How Could This End Well? Short Cuts in Afghanistan

English (US)  November 13th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

(General Stanley) McChrystal seems to have inverted the old Clausewitzian maxim: he genuinely believes that politics is a continuation of war by other means.

By TARIQ ALI

It’s been a bad autumn for Nato in Afghanistan, with twin disasters on the political and military fronts.

First, Kai Eide, the UN headman in Kabul, a well-meaning, but not very bright Norwegian, fell out with his deputy, Peter Galbraith, who as the de facto representative of the US State Department had decreed that President Karzai’s election was rigged and went public about it. His superior continued to defend Hamid Karzai’s legitimacy. Astonishingly, the UN then fired Galbraith. This caused Hillary Clinton to move into top gear and the UN-supported electoral watchdog now ruled that the elections had indeed been fraudulent and ordered a run-off. Karzai refused to replace the electoral officials who had done such a good job for him the first time and his opponent withdrew. Karzai got the job.

[More:]

Karzai’s legitimacy has never been dependent on elections (which are always faked anyway) but on the US/Nato expeditionary force. So what was all this shadowboxing about in the first place? It appears to have been designed in order to provide cover for the military surge being plotted by General Stanley McChrystal, the new white hope of a beleaguered White House.

McChrystal seems to have inverted the old Clausewitzian maxim: he genuinely believes that politics is a continuation of war by other means. It was thought that if Karzai could be painlessly removed and replaced with his former colleague Abdullah Abdullah, a Tajik from the north, it might create the impression that an unbearably corrupt regime had been peacefully removed, which would help the flagging propaganda war at home and the relaunching of the real war in Afghanistan.

For his part, Abdullah wanted a share of the loot that comes with power and has so far been monopolised by the Karzai brothers and their hangers-on, helping them to create a tiny indigenous base of support for the family. Did the revelation that Ahmed Wali Karzai was not simply the richest man in the country as a result of large-scale corruption and the drugs/arms trade, but a CIA agent too come as a huge surprise to anyone? I’m told that in desperation Nato commissars even considered appointing a High Representative on the Balkan model to run the country, making the presidency an even more titular post than it is today. Were this to happen, Galbraith or Tony Blair would be the obvious front-runners.

Citizens of the transatlantic world are becoming more and more restless about the no-end-in-sight scenario. In Afghanistan the ranks of the resistance are swelling. The war on the ground is getting nowhere: Nato convoys carrying fuel and equipment are repeatedly attacked by insurgents; neo-Taliban control of 80 per cent of the most populous part of the country is recognised by all. Recently Mullah Omar strongly criticised the Pakistani branch of the Taliban: they should, he said, be fighting Nato, not the Pakistan army.

Meanwhile the British military commander, General Sir David Richards, echoing McChrystal, talks of training Afghan security forces ‘much more aggressively’ so that Nato can take on a supporting role. Nothing new here. Eupol (the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan) declared several years ago that its objective was to ‘contribute to the establishment under Afghan ownership of sustainable and effective civilian policing arrangements, which will ensure appropriate interaction with the wider criminal justice system’. This always sounded far-fetched: the shooting earlier this month of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman they were training confirms it. The ‘bad apple’ theories with which the British are so besotted should be ignored. The fact is that the insurgents decided some years ago to apply for police and military training and their infiltration – a tactic employed by guerrillas in South America, South-East Asia and the Maghreb during the last century – has been fairly successful.

It’s now obvious to everyone that this is not a ‘good’ war designed to eliminate the opium trade, discrimination against women and everything bad – apart from poverty, of course. So what is Nato doing in Afghanistan? Has this become a war to save Nato as an institution? Or is it more strategic, as was suggested in the spring 2005 issue of Nato Review:

The centre of gravity of power on this planet is moving inexorably eastward … The Asia-Pacific region brings much that is dynamic and positive to this world, but as yet the rapid change therein is neither stable nor embedded in stable institutions. Until this is achieved, it is the strategic responsibility of Europeans and North Americans, and the institutions they have built, to lead the way … security effectiveness in such a world is impossible without both legitimacy and capability.

Whatever the reason, the operation has failed. Most of Obama’s friends in the US media recognise this, and support a planned withdrawal, while worrying that pulling troops out of both Iraq and Afghanistan might result in Obama losing the next election, especially if McChrystal or General Petraeus, the supposed hero of the surge in Iraq, stand for the Republicans. Not that the US seems likely to withdraw from Iraq. The only withdrawal being contemplated is from the main cities, restricting the US presence to the huge air-conditioned military bases that have already been constructed in the interior of the country, mimicking the strongholds of the British Empire (minus the air-conditioners) during the early decades of the last century.

While Washington decides what do, Af-Pak is burning. Carrying out the imperial diktat has put the Pakistan army under enormous strain. Its recent well-publicised offensive in South Waziristan yielded little. Its intended target disappeared to fight another day. To show good faith the military raided the Shamshatoo refugee camp in Peshawar. On 4 November I received an email from Peshawar:

Thought I’d let you know that I just got a call from a former Gitmo prisoner who lives in Shamshatoo camp and he told me that this morning at around 10 a.m. some cops and military men came and raided several homes and shops and arrested many people. They also killed three innocent schoolchildren. Their jinaza [funeral] is tonight. Several people took footage of the raid from their cell-phones which I can try to get a hold of. The funeral of the three children is happening as I’m typing.

How could this end well?

Tariq Ali's latest book, The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom and other Essays, has just been published by Verso.

Counterpunch

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    Guilt By Association: After Fort Hood

    English (US)  November 13th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

    By NADIA HIJAB

    "Islam is a religion that lives by the sword and it should die by the sword." The person making this declaration was not some wild-eyed neocon or Christian fundamentalist, but an old friend of mine, a thoughtful, widely-read American who tapped not just the mainstream media but also progressive publications and blogs.

    I can't remember what provoked this outburst. It was at a dinner in 2004 or so, and we were discussing United States policy in the Middle East. But I do remember responding, "But that means people like me. There are so many different faces of Islam. Do you really want to put them all to the sword?"

    In the wake of the Ft. Hood massacre, that conversation loomed large in my mind. If a progressive friend could come up with a gut reaction like that in the heat of discussion, what hope is there to communicate to the broader population of Americans? In their emotional response to the unforgivable act at Ft. Hood, how many Americans would care that there are as many facets of Islam as there are Muslims, from austere fundamentalists to fun-loving families to serious secularists -- with every shade in between.

    [More:]

    People express their beliefs in the way they live their daily lives. And they often draw on their understanding of their faith to justify quite contradictory positions, depending on what the age demands.

    That point was brought home to me when I researched responses to women's work in Jordan during the 1980s. So many men had gone to the Gulf in search of higher wages fueled by the first oil boom, that the Jordanian government began to encourage women's employment to plug the gap. At the same time, families needed an extra income due to the rising cost of living and they also encouraged their womenfolk to go out to work. When the oil bust drove the men back home, the government-sponsored media went so far as to urge women to rediscover the joys of motherhood.

    Culture and tradition are always in flux in the Arab and Muslim worlds, as they are the world over. But stereotypes appear to be fixed and unchanging, reinforced by random acts of violence that are used to ascribe guilt by association.

    Indiscriminate attacks on civilians bring a horror all their own. And they violate international law, whether the attacks are by state or non-state actors and whatever the weapon used -- whether a gun, plane, or the human body. The problem is that state actors have the power to shield themselves from international law, and their impunity creates a dangerous double standard that fuels violence.

    It is this impunity that Justice Richard Goldstone and his team are seeking to end with their report on Israel's assault against Gaza, which holds accountable both the powerful state actor, Israel, and the militarily far weaker non-state actor Hamas. The application of international law to all would protect all.

    The problem of the double standard is compounded because the peoples of powerful nations are acutely conscious of the impact of the violence used against them as it receives massive media coverage, while the impact of the violence their governments visit on others is often just a blip on the screen.

    The first indication I had that the assault at Ft. Hood would go beyond the tragedy for the victims and their families and have repercussions closer to home was when the Council on American Islamic Relations issued a release condemning it just a few hours later. After a moment's puzzlement, I realized that the assailant must be Muslim. My heart sank as I thought of how all the progress made in combating anti-Arab and anti-Muslim feelings since 9/11 would now be reversed.

    As more details emerged about Major Hasan's background, I felt a sense of despair. I wished that he'd had the same courage of State Department official and former Marine Matthew Hoh. Hoh's letter of resignation was a far more powerful challenge to U.S. policy in the Middle East than Hasan's violent act.

    As the story swept the land, I wondered how long it would take before right wing fanatics remembered Barack Obama's heritage and turned it against him. Not long at all: Guilt by association can now reach the highest office in the land.

    In times of tragedy, we all seek meaning and comfort. For me, special comfort came from an unexpected source: Army chaplain Col. Frank Jackson. At the service he conducted at Ft. Hood on Sunday, Jackson noted the tendency to "search for something, someone to blame." He urged the congregation to "focus on things we know" and asked them not only to pray for the people killed and wounded and their families, but also for the suspected shooter and his family. Hundreds of miles away, I was moved by Jackson's capacity for understanding and empathy, and I joined him in prayer.

    Nadia Hijab is a senior fellow at the Insitute for Palestine Studies.

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      Israel Jolted by Hezbollah’s Intelligence “Infiltration”

      English (US)  November 13th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

      By Mohamad Shmaysani

      A wave of stormy questions has been on the rise within Israeli security and military apparatuses after Yedioth Aharonoth unveiled a document demonstrating the level of Hezbollah’s knowledge of Israeli activities, deployments and tactics in northern occupied Palestine.

      The widely read Israeli paper revealed that Hezbollah knows just about every detail concerning Israel’s military, particularly the 91st brigade in the north.

      [More:]

      Perhaps the most pressing concern for the Israeli command is that Hezbollah might have been able to infiltrate sensitive security services thus acquiring top secret documents and data.

      “Israeli experts and retired servicemen who served in the north have said that the data gathered by Hezbollah by means of the document was highly sensitive and that part of it had been cloned by Hezbollah from secret documents belonging to the 91st brigade. They detail the nature of the Israeli army’s deployment in the north. Those who see the documents know that they have been copied page by page from the original top secret documents. Hezbollah might have gathered the data by means of spies or by infiltrating into the Israeli side to take pictures,” Ronen Bergman, an Israeli expert in intelligence affairs told Israeli television Thursday.

      Yedioth said that the 150-page document “shows to what extent Hezbollah intelligence succeeded in penetrating into the Israeli army, and proves that Hezbollah has enough sources of information," even about Israeli military naval and aerial activities, including drones.

      “There is no doubt that Hezbollah knows the weapons used in every Jeep of every patrol. They even know the diameter of every mortar in the Jeep and the time of every patrol, including the documents that are usually sent from the division chief to the brigade chief. In fact they have information that cannot be seen through binoculars, so how did they get it?” an Israeli Channel 10 commentator asked.

      The former head of Israel’s National Security Giyora Eiland admitted – after Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s speech on Wednesday – that Israel will undoubtedly fail in any coming war. He added that the outcome will not be different than that of the 2006 war ‘because Israel and Hezbollah’s capabilities have improved in parallel.

      “Should the Third Lebanon War erupts tomorrow, it will not be different than the Second Lebanon War despite of all the improvement in the army. Israel cannot win over an organization that possesses thousands of missiles on the other side of the border. If we want to win, the war should instead be waged against the Lebanese government and its infrastructures of which Hezbollah has become part of,” Eiland told Israeli television.

      Sayyed Nasrallah warned Israel on Wednesday that there was no point in occupied Palestine that the rockets of the resistance cannot reach. His eminence also vowed to crush any Israeli force that sets foot on Lebanese soil, regardless of its size and equipment.

      On Tuesday, Israeli occupation army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi warned that Hezbollah is currently armed with thousands of missiles, some of which could reach the southern city of Dimona, Tel Aviv and other major cities in occupied Palestine.
      "Some of them have a range of 300 km and some of them have a range of up to 325 km," Ashkenazi said, adding that the missiles were ready for use.

      In his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah also tackled “the beautiful yet poisonous fish” which the Israelis have recently named “Nasrallah”. According to the Israeli media, this has also been a concern for the Israeli command.
      “Nasrallah reads all our journals, reads all the details and memorizes them. We can say that he is the sole Arab leader who is aware of what is taking place in Israel. His approach was very precise when he spoke about the poisonous fish and, in fact, he took advantage of it in the media to say that Hezbollah bites and wins and therefore, this image fits Hezbollah,” Tseva Yehezkeli, an Israeli expert in Arab affairs, told Israeli television.

      Hasan Hijazi contributed to this report

      Al Manar

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        Syria rejects Israel talks

        English (US)  November 13th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


        Sarkozy, right, has helped to resume good relations between France and Syria [Reuters]

        Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has said he is not willing to hold face-to-face talks with the Israeli leader, after a meeting in France aimed at restarting the Middle East peace process.

        His comments come after meeting Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, who conveyed a willingness by Israel's prime minister to begin peace talks with the Syrians.

        "Today, Syria wants peace. There is a mediator, Turkey... What we lack is an Israeli partner who is ready to go forward and ready to come to a result" -- Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president

        [More:]

        Al-Assad said: "If Mr [Binyamin] Netanyahu is serious, he can send a team of experts, and we'll send a team of experts to Turkey. Then we can really talk, if they're interested."

        The meeting between al-Assad and Sarkozy in Paris on Friday comes a week after Netanyahu met the French leader.

        Sarkozy was expected to hand al-Assad a letter from Netanyahu, in which he says the Israelis are ready to begin talks with the Syrians, with no pre-conditions.

        Syria has long had one main pre-condition for talks with Israel - the return of the strategic Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed in 1981.

        Al-Assad, speaking outside the Eylsee Palace, said: "Today, Syria wants peace. There is a mediator, Turkey, which is ready to resume its mediation.

        "What we lack is an Israeli partner who is ready to go forward and ready to come to a result," he said.

        Conditions for peace

        Hostility between Israel and Syria is one of the problems underlying efforts to seek a broader Middle East peace settlement.

        While Syria has repeatedly demanded the return of the Golan Heights, Israel accuses Syria of backing armed groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

        This week al-Assad told a meeting of Arab politicians that Syria would not "put forward conditions on making peace" but warned it had "rights that we will not renounce," the SANA news agency reported.

        Earlier on Friday, al-Assad hailed a "climate of trust" with France, welcoming a "resumption of good relations" between the two countries.

        Our correspondent said it comes after Sarkozy reached out to the Syrians a year ago.

        "Remember they had a dreadful relationship when Jacques Chirac was president. Sarkozy said he was going to sort that out," Fisher reported.

        EU 'partnership'

        But the Syrian leader said his country had not "yet reached a revival of trust between Syria and the United States," and called on Barack Obama, the US president, to do more for the stalled Middle East peace process.

        "What president Obama said about peace was a good thing. We agree with him on the principles, but... what is the plan of action? The [peace process] sponsor must come up with a plan of action," al-Assad told Le Figaro.

        "The weak point - it's the American sponsor."

        The Syrian president also repeated his position that Damascus must review a partnership agreement with the European Union, which had been due to be signed in October, calling on the bloc to have "more political independence".

        "The Europeans have turned completely towards the United States, to Syria's detriment. A partner must be a friend and we haven't noticed that from Europe these last years," he said.

        Damascus and the EU first drew up the draft partnership pact in 2004, but it was never signed by European countries, amid concerns by some nations of human rights abuses in Syria.

        Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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          Former US diplomat Peter Galbraith grabs hundreds of millions in Iraqi oil money

          English (US)  November 13th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

          By Alex Lantier
          13 November 2009

          Yesterday the New York Times reported the Norwegian financial newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv’s revelations that Peter Galbraith, a former US diplomat and advisor to the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq, stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars in profit from Iraqi oil revenues.

          Galbraith’s profits would result from his cashing in on his links to the Kurdish regional leadership, and his role in drafting Iraq’s Constitution, shortly after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. In 2004, Galbraith helped the Kurds arrange deals with Norwegian oil firm DNO and prepare for negotiations on the Iraqi Constitution, including controversial provisions on how to divide Iraq’s oil revenues. During the 2005 negotiations, the Times noted, Galbraith worked to ensure the draft included “clauses that he maintains will give the Kurds virtually complete control over all new oil finds on their territory.”

          Galbraith stood to benefit enormously from these clauses, Dagens Naeringsliv revealed last month. On June 30, 2004—the day after the successful conclusion of the Kurd-DNO negotiations—the Kurdish regional leadership had given Galbraith a major stake in undiscovered oil fields on its territory. Oil analysts quoted by the Times estimate his five-percent stake in the newly-discovered Tawke oilfield alone would be worth at least $115 million.

          [More:]

          There are indications, moreover, that Galbraith may make even larger sums from the affair. After a falling-out with Galbraith in 2008, DNO sold a stake in the oil fields to the Kurdish regional government, apparently trying to cut Galbraith and a Yemeni business partner out of the deal. Galbraith and his partner sued DNO for compensation, which Dagens Naeringsliv estimates at $525 million. A ruling is expected early next year.

          DNO attempted to recoup the money by charging it as “operating expenses” to the Kurds, who tried to pass the expense on to Baghdad.

          The Iraqi central government in Baghdad refuses to recognize all the oil contracts signed by the Kurdish government prior to the ratification of the Constitution, maintaining they are illegal. Baghdad is therefore refusing to pay Galbraith, and insisting that the Kurds find the money from the 17 percent of Iraqi oil revenues allotted to them under Iraq’s current revenue-sharing agreement.

          The Iraqi Parliament’s failure to pass an Iraqi oil law has made it impossible to settle this disagreement between Baghdad and the Kurdish authorities.

          Galbraith’s attempt to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from Iraq is unanswerable evidence of the neocolonial character of the US occupation of that unfortunate country. Far from being a war against al-Qaeda terrorists or Iraqi weapons of mass destruction—which were crude inventions of a US government determined to justify a war to a skeptical and hostile public—the 2003 invasion was an imperialist adventure offering well-connected operators the chance to make fortunes.

          Moreover, it is ever clearer that a central element of the occupation was the theft of Iraq’s oil resources. The Times’ article on Galbraith comes only one week after the revelation that southern Iraq’s huge West Qurna oil field has been divided between Exxon-Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

          The New York Times itself described the Galbraith story’s potential to “inflame” Iraqi public opinion. In a comment that demonstrates its own political complicity with the theft of Iraq’s oil, it crudely described Iraqi sentiment that “the true reason for the American invasion of the country was to take its oil” as “a conspiracy theory.” This is in the middle of a story describing the looting of hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenue!

          The participation of Galbraith, a prominent former diplomat with Democratic sympathies, in the plundering of Iraq testifies to American liberalism’s complicity in the crimes of US imperialism—which finds perhaps its most finished expression in the Obama administration’s continued occupation of Iraq.

          Peter Galbraith, the son of prominent liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, was a professional staffer for the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1979 to 1993. In the late 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq war, he documented the massacre of Iraqi Kurds by Saddam Hussein, then a US ally.

          From 1993 to 1995, during the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, he served as US envoy to Croatia. He communicated to Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman the Clinton administration’s approval for Operation Storm, Croatia’s 1995 ethnic cleansing campaign that drove 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina area.

          Appearing last year before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Galbraith stated that the US had an “understanding attitude” towards the operation. He claimed that he would not have asked Washington “to give it the green light” if he had believed Tudjman intended to remove Serbs. However, he had previously admitted that Tudjman and his associates were known to want an “ethnically clean country.”

          After a stint at the National War College and working for the UN in East Timor, he resigned from US government service, going into business in the Middle East. He was also appointed—at the Obama administration’s request—to the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, leading a campaign to denounce Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s reelection as fraudulent and criticizing UN official Kai Eide.

          A prominent aspect of Galbraith’s work in the Middle East was his sympathy for Kurdish separatism, acquired during his work on Iraq as a Senate staffer. Contacted by the New York Times, Galbraith confirmed that he had an “ongoing business relationship” with DNO during Iraq’s constitutional negotiations. He added: “I undertook business activities that were entirely consistent with my long-held policy views. I believe my work with DNO (and other companies) helped create the Kurdistan oil industry which helps provide Kurdistan an economic base for the autonomy its people almost unanimously desire.”

          In fact, Galbraith’s own actions are the clearest demonstration that the Kurdish separatists’ alleged “autonomy” is nothing of the sort. Wedged between two larger, hostile powers—Turkey to the north, and the rest of Iraq to the south—they are generally at the mercy of shifts in broader regional politics, and their oil industry in particular is the target of unscrupulous operators like Galbraith.

          Galbraith’s views played a significant role in the Democratic Party’s fraudulent attempts to portray itself as a representative of popular antiwar sentiment, while it planned to continue occupying Iraq after the departure of President George W. Bush. Galbraith specialized in giving a moralistic, pseudo-democratic veneer to Democratic plans to reduce US troop commitments in Iraq by imposing a ruthless, Yugoslav-style ethnic partition on the country.

          On this basis, he became a prominent advisor on foreign policy questions to Democratic politicians, including Senator (now Vice President) Joe Biden and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry.

          Thus, in a November 2005 Washington Post column titled “What Are We Holding Together,” he wrote: “As a moral matter, Iraq’s Kurds are no less entitled to independence than are Lithuanians, Croatians, or Palestinians... The United States should focus now not on preserving the unity of Iraq but on avoiding a spreading civil war.” He concluded: “Iraq’s political settlement can pave the way for a coalition exit” by US and allied forces from Iraq.

          Ultimately, however, the Bush administration opted for a massive military rampage through Iraq, the so-called “surge,” in an attempt to crush opposition to the central government. It preferred not to risk inflaming the broader regional tensions that an ethno-religious partition and civil war threatened to trigger.

          In this regard, the Times’ timing in publishing this story—which has been circulating in the Scandinavian press for a month—is significant. It comes as the US attempts to manage growing ethnic tensions in northern Iraq, as politicians debate the status of ethnic minorities in key oil-rich regions such as Kirkuk in the run-up to January’s national elections. US officials, including Vice President Biden, have reportedly pressured Kurdish politicians to allow more Arab and Turkmen residents onto the lists of approved voters.

          WSWS

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            Zionist Israeli forces kill one, injure three Palestinian youths

            English (US)  November 13th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

            GAZA - Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man and injured three others in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday.

            Among the injured were two brothers, according to medics, who said the shooting occurred in the Johr Ad-Dik area and that another Palestinian was hospitalized.

            There were conflicting reports on what led to the incident. Palestinian witnesses said the group was on a hunting trip near the border east of Al-Bureij refugee camp when Israeli forces opened fire. Local medics said the fire was directed at the youths.

            [More:]

            An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that one Palestinian was killed during the incident, but would not comment on the hospitalized youth's condition. Three others were being questioned, the official said.

            Israeli media reported that troops entered the Johr Ad-Dik area for a short while, where they located a group of men near the Nahal Oz crossing. The men were attempting to plan an explosive device, according to these reports.

            The one youth confirmed dead was identified as 22-year-old Mustafa Muhammad Wadi. Following reports that a second youth died en route to Israel's Barzilai Hospital, a hospital spokesman told Ma'an a patient named Ahmad was receiving treatment, but refused to elaborate.

            As for the three in custody, sources identified two as Ahmad Khader Sa'doon, 16, and his brother Muhammad, 15. They were both reportedly injured, as well. Officials said the Gaza City emergency and medical services department would coordinate the youth's return to Gaza.

            Maan News

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              United States of Israel: Your tax dollars at work: USAID funds illegal Zionist Israeli military checkpoint on illegally occupied Palestinian land

              English (US)  November 13th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


              An Israeli soldier stops Palestinians at an internal West Bank
              checkpoint north of Jenin [MaanImages - Archive]

              BETHLEHEM - Vehicles will soon be permitted to traverse Israel's northernmost military checkpoint separating the Jenin area from Palestinian communities in Nazareth and the agricultural zone to the north, an Israeli government news release said Wednesday.

              The change in status of the military checkpoint, according to the release, was due to an upgrade in the military facility funded by USAID.

              [More:]

              Israel spends three billion shekels per year on upgrading and maintaining its military infrastructure in the West Bank, including an expansive renovation of the Huwwara military checkpoint inside the West Bank, which was dismantled only months after it was installed. More permanent infrastructure was also installed at the Container checkpoint between Bethlehem and Ramallah, while renovations and adjustments were recorded at Israeli roadblocks across the West Bank.

              The opening of the upgraded crossing was attended by Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom, Israeli Minister of Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman, Middle East Quartet special envoy Tony Blair and several other Israeli officials and USAID representatives. At least two Palestinian officials, head of the Gilboa village council and Jenin governor, were present at the opening.

              Israel is not on the list of countries supported by USAID funding.

              However, according to the USAID website, "with its border improvement projects, the United States is helping ease the movement of Palestinian people and goods, while improving Israel's security." No one at the agency could be immediately reached for comment on the issue.

              The government of Israel news release said "speakers praised the outstanding cooperation that made the upgrade possible" and noted Blair stressed the symbolic significance of the event.

              Governor of Jenin Musa Kadura said vehicle access would help the local economy, but expressed his hope that the crossing would soon be open to free passage for both sides. As it stands, Palestinians in Jenin without permits from the Israeli government are prohibited from accessing the crossing, or entering into Israel to visit Palestinian communities to the north of the West Bank.

              Maan News

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                What is Israel’s Role in the Destabilization of Pakistan?

                English (US)  November 12th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                By Jeff Gates

                When waging war “by way of deception,” the motto of the Israeli Mossad, well-timed crises play a critical agenda-setting role by displacing facts with what a target population can be deceived to believe. Thus the force-multiplier effect when staged crises are reinforced with pre-staged intelligence. In combination, the two often prove persuasive.

                That duplicity was on display when U.S. lawmakers were induced to invade Iraq in response to the mass murder of 9-11. That crisis alone, however, was insufficient. Military mobilization required a “consensus” belief in Iraqi WMD, Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda, Iraqi mobile biological weapons, Iraqi meetings in Prague, and so forth. Though all were false, those “facts” proved sufficient to induce an invasion of Iraq.

                [More:]

                Such agent provocateur operations typically include collateral incidents as pre-staging for the intended main event. Ongoing incidents suggest a follow-on operation is underway. Recent history suggests we’ll see an orgy of evidence that plausibly indicts a pre-staged Evil Doer. Though Iran is an obvious candidate, Pakistan is also a possibility where outside forces have been destabilizing this nuclear Islamic nation with a series of violent incidents.

                Will it be coincidence if the next war—like the last—is consistent with the expansive goals of Jewish nationalists?

                The Indo-Israel Alliance

                December 2007 saw the murder of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Mark Siegel, her Ashkenazim biographer and lobbyist, assured U.S. diplomats that her return was “the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact.”

                President Pervez Musharraf had announced that resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict was essential to the resolution of conflicts in Iraq and neighboring Afghanistan. That comment made him a target for Tel Aviv.

                During Bhutto’s two terms as prime minister, Pakistani support for the Taliban—then celebrated as the freedom-fighting Mujahadin—enabled her to wield influence in Afghanistan while also catalyzing conflicts in Kashmir. By fueling tension with India, she also fueled an Indo-Israel alliance as Tel Aviv provided New Delhi an emergency shipment of artillery shells during a conflict over the Kirpal region of Kashmir.

                In January 2009, Israel delivered to India the first of three Phalcon Airborne Warning & Control Systems (AWACS) shifting the balance of conventional weapons in the region. That sale confirmed what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier announced: “Our ties with India don’t have any limitation….” That became apparent in April when Israel signed a $1.1 billion agreement to provide India an advanced tactical air defense system developed by Raytheon, a U.S. defense contractor.

                In August 2008, Ashkenazim General David Kezerashvili returned to Georgia from Tel Aviv to lead an assault on separatists in South Ossetia with the support of Israeli arms and training. That crisis ignited Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia, key members of the Quartet (along with the EU and the UN) pledged to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

                Little was said about the Israeli interest in a pipeline across Georgia meant to move Caspian oil through Turkey and on to Eurasia, using Israel as an intermediary while undermining Russia’s oil industry.

                More Game Theory Warfare?

                Bhutto’s murder ensured a crisis that replaced Musharaff with Asif Ali Zardari, her notoriously corrupt husband. By Washington’s alliance with Zardari, the U.S. could be portrayed as extending its corrupting influence in the region.

                On August 7, 2008, the Zadari-led ruling coalition called for a no-confidence vote in Parliament against Musharraf just as he was departing for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. On August 8, heavy fighting erupted overnight in South Ossetia. As with many of the recent incidents in Pakistan, this violent event involved armed separatists.

                But for pro-Israeli influence inside the U.S. government, would our State Department have installed in office the corrupt Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, leading to record-level poppy production? Is the heroin epidemic presently eroding Russian society traceable to Israel’s infamous game theory war-planners?

                In late November 2008, a terrorist attack in Mumbai, India’s financial center, renewed fears of nuclear tension between India and Pakistan. When the attackers struck a hostel managed by Chabad Lubavitch, an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect from New York, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced from Tel Aviv: “Our world is under attack.” By early December, Israeli journalists urged that we “fortify the security of Jewish institutions worldwide.”

                Soon after “India’s 9-11” was found to include operatives from Pakistan’s western tribal region, Zardari announced an agreement with the Taliban to allow Sharia law to govern a swath of the North West Frontier Province where Al Qaeda members reportedly reside.

                Pakistani cooperation with “Islamic extremists” created the impression of enhanced insecurity and vulnerability for the U.S. and its allies. That perceived threat was marketed by mainstream media as proof of the perils of “militant Islam.”

                With the Taliban and Al Qaeda portrayed as operating freely in a nuclear-armed Islamic state, Tel Aviv gained traction for its claim that a nuclear Tehran posed an “existential threat” to the Jewish state. Meanwhile Israel’s election of an ultra-nationalist/ultra-orthodox coalition further delayed resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

                More delay is destined to evoke more extremism and gain more traction for those marketing the “global war on terrorism.” Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni argued after the assault in Mumbai: “Israel, India and the rest of the free world are positioned in the forefront of the battle against terrorists and extremism.”

                In announcing that list, Islamabad was indicted by its exclusion even though Pakistan is dominantly Sunni and, unlike Iran’s Shi’a, abhors theocratic rule. The fact patterns suggest that Pakistan, not India, was the target of the murderous terrorism in Mumbai.

                Advised by legions of Ashkenazim, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent mission to Islamabad was a diplomatic disaster. Abrasive and arrogant, America’s top diplomat reinforced Pakistani concerns that it is surrounded by hostile forces and that the nation is being set up to fail by Jewish nationalist advisers to a nation it considered an ally.

                In a climate of heightened tensions, Clinton undermined U.S. interests, boosted the Israeli case for a global war on “Islamo-fascism” and lent credence to the Clash of Civilizations.

                Destabilization as a Prequel to Domination

                As Afghanistan and Pakistan join other nations being destabilized by outside forces, key questions must be answered:

                * Was India’s 9-11 a form of geopolitical misdirection meant to serve both the tactical goals of Muslim extremists and the strategic goals of Jewish nationalists? Who benefits—within Pakistan—from humiliation at the hands of India and the U.S.?
                * With Bhutto’s murder and Musharraf’s departure, the crisis in Mumbai drew Pakistani forces to the Indian border and away from the western tribal region. Was that the geostrategic goal of these well-timed crises? What role, if any, did Israel play?
                * Is delay in ending the occupation of Palestine part of an agent provocateur strategy? Was the latest assault on Gaza part of this strategy?

                Each of these crises incrementally advanced the expansionist agenda of Colonial Zionists. Do these collateral incidents trace their origin to a common source? Is that source again using serial events to pre-stage a main event?

                The public has an intuitive grasp of the source of this oft-recurring behavior. An October 2003 poll of 7,500 respondents in member nations of the European Union found that Israel was considered the greatest threat to world peace.

                Is terrorism limited to “Islamo-fascists”? Are mass murders also deployed—from the shadows—as a strategy of geopolitical manipulation by those who Ashkenazim philosopher Hannah Arendt described as “Jewish fascists”?

                - Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk and The Ownership Solution. See www.criminalstate.com.

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                  Which Way Obama?

                  English (US)  November 11th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                  By George S. Hishmeh – Washington DC

                  Like most of his predecessors, Barack Obama has failed to come up with a logical approach to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, now in its 62nd year. Many optimists on both sides of the great divide had believed that he would this month take his first, tough step towards bringing the two sides to agree on the outlines of a settlement.

                  The American president had an opportunity to do that when he was scheduled to address last Tuesday an annual general assembly of 50 American Jewish groups. But apparently he was not prepared to do that and he must have been relieved that he can skip that much-awaited opportunity by participating in a memorial service for 12 American soldiers and a civilian massacred at a Texas army post by an American-born army psychiatrist of Arab origin and a Muslim.

                  [More:]


                  It was glaringly clear that Obama was not yet willing to plunge into the anticipated confrontation, certainly with Israel and the influential American Jewish community, which reportedly contributes 40 percent of the budget of the president’s political party. Surprisingly, he did not discuss the Middle East with the spokesmen of these Jewish groups whom he invited to the White House. This was the second meeting he had with American Jewish leaders since assuming the presidency earlier this year.

                  Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was left wondering – – or sweating, as one Israeli paper reported – till the last moment before he knew that he was invited to the White House as he participated in the Jewish conference in Washington. Here again, a bland statement was issued by the White House about the 100-minute closed meeting that Obama and Netanyahu and their tops aides attended. It only said that Obama “reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel’s security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues.” However, a BBC reporter had this observation: “There were no photos, no press calls, and none of the public warmth Israeli leaders usually get from US presidents.”

                  Obviously, Netanyahu had a different ring to the encounter, identifying the session as “very important.” A previously scheduled press briefing was abruptly canceled before the Israeli prime minister took off to Paris for a meeting with critical French leaders. France and Great Britain are on record as opponents of continued Israeli colonial settlement in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

                  U.S.-Israeli relations have been ruffled lately because of Netanyahu’s refusal to freeze settlement building in the West Bank and occupied Arab East Jerusalem. This point was reiterated by Rahm Emmanuel, the White House chief of staff, who substituted for the American president at the Jewish federation’s session. “No one should allow the issue of settlements to distract from the goal of a lasting peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab world,” he said, without pointing a finger at any party.

                  But all this should not give the impression that U.S.-Israeli relations are on a nose dive. “The largest defense deal in Israeli history, for the purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter aircraft,” reported the Israeli daily, Haaretz, “is advancing slowly but surely.” A deal is expected early next year and the United States is scheduled to respond next week to Israel’s desire to buy 25 of those jets, “representing the cutting edge of U.S. technology,” which are manufactured by Lockheed-Martin. If this deal is finalized, as expected, the first fighters will be delivered in 2014.

                  With the situation on the Palestinian side also on a slippery slope, now that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has announced his intention not to run in next January’s election and may even quit his two other positions with the Palestinian liberation movement, the peace enterprise may totally collapse.

                  This leaves Obama with two options: Either close the door on the peace talks and await a better time, if ever; or exercise his power by bringing Israel to heel. That is suspending financial and military assistance.

                  Aaron David Miller, a former State Department officer who participated for many years in the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations and who feels that Arab-Israeli peace “is critically important to U.S. national interests” says Obama should ask himself one question: “Am I prepared to be tough and reassuring, cracking heads when required – and it will be required – and to take heat from Israel, the Arabs, and the pro-Israeli community in the United States?”

                  Since the chances right now of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the big issues are “slim to none,” the American president must realize that “your next foray into the wonderful world of Arab-Israeli diplomacy may prove to be even more feckless and embarrassing than the last.”

                  So if Obama’s answer is in the affirmative “go for it,” advises Miller, if the answer is no, then don’t bother.”

                  My gut feeling is that he will soon after he wins one big domestic battle from among the several he has waged in the last nine months.

                  -George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He

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                    The Responsibility of the US in Contaminating Iraq with Depleted Uranium

                    English (US)  November 11th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                    Iraqi child victim of depleted uranium

                    By Prof Souad N. Al-Azzawi

                    The following text was presented to the Kuala Lumpur International Conference to Criminalise War, Putra World Trade Centre, 28-31 October 2009.

                    For two decades, the administrations of the United States of America and the United Kingdom have been waging continuous wars on Iraq to occupy this oil rich country.

                    The armed forces of those two countries attacked civilians with different kinds of conventional, non-conventional, and banned weapons such as cluster bombs ammunitions, napalm bombs, white phosphorous weapons and depleted Uranium weapons.

                    Depleted Uranium (DU) is a radioactive and chemically toxic heavy metal. If ingested, inhaled, or it enters the human body through wounds or skin, it remains there for decades.

                    Within the human body the (DU) particles would be a continuous source for emitting alpha particles. With its toxic effects, published research & epidemiological studies have proved that it causes serious health damages to the human body. Some of the damage to the human body is to lymph tissue, kidneys, developing fetuses, neurological system, the bones, lung fibrosis, and an increase in the risk of many types of cancer and malignancies.

                    Hundreds of tons of (DU) expenditure have been fired & exploded on Iraqi highly populated areas like Basrah, Baghdad, Nasriya, Dewania, Samawa, and other cities.

                    Exploration programs and site measurements by Iraqi and non-Iraqi researchers all proved the existence of (DU) related contamination over most Iraqi territories.

                    Iraq's Minister of Environment admitted in July 23, 2007 in Cairo that "at least 350 sites in Iraq are contaminated with (DU)". She added that the nation is facing a tremendous number of cancer cases and called for the international community to help Iraq cope with this problem.

                    For fullillustrated story go to Uruknet

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                      Israeli Rabbi's Guide to Killing Causes Firestorm

                      English (US)  November 11th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                      By Benjamin Joffe-Walt

                      An Israeli Rabbi living in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank has caused a firestorm in both Israeli and Palestinian media with a new book outlining a series of Jewish theological arguments for killing those who threaten Israel or demand Israeli land.

                      The 230-page book, "The King's Torah" was released over the weekend by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and gives theological backing to Jews killing those perceived to be violating Jewish commandments or threatening the Jewish nation. A theological treatise based on Rabbi Shapira's interpretation of passages from the Jewish bible, "The King's Torah" is an extensive guide to when it is permissible for Jews to kill non-Jews.

                      Rabbi Shapiro's book argues that Jewish law allows the killing of "non-Jews who demand the land for themselves", those from a nation which "helps a murderer of Jews," those spreading "hostile blasphemy" and "those who, by speech, weaken our sovereignty."

                      [More:]

                      "Any case in which the life of the civilian endangers Israel," the book states, "it is allowed to kill a gentile."

                      "The permit also applies when the persecutor is threatening to kill indirectly rather than directly," Rabbi Shapiro's book reads. "If the civilian is aiding fighters it is permissible to kill... Any citizen who supports the war or the fighters or expresses satisfaction with their deeds - the killing is permitted."

                      Rabbi Shapira's book argues that revenge is a necessity under Jewish law.

                      "To defeat the wicked one should be vengeful, tit for tat," the book reads. "Revenge is a necessity... and sometimes doing savage things intended to create a true balance of terror."

                      The book further states that Jews are permitted to kill children "If it is clear they will grow up to harm us."

                      "If hurting an evil leader's children will pressure him to stop acting maliciously," Rabbi Shapira wrote, "you can hurt them."

                      The book discusses the laws regarding such killings in theological terms, never specifically mentioning Palestinians, Arabs or Israeli soldiers sent to remove Jewish settlements. Its release comes weeks after the arrest of Yaakov Teitel, a Jewish Israeli settler of American origin who is understood to have admitted to killing Palestinians and attacking progressive and messianic Jews.

                      Rabbi Shapira is head of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, a religious school for Jewish boys based in the Yitzhar Jewish settlement a few miles southwest of the Palestinian city of Nablus. Rabbi Shapira's followers adhere to a radical form of Jewish religious nationalism and call for a Torah-based theocracy to replace the State of Israel, which they see as having abandoned core Jewish principals.

                      The school is best known for its former leader, American-born Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg, seen as the spiritual heir to the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, the American-Israeli founder of the extreme-right political party Kach, classified by both Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist organization. Rabbi Ginzburg was imprisoned for an article praising Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician who killed dozens of Muslim worshipers in Hebron and injured 150 others in 1994.

                      Both Rabbi Ginzburg and Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef, another prominent leader of the radical Jewish religious nationalist movement, have recommended Rabbi Shapira's new book, which was first released over the weekend at a Jerusalem memorial for Rabbi Kahane.

                      Rabbi Hank Skirball, the chairperson of Hiddush, an Israeli organization dedicated to religious freedom and equality, said Rabbi Shapira's book represented only the far right fringe of religious Jews.

                      "It's a perversion of Jewish law and I don't think it's taken seriously by most," he told The Media Line. "It's giving people tremendous latitude to kill people they disagree with and opens itself up to violation of much more important prohibitions in Jewish law."

                      "In Israel we did not kill the murderer of Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin and we didn't kill any of the people who created sedition at the time," he said. "We have freedom of speech and its very difficult to know what is dangerous and what is not. Jewish law does not provide for us to go out and kill someone for what he's saying. You are only allowed to kill someone if it is very obvious that he's about to kill you and you have no other way to save your life other than by killing him."
                      Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and a philosopher of contemporary Judaism, said that the rabbis of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva were not taking into account the consequences of their teachings.

                      "Has the Jewish tradition ever created a distinction based on race, gender, etc? Of course, there is no doubt that there are serious Jewish sources that do not look at the non-Jew with full equality," he told The Media Line. "But they have lots of sources they could use, and which sources you choose to read and don't read is important."

                      "One of the interesting things about Jewish law is that perception is a part of the criteria," Rabbi Hartman said. "Jewish theologians aren't pure academics nor are they spokesmen, so they are not writing in a vacuum. The most serious Jewish theological figures are very careful about the implications or consequences of their writings."

                      Rabbi Hartman argued that while such books touched a cultural chord, they were mostly ignored in the mainstream Jewish theological community.

                      "I make a distinction between a cultural fringe and what is fringe in terms of Jewish theological thought," he told The Media Line. "On the one hand, this is not fringe, and you have mainstream kids talking this talk. But in terms of Jewish law, there is no significant Jewish theological movement to permit the blood of non-Jews. If you're looking at the major thinkers, nobody is talking with that language, whether they are ultra-orthodox, Sephardic or Ashkenazi, and these kinds of things are ignored."

                      "The problem is that if you ignore something it doesn't mean it doesn't have any influence over students," Rabbi Hartman said. "Beware of that which you ignore, what is a cultural phenomenon today may become acceptable to major Jewish thinkers tomorrow."

                      "For example, when it comes to Israel, our return to power and the desire to strengthen the claim to the land has created a push for a new Jewish theological creativity and a cultural phenomenon in which certain Jewish theological positions are given more significance than what the major Jewish theological authorities would allow."

                      "Forty years ago there were no major Jewish theological figures who said the land of Israel was more significant than Pikuach Nefesh, the concept of the saving of a life," he said, in reference to Jewish theological debates over exchanging land captured by Israel for peace. "Today in the religious Zionist community there are major theological figures for whom this is now a self evident truth."

                      The Media Line

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                        Amayreh: AshkeNazi threatens Gaza with another “little holocaust”

                        English (US)  November 10th, 2009 by admin ( Email )



                        By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

                        There seems to be a perfect conformity between Gabi Ashkenazi and his last name. The Israeli chief of staff is considered one of the main Israeli war criminals responsible for the virtual genocide against the Gaza Strip during the past winter. On his murderous hands, he carries tons of innocent blood, including that of more than 340 children, killed in Israel’s pornographic bombing of civilian neighborhoods.

                        Last week, Ashkenazi was quoted as saying that Israel was likely to wage another quasi holocaust on Gaza, adding that the Israeli occupation army would enter the innermost corners and streets of the coastal territory.

                        As a nefarious mass murderer, Ashkenazi, like the rest of Israeli war criminals, ought to be in the Hague preparing his defense against charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. After all the crimes he perpetrated put him on equal footing with Nazi war criminals who had stood trial for their own crimes against humanity during the Second World War.

                        [More:]

                        However, because of the serious moral imbalance afflicting our world today, which finds a brazen expression in western complicity with Zio-Nazism, Ashkenazi and ilk are not only free but are even threatening their victims with a fresh holocaust.

