceptional leniency due to pro-settlers influence in the government and army.

                                                                                      Palestine Info

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                                                                                        Bardawil: Abbas became part of the Zio-American system

                                                                                        English (US)  August 10th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                        Palestinian Information Center

                                                                                        GAZA, Palestine -- MP Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman of Hamas-affiliated change and reform bloc, has belittled the importance of betting on Egypt's role in persuading PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to return to the internal dialogue and not to ignore Hamas because Abbas is no longer an independent Palestinian party but a part of the "Zio-American system."

                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                        Denying reports of media and political circles that Hamas constitutes a fundamental obstacle to any political project of a settlement, Dr. Bardawil said: "These are false claims because, basically, there is no settlement process, for the fact that the Israeli Occupation Army did not declare its readiness to withdraw to the borders of June 4 of 1967, did not stop the construction of the apartheid wall, did not release the Palestinian detainees, and did not allow the return of refugees, so there can be no process that can be hampered by Hamas."

                                                                                        Regarding the statements issued on Monday in Jericho after Abbas's meeting with Olmert, Bardawil stated that Abbas and Olmert "do not possess the ability to conclude a historic agreement that would pave the way for building a Palestinian state," pointing out that Abbas is not qualified to sign any agreement because he goes without popular cover while he is in a quarrel with three quarters of his people while Olmert is politically weak.

                                                                                        Regarding whether Abbas's visit to Cairo would renew hope for dialogue, he said: "Regrettably, Cairo has lost many of the political game cards in Palestine because the Zio-American plans had isolated Egypt and rejected any Arab involvement in the region whether the Arab peace initiative, or the Cairo and Makkah accords."

                                                                                        In another serious development, the Hebrew newspaper Ha'aretz revealed that Abbas had asked the IOA to approve the entry of shipments of arms bought from Egypt and Jordan to the West Bank, pointing out that the IOA did not respond until now and still holds reservations about some of these requests, lest those arms fall into the hands of Hamas as had happened before in the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                        The new roster of Abbas's requests, according to the paper, includes armored vehicles, thousands of machine guns and rifles, and millions of rounds, armors, grenades and other military equipment.

                                                                                        Uruknet

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                                                                                          Abu Zuhri warns of secret agreement to eliminate Hamas

                                                                                          English (US)  August 10th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                          GAZA, Palestine - Dr Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas official spokesman in Gaza, has warned of secret decisions and agreements between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the American and Israeli administrations on the elimination of Hamas and on the handing of lists of Palestinian resistance fighters from all factions including Fatah to the Israeli Occupation Army.

                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                          "It is unconceivable that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas attempts to instigate the world against his people, calls for international troops to occupy the Gaza Strip, and orders retaining the crossings closed in the face of the Palestinian people," Abu Zuhri said, pointing out in this context that the USA blocks any Arab or European contact with Hamas aimed at easing the siege on Gaza.

                                                                                          Abu Zuhri also confirmed that the Movement's strength will be growing since the plots, being hatched against it, are increasing, because of its adherence to its national constants and positions. He pointed out that the PA chief has only two options: either to return to Gaza to continue dialogue or to return in the escort of Israeli tanks.

                                                                                          He also warned that the most serious outcome of Abbas's meetings with Olmert and Zionist leaders is those pictures, published by Hebrew and international media, showing Abbas and his aides embracing and kissing the enemy of the Palestinian people simultaneously with Zionist invasions into the cities, villages and ongoing aggressions against the Palestinian people.

                                                                                          Ureknet

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                                                                                            US Hegemony Spawns Russian-Chinese Military Alliance

                                                                                            English (US)  August 9th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                            By Paul Craig Roberts

                                                                                            This week the Russian and Chinese militaries are conducting a joint military exercise involving large numbers of troops and combat vehicles. The former Soviet Republics of Tajikistan, Kyrgkyzstan, and Kazakstan are participating. Other countries appear ready to join the military alliance.

                                                                                            This new potent military alliance is a real world response to neoconservative delusions about US hegemony. Neocons believe that the US is supreme in the world and can dictate its course. The neoconservative idiots have actually written papers, read by Russians and Chinese, about why the US must use its military superiority to assert hegemony over Russia and China.

                                                                                            Americans need to understand what the neocon Bush regime cannot: a nuclear exchange between the US, Russia, and China would establish the hegemony of the cockroach.

                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                            Cynics believe that the neocons are just shills, like Bush and Cheney, for the military-security complex and are paid to restart the cold war for the sake of the profits of the armaments industry. But the fact is that the neocons actually believe their delusions about American hegemony.

                                                                                            Russia and China have now witnessed enough of the Bush administration’s unprovoked aggression in the world to take neocon intentions seriously. As the US has proven that it cannot occupy the Iraqi city of Baghdad despite 5 years of efforts, it most certainly cannot occupy Russia or China. That means the conflict toward which the neocons are driving will be a nuclear conflict.

                                                                                            In an attempt to gain the advantage in a nuclear conflict, the neocons are positioning US anti-ballistic missiles on Soviet borders in Poland and the Czech Republic. This is an idiotic provocation as the Russians can eliminate anti-ballistic missiles with cruise missiles. Neocons are people who desire war, but know nothing about it. Thus, the US failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

                                                                                            Reagan and Gorbachev ended the cold war. However, US administrations after Reagan’s have broken the agreements and understandings. The US gratuitously brought NATO and anti-ballistic missiles to Russia’s borders. The Bush regime has initiated a propaganda war against the Russian government of V. Putin.

                                                                                            These are gratuitous acts of aggression. Both the Russian and Chinese governments are trying to devote resources to their economic development, not to their militaries. Yet, both are being forced by America’s aggressive posture to revamp their militaries.

                                                                                            Americans need to understand what the neocon Bush regime cannot: a nuclear exchange between the US, Russia, and China would establish the hegemony of the cockroach.

                                                                                            In a mere 6.5 years the Bush regime has destroyed the world’s good will toward the US. Today, America’s influence in the world is limited to its payments of tens of millions of dollars to bribed heads of foreign governments, such as Egypt’s and Pakistan’s. The Bush regime even thinks that as it has bought and paid for Musharraf, he will stand aside and permit Bush to make air strikes inside Pakistan. Is Bush blind to the danger that he will cause an Islamic revolution within Pakistan that will depose the US puppet and present the Middle East with an Islamic state armed with nuclear weapons?

                                                                                            Considering the instabilities and dangers that abound, the aggressive posture of the Bush regime goes far beyond recklessness. The Bush regime is the most irresponsibly aggressive regime the world has seen since Hitler’s.

                                                                                            If only a sweet young thing would volunteer to give Bush a blowjob so that he can be impeached before he leads us to Armageddon

                                                                                            Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

                                                                                            Information Clearinghouse

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                                                                                              Maliki praises Iran's role in Iraq; Bush responds with rebuke, and carrot/stick strategy

                                                                                              English (US)  August 9th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                              Iraq PM Maliki's mention of Iran's "constructive role in fighting terrorism" drew a rebuke and veiled threat from Bush, who said Iranians can do better than their current government. But more than 70 percent of Americans think Americans can do better than their current government.

                                                                                              The president of Iran has pledged his support for Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, and said US troops must leave his country immediately.

                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                              The Iraqi prime minister on Thursday emphasised the growing strength of bilateral ties during his two-day visit to Iran, despite a renewed warning from George Bush, the US president, over Tehran's alleged role in Iraq.

                                                                                              Al-Maliki was also quoted by Iranian state media as praising Iran's "constructive" role in "fighting terrorism" in Iraq - a statement that Bush moved swiftly to publicly contradict.

                                                                                              "If the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart to heart with my friend the prime minister because I do not believe they are," Bush told a White House news conference.

                                                                                              Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, told the Iraqi prime minister: "Iran and Iraq both have heavy responsibilities to bring about peace and security in the region.

                                                                                              "The situation in the region today, including Iraq, is very sensitive. Tehran considers the future of the region to be dependent on the victory in Iraq."

                                                                                              Withdrawal

                                                                                              Parviz Davoudi, Iranian vice-president, also warned that security in Iraq depended on an immediate withdrawal of US forces, a move Iraqi officials have said would be premature.

                                                                                              He said: "It is our belief that the exit of the occupying forces would provide security and stability in Iraq.

                                                                                              "Bringing about security and calm in Iraq is dependent on two factors - the exit of the occupiers and their non-inteference in Iraq and also the power of the government of Mr Maliki."

                                                                                              State media said al-Maliki, on his second official visit to Iran, left Tehran to visit the shrine of the Imam Reza in Iran's holy second city of Mashhad, where he would also meet Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader.

                                                                                              Al-Maliki's talks appeared to confirm the increasingly warm relations that have emerged between Iraq and Iran following the fall of the Sunni-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

                                                                                              Iranian media said the two sides had planned to sign security agreements, but few details were released about any concrete results apart from Iranian promises to help provide fuel to Iraq during the winter and with building a refinery.

                                                                                              Tehran and Baghdad are expected to agree on a deal on a pipeline soon to transfer crude oil to refineries in Iran from oilfields in Iraq, whose oil industry has suffered major damage during decades of sanctions and war, Iranian media reports said.

                                                                                              US displeasure

                                                                                              In sharp contrast to al-Maliki's remarks, the White House expressed displeasure on Thursday over Iran's behaviour in post-Saddam Iraq.

                                                                                              Bush said that US officials have warned Iran in talks in Baghdad to stop shipping sophisticated roadside bombs into Iraq or face the "consequences". Iran vehemently denies any such behaviour.

                                                                                              Bush said the aim of the talks was "to send the message that there will be consequences for people transporting, delivering, EFPs [Explosively Formed Projectiles] - highly sophisticated IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] - to kill Americans in Iraq".

                                                                                              Gordon Johndroe, US National Security Council spokesman, said the "price to pay" remark by Bush was directed at Iran.

                                                                                              "The president has said that many times. We've arrested and detained Iranian agents inside Iraq ... that message was for Iran."

                                                                                              Bush cited Iran's support for Lebanon's Shia group Hezbollah; Tehran's suspect nuclear programme; and Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel warnings, which he said Washington "cannot live with".

                                                                                              Bush said: "My message to the Iranian people is, 'You can do better than this current government. You don't have to be isolated. You don't have to be in a position where you can't realise your full economic potential'."

                                                                                              Iraq pilgrimage

                                                                                              Meanwhile, in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Shias marched to a gold-domed mosque in harsh heat and sun on Thursday in a pilgrimage of devotion to an 8th century saint.

                                                                                              "Long live Muqtada!" some pilgrims shouted as they paraded towards Baghdad's Imam al-Kadhim shrine, referring to Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader whose al-Mahdi Army militia is accused by the US of carrying out death-squad attacks.

                                                                                              A few shook their fists at US soldiers standing alongside the procession route, but the march was mostly peaceful.

                                                                                              Seven pilgrims were killed when suspected Sunni fighters in a speeding car opened fire and threw hand grenades at them in the Dabouniya area, southeast of Baghdad, as they headed to the pilgrimage, Kut police said.

                                                                                              Assailants also opened fire on Iraqi soldiers guarding pilgrims in the Yarmouk neighbourhood in western Baghdad. The soldiers returned fire, killing one attacker.

                                                                                              Soldiers killed

                                                                                              A roadside bomb killed two British soldiers and seriously wounded two others on Wednesday when it detonated near a military convoy driving north of southern Iraq's Rumaila oilfields, the British military said.

                                                                                              A US marine was killed in combat on Tuesday in the western province of Anbar, the US military said.

                                                                                              In other news of violence, nine bodies were found around Baghdad in the past 24 hours, police said.

                                                                                              A roadside bomb killed three people and wounded two in the southern Baghdad district of Bayaa, police said.

                                                                                              A suicide car bomb killed seven people and wounded eight near a market in Salih al-Khalaf village in Taji, north of Baghdad, on Tuesday, the US military said.

                                                                                              Another military statement said eight people were killed and 16 wounded.

                                                                                              US forces detained a "high-value insurgent" on Tuesday suspected of involvement in a roadside bombing that killed three US soldiers on Saturday, the US military said.

                                                                                              Agencies

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                                                                                                Holocaust survivors' protest makes foreign journalists gasp, security vanish

                                                                                                English (US)  August 9th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                Zionists bilked tens of billions of dollars from Germany (80 billion alone) and other countries for Nazi era events (as Norman Finkelstein and others
                                                                                                documented). The survivors got peanuts. Now over 60 years later, protests shatter the mirage of Zionism caring about holocausy survivors. -- Mazin Qumsiyeh
                                                                                                (Thanks, Mazin.)

                                                                                                By DanieL Byl Ben Simon

                                                                                                It's difficult to remember when security last had been so flimsy for a demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. All the frantic nervousness characterizing the most closely guarded compound in Israel, if not the entire Middle East, disappeared Sunday during the Holocaust survivors' protest.

                                                                                                "I want the Germans to know where the money they gave Israel went," he said angrily. "I want the Germans to know that Israel took the money we should have received. I want them to answer one question: Where did our money go?" -- Yehuda Frenkel, Holocaust survivor

                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                Thousands of protesters marched hundreds of meters from the Wohl Rose Park to the Prime Minister's Office unhindered, while security guards kept a very low profile. The last thing they needed was a violent clash with the Holocaust survivors.

                                                                                                Foreign journalists were visibly taken aback by the bizarre spectacle of a Jewish state apparently at war with Jewish Holocaust survivors, who were angrily protesting what they considered a miserable stipend offer from the government.

                                                                                                "I don't think any government in Europe could resist the demands of people who have suffered so much," one of them said.

                                                                                                Ze'ev Dratva, a Holocaust survivor, was among the marchers. "How many years do the survivors have left? Barely a year or two," he shouted.

                                                                                                He said he knew survivors who were miserable, and could not afford false teeth or one warm meal a day.

                                                                                                Some survivors were comforted by the sight of the thousands marching for them, including the youths carrying anti-government posters. Yehuda Frenkel, who came from Kiryat Haim, was moved. He could not remember a greater show of solidarity since he immigrated to Israel, after surviving the concentration camps. He had objected to the demonstration at first, if only because of the shame and embarrassment. But in view of the government's callousness, he had concluded there was no other way.

                                                                                                "I want the Germans to know where the money they gave Israel went," he said angrily. "I want the Germans to know that Israel took the money we should have received. I want them to answer one question: Where did our money go?"

                                                                                                The demonstration was not only about the meager stipends, it was about the lost honor of people who already had been robbed of their humanity in the Holocaust. As long as their struggle was kept among themselves, they didn't dare to make too much noise. But as soon as their campaign rattled Israeli indifference, they gathered their last bit of strength and went to Jerusalem to show the government that they were nobody's fools.

                                                                                                "I came all the way from Ramat Gan to protest the humiliation of the Holocaust survivors," said Haya Rosenbaum in a shaking voice. She stretched out her left arm, on which the number 53684 had been etched.

                                                                                                She often had considered how much the establishment wished to be rid of those thousands of survivors who were still clinging to life. Otherwise, how could one explain the state's humiliating treatment?

                                                                                                "It doesn't matter how much money we'll get in the end," said Eva Schoenberger of Petah Tikva. "It's heartwarming to see so many people have come to support us."

                                                                                                Haaretz

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                                                                                                  Giuliani’s Neocons

                                                                                                  English (US)  August 8th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                  By Kurt Nimmo

                                                                                                  Rudolph Giuliani will not be the next decider and commander guy. Even so, at least to make a good appearance, Giuliani has stacked his campaign deck with insiders and neocons. As we know, Giuliani’s chief foreign policy adviser is Charles Hill, a George Shultz flunky, and the team led by Hill includes Martin Kramer, a “scholar” at the Middle East at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Shalem Center, and the Olin Institute, that is to say at the very core of the neocon movement to destroy America and kill Muslims. Now we are told Giuliani will hire the grand daddy of the neocon cabal, Norman Podhoretz.

                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                  “In addition to being an unwavering supporter of the war against Iraq, Podhoretz, a former editor of Commentary magazine, has grabbed headlines in recent months as one of most vocal proponents of American military action against Iran,” notes InFocus.

                                                                                                  “The naming of leading neoconservative Norman Podhoretz as one of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani’s senior foreign policy advisers is disconcerting to those Americans who have hoped that the current disagreements with Iran might be resolved short of war,” laments Philip Giraldi for National Interest Online. “Giuliani—together with Mitt Romney and John McCain—has publicly advocated a military strike against Iran to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons. He has also not ruled out the use of America’s own nuclear weapons if that should prove necessary to deter Tehran.” In other words, the neocon agenda is alive and well amidst the Republican hopefuls, or at least those billed as front-runners by the corporate media (the real front-runner, Ron Paul, assiduously ignored by the corporate media, is strenuously opposed to the neocon mass murder project).

                                                                                                  Giraldi continues:

                                                                                                  Podhoretz has recently called on the United States to bomb Iran and he describes the current situation—pitting Washington against what he describes as “the Islamofascist threat”—as World War IV. Podhoretz basically advocates a world-wide conflict not unlike World War II to defeat Islamists everywhere they are to be found. Giuliani is already the U.S. presidential hopeful who is perceived most favorably in Israel because of his uncompromising stance on issues like the Iranian threat and terrorism, and the addition of Podhoretz will certainly be viewed favorably by many influential neoconservatives. Podhoretz is himself an uncompromising advocate of what he sees as Israeli national security imperatives very much in the mold of the right-wing Likud party….

                                                                                                  Podhoretz’s definition of the enemy as Islamofascism is itself a borrowing from right-wing Israeli think tanks that prefer to see an enemy in unitary terms that can be conflated with international terrorism. Most experts on Islam and on the many countries that have majority Muslim populations would reject that Islamofascism or anything like it really exists, just as the “global war on terrorism” is essentially a misleading simplification that has little meaning. The basically false depiction of a hostile and menacing global entity is done deliberately to help formulate a policy which perforce makes Israel’s enemies also the enemies of the United States, even when they are not.

                                                                                                  Chances are slim to none Giuliani, with Podhoretz and any number of neocons in tow, will occupy the White House. Even the neocon Newt Gingrich admits as much. “The odds are fairly significant that that the left will win next year. My personal bet is that it’ll be a Clinton-Obama ticket. I think they have a very high likelihood of winning,” Gingrich told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Six months ago in the polling numbers, Giuliani was ahead of Clinton. He is now behind. He’s the strongest Republican in terms of popular vote, whether you’re for him or against him.” In fact, it was decided some time ago the Clinton-Obama team would “win” the “election” come November, 2008.

                                                                                                  Of course, the “left,” headed up by the decider gal Hillary Clinton, will pick up the neocon baton and go after Iran, as planned.

