Israel demolishes two WB homes

English (US)  April 15th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


Israeli forces backed by bulldozers have demolished two homes in the occupied West Bank, leaving at least nine Palestinians homeless.

Palestinian rights organizations said on Wednesday that the bulldozers destroyed a home in the village of Khader, near Bethlehem.

The building had been home to nine members of the Musa family, including a baby, according to the West Bank-based Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

The Israeli military which confirmed the demolition claimed that the structure was an unfinished and uninhabited building in the northern village of Haris.
A military spokesman said both structures had been put up without the necessary construction permits.

The incident follows a new order by Israel according to which thousands of Palestinians will be forced out from their homeland.

[More:]

The decree, which will come into force this week, stipulates the expulsion of Palestinians whose identification cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip or those who were born in the West Bank or abroad but for various reasons "have lost their residency status" according to Israeli-imposed regulations.

Palestinian Authority officials and the Arab League harshly condemned the threat and called on the Palestinians to resist any order which could lead to their expulsion.

PressTV

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    "Only democracy in the Middle East" suppressed investigative report: Did Banned Media Report Foretell of Gaza War Crimes?

    English (US)  April 15th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


    Israeli media coverage is largely hostile to Kamm and Blau for exposing war crimes.

    By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth

    An Arab member of the Israeli parliament is demanding that a newspaper be allowed to publish an investigative report that was suppressed days before Israel attacked Gaza in winter 2008.

    The investigation by Uri Blau, who has been in hiding since December to avoid arrest, concerned Israeli preparations for the impending assault on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead.

    In a highly unusual move, according to reports in the Israeli media, the army ordered the Haaretz newspaper to destroy all copies of an edition that included Mr Blau’s investigation after it had already gone to press and been passed by the military censor. The article was never republished.

    [More:]

    Mr Blau has gone underground in London after the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, demanded he return to Israel to hand back hundreds of classified documents they claim are in his possession and to reveal his sources.

    He published several additional reports for Haaretz in 2008 and 2009 that severely embarrassed senior military commanders by showing they had issued orders that intentionally violated court rulings, including to execute Palestinians who could be safely apprehended.

    Haneen Zoubi, an MP who previously headed an Israeli media-monitoring organisation, said it was “outrageous” that the suppressed report was still secret so long after the Gaza attack. She is to table a parliamentary question to Ehud Barak, the defence minister, today demanding to know why the army suppressed the article and what is preventing its publication now. Mr Barak must respond within 21 days.

    She said publication of the article was important both because Israel had been widely criticised for killing many hundreds of civilians in its three-week assault on Gaza, and because subsequent reports suggested that Israeli commanders sought legal advice months before the operation to manipulate the accepted definitions of international law to make it easier to target civilians.

    “There must be at least a strong suspicion that Mr Blau’s article contains vital information, based on military documentation, warning of Israeli army intentions to commit war crimes,” she said in an interview.

    “If so, then there is a public duty on Haaretz to publish the article. If not, then there is no reason for the minister to prevent publication after all this time.”

    Ms Zoubi’s call yesterday followed mounting public criticism of Haaretz for supporting Mr Blau by advising him to stay in hiding and continuing to pay his salary. In chat forums and talkback columns, the reporter has been widely denounced as a traitor. Several MPs have called for Haaretz to be closed down or boycotted.

    A Haaretz spokeswoman refused to comment, but a journalist there said a “fortress mentality” had developed at the newspaper. “We’ve all been told not to talk to anyone about the case,” he said. “There’s absolute paranoia that the paper is going to be made to suffer because of the Blau case.”

    Amal Jamal, a professor at Tel Aviv University who teaches a media course, said he was concerned with the timing of the Shin Bet’s campaign against Mr Blau. He observed that they began interviewing the reporter about his sources and documents last summer as publication neared of the Goldstone report, commissioned by the United Nations and which embarrassed Israel by alleging it had perpetrated war crimes in Gaza.

    “The goal in this case appears to be not only to intimidate journalists but also to delegitimise certain kinds of investigations concerning security issues, given the new climate of sensitivity in Israel following the Goldstone report.”

    He added that Mr Blau, who had quickly acquired a reputation as Israel’s best investigative reporter, was “probably finished” as a journalist in Israel.

    Shraga Elam, an award-winning Israeli reporter, said Mr Blau’s suppressed article might also have revealed the aims of a widely mentioned but unspecified “third phase” of the Gaza attack, following the initial air strikes and a limited ground invasion, that was not implemented.

    He suspected the plans involved pushing some of Gaza’s population into Egypt under cover of a more extensive ground invasion. The plan had been foiled, he believed, because Hamas offered little resistance and Egypt refused to open the border.

    On Monday, an MP with the centrist Kadima Party, Yulia Shamal-Berkovich, called for Haaretz to be closed down, backing a similar demand from fellow MP Michael Ben-Ari, of the right-wing National Union.

    She accused Haaretz management of having “chosen to hide” over the case and blamed it for advising Mr Blau to remain abroad. She said the newspaper “must make sure the materials that are in his possession are returned. If Haaretz fails to do so, its newspaper licence should be revoked without delay.”

    Another Kadima MP, Yisrael Hasson, a former deputy head of the Shin Bet, this week urged Haaretz readers to boycott the newspaper until Mr Blau was fired.

    A petition calling on the Shin Bet to end its threat to charge Mr Blau with espionage has attracted the signatures of several prominent journalists in Israel.

    “We believe the Blau case is unique and are concerned this unique case will create a dangerous precedent,” their letter states. “Until now, prosecution authorities have not sought to try reporters for the offence of holding classified information, an offence most of us are guilty of in one way or another.”

    A group of Israeli human rights organisations is due to submit a letter this week to the government demanding that the investigation concentrate on lawbreaking by the army rather the “character assassination” of Mr Blau and his sources.

    Yesterday, the supreme court tightened restrictions on Anat Kamm, one of Mr Blau’s main informants, who has been under house arrest since December for copying up to 2,000 military documents while she was a soldier. She is accused of espionage with intent to harm the state, a charge that carries a tariff of 25 years in jail.

    The papers copied by Ms Kamm, 23, included military orders that violated court rulings and justified law-breaking by soldiers.

    Judge Ayala Procaccia said: “The acts attributed to the respondent point to a deep internal distorted perception of a soldier's duties to the military system he or she is required to serve, and a serious perversion from the basic responsibility that a citizen owes the state to which he or she belongs.”

    Ms Kamm, the court decided, must not leave her apartment and must be watched by a close relative at all times.

    Media coverage of the case in Israel has been largely hostile to both Ms Kamm and Mr Blau. Gideon Levy observed in Haaretz today: “The real betrayal has been that of the journalists, who have betrayed their profession -- journalists who take sides with the security apparatus against colleagues who are doing their job bringing light to the dark.”

    Calling Israel “a Shin Bet state”, Mr Levy added: “If it depended on public opinion, Kamm and Blau would be executed and Haaretz would be shut down on the spot.”

    - Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at his website at: www.jkcook.net.

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      Jordan summons Israeli ambassador

      English (US)  April 15th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

      PressTV

      Jordan has summoned the Israeli ambassador over the regime's new threat to force out tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

      Israeli Ambassador Dani Nevo was summoned to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday and given a "strongly-worded protest" over a military order that classes Palestinians living in the West Bank without the proper document as "infiltrators," the official Petra news agency reported.

      The decree stipulates the expulsion of over 70,000 Palestinians, mostly Gazans, from the West Bank.

      [More:]

      "The note underlined Jordan's strong denunciation of the Israeli decision ... and the need to immediately stop its application, as well as the reaffirmation of the right of the Palestinian people to live in and move about freely on their national territory," Petra said.

      The message called the order "null and void because it runs counter to Israel's commitments under international law as an occupation power."

      Amman also urged the international community to act to "halt such unilateral measures," which would block peace efforts and raise tensions in the Middle East.

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        Waziristan: The last frontier

        English (US)  April 14th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


        Waziristan, headquarters of Islamist terror, has repelled outsiders for centuries. Now the Pakistani government is making a determined effort to control the place

        Published Dec 30th 2009 in The Economist

        “YOU should enjoy this,” said a Pushtun from Waziristan, the most remote and radicalised of the tribal areas in North-West Pakistan that border Afghanistan, as he proffered a bottle of Scottish whisky. It was an excellent Sutherland single-malt; but the man was referring to the bottle’s more recent provenance, not its pedigree.

        He had been given it by a fellow Waziristani working for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. This spy had received the illegal grog from an American CIA officer. Your correspondent’s friend returned homewards, Scotch in hand, driven by another Waziristani, who is also employed as a fixer by al-Qaeda.

        Waziristan, home to 800,000 tribal Pushtuns, is a complicated place. It is the hinge that joins Pakistan and Afghanistan, geographically and strategically. Split into two administrative units, North and South Waziristan, it is largely run by the Taliban, with foreign jihadists among them. If Islamist terror has a headquarters, it is probably Waziristan.

        [More:]

        For terrorists, its attraction is its fierce independence. Waziristanis (who come mostly from the Wazir and Mehsud tribes) have repelled outsiders for centuries. Marauding down onto the plains of northern Punjab—now North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)—their long-haired warriors would rape, pillage and raise a finger to the regional imperialist, Mughal or British, of the day. No government, imperialist or Pakistani, has had much control over them. “Not until the military steamroller has passed over [Waziristan] from end to end will there be peace,” wrote Lord Curzon, a British viceroy of India at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

        With 50,000 Pakistani troops now battling the Taliban in Waziristan, even that may be optimistic. One of the current drivers of the steamroller is Major-General Tariq Khan, head of the army’s 60,000-strong Frontier Corps (FC), whose forebears, rulers of neighbouring Tank, were often robbed by the hill-men. For him, Waziristan is “the last tribal area”.

        Despite their remoteness, these tribesmen have often had a hand in the fates of governments in Kabul, Delhi and elsewhere. In 1929 a British-backed Afghan, Nadir Shah, used an army of Wazirs to seize the Afghan throne. A force of Wazirs and Mehsuds was dispatched in 1947 to seize Kashmir for the newly formed Islamic republic, sparking the first Indo-Pakistan war. In the 1980s Pakistan, America and Saudi Arabia armed them to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. In 2001 thousands of Afghan Taliban and their al-Qaeda guests fled to Waziristan. They have resumed their jihad from across the border, this time against NATO troops—aided, Afghans say, by the ISI.

        Fighting and spying on the frontier is often described as a Great Game, after the 19th-century Russo-British sparring for which the phrase was coined. And on a five-day visit to South Waziristan in December as a guest of the FC—a rare privilege for a foreigner—and in interviews with Wazirs and Mehsuds in Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore, your correspondent was struck by how many used this phrase, speaking of the crises that periodically buffet the frontier as a “game”, and themselves, through their alliances with one power or another, as “players”. “It is all a great game,” said Rehmat Mehsud, a Waziristani journalist. “The army, the Taliban, the ISI, they are all involved, and we don’t know who is doing what.”

        Tribal kin may find themselves playing on different teams. For example, a Mehsud army officer, a member of the most radical Pushtun tribe, whose militant chiefs head a frontier-wide conglomeration of tribally based Islamists known as the Pakistani Taliban, admits that several of his cousins are high-ups in the Taliban. Yet he bears them no ill-will. “We are all Mehsud,” he says, over a beer or two. “So long as one family earns, the rest can eat,” said another South Waziristani, explaining the advantages of thus spreading political bets.

        Making for the hills

        The journey to Waziristan began on December 7th in Peshawar, NWFP’s capital, with a thunderous roar, as just across the street a man blew himself up. Black smoke spewed from the blast-site, a police checkpoint, now obliterated, at the entrance to the province’s high court. Eleven were killed. Bloodied policemen and lawyers staggered from the wreckage.

        As a military convoy carrying your correspondent tried forcing its way through this throng from the adjacent Bala Hisar fort, the FC’s citadel, there was chaos. Horns blared and men and boys shrieked and yelled. Cars attempted impossible U-turns. A police wagon loaded with dead or injured rattled along the pavement, blood-stained limbs flapping from its open back. The FC men, representing a medley of frontier tribes, Afridis, Mohmandis, Yusufzai, bullied their way through. At speed, the convoy headed south out of Peshawar for Waziristan.

        Since mid-October, when over 30,000 Pakistani troops launched an attack on Mehsud territory, a retaliatory terrorism spree has ripped through every large Pakistani city, including Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Multan. Over 500 have been killed and thousands injured, mostly by suicide-blasts executed by indoctrinated young Mehsuds. Senior army officers, who have lofty status in a country ruled by them for half its history, have been among the dead. Among 40 killed in a commando-style attack on a crowded mosque in Rawalpindi last month was the only son of Lieutenant-General Masood Aslam, commander of Pakistan’s north-western campaign.

        Bowling along the frontier, over castellated ridges, boulder-strewn plains and rounded limestone hills, there was much evidence of recent explosions. A jagged crater, in the Indus highway that spans Pakistan north-south, showed where a police check-point had been almost erased. Two recently mined road-bridges were under repair.

        Nearing the arms-making town of Darra Adam Khel, which is inhabited by Afridis, whom the British considered almost as fierce as the Waziristanis, the convoy accelerated again. A one-street mud-built huddle, dedicated to making counterfeit modern weapons, Darra was once a favourite of western backpackers; for a few dollars, they got to fire an anti-aircraft gun or lob a grenade. It is now Taliban-infested.

        Nearing Tank, a town swollen with Mehsud refugees, the hills unfold into a large dusty plain. This is the last “settled area”, as parts of NWFP that touch the tribal areas are known: a civilised status emphasised by a sign on its main drag, advertising the “Oxford high school”. Looking up to the north-west, the mountains of South Waziristan, faintly outlined behind a wintry mist, rise steeply to jagged peaks. That is Mehsud country, only a night’s journey away for tribal raiders.

        The Mehsud have attacked and looted Tank for centuries. “They’re the biggest thieves, crooks, liars, everything bad, they’ll kill you for what’s in your pocket,” says Nawab Zadar Saadat Khan, the septuagenarian chief of Tank’s historic ruling family. The Taliban are, in his view, just as bad: “Taliban! These are people who used to stand outside our door begging for food!” he says inside the crumbling mud walls of his ancestral fort, where Sir Henry Durand, a British lord of the frontier whose son drew the line that remains the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, met his fate in 1871. He was a victim not of treacherous tribesmen but of an elephant he was riding, which reared and brained him on a stone archway he was passing through. But the British had a similar view of the Mehsud to Mr Khan. According to an 1881 report, no tribe had “been more daring or more persistent in disturbing the peace of British territory…not a month passed without some serious crime, cattle-lifting, robbery accompanied by murder being committed by armed bands of marauders from the Mehsud hills.”

        Leaving Tank, the convoy climbed through brittle yellow hills into South Waziristan, aboard Toyota pickups, not elephants. But the view was much the same as in 1859, when British troops first marched into Waziristan. Stony ridges rise up from ravines, dry riverbeds and hardly vegetated plains, and curl around each other. Houses are thinly sprinkled alongside South Waziristan’s one good road, which runs 80km (50 miles) from Tank to its main town of Wana. Every one has 20-feet-high walls, built of sun-baked mud studded with pebbles to withstand machinegun bursts. On the grander dwellings a multi-storey tower, with lavish brickwork decoration and firing-slits, rises up to improve the household’s field-of-fire.

        But outside the ramparts are scenes of everyday peasant life. Women in bright headscarves stump along under bundles of firewood. (In Waziristan, as in Afghanistan, most tribal women wear burkas only to town.) Swarms of children, also brightly coloured against the ubiquitous yellow backdrop of mud and rock, run shrieking from the convoy. Bearded men, squatting together in the pale afternoon sun, stare impassively as the FC goes by.

        With the annexation of Punjab in 1849, British India reached the frontier. The British had no immediate interest in these barren tribal territories, which were mostly claimed by Afghanistan. But to keep the tribes at bay, they were forced to launch a big military operation on the frontier almost every year for the next half-century. This was tiresome and expensive, so around the time the frontier was demarcated in 1893, the strategy changed, and the British began a concerted effort to buy off tribal elders, or maliks. In egalitarian Pushtun society, where prestige is won in battle, these grey-beards initially had limited authority. But through British patronage it grew, creating for the colonialists a pliable tribal elite. With this toehold established, the British then took a firmer grip on the area, developing a system of indirect rule that has hardly changed since.

        In Wana, a two-road town 40km from the Afghan border, surrounded by orchards and a vast FC camp, Syed Shahab Ali Shah explains the system that he runs. He is South Waziristan’s political agent (PA), the government’s chief representative in the area and the man whose job it is to keep the tribes in check. He imposes fines and taxes—on transport, trade, and whatever else he chooses—and returns this money to the maliks, in the form of allowances or other sweeteners. Representatives of a network of tribal police, known as khassadars, also get a share. In return, these local leaders are charged with ensuring the security of government property, including roads, and personnel. When they fail, the maliks must produce the culprit, his guilt attested by a tribal jirga, or council, for punishment by the PA (until recently up to 14 years in prison with no appeal). If they fail to do that, the PA can call up the FC to weigh collective punishments against the offending tribe, for example by taking prisoners or bulldozing houses.

        On occasion the PA may take notice of extraneous crimes, including the blood-feuds that are a fact of Pushtun life—“We would never allow two tribes to fight each other indefinitely,” says Mr Shah. But the tribes are mostly free to decide such matters among themselves, which they do, remarkably harmoniously, through jirgas and riwaj—tribal customary law. In Waziristan, as in most of the tribal areas, there is no written land register. Nor, until 2001, was there much crime. “The tribal areas was lawless only in the sense that there are no laws. But they have a certain way of going about things there,” says Major Geoffrey Langlands, 92, a British colonial officer who stayed on, serving as headmaster of North Waziristan’s only secondary school for a decade. His tenure ended, in 1988, after he was kidnapped by an aggrieved Wazir. He considered his detention, in a frozen mountain hut, to be “quite tolerable, on the whole”. Major Langlands is now headmaster of a school in Chitral; his former school in North Waziristan was closed in July after the Taliban kidnapped 80 of its pupils and ten teachers.

        The British frontier effort was cemented by a tough and accomplished breed of Pushtu-speaking British PAs, several of whom were murdered in Waziristan. The enmity between the two big tribes, which they encouraged by giving the Mehsuds a disproportionately high share of loot, helped keep them in check. Mehsuds, now as then, consider Wazirs slow-witted, mercantile and untrustworthy—“If your right hand is a Wazir, cut it off,” advises a Mehsud. Wazirs mainly consider Mehsuds as vagabonds and cattle-rustlers, often quoting as evidence for this a prayer that Mehsud women are said to chant to their infants: “Be a thief and may God go with you!” Mehsuds also quote this, to illustrate their people’s cunning and derring-do.

        The maliki system, reinforced by the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation, still the only law in the tribal areas, worked remarkably well. Nonetheless, every decade or two, the British faced a major tribal revolt, typically led by a charismatic mullah. A frontier trait, this was nowhere more pronounced than among Waziristanis. Their warrior mullahs included Mullah Powindah, an Afghan-backed Mehsud, who in 1894 led an attack on the British team demarcating the frontier. Taking the title, Badshah-e-Taliban, King of the Taliban, he was a two-decade-long headache for the British, who decried him as an irredeemable fanatic, but were not above trying to buy him. Curzon wrote that Powindah was “a first-class scoundrel that we are taking under our wings”.

        A Wazir of North Waziristan, Mirza Ali Khan, known as the Faqir of Ipi, was a harder case. From 1936 to 1947 he led a freedom struggle that at one point sucked in 40,000 British Indian troops, and was quelled only by brutal aerial bombing. Khan was also backed by the Afghans, and was allegedly in contact with Nazi Germany. But when he died, in 1960, the London Times mourned him as a “doughty and honourable opponent”.

        From the officers’ mess of the South Waziristan Scouts, the FC’s Wana-based contingent, formed in 1899, it is tempting to think Waziristan has hardly changed since those colonial days. The heavy silver beer tankards of its former British inhabitants stand, dutifully polished, ready for use. The incumbents, Punjabi army officers on secondment to the FC, in fact drink Sprite with their curried dinner—yet their conversation is in a time-worn tradition. Mostly, they discuss their belief that India is behind the current troubles on the frontier. Lieutenant-Colonel Tabraiz Abbas, just in from fighting the Mehsud militants, describes finding Indian-made arms on the battlefield. Substitute “Russian” for “Indian” and you have the standard British Great-Game gripe. As late as 1930, a senior British official, in dispatches stored in India’s national archives, reported that a clutch of Russian guns had been found in Waziristan: “Of these 36 are stamped with the ‘Hammer and Sickle’ emblem of the Soviet government, while one is an English rifle bearing the Czarist crest.”
        eyevine Don’t mess with the Waziristanis

        Yet Waziristan is greatly changed. Its administrative system, overrun by militancy, now functions only weakly in Wazir areas. There, the PA has a shaky peace agreement, brokered by maliks, with the Taliban who are to be seen lounging in Wana bazaar. But the government has been entirely absent from Mehsud areas for three years. Mr Shah, the PA, sees the origin of this collapse in the anti-Soviet war, which glamorised Islamic militancy and flooded the tribal areas with sophisticated weapons. Wana was an important mujahideen headquarters during that war, with many willing recruits among some 80,000 Afghan refugees encamped near the town. At a gathering of a dozen lavishly turbaned Wazir maliks in Wana, your correspondent asked if anyone had fought the Soviets. Everyone raised a hand—and one man a leg, to reveal an ugly scar left by a Soviet bullet.

        When the Taliban and many foreign jihadists were forced to flee Afghanistan in 2001, Wana made an obvious retreat. Several hundred Uzbeks—members of the exiled Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan—and a smaller number of Arabs and Turkmen came, guided by a local ne’er-do-well, Nek Muhammad, who had won fame fighting with the Afghan Taliban. And the Wazirs opened their doors to these fugitives. “It is our custom to give sanctuary to whoever requests it,” said Mir Khajang, a malik with a black beard and golden turban. “The Uzbeks said they had been forced to leave Afghanistan and were good Muslims. So we took them in.” Indeed the Pushtun tribal code imposes a duty of hospitality. Yet the Wazirs are also said to have charged the foreigner jihadists hefty rents.

        Under pressure from America, the army moved into the tribal areas to mop up the al-Qaeda fugitives. It at first offered amnesty to other foreign fighters, provided they registered and behaved themselves. But in March 2004 it encountered fierce resistance near Wana, mostly from the Uzbeks. The fighting left over 50 soldiers dead, and ended in a peace settlement in April, signed with Nek Muhammad—who was killed in an airstrike shortly afterwards. The Uzbeks and their local allies then set out to control the area. Their first step was to kill its maliks. Seven of Mr Khajang’s close relatives were accordingly hanged by the Uzbeks.

        The army often stood by, unsure whether to fight the militants or negotiate with them. Meanwhile a tide of militancy spread from Wana across the frontier. Its rallying-cry was the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, where a Taliban insurgency began gathering pace in mid-2003. But the upheaval was also a response to the weakness of an outworn administrative system—which the presence of the army, a powerful alternative command structure, further undermined.

        The Mehsud militants, for example, have been led by veterans of Afghanistan’s wars, such as Baitullah Mehsud, supreme leader of the Pakistani Taliban until he was killed by an American drone in August. Yet certainly compared to the Wazirs, the tribe has little interest in Afghanistan. Among them, the uprising is an obvious power grab by a jihad-pumped underclass. The tribe’s maliks, widely reviled as “corrupt puppets of the British Raj”, according to a high-up Mehsud, were again the first victims. Across South Waziristan over 600 have been murdered. In addition, an assistant PA was kidnapped in North Waziristan and several lower-level civil servants killed. All were blamed for a chronic lack of development. According to a decade-old census, the literacy rate across the tribal areas is 17%—and just 3% for women—compared to 44% across Pakistan. The tribal areas have only one doctor for every 8,000 people—and no decent hospital for over half a million Mehsuds.

        With the army still grappling for a strategy, two events in 2007 demonstrated that the insurgency’s centre had shifted to the Mehsud. First, egged on by the ISI, the Wazir tribes were incited to rise up and drive the Uzbeks from Wana, whence most went to Mehsud areas. Then, in July 2007, the army’s stormed an Islamabad mosque, the Lal Masjid, that had been taken over by well-armed jihadists, killing over 100. This sparked an ongoing Pakistan-wide terrorism campaign, including around 300 suicide blasts to date, for which the Mehsud have been largely blamed. Benazir Bhutto, a two-time former prime minister, assassinated in a suicide and gunfire attack in late 2007, was allegedly among their victims.

        For the next 18 months or so, the news from the frontier was grim. Flush with foreign cash and through their own extortion rackets, the Mehsud militants and their allies seized a broad swathe of territory, from Waziristan through Orakzai and Khyber to Bajaur, and including much of NWFP’s Malakand region. Across the settled areas, the slogan “Meezh dre Maseet”—“I belong to the Mehsud”—struck terror. Wealthy Peshawaris fled the city, fearing bearded kidnappers. Last April the Taliban seized Malakand’s Buner district, just 100km (62 miles) from Islamabad.

        This said little for Pakistan’s army. It had long been accused of tolerating, even harbouring, the Afghan Taliban. Now it seemed neglectful of its country’s very security, as blasts ripped through Pakistan’s cities. And there was something to both charges. Many senior army officers considered that the Afghan militants were no concern of Pakistan’s, and reckoned it was better to come to terms with the Pakistani Taliban rather than fight them. This was to some degree understandable: the frontier campaign was unpopular in Pakistan, the army was coming off badly against the irregulars, and making deals with rebels was, after all, how the frontier had been contained for 150 years. Unfortunately, however, that method was no longer working.

        A soldier’s lot is not a happy one

        So this year the strategy was changed, with considerable success. In May the army swept the Taliban from Malakand, to national acclaim. And in October and November, after a three-month blockade of the Mehsud fief, displacing over 200,000 people, it routed the militants there. On the road from Tank to Wana, perfect round shell-holes, punched through the mud-walls of now-empty houses, show where the army advanced. In Sarwakai, a former Taliban logistics hub, army bulldozers were levelling a bazaar as open-backed trucks loaded with prisoners, blindfolded and bare-headed, drove by. Most of their comrades, including the Pakistani Taliban’s current leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, escaped—some to Orakzai, where they are again under attack. Several thousand more are believed to be in Miran Shah and Mir Ali, in North Waziristan, and the army is currently deciding whether to pursue them there.

        Pakistan will struggle to pacify Waziristan so long as Afghanistan is ablaze. Yet it is at last giving itself a fair chance, on the heels of its advancing troops, by launching a serious-looking bid to rebuild its shattered administration. South Waziristan’s development budget has been increased 15-fold and, with improved security, the PA should actually be able to spend it. To sideline the weakened maliks, he will be given command of a new, 4,000-strong, tribal police force. The agency may also be divided, to ensure greater attention is given to the marginalised and seething Mehsuds. And political reform is coming, too, with a law passed last August granting political parties access to the tribal areas. For more meaningful democracy, some far-sighted officials advocate setting up agency-level councils, with powers over development projects.

        This would be overdue. Many young Waziristanis are hungry for the political freedoms enjoyed, alas fitfully, by the rest of the country—as their enthusiasm for an abortive effort to introduce local government in 2005 showed. Even the Wazir maliks assembled in Wana, prime beneficiaries of the old order, admitted this. “Our youngsters want reform, adult franchise, no collective punishments,” admitted one of the old men, Bizmillah Khan. “But they also want our culture, our traditions and our freedom to remain intact.”

        They will be disappointed. When Waziristan is merged with Pakistan proper, as eventually it must be, good things will be lost. The jirga system, so much more efficient than Pakistani courts, will be weakened or erased. Corruption, rife in Pakistan, will become endemic. And the furious spirit of independence that has impelled Wazirs and Mehsuds to resist outsiders for centuries will recede. For the most part, that would be a blessing. Yet in that calmer future, when Pakistan’s current agonies are largely forgotten, many may hark back fondly to a world enlivened by such remarkable people.

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          Return to "Indian Country": The Global War on Tribes

          English (US)  April 14th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

          By Zoltan Grossman

          The so-called “Global War on Terror” is quickly growing outside the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan, into new battlegrounds in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond. The Pentagon is vastly increasing missile and gunship attacks, Special Forces raids, and proxy invasions--all in the name of combating “Islamist terrorism.” Yet within all five countries, the main targets of the wars are predominantly “tribal regions,” and the old frontier language of Indian-fighting is becoming the lexicon of 21st-century counterinsurgency. The “Global War on Terror” is fast morphing into a “Global War on Tribes.”

          Tribal regions are local areas where tribes are the dominant form of social organization, and tribal identities often trump state, ethnic, and even religious identities. Tribal peoples have a strongly localized orientation, tied to a particular place. Their traditional societies are based on a common culture, dialect, and kinship ties (through single or multiple clans). Although they are tribal peoples, they are not necessarily Indigenous peoples--who generally follow nature-centered spiritual and cultural systems. Nearly all tribal communities in the Middle East and Central Asia have been Islamicized or Christianized, but they still retain their ancient social bonds.

          [More:]

          Yet modern counterinsurgency doctrine only views tribal regions as festering cauldrons of lawlessness, and “breeding grounds” for terrorism, unless the tribes themselves are turned against the West’s enemies. The London Times (1/5/10), for example, crudely asserts that Yemen’s “mountainous terrain, poverty and lawless tribal society make it… a close match for Afghanistan as a new terrorist haven.” This threatening view of tribal regions is, of course, as old as European colonialism itself.

          Tribes and Ethnic Nations

          Tribes are distinct from ethnic groups. Ethnic group identity is based largely on language, such as Pashtun, Kurdish, Somali, Tajik, and so on. Many ethnic groups also assert a territorial nationhood, whether or not they have their own independent state. Tribal group identity is based on smaller and older regional clans and dialects—such as Zubaydi and Jibbur (Iraq), Durrani and Ghilzai (Afghanistan), Wazir and Mehsud (Pakistan), Wahidi and Zaydi (Yemen), and Darod and Hawiye (Somalia). These internal divisions are familiar to anyone who has studied ethnic nationhood. (The Lakota Nation, for example, contains seven bands such as the Oglala, Hunkpapa, and Sicangu. In most other countries, these “bands” would be termed tribes, and the Lakota Nation would not be called a tribe.)

          Tribes can be viewed as the building blocks for ethnic nations, but in many countries the cement has never really dried. (Even in Europe, different local dialect regions were only recently absorbed into modern states, as Eugèn Weber demonstrates in his Peasants into Frenchmen). Tribal regions in the Middle East and Central Asia function as a layer below ethnic and religious territories, which in turn function as a layer below modern states and their 19th-century colonial boundaries. Contemporary armed conflicts in the region can be best understood not as struggles between political ideologies, but between these different layers of collective identity.

          Western society tends to portray tribes as primitive, backward peoples, and views “tribalism” as merely ignorant villagers brutally acting in their narrow self-interest. Colonial authorities often diminished the status of ethnic nations by defining them as “tribes,” and employed divide-and-conquer strategies to pit them against each other. Yet in some regions, a local tribal identity may be more inclusive of human differences than larger-scale ethnic or religious identities. For example, some Iraqi tribes include both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, and help to transcend the tense sectarian divide. Within some tribes around the world, more than one language or dialect may be spoken. Tribal identities and boundaries are not simply fixed in the past—they can be fluid and dynamic.

          Tribal Areas under Siege

          Afghanistan. In southern and eastern Afghanistan, Pashtun tribes have existed for millennia, and have only nominal loyalty to the modern state. Because Pashtun tribes straddle the colonial “Durand Line” boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan, they do not recognize the authority of either country, and exhibit their traditional hospitality to Taliban insurgents. Although tribal stature has been weakened somewhat by Soviet occupation, civil war, and pan-Islamic ideologies, the NATO occupation has—perhaps inadvertently--resurrected a role for some tribal leaders. The U.S. has been paying and arming them to turn against the Taliban, with only limited success.

          The New York Times (1/29/10) reports that “American civilian and military leaders are turning to some of these tribes as potentially their best hope for success…. Led by councils of elders, tribes provided their members with protection, financial support, a means to resolve disputes ….Successfully turning Pashtun tribes against the Taliban… could deliver a serious blow to the insurgency.” The Council on Foreign Relations report A Tribal Strategy for Afghanistan (11/7/08) admits that “Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist… predicted that arming Pashtun militias in the south would renew tribal rivalries that had been dormant for years; some analysts believe that has happened.”

          Pakistan. In northwestern Pakistan, U.S. drones and Special Forces raids have attacked insurgents in the Pashto-speaking North-West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, particularly in the tribal area of Waziristan. President Bush evoked American frontier imagery when he stated in the New York Times (2/18/07)., “Taliban and Al Qaeda figures do hide in remote regions of Pakistan. This is wild country; this is wilder than the Wild West.”

          The U.S. media consistently refers to Pakistan’s Northwest as a “lawless” tribal region. But in its fascinating article “Waziristan: The Last Frontier,” The Economist (12/30/09) clarified that “the tribes are mostly free to decide…matters among themselves, which they do, remarkably harmoniously, through jirgas and riwaj—tribal customary law. In Waziristan, as in most of the tribal areas, there is no written land register. Nor, until 2001, was there much crime. ‘The tribal areas was lawless only in the sense that there are no laws. But they have a certain way of going about things there,’ says Major Geoffrey Langlands, 92, a British colonial officer who stayed on...”

          Iraq. In central Iraq, tribal traditions and territories are somewhat more critical to Sunni Arabs than to religious Shi’a Arabs in the south or ethnonationalist Kurds in the north. Tribal sheiks serve as community leaders, mediators, intermediaries, and regional power-players, and their support has become critical to both insurgent and occupation forces. The British and Saddam Hussein earlier tried to exercise control over tribes (and larger tribal confederations)--and also attempted to curry their favor--but ended up alienating them from state power.

          An article in Military Review (9-10/07) reports that for U.S. operations in Iraq, “Tribal engagement has played a particularly prominent role…This reflects the enduring strength of the tribes in many of Iraq's rural areas and some of its urban neighborhoods. And tribal engagement has been key to recent efforts to drive a wedge between tribally based Sunni Arab insurgents and Al-Qaeda in Iraq in Anbar province and elsewhere.” This Sunni “Awakening” did more to weaken Al Qaeda than the U.S. “Surge,” but now it appears the tribes are dissatisfied with the weak support shown by Baghdad and Washington.

          Yemen. In southern Yemen, the U.S. has launched missile attacks against what it describes as Al Qaeda targets, and assists Yemeni military raids against separatist rebels in the tribal region. Like in central Iraq, instead of the tribes giving haven to Islamist “terrorists,” their sense of independence may end up being directed against both the Pentagon and Al Qaeda.

          In the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report What Comes Next in Yemen? (3/10), Sarah Phillips explains, “Al-Qaeda operatives have found safe haven in some of Yemen’s tribal regions, but their goal of establishing an international caliphate conflicts with many local political realities, potentially limiting this hospitality. Tribal society in Yemen is regulated by complex rules that bind its members to one another. Much of Yemen’s periphery is without effective formal, state-administered governance, but this does not mean that these regions are ungoverned—or there for the taking, particularly by outsiders to the area” (p. 1).

          Somalia. In southern Somalia, virtually all Somalis hold the same customs, speak the same language, and practice the same religion. Nevertheless, since 1991 the region has been torn by civil war along clan lines (which in a non-African context could be described as tribal lines). When in 1992 U.S. forces intervened ostensibly as “peacekeepers,” they failed to consult with tribal elders, who are the traditional decision-makers in Somali society. Instead, the U.S. took the side of some militia warlords against other clan warlords, and paid the price in the infamous Black Hawk Down battle.

          In 2006, an Islamist front took control of the capital of Mogadishu, and brought a relative calm to the country, which was shattered when the U.S. backed an Ethiopian invasion. The renewed war stimulated a nationalist backlash, offshore “piracy,” and the growth of the small ultra-Islamist Al Shabaab militia. The Pentagon is now using missile strikes, Special Forces raids, and AC-130 aerial gunship attacks to help a new government retake Mogadishu from Al Shabaab rebels. The New York Times (3/5/10) reports that “Even though there is a new religious overlay to Somalia’s civil war… clan connections still matter and could spell success — or disaster.”

          Nothing New

          If the Global War on Tribes is as old as European colonialism, in the United States it is as old as the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. In U.S. foreign policy, we can trace it back to the Vietnam War (including the tribal highlands of South Vietnam and Laos), and farther back to the Philippine-American War and the Indian Wars. In his classic Facing West: the Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire Building, Richard Drinnon connects the colonization of Native American nations in the West to U.S. overseas expansion into the Philippines and Vietnam, which used the identical rhetoric of insurgent territory as hostile “Indian Country.”

          Drinnon concluded, “In each and every West, place itself was infinitely less important …than what the white settlers brought in their heads and hearts to that particular place. At each magic margin, their metaphysics of Indian-hating underwent a seemingly confirmatory ‘perennial rebirth.’ Rooted in fears and prejudices buried deep in the Western psyche, their metaphysics became a time-tested doctrine, an ideology, and an integral component of U.S. nationalism….All along, the obverse of Indian-hating had been the metaphysics of empire-building….Winning the West amounted to no less than winning the world” (pp. 463-65).

          One of the hallmarks of American colonization is to pit favored tribes and ethnic nations against the national security threat of the moment— Crow against Lakota, Igorot against Filipino, Montagnard against Vietnamese, Hmong against Lao, Miskito against Nicaraguan, Kurd against Arab. When the minority tribal allies (with their very real grievances) are no longer needed, Washington quickly abandons its defense of their “human rights.” We love ‘em, we use ‘em, and then we dump ‘em. These divide-and-conquer strategies are being revived from Pakistan to Yemen, as the Pentagon arms tribal militias to do its bidding—often against other tribes.

          The Global War on Tribes can be traced even farther back in history, to its roots in Europe--including the English colonization of Celtic tribal lands, the mass burning of women who kept tribal healing practices alive, and the suppression of peasant rebellions emerging from local clan resistance (as shown by Carolyn Merchant in her The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution). Perhaps the ultimate model is the Roman Empire, which itself emerged from three early tribes in Rome (the word “tribe” comes from the Latin for “three”), and waged wars against numerous so-called “barbarian” tribes.

          Updating the War

          Proponents of the “Global War on Tribes” are seemingly unafraid to connect it to past campaigns against tribes around the world. The analyst and author Robert D. Kaplan wrote in the Wall Street Journal (9/24/04) that “…the American military is back to the days of fighting the Indians. The red Indian metaphor is one with which a liberal policy nomenklatura may be uncomfortable, but Army and Marine field officers have embraced it because it captures perfectly the combat challenge of the early 21st century….The range of Indian groups, numbering in their hundreds, that the U.S. Cavalry…had to confront was no less varied than that of the warring ethnic and religious militias spread throughout Eurasia, Africa and South America in the early 21st century.”

          Kaplan brazenly compared Iraq to “Indian Country”: “When the Cavalry invested Indian encampments, they periodically encountered warrior braves beside women and children, much like Fallujah….Indian Country has been expanding in recent years because of the security vacuum created by the collapse of traditional dictatorships….Iraq is but a microcosm of the Earth in this regard.”

          Tribal resistance against Western intervention and corporate globalization take different forms in different countries. In Pakistan and Iraq, tribes may fight under the green banner of political Islamism. In India and Peru, some tribal peoples have fought under the red flag of Maoist rural insurgent armies. In Bolivia, Ecuador and Mexico, they have coalesced within their own self-defined indigenist movements, which have effectively intersected with socialist and environmental movements.

          But to U.S. counterinsurgency tacticians, the ideology is secondary. The real primary threat is that the people retain a tribal identity and allegiance—an identity that has not been formed or encouraged by capitalism. The goal of the Pentagon and CIA is either to harness tribal loyalties to weaken their enemies, or to destroy tribal identity. Even in supporting tribal allies for their own ends, they may end up destroying the tribes in the process.

          In central and northeastern India, the Indian Army has launched a counterinsurgency war against Naxalite rebels, to open up the tribal forest regions to mining and timber companies. The Naxalites are usually described as “Maoists,” but as the writer Arundhati Roy observed in Outlook India (3/29/10), “It’s convenient to forget that tribal people in Central India have a history of resistance that predates Mao by centuries…. Naxalite politics has been inextricably entwined with tribal uprisings.”

          On Democracy Now (3/22/10), Roy further explained, “If you look at Afghanistan, Waziristan…the northeast states of India…the entire thing is a tribal uprising. In Afghanistan, obviously, it’s taken the form of a radical Islamist uprising. And here [in India], it’s a radical left uprising. But the attack is the same. It’s a corporate attack…on these people. The resistance has taken different forms.”

          In the Americas, powerful and growing Indigenous tribal movements are increasingly being targeted by U.S. military and intelligence agencies, as a potential national security threat to U.S. interests, as explained by Naomi Klein in The Nation (11/4/05). The National Intelligence Council projected in its 2005 report Mapping the Global Future 2020 that “the failure of elites to adapt to the evolving demands of free markets and democracy probably will fuel a revival in populism and drive indigenous movements, which so far have sought change through democratic means, to consider more drastic means” (p. 77).

          The Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, has applied this emerging doctrine to Latin America. In a Military Review bibliography (7-8/99), the FMSO lumped together “Insurgencies, Terrorist Groups and Indigenous Movements,” and in another article warned of Indigenous rebellions and other “insurgencies” in Mexico (5-6/97). FMSO official Lt. Col. Geoffrey Demarest stated in his book Geoproperty: Foreign Affairs, National Security and Property Rights that “The coming center of gravity of armed political struggles may be indigenous populations, youth gangs…or insurgents” (p. 84) and that the Internet is increasingly being used by “Indigenous rebels, feminists, troublemakers...” (p. 243). Counterinsurgency planners are no longer simply targeting “Communists” or “narcoguerrillas” in Latin America, but also Indigenous-led social movement alliances.

          Reasons for War

          Whether in Mexico, India, Iraq, or the United States and Canada, the Global War on Tribes has some common characteristics. First, the war is most blatantly being waged to steal the natural resources under tribal lands. The rugged, inaccessible terrain that prevented colonial powers from eliminating tribal societies also made accessing minerals, oil, timber and other resources more difficult--so (acre for acre) more of the resources are now left on tribal lands than on more accessible lands.

          Resources are not always the underlying explanation for war, but they’re a pretty good start at an explanation. In the case of Indigenous tribal peoples, their historic attention to biodiversity has also enabled natural areas to be relatively protected until now, as corporations seek out the last remaining pockets of natural resources to extract. Look no further than the Alberta Tar Sands, for instance, to see the exploitation of Native lands by modern oil barons.

          Like in Avatar, Native peoples often resist the militarization brought by corporate invaders seeking to mine “unobtainium,” and they don’t need a white messiah riding a red dragon to guide them to victory. In his book Resource Rebels: Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations, Al Gedicks notes, “Up until recently, the tendency in the mass media has been to stereotype native people as fighting a losing battle against the onslaught of industrial civilization. But after two decades of organizing local, national, regional and international alliances, assisted by…the Internet, native voices can no longer be ignored in powerful places” (p. 1).

          Second, the Global War on Tribes is a campaign against the very existence of tribal regions that are not under centralized state control. The tribal regions still retain forms of social organization that has not been solely determined by capitalism. In her anthology Paradigm Wars, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, comments that “promoters of economic globalization, the neocolonizers, use the overwhelming pressure of homogenization to teach us that indigenous political, economic and cultural systems are obstacles to their ‘progress.’” (p. 14).

          The point is not that all tribal peoples pose an egalitarian alternative to neoliberal capitalism. Some (such as Indigenous peoples) certainly do have strong egalitarian principles, but many other tribal peoples --such as in the new conflict zones--certainly do not (particularly toward women). The salient point is not that all tribal cultures are paradise, but that they are not capitalist, and neoliberal capitalism cannot stand anything other than Total Control.

          Third, the collective form of organization enables tribal peoples to fight back against state control and corporate globalization. When I asked Arundhati Roy at a Seattle forum (3/29/10) why counterinsurgency wars seem to be focused on tribal regions, she answered that tribal peoples do not have a “bar-coded” view of the world. Tribes still have the social networks to defend their lands and ways of life—networks of trust anchored in deeply held values that citizens of urban industrial society generally lack.

          That is why the “lawless tribal regions” have to be “tamed,” so as not to become a “festering sore,” and a source of resistance to the corporate state. The only way for tribal leaders not to be crushed by the counterinsurgency campaign is to accept its aims, its money, and its weapons. Tauli-Corpuz concludes that Indigenous peoples “believe they already constitute a viable alternative to globalization, underpinned by the fundamental values of reciprocity…community solidarity and collectivity” (p. 218).

          During European colonial expansion, small, tribal peoples who could not muster large military alliances were more vulnerable to conquest and occupation. In most countries, the colonization process left them divided and fighting each other. In the 21st century-- just as many remaining pockets of exploitable resources are located in tribal regions--the only successful pockets of resistance may be found in the mountains, deserts and forests where tribal peoples refuse to die.

          Dr. Zoltan Grossman is a faculty member in Geography and Native American & World Indigenous Peoples Studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, currently co-teaching a course on “American Frontiers: Homelands and Empire.” He is co-chair of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group. His writings and presentations are at http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz He can be reached at grossmaz@evergreen.edu

          Maps of Tribal Regions in Conflict
          Afghanistan
          http://www.nps.edu/Programs/CCS/Docs/PDF%20Maps/East_tribal_map07.pdf
          Pakistan
          http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/
          Iraq
          http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/iraq_ethno_2003.jpg
          Yemen
          http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/yemen/images/tribes-map1.gif
          Somalia
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Somalia_ethnic_grps_2002.jpg

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            New Haven, Connecticut, billboard compliments of www.thestruggle.org

            English (US)  April 14th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

            1.4 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been under a cruel and illegal siege for years. Israel controls air, sea and land borders and allows in the bare minimum of U.N. donations and very little else. For instance news that ten truckloads of shoes were allowed to enter Gaza (the first in 3 years) made home page news on the Israeli newspaper site Ha'aretz.

            The Israeli government claimed it was taking these harsh measures because of rocket attacks from Gaza, but even though these attacks have virtually ceased in the past year the siege continues.

            Of the CT Congressional delegation only Fairfield county's Jim Himes has ever expressed any support for basic Palestinian human rights.

            Call your member of Congress. [You'll actually speak to one of their aides.] Tell her or him about the billboard and insist they speak out for the right of Palestinians to live. Send us an email and let us know what they say.

            Facts about Gaza: According to 2003 estimates, GDP per head in the Gaza Strip was $1,500, the same as Chad and Mozambique and less than Rwanda. Conditions have worsened since then, with near-constant border closures making trade and employment in Israel, which used to provide a third of income in Gaza, nearly impossible. More than 60 per cent of Gazans live beneath the poverty line and many rely on food aid to survive. Construction, light industry, fishing and agriculture — mostly citrus fruit farms — provide what little employment there is. From The Times of London.

            READ MORE AT www.TheStruggle.net

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              'Settlers' desecrate W Bank mosque

              English (US)  April 14th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


              Palestinian security officials have said that Israeli settlers desecrated a mosque in the occupied West Bank.

              The Israeli army confirmed that "anonymous suspects" scrawled graffiti, including a Jewish star of David alongside the name of the Prophet Mohammed written in Hebrew.

              Palestinian and Israeli officials said on Wednesday that the suspects set fire to two cars outside the mosque in Huwara, near Nablus.

              [More:]

              Brigadier General Nitzan Alon, the Israeli military commander for the West Bank, "ordered an immediate investigation into the incident, condemned the acts and said that those responsible should be brought to justice."

              Israeli soldiers erased the graffiti after the attack.

              In December, Israeli settlers vandalised another mosque in the northern West Bank village of Yasuf, torching Muslim holy books and spraying hate messages in Hebrew.

              The incident triggered clashes between villagers and Israeli troops.

              A 17-year-old Israeli from a nearby settlement was later detained.

              Last month there were skirmishes between Palestinians and Israeli police who were on high alert in Jerusalem where they prevented men under the age of 50 from entering the al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City.

              The skirmishes intensified an already charged atmosphere there as a rebuilt 17th-century synagogue was opened in the Jewish quarter of the Old City, a few hundred metres from the al-Aqsa compound.

              Many Palestinians view Israeli projects near the mosque compound - a site holy both to Jews and Muslims - as an assault on its status quo or a prelude to the building of a third Jewish temple there.

              Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                Interview with Khalid Amayreh: "A dangerous moment in Palestinian History"

                English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                Khalid Amayreh: “As an oppressed people our certainty is to be free”

                By Sylvia Cattori

                Khalid Amayreh (*) is a journalist who lives in Hebron, a city brutalized and bloodied daily by armed Jewish settlers who are driving the authentic inhabitants by force. He is what might be called a true Palestinian; a man of integrity who was never seduced by financial rewards and prestige; a man standing who has remained with his martyred people in order to witness every day the atrocities he suffers at the hands of the Israeli army, but also, and this is the most painful, at the hands of the Palestinian authorities of Ramallah. He himself has been imprisoned, savagely beaten without knowing why, by this Palestinian police to the training of which Bernard Kouchner is so pleased to have participated.

                His articles, to which he devotes all his energies and time, by love for his country that Israel has turned into a nightmare, reflect daily the torture, the arrests, the abductions, the humiliations, the massacres that the Israeli army imposes constantly to his destitute people, abandoned by the world. He calls a spade a spade when he documents the racist remarks of Jewish religious and political leaders advocating the mass murder of Palestinians. He compares the Israeli military to the Nazis when they behave as such. He describes the Israeli anti-Muslim racism, which resembles in many respects the “anti-Jewish propaganda of Nazi Germany in the 1930s”. He challenges the colonization presented as a "return to their original homeland”. He responds here to the questions of Silvia Cattori.

                [More:]

                Silvia Cattori: You have written countless articles explaining in detail what is happening in Palestine. When you see that your articles - which are translated in many languages, and well reported in the Arab medias and in the new medias - remain largely ignored in the western medias, aren’t you sometimes discouraged?

                Khalid Amayreh: No, not at all, the evilness of the Israeli regime instils in us a greater determination to keep up the struggle. With every murderous crime committed by the Zionists, whom I often call the “Nazis of our time”, we acquire new evidence that the evil regime’s end is inevitable. Evil can’t be sustained for ever. Eventually it will destroy itself along with the evil doers. This often happens due to purely internal factors, but it could be also as a result of a combination of internal and external factors. The fact that Israel is trying to censor the messages and punish the messengers (e.g. international observers and human rights activists operating in occupied Palestine) shows that Israel has much to hide from the eyes of the world. Nonetheless, Israel is fighting a losing battle as many Israelis are finding out that Zionist criminality can’t be sustained for ever. In a world where everything can be denied, there are forces undeniable. And on earth, where nothing is sure, we have our certainties. As an oppressed people our certainty is to be free. True, our freedom is not around the corner, but, nonetheless it is a certainty.