                        In a certain sense, Ashkenazi’s arrogant behavior falls within the normal order of things. The totally inappropriate reaction by the international community to the Nazi-like blitz against the unprotected Gazans must have further emboldened Israeli leaders, convincing them that Israel can always have a free season on the 1.5 million helpless, blockaded and thoroughly starved inhabitants of the coastal enclave without having to worry about any serious ramifications and repercussions.

                        Hence his repulsive statements.

                        It is true that many free-minded political and moral leaders, such as the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have strongly condemned Israeli barbarianism in Gaza .

                        It is also true that the Goldstone report, prepared by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, denounced Israel for perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Gaza blitz, which is a positive development.

                        However, it is also true that war criminals pay little attention to verbal condemnations even if coming from prominent international bodies and figures.

                        This is why Askenazi’s remarks ought to be taken with utmost seriousness for two main reasons: First because the Israeli army, or Zionist Wehrmacht, is capable of committing the unthinkable, including the carpet bombing of civilian areas, using cluster bombs, as happened over Lebanon in the summer of 2006, or white phosphorus as happened in Gaza last winter. And second, because Israel is essentially a rebellious state which has never taken international law seriously. What is even more scandalous is that western countries, especially the United States, have always treated the Judeo-Nazi entity as above international law.

                        Hence, it is imperative that the Palestinian people play their cards very carefully and smartly. After all, when wrestling with a huge bull, one has to rely on his brain, not his muscles, otherwise one may end up getting crushed by the mighty beast.

                        Palestinians ought to be always mindful of this fact because their very survival as a people depends to a large extent on the good will of the international community, not their own military or political strength. After all, most Palestinians are effectively prisoners of the enduring Israeli military occupation.

                        Hence, the Palestinian must seek to recruit the best minds and most gifted spokespersons to raise the awareness of the peoples of the world about the creeping holocaust Israel is trying to wreak on our helpless people.

                        We must not flinch from invoking the holocaust lest we be accused of making hyperboles. Indeed, if even one tenth of what happened in Gaza earlier this year had happened to Israeli Jews, Israel would have invoked the holocaust nonstop, and urgent calls from around the world would have been made for saving the Jews and preventing the Arabs from completing what Adolph had started nearly seventy years ago.

                        More to the point, the idea of Israel carrying out a sort of a holocaust is not unthinkable at all.

                        Last year, the Israeli deputy defense minister Mattan Vilna’ai warned that Israel would launch a holocaust against the Palestinians if that was what the Palestinians wanted. And during the blitzkrieg on Gaza, the psychotic Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman was quoted by the Israeli media as saying that a nuclear bomb ought to be dropped on Gaza.

                        Hence, Palestinian fears are not and shouldn’t be viewed as phobic and irrational. After all, we are dealing with an irrational state and a morbid society that are overwhelmed with a unique type of collective psychosis.

                        Never the less, raising our voices is not sufficient. We must also seek to enlist the attention and support of international human rights organizations as much as possible. These are credible witnesses whose testimonies might be proven crucial for safeguarding the rights of our people, the dead as well as the living.

                        We must also gather and meticulously document every conceivable piece of information pertaining to Zionist crimes and criminals, from the ordinary soldier in the field to the highest-ranking commander. This shouldn’t be a difficult job as there is already a huge amount of information pertaining to Israeli war criminals available, even through the internet.

                        Furthermore, Palestinians and their supporters should always confront states all over the world with information indicting Israeli military and political leaders. We should seek to narrow their horizons, make the capitals of the world off-limit to them, we should pursue them wherever they go. These people are war criminals and child killers must not be allowed to have any shred of peace of mind . Their murderous crimes must condemn them to a life of existential anxiety, stress and depression.

                        Of course, the Zio-Nazis will not surrender and allow themselves to be easily defeated by our efforts. Moreover, manifestly immoral governments such as those of the US and Germany, to name just a few, will hasten to support Israel and shield it from any proactive measures that would make the Zionist regime feel the heat and understand that the occupation has a cost that must be paid in full.

                        But we and our allies could counter this true axis of evil by building a worldwide front comprising millions of free and honest men and women who would chase the war criminals wherever they go and expose their evil deeds.

                        Luckily, we already have such a movement in place. But we need to get more organized, and be more effective. These goals are not difficult to realize as the world is already fed up with Israel, a state that we must never stop comparing with Nazi Germany because in the final analysis when Zionist Jews think, behave and act like the Nazis of the past century, they become Nazis.

                        We must never be apologetic about this.


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                          1948 Again, in Sheikh Jarrah: Heroism in a Vanishing Landscape

                          English (US)  November 10th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                          By ELLEN CANTAROW

                          "Disputed” is a word often used about East Jerusalem and homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Would the international community have considered the homes of American blacks attacked by the Ku Klux Kla as “disputed”? Or those of Jews ejected by Brown Shirts in the early 1930s?

                          The rule of law exists to protect the victims of war and occupation by imposing sanctions and responsibilities on invaders. It is not to be stretched for the convenience of the US at Guantanamo, Russia in Chechnya, Israel in Gaza, or in East Jerusalem. Under the law East Jerusalem and all the Arab homes it contains are part of the occupied West Bank. Despite endless palm-greasing, casuist apologetics, semantic distortions and brute force, Israel’s responsibilities towards the territories it occupies remain articulated in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and Chapter 5 of the 1907 Hague Convention IV. Occupying states are forbidden to seize the land and property of those they occupy, and forbidden to settle their citizens on occupied soil.

                          But Israel and its US patron have small regard for legal niceties, instead preferring Thucydides’ maxim: “The strong do what they can, and the weak do what they must.”

                          [More:]

                          * * *

                          Late afternoon, October 16, 2009. Nasser Ghawe, 46, barrel-chested, with an expressive face and a ready smile, calls out to his little girl when she strays too far down the street. “Come here, darling,” he says, scooping her up in his arms and cradling her. We’re seated on plastic chairs in the gathering dusk at one side of a street in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The mother watches tiredly as Nasser talks with us.

                          The usual courtesy cups of strong Arabic coffee aren’t offered here; the family has none. For nearly eleven weeks they have been living on the street opposite the house that was theirs for 53 years. On August 2 Israeli soldiers threw them out; minutes later, settlers from the violent organization Kach (“Thus”, founded by the late Meir Kahane), moved in and have been there ever since. And so the Ghawes are once again refugees, re-living a nightmare they had thought was buried in the Nakba. They watch from the street as settlers carry on life in their former home. When we visited, a guard hired by the settlers picked limes and gave them to one of the Ghawe women: “I am not against Arabs,” he said, “This is just my job.”

                          In 1948 Ghawe’s grandparents fled from Ein Sfarand near Lydda. Ein Sfarand was bulldozed into the ground along with over 450 other Arab villages. Pretty national parks and kibbutzim erased any trace of the traditional Arab architecture, agriculture and the rest of life which once characterized Palestine. Hebrew names – Lod, for example, for Lydda - replaced the Arabic ones. The Ghawes fled to East Jerusalem where UNWRA (The United Nations Works Relief Agency) housed them as refugees. In 1956 they returned their refugee cards and rented a house from a local Palestinian builder.

                          There they stayed in peace for nearly twenty years. In the early 70s settler organizations began trying to seize the homes of the Ghawes and those of over two dozen other Sheikh Jarrah families including the Hannouns who lived down the street and around the corner. For 37 years the families staved the settlers off in court. In 2006 the Ghawes were evicted but settlers didn’t move in; the Israeli police simply put locks on the doors. The Ghawe family shattered the locks and moved back in. The Hannouns put up a website and appealed to the international community for protection. According to one of the older Hannoun children, 20-year-old Sharihan, some 1000 internationals came through to sleep in their home, in much the same way as internationals now come to help Palestinians with their harvests. (The website - http://www.standupforjerusalem.org – gives essential historical background.)

                          When we visited, the Ghawe family was living on a plywood platform under an improvised roof – white sheets stitched together and strung up on poles. In the dim interior we could see mattresses and a simple bed. Children’s drawings were tacked to an improvised wall. There were also stuffed animals, a TV set on a card table, a generator, and other necessities of life – small testimonies to the family’s efforts to impose some normality in the midst of lunacy.

                          That afternoon Sheikh Jarrah looked like Williamsburg, Brooklyn – settler men strolling about in long black caftans, leggings, fur hats; settler women in long-sleeved shapeless dresses, wigs and hats. A special large enclosure had been erected for the settlers’ holiday festivities, its lights beaming across the area as dusk descended. Many baby-strollers announced a race to the finish with the arabushim. (The settlers address Israel’s “demographic problem” viscerally. Thirty years ago settlers from Gush Emunim – Bloc of the Faithful, the radical right-wing spearhead of Israel’s drive to settle the West Bank -- told me with pride that their own large families would win against the Arabs).

                          In 1979 I reported from Kiryat Arba, a major Gush Emunim stronghold. A settler interviewee whispered with pride that Meir Kahane had an apartment there. For the Gush settlers, Arabs were at very least inferior. One woman said she believed in a “chain of being”: on top, Jews. Then, lesser human specimens. Then animals, vegetables, minerals. Somewhere in the lower reaches of lesser humanity were Arabs. “Let them bow their heads. If they won’t, they should leave,” was a frequent Gush statement about the untermenschen.

                          At that time the Gush had just established a “squat” in the former Hadassah Hospital in Hebron. Miriam Levinger, the wife of the Gush leader, Rabbi Moshe Levinger, said the squatters were there to stay. Israel let them. Israel’s US patron did nothing but continue its usual $3 billion annual largesse. Today’s visitors to central Hebron can observe the results: the central Palestinian market lies emptied and closed after years of settler pogroms. One of many hate-filled graffiti reads: ARABS TO THE GAS CHAMBERS. (For essential information about these settlers see the late Robert I. Friedman’s Zealots for Zion, Rutgers University Press, 1992, and Lords of the Land by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar, Nation Books, 2005, 2007).

                          Thirty years ago Kach was considered a pariah organization. (In 1988 Israel barred Kach from elections because of Kach’s stated desire to expel all Arabs from Israel. In 1994 the US declared it a terrorist group). Gush Emunim was also considered “lunatic fringe”. But Labor and Likud alike bowed to Gush demands, enabling settlements like Gush Etzion, Kiryat Arba and Elon Moreh – the rest of Israel’s West Bank “settlements” (whole cities and red-roofed California-style suburban sprawl) followed. “The lunatic fringe” is now the mainstream, dominating Israel’s armed forces and its political life.

                          * * *

                          Down the street and around the corner from the Ghawes we found the Hannoun family’s house. A line of Israeli flags fluttered triumphantly along the arch of its roof. A dark-green synthetic material hung behind a crude fencing of wire mesh, obscuring the entire front of the house. Through tatters in the green fiber we saw the settlers’ Shabbat candles glimmering. 20-year-old Sharihan Hannoun sat on a lawn chair on the sidewalk with other family members. She wore a black, long-sleeved sweater, jeans and sneakers. A blue hijab framed a pleasant young face with dark, arching eyebrows.

                          Sharihan said the army arrived at five in the morning August 2nd. One of the police shoved a gun through a window. He shouted, “Open the door!” “They break the door,” said Sharihan, “broken everything they see, threw all the tables, the chairs, and then come to me and hit me with a gun. Even my little brother, they put a gun in his back. My father say, ‘Don’t touch my son, he’s only eight years old.’ But they threw my father and my little brother outside and then go to my mom room. She say, ‘Let me wear my clothes, I cannot be in the street in pajama… [But] they refused. And they let her to walk on the broken glass ‘cause they broken everything they see . . . I sat and I put my arms around the door. [I said], ‘This is my house, I will never leave.’ But [the soldier’s] body is strong. He beat me.”

                          In the street, their cell phones and cameras confiscated, the family watched as the soldiers displayed their “purity of arms”: they tossed out all the furniture. Then they began playing football, something that particularly astonished Sharihan. “They didn’t care. They kick us outside, they eating my little brother chocolate and playing football. My brother say, ‘I want to sleep in my house.” And I can’t do anything for him.”

                          The day we visited, the family had been living for two months and ten days on the streets, with periodic help from relatives (bathing, toilet, etc.) The Palestinian Authority put the family up in a hotel during Ramadan, then refused to pay anymore. On our visit, Sharihan had just returned from her classes. How could she study in these circumstances? A shrug: “I study in the street. I don’t have another place. I have to study and, like, have a normal life. I can’t give up. If they took my house it is not the end for me.”

                          I returned four days later to record Sharihan’s story. The next day she was to leave for the US with other Palestinian representatives of Sheikh Jarrah: all had been granted visas. Sharihan was to be interviewed by press in the US, and also to testify before the UN. Friends kept arriving to say goodbye and wish her luck. Did she want to stay in the US? “I want to return to my country. I want to open hospital, for old people. I think everyone forget what the old people do when they younger.” And how did the exams go? She beamed: “I am second in my class.”

                          * * *

                          Days after our visit, the settlers danced in triumph in front of their victims while the latter banged pots and pans to make them leave. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=234466) The Jerusalem municipality has approved plans by Florida billionaire Irving Moskowitz, to build twenty apartments in Sheikh Jarrah. [http://middleeastprogress.org/2009/07/debating-jerusalem/ ] The settler organization, Nahalat Shimon International, also filed plans this past August with the Jerusalem Local Planning Commission to demolish Palestinian homes and build a 200-unit settlement. On Nablus Road, not far from Sheikh Jarrah, I saw that one Arab street name had been whited out. All that was left was a Hebrew name at the top of the sign, and the English one at the bottom.

                          Ellen Cantarow, a Boston-based journalist, has written from Israel and the West Bank since 1979. This article is part of a series, “Heroism in a Vanishing Landscape,” about non-violent Palestinian resistance to Israel’s occupation. She can be reached at ecantarow@comcast.net

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                            How Israel Won the Settlement Battle Again

                            English (US)  November 10th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                            By Ramzy Baroud

                            When British Foreign Secretary David Miliband uttered a few words regarding the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, many wanted to believe that London was taking a sharp stance against Israel’s continued violations of international law. Alas, they were wrong.

                            The fact is Miliband’s statement, made during a press conference that followed talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, in Amman, was merely tactical, aimed at lessening the negative impact of the feeble position adopted by Washington regarding the same issue.

                            This is what Miliband had to say: "Settlements are illegal in our view and an obstacle to peace settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements challenge the heart of... a Palestinian state."

                            But then, he added: "It's so important for all those who care about security and social justice in this region that discussions about borders and territory are restarted in a serious way, because if you can progress on border and territory, you can resolve the settlements issue."

                            This is classic Miliband. While his clear and decisive statement regarding the illegality of the settlements and the fact that their construction is an obstacle is to be welcomed, one cannot decipher a politician’s statement in increments; to be truly appreciated, they must be understood as a whole.

                            [More:]

                            The danger lies in Miliband’s follow up statement, where he purposely changed the order of the proposed solution to the Middle East crisis to be "discussions about borders and territory are restarted in a serious way", which means unconditional negotiations, because "progress" at that front would "resolve the settlements issue."

                            But isn't this the exact type of dialogue that Israel wishes to take part in: peace talks with no conditions, no deadline and no specific end, while it persists in building its illegal settlements in flagrant violation of international law, unabated? More, isn’t this what Palestinians, all Palestinians, have vehemently rejected?

                            The Palestinian leadership understands that unconditional negotiations will yield Palestinians, the weak party in any negotiations, nothing but further humiliation, while the strong party will determine a solution, any solution, it finds suitable to its interests.

                            Considering that Israel is under no serious pressure, but occasional lip service to the peace process, from Washington, and London, the rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu has no reason to stop, or even slow down its illegal settlements project and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

                            Miliband is a clever politician. Although his words reek with contradictions, they are stacked in such away to give the impression that a substantive policy change is in fact in the making.

                            Miliband’s supposedly strong statement on the settlements came at a time that the Obama Administration’s policy, a meager attempt at presenting itself as the antithesis to the hated George Bush legacy, is falling apart.

                            In May, following President Obama’s first meeting with Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton wanted to leave no doubt regarding the US new policy on settlements. The US "wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions."

                            This sounds great, even better than Miliband’s recent statement. But since then, the Obama Administration has obviously discovered the limits of the "audacity of hope": a strong, unified pro-Israel lobby, decisively rightwing Israeli government, a unified US Congress backing Israel’s every move, a wishy-washy international community, fragmented Muslim and Arab countries, and all the rest.

                            Therefore, it was no surprise to see Mrs. Clinton, during her recent Middle East trip backtracking on every promise that her government had made. She "claimed (on November 1) that halting settlement building had never been a pre-condition to resuming talks," reported The Times.

                            Worse, not only did she fail to convince Netanyahu of the US position, which was more or less consistent with international law, she commended him for failing to meet what was once considered a strong US demand.

                            The switch happened during her recent tour’s one-day visit to Jerusalem. "What the Prime Minister (of Israel) has offered in specifics of restraint on the policy of settlements ... is unprecedented," she said of Netanyahu’s dismal promise to slow down settlement activities in the West Bank.

                            There are over 500,000 Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, living in many settlements that are all considered illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention and numerous UN resolutions.

                            To add insult to injury, Mrs. Clinton, continued, at every stop, to demand Arabs and Muslim to reach out to Israel. What has the latter done to deserve any Arab or Muslim normalization, open markets and establishment of diplomatic ties? Why should Israel be rewarded for its massacres in Gaza, entrenching of its military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the consistent attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque and more?

                            Concurrently, the Palestinian Authority is, perhaps, realizing its error of trusting that the Obama Administration’s resolve would prevail over Israel’s obstinacy.

                            Top PA official Nablil Abu Rudeinah said that the "negotiations are in a state of paralysis," blaming both "Israeli intransigence and America’s back-pedaling."

                            “There is no hope of negotiations on the horizon," Abu Rudienah added.

                            Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat’s words, during a press conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on November 4, were gloomier, however. It maybe time for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “tell his people the truth that with the continuation of settlement activities, the two-state solution is no longer an option,” he said.

                            He said what many don’t want to hear, including Miliband himself, who insists on breathing life into an outdated ‘solution’, while doing nothing to turn it into reality.

                            “It's important we don't lose sight of the importance of a two-state solution for all peoples of the region. I think the alternatives are dark and unwelcome for all sides,” Miliband said.

                            He failed, however, to enlighten us on how his ‘bright and welcomed’ solution is to be realized, as Israel continues to seize Jerusalem and the West Bank, inch by inch and house by house, in front of international media and with the knowledge and subtle agreement of ‘back-pedaling’ politicians, Mrs. Clinton and himself included.

                            -Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers, journals, and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming book is, "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story" (Pluto Press, London).

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                              Israeli Jews and the one-state solution

                              English (US)  November 10th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                              At the height of the global anti-apartheid movement, in 1989, a bus in London displays a message calling for boycott of South Africa. (Rahul D'Lucca)

                              By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 10 November 2009

                              Anyone who rejects the two-state solution, won't bring a one-state solution. They will instead bring one war, not one state. A bloody war with no end. -- Israeli President Shimon Peres, 7 November 2009.

                              One of the most commonly voiced objections to a one-state solution for Palestine/Israel stems from the accurate observation that the vast majority of Israeli Jews reject it, and fear being "swamped" by a Palestinian majority. Across the political spectrum, Israeli Jews insist on maintaining a separate Jewish-majority state.

                              But with the total collapse of the Obama Administration's peace efforts, and relentless Israeli colonization of the occupied West Bank, the reality is dawning rapidly that the two-state solution is no more than a slogan that has no chance of being implemented or altering the reality of a de facto binational state in Palestine/Israel.

                              [More:]

                              This places an obligation on all who care about the future of Palestine/Israel to seriously consider the democratic alternatives. I have long argued that the systems in post-apartheid South Africa (a unitary democratic state), and Northern Ireland (consociational democracy) -- offer hopeful, real-life models.

                              But does solid Israeli Jewish opposition to a one-state solution mean that a peaceful one-state outcome is so unlikely that Palestinians should not pursue it, and should instead focus only "pragmatic" solutions that would be less fiercely resisted by Israeli Jews?

                              The experience in South Africa suggests otherwise. In 1994, white-minority rule -- apartheid -- came to a peaceful, negotiated end, and was replaced (after a transitional period of power-sharing) with a unitary democratic state with a one person, one vote system. Before this happened, how likely did this outcome look? Was there any significant constituency of whites prepared to contemplate it, and what if the African National Congress (ANC) had only advanced political solutions that whites told pollsters they would accept?

                              Until close to the end of apartheid, the vast majority of whites, including many of the system's liberal critics, completely rejected a one person, one vote system, predicting that any attempt to impose it would lead to a bloodbath. As late as 1989, F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid president, described a one person, one vote system as the "death knell" for South Africa.

                              A 1988 study by political scientist Pierre Hugo documented the widespread fears among South African whites that a transition to majority rule would entail not only a loss of political power and socioeconomic status, but engendered "physical dread" and fear of "violence, total collapse, expulsion and flight." Successive surveys showed that four out of five whites thought that majority rule would threaten their "physical safety." Such fears were frequently heightened by common racist tropes of inherently savage and violent Africans, but the departure of more than a million white colons from Algeria and the airlifting of 300,000 whites from Angola during decolonization set terrifying precedents ("Towards darkness and death: racial demonology in South Africa," The Journal of Modern African Studies, 26(4), 1988).

                              Throughout the 1980s, polls showed that even as whites increasingly understood that apartheid could not last, only a small minority ever supported majority rule and a one person, one vote system. In a March 1986 survey, for example, 47 percent of whites said they would favor some form of "mixed-race" government, but 83 percent said they would opt for continued white domination of the government if they had the choice (Peter Goodspeed, "Afrikaners cling to their all-white dream," The Toronto Star, 5 October 1986).

                              A 1990 nationwide survey of Afrikaner whites (native speakers of Afrikaans, as opposed to English, and who traditionally formed the backbone of the apartheid state), found just 2.2 percent were willing to accept a "universal franchise with majority rule" (Kate Manzo and Pat McGowan, "Afrikaner fears and the politics of despair: Understanding change in South Africa," International Studies Quarterly, 36, 1992).

                              Perhaps an enlightened white elite was able to lead the white masses to higher ground? This was not the case either. A 1988 academic survey of more than 400 white politicians, business and media leaders, top civil servants, academics and clergy found that just 4.8 percent were prepared to accept a unitary state with a universal voting franchise and two-thirds considered such an outcome "unacceptable." According to Manzo and McGowan, white elites reflected the sentiments and biases of the rest of the society and overwhelmingly considered whites inherently more civilized and culturally superior to black Africans. Just more than half of prominent whites were prepared to accept "a federal state in which power is shared between white and non-white groups and areas so that no one group dominates."

                              During the 1980s, the white electorate in South Africa moved to the right, as Israel's Jewish electorate is doing today. Support seeped from the National Party, which had established formal apartheid in 1948, to the even more extreme Conservative Party. Yet, "on the issue of majority rule," Hugo observed, "supporters of the National Party and the Conservative Party, as well as most white voters to the 'left' of these organizations, ha[d] little quarrel with each other."

                              The vast majority of whites, wracked with existential fears, were simply unable to contemplate relinquishing effective control, or at least a veto, over political decision-making in South Africa.

                              Yet, the African National Congress insisted firmly on a one person, one vote system with no white veto. As the township protests and strikes and international pressure mounted, The Economist observed in an extensive 1986 survey of South Africa published on 1 February of that year, that many "enlightened" whites "still fondly argue that a dramatic improvement in the quality of black life may take the revolutionary sting out of the black townships -- and persuade 'responsible' blacks, led by the emergent black middle class, to accept some power-sharing formula."

                              Schemes to stabilize the apartheid system abounded, and bear a strong resemblance to the current Israeli government's vision of "economic peace" in which a collaborationist Palestinian Authority leadership would manage a still-subjugated Palestinian population anesthetized by consumer goods and shopping malls.

                              Because of the staunch opposition of whites to a unitary democratic state, the ANC heard no shortage of advice from western liberals that it should seek a "realistic" political accommodation with the apartheid regime, and that no amount of pressure could force whites to succumb to the ANC's political demands. The ANC was warned that insistence on majority rule would force Afrikaners into the "laager" -- they would retreat into a militarized garrison state and siege economy, preferring death before surrender.

                              Even the late Helen Suzman, one of apartheid's fiercest liberal critics, predicted in 1987, as quoted by Hugo, "The Zimbabwe conflict took 15 years ... and cost 20,000 lives and I can assure you that the South African transfer of power will take a good deal more than that, both in time and I am afraid lives."

                              But as The Economist observed, the view that whites would prefer "collective suicide" was something of a caricature. The vast majority of Afrikaners were "no longer bible-thumping boers." They were "part of a spoilt, affluent suburban society, whose economic pain threshold may prove to be rather low."

                              The Economist concluded that if whites would only come so far voluntarily, then it was perfectly reasonable for the anti-apartheid movement to bring them the rest of the way through "coercion" in the form of sanctions and other forms of pressure. "The quicker the white tribe submits," the magazine wrote, "the better its chance of a bearable future in a black-ruled South Africa."

                              Ultimately, as we now know, the combination of internal resistance and international isolation did force whites to abandon political apartheid and accept majority rule. However, it is important to note that the combined strength of the anti-apartheid movement never seriously threatened the physical integrity of the white regime.

                              Even after the massive township uprisings of 1985-86, the South African regime was secure. "So far there is no real physical threat to white power," The Economist noted, "so far there is little threat to white lives. ... The white state is mighty, and well-equipped. It has the capacity to repress the township revolts far more bloodily. The blacks have virtually no urban or rural guerrilla capacity, practically no guns, few safe havens within South Africa or without."

                              This balance never changed, and a similar equation could be written today about the relative power of a massively-armed -- and much more ruthless -- Israeli state, and lightly armed Palestinian resistance factions.

                              What did change for South Africa, and what all the weapons in the world were not able to prevent, was the complete loss of legitimacy of the apartheid regime and its practices. Once this legitimacy was gone, whites lost the will to maintain a system that relied on repression and violence and rendered them international pariahs; they negotiated a way out and lived to tell the tale. It all happened much more quickly and with considerably less violence than even the most optimistic predictions of the time. But this outcome could not have been predicted based on what whites said they were willing to accept, and it would not have occurred had the ANC been guided by opinion polls rather than the democratic principles of the Freedom Charter.

                              Zionism -- as many Israelis openly worry -- is suffering a similar, terminal loss of legitimacy as Israel is ever more isolated as a result of its actions. Israel's self-image as a liberal "Jewish and democratic state" is proving impossible to maintain against the reality of a militarized, ultra-nationalist Jewish sectarian settler-colony that must carry out frequent and escalating massacres of "enemy" civilians (Lebanon and Gaza 2006, Gaza 2009) in a losing effort to check the resistance of the region's indigenous people. Zionism cannot bomb, kidnap, assassinate, expel, demolish, settle and lie its way to legitimacy and acceptance.

                              Already difficult to disguise, the loss of legitimacy becomes impossible to conceal once Palestinians are a demographic majority ruled by a Jewish minority. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel's "right to exist as a Jewish state" is in effect an acknowledgement of failure: without Palestinian consent, something which is unlikely ever to be granted, the Zionist project of a Jewish ethnocracy in Palestine has grim long-term prospects.

                              Similarly, South African whites typically attempted to justify their opposition to democracy, not in terms of a desire to preserve their privilege and power, but using liberal arguments about protecting distinctive cultural differences. Hendrik Verwoerd Jr., the son of assassinated Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, apartheid's founder, expressed the problem in these terms in 1986, as reported by The Toronto Star, stating that, "These two people, the Afrikaner and the black, are not capable of becoming one nation. Our differences are unique, cultural and deep. The only way a man can be happy, can live in peace, is really when he is among his own people, when he shares cultural values."

                              The younger Verwoerd was on the far-right of South African politics, leading a quixotic effort to carve out a whites-only homeland in the heart of South Africa. But his reasoning sounds remarkably similar to liberal Zionist defenses of the "two-state solution" today. The Economist clarified the use of such language at the time, stating that "One of the weirder products of apartheid is the crippling of language in a maw of hypocrisy, euphemism and sociologese. You talk about the Afrikaner 'right to self-determination' -- meaning power over everybody else."

                              Zionism's claim for "Jewish self-determination" amidst an intermixed population, is in effect a demand to preserve and legitimize a status quo in which Israeli Jews exercise power in perpetuity. But there's little reason to expect that Israeli Jews would abandon this quest voluntarily any more than South African whites did. As in South Africa, coercion is necessary -- and the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is one of the most powerful, nonviolent, legitimate and proven tools of coercion that Palestinians possess. Israel's vulnerabilities may be different from those of apartheid South Africa, but Israel is not invulnerable to pressure.

                              Coercion is not enough, however; as I have long argued, and sought to do, Palestinians must also put forward a positive vision. Neither can Palestinians advocating a one-state solution simply disregard the views of Israeli Jews. We must recognize that the opposition of Israeli Jews to any solution that threatens their power and privilege stems from at least two sources. One is irrational, racist fears of black and brown hordes (in this case, Arab Muslims) stoked by decades of colonial, racist demonization. The other source -- certainly heightened by the former -- are normal human concerns about personal and family dislocation, loss of socioeconomic status and community security: change is scary.

                              But change will come. Without indulging Israeli racism or preserving undue privilege, the legitimate concerns of ordinary Israeli Jews can be addressed directly in any negotiated transition to ensure that the shift to democracy is orderly, and essential redistributive policies are carried out fairly. Inevitably, decolonization will cause some pain as Israeli Jews lose power and privilege, but there are few reasons to believe it cannot be a well-managed process, or that the vast majority of Israeli Jews, like white South Africans, would not be prepared to make the adjustment for the sake of a normality and legitimacy they cannot have any other way.

                              This is where the wealth of research and real-life experience about the successes, failures, difficulties and opportunities of managing such transitions at the level of national and local politics, neighborhoods, schools and universities, workplaces, state institutions and policing, emerging from South Africa and Northern Ireland, will be of enormous value.

                              Every situation has unique features, and although there are patterns in history, it never repeats itself exactly. But what we can conclude from studying the pasts and presents of others is that Palestinians and Israelis are no less capable of writing themselves a post-colonial future that gives everyone a chance at a life worth living in a single, democratic state.

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

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                                Kucinich Withdraws as Palm Beach County Democratic Keynoter Amid Uproar over His Israel Stance

                                English (US)  November 10th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                Dennis Kucinich

                                By George Bennett

                                U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich lasted less than 24 hours as headliner for the Palm Beach County Democratic Party's annual fundraising dinner after some of the party's elected officials blasted the Ohio Democrat's stance on Israel and threatened to skip the event.

                                "People feel he's anti-Israel. I don't read it that way, but the leadership of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and other elements of the Jewish community do and I don't want to get into an argument with them," -- county Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel

                                Kucinich, who has a history of criticizing the actions of the Israeli government and opposing congressional resolutions in support of Israel, withdrew Friday as the keynote speaker for next week's dinner after being announced Thursday.

                                The liberal former presidential candidate had been called in as a last-minute replacement for moderate Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. Landrieu was dropped as keynoter this week because party activists were upset by her refusal to commit to blocking a Republican filibuster of health care overhaul legislation.

                                [More:]

                                While Landrieu was the target of behind-the-scenes grumbling, Kucinich sparked public revolt.

                                State Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, said Friday he was withdrawing his pledge to buy a $1,500 table for the dinner and would encourage other Democrats to boycott the event because of Kucinich's record on Israel.

                                State Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, who's running for the seat that U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler is vacating, called Kucinich "someone whose position on Israel stands in total opposition to the conscience of this community."

                                County Commissioner Burt Aaronson called the selection of Kucinich "an absolute horror" and said he would refuse to share the podium with him.

                                Kucinich has opposed sanctions against the anti-Israel government of Iran. In January, he was one of only five House members to vote against a resolution condemning Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and reaffirming Israel's "right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against Hamas's unceasing aggression."

                                Kucinich said Friday in an e-mail to county Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel that he supports the Jewish state and its right to defend itself and said his critics are "falsely characterizing me as 'anti-Israel.' "

                                But Kucinich said he did not want the controversy surrounding him to hinder the party's ability to raise money, so he would "humbly withdraw."

                                Siegel said the decision to invite Kucinich was made by a "leadership circle" of about 20 people and no one raised concerns about Kucinich's record on Israel.

                                Siegel heard those concerns Friday.

                                "People feel he's anti-Israel. I don't read it that way, but the leadership of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and other elements of the Jewish community do and I don't want to get into an argument with them," said Siegel, who is Jewish.

                                Siegel said he doesn't know who the party will get as a keynote speaker for the dinner, which is scheduled for Nov. 14 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

                                The event has traditionally been called the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, but the name was changed this year to the Truman-Kennedy-Johnson dinner because of qualms among party activists about Thomas Jefferson's slave ownership and Andrew Jackson's Indian-removal policies.

                                Siegel said the nixing of two keynote speakers this week shows party leaders are listening to the concerns of Democrats.

                                "In both cases, the same thing happened," Siegel said. "We responded to complaints from important elements of our constituency and neither one of them is speaking."

                                Common Dreams

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                                  BOYCOTT NEWS" Zionist Israel targeting the boycott movement

                                  English (US)  November 9th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                  Palestinian activist Mohammed Othman. (Stop the Wall)

                                  By Mya Guarnieri, The Electronic Intifada, 9 November 2009

                                  For nearly six weeks now Mohammed Othman, a prominent Palestinian activist and an outspoken advocate of the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, has been held in an Israeli military prison without charges. On 22 September 2009 Othman, 34, was detained at the Allenby Crossing as he attempted to enter the occupied West Bank from Jordan. He was returning from a trip to Norway, where he met with Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen, amongst other officials.

                                  At the beginning of September, Finance Minister Halvorsen announced Norway's divestment from the Israeli company Elbit due to "ethical concerns." Elbit provides security systems for Israel's wall in the West Bank and illegal settlements as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly known as drones) and other technology for the Israeli military. According to many Middle East analysts and human rights groups, Othman played a pivotal role in Norway's decision to disassociate from Elbit.

                                  [More:]

                                  Norway's severing of ties with Elbit is just one of the recent successes of the BDS campaign. The Africa-Israel Group, a company led by Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev which is involved construction of illegal Israeli settlements, has recently plummeted as investors have pulled out. While Africa-Israel's recent decline has been due in large part to the global economic downturn, the attention of BDS activists has made associating with the company and its chairman politically unpalatable. Amongst those who have distanced themselves from Africa-Israel is the United Kingdom's government. In March, the UK cancelled plans to move its Tel Aviv embassy into a building owned by the company.

                                  The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on 6 September that Israel chose a subdued response to the news of Norway's divestment from Elbit. But the continued detention of Othman seems to suggest that the Israeli government feels increasingly threatened by the BDS movement.

                                  Arthur Nelsen, Middle East analyst and author of the forthcoming book In Your Eyes a Sandstorm, comments that "The Othman case indicates a fear of the BDS movement among Israel's political and security elite, particularly when it has the ear of foreign governments." Nelsen added that "Locking up nonviolent opponents suggests a stunning lack of confidence among Israel's leaders in their ability to argue their case, still less win it. It bears all the hallmarks of an authoritarian campaign to silence nonviolent critics of the occupation."

                                  Othman's imprisonment also highlights a government intent on punishing Palestinians who speak out in international forums. In a statement given to The Electronic Intifada, Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association, pointed to the July detention of Mohammed Srour as another example. Srour, 38, was detained at the Allenby Crossing on 21 July as he attempted to return to the occupied West Bank from Geneva, where he spoke before the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. In Geneva, Srour testified to the shooting deaths of two protestors who sustained their fatal injuries at a West Bank demonstration when Israeli soldiers opened fire on the crowd. Srour was held for three days in an Israeli military prison. After posting bail, he was released without charges.

                                  In 2008, Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer was detained and beaten by Shin Bet (Israel's internal security agency known as the Shabak) upon his return from a speaking tour in Europe, where he had been awarded a prestigious journalism prize for his coverage of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

                                  Othman's high-profile story has also brought international attention to the plight of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. There are currently 355 Palestinians being held in Israeli military prisons without trial, 29 of which have been held for as long as two to five years straight, according to a recent report by the Israeli non-governmental organizations HaMoked and B'Tselem. In almost all of these cases, the detainee is imprisoned on the basis of "privileged evidence" provided by Shabak. Neither the client nor the defense attorney has access to the evidence, thereby rendering them powerless to dispute Israel's allegations.

                                  Ironically, Israel's attempts to silence Othman have only strengthened the voice of nonviolent resistance. Othman's continued detention has gained sympathetic coverage from a variety of media outlets. In mid-October, a protest calling for Mohammed Othman's immediate release was held in Manhattan, outside of the Madison Avenue jewelry store owned by Africa-Israel mogul Lev Leviev. The action, organized by the New York City based group Adalah-NY, brought publicity to both the BDS movement and Othman's important place in it.

                                  In a public statement, Adalah-NY's Andrew Kadi commented, "Israel's arrest of Mohammed Othman ... simply affirms the need for a global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), similar to the movement against apartheid South Africa, to hold Israel accountable and to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights."

                                  Mya Guarnieri is a Tel Aviv-based journalist and writer and a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post. Her work has also appeared in Outlook India --- India's equivalent to and subsidiary of Newsweek --- as well as The National, The Forward, Maan News Agency, Common Ground News Service, Zeek, The Khaleej Times, Daily News Egypt and other international publications.

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                                    Why I am not a Zionist

                                    English (US)  November 9th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                    Build equality, not walls. (ActiveStills)

                                    By Kevin Coval, The Electronic Intifada, 5 November 2009

                                    Last week I was disinvited from my second Jewish conference in two months for poems I'd written in solidarity with Palestinians, poems that make an unapologetic call for justice. Subsequently, I and the poet I was to read with at the J Street conference, wrote a response to being censored. People from all over the country wrote to us supporting free speech, supporting art as a tool for change, supporting real talk about the degradation of Palestinians, and people wrote to let us know they disagreed. Some more thoughtfully than others.

                                    [More:]

                                    We decided to hold our reading anyway in Washington, DC during J Street's inaugural conference at an alternative location. We were hosted by the Busboys and Poets space. The room filled with a spectrum of ideas. We read our poems and during the question and answer period, no one was shouted down. Not the Israeli army refusenik, not the liberal Zionist apologist, not the Palestinian student who asked us to include more about the Palestinian people in our poems, not just the land or idea of nation-state, a point beautifully made and incredibly profound. No one shouted down moderator Laila al-Arian, a brilliant journalist and activist, whose father was a Palestinian political prisoner in America, now freed because of his daughter's persistence. The crowd was cool and civil, though broad in opinion.

                                    Since the second Palestinian intifada I have thought, written and spoken about these issues, but over the course of these last several weeks, I have arrived at a new beginning. Prior to now, I muddled this issue in complexity. But I have come to realize it is actually simple and clear. I am a Jewish-American man in solidarity with the Palestinian people. I am in solidarity with Israeli and American and All people who work and risk their lives and livelihood for justice. I am not restricted to working within the confines of the Jewish-American community. Justice and resistance to imperialism is a global, human concern for all people. For Jews, yes, but not Jews alone. For Palestinians, yes, but not Palestinians alone. It will take us all to push and demand governments and corporate interests to create fair, equitable living conditions. It will take all peoples to hold history accountable for the atrocities that occur.

                                    This is an analogy. America celebrates Columbus day even though Columbus and American settlers killed, enslaved and pushed indigenous peoples off land they lived on. Tragically, indigenous peoples have been nearly wiped out of existence and pushed to the furthest margins of our culture that revels in amnesia. Main St., mainstream American culture does not expect Native Americans to celebrate Columbus, nor care nor know nor imagine if they do or not. Native Americans are not a demographic population Hallmark cares to account for. It is preposterous to think Jews would celebrate Kristallnacht, the night of glass when SS troops stormed and terrorized their German ghettos. In Israel, Independence Day is called Yom Haatzmaut. Communities gather to play music, dance and watch fireworks. The Chief Rabbinate has declared this day a Jewish holiday in which prayers should be said. But Palestinians remember 1948 and the formation of the State of Israel as al-Nakba, the Catastrophe. A day of murder, displacement and forced Diaspora. A day families are torn apart and ripped away from their homes. A state-sanctioned celebration of their dehumanization and second-class citizenship.

                                    For this reason alone, I cannot believe in the integrity of the Zionist project. It's built on bodies and lies. It denies the existence of people and a people. One of its slogans, rooted in the same malicious revisionism as American history and Holocaust denial, is a land without people, for a people without land. Columbus didn't discover shit. He enacted the desires of empire and the fetishization of "discovery." The formation of the State of Israel is rooted in blood and deceit, is the same story as all colonies built in the name of imperialism, capitalism and dehumanization. Therefore, I am not Zionist.

                                    I am not pro-Israel because in January Israel murdered more than 1,400 Palestinians. They bombed schools and hospitals. They bulldozed homes and bodies. Israel builds a separation wall, as Germany did, as the United States does between here and Mexico, as the rich do between themselves and the rest of us. I am not a believer in borders. I have been mistaken for Italian, Puerto Rican, Arab and Muslim, but I am a suburban Jew who sought out hip-hop cultural space across red lines and Chicago segregation. I learned borders are to be contended and crossed. Israel believes in borders. Israel practices apartheid. On one side, irrigated lawns and swimming pools in illegal Israeli settlements. On the other side, Palestinian disenfranchisement, denied access to drinking water, medical assistance, jobs, the ability to earn an income or vote in the country that governs them, that limits their movement with passports, checkpoints and curfews and closes them into open-air prisons. I cannot be in favor of these practices, nor the state that enacts them. These practices are to be resisted, protested and pushed against. Those whose bodies are legislated against, contained, detained and maimed by state-sanctioned terror are to be stood with and listened to.

                                    This week has provided clarity. This is not a complex issue. There is the brutality of governments and the need for the liberation of a people, all people. I am a Jewish person who stands with Palestinian people relegated to second-class citizenship and Israeli soldiers who refuse to enact racist militarism. I am not a nationalist; therefore I am not a Zionist. I am against the oppression of any person and people. I am not a builder of walls. I believe in equity and democratic practice, therefore I am not pro-Israel. I am an advocate for truth, justice and reconciliation. I believe in this. I believe in this now. I believe in the work ahead.

                                    Kevin Coval is the author of Slingshots (A Hip-Hop Poetica) and Everyday People and co-founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival. He can be reached at kc AT kevincoval DOT com.

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                                      Prepare for war, Chavez tells army

                                      English (US)  November 9th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                      Chavez has been a vocal critic of the presence of US troops in neighbouring Colombia [AFP]

                                      Venezuela's president has told his armed forces to "prepare for war", saying a military pact between neighbouring Colombia and the US could set the stage for an invasion.

                                      The comments by Hugo Chavez at the weekend were prompted by the presence of US troops gaining access to Colombian military bases.

                                      Colombia has responded by saying it will protest to the UN security council and the Organisation of American States.

                                      Chavez's comments also sparked clashes on Sunday on the Colombia-Venezuela border, where Colombians fought with Venezuelan border guards who responded by firing tear gas.

                                      [More:]

                                      Chavez has said that US access to the Colombian bases poses a direct threat to his oil-exporting country.

                                      But Washington and Bogota say the deal is aimed solely to create a joint force to fight drug cartels.

                                      During his weekly radio and television show, Chavez warned that if war broke out with Colombia, the conflict could "extend throughout the whole continent", adding that Venezuelan citizens should be ready to "defend the homeland".

                                      US 'encroachment'

                                      "Let's not waste a day on our main aim - to prepare for war and to help the people prepare for war, because it is everyone's responsibility," he said.

                                      "The best way to avoid war is preparing for it."

                                      Chavez has repeatedly voiced deep concerns over what he says is US encroachment in the region.

                                      The Colombian government denies it is acting aggressively, after a series of shootings and other incidents along the border raised tensions in recent weeks.

                                      "Colombia has not made nor will it make any bellicose move toward the international community, [and] even less so toward fellow Latin American nations," Alvaro Uribe, the president, said in a statement.

                                      "The only thing we are interested in is defeating terrorism related to drug trafficking, which has been so unfair to Colombians for so many years."

                                      Last week Chavez ordered 15,000 soldiers deployed along the border saying increased security was needed to meet the rising violence.