                                                                                                  In 2005, during a Hanukkah dinner speech hosted by Yeshiva University, Clinton said: “I held a series of meetings with Israeli officials, including the prime minister and the foreign minister and the head of the [Israeli Defense Force] to discuss such challenges we confront. In each of these meetings, we talked at length about the dire threat posed by the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran, not only to Israel, but also to Europe and Russia. Just this week, the new president of Iran made further outrageous comments that attacked Israel’s right to exist that are simply beyond the pale of international discourse and acceptability. During my meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, I was reminded vividly of the threats that Israel faces every hour of every day … It became even more clear how important it is for the United States to stand with Israel,” that is to say the Likudites.

                                                                                                  Clinton will “continue to support AIPAC’s mission to occupy the whole of the occupied territories, as well as a war on Iran in the future,” writes Joshua Frank. Earlier this year, Clinton declared during an AIPAC dinner, “no option can be taken off the table” when dealing with Iran. “We need to use every tool at our disposal, including diplomatic and economic in addition to the threat and use of military force,” the latter naturally the preferred course, as the neocons and their friends on the Democrat “left” are determined to shock and awe Iran, not divest it of illusory nukes.

                                                                                                  Although we can assume Hillary Clinton will not court the likes of Norman Podhoretz and the over-the-top neocons, once “elected” her foreign policy will be a neocon mirror image. As Joshua Frank notes, Richard Holbrooke, fondly known as the “Balkans bulldozer,” may “be asked to serve as Secretary of State if she is to win the presidential campaign next year. Holbrooke, a Democratic adaptation of Henry Kissinger, loves her approach to foreign policy.” Frank reminds us that Holbrooke has a special place in his heart for the neocon way of doing things, that is say the neocon way of killing Muslims. “In an unguarded moment just before the 2000 election, Richard Holbrooke opened a foreign policy speech with a fawning tribute to his host, Paul Wolfowitz, who was then the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington,” Frank quotes First of the Month.

                                                                                                  Holbrooke, a senior adviser to Al Gore, was acutely aware that either he or Wolfowitz would be playing important roles in next administration. Looking perhaps to assure the world of the continuity of US foreign policy, he told his audience that Wolfowitz’s ‘recent activities illustrate something that’s very important about American foreign policy in an election year, and that is the degree to which there are still common themes between the parties.’ The example he chose to illustrate his point was East Timor, which was invaded and occupied in 1975 by Indonesia with US weapons—a security policy backed and partly shaped by Holbrooke and Wolfowitz. ‘Paul and I,’ he said, ‘have been in frequent touch to make sure that we keep [East Timor] out of the presidential campaign, where it would do no good to American or Indonesian interests.’

                                                                                                  It helps, as well, that Holbrooke is a regular at CFR and Bilderberg meetings, thus demonstrating his globalist pedigree (in fact, Holbrooke is not simply your garden variety member, but rather sits on the board of directors). Other CFR members include Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Irving Kristol, and a smattering of other neocons and like-minded, including the butcher of Honduras, John Negroponte. Richard N. Haass, current president of the CFR and former State Department director of policy planning under Colin Powell, while not strictly a neocon, paralleled the release of “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” the neocon plan of attack issued by the Project for the New American Century, with his own “Imperial America,” a paper “that urged the United State to fashion an ‘imperial foreign policy’ that makes use of its ’surplus of power’ to ‘extend its control’ across the face of the globe. While still denying that lasting hegemony was possible, Haass declared that the United States should use the exceptional opportunity that it now enjoyed to reshape the world in order to enhance its global strategic assets. This meant military interventions around the world,” John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney explain in Pox Americana: Exposing the American Empire (Monthly Review Press, 2004, p. 170).

                                                                                                  In short, be the next president Clinton or Giuliani, and it will likely be the former, foreign policy will remain virtually the same, no doubt with a few stylistic differences.

                                                                                                  Of course, not only will the neocons be satisfied with this change, as their policies will continue, albeit without their direct participation, but “progressive” Democrats, as exemplified by the Kos cadre embracing Clinton last week, will be happy as pigs in a certain disagreeable substance come November, 2008, and will blissfully ignore the “common themes between the parties,” namely more bodies piled up in their name, same as they dutifully ignored Bill Clinton’s mass murder spree in Serbia and his intermittent attacks against Iraqi civilians, including the renown Iraqi artist Layla al-Attar.

                                                                                                  Another Day in the Empire

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                                                                                                    Yousef: “Hamas and Fateh and holding secret talks”

                                                                                                    English (US)  August 8th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                    Ahmed Yusuf

                                                                                                    By IMEMC Staff

                                                                                                    Dr. Ahmad Yousef, the advisor of Ismail Haniyya who is still acting as a prime minister of the displaced government in Gaza, stated that there are secret talks taking place between Fateh and Hamas with the participation of political figures from other factions and independent figures, in order to end the crisis between Hamas and Fateh and resume comprehensive national talks.

                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                    Speaking to the Palestinian Media Network, Yousef stated that Palestinian factions and figures, in addition to Arab initiatives are carrying efforts in order to reduce the gap between Hamas and Fateh, but added that these initiatives are carried out away from the media.

                                                                                                    Yousef added that these talks aim at finding the conflicting points between Hamas and Fateh and implementing a mechanism to resolve these issue in order to regain unity.

                                                                                                    He also said that the talks between Hamas and Fateh should remain away from the media, and that several Palestinian figures are participating in these talks including independent figures and senior figures of both Hamas and Fateh movements.

                                                                                                    Yousef also said that he expects that the parties will arrive to an initial national unity agreement in one or two months, and added that he hopes that this will be the base for “a real partnership and understanding based on democracy a respect between all factions”.

                                                                                                    International Middle East Media Center

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                                                                                                      House Democrats Fail to Restrain Bush on Guantánamo, Iraq or Domestic Spying: Why do we need the Democrats?

                                                                                                      English (US)  August 8th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                      By ANDY WORTHINGTON

                                                                                                      On Saturday, just four days after Vice President Dick Cheney shuffled out from under his rock to declare on CNN that he thought that proposals to close Guantánamo were a bad idea and that operational plans for Iraq were not the business of Congress, Democrats failed to fulfil a promise, made during the previous week, to “send members home for the August recess with fresh votes on legislation that would repudiate President Bush’s execution of the ‘global war on terror,’” remaining silent on Guantánamo and Iraq, and approving instead the President’s plans to expand his program of warrantless eavesdropping on foreign “suspects.”

                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                      As part of measures to shave just $3.5 billion off the President’s insane request for $459.6 billion for Defense appropriations (that’s less than 1 percent of a figure so colossal that it matches the cumulative defense spending of the UK, France, Germany, Japan, China, Russia, Italy, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea, Australia, Canada and Spain), Representative John Murtha (D-Pa.) had indicated that he would put forward an amendment that would “require that US forces be fully trained and equipped before deploying to Iraq” (which rather begs the question of how shambolic the current process is), and another that “would close the Guantánamo prison in six months,” but in the end, faced with the prospect of losing votes and inflaming partisan tensions, he withdrew his amendments, and the bill passed by 395 votes to 13.

                                                                                                      On CNN, tilting at common sense and the increasing sway of public opinion, the advocate of the “Dark Side” in the “War on Terror” told Larry King on Tuesday that “we don't get into the business of sharing operational plans – we never have – with the Congress.” Cheney was speaking in defense of a former aide, Eric S. Edelman, currently an undersecretary of defense, who recently raised Democratic heckles when he replied to a request made by Senator Hillary Clinton for a briefing on withdrawal plans from Iraq by “accusing her of reinforcing ‘enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies’ by discussing a timetable for withdrawal,” although he failed to indicate whether the “we” he was referring to was a royal “we” or was meant to indicate himself and the President.

                                                                                                      Cheney also spoke out about Guantánamo, telling King, “I think you need to have someplace to hold those individuals who have been captured during the global war on terror. I'm thinking of people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” and adding, for the benefit of those who have been on the moon for the last few years, “This is a man we captured in Pakistan. He's the mastermind of 9/11.” Warming to his theme – and refuting figures issued by the DoD’s Office for Detainee Affairs, showing that, at most, there are only 130 detainees that the administration wants to hold onto (80 to be tried before Military Commissions, and another 50 who are “too dangerous to risk release,” but not, bizarrely, dangerous enough to be charged with any crime) – Cheney added, “There are hundreds of people like that, and if you closed Guantánamo, you'd have to find someplace else to put these folks.”

                                                                                                      While Cheney’s opinion was backed by some of the House Representatives – with Republican Conference Chairman Adam H. Putnam of Florida joining the NIMBYist tendency I highlighted here last week, and claiming that “any US town with a prison holding a terrorist would become a potential target for attack” – Alcee L. Hastings, a Democratic Representative for Florida, and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, responded with a more measured view, pointing out that closing Guantánamo would be “an overdue way to restore the United States’ image overseas,” and explaining, “Pretty much everyone has agreed it has given America a black eye abroad.”

                                                                                                      Hopes that something would come of all this were not only quashed on Saturday, but in addition a number of Democrat Representatives joined with the Republicans and followed the lead established in the Senate on Friday, approving, by 227 votes to 183, the President’s plans to “expand the government's abilities to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States.” In this stark reminder of how politicians of all hues are still swayed by the President’s bellicose, xenophobic paranoia, the cowardly Democrats (who included Dianne Feinstein in the Senate) thereby chose hollow rhetoric – Bush’s metronomic pronouncement that “Protecting America is our most solemn obligation” – over more rational fears, expressed by many of their fellow Democrats and also by civil liberties groups, that, as described by the Associated Press, the bill “goes too far, possibly enabling the government to wiretap US residents communicating with overseas parties without adequate oversight from courts or Congress,” and that it is “not limited to terror suspects and could have wider applications.”

                                                                                                      Dissenting Democrats at least won a few concessions in negotiations earlier in the week, insisting that any proposals for new wiretaps must be approved not only by the unraveling Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, but also by Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, but there was, overall, little enthusiasm for the concerns expressed by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who said during the debate that preceded the vote, “This bill would grant the attorney general the ability to wiretap anybody, any place, any time without court review, without any checks and balances. I think this unwarranted, unprecedented measure would simply eviscerate the 4th Amendment,” which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

                                                                                                      Any confrontation between Democrats and the administration will now have to wait until after the summer recess, when the President’s 2008 funding for Iraq and Afghanistan will come under scrutiny, and “surges” and “timetables for withdrawal” will once more be the subject of semi-inscrutable pronouncements with too many sub-clauses.

                                                                                                      I can hardly wait.

                                                                                                      Andy Worthington is a British historian, and the author of ‘The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison’ (to be published by Pluto Press in October 2007).

                                                                                                      He can be reached at: andy@andyworthington.co.uk

                                                                                                      Counterpunch

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                                                                                                        Not Only Territory, But Viability: The Catch in Israel's "Generous Offers" at Jericho

                                                                                                        English (US)  August 8th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                        By JEFF HALPER

                                                                                                        On paper, the headlines sound promising, even stirring. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at their meeting in Jericho that he would push for the establishment of a Palestinian state as "fast as possible" on “the equivalent to 100 percent of the territories conquered in 1967.” The Palestinians, according to the report, would cede just 5% of the West Bank in return for territorial swaps. In other words, Israel would withdraw from 95.6 % of the combined West Bank and Gaza -- although whether Olmert includes East Jerusalem in this calculation is unknown.

                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                        It looks like another “generous offer,” one the Palestinians could not possibly refuse. "The aim is to achieve US President George Bush's vision of two countries for two peoples, living in security and peace side by side" based on the road map, Olmert said, adding “We want to achieve this as soon as possible."

                                                                                                        What could be bad about such a plan? Well, the devil, we all know, is in the details. At issue is not a Palestinian state on the equivalent of 100% of the Occupied Territories (that is, we should note, only 22% of historic Palestine), but, as the road map specifies, a viable and truly sovereign Palestinian state -- plus we must add, resolution of the refugee issue, which cannot be swept under the table. What is the potential “catch” here? What details of sovereignty and viability do we have to notice before we embrace this new generous offer with both arms?

                                                                                                        Sovereignty

                                                                                                        The basis for negotiations, says Olmert, “will continue to be the road map, which is acceptable to both sides." This is true in general, but with some major caveats. Phase II of the road map is the Palestinians' nightmare, and they have constantly pressed to have it removed. This phase calls for the establishment of a “transitional” Palestinian state with “provisional borders.”

                                                                                                        If all is quiet, they fear, and Israel can claim that a Palestinian state exists and that the Occupation has ended, who could guarantee that the road map process would continue into Phase III, where the thorny final status details are to be negotiated and a real Palestinian state would emerge?

                                                                                                        Their fears are justified -- and this may be the “catch.” Israel considers its “14 reservations” as integral parts of the road map. Reservation # 5 states:

                                                                                                        “The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty, be fully demilitarized, be without the authority to undertake defense alliances or military cooperation, and Israeli control over the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum.”

                                                                                                        Read that again and try to square that reservation with the notion of Palestinian sovereignty. Tzipi Livni has worked for months on what she is calling “The Israeli Initiative for a Two-State Solution” based precisely on replacing Phase I of the road map (which calls for a freeze on Israeli settlement building) with this problematic Phase II. Rice has said that the Bush Administration will work towards a provisional Palestinian state, leaving “the details” to the next administration.

                                                                                                        A state has no sovereignty without borders. In additional to the problem of provisionality, does Olmert intend to grant the Palestinians an unsupervised border with Jordan? If Israel insists on controlling the borders, or if the Jordan River is part of the 5% the Palestinians must cede, there is no Palestinian state even if they receive all the territory.

                                                                                                        Viability

                                                                                                        Israel may indeed relinquish 95% of the West Bank but still remain in complete control over a Palestinian Bantustan with no viable economy. If it insists on controlling the borders, denying the Palestinians free movement of goods and people, the Palestinian state is not viable. If the 5% the Palestinians must cede includes a corridor across the West Bank, or if Israel insists on keeping the Maíaleh Adumim settlement with its “E-1” corridor to Jerusalem, thus destroying the territorial continuity of a Palestinians state, it is not viable. If it includes Israeli control of all the water resources, it is not viable. If Jerusalem is not fully integrated into the Palestinian state politically, geographically and economically -- and I would bet that the core of East Jerusalem falls outside the 95% -- then there is no viable Palestinian state. According to the World Bank Jerusalem accounts for up to 40% of the Palestinian economy because of tourism, their largest potential industry.

                                                                                                        The difference between a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian state and a Bantustan is a few percentage points of strategic territory. Israel has couched its rule over the territories in “facts on the ground,” a complex matrix of control. Only by paying careful attention to the details will we be able to prevent Olmert and Rice, supported by Bush and Blair, from finessing a permanent regime of apartheid in the guise of a two-state solution.

                                                                                                        It would be extremely helpful if the Palestinian Authority would raise publicly its concerns over the issues of sovereignty and viability instead of giving Olmert an uncontested field in which he can make initiatives and produce PR spin that only put the Palestinians on the defensive. The lack of a strong, official Palestinian voice is not only puzzling, it weakens the ability of all of us non-Palestinians to advocate effectively for a just peace. Israel banks on Palestinian refusal of what it presents as very generous offers indeed. Palestinians reject these schemes for good and solid reasons but never articulate them, leaving the public with the impression Israel really has “no partner for peace.” That must change, and urgently.

                                                                                                        Would it be too much to ask, in the same breath, that the PA initiate a pro-active plan of its own, putting Israel on the defensive? In the meantime, we Israeli advocates for a just peace, together with our articulate partners of the Palestinian and international civil societies, will continue to watch carefully that devil in the details.

                                                                                                        Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

                                                                                                        Counterpunch

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                                                                                                          Uncle Sam, Your Banker Will See You Now ... In the Hole to China

                                                                                                          English (US)  August 8th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                          By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

                                                                                                          Early this morning China let the idiots in Washington, and on Wall Street, know that it has them by the short hairs. Two senior spokesmen for the Chinese government observed that China’s considerable holdings of US dollars and Treasury bonds “contributes a great deal to maintaining the position of the dollar as a reserve currency.”

                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                          Should the US proceed with sanctions intended to cause the Chinese currency to appreciate, “the Chinese central bank will be forced to sell dollars, which might lead to a mass depreciation of the dollar.”

                                                                                                          If Western financial markets are sufficiently intelligent to comprehend the message, US interest rates will rise regardless of any further action by China. At this point, China does not need to sell a single bond. In an instant, China has made it clear that US interest rates depend on China, not on the Federal Reserve.

                                                                                                          The precarious position of the US dollar as reserve currency has been thoroughly ignored and denied. The delusion that the US is “the world’s sole superpower,” whose currency is desirable regardless of its excess supply, reflects American hubris, not reality. This hubris is so extreme that only 6 weeks ago McKinsey Global Institute published a study that concluded that even a doubling of the US current account deficit to $1.6 trillion would pose no problem.

                                                                                                          Strategic thinkers, if any remain who have not been purged by neocons, will quickly conclude that China’s power over the value of the dollar and US interest rates also gives China power over US foreign policy. The US was able to attack Afghanistan and Iraq only because China provided the largest part of the financing for Bush’s wars.

                                                                                                          If China ceased to buy US Treasuries, Bush’s wars would end. The savings rate of US consumers is essentially zero, and several million are afflicted with mortgages that they cannot afford. With Bush’s budget in deficit and with no room in the US consumer’s budget for a tax increase, Bush’s wars can only be financed by foreigners.

                                                                                                          No country on earth, except for Israel, supports the Bush regimes’ desire to attack Iran. It is China’s decision whether it calls in the US ambassador, and delivers the message that there will be no attack on Iran or further war unless the US is prepared to buy back $900 billion in US Treasury bonds and other dollar assets.

                                                                                                          The US, of course, has no foreign reserves with which to make the purchase. The impact of such a large sale on US interest rates would wreck the US economy and effectively end Bush’s war-making capability. Moreover, other governments would likely follow the Chinese lead, as the main support for the US dollar has been China’s willingness to accumulate them. If the largest holder dumped the dollar, other countries would dump dollars, too.

                                                                                                          The value and purchasing power of the US dollar would fall. When hard-pressed Americans went to Wal-Mart to make their purchases, the new prices would make them think they had wandered into Nieman Marcus. Americans would not be able to maintain their current living standard.

                                                                                                          Simultaneously, Americans would be hit either with tax increases in order to close a budget deficit that foreigners will no longer finance or with large cuts in income security programs. The only other source of budgetary finance would be for the government to print money to pay its bills. In this event, Americans would experience inflation in addition to higher prices from dollar devaluation.

                                                                                                          This is a grim outlook. We got in this position because our leaders are ignorant fools. So are our economists, many of whom are paid shills for some interest group. So are our corporate leaders whose greed gave China power over the US by offshoring the US production of goods and services to China. It was the corporate fat cats who turned US Gross Domestic Product into Chinese imports, and it was the “free trade, free market economists” who egged it on.

                                                                                                          How did a people as stupid as Americans get so full of hubris?

                                                                                                          Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com

                                                                                                          Counterpunch

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                                                                                                            Judge denies Schaghticoke request for contempt ruling against Blumenthal

                                                                                                            English (US)  August 8th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                            By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                            HARTFORD, Conn. - A federal judge has denied the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation's request for a ruling of contempt and sanctions against Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Blumenthal announced in a press release July 27.