                Silvia Cattori: Ambiguity is everywhere. While large international solidarity associations with the Palestinian cause readily publish all the writings of Israeli militants and journalists like Michel Warshavsky, Uri Avnery, Amira Hass, or Gideon Levy, few of your articles pass the censorship. This shows well that the discourse in the solidarity movement is biased, truncated at will; of course they condemn the occupation but they do not question the legitimacy of the Zionist State, the dispossession and the occupation of Palestine since 1948, etc. They consider that the occupation actually started with the 1967 war. Is it better to be an Israeli Jew to report on Israel Palestine?

                Khalid Amayreh: Your observations are unfortunately correct. However, it is always better to view the half-full part of the proverbial glass. That these people don’t publish my articles is unfortunate, however, the fact that they have brought themselves to realizing that Israel is committing crimes and violating the basic human rights of the Palestinian people is a laudable act in itself.

                What is more important is that a revolutionary act can’t occur outside its natural historical and political milieu. We just can’t expect people who were breast-fed with the holocaust religion all their life to suddenly convert to anti-Zionism. In France, as in the United States and much of the West, turning one’s back completely to Israel and Zionism means losing a certain part of one’s identity. Hence, many people are just not ready to undergo the desired transformation. My personal impression is that the final transformation will ultimately occur as the universal resistance to Zionism becomes deeper and irreversible as the futility of the so-called peace process become clearer, which is happening now.

                Silvia Cattori: The murder of a Hamas military executive, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, has been largely commented. Never has been Israel’s image so degraded. But should we not see that no Western State condemns the Israeli policy of targeted killings of Palestinians fighters? Doesn’t this demonstrate that Western politicians do not want to see the ugly and brutal policy of the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman [1]?

                Khalid Amayreh: You see, international politics is very much like a house of ill-repute. Principles, including so-called moral principles, mean nothing as opposed to statecraft. In western countries, leaders and politicians would go to a great extent asserting the ideals of freedom, human rights and democracy. However, when these principles collide with expediency or pass through a real test (e.g. Hamas’s election victory in 2006), they are let down in the name of realism and pragmatism.

                The same thing applies to Israeli behaviour. Israel has always been a criminal entity. And the West went along with that. Hence, it would be naïve to expect the West to undergo a sudden awakening of its conscience just because Israel has murdered a Palestinian leader. Israel has always committed such crimes, and the West has always lived with this. So there is absolutely nothing extraordinary here.

                Silvia Cattori: When Benjamin Netanyahu reiterates that Israel will never withdraw from East Jerusalem, nor return to 1967 borders, nor allow Palestinian refugees to return to what is now Israel, which means do you have to voice your anger?

                Khalid Amayreh: I tend to believe him, which really convinces me of the futility of seeking peace with Israel. Unfortunately, it is too late for peace with Israel. Now it is either open-ended conflict, or a single democratic state in all of mandatory Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean where all inhabitants are viewed as citizens, irrespective of religion and ethnicity. Needless to say, the later concept is anathema for Israel, since it would lead to the loss of Israel’s Jewish identity.

                Silvia Cattori: After calling to dismember Iraq, after destroying Lebanon and Palestine, Israeli regime wants now to attack Iran and encourage his allies to enter in his war propaganda. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government is openly the most eager to support Israel against Iran. But is it really Iran that threatens the Middle East?

                Khalid Amayreh: No, Iran in no way represents a threat to the Middle East. Iran is still very much a Third World country that lacks the ability (and the inclination) to pose such a threat. Besides, Iran, unlike Israel, has not waged wars of aggression in modern times.

                In my opinion, the driving motive behind the Israeli-western hysteria against Iran is to ensure that Israel remains the sole, undisputed, and unchallenged superpower in the Middle East as it is now. Hence, the largely phobic talk about the possible destruction of Israel by Iran is more than rubbish. It really insults people’s intelligence and should never be entertained by serious peoples.

                Israel possesses hundreds of nuclear heads and bombs, along with their delivery systems, which means that it would be utterly foolish to threaten Israel. Some would claim that the Iranian leadership can be “foolish” but this is nonsense. A country that has been able to navigate itself through the treacherous terrains of international politics can’t really be foolish.

                In the final analysis, we are talking about a potential challenge to Israeli supremacy in the region, not existence, a condition that has persisted since the aftermath of the Second World War. This is what irks Israel and the West.

                As to Sarkozy, he obviously lacks the rectitude of an honest leader. He is very much a European copy of George Bush, but lacking the enormity of means that were at the latter’s disposal.

                Silvia Cattori: How France - totally aligned with Israel as it is from 2007 – could it help the Palestinians people to regain their rights? Did it not already lose all its credit and influence in the region? As for the strategy of Obama for the Middle East has it not already failed?

                Khalid Amayreh: No, France is not really qualified to carry out a truly constructive role in helping the Palestinians regain their rights. France, especially under the present government, is too reluctant, too inconsistent, too unprincipled and too much seduced by Zionist romanticism.

                Indeed, France has repeatedly demonstrated that its heart and mind belong to Israel, not to Justice. Moreover, the scandalous French stand on the genocidal Israeli onslaught against the people of the Gaza Strip a year ago was really a classical example of political whoredom. What else can be said of a major international power that once taught the world the meaning of liberty that stood idle, passively watching Nazi-Israel rain death on the heads of Gaza’s helpless children and women while mendaciously claiming to be doing this in self-defence?

                Silvia Cattori: Have you not been shocked by the call to recognize a “Palestinian State without borders”, made by Bernard Kouchner on the day (21 February) of the arrival of the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in Paris? If France wants to recognise a Palestinian State, why should it be without defining its borders?

                Khalid Amayreh: Yes, I have. And I think many other Palestinians have the same feeling. The reason for that is very clear. The French proposal for recognizing a Palestinian state without borders should be viewed as a mere euphemism for the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

                Besides, any temporary arrangements would have be more or less vague arrangements in order to be accepted by both sides. And from our experience with the Oslo Accords, vague arrangements are always interpreted by the powerful side, in this case Israel, in a way that serves the Israeli designs, while the other party, the Palestinians, is left indulging in day-dreaming.

                Didn’t Shimon Peres, the hero of the Qana massacre [2], say “I can’t post a guard at Arafat’s lips,” when the late Palestinian leader said that the Oslo Accords gave Palestinians an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital?

                Besides, who would or could guarantee that Israel wouldn’t treat the “temporary borders” as “permanent borders”? The United States? France? The United Kindom? Germany (we probably shouldn’t even mention Germany, given her pornographic embrace of Israeli Nazism!)? Well, these powers can’t even get Israel to stop demolishing an Arab home in East Jerusalem, let alone force Israel to withdraw from Palestinian land.

                Silvia Cattori: In an article co-authored with Miguel Angel Moratinos [3], Bernard Kouchner spoke of a new plan that sets the agenda for negotiations on the final status of the Palestinian State. Here, again, do you think that this is a credible solution? Is not Bernard Kouchner’s plan an Israeli plan? A plan “for the establishment of institutions and the creation of a viable Palestinian State” that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had endorsed in summer 2009, that would build a state "in facts and on the ground" for 2011, through an increase of economic projects? What does that inspire you?

                Khalid Amayreh: I think this plan is no plan at all. It is rather a process of deception very much like the defunct Oslo process. Besides, it is always ludicrous and vacuous to claim that a viable Palestinian state can be built while the Palestinian people are still languishing under a cruel foreign military occupation that controls every aspect of their lives.

                I sincerely believe that Mr. Fayyad is acting very much like Alice in Wonderland. He is a man who was parachuted from North America to Palestine thanks to a decision by President Bush. I dare say he is not really acquainted with the Nazi-like nature of the Israeli regime. Moreover, he naively thinks that the building of institutions, probably along with international recognition, could create a certain mechanism, or a momentum, that would eventually make the proverbial viable Palestinian state an achievable task.

                To this, we Palestinians, who have been through it all, from creation to destruction, say a big « No ». We have learned, the hard way, that the creation of a state before liberation is a dangerous and stupid act of gambling. This has been proven in a clarion way through the Oslo process, which gave us annexation instead of liberation and apartheid instead of statehood.

                Besides, who would guarantee that Israel wouldn’t move its tanks to crush all the institutions Mr. Fayyad would like to build in cooperation with people like Kouchner, especially if Palestinians continued to be affronted with the durability of the “temporary borders” being proposed now?

                Silvia Cattori: Salam Fayyad is a politician that Sarkozy and Kouchner would like to seat in power definitely. Luisa Morgantini, the leader of the solidarity movement in Italy, considers Salam Fayyad as a militant, fighting side by side with his people. Who is Fayyad really for the Palestinians? What did he to improve the daily life of his people? Have you seen less check points, less jobless under his regime? Is it true that the economic situation improved in the West Bank, and what does it mean for the Palestinians on the ground? Do you believe that Fayyad could be the right person to solve the Palestinian cause?

                Khalid Amayreh: In my opinion, Fayyad is a man who is effectively striving to carry out the Netanyahu concept of “economic peace” whereby Palestinians, or a majority of them, would accept trading off their national aspirations for jobs and money. In other words, he wants to us to settle for a deformed “state”, one without dignity, without freedom, without authority, without anything, for a little-whore of a state that would be perpetually subject and subservient to Israel. As to Jerusalem, the right of the refugees, the numerous Jewish colonies that continue to expand throughout our land, this is none of his concerns. His ultimate concerns is to achieve “economic prosperity” but at the expense of our legitimate and inalienable rights, including the right to freedom from Israeli Nazism.

                If Fayyad’s vision were to succeed, God forbid, we would be condemned to many decades of serfdom and subjugation by Jewish colonialism, all in the name of peace.

                Silvia Cattori: The Palestinian people and their cause can only suffer from the split between Fatah and Hamas. In 2008 you said that “it is imperative that member-States of the European Union (EU) either collectively or individually should initiate a meaningful dialogue with Hamas as soon as possible. Needless to say, such a dialogue would be expedient to all parties involved as well as to the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East." [4]. In October 2009, when Fatah and Hamas were close to signing a pact of national unity, there was a big hope. Yet the division remains? How can we imagine that Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad can be loyal in a future coalition with Hamas after all the betrayals that are known?

                Khalid Amayreh: I am not really optimistic about true reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The reason for that is that Fatah, indeed the entire Palestinian Authority, lacks the will to act independently, given the fact that they both are almost completely dependent for their financial survival on western and pro-western Arab donors.

                Indeed, the “raison d’être” of the Palestinian Authority (PA) now, at least from the American and Israeli view point, is to combat Hamas or at least inhibit its growth.

                This is not a matter of a transient political strategy. It is much more than that. Israel, which continues to control the overall American policy in the Middle East, believes that the inclusion of Hamas into the main body of Palestinian politics would more or less raise the ceiling of Palestinian aspirations and expectations. This, not the issue of terror, is the main reason of Israel’s vehement hostility to Hamas.

                Moreover, Israel hopes that a strong Hamas would ensure that Fatah wouldn’t make serious concessions to Israel with regard to cardinal final-status issues such Jerusalem and the refugees.

                This is why it is likely that the dichotomy between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas will continue for sometime unless the Palestinian Authority delivers itself from the shackles of subservience to the United States and European Union, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization.

                Silvia Cattori: An intelligence officer of the Palestinian Authority, Fahmi Shabana al-Tamimi [5], has condemned the misuse of public funds within the Palestinian Authority; has he been heard? Where are the billions paid by the European Union?

                Khalid Amayreh: No, he hasn’t been heard and is unlikely to be heard. The reason is clear. For the Palestinian Authority to truly and sincerely fight corruption, it would have to demolish the entire Palestinian Authority apparatus because corruption, in its various forms, is the other side of the Palestinian Authority regime. In fact, there is an umbilical relationship between the Palestinian Authority and corruption. This might sound as an exaggeration to many, especially in the west. But this is taken for granted here. In short, corruption infests every aspect of the Palestinian Authority so much so that only a thorough and complete overhaul of the Palestinian Authority would stem the plague of corruption.

                Silvia Cattori: When Mahmoud Abbas asks Hamas legitimate authorities (in Gaza) to recognize Israel as a precondition to forming a government of national unity, does it sound normal?

                Khalid Amayreh: No, it doesn’t. And he hasn’t the courage to say so openly before a Palestinian audience. Besides, he and his Palestinian Authority had recognized Israel a long time ago, and look what they have got in return?

                Silvia Cattori: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized Israeli State. But is it its honour? What is the usefulness of the PLO? Has it still reason to be? Do you consider its representatives abroad as legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people? Mahmoud Abbas does he not use the PLO to divide the Palestinians?

                Khalid Amayreh: The PLO used to be a true representative of the Palestinian people. But this was when the PLO still retained it national chastity. Now, in my opinion, the PLO lost much if not all of its national honour, if only by indulging in manifestly treasonous acts such as the so-called security coordination with Israel. Some Palestinians are already calling the PA, the daughter of the PLO, a Palestinian “judenrat”.

                Silvia Cattori: Your representatives outside do not seem to be concerned with the abuses of the Palestinian Authorities. Leila Shahid, Palestinian representative in Brussels continues to refer to Oslo, to negotiations, and other nonsense. By the way, this PLO representative is considered, for instance in France, the legitimate Palestinians’ voice by activists like Dominique Vidal and Michel Warshavsky, with whom Leila Shahid held conference for years in France. Did Palestinians expect them to resign in 2006 when Abbas and his Fatah movement had lost the power?

                Khalid Amayreh: This is really tragic, because these people are supposed to defend the honour of the Palestinian people, not blindly support and defend policies that corrode this honour in the service of Israel.

                My impression is that these people are following the old adage “when money appears, heads bow.” I am sorry that some of our people have reached this level of depravity.

                Silvia Cattori: When the Palestinian representative in UNESCO Elias Sambar, or members of the Palestinian Authority, stigmatize Iran - one of the few countries in the region which denounces Israel without concessions - or blame the Palestinian Muslim resistance to be “Shiia” [6], do they express the opinion of the majority of your people?

                Khalid Amayreh: I don’t think so. My impression is that they indulge in this stupid ranting in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from the U.S. and Israel. Otherwise, one might ask what interest do Palestinians have in alienating millions of Shiite Muslims around the world by calling Hamas “Shia’a”?

                Besides, didn’t Fatah and the PLO repeatedly beg Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to include Fatah prisoners in any prisoner-exchange deal with Israel; hence the hypocrisy on their part.

                Silvia Cattori: Another grim reality: the Fatah collaboration with the enemy. Under these conditions when the Palestinians hear Abbas or Fayyad talk about the “liberation of Palestine”, can they believe them?

                Khalid Amayreh: Yes, I know that too well. This is really beyond chutzpah [insolence]; it is pornographic hypocrisy bordering on mental sickness.

                Silvia Cattori: You wrote that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) “is functioning very much like a hanger-on vis-à-vis the American backed Palestinian Authority “ [7]. But is it not sad to see that outside, solidarity associations and leftist groups consider the PFLP as a leftist party and, therefore, collect and send to its leader large sums of money? Is this a good way to help the Palestinian in general?

                Khalid Amayreh: The PFLP is not what it used to be. Its effective alliance with an American-backed Fatah has more or less undermined its erstwhile reputation. For example, the PFLP has not adopted an uncompromising stance vis-à-vis the issue of security coordination with Israel. I remember that two years ago, one PLO security commander declared that “the Palestinian Authority and Israel have one common enemy, that is Hamas,” and the PFLP kept silent in the face of this national apostasy.

                Moreover, the PFLP was virtually silent and made no reactions to the serious attacks by the Palestinian Authority on freedom of speech, human rights and civil liberties in the West Bank. To many Palestinian, this stand was unforgivable. More to the point, there is a widespread impression in occupied Palestine that the PFLP leadership has on many occasions allowed the Palestinian Authority leadership to utilize the PLO, of which PFLP is a founding member, in the showdown with Hamas.

                None the less, most Palestinians, including this writer, still view with respect and admiration Ahmed Sadat, the imprisoned chief of the PFLP. We hope that he will be free from Zionist jails soon.

                Silvia Cattori: The Al-Aqsa Mosque is a place forbidden to many Palestinians. New restrictions are forbidding Muslims to go on the site of Haram Al-Sharif. After all the punishments they suffered from the Israeli occupiers, is it not the cruellest humiliation for the Palestinian?

                Khalid Amayreh: Yes, it also shows that Israel denies non-Jews freedom of religion. How else can one relate to these draconian measures when people from Paris to Los Angeles can access the Aqsa Mosque while Palestinian Muslims and Christian who live only a few hundreds meters away are denied the right to visit and pray at their respective holy places? Even the most fascist states in history didn’t embark on such measures.

                Silvia Cattori: Gaza remains under siege despite protests from many Muslims and non Muslims in the world. Can the Palestinians of Gaza continue to survive without outside help?

                Khalid Amayreh: The Palestinians have no choice but to survive. The Palestinians have survived in spite of history because they constantly and feverishly clung to that choice, if you can call it a choice. The other alternative was ultimate demise and national obliteration.

                None the less, there is no doubt that the enduring Gaza nightmare represents a stigma of shame at the forefront of the international community as well as upon humanity’s conscience as a whole.

                It is more than lamentable that while an entire people is being raped, humiliated, starved, and tormented, the nations of the world are just looking on passively as if this slow-motion holocaust were taking place on a different planet or in a different galaxy. I really can’t find the right word to describe the gigantic crime of apathy toward Gaza. Now, I understand why many people were silent when the Nazis were doing what they were doing Europe in the course of the Second World War.

                Silvia Cattori: Thank you very much.

                (*) Khalid Amayreh, born on 1957 in Hebron did his university degrees in the United States: BA in Journalism at University of Oklahoma, 1982; MA in Journalism, University of Southern Illinois, 1983. For a long time, his life was not made any easier by the fact that he was largely confined by the Israeli military authorities to his home village of Dura, near Hebron were he is actually based.
                His website: http://www.xpis.ps/default.aspx

                [1] Benjamin Netanyahu, born in 1949, is the current prime minister and head of the extreme right-wing Likud party. He was the first to ever be voted prime minister via direct elections in 1996, and later served as foreign minister and finance minister under Ariel Sharon.

                Avigdor Lieberman, born on 1958 in Kishinev, Moldavia, is the current foreign minister and leader of the extreme right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which after the 2009 general elections has become Israel’s third largest party. Lieberman immigrated to Israel in 1978. Shortly after arriving in the country, he enlisted in the Israel Defence Forces and served in the Artillery Corps.

                [2] Qana is a village in Southern Lebanon where many Lebanese civilians, who had taken refuge in a UN compound to escape the fighting, were killed by the Israeli artillery on April 18, 1996.

                [3] An article in the daily Le Monde on February 23, 2010, “À quand l’État palestinien ?”, by Bernard Kouchner French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

                [4] See: “Europe should speak to Hamas now”, by Khalid Amayreh, November 2008.

                [5] See: “Hedonism in Ramallah”, by Khalid Amayreh, 18 February 2010.

                [6] See: “The Shi’a Threat in Palestine: between phobias and propaganda”, by Jean-François Legrain, 1st October 2009.

                [7] See: “What is wrong with PFLP? ”, by Khalid Amayreh, 16 October 2008.

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                  Amayreh: Commemorating one holocaust while effecting another

                  English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                  13 March 2010

                  By Khalid Amayreh

                  This is the holocaust-carnival season in Israel, or more correctly, the premier annual hasbara event of using the tragic events of World War II to attract sympathy, blackmail the world, and especially divert attention from Israel’s ongoing holocaust against the Palestinian people.

                  This year, like in every year, more crocodile tears are shed, more hypocrisy is displayed, and more lies are fabricated.

                  It is a time for the outpouring of lies, including obscene lies, wild-exaggerations, and a surplus of sanctimony and self-righteousness as well as the usual hysterical cries of “Never-again.”

                  This year, we have been affronted with wide-mouthed Zionist leaders from New York to Tel Aviv, who lie as often as they breathe oxygen, insulting humanity with the same despicable rituals.

                  [More:]


                  And the tacit but clear message remains unchanged, namely that the world has no right to criticize Israel or even prevent her from doing to the Palestinians what Adolph Hitler reportedly did or tried to do to the Jews.

                  Of course, Jews, like anyone else, have a legitimate right to commemorate the Jewish victims of the Second World War, but they have absolutely no right to manipulate the memory of Hitler’s victims in order to torment and commit a virtual holocaust against another people, the Palestinians.

                  In fact, doing so, using the memory of Jews who perished at the hands of the Third Reich to justify the attempted destruction by Israel of the Palestinian people, is the worst possible act of identification with and commemoration of these victims.

                  Yet, this is exactly what Israel is doing, which really makes many people around the world ask questions about the morality of using the holocaust as an industry or even a virtual religion to justify decidedly criminal policies against a people that has been and continues to be on the receiving end of Zionism’s Nazi-like savagery ever since the creation of the evil entity.

                  This year, the focus has been shifted to Iran as one Zionist leader after the other kept claiming that Iran was about to exterminate Jews worldwide.

                  The pornographic mendacity would give the impression that Israel which possesses 200-300 nuclear warheads, and is in tight control of US politics and policies, is facing an imminent, mortal, and existential threat of annihilation when in fact a threat of this nature is a million times more unlikely than the occurrence of a collision of a huge meteor coming from outer-space with our planet, say in the next 24 hours.

                  Benyamin Netanyahu, the pathologically mendacious prime minister of the Nazi-like entity, has also been claiming that Muslims worldwide are inciting against Jews and that anti-Semitism is alive and well thanks to this incitement.

                  Well, what are Muslims, and for that matter all honest human beings, including many conscientious Jews who wouldn’t sell their souls to the Zionist devil, what are they supposed to do when they watch the emulators of Hitler rain white Phosphorus and huge deadly bombs on civilian neighborhoods in Gaza? Are they supposed to gleefully shout bravo Israel!!!?

                  Are the people of the world supposed to celebrate and glorify Israeli war criminals that have on their criminal hands incalculable tons of innocent blood?

                  Interestingly, the holocaust commemorating rituals this year are coinciding with several Zionist crimes which really refute the Zionist claim to sanctimony and victimhood.

                  On Sunday, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli Wehrmacht, erroneously named the Israeli Defense Forces, issued military orders that would enable it to deport tens of thousands of Palestinian from their homes in the West Bank.

                  The paper didn’t reveal the destination to which the would-be deportees would be deported or whether the explicitly criminal measure was part of a new policy of Lebensraum aimed at ethnically cleansing more Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.

                  Nonetheless, the refusal of Israeli officials and leaders to comment on, let alone deny the report, throws a big question mark as to the real trends inside the Israeli coalition government, which includes influential Judeo-Nazi parties advocating genocide and ethnic cleansing against non-Jews in occupied Palestine.

                  More to the point, the marking of the holocaust anniversary coincides with the continuation of the Israeli policy of strangling the Gaza Strip by barring the entry of essential consumer goods to the blockaded territory.

                  According to the Israeli press, Israel allows no more than 70 items of commodities and consumer products to enter Gaza, with more than 500 other commodities barred for unknown reasons, probably having to do with classical Zionist sadism and cannibalism.

                  Israel claims the harsh measures are intended to make life hard for Hamas. However, it is crystal clear that the people who suffer most are ordinary families who have nothing to do with the politics of the region.

                  Of course, it is futile to appeal to Israel’s (or even to the Israelis’) sense of humanity. After all, a government that orders the extermination and incineration of thousands of innocent civilians by White Phosphorus and other agents of death has no sense of humanity or justice.


                  It is a government that is as callous and as nefarious as the Third Reich whose victims are cynically being manipulated by Israel for political reasons. The same thing can be said about most Israelis who just contented themselves with basking in their sickening gleefulness and morbid apathy while the smell of the burned flesh of Gaza children was wafting all over Israel.

                  Zionist apologists cry out hysterically like mad dogs whenever Israeli criminality is compared to Nazi criminality. In fact, the Nazis would have learned much from their yet-to-be born Israeli emulators had it not been for the sequence of time.

                  The Nazis did it too dramatically, too bluntly, too unscrupulously and too outrageously, thus inviting the rage and wrath of much of the world.

                  Israel, on the other hand, is trying to destroy the Palestinian people, step-by-step while making sure to desensitize the world’s public opinion.

                  Sometime, as in Gaza last year, the Judeo-Nazi establishment goes too far in provoking the world. However, Israel’s reliance on an infinitely-whoring international order, led by the United States, always gives the Satanic Zionist entity the assurance and protection needed to shield her not only from possible retribution but also from condemnation as well. (See, for example, how the Goldstone report has been neutralized and rendered nearly irrelevant, thanks to America’s diabolic intervention on Israel’s behalf).

                  I really don’t know for sure if an all-out physical Zionist holocaust against the Palestinian people is inevitable. However, I have no doubt that such an all-out genocidal onslaught would be possible if the present nefarious mentality in Israel continued to prevail. Another conducive factor, which would encourage the criminal Zionist leadership to “go all the way”, is the persistence of America’s criminal immorality toward the Palestinian plight. After all, the U.S. has been the ultimate tormentor of the Palestinian people if only by allowing Israel and its agents on American soil to manipulate America’s weight and immense resources in order to expedite Zionism’s Satanic goals, including stealing more Palestinian land and endangering the survival of the Palestinians as a people living on their ancestral homeland.

                  A third factor is the continuation of the scandalous collective impotence of Arab regimes and their inability to deter the mad Zionist dog.

                  Never the less, an all out Zionist holocaust against the Palestinian people would most likely trigger events that might very well end up with the total or semi-total destruction and obliteration of Israel.

                  Needless to say, in their overwhelming insolence and megalomaniac arrogance of power, the Zionists may not pay attention to this deterministic aspect of history.


                  http://www.xpis.ps/

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                    Israel resorts to more Gestapo-like measures in W. Bank

                    English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                    By Khalid Amayreh in al-Khalil (Hebron) in West Bank

                    The Israeli occupation army has introduced a set of draconian measures in the West Bank aimed at uprooting more Palestinians from their ancestral homeland as well as suppressing prospective Palestinian protests against the enduring Israeli military occupation and apartheid.

                    The new measures are meant to enable the Israeli military occupation authorities to deport, or expel, thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or indict them on serious but concocted charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

                    The measures are also seen as part of an Israeli policy aimed at forcing the PA to succumb to Israeli bullying and coercion tactics and return to futile peace talks mediated by the Americans.

                    Palestinian officials in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip label the new measures “manifestly criminal” and “constituting a war crime.”

                    [More:]


                    “These harsh measures show that Israel is determined to keep up its Nazi-approach toward the Palestinian people. Deporting people from their homes and places of residence is a war crime under international law. Hence, the international community ought to treat Israel as a criminal state, a pariah state,” said Anwar Safi a prominent Hamas activist in the southern West Bank.

                    “It is really ironic that while Jews are marking the so-called “holocaust day,” Jews are threatening to carry out massive deportation of the Palestinian people.”

                    The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on Sunday, 11 April, quoted army sources as saying that “tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank will automatically become criminal offenders liable to severely punished.”

                    These include people who have joined their spouses or returned to the West Bank as part of the “family unification program.” Israel views these Palestinians as “infiltrators.”

                    The paper said the Palestinians most likely to be immediately targeted under the new laws are those whose identity cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip-including people born in the Gaza Strip along with their West Bank-born children-or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency rights.

                    Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinians.

                    According to the report, the new order defines anyone who enters the West Bank, without Israeli consent, as “infiltrator.”

                    Ultimately, the new orders are intended to close loopholes allowed under the Oslo Accords which enabled thousands of Palestinians to return to the West Bank where they own property and have first-degree relatives.

                    More to the point, the order, which the Israeli apartheid regime says is intended to suppress Palestinian protests, effectively treats all the West Bank as territories under Israeli sovereignty as it ignores nearly completely the very existence of the Palestinian Authority.

                    An Israeli army spokesperson admitted that the latest draconian measures were intended to restrict Palestinian demographic growth as well as clamp down on Palestinian protests against Israeli occupation and apartheid policies.

                    However, the spokesperson refused to say how and where the Palestinians would be deported.

                    Observers in occupied Palestine have suggested that Israel might be inclined to create more provocations that could push Palestinians toward pro-active resistance to organized Jewish terror, e.g. violence perpetrated by Nazi-like Jewish settlers in cooperation and coordination with the Israeli occupation army.

                    PA official Sa’eb Erikat described the Israeli decision as part of an ongoing process of ethnic cleansing.

                    “These decisions are tantamount to blowing up all outstanding agreements with Israel as well as all possibilities for renewed talks.

                    Erikat said the Israeli measure would allow any Israeli officer to effectively deport Palestinian citizens at will.

                    “It seems the Israelis are behaving according to their whims. They are arresting people, deporting them, imposing hefty monetary fines on Palestinians amounting to $2000.”

                    He added that the PA was already contacting the United States and European Union in this regard.

                    Another PA official Nabil Shaath, a citizen of the Gaza Strip, called the new Israeli measures “flagrant, racist and utterly illegal and illegitimate.”

                    “These measures simply violate simple human decency. Israel has no right to bar Palestinians from living on their ancestral homeland.”

                    Shaath called on the international community, including Arab and Muslim states, to condemn the Israeli measures and force the apartheid state to reverse its decisions.

                    The Fatah-run PA has been saying that it will support popular but non-violent resistance against the Israeli occupation.

                    The apartheid regime fears that massive Palestinian protests might succeed in creating a momentum toward a worldwide recognition of Palestinian statehood.

                    Last week, PA premier said in an interview with the H’aaretz newspaper that a declaration of Palestinian statehood was likely to be made in 2011.

                    Officials of the Israeli apartheid regime said the Zionist state would thwart by force any unilateral Palestinian plans to declare statehood.

                    Israel views the West Bank as “disputed” rather than “occupied territories.”

                    Israel would want to seize as much as possible of Palestinian geography but with as little as possible Palestinian population.

                    Palestinians are likely to appeal to the international community to pressure Israel to rescind the new measures which are brazenly in violation of international law.


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                      The Jenin Refugee Camp Massacre of 2002: 'Horrific beyond Belief'

                      English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                      By Hanan Awarekeh

                      13/04/2010

                      “They were warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house before I come, BUT I GAVE NO ONE A CHANCE. I didn’t wait. I didn’t give one blow, and wait for them to come out. I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible. I wanted to get to the other houses. To get as many as possible, I didn’t give a damn about the Palestinians, but I didn’t just ruin with no reason. It was all under orders.”

                      Fortified by an arsenal of alcohol, Israeli occupation army bulldozer driver Moshe Nissim did enjoy his work by killing hundreds of Palestinian children, women and unarmed men in the Jenin camp. First published in the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot and since reprinted on the website of the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom, his testimony gives a version of the barbarian and inhumane massacre that took place on April 13, 2002.

                      “I found joy with every house that came down, because I knew they didn’t mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down,” he says.

                      Nissim’s army unit received a military commendation for its efforts in killing Palestinians in Jenin.

                      [More:]

                      During the month of March 2002, Israel launched its ''Operation Defensive Shield'' with incursions into the seven main Palestinian towns. In each incursion, Israeli troops, tanks and armored vehicles entered the cities and imposed a curfew on their civilian population.

                      On the 3rd of April 2002 Israeli occupation forces surrounded Jenin city and its refugee camp, controlled all the access roads into and out the city and imposed a curfew while declaring the area as a ''closed military area”.

                      Jenin camp, established in 1953, is one of 22 refugee camps in the West Bank; it was the second largest refugee camp in the West Bank comprising a population of about 14000 people.

                      Israeli forces attacked the camp using bulldozers, tanks, and apache helicopters. Serious damage was done to the water, sewage and electrical infrastructure of the camp; moreover the occupation soldiers prevented ambulances and the medical teams from entering the camp. This operation continued for about 13 days. Many civilians were killed, many buildings were destroyed which housed several families, and, in some cases, some of these buildings had people inside. Many families were left homeless. And Israeli soldiers arrested some of the camp residents.

                      The exact toll of the dead may never be known as many corps may still be lying under the rubble. Moreover, witnesses mentioned stories of the death of a group of people who where gathering inside their homes. Initial estimates were hundreds of children, women, and men.

                      Israeli officials tried to justify this deplorable behavior against a civilian population by claiming there were about 200-armed men from (Tanzeem) Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades hiding inside the camp. However, the Israeli occupation army didn't take steps to avoid injury to civilians; moreover they used some of them as human shields.

                      Till now the Israeli government still refuses to acknowledge that what happened in Jenin is a Massacre. An independent forensic expert says evidence suggests that a massacre has taken place. And the inhabitants of the camp know too well what those 13 days were; they didn't need a fact-finding mission to tell them.

                      Moreover, Israeli occupation forces had evacuated many other corpses and buried them in the occupied territories (in the numbered "enemy" cemetery) in an attempt to hide the actual number of victims in the refugee camp.

                      The UN Security Council formed a Committee to investigate the massacre but the Israeli government refused to cooperate with the Committee. Upon that Israeli rejection of cooperation, then UN Secretary-General, Kofi Anan, dissolved the Committee before starting its work. Thus, the Israeli war criminals are still free to commit more war crimes, atrocities, and human rights violations against the Palestinian people, without being held accountable for their actions.

                      Media sources in the Middle East and Europe, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the world, had a field day. Headlines screamed "Massacre", "War Crimes", "Atrocities", "Genocide" and worse.

                      Nasser al-Kidwa, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations, described on CNN Channel what was happening, he said “There's almost a massacre now taking place in Jenin. Helicopter gun ships are throwing missiles at one square kilometer packed with almost 15,000 people in a refugee camp. . . . Just look at the TV and watch, watch what the -what the Israel forces are doing. . . . This is a war crime, clear war crime, witnessed by the whole world, preventing ambulances, preventing people from being buried. I mean this is an all-out assault against the whole population.”

                      A United Nations envoy has said that the devastation left by Israeli forces in Jenin is "horrific beyond belief".

                      Terje Roed-Larsen, who was the UN's Special Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, had visited the camp with Red Cross and UN workers. He toured the Jenin refugee camp, and said it was "morally repugnant" that Israel had not allowed emergency workers in for 11 days to provide humanitarian relief.

                      Roed-Larsen said the top priority was to bring in search-and-rescue teams. The only rescue efforts which were under way were residents digging though the ruins looking for survivors. "It is totally destroyed, it looks like an earthquake has hit it," he said. "We have expert people here who have been in war zones and earthquakes and they say they have never seen anything like it," he added.

                      While the rubble had been cleared from the Jenin camp, and the bodies buried, most Palestinians felt that the stories they told have been too hastily swept aside.

                      Four months after the fact, the UN did produce a report on the conduct of the Israeli army. Based on secondary sources and internet research, it did not however provide a judgment as much as a venue for Israel and the Palestinians to air their opposing versions of events.

                      “Inevitably the report falls short of a comprehensive inquiry. We found that the report was not satisfactory because it did not address the issues in the depth they deserved,” says Donatella Rovera of HRW.

                      “There has to be an investigation, and those responsible must be brought to justice. The duty to investigate lies with the Israeli government. The responsibility for this, failing the Israeli authorities, lies with the international community.”

                      That a follow-up never materialized surprised a few. “This is in keeping with the behavior of the Israeli authorities both before and after the invasion,” continues Rovera.

                      REMEMBERING THE DEIR YASSIN MASSACRE
                      On April 9, 1948, members of the underground Jewish terrorist group, the Irgun, or IZL, led by Menachem Begin, who was to become the Israeli prime minister in 1977, entered the peaceful Arab village of Deir Yassin, which lay outside of the area that the United Nations recommended be included in a future Jewish State, massacred 250 men, women, children and the elderly, and stuffed many of the bodies down wells. Fifty-three orphaned children were literally dumped along the wall of the Old City.

                      There were also reports of rapes and mutilations. The Irgun was joined by the Jewish terrorist group, the Stern Gang, led by Yitzhak Shamir, who subsequently succeeded Begin as prime minister of Israel in the early '80s, and also by the Haganah, the militia under the control of David Ben Gurian. The Irgun, the Stern Gang and the Haganah later joined to form the Israeli army. Their tactics have not changed.

                      A final body count of 254 was reported by The New York Times on April 13, a day after they were finally buried. By then the leaders of the Haganah had distanced themselves from having participated in the attack and issued a statement denouncing the dissidents of Irgun and the Stern Gang.

                      Of about 144 houses, 10 were dynamited. The cemetery was later bulldozed and, like hundreds of other Palestinian villages to follow, Deir Yassin was wiped off the map. By September, Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Poland, Rumania, and Slovakia were settled there. As occupied Jerusalem expanded, the land of Deir Yassin became part of the city and is now known simply as the area between Givat Shaul and the settlement of Har Nof on the western slopes of the mountain.

                      The massacre of Palestinians at Deir Yassin is one of the most significant events in 20th-century Palestinian and Israeli history. This is not because of its size or its brutality, but because it stands as the starkest early warning of a calculated depopulation of over 400 Palestinian villages and cities and the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian inhabitants to make room for Israelis from all over the world.

                      The massacre at Deir Yassin was widely publicized by the Israelis and the numerous heaped corpses displayed to the media. In Jaffe, which was at the time 98 percent Arab, as well as in other Arab communities, speaker trucks drove through the streets warning the population to flee and threatening another Deir Yassin. Begin said at the time, "We created terror among the Arabs and all the villages around. In one blow, we changed the strategic situation."

                      But Deir Yassin was not the only massacre by the Israeli occupation armt. That army, under Moshe Dayan, took the unarmed and undefended village of al-Dawazyma, located in the Al-Khalil hills, massacred 80 to 100 of its residents, and threw their bodies into pits. "The children were killed by breaking their heads with sticks ... The remaining Arabs were then sealed in houses, as the village was systematically razed ..." (Nur Masalha, The Historical Roots of the Palestinian Refugee Question).

                      In fact, according to UN estimates, 750,000 Palestinians fled the site of the present Zionist entity in 1948. Those refugees and their descendents now number about 4.5 million and constitute the largest refugee population in the world. Many live in squalid refugee camps distributed in the surrounding Arab states or in the West Bank or Gaza, many retain the titles to their land, recognized by the British before 1948 or the Ottomans before that, and many retain the keys to their front doors of their former homes in the occupied territories, whether or not those doors still exists.

                      Defiance and resistance are two things that the Palestinians have since come to expect from Jenin, Deir Yassin and many other massacres. The battles enshrined Occupied Palestine as a stronghold of resistance in the national mythology. Graffiti on ruins in the refugee camps’ center trumpet their defiance: “WE WILL ONLY LEAVE TO RETURN TO OUR HOMES.”

                      http://www.almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=133308




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                        The Palestinians are winning the legitimacy war: will it matter?

                        English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                        By Richard Falk

                        Richard Falk argues that a Palestinian victory in the legitimacy war with Israel would not necessarily produce the desired political results and that it is vital that the Palestinians exercise "patience, resolve, leadership and vision, as well as sufficient pressure" if they are to win their just rights.

                        Ever since the Balfour Declaration in 1917 gave the formal approval of the British government to the establishment of “a Jewish homeland”, profound issues of legitimacy were present in the conflict recently known as the Israel-Palestine conflict.

                        This original colonialist endorsement of the Zionist project has produced a steady erosion of the position of the Palestinian people on historic Palestine, which dramatically worsened over the course of the past 43 years of occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. It has worsened due to an oppressive military occupation by Israel that involves fundamental denials of rights and pervasive violations of international humanitarian law, and because Israel has been allowed to establish “facts on the ground”, which are more properly viewed as violations of Palestinian rights, especially the establishment of extensive settlements and a separation wall constructed on occupied Palestinian territories in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These developments have been flagrantly unlawful, and made the whole treatment of the Palestinian people illegitimate, as well as the occasion of continuous intense and pervasive suffering.

                        [More:]

                        For decades, Palestinian political forces have exercised their right of resistance in various ways, including the extraordinary non-violent Intifada of 1987, but also engaging in armed resistance in defence of their territory. The Palestinians definitely enjoy a right of resistance, although subject to the limits of international humanitarian law, which rules out deliberate targeting of civilians and non-military targets. Such tactics of resistance challenge Israel at its point of maximum comparative advantage due both to its total military dominance, achieved in part by large subsidies from the United States, and to its ruthless disregard for civilian innocence.

                        In recent years, especially beginning with the brutal experience of the Lebanon war of 2006 and even more dramatically in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008-09 (27 December 2008-18 January 2009), there has been a notable change of emphasis in Palestinian strategy. The new strategy has been to initiate what might be described as a second war, “a legitimacy war” that is essentially based on the reliance on a variety of non-violent tactics of resistance. Armed resistance has not been renounced by the Palestinians, but it has been displaced by this emphasis on non-violent tactics.
                        "The essence of this legitimacy war is to cast doubt on several dimensions of Israeli legitimacy: its status as a moral and law abiding actor, as an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian people, and with respect to its willingness to respect the United Nations and abide by international law."

                        The essence of this legitimacy war is to cast doubt on several dimensions of Israeli legitimacy: its status as a moral and law abiding actor, as an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian people, and with respect to its willingness to respect the United Nations and abide by international law. Those that wage such a legitimacy war seek to seize the high moral ground in relation to the underlying conflict, and on this basis, gain support for a variety of coercive, but non-violent initiatives designed to put pressure on Israel, on governments throughout the world and on the United Nations to deny normal participatory rights to Israel as a member of international society.

                        These tactics also aim to mobilize global civil society to exhibit solidarity with the Palestinian struggle to achieve legitimate rights, taking the principal form of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) that operates throughout the entire world, which serves as a symbolic battlefield.

                        But there are other forms of action as well, including the Free Gaza Movement and Viva Palestina that aim specifically at symbolically breaking the blockade of food, medicine and fuel imposed in mid-2007, a form of collective punishment that has caused great suffering for the entire 1.5 million population of the Gaza Strip, damaging the physical and mental health of all those living under occupation.

                        Although the UN has been a failure so far as offering protection (beyond its essential role in providing humanitarian relief in Gaza) to the Palestinians under occupations or even in relation to the implementation of Palestinian rights under international law, it is a vital site of struggle in the legitimacy war. The whole storm unleashed by the Goldstone report involves challenging the UN to impose accountability on the Israeli political and military leadership for their alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity associated with the Gaza attacks at the end of 2008. Even if the United States shields Israelis from accountability pursuant to the procedures of the UN, including the International Criminal Court, the confirmation by the Goldstone report of allegations of criminality is a major victory for the Palestinians in the legitimacy war, and lends credibility to calls for non-violent initiatives throughout the world.

                        The Goldstone Report also endorses “universal jurisdiction” as a means to gain accountability, encouraging national criminal courts of any country to make use of their legal authority to hold Israeli political and military leaders criminally responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

                        Tzipi Livni, the current Kadima opposition leader in Israel, who had been foreign minister during the Gaza attacks, cancelled a visit to Britain after she received word that a warrant for her arrest upon arrival had been issued. Even if Israeli impunity is not overcome, the authoritativeness of the Goldstone report lends weight to calls around the world to disrupt normal relations with Israel by boycotting cultural and academic activities, by disrupting trade relations through divestment moves or through refusals to load and unload ships and planes carrying cargo to or from Israel, and by pressuring governments to impose economic sanctions.

                        The historic inspiration for this legitimacy war is the anti-apartheid campaign waged with such success against the racist regime in South Africa. Undoubtedly, the Palestinian political motivation to focus their energies on waging a legitimacy war came from a variety of sources: disillusionment with efforts by the UN and the United States to find a just solution for the conflict; realization that armed resistance could not produce a Palestinian victory and played into the hands of Israeli diversionary tactics by making “terrorism” the issue; recognizing that the events in Lebanon and Gaza generated throughout the world widespread anger against Israel and sympathy for the Palestinians, which is gradually weakening earlier European and North American deference to Israel due to Jewish victimization in the Holocaust; and a growing sense that the worldwide Palestinian diaspora communities and their allies could be enlisted to join in the struggle if its essential nature was that of a legitimacy war.
                        "For Israel a legitimacy war is a public relations issue pure and simple, a matter of discrediting the adversary and proclaiming national innocence and virtue. Despite its huge advantage in resources devoted to this campaign, Israel is definitely losing the legitimacy war."

                        Israeli official and unofficial support groups have recently recognized the threat posed to their expansionist settler colonial grand strategy by this recourse by Palestinians to a legitimacy war. Israeli think tanks have described “the global justice movement” associated with these tactics as a greater threat to Israel than Palestinian violence, and have even castigated reliance on international law as a dangerous form of “lawfare”. The Israeli government and Zionist organizations around the world have joined in the battle through a massive investment in public relations activities that include propaganda efforts to discredit what is sometimes called “the Durban approach”. As with other Israeli tactics, in their defensive approach to the legitimacy war, there is an absence of self-criticism involving an assessment of Palestinian substantive claims under international law. For Israel a legitimacy war is a public relations issue pure and simple, a matter of discrediting the adversary and proclaiming national innocence and virtue. Despite its huge advantage in resources devoted to this campaign, Israel is definitely losing the legitimacy war.

                        Even if the Palestinians win the legitimacy war there is no guarantee that this victory will produce the desired political results. It requires Palestinian patience, resolve, leadership and vision, as well as sufficient pressure to force a change of heart in Israel, and probably in Washington as well. In this instance, it would seem to require an Israeli willingness to abandon the core Zionist project to establish a Jewish state, and that does not appear likely from the vantage point of the present. But always the goals of a legitimacy war appear to be beyond reach until mysteriously attained by the abrupt and totally unexpected surrender by the losing side.

                        Until it collapses the losing side pretends to be unmovable and invincible, a claim that is usually reinforced by police and military dominance. This is what happened in the Soviet Union and South Africa, earlier to French colonial rule in Indochina and Algeria, and to the United States in Vietnam.

                        It is up to all of us dedicated to peace and justice to do all we can to help the Palestinians prevail in the legitimacy war and bring their long ordeal to an end.

                        Prof. Richard Falk’s Statements on Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Wikipedia)

                        In a June 2007 article, "Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust", Falk compared some Israeli policies with regard to the Palestinians to the Nazi Germany record of collective punishment. Identifying himself as a Jewish American, Falk stated that his use of the term "holocaust" "represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current [Israeli] genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy [for the Palestinians]".

                        Falk also stated that "the comparison should not be viewed as literal, but … that a pattern of criminality associated with Israeli policies in Gaza has actually been supported by the leading democracies of the 21st century".

                        Falk responded to criticism by saying: "If this kind of situation had existed for instance in the manner in which China was dealing with Tibet or the Sudanese government was dealing with Darfur, I think there would be no reluctance to make that comparison." He attributed the reluctance to criticize Israel's policies to the sensitive history of the Jewish people, as well as the state's ability to "avoid having [its] policies held up to international law and morality”.

                        Richard Falk is Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and author of Crimes of War: Iraq and The Costs of War: International Law, the UN and World Order after Iraq”. He is also current UN Rapporteur for Palestine.

                        http://www.redress.cc/palestine/rfalk20100405

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                          Mossad Operation Threatened Against Reporter

                          English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                          Mossad threaten s to treat whistleblowing Israeli journalist as "Fugitive Felon"

                          By JONATHAN COOK

                          Counterpunch
                          April 13, 2010

                          An Israeli journalist who went into hiding after writing a series of reports showing lawbreaking approved by Israeli army commanders faces a lengthy jail term for espionage if caught, as Israeli security services warned at the weekend they would “remove the gloves” to track him down.

                          The Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, said it was treating Uri Blau, a reporter with the liberal Haaretz daily newspaper who has gone underground in London, as a “fugitive felon” and that a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

                          Options being considered are an extradition request to the British authorities or, if that fails, a secret operation by Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, to smuggle him back, according to Maariv, a right-wing newspaper.

                          It was revealed yesterday that Mr Blau’s informant, Anat Kamm, 23, a former conscript soldier who copied hundreds of classified documents during her military service, had confessed shortly after her arrest in December to doing so to expose “war crimes”

                          [More:]

                          .

                          The Shin Bet claims that Mr Blau is holding hundreds of classified documents, including some reported to relate to Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in winter 2008 in which the army is widely believed to have violated the rules of war.

                          Other documents, the basis of a Haaretz investigation published in 2008, concern a meeting between the head of the army, Gabi Ashkenazi, and the Shin Bet in which it was agreed to ignore a court ruling and continue carrying out executions of Palestinian leaders in the occupied territories.

                          Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, who has said his organisation was previously “too sensitive with the investigation”, is now demanding that Mr Blau reveal his entire document archive and take a lie-detector test on his return to identify his sources, according to Haaretz. The newspaper and its lawyers have recommended that he remain in hiding to protect his informants.

                          Haaretz has also revealed that, in a highly unusual move shortly before Israel’s attack on Gaza, it agreed to pull a printed edition after the army demanded at the last minute that one of Mr Blau’s stories not be published. His report had already passed the military censor, which checks that articles do not endanger national security.

                          Lawyers and human rights groups fear that the army and Shin Bet are trying to silence investigative journalists and send a warning to other correspondents not to follow in Mr Blau’s path.

                          “We have a dangerous precedent here, whereby the handing over of material to an Israeli newspaper … is seen by the prosecutor’s office as equivalent to contact with a foreign agent,” said Eitan Lehman, Ms Kamm’s lawyer. “The very notion of presenting information to the Israeli public alone is taken as an intention to hurt national security.”

                          The Shin Bet’s determination to arrest Mr Blau was revealed after a blanket gag order was lifted late last week on Ms Kamm’s case. She has been under house arrest since December. She has admitted copying hundreds of classified documents while serving in the office of Brig Gen Yair Naveh, in charge of operations in the West Bank, between 2005 and 2007.

                          Under an agreement with the Shin Bet last year, Haaretz and Mr Blau handed over 50 documents and agreed to the destruction of Mr Blau’s computer.

                          Both sides accuse the other of subsequently reneging on the deal: the Shin Bet says Mr Blau secretly kept other documents copied by Ms Kamm that could be useful to Israel’s enemies; while Mr Blau says the Shin Bet used the returned documents to track down Ms Kamm, his source, after assurances that they would not do so.

                          Haaretz said Mr Blau fears that they will try to identify his other informants if he hands over his archive.

                          Mr Blau learnt of his predicament in December, while out of the country on holiday. He said a friend called to warn that the Shin Bet had broken into his home and ransacked it. He later learnt they had been monitoring his telephone, e-mail and computer for many months.

                          In a move that has baffled many observers, the Shin Bet revealed last week that Mr Blau was hiding in London, despite the threat that it would make him an easier target for other countries’ intelligence agencies.

                          Amir Mizroch, an analyst with the right-wing Jerusalem Post newspaper, noted that it was as if Israel’s security services were “saying to Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Hizbullah and Iranian intelligence agents in London: ‘Yalla, be our guests, go get Uri Blau’.” He added that the real goal might be to flush out Mr Blau so that he would seek sanctuary at the Israeli embassy.

                          Ms Kamm is charged with espionage with intent to harm national security, the harshest indictment possible and one that could land in her jail for 25 years. Yesterday another of her lawyers, Avigdor Feldman, appealed to Mr Blau to return to Israel and give back the documents to help “minimise the affair”.