                                      Source: Agencies

                                      339 words posted in South AmericaLeave a comment

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                                        Marking Berlin anniversary, Palestinians breach Zionist Israel's Apartheid Wall of Hatred

                                        English (US)  November 9th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                        Nil`in protesters damaged the wall on Friday [courtesy Ahmed Meslah]

                                        RAMALLAH - Marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Palestinian demonstrators breached Israel's concrete barrier near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

                                        Reporting from the scene, Ma'an's correspondent said the protesters, once they reached the other side, set fire to tires. Israeli forces also opened fire, the reporter said.

                                        Comment:
                                        1 ) anthony / UK
                                        09/11/2009 15:10
                                        The same international community which celebrates the fall of the Berlin Wall ignores a seperation barrier that is longer and higher, annexes Palestinian land, changes borders, encompasses illegal settlements and denies basic rights. These protests should be celebrated as an act of resistance

                                        [More:]

                                        Around 100 demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and wearing fluorescent jackets reading, "We are going to Jerusalem," broke through near the Qalandiya military checkpoint, onlookers said.
                                        Early reports said the demonstration was planned by the "popular committees" – local groups organized to oppose the construction of the wall – as well as the Fatah movement.

                                        Last Friday, protesters in the village of Ni'lin also managed to tear down a section of the wall.

                                        Intended to be 709 kilometers in length, Israel had completed 413 kilometers of the wall by June 2009, according to the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

                                        The barrier, in reality a network of walls, fences, watchtowers and checkpoints, snakes through the interior of the West Bank, looping around Israeli settlements and fragmenting Palestinian communities.

                                        The International Court of Justice ruled that the wall is illegal under international law in 2004. Israel maintains the barrier is for it’s security.

                                        Maan News

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                                          Iran: Goldstone opponents responsible for Israel crimes

                                          English (US)  November 9th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                          Iran's ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee

                                          Iran has lashed out at certain veto-wielding powers for opposing a UN report on the Gaza war, blaming them for the ongoing Israeli crimes in the region.

                                          "Certain powerful and veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council adamantly oppose continuation of investigation into the report by Richard Goldstone," Iran's ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee told the Islamic Student News Agency (ISNA).

                                          On Thursday, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that accuses Israel of war crimes and criminal acts against humanity during the weeks-long onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

                                          [More:]

                                          A hundred fourteen states endorsed the resolution while only 18 states including the US and Israel objected to the report's adoption. Forty-four countries also abstained including France, Britain and Russia.

                                          The 575-page UN-ordered report on Israel's offensive in Gaza asserts seven incidents in which Palestinian civilians were shot while leaving their homes, trying to run for safety or waving white flags.

                                          The resolution calls for the prosecution of senior Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague should Tel Aviv fail to launch its own investigations into the Gaza war under international scrutiny within six months.

                                          The Iranian diplomat rejected claims by certain countries that pursuit of the Goldstone report would endanger the peace process in the Middle East and said, "History during the past 60 years showed the aggressive and occupying regime (Israel) was not committed to end occupation and aggression and to accept international regulations."

                                          "If the United Nations and other responsible bodies adopt a firm measure, it can be effective in clarifying certain facts…, but I doubt the UN will take the necessary move or that Israel would pay heed to its resolutions," Khazaee added.

                                          He stressed that the report reflects only parts of Israel's crimes against the Palestinians and said, "Pursuit of the report will clear the way for restoration of rights of the Palestinian people."

                                          The envoy said that more than 40 resolutions have been passed condemning Israel's crimes and added, "However, none of the resolutions have been implemented yet."

                                          The US, Israel's staunchest ally, however, is widely expected to veto any call for ICC action against Israeli officials.

                                          The United States has in several cases vetoed Security Council resolutions that are even critical of Israel, which, in effect, gives Tel Aviv a free hand to violate the rights of the Palestinian population, as well as the territorial integrity of neighboring Lebanon and Syria.

                                          Press TV

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                                            Israel Depressed: Arms Shipment 'Story' Ineffective!

                                            English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                            07/11/2009 Once again, the Zionist entity seemed to be "depressed" after another attempt to hit the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistance was found to be useless.

                                            On Wednesday, Israeli Navy commando force, that reached the deep sea in small boats, boarded the Francop, a cargo ship owned by charter company UFS traveling under an Antiguan flag. According to Israeli media, the crew of sailors did not resist the commando and said that they did not know what was in the large container on board. The commando force opened the container and revealed missiles, rockets, shells, grenades, and small arms.

                                            The Israeli "novel" doesn't end here. The main point is the following: the weapons are Iranians, they are destined to Hezbollah. Concentrating in this point, the Zionist entity sought to influence the international public opinion and "fabricate" a new story against the Resistance.

                                            But, "unfortunately," Israel failed in just convincing this international public opinion of the "accuracy" of its "novel."

                                            [More:]


                                            According to Israeli daily Yedihot Ahronot, the Zionist entity felt depressed by its failure especially that the most important and prominent dailies and newspapers of the world didn't deal with the news as Israel has wished. The Israeli daily said that the capture news did not produce any "choc" within the international media panels, unlike the Hezbollah denial that made the headlines.

                                            Indeed, top US dailies such as New York Times and Washington Post didn't believe the news was a big deal. They published it in the secondary news. It didn't get any priority in other UK dailies such as Daily Telegraph and The Guardian. Moreover, the Western dailies that published the "story" referred it to its initial Israeli sources without adopting it, at the time many of them openly said that the whole issue was an Israeli "fabrication".

                                            Al Manar

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                                              United States of Israel: Obama: "America's bond with Israel unbreakable"

                                              English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                              BETHLEHEM - America's bond with its Israeli ally is unbreakable, US President Barack Obama reiterated in a prerecorded speech marking the anniversary of late Israeli President Yitzhak Rabin's assassination by a right-wing extremist 14 years earlier.

                                              In remarks broadcast to a crowd of thousands in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, the US leader also told Israelis that they would not find true security so long as Palestinians suffered hopelessness and despair.

                                              "America's bonds with our Israeli ally are unbreakable," Obama said. "We will never waver in defense of Israeli security and we will never lose sight of our shared purpose: A just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine and the Arab world, one that respects the dignity and security of every human being."

                                              [More:]

                                              Rabin was "the brave soldier who devoted his life to defending Israel but who said that the only battle which is a pleasure to wage is the battle for peace," Obama said, speaking at the spot where the late Israeli leader was shot dead in 1995 by a pro-settler extremist, Yigal Amir, in protest of the Oslo Accords.

                                              "He was the statesman who saw the world as it was but also as it might yet be," Obama said, and "challenged us all – Israeli and Palestinian, the Arab world and the whole world – to reach within our hearts and ask the questions upon which lasting peace depends."

                                              He continued, "Do we have the empathy to see conflicts from more than our own side? To recognize ourselves in others, to see that their aspirations are also our own, justice and progress, the dignity of all human beings, the simple desire to live in peace and security... To say publicly what we say privately: That Israelis will not find true security so long as Palestinians are gripped by hopelessness or despair; that Palestinian dreams of statehood will be deferred unless Israelis are assured of their own safety and security.

                                              "Do we have the courage to break the old patterns of mistrust and suspicion and reach out to those who are willing to work for the progress that improves the daily lives of ordinary people, and do we have the resolve to be like Yitzhak, a soldier for peace; to walk the hard but necessary path, to keep going when those who know only violence and destruction try to knock us off-course, to always keep our eyes fixed on that brighter horizon. The answer must be 'yes.' Yes, we will move forward; yes, we will persevere in the face of long odds and inevitable difficulties."

                                              "And to all who seek peace," Obama added, "I say tonight: You will always have a partner in the United States of America and in my administration. That is why we have been working aggressively for our clear goal: two states living side by side in peace and security."

                                              "God bless you and God bless all who seek peace," Obama concluded. "Shalom."

                                              Maan News

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                                                Hamas: Only resistance can free Palestine

                                                English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal has declared 'unity and resistance' as the only ways to reach the goal of a free Palestine.

                                                During an address at a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, Meshaal said on Friday that years of negotiations with the Zionist enemy has proved that the decades-long conflict cannot be settled through talks and that "it is time to fight for our rights".

                                                "Any leader who wants Al-Quds, the right of return for all Palestinians and our land back as well as ending Israeli settlement expansion should know that the path towards these objectives is not through negotiations but through resistance and national unity", Meshaal told Palestinian refugees at Yarmouk Camp on the 22nd anniversary of the founding of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement.

                                                [More:]

                                                He also called on Arab nations to accept the fact that Israel is seeking the interests of arrogant powers and is not pursuing peace and stability in the region.

                                                The senior Hamas official also criticized the so-called US peace efforts in the region, saying that hopes of obtaining "our rights, which include regaining the land that Israel has occupied since 1967, through the mediation of the White House is an illusion" since Washington has never adopted an unbiased and fair stance towards the Palestinians.

                                                Press TV

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                                                  Israel, Hamas and Rockets: Time to Pummel Gaza Again? Are we six months out from Gaza Massacre II?

                                                  English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                  By Steve Breyman

                                                  From December 27, 2008 through January 18, 2009, Israel waged war on the Gaza Strip. Twelve to fourteen hundred Palestinians were killed, including many women and children. Thirteen Israelis were killed; several by friendly fire. Nearly a third of Gazans were left without running water. Tens of thousands were left homeless. The physical structures of Hamas rule were left in ruins. Hundreds of greenhouses and factories were destroyed.

                                                  The declared rationale for the assault was the launching of the glorified bottle rockets known as Qassams into southern Israeli towns like Sderot. The February 2009 national elections in Israel likely played a role in the timing of the attacks, six months in the planning. Each side blamed the other for breaking the uneasy ceasefire in effect for six months prior to the winter hostilities. Rocket fire had dwindled to near zero during the lull. Hamas considered the November 4, 2008, Israeli raid on a Gaza tunnel a major violation of the truce, and fired rockets and mortars in retaliation. Back-and-forth exchanges continued until Operation Cast Lead—called the Gaza Massacre in the Arab press--was launched on December 27.

                                                  [More:]

                                                  The UN’s Goldstone Report rejected Israel’s claim that it acted in self-defense against the rockets. Instead, the Report found the offensive “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.” Hamas too was accused of war crimes for failing to discriminate between military and civilian targets. The fallout from the Gaza assault and the Goldstone and other reports put Israel on the public relations defensive. Ongoing efforts in the United States to smear Goldstone and his Report, and to insulate Israel from further UN or International Criminal Court action proceed with gusto.

                                                  Israel did not achieve its stated war aim of stopping missile attacks from Gaza. Dozens of rockets and mortar shells have landed in the western Negev since the Israeli withdrawal of combat troops on January 18, 2009, and the declaration of mutual unilateral ceasefires. Militants affiliated with groups other than Hamas appear to have been responsible for most if not all the attacks this year.
                                                  In what ways did the Israeli assault improve the country’s security?

                                                  Now, according to Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, and military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, Hamas has both replenished its arsenal of rockets and added a new missile capable of hitting Tel Aviv. Hamas’s military wing declined comment; the spokesman for its political wing, Fawzi Barhoum, denied the claims.

                                                  Are we six months out from Gaza Massacre II?

                                                  President-elect Obama did not condemn the Israeli destruction of Gaza. His early effort to force a settlement halt ran up against Netanyahu’s intransigence and his own unwillingness to play hardball by threatening a cutoff of aid. His administration might stop praising the Netanyahu government for “unprecedented restraint” in colonial settlement construction, and begin the strenuous campaign likely needed to spare Gaza a second onslaught.

                                                  -Steve Breyman teaches at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: breyms@rpi.edu.
                                                  If you like this article, please consider making a contribution to the Palestine Chronicle.

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                                                    The United States of Israel: A Nation of Golems

                                                    English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                    By William A. Cook

                                                    'Even the most perfect of Golem, risen to life to protect us, can easily change into a destructive force. Therefore let us treat carefully that which is strong, just as we bow kindly and patiently to that which is weak. Everything has its time and place.' (Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, 1512-1609)

                                                    The U.S. House of Representatives voted 344-36 in support of H. Res. 867, a vote to reject the Goldstone Report Findings and Recommendations, thus protecting Israel against indictment for crimes against humanity and illegal acts of war as determined by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s special investigation of the Christmas invasion of Gaza this past year. The House of Representatives, acting as a body, embodies the most heinous machinations of the ancient legend of a mythical beast called the Golem.

                                                    [More:]

                                                    The most famous of the Golem stories comes out of Medieval Prague where Rabbi Loew contended with the paradox of human existence as driven by human desire to control life on the one hand and God’s absolute power over life, “from dust to dust,” on the other. The good Rabbi, it is alleged, turned to the forbidden scriptures to give life to a human form created out of the mud of the Vltava River that flows through Prague; this figure constructed of clay, inanimate matter, a shapeless mass, imperfect, unformed, a body without a soul, responds in perfect obedience to his master.

                                                    He symbolizes the ultimate protector of the victimized as he assumed in ancient Prague protection of the Jews who were to be expelled or killed from their ghetto. To bring this monster to life, the Rabbi carved in Hebrew the word EMETH on his forehead, the meaning of which is “truth.” This being, living yet not whole, becomes a servant and protector of the people, a tool of his maker, but in time his purpose is slighted, his use abused by those who think only of their desires and self-indulgence.

                                                    In time this virtual Faustian figure seeks to know himself, rule himself, become his own master and in his soulless state, his ambition and arrogance assume control as he spreads his massive shadow of malevolence across the ghetto. Only the Rabbi can control him by rubbing out the first letter on his forehead, Aleth, leaving Mem and Taw—Death. Once loosed on the world, the Golem becomes a destroyer and hence the Rabbi’s admonishment above.

                                                    How do our representatives become a Golem? By obedience to their master. That master is Israel through its Zionist government and its multiple lobbies in the U.S., by their use of extortion and threat, and by control of monetary resources. There is no need to recount how these charges are true; books have been written about it, most especially those by former Congressman Paul Findlay and the recent study by Mearsheimer and Walt, Grant Smith’s America’s Defense Line, John Hosteller on the Iraq war, Aaron David Miller on the peace process, and Stephen Sniegoski’s Transparent Cabal.

                                                    A cursory review of the U.S. Knesset actions taken on behalf of Israel demonstrates conclusively the obedience “our” representatives pay to their owners: 2003, a resolution supporting force against Palestinians, 399-5; 2004, a resolution forbidding a return to the 1967 borders, 407-9; 2006, a resolution defending Israel’s illegal invasion and destruction of Lebanon, 410-8; 2009, a resolution defending Israel’s Christmas invasion of the defenseless people of Gaza, 390-5; and today, a resolution condemning the Goldstone Report issued by the UNHRC, 344-35. Every one of these resolutions support Israel’s illegal actions while the remainder of the world’s nation, excepting a few controlled by the U.S., vote against the crimes of the state of Israel. Their resolution, if adopted and acted upon in the Security Council, would make the state of Israel immune to law.

                                                    Rabbi Loew’s incantations brought to life the Golem of Prague’s ghetto, a mythical image that reflects a mind conditioned by massive oppression and defenselessness, a need to believe that there could be a way to protect the innocent against the terror that encircled them in their ghetto. But that mindset of necessity rejects the true power over life, the God that gives life, in favor of a dream of self-control over the forces that exist in the world, thus replacing obedience to God with a soulless form that is obedient to the hubris that contaminates a mortal. The myth explores the conflict between the self proclaimed overlord and belief in the God of the Jews. It is the confrontation of the essence of Judaism and the power of the secular forces that forego the true Torah, the polarity battle between oppression and indifference or compassion and love.

                                                    There is, as Rabbi Loew knew well, a Golem in each of us, the human form that we desire to be but cannot form because we are not alone in this world, because we must exist within a community of others, because we understand that to inflict our will on others gives license to others to inflict theirs on us, because we form societies to protect each other realizing that forging a society to fear its own survival breeds violence against its perceived enemies resulting ineluctably in devastation and death.

                                                    That is the curse of the Golem, to be brought into existence without knowledge of its master’s intent, yet obedient to that intent; to witness life behind the walls of the ghetto but locked into the mind of the elders that portray life beyond the walls; to feel the pulse of life beneath the carved “truth” that is emblazoned on the forehead, yet know no other truth than that imposed by the masters; to sense, as time passes, the masters’ inner passions, that gave rise to the creation of the Golem, erupt in vengeance against their own phantoms of inadequacy as they command the Golem to destroy all but those who will obey them, and know, that he is the means to avenge; hence the image of the Golem as the corrosive being within us that, once loosed, releases its acid throughout the body and the mind because we have become but a shapeless mass, unformed, imperfect, an artificial creature without natural sympathies, soulless—the obedient slave to another’s will.

                                                    This is the fate of our congressmen and women, indeed, it is the fate of the Jewish people in Israel who have built a wall around themselves, as the Jews in Prague did in the 16th century, fearing all but themselves, victims of all beyond the wall. Golems all, abandoning their God to placate their masters, the ruling secular Golems that have created a state of fear instead of a state for Jews, a state of oppression and indifference, a state of molded minds lacking human sympathy, a state willing to use its only friend in the community of nations for its own ends turning its representatives into pliant, obedient, mindless, soulless clay forms as heedless of the weak as their masters.

                                                    “Whence did you come?” asks Nathaniel Hawthorne. “Whence did any of us come? Out of the darkness and mystery; out of nothingness; out of a kingdom of shadows; out of dust, clay, mud…And why are you come? Who can tell? Only one thing I am aware of,--it was not to be happy. To toil and moil and hope and fear; to love in a shadowy, doubtful sort of way, and to hate in bitter earnest, --that is what you came for!” (Works, XIII, 18-19)

                                                    It is time for the good Rabbi Loew to remove “Aleph” and let our Congress rest in “Mem” and “Taw.”

                                                    -William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush's Mideast Policy. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: cookb@ulv.edu

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                                                      Two States or One: The Moment of Truth

                                                      English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                      By John V. Whitbeck

                                                      In the wake of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public praise for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s 'unprecedented' attitude toward continued Israeli settlement expansion, Saeb Erakat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, calmly rolled out a verbal bombshell at a November 4 press conference in Ramallah.

                                                      Erakat noted that now may be “the moment of truth” for the Palestinian leadership and raised the possibility that “the two-state solution is no longer an option and maybe the Palestinian people should refocus their attention on the one-state solution, where Muslims, Christians and Jews live as equals.”

                                                      This statement just might signal a turning point in the long, frustrating search for peace with some measure of justice in Israel/Palestine.
                                                      Throughout the long years of the perpetual "peace process", deadlines have been consistently and predictably missed. Such failures have been facilitated by the practical reality that, for Israel, "failure" has had no consequences other than a continuation of the status quo, which, for all Israeli governments, has been not only tolerable but preferable to any realistically realizable alternative. For Israel, "failure" has always constituted "success", permitting it to continue confiscating Palestinian land, expanding its West Bank colonies, building Jews-only bypass roads and generally making the occupation even more permanent and irreversible.

                                                      [More:]

                                                      In everyone's interests, this must change. For there to be any chance of success in any new round of negotiations, failure must have clear and compelling consequences which Israelis would find unappealing -- indeed, at least initially, nightmarish.

                                                      The Palestinian leadership, with or without Mahmoud Abbas. should now announce its willingness to resume negotiations with Israel but only on the express and irrevocable understanding that, if a definitive peace agreement on a "two-state basis" has not been reached and signed by the end of 2010, the Palestinian people will have no choice but to seek justice and freedom through democracy -- through full rights of citizenship in a single state in all of Israel/Palestine, free of any discrimination based on race or religion and with equal rights for all who live there, as in any true democracy.

                                                      The Arab League should then publicly state that the very generous Arab Peace Initiative, which, since March 2002, has offered Israel permanent peace and normal diplomatic and economic relations in return for Israel's compliance with international law, will expire and be "off the table" if a definitive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement has not been signed by the end of 2010.

                                                      At this point -- but not before -- serious and meaningful negotiations can begin. It may already be too late to achieve a decent two-state solution (as opposed to an indecent, less-than-a-Bantustan one), but a decent two-state solution would never have a better chance of being achieved. If it is, indeed, too late, then Israelis, Palestinians and the world will know and can thereafter focus their minds and efforts constructively on the only other decent alternative.

                                                      It is even possible that, if forced to focus during the coming year on the prospect of living in a democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens -- which, after all, is what the United States and the European Union hold up, in all other instances, as the ideal form of political life -- many Israelis might come to view this "threat" as less nightmarish than they traditionally have.

                                                      In this context, Israelis might wish to talk with some white South Africans. The transformation of South Africa's racial-supremicist ideology and political system into a fully democratic one has transformed them, personally, from pariahs into people welcomed throughout their region and the world. It has also ensured the permanence of a strong and vital white presence in southern Africa in a way that prolonging the flagrant injustice of a racial-supremicist ideology and political system and imposing fragmented and dependent "independent states" on the natives could never have achieved.

                                                      This is not a precedent to dismiss. It could and should inspire.

                                                      - John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel, is author of "The World According to Whitbeck”. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                        Amayreh: "America's ugly old face"

                                                        English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                        Al Ahram

                                                        The US is still playing fast and loose with its commitments on Israeli-Palestinian peace, reports Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

                                                        Speaking during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in West Jerusalem Saturday, 31 October, visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that Israel was making "unprecedented concessions" on the issue of settlements. "What the prime minister has offered in specifics on restraints on a policy on settlements is unprecedented in the context of negotiations."

                                                        She also claimed that a freeze on settlement building had not been a precondition for peace talks in the past. Clinton reiterated the same old platitudes about America's commitment to a "comprehensive peace agreement" and the need for the resumption of peace talks as soon as possible. Netanyahu, visibly pleased by Clinton's remarks, said "we think we should sit around that negotiating table right away." He termed Palestinian insistence on a settlement expansion freeze a "new Palestinian policy that doesn't advance peace".

                                                        Clinton's remarks sent shockwaves in Ramallah, prompting some Palestinian officials to accuse the Obama administration of "fully and brazenly embracing the Israeli position" and "reneging on erstwhile pledges to commit Israel to freeze all settlement expansion activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem". "There can be no excuse for the continuation of settlements, which is really the main obstacle in the way of any credible peace process," said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

                                                        [More:]

                                                        Abu Rudeina added: "A settlement freeze and acknowledging the terms of reference is the only way towards peace negotiations. Settlement expansion is illegitimate and it is not possible to accept any justification for the continuation of settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem."

                                                        Other Palestinian officials spoke more angrily of "America's old ugly face", with one key official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying "there is not a chance in hell that Obama will force Israel to end the occupation or even freeze the construction of more settlements. I think we are deceiving ourselves. We must stop being bamboozled like little children. The US is simply Israel's guardian, protector and defender. In many aspects, the US is more Zionist and more inimical to our cause and people than Israel itself."

                                                        Earlier in Abu Dhabi, Abbas reasserted his opposition to any resumption of peace talks with Israel without a freeze on Jewish settlement construction. In his uncharacteristically firm stand on this issue, Abbas was unanimously backed by Fatah and all other PLO factions. Even Hamas, Abbas's domestic foe, voiced the hope that Abbas would stick to this position and resist American bullying.

                                                        Abbas's firm stand on the issue of settlement expansion may have surprised Clinton, prompting the secretary of state to tone down her pro-Israeli remarks. Clinton was quoted as saying during an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Morocco Monday, 2 November, that although it was true that Israel offered unprecedented concessions on the issue of settlements, it didn't mean that the US was satisfied with the Israeli stance. However, Clinton's statement was largely viewed by Palestinian and Arab observers as "too weak to undo the damage already done".

                                                        The PA's fury over Clinton's remarks is understandable. The continued survival and relevance of the PA depends to a large extent on the success of the peace process. Indeed, if the peace process fails to deliver, the PA itself loses its raison d'être. Moreover, the PA as well as many in the Arab world gave President Obama the benefit of the doubt when he pledged in his landmark speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on 4 June that his administration would adopt a fair and balanced approach towards the Arab-Israeli conflict. Hence present disappointment and bitterness.

                                                        Still more important is the fact that Abbas himself has no other alternative strategy in case the peace process with Israel meets a dead-end, as most Palestinians and Arabs believe it has. Abbas is also worried that by returning to peace talks with Israel without getting settlement expansion halted, at least for the duration of prospective talks, he would incur the wrath of his people. One PA official intimated that any "serious concession by Abbas to Netanyahu at this time, such agreeing to return to the negotiating table without preconditions, would make him lose face before his people". "I think most Palestinians would view this as a scandalous betrayal and a sort of a selling out. The Goldstone episode would be small in comparison," he added.

                                                        There is no doubt that Hamas is keenly watching Abbas's behaviour. Two weeks ago Abbas called for presidential and legislative elections to be organised in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. However, with the peace process going nowhere and with the Obama administration cajoling and coercing the Palestinian leader to accommodate Israeli intransigence, Abbas might very well find himself backed into a corner. It is uncertain if Abbas will be able to sustain his current position, namely his refusal to resume peace talks without a freeze on settlements. After all, Abbas stands at the helm of a weak entity whose very financial and political survival depends to a large extent on the goodwill of the US and EU, as well as Israel.

                                                        Moreover, even if the Palestinian leader decided to bite the bullet and return to the negotiating table, everyone in the region and beyond knows well that the talks would be more of the same, given past failed efforts to reach a lasting agreement with Israel. The reason is clear. Israel, especially under the current right-wing government, will never voluntarily agree to give up the spoils of the 1967 war and is extremely unlikely to agree to withdraw from East Jerusalem, allow for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees or, indeed, dismantle hundreds of Jewish colonies established by successive Israeli governments on Palestinian land occupied more than 42 years ago.

                                                        In fact, many Palestinians, even within Abbas's own Fatah party, are not enthusiastic about resuming talks with Israel under the present "unfavourable" conditions. Jebril Rajoub, a member of Fatah's Executive Committee, pointed out that "for negotiations to succeed, there has to be an agreed-upon endgame. But if talks are to be viewed by the Israelis and the Americans as an occasion for bullying the Palestinians to surrender, then to hell with peace talks."

                                                        To be sure, the Palestinians are not the only ones getting disillusioned by the Obama administration's weakness vis-à-vis Israel.

                                                        The noted Israeli journalist Gideon Levy accused the US of "sucking up to Israel". Writing in Haaretz newspaper on 1 November, Levy argued that the American approach of begging Israel to offer concessions for peace was counterproductive and would achieve no results. "Israel is the occupier, the stubborn contrarian that continues to mock America and the world by building settlements and abusing the Palestinians. Now is the time to say to the United States: Enough flattery. If you don't change the tone, nothing will change. As long as Israel feels the US is in its pocket, and that America's automatic veto will save it from condemnation and sanctions, that it will receive massive aid unconditionally, and that it can continue waging punitive, lethal campaigns without a word from Washington, killing, destroying and imprisoning without the world's policeman making a sound, it will continue in its ways."

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                                                          Out in the cold

                                                          English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                          Saleh Al-Naami details the harsh conditions that Gaza residents will endure this winter


                                                          Left homeless after the brutal invasion last December and enduring the continuing seige by Israel, Palestinian refugees in Gaza face a harsh winter

                                                          Awatef Al-Assar filled bags of sand to hold down the sides of the tent in a failed attempt to stabilise it. Her children still remember how hard she tried to hold on to the pole of the tent that was sheltering her and her family last winter as the winds blew hard to uproot it. Meanwhile, trying to help, her husband was shaking with cold and fear from the thunder outside. Rainwater swamped the tent as their efforts failed and the tent collapsed on the heads of the children. The entire family was forced to seek refuge at a nearby house.

                                                          Like thousands of others, Al-Assar's home was destroyed during Israel's war on the Gaza Strip. Even now she fears a repeat of the same punishing experience of last winter. Her neighbour, Hajja Fatma Hamdan, who is at the same refuge camp with her family, remembers how she was surprised by the amount of rain filling up the tent while her family slept. They awoke startled, and all they could do was abandon all their possessions and seek shelter elsewhere.

                                                          [More:]

                                                          The residents of the refuge camp, which lies close to Beit Lahia, said that uprooted and torn tents resulted in many health problems for the homeless, especially children. The young suffer from vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. Nehaya, who was widowed when her husband was killed during the war, said that for a long time she was continuously taking her children to a clinic in Beit Lahia for severe cases of colds.

                                                          As winter approaches, the occupants of this camp -- like those in other camps -- complain that there are not enough warm blankets. Suleiman Al-Masri, whose home in Beit Hanoun in northeastern Gaza was destroyed, said his family of 15 only received seven blankets from a charity organisation. Nine months after the end of the war, many homeless families still return to their destroyed homes in search of more blankets and warm covers under tons of rubble. Most of these attempts end in failure, either because everything inside is scorched or is buried too deep in the debris.

                                                          These families have no refuge except the camps set up by the Hamas government, UNRWA or charities working in Gaza. Camps for those who lost their homes have become widespread in Gaza. In fact, camps were constructed in every area destroyed during the war.

                                                          While those whose homes were completely demolished during the war suffer the winter cold, those whose homes were not completely obliterated during the assault also suffer. Windowpanes need to be replaced in many homes to block the bitter cold of winter, but because of the siege the supply of glass is limited and only available via smuggling. This has raised the price of glass unreasonably. The windows of Ghassan Abu Samha's family home, located in Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp in the centre of Gaza, were destroyed by the Israeli onslaught. The eight members of his family will be exposed to the winter chill as the cold season approaches and no repairs have been possible.

                                                          Abu Samha told Al-Ahram Weekly that he could not afford to repair the windows with the available glass, which is of poor quality anyway. "It costs 2,500 shekels [$700] to repair, which is a huge sum for me," he continued. "I have no other choice but to cover the windows with plastic which doesn't cost more than 100 shekels." Abu Samha's 10- year-old son Ahmed remembered how he could hardly sleep last winter because of the plastic on his bedroom window. Nonetheless, using plastic to cover broken windowpanes has become the common remedy for many families in Gaza.

                                                          Meanwhile, hundreds who live on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and whose homes are intact, have decided to leave out of fear of being bombed by Israel. They feel especially vulnerable because their homes are located opposite Israeli army bases on the demarcation line.

                                                          Zaidan Sarar, who lives in Om Al-Gamal on the border, is one of those who chose to leave their home and move to a rented apartment out of fear of the Israeli army. Sarar moved to an apartment block in Deir Al-Balah and abandoned his home, telling the Weekly he preferred spending all his income on rent rather than risk his safety. "When I recalled the corpses of children who were killed in the last war, I decided to do anything so my children don't suffer the same fate," he said. "This is why I sought to rent an apartment and leave my home which I spent all my life's savings to build."

                                                          Other families are grappling with overcrowding after opening their doors to homeless families. Gamal Al-Masri, 29, waits until night before returning to his home in Al-Nosayrat Refugee Camp in the centre of Gaza. Al-Masri's home currently accommodates his parents and younger siblings who sought him out after their home in Al-Maghazi Camp, east of Al-Nosayrat, was obliterated in the last war in Gaza. Al-Masri, who is married with five children, told the Weekly that he tries to spend as much time outside the house as possible because his three-bedroom home now houses 17 people. As winter approaches, his ability to stay out with co-workers or neighbours is diminishing, but he is still unable to live in the overcrowded house. Al-Masri's biggest problem is a shortage in warm covers to shield everyone from the harsh winter cold.

                                                          Al-Masri is not the only one who was obliged to take in his family after the Israeli army destroyed their homes during the war. In fact, he could be considered luckier than most who have had to house many more family members because of the war. Adel Sala, 43, had no choice but to take in two of his brothers' families after the Israeli army destroyed their homes in two separate air attacks. With 25 people now living in his four-bedroom house in Al-Qarara village, each room houses one family while the three men sleep in the fourth room. Sala admits that the living conditions are very difficult, complicated and awkward. For example, going to the bathroom requires prior scheduling, while he and his brothers go to the mosque for ablutions to avoid any embarrassment.

                                                          The scenes of hardship this winter are endless, not least of the children whose homes were demolished and had to move far away from their areas of residence. Now they must commute for long distances to reach their schools and also lack sufficient winter clothing to protect them against the bitter winter cold.

                                                          Al Ahram

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                                                            PALESTINE: IT'S TIME

                                                            English (US)  November 7th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

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                                                              Zionist Israel's warmongering "scenario for the next war": The doomsday weapon

                                                              English (US)  November 6th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                              Haaretz

                                                              By Gideon Levy

                                                              Every few weeks you have to sow fear, every few months you need to make threats, and once every year or two you have to have another little war. Blind cooperation between the defense establishment and the media holds the promise of another round of fighting. In that way, it's possible to escape some of the blame from the Goldstone report and wallow in the conditions we love best: being the victim, feeling threatened and uniting in the face of the great external danger allegedly in the offing.

                                                              The Israel Defense Forces will be above it all and cleanse itself of a series of suspicions and failures. This can also translate into huge budgets, glorified importance and influence for both the generals and the military commentators. It also creates good television ratings and sells sensationalist newspapers and advanced weapon systems. What's better than that for us?

                                                              The most recent cry of alarm: NASA in Palestine, Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Gaza. Hamas launches an Iranian rocket - it must be Iranian - 60 kilometers. The head of Military Intelligence reported on it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke immediately about missile systems, and the media immediately broke into its favorite war dance. "Three million citizens within range," "Confrontation in December," "Are you within range?" "Outskirts of Tel Aviv in danger," "Doomsday weapons" - frightening headlines accompanied by no less scary maps. "This is a new dimension confronting the IDF. It's not a simple matter. It's really a different story altogether. We should remember that there will be many casualties on the home front," roared the national baritone - the military commentator on television.

                                                              So again we are dealing with the grotesque - a strip of land under siege wallowing in its distress and ruins, with a pitiful paramilitary organization whose weapons arsenal would be an embarrassment to an IDF basic training camp. And it already proved its inadequacy in the last war. But the militants are portrayed to us as a superpower. That's how they create the scenario for the next war. That's how they empower not just the enemy, but first and foremost the IDF, which can beat the enemy.

                                                              [More:]

                                                              The warmongering military commentators say war will come early, maybe even next month. The furious predictions of the commentators will again be a self-fulfilling prophesy. As with the horrible earlier incarnations, we can soon expect a series of "incidents" that are "heating up the front" - bombing a tunnel or shelling a weapons lab. A few helpless peasants who dare approach the security fence, rusty plows in hand, will be killed after being depicted as terrorists laying explosives, and the Palestinians will fire hollow Qassams in response, sowing fear in the Negev and creating pressure on the government to "do something."

                                                              "The top brass are not asking if there will be another military confrontation with Hamas, but when," according to the cliche about the next war. But of course the only important question is not asked: "Why?" rather than whether or when. This is the question that reverberates.

                                                              It would be funny if it were not so depressing. Even satire would not be as ridiculous as this constantly recurring reality. No lessons are learned. A thousand commissions of inquiry will not spare us this march of folly. Gaza is locked up and quiet, relatively speaking. True, it will not remain calm if the siege is not lifted and its residents are not allowed to enjoy humane living conditions. Those who want another criminal and unnecessary war in December are invited to join the celebration of insanity that is overcoming us, orchestrated by the barons of war - the generals and commentators.

                                                              Those who want to try to stop this vicious cycle are welcome to think of an alternative: the immediate lifting of the siege, the rehabilitation of Gaza, the release of Gilad Shalit at the stated price, an effort to bring Hamas into the peace process and an attempt to reach a long-term agreement with it. It's possible. It has never been tried, but there's a catch. What will the generals and commentators do if, God forbid, the calm in the south continues?

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                                                                I resist!

                                                                English (US)  November 6th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

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                                                                  House Shames Itself on Goldstone Report

                                                                  English (US)  November 6th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                  The AIPAC drafted resolution HR-838 was supported by 80% of the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 3. The resolution shamefully calls on the President and the Secretary of State “to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration” of the Goldstone report. In essence, the resolution tells the entire world that the American Congress endorses war crime and crimes against humanity and pledges to prevent the International Community from holding those violating human rights accountable.

                                                                  Check the full roll call vote at: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2009-838

                                                                  Published on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 by The Progressive

                                                                  by Matthew Rothschild

                                                                  Shame on the House of Representatives, and on the Democratic leadership of the House, for pushing through a resolution once again blindly taking the side of Israeli aggression.

                                                                  I’m referring to the vote on Tuesday, by a lopsided 344-to-36 margin, to condemn the Goldstone report on Gaza.

                                                                  That report, by South African jurist Richard Goldstone for the UN, showed that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes in the lead-up to and during Israel’s invasion of Gaza almost a year ago. (To read the executive summary, click here)

                                                                  [More:]

                                                                  It noted that Israel deliberately attacked civilian targets, and did not take sufficient action to minimize civilian loss of life. For instance, it found that Israel even refused to allow the evacuation of the injured by ambulance.

                                                                  The report also condemned Hamas for its rocket attacks into Israel, which the report said were designed to create terror.

                                                                  Even as the U.N. was about to consider the report, the House measure called it “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” And it urged the Obama Administration to “strongly and unequivocally oppose” any discussion of it at the UN.

                                                                  This reflexive attitude that Israel can do no wrong is morally bankrupt and exceedingly unhelpful in resolving, in a just manner, the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

                                                                  Dennis Kucinich had it right when he denounced the House majority for going along with this. His statement is so powerful that I’m excerpting it at length here.

                                                                  “Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt,” he said on the House floor on Tuesday. “Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist.

                                                                  “Because behind every such deception is the nullification of humanity, the destruction of human dignity, the annihilation of the human spirit, the triumph of Orwellian thinking, the eternal prison of the dark heart of the totalitarian.

                                                                  “The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the Goldstone Report to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the ‘Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right: resolution.’ . . .

                                                                  "How can we ever expect there to be peace in the Middle East if we tacitly approve of violations of international law and international human rights, if we look the other way, or if we close our eyes to the heartbreak of people on both sides by white-washing a legitimate investigation?

                                                                  "How can we protect the people of Israel from existential threats if we hold no concern for the protection of the Palestinians, for their physical security, their right to land, their right to their own homes, their right to water, their right to sustenance, their right to freedom of movement, their right to human security of jobs, education and health care?

                                                                  "We will have peace only when the plight of both Palestinians and Israelis is brought before this House and given equal consideration in recognition of that principle that all people on this planet have a right to survive and thrive, and it is our responsibility, our duty to see that no individual, no group, no people are barred from this humble human claim."

                                                                  Until most members of Congress show some respect for international law and some humanity toward Palestinians, there’s no reason for Israel to.

                                                                  [The Goldstone report, which accused Israel of using "disproportionate force" and of deliberately targeting civilians, called for independent investigations to be held into Israel's and Hamas's conduct during the war.

                                                                  The report called for the cases to be referred to the ICC in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not investigate the war crimes allegations against them within six months.

                                                                  Hamas has agreed to hold such an investigation, but Israel has not.]

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                                                                    Turkish university students throw eggs at Israeli ambassador

                                                                    English (US)  November 5th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                    ANKARA (PIC)-- Turkish students in the city of Trabzon on Wednesday hurled rotten eggs at Israeli ambassador to Turkey Gabby Levy during his visit to the Black Sea university in protest at the war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

                                                                    The students attacked Levy’s car the moment it arrived in front of the university administration and chanted slogans condemning Israeli officials as killers of children.

                                                                    [More:]

                                                                    The university guards tried to calm the angry students, but they continued their protest forcing the Israeli ambassador to cancel his visit and leave the campus.

                                                                    The Turkish mayor of Rize city strongly criticized on Tuesday levy during his visit to the municipal building, saying that the peace in the region cannot be achieved through the murder of chidren.

                                                                    The mayor also told levy that the Turkish people would never change their position against the Israelis unless Israel changed its policy of occupation and aggression.

                                                                    http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en

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                                                                      Amayreh: Abbas admits failure of the peace process

                                                                      English (US)  November 5th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                      By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

                                                                      Mahmoud Abbas, the beleaguered head of the Palestinian Authority, has finally but belatedly admitted that the so-called Peace process with Israel has completely failed and that the Palestinian people will have to seek an alternative to it.

                                                                      In a speech in Ramallah Thursday evening, Abbas rightly blamed Israel for the collapse of the political process, saying that the PA had carried out “all our commitments and obligations” while Israel continued to steal Palestinian land and build Jewish settlements.

                                                                      The 74-year-old Fatah leader said he decided not to seek a second term as PA Chairman, citing the failure of peace talks with Israel and the Israeli refusal to end the occupation that started in 1967.

                                                                      He cited America’s embrace of Israeli rejectionism, especially with regard to Jewish settlement expansion, and the so-far unsuccessful efforts to reach national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, as the main reasons for his decision.

                                                                      In short, Abbas blamed everyone for his failure, except himself.

                                                                      [More:]


                                                                      Indeed, from the very inception of his “presidency,”!!!! Abbas sought to appease the Israelis and the Americans in ways that seriously undermined Palestinian national dignity, making our enemy and its guardian-ally overseas view the PA leadership as a quisling entity.

                                                                      Abbas and cohorts allowed an American general to train and “build” Palestinian “national forces” in accordance with a manifestly treasonous doctrine whereby the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation was considered “acts of terror.”

                                                                      Keith Dayton inculcated our sons with the poisoned belief that Israel was the friend and Hamas was the enemy.

                                                                      Eventually, the Americans cajoled and encouraged some ambitious and careerist-minded Fatah leaders to try a military coup against the democratically elected government in Gaza, which eventually led to the enduring showdown between Fatah and Hamas.

                                                                      But instead of seeking genuine reconciliation with Hamas, the Abbas leadership stopped short of forging a brazen alliance with the Israeli occupation army against Palestinian resistance, mainly in order to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the Israelis and Americans.

                                                                      We all remember that infamous treacherous encounter between Abbas’s generals and Israeli army commanders at Beit El near Ramallah in September, 2008, when the highest ranking Palestinian security commander in the West Bank told his Zionist colleagues that “we are allies against terror” and that “we have one common enemy, and the name of that enemy is Hamas.”

                                                                      These remarks were not merely a slip of the tongue on the part of the Abbas’s leadership. They were translated and are still being translated into policy in every street and corner in the West Bank where the PA security forces have been waging an harsh inquisition against Hamas’s supporters.

                                                                      This inquisition, which is continuing unabated, saw the imprisonment and torture of thousands of innocent people and the death of many.

                                                                      The PA connivance with Israel culminated earlier this year during the Nazi-like Israeli onslaught against Gaza when the PA hoped that the Jewish Wehrmacht would finish off Hamas and restore the Gaza Strip to the Ramallah Junta on a silver platter.

                                                                      Abbas’s sins are not confined to the post-2006 elections plots and machinations against Hamas, such as encouraging the west to keep up and even tighten the blockade of Gaza and encouraging the Egyptian leadership to seal the Rafah border-crossing for the purpose of strangling the coastal enclave’s 1.5 million inhabitants in the hope that they would rise up against Hamas.

                                                                      His management of the futile peace talks with Israel was decidedly scandalous. Often behaving like Alice in Wonderland, Abbas on numerous occasion gave his people the impression that peace was around the corner and that Ehud Olmert, the hero of the virtual genocide against Gaza , was an honest peace partner.

                                                                      The kissing parties involving Abbas and Olmert in West Jerusalem made many people in Palestine as well as the outside world think that Israel was finally coming to terms with legitimate Palestinian rights and that the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital was only a matter of a few months.

                                                                      Needless to say, all these hectic but disingenuous activities, misleadingly termed “peace talks,” were taking place while Israeli bulldozers were pulverizing more Palestinian land, farms and orchards.

                                                                      During these chummy chats, Abbas never really insisted on a full and total stoppage of Jewish settlement expansion, the malignant cancer devouring the remainder of the West Bank, nor did he insist on determining the end-game of the protracted process.

                                                                      Hence, his stupidity, naivety, and misplaced trust of Israeli intentions got him where he is now. He has none but himself to blame.

                                                                      Many Palestinian and Arab leaders had advised him not to be duped and deceived by the Israelis into succumbing to a vague and lengthy process that would allow Israel to create more facts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

                                                                      However, he nearly always refused to listen, insisting that the “peace process” was the Palestinians’ “only strategy.”

                                                                      And when a Palestinian journalist asked him a few months ago what he would do if the peace process failed, he shamelessly said that the alternative to the peace process was the peace process.