                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                            U.S. District Court Judge Peter Dorsey also denied STN's request to interview a former key Interior Department official under oath and to seek more materials in its appeal of the BIA's decision to rescind the tribe's federal acknowledgement, Blumenthal said.

                                                                                                            The tribal nation received federal acknowledgement in 2004, but it was repealed in 2005 after a coordinated barrage of opposition by the state, other elected officials, a citizens' anti-Indian group and its powerful White House connected lobbyist, Barbour, Griffith and Rogers. The tribe's ongoing appeal was filed in January 2006.

                                                                                                            Blumenthal's comments were based on a ruling from Dorsey that was filed under seal on the court's electronic filing system July 26.

                                                                                                            The tribe sought a contempt ruling and sanctions against Blumenthal in June for divulging the contents of another sealed motion - one that the tribe filed in May seeking the court's permission to take testimony from former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Aurene Martin, who had issued the final determination granting the tribe federal acknowledgement.

                                                                                                            In seeking a contempt ruling, the tribe's lawyers accused Blumenthal of intimidating and retaliating against Martin for her willingness to testify about the ''mistreatment'' the tribe's petition received. The lawyers said Blumenthal deliberately undermined the purpose of the sealed document, which was to protect Martin against such intimidation.

                                                                                                            Blumenthal said in his press release that he was pleased and ''unsurprised'' at the court's denial to allow the tribe further discovery and to issue sanctions against his office.

                                                                                                            ''The STN has received all relevant - and some irrelevant - materials regarding denial of its petition,'' Blumenthal said.

                                                                                                            In divulging STN's request to take testimony from Martin, Blumenthal also outlined some of statements Martin, if allowed to testify, would have made.

                                                                                                            Blumenthal said Martin would testify that she had accompanied Interior Solicitor David Bernhardt to the White House to discuss STN's petition with then-Director of Domestic Policy Margaret Spellings (now secretary of education) and others; additional White House visits by Bernhardt and other Interior officials; and Bernhardt's increasingly active role in recognition decisions in 2005, when STN's acknowledgement was reversed.

                                                                                                            Martin testified in writing last July that the tribe's petition was ''among the best and most thoroughly researched petition ever reviewed by the BIA.''

                                                                                                            In view of the recent revelations concerning White House interference and political pressure on Justice Department decisions involving Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the firing of U.S. attorneys, Martin's testimony could have been potentially damaging to Bernhardt and other Bush appointees who have claimed under oath that there was no political pressure exerted on them to reverse the federal acknowledgements of the Schaghticokes and the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation - Connecticut's other state recognized tribe whose history, like STN's, is documented back to the 17th century.

                                                                                                            It is not clear from Blumenthal's press release whether the judge also denied STN's request for White House and Interior records - a request that was also made under sealed motion, according to the case file on the court's electronic filing system.

                                                                                                            Blumenthal said he will now file a brief asking the court to dismiss the tribal nation's appeal.

                                                                                                            Breaking months of silence, STN Chief Richard Velky issued a statement confirming that the tribe's request to interview Martin had been denied.

                                                                                                            ''The Schaghticoke Tribe still has court-approved discovery to conduct and depositions to take from the powerful D.C. lobbying firm hired to undo our recognition. In the very near future, we will lay out all of the information we've gathered so the public can see what some of Connecticut's highest elected officials did to our tribe. We believe the full record speaks for itself,'' Velky said.

                                                                                                            Indian Country Today

                                                                                                            1 response(s) to Judge denies Schaghticoke request for contempt ruling against Blumenthal

                                                                                                            1. Kathy [Visitor] Email says:

                                                                                                              The most powerful Lobbyist Jack Abramoff took money from tribes. Many politicians and people from the Department of Interior were involved in this scandal. What role did the White House play with the Abramoff scandal? The public will never know. What role did BGR the powerful lobbying firm, the White House and the Department of Interior play to reverse the federal acknowledgements of the Schaghticokes and the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation?

                                                                                                              Two years ago I wrote then Chairman of the Senate on Indian Affairs Committee, Senator John McCain to investigate the two tribes sudden reversals, he never had the courage to answer me. I now understand why. He was part of the problem. I do believe the Senator should resign from that important committee.

                                                                                                              The Justice Department, along with the investigative arm of the Interior Department needs to investigate the reversals of these two tribes. The public has a right to know the truth.

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                                                                                                            Zionist occupation forces bar children from flying their kites in Bil’in village

                                                                                                            English (US)  August 6th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                            By Saed Bannoura

                                                                                                            Israeli soldiers chased on Monday several Palestinian children of Bil’in village, west of Ramallah in the West Bank, from flying their kites during a summer festival for children in the village. Soldiers fired gas bombs and dozens of children were treated for gas inhalation, the Arabs48 news website reported.

                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                            On Monday afternoon, dozens of children from Bil’in, went to Palestinian orchards near the Annexation Wall and flew their kites as part of the activities of a summer program for children supervised by the Bil’in Sport Club.

                                                                                                            The children were also supposed to play soccer, play some musical instruments and visit the landscape in the area which is threatened to be annexed by Israeli for Wall and settlement constructions, but the soldiers arrived at the scene and demanded the children to leave the area.

                                                                                                            Later on, soldiers fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at the children which inflicted several injuries and forced them to leave the area.

                                                                                                            Husam Al Khateeb, head of the sports club, stated that this attack as a direct violation to the basic rights of the children to play safely without harassment, especially since they were playing in land owned by the residents of the village.

                                                                                                            Later in the day, the army invaded the village and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at dozens of youth who hurled stones at the invading forces, several residents were treated after inhaling gas fired by the soldiers.

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                                                                                                              Same stuff, different day: Abbas and Olmert meet in Jericho, talk about talking

                                                                                                              English (US)  August 6th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                              Olmert said he hoped talks would lead to negotiations on the creation of a Palestinian state

                                                                                                              The Palestinian president and the Israeli prime minister have met in the West Bank in a bid to bridge gaping differences ahead of a US-called peace conference later this year.

                                                                                                              [More:]


                                                                                                              Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert met in Jericho on Monday, the first time in years that such a high-level meeting was taking place in Palestinian territory.

                                                                                                              Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Abbas and Olmert had held a "deep and serious" meeting.

                                                                                                              He said the focus had been on the "fundamental issues of the peace process and ... means of quickly arriving at the creation of a Palestinian state".

                                                                                                              Core issues

                                                                                                              Before the discussions, Olmert had also said that the talks were aimed at restarting negotiations on establishing a Palestinian state.

                                                                                                              However, exposing the differences between the two camps, Erekat said: "Personally, I think the negotiations have been totally exhausted... Now the leaders should decide.

                                                                                                              "We have no need to reinvent the wheel. Any peace process should aim at ending the Israeli occupation that started in 1967."

                                                                                                              Palestinian officials have been pushing for a deal on the "core issues" ahead of the autumn peace conference, with a view to implementing the agreement during the meeting.

                                                                                                              However, Israeli officials have been reluctant to discuss key points before the conference, saying the two sides should create a basis or framework for an agreement before the meeting.

                                                                                                              Erekat said that the two leaders had agreed to meet at least three more times before the peace conference, which Israeli officials expect to take place in November after the Jewish and Muslim holidays.

                                                                                                              Prolonged resistance

                                                                                                              Israeli officials had baulked at describing the session as an attempt to address so-called final-status issues such as borders and the future of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, saying the two leaders would seek instead an agreement on "principles".

                                                                                                              "I came here in order to discuss with you the fundamental issues outstanding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, hoping that this will lead us soon into negotiations about the creation of a Palestinian state," Olmert said, with Abbas standing at his side, at the start of their talks.

                                                                                                              But it is unclear whether Olmert, whose popularity plummeted after last year's inconclusive war in Lebanon, can make major concessions, particularly to uproot Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

                                                                                                              It is also uncertain how Abbas can deliver on any deal with the Hamas movement, which is in control of Gaza and whose charter calls for Israel's destruction.

                                                                                                              Ismail Haniya, the ousted Hamas prime minister, called the Jericho meeting a public relations gimmick that would yield nothing for the Palestinians.

                                                                                                              "It is clear that the meetings between Palestinian and Israeli officials are a replay of what happened in the past - it's reproducing a long path that led the Palestinian people to nowhere," he said.

                                                                                                              The last round of final-status talks broke down six years ago.

                                                                                                              Israeli officials said the proposed agreement on principles would broadly call for Israel to withdraw from about 90 per cent of Palestinian territory.

                                                                                                              Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                                                Two babies, imprisoned in Israeli jails, are prohibited from leaving their cells

                                                                                                                English (US)  August 6th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                TULKAREN, Palestine – The official internal security in Tel Mond prison, on Monday issued a decision denying two detained babies, the children of incarcerated women, the right to leave their cells.

                                                                                                                The prison's authority refused to allow the infants to leave their cells during break-times in the jail.

                                                                                                                The mothers attempted to discover the reason for the ruling and appealed to the administration to revoke their decision, but their attempts failed.

                                                                                                                The children are Ghada Jaser Abu Omar, aged ten months, daughter of Khawula Zeitawi, and Bara' Subeih, aged thirteen months, the son of Samar Subeih.
                                                                                                                Maan News

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                                                                                                                  Joe Lieberman & his pals Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum are RAPTURE READY at the Christian Zionists United for Israel Tour

                                                                                                                  English (US)  August 5th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

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                                                                                                                    Video & report detail Christian evangelists, violations, at highest levels of US military

                                                                                                                    English (US)  August 5th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                    This video gives a new understanding of the psychological symptom known as "projection" with regard to claims by Bush and his teams of Christian crusaders that "Islamic fundamentalists" want to take over the world.

                                                                                                                    To read the Department of Defense report click here

                                                                                                                    A report released publicly on Thursday by the Defense Department's (DOD) inspector general has found high-ranking Army and Air Force personnel violated long-standing military regulations when they participated in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization while in uniform and on active duty.

                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                    The report recommended Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted in the inspector general's report, "improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform" and the men should be disciplined for misconduct. Caslen was formerly the deputy director for political-military affairs for the war on terrorism, directorate for strategic plans and policy, joint staff. He now oversees the cadets at the Military Academy at West Point. Caslen told DOD investigators he agreed to appear in the video upon learning other senior Pentagon officials had been interviewed for the promotional video.

                                                                                                                    The inspector general's report recommended the "Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Army take appropriate corrective action with respect to the military officers concerned."

                                                                                                                    The officers did not return phone calls or emails to respond to the report's findings.

                                                                                                                    The 47-page report was also highly critical of Pentagon Chaplain Col. Ralph G. Benson, whom the inspector general's report accused of knowingly misleading the DOD when he requested permission from DOD officials to film a video inside the Pentagon claiming he was interested in gathering information about the Pentagon's "own ministry." In fact, the report says, Benson was determined to use the video to "attract new supporters" to the Christian Embassy, an evangelical organization that evangelizes members of the military and politicians in Washington, DC via daily Bible studies and outreach events. The group holds prayer breakfasts on Wednesdays in the Pentagons executive dining room, according to the organization's web site. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, founded the Christian Embassy 30 years ago.

                                                                                                                    Over the past few years, the military has set its sights on prosecuting Iraq war veterans who have completed active duty, soured on the war and participated in antiwar protests while wearing their uniforms. Recently, the US Marine Corps prosecuted Cpl. Adam Kokesh and Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, both of whom were photographed marching in an antiwar protest while wearing their uniforms in what the Marine Corps says was a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Military prosecutors vigorously sought to have both men dishonorably discharged. However, it appears unlikely the military will apply the same standard to the Air Force and Army officers who the inspector general said violated the same code of conduct Kokesh and Madden were found to have broken, according to the disciplinary recommendations of the report.

                                                                                                                    The Army generals who appeared in the video appeared to be speaking on behalf of the military, but they did not obtain prior permission to appear in the video. They defended their actions, according to the inspector general's report, saying the "Christian Embassy had become a 'quasi-Federal entity', since the DOD had endorsed the organization to General Officers for over 25 years."

                                                                                                                    "The non-DoD speakers on the video included six Congressmen, two ambassadors, two ambassadors' wives, as well as the Under Secretary of benefits for Veterans' Affairs and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who acknowledged "Christian Embassy's" international and federal-governmental evangelical Christian training," the report added, although the identity of those individuals are unknown at this time.

                                                                                                                    The report also concluded a film crew was not escorted or monitored during production of the video inside the Pentagon, and the Pentagon chaplain's office gave at least 34 "religiously affiliated volunteers" unrestricted access to the Pentagon that allowed the individuals to move freely throughout the facility. The so-called "contractor badges" were unauthorized, the report says.

                                                                                                                    In response, the inspector general urged the administrative assistant to the Secretary of the Army and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency "initiate inquiries into the manner and appropriateness of issuance of contractor badges to volunteer personnel."

                                                                                                                    The inspector general launched an investigation last year after receiving a letter from Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit government watchdog group that aims to enforce the separation of church and state within the US military. Weinstein's group discovered the video on the Christian Embassy web site. Weinstein drafted a letter to the inspector general alleging misconduct by the officers, citing the military's strict policy that prohibits military personnel from appearing in uniform and participating in "speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, rallies or any public demonstration ... which may imply Service sanction of the cause for which the demonstration or activity is conducted."

                                                                                                                    Weinstein said the military brass who participated in the video "were clearly identified by their positions within the Defense Department, however, the video did not include any disclaimers indicating that the views expressed were not those of the Defense of Department."

                                                                                                                    The former White House attorney under Ronald Reagan, and the author of the book "With God On Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military", said he is still "dissecting" the inspector general's report, but "clearly this is a gigantic victory for our foundation."

                                                                                                                    "The report confirms the total destruction of the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating supernatural and natural, metaphysical and physical, spiritual and temporal, church and state at the highest levels of the technologically most lethal organization ever created by humankind; our honorable and noble United States military," Weinstein said in an interview. "The embarrassingly pedestrian excuses feebly offered by senior US Army and US Air Force generals and other senior officers are pathetic and not worthy of those that might have been offered by a first-grader. The fact that these senior Pentagon officials control our country's nuclear arsenal should shake the very foundation of the American public's trust in our country's current leadership."

                                                                                                                    Weinstein said perhaps the most egregious aspect of the inspector general's report is the findings that non-military personnel were given "badges" to roam freely throughout the Pentagon calling it a "shocking national security breach of the highest order." He called for Congressional oversight hearings into the matter.

                                                                                                                    "The rise of evangelical Christianity inside the military went on steroids after 9/11 under this administration and this White House," Weinstein said in an interview. "This administration has turned the entire Department of Defense into its own personal faith-based initiative. "

                                                                                                                    In the video, which is posted on militaryreligiousfreedom.org, Major General Catton talks about how his faith in God and the Christian Embassy helped him land a powerful position as a "director on the joint staff."

                                                                                                                    "As I meet the people that come into my directorate I tell them right up front who Jack Catton is, and I start with the fact that I'm an old-fashioned American, and my first priority is my faith in God, then my family and then country," Catton says. "I share my faith because it describes who I am."

                                                                                                                    Army Secretary Pete Geren, the former acting secretary of the Air Force who oversaw the Air Force's response in 2005 to claims evangelical Christians were pressuring cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, also appeared in the video praising the Christian Embassy.

                                                                                                                    The Christian Embassy "has been a rock that I can rely on, been an organization that helped me in my walk with Christ, and I'm just thankful for the service they give," Geren says.

                                                                                                                    The inspector general investigated Geren's participation in the video, but determined he did not act improperly. Geren testified he was unaware the video would be used for fundraising purposes or to attract new members. He was identified in the video as "Honorable Pete Geren Presidential Appointee."

                                                                                                                    The report said Geren, who was also a special assistant to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has had a long-standing relationship with the Christian Embassy organization.

                                                                                                                    "According to his testimony, Mr. Geren first became involved with Christian Embassy while he was a member of the US Congress, attending Bible study and fellowship activities arranged by Christian Embassy on Capitol Hill," the inspector general's report states. "He said that he continued his relationship with Christian Embassy when he began work for DOD in the Pentagon, attending the Senior Executive Fellowship and Bible Study."

                                                                                                                    Robert Varney, executive director of the Christian Embassy, testified the video was used to raise money for his organization.

                                                                                                                    Jason Leopold is senior editor and reporter for Truthout. He received a Project Censored award in 2007 for his story on Halliburton's work in Iran.

                                                                                                                    Truthout

                                                                                                                    1463 words posted in American Empire, ReligionLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                      One Palestinian killed and fifteen injured in Israeli air raid on southern Gaza

                                                                                                                      English (US)  August 5th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                      Aftermath of the Israeli air strike (MaanImages)
                                                                                                                      Rafah – Ma'an –

                                                                                                                      Palestinian citizen, Hisham Al-Jamal, was assassinated and fifteen others were injured after Israeli fighter jets targeted a car in the Jneina neighbourhood, east of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday night.

                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                      Director of Abu Yousif An Najjar Hospital, Ali Mousa, stated that the hospital received the corpse of Al-Jamal and the fifteen wounded Palestinians, three of whom are in a critical condition.

                                                                                                                      The car was hit near the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

                                                                                                                      Mousa said that medical staff are exerting all efforts to save the injured citizens, whose wounds cover their bodies.

                                                                                                                      Eyewitnesses reported that the Israeli jets launched at least two rockets at a car, in which a number of Palestinian activists from Islamic Jihad's Al Quds Brigades were traveling.

                                                                                                                      One of the rockets missed its target and hit a nearby truck, injuring its occupants.

                                                                                                                      The spokesperson of the Al Quds Brigades said that none of the movement's operatives were killed in the Israeli air strike.

                                                                                                                      An Israeli army spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said the attack had prevented "an imminent terrorist strike on Israel" and claimed that the truck had been carrying weapons.

                                                                                                                      Witnesses said explosions came from the vehicle after it was attacked, but there was no immediate independent confirmation that it had been carrying explosives.

                                                                                                                      Some residents said the truck appeared to have been disguised as an Israeli tank transporter.

                                                                                                                      Sources: www.imemc.org, www.maannews.net

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                                                                                                                        Mustafa Barghouthi describes Israeli water theft to Emory University official

                                                                                                                        English (US)  August 5th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                        Mustafa Barghouthi

                                                                                                                        RAMALLAH, Palestine - The secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative and former information minister, Mustafa Barghouthi, has met in Ramallah with an official from Emory University in Atlanta, describing the difficult situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

                                                                                                                        In a statement received by Ma'an, Dr Bargouthi declared that "the problem remains that the Israeli occupation didn’t stop for a moment since 1967, which makes it the longest military occupation in the modern era".

                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                        Dr Bargouthi said that Israel "wants a Palestinian state with temporary borders, without dealing with issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as final borders, Jerusalem, refugees and water.