                          “The real question is whether this exceptionally heavy-handed approach is designed only to get back Kamm’s documents or go after Blau and his other sources,” said Jeff Halper, an Israeli analyst. “It may be that Kamm is the excuse the security services need to identify Blau’s circle of informants.”

                          Mr Blau has already published several stories, apparently based on Ms Kamm’s documents, showing that the army command approved policies that not only broke international law but also violated the rulings of Israel’s courts.

                          His reports have included revelations that senior commanders approved extra-judicial assassinations in the occupied territories that were almost certain to kill Palestinian bystanders; that, in violation of a commitment to the high court, the army issued orders to execute wanted Palestinians even if they could be safely captured; and that the defence ministry compiled a secret report showing that the great majority of settlements in the West Bank were illegal even under Israeli law.

                          Although the original stories date to 2008, the army issued a statement belatedly this week that Mr Blau’s reports were “outrageous and misleading”. No senior commanders have been charged over the army’s lawbreaking activities.

                          B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, said its research had shown that “in many cases soldiers have been conducting themselves in the territories as if they were on a hit mission, as opposed to arrest operations”.

                          It added that the authorities had “rushed to investigate the leak and chose to ignore the severe suspicions of blatant wrongdoings depicted in those documents”.

                          A group of senior journalists established a petition this week calling for Mr Blau to be spared a trial: “So far, the authorities have not prosecuted journalists for holding secret information, which most of us have had in one form or another. This policy by the prosecution reflects, in our view, an imbalance between journalistic freedom, the freedom of expression and the need for security.”

                          However, media coverage of the case in Israel has been largely hostile. Yuval Elbashan, a lawyer, wrote in Haaretz yesterday that Mr Blau’s fellow military reporters and analysts had in the past few days abandoned their colleague and proven “their loyalty to the [security] system as the lowliest of its servants”.

                          One, Yossi Yehoshua, a military correspondent with the country’s largest-circulation newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, who is said to have been approached by Ms Kamm before she turned to Mr Blau, is due to testify against her in her trial due next month.

                          Chat forums and talkback columns also suggest little sympathy among the Israeli public for either Ms Kamm or Mr Blau. Several Hebrew websites show pictures of Ms Kamm behind bars or next to a hangman’s noose.

                          A report on Israel National News, a news service for settlers, alleged that Ms Kamm had been under the influence of “rabidly left-wing“ professors at Tel Aviv University when she handed over the documents to the Haaretz reporter.

                          A shorter version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

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                            Talking Palestine to power

                            English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                            Israel claims exceptionalism no matter how extreme its crimes. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

                            By Sonja Karkar, The Electronic Intifada, 12 April 2010

                            Today, there is no excuse for not knowing the truth about Palestine, especially what is happening in Gaza. Even taking into account the disinformation spread in mainstream media, there are enough glimpses one gets of a ravaged Gaza and a brutalized people that should compel us to ask questions. There are enough websites and blogs easily available for anyone to learn more, even if it requires sifting through and evaluating the available information. Certainly, the alarm bells should be ringing when our political leaders declare undying fealty to Israel or cavalierly wear it as a badge of honor, despite the documented reports of Israel's war crimes by human rights groups and official enquiries.

                            But the world lacks courage from government leaders, acquiescent mainstream media, nongovernmental organizations dependent on government support, academics looking for tenure and populations too long fed on a diet of Zionist myths. People are terrified of being labelled anti-Semitic, a mendacious charge against anyone criticizing Israel. Palestinians too, afraid of being further shunned and disadvantaged in countries that give them refuge, so often remain silent. Not only do people fear repercussions, but speaking the truth or even just hearing it has a way of taking people out of their comfort zones. They fear their troubled consciences may require them to act and so they bury their heads deeper into the sand where they hope even the sounds of silence might be extinguished.

                            This then is the challenge for advocates the world over. How does one talk Palestine to power if one cannot even talk Palestine to the people who are in fear of the powerful?

                            [More:]

                            In the face of media saturation with Zionist viewpoints and the new "Brand Israel" campaigns, many wanting to advocate for Palestine might feel defeated, but time and again we see that the power of one can be enormously effective.

                            The great scholar and public intellectual Edward Said showed more than anyone else that individuals can make a difference in the public defense of Palestine. He particularly saw the intellectual's voice as having "resonance."

                            But one does not need to be an intellectual. Said's words can just as aptly apply to any one of us. He said avoidance was "reprehensible" and in his 1994 book Representations of the Intellectual, described it as "that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming too controversial; you need the approval of a boss or an authority figure; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is ... to remain within the responsible mainstream ... ."

                            In 1993 when almost everyone else thought the handshakes at the White House steps would seal the negotiated Oslo accords and at long last give the Palestinians their freedom and bring peace to the region, Edward Said saw that these accords would merely provide the cover for Israel to pursue its colonial expansionism and consolidate its occupation of Palestine. However, he knew to criticize Oslo meant in effect taking a position against "hope" and "peace." His decision to do so flew in the face of the Palestinian revolutionary leadership that had bartered for statehood.

                            Although Said was denounced for his views, he was not prepared to buy into the deception that he knew would leave the Palestinians with neither hope nor peace. And just as he predicted, each fruitless year of peacemaking finally exposed the horrible reality of Oslo as Palestinians found themselves the victims of Israel's matrix of control, a term first used to describe the situation by Israeli professor Jeff Halper in 1999. And this domination of one people over another without any intention of addressing the injustices against the Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homeland, has undeniably reduced Israel to an apartheid state.

                            The Palestinians have nothing left worth calling a state and they are facing an existential threat on all fronts. Yet, some intellectuals are still talking about a two-state solution in lock step with politicians, a mantra that is repeated uncritically, even mendaciously, in the mainstream media.

                            This pandering to an idea for decades has been undermined by the furious sounds of drills and hammers reverberating in illegal settlements throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the catastrophic societal ruptures engineered in Gaza. Now those sounds are muffled by the rhetoric of "economic peace," "institution-building," "democracy," "internal security" and "statehood." They are words that must be challenged at every opportunity, for they are not mere words, but dangerous concepts when isolated from truth on the ground.

                            It is no use talking about "economic peace" when industrial estates built for Palestinian workers are intended to provide Israel with slave labor and cheap goods. It is useless to support "institution-building" when Israel continues to undermine and obstruct those programs already struggling to service Palestinian society. It is a lie to speak of "democracy" when fair elections in 2006 had Israel and the "international community" denying Hamas the right to govern. It is a charade to accept "internal security" when arming and training Palestinians to police their own people covers for Israel's and America's divide-and-conquer scheme. It is hollow to speak of "statehood" when Israel keeps stealing land and building illegal settlements that deprive the Palestinians of their homes and livelihoods while herding them into isolated and walled-in ghettoes.

                            Edward Said was proven right. Now, it is our turn to speak the truth and act fearlessly, regardless of the censure we are likely to encounter. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is believed to have said that truth passes through three stages: "first, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Today, we are at the third stage: the 11 million Palestinians living under occupation, apartheid and as stateless refugees are the living truth. That is Israel's Achilles' heel.

                            The Palestinians are no longer the humble shepherds and farmers that Zionist forces terrorized into fleeing to make way for the Jewish State of Israel. A new generation wants justice and it is demanding it eloquently, nonviolently and strategically. Their message: no normal relations with Israel while it oppresses Palestinians, denies their rights and violates international law. And boycott, divestment and sanctions have to be legitimate tools for challenging a state that claims exceptionalism no matter how extreme and criminal its actions.

                            The temptation of course is always to opt for the path of least resistance. Therefore, we must appeal to the individual, not even to sacrifice for others, but to recognize that no matter where we live in this global village, we are all vulnerable if we do not stand up for universal human rights and uphold the principles and application of international law.

                            Despite his own Zionist affiliations and loyalty to Israel, Justice Richard Goldstone saw the danger of tailoring his UN-backed report on war crimes in Gaza to exonerate Israel. He had the decency and courage to put the rule of law and humanity ahead of the savage condemnation he knew would come from talking truth to power.

                            The same can be said of Richard Falk, the Jewish professor emeritus from Princeton University and UN special rapporteur in the occupied Palestinian territories, who was denied entry into Israel because he described Israel's siege on Gaza as a "Holocaust in the making" ("Israel deports American academic," Guardian, 15 December 2008). Israel's treatment was insulting enough, but now shamefully, the Palestinian Authority has asked the Human Rights Council to "postpone" his report on Gaza and, as Nadia Hijab reported, is asking him to resign ("PA's betrayal of human rights defenders the unkindest cut," Nadia Hijab, 14 March 2010).

                            These are honorable men, but we too can stand on principle in smaller ways, whether that is refusing to buy Israeli goods at our local store, boycotting an Israeli-government sponsored event or exposing and protesting the collusion between governments and corporations with Israel. That is what it means to become part of a worldwide civil movement that will do what our leaders will not: pressure Israel to dismantle the matrix of control on Palestine and make reparations for the decades of injustices it has perpetrated against its people.

                            It is indeed possible for all of us to "squeeze out of reality some of its potentialities," the reality that University of Melbourne Professor Ghassan Hage has said is found in those utopic moments that come from challenging our own thoughts, fears and biases. In that space lies the untapped power we seek, to speak the truth without fear or favor. In that space lies the potential for political change. In that space, there will always be hope for Palestine.

                            A version of this essay was originally published on the website of Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East (UK)

                            Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of Women for Palestine and one of the founders and co-convener of Australians for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. She is also the editor of www.australiansforpalestine.com and contributes articles on Palestine regularly to various publications. She can be contacted at sonjakarkar A T womenforpalestine D O T org.

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                              America: The silence of a nation (Silence is complicity)

                              English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

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                                Israel, War and Water

                                English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                Israel recognized the environmental threat, and is using its military to control it..

                                By Jim Miles

                                There is a global crisis emerging concerning the allocation, uses, and abuses of fresh water. This is a combination of misuse by humans and the increasing violence and changing frequency of various weather conditions as the global climate heats up. Along with the heating are other factors such as the acidification of the oceans as they uptake more carbon than the life forms living there can deal with it in such a short time span. Agriculture becomes threatened, potable water for domestic use becomes scarcer, and although fresh water should be a right enshrined in the UN Charter, it is increasingly becoming both a military and corporate target.

                                Intersecting with the water crisis is the current economic situation with the rising economic power of India and China and their roughly 2.5 billion population making increasing demands on energy and food resources. Oil is at or near its peak, and while it may not be noticeable in the near future, its increasing scarcity and difficulty with extraction will cause the price to rise inexorably, creating further economic hardship and alternate demands on the environment.

                                [More:]

                                Global Warring

                                A new text by Cleo Paskal [1] highlights the intersection of these environmental, economic and political crises and how they will redraw the world map. Her writing is not of the apocalyptic nature, not describing the horrors of a post-nuclear holocaust period nor the horrors of the survivalists imagination when the economy and the environment tank together and suddenly we need to become self reliant in a much more primitive sense.

                                Instead, it is a strong academic analysis of the current geopolitical/environmental interactions that could possibly - in spite of the denials above - spell ‘doom’. Her information is concise and wisely presented, without exaggeration or resorting to hyperbolic disasters. She describes the rising power of China and India, beset with their own environmental challenges, but “planning for the [long-term] future” as they “graduate more than half a million engineers and scientists a year.” The U.S. is viewed from the Katrina perspective and its demonstration that the U.S. cannot manage a single environmental disaster let alone be “prepared to manage repeated major domestic environmental disasters.”

                                Paskal is clear with her goal of using “the best science available to understand the implications of the inevitable in order to minimize the geopolitical, economic and security fallout” of climate change. She is not operating from theory but from history with “myriad examples of the environment affecting war and politics.” Her stated goal, with which she succeeds is to “demonstrate that environmental change is about to have enormous, and specific, geopolitical, economic and security consequences for all of us.”

                                The chapter on the Middle East is titled “Today’s Weather - Intolerable with periods of Uninhabitable.” Historically the problem with the fertile crescent “was too many people, too little food and water, and too few places to secure more supplies.”

                                Her closing, after many well argued presentations says that with “all the threads together, the world of tomorrow looks chaotic and violent. Even more so than usual. And even more than expected.” Our current “social, political, security and economic structures [are built] on the assumption that there are certain geophysical and climatic constants to act as a foundation. There aren’t. There never have been. And there never will be.” So now you can go read the apocalyptic and survivalist authors, as this relatively calm academic analysis arrives at a pretty gloomy and scary picture.

                                Water…and Israel

                                Water is a large part of Paskal’s discussion. Storms are becoming more violent and less predictable. The monsoons are undergoing new vagaries. Rivers are exploited to make them toxic sewers and/or to have them run dry before they reach the sea. All this is supported by the current National Geographic special issue “Water - Our Thirsty World.” [2] After discussing the current fresh water status, the glacial melt of the Himalayas, the monsoons, the ‘holiness’ of certain water sources, the “burden of thirst”, California’s “Pipe Dream” situated on a highly active seismic zone, the topic of water in Israel is addressed.

                                Generally I have criticized the Geographic for its frequent attempts to ‘balance’ arguments, arguments often between powerful corporations and weaker NGOs and citizens groups, or between environmental agencies and the more powerful governments. Balance is not good journalism when the power of circumstances and events lies strongly and critically with one side, at which point an analytical advocacy is by far the greater route to take.

                                I feared this article on Israeli water might strive for ‘balance’ but there are some strong references that indicate that the National Geographic editors are beginning to question the power equation in Israel. The article, “Parting the Waters”, [3] is essentially about the Jordan River, that a “ six-year drought and expanding population conspire to make it a fresh source of conflict among the Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians vying for the river’s life giving supply.” The article continues that the “lower Jordan is practically devoid of clean water, bearing instead a toxic brew of saline water and liquid waste that ranges from raw sewage to agricultural runoff….The fight over the Jordan illustrates the potential for conflict over water that exists throughout the world.”

                                Yet it is more than potential in Israel/Palestine, it is kinetic…actualized. While the politicians describe the occupation and annexations in terms of religion, the building of the wall as a prevention against terror, and the savage attacks on the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Jordan as attacks against terror, one of the principal underlying causes is water resources. Of global military conflicts over water “since 1950, 32 took place in the Middle East, 30 of them involved Israel and its Arab neighbours.”

                                The article tries to be optimistic, quoting one source as saying “water is just too important to go to war over…people need water, and that’s a huge incentive to work things out.” Unfortunately, that optimism is not apparent in the actions of the Israelis. The author recognizes that the West Bank Palestinians are under Israeli military rule, that Israel harvests much of the ground water and of the flow of the Jordan, denying access to the Palestinians. Turn about, when water is scarce, the Palestinians must buy it from Israel, paying money for water removed from their territory, water that lowers the water table for the fewer and fewer remaining wells. Another source is quoted, while looking at a Mekorot [Israel’s national water authority] well, “This is what water theft looks like in this part of the world.”

                                Balance and Context

                                The attempted balance is interesting. The chief Israeli water negotiator (and one has to wonder how much ‘negotiation’ actually takes place under military control), Noah Kinnarth, tries to argue that the underground water “knows no borders” and that the Palestinians think that the water that falls in the West Bank belongs to them.” What a novel idea, your own rainfall belonging to you. Kinnarth’s final twist is that with Oslo “we agreed to share that water. They just can’t seem to get their act together to do it.”

                                I am uncertain of the author’s intent here. The latter statement is obviously completely out of context - as a militarily occupied territory under variable and oppressive military law, with valuable agricultural land and water resources being remove through illegal expropriation and the winding turns of the Wall, with its leaders continually being arrested, tortured, and or assassinated - could hardly be expected “to get their act together.” Does the author let the statement stand out of context through his own prejudice or ignorance? Or is he allowing it to stand on its own demerits, expecting the readers to fill in the nuances of his presentation, combining his statements about military occupation, the drilling of wells, and the ignorance of the Israeli ‘negotiator’s’ statement?

                                I will give the benefit of the doubt to the author this time, as the final comment goes to a Palestinian farmer, Muhammed Salamain in the village of Auja. He has had no running water for five weeks, does not have enough water to irrigate crops, cannot access the aquifer, and summarizes, “we are powerless to do anything about it.” To get to the water he needs in the Jordan, he would “have to jump an electric fence, cross a minefield, and fight the Israeli army.” And he can’t get his act together? No wonder.

                                Israel, war and water…and the U.S.

                                The Israeli’s have always wanted the full landscape of Eretz Israel, purportedly for religious reasons, but geopolitically the scarce water resources have had significant influence on their actions towards limiting access to the Jordan, the annexation of the Golan Heights, and the occupation and attacks on Lebanon. Combining the geographic narrative with the Paskal presentation, Israel sits in a precarious yet powerful position.

                                With the strongest military in the region, one of the strongest in the world with many nuclear devices, with its need for control of water for a burgeoning population - the Palestinian population growth rate is higher - and its short lines of access to oil and gas resources for energy and industry, Israel is well situated to take advantage of any turmoil caused by the intersection of global environmental catastrophes and geopolitical catastrophes of its own or others making. Should the rest of the world devolve into chaos without taking Israel with it, the water is there for the taking, the oil is there for the taking, and the Palestinians are there for removal.

                                This is a rather grim finale to the interpretation of these two items. However, both geopolitics and the global climate are unpredictable, with many unexpected occurrences and outcomes. Again Iran enters the picture, not as an imminent threat, but as a created threat that will allow Israel to rationalize more authoritative action of whatever kind it wants in order to secure its future needs.

                                The U.S. plays a large role in this, but as per Paskal, “power is imperceptibly shifting away from the United States….there is a growing movement away from overt alignment with the States….Authoritarian regimes benefit from having an enemy….the US military is becoming [?] unpopular and politically marginalized globally….” China and India are taking up the slack.

                                Israel is powerful, yet at the same time extremely vulnerable, sitting in a precarious geopolitical situation. Surrounded by hostile yet compliant neighbours - ranging from the U.S. supported Egyptians, Saudis, and Jordanians, and the more antagonistic governments of Lebanon and Turkey - relying on power alone, as seen with the U.S. and its attempts at global military control, creates many unexpected feedbacks, many distortions in the economy and social/cultural fabric of the country. Israel has recognized the environmental threat, and is using its military to control as much of it as it can.

                                The lessons of history, natural history and geopolitical history, would indicate that a different approach is needed. Restoring the rights of the Palestinians in either a functional contiguous independent state or in a truly democratic bi-national state, would relieve enormous geopolitical pressure, and make the quest for environmental survival that much stronger.

                                - Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles' work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

                                Notes:

                                [1] Paskal, Cleo. Global Warring - How Environmental, Economic and Political crises Will Redraw the World Map. Key Porter Books, Toronto, Canada. 2010.

                                [2] “Water - Our Thirsty World.” National Geographic, April, 2010.

                                [3] Belt, Don. “Parting the Waters,” National Geographic, April, 2010. pp. 154 - 171.

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                                  Alarming Racism in Israel

                                  English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                  Mossawa says Israeli Arabs are increasingly being persecuted.

                                  By Stephen Lendman

                                  Mossawa means equality, the Mossawa Advocacy Center promoting it for Israel's Arab citizens - about 1.5 million, comprising 20% of the population. Established in 1997, it "strives to improve the social, economic and political status of (Israeli Arabs), while preserving their national and cultural rights as Palestinians." It also promotes gender equality "in all spheres of society."

                                  Its September 29, 2009 press release headlined the "High Follow-up Committee for Arab citizens (an organization representing Israeli Arabs) call for a general" October 1 one-day work stoppage to protest deteriorating conditions they face, and Israel's failure "to bring justice to the families of the 13 Arab victims that were killed by security forces during the events of October 2000," the start of the second Intifada.

                                  The Committee asked all Arab institutions, organizations and businesses to honor it in opposition to Triangle and Negev area home demolitions; Galilee and Triangle area settlement building; discrimination in allocating resources; police violence, intimidation, racial, and political incitement; and the right of Arab citizens "to exist and live in dignity in their historic homeland."

                                  [More:]

                                  Mossawa Center Calls the Current Knesset the Most Racist in History

                                  A March 21 Jack Khoury/Dana Weiler-Polark Haaretz article headlined the above accusation, saying Mossawa's report shows "that in 2008 there were (12) bills (not 11 Haaretz reported) defined as racist," followed by 12 more in 2009, specifically against Israeli Arabs. Report authors Lizi Sagi and Nidal Othman said:

                                  "There has never been a Knesset as active in proposing discriminating and racist legislation against the country's Arab citizens."

                                  They accused right-wing MKs of being "unhindered via proposed legislation," many in violation of Supreme Court rulings, including cosmetically altering illegal bills to get them passed. Others trying to harm Arab citizens, segregate them from Jews, and "even call for the expulsion of the (entire) Arab population."

                                  Further discriminatory measures target services, benefits, and imposing a year's imprisonment for anyone publishing or saying something that would "bring contempt upon or discomfort to the country."

                                  Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz wants road signs traditionally in Hebrew, Arabic and English changed solely to Hebrew to erase their historic identity. But doing so violates the Supreme Court's recognition of Arabic as an official Israeli language.

                                  Other measures target those who can buy land and the so-called Nakba law, watered down from its original version to exclude imprisonment, but including a provision to withhold public funding for any state-supported body holding Nakba commemorations. Arab school curricula exclude its mention, and outright banning it denies Israeli Arabs their collective identity, memory, and right to freely express opinions, especially about something this important.

                                  The Incitement Law threatens prison for anyone denying Israel's existence as a Jewish, democratic state, and the proposed Loyalty to Israel Law rescinds citizenship for anyone unwilling to pledge it. Still another measure bans demonstrations near public officials and service provider homes as well as others responsible for public welfare. It's one step short of prohibiting all demonstrations critical of government policies.

                                  The Prevention of Inflation Law includes provisions denying protections and care for asylum seekers, and long prison terms for convicted "infiltrators" and human rights activists helping them. Other measures affect free expression, housing, political involvement, and Bedouin rights in so-called unrecognized villages, the home for tens of thousands living under appalling conditions, compounded by involuntary dispossessions to Judaize the Negev and Galilee.

                                  Mossawa Center's 2009 Racism Report

                                  It began saying "almost every day" another Israeli Arab is victimized by racist actions. Mossawa documented 271 cases in various categories, confirmed by media and police reports. "Most documentation refers to events," not individuals, but their total number far exceeds the events mentioned.

                                  Mossawa was alarmed that Occupied Territory (OPT) abuses have incrementally crossed the Green Line. Since the second Intifada's onset (after Ariel Sharon's provocative September 28 Al-Aqsa Mosque visit), few Israeli - Arab citizen confrontations occurred until Acre, Galilee's October 2008 violence. Incidents now "create separation between communities that used to" coexist peacefully. As a result, Israeli Arab citizens face disruptive social, economic and cultural futures.

                                  Besides Acre, organized groups attacked Arab civilians in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Nazareth Illit, Carmiel and other cities - suggesting more to come unless measures are taken to curb it.

                                  Specific Mossawa Findings

                                  From 2000 through 2008, 42 Arab Israelis were killed. Only once was a police officer indicted and convicted, sentenced only to six months in prison for murder. Another accused officer still serves, "receiving support" from his commander.

                                  Since trials of two officers began in 2006, judges have delayed ruling, six months after proceedings ended. As a result, 13 families of initial Intifada killings await justice despite clear Or Commission recommendations (established to investigate them) not implemented by the Attorney General.

                                  Two Jews who killed Arabs were admitted to mental hospitals and declared unfit to stand trial. Four years after Natan Zadah killed four Arabs, investigations continue. After his death, 15 Shefaram residents were arrested on suspicion of their involvement. Four East Jerusalem Palestinians were killed after being repeatedly shot "even after they were clearly paralyzed." No investigation was conducted.

                                  Police attacked and injured 17 Israeli Arabs, a 300% increase since 2008. During the Gaza war, police intensified violence and arrested 700 Arab citizens. Yet a small number of them were indicted.

                                  Jewish civilians were involved in most racist incidents (about 70), up tenfold from the previous year. Most targeted Arabs and involved attacks and property destruction. The October 2008 Acre incidents resulted in over 80 people evacuated from their homes, most after being "repeatedly injured." Despite making arrests, police "failed to prevent massive confrontations" and didn't arrest youths involved in Acre and Carmiel attacks.

                                  Knesset members, other public figures, and rabbis were involved in 29 racist incidents, especially during the Gaza war, and in the run-up to elections through mass media reports. The Central Elections Committee (CEC) took no action.

                                  The New Israel Fund and Football Union reported 39 racist incidents during contests, not against Arabs but dark skinned targets - compared to 32 recorded 2008 cases. Another 15 incidents of "racial profiling and discrimination in services" were reported, showing a drop because courts now fine business discrimination on the basis of race.

                                  The Supreme Court, however, hasn't addressed airport profiling.

                                  Ten cases of religious discrimination were reported, included cemetery destruction and holy book burnings.

                                  The 2008 Knesset introduced 12 discriminatory bills, and the Supreme Court failed to disqualify the 2003 temporary Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, renewed every six months. It makes West Bank and Gaza Palestinians ineligible for residency permits if they marry an Israeli citizen, a measure harmful to thousands of families yearly.

                                  Israeli Arab leaders have been systematically delegitimized. "Israeli political leaders, the government, the police and government legal advisors use the demographic threat to force their political positions on Arab minority leaders," including prohibiting their visits to regional states that don't diplomatically recognize Israel. Also forcing them to accept Israel as a Jewish state to qualify as MKs, or in other words, renounce their own heritage.

                                  Arab leaders violating these terms are investigated to persecute and delegitimize them. During the Gaza war, police and security services made numerous arrests as a warning to local Arab leaders. In addition, for the third time since the early 1990s, the Central Elections Committee (CEC) disqualified two Arab political parties from participating in national elections. Though the Supreme Court overruled the decision, the Arab community got a chilling message, suggesting harsher measures to come.

                                  Jews as well experienced racism, specifically Russian and Ethiopian immigrants as well as gays.

                                  Summary of Mossawa's 2008 and 2009 Racist Incidents

                                  -- police violence since October 2000 killing Arab Israelis: in 2008, 41; in 2009, 42;

                                  -- other police violence against Arab Israelis: in 2008, 6; in 2009, 17;

                                  -- Jewish civilian attacks against Arab Israelis: in 2008, 7; in 2009, 70;

                                  -- racial incitement: in 2008, 27; in 2009, 29;

                                  -- religious discrimination: in 2008, 8; in 2009, 10;

                                  -- discrimination in public services: in 2008, 26; in 2009, 15;

                                  -- football related racism: in 2008, 32; in 2009, 39 through March;

                                  -- delegitimizations of Israeli Arab political leaders: in 2008, 15; in 2009, 23;

                                  -- racist Knesset bills: in 2008, 12; in 2009, 12; and

                                  -- discrimination against Russian and Ethiopian immigrants as well as gays: in 2008, 6; in 2009, 14.

                                  Totals: in 2008, 180; in 2009, 271.

                                  Mossawa was alarmed that Israeli Arabs are increasingly being persecuted like Occupied Palestinians - perhaps one step short of facing targeted killings, much greater dispossession rates, mass incarcerations, and torture. They're already denied rights afforded solely to Jews.

                                  Civilized societies accept all citizens as equals, or are supposed to. Israel rejects that standard, including for disfavored Jews, shunned for more privileged ones the way America treats minorities, the poor, disadvantaged, undocumented Latino immigrants called illegal, and Muslims persecuted as terrorists.

                                  - Stephen Lendman contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit his blog at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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                                    Deport the Palestinians to Where They Came From – Israel

                                    English (US)  April 13th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                    More land and less Palestinians by any means necessary.

                                    By Ahmed Amr

                                    It was bound to happen. The Israelis have decided to opt for outright ethnic cleansing. As of April 13, 2010 - the Israelis military will be accorded the power to deport any Palestinian or any foreigner in the West Bank if their papers ‘aren’t in order.’ The IDF has already made it clear that the order will not apply to Israeli citizens in the West Bank - you know - the illegal Jewish settlers. In fact, if you are Mongolian and can produce a faded newspaper clip announcing your grandfather’s bar mitzvah - that will be sufficient documentation to acquire immediate Israeli citizenship and get a red carpet reception when you relocate to the occupied territories. They’ll even provide you with subsidized housing if you take them up on the offer.

                                    However, if you happen to be of the Palestinian persuasion, the IDF won’t worry if you’re married to a woman from Nablus or engaged to a Palestinian from East Jerusalem. If you’re not Jewish - you have to move on. Even if you were born in the West Bank but your mother made the mistake of being born in Gaza, you qualify for deportation.

                                    But what if both your parents were born in Jaffa, but they ended up being refugees in Gaza? You still get deported to Gaza - because you’re not Jewish. What if your mother was a refugee from Nazareth who took refuge in Bethlehem and your father was born in Jerusalem but ended up in a refugee camp in Gaza. You’re still deportable - because you’re not Jewish. There are all kinds of possibilities if you’re not Jewish.

                                    [More:]

                                    Given the way Israel has manipulated who and who does not get residence - almost every Palestinian family might have a member who gets an expulsion order. And many of them could very well be turned into refugees for the second or third time around - because they’re not Jewish and because that’s what Israel is all about - one set of laws and privileges for Jews or anybody remotely Jewish, no matter their nationality or place of birth, and another book of arbitrary rules tailor made for the expulsion of the indigenous population. If you’re lucky enough to be Jewish or convert to Judaism - you get to come and go as you please. If you’re Palestinian - you just get to go to Gaza.

                                    There is a real simple solution to all this nonsense - deport the Palestinians to their ancestral homes. A good percentage of West Bankers and Gazans were either born in what is now Israel or their parents were born there. If the Israelis insist on deporting them to make room for settlements - then it only makes sense to deport them to where they came from - the parts of Palestine that ended up being Israel.

                                    This new Israeli law sets all kinds of precedents. We’ve got Russian and Moldavian born colonial settlers telling the natives of the Holy Land that they can’t even reside in the small slice of Palestine that everybody understood was reserved for the emerging Palestinian state. That just happens to be the dictionary definition of Chutzpah.

                                    Now it’s no use wasting time complaining to the Israelis. They go by rule number one - they will do whatever they think they can get away with. They got away with the Apartheid Wall. They’ve been getting away with war crimes since before the state was established - most recently in Gaza where they mercilessly slaughtered 1,500 residents with a permit issued by the Bush administration.

                                    This is the acid test for Obama. He knows exactly what he’s seeing. Unlike his predecessor, the zealous warmongering Armageddon worshiping dispensationalist who learned everything he needed to know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Revelations, this president understands exactly what he is witnessing - ethnic cleansing. He understands why Palestinians are being asked to move along - because they’re not Jewish. Not only that, because they’re Arab.

                                    And it’s not just Obama who fully comprehends what this policy is about. Hillary Clinton, who claimed Jewish ancestry when she was running for a New York Senate seat, must also have a good handle on the absurdity of her entitlement to Israeli citizenship. There can be no doubt that she’s perfectly aware that under Israeli law she has the right to settle in the West Bank and take up the space vacated by a deportable Palestinian. If that sits well with her, we’ll know exactly the kind of Secretary of State she’s destined to be.

                                    You don’t have to interpret what the Israelis are doing to the folks in the State Department or the United Nations or the Arab League or the European Union. They know what ethnic cleansing and racism look like. Even the Israelis know what they look like. They just happen to believe they have a God given right to be racists - because they’re Jewish and the Palestinians are not. And if you want to argue with them and their dispensationalist followers, they’ll say it to your face. They’re always glad to put their scriptures on the table and prove to you that God promised ancestral Palestinian land to Jews from Moldavia.

                                    Like any theocratic state, Israel insists that its laws supersede international laws including the prohibition against the forcible removal of the population of an occupied territory. At the very core of Zionism, there remains the steadfast belief that the expulsion of the native inhabitants of the Holy Land is a worthy state enterprise. Forget about all their propaganda, every Israeli knows exactly what the blueprint calls for - more land and less Palestinians by any means necessary.

                                    The Israelis and their Amen Corner will deploy all kinds of words from their magic thesaurus to camouflage this transparent policy of ethnic cleansing. But there is nothing ambiguous about what’s going on here. The only ambiguity is on how the world - especially the United States - will respond. Make no mistake, the Nuts and Yahoos in Jerusalem are putting Obama to the test. It’s not a trail balloon or anything like that. It’s a declared policy to radically alter the demographics of the West Bank by expulsion and land expropriation.

                                    In the coming days we’ll see the metal Obama is made of. The President might do absolutely nothing which the Israelis will take as a green light. He might even have the State Department issue a carefully worded statement of disapproval - which the Israelis will also mistake for a nod of approval. Or he could take a stand - as a man who has tasted the rotten fruit of racism - and do the right thing. And the right thing to do is to raise hell if a single Palestinian is deported - unless they’re deported to where they came from - Israel.

                                    - Ahmed Amr is an Arab-American and the former editor of NileMedia.com. He is the Author of “The Sheep and the Guardians - Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle.” He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                      Amayreh: Ed Koch’s lying tongue

                                      English (US)  April 12th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                      By Khalid Amayreh
                                      8 April 2010

                                      Ed Koch is a delusional Zionist supremacist who is desperately struggling to maintain the relevance of Zionist mythology, especially in Europe and North America.

                                      And like all Zionists, the former New York mayor, seems to have little regard if any for truth and honesty.

                                      This is why he constantly reproduces old lies and discredited canards in an effort to re-colonize and brainwash people’s minds about the reality of Zio-Nazism as embodied by the Satanic creature known as Israel.

                                      In his latest rambling screed of lies, published in several Zionist publications, including the Jewish settler mouthpiece, the Jerusalem Post, Koch lambasted President Obama’s ostensible insistence that Israel halt its frantic settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Koch went as far as comparing American efforts to resolve the Palestinian plight with the policy of appeasement adopted by some European governments toward Nazi Germany prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. “There is a foul whiff of Munich and appeasement in the air, he recently wrote.

                                      [More:]

                                      “A harbinger of what is to come is Obama’s willingness to throw Israel under the bus as an attempt to court better relations with the Sunni Arab countries.“

                                      For Koch and like-minded Zionists, asking Israel to rein in Nazi-minded Jewish settlers, stop stealing occupied Arab land and freeze the expansion of Jewish-only colonies on land belonging to another people is tantamount to throwing Israel under the bus, according to these arrogant dogs and sick thugs.

                                      For them, only allowing Israel to slaughter every Palestinian man, woman and child would be a sufficient proof of America’s friendship with Israel, a state that murders children in large numbers, drops white phosphorus shells over civilian neighborhoods and then claims it did it for self-defense.

                                      An aggregate Zionist racist and liar from the 1950s, Koch repeats one of the most notorious lies once echoed by another pathological liar, former President Bush who claimed that Muslims and Arabs hated the U.S. because of “our freedoms and liberties” not because of America’s dark embrace of Israeli Nazism.

                                      Koch wrote: “Hatred of the US has little to do with what we do and a lot to do with what we are-a free, secular and democratic country that protects the rights of women and minorities.”

                                      Well, Mr. Koch is effectively committing adultery with language as he does with truth by regurgitating these stale lies. In fact, one of the main reasons for Arab-Islamic animosity toward the US government is exactly the apposite of what this old Zionist thug is saying. In truth, it is America’s enduring and wanton embrace of tyrannical Arab regimes that deny their masses human rights and civil liberties (such as the right to elect their own rulers and freedom of speech and expression) that generate hatred for America’s policies in the Arab-Muslim world. (the other two reasons have to do with America’s dark embrace of Israel’s territorial expansion and America’s anti-Islam posture).

                                      Hence, one can argue rather candidly that Koch is either an irredeemable, willful ignoramus, which is unlikely given his long career in politics and familiarity with the issues of the Middle East, or a pornographically odious liar that lies as often as he breathes oxygen, which is the more likely probability.

                                      More to the point, in his defense of Zio-Nazism, Koch claims that any balanced American approach toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, would result in the escalation of inter-Muslim violence, as if the racist thug were concerned about the loss of non-Jewish lives and shedding of non-Jewish blood.

                                      He nonchalantly invokes a statement by the former Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin which really embodied Zionist diabolical sanctimony and murderous self-righteousness.

                                      Begin, a certified war criminal, was quoted as saying following the Sabra and Shatilla massacres near Beirut in 1982, that “Gentiles kill Gentiles and they come to hang the Jews.”

                                      Well, true the Christian militias did carry out the actual killings at the two refugee camps, but it was the Israeli occupation army, the Wehrmacht of the time, that abetted, enabled and facilitated the slaughter.

                                      Why does Koch, an old man with one leg in the grave and the other walking, choose to ignore this cardinal, obvious fact? Is this how Jews ought to behave? Shame on the depraved liar.

                                      Besides, since when an irredeemable mass murderer and child killer, a Hitlerite of Menachem Begin’s caliber can be trusted as a paragon of truth when he himself boasted in his book “the Revolt” about his role in the notorious massacre of Dir Yasin?

                                      So what is it that Koch is barking at and what does he want? Is he trying to tell the US administration that Israel, a country situated 10,000 kilometers away, must be allowed to retain and perpetuate its control of US congress, government, media and politics even at the expense of American national interests? Is he trying to tell the American government and people that what Israel is doing in Gaza is a kosher genocide and that as such it should be allowed to continue and linger for as long as necessary depending on the mood and whims of the Judeo-Nazi clique in Tel Aviv, especially the genocidal settler leadership?

                                      In addition to his manifestly criminal tribal loyalty to the Nazi-like entity, Koch is also scandalously morally duplicitous when it comes to the issue of democracy.

                                      He criticizes the Obama administration for allowing the American-puppet Afghani leader Hamid Karazai to win a second term despite the reported widespread vote-rig, arguing that the US behaved undemocratically.

                                      In recent weeks, Karazai threatened to change the “rule of the game” with the West, especially with the Obama administration, saying “If you (the Afghan Parliament) and the international community keep pressuring me, I swear that I am going to join the Taliban.”

                                      Koch’s lamentation about Karazai’s reelection shouldn’t be understood as an expression commitment to democracy.

                                      After all, Koch has always been and continues to be a firm supporter of the genocidal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was imposed following Hamas’s election victory in 2006.

                                      In other words, Koch supports democracy only if it serves Israel’s and international Zionism’s global interests and goals, including the liquidation of the Palestinian cause, the creation of a huge Jewish-Zionist empire in the Middle East and probably world domination as well.

                                      However, if democracy produces leaderships that truly reflect the masses’ collective will, as in occupied Palestine and as it would in many other Arab and Muslim countries, then Koch will come with a thousand arguments against democracy, because in the final analysis what counts, as far as he is concerned, is not people’s natural right to freedom and democracy, but rather the Jewish people’s “right” to enslave and torment “the goyem” by virtue of being “the chosen people.”

                                      Doesn’t this, which represents the total sum, justify calling Zionist Jews "the Nazis of our time”?

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                                        Israeli hypocrisy this Holocaust Remembrance Day

                                        English (US)  April 12th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                        April 12th, 2010

                                        AFP photo. A new Israeli military order is set to come into place allowing the mass deportation of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

                                        By Dan Nolan

                                        Today is Holocaust Remembrance day. At 10am Israel came to a virtual standstill, sirens wailed across cities, traffic stopped as Jews here and abroad pause to reflect on the worst genocide in history.

                                        Adolf Hitler's evil plans started with discrimination against Jews based solely on their religion before moving them through mass deportations to concentration camps before finally seeking to exterminate them.

                                        A total of 6 million Jewish men, women and children died in mankind’s darkest hour.

                                        The world, and in particular Israel, rightly continues to remember these horrific events of 60 years ago to ensure it never happens again. But there is increasing concern about whether the tragic lessons of the Holocaust were fully learned by Israel itself?

                                        Tomorrow, April 13, 2010, a new Israeli military order comes into place allowing the mass deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

                                        [More:]


                                        Any Palestinian or foreigner living in the West Bank without the appropriate id permit (receipt of which is controlled by Israel) can be deported within 72 hours or even jailed for up to 7 years.

                                        Those Palestinians lucky enough to have escaped the open-air prison that is Gaza to now live in the West Bank maybe the first targeted and sent back.
                                        The vague wording of the law has concerned Israeli human rights groups so much that 10 of them have signed a letter to Defence Minister Ehud Barak begging him to rescind it.

                                        The left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz first broke the story and its editorial today is compelling reading, saying:

                                        “The right of all Palestinians to choose where to live in the West Bank or Gaza marks a very low threshold for defining their human rights. Implementing this new military order is not only likely to spark a new conflagration in the territories, it is liable to give the world clear-cut proof that Israel's aim is a mass deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank.”

                                        Palestinian leaders say the move is devoted to racism and “paves the way for an ethnic cleansing operation.”

                                        As Israeli’s well know, the Holocaust started with human rights violations which turned into mass deportations and ended in genocide.

                                        Is it not time that those who support a state born of the single most traumatic event of the 20th century do everything in their power to never impose anything that resembles their own suffering on another oppressed people?

                                        No doubt those who love Israel so much they cannot see its faults will attack this blog as being anti-Semitic.

                                        But hopefully on a day that remembers the horrors of the past, just maybe Israel can start to rectify the wrongs of the present.

                                        Al Jazeera blog

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                                          Latest discriminatory scheme from "the only democracy in the Middle East": Israeli Occupation Forces issue order to allow massive ethnic cleansing of West Bank

                                          English (US)  April 11th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                          IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank

                                          By Amira Hass
                                          Haaretz

                                          A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

                                          When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.

                                          Given the security authorities' actions over the past decade, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rules will be those whose ID cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip - people born in Gaza and their West Bank-born children - or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency status. Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinians.

                                          [More:]

                                          Until now, Israeli civil courts have occasionally prevented the expulsion of these three groups from the West Bank. The new order, however, puts them under the sole jurisdiction of Israeli military courts.

                                          The new order defines anyone who enters the West Bank illegally as an infiltrator, as well as "a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit." The order takes the original 1969 definition of infiltrator to the extreme, as the term originally applied only to those illegally staying in Israel after having passed through countries then classified as enemy states - Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

                                          The order's language is both general and ambiguous, stipulating that the term infiltrator will also be applied to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, citizens of countries with which Israel has friendly ties (such as the United States) and Israeli citizens, whether Arab or Jewish. All this depends on the judgment of Israel Defense Forces commanders in the field.

                                          The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual was the first Israeli human rights to issue warnings against the order, signed six months ago by then-commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria Area Gadi Shamni.

                                          Two weeks ago, Hamoked director Dalia Kerstein sent GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi a request to delay the order, given "the dramatic change it causes in relation to the human rights of a tremendous number of people."

                                          According to the provisions, "a person is presumed to be an infiltrator if he is present in the area without a document or permit which attest to his lawful presence in the area without reasonable justification." Such documentation, it says, must be "issued by the commander of IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area or someone acting on his behalf."

                                          The instructions, however, are unclear over whether the permits referred to are those currently in force, or also refer to new permits that military commanders might issue in the future. The provision are also unclear about the status of bearers of West Bank residency cards, and disregards the existence of the Palestinian Authority and the agreements Israel signed with it and the PLO.

                                          The order stipulates that if a commander discovers that an infiltrator has recently entered a given area, he "may order his deportation before 72 hours elapse from the time he is served the written deportation order, provided the infiltrator is deported to the country or area from whence he infiltrated."

                                          The order also allows for criminal proceedings against suspected infiltrators that could produce sentences of up to seven years. Individuals able to prove that they entered the West Bank legally but without permission to remain there will also be tried, on charges carrying a maximum sentence of three years. (According to current Israeli law, illegal residents typically receive one-year sentences.)

                                          The new provision also allow the IDF commander in the area to require that the infiltrator pay for the cost of his own detention, custody and expulsion, up to a total of NIS 7,500.

                                          The fear that Palestinians with Gaza addresses will be the first to be targeted by this order is based on measures that Israel has taken in recent years to curtail their right to live, work, study or even visit the West Bank. These measures violated the Oslo Accords.

                                          According to a decision by the West Bank commander that was not backed by military legislation, since 2007, Palestinians with Gaza addresses must request a permit to stay in the West Bank. Since 2000, they have been defined as illegal sojourners if they have Gaza addresses, as if they were citizens of a foreign state. Many of them have been deported to Gaza, including those born in the West Bank.

                                          Currently, Palestinians need special permits to enter areas near the separation fence, even if their homes are there, and Palestinians have long been barred from the Jordan Valley without special authorization. Until 2009, East Jerusalemites needed permission to enter Area A, territory under full PA control.

                                          Another group expected to be particularly harmed by the new rules are Palestinians who moved to the West Bank under family reunification provisions, which Israel stopped granting for several years.

                                          In 2007, amid a number of Hamoked petitions and as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, tens of thousands of people received Palestinian residency cards. The PA distributed the cards, but Israel had exclusive control over who could receive them. Thousands of Palestinians, however, remained classified as "illegal sojourners," including many who are not citizens of any other country.

                                          The new order is the latest step by the Israeli government in recent years to require permits that limit the freedom of movement and residency previously conferred by Palestinian ID cards. The new regulations are particularly sweeping, allowing for criminal measures and the mass expulsion of people from their homes.

                                          The IDF Spokesman's Office said in response, "The amendments to the order on preventing infiltration, signed by GOC Central Command, were issued as part of a series of manifests, orders and appointments in Judea and Samaria, in Hebrew and Arabic as required, and will be posted in the offices of the Civil Administration and military courts' defense attorneys in Judea and Samaria. The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal sojourners in Judea and Samaria."

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                                            BBC - Evidence Israel's nuclear weapons (Banned Censored) 5of5

                                            English (US)  April 11th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

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                                              BBC - Evidence Israel's nuclear weapons (Banned Censored) 4of5

                                              English (US)  April 11th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

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                                                    BBC - Evidence Israel's nuclear weapons(Banned Censored)

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                                                      EXCLUSIVE: Two Journalists Recount Their Experiences Reporting from Gaza 1 of 3

                                                      English (US)  April 11th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                      5 words posted in Israel, Af-Pak warLeave a comment

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                                                        In Iran, Leader slams US nuke threats

                                                        English (US)  April 11th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                        Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei addresses a meeting with top military commanders on Sunday.
                                                        Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei slams US President Barack Obama for implicitly threatening Iran with a "nuclear attack."

                                                        In a meeting with top military commanders on Sunday Ayatollah Khamenei said certain powers reply on their strength out of pride and therefore lose their authority.

                                                        "An example of this is the recent remarks by the US president who implicitly threatened the Iranian nation with the use of nuclear arms."

                                                        "These remarks are very strange and the world should not ignore them because in the 21st century, the century of claiming to advocate human rights and fight terrorism, the head of a country has threatened [to launch] a nuclear attack," he added.

                                                        [More:]

                                                        Ayatollah Khamenei said such comments are not in the interest of the US, adding, "These remarks mean that the US government is a wicked and unreliable government."

                                                        "In recent years, the Americans made many efforts to show that the Islamic Republic of Iran is unreliable in the nuclear issue…it is clear now that the governments that have atomic bombs and shamelessly threaten to bomb others [countries] are the unreliable ones. Therefore the US president's remarks are scandalous.”

                                                        The Leader said that the strength of an establishment is dependant on its faith, resilience, and strong will. "After 30 years, the Iranian nation is more resilient and strong and has shown it has the ability to withstand any form of animosity."

                                                        Ayatollah Khamenei urged Iran's Armed Forces to adopt necessary strategies to promote the country's defense capabilities.

                                                        "The Armed Forces should always be on full alert and ready to counter any threats by… taking their training seriously," he said.

                                                        PressTV

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                                                          Turkey: World is turning a blind eye to Israel's nuclear weapons

                                                          English (US)  April 11th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                          By The Associated Press

                                                          Turkey's prime minister said Sunday that the world is turning a blind eye to Israel's nuclear program and that he intends to raise the issue at the nuclear summit in Washington.

                                                          Recep Tayyip Erdogan remarked that Iran's nuclear program is being scrutinized because of its membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency whereas Israel, which has not signed a nonproliferation treaty, is free to do what it wants.

                                                          "We are disturbed by this and will say so," Erdogan told reporters before his departure for Washington on Sunday.

                                                          [More:]


                                                          The Israeli government has said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off his trip to Washington because he believed Turkey and other Muslim nations would make an issue of Israel's nuclear program.

                                                          Israel's policy is to neither confirm nor deny that it possesses nuclear weapons.

                                                          Meanwhile Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that Israel has much to contribute to this week's nuclear security summit even though Netanyahu was skipping the Washington conference.

                                                          Clinton said the world's biggest concern on nuclear security is that terrorists will get control of bomb-making material. She said that Israel can do much to help thwart nuclear terror.

                                                          Representing Israel at U.S. President Barack Obama's conference will be Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor.

                                                          Clinton's remarks came in interviews with NBC's Meet the Press and ABC's This Week.

                                                          On Friday, a top U.S. official said the Obama administration believed Israel's delegation to the nuclear summit will be "robust," despite Netanyahu's decision not to attend.

                                                          "We obviously would like to have the prime minister but the deputy prime minister will be leading the delegation and it will be a robust Israeli delegation," U.S. National Security Adviser General Jim Jones told reporters traveling on Air Force One.

                                                          He also said that relationships between the U.S. and Israel are "ongoing, fine and continuous."

                                                          Obama has invited more than 40 countries to the summit, which will deal with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups.

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                                                            U.S. Defense Secretary: A nuclear Iran is not inevitable

                                                            English (US)  April 11th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                            By Reuters

                                                            Iran is not yet "nuclear capable" and the U.S. government has not concluded that it is inevitable that Tehran will get the bomb, Pentagon chief Robert Gates said in remarks aired on Sunday.

                                                            "It is our judgment ... they are not nuclear capable, not yet," Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, said on NBC's Meet the Press.

                                                            Asked if the U.S. government had concluded this was inevitable, Gates said, "No. We have not ... drawn that conclusion at all, and in fact we are doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons."

                                                            [More:]


                                                            However, he added that "they [the Iranians] are continuing to make progress on these [nuclear] programs. It is going slower than they anticipated but they are moving in that direction."

                                                            U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing other global powers to agree to a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, a charge Iran denies.

                                                            But some critics of Obama's attempts to engage Iran have said they fear his administration may be preparing to shift from a strategy of keeping Iran from getting the bomb to a strategy of containing a nuclear-armed Iran.

                                                            "We are probably going to get another UN Security Council resolution" of sanctions on Iran, Gates told NBC.

                                                            Gates added that the United States and other countries will continue trying to convince the Iranians that they are "headed down the wrong path" by pressuring Iran with sanctions as well as more missile defense and other military cooperation in the Gulf region.

                                                            "At the end of the day, what has to happen is that the Iranian government has to decide that its own security is better served by not having nuclear weapons than by having them," Gates said.

                                                            Earlier Sunday, Iran's foreign ministry said that the Islamic republic will lodge a complaint with the UN about what it sees as Obama's threat to attack it with nuclear weapons.

                                                            Obama made clear last week that Iran and North Korea were excluded from new limits on the use of U.S. atomic weapons - something Tehran interpreted as a threat from a long-standing adversary to attack it with nuclear bombs.

                                                            "The recent statement by the U.S. president ... implicitly intimidates the Iranian nation with the deployment of nuclear arms," Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised meeting with military and security officials.