                                                                      Abbas claimed in his speech that the door was still open for the “two-state solution.” However, a day earlier, Saeb Ureikat, a key political advisor to Abbas, was quoted as saying that time was becoming too late for a Palestinian state and that the Palestinian leadership would have to be honest and frank with the Palestinian masses in this regard.

                                                                      It is hard to think how Abbas can redeem and rectify some of his blunders. Some of his sins, such as the security coordination with Israel, can never be forgiven.

                                                                      But Abbas can still embark on some daring steps to salvage things before it is too late.

                                                                      At the top of these steps should be the orderly dismantling of the Palestinian Authority under whose rubric the national Palestinian cause is being liquidated.

                                                                      Failure to do so, under whatever pretexts and excuses, would only mean legitimizing the colonial Israeli scheme and capitulating to the status quo.

                                                                      Let us get rid of the big lie and confront ourselves with the all too-clear fact that the colonialist Zionist occupation of our country never really receded and that the Oslo Agreement was a deception from A to Z. We must tell our people that the PA is not a phase toward liberation from Zionist tyranny, as we have been told, but is rather an instrument for the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

                                                                      Is Abbas willing to face reality? Or does he need another 15 years of deception and lies to realize what every Palestinian child knows thoroughly well?

                                                                      http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en

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                                                                        Hillary Clinton's Diplomacy Inaction

                                                                        English (US)  November 5th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                        By James Gundun - Washington DC

                                                                        Like a room filled with methane, the combustible element of failure waited silently for a spark. Neither special envoy George Mitchell nor President Obama could budge the Palestinians from their demand for an Israeli settlement freeze.

                                                                        Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with an established pro-Israeli bias, is known to bite. Coming off a three day jaunt in Pakistan that left America with even less friends, she detonated another bombshell in another conflict, her diplomacy more stagecraft than statecraft.

                                                                        ‘What the prime minister has offered, a restraint on the policy of settlements, which he has just described, no new starts, for example, is unprecedented in the context of prior to negotiations,’ an upbeat Clinton said in Jerusalem, next to the solemn Benjamin Netanyahu.

                                                                        [More:]

                                                                        An Israeli cheer session so late in the hour poses obvious obstacles to a two-state solution, indicated by the Palestinians’ swift and harsh response.

                                                                        Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for PA president Mahmoud Abbas, warned, ‘The negotiations are in a state of paralysis, and the result of Israel's intransigence and America's back-pedaling is that there is no hope of negotiations on the horizon.’

                                                                        Senior negotiator Saeb Erekat added, ‘Pressuring Palestinians to make further concessions to accommodate Israeli intransigence is not the answer.’

                                                                        But Clinton wasn’t so wrong to state her true position as to retreat from a hail of missiles under a two-face shield. ‘This offer falls far short of what our preference would be’, she said a day later in Marrakech, ‘but if it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth.

                                                                        Successive American administrations of both parties have opposed Israel's settlement policy. That is absolutely a fact, and the Obama administration's position on settlements is clear, unequivocal and it has not changed.’

                                                                        Several Palestinians thanked her for ‘clarifying,’ including PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki.

                                                                        Yet the next day she deployed another character, mixing a take-it-or-leave-it approach to the Palestinians with praise for the White House. She told Al Jazeera, ‘I think it is important for your viewers to say to themselves, 'well, we can continue with what we have now ‘which is a halt to nothing’ or we can halt all new settlement activity'.

                                                                        ‘It is not everything that the president asked for,’ Clinton stressed, ‘but it is much closer to anything that anyone has ever achieved in getting an Israeli government to agree. The Israelis have responded to the call of the U.S., the Palestinians and the Arab world to stop settlement activity by expressing a willingness to restrain settlement activity.’

                                                                        Claiming that Israel is responding to Palestinian calls is incomprehensible given how they just responded. Clinton herself admitted that Israel hasn’t met US conditions. And in the Arab world, Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa vented, ‘The Americans couldn't bring something serious... I'm really afraid we're about to see failure... failure is in the atmosphere.’

                                                                        Clinton defended Israel before adding, ‘I think, as you know, President Obama clearly said he wanted to see an end to settlement activity.’

                                                                        But that's the problem - no one knows where the White House stands on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. President Obama gave away Jerusalem at an AIPAC speech then waxed poetically about the Palestinian cause in Cairo. His personal affirmations of Palestine clash a circle that includes Dennis Ross, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, and lesser known pro-Israelis. No Palestinian commands his ear.

                                                                        Akiva Eldar, chief political commentator for the Ha'aretz, commented, ‘It is a betrayal. The secretary of state, I assume with the full support of the president, has turned around after 10 months of negotiating the precondition of freezing settlements... she says there is no precedent to preconditions.’

                                                                        If Obama truly believes in a settlement freeze, his message is being hijacked by Clinton’s seesawing. Abu Rudeina told the AFP upon her arrival in Cairo, "Clinton's backtracking on her remarks, especially with regard to the partial freeze of settlements, is not sufficient to restart negotiations with Israel."

                                                                        The White House must turn its extravagant production into reality. Clinton gave a show, not a serious effort to launch negotiations, and it fell apart. The PA told America point blank that a settlement freeze is the door to negotiations, yet US officials all the way to President Obama are still looking for a window.

                                                                        ‘We should not put the credibility and the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority again under jeopardy if the Palestinian Authority will accept anything less than a total freeze,’ said Malki. ‘It will be detrimental to the future and the existence of the Palestinian authority as a whole.’

                                                                        America needs to get on the right side of the settlement issue and stay there. The PA’s demand for a freeze works both ways - while it stalls negotiations, it also unlocks them. ‘We do not put conditions for resuming negotiations,’ Erekat said, ‘but we want the talks resumed on the basis of the provisions of the road map, which stipulates the cessation of all forms of settlement activity in the Palestinian territories.’

                                                                        "We have shown a willingness to do unprecedented things to relaunch the process," Netanyahu retorted. ‘But we are encountering the opposite from the Palestinians. We are encountering preconditions from the Palestinians that haven't been set in all the 16 years of the peace process."

                                                                        Except preconditions didn’t exist because settlement expansion hadn’t progressed to its current point; now a settlement freeze is required to restore a sense of balance to the region. Clinton brushed on a valid point, saying, ‘There has never been a precondition. It's always been an issue within the negotiations.’

                                                                        The most practical solution is to freeze all settlement activity in order to restart negotiations, then negotiate the status of future settlement growth. However, focusing solely on settlements diminishes the wider picture.

                                                                        Softening on one final-status issue creates the impression that America will soften on all issues. Palestinians are bent on a settlement freeze because they believe they’ll get fleeced in final status negotiations. Serious doubts exist that refugees will return home or that a Palestinian state will operate under its own sovereignty. They need to get something while they can.

                                                                        PA President Mahmoud Abbas explained, ‘Jerusalem was in danger, and without Jerusalem, there will be no peace.’

                                                                        Clinton also misses the point when she applauds Netanyahu for making a fair offer. Muslims don’t like Netanyahu and they don’t like America covering for him. Clinton, "can praise Mr. Netanyahu if she wants," Moussa said, "but we're not impressed. We see the policies of Mr. Netanyahu as a major impediment toward peace.’

                                                                        "I know Netanyahu is pragmatic and everyone tells me he has changed," Abbas reportedly told officials last week. "But I don't see it. I fear it's the same Netanyahu of 1996. How much longer can I still give him credit? I'm willing to give Netanyahu one more chance. But we have no more than two to three weeks during which something must happen.'

                                                                        President Obama will fail to bring peace to Israel and Palestine if he pursues his current course. A settlement freeze must be supported because it is impermanent, to be determined in final status negotiations. His position mustn’t change through himself or his officials. Whipping back and forth is aggravating the peace process, not providing stability or clarity.

                                                                        And Abbas is being generous - most Palestinians have no faith in Netanyahu. They aren’t buying the show.

                                                                        Neither Mitchell, Clinton, nor Obama have produced tangible results through their diplomacy. America must change the reality on the ground, not dress it up, to jump-start the peace process.

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

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                                                                          UN endorses Goldstone report

                                                                          English (US)  November 5th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                          Most of the report's criticism was directed towards Israel's conduct during the Gaza offensive [AFP]

                                                                          The United Nations General Assembly has voted in favour of resolution endorsing a UN-sponsored report into war crimes committed during Israel's war on Gaza.

                                                                          The Goldstone report, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, was endorsed by the assembly on Thursday by a margin of 114 to 18, after two days of debate.

                                                                          Forty-four member-nations abstained from voting.

                                                                          [More:]

                                                                          The report, which was compiled by a panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, had already been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, which sponsored the fact-finding commission.

                                                                          The report calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate within three months accusations of human-rights violations during the 22-day conflict in December and January.

                                                                          Most of the criticism in the Goldstone report was directed towards Israel's conduct during the offensive, in which human rights organisations say about 1,400 Palestinians - many of them women and children - were killed.

                                                                          Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were killed over the course of the war.

                                                                          The report concluded that Israel used disproportionate force in the war, deliberately targeting Gaza civilians, using them as human shields, and destroying civilian infrastructure.

                                                                          Offensive conduct

                                                                          Apart from Israel and the United States, a number of European countries including Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic, voted against the resolution.

                                                                          Britain and France were among EU member nations who abstained.

                                                                          Al Jazeera is not responsible for external websites' content

                                                                          Most developing countries voted in favour of endorsing the report.

                                                                          Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer called it "an important night in the history of the General Assembly and the history of fighting against impunity and seeking accountability."

                                                                          Earlier, speaking ahead of the final UN vote, he said Goldstone report had concluded that the Israeli military onslaught "was planned in all of its phases as a deliberately disproportionate and systematic attack aimed at punishing, humiliating and terrorising the Palestinian civilian population".

                                                                          But Daniel Carmon, Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN, told the assembly that the resolution "endorses and legitimises a deeply flawed, one-sided and prejudiced report of the discredited Human Rights Council and its politicised work that bends both fact and law".

                                                                          Alejandro Wolff, the US deputy ambasssador to the UN, also accused the the resolution of being flawed, saying that it failed to name Hamas, the Palestinian group that has de facto control of Gaza.

                                                                          The non-binding resolution passed on Thursday by the General Assembly asks Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, to pass the report to the UN Security Council.

                                                                          However, diplomats have said that the five permanent members of the 15-member Security Council have signalled that they are opposed to council involvement - meaning that it is unlikely that the 15-nation body would take action.

                                                                          The debate at the General Assembly, which began on Wednesday, was called for by the Arab UN group, with the backing of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

                                                                          Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN in New York ahead of Thursday's vote, said the debate represented a push to keep the Goldstone report alive.

                                                                          "The resolution endorses the report and also attempts to force it upon the Security Council, by getting the secretary-general involved," she said

                                                                          US House vote

                                                                          On Tuesday the US House of Representatives dismissed the Goldstone report as being "irredeemably biased" against Israel.

                                                                          The house voted in favour of a non-binding resolution calling on Barack Obama, the US president, to maintain his opposition to the report.

                                                                          Richard Goldstone himself last week sent a letter to the US House of Representatives saying that the text of the US resolution had "factual inaccuracies and instances where information and statements are taken grossly out of context".

                                                                          He offered several rejections and clarifications of the ideas expressed in the resolution.

                                                                          In response to Goldstone's criticism, three parts of the resolution were amended on Tuesday to clarify that Goldstone had sought an expansion to the commission's mandate so that his team could investigate claims that Hamas had violated international law during the Gaza war.

                                                                          The report called for cases to be referred to the ICC in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not investigate the war crimes allegations against them within six months.

                                                                          Hamas has agreed to hold such an investigation, but Israel has not.

                                                                          Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                            Zionist Israel to set up slave labor camps for migrant workers

                                                                            English (US)  November 5th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                            Haaretz

                                                                            By Dana Weiler-Polak, Haaretz Correspondent

                                                                            The government is considering establishing work camps in the south of the country, where illegal migrant workers will receive shelter, food and medical care, Army Radio reported Wednesday. In exchange, illegal migrants would perform manual labor outside the camps, but would not earn a salary.

                                                                            They would stay at the camp until their asylum claims are decided, which could take months or years.

                                                                            [More:]

                                                                            The proposal, part of the effort to address the problems posed by illegal migrants, would place asylum seekers at jobs in communities in the Negev and Arava. Their salaries would go to the state, in order to fund the camps.

                                                                            The issue of illegal foreign migrants and refugees has made the headlines due to the efforts by human rights organizations to block the deportation of 1,200 foreign workers' children. One of the main arguments by deportation advocates, including Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), is that allowing them to stay would bring hundreds of thousands more illegal migrants.

                                                                            They would bring in "a range of diseases such as hepatitis, measles, tuberculosis and AIDS [as well as] drugs," said Yishai.

                                                                            "I fear how far we have fallen," said MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) in reaction to the work camp proposal, adding that he thinks the plan would encourage many more asylum seekers to try to enter Israel.

                                                                            "The plan [would] induce refugees to come to Israel. A bed is an incentive compared to where they come from. Israel has the right to close its borders, but when someone comes here, you cannot fight with him. This shows that we haven't learned a thing, as people living in a country established by refugees for refugees," Khenin added.

                                                                            In addition to the opposition of human rights groups, communities in the south may also not respond favorably to the plan. In April 2008, during a court hearing on the government's policy of putting asylum seekers in the northern and southern peripheries, north of Hadera and south of Gedera, an affidavit was presented to the court on the migrants' employment prospects. In the document, Sigal Rosen of the Hotline for Migrant Workers declared that kibbutzim in the south had not shown an interest in hiring the migrants.

                                                                            "We contacted many kibbutzim in an effort to have Sudanese asylum seekers released for farm work," she said. "Despite the argument they desperately needed workers, most of the coordinators at the kibbutzim rejected my request after they learned they would have to pay the asylum seekers at least minimum wage, as provided by law, [and] could not make deductions from their salaries beyond what the law on foreign workers requires."

                                                                            Rosen contacted hundreds of potential employers at kibbutzim and moshav cooperative farming communities, but very few were interested. In the end, only 14 moshavim and two kibbutzim agreed to hire Sudanese migrants as agricultural workers.

                                                                            Amnesty International also criticized the proposal yesterday. The group's Israel director, Itay Epstein, said: "The crazy idea of housing refugees in work camps in the south by force is contrary to international law and to every international treaty to which Israel is a party."

                                                                            He added, "Israel is obligated to grant refugees and asylum seekers who come knocking on its door a safe haven [as well as certain rights], which include the right to live in dignity and to work and earn a living. They certainly should not be employed by force, as we profit from the distress of survivors of genocide and persecution."

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                                                                              Rumors swirl over Abbas retirement

                                                                              English (US)  November 5th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                              05/11/2009 20:05

                                                                              BETHLEHEM - Ma'an – Mahmoud Abbas has stated he will not seek Fatah's nomination for next January's presidential election, Palestinian officials said on Thursday.

                                                                              Fatah spokesman Fahmi Az-Zarir said that during a PLO Executive Committee meeting, Abbas announced he had had enough with "Israel's obstruction of the peace process" and its refusal to cooperate with Palestinian and international calls that it fulfill its most basic agreements, namely freezing settlements.

                                                                              In an interview with Ma'an Radio, Az-Zarir added that Abbas is "upset and angry" over various internal and political matters, but particularly on "the peace process, on which the Palestinian people rely, to end the Israeli occupation with Arab and international support."

                                                                              [More:]

                                                                              "I think the international community, especially the United States and the European Union, should understand the damage done to the process over the past four years, plagued by the absence of any real achievements," he added, expressing concern over what Abbas' absence could mean for political stability in the region.

                                                                              PLO leadership rejects

                                                                              But Abbas remains the preferred PLO candidate for next January's elections, the secretary-general of its Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, told reporters at a news conference in Ramallah. He said the PLO would reject Abbas' retirement from politics if the reports were confirmed.

                                                                              It is the Executive Committee's assumption, the secretary-general said, that Abbas will run for president not only on Fatah's ticket, but representing every PLO member faction, as well. He said Abbas has the Executive Committee's full support, and urged the president to reconsider if he planned to step aside.

                                                                              Hamas: Internal Fatah matter

                                                                              The Hamas movement called the rumors an "internal Fatah matter," the Paris-based news agency Agence France-Presse reported, but in any case said the US and Israel was responsible.

                                                                              "We in Hamas consider this step to be a message of rebuke to his American and Israeli friends after they ignored him and turned him into a mere tool," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, according to AFP.

                                                                              Abbas was expected to announce his January resignation in a speech on Thursday evening, according to the Palestinian Authority's official broadcaster, Palestine TV, which said it would carry the remarks live.

                                                                              Maan News

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                                                                                Gov’t slams Abbas’s envoy to UN for accusing Palestinians of violations

                                                                                English (US)  November 5th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                GAZA -- The Palestinian government in Gaza strongly denounced the remarks made during a session of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday by Mahmoud Abbas’s envoy to the UN Riyadh Mansour in which he accused Palestinian parties of committing violations against Israel.

                                                                                Spokesman for the government Taher Al-Nunu said that such utterances are more dangerous than the crime of delaying Goldstone’s report at the first time.

                                                                                Spokesman Nunu added that Mansour’s remarks help Israel cover up its war crimes and legitimize its aggression on the Palestinian people.

                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                He stressed that it was the first time in history a Palestinian party accused his occupied people of committing violations against the occupation instead of defending their right to resist occupation.

                                                                                The spokesman noted that the move of delaying Goldstone’s report at the first time was taken with full awareness in the framework of the partnership between the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah and Israel, and their alliance against the resistance especially in the last war on Gaza, adding that the PA backtracked on its position against the report after it was widely condemned for such a step.

                                                                                For his part, head of the UNGA Dr. Ali Abdessalam Al-Treiki stressed during the session the need to respect human rights away from any political sensitivities.

                                                                                Dr. Treiki underlined that Goldstone’s report documented serious violations of international human rights and massacres against civilians.

                                                                                He called for taking action to achieve justice for the victims and prosecute everyone responsible for the violations, noting that if the UNGA did not show keenness on achieving justice, it would be impossible to make any progress in the peace process.

                                                                                In another context, the Palestinian government in Gaza expressed its grateful thanks to Egypt for opening the Rafah border crossing for four consecutive days and facilitating the movement of passengers traveling from and into the Strip.

                                                                                http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en

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                                                                                  Amayreh: Clinton tells Abbas: either you budge to Israel, or else

                                                                                  English (US)  November 5th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                  By Khalid Amayreh
                                                                                  November 3, 2009

                                                                                  The latest visit by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Occupied Palestine seems to have effectively terminated whatever hopes the Palestinians and other Arabs may have pinned on the Obama administration to adopt an evenhanded approach toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.

                                                                                  In his public policy discourse toward the Muslim world, which culminated in his Cairo speech on 4 June, President Obama gave a certain impression that his administration would resist Israeli insolence and arrogance of power and introduce a semblance of fairness into its policy toward the Palestinian issue.

                                                                                  Obama also pledged to get Israel to freeze Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a precondition for resuming stalled peace talks between the apartheid Israeli regime and the weak Palestinian Authority (PA).

                                                                                  Now, it is becoming increasingly clear that all Obama’s assertions and promises were mostly disingenuous rhetoric that is meant for public relations consumption.

                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                  Clinton, in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in occupied Jerusalem Saturday night, stopped short of completely endorsing the Israeli settlement policy, describing Israeli "concessions" as "unprecedented."

                                                                                  What Clinton seemed to be saying was that the proverbial ball was in the Palestinians’ court and that Israel did or was doing its part of the deal.

                                                                                  This means, according to Clinton’s logic, that it is now the Palestinians’ turn to reciprocate by agreeing to resume the vague, undefined, and open-ended talks with Israel, probably until Israel is able to devour the remainder of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, at which point Clinton or another American Secretary of State, would urge the Palestinians "to be realistic and accept reality."

                                                                                  Clinton realizes well that with every day passing, Israel devours a fresh chunk of the West Bank. However, she not only fails to say what ought to be said, namely that this is unfair and unacceptable, but also goes as far as demanding that the Palestinians come to terms with Israel’s "right" to steal Palestinian land under the deceptive rubric of a peace process that has more to do with deception and land theft in broad daylight, than with real peace or even real efforts to make peace.

                                                                                  Clinton, who as New York senator had proven that her ethical standards were sub-minimal at best, has actually unmasked the Obama administration’s face, a face that seems to differ little from that of the previous Bush administration.

                                                                                  The continued theft of Palestinian land in al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) and the rest of the West Bank is undoubtedly a brazen act of rape. And instead of demanding that this rape be immediately terminated, Clinton is asking the victim to be considerate and accommodate the feelings and desires of the licentious attacker.

                                                                                  The PA leadership did well by rejecting American bullying. Doing otherwise would have made the PA and its president Mahmoud Abbas incur another spate of anger and indignation among Palestinians, both at home and in the Diaspora.

                                                                                  However, it is till uncertain if Abbas’s rejection of Clinton’s pandering to the extremist Israeli leadership was merely a tactical move or a sustainable position which the PA would uphold in the face of Israeli insolence and the manifestly conspiratorial American posture.

                                                                                  Abbas has been vowing not to resume talks with Israel unless and until the Zionist regime freezes all settlement expansion activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

                                                                                  Resisting American pressure does enjoy wide support among Palestinians. In fact, it was one of the rarest instances where the American-backed PA chairman adopted a stand consistent with the Palestinian public opinion.

                                                                                  This is why reneging on or retreating from this position, even under American pressure, would cost Abbas and his Fatah organization dearly in terms of public support.

                                                                                  Needless to say, the latest American betrayal underscores the futility of counting on the US to pressure Israel to end the occupation that started in 1967 and allow for the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

                                                                                  Indeed, it is quite plausible to reason that if the US is not able, even if willing, to get Israel to stop the construction of a settler building in East Jerusalem, it would be foolhardy for the Palestinians to expect the same US to get Israel to give up the occupied territories of 1967, allow for the repatriation of the refugees and dismantle Jewish colonies.

                                                                                  Hence, it is crucial that Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims disallow themselves to continue being duped and bamboozled by American prevarications and procrastinations which only allows Israel to have more time to create more and more facts on the ground in the West Bank.

                                                                                  But it is uncertain if the Abbas-Fayyad leadership in Ramallah will be able to retain their current position vis-à-vis the settlement issue.

                                                                                  Abbas can’t really be given the benefit of the doubt. After all, he stands at the helm of an authority that can’t survive one month without American and Western aid, which is actually nothing less than bribery money aimed at placating the Palestinians to keep quiet in the face of continued Israeli theft of Palestinian land.

                                                                                  Moreover, the PA leadership proved ad nauseam that it values the legitimacy that comes from Israeli and American acceptance more than that which comes from the Palestinian people’s acceptance.

                                                                                  This is why Abbas must be constantly monitored and reminded that retreating from the current stance on settlements would generate a revolt against him and his authority.

                                                                                  The Palestinian people are always willing to sacrifice for the sake of their freedom. Palestinians would never ever commit adultery with their enduring national cause and inalienable rights for the sake of promised economic prosperity and worldly comfort.

                                                                                  Nonetheless, the PA will have to adopt a series of tangible measures to demonstrate to the American administration that the Palestinians wouldn’t just budge to Israel’s blackmailing tactics and arrogance of power.

                                                                                  If necessary, the PA must show a serious willingness to completely dissolve itself and return to the pre-Oslo era if the US keeps insisting on imposing the Israeli will on our people.

                                                                                  I know that many PA operatives have vested interests in maintaining the status quo. However, it should be well known to everyone concerned that Palestinian national interests in dumping the Israeli occupation in the dustbin of history absolutely override the interests of a few robber barons in swelling their bank accounts with more dollars and shekels.

                                                                                  In addition, the PA should display more national responsibility and statesmanship by forming a collective leadership that would lead the Palestinian people through the treacherous precipices facing our people.

                                                                                  After all, the PA constantly succumbed to American and western pressure in the hope that "fighting and isolating the extremists" would convince Israel and its allies to end the occupation.

                                                                                  Now, that the PA has discovered that the American-conceived and Israeli-sustained rift with Hamas was only meant, from the American view point at least, to weaken the Palestinian national front vis-à-vis Israel, the same PA should be courageous enough to reconsider its disgraceful subservience to the US and Israel and seek immediate reconciliation with Hamas and other patriotic-minded Palestinian forces.

                                                                                  Abbas: you are facing a grave danger. Your head has already hit the ceiling of the hyena’s cave.
                                                                                  Uruknet

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                                                                                    Gaza war report debate continues

                                                                                    English (US)  November 4th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                    A day after the US House of Representatives rejected the Goldstone report as "irredeemably biased", the UN General Assembly has begun debating an Arab-sponsored, non-binding resolution on the same report urging Israel and the Palestinians to independently investigate the report's findings.

                                                                                    Rosiland Jordan reports from New York.

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                                                                                      UN debates Goldstone report

                                                                                      English (US)  November 4th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                      Most of the report's criticism was directed towards Israel's conduct during the Gaza offensive [AFP]

                                                                                      The United Nations General Assembly is debating a UN-sponsored report which says Israel committed war crimes during its military assault on the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                      The Goldstone report, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, has already been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, which sponsored the fact-finding commission.

                                                                                      The draft under debate at the UN calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate accusations of human-rights violations during the 22-day conflict in December and January.

                                                                                      The resolution, if adopted, would call upon Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, to take the report to the UN Security Council.

                                                                                      Forty-three speakers were scheduled to take the floor during the debate called by the Arab UN group on Wednesday, with the backing of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

                                                                                      A vote on the non-binding resolution was expected on Thursday.

                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                      Offensive conduct

                                                                                      Most of criticism in the report, compiled by a fact-finding panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, was directed towards Israel's conduct during the offensive, in which human rights organisations say about 1,400 Palestinians - many of them women and children - were killed.

                                                                                      Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were killed over the course of the war, Israel said.

                                                                                      Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN in New York, said: "The Palestinians put forward this resolution with several co-sponsors knowing that they have the support to have it passed in the General Assembly.

                                                                                      "This is really an attempt to keep the Goldstone report alive. The resolution endorses the report and also attempts to force it upon the Security Council, by getting the secretary-general involved."

                                                                                      Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian observer to the UN, said the report concluded that the Israeli military onslaught "was planned in all of its phases as a deliberately disproportionate and systematic attack aimed at punishing, humiliating and terrorise the Palestinian civilian population".

                                                                                      'One-sided mandate'

                                                                                      Mansour warned that efforts by Israel and its supporters to discredit the UN report and its authors would not deter Arab states from following up the recommendations "in all relevant international forums, including the Security Council and the International Criminal Court, until the realisation of justice with the accountability of the perpetrators of these crimes and violations".

                                                                                      Gabriela Shalev, Israel's UN ambassador to the UN, hammered Wednesday's debate as "yet another campaign against the victims of terrorism, the people of Israel".

                                                                                      "The Goldstone report and this debate do not promote peace. They damage any effort to revitalise negotiations in our region. They deny Israel's right of self-defence," she told the assembly.

                                                                                      "From its inception in a one-sided mandate, the Gaza fact-finding mission was a politicised body with predetermined conclusions," she added.

                                                                                      Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister, held a special meeting with foreign ambassadors to Israel on Tuesday to try to convince their countries to vote against the report.

                                                                                      US House vote

                                                                                      The US House of Representatives on Tuesday dismissed the report as being "irredeemably biased" against Israel.

                                                                                      The house voted in favour of a non-binding resolution calling on Barack Obama, the US president, to maintain his opposition to the report.

                                                                                      Goldstone last week sent a letter to the US House of Representatives saying that the text of the US resolution had "factual inaccuracies and instances where information and statements are taken grossly out of context".

                                                                                      He offered several rejections and clarifications of the ideas expressed in the resolution.

                                                                                      In response to Goldstone's criticism, three parts of the resolution were amended on Tuesday to clarify that Goldstone had sought an expansion to the commission's mandate so that his team could investigate claims that Hamas had violated international law during the Gaza war.

                                                                                      The Goldstone report accused Israel of using "disproportionate force" and of deliberately targeting civilians.

                                                                                      The report called for cases to be referred to the ICC in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not investigate the war crimes allegations against them within six months.

                                                                                      Hamas has agreed to hold such an investigation, but Israel has not.

                                                                                      Source: Al Jazeera and agencies


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                                                                                        Zionist Israel's latest weapon of mass distraction: Claims weapons shipment from Iran while UN debates Goldstoen report

                                                                                        English (US)  November 4th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                        Israel intercepts arms-laden ship

                                                                                        A ship carrying hundreds of tons of weapons has been seized by Israeli commandos, government and military officials have said.

                                                                                        Israeli military said on Wedenesday the arms were destined for the Lebanese armed political group Hezbollah.

                                                                                        They also said an Iranian document was found on board, showing that the arms shipment originated from Iran.

                                                                                        The ship, the Francop, is operated by the United Feeder Services, a Cyprus-based shipping company that said it picked up the cargo in Damietta, Egypt, according to the Associated Press news agency.

                                                                                        "It's interesting to point out the timing of this announcement. "The fact that the Israeli army chose to hold the press conference exactly the same time as the UN General Assembly was beginnning its debate on the Goldstone report [on the Israeli war on Gaza]. At the very least, the timing of this announcement was convenient. If one were cynical one could even suggest that actually the announcement was timed to, if anything, to distract some of the attention of the media in Israel from the Goldstone report." -- Jackie Rowland

                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                        Liutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich, the Israeli military spokeswoman, said: "It's a cargo certificate that shows that it was from a port in Iran.

                                                                                        "All the cargo certificates are stamped at the ports of origin, and this one was stamped at an Iranian port."

                                                                                        'Tons' of weapons

                                                                                        Israeli commandos boarded the ship before dawn in the waters near Cyprus.

                                                                                        Rear Admiral Roni Ben-Yehuda, the deputy Israeli navy commander, told a briefing that "hundreds of tons" of weapons were found.

                                                                                        His estimate was much higher than an earlier one of more than 60 tons.

                                                                                        The weapons were "a drop in the ocean" of arms being shipped to Hezbollah, Ben-Yehuda said.

                                                                                        But hours after the seizure, Israel had not provided evidence that the arms were meant for the Lebanese guerrillas.

                                                                                        Speaking at a news conference in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Walid al-Muallem, Syria's foreign minister, said the ship was carrying civilian goods from Syria to Iran.

                                                                                        Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, reporting from Jerusalem, said: "It's interesting to point out the timing of this announcement.

                                                                                        "The fact that the Israeli army chose to hold the press conference exactly the same time as the UN General Assembly was beginnning its debate on the Goldstone report [on the Israeli war on Gaza].

                                                                                        "At the very least, the timing of this announcement was convenient. If one were cynical one could even suggest that actually the announcement was timed to, if anything, to distract some of the attention of the media in Israel from the Goldstone report."

                                                                                        The Israeli army insists that it was operating under existing international protocols for boarding and inspecting ships when it seized the vessel, our correspondent said.

                                                                                        Quoting officials who addressed a news conference after the seizure, Rowland said the weapons were in ordinary shipping containers hidden among hundreds of other containers on board the vessel.

                                                                                        "They say it was clearly an attempt to disguise the containers as ordinary civilian cargo," our correspondent reported.

                                                                                        No Hezbollah comment

                                                                                        A senior Lebanese army official refused to comment on the Israeli report, saying it happened outside Lebanon's national waters.

                                                                                        A Hezbollah official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he did not want to speak publicly to the media, said the group had no comment on Israel's claim.

                                                                                        "We are following the case and we will see if it is worth a comment," he said.

                                                                                        The ship seizure comes three years after Israel and Hezbollah fought a bitter war that ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire. Occasional clashes continue to occur.

                                                                                        The seizure was bigger than a similar haul in 2002, when Israeli military confiscated a vessel with 50 tons of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition headed for Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                        Hezbollah, which has widespread support in southern Lebanon, was originally established to fight the Israeli occupation of the region.

                                                                                        Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                          United States of Israel's Congress rejects Goldstone report

                                                                                          English (US)  November 3rd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                          The Goldstone report alleges that Israel used disproportionate force in its war on Gaza [Reuters]

                                                                                          The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution rejecting the findings of a UN-sponsored report which says Israel committed war crimes during its military assault on Gaza.

                                                                                          The house voted on Tuesday in favour of the non-binding resolution calling on Barack Obama, the US president, to maintain his opposition to the report, which was written by a panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge.

                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                          The report accused Israel and Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza, of war crimes during the 22-day conflict in December and January.

                                                                                          The report reserved most of its criticism for Israel's conduct during its offensive on the coastal territory, in which human rights organisations say about 1,400 Palestinians – many of them women and children - were killed.

                                                                                          Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were killed over the course of the war, Israel has said.

                                                                                          UN assembly pressure

                                                                                          The US house vote came a day before the United Nations General Assembly is expected to debate its own resolution endorsing the findings of the Goldstone report.
                                                                                          In video

                                                                                          Congressmen for and against the
                                                                                          report speak to Al Jazeera

                                                                                          Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the United Nations in New York, said that while the majority of the assembly's member nations were expected to vote in favour of the resolution, the US vote on Tuesday, though non-binding, was likely to dampen its impact.

                                                                                          "Remember - the key recommendation of Goldstone is to get a credible investigation into the alleged war crimes that the Goldstone commission found evidence of in Gaza, and the UN Security Council is the only body that can move forward and demand an investigation," she said.

                                                                                          "The general assembly just does not have that power. Of course, on the security council, the United States is a veto-wielding member and, as the congressional vote underscores, the US is not going to be interested in moving forward in the security council to call for an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), or anyone else for that matter."

                                                                                          The United Nations Human Rights Council, which sponsored the Goldstone commission, has already voted to endorse the report.

                                                                                          Claims of bias

                                                                                          Steven Rothman, a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, told Al Jazeera that the report was biased against Israel, even after the Goldstone commission's mandate was expanded so that it could investigate war crimes alleged to have been committed by Hamas.

                                                                                          "The report was not written to talk about 12,000 rockets intentionally sent by Hamas to slaughter Israeli men, women and children, versus the Israelis trying in many respects to minimise the damage to Palestinian civilians. So there have been completely different standards applied," he told Al Jazeera.

                                                                                          But when asked if he had read the Goldstone report in full, Rothman said he had read only the report's executive summary.

                                                                                          "I did not read the 400 or 500 pages, but I read the executive summary designed for members of congress and other world leaders to read, and I found it terribly, terribly biased and one-sided," he said.

                                                                                          Goldstone last week sent a letter to the US House of Representatives saying that the text of the US resolution had "factual inaccuracies and instances where information and statements are taken grossly out of context".

                                                                                          He offered several rejections and clarifications of the ideas expressed in the resolution.

                                                                                          In response to Goldstone's criticism, three parts of the resolution were amended on Tuesday to clarify that Goldstone had sought an expansion to the commission's mandate so that his team could investigate claims that Hamas had violated international law during the Gaza war.

                                                                                          The Goldstone report, which accused Israel of using "disproportionate force" and of deliberately targeting civilians, called for independent investigations to be held into Israel's and Hamas's conduct during the war.

                                                                                          The report called for the cases to be referred to the ICC in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not investigate the war crimes allegations against them within six months.

                                                                                          Hamas has agreed to hold such an investigation, but Israel has not.

                                                                                          Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

                                                                                          679 words posted in American Empire1 comment

                                                                                          1 response(s) to United States of Israel's Congress rejects Goldstone report

                                                                                          1. Susan Kelly [Visitor] Email says:

                                                                                            Rejecting the Goldstone Report will cause more Islamic terrorism. We cannot continue to back the Israel terrorists and not expect repercussions. You say it is one sided but it is because the list of atrocities from Israel to Palestinians far outweigh the little damamge from Hamas. That is one sided and the report reflects that one sidedness. Shame on all of you who reject the report.

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                                                                                          Israeli Activists Criticize US House for Considering Resolution Condemning Goldstone Report on Israeli War Crimes in Gaza

                                                                                          English (US)  November 3rd, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                          www.democracynow.org

                                                                                          The House is expected to overwhelmingly vote today (Nov. 3) to condemn a UN inquiry that found Israel committed scores of war crimes in its three-week assault on the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                          Headed by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone, the inquiry also accused Hamas of war crimes and said both sides should investigate the allegations or face international prosecution. Over 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attack, a majority of them civilians. Nine Israelis were killed by Palestinians and another four by so-called friendly fire. The bipartisan, non-binding House measure calls the Goldstone inquiry “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” The vote comes one day before the United Nations General Assembly is expected to take up the inquiry’s findings.

                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                          Jeff Halper, Israeli peace activist and scholar. He is coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

                                                                                          Micha Kurz, Co-founder of the group Breaking the Silence, an organization of veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces that collects testimonies from Israeli soldiers speaking out about their conduct in the occupied Palestinian territories. He is now a coordinator at Grassroots Jerusalem, an organization mapping grassroots activities in and around Jerusalem.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: The House is expected to overwhelmingly vote today to condemn a UN inquiry that found Israel committed scores of war crimes in its three-week assault on the Gaza Strip. The report, headed by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone, also accused Hamas of war crimes and said both sides should investigate the allegations or face international prosecution. Over 1,300 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attack, a majority of them civilians. Nine Israelis were killed, three by so-called friendly fire.

                                                                                          The bipartisan, non-binding House measure calls the Goldstone inquiry, quote, “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” The vote comes one day before the United Nations General Assembly is expected to take up the inquiry’s findings.

                                                                                          The vote also comes as the Obama administration is under criticism for backing off its previous demands that Israel halt settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. Israel is refusing to halt construction of about 3,000 West Bank houses or any construction in occupied East Jerusalem.

                                                                                          On Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the reversal after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

                                                                                          HILLARY CLINTON: What the Prime Minister is saying is historically accurate. There has never been a precondition. It’s always been an issue within the negotiations. What the Prime Minister has offered, in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements, which he has just described—no new starts, for example—is unprecedented, in the context of prior to negotiations.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: Clinton’s comments drew criticism from Palestinian and other Arab leaders. Speaking in Morocco Monday, Clinton tried to address those concerns, now adding that Israeli pledges to “restrain” settlement growth are, quote, “not enough.”

                                                                                          HILLARY CLINTON: They will build no new settlements, expropriate no land, allow no new construction or approvals. And let me just say, this offer falls far short of what we would characterize as our position or what our preference would be, but if it is acted upon, it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth.

                                                                                          And let me just take a step back, because I want to put this into the broader context. I will offer positive reinforcement to the parties when I believe they are taking steps that support the objective of reaching a two-state solution. I will also push them, as I have in public and in private, to do even more.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: As Israel continues to build new homes for settlers, it’s also defying US demands to halt the destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. Around thirty Palestinians were displaced in home demolitions last week. According to the UN, as many as 60,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem are at risk of forced evictions, demolitions and displacement.

                                                                                          We’re joined right now by two guests. Here in the firehouse, Micha Kurz is the co-founder of the group Breaking the Silence, an organization of veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces that collects testimonies from Israeli soldiers speaking out about their conduct in the occupied Palestinian territories. Now he’s coordinator of Grassroots Jerusalem, an organization mapping grassroots activities in and around Jerusalem. And on the phone with us from Israel is Jeff Halper, an Israeli peace activist and scholar, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

                                                                                          I want to begin with you, Jeff, in Israel. Talk about this non-binding resolution that’s expected to pass in the House, condemning the Goldstone report. You just came from the United States.

                                                                                          JEFF HALPER: Yeah, I just came from the United States, and I just came from a week of meeting with members of Congress and the administration in Washington.

                                                                                          You know, it’s very—it’s very distressing, of course, because in the entire world, Israel relies on the United States as really its only—only firm supporter. The United States is the patron of Israel. But it’s not really the administration—it’s Congress—that’s Israel’s trump card. That is, Israel says it can circumvent the President; it can circumvent the administration by going directly to Congress. And Netanyahu works the phones all the time with Congress. So, in a sense, it’s a kind of divide and rule.

                                                                                          And when I was in Congress, I was telling members of Congress, “You have to understand that you’re being used by Israel as a kind of a—as a trump card against your own administration, preventing the American government from presenting a coherent policy speaking in one voice.” And I think that you really see that, that, in a way, it’s under—I would consider that a gross violation of the internal—you know, a gross, you know, intervention in the internal affairs of the United States, which would seem to me should get all members of Congress upset, no matter what their stand is.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: I’m looking at a Human Rights Watch statement on this, saying, “Members of the [US] House of Representatives should oppose a resolution that calls for the Obama administration to reject scrutiny of Israel and Hamas,” this House Resolution 867, calling on the US President and Secretary of State to "oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.‘”

                                                                                          Jeff Halper, how has it been received in Israel? I mean, Judge Goldstone, well-known jurist from South Africa, also a Zionist. His daughter was talking on Israeli radio and talking about his significance and his Zionism.

                                                                                          JEFF HALPER: Right. Well, I think it’s been—it’s been received here very hard, because it’s really the first time that Israel has—maybe except the International Court of Justice decision on the wall, that Israel has been held accountable for its actions.

                                                                                          And, of course, Israel always presents itself as being the victim, and Israel is defending itself against terrorism and all of that. So the fact that an important figure like Goldstone, through the UN, says no, that Israel is the attacker, Israel is the aggressor, Israel used a disproportionate amount of force, and that was the violation, that’s what made it a war crime, the attack on Gaza, is something that really is much more important than simply Israel going before the International Criminal Court. It means that Israel’s entire image as this little democratic Jewish victim of the conflict is being called into question, and Israel is being held accountable as the strong party for its actions. And that, I would say, is the greatest threat to Israel, because once it could be held accountable by Goldstone, then the dam has burst, and Israel will have trouble defending any of its policies anywhere.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of this resolution, if passed in the United States, for the rest of the world, for Israel and the rest of the world?

                                                                                          JEFF HALPER: Right. Well, what I say—you know, what I told members of Congress that I met, I don’t think they understand, that I don’t think the American people understand how much human rights means to the rest of the world. This is the hope of peoples all over the world to get out of oppression, to get some kind of parity, to be included in the world. Human rights really means something. And it’s something that’s meant to protect powerless people against governments, and corporations, as well, actually, so that it means a lot.

                                                                                          So when the United States stands against clear violations of human rights by Israel, I think this isolates the United States in a much broader sense from the world. It isn’t only Israel and the US alone in the UN voting against everybody else, but it really, I think, completely compromises any American credibility in the world as trying to foster democracy or trying even to be a part of the world. It really shows how disconnected the United States is from the concerns of people everywhere, including Europe.

                                                                                          So I think this—I don’t think the Americans understand what it means to go against human rights. I think they feel human rights are anti-American, they somehow trump American exceptionalism. But I think the United States really has to reevaluate its stand, in general, in terms of enforcement of human rights all over the world.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: Jeff Halper, speaking to us from Israel, there an Israeli peace activist, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

                                                                                          Micha Kurz, you’re traveling here in this country. You’re a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces. You co-founded the group Breaking the Silence, Israeli soldiers talking about what they did in Gaza during this assault. Explain what you found.

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: Breaking the Silence was founded close after the Second Intifada in 2004. We were talking about mostly what it means for soldiers, not as much what it means for Palestinians, but what it means to send eighteen-, nineteen-year-olds into occupied territories, controlling other human beings and making that a routine reality for us, for everyone who goes to the army. And in Israel, everyone goes to the army. Women go in for two years; men go in for three. And all of it’s when we’re eighteen.

                                                                                          What we were doing back then hasn’t—didn’t have anything to do with the Goldstone report. It was a self-check on what’s going on in Israeli mainstream morality: What’s the price we’re paying for these—for occupying these territories and controlling these people?

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: Share some of the testimony. Talk about your own experience. When did you serve?

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: I served during the Second Intifada, a lot of time in Hebron. And a lot of what we were doing in Hebron, it turned out, was as protecting the settlers. We would hear, for example—

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: Explain the populations, the size of the settlers and the Palestinian community.

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: Hebron is a settlement of around 600 to 700 settlers in the middle of a Palestinian town of about 160,000 Palestinians. It’s at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a holy spot for anyone—everyone involved.

                                                                                          And it was actually some of my first times in the Occupied Territories. I came to the army fairly patriotic and enthusiastic about serving my country. And what I ended up doing, it turned out, was protecting Palestinians from the settlers more than vice versa.