                                                                                                                        The former information minister revealed that Israel has stolen some 800 million cubic metres of water, out of a total of 936 million available in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                        "The maximum that is allowed for use annually by the Palestinian inhabitants is restricted to 50 cubic metres of water, while Israeli inhabitants use 2400 cubic metres annually," revealed Dr Bargouthi.

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                                                                                                                          Israeli intelligence attempts to recruit Palestinians forced to cross Awja crossing

                                                                                                                          English (US)  August 5th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                          BETHLEHEM, Palestine – The An Nasser Salah Ad Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees have revealed that the Israeli intelligence and security services are attempting to recruit Palestinians crossing through the Awja Crossing "to work as agents for the Israelis".

                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                          The brigades stated, "We can say that the Israelis are seriously attempting to do this. We have confirmation from two separate persons, who were asked frankly by the Israelis to work for the Israeli intelligence during their return to the [Gaza] Strip, through the crossing."

                                                                                                                          A statement issued by the brigades declared, "Two persons came to the brigades and informed us that they had been asked by Israeli intelligence to collect information about the Palestinian factions, especially the Executive Force, the An Nasser [Salah Ad Din] and Al Quds Brigades."

                                                                                                                          The statement also revealed that those coming through the crossing were asked "if they know any of the resistance men, and were questioned about some specific names in the factions. One of the Brigades' informants, a 24 year-old man reported that he was held for three hours by Israeli intelligence, and was prohibited to make the crossing until he agreed to cooperate with them. They allegedly "reminded him that he is a student, and that he 'needs the money', because he is suffering from a bad economic situation."

                                                                                                                          The second informant, a man of 37, stated that he had been in Egypt to get medical treatment for his sick son. He was prohibited from passing for six hours. He said that he was given a telephone card, and was told that he "will benefit a lot if he deals with the Israeli intelligence". In the end, he tacitly agreed, simply wanting to return to his family in the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                          Last week, Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian authorities cooperated to allow over 600 of the 6,000 Palestinians stranded at the Rafah crossing to pass through the Israeli-controlled Awja crossing, en-route to the Erez crossing into the Gaza Strip.
                                                                                                                          Maan News

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                                                                                                                            Current atmosphere in Israel may lead to a massacre of Arab-Israelis, says MK

                                                                                                                            English (US)  August 5th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                            Knenin (MaanImages)

                                                                                                                            TEL AVIV - An Israeli Member of Knesset from the Arab-dominated Hadash party, Dov Khenin, on Sunday warned of a new wave of racism against Palestinians in Israel.

                                                                                                                            "If this atmosphere continues, a massacre may take place," he said.

                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                            Khenin issued a statement on the second anniversary of the Shefa-'Amr massacre in which an Israeli soldier, Eden Natan-Zada, opened fire while aboard a city bus and killed four Arab-Israelis and injured twenty-two others.

                                                                                                                            "The atmosphere we're experiencing today is the same as that which preceded the massacre committed by Natan-Zada," said Khenin.

                                                                                                                            Khenin's statement was published in London-based newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat (Middle East).

                                                                                                                            Maan News

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                                                                                                                              Media Blitz for War: The big guns of August

                                                                                                                              English (US)  August 4th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                              By Norman Solomon

                                                                                                                              The U.S. media establishment is mainlining another fix for the Iraq war: It isn’t so bad after all, American military power could turn wrong into right, chronic misleaders now serve as truth-tellers. The hit is that the war must go on.

                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                              When the White House chief of staff Andrew Card said five years ago that “you don’t introduce new products in August,” he was explaining the need to defer an all-out PR campaign for invading Iraq until early fall. But this year, August isn’t a bad month to launch a sales pitch for a new and improved Iraq war. Bad products must be re-marketed to counteract buyers’ remorse.

                                                                                                                              “War critics” who have concentrated on decrying the lack of U.S. military progress in Iraq are now feeling the hoist from their own petards. But that’s to be expected. Those who complain that the war machine is ineffective are asking for more effective warfare even when they think they’re demanding peace.

                                                                                                                              If Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack didn’t exist, they’d have to be invented. The duo’s op-ed piece on July 30 in the New York Times, under the headline “A War We Just Might Win,” was boilerplate work from elite foreign-policy technicians packaging themselves as “two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq.” A recent eight-day officially guided tour led them to conclude that “we are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.”

                                                                                                                              Both men have always been basic supporters of the Iraq war. O’Hanlon is a prolific writer at the Brookings Institution. Pollack’s credits include working at the CIA and authoring the 2002 bestseller The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq. In the years since the candy and flowers failed to materialize, their critiques of the Iraq war have been merely tactical.

                                                                                                                              The media maneuvers of recent days are eerily similar to scams that worked so well for the Bush administration during the agenda-setting for the invasion. Vice President Cheney and his top underlings kept leaking disinformation about purported Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda -- while the New York Times and other key media outlets breathlessly reported the falsehoods as virtual facts. Then Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and other practitioners of warcraft quickly went in front of TV cameras and microphones to cite the “reporting” in the Times and elsewhere that they had rigged in the first place.

                                                                                                                              The ink was scarcely dry on the July 30 piece by O’Hanlon and Pollack before the savants were making the rounds of TV studios and other media outlets -- doing their best to perpetuate a war that they’d helped to deceive the country into in the first place.

                                                                                                                              The next day, Cheney picked up the tag-team baton. On CNN’s “Larry King Live,” he declared that the U.S. military “made significant progress now into the course of the summer. ... Don’t take it from me. Look at the piece that appeared yesterday in the New York Times, not exactly a friendly publication -- but a piece by Mr. O’Hanlon and Mr. Pollack on the situation in Iraq. They’re just back from visiting over there. They both have been strong critics of the war.”

                                                                                                                              On August 1, the U.S. News & World Report website noted: “The news that the U.S. death toll in Iraq for July, at 73, is the lowest in eight months spurred several news organizations to present a somewhat optimistic view of the situation in Iraq. The consensus in the coverage appears to be that things are improving militarily, even as the political side of the equation remains troubling.”

                                                                                                                              Such media coverage is a foreshadowing of what’s in store big-time this fall when the propaganda machinery of the warfare state goes into high gear. The media echo chamber will reverberate with endless claims that the military situation is improving, American casualties will be dropping and Iraqi forces will be shouldering more of the burden.

                                                                                                                              Arguments over whether U.S. forces can prevail in Iraq bypass a truth that no amount of media spin can change: The U.S. war effort in Iraq has always been illegitimate and fundamentally wrong. Whatever the prospects for America’s war there, it shouldn’t be fought.

                                                                                                                              During the Vietnam War, the U.S. news media were fond of disputes about whether light really existed at the end of the tunnel. Framed that way, the debate could -- and did -- go on for many years. The most important point to be made was that the United States had no right to be in the tunnel in the first place.

                                                                                                                              For years now, many opponents of the Iraq war have assumed that the tides of history were shifting and would soon carry American troops home. “President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over,” New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote in August 2005. He concluded that the United States as a country “has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We’re outta there.”

                                                                                                                              As I wrote at the time, Rich’s storyline was “a complacent message that stands in sharp contrast to the real situation we now face: a U.S. war on Iraq that may persist for a terribly long time. For the Americans still in Iraq, and for the Iraqis still caught in the crossfire of the occupation, the experiences ahead will hardly be compatible with reassuring forecasts made by pundits in the summer of 2005.”

                                                                                                                              Or in the summer of 2007.

                                                                                                                              Unfortunately, what I wrote two years ago is still true: “We’re not ‘outta there’ -- until an antiwar movement in the United States can grow strong enough to make the demand stick.”

                                                                                                                              The American media establishment continues to behave like a leviathan with a monkey on its back -- hooked on militarism and largely hostile to the creative intervention that democracy requires.

                                                                                                                              Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

                                                                                                                              1008 words posted in Media Watch, Iraq warLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness

                                                                                                                                English (US)  August 4th, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                In Their Own Words: Camilo Mejía (above) of Miami, and three others share their impressions of the interactions between US military forces and Iraqi noncombatants in this slide show. They were among the fifty combat veterans interviewed for this article.

                                                                                                                                By Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian

                                                                                                                                Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.

                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.

                                                                                                                                Court cases, such as the ones surrounding the massacre in Haditha and the rape and murder of a 14-year-old in Mahmudiya, and news stories in the Washington Post, Time, the London Independent and elsewhere based on Iraqi accounts have begun to hint at the wide extent of the attacks on civilians. Human rights groups have issued reports, such as Human Rights Watch's Hearts and Minds: Post-war Civilian Deaths in Baghdad Caused by U.S. Forces, packed with detailed incidents that suggest that the killing of Iraqi civilians by occupation forces is more common than has been acknowledged by military authorities.

                                                                                                                                This Nation investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate these assertions.

                                                                                                                                While some veterans said civilian shootings were routinely investigated by the military, many more said such inquiries were rare. "I mean, you physically could not do an investigation every time a civilian was wounded or killed because it just happens a lot and you'd spend all your time doing that," said Marine Reserve Lieut. Jonathan Morgenstein, 35, of Arlington, Virginia. He served from August 2004 to March 2005 in Ramadi with a Marine Corps civil affairs unit supporting a combat team with the Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade. (All interviewees are identified by the rank they held during the period of service they recount here; some have since been promoted or demoted.)

                                                                                                                                Veterans said the culture of this counterinsurgency war, in which most Iraqi civilians were assumed to be hostile, made it difficult for soldiers to sympathize with their victims--at least until they returned home and had a chance to reflect.

                                                                                                                                "I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi," said Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado. Specialist Englehart served with the Third Brigade, First Infantry Division, in Baquba, about thirty-five miles northeast of Baghdad, for a year beginning in February 2004. "You know, so what?... The soldiers honestly thought we were trying to help the people and they were mad because it was almost like a betrayal. Like here we are trying to help you, here I am, you know, thousands of miles away from home and my family, and I have to be here for a year and work every day on these missions. Well, we're trying to help you and you just turn around and try to kill us."

                                                                                                                                He said it was only "when they get home, in dealing with veteran issues and meeting other veterans, it seems like the guilt really takes place, takes root, then."

                                                                                                                                The Iraq War is a vast and complicated enterprise. In this investigation of alleged military misconduct, The Nation focused on a few key elements of the occupation, asking veterans to explain in detail their experiences operating patrols and supply convoys, setting up checkpoints, conducting raids and arresting suspects. From these collected snapshots a common theme emerged. Fighting in densely populated urban areas has led to the indiscriminate use of force and the deaths at the hands of occupation troops of thousands of innocents.

                                                                                                                                Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

                                                                                                                                "I'll tell you the point where I really turned," said Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn. He served a thirteen-month tour beginning in April 2003 with the 167th Armor Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, in Al-Rashidiya, a small town near Baghdad. "I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg.... An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn't crying, wasn't anything, it just looked at me like--I know she couldn't speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg?... I was just like, This is--this is it. This is ridiculous."

                                                                                                                                Much of the resentment toward Iraqis described to The Nation by veterans was confirmed in a report released May 4 by the Pentagon. According to the survey, conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command, just 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of marines agreed that civilians should be treated with dignity and respect. Only 55 percent of soldiers and 40 percent of marines said they would report a unit member who had killed or injured "an innocent noncombatant."

                                                                                                                                These attitudes reflect the limited contact occupation troops said they had with Iraqis. They rarely saw their enemy. They lived bottled up in heavily fortified compounds that often came under mortar attack. They only ventured outside their compounds ready for combat. The mounting frustration of fighting an elusive enemy and the devastating effect of roadside bombs, with their steady toll of American dead and wounded, led many troops to declare an open war on all Iraqis.

                                                                                                                                Veterans described reckless firing once they left their compounds. Some shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold along the roadside and then tossed grenades into the pools of gas to set them ablaze. Others opened fire on children. These shootings often enraged Iraqi witnesses.

                                                                                                                                In June 2003 Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejía's unit was pressed by a furious crowd in Ramadi. Sergeant Mejía, 31, a National Guardsman from Miami, served for six months beginning in April 2003 with the 1-124 Infantry Battalion, Fifty-Third Infantry Brigade. His squad opened fire on an Iraqi youth holding a grenade, riddling his body with bullets. Sergeant Mejía checked his clip afterward and calculated that he had personally fired eleven rounds into the young man.

                                                                                                                                "The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population that was supporting them," Sergeant Mejía said.

                                                                                                                                We heard a few reports, in one case corroborated by photographs, that some soldiers had so lost their moral compass that they'd mocked or desecrated Iraqi corpses. One photo, among dozens turned over to The Nation during the investigation, shows an American soldier acting as if he is about to eat the spilled brains of a dead Iraqi man with his brown plastic Army-issue spoon.

                                                                                                                                "Take a picture of me and this motherfucker," a soldier who had been in Sergeant Mejía's squad said as he put his arm around the corpse. Sergeant Mejía recalls that the shroud covering the body fell away, revealing that the young man was wearing only his pants. There was a bullet hole in his chest.

                                                                                                                                "Damn, they really fucked you up, didn't they?" the soldier laughed.

                                                                                                                                The scene, Sergeant Mejía said, was witnessed by the dead man's brothers and cousins.

                                                                                                                                In the sections that follow, snipers, medics, military police, artillerymen, officers and others recount their experiences serving in places as diverse as Mosul in the north, Samarra in the Sunni Triangle, Nasiriya in the south and Baghdad in the center, during 2003, 2004 and 2005. Their stories capture the impact of their units on Iraqi civilians.

                                                                                                                                Full story at The Nation

                                                                                                                                1491 words posted in Iraq war, American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                  Abbas-Olmert "Israstine" government produces: A questionable breakthrough

                                                                                                                                  English (US)  August 4th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                  A questionable breakthrough

                                                                                                                                  As the repatriation of Palestinians to Gaza begins, it is the sick and elderly who are left behind, reports Serene Assir

                                                                                                                                  A Palestinian woman pushes her buggy-borne child after she has passed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing in Beit Hanun

                                                                                                                                  Hundreds of Palestinians were repatriated this week via the Egyptian-Israeli controlled crossing at Al-Oja, only to be transported to the Erez terminal leading into Gaza after intense Israeli security scrutiny. But thousands more, among them many sick and elderly, remain trapped in Egypt, desperate to return home but uncertain that the repatriation programme will reach them any time soon.

                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                  "The plan was supposed to serve those with humanitarian needs but there has been no coordination to find out just who those people are," Nayla Al-Batrikhi, who suffers from kidney disease, told Al-Ahram Weekly. "I am very sick. I came to Egypt for treatment but since I got stuck here my pain has only increased. I need to go home."

                                                                                                                                  Following seven weeks of forced displacement, nearly 700 Palestinians returned home during the first three days of the implementation of an Egyptian- approved, Israeli-Palestinian Authority agreed plan. At the time of writing, a total of 1,627 Palestinians out of an estimated 6,000 stranded in Egypt had received permission to return home.

                                                                                                                                  Under the plan, Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border were asked to register their names. Those who received approval to return home were asked to gather at the Arish Sports Stadium at specified times. They were then transported to the border crossing at Al-Oja, which is usually used for the transport of goods. Once on the other side the Palestinian returnees were subject to searches by Israeli border guards before being transported by bus to the crossing at Erez and finally re-entering Gaza.

                                                                                                                                  Those still stranded outside Gaza fear the criteria for early repatriation has more to do with political and financial concerns than with humanitarian ones.

                                                                                                                                  "The PA is calling the shots on who gets to go home first," says Sheikh Abdel-Sater El-Ghalban, a long time resident of Rafah who has provided up to 100 Palestinians with refuge ever since the Israeli- engineered border closure of 9 June. "The result is people with contacts or the money to pay bribes are getting in first for the most part."

                                                                                                                                  In some cases the lack of coordination has led to approval being granted to some members of a given family but not to others. "There have been cases in which fathers have received permission to return but not their children," says Khitam Hassan Mohamed, who is among those who has found refuge in El-Ghalban's home. "How can a father be expected to abandon his children? I am worried that the same will happen to me and my daughter."

                                                                                                                                  Mohamed came to Egypt seeking medical treatment for his 11-year-old daughter Rana.

                                                                                                                                  The Egyptian authorities concede there have been problems with the coordination of the programme. "We are aware of the faults," says Major General Salaheddin Selim. "But Egypt's main concern, given the exceptional nature of the situation, is that those deemed a security threat by Israel are not transported back. Otherwise Egypt could be accused of playing a role in helping in the detention of people with a history of opposing Israel."

                                                                                                                                  One former resistance fighter, who refused to disclose either his name or that of his organisation, told the Weekly that the number of active resistance fighters present in Egypt is very low. "I came here for follow-up treatment for a bullet wound to my head that dates back to fighting in Gaza in 1993," he said, adding that although he has registered his name for repatriation he doubts he will be returning home until a terminal that is not under Israeli control opens. "But we should not be the main cause of concern. Efforts need to be made to improve the process for the sick and elderly. They must not be made to bear the brunt of Palestinian suffering."

                                                                                                                                  Selim agrees that there is evidence of corruption in the way lists had been drawn up, with much of the blame falling onto the shoulders of the PA. He added that Egypt is currently seeking the renewal of the 2005 PA-Rafah agreement, forged by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which governs the operation of the Rafah terminal. "We will insist, this time round, that Egypt be an equal partner, and not just a monitor, as has been the case in the past," Selim told the Weekly.

                                                                                                                                  Consequent to the border closure, Palestinians resident in the Gaza Strip have faced a rippling economic crisis. Thousands of jobs have been lost.

                                                                                                                                  "Israel, with the approval of the PA, has insisted on the Rafah terminal remaining closed in order to put pressure on Hamas," said El-Ghalban, who notes that Hamas has practised restraint so far and has not, as its supporters have done in the past, forced the border to reopen. "But with the ongoing pressure they face I am concerned that an explosion will come if a real solution is not found soon." (see p.8)

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                                                                                                                                    Same old tune

                                                                                                                                    English (US)  August 4th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                    The current campaign by the US to reproduce the Oslo euphoria is painfully off-key, relates Khaled Amayreh

                                                                                                                                    Abbas was one of the negotiators of the abysmally failed Oslo 1 agreements 14 years ago. Now he's game for round two.

                                                                                                                                    By Kaled Amayre

                                                                                                                                    When Israel and the PLO signed the ill-fated Oslo Agreement in 1993, many people, save the "pessimists" and "extremists", thought that peace was finally around the corner and that a new politically stable and economically prosperous Middle East was in the offing.

                                                                                                                                    Seeking to encourage Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative, the Jordanian foreign minister told Israeli officials that Arab states were sincere about peace and were ready to normalise relations with Israel if the latter withdrew from all the territories occupied in 1967 and accepted a dignified settlement of the Palestinian refugee plight pursuant to UN Resolution 194.

                                                                                                                                    Israeli leaders heard but didn't listen. In fact, instead of relating seriously to the Arab initiative, Olmert told the two ministers: "I hope next time you will bring some more Arab ministers with you."