                                                            "This statement is very strange and the world should not ignore it since in the 21st century, which is the era of support for human rights and campaigning against terrorism, the head of a country is threatening to use nuclear war."

                                                            Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the semi-official Fars news agency Iran would lodge a formal complaint with the UN, a move backed by a letter signed by 255 of Iran's 290 members of parliament.

                                                            Reflecting fears of attack on its nuclear sites from the United States or its closest Middle East ally Israel, the defense ministry said Iran had started producing a prototype of an advanced anti-aircraft missile system.

                                                            "The Mersad air defense system ... is able to destroy modern aircraft at low and medium range altitude," the ISNA news agency on Sunday quoted Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying.

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                                                              Was Israel Ever Legitimate?

                                                              English (US)  April 11th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                              By Jeff Gates

                                                              The history of Israel as a geopolitical fraud will fill entire libraries as those defrauded marvel at how so few deceived so many for so long. Those duped include many naive Jews who—even now—identify their interests with this extremist enclave.

                                                              Israeli leaders are wrong to worry about “de-legitimization.” They are right to fear that a long-deceived public is fast realizing that Israel’s founding was key to an ongoing deception.

                                                              The Invention of the Jewish People did not begin with Shlomo Sand’s 2009 bestseller by that title. There was no Exile says this Jewish scholar. Nor was there an Exodus. So how could there be a Return, the core premise of Israeli statehood?

                                                              If this patch of Palestinian land never rightly belonged to a mythical Jewish People, what then for the legitimacy of the “Jewish homeland.” And for that depiction by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in his November 1917 letter to Lord Rothschild?

                                                              Were Christians likewise seduced by Sunday school teachings reliant on the phony findings of Biblical archeologist William Albright? Shlomo Sand chronicles how in the 1920s Albright interpreted every excavation in Palestine to “reaffirm the Old Testament and thereby the New.”

                                                              [More:]

                                                              In 1948, President Harry Truman, a Christian Zionist, was advised by Secretary of State George Marshall not to recognize this enclave as a state. This WWII general assured Truman that he would vote against him—and did.

                                                              That military tradition resurfaced in January 2010 when General David Petraeus dispatched a team to brief Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the perils that Israel still poses to U.S. national security. Mullen was reportedly shocked. See: The Petraeus Briefing.

                                                              He should not have been surprised. Such insights are hardly new. More than six decades ago the Joint Chiefs of Staff cautioned Truman about the “fanatical concepts of the Jewish leaders” and their plans for “Jewish military and economic hegemony over the entire Middle East.”

                                                              In December 1948, Albert Einstein and 27 prominent Jews urged us “not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.” They warned that a “Leader State” was the goal of the “terrorist party” that has governed Israel over all but a handful of the past 62 years.

                                                              The Joint Chiefs foresaw the “Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the U.S.] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives.”

                                                              Soon after Truman recognized Israel, his presidential campaign train was “refueled” by Zionist Jews with $400,000 in contributions ($3.6 million in 2010 dollars). Soon thereafter, Israel betrayed the U.S. by allying with the British and the French to invade Egypt.

                                                              Though London and Paris soon abandoned the operation, months more were required to dissuade Tel Aviv from pursuing their expansionist agenda then—as now—for Greater Israel.

                                                              Outraged by Israeli duplicity, Eisenhower sought help to rein them in. He soon found that even then (as now) the Israel lobby dominated Congress. Thus the former Supreme Allied Commander appeared on television with an appeal directly to the American people. Then—unlike now—a U.S. Commander in Chief threatened to reduce assistance to Israel.

                                                              To revamp Israel’s tattered image, New York public relations expert Edward Gottlieb retained novelist Leon Uris to write Exodus. Jewish Zionists have routinely proven themselves skilled storytellers and masterful mythmakers.

                                                              This 1958 bestseller was translated into dozens of languages and quickly made into a movie for the 1960 Christmas season starring Paul Newman and featuring Peter Lawford, brother-in-law of the just-elected President John F. Kennedy. See: Time for an American Intifada?

                                                              The Myth of a Loyal Ally

                                                              Phil Tourney survived the June 8, 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that left 34 Americans dead and 175 wounded. The region-wide dynamics accompanying that provocative Six-Day land grab guaranteed the conflicts that remain so perilous to U.S. national security.

                                                              It was during this Israeli operation that Tourney gave a one-fingered salute to armed Israeli troops as they hovered in helicopters over the USS Liberty while preparing to rappel to the deck and, he surmises, kill the survivors and sink the ship.

                                                              Just then the captain aboard a nearby U.S. carrier scrambled jets to assist a vessel under attack by an “ally.” When Israeli intelligence intercepted the transmission, the helicopters fled only to have President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recall our fighters.

                                                              Soon thereafter, Israeli torpedo boats pulled alongside the USS Liberty to inquire if those aboard needed assistance. Those same boats had just blown a hole in the hull, killing 25 Americans. Israeli machine-gunners had then strafed stretcher-bearers, firemen, life rafts and even the fire hoses—all clear war crimes. Only then did this ally display the chutzpah to ask if our servicemen required assistance.

                                                              Had that notorious land grab failed to advance the narrative of Israel as the victim, what might be the condition of U.S. national security today? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently conceded the duplicity that continues to typify this “special relationship.”

                                                              As he confessed: “Our policy on Jerusalem is the same policy followed by all Israeli governments for 42 years, and it has not changed. As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv.”

                                                              In other words, the 1967 war was neither defensive nor preemptive but an outright taking of land that, one year later, Tel Aviv acknowledged as precisely what concerned the Pentagon 62 years ago.

                                                              In effect, Netanyahu confirmed that this relationship reflects multi-decade premeditation. The U.S. has since discredited itself by protecting this “ally” from the rule of law for its taking and brutal occupation of land that rightly belongs to others.

                                                              Even now, few know that Mathilde Krim, a former Irgun operative, was “servicing” our Commander-in-Chief in the White House the night the 1967 war began. Her husband, Arthur, then chaired the finance committee for the Democratic National Committee.

                                                              Even now, few Americans know the role in that cover-up played by Admiral John McCain, Jr. Or the role still played in this sordid history by his son, Republican Senator John McCain III. See: McCain Family Secret.

                                                              Are those who champion this “state” the same belief-makers responsible for the myth of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Iraqi meetings in Prague? Iraqi mobile biological weapons laboratories? High-level Iraqi contacts with Al Qaeda? Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger?

                                                              Was any of that intelligence legitimate? Whose interests were served by deceiving the U.S. to wage war in the Middle East? By the Suez Crisis? By the Six-Day War? By covering up the attack on the USS Liberty?

                                                              Adhering to an Enemy?

                                                              How are U.S. interests served by treating Israel as a legitimate state? When was Israeli behavior anything other than duplicitous? At what point do we concede the common source of the storylines foisted on an imperiled global public?

                                                              Who created the narrative that saw us segue seamlessly from a global Cold War to a global War on Terrorism? Remember the promise of a post-Cold War “peace dividend”? Who induced the U.S. to wage a war whose costs could total $3 trillion, including $700 billion in interest?

                                                              Why is debt always the prize? At the end of WWII, the U.S. was home to 50% of the world’s productive power. Were we induced to hollow out our economy by the same consensus-shapers that induced us to wage war in the Middle East?

                                                              Do these devastating dynamics trace to a common source?

                                                              Who benefits from the “Islamo” fascist narrative? Whose storyline—really—is The Clash of Civilizations? Who has long spied on the U.S. and routinely transferred to other nations our most sensitive defense technologies?

                                                              Who had the means, motive, opportunity and, importantly, the stable nation state intelligence required to perpetrate such a debilitating fraud from inside the U.S. government? And from inside other governments that joined the “coalition of the willing”?

                                                              If not Israel and its supporters—who? In effect, are those now advocating an “unbreakable bond” with Israel giving aid and comfort to an enemy within?

                                                              Israel is right to worry. It was never legitimate. As both an enabler and a target of this fraud, the U.S. has an obligation to concede its source—and to secure the weapons of mass destruction now under the control of this enclave.

                                                              Online Journal

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                                                                Amayreh: The un-Christian “Christians” who Embrace Israeli Apartheid

                                                                English (US)  April 10th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                Khalid Amayreh

                                                                By Khalid Amayreh

                                                                “They may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

                                                                Millions of Christian Zionists think that by blindly supporting Israel’s apartheid policies against the tormented Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians, they are upholding the truth and doing the right thing in the sight of God. Frankly, they are wrong; supporting blatantly unjust policies, including murder, persecution and theft, is never morally correct no matter how many verses one can quote from the Old Testament or any other religious text. Moreover, these pseudo-Christians, many of whom think they are following in the footsteps of Jesus, are convinced that they are doing his will by absolutely and unconditionally embracing evil actions which are in reality the antithesis of everything that Jesus Christ preached.

                                                                I am not talking about something about which I have scanty information or rudimentary knowledge. I have written a Master’s thesis on Christian Zionists’ distorted theology, met and spoken with some of their leaders, watched their TV antics and read their books. I heard the late Jerry Falwell on several occasions claim that “if you criticize Israel, you criticize God”, adding that the Almighty “treats nations according to how nations treat Israel”. Similarly, I heard and watched another demented evangelical, Pat Robertson of the 700-Club, who would invoke Old Testament atrocities to justify Israel’s modern equivalents, even those committed against Palestinians who are his fellow Christians. I also know that some evangelical preachers have called for applying the “Biblical approach” to the Palestinians and Lebanese people for resisting Israeli aggression. That “Biblical approach” is nought but a euphemism for genocidal ethnic cleansing.

                                                                [More:]

                                                                Unfortunately, this scandalous distortion of Christ’s teachings is being promoted by wealthy Zionist circles that pay lip-service to Christianity, especially among Protestant communities and evangelicals, for purely political reasons, while maligning everything and anyone professing Christianity living in Israel. If anyone still has doubts about the veracity of this claim, let them ask some of the leaders of the Christian communities in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

                                                                This mindless infatuation with Zionism, an essentially Godless ideology that views religion including Judaism with contempt, is an expression of mental and spiritual sickness. What else explains the enthusiasm among such “Christians” for Israeli atrocities in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank? Christian Zionists claim to be following the way of Jesus. However, a brief scrutiny of their behaviour reveals people who are more concerned about pleasing Israeli-Jewish supremacists than pleasing Jesus. They have the audacity to claim that they love the Palestinians, Israel’s victims, while they quite happily give support to Israel’s criminal acts, such as demolishing Palestinians’ homes, bulldozing their farms, fields and orchards, even burning them with white phosphorus. What kind of “Christian charity and love” portrays evil as good in this way? Jesus would never have condoned the actions of Zionists as even a cursory examination of his ministry will reveal.

                                                                It is often understood that “love” rather than “justice” is the essence of Christianity. But is love compatible and consistent with supporting oppression and persecution against innocent people just because they happen to be non-members of a “chosen tribe”? In fact, it is only through the fair treatment of others that true love can be manifested and conveyed. In Islam, true love is called “Ihsan” which is an advanced degree of charity and forgiveness.

                                                                It is a positive sign that the erstwhile power and influence of the cult known as Christian Zionism people who support Israel right or wrong has been receding, especially in the United States. Nevertheless, we who are the victims of Zionism and America’s enduring embrace of Israeli criminality, want to see true Christians in America and elsewhere speak out and repair the damage wreaked by successive US administrations on an innocent people whose only “crime” is their determination to free themselves from the shackles of neo-apartheid.

                                                                It is easy to “prove” any argument with selective readings from sacred texts; taken out of context, such texts can be misused and this is what has happened with fanatical Bible-thumpers viewing the Lord as no more than a Tribal Chief or real estate-dealer. The reality is that, ultimately, God does not condone oppression, even if the oppressor is Jewish.

                                                                Any theology that condones and, indeed, endorses oppression against non-Jews (including Christians) by Jews is a theology devoid of morality, a theology which owes more to Satan than to true guidance from the Almighty.

                                                                I am not suggesting that Christians should become the enemies of any particular people; I am only challenging them to behave in accordance with the teachings of Christ. If that is done, we will see organisations called “Christians united for justice” rather than “Christians united for Israel”, because true Christians can never be instrumental in implementing oppressive policies.

                                                                ==============

                                                                About the Author: Khalid Amayreh is a Journalist living in Dura, Hebron District, West Bank, occupied Palestine . He has BA in journalism: University of Oklahoma , 1981 MA in journalism, University of Southern Illinois , 1983

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                                                                  My beautiful Palestine

                                                                  English (US)  April 10th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                  Bigger than land on map, Palestine is the name of all universal struggles for a better world, writes Samah Sabawi* in Melbourne


                                                                  A Palestinian David uses a slingshot to throw stones at the symbol of the Israeli Goliath

                                                                  This is to all of the Palestinian parents in exile and the long trail of olive trees they've planted around the globe.

                                                                  A few days ago, my father e-mailed me a photo of my mum and him standing proudly next to my newest sibling; a young olive tree they've planted in their garden in Queensland, Australia. I was moved beyond belief looking at that photo and thinking of my beautiful Palestine.

                                                                  [More:]

                                                                  To many Palestinians of my generation, raised in the Diaspora, Palestine is more than the landscape, old stones and holy places that so many have written about yet most of us on the outside have never seen. As hard as we try to imagine the magnificence of our ancestors' orange groves, or the enchantment of the scent of jasmine flowers as it lingers at night, we know that we are severed from that world. We know that we can only listen with empathy when our relatives talk of that feeling one gets facing the sea in Gaza, or walking the old streets of Jerusalem, as we'll never come close to truly grasping the depth of those experiences. And while we eagerly read the works of acclaimed poets and masters of the word who confess their undying love for that land, many of us on the outside, born and raised in the suburbs of Canada, Australia, the US, and so many other places may find it difficult to profess our love of a physical piece of land we've never set foot on. Yet there is an undeniable connection we share and there is a beauty we see in a Palestine that is constructed in our minds, in our hearts and in our homes.

                                                                  When my parents were uprooted from Gaza, they carried my siblings and I on a journey that took them from the refugee camps, through the Arab Gulf all the way to Australia. We grew up in dozens of houses, always on the move from one contradiction to another, one culture to another, one life to another and one language to another. Throughout our life's journey, we knew beyond any doubt who we were and where we came from. We knew we were distinct. Our story was difficult to tell and school projects were particularly challenging. Like many others in the Diaspora we had to explain to teachers and peers where we are from and why the name of our country is not written on their maps. We became experts at reconciling the worlds and identities that inhabit us; feeling the weight of oppression in countries and places that offered us citizenship and freedom and travelling with ease with our Western passports while always remembering our relatives and loved ones under siege, under curfew, behind the checkpoints and under occupation. We appreciated our civil liberties in ways only those who stripped of their human rights can. We, the generation born and raised in exile, began to see the world differently and as a result we now understand our human identity in a way that is truly unique.

                                                                  My father always told us, "To be a Palestinian means you must speak truth to power and you must never give up." He was always busy teaching us through his poetry and his stories about being good citizens of the world, identifying with the oppressed and standing for the rights of those who have none. He brought home dozens of movies including Gandhi and Cry Freedom and he sat us down to watch the series Roots, always discussing the movies and stories afterwards. It didn't matter if it was about abolishing slavery, apartheid in South Africa or non- violent civil disobedience in India, the message was always the same: Palestine is not one battle, it is an epic human story told again and again of how the oppressed stand up against oppressors. "To understand our story, we must understand the age-old human battle for freedom." My father had a strong conviction that to be of use to Palestine you had to be a part of the world at large. "Palestine is not about a tiny spot on the map," he always said, "it is about the awakening of the human conscience."

                                                                  As for my mother, she never failed to give us doses of a quiet yet infinite love, filled with all the colours of a culture that could not be crushed, denied or forgotten. If you spend some time with my mother you will know Israel has a losing battle on its hands. She kept Palestinian food on the table, told Palestinian folk tales, sang us Palestinian lullabies, and when we were ready to move away and start our own lives, she orchestrated for us Palestinian weddings that didn't miss any of the details they had back home. Palestine lives uninterrupted through the army of millions of exiled Palestinian mothers who, like my mother, have became a solid bridge to the homeland for their families.

                                                                  My family has lived in exile now for more than 40 years, and even though I've made many visits back to Palestine, I never really lived there. Yet like all Palestinians in the Diaspora would say, Palestine lives inside me. I have become weaved into the tapestry of Palestinian activism that places me in a larger community of human rights and justice advocates. My global village is filled with inspirational people and their stories of triumphs and tribulations in the face of oppression. Today, I know with certainty that my beautiful Palestine is not just that piece of geography my parents yearn for, and that my people don't all have the same Semitic eyes, skin or hair as I do. My Palestine is wherever there is injustice in this world and my people are the truthseekers and the peace activists. They are my sisters and my brothers.

                                                                  I look at the photo my parents sent me, how extraordinary their journey has been and what examples they've set for us. Indeed, my beautiful Palestine transcends space and time. It is much larger than any one country on a map. It is a trail of olive trees planted around this globe. My beautiful Palestine is the undefeated and unbreakable human spirit soaring above borders, over walls and beyond oppression.

                                                                  * The author is a writer, playwright and poet. She was born in Gaza and is currently residing in Melbourne, Australia.

                                                                  A; Ahram

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                                                                    Reassessing resistance

                                                                    English (US)  April 10th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                    By force of arms or by force of morals? Palestinians are looking again at the meaning and tactics of resistance, writes Saleh Al-Naami

                                                                    The Palestinian reporters who went last week to cover the student march against settlement activities on the outskirts of Bethlehem did not expect the police forces of Salam Fayyad's government to be the ones confronting them, assaulting them and preventing them from covering the march. Meanwhile, occupation forces stood by and watched. The reporters gathered at the local office of a media organisation and demanded an explanation from the government and police. But for many Palestinians, the situation did not require any explanation: Fayyad's government is determined to prevent demonstrations and large mass mobilisation against the Israeli occupation.

                                                                    Senior officials in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) are not shy about not tolerating a mood of popular action that could trigger a third Intifada. Adnan Al-Damiri, spokesman for Fayyad's security apparatus, justified security intervention to prevent many demonstrations by various popular movements to protest against Israel's actions. Al-Damiri provoked many by banning protests in the West Bank after occupation forces left.

                                                                    [More:]

                                                                    But while Fayyad's cabinet is obstructing such expressions of popular discontent regarding Israel's actions, the prime minister himself, along with several members of his cabinet and leading members in Fatah, is participating in controlled exclusive events protesting against Israel's policies. Critics describe this as selective policy, noting that Fayyad's government has chosen only two locations for demonstrations, namely the villages of Naalyn and Balaayn east of Ramallah. These two protest sites were chosen for demonstrations opposing Israel's construction of the apartheid wall. Meanwhile, any other form of protest is prohibited anywhere else.

                                                                    Foreign and Israeli peace activists take part in the pre- orchestrated gatherings, as do symbolic figures of the PA. In fact, Fayyad described this as a model of "peaceful resistance" that should be applied everywhere. Gaber Suleiman, however, who lives near Balaayn believes that after more than one year of this form of "resistance" Israel has accelerated its land grabs from villagers with the aim of continuing to build the wall and erect new settlements and extend existing ones.

                                                                    "What is most discouraging is that some people have advised us to go to Israeli courts as a form of peaceful resistance," complained Suleiman. "But we have found that the Israeli Supreme Court legalises almost everything the Israeli government does."

                                                                    In Gaza, there have been several attempts to organise such "peaceful resistance" activities; Hamas and Islamic Jihad spokesmen, however, describe the sponsors of these events as working to implement Fayyad's selective agenda. After Israel's war on Gaza ended, some Palestinian circles assumed the responsibility of "peaceful resistance" in some areas in Gaza, including recent protests against Israel's security belt running along the length of the Gaza-Israel demarcation line. The Israeli army is preventing any farmers or residents to come up to 300- 500 metres near the line on the Palestinian side. This area actually represents most of the remaining agricultural land in Gaza, especially that construction has encroached on rural land because of high population density.

                                                                    Similar to the marches in the West Bank, these demonstrations comprise hundreds of protesters joined by tens of foreign activists who come to Gaza for this purpose. Demonstrators raise the Palestinian flag and chant slogans against occupation, but unlike in the West Bank, this new form of resistance has stirred strong political debate in the Gaza Strip. Some people vehemently support this model, while others are suspicious of the reasons behind this type of resistance.

                                                                    According to Mahmoud Al-Zaq, coordinator of the Popular Committee to Confront the Security Belt and an organiser of these events, this form of resistance was born after the killing of several farmers by the Israeli army while doing their work. Occupation forces warned farmers not to go to the fields that fall west of the demarcation line between Gaza and Israel. Al-Zaq, who was detained in Israeli jails for 15 years, asserted that Israel's actions have blocked thousands of Palestinian families from accessing their livelihood. He also revealed that the fields have become barren after farmers abandoned them.

                                                                    Al-Zaq added that he spent a long time trying to convince others to subscribe to peaceful resistance, and that finally a large sector of Palestinian society has come to realise the advantages of this method. Despite Palestinian losses by participating in such resistance activities, Al-Zaq is determined to continue his efforts.

                                                                    There are other differences among "peaceful resistance" organisers in Gaza and the West Bank. As Al-Zaq put it, this method does not supplant armed resistance, noting that other than Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, all factions support this manner of resistance.

                                                                    Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Political Committee in the Palestinian parliament and a leading member of Fatah who is close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, believes that this is the best mode of peaceful resistance and should be generalised. Abdullah told Al-Ahram Weekly that such demonstrations are much more effective than other forms of resistance, because they reveal Israel as the perpetrator and the Palestinians as the victims of violence. "We will continue this type of resistance until we achieve our legitimate political goals," he stated. "This formula is certain to increase sympathisers for our cause around the world."

                                                                    Salah Al-Bardawil, member of the Hamas leadership, told the Weekly that his group does not reject any form of resistance, as long as it does not drown out other modes of resistance. Al-Bardawil warned against limiting resistance to this format because it would serve Israel's interests. He accused the parties that sponsor these demonstrations of carrying out Fayyad's agenda, as well as that of Fatah leaders in the West Bank.

                                                                    Al-Bardawil described this type of resistance as "TV resistance that presents the Israeli army in a civilised light because it shows it employing anti-riot methods used all over the world. Meanwhile, the army uses the most atrocious methods off camera." The Hamas leader makes a distinction between the different modes of civilian resistance, such as marches towards the demarcation line and popular mass resistance through direct confrontation such as stone throwing. Al-Bardawil believes this is selective resistance targeting a specific category and is limited geographically.

                                                                    Former culture minister in Fayyad's cabinet and political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza Ibrahim Abrash is critical of both the current form of armed resistance as well as peaceful resistance that his former boss is promoting. "Unfortunately, Palestinian resistance is facing a critical dilemma because it is not based on a national agenda that all factions agree upon," Abrash told the Weekly. "When it was purely armed resistance and ignored any other type, it eventually became limited to launching missiles which became a serious problem."

                                                                    At the same time, he is infuriated with "peaceful resistance" because it is selective. "This is hypocrisy and political manoeuvring," he retorted. "What Fayyad and his cabinet are doing gives a misleading impression that they are resisting." Abrash revealed that Fayyad's government and security apparatus prevent mass participation in demonstrations and marches out of fear that these would become genuine popular resistance. He also rejected the notion of pre-determined locations for protests. "Fayyad is sponsoring this mode of resistance to justify why other types of popular resistance are banned," rationalised Abrash. "But peaceful resistance can be very effective if thousands are participating in it," he added.

                                                                    Regardless of where they stand on peaceful versus armed resistance, it is clear that the Palestinians are reassessing their resistance modus operandi. The result of that reassessment will inevitably colour developments ahead.

                                                                    Al Ahram

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                                                                      Fayyad: Visionary, daydreamer or worse?

                                                                      English (US)  April 10th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                      Israeli soldiers stand guard as a Palestinian woman waves her national flag during a demonstration and an Israeli soldier fires tear gas towards Palestinian protesters during clashes in the West Bank

                                                                      Fayyad's apparent determination to build Palestinian state institutions leaves many questioning what kind of state he envisions precisely, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

                                                                      In a wide-ranging interview with the Haaretz newspaper this week, Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), vowed to declare statehood before the end of 2011.

                                                                      "The birth of a Palestinian state will be celebrated as a day of joy by the entire community of nations. The time for this baby to be born will come and we estimate it will come around 2011. That is our vision, and a reflection of our will to exercise our right to live in freedom and dignity in the country where we were born, alongside the state of Israel in complete harmony."

                                                                      Fayyad stressed the Palestinians wanted a "genuine state, an independent, sovereign state, not a state of leftovers, or a Mickey Mouse state." He added that by August 2011, the PA would have amassed such credit in the form of positive facts on the ground that the outcome would be produced.

                                                                      "I envision that we will be so mature in terms of positive facts on the ground and along the way will have grown on you, Israeli neighbours, we will have begun a process of transformation from a concept to a possibility to a reality. It is the right of an oppressed nation to say 'enough'. None should be expected to stand for injustice, not least the Palestinians who have endured long decades of occupation."

                                                                      It is unclear at this point if Fayyad's statements are based on concrete political expectations or are just wishful thinking. A third possibility is that Fayyad sees a unilateral declaration of statehood as part of the continuing struggle to end the Israeli occupation that started in 1967. However, confrontation is not his style and he is unlikely to be thinking this way.

                                                                      Meanwhile, most Palestinians that are deeply frustrated by the many unfulfilled promises of the international community, especially since the hapless Oslo Accords, are not willing to give Fayyad the benefit of the doubt.

                                                                      Indeed, in light of the Palestinians' long and bitter experience with the Israeli occupation and the deference with which the international community has been treating Israel, regardless of its actions, it seems that Fayyad is underestimating and downplaying the "Israeli factor" which is the decisive and determining factor in the matter of Palestinian statehood, while at the same time overestimating the "international pressure factor" in furthering Palestinian statehood.

                                                                      [More:]

                                                                      In the interview, Fayyad argued that failure to build state institutions is impeding the establishment of Palestinian statehood, not the Israeli occupation. His suggestion that state institutions can be build under Israeli occupation, however, leaves a question mark over the nature of the state Fayyad is contemplating. Palestinian commentators lambasted his "skewed conceptualisation".

                                                                      Hani Al-Masri, a prominent political commentator and intellectual, said Fayyad was "turning facts upside down by suggesting that the absence of statehood is due to the lack of Palestinian readiness." "The Palestinian Authority did build many institutions following the Oslo Accords but [they] were utterly destroyed by the Israeli army after the year 2000."

                                                                      Fayyad cannot claim to be unaware of Israel's penchant to resort to draconian measures to abort Palestinian attempts to unilaterally declare statehood, or build a state. But contrary to Yasser Arafat's reaction to deadlocks in negotiations over such issues as Jerusalem and the plight of the refugees, Fayyad would resort to non-violent overtures in the hope that Israelis might be persuaded to cede Palestinian rights. In other words, Fayyad relies on Israeli magnanimity rather than on international law and the assertion of Palestinian rights.

                                                                      The Israelis haven't formulated a final response to Fayyad's strategy. It is likely -- if past behaviour is indicative -- that they will encourage him to continue to stress "statehood" while progressively retreating on cardinal issues such as the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the question of Jerusalem. Indeed, during the interview with the Israeli newspaper, Fayyad appeared willing to downplay the centrality of the right of return: he hinted that the main solution for refugees' plight would be for them to be resettled in any would-be Palestinian state, not returned to their towns and villages in what is now Israel.

                                                                      Predictably, this impression upset many Palestinians from across the political and ideological spectrum. Hamas dubbed him a "Zionist appeaser" who was "ceding the right of return in order to please and appease Israel." "Fayyad is a person without legitimacy, who has stolen control in the West Bank and whose hands are contaminated with the suffering of thousands of martyrs in the West Bank."

                                                                      The Islamic Jihad and Hizbul Tahrir, the Islamist Liberation Party, also lashed out at Fayyad, with the later accusing him of committing a "thunderous sin". Al-Masri, the Nablus-based commentator, opined that Fayyad was effectively selling the Palestinian people an illusion. "We have paid a dear price for this illusion, and there is no need to pay more for another illusion," he said, adding, "it would be foolish to rely on the goodwill of the international community which has been utterly unable to force Israel to freeze Jewish settlement expansion."

                                                                      Another Palestinian intellectual, Mohamed Al-Rifi, also blasted Fayyad for "giving Palestinians more analgesics". "We have been given... a president, a prime minister, a government, a cabinet and ministers... and we believed ourselves, we believed our own lies, and we became euphoric and jumped out of our own skins, carrying VIP cards and diplomatic passports... only to discover that the whole thing was a lie, a big lie. And Fayyad is now trying to reproduce the same deception and same lies while Israel keeps stealing more and more of our land."

                                                                      Fayyad denies that his vision of statehood excludes the right of return and Palestinian sovereignty in East Jerusalem. However, it does seem that in his quest to build a "state" by whatever means necessary, and in whatever shape possible, he might be willing to relegate the two key Palestinian issues -- Jerusalem and the refugees -- to a later stage.

                                                                      Al Ahram

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                                                                        Israel Shapes Its New Message

                                                                        English (US)  April 10th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                        Israel has no intention of halting settlements in East Jerusalem.

                                                                        By James Gundun - Washington D.C.

                                                                        The US-Israeli spat has reached a temporary conclusion. Israel has no intention of halting construction of settlements in East Jerusalem, as both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat recently revealed. The White House correspondingly went silent for Passover and the peace process remains frozen until further notice.

                                                                        Whether US officials have truly pressured Israel to the limit or we’re watching an elaborate show remains uncertain, though many indications lean towards stagecraft over statecraft. A new "crisis" looms in the near future, whenever Jerusalem comes to a head again, or Gaza, or something completely new. But whatever the case, America and Israel have transitioned from defending themselves to damage control.

                                                                        Having won its battle, Israel is already deep into a re-branding campaign.

                                                                        [More:]

                                                                        One example was a recent Haaretz report by Zvi Bar'el explaining how a third intifada plays into Israel’s hands - by returning it to the role of victim. Such thinking is likely found in Israel's cabinet, as military operations in Gaza are another way of triggering the sympathy response. Anything to mold Israel from bully back into a discriminated target.

                                                                        Israel has bigger plans in motion too. Throughout the ‘crisis’ its lobby mingled in Congress like it owned the place, but it was also busy securing the support of retired US generals and admirals. Conducted by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and released April 2nd, over 50 high ranking US military officials are demanding public support of Israel and silence of dissent.

                                                                        The initiative forms a major part of the Israeli lobby’s response to General David Petraeus, who inflicted more damage to Israel’s image than the Biden flap by suggesting Israel presents a danger to US policy in the Middle East.

                                                                        JINSA opens the letter, ‘While we recognize, as Gen. Petraeus did, that American support for Israel is used by our adversaries to foment anti-Americanism, we also recognize that the important countries of the region won't like us any better if we shed Israel as an ally. They will wonder how quickly we will shed THEM when they are inconvenient. The correct response to those who denigrate the U.S.-Israel relationship, is to note that Israel is a friend by virtue of shared civic and political values and a security asset upon which the United States can rely.’

                                                                        But as previously stated Israel is well underway in damage control, mobilizing its lobby to assail Congress and the Pentagon as soon the White House gave the slightest hint of mounting a resistance, however exaggerated it may be. A shift in Petraeus’ stance apparently rattled Israel more than Obama, but even still, JINSA’s muscle seems kind of silly since Petraeus made a 180 weeks ago.

                                                                        The lobby had gotten to him already. 50 retired US generals and admirals are meant to leave no doubt.

                                                                        Petraeus was pleased to set the record ‘straight’ during a press briefing at St. Anselm College, in New Hampshire, after being asked to clarify himself by The American Spectator’s Philip Klein. According to Petraeus he did none of the following: suggest Israel is the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East or that it endangers the lives of US soldiers, or request from the White House that the Palestinian territories be transferred from EUCOM to CENTCOM.

                                                                        It is neither conspiratorial nor paranoid to say the Israeli lobby’s power is on full display.

                                                                        Let’s reverse engineer by starting with Petraeus’ denial of eying the Palestinian territories, as it is indicative of his other responses. Though he told reporters, “I don’t send things to the White House,” Petraeus left out that Foreign Policy, which broke the story, corrected the error through its military sources. His request had been sent to Joint Chief of Staff Michael Mullen.

                                                                        For Petraeus to emphasize the White House is classic non-denial denial. The same pattern developed for the other two issues, and in these cases a third party emerged to shape Israel’s message: neoconservative commentator Max Boot.

                                                                        The Huffington Post reported soon after Petraeus’ walk-back, ‘Petraeus himself said that Max Boot of Commentary magazine understood his position and clearly sorted through the issues. In fact, Petraeus believes Boot's grasp of what he actually said was so accurate, he told Klein he sent a copy of Boot's original blog post to General Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, saying the ‘blog by Max Boot... picked apart this whole thing, as he typically does, pretty astutely.’

                                                                        This statement is remarkably revealing. Boot is a proud neocon and staunch Israeli advocate who did a stint at the Project for a New American Century. He supported the Iraq war from the beginning, supports imperialism and ‘spreading democracy’ in the Middle East through ‘temporary’ occupation, and believes in American exceptionalism. For Petraeus to consider Boot’s thinking ‘astute’ says a lot in itself.

                                                                        What, then, did Boot’s ‘so accurate’ analysis conclude?

                                                                        ‘General Petraeus obviously doesn’t see the Israeli-Arab ‘peace process’ as a top issue for his command, because he didn’t even raise it in his opening statement,’ he wrote in the first of three defenses. ‘When he was pressed on it, he made a fairly anodyne statement about the need to encourage negotiations to help moderate Arab regimes.’

                                                                        Boot makes sure to declare Mark Perry, the Foreign Policy correspondent that touched off the controversy, a ‘terrorist groupie’ before explaining his analysis. After denying that Petraeus defined Israel as the main obstacle in the Middle East, Boot reports, ‘Petraeus barely mentioned Israel (until prompted to do so) and never talked about settlements at all throughout his testimony to Congress.’

                                                                        The possibility that Israel endangers US troops in the region is completely fictitious. Boot quotes Petraeus himself as saying, ‘There is no mention of lives anywhere in there. I actually reread the statement. It doesn’t say that at all.’

                                                                        What Petraeus really meant, according to Boot, is that, ‘many other important factors stand in the way of peace, including a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist. There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place. So again we have all these factors in there. This [Israel] is just one.’

                                                                        So Israel isn’t ‘the main’ obstacle to peace in the region, just one. Much clearer.

                                                                        As for the safety of US troops, Boot claims that Petraeus is only worried about the perception of US-Israeli relations. Perceived immunity towards Israel is, again, none of many causes of anti-US sentiment in the Middle East, not the only cause. Petraeus denied any tangible risk to US troops.

                                                                        Apparently this is the truth.

                                                                        Throughout his explanation Boot positions himself as a defender of the US military, saying, ‘I hope Petraeus’ comments will put an end to this whole weird episode. Those who are either happy or unhappy about the administration’s approach to Israel should lodge their compliments or complaints where they belong - at the White House, not at Central Command.’

                                                                        Except Boot’s personal translation of Petraeus and unconvincing disguise of ardent Israeli boosting shouldn’t fool anyone; the Petraeus controversy had already died down when JINSA released its letter. Fast forward two days later and, on cue, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren brought Petraeus’ new message to the US public. Speaking in an interview with CNN, Oren said that if Israel did not exist, more extremists in the region would join Al-Qaeda.

                                                                        "The US is much safer thanks to Israeli-American cooperation," he said.

                                                                        Oren, like Petreaus and Boot, is fixated on the physical level: US troops are safer in Afghanistan because of Israeli intelligence and supplies, and because it scares terrorists. The larger point is obscured by design. US-Israeli relations do have a political and psychological effect across the Middle East, resulting in lower US popularity. Most any insurgent, ‘terrorist,’ average Muslim, or Arab capital will tell you so.

                                                                        Since US military officials adore him, Israel is Clausewitz’s friction on American political and military operations in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.

                                                                        To be clear the question isn’t whether America should support Israel, but whether its support should be absolute and without consequence. Israel has abused its special relationship with America and grown complacent in the process. It believes the region - often the world - revolves around its existence, and that it might not need peace with the Palestinians.

                                                                        Israeli arrogance is a liability to US policy in the Middle East that drags down overall Western popularity at a time when perception is crucial to modern counterinsurgency. Petraeus must know as much, having oversaw the US Army’s COIN manual, thus his backtracking speaks louder than any prior statements. He, along with Oren, Boot, and all of Israeli’s supporters, are trying to put Pandora back in the box.

                                                                        Watching them try is enlightening of the real US policy towards Israel and Palestine.

                                                                        And these moves should have company soon. Many people have ignored Petraeus’ backtracking as his original quotes continue to spread across the Middle East media cycle. Jordan’s King Abdullah II recently raised the issue, followed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

                                                                        Fresh off a collapse on the Israeli-Syrian front, Erdogan told reporters in Paris before meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, "Israel represents now the main threat to regional peace. "If a country makes use of disproportionate force in Palestine and use phosphorous bombs in Gaza ... We demand that how can it do that.’

                                                                        This message will be preached more and more unless Israel alters its position on East Jerusalem and its behavior in general. But the odds favor increased marketing from Washington and Jerusalem over a real change in policy.

                                                                        -James Gundun is a political scientist and counterinsurgency analyst based in Washington D.C. Contact him in The Trench, a realist newsletter, at www.hadalzone.blogspot.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                          Israeli Arabs urged to try 'reverse discrimination' against Jews

                                                                          English (US)  April 10th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                          By Jonathan Cook

                                                                          NAZARETH // A leading Arab human-rights lawyer in Israel has suggested a novel and provocative approach to dealing with routine discrimination practised by Jews against Israel’s Arab minority: Arabs should start discriminating against Jews.

                                                                          In an essay published by the Adalah legal centre, its director, Hassan Jabareen, proposes that Arab citizens and their municipalities challenge the endemic discrimination in Israeli society, and the courts’ frequent backing of it, by treating Jews in a similiar manner.

                                                                          He proposes several examples of reverse discrimination that the Arab minority might easily adopt: restaurants could deny Jews admission, Arab communities could refuse to put up roadsigns in Hebrew or bar Jews from buying homes, and Arab libraries could refuse to stock books on Jewish history.

                                                                          “Let us stop crying out about racism and instead let the Jewish majority feel for themselves the power of discrimination inside the Jewish state,” he said.

                                                                          [More:]

                                                                          Mr Jabreen argues that, if Jewish groups launch legal battles against such discrimination, the courts’ rulings in their favour could be used by the Arab minority, a fifth of the population, to oppose similar examples of Jewish discrimination currently endorsed by Israel’s legal establishment.

                                                                          “This is a possible new strategy that could be adopted by Arab lawyers to make fun of the Israeli legal system, to show its hypocrisy and contradictions,” he said. “And in this way we could as a community manipulate it to our own advantage.”

                                                                          The proposal comes in the wake of a poll last week in which more than half of Israeli Jews equated marrying an Arab with national treason and three quarters said Jews and Arabs should not live in the same residential areas.

                                                                          Israel has also been the subject of two critical recent reports on its treatment of Arab citizens: the US state department’s annual report on Israel documents a long list of human-rights abuses of the Arab minority, and a report by the Mossawa advocacy organisation assesses the current Israeli parliament as the most racist in the country’s history.

                                                                          Mr Jabareen said the idea for the new strategy was prompted by two unusual legal cases Adalah is involved with.

                                                                          In the first, Azad, an Arab-owned restaurant in the mixed northern city of Haifa, is being sued by a Jewish soldier after he was refused entry. The owner says he has the right to bar anyone wearing a military uniform, whereas the soldier claims he was discriminated against based on his appearance. The soldier is backed by the local municipality, which is seeking to close the restaurant.

                                                                          “This case is a turning point,” Mr Jabareen said. “For the first time an Arab is discriminating against a Jew inside the Jewish state and is ready to fight his corner. And if the courts rule that the Jewish soldier was discriminated against because of his appearance, then we can use that ruling.

                                                                          “There are many cafes and restaurants that bar Arabs because of their appearance – because, say, a woman is wearing the hijab – and little is done about it. This case has the power to shock Israeli society and show them the double standard.”

                                                                          He said that the constitution committee in the parliament recently condemned the restaurant and is proposing new legislation to ensure such an incident never occurs again.

                                                                          The other case involves a Jewish couple who are fighting their exclusively Jewish community of Nevatim in the Negev to be allowed to rent their home to Bedouin friends. Last month Israel’s Supreme Court supported Nevatim and ruled that the Bedouin couple should submit to a vetting committee. Hundreds of rural Jewish communities in Israel use such committees to block admission of Arab applicants.

                                                                          “Here again, the case is unusual. For the first time, we have Jews standing with us, opposed to discrimination against Arabs. They are fighting from the inside.”

                                                                          Mr Jabareen proposes that sympathetic Jews denied entrance to Arab-owned swimming pools or barred from living in Arab communities could bring test cases against such discrimination.

                                                                          Far-right Jewish groups could be provoked into legal action too by municipalities that erect traffic signs only in Arabic, mirroring the policies of many Jewish communities that argue Hebrew-only signs reflect the language of the majority local population.

                                                                          Mr Jabareen also suggests that an Arab firm could advertise a job open only to “candidates who did not serve in the army”. Currently many Jewish employers state that applicants must have served in the army, knowing that Arab citizens are exempted from conscription.

                                                                          The Arab firm would lose, Mr Jabareen said, with the court certain to rule that military service was not a relevant criterion for job hiring. “The ruling would benefit Arab citizens, who are discriminated against in employment on a daily basis for not serving in the army.”

                                                                          However, shop-owners in Nazareth, the capital of Israel’s Arab minority, were wary of the proposal – at least in public.

                                                                          Jarjoura Kanaza, 48, who runs the historic El Babour spice mill, a popular attraction during weekends when Jewish communities shut down for the Sabbath, said he could not afford to turn away so many regular customers.

                                                                          “Who would suffer from such a policy?” he said. “We would. The economy depends on the majority population. Our Jewish customers bring us a lot of business.”

                                                                          Saleh Issa, whose Nazareth restaurant is only yards from the city’s biggest touristic draw, the Church of the Annunciation, said he had read about Mr Jabareen’s idea but was not persuaded.

                                                                          “There is discrimination everywhere in Israel. I feel it every time I go to a Jewish city. But retaliating in kind is not the right approach. You have to treat people as you find them.”

                                                                          However, one business owner, who wished not to be identified, said Mr Jabareen’s idea had some merit.

                                                                          “It might make the Jewish population understand how it feels to suffer discrimination. But who would dare do it? People would be too frightened of the repercussions. You’d be denounced in the media, and there would be the threat of costly legal action.”

                                                                          Last week’s survey, conducted by the Geocartography Institute, found there had been a sharp rise in racism among Israeli Jews compared to a similar poll two years ago. Some 40 per cent of respondents said Arabs should not be allowed to vote and 55 per cent said there should be segregation at entertainment sites.

                                                                          The Mossawa report found that 21 bills that could be called discriminatory or racist were proposed in the Israeli parliament last year.

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                                                                            Whistleblower case exposes the dark underbelly of Israel's security state

                                                                            English (US)  April 10th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                            By JONATHAN COOK

                                                                            What is misleadingly being called in Israel the “Anat Kamm espionage affair” is quickly revealing the dark underbelly of a nation that has worshipped for decades at the altar of a security state.

                                                                            Next week 23-year-old Kamm is due to stand trial for her life — or rather the state’s demand that she serve a life sentence for passing secret documents to an Israeli reporter, Uri Blau, of the liberal Haaretz daily. She is charged with spying.

                                                                            Blau himself is in hiding in London, facing, if not a Mossad hit squad, at least the stringent efforts of Israel’s security services to get him back to Israel over the opposition of his editors, who fear he will be put away too.

                                                                            This episode has been dragging on behind the scenes for months, since at least December, when Kamm was placed under house arrest pending the trial.

                                                                            [More:]

                                                                            Not a word about the case leaked in Israel until this week when the security services, who had won from the courts a blanket gag order — a gag on the gag, so to speak — were forced to reverse course when foreign bloggers began making the restrictions futile [including notably Richard Silverstein]. Hebrew pages on Facebook had already laid out the bare bones of the story.

                                                                            So, now that much of the case is out in the light, what are the crimes supposedly committed by Kamm and Blau?

                                                                            During her conscription, Kamm is said to have copied possibly hundreds of army documents that revealed systematic law-breaking by the Israeli high command operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, including orders to ignore court rulings. She was working at the time in the office of Brig Gen Yair Naveh, who is in charge of operations in the West Bank.

                                                                            Blau’s crime is that he published a series of scoops based on her leaked information that have highly embarrassed senior Israeli officers by showing their contempt for the rule of law.

                                                                            His reports included revelations that the senior command had approved targeting Palestinian bystanders during the military’s extra-judicial assassinations in the occupied territories; that, in violation of a commitment to the high court, the army had issued orders to execute wanted Palestinians even if they could be safely apprehended; and that the defence ministry had compiled a secret report showing that the great majority of settlements in the West Bank were illegal even under Israeli law (all are illegal in international law).

                                                                            In a properly democratic country, Kamm would have an honorable defence against the charges, of being a whistle-blower rather than a spy, and Blau would be winning journalism prizes not huddling away in exile.

                                                                            But this is Israel. Here, despite a desperate last-stand for the principles of free speech and the rule of law in the pages of the Haaretz newspaper today, which is itself in the firing line over its role, there is almost no public sympathy for Kamm or even Blau.

                                                                            The pair are already being described, both by officials and in chat forums and talkback columns, as traitors who should be jailed, disappeared or executed for the crime of endangering the state.

                                                                            The telling comparison being made is to Mordechai Vanunu, the former technician at the Dimona nuclear plant who exposed Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal. Inside Israel, he is universally reviled to this day, having spent nearly two decades in harsh confinement. He is still under a loose house arrest, denied the chance to leave the country.

                                                                            Blau and Kamm have every reason to be worried they may share a similar fate. Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, which has been leading the investigation, said yesterday that they had been too “sensitive to the media world” in pursuing the case for so long and that the Shin Bet would now “remove its gloves”.

                                                                            Maybe that explains why Kamm’s home address was still visible on the charge sheet published yesterday, putting her life in danger from one of those crazed talkbackers.

                                                                            It certainly echoes warnings we have had before from the Shin Bet about how it operates.

                                                                            Much like Blau, Azmi Bishara, once head of a leading Arab party in Israel, is today living in exile after the Shin Bet put him in their sights. He had been campaigning for democratic reforms that would make Israel a “state of all its citizens” rather than a Jewish state.

                                                                            While Bishara was abroad in 2007, the Shin Bet announced that he would be put on trial for treason when he returned, supposedly because he had had contacts with Hizbullah during Israel’s attack on Lebanon in 2006.

                                                                            Few experts believe Bishara could have had any useful information for Hizbullah, but the Shin Bet’s goals and modus operandi were revealed later by Diskin in a letter on its attitude to Bishara and his democratisation campaign. The Shin Bet was there, he said, to thwart the activities of groups or individuals who threatened the state’s Jewish character “even if such activity is sanctioned by the law”.

                                                                            Diskin called this the principle of “a democracy defending itself” when it was really a case of Jewish leaders in a state based on Jewish privilege protecting those privileges. This time it is about the leaders of Israel’s massive security industry protecting their privileges in a security state by silencing witnesses to their crimes and keeping ordinary citizens in ignorance.

                                                                            Justifying his decision to “take the gloves off” in the case of Kamm and Blau, Diskin said: “It is a dream of every enemy state to get its hands on these kinds of documents” — that is, documents proving that the Israeli army has repeatedly broken the country’s laws, in addition, of course, to its systematic violations of international law.

                                                                            Diskin claims that national security has been put at risk, even though the reports Blau based on the documents — and even the documents themselves — were presented to, and approved by, the military censor for publication. The censor can restrict publication based only on national security concerns, unlike Diskin, the army senior command and the government, who obey other kinds of concerns.

                                                                            Diskin knows there is every chance he will get away with his ploy because of a brainwashed Israeli public, a largely patriotic media and a supine judiciary.

                                                                            The two judges who oversaw the months of gagging orders to silence any press discussion of this case did so on the say-so of the Shin Bet that there were vital national security issues at stake. Both judges are stalwarts of Israel’s enormous security industry.

                                                                            Einat Ron was appointed a civilian judge in 2007 after working her way up the ranks of the military legal establishment, there to give a legal gloss to the occupation. Notoriously in 2003, when she was the chief military prosecutor, she secretly proposed various fabrications to the army so that it could cover up the killing of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, Khalil al-Mughrabi, two years earlier. Her role only came to light because a secret report into the boy’s death was mistakenly attached to the army’s letter to an Israeli human rights group.

                                                                            The other judge is Ze’ev Hammer, who finally overturned the gag order this week — but only after a former supreme court judge, Dalia Dorner, now the head of Israel’s Press Council, belatedly heaped scorn on it. She argued that, with so much discussion of the case outside Israel, the world was getting the impression that Israel flouted democratic norms.

                                                                            Judge Hammer has his own distinguished place in Israel’s security industry, according to Israeli analyst Dimi Reider. During his eight years of legal study, Hammer worked for both the Shin Bet and Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

                                                                            Judge Hammer and Judge Ron are deeply implicated in the same criminal outfit — the Israeli security establishment — that is now trying to cover up the tracks that lead directly to its door. Kamm is doubtless wondering what similar vested interests the judges who hear her case next week will not be declaring.

                                                                            Writing in Haaretz today, Blau said he had been warned “that if I return to Israel I could be silenced for ever, and that I would be charged for crimes related to espionage”. He concluded that “this isn’t only a war for my personal freedom but for Israel’s image”.

                                                                            He should leave worrying about Israel’s image to Netanyahu, Diskin and judges like Dorner. That was why the gag order was enforced in the first place. This is not a battle for Israel’s image; it’s a battle for what is left of its soul.

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                                                                              Canada’s Project Hero Highlights the Unsung

                                                                              English (US)  April 9th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                              There has been a recent stir of controversy in Canadian media over a public letter signed by 15 Professors from the University of Regina opposing their university’s participation in a scholarship program reserved exclusively for the offspring of soldiers that died in war. 46 other colleges and universities from all over Canada are currently participating in the program. The professors’ stance make U of R the only university so far to express public criticism of the program, and the professors have accordingly come under hot fire from government representatives, Canadian veterans, and other individuals for opposing their university’s support of the program. They have yet to back down.

                                                                              The signatories believe that:

                                                                              "… support for “Project Hero” represents a dangerous cultural turn. It associates “heroism” with the act of military intervention. It erases the space for critical discussion of military policy and practices. In signing on to “Project Hero”, the university is implicated in the disturbing construction of the war in Afghanistan by Western military- and state-elites as the “good war” of our epoch. We insist that our university not be connected with the increasing militarization of Canadian society and politics."

                                                                              The professors also encourage public debate on their position and call for:

                                                                              "A public forum on the war in Afghanistan and Canadian imperialism more generally to be held this semester before exams begin."