                                                                                          We would wake up in the middle of the night hearing banging from down in the settlement, and it turned out that there were settlers that were knocking down walls into Palestinian shops during curfew, and slowly doing this. We’d send a patrol to stop them, and we’d have to leave, and they’d keep working on this hole in the shop until it was wide enough to walk in, lock the doors from the inside, and take all the merchandise out and move a new—expand the settlements that way. This was slowly happening all the time in Hebron, especially back in 2004, when curfews would last forty days, and shopkeepers wouldn’t—weren’t able to go and fix it up.

                                                                                          And this is something we’re seeing today in Jerusalem, in East Jerusalem all the time. Silwan is slowly being taken over by settlements under the guise of archaeological NGOs slowly digging underneath other Palestinian homes and evicting family, one at a time. It’s a gradual process.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: What about the process of your transformation? Do you remember the moment—was it a moment, or it was a period of time, where you felt maybe what we’re doing here is wrong?

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: I don’t think there was one moment. I think over the course of the Intifada and watching what was going on with friends and the process that happens at a checkpoint. When you put a nineteen-year-old in a checkpoint to control a civilian population, what that looks like on the ground is that I get the power and the responsibility over everyone on the street.

                                                                                          And so, if 400 people come by that day through my checkpoint, and my order is that there is a curfew, then I have to tell 400 people that they have to go home right now. And the first hundred people, I tell them fairly politely, if I’m nice and I’m in a good mood in the morning. And the second hundred people, I’ll be a little more impatient. By the fourth hundred person that shows up at my checkpoint that day, I’m going to be pissed off, and I’m going to say, “What don’t you understand when there’s a curfew here?” And this is over a course of one shift in a day.

                                                                                          Over three years, this is what we watched our friends and myself go through. We would—if someone would break curfew at some point, we’d be—easily we’d handcuff and blindfold someone and sit them down as a punishment for six hours. So they learned, don’t—you don’t break curfew this way. And this became daily reality.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: Would you say you were in the minority or in the majority of Israeli soldiers who were questioning what you were doing?

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: I’d say right now it might be a minority still, but I think people are slowly waking up. This is what’s going on.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: Micha Kurz, I want to play an excerpt from one of the video testimonies from the Breaking the Silence website. This is First Sergeant Amir, a reservist from the Armored Corps who served in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, as they call that, the Israeli assault on Gaza earlier this year. He’s describing the briefings his unit received during the training for the assault.

                                                                                          FIRST SGT. AMIR: [translated] At any obstacle, any problem, we open fire and don’t ask questions, even if it’s firing in the dark, aimed at an unknown target. Fire when we don’t see, deterrent fire? No problem with that, etc. A vehicle that’s in the way? Crush it. A building in the way? Shell it. This was the spirit of things that was repeated throughout the training.

                                                                                          INTERVIEWER: Meaning that in briefings no one even mentions the issue of innocents?

                                                                                          FIRST SGT. AMIR: It is not mentioned. And if it is mentioned, it is only to say that there are no innocents, everyone there is enemy. That’s a phrase we kept hearing from that brigade commander, too, that wherever we would be, if there is anyone there, they must be the enemy.

                                                                                          INTERVIEWER: You had briefings before entering that included rules of engagement?

                                                                                          FIRST SGT. AMIR: Not that I recall. There were no rules of engagement. The rules of engagement were to shoot. Those were the rules of engagement. You see anything suspect? Shoot.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: “The rules of engagement were [to] shoot.” So said Amir, the Israeli soldier in Gaza, collected on the Breaking the Silence website. The significance of these soldiers speaking out after this last assault? How many were there? And the effect in Israel?

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: So far, there are over forty soldiers from different units around Jerusalem that have spoken up, and they’ve been in different parts of Gaza through those couple of weeks.

                                                                                          And I think the significance in Israel is the shift that we’ve seen, a very clear moral standard shift. Israel talks about being the most moral army in the world. The West Bank had some standard we would—no matter what was going on, what assignment we’d get, there was a briefing, a very clear briefing, whether it was Defensive Shield in Ramallah in 2004 or during the Intifada. There was a—the difference with Gaza this time was, after Israel sent out the fliers and the warnings to Gaza, we were—Israeli soldiers were allowed to do whatever they want. The briefings were not clear anymore. This is a—that was a first, as far as Israeli standards. It’s as if the IDF had shifted gears for the first time. And Gaza—Gaza is a—it was appalling. It’s shocking. But most of all, I think I’m mostly saddened by—

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: And the resolution that’s being introduced now, expected to pass in the House, that condemns the Goldstone report?

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: Well, I can speak as Micha, not as Breaking the Silence, on that. And as far as I know, Goldstone, a self-proclaimed Zionst on the board of directors of Hebrew University and all the high school education program, a daughter living in Israel, well respected internationally, is well qualified. Israel had not let him into Israeli territories in [inaudible] to actually conduct a well-balanced report. And it seemed in Israeli media and through Israeli politicians that they actually hadn’t read the report—it was just a reaction. I’m saddened by it. I don’t understand it.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: Micha Kurz, I want to thank you very much for being with us, a co-founder of the group Breaking the Silence, now coordinator of Grassroots Jerusalem, an organization mapping grassroots activities in and around Jerusalem. And on that point, the grassroots actions that are taking place in Jerusalem? Very quickly, you’ve got thirty seconds to lay out the groups and the actions.

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: I’d like people to know that there are Israelis and Palestinians and internationals spread out all over Jerusalem and all over the West Bank finding innovative solutions, sustainable solutions, to the problems that the policymakers are—

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: And the groups that are doing this work?

                                                                                          MICHA KURZ: There is ICAHD, where Jeff is from. There’s Rabbis for Human Rights, the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, Bustan Qaraaqa and Beit Sahour. They take care of—this summer Beit Sahour has had their water shut off for forty days. They build water catchment systems and cisterns. This is an amazing thing. If anyone in the States needs to support something, wants to support something, support the grassroots organizations on the ground.

                                                                                          AMY GOODMAN: Thanks very much, Micha Kurz.

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                                                                                            Settler Colonialism: Return to the Middle Ages

                                                                                            English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                            By BOUTHAINA SHAABAN

                                                                                            When you read a news story saying that “the United Nations called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and put an end to the policy of forced evictions in East Jerusalem, warning that there are 60,000 Palestinians threatened of becoming homeless,” you cannot but wonder about the role of the international organization today and about the goal for which it was created on the eve of the victory of the forces of freedom against Nazism and Fascism and whether it is the same organization authorized by history and the world’s peoples to guarantee the right to ‘self determination’.

                                                                                            Is it the same organization charged with “putting an end to colonialism”? Is it the same organization which believes in the right of all peoples to freedom without discrimination in terms of race or religion? If it is the same organization, why does it allow Palestinian civilians to suffer from the brutality of armed settlers?

                                                                                            The evasive and shameful language of the UN’s call comes in the context of the submission of the Security Council to the Zionist will, and consequently commits a historic disgrace in the form of ignoring the legitimate political, civil and human rights of the Palestinian people including their right to life and freedom. For the UN not to take any initiative or measure which leads to giving the Palestinian people the right to self determination will remain a disgrace in the history of the organization which will never be removed.

                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                            The Palestinians have been under a racist settler form of colonialism for over sixty years; and they are targeted with a campaign of ethnic cleansing launched by armed gangs of settlers supported by Israel’s police and army.

                                                                                            This is unparalleled in the 21st century in terms of the crimes which include siege, murder, food poisoning, starvation, assassination, demolishing houses, scorching crops, destroying farms, raping prisoners, trafficking in the organs of captives and preventing Palestinians from moving between their villages, farms and schools.

                                                                                            All this happens under the full gaze and silence of the ‘civilized’ world which fully supports the Israeli government and fully ignores the savage crimes committed each day by Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers. This silence is also a crime against the Palestinian people, because it allows Israeli politicians and generals and their allies to carry on with their crimes against civilians and violate the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law.

                                                                                            The UN call on Israel to “stop removing [demolishing] Palestinian houses” comes on the backdrop of demolishing the houses of the Hanoun and Ghawi families in al-Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, and even removing the tent they built on the street near their house and confiscating its contents which consisted of covers to ward off the cold, and some utensils. The tent housed fifty persons of the two families who, up until a few months ago used to live in their home demolished by Israeli occupation soldiers in their policy of Judaizing Jerusalem.

                                                                                            Every now and then, the UN or the EU acknowledge that “destroying the homes of Palestinians is a violation of international law”. But if this and the other crimes referred to above are violations of international law, why do not they move their conscience to protect the security of Palestinians? The question is: what will the United Nations or Europe do? Will they limit themselves to acknowledging that Israeli acts are in sharp contrast with the UN Charter and international humanitarian law, while armed Jewish settler gangs continue to murder, demolish and set fires in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron and other places without any deterrent and without being brought to account?

                                                                                            If all these crimes committed daily against Palestinians do not amount to ethnic cleansing and genocide, what does? In America White settlers, centuries ago, used to throw contaminated blankets on Indians to kill them. Today, Israel’s rulers deprive Palestinians of food and medicine, burn crops and poison drinking water in order to kill the Palestinians or force them to leave. The UN calls this crime “forced eviction”. So, is there voluntary evection? After all the crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces and armed gangs of settlers, the UN only “calls on Israel to stop demolishing houses”. Maybe, it forgot to add, “please!”What Palestinian civilians urgently need now is an investigation into Israeli crimes to be reported to an international organization which still retains some self respect and concern for what remains of its credibility.

                                                                                            The crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces, the terrorization of unarmed Palestinian civilians by armed settlers have become a shame for humanity which should not be tolerated. The acts of these settlers and their supporters in the Israeli government and financiers in the Western pressure groups return the world to the law of the jungle. Considering the shameful incapacity of the United Nations and president Obama’s reiteration of his commitment to “Israel’s security” on the 14th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish settler – while he should have expressed an equal commitment to Palestinians’ security – makes it incumbent on the free people of the world and its intellectuals, including Jewish intellectuals, to raise their voice against Israel’s war criminals so that Jews are not eternally shamed for committing war crimes and genocides. They should not keep silence concerning these crimes and should not be satisfied with preventing Israeli criminals from travel. They should be brought to justice in the same way the world has brought to justice other criminals responsible for killing and occupation before them.

                                                                                            Jewish intellectuals in particular should ask themselves why should their government be built on the ruins of the lives and freedom of another people; Why their government should commit crimes of killing children, massacres, home demolition and assassination and then try to justify these crimes and blame all those who want to bring it to account? Why do not Jewish intellectuals face this historical moral dilemma in the Zionist entity?

                                                                                            When Nazi Germany committed massacres against the Jews and other peoples, the Germans faced this dilemma and passed laws banning anti-Semitism. When the world paid the price of Japanese wars and ambitions, Japan took a historical and final decision against war. Why would Jewish intellectuals think they should justify all the acts of Israeli politicians and generals? How can they justify the fact that Ehud Olmert is prosecuted for financial corruption and not for his and others’ crimes against Palestinian and Lebanese children and civilians? Why do they even consider these criminals heroes who should be secured and defended? Why do they form governments consisting of criminals competing with their records in assassination, murder and massacres against Palestinian civilians? These crimes are crimes against humanity by any standard. Why do not they criticize, in their culture, their rulers who have the blood of children on their hands? Silent Jewish intellectuals are responsible for the continuation of crimes which bring them all eternal shame as a result of their silence concerning these crimes.

                                                                                            The United Nations and the European Union, and all those who use evasive language in describing crimes which should prompt the world’s indignation and anger share the responsibility. History will condemn those who remain silent towards these crimes and will remember and thank only those who defend Palestinian children and the right of the Palestinian people to live in dignity, freedom, security and safety on their national soil.

                                                                                            Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has been the spokesperson for Syria and was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through nizar_kabibo@yahoo.com

                                                                                            Counterpunch

                                                                                            1285 words posted in WorldLeave a comment

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                                                                                              The Aqsa Moment

                                                                                              English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                              Golda Meir: Arab sovereignty in Jerusalem just cannot be.

                                                                                              By Ali Jawad

                                                                                              Over recent days, cries of "Al-Aqsa fi khatar" (the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger) have crammed the vestigial, all-too-narrow public space in the Arab world. Despite the iron-fist policies of unpopular Arab leaders—buttressed by imperial Western nations—the popular outbursts witnessed in the aftermath of the sacrilegious storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque once again symbolized the very much living spirit that exists within the Ummah.

                                                                                              Shocked by the level of response exhibited by their populations, "moderate" Arab leaders have timidly remonstrated before their masters, hoping against all hope that the fast-teeming popular mutinies at home be somehow quelled through some benign, retractive gesture by the provocateur-par-excellence.

                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                              Government-funded news agencies in the Arab world have meanwhile been overcome by a sense of disbelief in their reporting, adding that no other reaction is fitting at a time when "peace talks" are underway. Yet neither is there any thing 'shocking' about the recent acts of Israeli occupation forces, nor are such provocations in Al-Quds about to end. The present phase merely represents the logical climax of the Zionist, colonialist enterprise surmised decades ago by former prime minister, Golda Meir:

                                                                                              "It doesn't matter how you coat it. Arab sovereignty in Jerusalem just cannot be. This city will not be divided—not half and half, not 60-40, not 75-25, nothing. The only way we will lose Jerusalem is if we lose a war, and then we lose all of it." ("Middle East: Getting Almost All Points of View", TIME Magazine, 19 February 1973)

                                                                                              In reality, the Palestinian cause—at whose heart is the question of Al-Quds—has been historically assaulted not only by the Zionist enterprise, but it is under the aegis of the so-called "International Community" and unmistakable Arab-complicity that the principle motif of Palestinian life has become one of suffering and vulnerability—stripped off all dignities and rights deserving of human beings. The present threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque occurs not in a vacuum but as part of an almost teleological process (as some fanatic, ultra-orthodox Jewish extremists will no doubt underline) in which the present Washington administration has also played its’ part.

                                                                                              Commenting on the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem (in effect the Judaization of the city) in March of this year, Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton remarked that the development was "unhelpful"—pretty much sending a signal to Tel Aviv that they could pace on with demolitions until a harsher tone was adopted in Washington, if at all. The reactions from European capitals to the effective annexation of East Jerusalem and rapid settlement-growth in the West Bank were likewise tentative and dared not take any concrete steps to reign in the clear violations of International law. One should make a further note here that such was the response of the so-called "International Community" to Israeli violations shortly on the heels of the brutal war on Gaza.

                                                                                              The complicity of "moderate Arab allies" (post-January war on Gaza) on the other hand has come in the way of their shared conspiracy with Israel and the US to exclude Hamas from any significant say in this entire process. In addition to the open farce of Egyptian mediation in striking a "unity" deal (as if the end product of any Mubarak-brokered-deal was ever in doubt), the simple reality is that Egyptian mediation was merely a 'formal show' under the tutelage of the "principles of the Quartet".

                                                                                              Hence, the entire exercise was sure to be futile from its outset without two elementary prerequisites: 1) lifting of the illegal blockade on Gaza, 2) prior assurance that the Quartet would officially recognize and acknowledge the result of any future Palestinian vote. Needless to say, none of Israel, the US and even some European states were willing to sign on to those two prerequisites. In the classical American tradition therefore, the maxim of 'it is only democracy when it suits us' won the day, and the Egyptian-Saudi-Jordanian alliance on their part told long tales of Hamas’ irrationality. Mission accomplished.

                                                                                              As the years have progressed, the painful legacies of Camp David and Wadi Araba have proven themselves to fit into the grander scheme of leaving the Palestinians high and dry on any future "historical settlement"—one can well argue that the moderate Arab menials are doing a rather fine job of effecting that end. It is thus imperative that Syria does not buy into this strictly autonomous, bilateral peace track conspiracy at a time when the heart of Palestine is being readied for the final coup de grâce.

                                                                                              During the course of the week in which Israel's occupation forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory reports that a further six demolition orders in East Jerusalem were carried out leading to the displacement of 26 Palestinians, including 10 children. Washington meanwhile continues to stress that the Palestinians should come to the negotiating table with no preconditions—in addition to lauding bags of praise on Netanyahu and his hawks. Zionist zealots, encouraged by the warmth in the US response, speak of "changing the status quo at the Temple Mount" through efforts done "quietly and through subterfuge".

                                                                                              In the face of these foul machinations and seemingly overpowering forces, Palestinians are expected to crumble in acquiescence to the new ‘facts on the ground’. In parentheses, the cries of moderate Arab leaders to "defend the Aqsa" exhibit a level of hypocrisy and moral imbecility odious to the highest degree. Yet it is not to bogus slogans emanating from Cairo and Amman that the Palestinian and Muslim populations turn, but rather they have found in the spirit of resistance and in the simple act of defiance a 'fact on the ground' that de-legitimizes any 'facts' that their adversaries can muster.

                                                                                              -Ali Jawad is a political activist and a member of the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                                The Aqsa Moment

                                                                                                English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                Golda Meir: Arab sovereignty in Jerusalem just cannot be.

                                                                                                By Ali Jawad

                                                                                                Over recent days, cries of "Al-Aqsa fi khatar" (the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger) have crammed the vestigial, all-too-narrow public space in the Arab world. Despite the iron-fist policies of unpopular Arab leaders—buttressed by imperial Western nations—the popular outbursts witnessed in the aftermath of the sacrilegious storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque once again symbolized the very much living spirit that exists within the Ummah.

                                                                                                Shocked by the level of response exhibited by their populations, "moderate" Arab leaders have timidly remonstrated before their masters, hoping against all hope that the fast-teeming popular mutinies at home be somehow quelled through some benign, retractive gesture by the provocateur-par-excellence.

                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                Government-funded news agencies in the Arab world have meanwhile been overcome by a sense of disbelief in their reporting, adding that no other reaction is fitting at a time when "peace talks" are underway. Yet neither is there any thing 'shocking' about the recent acts of Israeli occupation forces, nor are such provocations in Al-Quds about to end. The present phase merely represents the logical climax of the Zionist, colonialist enterprise surmised decades ago by former prime minister, Golda Meir:

                                                                                                "It doesn't matter how you coat it. Arab sovereignty in Jerusalem just cannot be. This city will not be divided—not half and half, not 60-40, not 75-25, nothing. The only way we will lose Jerusalem is if we lose a war, and then we lose all of it." ("Middle East: Getting Almost All Points of View", TIME Magazine, 19 February 1973)

                                                                                                In reality, the Palestinian cause—at whose heart is the question of Al-Quds—has been historically assaulted not only by the Zionist enterprise, but it is under the aegis of the so-called "International Community" and unmistakable Arab-complicity that the principle motif of Palestinian life has become one of suffering and vulnerability—stripped off all dignities and rights deserving of human beings. The present threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque occurs not in a vacuum but as part of an almost teleological process (as some fanatic, ultra-orthodox Jewish extremists will no doubt underline) in which the present Washington administration has also played its’ part.

                                                                                                Commenting on the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem (in effect the Judaization of the city) in March of this year, Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton remarked that the development was "unhelpful"—pretty much sending a signal to Tel Aviv that they could pace on with demolitions until a harsher tone was adopted in Washington, if at all. The reactions from European capitals to the effective annexation of East Jerusalem and rapid settlement-growth in the West Bank were likewise tentative and dared not take any concrete steps to reign in the clear violations of International law. One should make a further note here that such was the response of the so-called "International Community" to Israeli violations shortly on the heels of the brutal war on Gaza.

                                                                                                The complicity of "moderate Arab allies" (post-January war on Gaza) on the other hand has come in the way of their shared conspiracy with Israel and the US to exclude Hamas from any significant say in this entire process. In addition to the open farce of Egyptian mediation in striking a "unity" deal (as if the end product of any Mubarak-brokered-deal was ever in doubt), the simple reality is that Egyptian mediation was merely a 'formal show' under the tutelage of the "principles of the Quartet".

                                                                                                Hence, the entire exercise was sure to be futile from its outset without two elementary prerequisites: 1) lifting of the illegal blockade on Gaza, 2) prior assurance that the Quartet would officially recognize and acknowledge the result of any future Palestinian vote. Needless to say, none of Israel, the US and even some European states were willing to sign on to those two prerequisites. In the classical American tradition therefore, the maxim of 'it is only democracy when it suits us' won the day, and the Egyptian-Saudi-Jordanian alliance on their part told long tales of Hamas’ irrationality. Mission accomplished.

                                                                                                As the years have progressed, the painful legacies of Camp David and Wadi Araba have proven themselves to fit into the grander scheme of leaving the Palestinians high and dry on any future "historical settlement"—one can well argue that the moderate Arab menials are doing a rather fine job of effecting that end. It is thus imperative that Syria does not buy into this strictly autonomous, bilateral peace track conspiracy at a time when the heart of Palestine is being readied for the final coup de grâce.

                                                                                                During the course of the week in which Israel's occupation forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory reports that a further six demolition orders in East Jerusalem were carried out leading to the displacement of 26 Palestinians, including 10 children. Washington meanwhile continues to stress that the Palestinians should come to the negotiating table with no preconditions—in addition to lauding bags of praise on Netanyahu and his hawks. Zionist zealots, encouraged by the warmth in the US response, speak of "changing the status quo at the Temple Mount" through efforts done "quietly and through subterfuge".

                                                                                                In the face of these foul machinations and seemingly overpowering forces, Palestinians are expected to crumble in acquiescence to the new ‘facts on the ground’. In parentheses, the cries of moderate Arab leaders to "defend the Aqsa" exhibit a level of hypocrisy and moral imbecility odious to the highest degree. Yet it is not to bogus slogans emanating from Cairo and Amman that the Palestinian and Muslim populations turn, but rather they have found in the spirit of resistance and in the simple act of defiance a 'fact on the ground' that de-legitimizes any 'facts' that their adversaries can muster.

                                                                                                -Ali Jawad is a political activist and a member of the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                                  United States of Israel: Israel is Unlikely to Yield

                                                                                                  English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                  Israeli Leaders Barak, Livni and Olmert - the dynamic trio

                                                                                                  By George S. Hishmeh

                                                                                                  Top aides of the Obama administration have this month been quietly stoking the peace process fire, raising expectations that the American president, whose popularity remains relatively high, may now be willing to go beyond gentle rapping Israeli knuckles.

                                                                                                  The ball started rolling when Barack Obama's National Security Advisor General James L. Jones addressed the Fourth Annual Gala of the American Task Force on Palestine on October 15.

                                                                                                  "The president is committed to achieving two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security", he began, adding, much to the delight of his large audience, "make no mistake about that". He also stressed that Obama was not going to wait until the end of his administration to do something about Palestine. This is "a clear priority", Jones said. "The president is personally committed to this goal because he believes that peace is in America's interests, just as it is in the interests of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples'".

                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                  A week later, Susan E. Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations and a close confidant of Obama's, told the Israelis, face-to-face, that it is not enough just to pay "lip service" to peace and urged the government to immediately revive negotiations, without preconditions, aimed at creating an independent Palestinian state. She was speaking at a conference in Occupied Jerusalem hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

                                                                                                  In contrast to these two encouraging statements, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put a dampener on the mood, reporting to Obama that "challenges remain". She did not dwell on the details, but promised "to work with both sides to re-launch negotiations". Taking a step in this direction, she will for the first time as secretary of state travel to Israel for a meeting on Sunday with its hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after she attends a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Morocco.

                                                                                                  At his second opportunity this month to publicly discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, General Jones maintained that the Obama administration's "commitment to Israel and peace is as strong as ever in the face of the many challenges in the region". Much to the delight of the unexpectedly large audience, which included several congressmen, at the first annual conference of the self-described "pro-Israel pro-peace" group J Street, which has been shunned by the Israeli lobby and the Israeli ambassador in Washington, Obama's influential national security adviser declared: "If I could advise the president to solve one problem among the many problems, this would be it. This is the epicentre, where we should focus our efforts ..."

                                                                                                  Obama will have a chance to do just that next month when he addresses the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Washington, a conference that Netanyahu will be attending? Although it is not yet certain that the two will meet. Despite all this activity on the peace front, the outlook is far from rosy. For a start, the standing of Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been severely weakened as a result of his initial willingness, reportedly in response to US and Israeli pressure, to shelve the Goldstone Report on the war in Gaza.

                                                                                                  More significantly, the right-wing Israeli government continues to be disinterested in an early peace settlement, certainly during Obama's first term. Israel's vice prime minister and minister for strategic affairs, General Moshe Ya'alon, spelled out Israel's "refurbished negotiating posture for a Palestinian state" during a visit last week to Washington. In a column published on Monday, Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International, summed up the Israeli view: "The Nobel Peace Prize will not help Mr Obama's quest for an independent homeland for the Palestinians by the end of his first term. Even if re-elected, the geopolitical prize would probably elude him again".

                                                                                                  The new Israeli posture, as explained to de Borchgrave, is that "key topics like final borders, the return of refugees, the dismantling of Israeli colonies, the status of Occupied East Jerusalem, a security fence along the Jordan River against terrorist infiltrators form Jordan ‘all would be postponed sine die.’ All this because the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish' state.

                                                                                                  Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former UN secretary general, told the columnist that Israel's shenanigans will lead to "a one-state solution ... probably [in] 10 years". Maybe Obama should lie low.
                                                                                                  - George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

                                                                                                  741 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                    Waging War on Students

                                                                                                    English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                    A Palestinian girl daydreams at school

                                                                                                    By Stuart Littlewood - London

                                                                                                    If there's one thing the Israelis are good at it's making war on women and children.

                                                                                                    They killed 952 Palestinian children in their homeland between 2000 and the start of the Gaza blitzkrieg in December 2008 (according to B'Tselem statistics). They murdered at least 350 more during their Cast Lead onslaught and have kept Gaza under daily attack ever since. So the brave Israelis must have eliminated nearly 1400 youngsters by now. Would anyone care to guess how many they left bleeding, maimed and crippled?

                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                    The "most moral army in the world" also loves waging war against Palestinian university students. Not long ago I wrote about Merna, an honors student in her final year majoring in English. Israeli soldiers frequently rampaged through her Bethlehem refugee camp in the middle of the night, ransacking homes and arbitrarily arresting residents. They took away her family one by one. First her 14-year-old cousin and best friend was shot dead by an Israeli sniper while she sat outside her family home during a curfew.

                                                                                                    Next the Israelis arrested her eldest brother, a 22 year-old artist, and imprisoned him for 4 years. Then they came back for Merna's 18-year-old brother. Not content with that the military came again, this time to take her youngest brother – the ‘baby’ of the family - just 16. These were the circumstances under which Merna had to study.

                                                                                                    Israeli military law treats Palestinians as adults as soon as they reach 16, a flagrant violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Israeli youngsters, of course, are regarded as children until 18. Palestinians are dealt with by Israeli military courts, even when it's a civil matter. These courts ignore international laws and conventions, so there's no legal protection for individuals under Israeli military occupation.

                                                                                                    As detention is based on secret information, which neither the detainee nor his lawyer is allowed to see, it is impossible to mount a proper defence. Besides, the Security Service always finds a bogus excuse to keep detainees locked up "in the greater interest of the security of Israel". Although detainees have the right to review and appeal, they are unable to challenge the evidence and check facts as all information presented to the Court is classified. So much for Israeli ‘justice’.

                                                                                                    Faced with this mounting mental stress Merna, far from giving up, determined to carry on with her studies. The most moral army in the world may have robbed her brothers of an education, but she would still fight for hers.

                                                                                                    To get to Bethlehem University, or any other, many students have to run the gauntlet of Israeli checkpoints. "Sometimes they take our ID cards and they spend ages writing down all the details, just to make us late," said one. Students are often made to remove shoes, belt and bags. "It's like an airport. Many times we are kept waiting outside for up to an hour, rain or shine, they don't care." The soldiers attempt to forcibly remove students’ clothes and they swear and shout sexual slurs at female students.

                                                                                                    Some tell how they are sexually harassed on their way to university and spend the rest of the day worrying what the Israelis will do to them on their way home. The constant humiliation undermines student motivation and concentration.

                                                                                                    Five years ago the Israelis forcibly removed four Birzeit University students from their studies in the West Bank and illegally sent them back to the Gaza Strip. All four were due to graduate by the end of that academic year. There was an outcry from around the world and the Israeli Army Legal Advisor was bombarded with faxes and letters demanding that the students be allowed to return to their studies.

                                                                                                    The world's most moral army agreed that the students might be allowed to return to Birzeit if they signed a guarantee to permanently return to the Gaza Strip after completing their studies. This effectively exposed Israel's policy to impose a final separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, even though the two are internationally recognized as one integral territory. Under international law everyone has the right to freely choose their place of residence within a single territory, but since when did Israel give a damn about international law? The racist regime makes it virtually impossible for Gaza students to reach the eight Palestinian universities in the West Bank. In 1999 some 350 Gaza students were studying at Birzeit. Today there are almost none.

                                                                                                    It was no great surprise, then, to hear from Bethlehem University a few days ago that Berlanty Azzam, a 4th year Business Administration student, was being held in detention by the Israeli military authorities with the intention of deporting her to Gaza "for trying to complete her studies at Bethlehem University.”

                                                                                                    Berlanty, a Christian girl, is originally from Gaza but has lived in the West Bank since 2005 after receiving a travel permit from the military to cross from Gaza to the West Bank. She too is being robbed of her degree at the last minute. She was detained at the Container checkpoint between Bethlehem and Ramallah after attending a job interview in Ramallah.

                                                                                                    The 21 year-old was due to graduate before Christmas. On Wednesday night the most moral army in the world blindfolded and handcuffed her, loaded her into a military jeep and drove her from Bethlehem to Gaza, despite assurances by the Israeli Military Legal Advisor’s office that she would not be deported before an attorney from Gisha (an Israeli NGO working to protect Palestinians’ freedom of movement) had the opportunity to petition the Israeli court for her return to classes in Bethlehem.

                                                                                                    When they’d crossed the border the world’s most moral army dumped Berlanty in the darkness late at night and told her: “You are in Gaza.”

                                                                                                    "Since 2005, I refrained from visiting my family in Gaza for fear that I would not be permitted to return to my studies in the West Bank," Berlanty told Gisha on her mobile phone before the soldiers confiscated it. "Now, just two months before graduation, I was arrested and taken to Gaza in the middle of the night, with no way to finish my degree."

                                                                                                    Bethlehem University wants to mobilize people from around the world to protest. Who better to contact, I thought, than the Palestinian ambassador in London, Professor Manuel Hassassian, who happens to be a former vice-president of that excellent seat of learning? "Have you contacted the Israeli ambassador for an explanation to this outrage?" I emailed him.

                                                                                                    Next day, having heard nothing, I emailed again: "Update... She has been removed to Gaza blindfolded and handcuffed! What is the Embassy doing about this please?" Another 24 hours have gone by and the silence is deafening. Still, it's not unusual for the Palestinian embassy to be fast asleep, out to lunch or off on holiday and no-one covering.

                                                                                                    I had of course simultaneously emailed the Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor asking him, please, to make enquiries. "On the face of it, this seems a senseless outrage. The student concerned has, I believe, just started her final year. I wonder what Mr Prosor or Mr Netanyahu would say if the education of their sons and daughters or grandchildren was disrupted in this manner." And next day, having heard nothing, I sent the same update about Berlanty being blindfolded and handcuffed. Another 24 hours have passed... silence here too; not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement from Israel’s press office, which usually responds like lightning to anything with news value.

                                                                                                    If this had been a Jewish girl deprived of her university degree and life chances Israeli embassies around the world would be instantly on the warpath hurling accusations of religious hatred and anti-semitism. But it's the Jewish state screwing up the young life of a Christian, so that's alright then.

                                                                                                    - Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

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                                                                                                      US blocks 'Syria torture' lawsuit

                                                                                                      English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                      Arar alleges that he was tortured during his
                                                                                                      spell in Syrian detention

                                                                                                      A US federal appeals court has ruled that a Canadian man cannot sue the US after he was held at a New York airport and then transferred to Syria, where he alleges he was tortured.

                                                                                                      Maher Arar, a Syrian-born software engineer, was detained by US authorities during a stopover in New York while heading home to Canada in 2002, and then sent to Syria because he was suspected of having links to al-Qaeda.

                                                                                                      Arar says he was held in a Syrian jail for almost a year and that he was beaten and whipped with electrical cables during his detention.

                                                                                                      In a 7-4 vote on Monday, the US court of appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with a lower court that Arar could not sue US officials, saying that he did not have legal standing.

                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                      'Congress role'

                                                                                                      The federal court found that legal protection and redress in cases such as Arar's should be determined by the US congress and not the courts.

                                                                                                      "Once congress has performed this task, then the courts in a proper case will be able to review the statute and provide judicial oversight," the ruling said.

                                                                                                      But Judge Guido Calabresi, who voted in favour of Arar being able to sue, wrote: "I believe that when the history of this distinguished court is written, today's majority decision will be viewed with dismay."

                                                                                                      Arar said in a statement that the ruling proves "the court system in the United States has become more or less a tool that the executive branch can easily manipulate through unfounded allegations and fear-mongering."

                                                                                                      The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented Arar, did not say whether it would appeal against the ruling to the US supreme court.

                                                                                                      When Arar filed his lawsuit against US officials in 2004 it marked the occasion where an individual challenged the US government's policy of "extraordinary rendition" - a process where suspects are sent to a third country where there are no restictions on the use of torture during interrogation.

                                                                                                      "It's the court's role to uphold the law and the law prohibits torture and provides for redress," Maria LaHood, an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said.

                                                                                                      "Torture is universally agreed to be illegal and unconstitutional."

                                                                                                      The Canadian government formally apologised to Arar in 2007 and paid him a $9.8m settlement.

                                                                                                      Condoleezza Rice, a former US secretary of state, admitted that the US made mistakes in the handling of Arar's case but she did not apologise.

                                                                                                      Source: Agencies

                                                                                                      415 words posted in Human Rights, American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                        McChrystal Doesn’t Get It — Does Obama?

                                                                                                        English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                        By Scott Ritter

                                                                                                        There is a curious phenomenon taking place in the American media at the moment: the lionization of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the American military commander in Afghanistan.

                                                                                                        Although he has taken a few lumps for playing politics with the White House, McChrystal has generally been sold to the American public as a “Zen warrior,” a counterinsurgency genius who, if simply left to his own devices, will be able to radically transform the ongoing debacle that is Afghanistan into a noble victory that will rank as one of the greatest political and military triumphs of modern history.

                                                                                                        McChrystal’s resume and persona (a former commander of
                                                                                                        America’s special operations forces, a tireless athlete and a scholar) have been breathlessly celebrated in several interviews and articles. Reporters depict him as an ascetic soldier who spouts words of wisdom to rival Confucius, Jesus and Muhammad.

                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                        The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent Gen. McChrystal to “fix” the war in Afghanistan in the way that his boss, that earlier military prophet Gen. David Petraeus, “fixed” Iraq. Whether by accident or design, McChrystal’s mission became a cause célèbre of sorts for an American media starved for good news, even if entirely fabricated, coming out of Afghanistan.

                                                                                                        One must remember that the general has accomplished little of note during his short tenure to date as the military commander in Afghanistan. His entire reputation is built around the potential to turn things around in Afghanistan. And to do this, McChrystal has said he needs time, and 40,000-plus additional American troops. There are currently around 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s request would raise that number to around 110,000 troops – the same number as the Soviets had deployed in Afghanistan at the height of their failed military adventure some 20 years ago.

                                                                                                        McChrystal, or more accurately, his staff, has authored a not-so-secret report that outlines the reasoning behind this massive increase in American military involvement in Afghanistan. Rightly noting that the American-led effort is currently failing, McChrystal argues that only a massive infusion of U.S. troops, and a corresponding “surge” of American civilians, can achieve the stability necessary to transform Afghanistan from the failed state it is today. A viable nation capable of self-government, the new Afghanistan could maintain internal security so that terrorist organizations like al-Qaida will not be able to take root, flourish and once again threaten American security from the sanctuary of a lawless land.

                                                                                                        This concept certainly looks good on paper and plays well in the editorial section. And why shouldn’t it? It touches on all the romantic notions of America as liberator and defender of the oppressed. The problem is that the assumptions made in the McChrystal report are so far removed from reality as to be ludicrous.

                                                                                                        McChrystal operates under the illusion that American military power can provide a shield from behind which Afghanistan can remake itself into a viable modern society. He has deluded himself and others into believing that the people of Afghanistan want to be part of such a grand social experiment, and furthermore that they will tolerate the United States being in charge.

                                                                                                        The reality of Afghan history, culture and society argue otherwise. The Taliban, once a defeated entity in the months following the initial American military incursion into Afghanistan, are resurgent and growing stronger every day. The principle source of the Taliban’s popularity is the resentment of the Afghan people toward the American occupation and the corrupt proxy government of Hamid Karzai. There is nothing an additional 40,000 American troops will be able to do to change that basic equation.

                                                                                                        The Soviets tried and failed. They deployed 110,000 troops, operating on less restrictive lines of communication and logistical supply than the United States. They built an Afghan army of some 45,000 troops. They operated without the constraints of American rules of engagement. They slaughtered around a million Afghans. And they lost, for the simple reason that the people of Afghanistan did not want them, or their Afghan proxies.

                                                                                                        Some pundits and observers make note of the fact that the Afghan people were able to prevail over the Soviets only because of billions of dollars of U.S. aid, which together with similar funding from Saudi Arabia and the logistical support of Pakistan, allowed the Afghan resistance to coalesce, grow and ultimately defeat the Soviets and their Afghan allies. They note that there is no equivalent source of empowerment for the Taliban in Afghanistan today. But they are wrong. The Taliban receive millions of dollars from sympathetic sources in the Middle East, in particular from Saudi Arabia, and they operate not only from within Afghanistan, but also out of safe havens inside Pakistan.

                                                                                                        Indeed, one of the unique aspects of the Afghan conflict is the degree to which it has expanded into Pakistan, making any military solution in one theater contingent on military victory in the other.

                                                                                                        But the reality is that the more one employs military force in either Afghanistan or Pakistan, the more one strengthens the cause and resources of the Islamic insurgents in both places. Pashtunistan, once a fanciful notion built around the concept of a united Pashtun people (the population in eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan are primarily drawn from Pashtun tribes), has become a de facto reality.

                                                                                                        The decision by the British in 1897 to separate the Pashtun through the artificial device of the so-called Durand Line (which today constitutes the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan) has been exposed today as a futile effort to undermine tribal links. No amount of military force can reverse this.

                                                                                                        Thus the solution itself becomes the problem, thereby creating a never-ending circular conflict which has the United States expending more and more resources to resolve a situation that has nothing to do with the reality on the ground in Afghanistan, and everything to do with crafting a politically viable salve for what is in essence a massive self-inflicted wound. It is the proverbial dog chasing after its own tail, a frustrating experience made even more so by the fact that any massive commitment of troops brings with it the fatal attachment of national pride, individual hubris and, worst of all, the scourge of domestic American politics, so that by the time this dog bites its tail, it will be so blinded by artificialities that rather than recognize its mistake, it will instead proceed to consume itself. In the case of Afghanistan, our consumption will be measured in the lives of American servicemen and women, national treasure, national honor, and, of course the lives of countless Afghan dead and wounded.

                                                                                                        The manner in which McChrystal has peddled his plan for Afghanistan to the American media, and to Congress, may be politically savvy. It is certainly insubordinate. The decision to employ American military power is the sole prerogative of the American president. A general may offer advice, but any effort to engage the machinery of politics to pressure a sitting president defies the basic constitutional tenet of civilian control over the military. President Obama, once a constitutional law professor, should know as much, and would do well to severely reprimand McChrystal for his actions. Or better yet, Obama should fire McChrystal and replace him with someone who respects the rule of law and the chain of command.

                                                                                                        Obama may have won the Nobel Peace Prize, but if he allows himself to be bullied into supporting McChrystal’s foray into Afghanistan, he will reveal himself as the worst kind of warmonger. True, he didn’t invent the Afghan quagmire. That honor resides with George W. Bush, who also is to blame for the American fiasco in Iraq. But history will be surprisingly gentle toward America’s 43rd president. Bush will share the blame for his calamitous military decisions with the mistaken policies of previous administrations, a compliant Congress, headstrong advisers, servile intelligence agencies and, of course, the shock of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Bush will be seen more as a useful idiot than a ruthless ideologue. Obama, with his obvious intelligence, soaring rhetorical skills and Nobel credentials, does not readily fit such a characterization. If he decides to reinforce failure in Afghanistan by dispatching tens of thousands more American troops to that disaster, America’s 44th president will cement himself as a grand fraud, a hawk hiding in dove feathers. Given his potential for doing good, one clearly would not want such a scenario to play out.

                                                                                                        The president’s lack of military experience screams out when he calls America’s involvement in Afghanistan a “good war.” He would have been better off trying to make the case for a justifiable war, or even a necessary war, but to label a process that brings about the death and injury of thousands as “good” makes me wonder about Obama’s fitness to be commander in chief. His seeming inexperience on national security affairs and foreign policy leave him vulnerable to domestic political pressures that emanate from these arenas. The president does possess the vision to see a world in which America stands side by side with other nations as an equal, operating with a shared notion of due process and respect for the rule of law, but that doesn’t square with any decision to deploy more troops to Afghanistan. Expanding the war in Afghanistan will lend credence to the central worry about Obama: that, at the end of the day, this man of vision might in fact be little more than an Illinois politician who is willing to barter away American life, treasure and good will for political gain on the domestic front. And, in doing so, it will undermine his noble vision of an America “resetting” its relationship with the world following eight years of unilateralist militarism.

                                                                                                        A true leader, one with substance and gravitas, would be able to stand up to the combined pressure of the military, the right-wing of Congress and the American media. He would draw the correct conclusions from the lessons of history, which prove again and again that Afghanistan is not a problem that can be solved by foreign military intervention. The fact that Obama might be compelled to alleviate the political pressure he is receiving from these sources by condemning America to another decade of death and destruction in Afghanistan and, most probably, Pakistan, reinforces any perception of his weakness as a national leader.

                                                                                                        Afghanistan has, over the centuries, earned its reputation as the graveyard of empires. Just ask the Greeks, Mongols, British and Russians. If Barack Obama ultimately agrees to dispatch more American troops to Afghanistan, he will ensure not only that America will add its name to the list of those who have failed in their effort to conquer the unconquerable, but also that his name will join the ranks of those leaders throughout history who succumbed to the temptations of hubris when given the choice between war and peace. The Nobel committee will have failed in its gambit to motivate America’s 44th president to embrace the mantle of peacemaker, and the American people will be left to sort through the detritus of war brought on by yet another failed president.

                                                                                                        Of course, the future is not yet set in stone. The decision to dispatch more troops, although the subject of much rumor and speculation, has been delayed pending the final dispensation of Afghanistan’s controversial presidential election. One can only hope that President Obama will take advantage of this timely “pause” to reconsider his options regarding Afghanistan beyond the single-minded rush to reinforce a current policy the U.S. military has acknowledged as having gone nowhere in the eight years of American military engagement.

                                                                                                        Vice President Joe Biden had earlier proposed a policy course that would have de-emphasized military engagement with the Taliban, focusing instead on rooting out the forces of al-Qaida still operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Obama was reportedly not sold on Biden’s thinking when it was first presented last March. Perhaps now, upon reflection, the president will do the right thing and reduce America’s military involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, either along the lines proposed by Vice President Biden, or through some other mechanism. There is no military solution to the problems facing the United States today in Afghanistan, and thus the correct course of action is to de-militarize the situation by reducing, not expanding, America’s military presence.

                                                                                                        Clearly Gen. Stanley McChrystal is not the man for this task. He should be replaced by someone within the ranks of the U.S. military who shares Obama’s vision of peace, and with it the need to redefine the mission in South Asia. The legitimate requirements of American national security will not be satisfied by any massive military commitment to the region. Hopefully, President Obama will recognize this fact and get out. That would be a sign of greatness, and present to the American people and the rest of the world a leader worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.

                                                                                                        Scott Ritter is a former Marine intelligence officer, chief U.N. weapons inspector and the author of numerous books on foreign policy.

                                                                                                        http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/20091029_mcchrystal_doesnt_get_it_does_obama/

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                                                                                                          Taliban Decline US Offer Of 6 Provinces for 8 Bases

                                                                                                          English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                          By Aamir Latif

                                                                                                          ISLAMABAD – Niv. 2, 2009 -- The emboldened Taliban movement in Afghanistan turned down an American offer of power-sharing in exchange for accepting the presence of foreign troops, Afghan government sources confirmed.