                                                                                                                                    The snide, if not insulting, remarks actually encapsulated what the Israelis want, namely full normalisation with the Arab states, especially the oil-rich region, without making any serious move toward ending the 40-year- old Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                    Shimon Peres, one of the Oslo Agreement's main godfathers, prognosticated then that Gaza would become the Singapore of the Middle East. Others, in their wild imagination and naïvety, predicted that the West Bank would become a new Silicon Valley, a sort of a Mecca for foreign investors.

                                                                                                                                    The ensuing euphoria prompted the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to declare Palestinian towns "liberated, liberated, liberated," with Peres telling the world in every TV interview that Israel had virtually ended its occupation of the "Palestinian territories" and that 99 per cent of Palestinians were living under the rule and control of the Palestinian Authority. Peres neglected to tell the world that the PA itself was under Israeli occupation and that the PA leader couldn't leave his headquarters in Ramallah and Gaza without an Israeli permit.

                                                                                                                                    Along with the false euphoria, grand names and grand titles characterised that episode, with substance always conspicuously absent or in a very short supply.

                                                                                                                                    Thus we had a Palestinian president, Palestinian government, state security court, and even Palestinian armed forces, when in fact there was very little substance if any to all these big names and titles.

                                                                                                                                    Nearly all of this came to naught as Israel continued to devour more and more Palestinian land and as Jewish settlement expansion further narrowed Palestinian horizons, making the creation of a real Palestinian state very difficult if not outright impossible.

                                                                                                                                    And with the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, and the election of Ariel Sharon twice as prime minister of Israel, the entire Oslo Agreement became virtually anachronistic if not irrelevant, if only because Israeli policies and actions rendered it so.

                                                                                                                                    Of course, Gaza didn't become the Singapore of the Middle East. Instead, it has become a virtual concentration camp. This is while the West Bank continues to languish under sinister military occupation, with the construction of the separation wall and as many as 700 Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints, manned by sadistic and trigger-happy Israeli soldiers, turning Palestinian daily life into an enduring hell.

                                                                                                                                    Now, 14 years later, it seems that we are about to witness Oslo-2 as the US, Israel and other players, such as the new quartet peace envoy, former British prime minister, Tony Blair, are trying to reproduce Oslo-1 with the same public relations, same euphoria and the same lies.

                                                                                                                                    Indeed, it might be safe to conclude that the putative Oslo-2 agreement being contemplated, even if doesn't bear the Norwegian appellation, is going to be a poor cousin of the first Oslo Agreement.

                                                                                                                                    For example, the old agreement, at least theoretically, was based on UN resolutions 242 and 338 and the land-for-peace formula, whereas the new proposed agreement is likely to be based mainly on America's good will and guarantees.

                                                                                                                                    And like the old agreement, the new one, as elucidated this week by Blair, promises economic prosperity for Palestinians, but says very little about the core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict such as the fate of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees and, indeed, ending the Israeli occupation which began in 1967.

                                                                                                                                    And it seems that almost every one is going with the flow, at least for the time being.

                                                                                                                                    For its part, the PA, beset by its war with Hamas, is bracing itself for grand plans, encompassing every aspect of Palestinian life, from "liberating Gaza from Hamas" to "cleansing the West Bank of Jewish settlements." This week, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whose government lacks constitutional legitimacy, relies mainly on force and fait accompli, and depends on Western backing and Israeli acceptance, presented his government's platform for the next few months.

                                                                                                                                    The platform includes a lot of nicely written promises, like building a robust economy, reestablishing the rule of law and enhancing the quality of life for ordinary Palestinians. However, it is clear that Fayyad is making the same mistake that Arafat did during the so-called Oslo-era; namely, ignoring and overlooking the umbilical cord of the Israeli occupation, which controls all economic development for the Palestinians. After all, how can national achievements be made in the absence of independence, sovereignty and freedom of movement ?

                                                                                                                                    For its part, the American administration is also giving the impression of déjà-vu. In the early 1990s, when the US wanted to mobilise as many Arab states as possible for the war of liberation of Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's army, the US administration convened the Madrid Peace Conference, the Oslo Agreement's predecessor, in order to placate Arab public opinion and convince the Arab world that the US was serious about resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

                                                                                                                                    Now, the US is ostensibly trying to do it again, by cajoling and if necessary bullying its Arab allies into joining Israel in a part- international part-regional conference to discuss the proverbial peace process, as if that moribund process needed any more discussion after all these years of peace initiatives and negotiations and agreements. The renewed American attention, however, is hardly altruistic and may well be related to and motivated by possible plans to attack Iran's nuclear installations on Israel's behalf.

                                                                                                                                    So, is the US trying to sell the Arabs another deception? Another Oslo agreement, in preparation for a new war on another Muslim country, this time Iran?

                                                                                                                                    Of course, an eternally opportunistic Israel will undoubtedly seek to emerge the sole if not main winner in any prospective conflagration in the region.

                                                                                                                                    This is why Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who wouldn't even agree to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas until he dismantles the "infrastructure of terror", is now having chummy chats with Abbas and even voicing willingness to discuss final-status issues, giving a false impression of flexibility and a propensity to make peace.

                                                                                                                                    But in reality Israel is only posturing and its steps are no more than PR tactics. Last week, the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan, Ahmed Abul-Gheit and Abdul-Ilah Al-Khatib, visited Israel and met Israeli leaders from Olmert to opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. The latter advocates limited autonomy for the Palestinians, a euphemism for continued apartheid.

                                                                                                                                    As usual in such circumstances, Israel sought to fully utilise the visit in order to give the impression of harmony and agreement between the two sides. To the uninitiated, the scene of Tzipi Livni and Peres amicably holding hands with the two Arab foreign ministers would give the impression of complete concordance.

                                                                                                                                    Seeking to encourage Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative, the Jordanian foreign minister told Israeli officials that Arab states were sincere about peace and were ready to normalise relations with Israel if the latter withdrew from all the territories occupied in 1967 and accepted a dignified settlement of the Palestinian refugee plight pursuant to UN Resolution 194.

                                                                                                                                    Israeli leaders heard but didn't listen. In fact, instead of relating seriously to the Arab initiative, Olmert told the two ministers: "I hope next time you will bring some more Arab ministers with you."

                                                                                                                                    The snide, if not insulting, remarks actually encapsulated what the Israelis want, namely full normalisation with the Arab states, especially the oil-rich region, without making any serious move toward ending the 40-year- old Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                    In addition, the Jewish state hopes that by cajoling Arab states, especially the Saudis, into normalising relations, Israel would be able to bully the PA into accepting a deformed, incomplete and truncated state on the West Bank, without Jerusalem, without the right of return and with the bulk of Jewish colonies remaining intact or annexed to Israel.

                                                                                                                                    Needless to say, the Israeli prime minister seems convinced that the current PA leadership's obsession with "statehood" overrides its demands for total Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. This week, the London-based Arabic newspaper reported that Olmert and Abbas were holding secret talks on a permanent settlement. Israeli and Palestinian officials have neither confirmed nor denied the report. However, with the Abbas- Fayyad regime in Ramallah almost completely dependent on Israel, it is amply clear that the secret negotiations are not being conducted between two equal partners but between a parsimonious occupier that owns or controls nearly all the assets and a vanquished supplicant that has to beg for everything from the occupier.

                                                                                                                                    Hence, it is safe to conclude that any agreements or compromises reached or imposed outside the umbrella of UN resolutions, including any prospective outcome of the proposed American-backed regional conference, slated to take place in the autumn, will ultimately meet the same fate and same failure that the Oslo Agreement met.

                                                                                                                                    The reason is clear. Israel rejects any peace settlement based on human rights and international law and insists on giving Palestinians only "gestures" and "good-will measures", but not rights.

                                                                                                                                    Al Ahram

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                                                                                                                                      Holocaust's children sue Germany

                                                                                                                                      English (US)  August 4th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                      By Alan Fisher

                                                                                                                                      More than 60 years after the end of the Second World War, the children of Holocaust survivors have filed a fresh lawsuit demanding compensation from the German government.

                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                      The so-called second generation claim their lives have been scarred by the genocide visited upon their parents.

                                                                                                                                      Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher went to meet a survivor deeply affected by her mother's nightmare.

                                                                                                                                      Shlomit Raz was born in 1956 but she says she's a victim of the Holocaust. She is the child of a survivor.

                                                                                                                                      Her mother escaped the death camps and set up home in Israel but the impact of what happened in Germany has touched every day of her life.

                                                                                                                                      Raz recalled that one of her earliest memories was from when she was a typical four-year-old running around and being naughty.

                                                                                                                                      "I remember my father used to tell me don't speak loud, don't laugh loud, don't disturb your mother, she suffered in the Holocaust, she saw how her mother was killed in front of her eyes."

                                                                                                                                      And she says her life is little more than a shell.

                                                                                                                                      "I found myself with nothing … not learning what is love, what is giving, how to build my own life… how to build a family if I wanted. I just grew up with so much hate."

                                                                                                                                      Nathan Durst, one of Israel's leading psychologists, is also a Holocaust survivor.

                                                                                                                                      He lost his parents and two sisters in the Auschwitz extermination camp.

                                                                                                                                      Durst told Al Jazeera that in some cases the real mental problems suffered by the second generation were created by the stories of the survivors.

                                                                                                                                      He recalled his own fears as a child: "Everybody was my enemy, so what do I teach my children? Beware of strangers they are enemies and so I am a child growing up and this is the lesson I got."

                                                                                                                                      "So what we see is the second generation experience difficulty of bonding, of making relationships and of keeping relationships".

                                                                                                                                      Now a $30 million lawsuit has been filed in a Tel Aviv court.

                                                                                                                                      The suit demand that Germany to foot the bill for psychiatric treatment for the children of Holocaust survivors. The court has yet to decide if it can hear the claim.

                                                                                                                                      Meanwhile, the German government is saying nothing at this stage.

                                                                                                                                      An estimated six million Jews were killed as part of Hitler's final solution programme during the Second World War.

                                                                                                                                      Germany has paid out more than $60 billion to concentration camp survivors, families of the victims and to the state of Israel since the 1950s.

                                                                                                                                      There is concern though that success with this latest class action could open the door to a never ending run of law suits against it.

                                                                                                                                      The man behind this latest move is Gideon Fisher, an Israeli lawyer, who represents around 4,000 people. He wants Germany to pay for help for all the victims for three years – with no extra damages.

                                                                                                                                      Fisher believes that the Holocaust is not part of the Jewish peoples' past but rather part of their present.

                                                                                                                                      "The Holocaust is still here kicking and when you look and talk and hear the stories of the second generation, you actually feel that it is still here. You know the Germans are with the final solution, maybe this is the final generation that has to suffer from the final solution."

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                                                                                                                                        Israel will build new nuclear plant

                                                                                                                                        English (US)  August 4th, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                        The Zionists say they want to build a nuclear-power station because of concerns about depleting natural energy resources worldwide and the environmental damage caused by using coal -- so the plant will be used for energy purposes in the in other words, for the same energy reasons Iran is developing nuclear power. The Zionists, then, should stop trying to get the U.S. to launch a military attack against Iran for doing exactly what they say they plan to do.

                                                                                                                                        Israel is planning to build a nuclear power station in the southern Negev desert, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the infrastructure minister, has said.

                                                                                                                                        [More:]


                                                                                                                                        Army radio quoted Ben-Eliezer as saying that "the Israeli government will make a historical decision concerning the creation of a nuclear power station ... in the Negev".

                                                                                                                                        The ministry of infrastructure was unavailable for comment on the report.

                                                                                                                                        Army radio has also said that the plan to build a nuclear power plant was supported by Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, and would be considered by the government in a few months.

                                                                                                                                        A spokesman from Olmert's office has declined to comment.

                                                                                                                                        In the report, Ben-Eliezer said that the decision to build a nuclear-power station had stemmed from concerns about depleting natural energy resources worldwide and the environmental damage caused by using coal.

                                                                                                                                        Israel has declined to confirm or deny having nuclear weapons as part of a "strategic ambiguity" policy that it says fends off numerically superior enemies.

                                                                                                                                        It is widely believed to be the sole nuclear power in the Middle East.

                                                                                                                                        Last month, an Israeli court sentenced Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear whisteblower, to a six-month jail term, for violating a ban on speaking to foreigners.

                                                                                                                                        In 2004, Vanunu completed an 18-year prison term for leaking nuclear secrets to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper about his work as a technician at the Dimona reactor.

                                                                                                                                        Source: Agencies

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                                                                                                                                          Fatah denies any contacts with Hamas recently

                                                                                                                                          English (US)  August 3rd, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                          Still brothers,

                                                                                                                                          BETHLEHEM, Palestine – Ma'an – High-ranking Hamas sources revealed to Ma'an on Friday that contact and dialogue have been established between Hamas dignitaries and Fatah representatives, in addition to the president's office alongside the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine PFLP and the Palestinian People's Party PPP, in order to set the basis of bringing to an end the state of division in the Palestinian arena.

                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                          The same source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that intense consultations were being conducted between figures from Hamas, Fatah, the PPP, the PFLP and the Palestinian National Initiative.

                                                                                                                                          Among those who met were Ghazi Hamad from Hamas, Jibreel Rajoub from Fatah, Bassam Salihi from the PPP, Abed ar Raheem Mallouh from the PFLP and Mustafa Barghouthi, representing the Palestinian National Initiative, in addition to former minister of education, Nasser Addin Ash Shaer.

                                                                                                                                          They arranged to establish a national government of independent figures, to last for 9 months, or one year and a half. The security services will be restructured, and the security HQs will be turned over to President Abbas.

                                                                                                                                          The sources added that the conveners discussed the presidential decrees which were issued by the Palestinian president during the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                          The suggested proposals are to entrust Palestinian national committees to take care of the security headquarters, due to the absence of security service members in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, two security services will be formed only, the police and national security, as the Palestinian arena "does not need several security services with over 80,000 members".

                                                                                                                                          The Executive Force might well also be assimilated into the police service, in order to avoid having any security service with a factional affiliation.

                                                                                                                                          It was agreed that the Palestinian National Security Council will be activated, "according to the right standards".

                                                                                                                                          Many of the former security members will also be absorbed into the ministries and other governmental institutions.

                                                                                                                                          Commenting on those news reports, Fatah movement and the Palestinian presidency absolutely denied that they had any contacts with Hamas or any other party on both formal and personal levels.

                                                                                                                                          The movement affirms that they care about national unity, dialogue and partnership with patriotic Palestinians who made history, not with bloody mutineers who rebelled against Palestinian history, constitution, people and even the Palestine Liberation organization PLO.

                                                                                                                                          "Hamas has been attempting to use local and international mediators to contact Fatah movement in order to lighten the people's tension against their criminal acts, and to impose the military coup and takeover in Gaza Strip as an accomplished fact," Fatah spokesman Fahmi Za'areer commented.

                                                                                                                                          The spokesman quoted official sources in the Palestinian president's office as saying that president Abbas has not entrusted any body to hold dialogue with Hamas. Furthermore, he said, the president insists on his position that Hamas must back down over "the mutiny" they conducted in the Gaza Strip and accept the return of the Strip to PA control.

                                                                                                                                          last Maan News

                                                                                                                                          487 words posted in Human RightsLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                            So Why Hasn’t Iran Started by Wiping Its Own Jews Off the Map? Israel's Jewish Problem in Tehran

                                                                                                                                            English (US)  August 3rd, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                            By JONATHAN COOK

                                                                                                                                            Iran is the new Nazi Germany and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Hitler. Or so Israeli officials have been declaring for months as they and their American allies try to persuade the doubters in Washington that an attack on Tehran is essential. And if the latest media reports are to be trusted, it looks like they may again be winning the battle for hearts and minds: Vice-President Dick Cheney is said to be diverting the White House back on track to launch a military strike.

                                                                                                                                            The myth that Iran os "threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth" has been endlessly recycled since a translating error was made of a speech Ahmadinejad delivered nearly two years ago. Farsi experts have verified that the Iranian president, far from threatening to destroy Israel, was quoting from an earlier speech by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in which he reassured supporters of the Palestinians that “the Zionist regime in Jerusalem” would “vanish from the page of time” He was not threatening to exterminate Jews or even Israel. He was comparing Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians with other illegitimate systems of rule whose time had passed, including the Shahs who once ruled Iran, apartheid South Africa and the Soviet empire.

                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                            Earlier this year Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s opposition leader and the man who appears to be styling himself scaremonger-in-chief, told us: “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs.” Of Ahmadinejad, he said: “He is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.”

                                                                                                                                            A few weeks ago, as Israel’s military intelligence claimed -- as it has been doing regularly since the early 1990s -- that Iran is only a year or so away from the “point of no return” on developing a nuclear warhead, Netanyahu was at it again. “Iran could be the first undeterrable nuclear power,” he warned, adding: “This is a Jewish problem like Hitler was a Jewish problem … The future of the Jewish people depends on the future of Israel.”

                                                                                                                                            But Netanyahu has been far from alone in making extravagant claims about a looming genocide from Iran. Israel’s new president, Shimon Peres, has compared an Iranian nuclear bomb to a “flying concentration camp.” And the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, told a German newspaper last year: “[Ahmadinejad] speaks as Hitler did in his time of the extermination of the entire Jewish nation.”

                                                                                                                                            There is an interesting problem with selling the “Iran as Nazi Germany” line. If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit genocide against Israel’s Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel and American Jews?

                                                                                                                                            What is the basis for Israel’s dire forecasts -- the ideological scaffolding being erected, presumably, to justify an attack on Iran? Helpfully, as George Bush defended his Iraq policies last month, he reminded us yet again of the menace Iran supposedly poses: it is “threatening to wipe Israel off the map”.

                                                                                                                                            This myth has been endlessly recycled since a translating error was made of a speech Ahmadinejad delivered nearly two years ago. Farsi experts have verified that the Iranian president, far from threatening to destroy Israel, was quoting from an earlier speech by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in which he reassured supporters of the Palestinians that “the Zionist regime in Jerusalem” would “vanish from the page of time”.

                                                                                                                                            He was not threatening to exterminate Jews or even Israel. He was comparing Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians with other illegitimate systems of rule whose time had passed, including the Shahs who once ruled Iran, apartheid South Africa and the Soviet empire. Nonetheless, this erroneous translation has survived and prospered because Israel and her supporters have exploited it for their own crude propaganda purposes.

                                                                                                                                            In the meantime, the 25,000-strong Iranian Jewish community is the largest in the Middle East outside Israel and traces its roots back 3,000 years. As one of several non-Muslim minorities in Iran, Jews there suffer discrimination, but they are certainly no worse off than the one million Palestinian citizens of Israel -- and far better off than Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

                                                                                                                                            Iranian Jews have little influence on decision-making and are not allowed to hold senior posts in the army or bureaucracy. But they enjoy many freedoms. They have an elected representative in parliament, they practice their religion openly in synagogues, their charities are funded by the Jewish diaspora, and they can travel freely, including to Israel. In Tehran there are six kosher butchers and about 30 synagogues. Ahmadinejad’s office recently made a donation to a Jewish hospital in Tehran.