                                                                              [More:]

                                                                              Professor Garson Hunter, a former soldier, argues that the scholarship program (cofounded by former Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier who encouraged increased military funding upon leaving his position in 2005) uses the memory of fallen soldiers to “aggrandize military endeavours in Afghanistan” and “If they really want to help then they should provide help for soldiers affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.”

                                                                              In an impassioned letter defending his position after being barraged with hostile emails (some including violent threats) Professor John F. Conway writes:

                                                                              "Project Hero is part of the ongoing propaganda offensive from the militaristic, pro-war cabal led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the former chief of defence, retired general Rick Hillier. From the beginning, this propaganda offensive sought to silence criticism of the war by equating it with a failure to support our troops. Efforts to turn this into a heroic battle will fail. Many Canadians are ashamed of Canada’s role in this dirty, savage war which pits the random techno-barbarism of advanced warfare against a poorly armed insurgency. For this the blame lies with the government and our spineless Parliament, not our troops carrying out their orders."

                                                                              Conway adds:

                                                                              "We did not win our democracy, thanks to the military. The military was among the dominant forces from which Canadians had to wrest democracy. All too often the price exacted was paid in Canadian blood on Canadian soil.

                                                                              Democracy is in danger when war is glorified, when the military has a big say in determining government policy, when dissent is met by threats and attacks, when history is rewritten, the role of the military in civil society is elevated, and we are called upon to worship thankfully at its feet."

                                                                              Even though Canada has a small military and is not nearly as immersed in the culture of war worship as the US, the current Conservative government has implemented significant funding increases to the Canadian Forces with direct attempts to promote it to the population through the education system and the media. During the Bush Administration Harper made obvious moves to enhance relations with the US, increased military support for the US’s war on Afghanistan being one of them. While it was the Liberal Party of Canada that took the Canadian Forces into Afghanistan in 2001 (they also made the important decision not to participate in the war on Iraq), Canada’s military role (as opposed to its involvement in what is often characterized as humanitarian work) was most strengthened with initiatives brought forth by the Conservatives when Harper became Prime Minister in 2006. Since 2001 polls have indicated that a majority of Canadians have supported Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan (there have been some fluctuations) while favouring “nation-building” over military operations. Canadians have also remained committed to withdrawing sooner rather than later. No doubt aware of Canadians’ professed desire to leave Afghanistan, the Conservatives recently reiterated that they will end military operations in Afghanistan in 2011, even despite calls made by the US for Canada to stay.

                                                                              Canadians have shown decreased involvement in the political process (the 2008 elections resulted in the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history) but as shown by the professors at U of R, dissent is alive and kicking in Canada. Even from a Prairie province where the Conservatives have historically enjoyed widespread support, people are speaking out against the increasing militarization of Canadian society, something which many view as harmful to Canadian culture as a whole. For members of the Canadian academic community to take such a stance in a province dominated by pro-militarism and amidst a political atmosphere of general support for Canada’s military operations in Afghanistan is no small matter. Indeed, these professors have proven that their concern for the youth they are employed to educate goes beyond their desire to advance their career goals or a need to remain silent to avoid criticism. They have been criticized for dishonoring their country with the position they have taken, but many Canadians would agree that they are in fact attempting to preserve the most honorable merits of Canadian culture. In the words of the social critic and feminist activist Barbara Ehrenreich:

                                                                              "No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots."

                                                                              To express solidarity please send letters of support for the Regina 15, and against Project Hero and Canadian imperialism, to University of Regina President Vianne Timmons, Vianne.Timmons@uregina.ca and Vice-President Academic, Gary Boire, Gary.Boire@uregina.ca. Please copy jeffery.webber@uregina.ca.

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                                                                              978 words posted in Anti-war, Af-Pak war, , CanadaLeave a comment

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                                                                                Kick Up the Volume: This Is No Time for More ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ with Israel

                                                                                English (US)  April 9th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                You are either for or against apartheid and not by rhetoric… You are either on the side of the oppressed or on the side of the oppressor. You can’t be neutral. -- Desmond Tutu

                                                                                By Joshua Brollier

                                                                                A favorite professor of mine once told me that the more you learn about history, the more you realize how little you really know, and how much you still have to learn. Last night, I was both moved and angered to further learn about the ongoing destruction and blockade of the Gaza strip. The award winning Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Omer, showed photographs and told us many moving stories about his life and experiences in Gaza. These stories included the demolition of Mohammed’s home and loss of his brother and neighbors.

                                                                                Many of the tragic experiences Mohammed shared occurred before the election of the Hamas government, the siege of Gaza and last year’s Israeli offensive, Operation Cast Lead. Mohammed described a major shift in Israeli military policy after Israeli settlements in Gaza were closed, in 2005. Following the “disengagement,” Israeli air strikes increased and carried out house demolitions. Prior to 2005, Israel had primarily used bulldozers. Before, the military would not have wanted to risk affecting Israeli settlers and their children, perhaps frightening the Israeli settlers’ children who would hear the sonic booms or, worse yet, catching Israeli settlers and their children in the cross-fire.

                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                He also described how expert the children in Gaza are in identifying the different bullets and shells being used to destroy their neighborhoods and families. Many of these munitions are manufactured in America and given to the Israeli military.

                                                                                It’s important that we learn from history by comparing U.S. support for Israel with U.S. support for a previous apartheid state. Desmond Tutu has helped people make such connections. In 2008, Desmond Tutu wrote a report for the UN Human Rights council that detailed the 2006 murders of 18 members of a single Palestinian family living in Beit Hanoun. Tutu concluded that these reckless attacks by the Israeli military possibly constituted war crimes and should be investigated further. In 1984, regarding South Africa, he testified before the U.S. Congress;

                                                                                You are either for or against apartheid and not by rhetoric… You are either on the side of the oppressed or on the side of the oppressor. You can’t be neutral.

                                                                                Few now dispute the manner in which the Reagan administration’s policy of “constructive engagement” and “quiet diplomacy” enabled continued crimes by the apartheid regime in South Africa. The Reagan administration resisted change in South Africa and even collaborated with racist elements in Pretoria. After the decline of the Soviet Union, the popular liberation movement and massive surge in anti-apartheid protests within South Africa were no longer easily labeled as “clients of Moscow” or “terrorists.” International outcry and political activism within the United States were so strong that the Congress finally passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, initially introduced in 1972. Ronald Reagan vetoed the bill, but then the veto was over-ridden by Congress, as there was bi-partisan support with many conservatives then beginning to speak out against apartheid.

                                                                                Through years of constructive engagement, Reagan’s pro-consul for African Affairs, Chester Crocker, refused to meet with black leaders in the liberation struggle. Indigenous Africans’ experiences and opinions were disregarded while the State Department decided to base its strategy in a belief that the brutal, colonial white-minority government would gradually lead a peaceful transition to inclusive democracy.

                                                                                This strategy was not only based on a fantasy, it was an insult to black Africans facing repression and had real implications in terms of human lives. During Reagan’s presidency, at least 3,000 people would die, mostly at the hands of the South African police and military. Another 20,000, including 6,000 children, according to one estimate by a human rights group, would be arrested under “state of emergency” decrees.

                                                                                As Reagan was speaking of strategic interests, about minerals and how South Africa was such a “friendly nation,” people were suffering on the ground. It was no easy task to build the anti-apartheid movement from within the United States either. Pallo Jordan, a member of the ANC, wrote:

                                                                                The majority of South Africans see the people of the USA, who came to their support, as their friend. But he/she would be a very foolish South African who imagines that such support was a spontaneous response based on principles shared by democrats the world over. We sweated blood to mobilize support among the US population! Literally scores of African-American students were expelled from Universities and Colleges for agitating for their institutions to dis-invest from South Africa!

                                                                                The United States has faced and is facing a similar diplomatic question with the nation of Israel. The international community is well aware that Israel consistently abuses human rights. Discriminatory policies against Arabs and Palestinians are strikingly reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and fit the definition according to international human rights law. Israeli maintenance of a brutal military occupation of the Palestinian territories is nearing a half-century in duration. The Gaza strip has been under Israeli siege and blockade since 2007. Israel’s recent major military offensive, which occurred as President Obama was being sworn into office, was a 22-day attack on the civilian population and infrastructure in Gaza and caused over 1400 Palestinian casualties. The “security fence,” or “apartheid/separation wall,” continues to be built inside Palestine to annex further Palestinian land and resources. Additionally, in his recent trip to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unrepentant about the new Israeli settlements being built in the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem the West Bank.

                                                                                With all of these indictments facing the Israeli government, what position has the Obama administration taken towards Israel? Media outlets have described the administration’s policy as one of “tough love.” Both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made statements condemning Israeli settlement expansion, but they have also asserted that the United States’ commitment to Israel is “rock-solid, unwavering, enduring and forever.” Beyond words, the United States has just signed a $250 million arms deal with Israel on top of the annual $3 billion that the U.S. already gives to Israel in military aid. Given these factors, it seems that Obama’s policy of “tough love” towards Israel is even weaker than Reagan’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” towards apartheid South Africa. And just as Pretoria was never interested in complying with constructive engagement’s recommendations, Israel obviously does not seem too deterred by the Obama administration’s occasional slogans. They likely understand the largely theatrical role of the U.S. presidency.

                                                                                Looking back at the sacrifices of those in the anti-apartheid struggle, its time that people in the United States step up our organizing, educational efforts and the level of risk we are willing to take to non-violently challenge this unabashed military support for Israel. We should also draw courage from our friends in Palestine, Israel and elsewhere who are facing much harsher consequences for non-violent resistance. If we are ever to challenge the status quo policy of “tough love,” we’ve got to have a vocal opposition movement that the Obama administration, the corporations and the Israeli government can see and hear. Its time we kick up the volume and cut off the funding. No more military aid to Israel!

                                                                                Joshua Brollier is a co-coordinator with Voices for Creative Non-Violence in Chicago. He can be reached at joshua@vcnv.org.

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                                                                                  Texas dentist looks to rewrite history

                                                                                  English (US)  April 9th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

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                                                                                    U.S. covering up reality in Honduras

                                                                                    English (US)  April 9th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                    Produced by Jesse Freeston of The Real News, this video explores the current human rights situation in Honduras and the reasons we should question Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Pepe Lobo administration has “taken the steps necessary to restore democracy.”

                                                                                    State Department campaign denies the systemic repression that continues, nine months after coup

                                                                                    While State Department attempts to sell the world that the inauguration of a new president in Honduras has brought an end to the country's crisis, the continuing assassinations of anti-coup activists and their children stands as sharp evidence to the contrary. Video includes interviews with Father Ismael "Melo" Moreno, director of Honduras' Radio Progreso, and Adrienne Pine, anthropologist from American University and Honduras expert.

                                                                                    Produced by Jesse Freeston.

                                                                                    Transcript

                                                                                    JESSE FREESTON, PRODUCER, TRNN: Since the inauguration of Pepe Lobo as the president of Honduras on January 27, the US State Department has been the new government's most vocal supporter, urging the region to follow the US lead in restoring relations with the Honduran government, relations that were largely cut after the military coup of June 2009. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made Honduras one of her top priorities on her recent tour of Latin America.

                                                                                    HILLARY CLINTON, US SECRETARY OF STATE: We think that Honduras has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and the normalization of relations. Other countries in the region say that, you know, they want to wait awhile. I don't know what they're waiting for, but that's their right, to wait.

                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                    FREESTON: Among the countries not recognizing the Lobo government is Brazil, whose representative spoke out against the US at the Organization of American States (OAS).

                                                                                    RUY DE LIMA CASÃES E SILVA, BRAZILIAN AMBASSADOR TO OAS (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): No miracle has taken place between November 29 of last year (election) and January 27 of this year (inauguration). The human rights situation in Honduras is very serious, as is reflected very adequately in the recent report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

                                                                                    FREESTON: That report confirmed in the month of February alone more than 50 illegal detentions, eight cases of torture, two kidnappings, and two rapes, all carried out against members of the coup resistance. It also highlighted some of the recent political assassinations. Honduras analyst Adrian Pine led the American Anthropological Association to vote to reject the Lobo government and condemn recent human-rights violations.

                                                                                    ADRIENNE PINE, PROF. ANTHROPOLOGY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Yeah, a lot of people think that since Pepe Lobo is in power that there's been some kind of resolution to what they're calling the crisis in Honduras, which is, of course, a military coup that led to a de facto military government which has been killing people right and left since last June. None of that has changed. If anything, it's intensified since Pepe Lobo has come to power. We've seen over ten people killed since Pepe Lobo was put in power, and no word from him in terms of voicing concern about the deaths of these people who are peacefully resisting the violent military-controlled regime that he now stands at the head of. We're seeing the same tactics that were used by Battalion 3-16, which was the infamous death squad in the 1980s. This was a battalion whose members were trained by the CIA, many of whom also went to the School of the Americas [now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation] for training and torture techniques. And the same techniques are being used today: people are being disappeared; they're being tortured; they're being assassinated, executed; they're having their hands tied behind their back. It's hard to quantify the horror. But what's particularly horrifying, I think, is that children of resistance leaders—and, again, nonviolent resistance leaders—are being targeted and assassinated to send a clear message to people to cease their peaceful and democratic resistance. Among the people who were assassinated was Claudia Brizuela, who was murdered in her own home. She's the daughter of a very important resistance leader, Pedro Brizuela.

                                                                                    FREESTON: The 36-year-old Brizuela was shot dead in front of her two children, ages two and eight. The Real News spoke to Father Ismael "Melo" Moreno, a Catholic priest from the Honduran city of El Progreso and director of the radio station Radio Progreso. Father Melo was in Washington, DC, to counter the US State Department message.

                                                                                    FATHER ISMAEL "MELO" MORENO, DIRECTOR, RADIO PROGRESO (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The actors and the dynamics that gave rise to the coup d'état didn't do so just to stick around for a short time. Rather, these were political maneuvers for the long term. Two thousand and nine was only the start of a process we're calling a coup under construction.

                                                                                    FREESTON: Father Melo's radio station was raided and shut down by the military on the day of the coup. It was one of the few outlets that was reporting on the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya. In the following months, many of the journalists [inaudible] were threatened, and one was kidnapped and tortured. While the US State Department says that those days are in the past, Father Melo doesn't agree.

                                                                                    MELO: What we have in Honduras is an environment of instability that instead of calming down is growing, and instability that instead of being resolved is accumulating more conflicts.

                                                                                    CLINTON: We believe that President Lobo and his administration have taken the steps necessary to restore democracy and the—.

                                                                                    PINE: The three main points of US legitimation of the current government are that there would be a free and fair election, that there would be a truth commission, an international truth commission, and then that there would be a government of national unity formed.

                                                                                    CLINTON: We believe that the free and fair elections, which have elected a new president in Honduras, means it's time to turn the page.

                                                                                    PINE: Pepe Lobo came to power in a completely illegitimate election under militarized circumstances, in which freedoms of speech and assembly and the press had been all suspended, in elections that were marked by violence.

                                                                                    FREESTON: These conditions gave rise to a mass resignation of candidates, including anti-coup presidential candidate Carlos H. Reyes, who resigned after police and military repeatedly attacked attendees to his public events. On one occasion, he and over 100 others were violently detained, leaving Reyes with a broken wrist. Normally election observers would have documented these abuses, but the Honduran elections had no official international observers. The EU, OAS, UN, and Carter Center, the world's big four of election observation, all refused to participate.

                                                                                    CLINTON: The election which was held was by all observers found to be free, fair, and legitimate.

                                                                                    FREESTON: US Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens cited the State Department itself, along with two organizations it funds, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, as his sources during a presentation in Washington in January.

                                                                                    HUGO LLORENS, US AMBASSADOR TO HONDURAS: —that this process was a free, fair, and transparent process. In fact, I've been associated with Honduras for a very long time, and I would argue they're probably the freest, fairest elections ever held in Honduras. The Honduran people turned out in large numbers.

                                                                                    FREESTON: The election was boycotted by those opposed to the coup. As The Real News reported in the days following the election, the Honduran electoral tribunal consciously misrepresented their own data to inflate the turnout numbers. This story has since been confirmed by numerous outlets, including CNN and AFP. The inflated turnout number was repeatedly referenced by Washington and others to suggest a majority of Honduran saw the election as a way out of the crisis. Ambassador Llorens did admit, however, that the elections took place under an abusive regime.

                                                                                    LLORENS: —that since June 28 there was a significant deterioration in the human rights situation in Honduras. You know, we're talking about, you know, arbitrary detentions, arbitrary searches of homes, excessive use of force on a number of occasions, been beatings of detained protesters, closure of media outlets. That's very worrisome. Intimidation of journalists. And I'm again very proud to say that no country—rest assured—no country has done more on the ground in Honduras in support of monitoring human rights, investigating scores of human rights cases, raising concerns about human rights violations and urging the authorities to investigate the allegations. And we will insist that those people who were responsible be held accountable.

                                                                                    FREESTON: In the days following his presentation, the US supported the passing by the Honduran government of a general amnesty law that protects those responsible for the coup from prosecution. As for the truth commission, the State Department believes it should not have the power to punish the human rights violators.

                                                                                    LLORENS: The truth commission doesn't have to be a blame game. It can be part of the process of national reconciliation. It can be part of the process of Honduras re-engaging with the Inter-American system, re-engaging with the OAS, and telling a story, and chronicling what happened. And from there, again, without making it a blame game, you can come up to specific recommendations to the new Lobo administration on what it will take to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again, you know, and to make sure that you can strengthen democracy.

                                                                                    PINE: This truth commission takes place while assassinations are still going on. It takes place while nothing has changed politically in Honduras, while the people who violated Honduran democracy are being rewarded for doing that. And this is a part of rewarding them. It's being put there in place of any sort of justice, not as a complement to it.

                                                                                    FREESTON: The two key leaders of the coup and the repression that followed it, military leader Romeo Vasquez Velasquez and civilian leader Roberto Micheletti, have both been rewarded for their actions. Vazquez was named by President Lobo to head the state telephone company, this after it was Vasquez's military that sent out a letter to all the mayors in Honduras one month before the November election demanding contact information for all members of the coup resistance in each community. So it is troubling to many in Honduras that a military with a recent history of seeking intelligence on politically active Hondurans is now in control of the country's telephone infrastructure. Meanwhile, Micheletti has been named as a congressman for life, a position that does not exist under the Honduran Constitution. As for references to a government of national unity, not one person who boycotted the election holds a position in the new Lobo administration. As Secretary Clinton left on her recent tour of Latin America, nine US members of Congress wrote her a letter. They asked that she condition the renewal of military and economic aid to Honduras on a commitment from the Lobo administration to begin prosecuting crimes committed against members of the coup resistance. Clinton never responded to their letter, choosing instead to send one of her own.

                                                                                    CLINTON: I have just sent a letter to the Congress of the United States notifying them that we will be restoring aid to Honduras.

                                                                                    FREESTON: The US has been joined by numerous other countries, as well as the World Bank, IMF, and Inter-American Development Bank, in normalizing relations with Honduras. But if the evidence goes against the stated reason why the State Department is supporting the Honduran regime, what does explain the support? In part two, we explore how Honduras fits into the US strategy for the hemisphere.

                                                                                    1911 words posted in American Empire, South AmericaLeave a comment

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                                                                                      Fearing demands for accountability for Israel's nuclear arsensal, Zionist PM pulls out of international talks in Washington

                                                                                      English (US)  April 9th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                      Netanyahu pulled out after reportedly learning that Israel's presumed arsenal would be raised [Reuters]

                                                                                      Israel's prime minister has cancelled plans to attend next week's Washington summit on nuclear security hosted by Barack Obama, the US president.

                                                                                      Binyamin Netanyahu made the decision after learning that Egypt and Turkey planned to raise the issue of Israel's presumed nuclear arsenal at the conference, a senior Israeli government official was quoted as saying late on Thursday.

                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                      Israel will instead send a delegation headed by Dan Meridor, the country's Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister, to the two-day summit which begins on Monday.

                                                                                      The agenda is expected to include talks on how to secure loose nuclear material and prevent it falling into the hands of terrorists.

                                                                                      Israel is believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East but has never confirmed or denied that it possesses atomic weapons.

                                                                                      It has also not signed the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

                                                                                      "The prime minister has decided to cancel his trip to Washington to attend the nuclear conference next week, after learning that some countries including Egypt and Turkey plan to say Israel must sign the NPT," Reuters quoted an unnamed official as telling reporters.

                                                                                      According to Israeli media, Netanyahu's chage of mind followed fears that countries attending the summit would try to shift its focus from nuclear terrorism to a concerted attack on his country's presumed nuclear weapons capacity.

                                                                                      Earlier this week, announcing his initial intention to fly to Washington, Netanyahu told a Jerusalem news conference that he did not expect to face pressure over Israel's nuclear programme.

                                                                                      "I'm not concerned that anyone would think that Israel is a terrorist regime," he said.

                                                                                      "Everybody knows a terrorist and rogue regime when they see one, and believe me, they see quite a few around Israel."

                                                                                      Netanyahu's decision to pull out of the talks comes at a tense time in US-Israel relations, following a particularly frosty row over Israel's construction of settlements in East Jerusalem and its approach to the Middle East peace process.

                                                                                      Obama and Netanyahu held talks on the issue at the White House last month, but failed to make any progress.

                                                                                      Al Jazeera's correspondent Jacky Rowland, reporting from Jerusalem, said that "Israel remains very sensitive about whether it does or does not possess a nuclear programme".

                                                                                      Staying away

                                                                                      "However, when Israel attends any international forum, it is very happy to take the floor and talk about Iran's nuclear programme, and warn the world about what it sees as the 'Iranian nuclear threat'", she said.
                                                                                      Israel has never confirmed or denied that it has developed nuclear weapons [EPA]

                                                                                      "But when other countries discuss Israel's nuclear capabilities and how they see it as a problem, it could be embarrassing for the prime minister to be present, which is possibly why he has decided to stay away."

                                                                                      Although the gathering of 47 countries at the nuclear security summit will not focus on individual nations, the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea - and possible new UN sanctions against Tehran - are expected to be discussed in Obama's bilateral meetings with various leaders attending the meeting.

                                                                                      Among those expected to attend the summit are Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

                                                                                      Also represented will be India and Pakistan, which never signed the NPT but have atomic arsenals.

                                                                                      The inclusion of Pakistan, diplomats say, is important since it is one of the countries that has pledged to improve its internal safeguards over its nuclear weapons.

                                                                                      Two nations excluded from the meeting are Iran, which the United States and its Western allies accuse of pursuing nuclear weapons, and North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and has twice tested nuclear devices.

                                                                                      Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                        Detainee marks 25 years in prison; 14 without family visits

                                                                                        English (US)  April 9th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                        Maan News

                                                                                        GAZA – The Gaza City Prisoners Society said Ibrahim Baroud marked his 25th year in Israeli prison on Friday, the last 14 years of which his mother has been prevented from family visits to the institution.

                                                                                        Expert in detainees affairs with the society Abdel Nasser Farawneh said Umm Ibrahim (the mother of Ibrahim) said she was worried that she would die without seeing her son again.

                                                                                        Ibrahim was detained when he was 22-years-old on charges of posing a threat to the state of Israel - what Farawneh described as resisting the occupation - and was sentenced to 27 years in jail.

                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                        On 1 April, Palestinians in Israeli prisons declared a one-month strike in protest of cases like that of Ibrahim Baroud. Detainees say high-profile and fractionally-aligned prisoners are often subjected to unfair treatment, particularly around denials of family visits.

                                                                                        Prisoners began the month-long strike, which includes a boycott of all family visits, with a day-long hunger strike, and held a second day of hunger demonstrations on Wednesday, one week into the protest.

                                                                                        Representatives for the prisoners said all factions are participating in the strikes, which affects some 10,000 prisoners across 13 prisons and detention centers. Prisoners said they were demanding equal treatment for all Palestinians being held by Israel.
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                                                                                          Amayreh: Can there be free elections under Fatah?

                                                                                          English (US)  April 7th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                          Can there be free elections under Fatah?

                                                                                          [ 03/04/2010 - 10:37 PM ]

                                                                                          By Khalid Amayreh

                                                                                          The American-backed Fatah group has been demanding the organization of general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as soon as possible. However, the demands don’t seem to reflect genuine concern about democracy as one might take it at face value.

                                                                                          Fatah officials and apologists argue that elections represent the only exit out of the present political deadlock at the Palestinian arena, including the enduring rift between Fatah and the Islamic movement, Hamas.

                                                                                          However, in the absence of real guarantees for holding truly free elections, the raucous blather about elections by the Fatah organization, or any other Palestinian group, remains an expression of deception and hypocrisy.

                                                                                          [More:]


                                                                                          Today, the PA regime in the West Bank is more or less a police state apparatus. Human rights and civil liberties are virtually non-existent as the PA security agencies exercise absolute control over all aspects of life. People are unceremoniously fired from their jobs at the slightest suspicion regarding their political or ideological orientations. And the justice system is in a state of chronic paralysis due to the often wanton interference by the security apparatus.

                                                                                          Since 2007, hundreds of institutions have been seized and the “wrong”, e.g. Islamic-oriented, governing bodies sacked and replaced by Fatah loyalists. In many cases, capable and highly skilled teachers and civil servants were rather vindictively dismissed only to be replaced by others whose main qualification is their membership in the Fatah organization.

                                                                                          And when the victims appeal to the courts for redress, they are told that their dismissal was justified due to “security reasons.”

                                                                                          In other words, one must sing all the songs of praise for Fatah and give unflinching loyalty to Abbas and his American-backed junta, or else he will be considered a security risk and consequently fired from his or her job.

                                                                                          In addition, there is a huge amount of abuse of people’s basic human and legal rights under the rubric of the whoring security coordination with Israel.

                                                                                          According to this regime, any Palestinian arrested by Israel is rearrested upon his or her release by the Palestinian Authority security agencies, and vice versa. Even a Palestinian freedom fighter or political prisoner who has spent 10 or 15 yeas of his life, is rearrested as soon as he sets foot in his village or town.

                                                                                          Needless to say, this is more than just security coordination with Israel. This is outright treachery since these heroic people who have spent the prime of their lives in Zionist jails deserve every appreciation and gratitude, not arrest, humiliation and imprisonment inside a dark, slimy cell.

                                                                                          In recent days and weeks, the PA has allowed student elections to take place on several campuses in the West Bank . However, the elections had no semblance of real elections whatsoever. In many cases, prior to the elections hundreds of Islamic-oriented students were rounded up and warned against participation in the elections. The message was too clear: If you participate in the elections, you will be arrested twice: First by the PA and then by the Israelis. Given the police state atmosphere, most of the student population either boycotted the polls or cast blank ballots in protest against the conspicuous absence of freedom and fairness.

                                                                                          The same pattern of behavior, the anti-Hamas inquisition, has prevailed and continues to prevail in every other institution in the West Bank whereby people are harassed and persecuted for their political views and suspected affiliation.

                                                                                          Hence, one would really wonder how free and fair elections can be carried out under such circumstances.

                                                                                          Well, the answer is clear: No true elections worthy of the name can be conducted under existing conditions in the West Bank where the Fatah-run government views an important part of citizenry as enemies. How else can one relate to the mass dismissal of people from their jobs, with many forced to seek work at Jewish settlements in order to provide food for their families?

                                                                                          More to the point, true elections require a healthy environment that is free from intimidation and interference by the security agencies, a requirement that is conspicuously absent especially in the Wes Bank.

                                                                                          Indeed, allowing elections, whether local or general, to take place under the current police-state atmosphere would be a serious insult to the Palestinian people’s intelligence.

                                                                                          This is why, Hamas and other Palestinian factions which value true democracy are urged to reject Fatah’s exploits and explicit efforts to falsify the Palestinian people’s will by concocting elections that have little or no credibility, elections that would give the impression that a majority of the Palestinian people are surrendering to Israel and readying themselves to sell out al-Quds al Sharif (the Noble Jerusalem) and the refugees’ right of return in exchange for a comical, hamburger statelet on parts of the West Bank.

                                                                                          We all know that Fatah came to regret having allowed elections to take place in 2006. Now, Fatah and the PA are assuring their ultimate patron, the United States (which is at Israel’s beck and call), that Hamas will not be allowed to win again.

                                                                                          Which means that Fatah, ostensibly with American and Israeli blessing and support, will use every conceivable means, including the intended falsification and rigging of elections, in order to ensure Fatah’s victory.

                                                                                          If so, it would be more dignifying and wise for Hamas, and other dignified Palestinians, to boycott such dishonorable elections as taking part in these elections would probably exacerbate the already volatile atmosphere with Fatah and might lead to the outbreak of violence.

                                                                                          Undoubtedly, Hamas might see itself coming under growing pressure from certain Arab regimes to agree to hold elections under the present circumstances. Well, Hamas must resist such pressures, especially coming from these repressive regimes which are utterly unqualified to lecture us on elections and democracy.

                                                                                          In the final analysis, the vast majority of our people shall not and will not commit adultery with our enduring and sacred cause by succumbing to the American-Israeli conspiracies, even if these conspiracies assume a Palestinian face.

                                                                                          http://www.xpis.ps/

                                                                                          1007 words posted in PALESTINE, American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                            Petraeus wasn't the first

                                                                                            English (US)  April 7th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                            By Mark Perry

                                                                                            In early February of 2006, I submitted a book proposal about the wartime relationship between Generals George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower to a group of New York publishers. I had worked on the proposal for nine months and believed it would garner significant interest. Two weeks after the submission, I received my first response - from a senior editor at a major New York publishing firm. He was uncomfortable with the proposal: "Wasn't Marshall an anti-Semite?" he asked. I'd heard this claim before, but I was still shocked by the question. For me, George Marshall was an icon: the one officer who, more than any other, was responsible for the American victory in World War Two. He was the most important soldier of his generation - and a man of great moral and physical courage.

                                                                                            That Marshall was an anti-Semite has been retailed regularly since 1948 - when it became known that he not only opposed the U.S. stance in favor of the partition of Palestine, but vehemently recommended that the U.S. not recognize the State of Israel that emerged. Harry Truman disagreed and Marshall and Truman clashed in a meeting in the Oval Office, on May 12, 1948. Truman relied on presidential adviser Clark Clifford to make the argument. Clifford faced Marshall: the U.S. had made a moral commitment to the world's Jews that dated from Britain's 1919 Balfour Declaration, he argued,and the U.S would be supported by Israel in the Middle East. The Holocaust had made Israel's creation an imperative and, moreover, Israel would bea democracy. He then added: Jewish-Americans were an important voting bloc and would favor the decision.

                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                            Marshall exploded. "Mr. President," he said, "I thought this meeting was called to consider an important, complicated problem in foreign policy. I don't even know why Clifford is here." Truman attempted to calm Marshall, whom he admired - but Marshall was not satisfied. "I do not think that politics should play any role in our decision,"he said. The meeting ended acrimoniously, though Truman attempted to placate Marshall by noting thathe was "inclined" to side with him. That wasn't true - the U.S. voted to recognize Israel and worked to support its emerging statehood. Marshall remained enraged.

                                                                                            When Marshall returned to the State Department from his meeting with Truman, he memorialized themeeting: "I remarked to the president that, speaking objectively, I could not help but think that suggestions made by Mr. Clifford were wrong. I thought that to adopt these suggestions would have precisely the opposite effect from that intended by him. The transparent dodge to win a few votes would not, in fact, achieve this purpose. The great dignity of the office of the president would be seriously damaged. The counsel offered by Mr. Clifford's advice was based on domestic political considerations, while the problem confronting us was international. I stated bluntly that if the president were to follow Mr. Clifford's advice, and if I were to vote in the next election, I would vote against the president." Put more simply, Marshall believed that Truman was sacrificing American security for American votes.

                                                                                            The Truman-Marshall argument over Israel has entered American lore - and been a subject of widespread historical controversy. Was Marshall's opposition to recognition of Israel a reflection of his, and the American establishment's, latent anti-Semitism? Or was it a credible reflection of U.S. military worries that the creation of Israel would engage America in a defense of the small country that would drain American resources and lives? In the years since, a gaggle of historians and politicians have weighed in with their own opinions, the most recent being Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.Writing in The Washington Post on May 7, 2008, Holbrooke noted that "beneath the surface" of the Truman-Marshall controversy "lay unspoken but real anti-Semitism on the part of some (but not all) policymakers. The position of those opposing recognition was simple - oil, numbers and history."

                                                                                            But that's only a part of the story. In the period between the end of World War Two and Marshall's meeting with Truman, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had issued no less than sixteen (by my count) papers on the Palestine issue. The most important of these was issued on March 31, 1948 and entitled "Force Requirements for Palestine."In that paper, the JCS predicted that "the Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the United States] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives." The JCS speculated that these objectives included: initial Jewish sovereignty over a portion of Palestine, acceptance by the great powers of the right to unlimited immigration, the extension of Jewish sovereignty over all of Palestine and the expansion of "Eretz Israel" into Transjordan and into portions of Lebanon and Syria.This was not the only time the JCS expressed this worry. In late 1947, the JCS had written that "A decision to partition Palestine, if the decision were supported by the United States, would prejudice United States strategic interests in the Near and Middle East" to the point that "United States influence in the area would be curtailed to that which could be maintained by military force." That is to say, the concern of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not with the security of Israel- but with the security of American lives.

                                                                                            In the wake of my March 13 article in these pages (‘The Petraeus briefing: Biden's embarrassment is not the whole story') a storm of outrage greeted my claim that Israeli intransigence on the peace process could be costing American lives. One week after that article appeared, I called General Joe Hoar, a former CENTCOM commander and a friend. We talked about the article. "I don't get it," he said. "What's the news here? Hasn't this been said before?" If history is any guide, the answer is simple: it was said sixty years ago by one of America's greatest soldiers. George Marshall wasn't an anti-Semite. But he was prescient.

                                                                                            Mark Perry's most recent book is Talking To Terrorists. He is also the author of Partners In Command: George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in War and Peace and Four Stars: The Inside Story of the Battle between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America's Civilian Leaders.

                                                                                            Foreign Policy

                                                                                            1034 words posted in American Empire, IsraelLeave a comment

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                                                                                              Peace for Israelis and Palestinians? Not without America's tough love.

                                                                                              English (US)  April 7th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                              An Israeli student explains why the US should act on moral outrage over Israel’s discriminatory policies before it’s too late.

                                                                                              By Jonathan Ben-Artzi / April 1, 2010
                                                                                              Providence, R.I.

                                                                                              More than 20 years ago, many Americans decided they could no longer watch as racial segregation divided South Africa. Compelled by an injustice thousands of miles away, they demanded that their communities, their colleges, their municipalities, and their government take a stand.

                                                                                              As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

                                                                                              Today, a similar discussion is taking place on campuses across the United States. Increasingly, students are questioning the morality of the ties US institutions have with the unjust practices being carried out in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories. Students are seeing that these practices are often more than merely “unjust.” They are racist. Humiliating. Inhumane. Savage.

                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                              Sometimes it takes a good friend to tell you when enough is enough. As they did with South Africa two decades ago, concerned citizens across the US can make a difference by encouraging Washington to get the message to Israel that this cannot continue.

                                                                                              A legitimate question is, Why should I care? Americans are heavily involved in the conflict: from funding (the US provides Israel with roughly $3 billion annually in military aid) to corporate investments (Microsoft has one of its major facilities in Israel) to diplomatic support (the US has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council resolutions unsavory to Israel between 1982 and 2006).

                                                                                              Why do I care? I am an Israeli. Both my parents were born in Israel. Both my grandmothers were born in Palestine (when there was no “Israel” yet). In fact, I am a ninth-generation native of Palestine. My ancestors were among the founders of today’s modern Jerusalem.

                                                                                              Both my grandfathers fled the Nazis and came to Palestine. Both were subsequently injured in the 1948 Arab-Israli War. My mother’s only brother was a paratrooper killed in combat in 1968. All of my relatives served in the Israeli military for extensive periods of time, some of them in units most people don’t even know exist.

                                                                                              In Israel, military service for both men and women is compulsory. When my time to serve came, I refused, because I realized I was obliged to do something about these acts of segregation. I was denied conscientious objector status, like the majority of 18-year-old males who seek this status. Because I refused to serve, I spent a year and a half in military prison.

                                                                                              Some of the acts of segregation that I saw while growing up in Israel include towns for Jews only, immigration laws that allow Jews from around the world to immigrate but deny displaced indigenous Palestinians that same right, and national healthcare and school systems that receive significantly more funding in Jewish towns than in Arab towns.

                                                                                              As former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in 2008: “We have not yet overcome the barrier of discrimination, which is a deliberate discrimination and the gap is insufferable.... Governments have denied [Arab Israelis] their rights to improve their quality of life.”

                                                                                              The situation in the occupied territories is even worse. Nearly 4 million Palestinians have been living under Israeli occupation for over 40 years without the most basic human and civil rights.

                                                                                              One example is segregation on roads in the West Bank, where settlers travel on roads that are for Jews only, while Palestinians are stopped at checkpoints, and a 10-mile commute might take seven hours.

                                                                                              Another example is discrimination in water supply: Israel pumps drinking water from occupied territory (in violation of international law). Israelis use as much as four times more water than Palestinians, while Palestinians are not allowed to dig their own wells and must rely on Israeli supply.

                                                                                              Civil freedom is no better: In an effort to break the spirit of Palestinians, Israel conducts sporadic arrests and detentions with no judicial supervision. According to one prisoner support and human rights association, roughly 4 in 10 Palestinian males have spent some time in Israeli prisons. That’s 40 percent of all Palestinian males!

                                                                                              And finally, perhaps one of the greatest injustices takes place in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is collectively punishing more than 1.5 million Palestinians by sealing them off in the largest open-air prison on earth.

                                                                                              Because of the US’s relationship with Israel, it is important for all Americans to educate themselves about the realities of the conflict. When they do, they will realize that just as much as support for South Africa decades ago was mostly damaging for South Africa itself, contemporary blind support for Israel hurts us Israelis.

                                                                                              We must lift the ruthless siege of Gaza, which only breeds more anger and frustration among Gazans, who respond by hurling primitive, homemade rockets at Israeli towns.

                                                                                              We must remove travel restrictions from West Bank Palestinians. How can we live in peace with a population where most children cannot visit their grandparents living in the neighboring village, without being stopped and harassed at military checkpoints for hours?

                                                                                              Finally, we must give equal rights to all. Regardless of what the final resolution will be – the so-called “one state solution,” the “two state solution,” or any other form of governance.

                                                                                              Israel governs the lives of 5.5 million Israeli Jews, 1.5 million Israeli Palestinians, and 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. As long as Israel is responsible for all of these people, it must ensure that all have equal rights, the same access to resources, and the same opportunities in education and healthcare. Only through such a platform of basic human rights for all humans can a resolution come to the region.

                                                                                              If Americans truly are our friends, they should shake us up and take away the keys, because right now we are driving drunk, and without this wake-up call, we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.

                                                                                              Jonathan Ben-Artzi was one of the spokespeople for the Hadash party in the Israeli general elections in 2006. His parents are professors in Israel, and his extended family includes uncle Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Ben-Artzi is a PhD student at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

                                                                                              Christian Science Monitor

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                                                                                                Why There Are No ‘Israelis’ in the Jewish State

                                                                                                English (US)  April 7th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                Citizens Classed as Jewish or Arab Nationals

                                                                                                By Jonathan Cook

                                                                                                A group of Jews and Arabs are fighting in the Israeli courts to be recognised as “Israelis”, a nationality currently denied them, in a case that officials fear may threaten the country’s self-declared status as a Jewish state.

                                                                                                Israel refused to recognise an Israeli nationality at the country’s establishment in 1948, making an unusual distinction between “citizenship” and “nationality”. Although all Israelis qualify as “citizens of Israel”, the state is defined as belonging to the “Jewish nation”, meaning not only the 5.6 million Israeli Jews but also more than seven million Jews in the diaspora.

                                                                                                Critics say the special status of Jewish nationality has been a way to undermine the citizenship rights of non-Jews in Israel, especially the fifth of the population who are Arab. Some 30 laws in Israel specifically privilege Jews, including in the areas of immigration rights, naturalisation, access to land and employment.

                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                Arab leaders have also long complained that indications of “Arab” nationality on ID cards make it easy for police and government officials to target Arab citizens for harsher treatment.

                                                                                                The interior ministry has adopted more than 130 possible nationalities for Israeli citizens, most of them defined in religious or ethnic terms, with “Jewish” and “Arab” being the main categories.

                                                                                                The group’s legal case is being heard by the supreme court after a district judge rejected their petition two years ago, backing the state’s position that there is no Israeli nation.

                                                                                                The head of the campaign for Israeli nationality, Uzi Ornan, a retired linguistics professor, said: “It is absurd that Israel, which recognises dozens of different nationalities, refuses to recognise the one nationality it is supposed to represent.”

                                                                                                The government opposes the case, claiming that the campaign’s real goal is to “undermine the state’s infrastructure” — a presumed reference to laws and official institutions that ensure Jewish citizens enjoy a privileged status in Israel.

                                                                                                Mr Ornan, 86, said that denying a common Israeli nationality was the linchpin of state-sanctioned discrimination against the Arab population.

                                                                                                “There are even two laws — the Law of Return for Jews and the Citizenship Law for Arabs — that determine how you belong to the state,” he said. “What kind of democracy divides its citizens into two kinds?”

                                                                                                Yoel Harshefi, a lawyer supporting Mr Ornan, said the interior ministry had resorted to creating national groups with no legal recognition outside Israel, such as “Arab” or “unknown”, to avoid recognising an Israeli nationality.

                                                                                                In official documents most Israelis are classified as “Jewish” or “Arab”, but immigrants whose status as Jews is questioned by the Israeli rabbinate, including more than 300,000 arrivals from the former Soviet Union, are typically registered according to their country of origin.

                                                                                                “Imagine the uproar in Jewish communities in the United States, Britain or France, if the authorities there tried to classify their citizens as “Jewish” or “Christian”,” said Mr Ornan.

                                                                                                The professor, who lives close to Haifa, launched his legal action after the interior ministry refused to change his nationality to “Israeli” in 2000. An online petition declaring “I am an Israeli” has attracted several thousand signatures.

                                                                                                Mr Ornan has been joined in his action by 20 other public figures, including former government minister Shulamit Aloni. Several members have been registered with unusual nationalities such as “Russian”, “Buddhist”, “Georgian” and “Burmese”.

                                                                                                Two Arabs are party to the case, including Adel Kadaan, who courted controversy in the 1990s by waging a lengthy legal action to be allowed to live in one of several hundred communities in Israel open only to Jews.

                                                                                                Uri Avnery, a peace activist and former member of the parliament, said the current nationality system gave Jews living abroad a far greater stake in Israel than its 1.3 million Arab citizens.

                                                                                                “The State of Israel cannot recognise an ‘Israeli’ nation because it is the state of the ‘Jewish’ nation … it belongs to the Jews of Brooklyn, Budapest and Buenos Aires, even though these consider themselves as belonging to the American, Hungarian or Argentine nations.”

                                                                                                International Zionist organisations representing the diaspora, such as the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency, are given in Israeli law a special, quasi-governmental role, especially in relation to immigration and control over large areas of Israeli territory for the settlement of Jews only.

                                                                                                Mr Ornan said the lack of a common nationality violated Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which says the state will “uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race or sex”.

                                                                                                Indications of nationality on ID cards carried by Israelis made it easy for officials to discriminate against Arab citizens, he added.

                                                                                                The government has countered that the nationality section on ID cards was phased out from 2000 — after the interior ministry, which was run by a religious party at the time, objected to a court order requiring it to identify non-Orthodox Jews as “Jewish” on the cards.

                                                                                                However, Mr Ornan said any official could instantly tell if he was looking at the card of a Jew or Arab because the date of birth on the IDs of Jews was given according to the Hebrew calendar. In addition, the ID of an Arab, unlike a Jew, included the grandfather’s name.

                                                                                                “Flash your ID card and whatever government clerk is sitting across from you immediately knows which ‘clan’ you belong to, and can refer you to those best suited to ‘handle your kind’,” Mr Ornan said.

                                                                                                The distinction between Jewish and Arab nationalities is also shown on interior ministry records used to make important decisions about personal status issues such as marriage, divorce and death, which are dealt with on entirely sectarian terms.

                                                                                                Only Israelis from the same religious group, for example, are allowed to marry inside Israel — otherwise they are forced to wed abroad — and cemeteries are separated according to religious belonging.

                                                                                                Some of those who have joined the campaign complain that it has damaged their business interests. One Druze member, Carmel Wahaba, said he had lost the chance to establish an import-export company in France because officials there refused to accept documents stating his nationality as “Druze” rather than “Israeli”.

                                                                                                The group also said it hoped to expose a verbal sleight of hand that intentionally mistranslates the Hebrew term “Israeli citizenship” on the country’s passports as “Israeli nationality” in English to avoid problems with foreign border officials.

                                                                                                B Michael, a commentator for Yedioth Aharonoth, Israel’s most popular newspaper, has observed: “We are all Israeli nationals — but only abroad.”

                                                                                                The campaign, however, is likely to face an uphill struggle in the courts.

                                                                                                A similar legal suit brought by a Tel Aviv psychologist, George Tamrin, failed in 1970. Shimon Agranat, head of the supreme court at the time, ruled: “There is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish people. … The Jewish people is composed not only of those residing in Israel but also of diaspora Jewries.”

                                                                                                That view was echoed by the district court in 2008 when it heard Mr Ornan’s case.

                                                                                                The judges in the supreme court, which held the first appeal hearing last month, indicated that they too were likely to be unsympathetic. Justice Uzi Fogelman said: “The question is whether or not the court is the right place to solve this problem.”

                                                                                                http://www.jkcook.net/Articles3/0472.htm#Top

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                                                                                                  BOYCOTT NEWS: An Open Letter to Margaret Atwood from Gaza: Don’t Stand on the Wrong Side of History

                                                                                                  English (US)  April 6th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                  Dear Ms. Atwood,

                                                                                                  Gaza's largest institute of higher learning after the Israeli bombing

                                                                                                  We are students from Gaza representing more than 10 academic institutions therein. Our grandparents are refugees who were expelled from their homes in the 1948 Nakba. They still have their keys locked up in their closets and will pass them on to their children, our parents. Many of us have lost our fathers, some of us have lost our mothers, and some of us lost both in the last Israeli aggression against civilians in Gaza. Others still lost a body part from the flesh-burning white phosphorous that Israel used, and are now permanently physically challenged. Most of us lost our homes, and are now living in tents, as Israel refuses to allow basic construction materials into Gaza. And most of all, we are all still living in what has come to be a festering sore on humanity’s conscience—the brutal, hermetic, medieval siege that Israel is perpetrating against us, the 1.5 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                  Many of us have encountered your writing during our university studies. Although your books are not available in Gaza—because Israel does not allow books, paper, and other stationary in—we are familiar with your leftist, feminist, overtly political writing. And most of all, we are aware of your strong stance against apartheid. You admirably supported sanctions against apartheid South Africa and called for resistance against all forms of oppression.

                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                  Now, we have heard that you are to receive a prize this spring at Tel Aviv University. We, the students of besieged Gaza, urge you not to go. As our professors, teachers and anti-apartheid comrades used to tell us, there was no negotiation with the brutal racist regime of South Africa. Nor was there much communication. Just one word: BOYCOTT. You must be aware that Israel was a sister state to the apartheid regime before 1994. Many South African anti-apartheid heroes, including Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have described Israel’s oppression as apartheid. Some describe Israeli settler-colonialism and occupation as surpassing apartheid’s evil. F-16s, F-15s, F-35s, Apache helicopters, Merkava tanks, and white phosphorous were not used against black townships.

                                                                                                  Ms. Atwood, in the Gaza concentration camp, students who have been awarded scholarships to universities abroad are prevented, every year, from pursuing their hard-earned opportunity for academic achievement. Within the Gaza Strip, those seeking an education are limited by increasing poverty rates and a scarcity of fuel for transportation, both of which are direct results of Israel’s medieval siege. What is TAU’s position vis-à-vis this form of illegal collective punishment, described by Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, as a “prelude to genocide?” Not a single word of condemnation has been heard from any Israeli academic institution!

                                                                                                  Participating in normal relations with Tel Aviv University is giving tacit approval to its racially exclusive policy towards Palestinian citizens of Israel. We are certain you would hate to support an institution that upholds so faithfully the apartheid system of its state.

                                                                                                  Tel Aviv University has a long and well-documented history of collaboration with the Israeli military and intelligence services. This is particularly shameful after Israel’s bloody military assault against the occupied Gaza Strip, which, according to leading international and local human rights organizations, left over 1,440 Palestinians dead and 5380 injured. We are certain you would hate to support an institution that supports a military apparatus that murdered over 430 children.

                                                                                                  By accepting the prize at Tel Aviv University, you will be indirectly giving a slight and inadvertent nod to Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide. This university has refused to commemorate the destroyed Palestinian village on which it was built. That village is called Sheikh Muwanis, and it no longer exists as a result of Israel’s confiscation. Its people have been expelled.

                                                                                                  Let us remember the words of Archbishop Desmund Tutu: “if you choose to be neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” As such, we call upon you to say no to neutrality, no to being on the fence, no to normalization with apartheid Israel, not after the blood of more than 400 children has been spilt! No to occupation, repression, settler colonialism, settlement expansion, home demolition, land expropriation and the system of discrimination against the indigenous population of Palestine, and no to the formation of Bantustans in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip!

                                                                                                  Just as every citizen knew that s/he had a moral responsibility to boycott apartheid in South Africa after the Sharpeville massacre, Gaza 2009 was the world’s wake-up call. All of Israel’s academic institutions are state-run and state-funded. To partake of any of their prizes or to accept any of their blandishments is to uphold their heinous political actions. Israel has continually violated international law in defiance of the world. It is illegally occupying Palestinian land. It continues its aggression against the Palestinian people. Israel denies Palestinians all of the democratic liberties it so proudly, fictitiously flaunts. Israel is an apartheid regime that denies Palestinian refugees their right of return as sanctioned by UN resolution 194.

                                                                                                  Attending the symposium would violate the unanimously endorsed Palestinian civil society call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. This call is also directed towards international activists, artists, and academics of conscience, such as you. We are certain that you would love to be a part of the noble struggle against the apartheid, colonization and occupation that the Palestinian people have been subjected to for the past 61 years, a struggle that is ongoing.

                                                                                                  Ms. Atwood, we consider you to be what the late Edward Said called an “oppositional intellectual.” As such, and given our veneration of your work, we would be both emotionally and psychologically wounded to see you attend the symposium. You are a great woman of words, of that we have no doubt. But we think you would agree, too, that actions speak louder than words. We all await your decision.

                                                                                                  Besieged Gaza
                                                                                                  The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel www.pacbi.org
                                                                                                  Endorsed by The University Teachers’ Association in Palestine

                                                                                                  Pulse

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                                                                                                    Cabbing for Israel

                                                                                                    English (US)  April 3rd, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                    There appears no end to the moral depravity of Western politicians when it comes to cheerleading for the racist-colonial entity of Israel, writes Stuart Littlewood* in London

                                                                                                    There can be few sights more pathetic than ex-ministers and chums of Tony Blair offering to use their government contacts to help influence policy on behalf of business clients.