                                                                                                          "US negotiators had offered the Taliban leadership through Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakkil (former Taliban foreign minister) that if they accept the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan, they would be given the governorship of six provinces in the south and northeast," a senior Afghan Foreign Ministry official told IslamOnline.net requesting anonymity for not being authorized to talk about the sensitive issue with the media.

                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                          He said the talks, brokered by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, continued for weeks at different locations including the Afghan capital Kabul.

                                                                                                          Saudi Arabia, along with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, were the only states to recognize the Taliban regime which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

                                                                                                          Turkish Prime Minister Reccap Erodgan has reportedly been active in brokering talks between the two sides.

                                                                                                          His emissaries are in contact with Hizb-e-Islami (of former prime minister Gulbadin Hikmatyar) too because he is an important factor in northeastern Afghanistan."

                                                                                                          A Taliban spokesman admitted indirect talks with the US.

                                                                                                          "Yes, there were some indirect talks, but they did not work," Yousaf Ahmedi, the Taliban spokesman in southern Afghanistan, told IOL from an unknown location via satellite phone.

                                                                                                          "There are some people who are conveying each others’ (Taliban and US) messages. But there were no direct talks between us and America," he explained.

                                                                                                          Afghan and Taliban sources said Mutawakkil and Mullah Mohammad Zaeef, a former envoy to Pakistan who had taken part in previous talks, represented the Taliban side in the recent talks.

                                                                                                          The US Embassy in Kabul denied any such talks.

                                                                                                          "No, we are not holding any talks with Taliban," embassy spokeswoman Cathaline Haydan told IOL from Kabul.

                                                                                                          Asked whether the US has offered any power-sharing formula to Taliban, she said she was not aware of any such offer.

                                                                                                          "I don't know about any specific talks and the case you are reporting is not true."

                                                                                                          Provinces for Bases

                                                                                                          Source say that for the first time the American negotiators did not insist on the "minus-Mullah Omer" formula, which had been the main hurdle in previous talks between the two sides.

                                                                                                          The Americans reportedly offered Taliban a form of power-sharing in return for accepting the presence of foreign troops.

                                                                                                          "America wants 8 army and air force bases in different parts of Afghanistan in order to tackle the possible regrouping of Al-Qaeda network," the senior official said.

                                                                                                          He named the possible hosts of the bases as Mazar-e-Sharif and Badakshan in north, Kandahar in south, Kabul, Herat in west, Jalalabad in northeast and Ghazni and Faryab in central Afghanistan.

                                                                                                          In exchange, the US offered Taliban the governorship of the southern provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Hilmand and Orazgan as well as the northeastern provinces of Nooristan and Kunar.

                                                                                                          These provinces are the epicenter of resistance against the US-led foreign forces and are considered the strongholds of Taliban.

                                                                                                          Orazgan and Hilmand are the home provinces of Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Omer and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

                                                                                                          "But Taliban did not agree on that," said the senior official.

                                                                                                          "Their demand was that America must give a deadline for its pull out if it wants negotiations to go on."

                                                                                                          Ahmedi, the Taliban spokesman in southern Afghanistan, confirmed their principal position.

                                                                                                          "Our point of view is very clear that until and unless foreign forces do not leave Afghanistan, no talks will turn out to be successful."

                                                                                                          The ruling Taliban were ousted by the United States, which invaded Afghanistan shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

                                                                                                          Since then, the Taliban have engaged in protracted guerrilla warfare against the US-led foreign troops and the Karzai government.

                                                                                                          http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23861.htm

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                                                                                                            Mississippi diary: Dead zone

                                                                                                            English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                            Photo by Getty Images

                                                                                                            By Nick Clark in

                                                                                                            Less than 70km from the Gulf of Mexico, huge industrial plants flank the banks of the Mississippi, making use of its water. Combine this with the run-off from farmers’ fields and you get perilous cocktail.

                                                                                                            The Mississippi River helped build the United States, it made possible the giant agricultural expansion of the 19th century. It is still a crucial artery of industry.

                                                                                                            Only from above do you get an impression of the scale of man’s impact. Less than 70 kilometres from the Gulf of Mexico, huge plants flank the banks - there are vast chemical, gas and steel works, all making use of Mississippi water.

                                                                                                            The river also drains 40% of the USA and the run-off from farmers’ fields has taken it toll. Pesticides, herbicides and general agricultural run-off flows in to the Mississippi.

                                                                                                            This perilous cocktail ends up in the Gulf of Mexico and has created a Dead Zone, nearly 10,000 square kilometres of water, where NOTHING lives.

                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                            “This is a huge tract of sea which has been totally de-oxygenated, absolutely nothing can survive,” said Marine Biologist Professor Ivor Van Heerden.

                                                                                                            While many farmers are reluctant to change their methods, there are those who want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

                                                                                                            These days Robbie Howard doesn’t plough his land, he grows crops continuously and that, he says, prevents sediments running off into the river.

                                                                                                            “No sediments means no chemicals,” he said. “Agriculture must take its share of the blame but I believe the fix is in process.”

                                                                                                            Many would disagree.

                                                                                                            CANCER ALLY

                                                                                                            Downstream another problem.

                                                                                                            Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans lies a stretch of river some call Cancer Ally.

                                                                                                            More than one hundred industrial plants flank mainly poor or minority neighbourhoods. Residents say cancer rates in the area are above average.

                                                                                                            A residents’ meeting is taking place in the shadow of an oil refinery, in a poor community virtually underneath the highway overpass.

                                                                                                            “Many people have died of cancer in this neighbourhood,” Sonyja Thomas tells us. “Way more than normal.

                                                                                                            “Sometimes the emissions from plants are overwhelming. One day I opened the door and it nearly knocked me backwards. The chlorine in the air just stung my eyes.”

                                                                                                            Companies say their operations ARE clean and safe. They say cancer rates are no higher than the national average when you take into account the way people lead their lives and factor in habits like smoking.

                                                                                                            Loud-speakers have also been installed in the street to warn residents of dangerous emissions. Every now and then locals are warned to stay indoors and turn off their air conditioners to avoid noxious fumes.

                                                                                                            Sonyia says the one outside her house hasn’t worked for months.

                                                                                                            451 words posted in EnvironmentLeave a comment

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                                                                                                              Jewish directors challenge Israel

                                                                                                              English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                              Eyes Wide Open, a love story between two Orthodox Jewish men, provoked anger at its screening

                                                                                                              By Sakhr al-Makhadi at the London Film Festival

                                                                                                              A series of controversial Israeli films are provoking outrage and plaudits in equal measure at the London Film Festival.

                                                                                                              The best documentary award has gone to one of the year's most controversial films.

                                                                                                              Defamation is a polemic by Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir. In his expose of America's Anti-Defamation League (ADL), he claims anti-Semitism is being exaggerated for political purposes. He argues that American Jewish leaders travel around the world exploiting the memory of the Holocaust to silence criticism of Israel.

                                                                                                              He gets inside the ADL, which claims to be the most powerful lobby group of its type anywhere in the world. With unprecedented access, he travels with them as they meet foreign leaders, and use the memory of the Holocaust to further their pro-Israeli agenda.

                                                                                                              At one point, an ADL leader admits to Shamir that "we need to play on that guilt".

                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                              Shamir says his film, Defamation, started out as a study of "the political games being played behind the term anti-Semitism".

                                                                                                              "It became more a film about perceptions and the way Jews and Israelis choose to see themselves and define themselves - a lot of the time unfortunately choosing the role of eternal victims as a way of life."

                                                                                                              Israel's national psyche

                                                                                                              He wanted to find out how this mentality has become part of Israel's national psyche.

                                                                                                              The film suggests that the attitude is thrust upon children from an early age. School trips to concentration camps in Poland run year-round.

                                                                                                              From just 500 children in the 1980s, he claims around 30,000 are now flown to Europe every year.

                                                                                                              He discovers that the trips are not designed to educate, but to provoke an emotional reaction. They fly out of Israel euphoric, and end their journey in tears, talking about their shared hatred.

                                                                                                              They are accompanied by secret service agents who prevent them from talking to any locals - they are led to believe that most Poles are anti-Semites.

                                                                                                              The end result is disturbing. The victim mentality is being used to justify Israel's occupation and colonisation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza.

                                                                                                              In the film, one Israeli Jew tells Shamir that she refuses to get upset by Israeli aggression against the Palestinians because "we" faced worse. To her, the Holocaust justifies anything the Israeli army does.

                                                                                                              And for Shamir, that is the real danger. "We are experiencing the most right-wing government we've ever had, and there is very little room for discussion. Putting so much focus on hate and the negative, I don't see it as a healthy thing."

                                                                                                              In Israel, the film has received a mixed response. "It's kind of a love or hate type of response to the film," Shamir says. "It's very hard to get people to come and watch documentaries in the cinemas in Israel."

                                                                                                              Touchy subject

                                                                                                              In the UK, too, there is anger towards Defamation.

                                                                                                              Mark Gardiner from one of Britain's biggest anti-Semitism campaign groups, the Community Security Trust, believes the film could put Jews at risk.

                                                                                                              Samuel Maoz's film, Lebanon, has sparked debate inside Israel
                                                                                                              "All of a sudden some bloke appears out of nowhere, oh he's an Israeli, oh he's a Jew, therefore what he says must have more credence than what organisations like my own and the ADL have said for years - I think that shows a deep-seated bias."

                                                                                                              And he is furious at the suggestion that anti-Semitism is being used for political purposes.

                                                                                                              "This assumption that people are saying it because they're being malicious, because they know that it's not anti-Semitic, but hey lets use anti-Semitism in order to win the Israel case, that's what I find really really offensive," Gardiner says.

                                                                                                              Shamir is not surprised by reactions like that.

                                                                                                              "Anti-Semitism is a very touchy subject and making a film about anti-Semitism is almost like walking on thin ice, you're going to hurt people's feelings."

                                                                                                              Martial Kurtz from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) believes the film can make a difference to activists like him.

                                                                                                              He says all too often Israel's supporters label groups like the PSC as anti-Semitic.

                                                                                                              "There are many Jewish organisations which campaign [with us] against the occupation, campaign against the siege in Gaza," he says. "So the whole argument falls flat."

                                                                                                              'Rocking the boat'

                                                                                                              Defamation is not the only controversial movie at this year's London Film Festival.

                                                                                                              Eyes Wide Open provoked anger and walkouts when it was screened.

                                                                                                              It is a love story between two Orthodox Jewish men set in Jerusalem. Despite trying to keep their affair secret, the pair are threatened with violence by the community's elders, leading to tragedy.

                                                                                                              Director Haim Tabakman knew the film would not be easy for some Jews to watch. "This film has a provocative pitch," he says. "Every good film is political."

                                                                                                              But he just wants people to face reality. "If you talk about it, it exists, so it's not in their interests to talk about it," he told Al Jazeera.

                                                                                                              "It's like the flood with Noah and his ark - the water came to destroy everything but something new came out of it. Sometimes it's good to shake the boat."

                                                                                                              'Victims of war'

                                                                                                              Another director causing waves is Samuel Maoz, whose war film Lebanon is sparking debate inside Israel.

                                                                                                              "You can't change anything without first of all talking about it," he says. "The film moves people to talk, even to argue with each other."

                                                                                                              Maoz's film, which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival in September, is based on his own experiences as his army invaded Lebanon in 1982. He says he made the film because of the guilt which still haunts him to this day.

                                                                                                              "I'm not comparing between the suffering of a Lebanese woman who lost her family to the suffering of a soldier who fell into a no way out situation and needs to kill. If I can make some kind of scale, she is in level 10 and he is in the bottom, he is in level two. But both of them are victims of war."

                                                                                                              He knows words like that will cause controversy in Israel, but he is ready for the backlash.

                                                                                                              "The army is not something holy, especially after the 2006 Lebanon war. In war itself there are no good guys and bad guys. The war is the bad guy."

                                                                                                              Maoz believes that Israel will only become less belligerent when civilians are shown the realities of war.

                                                                                                              "First of all it was a need to unload and expose the war as it is, naked, without all the heroic stuff and the rest of the cliches."

                                                                                                              But Maoz has a bigger aim - to stop Israel launching attacks on Palestinians and Lebanese.

                                                                                                              "Every film has its ambition to change something ... the film is attacking war itself," he says.

                                                                                                              "Peace will come but it's just a question of time and time is blood. If we can find a short cut we can save a lot of blood for both sides."

                                                                                                              Source: Al Jazeera

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                                                                                                                United States of Israel: Clinton backtracks on previous backtracking on settlements

                                                                                                                English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                BETHELEM – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that Israel has not done enough to curb the expansion of illegal West Bank settlements, backtracking from earlier comments praising Israeli restraint.

                                                                                                                "The Israelis have responded to the call of the US, the Palestinians and the Arab world to stop settlement activity by expressing a willingness to restrain settlement activity," Clinton told reporters in Morocco, where she is to meet Arab foreign ministers.

                                                                                                                "This offer falls far short of what our preference would be but if it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth," Clinton also said, according to Reuters.

                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                During their meeting with Clinton in the city of Marrakesh, Arab states’ foreign ministers are likely to express disappointment at Clinton for failing to place more pressure on Israel to stop settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

                                                                                                                On Sunday President Mahmoud Abbas and other top Palestinian officials criticized Clinton for praising what she had termed an “unprecedented” willingness on Israel’s part to curb settlements. She also suggested that settlement expansion should not stop a resumption of negotiations.

                                                                                                                Clinton met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday in Jerusalem after holding talks with Abbas in Abu Dhabi earlier that day.

                                                                                                                In her remarks on Monday Clinton also praised Abbas for taking "positive steps" toward renewing peace talks, including improving security in the West Bank, the news agency reported.

                                                                                                                "When either party takes any step that looks like it moves us in the right direction, even if it is not what I would like or I would prefer, I am going to positively reinforce that," Clinton said.

                                                                                                                "Failure is in the atmosphere"

                                                                                                                Also speaking in Morocco, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Arab governments shared the Palestinian position that resuming negotiations was futile without a freeze on settlement construction, Reuters also said.

                                                                                                                "I am telling you that all of us, including Saudi Arabia, including Egypt, are deeply disappointed ... with the results, with the fact that Israel can get away with anything without any firm stand that this cannot be done," Moussa told reporters, according to Reuters.

                                                                                                                Asked if US President Barack Obama's initiative to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process had failed, Moussa said: "I still wait until we have our meetings and decide what we are going to do. But failure is in the atmosphere all over."

                                                                                                                Clinton was to hold a bilateral meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal in as well as group meetings with Gulf state ministers and officials from Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

                                                                                                                PA seeks Arab backing for Abbas

                                                                                                                Separately, the Palestinian Ambassador to the Arab League, Barakat Al-Farra, said on Monday that he requested an official meeting of the Arab follow-up committee in light of Clinton’s visit to the region.

                                                                                                                “The Palestinian and Arab stances are very clear in this regard. Decisions have also been made by the Arabs on the impossibility of resuming negotiations while Israel continues imposing facts on ground through settlement constructions and other practices,” Al-Farra said in a statement.

                                                                                                                The official added in a statement that Palestine has been requesting such a meeting for weeks.

                                                                                                                Arab League spokesperson Hisham Yousef said that the organization has begun preparing for several weeks for a meeting of the follow-up committee.

                                                                                                                On Sunday, both Jordan and Egypt issued statements critical of Clinton’s recent approach to the settlement issue.

                                                                                                                mAAN nEWS

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                                                                                                                  Arabs "disappointed" by Clinton stance on Israel

                                                                                                                  English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                  Mon Nov 2, 2009 7:27am EST
                                                                                                                  By Andrew Quinn and Christian Lowe

                                                                                                                  MARRAKESH, Morocco (Reuters) - Arab foreign ministers on Monday are likely to tell Secretary of State Hillary Clinton they are disappointed she did not exert more pressure on Israel to freeze settlements, the head of the Arab League said.

                                                                                                                  Clinton was to begin sounding out Arab officials after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at which she endorsed Israel's view that settlement expansion in the West Bank should not be a bar to resuming negotiations.

                                                                                                                  Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Arab states shared the Palestinian position that resuming negotiations was futile without a halt on settlement expansion.

                                                                                                                  "I am telling you that all of us, including Saudi Arabia, including Egypt, are deeply disappointed ... with the results, with the fact that Israel can get away with anything without any firm stand that this cannot be done," Moussa told reporters on Monday in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, where Clinton is to meet Arab foreign ministers.

                                                                                                                  Asked if President Barack Obama's initiative to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had failed, he said: "I am really afraid that we are about to see a failure."

                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                  "But I still wait until we have our meetings and decide what we are going to do. But failure is in the atmosphere all over."

                                                                                                                  Clinton met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday in Abu Dhabi before heading to Israel to talk to Netanyahu.

                                                                                                                  In Morocco, she was to hold a bilateral meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal as well as group meetings with Gulf Arab ministers and officials from Egypt, Jordan and Iraq on the sidelines of a Morocco development conference.

                                                                                                                  She was also due to meet Morocco's King Mohammed at one of his palaces in the desert city of Ouarzazate.

                                                                                                                  Palestinians have already reacted angrily to Clinton's comments and called for a "unified Palestinian-Arab position" on the stalled peace process.

                                                                                                                  U.S. officials sought to downplay Clinton's statement in Jerusalem, repeating that Washington had serious issues with Israel's settlement policy but believed that the most important thing now was to get negotiations going.

                                                                                                                  But they underscored a shift in U.S. policy that began in September, when President Barack Obama himself called only for "restraint" in Israeli settlement activity rather than the "freeze" he had earlier demanded.

                                                                                                                  Netanyahu has proposed limiting building for now to some 3,000 settler homes already approved by Israel in the West Bank. He does not regard building in occupied East Jerusalem, annexed in defiance of international opposition, as settlement.

                                                                                                                  Palestinians have accused Washington of pressuring them to accommodate Israeli intransigence, effectively shutting the door to future talks.

                                                                                                                  "The negotiations are in a state of paralysis, and the result of Israel's intransigence and America's back-pedaling is that there is no hope of negotiations on the horizon," Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said on Sunday.

                                                                                                                  Abbas faces intense domestic pressure from Hamas Islamists who control the Gaza Strip, and any compromise on settlements could hurt him politically in a run-up to Palestinian elections he has scheduled for January 24. Hamas has rejected holding a vote.

                                                                                                                  Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem alongside 2.8 million Palestinians. Israel captured the territories in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbors. Palestinians say settlements could deny them a viable state.

                                                                                                                  http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE5A11ET20091102

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                                                                                                                    Karzai declared Afghan poll winner

                                                                                                                    English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                    Karzai

                                                                                                                    Hamid Karzai, the incumbent president, has been declared the winner of Afghanistan's presidential election.

                                                                                                                    Afghanistan's election panel announced the decision after cancelling Saturday's planned runoff.

                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                    Azizullah Ludin, chairman of the Independent Election Commission, declared Karzai victor at a news conference in Kabul on Monday, a day after Abdullah Abdullah, the sole challenger, pulled out of the race.

                                                                                                                    Abdullah cited the government's refusal to accept his demands for changes in the Independent Election Commission, for his decision, leaving Karzai to compete with himself in the November 7 runoff.

                                                                                                                    The cancellation of the runoff followed a meeting on Monday between Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, with Karzai and Abdullah.

                                                                                                                    Karzai plea

                                                                                                                    Earlier in the day, Karzai made a plea in an interview with a local radio station calling on Abdullah to reconsider his decision and participate in the runoff, our correspondent said.

                                                                                                                    And in an interview with Al Jazeera, Ludin had stressed that election would be held despite Abdullah's withdrawal.

                                                                                                                    "Under the law there is no alternative but to have these elections," James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent, quoted him as saying.

                                                                                                                    Bays said that holding the election with one candidate would pose a "vast organisational headache" and "security headache" although people will be turning out to vote for just one candidate.

                                                                                                                    The first round of Afghanistan's elections on August 20 was so badly affected by ballot-box stuffing and distorted tallies that more than one million votes were thrown out.

                                                                                                                    The discovered fraud pushed Karzai below the required 50 per cent margin needed to win, forcing the country into a second round.

                                                                                                                    Abdullah had demanded that Karzai sack Ludin and suspend four ministers who campaigned for the president.

                                                                                                                    He told supporters on Sunday a "transparent election is not possible" and that the Afghan government has been illegitimate since May.

                                                                                                                    "I'll not take part in the election," Abdullah said, adding that he had "not taken this decision easily".

                                                                                                                    In an interview with Al Jazeera shortly after the announcement, he said the decision was made after "a lot of consultations".

                                                                                                                    "It was the right decision, and I did it in the best interests of this country," Abdullah said.

                                                                                                                    Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                                                      Deadly blast rocks Pakistani city

                                                                                                                      English (US)  November 2nd, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                      The attack was close to the Pearl Continental Hotel and near Pakistan's army headquarters [AFP]

                                                                                                                      At least 30 people have been killed and 45 others wounded after a suicide bomber targeted workers queuing for their salaries outside a bank and hotel in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad.

                                                                                                                      The blast, the second bombing in less than a week, occurred on Monday close to Pakistan's army headquarters in the garrison city.

                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                      The attack off Mall Road was close to the Pearl Continental Hotel and near Pakistan's army headquarters, where 10 fighters mounted a nearly 24-hour siege last month that left 23 people dead.

                                                                                                                      Death toll rising

                                                                                                                      A senior police official said the attack was the work of a suicide bomber.

                                                                                                                      "The suicide bomber came on a motorcycle and blew up close to people gathered to get salaries. We found parts of a suicide vest and some body parts of the suicide attacker," Aslam Tarin, senior police official, said.

                                                                                                                      Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Rawalpindi, said: "Hundreds of people were at the bank at the time which explains why the death toll has risen so sharply in the last couple of hours.

                                                                                                                      "When this blast took place, the noise was so loud, one witness said she felt as if her whole world had ended. Another said she saw a woman lying on the street missing half her body. Very harrowing stories [can be heard] at the scene of this bomb blast.

                                                                                                                      "Now this is a highly secure area. Just a couple of weeks ago there was a seige that took place on the army headquarters. The question already being asked is how another bomb blast could take place in such a sensitive area.

                                                                                                                      "There are no claims of responsibility so far."

                                                                                                                      A surge in violence has hit Pakistan in recent weeks, leaving more than 300 people dead last month alone as the military launches a major offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP).

                                                                                                                      UN pullout

                                                                                                                      Pakistani ground troops have been locked in street battles for two days with Taliban fighters in Kanigurram, one of the largest towns in South Waziristan and described as a major operation centre for the TTP.

                                                                                                                      The worsening security situation coincides with a United Nations decision to pull out international staff from Pakistan's northwest.

                                                                                                                      Monday's announcement just days after more than 100 people were killed in a car bomb in Peshawar, the main city of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

                                                                                                                      "They will be relocated. Immediately," Ishrat Rizvi, a UN spokeswoman, told the AFP news agency, unable to say immediately how many staff the decision affected.

                                                                                                                      Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said that the UN had raised the security level to "phase four" in NWFP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a UN statement said.

                                                                                                                      "The decision has been taken bearing in mind the intense security situation in the region," the statement said.

                                                                                                                      Last month the UN's World Food Programme closed distribution centres serving more than two million people in the northwestern region because of security fears.

                                                                                                                      Taliban bounty

                                                                                                                      Against this backdrop of violence and tensions, Pakistani authorities have offered a reward worth $5 million for information leading to the capture, dead or alive, of Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the TTP, and 18 other fighters.

                                                                                                                      Pakistan is offering $600,240 reward for the capture of Hakimullah Mehsud [AFP]

                                                                                                                      The rewards for the group's senior fighters were offered in a government advertisement on the front page of The News daily and on Pakistani television channels overnight.

                                                                                                                      "The activities of these brutal people, who have no fear of God, are bringing a bad name - not only to the Mehsud tribe but all tribesmen ... and also give a bad name to Pakistan in the whole world," the advertisement said.

                                                                                                                      "These people certainly need just punishment. They are the killers of humanity. Help the government of Pakistan to annihilate them."

                                                                                                                      Mehsud, who took on the leadership mantle after a US drone attack killed his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, in August, headed the list with 50 million Pakistan rupees ($600,240) on his head.

                                                                                                                      TTP has been blamed for some of the worst attacks in Pakistan, which have killed around 2,400 people in a deadly wave of violence over the past two years.

                                                                                                                      Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                                                        Radwan: Clinton’s remarks on settlement expansion dealt a blow to Abba

                                                                                                                        English (US)  November 1st, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                        GAZA, (PIC)-- Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan stated Sunday that US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s remarks on the need to resume Palestinian negotiations with Israel without asking it in advance to halt settlement expansion dealt a heavy blow to Mahmoud Abbas and his negotiators.

                                                                                                                        Radwan added that this American stand proved the credibility of the position voiced many times by Hamas that these frivolous negotiations would lead to more Palestinian concessions, vulnerability and begging at American tables.

                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                        He stressed that Abbas and his negotiators must be aligned with the choice of the Palestinian people, the resistance and the national constants instead of chasing a mirage leading to more land annexation, Judaization and security collaboration with the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian resistance.

                                                                                                                        Commenting on whether Abbas would stick to his opposition to the resumption of negotiations with Israel in light of the settlement activities, the Hamas official said that Abbas is unpredictable and his decisions are made by the American administration.

                                                                                                                        Speaking at a joint press conference ahead of her meeting with the Israeli premier, Clinton stated Saturday that a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank is not a pre-condition for the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

                                                                                                                        “There has never been a pre-condition. It's always been an issue within the negotiations," Clinton said.

                                                                                                                        "I want to see both sides as soon as possible begin in negotiations. Both president Obama and I are committed to a comprehensive peace agreement, she added.

                                                                                                                        http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en

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                                                                                                                          Amayreh: Palestinian MP freed from Zionist dungeon

                                                                                                                          English (US)  November 1st, 2009 by admin ( Email )



                                                                                                                          From Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

                                                                                                                          The Israeli occupation authorities on Sunday freed Hatem Qafisha, a member of the Legislative council after a protracted administrative detention in Israeli concentration camps and dungeons.

                                                                                                                          The “administrative detention” is often referred to as open-ended incarceration without charge or trial and is primarily meant as a reprisal against Palestinian political activists.

                                                                                                                          Israel rounded up Qafisha and most other Islamist lawmakers in the mid-2006, giving them hefty prison sentences ranging from 35 months to 48 months for taking part in elections under the umbrella of a militant organization.

                                                                                                                          The Israeli occupation authorities arrested Qafisha numerous times the last of which occurred in November 2007. All in all, Qafisha spent more than 9 years in detention.

                                                                                                                          He was never accused of any concrete charges apart from generalized and concocted charges pertaining to resisting the Israeli occupation and identifying with a militant organization.

                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                          In an interview three years ago, Qafisha intimated that he pressed the Jewish military judge to inform him why he was arrested.

                                                                                                                          The Judge said he couldn’t tell him because the evidence was secret. Then Qafisha confronted the judge, saying, “then how do you expect me to refrain from committing the same violation again if I don’t know what it is?”

                                                                                                                          During his prolonged imprisonment, Qafisha was able to earn his Ph.D. in political science by correspondence. His dissertation is titled “the erosion of the Israeli deterrence.”

                                                                                                                          Several Islamic detainees have also been able to earn Master and doctorate degrees through correspondence.

                                                                                                                          Qafisha joined the Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab world’s largest Islamic political movement, in 1978. In 1991, he was deported to southern Lebanon along with more than 400 Islamic political activists.

                                                                                                                          Then Israel’s Prime Minister Isaac Rabin thought that the draconian measure would weaken Hamas and stop the resistance against the Israeli occupation.

                                                                                                                          However, the deportation seemed to have significantly strengthened Hamas, prompting Rabin to step up autonomy talks with the PLO leadership under the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

                                                                                                                          In 2006, Qafisha won a seat in the Palestinian legislative elections while languishing in Israeli custody.

                                                                                                                          Qafisha was also briefly arrested by the Palestinian autonomous authority.

                                                                                                                          Abu Anas (his nom de guerre) is considered a prominent civic leader in the al-Khalil District who played an active role in the creation and management of charitable organizations in the city.

                                                                                                                          Qafisha, 47, is father to eight children.

                                                                                                                          http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en

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                                                                                                                            From a parallel universe: Clinton lauds 'unprecedented' settlement restraint

                                                                                                                            English (US)  November 1st, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                            Hillary Clinton [MaanImages]

                                                                                                                            Bethlehem - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday evening departed from her administration's insistence that Israel halt settlement growth, instead applauding its "restraint on the policy of settlements."

                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                            Palestinians have refused to enter into negotiations with Israel until it fulfills prior obligations to stop expanding its borders into occupied territory, a stance President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated in Abu Dhabi hours earlier.

                                                                                                                            Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Clinton said, "What the prime minister has offered in specifics of restraint on the policy of settlements... is unprecedented in the context of prior-to negotiations."

                                                                                                                            "There are always demands made in any negotiation that are not going to be fully realized," she explained. "Negotiation by its very definition is a process of trying to meet the other's needs while protecting your core interests, and on settlements there's never been a pre-condition."

                                                                                                                            After all, she noted, "There's never been such an offer from any Israeli government," either.

                                                                                                                            Adding that every US president since 1967 has "questioned the legitimacy of settlements," Clinton said it was more important to focus on getting both sides back to renewing talks that were called off in January amid Israel's assault on Gaza, which left some 1,400 Palestinians dead.

                                                                                                                            Settlements, Clinton insisted, have "always been an issue within the negotiations," agreeing with Netanyahu that a freeze has never preceded talks. "What the prime minister is saying is historically accurate."

                                                                                                                            "We hope that we'll be able to move into the negotiations where all the issues that President [Barack] Obama mentioned in his speech at the United Nations will be on the table for the parties to begin to resolve," she said.

                                                                                                                            During Obama's remarks to the UN General Assembly in New York in late September, he reiterated that the US rejects "the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."
                                                                                                                            Maan News

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                                                                                                                              Bombers strike across Iraq

                                                                                                                              English (US)  November 1st, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                              At least 11 people have been killed and dozens more injured in four attacks across Iraq.

                                                                                                                              The deadliest attack killed five people and wounded dozens more in a market in the city of Hillah, in Babil province.

                                                                                                                              The cause of Sunday's explosion was a bomb attached to a cooler on the back of a bicycle, police said.

                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                              At least three more people were feared dead after a bomb fixed to a bus was remotely detonated in Karbala.

                                                                                                                              The bus had been approaching a checkpoint and a police officer was said to have been among the dead.

                                                                                                                              Medics said at least five women were among the many injured.

                                                                                                                              Twin car bombs, detonated within minutes of each other, killed two people in a second attack in Ramadi.

                                                                                                                              Among the dead was a policeman. Four other people were hurt.

                                                                                                                              The devices had been left in cars parked in the visitors' car park at the Traffic Police Department.

                                                                                                                              Earlier in the day, three mortar rounds slammed into the commercial district of Baghdad, killing one.

                                                                                                                              Last week twin suicide bomb attacks in central Baghdad killed 153 people and wounded about 500 more. The strikes constituted the deadliest day for the country in two years.

                                                                                                                              The violence comes before parliamentary elections due on January 16.

                                                                                                                              Source: Agencies

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                                                                                                                                US accused on Middle East peace

                                                                                                                                English (US)  November 1st, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                The Palestinians have accused the US of destroying any chance of peace talks after backing Israel over the building of illegal settlements on occupied land.

                                                                                                                                It comes after the US called for talks to start as soon as possible and without preconditions, a climbdown on earlier demands for Israel to stop settlement building.

                                                                                                                                Nabil Abu Rdeineh, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said: "The negotiations are in a state of paralysis, and the result of Israel's intransigence and America's back-pedaling is that there is no hope of negotiations on the horizon."

                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, also said that pressuring the Palestinian leadership to make further concessions to accommodate Israel was not the solution.

                                                                                                                                Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president is under pressure at home before elections due at the beginning of 2010. The Fatah leader met Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in the US in September, despite previously refusing to such an encounter unless Israel agreed a settlement halt.

                                                                                                                                His move was seen as a climbdown, particularly among supporters of the rival faction Hamas.

                                                                                                                                Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, had said at a news conference in Jerusalem late on Saturday that the settlement issue should now be considered as part of peace negotiations only.

                                                                                                                                "There has never been a precondition. It's always been an issue within the negotiations," she said.

                                                                                                                                The administration of Barack Obama, the US president, had previously demanded that Israel halt all settlement building before negotiations could resume, a move that was applauded by the Palestinians but which brought the US and Israel to loggerheads.

                                                                                                                                Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's Jerusalem correspondent, said: "The Americans would never admit to backtracking, but if we watch the way that the language has changed and the way the emphasis has changed, it's quite clear there has been a slide in the American position.

                                                                                                                                "Now, we hear Hillary Clinton urging an immediate resumption of talks - 'get back on the path', she said, really not wanting to look at conditions."

                                                                                                                                Hassan Khitab, a Palestinian Authority spokesman, told Al Jazeera: "Frankly speaking I did not expect this shift to happen.

                                                                                                                                "Now the question is 'what needs to be done?' The Palestinians will have great difficulties allowing the resumption of negotiations alongside the continuing of the settlement expansion.

                                                                                                                                “Especially that Israel has increased its provocative activities through settlers whether in the West Bank … or in occupied East Jerusalem, through restricting the right of Palestinian Muslims for worshiping in addition to restricting the rights of all Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the eviction process that has increased recently.”

                                                                                                                                Shifting position

                                                                                                                                In May, Clinton had said Obama "wants to see a stop to settlements. Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions".

                                                                                                                                The US had initially demanded a halt to any construction in the occupied territories [AFP]

                                                                                                                                But after bringing Abbas and Netanyahu together at the United Nations in New York in September, Obama called only for "restraint" on settlements, not a "freeze".

                                                                                                                                Mouin Rabbani, a contributing editor to The Middle East Report, said that it was not surprising that the US had changed its stance.

                                                                                                                                "In January [and] February this year there were all kinds of hoorays on the basis that the Obama administration was somehow going to effect a revolution in American foreign policy.

                                                                                                                                "If you look at what's happened over the course of the past year, it's basically been a gradual collapse of the American position, which in my view [means] there is] absolutely no surprise that they've ended up where they are now - basically heeding Israel's decision to continue settlement constructon in the occupied territories," Rabbani told Al Jazeera from Amman, the Jordanian capital.

                                                                                                                                Rabbani said a "pattern is consistent with American policy since the beginning of Israel-Palestine diplomacy in the early 1990s - always leaning on the Palestinians to make concessions in order to solve the problems they're having with the Israelis. No surprise here; nothing new."

                                                                                                                                Akiva Eldar, the chief political commentator with the Israel's Haaretz newspaper, described the move as a "betrayal"

                                                                                                                                "The secretary of state, I assume with the full support of the president, has turned around after 10 months of negotiating the precondition of freezing settlements ... she says there is no precedent to preconditions.

                                                                                                                                "The fact that there was no precedent actually demonstrates why there are now 300,000 settlers living in the West Bank and just 16 years ago when the Oslo Agreement was launched there were 109,000 settlers.

                                                                                                                                "The message from Obama was change. Not about keeping the same kind of American policy that turns a blind eye to Israel putting facts on the ground."

                                                                                                                                Palestinian stand

                                                                                                                                Abbas earlier rejected Clinton's request to resume negotiations when they met in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

                                                                                                                                Erekat said Abbas rejected the US request because the recent deal reached between George Mitchell, the US Middle East envoy, and Israel "does not include a complete freeze of settlement activities".

                                                                                                                                Erekat said that Israel had refused to halt construction of about 3,000 houses currently being built in the West Bank or any construction in annexed East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                Abu Rudeineh said the move reflected US inability to persuade Israel to freeze settlement building, but that Clinton had told the Palestinians that the US still considered the settlements illegal.

                                                                                                                                "The US position concerning these settlements - as we heard from Clinton in the UAE - was clear, that they consider all settlement activities illegal and this is an official US position which we heard many times before," he told Al Jazeera.

                                                                                                                                "The real problem is that Israel is not ready to discuss these issues and America is still unable to convince the Israelis to come back to the 'road map'," Abu Rudeina said, referring to a plan for steps to be taken by Israel and the Palestinians, first outlined in 2002.

                                                                                                                                "Even the previous American administration [under George Bush] in Annapolis agreed that settlement activity should be frozen."

                                                                                                                                Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                                                                  European campaign: Impose penalties on Israel to lift the Gaza siege

                                                                                                                                  English (US)  October 31st, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                  BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip has expressed surprise at the world community's powerlessness towards the oppressive Israeli siege on Gaza.

                                                                                                                                  Anwar Al-Gharbi, a founding member of the European campaign and head of the Swiss rights for all society, said in a press release on Saturday that it was no longer acceptable for the world to merely condemn the three-year-old siege.

                                                                                                                                  It is not reasonable that the world could not end that criminal siege on one and a half million Palestinians that is daily reaping more victims, he elaborated.

                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                  The continuation of that siege is a blatant violation of international doctrines and a shame on the signatories to the human rights agreements that protect lives of civilians even at times of war, Gharbi charged.

                                                                                                                                  He urged the UN and the world community to impose real penalties on Israel to force it to end the siege, warning that any further delay in such a call would mean actual participation in the war of genocide exercised by Israel against the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                  Meanwhile, the Palestinian forum for rights and solidarity in the Netherlands has expressed absolute concern over the unjustified Egyptian measures against the European medical aid convoy "miles of smiles" to Gaza.

                                                                                                                                  The forum in a statement on Saturday said that it was following with concern the Egyptian procrastination, noting that the convoy was stranded at sea off the Egyptian Port Said harbor for almost three weeks waiting permission to unload the medical shipment, mostly for disabled children, en route to Gaza.


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                                                                                                                                    United States of Israel backtracks on Israeli settlements; Clinton claims Zionists have made "concessions" on settlements

                                                                                                                                    English (US)  October 31st, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                    In their talks earlier, Abbas, right, rejected Clinton's request to resume negotiations [AFP]

                                                                                                                                    The US has called for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible and without preconditions, an apparent climb down on earlier demands for Israel to halt settlement building.

                                                                                                                                    The settlement issue should be considered as part of peace negotiations, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said at a news conference in Jerusalem late on Saturday.

                                                                                                                                    "There has never been a precondition. It's always been an issue within the negotiations," Clinton said, adding that Israel had made "unprecedented" concessions on settlement building.

                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                    Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, who spoke alongside Clinton, said Palestinian demands for a full Israeli settlement freeze were being used to prevent the renewal of peace talks.

                                                                                                                                    "It is actually being used as a pretext ... as an obstacle that prevents the re-establishment of negotiations," he said.

                                                                                                                                    The administration of Barack Obama, the US president, had previously demanded that Israel halt all settlement building before negotiations could resume, a move that was applauded by the Palestinians but which brought the US and Israel to loggerheads.

                                                                                                                                    The settlements are considered illegal under international law.

                                                                                                                                    'US climb down'

                                                                                                                                    Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's Jerusalem correspondent, said: "The Americans would never admit to backtracking, but if we watch the way that the language has changed and the way the emphasis has changed, it's quite clear there has been a slide in the American position.

                                                                                                                                    "Now, we hear Hillary Clinton urging an immediate resumption of talks - 'get back on the path', she said, really not wanting to look at conditions.

                                                                                                                                    In their early months in office, Obama and Clinton called for a complete halt to settlement activity.

                                                                                                                                    But after bringing Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Netanyahu together at the United Nations in New York in September, Obama called only for "restraint" on settlements, not a "freeze".

                                                                                                                                    "We really watched Hillary Clinton fall into line with Israel," Rowland said of Saturday's press conference.

                                                                                                                                    The move is unlikely to be accepted by the Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                    "What the Palestinians are frustrated about is what seems to be the Obama administration's wish to start from a clean slate," Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ramallah, said.

                                                                                                                                    "The 1967 borders seems to be up for negotations, and that is something no Palestinian leader can accept."

                                                                                                                                    Palestinian rejection

                                                                                                                                    Abbas earlier rejected Clinton's request to resume negotiations when they met in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

                                                                                                                                    Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Abbas rejected the US request because the recent deal reached between George Mitchell, the US Middle East envoy, and Israel "does not include a complete freeze of settlement activities".

                                                                                                                                    "The real problem is that Israel is not ready to discuss these issues and America is still unable to convince the Israelis to come back to the 'Road Map'" -- Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian president

                                                                                                                                    Erakat said that Israel had refused to halt construction of some 3,000 houses currently being built in the West Bank or any construction in annexed east Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                    Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Abbas, said the move reflected America's inability to persuade Israel to freeze settlement building, but that Clinton had told the Palestinians that the US still considered the settlements illegal.

                                                                                                                                    "The US position concerning these settlements - as we heard from Clinton in the UAE - was clear, that they consider all settlement activities illegal and this is an official US position which we heard many times before," he told Al Jazeera.

                                                                                                                                    "The real problem is that Israel is not ready to discuss these issues and America is still unable to convince the Israelis to come back to the 'Road Map'," he said, referring to a plan for steps to be taken by Israel and the Palestinians, first outlined in 2002.

                                                                                                                                    "Even the previous American administration [under George Bush] in Annapolis agreed that settlement activity should be frozen."

                                                                                                                                    Mark Regev, Netanyahu's spokesman, had no comment when asked what gestures Israel might be willing to make to help Abbas.

                                                                                                                                    He reiterated Israel's position that it is ready to relaunch talks without preconditions.

                                                                                                                                    Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down late last year and have remained stalled, despite the renewed push by the US.

                                                                                                                                    Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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                                                                                                                                      We Need More Erdogans

                                                                                                                                      English (US)  October 31st, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                      By Aijaz Zaka Syed - Dubai

                                                                                                                                      Turkey’s Ottoman Empire died an unwept death nearly a century ago. But the country continues to enjoy a unique eminence of leadership across the Middle East and in much of the Muslim world. And Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly justified this love and respect for his country with his political courage and candor.

                                                                                                                                      From the lashing Erdogan gave to Israel’s Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos following the Gaza offensive earlier this year to his call this week demanding UN action on Justice Richard Goldstone’s report, Turkey continues to show rare leadership. Erdogan’s nation stands up for justice and fair play, rather than go along with the shameful double standards that the rest of the world seems to take in its stride.

                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                      This is remarkable for a country that enjoys close, strategic relations with the United States, is a NATO member and hopes to be the first Muslim country to join the European Union.

                                                                                                                                      More important, it has full diplomatic relations with Israel and is perhaps the only Muslim country with which Israel has close economic and military ties. (So you can’t really throw the regulation accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ against Ankara.)

                                                                                                                                      This is largely because of Turkey’s historical relations with the Jewish community. The Ottoman caliphs sheltered and protected the Jews for centuries while they were being hunted and killed all across Christian Europe.

                                                                                                                                      However, these close ties haven’t deterred Turkey’s present leadership from confronting Israel on its persecution of Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                      Turkey, Erdogan told a huge public rally last week, had never been on the side of oppressors and it had always defended the oppressed: “We are not against any country, but we are against injustice.”

                                                                                                                                      He stopped short of pointing out that yesterday’s oppressed had become today’s oppressors.

                                                                                                                                      Meanwhile in an interesting interview with Britain’s Guardian this week, Erdogan turned the spotlight on another piece of international theatre involving Israel. Commenting on Iran’s nuclear conflict with the US and Europe, the Turkish Prime Minister has slammed the West for being unfair to Iran and applying double standards on the issue.

                                                                                                                                      Dismissing the Western hysteria over Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons as ‘gossip,’ the Turkish leader pointed out that many of those lecturing Iran today on its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons had large nuclear arsenals at their disposal.

                                                                                                                                      In doing so, Erdogan has given voice to an overwhelming majority around the world that has long felt that the West is unreasonably targeting Iran -- just as Iraq had been – even as it turns a blind eye to Israel’s nukes.

                                                                                                                                      This is not the first time Erdogan has underscored the international duplicity. During the UN General Assembly session and the debate on nuclear disarmament in New York last month, he reminded the world that Israel has nuclear weapons and has used the banned phosphorous bombs against Palestinians. “Why are these not on the UN agenda? Why is it always Iran?” he demanded.

                                                                                                                                      If only more Muslim leaders could think and act like Erdogan and confront big bullies of our world, their people wouldn’t be in the mess that they are in today.