                                                                                                                                            As Ciamak Moresadegh, an Iranian Jewish leader, observed: “If you think Judaism and Zionism are one, it is like thinking Islam and the Taliban are the same, and they are not.” Iran’s leaders denounce Zionism, which they blame for fueling discrimination against the Palestinians, but they have also repeatedly avowed that they have no problem with Jews, Judaism or even the state of Israel. Ahmadinejad, caricatured as a merchant of genocide, has in fact called for ‘regime change’ -- and then only in the sense that he believes a referendum should be held of all inhabitants of Israel and the occupied territories, including refugees from war, on the nature of the government.

                                                                                                                                            Despite the absence of any threat to Iran’s Jews, the Israeli media recently reported that the Israeli government has been trying to find new ways to entice Iranian Jews to Israel. The Ma’ariv newspaper pointed out that previous schemes had found few takers. There was, noted the report, “a lack of desire on the part of thousands of Iranian Jews to leave”. According to the New York-based Forward newspaper, a campaign to convince Iranian Jews to emigrate to Israel caused only 152 out of these 25,000 Jews to leave Iran between October 2005 and September 2006, and most of them were said to have emigrated for economic reasons, not political ones.

                                                                                                                                            To step up these efforts -- and presumably to avoid the embarrassing incongruence of claiming an imminent second Holocaust while thousands of Jews live happily in Tehran -- Israel is now backing a move by Jewish donors to guarantee every Iranian Jewish family $60,000 to settle in Israel, in addition to a host of existing financial incentives that are offered to Jewish immigrants, including loans and cheap mortgages.

                                                                                                                                            The announcement was met with scorn by the Society of Iranian Jews, which issued a statement that their national identity was not for sale. “The identity of Iranian Jews is not tradeable for any amount of money. Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians. Iran’s Jews love their Iranian identity and their culture, so threats and this immature political enticement will not achieve their aim of wiping out the identity of Iranian Jews.”

                                                                                                                                            However, this financial gesture may not only be unwelcome but self-fulfilling too, if past experience is the yardstick. Israel introduced a similar scheme a few years ago, when Argentina’s economy plunged into deep recession, broadcasting an offer of $20,000 to every Jew who settled in Israel. Months later the Israeli media reported a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Argentina, only adding to the pressure on Jews there to leave. Of course, there was no mention of a possible causal connection between the attacks and Israel’s proffered bribes to Jews to abandon their homeland as other Argentinians sank into poverty.

                                                                                                                                            But if financial enticements -- and a possible popular backlash -- fail to move Iranian Jews, there is good reason to fear that Israel may resort to other, more dubious ways of encouraging them to emigrate. That is certainly a path Israel has chosen before with other communities of Arab Jews, whom it has regarded either as a pool of potential spies and agents provocateurs to be used when needed or as “human dust”, in the words of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, to be recruited to Israel’s “demographic battle” against the Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                            In “Operation Susannah” of 1954, for example, Israel recklessly recruited a group of Egyptian Jews to stage a series of explosions in Egypt in a bid to discourage Britain from withdrawing from the Suez Canal zone. When the plot came to light, it naturally cast a shadow of disloyalty over Egypt’s wider Jewish community. Following Israel’s invasion and occupation of Sinai two years later, the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled some 25,000 Egyptian Jews and, after others were imprisoned on suspicion of spying, the rest soon left.

                                                                                                                                            Even more notoriously, Israel went to greater lengths to ensure the exit of the Arab world’s largest Jewish population, in Iraq. In 1950 a series of bombs targeted on Jews in Baghdad forced a rapid exodus of some 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel, convinced that Arab extremists were behind the attacks. Only later did it emerge that the bombs had been planted by members of the Zionist underground, supported by the Israeli government.

                                                                                                                                            Now, Iran’s Jews may find themselves treated in much the same manner -- as simple human fodder. Stories are growing of Israel exploiting the free movement between Iran and Israel enjoyed by Iranian Jews and their Israeli relatives to carry out spying operations on Iran’s nuclear program. Such reports have come from sources such as the American journalist Seymour Hersh, citing US government officials.

                                                                                                                                            The fallout from such actions is not difficult to predict. Besieged by the US and the international community, Tehran is cracking down on dissent and minority groups, fearful that its own grip on power is shaky and that the well-publicized subversion being carried out by US and Israeli agents is likely only to be stepped up. So far most officials in Tehran have been careful to avoid suggesting that Iran’s Jews have double loyalties, as has the local Jewish community itself, both of them aware of Israel’s interests in provoking such a confrontation. But as the strains increase, and Israel’s need to prove Tehran’s genocidal intent grows ever stronger, that policy may end up being forfeited -- and with it the future of Iran’s Jews.

                                                                                                                                            More important than the welfare of Iranian Jewish families, it seems, is the value of Iranian Jews as a propaganda tool in Israel’s battle to persuade the world that coexistence with the Muslim world is impossible. For those who want to engineer a clash of civilizations, the 3,000-year-old Jewish legacy in Iran is not something to be treasured, only another obstacle to war.

                                                                                                                                            Jonathan Cook, a journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, is the author of Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State (Pluto Press). His website is www.jkcook.net

                                                                                                                                            Counterpunch

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                                                                                                                                              Abbas staring at oblivion

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  August 3rd, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                              By Mark Perry

                                                                                                                                              In the summer of 1997, I found myself seated in the office of Yasser Arafat in Gaza. I had known Arafat for many years, and was a welcome visitor. Being an American and a friend gave me privileges. Others weighed their words, but I was constrained by no such requirement. So as he thumbed through a stack of papers, I pleaded clemency for a friend who had been under house arrest in Gaza for the better part of a year.

                                                                                                                                              The "Gaza coup" was not launched in Gaza, but in Ramallah - and the forces that brought instability to the Gaza Strip were funded and armed by the US. They did not represent Fatah or even a majority in Fatah, but rather a small minority of Fatah radicals. The vast majority of mainline forces in Fatah, and even a significant number in the Fatah Central Committee, did not support the arming of the Preventive Security Services (PSS). The leader of the PSS, Mohammad Dahlan, is now in exile, and his opponents are calling for his arrest. The Palestinian people know this. They know their vote was overturned by Abbas and the United States, and they resent it.

                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                              The man, a prominent security official, had ordered Palestinian security forces to fire on a Hamas demonstration the summer before and Arafat, enraged, had ordered him home. "He made a mistake," I said. "It's time to bring him back." Arafat ignored me.

                                                                                                                                              There was a long moment of silence as Arafat's aides eyed one another in discomfort. Arafat motioned to one of them and handed him a paper. This was typical of him. You could spend hours with the man in silence. He continued to pretend he hadn't heard, so I plunged on. "The man is dedicated," I said. Arafat stopped, his eyes widening, but he still refused to look at me. I waited many moments and pleaded my case again. "He's a good man."

                                                                                                                                              Finally, he spoke, but he bit off each word, making his point. "This is not your concern." And he was silent again. "I think that it is," I said. "He is a friend of mine." Arafat was suddenly exasperated and locked me in his gaze, to emphasize his point: "He crossed a line."

                                                                                                                                              Those of us who know and understand something of Palestinian society were saddened by June's Gaza troubles - the flickering YouTube films of Palestinian gunmen being dragged willy-nilly through the streets of the strip seemed a talisman of lines crossed so many times they no longer existed. Palestinians have fought one another before - most notably in the Palestinian Civil War that raged in northern Lebanon in 1983 - but nothing like this.

                                                                                                                                              Palestinians themselves seemed to draw back, even recoil, from the violence. "Both sides made mistakes," Hamas official Usamah Hamdan told me in Beirut in late June, and there was sadness in his voice. "We are sorry for that."

                                                                                                                                              In the wake of these troubles, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with Hamas, declared an emergency government, suspended the workings of the Palestinian Legislative Council, arrested dozens of Hamas legislative members, clamped down on anti-government protests, purged critics in his own Fatah movement, and announced that he would begin immediate talks with the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

                                                                                                                                              The United States reciprocated: it urged Israel to release hundreds of millions of US dollars in tax monies and said it would work toward the creation of a Palestinian state. It pressured Israel to ease travel restrictions in the West Bank, awarded the Abbas government tens of millions of dollars in economic and security aid, and urged Arab nations to support Abbas' political program.

                                                                                                                                              Additionally it called on the European Union to take similar actions, dispatched a team of experts to assess Palestinian needs, called for an international conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and conducted high-level talks with Arab nations to make certain their support for these programs was assured.

                                                                                                                                              The actions were breathtaking in their scope. They provided, for the first time in nearly a decade, the prospect for a political resolution of the daunting Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And they have absolutely no prospect of success.

                                                                                                                                              Instead, Abbas will fail to solidify his position as president of the Palestinian Authority; the US program to support him will fail; there will be no international conference; and, within the next 60-90 days - and almost certainly by the end of the year - Abbas and his colleagues will either be forced into exile or will take steps to reconstitute the national-unity government that they have spent the past 60 days destroying. And here's why.

                                                                                                                                              Palestinian society is not divided Palestinian society is more united than it has been in years, in spite of what we see on our televisions or read in the US press.

                                                                                                                                              The "Gaza coup" was not launched in Gaza, but in Ramallah - and the forces that brought instability to the Gaza Strip were funded and armed by the US. They did not represent Fatah or even a majority in Fatah, but rather a small minority of Fatah radicals. The vast majority of mainline forces in Fatah, and even a significant number in the Fatah Central Committee, did not support the arming of the Preventive Security Services (PSS). The leader of the PSS, Mohammad Dahlan, is now in exile, and his opponents are calling for his arrest.

                                                                                                                                              The Palestinian people know this. They know their vote was overturned by Abbas and the United States, and they resent it.

                                                                                                                                              Hamas still popular, gaining strength

                                                                                                                                              It is true, there have been some dips in the popularity of the movement in some areas, but the losses are not significant. And, remember, there is a tendency in the US consistently to underestimate Hamas' popularity, which I attribute to:
                                                                                                                                              # A disbelief that Palestinians could support such an organization.
                                                                                                                                              # A belief in US-funded Palestinian polling numbers.
                                                                                                                                              # The reputed secular nature of Palestinian society.
                                                                                                                                              # A tendency to overlook the traditional strength of Hamas during periods of confrontation.
                                                                                                                                              # The impact of the economic embargo.

                                                                                                                                              My own (admittedly unscientific) belief is that Hamas' strength is likely to grow. The movement's base of support has widened significantly - from about 9% in the late 1980s to about 25-30% now, numbers that match up well to any well-established Western political party.

                                                                                                                                              While its parliamentary victory in January 2006 was due largely to Fatah's poor reputation, Hamas has not repeated Fatah's mistakes: despite the clear temptations of power, it has provided as good a government as its resources have allowed - no stain of impropriety has touched its senior leadership. This remains its most significant achievement.

                                                                                                                                              Hamas represents mainstream society

                                                                                                                                              Palestinian society is not secular, liberal, progressive and Western. It is Arab, traditional, conservative and Muslim.

                                                                                                                                              Mahmoud Abbas, Salam Fayad, Saeb Erakat and Yasser Abed Rabbo are fine people - and they are friends of mine - but they do not represent mainstream Palestinian society. Hamas does. The election of Hamas and its continued strength is not a setback for Palestinian society, but a reflection of its growth. My own Hamiltonian tendencies are humbled.

                                                                                                                                              It is possible to understand the US by visiting Boston, but I wouldn't recommend it - any more than I would recommend that an American believe that Hanan Ashrawi is typically Palestinian. Americans aren't governed so much from the Washington Beltway as they are from their local boroughs, and Palestinians aren't governed from Ramallah, but from Jubalya - and wishing it so doesn't make it so.

                                                                                                                                              That Fatah was defeated is not simply a comment on its corruption, but on its inability to speak for the people of Palestine. It is for this that Hamas is likely to grow and prosper.

                                                                                                                                              Hamas is not wedded to violence

                                                                                                                                              Hamas stood for an election and won. The United States decided to reverse the verdict of a democratic process, not Hamas.

                                                                                                                                              There is certainly debate inside Hamas on the efficacy of continuing the movement's involvement in electoral politics. The loss of some popular support, the reversion to violence in Gaza, the inability of the movement to break the international boycott, emerging divisions inside Hamas itself, and the closing off of political options have sparked this internal debate.

                                                                                                                                              But I doubt that Hamas will abandon its current strategy in favor of violent confrontation, either with Fatah or with Israel. The view from Gaza may seem dark; perhaps the view is even darker in Damascus. But there is another side to the ledger, and it is as significant: balancing Hamas' strengths are Fatah's continuing weaknesses - and those cannot be reversed with a simple infusion of US money.

                                                                                                                                              From top to bottom, Fatah is broken

                                                                                                                                              Fatah is weak, aging, corrupt, disorganized, and even more divided than Hamas; it is funded exclusively through outside sources; it lacks a clear political program and political vision; its leadership is out of touch, conference-bound, tethered to a past era; it is dependent for its survival on the United States and Israel (a fact of which Palestinian society is well aware, at the expense of Fatah's credibility); it is at war with its own younger cadre (which are abandoning the movement).

                                                                                                                                              Its militant Tanzim grassroots are growing in strength, but is alienated from Fatah's leadership, is disenchanted with its corruption and, perhaps most important, is cooperating with Hamas. The Fatah grassroots is pushing hard, just now, for the long-delayed General Conference to reform the organization. Abbas can throw Hamas legislators in jail - it will be much more difficult to throw members of his own party in jail, which is why the political battle being waged in the West Bank now is being waged inside of Fatah.

                                                                                                                                              Abbas' power has been significantly eroded inside of his own organization. The recent meeting of the committee called to make an assessment of the Gaza troubles repudiated Abbas' appointees: Mohammad Dahlan, Rashid Abu Shabak and Tawfik Tarawi. Abbas is within one vote of losing his Fatah power base. His closest aides (Salam Fayad, Saeb Erakat, Rafiq Husseini, Yasser Abed Rabbo) count for nothing in Fatah, because they have no vote in the organization. Abbas' plea to the Central Committee that "my aides have told me my actions are legal" brought laughter even from his closest supporters.

                                                                                                                                              Former Palestinian prime minister Abu Alaa has refused to support him and Hani al-Hassan has denounced him. In response someone shot up Hassan's house. "They made sure I wasn't here," he told me, laughing. And the former national security adviser, Jabril Rajoub, has called for Mohammad Dahlan's arrest. Abbas' response has been to say he will hold national elections - but without allowing Hamas to run. And US President George W Bush has conferred his blessing on this, calling Abbas' government "legitimate".

                                                                                                                                              Abbas is increasingly isolated

                                                                                                                                              The non-payment of governmental salaries to Hamas members in the West Bank is causing deep disenchantment because it cuts across family and tribal lines. So it is that one brother, a Fatah member, is paid while another, a Hamas member, is not.

                                                                                                                                              Salam Fayad has thereby proved to be a good bean-counter, but not much of a politician. He has set family against family, brother against brother. And doing that is deeply resented in the West Bank. So too the security services are in a posture of near-revolt over the policy of continuing arrests of anti-Abbas partisans. Posters have begun to appear in the West Bank, styling Abbas a Palestinian Augusto Pinochet - or worse, an "Abu Musa" (the man the late Syrian president Hafez Assad sent to kill Arafat in Lebanon). The posters are being designed by Fatah, not Hamas.

                                                                                                                                              Do we really believe that the Palestinian police will continue to follow Abbas' orders: to arrest Hamas activists because they do not meet the conditions of the Quartet? Because Hamas does not "recognize Israel"?

                                                                                                                                              The united front of the US and Israel and the Arab regimes is no match for Hamas in the battle for Palestinian support. Indeed, the much-vaunted united front being built by the US against Hamas is something of a myth: the Egyptians and Saudis have quietly repudiated the US program to overthrow Hamas, and instead have urged Fatah and Hamas to reconcile.

                                                                                                                                              Former US secretary of state Colin Powell has called for talks with the Hamas leadership, while Israel's support for Abbas remains predictably indifferent. (They're no dummies - the Israelis, too, will end up talking to Hamas is my bet.) There are 542 roadblocks in the West Bank - the same number will be there tomorrow and next week and next month. Tell me I'm wrong. Israel has returned tax money collected for the Palestinians to the Palestinians, but not all of it - and it has trickled in.

                                                                                                                                              Do we really, really believe that the Israelis will suddenly rise up as one and say they intend to endorse United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338? Or are they now quietly laughing into their tea and shaking their heads: we're going to support Abbas? We're going to send him guns? We're going to conduct talks with him and calculate that he will be able to produce competent and uncorrupt administration - and one that has the support of his people? Or are they willing to see that the last time there was an election in Palestine, Abbas' party lost?

                                                                                                                                              The US program in Iraq is in a shambles. Calm and stability are returning to Gaza; questions about the US program for Palestine are being raised in Washington. This is not a time for sudden political movement or a shift in strategy, it is a time for political calculation. Hamas knows it. Israel knows it. Egypt knows it. Saudi Arabia knows it. The only person who doesn't seem to know it is George W Bush.

                                                                                                                                              Some US politicians and Abbas' more alarmist allies like to paint the Hamas administration in Gaza as a kind of pro-Iranian Islamic state, but this hardly stands up to scrutiny. There is no enforcement of the veil or other conservative Islamic social laws, no sharia council, no compulsion to attend the mosque. Stability has returned to Gaza. People are obeying the law, and feel secure. This is not a lesson lost on either Egypt or the Israelis. Which would they rather have - civil conflict or civil order?

                                                                                                                                              Abbas has crossed the line

                                                                                                                                              Several years after my mild confrontation with Arafat in Gaza, I met with him at his headquarters in Ramallah. It was a bright early-April morning and quite memorable for its beauty: just one day after the resolution of the siege of the Church of the Nativity. Those in the church had, the day before, been sent out of the church to Europe - away from their families and into an involuntary exile. Their departure had been emotional: they had walked out of the church as their families, on the rooftops of Bethlehem, cheered and wept.

                                                                                                                                              The next day, I traveled very early to Ramallah to see Arafat to talk to him about the siege. When I arrived, I was ushered into his upstairs office. It was just after dawn. I was exhausted, but I found Arafat in a good mood and open to my banter. "I think you crossed a line," I told him. It was something I would not have dared to say at any other time, but he was smiling at me and so he nodded, as if humoring me. "Oh?" he asked. "And what line would that be?" I had him, finally, and so I recited the rule, liturgically: "Palestinians do not send other Palestinians into exile," I said. He looked at me and nodded and then looked down, suddenly sad. "Yes," he said. "But I have another line," and he reflected: "Palestinians do not send other Palestinians to Israeli jails."