                                                                                                    "I'm like a cab for hire," said Stephen Byers when secretly filmed by a Channel 4 TV Dispatches programme. Byers could be "hailed" for £3,000 to £5,000 per day.

                                                                                                    And so a new expression was born in the sleazy world of Westminster: "political cabbing".

                                                                                                    The latest revelations come only a few months after another Channel 4 Dispatches report, by Peter Oborne, showed how large numbers of MPs were "stooging" -- or "cabbing" -- for Israel. Mr Oborne reported that a majority of Conservative MPs and half the shadow cabinet are signed-up "Friends of Israel", and millions of pounds sterling flow into the bank accounts of MPs and parties although only a fraction of these "contributions" are visibly accounted for.

                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                    Sir Richard Dalton, a former British diplomat who served as consul-general in Jerusalem, observed: "I don't believe, and I don't think anybody else believes, these contributions come with no strings attached."

                                                                                                    Mr Oborne showed how Labour and Conservative "Friends of Israel" take dozens of MPs on free trips to Israel, where they are guests of the Israeli government. Few, if any, declare this interest when speaking in parliament. He also showed how one of the Conservative Party's big donors has vested interests in illegal settlement development in the West Bank and in Bicom, an Israeli public affairs outfit, and how the party's leadership is subject to foreign pressure.

                                                                                                    What harm does "cabbing" for Israel do? Large numbers of MPs (and many parliamentary candidates) are exposed to the Israel lobby's influence, and its message is carried through into parliamentary work causing great damage to our parliamentary democracy, harm to Britain's reputation throughout the world and risk to our security because a just solution in the Holy Land is prevented by such partisanship.

                                                                                                    The majority of Conservative MPs and MEPs are Friends of Israel members. The lobby also claims a very large number of Labour MPs and ministers. Membership is said to be a necessary step to high office.

                                                                                                    The Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI) website brazenly states that its first aim is to maximise support for the state of Israel within the party and parliament and develop and maintain a broad-based LDFI membership inside and outside of parliament. Conservatives Friends of Israel have a "Fast Track" group for parliamentary candidates fighting target marginal seats. Senior Conservatives try to justify their support for the foreign military power by insisting that Israel is "a force for good in the world" and "in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression, Israel's enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together."

                                                                                                    This partisanship undermines a number of the principles on which our standards in public life are founded. One of these requires holders of public office not to place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties. Nowhere is this disregard for principle more dramatically demonstrated than in the appointment of Israel flag-wavers to the chairmanship of our most important security bodies -- the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Defence Committee.

                                                                                                    Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Labour Friends of Israel that they were "one of the great influences on the whole of the Labour movement... I will continue to do what I can both to defend Israel and to protect the security of Israel's borders... I count myself not only a friend of Israel but someone who wants to support the future of Israel... we will do everything that we can to work with Israel."

                                                                                                    Conservative opposition leader David Cameron has said: "The belief I have in Israel is indestructible -- and you need to know that if I become prime minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back on Israel."

                                                                                                    Both leaders are patrons of the Jewish National Fund, an organisation with a sinister purpose.

                                                                                                    Lobbying will be the "next political scandal", says Cameron blissfully unaware of the irony of his remark.

                                                                                                    When Tzipi Livni, leader of Israel's main opposition party, Kadima, and foreign minister during the murderous blitzkrieg on Gaza civilians more than a year ago, recently cancelled a visit to Britain after an arrest warrant was issued against her by a British court, Israel complained that, "we have to put an end to this absurdity, which is harming the excellent bilateral relations between Israel and Britain."

                                                                                                    Brown responded by insisting that Livni was welcome and promising to change the law that allows British courts to issue warrants for war crimes suspects. Foreign Secretary David Miliband reinforced this by saying the British government was determined that arrest threats against visitors of Livni's stature would not happen again. "Israel is a strategic partner and a close friend of the United Kingdom. We are determined to protect and develop these ties," he said. "Israeli leaders -- like leaders from other countries -- must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British government."

                                                                                                    Livni is not even a serving minister. And far from apologising for the slaughter of Gazans a year ago, this odious individual declared: "I would make the same decisions all over again." For decent people she is beyond the pale and unwelcome.

                                                                                                    Nevertheless the UK attorney-general has told the world that the UK government intends to protect high-ranking Israeli officials from arrest in the UK. Speaking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Baroness Scotland said Israeli leaders should not face arrest for war crimes under the law of universal jurisdiction. "The government is looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed to avoid this situation arising again. Israel's leaders should always be able to travel freely to the UK."

                                                                                                    Why? There can be no hiding place for those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, extra-judicial assassination, war crimes, torture and forced disappearances. States that are party to the Geneva Conventions -- some 194 of them, including Israel -- are obliged to seek out and either prosecute or extradite those suspected of having committed "grave breaches" of the conventions and "bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case."

                                                                                                    The Geneva Conventions are treaties, solemnly entered into, that contain universal rules limiting the barbarity of war. "Grave breaches" means wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, the causing of great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and other serious violations of the laws of war. Israel is well practised in all of these.

                                                                                                    Brown and Miliband, "cabbing" like fury, are happy to dismantle our obligations under international law in order to save their unsavoury friends and allow Israel's worst thugs to walk the streets of our capital.

                                                                                                    "Cabbing" for Israel even extends to making light of the theft by Mossad agents of the passport ID of several British citizens in a mission to assassinate a Hamas operative in Dubai. It was not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Miliband announced the expulsion of an unnamed individual on the Israeli Embassy staff. This feeble slap on the wrist was not nearly enough to wipe the smirk off Ambassador Prosor's face.

                                                                                                    MP George Galloway called for a more robust response -- the closing of the embassy. "Every British citizen travelling in the Middle East has been endangered by the actions of Mossad operating from the Israeli Embassy in London. Protecting British citizens abroad demands nothing less than closing that centre of espionage at home."

                                                                                                    That's more like it.

                                                                                                    Miliband's and Brown's friends are not my friends -- or anyone else's as far as I can see. The idea that Israel and the gangsters who run it have any value to us as strategic partners is a figment of their tiny imagination. George Washington's warning of years ago seems all the more appropriate today: "The nation which indulges towards another habitual fondness is in some degree a slave... a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."

                                                                                                    Who, if they had any integrity, would "cab" for a regime that thieves, murders, assassinates, carries out ethnic cleansing and shows utter contempt for international law, human rights, UN resolutions and the normal codes of human conduct? Who would "cab" for a regime that, by using overwhelming military might, has systematically impoverished its neighbours and resorted to starvation tactics to make them submit?

                                                                                                    Who, if they had a shred of honour, would "cab" for a regime whose leaders are wanted for war crimes?

                                                                                                    Be warned, you parliamentary candidates, when you come a-knocking for my vote. The first question will be "Are you cabbing for Israel?"

                                                                                                    * The writer is author of the book Radio Free Palestine , which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.

                                                                                                    Al Ahram

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                                                                                                      Amayreh: Another forlorn summit

                                                                                                      English (US)  April 3rd, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                      A cloud of tear gas envelopes Palestinian demonstrators in a West Bank village near Ramallah

                                                                                                      With Israel continuing settlement expansion and Arabs clinging to a path proven fruitless, something has got to give, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

                                                                                                      Palestinians reacted with a combination of ambivalence and disenchantment to the outcome of this week's two-day Arab summit in Sirte, Libya. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who participated in the summit, voiced general satisfaction, describing the conference's decisions as "good and reasonable". He particularly praised the decision to allocate $500 million for Jerusalem, saying he hoped it would be implemented soon.

                                                                                                      Abbas also welcomed the summit's decision to give American-led efforts to restart the stalled peace process a "chance", saying that the "exhaustive approach we are adopting towards the cause of peace is necessary so that we won't regret anything we should have done and didn't do." Regardless, it was clear that on the "street level" reactions were negative, spurred by widespread disillusionment with the Arab League, especially its notorious failure to formulate a meaningful Arab stance on the Palestinian question.

                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                      Palestinian frustration in this regard stems in part from a collective feeling that whatever decisions Arab leaders adopt at their summit meetings remain largely within the "realm of rhetoric" and don't rise to the level of being serious challenges to Israel's efforts to Judaise East Jerusalem and efface the city's Arab-Islamic identity. Most Palestinians have come to interpret the mediocrity of Arab summits as either a failure to understand reality in occupied Palestine or as an expression of a shrinking commitment by the Arab world to the Palestinian cause.

                                                                                                      This attitude was expressed by the Islamic Liberation Party, an emerging Islamist force, which accused Arab leaders meeting in Libya "of betraying Jerusalem as you have always done". Even Hamas, which is not particularly eager to burn bridges with Arab regimes, criticised the summit for "doing next to nothing to end the criminal siege on the Gaza Strip". A statement issued by Hamas also criticised the summit for failing to "address Israel's arrogant attitude towards the occupied city of Jerusalem and its threats to demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque".

                                                                                                      Predictably, Hamas took issue also with the summit's adherence to peace negotiations as the only option available to the Arabs, arguing that such discourse would only embolden Israel. It reminded summit attendees that the paths of direct and indirect talks with Israel had been tried many times, only to prove futile. Also predictably, Israel rejected the decisions of the Sirte conference, especially with regards to Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers this week that, "Israel will continue to safeguard its interests in Jerusalem irrespective of any external considerations."

                                                                                                      Netanyahu's terse reaction serves as vindication for those who argue that in the absence of a firm Arab-Muslim stance on the Palestinian cause Tel Aviv will continue to disregard whatever decisions the Arab world takes. Indeed, Arab inaction -- or more correctly, impotence -- may even give Israel the impression that it can do anything, including demolishing or taking over Islamic shrines in East Jerusalem and elsewhere.

                                                                                                      Regarding American efforts to restart peace talks between the PA and Israel, it is uncertain what effects the Arab summit will have. The decision to uphold the Arab Peace Initiative despite Israeli provocations, especially continued settlement expansion, should be welcomed by the Obama administration. On the other hand, Israel has already -- and repeatedly -- rejected this initiative, and the Obama administration has largely failed in efforts to influence Tel Aviv. The Arab Peace Initiative calls for peace and normalisation of relations with Israel in exchange for a total Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                      Abbas was quoted this week as saying that the Palestinians would know within a week if it were possible to renew peace talks with Israel. Al-Ahram Weekly asked Ghassan Khatib, head of the PA Press Office in Ramallah, what Abbas was waiting for in order to make a final decision on renewing talks or not. Khatib responded that the PA was waiting to see if the Obama administration would succeed at the last minute in convincing Israel to freeze settlement expansion in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                      Describing Sirte's outcome as "generally positive" and "supportive of the general Palestinian stance", Khatib said the PA had an alternative plan in case the Obama administration failed to rein in the Netanyahu government. The plan, said Khatib, is based on four elements: first, keeping building the required institutions upon which Palestinian statehood will be based; second, the intensification of popular, non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation and the inclusion of large segments of the Palestinian people in the resistance; third, fighting Israel in every possible international legal forum; and fourth, working internationally towards the recognition of Palestinian statehood with or without Israeli consent.

                                                                                                      Khatib said that as far as the PA was concerned, the possible renewal of talks with Israel would depend on -- and thereafter be governed by -- a host of conditions that would prevent Israel from resorting to stalling tactics. These include setting a timeframe for completing talks not exceeding two years, that talks would have to be based on UN resolutions, including halting settlement expansion, and an agreement that all issues, known as "core" or "final status issues" would be discussed. Given the Israeli position, and in particular the make-up of the current Israeli government, it is unlikely that Israel will agree to take part in such talks, even if the US exerts pressure on Netanyahu to do so.

                                                                                                      In consequence, most observers foresee two possible scenarios: one being the collapse of the Israeli government and the organisation of new general elections in Israel; the second being the possibility that the Obama administration resorts to "imposing a solution" on the two sides. There are many question marks hanging over the feasibility of the second scenario in light of the protracted realities of the conflict.

                                                                                                      Al Ahram

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                                                                                                        The Lobby vs. America: Netanyahu's Lies and the Spineless Politicians

                                                                                                        English (US)  April 3rd, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                        Israeli war crimes were made possible because of American funds.

                                                                                                        By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                        As I listened to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address an animated crowed of supporters on March 22, I felt physically sick. The man has already displayed time and again a complete lack of moral sense or ethical framework in his words and actions. In his recent arguments, he once again twisted history, manipulated facts and fabricated his own selective, self-interested and highly questionable narrative. Netanyahu, a colonialist from a faraway land, also had the audacity to convince himself and a few others that he had legal, moral and historic rights over my land. While I am the son of a Palestinian family rooted in Palestine since time immemorial, Netanyahu is the son of an immigrant from Lithuania. While he giddily robs more Palestinian land in Jerusalem, I live in exile.

                                                                                                        Netanyahu was addressing the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The ‘powerful’ lobby group encompasses a large conglomerate of rightwing Zionist politicians and lobbyists and is seen by many as the most instrumental platform that influences – and, to a large degree, controls - US foreign policy regarding Palestine, Israel and the entire Middle East.

                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                        AIPAC is dangerous for many reasons. For one, it’s not a lobby group in the conventional sense - meaning a group of well-paid lobbyists harassing US Congressmen with telephone calls with the hope of advancing the agenda of their benefactors (in this case, the state of Israel). The pro-Israel lobby has actually grown and morphed into a political body that is embedded within all branches of the US government, as well as the media, academia and elsewhere. It is no secret that the neo-conservative cliques of politicians who engineered, steered and to an extent continue to influence US war policy are in fact a mere component of the same ‘lobby’.

                                                                                                        While Jewish communities in the US may not be united in their support of the largely rightwing and hawkish Zionist lobby groups, both major political parties in the US and all branches of the government stand in complete support of Israel. The AIPAC annual conference is almost mandatory for them. Sadly, Netanyahu’s speech before AIPAC is of equal, if not of greater import to some of them than the State of the Union address. Following Obama’s address in 2010, many US politicians openly voiced criticism of his take on many issues. But few dare challenge Netanyahu on much of the malice he spewed on March 22.

                                                                                                        Americans need to realize that this is no longer about Palestine and Israel. It is now about their own country, their own sovereignty and the future of their own democracy. They must ask hard questions and refuse to settle for sentimental answers. How could America be so divided on so many issues, yet so united on the ‘cause of Israel’? Where does a feeble politician like Netanyahu find the courage to defy the president of the very country that supplied his own with many billions of taxpayer dollars? Of course, we know that much of the fund was used to occupy, torment and wage war on Palestinians for many years. This is the atrocious fact that Americans need to understand fully: Israeli war crimes were made possible because of American funds, weapons and political cover. America is not an outside party to the conflict. It has done more than its fair share in the ongoing Palestinian tragedy.

                                                                                                        Even if one is somehow convinced by the most recent and unusually strong stance taken by the Obama administration regarding Israel’s settlement policy in East Jerusalem, there still remains the question of what comes next. When the President of the United States articulates a seemingly unmovable US position that rejects the building of more illegal settlements that would preclude any possible peace talks, and yet he fails to weaken Israel’s resolve even by an iota, some questions must be asked. Will the US use its leverage to twist Israel’s arm to respect international law? Will it at least hold on to some of the billions of dollars of funds that it continues to pour into Israel - especially as the US undergoes an unprecedented financial crisis, resulting in growing poverty and homelessness?

                                                                                                        The answer might be in the UPI report on March 26, citing Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz:

                                                                                                        “Despite the sharpest rift in decades between Israel and the United States, the Pentagon is reported to have given the green light to the $250 million sale of C-130J transport aircraft to Israel…The deal…involves three ‘Super Hercules’ aircraft manufactured especially to the Israeli air force's requirements. (The report) indicates that despite the belief among the United States' top military commanders that Israel's failure to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians is undermining U.S. influence and standing in the Muslim world and thus endangering its forces, the Pentagon is prepared to maintain Israel's military superiority in the Middle East.”

                                                                                                        The timing and the nature of the ‘sale’ signify the following: first, if the US government was ready to actively back up its supposed disagreement with Israel, it would have stopped this unwarranted sale. Second, considering that the deal was made through the Pentagon, the very platform used to express concern and call for at least a reconsideration of US policy in the region, the sale is both a slap on the face of the US military, and a veiled apology to Israel. Third, if the failure to reexamine this absence relationship continues, then there is absolutely no doubt left that US foreign policy in the Middle East is indeed held hostage to Israeli, not American priorities, misguided at times as they maybe.

                                                                                                        Those individuals in the US government, military and media that have the courage and the platform to confront Israel must take the opportunity. They should not succumb to intimidation or fear, nor should they be swayed by Netanyahu’s lies. The fact is, Netanyahu will continue to lie; it’s what he does best. The onus is on those US politicians who readily and barefacedly continue to give the professional liar a standing ovation following every statement he utters. And it is only really they who give any power to the ‘powerful’ lobby.

                                                                                                        - Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story" (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.

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                                                                                                          Savage Decade

                                                                                                          English (US)  April 3rd, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                          External intervention fuels war, and upsets the balance of forces locally.

                                                                                                          By Deepak Tripathi

                                                                                                          The inaugural decade of the new century will be remembered for two phenomena above all: the savagery of human nature, and the United States, the world's sole hegemon, going rogue, and taking other nations with it. As we were about to leave the twentieth century, and many in the West were enjoying unprecedented prosperity, the prospect of a clash of ideologies was becoming a reality. Instead of the 'menace' of communism, the neoconservatives and the religious Right in the United States had found another enemy in radical Islam. It was one of the supreme ironies that the confrontation would be between President George W Bush and the ideology that his father George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan had promoted in their fight against Soviet communism when they were in the White House during the last phase of the Cold War.

                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                          Having seen off the 'Soviet threat', the hegemon that emerged victorious had a fatal belief in its own destructive power. In refusing to learn lessons from the past, it invited worse. The new confrontation was not going to be between two equals, aware of the certainty of mutual destruction in the event of an all-out war. The primary characteristic of the new confrontation would be its lack of symmetry, making it more brutal. For when combatants are not equals and mutual destruction is not certain, the dominant side becomes vulnerable in other ways.

                                                                                                          Overwhelming power leads to impudence and disregard for law and reason. Institutions that are there to protect the innocent and the weak begin to lose their meaning. In a world without restraint, the underdog is often depicted as evil and brutality becomes the norm. With too much power comes the belief that it is easy to crush the 'enemy'. But the underdog has strength in numbers, paving the way to atrocities on all sides. All of this has been witnessed in the savage first decade of the new century.

                                                                                                          To view al Qaeda and the many nationalist movements in the Islamic world as one 'enemy' during the 'war on terror' has been an historic miscalculation. The project under the presidency of George W Bush to crush nationalism in the Middle East has exacted a high price from the West. But countries in the region have paid a price even greater. Al Qaeda's terrorist violence has been answered by the terror of American military power. The lives of millions of people have been destroyed or blighted. In 2010, a year after Barack Obama's ascent to the presidency, the initial euphoria has evaporated and gloom has set in.

                                                                                                          Unlike the Cold War that ended in the 1980s, the United States has no superpower rival in the new century, and the balance of threat of mutual annihilation is absent. Instead, one side in the new conflict has overwhelming destructive power and has become insolent. The underdog is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice - in acts of suicide attacks. Fear has lost its deterrent quality. Death is no longer an unwelcome prospect for a growing number of people living without hope. And for an alarming number, the rationality in martyrdom has replaced the rationality in survival. Humans are at their most dangerous when they no longer fear death.

                                                                                                          Iraq Hubris

                                                                                                          In the wake of the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation wrote a commentary titled 'The Long War Against Terrorism'. A retired lieutenant-colonel in the US Army, and a leading neoconservative ideologue, Carafano began with these words: "Two years down the war on terror. How many more to go? We don't know." [1] Boastfully, he argued that America's 'long war' against terror was similar in scope and duration to the Cold War. The military establishment, delighted with the enlargement of the Pentagon budget following the return of Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary in the Bush administration, jumped at the term. It gained currency in the war lexicon within a few months. In 2006, Rumsfeld invented a phrase of his own, describing it as 'a generational conflict akin to the Cold War', likely to go on for decades. [2]

                                                                                                          These assertions were based on flawed thinking, and comparisons with the Cold War were not relevant. America's victory over the Soviet Union was achieved not by bombing the Soviet state out of existence, but by draining the Soviet economy and resolve through an arms race and regional proxy wars. America's 'enemy' in the new century is a ghost army of guerrillas, with little else to lose except their lives. And they are only too willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. The hegemon, in possession of the most sophisticated war technology, decided to confront this loose army of guerrillas equipped with little more than light weapons, explosives and simple timing devices, able to move at will across frontiers.

                                                                                                          In The Art of War, believed to have been written in the sixth century BC and still regarded as one of the most influential works about war strategy and tactics, the Chinese general and military theorist, Sun Tzu, said:

                                                                                                          Warfare is the way of deception. Therefore, if able, appear unable.
                                                                                                          If active, appear not active.
                                                                                                          If near, appear far.
                                                                                                          If far, appear near.
                                                                                                          If they have advantage, entice them.
                                                                                                          If they are confused, take them.
                                                                                                          If they are substantial, prepare for them.
                                                                                                          If they are strong, avoid them. [3]

                                                                                                          'Shock and Awe', the post-Cold War doctrine written at the United States National Defense University in 1996, was designed to paralyze the enemy and achieve rapid dominance by overwhelming force in battle. The truth is rather different. Provided the enemy removes himself and recovers from the effects of high-altitude bombing and missile attacks, in time he will improvise tactics to fight an effective guerrilla war that a conventional army will find difficult to sustain. A great military power wants rapid victory. The underdog prefers a long war. This, and not merely the use of overwhelming power and lightning speed, is the essence of Sun's doctrine of warfare.

                                                                                                          Gabriel Kolko, a historian of the Left, observes that while most European nations and Japan have gained insights from the calamities that have so seared modern history, the United States has not. [4] "Folly is scarcely an American monopoly," says Kolko, "but resistance to learning when grave errors have been committed is almost proportionate to the resources available to repeat them." The United States is by no means the only major power that refuses to learn from past mistakes. When countries with overwhelming destructive power fail to prevail in war, they are disposed to employing even more firepower. But the record of this tactic against guerrilla forces is not one of success.

                                                                                                          Contrary to the initial belief in George W Bush's administration, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan became nasty, brutish and long. They show few signs of ending in the new decade. In 2007, the US National Intelligence Estimate for Iraq had admitted that 'the term "civil war" accurately describes key elements of Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence ... and population displacements'. [5] The specter of failure loomed large at the end of the Bush-Cheney presidency. From that unpleasant reality arose the military surge in the final phase of the Bush administration.

                                                                                                          More than 20,000 additional US troops were deployed, mostly around Baghdad, the scene of the worst conflict. [6] While American reinforcements defended the Iraqi capital, Washington's proxies in the Sunni Awakening movement were used to suppress al Qaeda violence in Anbar province covering much of Iraq's western territory. This twin approach was the last chance for George W Bush to claim success in reducing the escalating violence. With a Shi'a-dominated regime in Baghdad and a Sunni Awakening movement unhappy at the prospect of US withdrawal, Iraq remains a highly unstable country.

                                                                                                          Politicians crave success. When an unpleasant reality threatens success, a politician seeks to create an illusion, or at least a new reality that will make it possible to claim success. For this, success must be redefined and the politician's own conduct shown to accomplish the goal. Enoch Powell, one of the most controversial British politicians of the twentieth century, said, "All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and human affairs." [7] It is the worst nightmare for any politician and the utmost is employed to avoid this risk.

                                                                                                          In October 2002, Obama, aspiring to become a member of the US Senate in Washington, gave a speech at the Federal Plaza in Chicago. [8] It was a defining address that would set him apart all the way to the presidency in 2008. In a move to demonstrate that he was not just some anti-war politician, he repeated a critical sentence again and again: "I don't oppose all wars." He reminded Americans that his grandfather signed up for war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and fought in General Patton's army, 'in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil'.

                                                                                                          In the same vein, Obama reminded that, after the 9/11 attacks on America, and upon witnessing the dust and tears, he supported the Bush administration's 'pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance'. Indeed, he pledged that he himself would 'take up arms to prevent such tragedy happening again'. To fellow Americans, Obama said, "I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances." Thus began his mission to establish himself as a future commander-in-chief. It was also the beginning of a more subtle political stance that would take him to the White House seven years later.

                                                                                                          While he did not oppose all wars, he was against a 'dumb war' - which America went for without thought and preparation. At a time when Democratic lawmakers in Washington had decided to go along with the 'war on terror' of the Bush administration, and a large number of them supported Bush in his determination to open another front against Iraq, Barack Obama was constructing a different platform. He described the gathering campaign to invade Iraq as a cynical attempt by 'armchair weekend warriors' to impose their own ideological agenda, 'irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne'.

                                                                                                          Just six weeks after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, President Bush announced that 'the United States and our allies have prevailed' in Iraq. [9] A banner in the background loudly declared - 'Mission Accomplished'. However, persistent conflict, the subsequent civil war and disintegration of Iraqi society shattered early illusions of a quick victory and an ever grateful Iraqi nation. There were no more illusions to entertain, but reality - an awful reality of violence and chaos. For public figures who had supported sending troops to Iraq, it was a heavy burden to carry. For Bush administration officials, it became a nightmare.

                                                                                                          Those who expected a dramatic shift in American policy after the Bush-Cheney administration were soon disappointed. Obama had already established that he was no anti-war politician, rather one with a much more cautious disposition and considerable intellect. These qualities had given him a more focused approach and a certain facility to articulate. The original justification for the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction had long been discredited. Five years after President Bush announced that America and its allies had prevailed in Iraq, the occupation forces had been unable to suppress the insurgency. A vicious civil war had not only caused much loss of life and property, but also polarized the country. Millions of Iraqi refugees had fled to Jordan, Syria and to other destinations. [10]

                                                                                                          Afghanistan: Obama's War

                                                                                                          On war, Obama was more nuanced. Iraq was 'a war of choice', part of the reason why Afghanistan was neglected and why America could not go after Osama bin Laden as aggressively as it should have. [11] As a consequence, America 'paid an extraordinary price in blood and treasure' and fanned the anti-American sentiment that 'actually makes it more difficult for us to act in Pakistan'. Despite this, 'we have to, as much as possible, get Pakistan's agreement before we act'. However, America should 'not hesitate to act when it comes to al Qaeda'.

                                                                                                          Afghanistan thus became Obama's war, just as Iraq had been Bush's. And the scene was set for a rapid American 'surge' and an escalation of conflict in a country that had suffered neglect for almost seven years. In July 2008, nearly four months before he was elected, candidate Obama pledged to reinforce the US occupation forces by 10,000 troops. [12] In February 2009, after a review of US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Obama sanctioned reinforcements on a bigger scale for Afghanistan. [13] He appointed General Stanley McChrystal, a counterterrorism specialist, Commander of the occupation forces in Afghanistan. [14] Pilotless drone attacks became more frequent across the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier, killing militants and civilians in greater numbers.

                                                                                                          The findings of an opinion poll conducted by the Gallup Organization in Pakistan were published in August 2009. [15] Almost 60 percent of Pakistanis thought the United States was the greatest threat to their country. About 18 percent viewed India as a threat and 11 percent the Pakistani Taliban. An even bigger majority of two-thirds opposed US military operations in Pakistani territory. These were depressing results for a country that was pouring billions of dollars into Pakistan and Afghanistan every year.

                                                                                                          August 2009 was a bad month for the occupying powers in Afghanistan. Presidential elections were held amid widespread intimidation by men with the gun and fraud by power brokers. Despite an attempted news blackout, it emerged that voting was low outside Kabul because of Taliban threats and general indifference. [16] As few as ten percent of Afghans went to polling stations in many areas. The occupation forces, in particular American and British troops, took a high number of casualties during the summer of 2009, as the Taliban consolidated their hold in the south and penetrated new areas north of the capital.

                                                                                                          Russia's ambassador in Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, who was the senior KGB officer in Kabul in the 1980s, made some insightful remarks as the Obama presidency approached. In the Russian ambassador's view, the American enterprise in Afghanistan faced grim prospects if Washington failed to learn from mistakes made by the Soviets when they occupied the country. [17] Kabulov said the Americans 'had already repeated all our mistakes' since overthrowing the Taliban regime in 2001. The United States underestimated the resistance, showed an overreliance on air power and failed to understand the Afghan 'irritative allergy' to foreign occupation. Even worse was the belief that sweeping into Kabul was all that was necessary. Another flaw was to think that sending more troops would turn the tide of the war.

                                                                                                          Fighting an insurgency requires a difficult balance. Too few soldiers impede the ability to secure territory in a country of vast mountainous terrain such as Afghanistan. And determined insurgents will find many more targets when reinforcements are sent to subdue them. This is likely to be the case as the 30,000 or more extra American troops ordered by President Obama in December 2009 begin to arrive in Afghanistan in the New Year. Regimes installed by external powers, and seen as obedient to their masters, often end up being viewed as corrupt and weak. Afghan communist rulers installed by the Soviet Union had this fate in the 1980s. In the early twenty-first century, the US-installed government of President Hamid Karzai could not avoid that image.

                                                                                                          When an occupation force carries out military operations at will, causing significant numbers of civilian casualties, and the leadership of that country can do little except complain, it is a recipe for disaster. As Afghanistan became Obama's war, 2009 turned out to be the bloodiest year in terms of military fatalities among US-led coalition troops. [18] The credibility of the presidential election giving victory to Karzai lay in tatters. And the enterprise to create a centralized state in Afghanistan appeared doomed.

                                                                                                          In a country without national infrastructure and system of distribution, self, family, clan, tribe and ethnic group form the basis for daily life, protection and long-term survival. With no effective central government, he who can provide these to a community - a village elder, tribal chief or warlord - will command popular following. To be the provider, he must have means of coercion, taxation and distribution. But the hegemon, full of belief in its own invincibility, is reluctant to appreciate the consequences of relying on force alone. Coercion leads to resistance, which necessitates even greater coercion and violence replicates.

                                                                                                          External intervention fuels war, and upsets the balance of forces locally. This, in turn, attracts more external forces. Increasingly, these external forces begin to dictate the scale and course of events, but the unacceptability of this trend among local players hinders the creation of new institutions and their functioning. Violence replaces law as the primary means of maintaining order. Expectations on all sides are altered and violence becomes a way of life. Actors acquire a habit of using coercion, and citizens expect solutions to be found through violence. That few intervening powers can grasp this lesson is a tragedy.

                                                                                                          - Deepak Tripathi, a former BBC journalist, reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Sri Lanka and India during his 23 years with the corporation. His book Overcoming the Bush Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan (Potomac Books, Incorporated) has just been published and is available from Amazon and other bookstores. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: dandatripathi@gmail.com, and visit: http://deepaktripathi.wordpress.com.

                                                                                                          Endnotes:

                                                                                                          1. James Carafano, 'The Long War against Terrorism', Heritage Foundation, September 8, 2003. http://www.heritage.org/Press/Commentary/ed090803a.cfm [accessed January 11, 2010]

                                                                                                          2. 'Rumsfeld Offers Strategies for Current War', Washington Post, February 3, 2006.

                                                                                                          3. Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 1: Calculations. http://www.sonshi.com/sun1.html
                                                                                                          4. Gabriel Kolko, 'The Age of Perpetual Conflict', Defense and the National Interest, February 3, 2006. Quoted in: The Age of War: The United States Confronts the World (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 2006).

                                                                                                          5. See Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead (Washington: D.C.: National Intelligence Estimate, 2007).

                                                                                                          6. 'Bush Will Add More than 20,000 Troops to Iraq', CNN, January 11, 2007.

                                                                                                          7. See Enoch Powell, Joseph Chamberlain (London: Thames and Hudson, 1977), 151.

                                                                                                          8. 'Barack Obama's 2002 Speech against the Iraq War', October 2, 2002.

                                                                                                          9. See 'Transcript: Bush on the USS Lincoln', ABC News, May 1, 2003.

                                                                                                          10. 'Failed Responsibility: Iraqi Refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon', International Crisis Group Middle East Report No. 77, July 10, 2008, 3–33.

                                                                                                          11. Senator Obama's remarks during the Democratic presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, January 5, 2008.

                                                                                                          12. Juan Cole, 'Obama is Saying the Wrong things About Afghanistan', Salon.com, July 23, 2008.

                                                                                                          13. 'Statement by the President on Afghanistan', February 17, 2009.

                                                                                                          14. See 'Profile: Gen. Stanley McChrystal', BBC News, May 11, 2009.

                                                                                                          15. Gallup Poll in Pakistan for Al Jazeera, August 9, 2009.

                                                                                                          16. Ben Farmer and David Blair, 'Afghanistan Election: Low Turnout as Voters Fear Taliban Attacks', Daily Telegraph, August 20, 2009; Carlotta Gall, 'Intimidation and Fraud Observed in Afghan Election', New York Times, August 22, 2009; Paul Rogers, 'Afghanistan: The Point of Decision', openDemocracy, July 27, 2009.

                                                                                                          17. John Burns, 'An Old Afghanistan Hand Offers Lessons of the Past', New York Times, October 19, 2008.

                                                                                                          18. For annual figures since 2001, see http://icasualties.org/oef/

                                                                                                          3173 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                            Holiest Days behind the Wall

                                                                                                            English (US)  April 3rd, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                            Express your solidarity by endorsing the Kairos Palestine Document. (Kairospalestine.ps)

                                                                                                            By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.

                                                                                                            On this Great and Holy Friday, Christians in the Holy Land feel like crying out the same words of our Lord and Savior,

                                                                                                            “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” (Mark 15:34) Especially since September 2000 there has been no change on the ground from the awful military occupation that strips people from their very basic human rights.

                                                                                                            And at the same time seeing all our hope in Christ who offers eternal life, we remember the most important words of all, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)

                                                                                                            Thus on this most holy day, we must forgive that we live behind the huge Apartheid Wall that keeps us as prisoners in an open space.

                                                                                                            We must forgive that there are 600 military checkpoints all around us.

                                                                                                            We must forgive that all the natural resources, the roads, the seaport, the airport are all controlled by the Zionist State of Israel.

                                                                                                            We must forgive that seven million dollars each day of innocent American taxpayers money is spent in the name of security for Israel.

                                                                                                            We must forgive that more than 24,000 Palestinian houses have been demolished.

                                                                                                            We must forgive that more than one million trees have been destroyed.

                                                                                                            We must forgive that Israel ignores more than 60 UN Resolutions.

                                                                                                            We must forgive that 531 Palestinian villages were destroyed by Zionist forces.

                                                                                                            However, as we forgive can we also take non violent action. I am appealing to all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ to please express their solidarity by endorsing the Kairos Palestine Document. www.kairospalestine.ps.

                                                                                                            Palestinian Christian leaders have issued the Kairos Palestine Document calling on Churches around the world “to say a word of truth and to take a position of truth with regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.” Please, I beg you to have your bishops, priests and friends review and sign this very important non violent action asking for our basic human rights in the very land made holy by Christ Himself.

                                                                                                            Returning to live under military occupation reminds me that Christ tells us the one who will stay patient until the very end will be saved (Matt 10:22).

                                                                                                            Thus in Palestine we are patiently waiting for freedom and our basic human rights reminding the whole world that our Christian presence in this very land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection is vital for peace and reconciliation.

                                                                                                            Therefore during this most holy and sacred time in the Holy Land, Christians will continue to be peace makers and continue to witness for Christ’s love and for the Truth that Christ is the Light of the world. Fight the good fight until the end (1 Tim 6:12). It is the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem on Great and Holy Saturday that reminds us, truly the Lord is Risen! A most blessed and Holy Pascha celebration to all!

                                                                                                            - Maria C. Khoury contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                                              Fayyad's Subversion of Right of Return

                                                                                                              English (US)  April 3rd, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                              Salam Fayyad desires to obliterate the memory of the Nakba.

                                                                                                              By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria

                                                                                                              A tweet on twitter by the editor of the Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah 'Fayyad just gave away your right of return' alerted me to access the link and discover that indeed, the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister has done the unforgivable.

                                                                                                              In an interview with Akiva Eldar of Haaretz, Fayyad made the following comment in response to question about refugees: “Of course, Palestinians would have the right to reside within the State of Palestine”.

                                                                                                              The Palestinian State he refers to is what many analysts have come to regard as no different to apartheid South Africa’s version of “independent homelands” for blacks, commonly referred to as “Bantustans”. It is within the confines of this oxymoron that he envisions the return of refugees – not to the land from where they were forcibly uprooted!

                                                                                                              This is a blatant subversion of a fundamental right of Palestinians in the diaspora, millions of whom have been living in miserable conditions for more than sixty years as stateless refugees. Their right to return – guaranteed by International Conventions – has remained sacrosanct.

                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                              As Abunimah correctly tweets, Fayyad has no right to waive away the hopes and aspirations of victims of a terrible ordeal perpetrated by the founders of the illegitimate state of Israel through massacres and ethnic cleansing. These brutal policies have remained and been applied at regular intervals by successive Zionist leaders. Both the colonial foundations and apartheid character of Israel testify to its illegitimacy. Dispossession and dismemberment resulting from the enforcement of colonial practices paved the way for a migrant population of European Jews to establish a Jewish state on the ruins of Palestine.

                                                                                                              Now in one sentence, the darling of America Salam Fayyad desires to not only obliterate the memory of the Nakba, but also to reward those in possession of stolen loot!

                                                                                                              In his obsession with the Fatah plan to declare statehood during 2011 – a move in line with Israel’s own vision of a Palestinian ghetto – Fayyad commits the same blunder made by leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Arafat before him: Seeking acceptance of America rather than fulfilling the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

                                                                                                              By welcoming the Quartet’s announcement made recently in Moscow which supports Fatah’s August 2009 plan to establish a state within 24 months, Fayyad reveals a great deal of naivety with regard the Quartet’s impartiality. It is by now well known that America, a crucial component of the Quartet is completely powerless in the face of Israeli intransigence. Obama’s so-called tough talk is no more than rhetoric ignored and defied by Netanyahu.

                                                                                                              Settler expansion in Occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank is at an all time high, despite warnings by Obama. Evidence of Israel’s defiance is visible in the frenzied activities of giant cranes and military bulldozers. Yet Fayyad seems to consider Israeli leaders as partners with integrity.

                                                                                                              By cautioning Netanyahu not to succumb to “settlers”, he seems oblivious of the fact that entire Israel is a huge settlement! It is this mass of land that many historians and solidarity activists regard as colonized Palestine awaiting liberation and to which refugees are anxious to return.

                                                                                                              - Iqbal Jassat is chairperson of the Media Review Network (MRN), an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com.

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                                                                                                                Zionist Israel's deadly legacy still lurks in Lebanon

                                                                                                                English (US)  April 3rd, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                "In a significant step forward, the United Nations announced last month that a 30th country had signed the international convention banning cluster bombs, paving the way for the document to come into force on August 1.
                                                                                                                The United States and Israel are not among the signatories. "



                                                                                                                Employees at the Lebanese Handicap Welfare Association work on prosthetic limbs for landmine victims.

                                                                                                                By Natacha Yazbeck Natacha Yazbeck

                                                                                                                TYRE, Lebanon – Nearly four years after Israel littered southern Lebanon with mines during its devastating war with Hezbollah, teenager Mohammed al-Hajj Mussa can barely bring himself to speak of the day he lost his legs.

                                                                                                                On August 11, 2006, the lean, dark-haired boy was riding behind his father on a motorbike to deliver food to a nearby town badly hit in the Israeli raids when a cluster bomb went off under one of the tyres.

                                                                                                                "Later, I was told that I was found in a creek about four hours after the explosion," Mohammed, now 15, told AFP at his rundown home in the Palestinian refugee camp of Al-Bass, located in the southern coastal town of Tyre.

                                                                                                                "I came to when they were pulling me out of the water, and I knew it. I could see my legs falling apart."

                                                                                                                "Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law" (From Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948)

                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                That same night, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1701 calling for an end to the hostilities and three days later, the month-long war was over.

                                                                                                                But Israel left a deadly legacy: the United Nations estimates that Israeli jets dropped more than four million cluster bombs in southern Lebanon in the summer battles.

                                                                                                                Ninety percent of the bombs were dropped in the final 72 hours before the ceasefire after Resolution 1701 was adopted, the United Nations says.

                                                                                                                Around 40 percent of the munitions failed to detonate on impact, rendering them de facto anti-personnel mines.

                                                                                                                The munitions have killed 46 and maimed over 300 civilians since 2006, according to Lebanese army and UN figures.

                                                                                                                Most of the victims are sappers, farmers and unsuspecting children, who mistake the shiny objects for toys.

                                                                                                                April 4 marks the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action and in Lebanon activists plan to plant trees in cleared minefields.

                                                                                                                But with new humanitarian crises across the world and the global economic downturn, hope for mine victims in the tiny Mediterranean country is dwindling as funds dry up.

                                                                                                                Victims like Mohammed are waiting in line for prosthetic limbs and demining activities have slowed as the army and international organisations are forced to cut down on manpower.

                                                                                                                "We are facing a serious shortage in funds," said Colonel Rolly Fares, who heads the army's mine victim assistance programme.

                                                                                                                More than 197,000 cluster bombs have been defused since the end of the 2006 war, Fares said, but hundreds of thousands still threaten the people of southern Lebanon.

                                                                                                                "We have cleared almost 52 percent of the 45 square-kilometre (17.3 square-mile) area affected but we have less demining teams with the cash shortage," he said.

                                                                                                                "They're terrified of another war," Maha Shuman Jebahi, of the Lebanese Handicap Welfare Association, said lack of funding meant more and more victims are left waiting for prosthetic limbs.

                                                                                                                "How do you tell someone that we can provide psychological assistance but we can't give them a leg?" she said.

                                                                                                                But Mohammed, who is also a Palestinian refugee, refuses to pin his hopes on a new pair of legs. He finds it easier to cope that way.

                                                                                                                He received treatment for his injuries in Germany and Malaysia but back now in Lebanon, the growing adolescent is battling to find adequate prosthetic limbs.

                                                                                                                "These don't fit," he said, showing a pair of artificial legs propped up in a corner, with jeans bunched around the ankles and sneakers on both feet. "They hurt and they keep breaking.

                                                                                                                "It's not legs I want anymore," he added. "All I want is a life, an education, a girlfriend."

                                                                                                                Khaled Yamout, who heads the landmine action program for the Norwegian People's Aid, said his organisation was facing a 25 percent budget cut this year and a 50 percent cut next year.

                                                                                                                "The Lebanese government alone lacks the capacity to ensure the safety of land for civilians," Yamout told AFP. "The load is beyond huge."

                                                                                                                Israel's use of cluster bombs in Lebanon goes back decades. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Israel used the munitions during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, and then again in 2006.

                                                                                                                The United States, too, dropped the deadly bomblets on Syrian army bases near Beirut in 1983, according to HRW.

                                                                                                                While the Jewish state provided maps of cluster bomb and landmine locations last year, the Lebanese army has said the maps were flawed and incomplete.
                                                                                                                In a significant step forward, the United Nations announced last month that a 30th country had signed the international convention banning cluster bombs, paving the way for the document to come into force on August 1.

                                                                                                                The United States and Israel are not among the signatories.

                                                                                                                But for the people of southern Lebanon, the convention is years late and offers little hope amid fears that a new war is lurking, threatening new devastation.

                                                                                                                Seventy-year-old farmer Ibrahim Ramadan today can only gaze at his land from a distance. Aid groups have warned him it is still contaminated with mines, and he fears for the safety of his grandchildren, preferring to keep them indoors.

                                                                                                                "No one dares touch this land, the land that we and our ancestors before us cultivated with olive trees, tobacco, and wheat," Ramadan told AFP at his home in the windy southern town of Ghanduriyeh, which was badly hit in the 2006 war.
                                                                                                                Today, he says tensions are again high and his townsfolk are bracing for another round of violence.

                                                                                                                "People are terrified," he said. "They're terrified to venture into their own land. "They're terrified of another war."

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                                                                                                                  Amayreh: Iran has the right to possess nuclear weapons

                                                                                                                  English (US)  April 1st, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                  By Khalid Amayreh

                                                                                                                  One of the most scandalous manifestations of the present international order is the so-called “nuclear hypocrisy.” The United States, the only country to have committed a nuclear holocaust, is insisting that Iran has no right to possess a nuclear capability.

                                                                                                                  This nearly pornographic hypocrisy which the U.S. displays vis-à-vis the issue of nuclear proliferation is provocative and indefensible.

                                                                                                                  The US thinks it is fine to have Israel possess several hundred nuclear bombs and warheads, along with their American-supplied or Israeli-manufactured delivery systems. However, the same America vehemently rejects the very suggestion that Iran, or any other Middle Eastern country, should possess a nuclear capability.

                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                  The US, along with influential Zionist circles which control US politics to a large extent, routinely come up with a spate of largely spurious arguments about the inadmissibility of an Iranian nuclear capability.

                                                                                                                  They claim that Iranian leaders are too unreasonable, too unbalanced and might be too suicidal, as Bernard Lewis once claimed, to be allowed to possess a nuclear capability.

                                                                                                                  Another irrational claim is that once Iran possessed such a capability, it might attack the terrorist state of Israel, an entity armed to the teeth.

                                                                                                                  Well, these arguments are ridiculous as much as they are mendacious. First of all, the claim that the Iranian leadership is irrational, unbalanced and un-calculating is based more on racist western, especially American, stereotypes than on reasonable evidence. The Iranian leadership may occasionally seem too adventurous, but it is certainly not irrational.

                                                                                                                  Even with regard to its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iranian leadership consistently displayed a great deal of reasonableness and moderation.

                                                                                                                  The Iranian regime has repeatedly called for an equitable settlement for the Palestinian question based on the dismantlement of the infrastructure of racism and apartheid under Zionism. This is a fair and just demand by any standard of equity and justice.

                                                                                                                  Indeed, Iran has never ever called for the extermination of any group of people, including Jews. In the final analysis, justice for the Palestinians, which overrides Zionism and its vacuous whims, doesn’t mean and in no way implies “annihilation of Jews” as the barking dogs of Zionist hasbara keep claiming.

                                                                                                                  The truth of the matter is that the Zionists keep invoking these rhetoric hypes and morbid lies in order to gain more western support for their own efforts to destroy the Palestinian community through the ongoing slow-motion holocaust and ethnic cleansing meted out to the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                  More to the point, it would be unthinkable to even imagine Iran using weapons of mass destruction against Israel which possesses a huge stockpile of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. I think most Israeli and western strategic planners know this fact too well.

                                                                                                                  But if so, what then keeps the US and Israel, and the rest of the chorus, blathering about “stopping and checking the Iranian threat?”

                                                                                                                  Well, the answer is very clear. The West simply wants to maintain Israel’s nuclear monopoly over the Muslim Middle East from Pakistan in the east to the Maghreb in the West. This Zionist supremacy, which is already in place, would effectively enable Israel to seriously blackmail and bully more than 500 million Muslims into submission.

                                                                                                                  Deterrence

                                                                                                                  It is pathetic, lamentable and scandalous to see a large and important country such as Egypt lack a nuclear capability that would deter Israel from carrying out some of its morbid follies such as bombing the Aswan Dam, a possibility invoked by the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

                                                                                                                  After all, nations that respect themselves don’t rely on the goodwill of habitual aggressors such as Israel .

                                                                                                                  When and if the hour of truth arrives, God forbid, nothing will help the eighty million Egyptians. Only a total surrender to the whims of the Judeo-Nazi regime would save Egypt from a nuclear holocaust at the hands of the Hitlers and Eichmanns of our time. Their cries will not be heard by a whoring world enslaved by the me-first doctrine.

                                                                                                                  Perhaps the prospect of Israel using weapons of mass destruction against its Arab and Muslim neighbors seems fairly unlikely now. However, the present situation could very well change when the genocidal fanatics of Gush Emunim and religious Zionism reach power in Israel.

                                                                                                                  According to most experts, the seizure of power by these genocidal elements, mostly through ballots, is not a matter of “if” but rather a matter of “when” as the Israeli Jewish society continues to drift menacingly toward religious fascism.

                                                                                                                  In the past, the “Samson Option” e.g. Israel using nuclear weapons against a neighboring Arab country, would be resorted to only in case Israel was about to face a mortal an existential danger, e.g. annihilation at the hands of one or a group of Arab states.

                                                                                                                  However, this doesn’t mean at all that Israel wouldn’t use nuclear threats to blackmail and bully its neighbors into submission once a real crisis broke out over such problems as the shrinking water resources in the Middle East.

                                                                                                                  There is no doubt that the collective Arab failure to possess a genuine strategic deterrent vis-à-vis Israel might eventually be proven one of the most fateful blunders ever to be committed by the Arabs.

                                                                                                                  None the less, if the Arabs choose to succumb to their own impotence, there is no reason why the Iranians should follow suit. Iran, like Pakistan, has a right to possess a nuclear deterrence to protect its people from the prospect of annihilation by arrogant evil predators such as Israel. Yes, such a prospect may not be credible right now, but who would guarantee that Israel wouldn’t fall into the hands of a fully-fledged Nazi-like leadership ten or twenty years from now? In fact, one could argue with little exaggeration that Israel is already in the grip of a quasi-Nazi leadership. Remember, the holocaust didn’t start with Auschwitz , but much earlier with generally mundane German policies that appeared relatively innocuous and reversible.

                                                                                                                  These are not phobic calculations or far-fetched speculations. The genocidal Israeli onslaught against the Gaza Strip last year, a mini-genocide carried out in full view of a hypocritical and callous world, would very much look like a minor skirmish compared to what could happen if Israel’s genocidal urges are not kept under control.

                                                                                                                  For sure, nothing, absolutely nothing, could keep Israel at bay except a genuine deterrent, the kind of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) that kept the peace in Europe during the Cold War era.

                                                                                                                  We owe it to our children to have them protected from the specter of genocide at the hands Nazi-minded Zionists who would do the unthinkable in order to see their messianic whims fulfilled.

                                                                                                                  Trust is good, so are hope and good will, but these virtues alone wouldn’t be sufficient to shield our people from the prospect of annihilation at the hands of a diabolical force.

                                                                                                                  http://tinyurl.com/yka43bm

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                                                                                                                    Chris Hedges: Is America ‘Yearning for Fascism’?

                                                                                                                    English (US)  April 1st, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                    Truthdig

                                                                                                                    By Chris Hedges

                                                                                                                    The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.

                                                                                                                    [More:]


                                                                                                                    “We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”

                                                                                                                    The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.

                                                                                                                    The unraveling of America mirrors the unraveling of Yugoslavia. The Balkan war was not caused by ancient ethnic hatreds. It was caused by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. The petty criminals and goons who took power harnessed the anger and despair of the unemployed and the desperate. They singled out convenient scapegoats from ethnic Croats to Muslims to Albanians to Gypsies. They set in motion movements that unleashed a feeding frenzy leading to war and self-immolation. There is little difference between the ludicrous would-be poet Radovan Karadzic, who was a figure of ridicule in Sarajevo before the war, and the moronic Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. There is little difference between the Oath Keepers and the Serbian militias. We can laugh at these people, but they are not the fools. We are.