                                                                                                                                      Speaking truth to power is never easy. But it is especially difficult in the Middle East. The rest of the world may have bid farewell to colonial hegemony long ago. But the world’s most volatile and sensitive region remains a hostage of its imperial past and its divisive legacy in some way or the other. Which is why leaders such as Erdogan come as a ray of hope in an otherwise dark and dull Middle Eastern sky.

                                                                                                                                      I wonder why no other Muslim leader has had the courage to hold a mirror to the West over Iran. You didn’t hear a single voice of protest across the Middle East against this relentless campaign targeting Iran.

                                                                                                                                      Is it because Iran is a Shia nation and majority of the Muslim world happens to be Sunni? Or do we truly believe the fiction that Iran’s nuclear program and its so-called expansionist ambitions are targeted at its Arab and Muslim neighbors?

                                                                                                                                      How can we ignore the historical reality that until our colonial masters arrived, Arabs and Iranians and Sunnis and Shias had coexisted in peace and total harmony for centuries since the dawn of Islam?

                                                                                                                                      The disastrous, 8-year-long war between Iraq and Iran, the only Arab-Persian conflict in post Islam history, that claimed nearly a million lives had been a gift of the West.

                                                                                                                                      When will we realize that from Palestine to Pakistan the Muslim world is on fire today because of our silence and inaction over the games big powers have been playing in the Middle East for decades. And we are silent once again even as the whole world debates the UN report on Gaza and demands action against Israel.

                                                                                                                                      Hundreds of peace activists, human rights groups and bloggers around the world have been running a tireless campaign to hold Israel to account for its war crimes.

                                                                                                                                      It was thanks to their noble efforts that the UN Human Rights Council decided to refer Goldstone’s findings to the UN Security Council. Defying the US pressure and boycott by the Europeans, the council voted 19 against three to send the report on Gaza to the Security Council.

                                                                                                                                      The matter now rests before the five permanent members of the Security Council. The Big Five have to decide if Israel should be asked to probe the Gaza war crimes or recommend the International Criminal Court action against Israel. But the US is likely to do neither.

                                                                                                                                      Israel’s patron saint could simply veto any UN initiative against Israel, as it always has. The Gaza report stands no chance in the UN as long as the US is there to protect Israel. And it will continue to protect the Israelis even if their hands are dripping with the blood of innocents as long as the Arab and Muslim countries do not speak in one voice.

                                                                                                                                      The report by the South African Jewish judge is not without its flaws. First of all it puts Israel and Hamas on the same level for crimes against humanity during the recent Israeli offensive on Gaza. Which is absurd. One is a nuclear power and the most powerful military in the Middle East and the other is a resistance group. All Hamas has at its disposal are its rudimentary rockets.

                                                                                                                                      Even more absurd is Goldstone’s recommendation asking Israel to investigate its own crimes against Palestinians. How can Israel probe its own sins? And even if it does so to mollify the world opinion, how legitimate can be such an exercise and what would it achieve? Surely, Israel cannot resolve to punish itself!

                                                                                                                                      However, the UN report is crucial in that it sets a historic precedent of confronting a criminal, ruthless power against an utterly defenseless and long persecuted civilian population.

                                                                                                                                      Israel has got away with murder, literally, all these years because the world has failed to confront it and its protectors. This is why it keeps killing and terrorizing the Palestinians again and again. This would stop only if the Israelis are made to pay for their appalling crimes. And the Goldstone report provides a rare opportunity to do so.

                                                                                                                                      By a strange coincidence, the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council and the larger General Assembly are with two countries that are sympathetic to Palestinians – Turkey and Libya.

                                                                                                                                      UN chief Bank Ki-Moon is under intense pressure to end the world body’s inaction on the issue. So it is possible to confront Israel even if its friends try to protect it once again. All it needs is unity in the ranks of Arab and Muslim states. Only this can persuade the US from blindly protecting Israel.

                                                                                                                                      So can the Arab and Muslim countries, and all reasonable people everywhere, please stand up and speak out for a change? History will not forgive them if they fail to do so yet again.

                                                                                                                                      -Aijaz Zaka Syed is Opinion Editor of Khaleej Times. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: aijaz@khaleejtimes.com.

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                                                                                                                                        Elections under siege

                                                                                                                                        English (US)  October 31st, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                        Al Ahram
                                                                                                                                        Abbas's acceptance of the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation deal with Hamas is only because that deal presents new ways for him to destroy his opponents, writes Azmi Bishara

                                                                                                                                        If the Palestinian resistance factions are to agree to the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement, the Quartet (the US, Russia, EU and UN) must pledge to respect the results of elections regardless of who wins and not to subject the Palestinian people to another blockade if the winner is Hamas. This condition is not directed at Egypt. Nor does it suggest that the proposed agreement should be reopened for discussion. It simply means that unless the relevant international parties abide by it the agreement will amount to nothing but an attempt to eliminate the resistance with its own approval.

                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                        Even if the Palestinian people overlooked the question of the elections being held under occupation as a way to marginalise the struggle for independence and divert energies into an internal battle, it is still their right to demand an international commitment to the abovementioned condition. After all, they have held internationally monitored elections before and were collectively punished for the results. On top of this, the next elections will be held under the conditions of an economic blockade and a refusal to reconstruct what was damaged during the Israeli war on Gaza; which is to say under threat.

                                                                                                                                        If the Quartet, which is responsible for the blockade, does not commit itself to the abovementioned condition it will be conveying the following to the Palestinian people: "You must vote for the Oslo team and grant it the confidence to negotiate on your behalf. This is not because it merits your confidence for political, moral and national reasons, or because you favour security coordination arrangements with Israel, or because you approve of the Oslo team in any way at all. You will vote for them because if you don't you will be subjected to a relentless and merciless blockade that the official Arab order will do nothing to prevent and, indeed, will probably contribute to perpetuating. Let the blockade that has been strangling Gaza for several years now be your guide."

                                                                                                                                        We do not expect those who play the electoral game while the swords of Palestine's enemies hang over the heads of Palestinian voters to feel awkward or ashamed. That would be too much to ask at this juncture. However, we do ask them not to preach too much to us about democracy. These are not elections. They are a way to exact a pledge of allegiance at gunpoint, aimed not just at the voters, but also at their children who are entirely blameless. This is why resistance movements are not put to the vote before independence, or before the defeat of the occupation is immanent. Why should the people cast their votes for an independence movement while a foreign occupation is pointing a gun at their heads? Resistance demands sacrifices from resistance fighters, but it does not generally require ordinary people to choose, in an electoral process, between resistance and food for their families.

                                                                                                                                        The proposed reconciliation agreement contains another main point that is repeated in every section, which is that the Palestinian Authority (PA) president is to be the undisputed supreme authority. Under the proposal, this makes him the authority over the electoral commission, over the national reconciliation committee, and over the supreme security board. The PA president is one of the prime symbols of the rift that has shaken the Palestinian people. Indeed, he is even conspicuous within that handful of the most unpopular and most provocative figures in Palestinian politics. Symbolically at least, the provision stipulating his authority is inappropriate at this juncture following his scandalous behaviour in Geneva.

                                                                                                                                        PA leaders would probably approve the Egyptian reconciliation proposal sight unseen even if it were a 1,000-page tome instead of a 28-page document and even if it detailed at length the ways and means for liberating Palestine. To these leaders, the agreement is only a preamble to one thing: elections. These have been dissolved in a syrup of saccharine phrases that include not only "national unity" but also "preservation of the arm of resistance". But it is not a reconciliation agreement. A climate for reconciling with the "evil emirate", as the enlightened PA president put it, does not exist to begin with. What is proposed is an instrument for reaping the fruits of the blockade and war against Gaza. The PA president has openly refused to reconcile with Hamas. But he will agree to the reconciliation agreement because it will give him the instruments to eliminate Hamas in another way.

                                                                                                                                        The reason that the PA will approve the agreement without serious discussion, even though it disapproves of a large portion of it, is because of two provisions, after which all the rest is words. The first is the reconstitution of the security agencies in Gaza as they stood before the last elections. The second is new elections before lifting the blockade on Gaza and repairing the destruction wrought by Israel's war. The purpose of elections under such conditions is not reconciliation and concord but the "elimination of the effects of the wicked coup" waged by Hamas.

                                                                                                                                        Naturally, the Oslo team will not be happy if the next elections are held under the same conditions that governed elections in 2006. These are people who refused to hold new presidential elections after the term of the incumbent came to an end and whose demand for deferring presidential elections was upheld by an Arab League resolution. Still, they are looking forward to elections, not because they favour the electoral process in principle but because they are counting on two critical factors. The first is the effects of the blockade on Hamas and the national unity government, compounded by the effects of Israel's war. The second is the existence of a government in Ramallah that has not been subject to the attrition of economic siege and that, on the contrary, is receiving financial support from the US and Europe, in spite of the fact that that government was not popularly elected and is illegitimate. These two factors combined, they believe, should be sufficient to inform Palestinian voters who to cast their ballots.

                                                                                                                                        The proposed elections are nothing more than a massive bid to falsify the will of the Palestinian people. Indeed, there is only one way that the resistance factions can confront this and that is to insist upon international commitment to honour and uphold the results of the elections and, simultaneously, to adhere to national principles and the right to resist while exhibiting proper democratic behaviour. This, however, will require some fundamental changes in the behaviour that has prevailed in the ruling authority in Gaza. On the other hand, if Hamas refuses to sign the reconciliation agreement and elections go ahead "unilaterally", as the Oslo team has threatened, this will achieve nothing but to further entrench the division between the West Bank and Gaza, since Ramallah can not force the results of such elections on Gaza. Unilateral elections will only confirm that the Oslo team's aim is not reconciliation.

                                                                                                                                        The US and Europe, of course, know what "normal" elections mean and fear that their silence over the Egyptian proposal will be taken as assent. George Mitchell, therefore, put it bluntly. The US has not approved the Egyptian proposal and insists upon the Quartet's three conditions: a halt to violence, commitment to previously signed agreements, and recognition of Israel. This means that the conditions of the blockade still prevail, and that the US, via the statement of a senior official, has cautioned the Palestinian electorate. At least they issued a warning.

                                                                                                                                        Now, if we were to allow for some good intentions we could argue that perhaps the US does not understand the tricks of Arab oratorical politics. Maybe it doesn't realise that what Arab politicians tell each other does not mean much; or, more precisely, that their words mean much as instruments of influence and manoeuvring, but very little as binding texts. They can pen an agreement sealing unity and wake up the following day as though it never existed, as Nuri Al-Maliki demonstrated recently with regards to the strategic cooperation agreement with Syria. Of course, it is a different matter when foreign powers, even hostile ones, are concerned. Here the Arabs are as fervent in their dedication to their commitments as they are lax in their dedication to their commitments to each other, as is the case with many other matters related to the respect for rights, other cultures, and the domestic interactions between clans and sects. It is a different world when sects, clans, tribes and petty kings loom in the background behind the façades of states and formal treaties; different sets of laws come into play.

                                                                                                                                        One can imagine an American official asking his Palestinian or Arab counterpart, "How can you sign a paper like that, which contains such expressions as 'the preservation of the arm of resistance' and 'the duty of the security forces is to resist [who, one might wonder]' yet no reference to abiding by agreements struck with Israel or renouncing violence, let alone recognising the said state?" Then we can picture the Arab or Palestinian smirking at the American's ignorance. "All that's just words and formulas that we had to fine tune in lengthy talks so that we could come up with a document to sign," he says. "What counts is rebuilding our security agencies and getting through elections day. Then, let come what may. Look at what's happening to Hamas in the West Bank, at anyone who has the audacity to question the PA and its agreements with Israel."

                                                                                                                                        The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah founded a self-serving regime that thrives under the perpetuation of the occupation, the Judaisation of Jerusalem, the marginalisation of the cause of Palestinian refugees and security coordination with Israel. It is also a regime of terror, unlike any regime the Palestinians have known, even under direct occupation. This regime parrots the Western liberal adage as to how communists and Nazis used democratic processes to get to power and then abolished them. The saying was wielded against Islamist movements several times towards the end of the 20th century. Apart from the case of Sudan (which has, indeed, demonstrated the more dangerous trends in the Islamist movement and which was opportunistic in the way it reached and exercised power), the very contrary of the clichéd warning has been the rule so far in Arab countries: the opponents of Islamist movements refused to recognise the results of polls or prevented elections from being held if they felt that these movements had a chance to win.

                                                                                                                                        The Palestinian case offers a classic instance of an electoral victory won by an Islamist movement and of the loser refusing to recognise that victory. In this case, outside powers intervened to overthrow the winner and to prevent him from rising again. Meanwhile, the government in Ramallah, which enjoys Arab and international recognition, is not an elected government. It is an appointed one, with US and Israeli approval and facilitation. The people in that government have quite a bit of nerve to claim that the Islamist resistance will use the elections to reach power then overthrow the electoral process when none of them were even voted into power to begin with. Rather, they took over power with the aid of foreign intervention after an electoral process that was internationally recognised as free and fair, but whose results were not to their liking.

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                                                                                                                                          Amayreh: Fool's gold

                                                                                                                                          English (US)  October 31st, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                          Al Ahram

                                                                                                                                          Plans for an election are impractical at best, argues Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

                                                                                                                                          As if the stalled and nearly moribund peace process between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel didn't face enough problems, PA President Mahmoud Abbas dropped a bombshell this week when he called for "presidential and legislative elections" to be held in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem on 24 January.

                                                                                                                                          The decree is more than problematic since Abbas's Western-backed regime in Ramallah has no control over East Jerusalem, which Israel considers part of its "eternal, united capital" and the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                          Moreover, whatever semblance of authority the PA regime has in the West Bank is completely subject to Israeli whim. This means that if Abbas is serious about holding elections in the three separate territories on the designated date, he will have to coordinate the elections with both Israel and Hamas.

                                                                                                                                          Israel has already indicated that it won't automatically grant Abbas permission to hold elections in the West Bank and there are serious doubts that the most right-wing government in Israel's history would allow elections to take place in East Jerusalem. Unless, of course, Israel obtains the right political price from the weak PA; in other words, an undertaking to abandon the Goldstone Report.

                                                                                                                                          As to Hamas and other Palestinian factions, the reactions are ranging from total rejection to deep reservations.

                                                                                                                                          Rejecting the call as a pressure tactic on Hamas to sign the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation document, Hamas leaders challenged Abbas, arguing that the PA leader's term in office has expired and that he wouldn't be able to organise genuine election without the Gaza Strip. "Holding elections in the West Bank alone is a definitive prescription for a national disaster," said Ismail Radwan, a Hamas leader and spokesperson in Gaza.

                                                                                                                                          Similarly, the Islamic Jihad organisation dismissed Abbas's election decree as "an exposed attempt to perpetuate the Dayton princedom" in the West Bank. The allusion here is to the American General Keith Dayton who trains and oversees PA security forces.

                                                                                                                                          Even the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is a founding member of the PLO, has shown its consternation. The group's acting leader, Mahmoud Mallouh, has argued that regaining Palestinian national unity is more important than holding elections.

                                                                                                                                          To be sure, Abbas didn't say he was completely abandoning reconciliation efforts with Hamas. He argued though that organising elections on the designated date was a "legal and constitutional imperative."

                                                                                                                                          Hamas and many Palestinian intellectuals ridicule this argument, which gives the impression that the PA is an independent and sovereign state with an established constitution when in fact the PA regime, especially in the West Bank, is a little more than a mere sub-contractor for the Israeli occupation authorities. After all, it is the Israeli army, not the PA, that controls every street and corner of the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                          It is not clear if Abbas is bluffing in order to outmanoeuvre and circumvent Hamas, or if he really means it. If the latter, the direct and indirect ramifications of holding elections in the West Bank without the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip would deeply and negatively affect the Palestinian political arena as well as American-led peace efforts.

                                                                                                                                          Indeed, the outcome of an election in which less than half of eligible voters would participate is not going to have much credibility, will further exacerbate the Palestinian crisis, and may lead to an irreversible rupture between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                          As to the American-led efforts to resume peace talks between the PA and Israel, which have so far achieved no progress, it is amply clear that these efforts will have to be more or less frozen if Abbas is serious about holding elections. After all, continuing to indulge in a manifestly barren peace process (barren in light of the bitter experience of years of fruitless negotiations with the Olmert government) would seriously undermine Abbas's efforts to woo the Palestinian public to elect him "president" for a second term.

                                                                                                                                          More to the point, if elections are to be held on the designated date, Fatah would have to display a radical discourse and reassert its commitment to the Palestinian constants, including the two cardinal issues of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees uprooted from their former homes and villages when Israel was created more than 60 years ago. It might even resort, at least as an electioneering tactic, to asserting its commitment to armed struggle against Israel.

                                                                                                                                          For what it's worth, this would have a negative impact on the peace process as it would undermine the Obama administration's ability to realise the increasingly illusive goal of establishing a viable Palestinian state in the occupied territories.

                                                                                                                                          Last week, US President Barack Obama called Abbas, assuring him that he would see to it that an independent Palestinian state is established. Obama didn't say when such a state would see the light of day, nor did he mention anything about American efforts to get Israel to freeze Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank. Abbas would do well to remember that president George W Bush made similar undertakings which came to naught.

                                                                                                                                          Obama was supposed to give a foreign policy address this week that would reveal new American ideas for making progress in the stalled Middle East peace process. It is not clear if the nonevent had anything to do with Abbas's decision to hold elections in January.

                                                                                                                                          What is clear though is that Abbas is visibly disillusioned, even to the point of despondency, as all American pledges and promises to get Israel to freeze its frantic seizure of Palestinian land are shown to be false. One Palestinian official said in confidence that the president's mood is "very depressive". He also described US peace efforts as the "biggest act of deception". "If Obama with all his power can't bring Israel to freeze the building of even one building in East Jerusalem, would it be reasonable on our part to expect him to wrest East Jerusalem from Israel, allow for the repatriation of the refugees and at the top of all of this establish a viable and territorially contiguous state for us?"

                                                                                                                                          This week, the Israeli media reported that Abbas was seriously considering submitting his resignation on the grounds that he had no achievement whatsoever with which he could impress Palestinian voters during the election campaign.

                                                                                                                                          The unconfirmed report alerted the Obama administration which hastened to assure Abbas that the US would take a number of unspecified measures to boost Abbas's standing among his people.

                                                                                                                                          However, the American undertaking seems to be largely rhetorical, since any achievement by Abbas would require serious Israeli concessions in the West Bank. This seems highly improbable, at least for the time being, given the composition and ideological nature of the current Israeli government.

                                                                                                                                          An exit from the narrow horizons facing Abbas could take the form of a certain concession to Hamas by Fatah, probably in coordination with Egypt. But even this wouldn't be desirable from the American viewpoint since the restoration of Palestinian unity would likely radicalise the overall Palestinian stance and make the Palestinians more determined in their demands for a total Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in 1967.

                                                                                                                                          Hani Al-Masri, a public figure close to the PA leadership, argues that holding general elections in the absence of national reconciliation will lead to a huge disaster. "The president is behaving as if occupied Palestine was like Switzerland. He forgets that we are still struggling to rid ourselves of the cruel Israeli occupation. And under such circumstances, national unity is far more important than so-called constitutional considerations."

                                                                                                                                          Al-Masri further argues that the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is first and foremost "political, not constitutional in nature", which he says requires a political solution. "Failing to understand this reality could lead to national political suicide and a total capitulation to Israeli dictates. Abbas is dead wrong if he thinks that the Palestinian negotiating position vis-à- vis Israel would be better in the absence of national unity."

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                                                                                                                                            Smug, Dismissive Clinton ‘Not Getting Through’ to Pakistanis

                                                                                                                                            English (US)  October 31st, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                            Pakistanis Appear Not to Be Getting Through to Clinton, Either

                                                                                                                                            by Jason Ditz

                                                                                                                                            Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up three days of campaigning for war in Pakistan by exasperatingly declaring that “we’re not getting through” to the Pakistanis. It seems her talks not only convinced few people, but her smug, dismissive attitude likely cemented Pakistani attitudes about America’s designs on their nation.

                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                            When asked yesterday why Pakistanis should trust America’s “long-term commitments” after the US abandoning the region in 1989, Clinton declared “it’s difficult to go forward if we’re always looking in the rearview mirror.” When pressed on the massive civilian casualties from US drone attacks, she would only say “there is a war going on.”

                                                                                                                                            And there is most assuredly a war going on, but Pakistanis are increasingly getting the sense that it isn’t their war, even though the US is demanding that they do much of the fighting. Millions of Pakistanis have been displaced in the US-provoked fighting, the whole country is subject to regular suicide attacks and military expenditures have virtually bankrupted the government.

                                                                                                                                            But even with all of that Clinton still accused Pakistan’s government openly of harboring al-Qaeda’s leadership and dismissed Pakistani criticism as “negative feelings.” The Secretary of State may have failed in “getting through” to Pakistanis, but the Pakistanis don’t seem to be faring any better at getting through to her.

                                                                                                                                            236 words posted in Af-Pak war, American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                              Limiting a Palestinian state

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  October 30th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                              Netanyahu said that a Palestinian state would need to be demilitarised [AFP]

                                                                                                                                              By Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera's Middle East analyst

                                                                                                                                              It was billed as a peace speech, but Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, echoed the words of a colonialist conqueror when he delivered his much-anticipated policy speech at Bar Illan University.

                                                                                                                                              Without ambiguity, he told the Palestinians that their existence and future hinges on their acquiescence - the relinquishing of their own history, rights and aspirations.

                                                                                                                                              In effect, Netanyahu called on the Palestinians to accept total surrender.

                                                                                                                                              [More:]


                                                                                                                                              It was a speech reminding the vanquished that they have no rights beyond accepting the terms of their defeat.

                                                                                                                                              In the tradition of victorious colonialists, Netanyahu's vision for the future emanates from a self-entitlement to rewrite history and to determine the fate of his defeated subjects.

                                                                                                                                              Netanyahu's speech is a blow to a justice-based solution to the conflict, not merely because it offers no more than a powerless entity subject to de facto Israeli control, but more significantly because the Israeli leader's vision is based on an extremist Zionist narrative that promotes the view that the historic land of Palestine – recognised as Israel and the West Bank — is the homeland of the Jewish people.

                                                                                                                                              Revisionist history

                                                                                                                                              Such an account categorically denies Palestinian history and Arab roots in Palestine and therefore does not acknowledge the dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948, or the 1967 occupation of West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                              Instead they are the "undisputed lands of Israel".

                                                                                                                                              "The state of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people and will remain so," Netanyahu told his audience.

                                                                                                                                              "The connection of the Jewish people to the land has been in existence for more than 3,500 years.

                                                                                                                                              "Judea and Samaria - the places where our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked, our forefathers David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah.

                                                                                                                                              "This is not a foreign land, this is the land of our forefathers," he said emphatically to loud applause.

                                                                                                                                              Throughout his speech Netanyahu never even remotely referred to an occupation, or an end to occupation.

                                                                                                                                              Instead, he referred to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in the 1967 war as "when the soldiers entered Judea and Samaria".

                                                                                                                                              The presence of the Palestinians "in the land of Israel", as Netanyahu framed it, is a problem that Israel has had to deal with to ensure its security, rather that of an occupation and dispossession of an indigenous people.

                                                                                                                                              "But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians," Netanyahu said.

                                                                                                                                              In other words, the presence of Palestinians in their lands is portrayed as an accident of history – thus annulling in one speech their history and stripping them of their legal, let alone their national, rights.

                                                                                                                                              'Jewish homeland'

                                                                                                                                              It is only in the context of denying Palestinian history and identity that Netanyahu's proposed demands should be understood and evaluated.

                                                                                                                                              Netanyahu's two preconditions for peace are a logical consequence of his blatant and distorted revisionist history.

                                                                                                                                              Asking the Arabs and the Palestinians to recognise that Israel is the historic "Jewish homeland" is paramount to demanding that the Arab, Muslim and Palestinians themselves recant their own history, roots and identity.

                                                                                                                                              Thus by denying their own rights, Palestinians are reduced to a foreign community that accidentally found itself in another people's land and must accept the terms of its "hosts".

                                                                                                                                              Communities as such do not exercise the right to self-determination or national rights.

                                                                                                                                              Therefore, it is only natural, following Netanyahu's line of thinking, that a Palestinian state is only accepted if it is devoid of real sovereignty or independence.

                                                                                                                                              Palestinian state

                                                                                                                                              It is misleading to interpret Netanyahu's conditions as that of accepting a two-state solution.

                                                                                                                                              The vision that Netanyahu laid out stripped the Palestinians of their right to self-determination and replaced it with Israel's "right" to continue its domination of Palestinian lands and lives.

                                                                                                                                              Netanyahu's proposal would leave a Palestinian state undefended [EPA]
                                                                                                                                              He wants occupation without the burden and the responsibility of spearheading one.

                                                                                                                                              He laid out a vision for an isolated and besieged Palestinian entity that would have no control over the land beneath it, nor the skies above it.

                                                                                                                                              "The territory in Palestinian hands must be demilitarised - in other words, without an army, without control of airspace and with effective security safeguards," he said.

                                                                                                                                              His demand for a "demilitarised state" is thus a logical demand, for how else can Netanyahu and Israel and its future leaders ensure the total subordination of future Palestinian generations who will be borne into a perpetual prison in the guise of statehood?

                                                                                                                                              Seen in this light, from a Palestinian viewpoint, Netanyahu is not only trying to deprive Palestinians of their present aspirations for independence, but to deny future generations the right to dream of freedom.

                                                                                                                                              Breakdown of spirit

                                                                                                                                              Total subordination of the vanquished, in the logic of conquerors, is only possible if the defeated are denied the right and the ability to resist.

                                                                                                                                              Disarming an imprisoned population to ensure its control in the name of statehood is a prerequisite to ensure that future generations will not rebel against Israeli control.

                                                                                                                                              But it is not the most dangerous aspect of Netanyahu's terms for Palestinian surrender.

                                                                                                                                              Netanyahu is after a moral and psychological breakdown of the Palestinian spirit.

                                                                                                                                              Breaking the spirit of a nation is not achieved solely through depriving Palestinians of the right to resist or of their right to self-defence, but by forcing the Palestinians to relinquish their memory.

                                                                                                                                              Memory is the key element here.

                                                                                                                                              It is astonishing that Washington and Western governments rushed to embrace Netanyahu's call for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which is paramount to a blatant call to erase Palestinian history.

                                                                                                                                              In his speech, Netanyahu rewrote the history of the conflict by erasing any mention of Palestinians' right to their historic land, denying Palestinian identity and the saga of Israeli-imposed dispossession of the Palestinian people and occupation of Palestinian land.

                                                                                                                                              'Simple truth'

                                                                                                                                              Netanyahu's narrative, long propagated by the Israeli right wing and extremist Zionists, is that the establishment of Israel was an exercise of the right of the Jewish people to their natural homeland - Israel bears no responsibility for the Palestinian refugees and finally there was never a problem of dispossession and occupation.

                                                                                                                                              "The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been and remains - the refusal to recognise the right of the Jewish people to their own state in their historical homeland," Netanyahu said.

                                                                                                                                              Netanyahu's rhetoric is consistent with his long-standing politics and reflects the prevailing ideology of the Israeli establishment.

                                                                                                                                              What is more disturbing is Washington's welcome of the speech as a positive step towards peace.

                                                                                                                                              In his Cairo speech, Barack Obama, the US president, offered a new beginning with the Arab and Muslims worlds based "on mutual understanding and respect".

                                                                                                                                              By hailing Netanyahu's racist policy speech, Obama is squandering whatever momentum he sought to build as he perpetuates America's endorsement of Israeli superiority.

                                                                                                                                              Bill Clinton, the former US president, made the same mistake when he unconditionally supported the similar "generous offer" of Ehud Barrak, then Israeli prime minister, who proposed establishing a fragmented, powerless entity in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the guise of Palestinian statehood.

                                                                                                                                              Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, rejected the offer, and disillusioned Palestinians erupted in an uprising against Israel - the second Intifada.

                                                                                                                                              Neither the Israeli nor American leaders seem to learn from history.

                                                                                                                                              No Palestinian leader, moderate or extremist, will accept such subordination.

                                                                                                                                              For the Palestinians it is a betrayal of their history, as well as a betrayal of future generations.

                                                                                                                                              Source: Al Jazeera

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                                                                                                                                                US shifting stance on settlements

                                                                                                                                                English (US)  October 30th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                Obama, right, discussed peace initiatives and the issue of settlements with Mahmoud Abbas, left, the Palestinian president during a meeting at the White House in May [EPA]

                                                                                                                                                By Mark Levine

                                                                                                                                                The US has long seen itself as playing a crucial role in bringing about Israeli-Palestinian peace.

                                                                                                                                                Yet, US policy toward Israeli actions in and around Jerusalem has shifted over time.

                                                                                                                                                Initially, the Johnson administration took a strong line, with UN representative Arthur Goldberg explaining a week after the 1967 war ended that "the United States does not accept or recognise these measures as altering the status of Jerusalem."

                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                Planning for Peace

                                                                                                                                                Ironically, it was the administration of Jimmy Carter, who today says Israeli policies in Jerusalem are leading to apartheid, which first saw a significant change in US rhetoric.

                                                                                                                                                It was his administration which moved away from calling on Israel to maintain the status quo toward recognising the desirability of maintaining Jerusalem "undivided" in any peace agreement.

                                                                                                                                                This view was shared by the Reagan administration. In the words of President Reagan, Jerusalem’s final status "should be decided through negotiations."

                                                                                                                                                By the time Bill Clinton, the former US president, took office in 1993, the US government no longer offered more than mild criticism for increasing Israeli settlement activities across the Eastern part of the city and the surrounding West Bank lands.

                                                                                                                                                Most crucially, Clinton refused to allow the UN Security Council to address settlements in Jerusalem or elsewhere, arguing that what was once understood by the US, and the world at large, to be a clear violation of international law, should be left to bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

                                                                                                                                                Obama's bind

                                                                                                                                                The official US imprimatur for Israel's policies came during the George Bush presidency, when he wrote in a 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon, the then-prime minister, that: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion."

                                                                                                                                                It is not known what documentation or arguments led Bush to assume that all previous negotiations led inexorably to the understanding that Israel's constantly increasing control over East Jerusalem and the West Bank would be accepted as a fait accompli by Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                                This is more bewildering given that the settlement system in the West Bank, of which the Jerusalem region is the heart, makes the creation of a Palestinian state geographically, politically, and economically impossible to achieve.

                                                                                                                                                Nevertheless, Bush's words have placed Obama in something of a bind.

                                                                                                                                                During the campaign, the then-candidate Obama caused a stir when, at the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby, he argued that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

                                                                                                                                                Defying Obama

                                                                                                                                                After intense criticism from Palestinians and others, advisers clarified his comments, explaining that "Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties" while ensuring that the city is "not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967."

                                                                                                                                                The reality, however, is that the while the Israeli-expanded city is not divided by barbed wire and check points - although Palestinian residents face continual monitoring and harassment - Jerusalem itself is effectively separated by barbed wire, huge walls and massive checkpoints from the rest of the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                Obama has tried to stiffen his position on Jerusalem by criticising Israel's newest plans to build in Sheikh Jarrah, but Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has so far openly defied Obama's position without facing any consequences.

                                                                                                                                                And, by challenging Obama directly on an issue where there is an overwhelming international consensus, the Israeli leader is clearly hoping to stall the larger peace process for the remainder of both men's terms in office.

                                                                                                                                                It is not clear who will blink first.

                                                                                                                                                But it is certain that unless the walls come down and the checkpoints are dismantled in Jerusalem and across the West Bank and Gaza, the dream of an Israeli-Palestinian peace will remain as elusive for Obama as it was for his predecessors.

                                                                                                                                                Mark Levine is a professor of history at the University of California, Irvine and author, most recently, of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Random House 2008) and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009).

                                                                                                                                                Al Jazeera

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                                                                                                                                                  Zionist Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in violation of international law

                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  October 30th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                  OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - Israeli authorities have torn down several Palestinian houses in occupied east Jerusalem, violating international law and defying international calls to halt the demolitions in the disputed city.

                                                                                                                                                  Gidi Schmerling, a Jerusalem municipality spokesman, said the houses in the Shuafat, Zur Baher, Silwan and Jabel Mukabar neighbourhoods were pulled down on Tuesday because they had been built illegally.

                                                                                                                                                  "All the houses were demolished in accordance with a court order," he said in a statement to the AFP news agency.

                                                                                                                                                  Palestinians say that the municipality discriminates against them, making it virtually impossible for them to get legal permits for new homes or extensions to existing ones.

                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                  As a result, thousands of effectively illegal structures have been built in recent decades with Israel responding by destroying dozens of houses each year.

                                                                                                                                                  Construction crackdown

                                                                                                                                                  Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, had vowed to crack down on illegal construction in the city, including east Jerusalem, whose fate is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

                                                                                                                                                  But the United Nations on Tuesday called for an immediate halt to all forced evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes in the area, which was seized by Israel in the 1967 war.

                                                                                                                                                  "Such actions run counter to international law and have a serious and long-term negative impact on Palestinian families and communities,” the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

                                                                                                                                                  "The UN reiterates its call for an immediate and unconditional halt to such actions and urges the state of Israel to protect the civilian population in OPT [occupied Palestinian Territories] from further displacement and dispossession."

                                                                                                                                                  At least 600 Palestinians ave been displaced by eveictions and demolitions since the beginning of the year, according to OCHA, and many thousands more may be at risk.

                                                                                                                                                  The United States, which is seeking to revive peace talks in the long-standing dispute, called the latest demolitions "unhelpful".

                                                                                                                                                  The forced evictions and demolitions have raised tensions in the eastern half of the city, which Palestinians see as the capital of any future independent state.

                                                                                                                                                  The situation has prompted a number of protests and Palestinians have attempted to challenge the municipality's actions in the courts.

                                                                                                                                                  'Irresponsible step'

                                                                                                                                                  An Israeli rights group, Ir Amim, said the demolitions were "an irresponsible step that could escalate the situation in the city and bring it to a new boiling point".

                                                                                                                                                  Palestinians and human rights groups have condemned Israel's demolition policy, accusing it of using the demolitions to shift east Jerusalem's demographic balance.

                                                                                                                                                  "International bodies and the United Nations Security Council should intervene to stop Israeli authorities from carrying out these criminal actions," Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian-appointed governor of Jerusalem, said.

                                                                                                                                                  A UN report in May showed that 1,500 demolition orders issued by the Jerusalem municipality were pending for illegal Palestinian dwellings.

                                                                                                                                                  The report said that if the orders were implemented, about 9,000 Palestinians would be displaced.

                                                                                                                                                  There are about 200,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem, alongside an estimated 250,000 Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                                  Source: Agencies

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                                                                                                                                                    Bahrain Votes to Stop Contacts with Israel

                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  October 29th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                    Bahrain's parliament on Tuesday approved legislation penalizing contacts with Israel, a move which could complicate Gulf Arab leaders' efforts to promote peace talks with Israel.

                                                                                                                                                    "Whoever holds any communication or official talks with Israeli officials or travels to Israel will face a fine ... and/or a jail sentence of three to five years," member of parliament Jalal Fairooz from the Shiite al-Wefaq bloc, an opposition group that was the driving force behind the move.

                                                                                                                                                    "The motivation is that steps are being taken by certain countries to allow certain talks to be held with Israeli officials. Israeli delegates have managed to participate in events in Arab countries with no treaties with Israel."

                                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                                    Diplomats and analysts say Arab governments have been pressured by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to make steps towards normalizing ties in order to help encourage Israel to enter peace talks with Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                                    But popular sentiment has been opposed to such moves. An Egyptian writer is facing disciplinary action by the journalists union for meeting the Israeli ambassador in Cairo.

                                                                                                                                                    Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa wrote in the Washington Post in July that Arabs had not done enough to communicate directly with Israelis.

                                                                                                                                                    Khalifa said Arab leaders must "tell our story more directly to the Israeli people by getting the message out to their media" and emphasizing support for the so-called Arab Initiative, which promises normalized relations between Israel and the Arab world in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state.

                                                                                                                                                    Bahraini officials visited Israel in July in an official capacity for the first time to collect five of their nationals Israel was deporting after seizing them on a ship bound for the Palestinian territory of Gaza, blockaded by Israel.

                                                                                                                                                    Bahrain's parliament has limited powers and bills must pass through an upper house whose members are chosen by the king. Ultimate power lies with the ruling family.

                                                                                                                                                    Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania are the only Arab League states with formal ties with Israel.

                                                                                                                                                    (Alarabiya and Agencies)

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                                                                                                                                                      'Nuke Gaza'

                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  October 29th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                      By Jeff Gates

                                                                                                                                                      Israeli officials are right to worry. Gazans too. Yet Americans should worry even more.

                                                                                                                                                      Israel's "legitimacy" will not last. Of course, that assumes its legitimacy was deserved. That issue also is now called into question in light of the consistency of Israeli behavior over the past six decades. The emerging issues are these:

                                                                                                                                                      When and how will the recognition of Israel's nation-state status be withdrawn? How will Tel Aviv behave in the interim?

                                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                                      Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman may have tipped his Masada hand when he reportedly told Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that Israel may use nuclear weapons against Gaza. The threat to Israel is not the 1.5 million Gazans who reside in the world's largest open-air prison.

                                                                                                                                                      The threat is the fast-growing global outrage at the abuse inflicted on Palestinians, commencing with the ethnic cleansing of 400-plus villages six decades ago.

                                                                                                                                                      Not since 1948 has this enclave of extremists mounted such a public relations offensive. Christian Zionist President Harry Truman trusted Jewish Zionist lobbyists when he solicited assurances that they would not become what they immediately became: a racist theocratic state with an expansionist agenda destined to create serial crises in the region.

                                                                                                                                                      The merciless global agenda pursued by Colonial Zionists is the single greatest threat to world peace, as confirmed yet again by Lieberman's warning. As the primary remaining ally of these Jewish nationalists, the risks to the U.S. increase with each passing day as Tel Aviv works behind the scenes to catalyze yet another conflict.

                                                                                                                                                      This entangled alliance was destined to provoke resentments that would eventually endanger their super power ally and foremost arms provider. Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the mass murder of 9-11, conceded that the motivation for that attack was to focus "the American people...on the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel against the Palestinian people and America's self-serving foreign policy that corrupts Arab governments and leads to further exploitation of the Arab Muslim people."

                                                                                                                                                      The Joint Chiefs of Staff warned Truman 61 years ago that this militant enclave meant to establish Jewish military and economic hegemony over the entire Middle East. Familiar with the duplicity for which Israel has since become infamous, the Pentagon chiefs warned: "All stages of this program are equally sacred to the fanatical concepts of the Jewish leaders."

                                                                                                                                                      Nuclear-Armed Fanatics

                                                                                                                                                      With each passing year, Tel Aviv adds a new chapter to the agent provocateur handbook on How To Succeed as a Victim.

                                                                                                                                                      Israel's strategic success traces directly to its capacity to radicalize and enrage-as those residing in the Occupied Territories endure a third generation of deprivation, degradation and periodic starvation. Thus the in-depth planning that preceded Israel's brutal "defensive" assault on Gaza between Christmas 2008 and the inauguration of Barack Obama-who said nothing about the attack throughout its 28-day duration.

                                                                                                                                                      That silence continues even now after Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist, issued a report describing dozens of Israeli war crimes and evidence of crimes against humanity. In the lead-up to the report's release, a U.S. president gave Tel Aviv a rhetorical gift when, in a U.N. speech, the nation's first Black president used the code phrase "Jewish state" as an implied endorsement of the apartheid policies of this racist enclave. Even Truman did not go that far. But then his administration was not as thoroughly staffed with Zionists and pro-Israelis.

                                                                                                                                                      In addition to killing some 1400 Palestinians, one-third of them women and children, Israel destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza including farmlands, factories and schools as well as its water supply and sanitation works. The facts in the Goldstone Report were further confirmed by "Breaking the Silence"-the personal testimony by thirty members of the Israel Defense Forces who described a murderous policy meant to teach the people of Gaza a lesson for their support of Hamas-which came to power in 2006 elections that were universally appraised as free and fair.

                                                                                                                                                      As Israel's protector and apologist, the U.S. bears the brunt of the anger as Israeli extremism continues to enrage Muslims and radicalize the Islamic body politic. A systematic assassination campaign ensured that Tel Aviv had "no one to talk to" except known collaborators with the occupation authorities in Tel Aviv and their arms suppliers in Washington. Meanwhile, the steady expansion of Israeli settlements made a Palestinian state impossible-unless indigenous Arabs are happy to reside in an archipelago of isolated ghettos ringed by Israeli checkpoints.

                                                                                                                                                      To suggest that the U.S. is culpable only states the obvious. Yet Israeli extremism continues unabated even as Tel Aviv insists that its neighbors accept it as a "Jewish state" even before its borders are fixed and resolution of the occupied territories is known. After six decades of nonstop deceit, Arab states are understandably reluctant to further appease this "state." For Americans endangered by the behavior of Jewish fanatics, the lesson is uncomfortable but inescapable: we enabled this.

                                                                                                                                                      By our continued appeasement, Barack Obama is inviting another violent reaction to Israel's serial provocations. By failing to endorse the Goldstone Report, our commander-in-chief is putting U.S. forces at risk. By implying that Israel is above the law, he only emboldens Tel Aviv. By suggesting that Israeli conduct is consistent with the values of a "Jewish state," he endangers the broader Jewish community. That includes those moderate Jews who anticipated this extremist behavior when in May 1948 Truman overruled the strategic objections of Secretary of State George C. Marshall and enabled this fanaticism by extending nation-state recognition.

                                                                                                                                                      Small in numbers but large in ambition, this extremist enclave had no choice but to wage war by way of deception. The most insidious deceit was targeted, from within, at its purported ally to induce the U.S. military to lead an invasion of Iraq for its Greater Israel strategy. Absent an Israeli strategy able to sustain serial crises, a long-deceived public will awaken to the common source of the fixed intelligence that led us into the last war-and now seeks to induce the next.

                                                                                                                                                      As Americans awaken to how this duplicity proceeds in plain sight, they will see for themselves who and why. That knowledge is the threat that Tel Aviv most fears. As the facts become known, Israeli legitimacy will no longer be an issue. The only issue will be how best to dis-arm these extremists and how to hold accountable those lawmakers who enable this ongoing treason.

                                                                                                                                                      - Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide; an adviser to policy-makers worldwide; former counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee; and author of numerous articles and books including his latest book Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War, Democracy at Risk and The Ownership Solution. See www.criminalstate.co

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                                                                                                                                                        Hamas to Ban January Election in Gaza

                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  October 29th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                        The Hamas-run interior ministry in the Gaza Strip has ordered Palestinians in the territory not to take part in elections called by Mahmoud Abbas, the West Bank-based president.

                                                                                                                                                        Abbas issued a decree announcing that presidential and parliamentary polls would take place on January 24, but an interior ministry statement on Wednesday said the elections had been called "by figures who do not have the right to declare it".

                                                                                                                                                        Ehab Al-Ghsain, a Hamas interior ministry spokesman, said that Gazan officials had been instructed not to co-operate with Abbas's efforts to stage the vote.

                                                                                                                                                        "Any preparations, any committees, any collecting of names will be regarded as an illegal action that we will pursue," he said.

                                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                                        Ghsain also said that the current Central Election Commission (CEC), which has five offices in Gaza, was no longer entitled to carry out preparations for an election, since Palestinian factions including Hamas and Fatah had agreed during unity talks that a new body should be formed.

                                                                                                                                                        However, Salih Rafat, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said on Wednesday that his group still hoped to persuade Hamas to participate.

                                                                                                                                                        "The leadership is now making calls to all the Arab countries to assume their role with Hamas to facilitate the holding of these elections," Rafat told the AFP news agency.

                                                                                                                                                        Reconciliation pact

                                                                                                                                                        The elections were called after Hamas resisted signing a draft reconciliation pact with Abbas's Fatah movement, which would have set June 28, 2010, as the date for the polls.

                                                                                                                                                        Fatah and Hamas served in a unity government after the Gaza-based party won parliamentary elections in 2006, but after a political standoff between the two factions Hamas fighters forced Abbas loyalists out of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

                                                                                                                                                        Abbas responded to the takeover by dismissing the Fatah-Hamas unity government, resulting in two parallel administrations effectively ruling the two territories, while Egypt has attempted to broker a reconciliation.