                                                                                                                                              There are lines. Palestinians do not send other Palestinians into exile; Palestinians do not shoot other Palestinians; Palestinians do not betray other Palestinians, Palestinians do not resolve their political differences by gunfire, Palestinians do not collaborate with their enemies, do not betray their own people, Palestinians are not traitors to their own cause, Palestinians do not send Palestinians to Israeli jails. And at one time or another each of these lines has been crossed. But at no time, ever, has any Palestinian ever renounced the one principle - the one true commandment that has motivated every Palestinian patriot from Arafat to Abu Musa to Abu Nidal: that the Palestinian people are indivisible; that they cannot be divided.

                                                                                                                                              Until now. By turning his back on the Palestinians in Gaza, but even actively seeking their impoverishment in the UN (as he did, shamefully, when his diplomats blocked efforts to seek a Security Council statement on the humanitarian situation there), Abbas has set out to divide the Palestinian nation, to set it against itself. And that line, in the end, cannot be crossed. And the fact that Abbas has crossed it will, in the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people, make all the difference. There is only one Palestine and now, Abbas is not a part of it.

                                                                                                                                              Mark Perry is the author of the recently released Partners in Command and the co-director of Conflicts Forum. This article first appeared in Rootless Cosmopolitan at www.tonykaron.com.

                                                                                                                                              Asia Times

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                                                                                                                                                Barghouthi: Israel wishes for normalization with Arab countries before acknowledging the Palestinians

                                                                                                                                                English (US)  August 3rd, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouthi

                                                                                                                                                By Ameen Abu Warda

                                                                                                                                                Legislator Mustafa Barghouthi, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, has stated that Israeli seeks normalization with other Arab countries before finding a solution to the Palestinian cause, a desire that conceals a wish to ignore and even liquidate the desire of the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                Dr. Barghouthi commented on the US foreign minister Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the area, arguing that that Israel seeks to exploit the meeting to normalize relations with other Arab countries and to dissolve the Palestinian cause.

                                                                                                                                                Dr. Barghouthi stated that Olmert hopes the U.S. will exert its efforts to guarantee the collusion of Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf States in the continued occupation of the Palestinian territories, arguing that Israel will use the opportunity to illegally appropriate more Palestinian-owned land.

                                                                                                                                                In addition to this, Dr. Barghouthi argued that the real purpose of the proposed negotiations was to circumvent the Arab Peace Initiative, stating that any real and just solution must concentrate on identifying the timeframe in which the occupation would end and an independent Palestinian state could be established.

                                                                                                                                                Translated by - Nisreen Qumsieh

                                                                                                                                                Internaitonal Middle East Media Center

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                                                                                                                                                  Report: “33 killed, 300 kidnapped in July”

                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  August 3rd, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                  Gaza children

                                                                                                                                                  By IMEMC Staff

                                                                                                                                                  The Foundation of International Solidarity for Human Rights published a report revealing that Israeli troops shot and killed 33 residents during the month of July, and kidnapped 300 residents. One of the killed residents was a child, and nine were extra-judicially assassinated by the army.

                                                                                                                                                  Furthermore, the Center reported that “As Israel released 256 detainees in July 20, the army escalated its attacks and arrested at least 300 residents”.

                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                  The Society stated that 27 residents were killed in
                                                                                                                                                  the Gaza Strip, and seven in the West Bank, and that nine of the residents who were killed in the Gaza Strip were assassinated by the Israeli forces.

                                                                                                                                                  “This proves that the Israeli occupation is ongoing with its crimes against the Palestinian people”, the society reported.

                                                                                                                                                  Also, the society stated that additional thirty resident died at the Rafah border crossing after they were stranded there along with thousands of residents due to the Israeli closure of all crossing points leading to Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                  Commenting in internal insecurity in the Palestinian territories, the center reported that 17 residents were killed in July during internal clashes while at least 150 were killed in June.

                                                                                                                                                  The Center demanded the Palestinian government, the factions and all security and civil institutions to cooperate and act together against all incidents of chaos and illegal attacks in order to end the cycle of internal violent clashes between Hamas and Fateh gunmen.

                                                                                                                                                  Furthermore, the Center reported that “As Israel released 256 detainees in July 20, the army escalated its attacks and arrested at least 300 residents”.

                                                                                                                                                  Nearly 56 residents were kidnapped by the army during invasions to the Gaza Strip, and the rest were kidnapped during invasions to several West Bank areas especially Ramallah, Jenin, Qalqilia, Tulkarem, Bethlehem and several other areas including Jerusalem and its surroundings.

                                                                                                                                                  The army also demolished dozens of houses in the occupied territories; most of the houses belong to families of resistance fighters and the army claimed that some of the demolished houses were illegal constructed.

                                                                                                                                                  At least 24 houses were demolished in “unrecognized villages” in the Negev and hundreds of residents were rendered homeless as the Israeli authorities are trying to evacuate those residents from their villages and expand its settlements in the Negev.

                                                                                                                                                  The Palestinian territories remained under strict siege imposed by the army and dozens of additional roadblocks were installed totally isolating the Palestinian areas from each other, while closures of border crossing continued to isolate the residents from the rest of the world.

                                                                                                                                                  Internaitonal Middle East Media Center

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                                                                                                                                                    US state department 'funding Blair'

                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  August 3rd, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                    Blair's appointment provoked outright
                                                                                                                                                    hostility from Russia [AFP]

                                                                                                                                                    By Mark Seddon, diplomatic correspondent

                                                                                                                                                    There are questions emerging over Tony Blair's appointment as the Quartet's [the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia] Middle East envoy.

                                                                                                                                                    The uncertainties start with funding, who is paying the bills for the former British prime minister's new job as special representative for the diplomatic grouping?

                                                                                                                                                    [More:]


                                                                                                                                                    This is a hugely sensitive position. It is also a position that Blair had his eyes on for some time.

                                                                                                                                                    In this, he had the whole-hearted backing of George Bush, the US president, and the US state department.

                                                                                                                                                    However, it appears that it was not just political support that was on offer.

                                                                                                                                                    Trust fund

                                                                                                                                                    Tony Blair's seemless transition from prime minister to special representative for the Quartet last month was accompanied by raised eyebrows at the UN and within the British foreign office.

                                                                                                                                                    It also provoked outright hostility from the Russians.

                                                                                                                                                    Now, senior UN and British officials have told Al Jazeera that the US state department has been paying Mr Blair's bills, either directly or indirectly, via a trust fund. The amount remains undisclosed.

                                                                                                                                                    Marie Okabe, a UN spokeswoman, said: "I don't think I can get into the legal position of the Quartet but as you know the UN is one of the four members of the Quartet, Tony Blair is representative of the Quartet, I think the question of resources for him, his staffing, that kind of thing, is an issue that is under discussion."

                                                                                                                                                    Meanwhile, Blair's office said: "These issues are still being discussed. Our focus has been on Tony Blair's trips and getting the office up and running in September.

                                                                                                                                                    US puppet

                                                                                                                                                    Discussions may well be taking place within the Quartet, with a view to sharing the expense of Tony Blair and his offices, likely to be situated in London and Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                    But for some, the involvement of the state department puts Mr Blair too close to the US administration and confuses the role of the Quartet.

                                                                                                                                                    And that's hardly the image Tony Blair wants to project

                                                                                                                                                    Although there are some who argue that Tony Blair's close relationship with Bush could be beneficial to the Palestinians, there are others who believe that Tony Blair has seriously compromised himself.

                                                                                                                                                    They say: 'he who pays the piper, plays the tune'.

                                                                                                                                                    US denial

                                                                                                                                                    Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said: "Tony Blair is close to Washington, he has always argued that being close to Washington is the way to get some thing from Washington.

                                                                                                                                                    "The onus will be on him to deliver, to be able to move the Bush administration, move the Israelis, so that they can come together and make the deal with the Palestinians that he is trying to make."

                                                                                                                                                    In a statement on Friday, Karl Duckworth, a US state department spokesman, said: "Neither the US government nor the Quartet pay a salary to Quartet representative Tony Blair.

                                                                                                                                                    "We are working out the details of funding and support with our Quartet partners for Blair's staff as well as the costs associated with their mission."

                                                                                                                                                    As the controversy continues, and as if bridging the divide between the various actors on the Middle East stage was not hard enough, Tony Blair may now have to go out of his way just to prove that he does represent all the Quartet members, not just the US.

                                                                                                                                                    A long hot summer of negotiations beckons.

                                                                                                                                                    Source: Al Jazeera

                                                                                                                                                    580 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                      Report of hundreds of 'civilians dead' in Nato air raids

                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  August 3rd, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                      Both NATO and the US-led coalition forces operate in Helmand, a long-time bastion for Taliban

                                                                                                                                                      Many civilians are said to be among hundreds of civilians reportedly killed in air raids by Western forces in the Afghan southern province of Helmand.

                                                                                                                                                      [More:]


                                                                                                                                                      Residents told journalists women and children were among up to 300 people killed in the raids on Thursday in the remote district of Baghran, which lies to the north of Lashkar Gah.

                                                                                                                                                      Afghan authorities said on Friday they were checking the reports and Mohammad Hussein Andiwal, Helmand's police chief, said that at least 20 wounded civilians had been brought to a main hospital in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.

                                                                                                                                                      "I can confirm there were heavy bombardments," Andiwal told Reuters by phone from Helmand.

                                                                                                                                                      "We have heard of heavy casualties too and have sent a team to investigate this."

                                                                                                                                                      Dan Nolan, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kabul, said: "It does appear there were a large amount of civilians killed and injured."

                                                                                                                                                      'Public execution'

                                                                                                                                                      He said Afghan government sources had said a public execution of a suspected spy carried out by the Taliban had been taking place when the aircraft struck.

                                                                                                                                                      Haji Hakim Jan, 27, said he lost four of his brothers in the attack.

                                                                                                                                                      "I had another brother of mine and an eight-year-old sister wounded in the bombing," he said

                                                                                                                                                      He said he believed the deaths would alienate civilians from Western troops and make people join the Taliban.

                                                                                                                                                      If confirmed, the deaths would be the highest civilian casualties caused by foreign troops since the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001.

                                                                                                                                                      'Precision' raid

                                                                                                                                                      The US military said in a statement late on Thursday that coalition forces had conducted a "precision" air raid against two "notorious Taliban commanders" conducting a leadership meeting in a remote area of the Baghran district on Thursday.

                                                                                                                                                      It said the fate of the pair was unknown.

                                                                                                                                                      Residents and an official said the bombings occurred as a huge crowd of people had gathered to watch the execution by Taliban fighters.

                                                                                                                                                      A Taliban spokesman said there was no public execution and those killed were all civilians attending a ceremony at a shrine.

                                                                                                                                                      There was no independent verification of the reported accounts from either side.

                                                                                                                                                      More than 350 civilians have been killed in operations by foreign forces this year in Afghanistan, according to government officials and aid workers.
                                                                                                                                                      Source: Agencies

                                                                                                                                                      384 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                        Two Weeks in the Occupied Territories: Report from the Land of Apartheid

                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  August 2nd, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                        By STANLEY HELLER

                                                                                                                                                        The two babies lay nearly side by side in the incubator. One had eyes open, the other shut. It's against medical standards to put more than one child in an incubator, but with only six working incubators in the hospital in Jenin they had to double up. Jenin Hospital, in the north of the West Bank, is the only hospital in the Jenin Governate. It serves 350,00 people with 123 beds.

                                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                                        At the moment the hospital has no working ambulance. At one time it had three. Two were destroyed by Israeli missiles during this uprising. In one the doctor inside, Khalil Sulaiman, was martyred. The last working one suffered a car accident last week and it will take another week to repair it.

                                                                                                                                                        The wards were crowded. In the pediatric wing each small room had three beds and not much medical equipment. There is no air conditioning though temperatures in summer are at least in the 80's. Hospital officials said the hospital was getting aid from Europe, but it's been cut off.

                                                                                                                                                        This is just one of many outrages. Conditions for Palestinians are deplorable all across the apartheid state, from the 130,000 living as Israeli citizens in "unrecognized" villages, to the thousands living in Israel or the West Bank in homes slated for demolition, to the people living in Jerusalem "suburbs" who never have their garbage picked up, to families who are cut off from relatives by the Apartheid Wall, to the people in the richest Arab towns closing up their businesses because of Palestinians can't travel and buy goods, to families living in the H2 section of Hebron who are seeing their homes taken over by religious fanatics.

                                                                                                                                                        I've been here for nearly two weeks. Coming in was a breeze for me, a Jew in his late 50's. (see how a young American Palestinian was harassed at http://www.imemc.org/article/49636) Traveling around Israel (as defined by the now non-existent 1967 borders) I saw no evidence of a country girded for battle. (Admittedly I haven't been to Sderot where the Qassem rockets strike.). I thought I'd see tons of soldiers on duty but the only ones I saw were buying refreshments, shopping or being revved up about the holocaust at Vad Yashem. Michael Warshawsky, veteran Israeli peace activist, says I'm not wrong. News about Palestinians is not page one, he says, but page four.

                                                                                                                                                        On the West Bank things are different. There are checkpoints all over with soldiers carrying large deadly looking weapons. People say the checkpoints have been easier this summer. It's part of the "Make Nice with Abbas" strategy that's no being pursued by Israelis and the US. After years of ignoring the Palestinian President the takeover of Gaza by Hamas has forced a change in strategy. One month of the millions in Palestinian tax money that the Israeli s have been withholding has been "generously" given to the Palestine Authority

                                                                                                                                                        Things are not that nice in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers stage constant raids. The night before we went to Jenin they captured a resident. People in Nablus say there's a raid every day. A few nights night ago six Palestinians were killed, including three by missiles in Gaza. One man supposedly attacked soldiers at a Bethlehem checkpoint. He was hit by gun butts and then shot to death.

                                                                                                                                                        The Qalandia Superhighway

                                                                                                                                                        It should take 30 minutes to go from Bethlehem to Ramallah. The would be the case if a West Bank Palestinian could travel through Jerusalem, but that has been banned for some seven years. So the trip takes at least 75 minutes (provided there are no delays at checkpoints) because the Israelis allow only one route, and what a route it is. Near the Wadi Nahr (Valley of Fire) you descend some 500 feet in a few minutes through a series of hairpin turns at 35 degrees. It's the only road so the two lane highway is shared with every kind of vehicle including huge trucks. In winter it's extremely dangerous. Once through this gauntlet you reach the "Container Checkpoint". The times I traveled it the soldiers merely check passports and hawiahs (the Palestinian travel document which shows where Israelis will allow you to travel). In worse periods Palestinians have been forced to take everything in their luggage and put it on the side of the road. There were times I was told that the men were forced to strip naked.

                                                                                                                                                        After a while the road becomes first class because it's a shared road, shared with Israeli settlers. Then the Palestinian journey to Ramallah goes by the Qalandia refugee camp. Think of the worst road you've ever been on, bumps, potholes, ruts, gouges. For 20 years nothing had been fixed because the Israeli army won't allow it. When asked Palestinians are told it's a matter of "security" and that's the end of the matter. Only a few months ago was the PA given permission to start some work.

                                                                                                                                                        This route is going to be changed soon. It is intolerable that settlers have to share a road with Palestinians ("security") so a 2 1/2 mile tunnel is being built for Palestinians to keep them separate. Cars will still have to pass the Wadi Nahr and the rest, but the joint road will be a thing of the past.

                                                                                                                                                        The Veils of Apartheid

                                                                                                                                                        I met with Uri Davis in Jerusalem. He's an Israeli, one of a handful who lives in Palestinian communities. He has maintained for decades that Israel is an apartheid society. He says, however, there's a major difference from the old South Africa. Under South African apartheid a visitor would immediately see signs for Africans, whites and coloreds. In Israel it's much more veiled. For instance take land. By and large land in Israel is controlled by the state and is not owned by individuals. Jews are granted long term leases to land, but through a maze of laws and bureaucracy Arab Israeli citizens can't lease it. Well that's an exaggeration. In the last ten years and after a Supreme Court decision two Arab families were able to build on "Jewish" land. Davis estimates that about 2.5% of Israeli land is can be owned or leased by its Arab citizens.

                                                                                                                                                        Another aspect of the apartheid is "unrecognized villages". In 1947-1948 thousands of the Palestinians expelled from their towns and villages fled to rural areas that were still in Israel. The government dreamed up a delightful category for them, "present absentees" and took all their land and bank accounts. 130,000 of their descendants live in villages that the Israeli government will not recognize. These are all Israeli citizens, but they live in towns without services, no water and no electricity. I v isited one of them, En Hud. The tourists books list an Ein Hod, a delightful village with an artist colony and all the latest works of art. But Ein Hod was a Palestinian village until 1948 when its people were driven out at gunpoint. They fled up the road a mile or so and set up a new village on land some of them owned. The bus that took us to En Hud, barely made it. The road went through steep turns. Asphalt changed into god know what and five feet to the right was a drop to oblivion. Finally we came to a tiny village of 250 people (including "The House", an outstanding restaurant) that has made a 50 year partially successful fight to gain official recognition and services.

                                                                                                                                                        "How are the Anti-Semites Doing Today?"

                                                                                                                                                        Hebron, the city of the Tomb of Abraham is deep in the West Bank. It's a city of 120,000 Palestinians. The Tomb is holy both to Jews and Moslem. In 1929 there was a massacre of 67 Jews in the city. In the 1970's Jewish settlers decided to make Hebron a Jewish city. Today some 400 settlers live in Hebron under the army protection as they pursue their brutal project.

                                                                                                                                                        Because of a dreadful agreement between Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat at the Israeli government Hebron was divided into two parts H1 and H2. H1 is all Palestinian and is under the Palestinian Authority. H2 is about a quarter of the whole city and is home to Jewish settlements at war with their Palestinian neighbors.

                                                                                                                                                        Our hosts in Hebron H2 were members of the Christian Peacemaker team. In Hebron they are a handful of super brave people who try to observe what's happening to Palestinians and to escort Palestinians to prevent the frequent attacks on them by settlers. Lorin Peters of CPT guided myself and another American through the streets of the Old City of Hebron (think Old City of Jerusalem, but half deserted). There were several military checkpoints, the most serious being in front of the Abraham's Tomb/Ibrahimi Mosque. Lorin says Palestinian youth and men are routinely detaine d at the checkpoint for minutes or hours. We came through without incident. Two Palestinian stores were open with settlers freely buying items giving the lie to their myth that no one can live with the "bloodthirsty Arabs".

                                                                                                                                                        We took a walk through several blocks that had once held Arab shops which were now all closed. Each building was alike, a concrete rectangle with a large folding metal doors in front. Each door was decorated with a six pointed Jewish star. The settlers have desecrated the Jewish star, making the holy symbol into a graffitti of fear, much like a swastika.