                                                                                                                    The longer we appeal to the Democrats, who are servants of corporate interests, the more stupid and ineffectual we become. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe the country is in decline, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and they are right. Only 25 percent of those polled said the government can be trusted to protect the interests of the American people. If we do not embrace this outrage and distrust as our own it will be expressed through a terrifying right-wing backlash.

                                                                                                                    “It is time for us to stop talking about right and left,” McKinney told me. “The old political paradigm that serves the interests of the people who put us in this predicament will not be the paradigm that gets us out of this. I am a child of the South. Janet Napolitano tells me I need to be afraid of people who are labeled white supremacists but I was raised around white supremacists. I am not afraid of white supremacists. I am concerned about my own government. The Patriot Act did not come from the white supremacists, it came from the White House and Congress. Citizens United did not come from white supremacists, it came from the Supreme Court. Our problem is a problem of governance. I am willing to reach across traditional barriers that have been skillfully constructed by people who benefit from the way the system is organized.”

                                                                                                                    We are bound to a party that has betrayed every principle we claim to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy, to a demand for quality and affordable public education, to a concern for the jobs of the working class. And the hatred expressed within right-wing movements for the college-educated elite, who created or at least did nothing to halt the financial debacle, is not misplaced. Our educated elite, wallowing in self-righteousness, wasted its time in the boutique activism of political correctness as tens of millions of workers lost their jobs. The shouting of racist and bigoted words at black and gay members of Congress, the spitting on a black member of the House, the tossing of bricks through the windows of legislators’ offices, are part of the language of rebellion. It is as much a revolt against the educated elite as it is against the government. The blame lies with us. We created the monster.

                                                                                                                    When someone like Palin posts a map with cross hairs on the districts of Democrats, when she says “Don’t Retreat, Instead—RELOAD!” there are desperate people cleaning their weapons who listen. When Christian fascists stand in the pulpits of megachurches and denounce Barack Obama as the Antichrist, there are messianic believers who listen. When a Republican lawmaker shouts “baby killer” at Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, there are violent extremists who see the mission of saving the unborn as a sacred duty. They have little left to lose. We made sure of that. And the violence they inflict is an expression of the violence they endure.

                                                                                                                    These movements are not yet full-blown fascist movements. They do not openly call for the extermination of ethnic or religious groups. They do not openly advocate violence. But, as I was told by Fritz Stern, a scholar of fascism who has written about the origins of Nazism, “In Germany there was a yearning for fascism before fascism was invented.” It is the yearning that we now see, and it is dangerous. If we do not immediately reincorporate the unemployed and the poor back into the economy, giving them jobs and relief from crippling debt, then the nascent racism and violence that are leaping up around the edges of American society will become a full-blown conflagration.

                                                                                                                    Left unchecked, the hatred for radical Islam will transform itself into a hatred for Muslims. The hatred for undocumented workers will become a hatred for Mexicans and Central Americans. The hatred for those not defined by this largely white movement as American patriots will become a hatred for African-Americans. The hatred for liberals will morph into a hatred for all democratic institutions, from universities to government agencies to the press. Our continued impotence and cowardice, our refusal to articulate this anger and stand up in open defiance to the Democrats and the Republicans, will see us swept aside for an age of terror and blood.

                                                                                                                    1239 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                      Israel pounds Gaza with missiles

                                                                                                                      English (US)  April 1st, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                      Three children have been reported injured in eastern Gaza City after Israeli aircraft carried out a series of missile strikes across the Palestinian territory.

                                                                                                                      Palestinian hospital officials said the children were injured by flying debris in the air raids that came in the early hours of Friday.

                                                                                                                      Al Jazeera's Casey Kauffman, reporting from Gaza, said there were attacks in at least four locations and work on tunnels which are often used for smuggling purposes into the blockaded territory, had stopped for fear of the strikes.

                                                                                                                      Government buildings such as police stations had also been evacuated, he added.

                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                      The Israeli military said it had targeted weapons storage facilities in the central Gaza Strip, in Gaza City in the north and the southern Gaza Strip, all in response to rockets fired from Gaza.

                                                                                                                      Late on Thursday and just two hours before the air strikes, the military said a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza had landed in an open area of southern Israel.

                                                                                                                      There was no claim of responsibility for the rocket, which caused no casualties.

                                                                                                                      The targets hit by Israeli aircraft included open areas at former Jewish settlements in Khan Younis, an open area at Rafah, near the Egyptian border and a metal workshop in al-Zawayda in the central Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                      A former Jewish settlement at Netsarim in the central Gaza Strip, an open area in Gaza City and a cheese storehouse in the city which burst into flames were also hit, witnesses said.

                                                                                                                      A Ma’an reporter in Khan Younis said the aircraft bombed three targets in that area, including a site operated by Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television network.

                                                                                                                      In Gaza City, the warplanes targeted the Daloul cheese and diary products factory in the Sabra neighborhood. Several houses were damaged nearby.

                                                                                                                      Aircraft also fired two missiles at a police station in Nusseirat refugee camp in addition to other sites in the central Gaza Strip, including a telecommunications company.

                                                                                                                      Israeli warplanes carried out early Friday, a series of raids against several targets in the sites of resistance in the Rafah and Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                      Dr Muawiya Hassanein, the director of ambulance services in the Gaza Health Ministry said no one was immediately reported injured.

                                                                                                                      He told Ma’an that “only material damage” had resulted from the strikes. In accordance with an emergency plan developed for renewed Israeli attacks, ambulances were mobilized throughout the Strip in anticipation of casualties.

                                                                                                                      Palestinians across Gaza said dozens of Israeli aircraft were flying overhead.

                                                                                                                      An Israeli military spokesman said the warplanes targeted two "weapons manufacturing facilities," one in the north, and one in the central Gaza Strip, and two "weapons storage facilities," both in the south.

                                                                                                                      Late on Thursday Israeli warplanes also dropped leaflets on areas of Gaza bordering Israel warning Palestinians not to approach the frontier.
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                                                                                                                      Source: Al Jazeera and Maan News

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                                                                                                                        Congressman fears Guam might tip over

                                                                                                                        English (US)  April 1st, 2010 by admin ( Email )

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                                                                                                                          Netanyahu's Days May Be Numbered

                                                                                                                          English (US)  March 31st, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                          Even Israelis are now unhappy about their self-righteous prime minister.

                                                                                                                          By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C.

                                                                                                                          Believe it or not, Benjamin Netanyahu may be coming back to Washington next weekend. The Israeli prime minister has apparently wiped the spit – – not rain – – off his head, which he earned after his stressful encounter with President Barack Obama last month on ending illegal Israeli settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land, especially in East Jerusalem where the Palestinians hope to establish their capital. But whether he will have his tail tucked between his legs remains to be seen.

                                                                                                                          The Israeli prime minister will be one of 40 world leaders expected to participate in the April 12-13 nuclear security summit conference, sponsored by President Obama, “to enhance international cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism.” What he may have to say here will be eagerly watched by all those who are eagerly awaiting any revelation about Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

                                                                                                                          [More:]


                                                                                                                          Whatever, the serious dip in U.S.-Israel ties in these few weeks has reached unprecedented levels and the American president can feel comfortable that his stance is backed by the American military establishment and public opinion in the U.S., even in Israel.

                                                                                                                          General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fomenting anti-American sentiment in the region due to the perception of U.S. favoritism towards Israel. In his view, an Arab-Israeli settlement is an urgent American strategic interest.

                                                                                                                          Additionally, a just released Zogby Interactive survey revealed that more than four-in-five Americans (81%) agree that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a negative impact on U.S. interests, including a majority of both Democrats (88%) and Republicans (77%). More significantly, 51% of Americans believe that the inability to stop Israeli settlements makes the U.S. less respected in the world.

                                                                                                                          Even Israelis are now unhappy about their self-righteous prime minister. A poll published in Maariv, the Israeli daily, said that more than 48% described U.S.-Israeli relations as bad, compared to 14% who said it was good and 37% described it as reasonable.

                                                                                                                          In Europe, the tide is also rising against the right-wing Israeli regime. Israeli diplomats in Europe expect “an even more serious row with the European Union,” reported Haaretz. While on a visit to Washington this week, French President Sarkozy announced that he stands with the United States in condemning Israeli settlement activity in Arab East Jerusalem. He also praised Obama for trying to engage the two sides in peace talks. The "absence of peace" in the region "is a problem for all of us" —— and that it feeds terrorism around the world.

                                                                                                                          Whether Netanyahu makes it to Washington for the summit conference, the more important issue as far as the American administration is concerned is will he bring along in his suitcase, or send his written commitments vis-a-vis the peace process as demanded by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to Haaretz, the request stems from the American experience that the U.S. administration has been “burned all too often by Israel’s ‘wink and fudge it’ policy, and believes that the if the spoken word has no meaning, perhaps the written word will have greater validity.”

                                                                                                                          It continued: “Experienced Israelis and Americans need not search the archives to find documents and agreements that the Israeli government signed but in the end became no more valuable than wrapping paper.”

                                                                                                                          The blunt editorial that appeared in Haaretz contrasts sharply – and agonizingly – with the letter that 327 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent Secretary Clinton (strangely, not Obama): “We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension. Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies.”

                                                                                                                          That is the same line advocated by the pro-Israel lobby, known as the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at their annual conference here last month. But in a public slap against the lobby, often described in the U.S. media as “influential” or “powerful,” the liberal Jewish group known as J Street released a poll that said that by a margin of four-to-one (82%-18%) American Jews support the U.S. playing an active role in helping to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. And 73% of those they do so even if it meant that the U.S. were to “publicly state its disagreements with both the Israelis and the Arabs.”

                                                                                                                          In a nutshell, all this means that Netanyahu’s days in office are numbered, certainly when he has in his coalition right-wing extremists like the ministers of foreign affairs and interior, Avigdor Lieberman and Eli Yishai, respectively.

                                                                                                                          - George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: hishmehg@aol.com.

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                                                                                                                            Fatah official shuns Israeli court

                                                                                                                            English (US)  March 31st, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                            Zaki was arrested at a peaceful protest in Bethlehem on Sunday with 12 other activists [EPA]

                                                                                                                            Abbas Zaki, a senior member of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has refused to appear before an Israeli military court.

                                                                                                                            Zaki, who was arrested at a peaceful rally to mark Palm Sunday in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, was supposed to face the court on Wednesday.

                                                                                                                            Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh, in the occupied West Bank, said: "Abbas Zaki refused to appear in front of the military judge, refused to recognise the legitimacy of the military court in trying a senior Palestinian official for participating in a peaceful march."

                                                                                                                            Another 12 activists were arrested at Sunday's march, and Zaki also refused to participate in court proceedings without them, Odeh said.

                                                                                                                            Clashes broke out outside the military court in the West Bank as demonstrators demanded the release of the activists.

                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                            Protesters had initially listened to speeches from leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah. Then clashes broke out between the younger demonstrators and Israeli police, who fired tear gas at the protesters in an effort to force them away from the prison.

                                                                                                                            Politically significant

                                                                                                                            Palestinians view the detentions as politically significant, especially that of Zaki.

                                                                                                                            Zaki is the most senior ranking Fatah official to have been detained by Israel since the signing of the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993. [However, the Zionist regime has arrested and detained dozens of democratically-elect Hamas officials before and since the 2006 elections in which Hamas candidates won an overwhelming majority of seats in the legislature.)

                                                                                                                            On Sunday Zaki was participating in a rally against Israeli restrictions on Palestinian Christians.

                                                                                                                            There have been increasing incidences recently of Israel arresting Palestinian peace activists and deporting foreign activists.

                                                                                                                            "This, as far as the Palestinian leadership is concerned is an indication of where Israel wants to take things. And the response from the political leadership has been a commitment to step up popular resistance," our correspondent said.

                                                                                                                            "The message being is Israel is going to ban peaceful marches, what does it consider legitimate opposition to their occupation.

                                                                                                                            "The circumstances surrounding these arrests and the fact that the Palestinians are increasingly frustrated due to the crackdown on non-violent protest is ... being reflected in the rising political tensions between Israel and the Fatah movement, which is the champion, among Palestinians, of peace negotiations with Israel."
                                                                                                                            Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                                                              Hamas: Fatah must apologize to Palestine for failed efforts

                                                                                                                              English (US)  March 31st, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                              GAZA - Fatah’s call for an escalation of peaceful resistance is an admission of the failure of the government to reach a peace deal for Palestinians, Hamas officials declared on Tuesday following a cabinet meeting in Gaza.

                                                                                                                              Fatah and the Palestinian Authority must now "apologize to the Palestinians for forcing them into a failed process that lasted 20 years," a statement from the Gaza government said, citing the continued occupation of the West Bank, the siege on Gaza, and the unfaltering settlement construction in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                              The comments followed announcements from members of Fatah's Central Committee calling for more popular resistance efforts in the wake of the mass detention of peaceful demonstrators in Bethlehem on Palm Sunday. Among those detained was PLO Executive Committee member Abbas Zaki, who remains in Israeli custody.

                                                                                                                              Maan News

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                                                                                                                                Hamas: Fatah must apologize to Palestine for failed efforts

                                                                                                                                English (US)  March 31st, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                GAZA - Fatah’s call for an escalation of peaceful resistance is an admission of the failure of the government to reach a peace deal for Palestinians, Hamas officials declared on Tuesday following a cabinet meeting in Gaza.

                                                                                                                                Fatah and the Palestinian Authority must now "apologize to the Palestinians for forcing them into a failed process that lasted 20 years," a statement from the Gaza government said, citing the continued occupation of the West Bank, the siege on Gaza, and the unfaltering settlement construction in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                The comments followed announcements from members of Fatah's Central Committee calling for more popular resistance efforts in the wake of the mass detention of peaceful demonstrators in Bethlehem on Palm Sunday. Among those detained was PLO Executive Committee member Abbas Zaki, who remains in Israeli custody.

                                                                                                                                Maan News

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                                                                                                                                  Congressman Brian Baird stands up for the people of Gaza

                                                                                                                                  English (US)  March 31st, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                  Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey interviews Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver., about his criticism of Israel and his interest in the people of Gaza.

                                                                                                                                  By Bruce Ramsey

                                                                                                                                  GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The United States should break Israel's blockade of Gaza and deliver badly needed supplies by sea, a U.S. congressman told Gaza students.

                                                                                                                                  The congressman was Brian Baird. Many of his colleagues go to Israel, few to Gaza — and none as often as he. The southwest Washington Democrat likes to see things for himself. He went to Iraq, and changed his opinion of U.S. strategy there.

                                                                                                                                  Why Gaza? In an interview, Baird recalled a speech some years ago by Israel's current premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). To Baird, the speech was "thinly disguised racism" — and he recoiled from it. When the crowd applauded, he and his wife walked out.

                                                                                                                                  Then there was Rachel Corrie, who in 2003 was killed in Gaza while trying to block an Israeli bulldozer from wrecking a Gazan house. The Corrie family lives in Baird's district.

                                                                                                                                  Many of his friends "are very distressed" with his criticism of Israel, Baird said. "But if they would see what I have seen and could meet the people I have met, they would change their position."

                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                  He recalled his visit to Gaza in February 2009, after Israel's invasion. The American International School had been "a beautiful school, with a Western curriculum." Israel had flattened it, Baird said, "using bombs made by us." A U.S. military man told him of finding a phosphorus shell from the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

                                                                                                                                  By Israel's count, the final death toll of the war on Gaza was 1,166 Gazans and 13 Israelis — a kill ratio of 90-to-1. By the Gazans' count the ratio was 111-to-1.

                                                                                                                                  Israel said it was defending itself, against rockets — homemade pipe-bomb-type rockets. These had been fired by Gazan hotheads against the Israeli town of Sderot to protest Israel's quarantine. The rockets hadn't killed any Israelis, but they might have.

                                                                                                                                  All sides in war claim self-defense. Maybe because Baird is a psychologist he is less inclined to accept such claims at face value. He recalled the reaction of Israeli generals and rightist politicians when he disputed them: How dare you question us?

                                                                                                                                  Keep pushing on them, he said, "and something more pernicious comes out." They will say, "Don't lecture us about humanity after all you've done."

                                                                                                                                  Netanyahu once reminded an interviewer who was pushing him that the British and Americans had firebombed Dresden. Years ago, on a radio show, when I condemned Israel for taking Palestinian land, my host asked if I would give New Mexico back to the Mexicans.

                                                                                                                                  It is a telling argument. A conqueror's argument. You don't hear it, though, unless you peel off the wrapping paper of "defense." And Congress won't do that.

                                                                                                                                  Baird recalled the vote on the Goldstone report, in which jurist Richard Goldstone listed human-rights violations on both sides of the Gaza war. Goldstone has big credentials from his work in Bosnia and Rwanda. And he is Jewish. But he criticized the Israeli military — and the House quickly voted to dismiss his report. All of this state's representatives voted against the report except Baird and Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott, a psychiatrist.

                                                                                                                                  "Colleague after colleague denounced a report they had never read, about a place to which they had never been," Baird said. "I read the Goldstone report. All of it. I found it credible."

                                                                                                                                  Baird is not running for re-election.

                                                                                                                                  Bruce Ramsey's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is bramsey@seattletimes.com

                                                                                                                                  Seattle Times

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                                                                                                                                    Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time: Move will please Big Oil companies, risk environmental disaster

                                                                                                                                    English (US)  March 31st, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                    By JOHN M. BRODER

                                                                                                                                    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday.

                                                                                                                                    The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.

                                                                                                                                    Under the plan, the coastline from New Jersey northward would remain closed to all oil and gas activity. So would the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to the Canadian border.

                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                    The environmentally sensitive Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska would be protected and no drilling would be allowed under the plan, officials said. But large tracts in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska — nearly 130 million acres — would be eligible for exploration and drilling after extensive studies.

                                                                                                                                    The proposal is to be announced by President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Wednesday, but administration officials agreed to preview the details on the condition that they not be identified.

                                                                                                                                    The proposal is intended to reduce dependence on oil imports, generate revenue from the sale of offshore leases and help win political support for comprehensive energy and climate legislation.

                                                                                                                                    But while Mr. Obama has staked out middle ground on other environmental matters — supporting nuclear power, for example — the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling decision will take some of his supporters aback. And it is no sure thing that it will win support for a climate bill from undecided senators close to the oil industry, like Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, or Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana.

                                                                                                                                    The Senate is expected to take up a climate bill in the next few weeks — the last chance to enact such legislation before midterm election concerns take over. Mr. Obama and his allies in the Senate have already made significant concessions on coal and nuclear power to try to win votes from Republicans and moderate Democrats. The new plan now grants one of the biggest items on the oil industry’s wish list — access to vast areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling.

                                                                                                                                    But even as Mr. Obama curries favors with pro-drilling interests, he risks a backlash from some coastal governors, senators and environmental advocates, who say that the relatively small amounts of oil to be gained in the offshore areas are not worth the environmental risks.

                                                                                                                                    The Obama administration’s plan adopts some drilling proposals floated by President George W. Bush near the end of his tenure, including opening much of the Atlantic and Arctic Coasts. Those proposals were challenged in court on environmental grounds and set aside by President Obama shortly after he took office.

                                                                                                                                    Unlike the Bush plan, however, Mr. Obama’s proposal would put Bristol Bay, home to major Alaskan commercial fisheries and populations of endangered whales, off limits to oil rigs.

                                                                                                                                    Actual drilling in much of the newly opened areas, if it takes place, would not begin for years.

                                                                                                                                    Mr. Obama said several times during his presidential campaign that he supported expanded offshore drilling. He noted in his State of the Union address in January that weaning the country from imported oil would require “tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”

                                                                                                                                    Perhaps in anticipation of controversy, the new policy has been closely held within the administration. White House and Interior Department officials began briefing members of Congress and local officials in affected states late Tuesday.

                                                                                                                                    It is not known how much potential fuel lies in the areas opened to exploration, although according to Interior Department estimates there could be as much as a three-year supply of recoverable oil and more than two years’ worth of natural gas, at current rates of consumption. But those estimates are based on seismic data that is, in some cases, more than 30 years old.

                                                                                                                                    The first lease sale off the coast of Virginia could occur as early as next year in a triangular tract 50 miles off the coast that had already been approved for development but was held up by a court challenge and additional Interior Department review, officials said.

                                                                                                                                    But as a result of the Obama decision, the Interior Department will spend several years conducting geologic and environmental studies along the rest of the southern and central Atlantic Seaboard. If a tract is deemed suitable for development, it is listed for sale in a competitive bidding system. The next lease sales — if any are authorized by the Interior Department — would not be held before 2012.

                                                                                                                                    The eastern Gulf of Mexico tract that would be offered for lease is adjacent to an area that already contains thousands of wells and hundreds of drilling platforms. The eastern Gulf area is believed to contain as much as 3.5 billion barrels of oil and 17 trillion cubic feet of gas, the richest single tract that would be open to drilling under the Obama plan.

                                                                                                                                    Drilling there has been strongly opposed by officials from both political parties in Alabama and Florida who fear damage to coastlines, fisheries, popular beaches and wildlife. Interior Department officials said no wells would be allowed within 125 miles of the Florida and Alabama coasts, making them invisible from shore.

                                                                                                                                    The Interior Department and the Pentagon are discussing possible restrictions on oil and gas operations in some areas off Virginia and Florida, home to some of the nation’s biggest Navy and Air Force facilities. States are also likely to claim rights to the revenues from oil and gas deposits within 3 to 12 miles of shore and to some portion of lease proceeds, officials said.

                                                                                                                                    Mr. Salazar developed the offshore drilling plan after conducting four public meetings over the past year in Alaska, California, Louisiana and New Jersey. The Interior Department received more than 500,000 public comments on the issue.

                                                                                                                                    Mr. Salazar has said that he hoped to rebalance the nation’s oil and gas policy to find a middle ground between the “drill here drill now” advocacy of many oil industry advocates and the preservationist impulse to block oil exploration beneath virtually all public lands and waters.

                                                                                                                                    He has called the offshore drilling plan a new chapter in the nation’s search for a comprehensive energy policy that can open new areas to oil and gas development “in the right way and in the right places,” according to an aide.

                                                                                                                                    In many of the newly opened areas, drilling would begin only after the completion of geologic studies, environmental impact statements, court challenges and public lease sales. Much of the oil and gas may not be recoverable at current prices and may be prohibitively expensive even if oil prices spike as they did in the summer of 2008.

                                                                                                                                    At the Wednesday event, Mr. Obama is also expected to announce two other initiatives to reduce oil imports, an agreement between the Pentagon and the Agriculture Department to use more biofuels in military vehicles and the purchase of thousands of hybrid vehicles for the federal motor pool.

                                                                                                                                    New York Times

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                                                                                                                                      Land Day; A Day of Fidelity to the Holy Land

                                                                                                                                      English (US)  March 30th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                      March 30, 2010

                                                                                                                                      "There, behind these borders lies our holy land, my dear." This is what Hajj Abu Imad tells his grandsons whenever they go to the Lebanese-Palestinian border, south of Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                      The peak of Hajj Abu Imad’s frequent visits to the border, is on the 30th of March of every year, ever since the resistance forced Israeli occupation forces out of most of south Lebanon in 2000. The date marks Land Day.

                                                                                                                                      The 76-year old Palestinian, who tasted the bitterness of the 1948 displacement from his home in Al-Khalil, accompanies his two grandsons, Ahmed and Jihad, to a point where they can see as much of occupied Palestine as they can. “When we were forced out of our homes, we kept everything we owned right where were, we closed the door and we kept the key..this key with us with the hope of returning back. I was 14 back then, today I’m 76, but I’ve never lost hope. I don’t want you to lose hope either. Everything you see across this borderline is yours, and this is the key to gain it back one day,” the old hajj told his grandsons with a shivering voice and tearing eyes.

                                                                                                                                      Judith Miller and David Samuels wrote in the 2009 article (No way home: The tragedy of the Palestinian diaspora) in The Independent wrote: “For decades, Arab governments have justified their decision to maintain millions of stateless Palestinians as refugees in squalid camps as a means of applying pressure to Israel. The refugee problem will be solved, they say, when Israel agrees to let the Palestinians have their own state. Yet in the two decades since the end of the Cold War, after two Gulf wars, and the rise and fall of the Oslo peace process, not a single Palestinian refugee has returned to Israel – and only a handful of ageing political functionaries have returned from neighbouring Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, failed peace plans and shifting political priorities have resulted in a second Palestinian "Nakba", or catastrophe – this one at hands of the Arab governments.”

                                                                                                                                      Every March 30 of the past few decades, Hajj Abu Imad and all the Palestinians dispersed among various countries mark Land Day to protest Israel's occupation and expansionist schemes in Palestine.

                                                                                                                                      On the 30th of March, 1976, Israeli occupation forces killed six Palestinians and injured dozens more as they were demonstrating against the confiscation of 5,000 acres of land in the Galilee, north of Palestine, between the villages of Sikhnin and Arrabe. Solidarity strikes were also held almost simultaneously in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and in most of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                      This year’s Land Day comes after the Israeli occupation government announced the will to build hundreds of more settler homes in occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem (Al-Quds). “Building in Jerusalem is like building in Tel Aviv,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month.

                                                                                                                                      This year’s Land Day also comes after more than 62 years of occupation, more than 22 Arab summits, more than 18 years of post-Oslo negotiations, two Intifadas and close to 4.5 million Palestinians living in diaspora, like young Ahmed and Jihad, all counting on Arab consciousness and steadfastness and resistance at home to guarantee their return to the holy land.

                                                                                                                                      Al ManarTV

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                                                                                                                                        Israel Threatens Lebanon ... Again: A New Middle East War?

                                                                                                                                        English (US)  March 30th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                        By Conn Hallinan

                                                                                                                                        When Israeli Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled said recently that a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah was “just a matter of time” and that such a conflict would include Syria, most observers dismissed the comment as little more than posturing by a right-wing former general. But Peled’s threat has been backed by Israeli military maneuvers near the Lebanese border, violations of Lebanese airspace, and the deployment of an anti-missile system on Israel’s northern border.

                                                                                                                                        The Lebanese are certainly not treating it as Likud bombast.

                                                                                                                                        “We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out, and not only threats,” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the BBC. “We see what is happening on the ground and in our airspace…during the past two months—every day we have Israeli airplanes entering Lebanese airspace.” Hariri added that he considered the situation “really dangerous.”

                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                        The increasing tension was behind the recent visit to Beirut by Senator Philippe Marini, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s special envoy to Lebanon. After Marini met with Hariri, Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Hezbollah leaders, the envoy said that he feared a Hezbollah-Israel rematch could easily become a regional war.

                                                                                                                                        Rhetoric all over the region is heating up.

                                                                                                                                        Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman first said that Israel would never return the Golan Heights to Syria, prompting Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem to comment that Israel “should not test Syria’s determination.” Lieberman responded by taking direct aim at Syrian President Bashar Assad: “In the next war, not only will you lose, but you and your family will lose the regime.”

                                                                                                                                        Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006 following a Hezbollah raid that captured two Israeli soldiers. The 34-day war cost Lebanon more than 1,000 dead, and tens of billions of dollars in damage to bridges, roads, airports, and towns. But the war also saw the once-invincible Israeli Self-Defense Forces (IDF) fought to a bloody standstill, and a barrage of some 4,000 Hezbollah rockets into Israel.

                                                                                                                                        Many in the Israeli military would love to re-establish the IDF’s reputation by beating up on Hezbollah, but the Shiite-based militia has broad support throughout Lebanon, as the last elections demonstrated. While the “pro-western” March 14 Movement won the most seats—largely as a result of ethnic gerrymandering—the Hezbollah bloc won the most votes. In any case, the March 14 Movement has begun to unravel with the defection of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

                                                                                                                                        Lebanon is a deeply fractious place, but an Israeli attack would unite the country as it did in 2006. “I think they’re [Israelis] betting that there might be some division in Lebanon if there is war against us,” said Hariri, “Well, there won’t be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people.”

                                                                                                                                        Lebanon’s military is no match for Israel. It has a small army and its air force consists of two grounded 1950s vintage Hawker Hunter fighter-bombers, plus a motley collection of helicopters, most of which are not operational. In the 2007 fight with Islamic extremists in Tripoli, Lebanese Army soldiers pitched bombs out of French Gazelle helicopters by hand.

                                                                                                                                        As the IDF found out in 2006, however, Hezbollah is a different matter. Of course, a massive Israeli ground invasion would overwhelm the group’s militia, but any occupation of South Lebanon will conjure up old nightmares for Tel Aviv. It was Hezbollah’s roadside bombs and ambushes that drove the IDF out of the same area in 2000.

                                                                                                                                        The Israelis are threatening to flatten the entire country if it comes to war—“taking off the gloves” as Israel military analyst Yisrael Katzover puts it—and they certainly have the capabilities to inflict a stunning amount of damage. But Hezbollah claims it has some thunder of its own. Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, vows to bring Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport under fire if Israel bombs Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport as it did in 2006. “If you hit our ports, we will hit your ports,” Nasrallah said Feb. 21.

                                                                                                                                        According to Israeli intelligence, Hezbollah has 42,000 rockets, some with the range to hit Tel Aviv and targets further south. Whether the group actually has that many rockets is unclear. Israel tends to pump up the threat its antagonists pose. In any case, Hezbollah certainly has rockets and demonstrated its ability to strike northern Israel in 2006. If Nasrallah is to be believed, it may be able to bring central Israel under fire as well.

                                                                                                                                        Does the war have the potential to become regional?

                                                                                                                                        Only if Israel decides to make it so. While the Netanyahu government talks about Hezbollah being little more than a cat’s paw for Iran and Syria, the group has deep roots in the country’s long-repressed Shiite majority. It does receive arms from both Damascus and Iran, and Teheran also gives the group about $200 million a year in aid. That is, however, a tiny portion of Hezbollah’s annual budget.

                                                                                                                                        Lebanon’s Shiites are also quite different than their Iranian counterparts. While Iran’s mullahs dominate civil and economic matters, Lebanon’s Shiites are suspicious of direct involvement in government, because they believe that it will ultimately corrupt Islam. A number of Iraq’s Shiites, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, come from a similar current in the Shiite sect.

                                                                                                                                        Hezbollah is quite aware of the damage that Israel can inflict, and, is consequently unlikely to do anything provocative. As Azmi Bishara, a Palestinian and former Israeli Knesset members writes in Al-Ahram, “Hezbollah has made it clear it intends to avoid giving Israel any excuse to go to war.”

                                                                                                                                        As for Syria, the last thing Damascus wants is a war. Its economy is humming, its careful diplomacy has lifted it out of isolation, and over the past several months world leaders from France and Spain, and regional governments—including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey— have beaten a path to President Assad’s door. When U.S. Special Forces violated the Syrian border while looking for al-Qaeda terrorists last year, the Assad government’s response was a mild protest. When Israel bombed a site in northern Syria, the Damascus government did nothing. Syria has nothing to gain, and much to lose, from a war.

                                                                                                                                        Israel has moved its new Iron Dome anti-missile system to its northern border, even though the original plan was to deploy it in the south to intercept rockets fired from Gaza. The system is supposed to be up and running by June. “Making Iron Dome operational will transform Israel’s diplomatic and security situation,” says Israeli Defense Ministry director general Pinhas Buchris.

                                                                                                                                        Given that Hezbollah has not fired a rocket at Israel since the summer of 2006, why would Tel Aviv move Iron Dome to the northern border unless it was to assure the Israeli public that it will not come under fire in the advent of a new war? In any case, Iron Dome is unlikely to transform anything, since anti-missile systems tend to be more about hype and hope than performance.

                                                                                                                                        There is, of course, the possibility that the Israelis will bet the house and hit Lebanon, Syria and possibly Iran’s nuclear facilities. The rhetoric coming out of the Netanyahu government ties all three countries together, which is why Peled lumped Syria with Lebanon. The standard line coming out of Tel Aviv is that Iran is behind everything, including Hamas.

                                                                                                                                        Any rational reading of the Middle East makes that charge difficult to credit. Iran commands neither Syria nor Hezbollah, and while Teheran might provide arms to Hamas, a radical Sunni organization is unlikely to go to war because a Shiite government told it to. The only one of those parties that might welcome a war with Israel is Iran, but only so that the Ahmadinejad regime can use it as an excuse to crack down on internal dissent.

                                                                                                                                        Many in the Israeli establishment openly advocate attacking Iran. Danny Yaton, former head of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, told the German Council on Foreign Relations “The entire world should take military action to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.”

                                                                                                                                        The Sunday Times (London) reports, “According to well-placed sources, Israel is speeding up preparations for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.” The Israeli daily Haaretz says that the Netanyahu government is asking the Obama administration to supply Israel with GBU-28 “bunker buster” bombs and refueling tanker aircraft, both which would be essential for a strike at Iran.

                                                                                                                                        But some in the Israeli military establishment seems reluctant to launch such an attack. Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, an Israel war hero and a man the Sunday Times calls a “pillar of the defense establishment,” says that Iran is a “very, very, very long way from building a nuclear capacity.” Eilam charges, “The intelligence community is spreading frightening voices about Iran,” and that such an attack would be “counter productive.”

                                                                                                                                        Maybe this is all saber rattling aimed at getting the U.S. to step up the pressure on Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Maybe, as Eilam charges, it is all about the IDF getting “a bigger budget.” Maybe it is a diversion from the charges that Israel committed war crimes in its invasion of Gaza, its settlement building on the West Bank, and the diplomatic storm it has reaped from its assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai.

                                                                                                                                        But ramping up the rhetoric of war in a volatile region can lead to a misstep—by accident or design—and once the dogs of war are off their leash, it will be hard to bring them to heel.

                                                                                                                                        Conn Hallinan can be reached at: ringoanne@sbcglobal.net

                                                                                                                                        http://counterpunch.com/

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                                                                                                                                          Zionists Against Zion?

                                                                                                                                          English (US)  March 30th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                          US military warned that Israeli policy endangers US troops on the ground.

                                                                                                                                          By M. Shahid Alam

                                                                                                                                          Zionists have worked hard and cleverly for their successes, but their cause has been greatly advanced at each stage by the logic of their colonial project aimed at the creation of a Jewish settler state at the very center of the Islamicate.

                                                                                                                                          Most importantly, Zionism created a geopolitical realignment of great importance. It brought together two strands of the Western world, previously at odds – Christians and Jews – to join their forces against the Islamicate.

                                                                                                                                          At every stage in its history, Israel has ratcheted its power by unleashing forces, even negative forces, that it has then turned to its advantage. Power, intelligence and luck have played into this.

                                                                                                                                          Israel’s birth radicalized important segments of the Arab world, creating anxiety among Arab Jews about their future. Israel fanned this anxiety, with help from agent provocateurs – but also aided in some cases by myopic Arab policy – to force a Jewish flight from the Arab world. As a result, Israel doubled its Jewish population – and fighting force - within a few years after its creation.

                                                                                                                                          Arab nationalism – if properly harnessed and directed – could end the Jewish state and Western hegemony in the Middle East. Unafraid, Israel took steps to fan this nationalism and used it to push the US to embrace Israel, firmly and openly, as the West’s bulwark against the Arab world. The plan worked, and by the late 1950s, if not earlier, the US was on Israel’s side.

                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                          Defeating the Arab nationalists too carried a risk. By eliminating the threat of Arab nationalism, Israel risked losing its strategic value to the US. Considering the payoff, Israel was eager to defeat the Arab nationalists. As for the risk, the Jewish lobby in the US, energized by Israel’s victory, ensured that US could only draw Israel tighter to its bosom.

                                                                                                                                          A weak civil society in the Arab states also helped Israel. Although the mantle of resistance passed to the Islamists after 1967, they could not displace any of the discredited Arab regimes. US and Israel too gave a boost to these regimes. With US prodding, Israel returned a demilitarized Sinai to bring Egypt on its side. In return, Egypt switched sides.

                                                                                                                                          In time, most of the Arab regimes would serve as Israel’s first line of defense against the Islamists. This was a self-reinforcing arrangement. As US-friendly Arab regimes lost legitimacy and became more repressive, they could only survive by drawing closer to the US and Israel.

                                                                                                                                          At this point, luck too favored Israel, as it often has in the past. In 1979, Iran, the second pillar of US hegemony in the region, fell to Islamists who openly opposed US presence in the region. Instantly, Israel began to promote itself as the rampart against the rising Islamist tide.

                                                                                                                                          In the wake of the Iranian Revolution, the Zionists also made renewed efforts to resurrect the old Western animus against Islam. Next to communism, Islam was now the principal threat to ‘civilization.’ After the Soviet collapse, the Neocons began drumming a new civilizational thesis. War between the West and Islam was inevitable.

                                                                                                                                          Israel’s creation and military successes energized Christian Zionists in the US. In their millennial theology, the ingathering of Jews in Palestine was a precursor to the Second Coming. This theology demanded unconditional support for Israel. Over time, the Christian Zionists became the second organized force – next only to the Jews – that firmly backed Israel.

                                                                                                                                          The end of the Cold War did not dent US commitment to Israel. It should have, since Israel was seen as America’s leading ally against Soviet influence in the region. On the contrary, in the absence of the balancing Soviet presence, pro-Israeli forces tethered the US more firmly then ever to Israeli demands.

                                                                                                                                          Israel now had a free hand in dealing with its foes. It used the Oslo Accords to neuter the PLO and assigned it to police the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Gaza. With the PLO neutered, Israel accelerated its colonization of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

                                                                                                                                          This was also a signal for Israel to pursue more ambitious goals. In a 1996 document, the Neocons announced their plans to “engage” Hizbullah, Syria and Iran, “as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon.” Iraq, however, was their first target.

                                                                                                                                          The 9-11 attacks offered the occasion to put these plans into action. Working in concert, Israel and its backers convinced Bush to invade Iraq. There would be more wars to redraw the map of much of Middle East. Israel would emerge from these wars as the undisputed regional hegemon, and, possibly, a world power.

                                                                                                                                          Just when Israel was grasping for the moon, history took a number of ‘wrong’ turns. Iraq became a quagmire for US troops. Iran’s Shi’ite allies Iran gained control over much of Iraq, barring the Kurdish region. Soon, Iran had extended its influence into eastern Afghanistan. Israeli policy had boomeranged.

                                                                                                                                          In a strange reversal, Iran now cast its shadow over much of the Middle East. It mocked Israel, stood up for the Palestinians, showed up the pro-American Arab regimes for what they are, forcing them to openly identify with Israel. In bitterness, some Arab commentators blamed the US for resurrecting the ancient Persian empire.

                                                                                                                                          Now, suddenly – so it appears – the US love fest with Israel has run into a spot of trouble. In a reversal of its previous policy, the US is insisting that Israel suspend new settlement construction in East Jerusalem to pave the way for ‘peace’ talks with the Palestinian Authority. For a change, the US is countering Israel’s ‘No’ with tough talk not heard in a while.

                                                                                                                                          On March 9, when the US Vice President was greeted in Tel Aviv with news of new settlements in East Jerusalem, he was furious. Privately, he told Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s settlement activity “undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.”

                                                                                                                                          This was not a message right-wing talk artists could shout down. Joe Biden was echoing the message delivered by General Petraeus, commander of US troops in the Middle East, to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Armed Services Committee. Hillary Clinton too reiterated this message in her speech to AIPAC.

                                                                                                                                          What has occasioned this open rift between two spouses in a heavenly marriage? There have been tiffs before between them, but never before has a US administration told Israel that its policy endangers American troops or American interests in the Middle East? This talk is serious. It belies decades of rhetoric that has boosted Israel as America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Middle East.

                                                                                                                                          It appears that the past is beginning to catch up with Israel. Adversaries it had long suppressed, forces it had harnessed for its expansionist policy, blowbacks from decisions made in hubris have now converged to limit Israel’s options. Is the Zionist logic that had brought endless successes in the past now working in the opposite direction? Is Israel running out of its fabled resourcefulness?

                                                                                                                                          Israel’s stunning victory in June 1967 had produced two destabilizing results. Having solved its native problem in 1948, Israel had created it anew in 1967 by its decision to retain the West Bank and Gaza. The June War also swelled the ranks of extremist Jews who began to colonize East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. Unable to drive out the Palestinians, this new round of colonization would turn Israel into an apartheid state.

                                                                                                                                          In the 2000s, international civil society started taking notice. Movements were launched to divest from, boycott and sanction Israel. Activists began to use Western legal systems to prosecute Israelis for war crimes. Israeli leaders visiting Western campuses are now heckled routinely. Slowly, Western publics are turning away from Israel.

                                                                                                                                          In 1982, in a bid to extend Israel’s northern border, Israel invaded and occupied southern Lebanon. The Lebanese Shi’ites responded by creating Hizbullah, a multi-layered grass-roots resistance, the most formidable adversary Israel had ever faced. In 2000, they forced Israel to withdraw unilaterally, and in July 2006 repulsed a fresh Israeli invasion, giving Israel a bloody nose.

                                                                                                                                          No more was Tehran a distant threat for Tel Aviv: it was now positioned right next to Israel’s northern border. Although Hizbullah spoke to the grit and discipline of Lebanese Shi’ites, it could not have grown without Iranian support.

                                                                                                                                          At about the same time, as part of its strategy to defeat the Second Intifada, Israel built the apartheid Wall cutting through the West Bank, and it pulled the Jewish settlements out of Gaza while sealing it from outside contacts. By stopping the suicide-bombers, the Wall gave Israel time to complete the creation of Gaza-like enclaves in the West Bank. In consequence, ‘peace’ talks with Palestinians lost their urgency and were shelved. This made the pro-US Arab regimes a bit nervous: they needed the charade of ‘peace’ talks to shore up what little legitimacy they had with their home audience.

                                                                                                                                          The Egyptian-Israeli siege of Gaza brought Iranian influence to Israel’s southern border. The siege has stopped Hamas from become another Hizbullah, but their home made rockets reminded Israel that its native problem had not gone away – that it would continue to haunt them.

                                                                                                                                          In the 1990s, the Zionist logic had spawned al-Qaida, a group that would use terror to lure the US to wage war against the Middle East. After the Cold War, the Zionists too – led by the Neocons – pursued the same goal. Using the absurd thesis of the ‘clash of civilizations,’ they began to promote a Western war against the Islamicate. They urged the US to take out Iran, Syria and Iraq.

                                                                                                                                          This was a departure from Israel’s long-standing war strategy. Israel took US money and weapons, but fought its own wars. This had several advantages. It built Israel’s military strength and prestige; it kept the US military out of Israel’s path to hegemony over the Middle East. Also, American support for Israel might wear thin if they saw their troops dying in Israel’s wars. If Israel was ready to abandon this strategy in the 1990s, that is because it could not take on Iran, Iraq and Syria on its own.

                                                                                                                                          And so the die was cast. When al-Qaida struck on 9-11, Israel saw opportunity. The Zionists began to press full steam for the US to invade Iraq – and succeeded. Few Israelis worried that the chickens would come home to roost. In April 2008, Netanyahu said, “We are benefiting from…the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.”

                                                                                                                                          Now, some ten years later, the chickens are coming home to roost. The Iraq War has achieved little for Israel. It removed a defanged Saddam Hussein, but extended Iran’s influence into Iraq and it has brought Iranian proxies to its northern and southern borders. Iran now uses Palestine to undermine pro-US Arab regimes.

                                                                                                                                          More ominously, the US military has now spoken. It has warned that Israeli policy raises tensions in the Middle East and endangers US troops on the ground. It will not be easy for Israel and its backers to shout down US generals with charges of anti-Semitism. That is why so many Zionist commentators look alarmed. One Israeli commentator warns that “Obama and Netanyahu are at point of no return.” Others are saying worse.

                                                                                                                                          It appear unlikely that this ‘flap’ between the US and Israel will blow over soon. If it does not, attacks by Jewish groups – inside and outside Israel – against Obama will become more frequent and nastier. The loyalty of some Americans, both inside and outside the Congress, will be tested. It is hard to predict where this will go.

                                                                                                                                          However, this much should be clear. Even if US-Israeli differences over the Middle East are finessed for now, that will not be the end of it. The pressures that have persuaded the US to insist on a ‘solution’ to the Palestinian problem will persist. The realities that have produced the present ‘flap’ are not going away.

                                                                                                                                          - M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University, Boston. He is author of Israeli Exceptionalism (Palgrave, 2009) and Challenging the New Orientalism (IPI, 2006). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at alqalam02760@yahoo.com.

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                                                                                                                                            British MPs call for review of arms exports after Israeli assault on Gaza

                                                                                                                                            English (US)  March 30th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                            Components from UK 'almost certainly' used in Operation Cast Lead

                                                                                                                                            LONDON -- A cross-party group of MPs will call today for a review of the way arms sales are approved after the government admitted British equipment was "almost certainly" used in the assault on Gaza last year.

                                                                                                                                            "It is regrettable that arms exports to Israel were almost certainly used in Operation Cast Lead [the attack on Gaza]," the Commons committee on strategic export controls says in a report published. "This is in direct contravention to the UK government's policy that UK arms exports to Israel should not be used in the occupied territories."

                                                                                                                                            The MPs say they welcome the government's subsequent decision to revoke five export licences for equipment destined for the Israeli navy but "broader lessons" must be learned from a review to ensure British arms exports to Israel are not used in the occupied territories in future.

                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                            After the attack on Gaza, David Miliband, the foreign secretary, told the Commons that all future applications for arms-related exports to Israel "will be assessed taking into account the recent conflict". He said Israeli equipment used in the attack on Gaza "almost certainly" contained British-supplied components included in cockpit displays in US F-16 combat aircraft sold to Israel, and components for the fire control and radar systems, navigation equipment and engine assemblies for US Apache helicopters.

                                                                                                                                            The equipment also included armoured personnel carriers adapted from Centurion tanks sold to Israel in the late 1950s and components for the guns and radar in Israeli Sa'ar-class corvettes which took part in the operation.

                                                                                                                                            Miliband said the government was looking into all existing licences to see whether any of them needed to be reconsidered. He added that he believed British export controls were amongst the strongest and most effective in the world.

                                                                                                                                            Government-approved arms exports to Israel were worth more than £27.5m in 2008, according to the the report. Government departments approved nearly £4m worth of export licences for weapons and equipment with dual military and civil uses in the nine months after the Gaza attack, according to official statistics.

                                                                                                                                            Though this suggests a significant drop, the figures show Britain was continuing to sell Israel a wide range of military equipment, including small-arms ammunition and parts for sniper rifles.

                                                                                                                                            Most of the equipment was components for large items, including parts for ground-based radar, military aircraft engines, military aircraft navigation equipment, military communications and unmanned drones.

                                                                                                                                            Among approved exports were remote ground-sensor systems, electronic warfare equipment "components for sniper rifles", "small arms ammunition" and "test equipment for recognition/identification equipment".

                                                                                                                                            The report also reveals that the government decided to revoke a number of licences for arms sales to Sri Lanka. It says it regrets British arms were sold to Sri Lanka during ceasefire periods in the conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels.

                                                                                                                                            Amnesty International called on the government to act swiftly to close loopholes allowing "brass-plate" companies registered in the UK to trade arms to countries where human rights violations were committed.

                                                                                                                                            It backed the committee's call for a robust international arms trade treaty. Amnesty International's arms programme director, Oliver Sprague, said: "World leaders and campaigners have worked far too hard on the treaty for it to become a worthless piece of paper that will do little to protect people from armed violence."

                                                                                                                                            www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/30/arms-british-gaza-assault

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                                                                                                                                              Iranian Census 2010 PSA with Maz Jobrani - Zero

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  March 29th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                              4 words posted in Humor/Satire1 comment

                                                                                                                                              1 response(s) to Iranian Census 2010 PSA with Maz Jobrani - Zero

                                                                                                                                              1. Minna [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                That´s a really funny Video! Thanks for sharing with us. Among all your serious topics (which are also very intersting) t is a refreshing alternation!

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                                                                                                                                              US 'may not veto UN resolution on Jerusalem'

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  March 29th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                              Israel considers areas within the Jerusalem municipality as its territory, but the international law and the International Court of Justice consider all of East Jerusalem illegally occupied.

                                                                                                                                              The US is considering abstaining from a possible UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, sources suggest to the BBC.

                                                                                                                                              The possibility surfaced at talks in Paris last week between a senior US official and Qatar's foreign minister.

                                                                                                                                              The official said the US would "seriously consider abstaining" if the issue of Israeli settlements was put to the vote, a diplomat told the BBC.

                                                                                                                                              US officials in Washington have not confirmed the report.


                                                                                                                                              1 Gilo: 850 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Nov 2009
                                                                                                                                              2 Pisgat Zeev: 600 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Jan 2010
                                                                                                                                              3 Sheikh Jarrah: Municipality approves the building of 20 new apartments on the site of an old hotel
                                                                                                                                              4 Ramat Shlomo: 1,600 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Mar 2010
                                                                                                                                              5 Silwan: Demolition orders on 88 Palestinian homes built without difficult-to-get permits - Israel planning controversial renewal project
                                                                                                                                              6. West Bank barrier: Making Palestinian movement between West Bank and Jerusalem harder - Israel says it is for security

                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                              There are no concrete plans at present to table such a resolution at the UN.

                                                                                                                                              But it is likely that the US is considering how to maintain pressure, and a UN resolution would be one way, says BBC state department correspondent Kim Ghattas.

                                                                                                                                              The US usually blocks Security Council resolutions criticising Israel.

                                                                                                                                              But relations between the allies have been severely strained by the announcement of plans to build 1,600 homes in an East Jerusalem settlement during a recent visit to Israel by US Vice-President Joe Biden.

                                                                                                                                              The move prompted the Palestinians to pull out of the US-brokered indirect "proximity talks" that had only just been agreed in a bid to revive the peace process, which has been stalled for more than a year.

                                                                                                                                              Nearly half a million Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are held to be illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

                                                                                                                                              Guarantee sought

                                                                                                                                              The reported exchange between the US official and Qatar's foreign minister came to light during a meeting at an Arab League summit in the Libyan town of Sirte.

                                                                                                                                              A diplomatic source told the BBC that Qatar's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Al Thani - who is also the prime minister - had recently met an official high up in the Obama administration during a visit to France.

                                                                                                                                              Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Al Thani in Paris (25 March 2010)
                                                                                                                                              Sheikh Hamad Al Thani was in Paris last week for an economic forum

                                                                                                                                              During their talks, Sheikh Hamad asked the US official whether Washington would guarantee not to veto a UN Security Council resolution that was critical of Israel's ongoing settlement construction in East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                              The diplomat said the US official had replied that the current feeling in Washington was that they would "seriously consider abstention".

                                                                                                                                              An Egyptian official is said to have confirmed his knowledge of the US position during a meeting at the Arab League summit, which was held behind closed doors.

                                                                                                                                              The US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, was in Paris last week to hold talks with Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas.

                                                                                                                                              The US is one of five permanent members of the Security Council with veto power and has a history of blocking any resolution condemning Israel.

                                                                                                                                              The BBC's Rana Jawad, in Sirte, says that many people will see the comments as yet another sign of Washington's recent dispute with Israel.

                                                                                                                                              In November, Israel announced a 10-month suspension of new building in the West Bank. But it considers areas within the Jerusalem municipality as its territory and thus not subject to the restrictions.

                                                                                                                                              http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8591714.stm

                                                                                                                                              628 words posted in Israel1 comment

                                                                                                                                              1 response(s) to US 'may not veto UN resolution on Jerusalem'

                                                                                                                                              1. Kathleen Grasso Andersen [Visitor] Email says:

                                                                                                                                                This would be good news indeed.I thik Americans should sign a petition to the Federal gov't insisting that that we cut off all aid to Isreal unless they respect the 1967 borders. Period.

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                                                                                                                                              Visions of Palestine's present and future in "Invictus" and "Avatar"

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  March 29th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                              Palestinians dress as Avatar's Na'vi people at a protest against Israel's wall in the occupied West Bank. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

                                                                                                                                              By Abdaljawad O.A. Hamayel, The Electronic Intifada, 26 March 2010

                                                                                                                                              The stage was set; Nelson Mandela stood among millions of his fellow countrymen and women, tall as ever, stronger than ever, welcoming the world to the new South Africa, or as he loved to call it: the rainbow nation.

                                                                                                                                              This was the theme of the 2009 movie Invictus which dramatizes the true story of the 1995 Rugby World Cup hosted and won by South Africa just a year after its first democratic, post-apartheid election. The South African national rugby team -- known as the Springboks -- which long excluded nonwhite players, had symbolized the racist regime and was subject to international boycott. Mandela made its victory a symbol of national rebirth when he emerged on the field wearing a Springbok jersey, an iconic act of reconciliation. The film honors Mandela and his achievements in the later period of his political life; it is a movie about strong will, persistence and a belief in an idea many saw as unrealistic.

                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                              Today, South Africa is not an ideal place, many of the old apartheid structures still plague the country, poverty is rampant and discrimination is still alive. Nevertheless, the 1995 rugby championship marked a moment when a nation was born, with tension perhaps, with old divisions possibly, but for that day all of the carnage of the past seemed trivial and a bright future possible.

                                                                                                                                              Many have seen a resemblance to Palestine in another recent Hollywood movie, Avatar. It depicts the struggle of the "Na'vi" people whose planet is invaded by the "sky people" (humans from Earth) who attempt to confiscate their land. And although many people also link the struggle against apartheid in South Africa with the struggle for freedom in Palestine, the specific lessons that can be drawn from the victims of apartheid deserve further analysis.

                                                                                                                                              Avatar highlighted the unbreakable and unyielding bond of a people with their land, a bond that Palestinians understand today more than ever as settlers set their eyes on denying us even the scent of olive trees, a scent Palestinians grow up with since the youngest age.

                                                                                                                                              Clint Eastwood's Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela, offered us the hope of a future not imprisoned by the past. Mandela rallied a broken nation around a rugby team that had been a potent and visible symbol of oppression for apartheid's victims, and turned it into a national moment of triumph and unity. Mandela was able to see that a peaceful transition to freedom for black people from apartheid was interconnected and linked with the freedom of whites from existential fear and prejudice as they relinquished the power they unjustly enjoyed for decades.

                                                                                                                                              This theme has much to do with our struggle as Palestinians: is a victory in the struggle for Palestine and to achieve all our rights and aspirations also intimately related to freeing Israelis from their own self-made shackles of post-holocaust annihilation fears? These are the questions that can be drawn from Invictus.

                                                                                                                                              What differentiates the world of dreaming from the melancholy of what we experience here and now is our ability to see the dream unfold in front of our eyes. This was the power of the main character in Invictus as his deep resolve gave impetus to a new nation born out of its diversity. Here in Palestine, the dream takes different forms, shapes and colors. Do we fight for one state for all? Or do we fight for two states for two nations? Do we continue our struggle to turn Palestine into an Islamic state as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad advocate?

                                                                                                                                              Avatar depicts another vital theme which Palestinians must take to heart: unity as a precursor to freedom. The unity of the Na'vi tribes was fundamental in their victory over sky people. It was the unity in shedding blood and tears but also the unity in vision and struggle that allowed the Na'vi to overcome the threat of colonization of their land. Unfortunately this is a missing reality here in Palestine as divisions among rival factions deepens and a unifying vision seems further away than ever.

                                                                                                                                              Invictus and Avatar inspire reflection on the past, present and future hopes of our nation. The response to these movies among audiences around the world underscores the amount of sympathy around the world for moral struggles that ensue after the creation of an unjust reality, a sympathy Palestinians have been slow at garnering. But if Martin Luther King Jr.'s proclamation was right, "the arch of the moral universe is long, but it is tilted towards justice," we Palestinians may have some hope.

                                                                                                                                              Abdaljawad O.A. Hamayel is a graduate of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands where he was Editor-in-Chief of the University College Utrecht's newspaper The Boomerang and chair of the All Student Interest Council at the same university. He now resides in Ramallah.

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                                                                                                                                                Israel restricts Jerusalem access to Jews only: Christians banned from Easter celebrations, including traditional Via Dolorosa procession

                                                                                                                                                English (US)  March 29th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                Israel usually locks down the al-Aqsa mosque and occupied West Bank during Jewish holidays [AFP]

                                                                                                                                                Israel has curbed travel from the occupied West Bank and restricted access to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as Jews observe the week-long Passover holiday.

                                                                                                                                                Israeli police were placed on high alert before the festival, which begins at sunset on Monday, amid heightened tensions with the Palestinians over settlement building and the reconsecration of a synagogue in East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reporting from the West Bank, said: "Israeli police have imposed restrictions on who can enter the Old City over the Jewish holiday of Passover.

                                                                                                                                                "In addition to the closure of the West Bank, which starts on Monday and ends on April 6, entrance to the Old City is denied to Palestinian men under the age of 50."

                                                                                                                                                Police did not say when the restrictions would be lifted.

                                                                                                                                                Authorities have also tightened restrictions on access to Israel from the occupied West Bank, closing checkpoints to general traffic, with exceptions for medical cases, humanitarian aid, and professionals and students with permits.

                                                                                                                                                In depth
                                                                                                                                                End of the Arab Cold War?
                                                                                                                                                The Arab Peace Initiative
                                                                                                                                                Shifting sands in Arab world
                                                                                                                                                'Netanyahu the conqueror'
                                                                                                                                                Israel's war on Islamic sites
                                                                                                                                                Who saves the Palestinians?

                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                Holy City unrest

                                                                                                                                                The restrictions on the occupied West Bank will be lifted on April 6 after the conclusion of Passover, when Jews commemorate their biblical exodus from Egypt.

                                                                                                                                                Israel usually locks down the West Bank during Jewish holidays and has been especially wary in recent months as Palestinians have clashed with security forces in and around Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound on a number of occasions.

                                                                                                                                                Jerusalem has been rocked in past weeks by the worst unrest in years, triggered largely by rumours that a rebuilt 17th-century synagogue was part of a plan by Jewish extremists to destroy the famed al-Aqsa mosque.

                                                                                                                                                Dozens of people were wounded in September and again this month when violence broke out following rumours that Jewish extremists intended to pray at the compound.

                                                                                                                                                Nissim Edri, a Jerusalem police intelligence officer, said security forces were ready for any attempt by Jewish extremists to march to the site or by Muslim activists to whip up anti-Israeli fervour.

                                                                                                                                                "Thousands of police ... are deployed throughout the city," Edri told Israeli public radio on Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                Security was particularly tight around the al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam, and the holiest for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.

                                                                                                                                                Jerusalem issue

                                                                                                                                                Muslims are sensitive to any perceived change in the status quo of the compound and many believe Jews are determined to build a new temple on the wide esplanade, the site of the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

                                                                                                                                                Jewish fringe groups have vowed to build a third Temple, but Israeli political and religious authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea.

                                                                                                                                                Travel restrictions placed on the West Bank came after leaders from the Arab world met in Sirte, Libya for the 22nd Arab League summit.

                                                                                                                                                Arab leaders expressed their total rejection of Israel's settlement policy in occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the two-day meeting, saying it poses "a dangerous obstacle to a just and comprehensive peace process".

                                                                                                                                                However, they failed to reach consensus on whether the Palestinians should resume stalled talks with Israel, rejecting pressure from Syria and Libya for the Palestinians to abandon talks with Israel and resume armed resistance.

                                                                                                                                                Jerusalem was also a principle focus of the summit after Arab foreign ministers agreed to raise $500m in aid to improve the living conditions for Palestinians in the city.

                                                                                                                                                Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                                                                                  Arabs increasingly convinced US unable to stand up to Israel

                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  March 29th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                  Monday, March 29, 2010

                                                                                                                                                  By Bouthaina Shaaban

                                                                                                                                                  Amid a cacophony of statements, commentary and analyses about the American-Israeli relationship, and the events since Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, Mark Perry wrote an article in Foreign Policy magazine on March 13, 2010 titled “The Petraeus briefing: Biden’s embarrassment is not the whole story.” Perry explained that on January 16, 2010, a team of central command officers and officials responsible for American national security in the Middle East made a presentation in the Pentagon to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed by Admiral Michael Mullen, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

                                                                                                                                                  The team had been sent by General David Petraeus to “underline his growing concerns at the lack of progress in resolving the issue.” The conclusion of the presentation was that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the US was incapable of standing up to Israel.” That is why Arabs have started to lose faith in the United States and its promises, and that Israeli intransigence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was paralyzing the position, role and status of the United States in the region. It added that “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding, despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of American troops in the region.”

                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                  Perry says that the briefing given to Mullen, at Petraeus’ request, fell like a bombshell on the White House. That is why the Obama administration sent Mullen to meet Gabi Ashkenazi. Mark Perry adds that Biden passed the content of the Mullen-Petraeus report to Netanyahu saying: “This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”

                                                                                                                                                  Perry adds that the message was very clear. This endangers regional security, pointing out that “Israel’s intransigence could cost American lives.”

                                                                                                                                                  This review of what was published in the media since Biden’s visit is very important because it shows that the American presentation realizes the links between Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, on the one hand, and what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the other. It also recognizes, albeit indirectly, that the question of Palestine and the occupied Arab territories is at the heart of what is going on in the region; and that the region will not know peace until justice is achieved in Palestine, after the Palestinian people are liberated from Zionist oppression and after all Arab rights are restored.

                                                                                                                                                  The briefing is also important because it realizes that the extremist Zionists’ control over the government of Israel makes it persist in its aggressions: destroying houses, building settlements and Judaizing Jerusalem. This means that Zionist hardliners, like Netanyahu and Lieberman, constitute the real obstacles not only to peace in the Middle East but for the achievement of American objectives in the region, and endangers the United States’ interests and status. Israel’s aggressive acts have already threatened security and Western interests, which is the import of the briefing made to Mullen-Petraeus.

                                                                                                                                                  This concern is derived from meetings held by the team charged with preparing this study with Arab and Muslim leaders known for compliance with Western desires, who expressed their inability to continue to keep silence – as they are doing now – regarding the crimes committed by Israeli hardliners on a daily basis against Palestinians in the form of murder, assassination, violence and Judaizing one of the holiest places for Arabs and Muslims.

                                                                                                                                                  But the real message which the West should hear was that of the concerned parties, the Arab leaders who are in charge of protecting Arab and Muslim sanctities. The clearer, more forceful and serious the message is the more seriously others would take and contemplate it.

                                                                                                                                                  A week of speculation about the course of American-Israeli relations did not lead to releasing one Palestinian prisoner, protecting one house in Jerusalem against demolition or allowing unarmed Palestinians to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque. American, European and “Quartet” positions did not go beyond verbal criticism of settlement like expressing “concern” accompanied by stressing the strategic alliance between the United States and Israel and of course stressing for the billionth time the United States’ and Europe’s commitment to “Israel’s security” without any consideration for the security, freedom and rights of the Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                                  This commitment which means funding settlement, providing military support and international protection which makes these Western positions mere verbal and media bubbles which burst out in the face of those who trade in them the moment they are exchanged. Despite all the violence by Israeli occupation troops and despite killing, injuring and arresting civilians in the West bank, and despite Israeli warplanes’ shelling of Gaza, besieged for the past three years, the EU representative denounced violence on both sides and did not denounce Israeli soldiers’ use of violence against the population of Jerusalem, killing children, arresting civilians and displacing them and replacing them by Jewish settlers.

                                                                                                                                                  All Western statements will remain mere media bubbles unless accompanied by the tools which the United States uses in dealing with Arabs and Muslims like passing a binding resolution accompanied by sanctions. But these bubbles have two objectives in American policy: diverting attention from daily Israeli crimes against unarmed Palestinian civilians; and helping those who do not want Arabs to support the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                                  The importance of the Petraeus-Mullen briefing lies in its implicit suggestion that an Arab and Muslim stand is effective, not only against Israeli occupation, but also against all those who support it with arms and money and all those who provide it with international cover to enable it to continue Judazing land and sanctities.

                                                                                                                                                  It is equally effective in supporting the Palestinian people uprooted from their land, deprived of their freedom and independence and subjected to all forms of crimes against humanity under the full gaze of the “civilized” world.

                                                                                                                                                  Professor Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media adviser at the Syrian Presidency, and former expatriates minister. She is also a writer andhas been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has a Doctorate in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize in 2005.

                                                                                                                                                  Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=113220#ixzz0jZK8yYFO
                                                                                                                                                  (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

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                                                                                                                                                    Even The New York Times doesn’t believe Netanyahu

                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  March 28th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                    Alan Hart predicts, "Another and final round of ethnic cleansing – provoking an all-out confrontation with the Palestinians to give the IDF and the armed settlers the pretext for driving the Palestinians off the West Bank and into Jordan or wherever, in the name of self defence, of course.

                                                                                                                                                    By Alan Hart

                                                                                                                                                    March 28, 2010

                                                                                                                                                    In an editorial on 26 March The New York Times declared that it is “even more sceptical now” of Netanyahu’s professed commitment to peacemaking and a two-state solution. A sign that Zionism’s freedom to muzzle the mainstream American media is no longer without limit? Perhaps.

                                                                                                                                                    But refreshing though this NYT editorial stance was – broadly pro Obama and anti Netanyahu – it missed, by default or design, a major point; but we’ll come to that in a moment.

                                                                                                                                                    The editorial’s opening paragraph was this:

                                                                                                                                                    “After taking office last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel privately told many Americans and Europeans that he was committed to and capable of peacemaking, despite the hard-line positions that he had used to get elected for a second time. Trust me, he told them. We were sceptical when we first heard that, and we’re even more sceptical now.”

                                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                                    It went on to say that the Obama administration should “insist” that proximity talks, once started, should grapple immediately with core issues like borders and security, “not incidentals”.

                                                                                                                                                    It then said:

                                                                                                                                                    “Many Israelis find Mr. Obama’s willingness to challenge Israel unsettling. We find it refreshing that he has forced public debate on issues that must be debated publicly for a peace deal to happen. He must also press Palestinians and Arab leaders just as forcefully.

                                                                                                                                                    “Questions from Israeli hard-liners and others about his commitment to Israel’s security are misplaced. The question is whether Mr. Netanyahu is able or willing to lead his country to a peace deal. He grudgingly endorsed the two-state solution. Does he intend to get there?”

                                                                                                                                                    The point the editorial missed is that Netanyahu is not a complete liar. He is merely thoroughly disingenuous, as Zionism by nature is, was and always will be. Netanyahu did indeed pay lip-service to a “two-state” solution. The question is – Why did he and what two-state solution did he have in mind?

                                                                                                                                                    The answer to the first part of the question is not a mystery to those who are informed by more than Zionist propaganda. Netanyahu understands, as Sharon understood, that if Israel remains in occupation of all the West Bank, it will have three options.

                                                                                                                                                    OPTION 1: formally annexing the West Bank and granting all of its citizens equal rights, to enable Israel to go on claiming that it was a democracy. The problem is that this would bring about the end of the Jewish state by political means because, in due course, the Arab citizens of Greater Israel would outnumber and outvote its Jewish citizens.

                                                                                                                                                    OPTION 2: formally annexing the West Bank but denying Greater Israel’s Arab citizens (the majority in-the-making) equal rights. In this scenario Greater Israel would have to treat its Arab citizens even worse than the black majority in South Africa was treated by the apartheid regime. And that would not be acceptable to most Jews of the world and, probably, at least some of the Jews of Israel. It would also present the organised international community with no choice, at some point, but to declare Greater Israel a pariah state and impose sanctions on it.

                                                                                                                                                    OPTION 3: to resort to another and final round of ethnic cleansing – provoking an all-out confrontation with the Palestinians to give the IDF and the armed settlers the pretext for driving the Palestinians off the West Bank and into Jordan or wherever, in the name of self defence, of course. If the Palestinians refused to flee, there would be a bloodbath. A Zionist holocaust.

                                                                                                                                                    It was thinking about those three options if Israel stayed in occupation of all of the West Bank, that led Sharon to conclude that he had no choice but to impose his own two-state solution on the Palestinians. His unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was not a step on the road to peace. It was about defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation. Sharon was not therefore turning his back on his Zionist past as his rightwing critics and former soul-mates claimed, and many in the mainstream Western media believed. He was being practical to an extent. He was saying, in effect, “If we don’t give the Palestinians something, our Zionist enterprise might well be doomed.”

                                                                                                                                                    The two-state solution Sharon was intending to offer the Palestinians on a take or it leave it basis was two or three Bantustans, on between 40 to 50 percent of the West Bank, which the Palestinians could call a state if they wished.

                                                                                                                                                    The Netanyahu plan is more or less the Sharon plan, and that’s what the NYT’s editorial writers either don’t understand or don’t yet want to acknowledge.

                                                                                                                                                    The question arising is this: What is most likely to happen when Israel’s leaders come to the conclusion that the occupied and oppressed Palestinians will not accept crumbs from Zionism’ table (even if a puppet Palestinian leadership is urging them to do so)?

                                                                                                                                                    My guess is that Zionism’s in-Israel leaders will go for OPTION 3 as identified by Sharon.

                                                                                                                                                    Message to the NYT’s editorial writers – please think about that.

                                                                                                                                                    Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East.

                                                                                                                                                    His Latest book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, is a three-volume epic in its American edition. He blogs on www.alanhart.net and tweets on www.twitter.com/alanauthor

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                                                                                                                                                      AIPAC: Telling a Whopper

                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  March 28th, 2010 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                      It was quite a story that AIPAC wanted to tell.

                                                                                                                                                      By Stephanie Westbrook

                                                                                                                                                      The theme of this year's annual policy conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was 'Israel: Tell the Story.' And it was quite a story that AIPAC wanted to tell.

                                                                                                                                                      The conference aimed at imparting to the over 7000 attendees 'an intimate understanding of the many ways that Israel is making the world a better place,' with a focus on peacemaking and innovation. According to the AIPAC web site, conference goers will also 'meet Israelis who rush to the scene of natural disasters in far away lands because they believe that to save one life is to save the whole world.' No mention was made of the 1400 people killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                      Against a backdrop of creative blends of US and Israeli flags and icons, the three-day conference in Washington DC included plenary speeches by former Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom, according to journalist MJ Rosenberg, delegates were warned in advance not to boo or hiss. Workshops varied from self-serving questions such as 'Are Settlements An Obstacle to Peace?' and 'Is Israel Treated Unfairly in the Press?' to 'The Gaza Dilemma' and 'Inside Iran.'

                                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                                      Large numbers of young people attended the conference. With more than 900 university students from 370 campuses as well as 397 high school students, many benefiting from scholarships, students made up nearly 17% of the total number of participants.

                                                                                                                                                      Standing outside the conference it was clear that AIPAC is reaching out well beyond the Jewish community for support.

                                                                                                                                                      The constant flow of buses, with taxpayer-funded police escort, dropped off conference attendees including many African-American delegations. In fact, workshop sessions centered on the emerging alliance with the African American community and how this alliance can be 'ignited around the pro-Israel cause.'

                                                                                                                                                      The conference also included fear-mongering workshops in Spanish, presumably as an attempt to reach the Latino community, on Iran's influence in Latin America via its strong ties with Venezuela, Cuba and Brazil, and concerns that this might lead to terrorism, Islamic extremism and anti-American sentiments.

                                                                                                                                                      Additional workshops focused on capitalizing on pro-Israel support from the Christian evangelical community as well as a 'new era of military and intelligence cooperation' with India.

                                                                                                                                                      However, the scope of most of the workshops was to prepare participants for the lobbying day on Capitol Hill, with the three main requests for Congress. First and foremost, AIPAC was calling for 'crippling sanctions on Iran.' Noting that it was unlikely for the UN Security Council to pass such a resolution, AIPAC called on the United States 'to lead the international community,' a euphemism for unilateral action.

                                                                                                                                                      The second request dealt with the current tensions between the US and Israel following the continued announcements of new illegal settlements in East Jerusalem. An AIPAC drafted letter initiated by House majority and minority leaders Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) called on Secretary Clinton to 'reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel' and to solve any disputes 'quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies.' Over 50% of the US House of Representatives have signed onto the letter. A similar letter is circulating in the Senate.

                                                                                                                                                      Last but certainly not least, AIPAC urged support for continuing US military aid for Israel, which AIPAC refers to as 'security assistance,' by approving President Obama's request for $3 billion for fiscal year 2011 as part of the 10-year $30 billion package. Time Magazine was unusually candid in its coverage of this request, reporting 'the Israeli government has announced plans to replace its aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets with new, American-made F-35 fighters, a major cost that Israel hopes will be substantially borne by American taxpayers.'

                                                                                                                                                      That's the same F-35 that Secretary of Defense Gates was referring to in his testimony before Congress on March 25 when he spoke of "unacceptable delays and cost overruns." The price tag for the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program has nearly doubled since 2001, recently leading Secretary Gates to replace the program manager and withhold more than $600 million from the lead contractor, Lockheed Martin. It's no wonder Israel would prefer US taxpayers foot the bill!

                                                                                                                                                      Inside the Washington Convention Center, AIPAC was simultaneously calling for the US public to be kept in the dark regarding any disputes with Israel while asking taxpayers to fund 20% of Israel's defense budget. Outside it was a different story. Activists from CodePink, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Avaaz, Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation kept up a presence during the conference with signs and banners calling for respect for international law and human rights, an end to the siege of Gaza, Israeli apartheid and US taxpayer funding of war crimes.

                                                                                                                                                      Using street theatre, we set up a checkpoint to greet the participants, and I, in the role of a Palestinian woman, tried in vain to get through. I pleaded with the sometimes startled conference-goers to help me get to a hospital, but Tighe Barry, playing an IDF soldier at the checkpoint, pushed me away telling the AIPAC supporters, "You can pass. This is a Jewish only road."

                                                                                                                                                      During our presence outside the conference, I got an earful of everything from thoughtful debate to the most vulgar of insults to outright ignorance on the issues: "There is already a settlement freeze!" "Gaza isn't under siege, Israel is!" "AIPAC has nothing to do with policy!" This last remark was made while standing under the enormous sign reading 'AIPAC Policy Conference.'

                                                                                                                                                      We were outnumbered roughly 100 to 1, yet the very site of us literally sent some people over the edge. A few people even resorted to violence, shoving and hitting the activists. During a press conference held outside the Convention Center, we were constantly interrupted, with people shouting and walking in front of the cameras. Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation rightly judged this as a classic example of the AIPAC crowd trying to completely control the debate so that no other voices can be heard.

                                                                                                                                                      But there was at least some debate going on inside the conference. Hadar Susskind of the new self-proclaimed pro-Peace pro-Israel lobby J Street was being interviewed by the BBC when Alan Dershowitz, one of the conference's principal speakers, approached and the two got into a heated debate. As the press gathered around, Dershowitz asked "How can you not agree that Goldstone is a despicable human being?" referring to the well-respect South African judge who lead the UN fact-finding mission investigating the Israeli assault on Gaza. AIPAC security quickly moved in to usher the argument outside the building. A French documentary crew had their credentials revoked after refusing to leave.

                                                                                                                                                      The second day of protests outside the conference made use of satire to try to get the message through. CodePink issued a fake press release announcing AIPAC's support for a settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The phony release was picked up by several news outlets prompting AIPAC to issue a statement refuting the claim, and thereby confirming that they are not in line with US policy on the issue or the majority of US citizens. Some conference participants were then questioning why AIPAC was not supporting a settlement freeze.

                                                                                                                                                      Later that morning, 'Netanyahu and the Settlements' arrived at the conference. Activists with the global online advocacy group Avaaz.org showed up wearing cardboard boxes shaped like settlement housing along with someone in a Netanyahu mask wearing a Caterpillar hardhat chanting, "Build settlements, not peace." Later that afternoon, nicely dressed activists escorted the conference participants: "Right this way to the Apartheid Conference."

                                                                                                                                                      The main attraction of the three-day event was, of course, the gala dinner where Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke. Rae Abileah of CodePink, who had purchased a ticket to the conference but then received a certified letter saying that her registration had been cancelled, was nonetheless inside the dinner waiting for her moment. After the traditional Roll Call, the interminable reading of the names of the Congress members present – some 59 senators and 269 members of the House of Representatives – Netanyahu finally took the stage. "When the prime minister announced Israel’s commitment to defense, I could no longer remain silent." Rae jumped up on AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr’s private table right next to the stage and opened a banner reading 'Build Peace Not Settlements' while shouting, “Lift the siege of Gaza! No illegal settlements!”

                                                                                                                                                      Shortly after Rae was forcibly removed from the dinner, Joan Stallard, also of CodePink, unfurled a banner and shouted, "Stop the settlements!" Joan, who was seated a little to close to security, was quickly thrown to the floor and promptly removed from the dinner.

                                                                                                                                                      Following Tony Blair's speech the morning of the third and last day of the conference, the AIPAC lobbyists made their way to Capitol Hill, where a reported 500 meetings with Congress had been set. We arrived early to beat the crowd and delivered thank you letters to the 36 members of the House who had voted NO on the resolution condemning the Goldstone Report.

                                                                                                                                                      'Netanyahu and the Settlements' had arrived by the time we finished and were there to greet the AIPAC lobbyists as they lined up to enter the Rayburn building. Holding a gigantic check made out for 'Endless Illegal Settlements' signed by Barack Obama, we called out on the megaphone, "Bank of Israel, otherwise known as the United States Congress. Nothing is too much for Israel." There were a number of groups of young people on the Hill the same day lobbying for education and jobs programs. As we passed, I told them, "Sorry, no money left for your school or jobs. Congress wants to give it to Israel."

                                                                                                                                                      We then walked over to the Senate side of the Hill. Two senators, Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, had spoken the previous day at the AIPAC conference. Senator Graham quickly dismissed the pesky problem of East Jerusalem: "Jerusalem is not a settlement. No government in Israel will ever look at Jerusalem as a settlement! No government in the United States should ever look at Jerusalem as a settlement! It is the undivided capital of the State of Israel. It is the eternal home of the Jewish faith. And it is now time to move onto other issues."

                                                                                                                                                      We paid visits to the offices of both Senators Graham and Schumer, as well as those of Senators Lieberman and Kyl. Donning tunics that said 'Settler' and waving a flag that read 'Mine,' we moved in, occupied the office, set up a rode block and began moving the furniture around to our pleasing. Again playing the part of a Palestinian woman, I pleaded with the staff, who were, not surprisingly, alarmed at what was happening, for their help in removing the settlers from my family's land. In three out of four cases we managed to secure a meeting with a member of the staff; at Sen. Graham's office Capitol Police arrived and promptly removed us!

                                                                                                                                                      This year's AIPAC conference couldn't have been scheduled during a more interesting period, with unusually high tensions between the US and Israel. Holding signs saying 'Israel Endangers Peace' during the Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing on March 16, we heard General Petraeus state clearly that "the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of US favoritism toward Israel." On CNN recently, there has been unprecedented talk of an Apartheid state in Israel and calls for cutting off US military aid. And just one day before the AIPAC conference began, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon stated during a tour of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, "Let us be clear. All settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and must be stopped."

                                                                                                                                                      As much as AIPAC appears to be living in a bubble, it also seems unlikely that the US government, or the international community for that matter, will take a courageous stance and do what many Israelis have been asking, save Israel from itself. That's why so many activists are now taking it upon themselves to lead the way by supporting the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Right outside the AIPAC conference the newly formed BDS group of the greater Washington area called on local residents to not buy Israeli products as a way to make a meaningful contribution to ending the Israeli occupation. And on March 30th, the second Global BDS Day, actions will take place around the world. (http://bdsdayofaction.wordpress.com).

                                                                                                                                                      Invest in peace. Boycott Israel!

                                                                                                                                                      - Stephanie Westbrook is a U.S. citizen who has been living in Rome, Italy since 1991. She is active in the peace and social justice movements in Italy and traveled to Gaza in June 2009. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact her at: steph@webfabbrica.com.

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                                                                                                                                                        Israel's Apartheid walls of Jerusalem breached on Palm Sunday

                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  March 28th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                        By Mazin Qumsiyeh

                                                                                                                                                        Wow, what a day: over 100 native Palestinian Christians and Muslims and internationals including Israelis, breached the tight security separating the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem from the occupied city of Jerusalem. Donkeys and people arrested!

                                                                                                                                                        We were initially some 150 strong and started from the Church of Nativity at 11:45 AM carrying palm leaves an banners asking for freedom of worship and movement (as demanded by international law). The demonstration included individuals riding 2 donkeys and a horse. Appropriate since Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Like him, we knew this was not going to be an easy entry but we did believe in the goodness of humanity. We arrived at the main gate used for tourist buses at around 12:30 and decided to just keep going. The few soldiers and police at the gate tried to close it but we managed to get in and the huge 8 meter high metal gate stopped half way perhaps as a safety mechanisms since there were dozens of people passing and they could be crushed if it continued.

                                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                                        The Israeli security forces tried to close other fences but we kept going. As word reached their offices, the Israeli army was mobilizing its forces and soon several army jeeps arrived and blocked the road half way between the gate and Deir Mar Elias (the monastery at the edge of the city). The blocked our way. Ibrahim Salah riding his donkey was speaking to them in Hebrew and saying why can't we go to Jerusalem. It is our right to travel. He was the first to be violently knocked down off his donkey and arrested. The next was an American girl, then some Palestinians. All violently wrestled to the ground when even many were just peacefully walking back to the gates. It seemed like a calculated move to punish some of us so that others get the message not to try this again.

                                                                                                                                                        Some 60 of us ended up being rounded up in between a wall, a hill, a gate, and a cordon of police officers. We expected to be all arrested. The occupation soldiers instead plucked random people that they thought were the key people.

                                                                                                                                                        We had significant local and national and international media coverage (email us if you are a media outlet and want to do a story or receive video and and/or pictures). The people are willing to pay the price. Israeli forces released 4 Israelis and the one American student. They kept 11 Palestinians that they kidnapped and are charging them with "incitement", "participating in an unauthorized demonstration" "entering 'Israel' without a permit (as if occupied Arab East Jerusalem is Israel)", and "interfering in police business". Lawyers will show that this is all bogus. But in any case, the popular resistance movement is growing and is willing to pay the price for such significant achievement as this.

                                                                                                                                                        Oh and yes, a donkey and a horse belonging to Ibrahim were also arrested by the mighty army of apartheid Israel for they too need permits from the Israeli military to get in. Maybe more arrests will come tonight. The repression only strengthened our collective will to move forward. We were all elated at this success. We know some Israeli officers; maybe the private "security" company that is contracted by the Israeli government to manage these apartheid wall system. Entering Jerusalem beyond the apartheid wall on Palm sunday shoed what popular resistance can achieve. When I talked to one of the people they kidnapped, he indicated they were all in good spirits and were holding together.

                                                                                                                                                        While we hear "Arab leaders" met in Libya and issued more useless declarations, the popular resistance celebrates this victory in Bethlehem and will work to achieve others. A demonstration will be held on Monday at noon in front of the gate at Bilal's mosque/Rachel's tomb area. Hope to see those of you who can there.

                                                                                                                                                        Photos
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/activestills/
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/imemc/

                                                                                                                                                        Published stories
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=272253
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.imemc.org/article/58309
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=78620 (in Arabic)

                                                                                                                                                        Here are the names of our 11 friends who were kidnapped by the Israeli army for daring to do what every human being on earth is entitled to do (move freely within their own country):

                                                                                                                                                        Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee
                                                                                                                                                        Ibrahim Salah, from Bethlehem
                                                                                                                                                        Mohammad Al-Hubani, from Bethlehem
                                                                                                                                                        Mahmoud Zawahreh, Al-Ma’sara
                                                                                                                                                        Fadi Hamad, Associated Press photographer from Bethlehem
                                                                                                                                                        Hassen Breijeiyah, Al-Ma'sara
                                                                                                                                                        Marwan Fararjeh,Bethlehem
                                                                                                                                                        Toni Shahwwan, Beit Jala
                                                                                                                                                        Ahmad Al-Azza, from Azza Refugee Camp
                                                                                                                                                        Shadi Fawaghreh, Wad Rahhal
                                                                                                                                                        Marwan Abushaaban

                                                                                                                                                        Palestinian Christians have demanded entry to Jerusalem without the regime of special permits (apartheid system): see http://www.imemc.org/article/58203 We will continue to demand this basic human right for all Palestinians regardless of their religion. The train of freedom is on the march and we are all asked to get on board.

                                                                                                                                                        Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
                                                                                                                                                        A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.qumsiyeh.org
                                                                                                                                                        Popular Committee to Resist the Apartheid Wall and Settlements-Beit Sahour
                                                                                                                                                        Professor, Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities
                                                                                                                                                        Chairman of the Board, Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People, http://www.pcr.ps

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                                                                                                                                                          Holy Week 2010: Sumoud, Check Points, Home Demolitions

                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  March 28th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                          By James M. Wall

                                                                                                                                                          Sumoud?

                                                                                                                                                          Sumoud is an Arabic word meaning “steadfastness”. The occupied Palestinian people who live in Jerusalem this Holy Week, 2010, face check points, home demolitions, and the depressing news that the Congress of the United States sings the praises of a visiting Israeli prime minister who tells the world that ALL of Jerusalem belongs to Israel for the ages.

                                                                                                                                                          Translation: Get ready, folks, for a permanent occupation until you Palestinians agree to live as prisoners in cantons, or even better, move away to Jordan, Lebanon, or Kansas.

                                                                                                                                                          How do the Palestinians respond to such a threat? They respond with sumoud.

                                                                                                                                                          Sumoud is being heard these days in the Occupied Territories more than Nakba, the Arabic name for “catastrophe”, which Palestinians use to describe the 1948-49 colonization of their land by the newly created state of modern Israel.

                                                                                                                                                          Sumoud occurs when a teacher set up her classroom at a checkpoint when students are unable to get through to the school building. (See picture above.)

                                                                                                                                                          And so it is that in Holy Week, 2010, while many American Christian families finally make their way to church after staying away since Christmas, in this week when we look back at the first Holy Week, we dare not let the week go by without giving thanks for the sumoud of the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                                          It is their sumoud that could save them, as it could save us. It is not only the Israeli people who must be saved from the blind arrogance of its leaders. US tax dollars support Israel’s practice of home demolitions, check points and permanent occupation. We too, must be saved, from our leaders’ blind arrogance.

                                                                                                                                                          US politicians may never have heard the word sumoud, but one day, friends, they will regret their ignorance.

                                                                                                                                                          One day they will face the horrors of historical judgment, a judgment which will condemn them as surely as they condemned those who came before them in the Halls of Congress who put their love for political power above the moral imperative to set free the enslaved.

                                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                                          One branch of my family lived in southern Alabama during the American Civil War. Several of them were clergy. I have been unable to find any sermon from any of them that cried out against the evils of slavery.

                                                                                                                                                          I do have a hand-written letter written after the war, bitterly attacking Northern occupation. But that was a selfish expression, not a testimony for justice.

                                                                                                                                                          Some of my ancestors owned slaves, words I write with considerable familial guilt and regret, but the records are clear on this point. Slaves, designated by first names, were included in wills.

                                                                                                                                                          Some were public officials, as well as clergy. One of them handled the welfare checks for widows and orphans of the soldiers who died fighting for a Lost Cause. A public service, to be sure. But he did not speak nor act, so far as I know, against the evils of slavery.

                                                                                                                                                          The problem for public officials is that their actions are known to the public. So it is to them that we must point when we seek out the sinners of our day. They, by their public standing, represent us all in our malfeasance.

                                                                                                                                                          Years from now, some families will recall that their grandparents served in the US Congress and they will point with pride at that accomplishment. But the horrors of history will still judge them and find them wanting.

                                                                                                                                                          We who helped elect members to Congress with votes, money, volunteer work, or silence, will escape their public historical scrutiny. But we will not escape the taint of having failed to say no when we knew that together we endorsed and supported evil.

                                                                                                                                                          John Wesley was the 18th century founder of the denomination to which I belong, the United Methodist Church. He did not do enough to confront the evil of slavery in his day. No one ever does enough, but there is a sentence in one of his biographies in which we Methodists can take, not pride, but at least, solace,

                                                                                                                                                          John Wesley was among the first to preach for slaves rights, attracting significant opposition.

                                                                                                                                                          Which brings us back to Holy Week, 2010, when we celebrate the week in which Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a humble animal.

                                                                                                                                                          Crowds cheered and waved palms. Jesus knew the shallowness of their praise because he knew what lay ahead. When he was nailed to a cross and left to die a long and painful death, there were few left that stood by and mourned his death on that mount of execution.

                                                                                                                                                          Perhaps a few stragglers hung around to stare at three dead bodies, but Roman soldiers on duty that day must surely have cleared the area with the command still in use, “Move along folks, there is nothing left here for you to see”

                                                                                                                                                          The soldiers would be wrong. This man who had just died unjustly did so because he followed a God who would not tolerate oppression and injustice. Did Jesus know the implication of his death? No one knows.

                                                                                                                                                          What we do know is that he set his face “steadfastly”–sumoud–toward the city of his death because he had no other choice but to follow God’s direction.

                                                                                                                                                          You do not have to be a Christian to know that this was a sacrifice, not to appease or pay for something, but a sacrifice that had to be made because to follow any other path would have been a betrayal of the God who loved him.

                                                                                                                                                          Holy Week, 2010, arrives at a time in the history of the city of Jerusalem, which demands an accounting.

                                                                                                                                                          The video, above, traces the steps that have taken Jerusalem from the city it was in 1967, as this New York Times map demonstrates. The facts are well documented. They cry out to us today with a simple command:

                                                                                                                                                          The horrors of history will judge you on how you respond to this slow, but steady, takeover of the city of Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                          You may click on the five and one half minute video, to see this horror. Or you may turn away and follow the soldiers’ command, “Move on, folks, there is nothing left here for you to see.” The choice is yours.

                                                                                                                                                          http://wallwritings.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/holy-week-2010-sumoud-check-points-home-demolitions/

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                                                                                                                                                            Happy Passover from Gaza

                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  March 28th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                            By Sam Bahour - March 28, 2010, 2:27PM

                                                                                                                                                            In 2010, Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate Passover beginning on March 30th. Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorating the ancient Hebrews' escape from enslavement in Egypt. (In Israel, March 30th is also Land Day: the day when Palestinians commemorate and protest the confiscation of their lands by the Israeli government; but that's another story.)

                                                                                                                                                            As I'm learning, the Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a traditional ceremonial meal. Its centerpiece is a special Seder plate containing six symbolic foods. Each has its own significance in the retelling of the story of the Hebrews' exodus from Egypt. The stack of three matzos, or unleavened bread, a kind of cracker made of plain white flour and water, has its own separate plate on the Seder table.

                                                                                                                                                            For each of the six traditional items on the Seder plate (as per Wikipedia and the Chabad website) --listed here by its Hebrew name--I note its traditional symbolic role and offer an additional, alternative interpretation. I hope my alternative can help Jews around the world, and especially in Israel, connect with a broader perspective on the meaning of Passover right here, right now, in the land that became the eventual endpoint of that ancient exodus.

                                                                                                                                                            Maror and Chazeret -- Bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Egypt. Slavery: severe curtailment of one's freedom. Today, one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza are tasting the bitterness of unfreedom, hermetically sealed in their encircled enclave with no end in sight. Sixty percent are under the age of 16. The Jewish citizens of Israel have hardened their hearts to this reality and they have expected the rest of the world's Jews to do likewise. For how long will you wait for Palestinians to vanish?

                                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                                            Charoset -- A coarse mixture of chopped nuts, apples or dates, and wine, meant to symbolize the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt. Today, Israel permits no mortar, or cement, or any other building materials, to enter Gaza. Let them sleep in tents! This, after last winter's assault on Gaza, internationally documented war crimes (and possibly crimes against humanity), causing over 1,400 deaths in 22 days between December 2008 and January 2009 - leaving scores homeless in the rubble. Is this the freedom Moses envisioned? The freedom to attack civilians with the tanks, planes and warships of the "Jewish" State? Doesn't sound very Jewish to me. Not at all.

                                                                                                                                                            Karpas -- A vegetable other than bitter herbs, dipped into salt water (which represents tears) to recall the pain felt by the Jewish slaves in Egypt. Tears! Pain! In your name, my Jewish friends, Israel continues its inhuman siege on Gaza. The folks there shed tears as salty as anyone's; their pain is beyond description. Two of every three of today's Gaza residents originally lost their homes in what is now Israel when the state was established. Six decades later, they find themselves living a nightmare, a kind of living death: their economy in ruins, their neighborhoods in ruins, their educational and health systems in ruins, even their sanitation systems in ruins. Israel refuses to allow reconstruction. What comes after stripping Gazans from their last remaining sense of sanity?

                                                                                                                                                            Z'roa -- A roasted lamb shankbone (or a chicken wing, or chicken neck) symbolizes the paschal sacrifice offered originally on the eve of the exodus and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Sacrifice! Do you insist on sacrificing the possibility of a sustainable future for modern Israel in the name of its founding myth - since discredited - that Palestine was "a land without people, for a people without a land"? A million of today's Gazans are from the families that Israel expelled. Gazans have remained steadfast under conditions even the early Hebrews might have found intolerable in Egypt. Gazans, together with all Palestinians, are the people that Jews in Israel are destined to live with, today, tomorrow, and forever. The only uncertainty is how much more hate will be generated by military occupation and armed assault before a process of shared rehabilitation can begin.

                                                                                                                                                            Beitzah -- A hard-boiled egg, symbolizing the main festival sacrifice that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. The egg is a symbol of mourning. Eggs are the first thing served to mourners after a Jewish funeral. The egg on the Seder plate evokes the mourning over the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent inability to offer sacrifices there in honor of the Pesach holiday. Mourning! As Jews, you know a lot about mourning; consider the sixty-two years of mourning, consider every day of every one of those years, among the people--real people, with real names and real children--in Gaza and in squalid refugee camps all around Israel who can see their homeland with the naked eye, but are denied their basic human right of returning home. Sixty-two Passovers and counting. All I ask of you on this year's holy day, as you contemplate the egg on the Seder plate, is to remember them, no more.

                                                                                                                                                            My Jewish sisters and brothers, you can continue to look away as Israel claims to speak and to act in your name. It kills and maims in your name. It dispossesses and occupies in your name. It talks peace and wages war in your name. If you turn a deaf ear to their mourning again this year, if you harden your heart again this year, if your voice is not raised this year in protest - then you are acquiescing in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of another people, in your name. If you cannot see Palestinians as fully human now, you will hear them trying to give voice to their humanity in your nightmares, year after year, until you can see and until you can hear.

                                                                                                                                                            It is written in the Talmud: We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. I urge you, while you commemorate the Hebrews' ancient slavery and deliverance, to see yourselves finally as equals in this world: equal with your neighbors, neither their masters nor their slaves. I urge you to see yourself and your children in the image of every Palestinian mother, father and child in Gaza. Let this year be the year of your shared redemption!

                                                                                                                                                            Free Gaza now! End the occupation now! Happy Passover from Gaza!

                                                                                                                                                            Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living under Israeli occupation. He may be reached at sbahour@palnet.com and blogs at www.epalestine.com

                                                                                                                                                            http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/03/28/happy_passover_from_gaza/

                                                                                                                                                            1105 words posted in Gaza, Law, , IsraelLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                              Give peace a chance

                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  March 28th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                              two, one two three four

                                                                                                                                                              Ev'rybody's talking about
                                                                                                                                                              Bagism, Madism, Dragism, Shagism, Ragism, Tagism
                                                                                                                                                              This-ism, that-ism
                                                                                                                                                              ism ism ism
                                                                                                                                                              All we are saying is give peace a chance
                                                                                                                                                              All we are saying is give peace a chance

                                                                                                                                                              its goin' great

                                                                                                                                                              Everybody's talkin' 'bout ministers,
                                                                                                                                                              sinisters, banisters and canisters,
                                                                                                                                                              bishops and fishops and rabbis and pop eyes,
                                                                                                                                                              and byebye, byebyes

                                                                                                                                                              all we are saying is give peace a chance,
                                                                                                                                                              all we are saying is give peace a chance,

                                                                                                                                                              let me tell you now
                                                                                                                                                              Ev'rybody's talking about
                                                                                                                                                              Revolution, evolution, masturbation,
                                                                                                                                                              flagellation, regulation, integrations,
                                                                                                                                                              meditations, United Nations,
                                                                                                                                                              Congratulations.
                                                                                                                                                              All we are saying [keep talking] is give peace a chance
                                                                                                                                                              All we are saying is give peace a chance

                                                                                                                                                              Oh Let’s stick to it
                                                                                                                                                              Ev'rybody's talking about
                                                                                                                                                              John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary, Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan,
                                                                                                                                                              Tommy Cooper, Derek Talyor, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, Hare Krishna,
                                                                                                                                                              Hare Hare Krishna
                                                                                                                                                              All we are saying is give peace a chance
                                                                                                                                                              All we are saying is give peace a chance

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                                                                                                                                                                Going it alone: a Third Intifada?

                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  March 27th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                By Tariq Shadid

                                                                                                                                                                It may well be that the citizens of the world, tired of hearing newscasts about Israel and the Palestinians, are not in the mood to hear it. Still, pressure in Palestine is building up quickly due to Israel’s continuing defiance of calls from around the world to halt settlement building in East Jerusalem and the other occupied territories. Simultaneously, we are hearing a clear increase in Palestinian calls for a Third Intifada, and it may well be that it is already underway. The failure of the international community to pressure Israel into abiding with international law, despite its astounding disrespect for human rights, its continuing territorial expansionism, and its flagrant violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in every thinkable way, is threatening to yet again take its toll on the fate of the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                                                American loyalty or subservience?

                                                                                                                                                                On March 22, Netanyahu declared before his trip to Washington: “As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is like building in Tel Aviv, and we have made this clear to the Americans.” There has been much ado about the ‘crisis’ in US-Israeli relations, which the media tends to portray as one of the worst in decades, but it seems that most of the differences between the two have already been ironed out. There is obviously more truth in the repeated declarations of unflinching loyalty of US politicians to the Israeli agenda, such as Obama’s infamous statement that Jerusalem ‘will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided’, which he made in his speech to AIPAC the very morning after he secured the Democratic nomination as a presidential candidate in 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                This statement was hastily watered down in the following days, when it was answered by the Palestinians and foreign policy commentators with sharp denunciations. International law, after all, has it that East Jerusalem is illegally occupied territory. Despite this, the fact of the matter remains that Israel has been given a free hand in the Judaization of Arab East Jerusalem through the forced eviction of Palestinian residents from their homes, the ongoing excavations underneath the neighborhood of Silwan, the continuing isolation of East Jerusalem from its surrounding Palestinian hinterland, and the announcement of plans for the extensive construction of illegal settler buildings in East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                                As Joe Biden declared when he visited the Israelis on March 9th: “There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel in terms of Israel’s security. None.” He might as well have said ‘policy’, instead of ’security’, if we base our judgment on actions rather than on words.

                                                                                                                                                                There is no hard evidence about the alleged master-slave relationship between the United States and Israel. There is however widespread speculation about it, ranging from allegations of an overwhelming influence of the Jewish lobby, to absolute control of the Israeli regime over United States foreign policy. What remains clear is that Israel has always had a green light for its horrendously racist treatment of the Palestinian population, and for its role in forcing other regimes of the region into submission – backed up by the public secret of its huge arsenal of nuclear weapons.

                                                                                                                                                                From the horse’s mouth

                                                                                                                                                                The publication by Harvard scholars Walt and Mearsheimer in 2007 titled ‘The Israel Lobby’, laid out the mechanisms of how Israel dominates American politics through campaign donations and media clout. Coming straight from the horse’s mouth itself, however, American subservience seems to go much further than that. On October 3rd, 2001 Ariel Sharon rebuked Shimon Peres’ criticism of his policies on the radio station Kol Yisrael by saying:

                                                                                                                                                                “Every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it.”

                                                                                                                                                                Another example: Condoleezza Rice was ordered by George W. Bush to abstain from a vote for a ceasefire in the Gaza War in the UN Security Council on January 12th, 2009. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in a speech in Ashkelon in those days, explained why:

                                                                                                                                                                “I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone’. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now’. He got off the podium and spoke to me. I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the Secretary of State and told her not to vote in favor.”

                                                                                                                                                                The United States has a long tradition of posing as an ‘honest broker’ in the conflict, despite the fact that it is very well-known that even during this decades-long posturing it has always staunchly and relentlessly served every single Israeli military, strategic and economic objective. With this in mind, one can hardly maintain that the so-called criticism of Israel that was recently uttered by Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton has any serious content or weight. Is it considered normal to have one of the two competing teams provide one of their players as a referee in a World Cup Final? In football, it clearly isn’t, but for some reason having a partial referee seems to be an accepted fact in Middle East politics that everyone prefers to leave unmentioned, and accepts as if it is a law of nature.

                                                                                                                                                                The rule of weakness

                                                                                                                                                                That’s why at least part of the blame for the fact that this unclean game has been allowed to continue for nearly two decades, should be sought on the Palestinian side. The acceptance of these policies has resulted in the acquisition of thousands of acres of Palestinian land by the Israelis, the building of a racist infrastructure of illegal walls, settlements and roads in the occupied territories, and the near tripling of the Jewish settler population in the West Bank and Jerusalem – all of this during the period known as the ‘Oslo peace process’.

                                                                                                                                                                The best illustration of Palestinian co-responsibility may be that Mahmoud Abbas will most likely be remembered as the weakest Arab leader in modern history, proving again and again that whatever he seems to ‘demand’, he is in truth only ‘asking politely’. At first, there would be ‘no negotiations’ unless there was a ’settlement freeze’, but when the Israelis continued unabated and even upgraded their settlement construction efforts, he agreed to ‘indirect talks’, losing face again widely among the Palestinian and Arab masses – that is, if there was any face left to lose after his Goldstone debacle in October 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                If anyone would be asked to name one single achievement of the Palestinian Authority in the period after the assassination of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, he would be very hard pressed to come up with one feat that has even the slightest air of significance or credibility. It is as if the Palestinian Authority have been sent to pose as captains on a sinking ship who are expected to keep the passengers hoping that rescue is on the way, in or