                                                                                                                                                        The main street of H2, Al Shohada street, was pretty well deserted. After a huge legal struggle one Arab family was able to move back into an apartment above a shop and we could see items left out to dry. They don't dare to walk on the street without CPT escort. We passed a young settler and Lorin said, "Shalom". The answer was, "And how are the anti-Semites doing today?" We walked on. It was just a tiny blip on the scale of provocations and assaults. Their "international " status doesn't given CPT much protection. Lorin mentioned that many times he has been stoned by settler children. He remarked that the boys were getting older, the stones were getting bigger and the soldiers were making even less of an effort to protect CPT or Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                                        Settler efforts to take over H2 are working. The population of the Old City in H2 is down from 10,000 to 1,000. Fencing has been installed over the alleys of the Old City to deal with the rain of trash and offal that settlers throw at the people from their settlements built on top of Palestinian buildings.

                                                                                                                                                        By chance we had gone to Hebron on Tish B'av a Jewish fast day to remember the destructions of the Temples in Jerusalem. The Lamentations of the prophet Jerimiah are read on that day. It begins with this quote, "O how has the city that was once so populous remained lonely! She has become like a widow! She that was great among the nations, a princess among the provinces, has become tributary." Perhaps Hebron was not once great, but H2 is fast becoming emptied of its native population.

                                                                                                                                                        The Wall

                                                                                                                                                        Palestinian removal is a goal sought everywhere from the Jordan to the Mediterranean by Israel's apartheid government. What it can't empty right away it surrounds and walls in. The Apartheid Wall is everywhere in the West Bank, supremely ugly and gobbling up thousands of acres of land. When you walk through the Bethlehem checkpoint to Jerusalem upon the wall you see a huge banner with a cheerful slogan "Peace be Upon You". As they say it gives hypocrisy a bad name.

                                                                                                                                                        After leaving Jenin a few of us went east to the northeast corner of the West Bank to the place where the Wall first was started. There it divides a small town from relations in the city of Um El Fahm. It also divides farmers from their fields. After a big court fight the Israeli justices allow a few family members to care for and harvest crops without any machinery. It's not possible to care for the land this way. In a few years it will be classified unused and confiscated.

                                                                                                                                                        One last bit of cruelty connected with the wall. We were interviewing one man who told us that the soldiers demanded they dig up the village graveyard and move the bodies because the graves were "too near the wall". They could do nothing to stop the order so they dug up the bodies.

                                                                                                                                                        As we were concluding the interview an army jeep spotted us from about a football field away and with a bullhorn demanded we move. Evidently six people standing in a driveway were a security problem. We drove away.

                                                                                                                                                        Stanley Heller is Chairperson of the Middle East Crisis Committee. He can be reached at: mail@TheStruggle.org

                                                                                                                                                        Counterpunch

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                                                                                                                                                          Israeli occupation forces invade home of imprisoned head of women's society

                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  August 2nd, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                          By Ameen Abu Warda

                                                                                                                                                          The Israeli army invaded the house of the Nada Al Jayousi, the imprisoned head of the Al Huda Society for women in Ramallah, destroying furniture and taking photographs early on Thursday morning.

                                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                                          Abu Obiedah, the prisoner's husband, reported that the Israeli force refused to speak to him during the invasion. The soldiers damaged furniture and took two computers, personal documents, the husband's identity card and a photo album.

                                                                                                                                                          The Israeli soldiers also took photographs of Al Jayousi's children, presumably to be used to impose pressure on Al Jayousi during interrogations.

                                                                                                                                                          This action came shortly after Israel issued a law which prevents the use of psychological torture on prisoners during interrogations.

                                                                                                                                                          Abu Obiedah appealed to the Red Cross and the Human Rights Association to work for to release his wife and to draw attention to the use of psychological torture, which he fears will gravely affect her.

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                                                                                                                                                            Israeli military murders 17 year old Palestinian at Bir Zeit checkpoint, north of Ramallah

                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  August 2nd, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                            Israeli occupation forces murdered a 17 year old Palestinian boy at Bit Zeir checkpoint.

                                                                                                                                                            RAMALLAH, Palestine - Sources within the Ramallah hospital said Thursday that Mohammad Orieb Ahmad, a young Palestinian man, was admitted to the hospital morgue today, after being shot dead by Israeli forces near Bir Zeit checkpoint, to the north of Ramallah.

                                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                                            Israeli sources claimed that they had shot the youth because he was trying to attack them.

                                                                                                                                                            According to the 17-year old's uncle, Marwan, Ahmad was shot while he was driving his car.

                                                                                                                                                            Israeli soldiers contradict this account, saying, "the young man was arrested by Palestinian policemen, but he jumped from the police car and ran to the barrier." The soldiers then shot him, as they thought he was going to attack.

                                                                                                                                                            An Israeli army spokesman did not clarify why the soldiers did not aim for the legs, but chose to shoot him dead.

                                                                                                                                                            The young man was transported to the hospital in a critical condition, where he later died.

                                                                                                                                                            Maan News

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                                                                                                                                                              US and Abbas sign $80m deal

                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  August 2nd, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                              The money will help train Abbas's "security forces" to fight fellow Palestinians who are aligned with Hamas rather than resist the Israeli occupation.

                                                                                                                                                              Watch Rula Amin's report on the West Bank forces that will benefit from US aid

                                                                                                                                                              he US secretary of state has met Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in Ramallah and signed an agreement granting the Abbas government $80m for reform of its security services.

                                                                                                                                                              [More:]


                                                                                                                                                              The move follows Washington's recent pledge of at least $86m to Abbas.

                                                                                                                                                              Condoleezza Rice said after talks with Abbas on Thursday that Israel was ready to discuss "fundamental issues" on creating a Palestinian state.

                                                                                                                                                              In return, Abbas said he is ready to work with Israel on a "declaration of principles" as a step towards a full peace agreement.

                                                                                                                                                              Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, had floated the idea last week.

                                                                                                                                                              Such a declaration, as envisioned by Israel, would outline the contours of a future Palestinian state, without immediately tackling the most explosive issues, such as final borders and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

                                                                                                                                                              Abbas suggested he is ready to consider the idea.

                                                                                                                                                              Israeli-Palestinian talks would "focus on implementing what was mentioned in the road map," he said, referring to the international peace plan that envisions a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

                                                                                                                                                              "Then we could end in a declaration of principles," Abbas said during a joint news conference with Rice.

                                                                                                                                                              "The important thing here is that we reach results, and that we know the ceiling [final stage], but the stages of implementation can be agreed upon," Abbas said.

                                                                                                                                                              Security situation

                                                                                                                                                              Abbas also told Rice that he was working to improve security in the Palestinian territories.

                                                                                                                                                              "We are continuing our efforts to improve the security situation," he said.

                                                                                                                                                              He told the news conference: "We want to achieve a Palestinian state and security."

                                                                                                                                                              Rice said an international peace conference being promoted by the administration of George Bush, the US president, for this autumn "is not to get people together for a photo op" but rather "so that we can really advance Palestinian statehood".

                                                                                                                                                              Four-day visit

                                                                                                                                                              Earlier in her four-day tour, Rice met Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas' Western-backed government.

                                                                                                                                                              "Ultimately, the Palestinian people will have to choose what kind of world they will live in, what kind of state they will have"

                                                                                                                                                              She also met the Palestinian cabinet, a gesture of support for the team that replaced the Hamas government after the group seized Gaza by force.

                                                                                                                                                              Rice's meeting with Abbas is the first since Hamas took control of Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                              When Hamas took control of Gaza from Abbas's Fatah forces in mid-June, the president of the Palestinian Authority fired the group from the government and installed a new cabinet in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                              "Ultimately, the Palestinian people will have to choose what kind of world they will live in, what kind of state they will have," Rice said, at the end of a four-day Middle East trip.

                                                                                                                                                              The tour is partly aimed at laying the groundwork for an international peace conference that the United States will host later in the year.

                                                                                                                                                              Russian support

                                                                                                                                                              Abbas received a boost this week after Moscow downgraded its contacts with Hamas, while maintaining some ties with the group to foster dialogue.

                                                                                                                                                              The decision came after Abbas met Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, in Moscow which, according to a Russian official, has taken a dim view of Hamas's use of force to take control of Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                              A US official cited "very interesting" reports about the Abbas-Putin talks in an indication that Rice would be anxious to get details of the Moscow encounter from the Palestinian leader.

                                                                                                                                                              Rice travelled with Robert Gates, the US defence secretary.

                                                                                                                                                              They travelled together to Egypt and Saudi Arabia before Gates went on to Kuwait while Rice headed to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

                                                                                                                                                              Source: Agencies

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                                                                                                                                                                Haniyeh aide: Any future Israel-PA accord depends on Hamas

                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  August 2nd, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                By Avi Issacharoff

                                                                                                                                                                Israel and the Palestinian Authority will never succeed in implementing a permanent political agreement, unless Hamas decides to approve it, adviser to former prime minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah Wednesday told Haaretz.

                                                                                                                                                                "Abbas' talks with the U.S. will continue to be no more than 'photo-ops' for as long as Hamas is not involved in the talks," said Yusef.

                                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                The adviser, Ahmed Yusef, went on to say that the negotiations between the U.S. and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas hinged on future negotiations between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah. The two rival organizations severed all connections following Hamas' violent seizure of power in the Gaza Strip last June.

                                                                                                                                                                "Abbas' talks with the U.S. will continue to be no more than 'photo-ops' for as long as Hamas is not involved in the talks," said Yusef.

                                                                                                                                                                The adviser indicated Hamas would be willing to engage in a dialogue with the U.S. on any subject Washington desires. "We have no problems discussing issues with the United States or with the Europeans," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                "There are European officials who are willing to act as mediators, but the Americans are closing all the doors."

                                                                                                                                                                In any case, Yusef stressed, the U.S. is wrong to pursue negotiations with Abbas alone, without incorporating Hamas in the talks.

                                                                                                                                                                "I think the Americans must explore the alternative Palestinian channel, which is Hamas," he said. "They should find out for themselves what our organization stands for. If they choose not to do so, and go ahead with talks without including Hamas, then they must realize that Abbas would ultimately require Hamas' approval for implementing agreements."

                                                                                                                                                                Yusef added that any agreement Abbas might eventually sign with Israel will need to be approved either by a national Palestinian referendum, or in a general election.

                                                                                                                                                                "No such event will take place, unless Hamas authorizes it," he explained. "Hamas is an important regional player and it will continue to be a cardinal player in any sort of political agreement between Israel and the Palestinians."

                                                                                                                                                                Yusef also said the Hamas would not agree to engage in diplomatic talks with Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                "That's what Abbas is concerned with - reaching a permanent agreement with Israel. In reality, he has virtually no chance of achieving his goal, because Israel is not prepared to make significant concessions for the formation of a Palestinian state, and the United States is unwilling to pressure Israel into making these concessions."

                                                                                                                                                                Yusef was equally pessimistic about the prospects of the international peace conference that U.S. President George W. Bush announced he was planning for sometime this fall.

                                                                                                                                                                "This summit has virtually no chance of getting off the ground. It represents nothing more than Washington's desire to secure an achievement in the Israeli-Palestinian sphere, to make up for its failures in Iraq."

                                                                                                                                                                Hamas' spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Fauzi Barhoum, echoed Yusef's statements by telling Haaretz that Abbas did not enjoy a sufficient mandate to determine the future of the Palestinian people without consulting Hamas.

                                                                                                                                                                "Any agreement will necessitate the approval of Parliament, which is dominated by Hamas. First, Abbas will have to renew the dialogue with Hamas and achieve national unity. Only then will we be able to negotiate with foreign powers. Abbas must accept not only Hamas' position, but reach a middle ground with all other groups and organizations."

                                                                                                                                                                U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is visiting Israel as part of her Middle East tour, is slated to meet with Abbas Thursday in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

                                                                                                                                                                Haaretz

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                                                                                                                                                                  Syria criticizes U.S. plan to boost military aid to Israel

                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  August 2nd, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                  DAMASCUS, Syria: Syria's foreign minister on Tuesday said the proposed U.S. arms deal that offers a sharp increase in defense aid to Israel goes against U.S. President George W. Bush's call for an international Mideast peace conference and could trigger a regional arms race.

                                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                  Walid al-Moallem was speaking at a joint news conference at the Damascus airport with visiting Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos, who is on a tour of the region.

                                                                                                                                                                  "Anyone who wants to be a peacemaker does not initiate a dangerous armament race in the region," Walid al-Moallem said. "Anyone who wants to be an honest broker of the peace process must not be biased toward a party and isolate another party in the peace process. He must win the confidence of all the participating parties."

                                                                                                                                                                  The United States, widely perceived in the Arab world as biased toward the Jewish state, plans to increase military aid to Israel by 25 percent, from US$2.4 billion (€1.8 billion) to US$3 billion (€2.2 billion) per year, guaranteed for 10 years.

                                                                                                                                                                  The U.S. also plans to extend its aid commitment to Egypt for 10 years and sell Saudi Arabia an estimated US$20 billion (€15 billion) of sophisticated weaponry, including advanced air systems that would greatly enhance the striking ability of Saudi warplanes.

                                                                                                                                                                  Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said the increase in military aid would guarantee his country's strategic superiority over its neighbors, irrespective of upgrades to Arab forces.

                                                                                                                                                                  Moallem said the U.S. proposed military aid to Israel indicated that the United States follows a "policy to cause constructive chaos" in the region.

                                                                                                                                                                  U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected to discuss Bush's call for a Mideast peace conference with allied Arab foreign ministers in Egypt on Tuesday during her tour of the region with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The tour also opens talks on the U.S. arms package.

                                                                                                                                                                  The Arab League expressed Monday reluctance to back the U.S.-proposed conference on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying any talks should cover all Arab-Israeli conflicts, including those involving Syria.

                                                                                                                                                                  Syria has said it is willing to negotiate peace if Israel commits to return the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau it captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

                                                                                                                                                                  Israel has welcomed Bush's proposed conference, as has Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who now heads an emergency government based in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                                  Moratinos said he discussed with Syrian President Bashar Assad the U.S.-proposed peace conference, the situation in Iraq and the Lebanese crisis.

                                                                                                                                                                  "We are in favor of that international conference, but we have to prepare for it to be sure it will bring some practical results," said Moratinos, stressing that Syria should be included in that conference.

                                                                                                                                                                  "We have to talk and to maintain dialogue with all actors in order that we at the end we can have a successful and positive outcome of such a conference," he added.

                                                                                                                                                                  International Herald Tribune

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                                                                                                                                                                    Atrocities you pay for: SALEE's story: ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO WATCH?

                                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  August 1st, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                    The failure of the media to tell stories such as Salee's has deprived the American people of the ability make informed judgments about US foreign policy.

                                                                                                                                                                    If Salee's story outrages you, contact George Bush and your representative in Congress at www.congress.org.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Israeli occupation forces kill two more people in Gaza raid

                                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  August 1st, 2007 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                      Zionist occupation forces make regular raids into Gaza

                                                                                                                                                                      Israeli troops have killed two Palestinians and wounded several others during a raid in the northern Gaza Strip, residents and ambulance workers say.

                                                                                                                                                                      [More:]


                                                                                                                                                                      Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees said on Wednesday that their fighters confronted the Israelis in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.

                                                                                                                                                                      The area is used by fighters as a launching ground for rocket attacks on southern Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                      Shooting started between the soldiers and the Palestinains after more than a dozen Israeli armoured vehicles and two bulldozers rolled into the strip near the northern town, witnesses and medics said.

                                                                                                                                                                      According to Dr Muawiya Hassanin of the Palestinian health ministry, besides the two killed, several others were injured in the Israeli firing.

                                                                                                                                                                      Israeli soldiers regularly enter the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                                                      Agencies

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                                                                                                                                                                        Bush's Real Agenda in Palestine: Same as It Ever Was

                                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  July 31st, 2007 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                        By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                                                                                        The Hamas government crackdown on Mohamed Dahlan's corrupt security forces and affiliated gangs in the Gaza Strip in June appears to mark a turning point in the Bush administration's foreign policy regarding Palestine and Israel. The supposed shift, however, is nothing but a continuation of Washington's efforts to stifle Palestinian democracy, to widen the chasm separating Hamas and Fatah, and to ensure the success of the Israeli project, which is focussed on colonising and annexing what remains of Palestinian land.

                                                                                                                                                                        While Abbas and his men might bask in the many bonuses they are receiving in exchange for their role in destroying the Palestinian national project, the future will prove that Israel's "goodwill gestures", the support of the Israeli lobby in Washington, and the latter's generosity will not last. Abbas could as easily find himself a prisoner in the basement of his own presidential compound, just like his predecessor, if he dares assert the legitimate rights of his people, by far the ultimate losers in this shameless battle.

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                                                                                                                                                                        It's vital that we keep this seemingly obvious reality at the forefront of any political discussion dealing with the conflict: the occupied Palestinian territories represent a mere 22 per cent of historic Palestine. Currently, Israel is on a quest to reduce this even further by officially conquering the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                                        Gaza is only relevant to this issue insofar as it represents a golden opportunity to divide Palestinians further, to confuse their national project and to present a grim picture of them as an unruly people who cannot be trusted as peace partners to the far more civilised and democratic Israelis.

                                                                                                                                                                        By prolonging Gazan strife, thus the Palestinian split, Israel will acquire the time required to consolidate its colonial project, and to further rationalise its unilateral policies vis-à-vis matters that should, naturally, be negotiated with the Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                                                        Moreover, one must not lose sight of the regional context.

                                                                                                                                                                        The Israeli lobby and its neo-conservative allies in the US administration and in the media are eager for a military showdown with Iran, which would weaken Syria's political standing in any future negotiation with Israel in regards to the occupied Golan Heights, and which would obliterate the military strength of Hizbullah, proven to be the toughest enemy Israel has ever faced in its decades-long conflict with the Arabs.

                                                                                                                                                                        Thus, its was of paramount importance for Hamas's "rise" to be linked directly to its relations with Iran; such ties, although greatly exaggerated, are now readily used as a rationale to explain Bush's seemingly historic move from backing Israel from a discreet distance (so as not to appear too involved) to initiating an international peace conference aimed solely at isolating Hamas, which would further weaken the Iranian camp in the Middle East.

                                                                                                                                                                        It also explains the abundant support offered by autocratic Arab regimes to Abbas, and Arab leaders' warnings about the rise of an Iranian menace. On the one hand, eliminating Hamas would send an unambiguous message to their own political Islamists; on the other, it's a message to Iran to back off from a conflict that has long been seen as exclusively Arab-Israeli. The irony is that to ensure the relevance of the Arab role in the conflict, some Arabs are making historic moves to normalise with Israel, and in return for nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                        Similarly, to ensure its own relevance, Abbas's Fatah is actively coordinating with Israel to destroy its formidable opponent, which represents the great majority of Palestinians in the occupied territories and arguably abroad. For this, assistance is required: money to ensure the loyalty of his followers, weapons to oppress his opponents, political validation to legitimise himself as a world leader, and new laws to de-legitimise the legal, democratic process that produced the Hamas victory of January 2006. In a conflict that is known for its agonisingly slow movement, nothing short of a miracle can explain how Abbas received all of these perks at an astronomical speed.

                                                                                                                                                                        The moment Abbas declared his arg