                                                                                                                                                        The January 24 date set by Abbas corresponds with the end of the four-year term of the Palestinian Legilative Council brought in by the 2006 polls.

                                                                                                                                                        Abbas himself was elected on January 9, 2005, for a four-year term. The Palestinian Authority extended his presidency by one year so presidential and parliamentary elections could be held on the same date, as required by Palestinian Basic Law.

                                                                                                                                                        But Hamas has consistently rejected the extension granted to Abbas, and says it no longer considers him to be the legitimate president of the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                                        Source: Agencies

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                                                                                                                                                          Haniyeh welcomes change in US administration, willing to talk

                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  October 29th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                          [MaanImages]

                                                                                                                                                          GAZA - There is nothing wrong with talking to the United States, de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told American delegates on a medical mission in Gaza on Wednesday.

                                                                                                                                                          Hamas welcomes the new language of US President Barack Obama, Haniyeh added, but noted the administration must implement its plans so the Palestinian people can establish their state with Jerusalem as its capital.

                                                                                                                                                          Haniyeh, during an American medical delegation visit on Wednesday, stressed that Hamas is with the real fair peace which will bring for the Palestinian people their rights and will end the occupation.

                                                                                                                                                          "I am convinced of the fairness of the rules of democracy, pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power in Palestine," he told the delegation, but noted the punishment the Palestinian people received when they fairly elected Hamas in 2006.

                                                                                                                                                          The United States has the ability to bring peace to the region, Haniyeh said, and we have no issues with the Americans, but we ask them to back up their pledges.

                                                                                                                                                          Haniyeh welcomed the delegation in Gaza thanking them for their humanitarian and social services. He also added that the visit had a special meaning, and showed support from the American people for Gazans and their rejection of the Israeli siege.

                                                                                                                                                          Maan News

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                                                                                                                                                            U.N. assembly to debate Goldstone report on Gaza war

                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  October 29th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                            By Louis Charbonneau

                                                                                                                                                            UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly plans to debate as early as next week a U.N. report accusing Israel and Hamas militants of war crimes during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip, diplomats said on Tuesday.

                                                                                                                                                            Libya's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said Arab representatives at the United Nations had requested a meeting of the 192-nation assembly on Nov. 4 to discuss the report, which was prepared by a fact-finding commission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

                                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                                            The report lambasted both sides in the January-December war, which killed up to 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, but was harsher toward Israel. It gave Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants six months to mount credible investigations or face possible prosecution at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

                                                                                                                                                            Both Israel and Hamas denied committing any war crimes. Israel has criticized the report as unbalanced and says the 47-nation Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, is biased against the Jewish state.

                                                                                                                                                            Jean-Victor Nkol, spokesman for the Libyan president of the General Assembly, Ali Treki, said the body would make a final decision next week on when to debate the Goldstone report.

                                                                                                                                                            Western diplomats expressed concern that an assembly session on the report would inevitably turn into what one envoy described as "yet another Israel-bashing session."

                                                                                                                                                            Israel will not boycott the meeting, but Ambassador Danny Carmon, deputy head of Israel's U.N. mission, made clear he saw no point in discussing the report in New York.

                                                                                                                                                            "The Goldstone report is a very flawed, one-sided and unjust report that should be dealt with specifically (at the Human Rights Council) in Geneva," Carmon told Reuters.

                                                                                                                                                            ACTION ON GOLDSTONE REPORT?

                                                                                                                                                            Dabbashi said Arab delegations would draft a General Assembly resolution to be voted on during the assembly meeting. It would urge the U.N. Security Council, which has taken no action on the Goldstone report, to comply with the recommendations made by the fact-finding commission.

                                                                                                                                                            "Certainly there will be a recommendation to ask the Security Council to deal with the recommendations and take the necessary steps," he said. "Certainly the Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon) will be asked to present reports on the implementation of the recommendations."

                                                                                                                                                            The Goldstone report called on the Security Council to refer the matter of the Gaza war to the International Criminal Court if either Israel or Hamas failed to investigate their actions in the conflict within six months.

                                                                                                                                                            Resolutions of the General Assembly, unlike those of the 15-nation Security Council, are nonbinding. But U.N. diplomats say such a resolution would intensify pressure on Israel to launch a full investigation into the actions of its army during the war.

                                                                                                                                                            Hoping to counter the criticism, Israel intends to review the internal inquiries that cleared its armed forces of serious wrongdoing, a political source told Reuters in Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                            Western diplomats on the Security Council say that none of the five veto-wielding permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- want the council to do anything with the Goldstone report and have discouraged Libya in its efforts to try to get it onto the council's agenda.

                                                                                                                                                            (Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chris Wilson)

                                                                                                                                                            Reuters

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                                                                                                                                                              Zionist Tom Friedman sums up Iraq war: 'Suck on this! We could have hit Saudi Arabia, we could have hit Pakistan, we hit Iraq because we could."

                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  October 29th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                              4 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                War Is a Hate Crime

                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  October 29th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                A U.S. soldier walks in the snow at an outpost near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. AP / Rafiq Maqbool

                                                                                                                                                                By Chris Hedges

                                                                                                                                                                Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is wrong. So is violence against people in Afghanistan and Iraq. But in the bizarre culture of identity politics, there are no alliances among the oppressed. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major federal civil rights law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, passed last week, was attached to a $680-billion measure outlining the Pentagon’s budget, which includes $130 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic majority in Congress, under the cover of protecting some innocents, authorized massive acts of violence against other innocents.

                                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify the vote as support for the war. They told liberal Democrats, who are squeamish about unlimited funding for war, that they could defend the vote as a step forward in the battle for civil rights. Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game.

                                                                                                                                                                “Every thinking person wants to take a stand against hate crimes, but isn’t war the most offensive of hate crimes?” asked Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who did not vote for the bill, when I spoke to him by phone. “To have people have to make a choice, or contemplate the hierarchy of hate crimes, is cynical. I don’t vote to fund wars. If you are opposed to war, you don’t vote to authorize or appropriate money. Congress, historically and constitutionally, has the power to fund or defund a war. The more Congress participates in authorizing spending for war, the more likely it is that we will be there for a long, long time. This reflects an even larger question. All the attention is paid to what President Obama is going to do right now with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan. The truth is the Democratic Congress could have ended the war when it took control just after 2006. We were given control of the Congress by the American people in November 2006 specifically to end the war. It did not happen. The funding continues. And while the attention is on the president, Congress clearly has the authority at any time to stop the funding. And yet it doesn’t. Worse yet, it finds other ways to garner votes for bills that authorize funding for war. The spending juggernaut moves forward, a companion to the inconscient force of war itself.”

                                                                                                                                                                The brutality of Matthew Shepard’s killers, who beat him to death for being gay, is a product of a culture that glorifies violence and sadism. It is the product of a militarized culture. We have more police, prisons, inmates, spies, mercenaries, weapons and troops than any other nation on Earth. Our military, which swallows half of the federal budget, is enormously popular—as if it is not part of government. The military values of hyper-masculinity, blind obedience and violence are an electric current that run through reality television and trash-talk programs where contestants endure pain while they betray and manipulate those around them in a ruthless world of competition. Friendship and compassion are banished.

                                                                                                                                                                This hyper-masculinity is at the core of pornography with its fusion of violence and eroticism, as well as its physical and emotional degradation of women. It is an expression of the corporate state where human beings are reduced to commodities and companies have become proto-fascist enclaves devoted to maximizing profit. Militarism crushes the capacity for moral autonomy and difference. It isolates us from each other. It has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with our lack of compassion for our homeless, our poor, our mentally ill, our unemployed, our sick, and yes, our gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual citizens.

                                                                                                                                                                Advertisement
                                                                                                                                                                Klaus Theweleit in his two volumes entitled “Male Fantasies,” which draw on the bitter alienation of demobilized veterans in Germany following the end of World War I, argues that a militarized culture attacks all that is culturally defined as the feminine, including love, gentleness, compassion and acceptance of difference. It sees any sexual ambiguity as a threat to male “hardness” and the clearly defined roles required by the militarized state. The continued support for our permanent war economy, the continued elevation of military values as the highest good, sustains the perverted ethic, rigid social roles and emotional numbness that Theweleit explored. It is a moral cancer that ensures there will be more Matthew Shepards.

                                                                                                                                                                Fascism, Theweleit argued, is not so much a form of government or a particular structuring of the economy or a system, but the creation of potent slogans and symbols that form a kind of psychic economy which places sexuality in the service of destruction. The “core of all fascist propaganda is a battle against everything that constitutes enjoyment and pleasure,” Theweleit wrote. And our culture, while it disdains the name of fascism, embraces its dark ethic.

                                                                                                                                                                New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, interviewed in 2003 by Charlie Rose, spoke in this sexualized language of violence to justify the war in Iraq, a moment preserved on YouTube (see video below):

                                                                                                                                                                “What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying, ‘Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?’ ” Friedman said. “ ‘You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society? You think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna let it grow? Well, suck on this.’ That, Charlie, was what this war was about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.”

                                                                                                                                                                This is the kind of twisted logic the killers of Matthew Shepard would understand.

                                                                                                                                                                The philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, in words gay activists should have heeded, that exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group made fascism and the Holocaust possible.

                                                                                                                                                                “The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilized and innocent people,” Adorno wrote. “What is called fellow traveling was primarily business interest: one pursues one’s own advantage before all else, and simply not to endanger oneself, does not talk too much. That is a general law of the status quo. The silence under the terror was only its consequence. The coldness of the societal monad, the isolated competitor, was the precondition, as indifference to the fate of others, for the fact that only very few people reacted. The torturers know this, and they put it to test ever anew.”

                                                                                                                                                                Chris Hedges, whose column is published on Truthdig every Monday, spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009) and “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003).

                                                                                                                                                                http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20091026_war_is_a_hate_crime/

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                                                                                                                                                                  Joe Lieberman, Connecticut's warmongering Zionist senator, twists the knife on health care

                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  October 29th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                  ". . . it is not possible to feel anything but loathing for those like Lieberman who vote for every big government program, no matter how wasteful, in support of big business, but draw the line at a program designed to cut medical costs for the ordinary citizens they have been sworn to serve. " -- Robert Scheer

                                                                                                                                                                  By Robert Scheer

                                                                                                                                                                  Is there a more hypocritical figure in American politics than Joe Lieberman? The Connecticut senator declared Tuesday that he would support a filibuster of any health care reform bill that has a public option—even the version with the “trigger” compromise accepted by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe—because it might cost money.

                                                                                                                                                                  “I think that a lot of people may think that the public option is free,” said Lieberman, one of the Senate’s big spenders, in a suddenly frugal mood. “It’s not. It’s going to cost the taxpayers and people that have health insurance now, and if it doesn’t, it’s going to add terribly to our national debt.”

                                                                                                                                                                  This from a senator who, as much as anyone, helped run up the national debt since 9/11 by pushing to raise the military budget to its highest level since World War II. It is a budget inflated by enormous expenditures on high-tech weaponry irrelevant to combating terror, such as the $2-billion-a-piece submarines—produced in his home state of Connecticut—that he claimed were needed to combat al-Qaida, a landlocked enemy holed up in caves. The same week that he and others in Congress passed a $680-billion defense bill larded with pork of the sort he has always supported, Lieberman is worried about the impact of a very limited public option on the debt.

                                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                  Lieberman, whose state is also home to insurance companies that are opposed to any consumer-friendly medical coverage alternative, boldly stated that his opposition to even the most limited version of a public option should not be surprising: “I think my colleagues know for a long time that I’ve been opposed to a government-created, government-run insurance company.” Perhaps during his filibuster to prevent a vote on the public option Lieberman can square that position with his longtime support of the massive government–run insurance programs Medicare and Social Security.

                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe he can also take that time to justify his strong support for the government bailout of troubled banking and insurance companies that has tripled the federal deficit this year to $1.4 trillion. Is AIG not now a “government-run insurance company,” and doesn’t the $185 billion of taxpayer money tossed at that sorry enterprise add up to more than twice the yearly cost of the health reform package? And that’s without considering the trillions of tax dollars put into play to shore up Citigroup, Bank of America, GM, Chrysler and those other suddenly socialized sectors of American corporate life.

                                                                                                                                                                  If a scant public choice in health care is so threatening to our way of life, because health care alone must be kept a pristine captive of the most destructive impulses of an unbridled free market, then why not privatize Medicare as well as the publicly financed health care programs for government workers—including those in Congress like Lieberman, veterans and the active military? And while we’re at it, why not revive that Republican fantasy, popular in their ranks just a few years ago, of privatizing Social Security by turning the most effective government program over to the vagaries of the stock market?

                                                                                                                                                                  I do continue to begrudgingly respect the consistency, if not the wisdom, of libertarians like Ron Paul who oppose all of this big-government intrusion into the economy. At least their belief in the efficiency of the free market, affirmed in opposition to the banking bailout, is not compromised by a willingness to throw trillions in taxpayer dollars into backing the riskiest of corporate bets. But it is not possible to feel anything but loathing for those like Lieberman who vote for every big government program, no matter how wasteful, in support of big business, but draw the line at a program designed to cut medical costs for the ordinary citizens they have been sworn to serve.

                                                                                                                                                                  Lieberman’s threat to thwart a vote on sorely needed health care legislation, complete with a public option that a majority of Americans have consistently supported, should spell the end of his connection with the Democratic caucus. It should also cost him the committee chairmanship he was granted in order to guarantee the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster. But a filibuster, which would expose Lieberman and the others as irresponsible wreckers of essential reform, is not the worst outcome. The surrender by the Democratic leadership to this blackmail by the party’s disgraced former vice presidential candidate would be a blow from which the party would not deserve to recover.

                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20091027_lieberman_twists_the_knife/

                                                                                                                                                                  810 words posted in Health2 comments

                                                                                                                                                                  2 response(s) to Joe Lieberman, Connecticut's warmongering Zionist senator, twists the knife on health care

                                                                                                                                                                  1. betty [Visitor] Email says:

                                                                                                                                                                    I thought joe was thinking of something crooked when he wanted to come over to the democratic side. Boy, did Obama fall for his trap. But, thi is the way sneakie republicans are. I don't trust any of those republicans. Baynor and O'connel also.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. John L. [Visitor] Email says:

                                                                                                                                                                    He's a complete shmuck and I can't stand the sight of him. Check out the new Facebook group that just started up -- "Loathing Lieberman" http://loathinglieberman.com

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                                                                                                                                                                  2nd Circuit denies Schaghticoke political influence appeal

                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  October 26th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                  By Gale Courey Toensing
                                                                                                                                                                  Indian Country Today

                                                                                                                                                                  NEW YORK – Despite the latest setback in the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation’s long quest for federal acknowledgment, Chief Richard Velky said he will continue to pursue justice and federal status for his people.

                                                                                                                                                                  A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district court ruling denying federal recognition to the tribal nation.

                                                                                                                                                                  In a six-page ruling Oct. 19, the panel acknowledged that an intense lobbying campaign to overturn STN’s federal status took place and involved elected officials in Connecticut, including Gov. Jodi Rell, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, and members of the state’s congressional delegation.

                                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                  The 2nd Circuit judges said officials lobbied the secretary of the Interior and other Interior Department officials “expressing an adamant opposition to the Interior Department’s potential acknowledgment of the Schaghticoke.”

                                                                                                                                                                  But they lined up behind U.S. District Court Judge Peter Dorsey’s conclusion last year that the federal decision makers were not affected by the acknowledged fury of political pressure on them, because they said so.

                                                                                                                                                                  “Interior Department officials uniformly testified in depositions that they were not influenced by the political clamor surrounding the Schaghticoke,” and, therefore, “the evidence submitted by the Schaghticoke cannot support a claim of improper political influence,” the panel said.

                                                                                                                                                                  The statement contradicts a comment made by Judge José Cabranes at the Oct. 8 hearing in the 2nd Circuit.

                                                                                                                                                                  “Of course, it’s hard to imagine they would say they were influenced.”

                                                                                                                                                                  Velky said it was hard to imagine how the judges dismissed the evidence of political influence.

                                                                                                                                                                  “When politicians coordinate their efforts and go to Washington and demand that the Interior Department overturn our federal recognition, and they do, how can you deny that’s political influence? We’ll be consulting with our legal counsel to form a strategy for our next step. We’re not quitting now. We’re going to continue to pursue justice for our people.”

                                                                                                                                                                  STN received federal acknowledgment Jan. 29, 2004. Within minutes, Blumenthal and congressmen denounced the BIA and vowed to fight to reverse the decision. After 18 months, the BIA issued a Reconsidered Final Determination reversing the nation’s acknowledgment.

                                                                                                                                                                  The 2nd Circuit did not have access to all of the nation’s evidence because Dorsey agreed to Blumenthal’s request to strike eight of 19 documents from the record that provided some of the most damning evidence of the organized opposition’s efforts to exert political influence on the decision makers.

                                                                                                                                                                  Among them is an e-mail from Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, the Republican lobbyist now known as BGR, outlining an “under the radar” strategy and “tight coordination” among Rell, the congressional delegation and local officials in “surrounding the Department of the Interior” through meetings, budget hearings, the Jack Abramoff investigation and other venues with their lobbying efforts.

                                                                                                                                                                  “Importantly, the political efforts must also be coordinated with the legal strategy being led by the attorney general (Richard Blumenthal) and Perkins Coie (lobbyist), which we are working to make sure occurs in Washington,” BGR wrote.

                                                                                                                                                                  Another e-mail shows that BGR wrote a letter signed by Rell and sent to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, criticizing the BIA decision to grant Schaghticoke federal acknowledgment.

                                                                                                                                                                  The 2nd Circuit also determined that James Cason, the associate deputy secretary who reversed the nation’s federal recognition, had the authority to do so, denying the nation’s claim that Cason’s action as the “decision maker” violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, because he was not nominated by the president and approved by Congress, and the Vacancies Reform Act.

                                                                                                                                                                  The judges erroneously refer to Cason as “a career employee” of the Interior Department when he was a Bush appointee. Cason was among a group of Interior officials from Colorado who shared the common experience of having been advocates or lobbyists for big oil, gas, coal and mining corporations that operate on public and Indian lands, including former Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who is currently under grand jury investigation on corruption charges, and former Deputy Secretary Steven Griles, who was indicted in 2007 on obstruction of justice charges over his involvement with criminal former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

                                                                                                                                                                  Blumenthal issued a statement on the 2nd Circuit ruling.

                                                                                                                                                                  “This decision is the legal coup d’ grace (sic) – finally putting this meritless petition out of its misery. In a case of Groundhog Day, the Schaghticoke’s recognition claims have been rejected again. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court – the only recourse left – would be futile and foolish, and we will fight it vigorously.”

                                                                                                                                                                  The tribe can request a rehearing by the same three-judge panel or a hearing by the full en banc nine-member court, or petition the U.S. Supreme Court, but Indian law experts, including John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, advise tribal nations against taking cases to the high court.

                                                                                                                                                                  Velky said Blumenthal’s remarks were “racist.”

                                                                                                                                                                  “He owes an apology not just to the Schaghticoke people, but also to the state of Connecticut. That he would defame a people is a disgrace. He’s supposed to be an educated, dignified man, but he treated us like we were a disease, not a people, and his remark about a coup de grace – a final death blow – has genocidal implications. The state attorney general should be above that kind of behavior.”

                                                                                                                                                                  The Washington circle of lawyers and others involved in Indian law acknowledge that STN was cheated out of its federal acknowledgment by unlawful political influence, but they are unwilling to go on record, “because I still have to work with the BIA,” one said.

                                                                                                                                                                  Matthew Fletcher, an Indian law professor at Michigan State University College of Law and director of MSU’s Indigenous Law and Policy Center, called the 2nd Circuit ruling “depressing” and bemoaned the fact that “the Obama administration did nothing. They’ve reversed litigation positions brought by the Bush II administration before, but don’t seem willing to do it for Indians. I suppose they need (Connecticut Sen. Christopher) Dodd and the Connecticut congressional delegation for health care or whatever, but this is just wrong.”

                                                                                                                                                                  1 response(s) to 2nd Circuit denies Schaghticoke political influence appeal

                                                                                                                                                                  1. guillermo weston [Visitor] Email says:

                                                                                                                                                                    and former Deputy Secretary Steven Griles, who was indicted in 2007 on obstruction of justice charges over his involvement with criminal former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

                                                                                                                                                                    Indicted? This felon went to prison!

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                                                                                                                                                                  Zionist Jewish religious fundamentalist Prof. Weiss: Build third temple immediately

                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  October 26th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                  Prof. Weiss Photo: Eli Mandelbaum; Rabbi Lior Photo: Haim Zach

                                                                                                                                                                  Leading rabbis, rightists and extremists call on Israel 'not to capitulate to Palestinian violence.' Feiglin: Direct link between Jerusalem unrest, Goldstone Report

                                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                  In a move that may heighten tensions in the capital, the Organization for Human Rights on the Temple Mount (OHRTM) called for Jews to visit the east Jerusalem compound, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque.

                                                                                                                                                                  During a extreme rightist Zionist event held in Jerusalem Sunday evening, just hours after Zionist police attacked Muslims and prevented them from entering the Al Aqsa compound while protecting Zionist extremists who were planning to visit the site, Professor Hillel Weiss said, "The (third) temple must be built now. The mosques do not have to be destroyed in order for us to do this."

                                                                                                                                                                  The conference, which was attended by a number of Knesset members and leading rabbis, was held in protest of the decision to seal off the compound due to the recent violence.

                                                                                                                                                                  "It's time that we stop surrendering to violence," Temple Institute Director Rabbi Yehuda Glick said, adding that "before his assassination, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin said the greatest threat to Israeli democracy is bowing down to violence.

                                                                                                                                                                  "Unfortunately, lately police are surrendering and withdrawing in the face of the Palestinians' violence," said the rabbi.

                                                                                                                                                                  Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior said, "It is vital that the Israeli people visit the (Temple Mount). We are suffering because a large segment of the populations is indifferent towards this issue.

                                                                                                                                                                  "Reclaiming our sovereignty over (the Temple Mount) will bring redemption closer," said the rabbi.

                                                                                                                                                                  Far-right activist Moshe Feiglin told the conference that what he called the Temple Mount "riots" and the Goldstone Report, which accuses the IDF of committing war crimes during its December-January conflict with Hamas in Gaza, both constitute attempts to "undermine our legitimacy in this land."

                                                                                                                                                                  Agencies

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                                                                                                                                                                    Syria: Israel wants to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque

                                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  October 26th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                    Foreign Ministry in Damascus slams Jewish state's activities on Temple Mount as part of 'scheme to Judaize Jerusalem'

                                                                                                                                                                    By Ali Waked

                                                                                                                                                                    The Syrian Foreign Ministry has denounced Israel's "blatant violation of the sanctity of al-Aqsa Mosque," following the recent wave of riots in Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                                    In an official statement released Monday, the ministry said that "(Damascus) believes the Israeli security forces' invasion of al-Aqsa was part of Israel's scheme to Judaize Jerusalem and destroy the mosque."

                                                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                    A Syrian news agency further quoted the official as saying Israel's actions were "a crime against Arab history and heritage and against Muslims' holy places."

                                                                                                                                                                    The official expressed his support and gratitude to the "brave men" who rallied to the compound's defense, and urged the international community to denounce Israel's actions.

                                                                                                                                                                    Syria's censure joins that of Jordan: On Sunday, Amman urged Israel to prevent both security forces and extreme rightists from entering the Temple Mount compound.

                                                                                                                                                                    The Hashemite Kingdom's State-run news agency warned Jerusalem that such "provocations" were hazardous to the peace process.

                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3795615,00.html

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                                                                                                                                                                      Erdogan says Lieberman threatened Gaza with nukes

                                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  October 26th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                      On eve of his visit to Tehran, Turkish prime minister expresses his faith in strategic relations with Israel, tells Guardian that Iranian President Ahmadinejad 'is no doubt our friend', and once again slams Israeli foreign minister

                                                                                                                                                                      Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes his country's strategic alliance with Israel remains alive, but does not hesitate to reach out to Iran as well.

                                                                                                                                                                      "There is no doubt he is our friend," Erdogan told British newspaper The Guardian in an interview published Monday, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "As a friend so far we have very good relations and have had no difficulty at all."

                                                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                      He also slammed the Israeli foreign minister once again, claiming that Avigdor Lieberman had threatened to use nuclear weapons against Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                      Lieberman's media advisor said in response to Erdogan's remarks, "There's no need to take notice of every piece of nonsense."

                                                                                                                                                                      The Turkish leader justified his ties with Iran, dismissing claims that his criticism against Israel could harm his country's relations with the United States.

                                                                                                                                                                      "I don't think there is any possibility of that," he said. "America's policy in this region is not dictated by Israel." The US recently related messages to Turkey that it should lower the flames of its conflict with Israel for fear of harming American interests.

                                                                                                                                                                      And what about Western accusations that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon? According to Erdogan, "Iran does not accept it is building a weapon. They are working on nuclear power for the purposes of energy only."

                                                                                                                                                                      'Won't interfere in Iranian domestic affairs'

                                                                                                                                                                      Turkey's relations with Iran have improved in recent months, while its relations with Israel have nearly deteriorated to a state of crisis. In June, after Ahmadinejad's disputed presidential election, Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul were among the first foreign leaders to make congratulatory phone calls, ignoring the mass demonstrations and concerns of western leaders over the result's legitimacy.

                                                                                                                                                                      Erdogan told The Guardian that the move was a "necessity of bilateral relations", explaining that "Mr. Ahmadinejad was declared to be the winner, not officially, but with a large vote difference, and since he is someone we have met before, we called to congratulate him."

                                                                                                                                                                      "Later it was officially declared that he was elected, he got a vote of confidence and we pay special attention to something like this. It is a basic principle of our foreign policy."

                                                                                                                                                                      Ahmadinejad, on his part, has voiced his admiration for Erdogan, praising Turkey's recent decision to exclude Israel from a planned air force drill in protest of the Israeli operation in Gaza last winter.

                                                                                                                                                                      According to The Guardian, Erdogan's gesture will be remembered when he arrives in Tehran this week for talks with Ahmadinejad and Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that will focus on commercial ties, including Turkey's need for Iranian natural gas.

                                                                                                                                                                      The talks on Turkey's bid to join the European Union, which were questioned due to human rights issues, are not expected to influence the prime minister's meetings with decision makers. Erdogan clarified that he would not raise the post-election crackdown in Iran with his hosts, saying it would represent "interference" in Iranian domestic affairs.

                                                                                                                                                                      The Guardian says Erdogan's views will interest US foreign policy makers, who have long seen his AKP government as a model of a pro-western "moderate Islam" that could be adopted in other Muslim countries. US President Barack Obama signaled Turkey's strategic importance in a visit last April and has invited the prime minister to visit Washington.

                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3795365,00.html

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                                                                                                                                                                        Zionist Israeli Prime Minisiter expresses racist ethnic cleansing plan

                                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  October 26th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                        Netanyahu insists Israel is only for Jews

                                                                                                                                                                        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has openly voiced the Israeli government's plans to expel indigenous Palestinian Arabs from their occupied lands.

                                                                                                                                                                        Netanyahu stressed that Palestinians should recognize Israel as a Jewish state in order to end their conflict.

                                                                                                                                                                        "That's right," Netanyahu told The Washington Post when asked if such recognition was needed.

                                                                                                                                                                        "Israel is not a bi-national state," AFP quoted Netanyahu as saying on Saturday. "It has non-Jews who live here with full, equal rights, but it has two things that assure its special character."

                                                                                                                                                                        "It's the homeland of any Jew. And there is a very broad consensus in Israel that the Palestinian refugee problem should be resolved outside Israel's borders," he added.

                                                                                                                                                                        Israel declared its independence 61 years ago, by bringing pro-Zionist Jews from across the world to the occupied Palestinian lands, forcing the indigenous inhabitants out, and stealing their land to form a country.

                                                                                                                                                                        Netanyahu said Palestinians will have to make a final peace deal with "the Jewish state of Israel."

                                                                                                                                                                        "Jews come here and Palestinians will go there. So choose. That's the basis of a solution," Netanyahu concluded.

                                                                                                                                                                        Agencies

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                                                                                                                                                                          From West to the west: Saed Abu-Hijleh speaks about teaching in the West Bank to a crowd in Ellis Hall on Tuesday

                                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  October 25th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                          Saed Abu-Hijleh, geography professor from the West Bank, says he thinks education isn’t a privilege but a right. (Christine Blais)

                                                                                                                                                                          By Holly Tousignant, Assistant News Editor

                                                                                                                                                                          Saed Abu-Hijleh almost didn’t make it past Pearson Airport officials to get into Canada. After arriving in Toronto this week, the Palestinian geography professor was held for four hours and questioned about his intentions for visiting.

                                                                                                                                                                          “The woman asked me, after four hours of holding me, ‘Are you going to speak against Israel? Are you going to agitate people against Israel? Do you have material in your bag that you’re going to distribute against Israel?’ I said, ‘Ma’am, I’m attending a freedom of speech conference.’”

                                                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                          Abu-Hijleh, who teaches at An-Najah National University in the West Bank, was in Toronto for the Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Teach conference.

                                                                                                                                                                          On Tuesday, he came to Queen’s to deliver a lecture called “Education under Military Occupation and Apartheid.”

                                                                                                                                                                          “Basically, I gave a detailed description of the Israeli military occupation,” he said. “What it means politically, geographically, economically, culturally, demographically — you know, all aspects of a civilian population being subject to the conditions of an Israeli military occupation.”

                                                                                                                                                                          Abu-Hijleh’s family gained world attention after his mother, activist Shaden Abu-Hijleh, was shot and killed by Israeli Defense Forces at the family’s home in the city of Nablus on Oct. 11, 2002. Saed Abu-Hijleh and his father both sustained injuries in the attack. An investigation of the shooting remains unsolved.

                                                                                                                                                                          Abu-Hijleh said he thinks there are a number of violations being committed against Palestinians that obstruct their efforts to obtain education.

                                                                                                                                                                          “[I] classify these violations from the closure of universities and colleges, to the destruction of campuses and educational property, to the detention and imprisonment of teachers, professors and students, to the killing of students and professors, to the imposition of military checkpoints that limited and put obstacles on Palestinian students attending universities,” he said.

                                                                                                                                                                          At one point, there were 600 military checkpoints in West Bank and Gaza, he said.

                                                                                                                                                                          Abu-Hijleh said he knows of students who have been held in jail for months without being charged. “I have students now who are 27 years old who went through administrative detention by the Israelis and they lost semester after semester.”

                                                                                                                                                                          Abu-Hijleh said he doesn’t think criticizing the Israeli government’s policies is the same as anti-Semitism. “You’re criticizing the policies of an oppressive state,” he said. “A lot of people can’t make the distinction between Israeli and Jew, or between a Zionist and Jew, and because Israel is calling itself the Jewish state and is doing all of these human rights violations in the name of a Jewish state, then it’s actually harming the Jews.” Abu-Hijleh said the goal of his lecture wasn’t only to address Palestinian students’ problems but to explore ways to improve their conditions.

                                                                                                                                                                          “We created a campaign … where we try to educate our students about their rights,” he said. “A lot of students think it’s a privilege to go to university. No, it’s their right.” Abu-Hijleh helped create the Student Support Fund to allow students from low-income families to attend Palestinian educational institutions.

                                                                                                                                                                          He has been active in establishing links with European and North American universities through twinning agreements, which enables them to share research and knowledge and cross-cultural student interaction. “We try to build bridges with the outside world,” he said. “We do things like video conferencing to connect students in the United States or Canada who care and [students in] Palestine in order to make them feel that they’re not isolated.”

                                                                                                                                                                          Abu-Hijleh said he thinks access to information and knowledge are crucial to affecting change. “A lot of people have misconceptions, a lot of people have stereotypes—very simplistic stereotypes,” he said. “They think that Palestinians and Israelis have been fighting forever. … It’s completely simplistic and ignorant and that’s why the first step in changing is education.”

                                                                                                                                                                          http://ow.ly/wqzH

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                                                                                                                                                                            Che Guevara's daughter campaigns for Cuban 5

                                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  October 25th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                            Dr. Aleida Guevara

                                                                                                                                                                            On the 11th anniversary of the detention of the Cuban Five in the United States, Dr. Aleida Guevara says that they are national heroes.

                                                                                                                                                                            The five Cubans, Antonio Guerrero, Raman Labaino, Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez were arrested in Miami in 1998 and are now entering their 12th year of incarceration.

                                                                                                                                                                            The US charged them with espionage, but the men claim they were only trying to infiltrate anti-Cuba terrorist groups based in Miami.

                                                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                            Three of the Cuban Five were recently back in Miami District Court for resentencing.

                                                                                                                                                                            On October 13, a Federal judge in Miami approved a lighter sentence for one of the five Cubans, Antonio Guerrero, commuting his life sentence to 262 months, or almost 22 years, in prison.

                                                                                                                                                                            After arriving in South Africa on Saturday to campaign for the release of the Cuban Five, Dr. Aleida Guevara, the daughter of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, said that the Cuban Five are national heroes.

                                                                                                                                                                            In an interview with the Press TV correspondent in Pretoria, South Africa, Guevara said that the Cuban Five were trained to defend Cuba against terrorists coming from the United States and that is why the US government detained them.

                                                                                                                                                                            As ties between the US and Cuba are getting closer, Dr. Guevara is working to obtain the release of the Cuban Five.

                                                                                                                                                                            In an interview with Radio Havana on October 13, Professor Noam Chomsky said, "They [the Cuban Five] weren't criminals. They were heroes."

                                                                                                                                                                            He added, "The only way to remedy the injustice is to withdraw the charges completely."

                                                                                                                                                                            The case of the Cuban Five has strained relations between the United States and Cuba for more than a decade.

                                                                                                                                                                            PressTV

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                                                                                                                                                                              Zionist Israel to drop 'ethnic cleansing' from schoolbooks

                                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  October 25th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                              A file photo of Palestinian civilians being forcefully evicted.

                                                                                                                                                                              The Israeli Education Ministry plans to omit a passage in their history books that tells the story of the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948, describing it as 'ethnic cleansing.'

                                                                                                                                                                              The ministry announced that it has decided to reissue the history textbook taught to secondary classes after relevant changes are made, local media outlets reported on Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                                              The media outlets quoted the passage in question as saying: "The Palestinians and the Arab countries contended that most of the refugees were civilians who were attacked and expelled from their homes by armed Jewish forces, which instituted a policy of ethnic cleansing."

                                                                                                                                                                              Israel has always claimed that the Palestinians were not forcefully removed.

                                                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                              On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made racist remarks similar to the slogans of the original Zionists who expelled over 750,000 indigenous Palestinian Arabs from their homeland in 1948. "Israel is not a bi-national state," he stated and added, "It's the homeland of any Jew."

                                                                                                                                                                              Although most Israelis refuse to admit that the Zionist regime was established through ethnic cleansing, not all of them are in denial.

                                                                                                                                                                              Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has written a book entitled "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine." His book, which has been harshly criticized by Zionists, is based on documents he retrieved from the archives of the Israeli Defense Ministry.

                                                                                                                                                                              The book says the Zionists planned to establish Israel on the land inhabited by a Palestinian population and provides details of plans drawn up by Zionist leaders on how to get rid of the existing Palestinian population.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Backstroking the Jewish Tomorrow

                                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  October 25th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                Jewish leaders of the 'Judenrate' had collaborated with the Nazis on the Holocaust; they had organised mass deportation of European Jews from the ghettos to the camps. Today's Israeli leadership wants Palestinian leaders to make similar decisions, argues Gilad Atzmon.

                                                                                                                                                                                Earlier today in a conference in Jerusalem titled “Facing Tomorrow”, Israel's leading politicians shared their vision of Israel's future.

                                                                                                                                                                                Following the recent agreement announced by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s chief, Mohammad ElBaradei regarding Iranian Uranium enrichment, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak called on the international community “to give Iran a deadline for halting its nuclear program and impose additional sanctions against Tehran”. For some reason the Israelis are convinced that Nuclear energy is a ‘Jew only property’ The Jewish state insists on keeping its neighbours in a state of nuclear panic alert.

                                                                                                                                                                                Tzipi Livni, another dedicated warmonger, is now an enthusiastic supporter of the ‘Two State Solution’. “Establishment of a Palestinian state is the only way of preserving Israel's Jewish character”, she said. At last, the Left and right Wing Zionists are in agreement with each other. Someone should remind the ‘born again dove’ Livni that the Jewish state she refers to is located on stolen Palestinian land, Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva and Haifa and are all part of occupied Greater Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                                Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas (an Israeli religious party) blamed the Palestinians for the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “Unfortunately, the other side [Palestinians] lacks the ability to make brave decisions,” he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                Minister Yishai is absolutely right. The Palestinians are not ‘brave’ enough to agree to live in concentration camps, they do not agree to the occupation of their land either. These facts take the Jewish leadership by total surprise. I’ll tell you why. The history of the Holocaust teaches us that the Jewish leadership at the time was actually very willing to collaborate with the Nazis all the way through. In fact it was the Judenrate* that managed and organised the mass deportation of European Jews from the ghettos to the camps. To follow Yishai’s logic, unlike the Palestinians, the Nazi era Jewish councils were taking some brave decisions. Seemingly the Palestinians are not ‘brave’ enough to do the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                Even President Obama engaged himself with issues to do with the Jewish future. Here is his message to the conference:

                                                                                                                                                                                "The American people and the Israeli people share a faith in the future, a belief that democracies can shape their own destiny and that opportunities should be available to all"

                                                                                                                                                                                The only question to be asked here is whether President Obama meant ‘opportunities for all’, or did he mean opportunities for Jews only? As far as Nuclear energy is concerned, already in June President Obama reiterated that Iran has some “right to nuclear energy provided it takes steps to prove its aspirations are peaceful”. I would urge Obama to accept that opportunities for nuclear weapons should also be ‘available to all’. Not just the Israelis but every country in the region. In order to be consistent Obama has to choose between either clearing Israel of its pile of WMD or otherwise encourage every other country in the region to pile up nuclear bombs just to restrain Israel's proven murderous inclinations by power of deterrence.

                                                                                                                                                                                However, far more crucial at this stage is to urge Obama to make it clear to the Israelis that by saying ‘opportunities should be available to all” he refers also to Palestinian children who are starved and slaughtered by the Israeli armed forces on a daily basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                By now, after ten months in office, President Obama should grasp that the notion of ‘opportunities to all’ is not just foreign but in total opposition to the philosophy of the Jewish state, an apartheid racially orientated state.

                                                                                                                                                                                * Judenräte (singular Judenrat; for "Jewish council") were administrative bodies that the Nazis required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Poland and later in the occupied territories of the USSR.

                                                                                                                                                                                Gilad Atzmon (gilad.co.uk) is an Israeli-born writer and jazz musician living in London. He had previously served in the Israeli military but he is currently an anti-racism campaigner. His latest CD is In Loving Memory of America.

                                                                                                                                                                                Middle East Online

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                                                                                                                                                                                  The Facts about Hamas and the War on Gaza

                                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  October 25th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hamas was signaling that it wanted a diplomatic settlement of the conflict along the June 1967 border. In order to defeat the peace offensive, Israel sought to dismantle Hamas. The blockade was implemented before Hamas came to power. It doesn’t even have anything to do with Hamas, notes Norman Finkelstein.


                                                                                                                                                                                  The record is fairly clear. You can find it on the Israeli website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. The record is clear: Israel broke the ceasefire by going into the Gaza and killing six or seven Palestinian militants. At that point—and now I’m quoting the official Israeli website—Hamas retaliated or, in retaliation for the Israeli attack, then launched the missiles.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Now, as to the reason why, the record is fairly clear as well. According to Ha’aretz, Defense Minister Barak began plans for this invasion before the ceasefire even began. In fact, according to yesterday’s Ha’aretz, the plans for the invasion began in March. And the main reasons for the invasion, I think, are twofold. Number one; to enhance what Israel calls its deterrence capacity, which in layman’s language basically means Israel’s capacity to terrorize the region into submission. After their defeat in July 2006 in Lebanon, they felt it important to transmit the message that Israel is still a fighting force, still capable of terrorizing those who dare defy its word.

                                                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                                  And the second main reason for the attack is because Hamas was signaling that it wanted a diplomatic settlement of the conflict along the June 1967 border. That is to say, Hamas was signaling they had joined the international consensus, they had joined most of the international community, overwhelmingly the international community, in seeking a diplomatic settlement. And at that point, Israel was faced with what Israelis call a Palestinian peace offensive. And in order to defeat the peace offensive, they sought to dismantle Hamas.

                                                                                                                                                                                  As was documented in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair by the writer David Rose, basing himself on internal US documents, it was the United States in cahoots with the Palestinian Authority and Israel which were attempting a putsch on Hamas, and Hamas preempted the putsch. That, too, is no longer debatable or no longer a controversial claim.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The issue is can it rule in Gaza if Israel maintains a blockade and prevents economic activity among the Palestinians. The blockade, incidentally, was implemented before Hamas came to power. The blockade doesn’t even have anything to do with Hamas. The blockade came to—there were Americans who were sent over, in particular James Wolfensohn, to try to break the blockade after Israel redeployed its troops in Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The problem all along has been that Israel doesn’t want Gaza to develop, and Israel doesn’t want to resolve diplomatically the conflict, both the leadership in Damascus and the leadership in the Gaza have repeatedly made statements they’re willing to settle the conflict in the June 1967 border. The record is fairly clear. In fact, it’s unambiguously clear.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Every year, the United Nations General Assembly votes on a resolution entitled “Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question.” And every year the vote is the same: it’s the whole world on one side; Israel, the United States and some South Sea atolls and Australia on the other side. The vote this past year was 164-to-7. Every year since 1989—in 1989, the vote was 151-to-3, the whole world on one side, the United States, Israel and the island state of Dominica on the other side.

                                                                                                                                                                                  We have the Arab League, all twenty-two members of the Arab League, favoring a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We have the Palestinian Authority favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We now have Hamas favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. The one and only obstacle is Israel, backed by the United States. That’s the problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, the record shows that Hamas wanted to continue the ceasefire, but only on condition that Israel eases the blockade. Long before Hamas began the retaliatory rocket attacks on Israel, Palestinians were facing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza because of the blockade. The former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, described what was going on in Gaza as a destruction of a civilization. This was during the ceasefire period.

                                                                                                                                                                                  What does the record show? The record shows for the past twenty or more years, the entire international community has sought to settle the conflict in the June 1967 border with a just resolution of the refugee question. Are all 164 nations of the United Nations the rejectionists? And are the only people in favor of peace the United States, Israel, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Australia? Who are the rejectionists? Who’s opposing a peace?

                                                                                                                                                                                  The record shows that in every crucial issue raised at Camp David, then under the Clinton parameters, and then in Taba, at every single point, all the concessions came from the Palestinians. Israel didn’t make any concessions. Every concession came from the Palestinians. The Palestinians have repeatedly expressed a willingness to settle the conflict in accordance with international law.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The law is very clear. July 2004, the highest judicial body in the world, the International Court of Justice, ruled Israel has no title to any of the West Bank and any of Gaza. They have no title to Jerusalem. Arab East Jerusalem, according to the highest judicial body in the world, is occupied Palestinian territory. The International Court of Justice ruled all the settlements, all the settlements in the West Bank, are illegal under international law.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Now, the important point is, on all those questions, the Palestinians were willing to make concessions. They made all the concessions. Israel didn’t make any concessions.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I think it’s fairly clear what needs to happen. Number one, the United States and Israel have to join the rest of the international community, have to abide by international law. I don’t think international law should be trivialized. I think it’s a serious issue. If Israel is in defiance of international law, it should be called into account, just like any other state in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Mr. Obama has to level with the American people. He has to be honest about what is the main obstacle to resolving the conflict. It’s not Palestinian rejectionism. It’s the refusal of Israel, backed by the United States government, to abide by international law, to abide by the opinion of the international community.

                                                                                                                                                                                  And the main challenge for all of us as Americans is to see through the lies.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Norman Finkelstein is author of five books, including Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Beyond Chutzpah and The Holocaust Industry, which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions. He is the son of Holocaust survivors. His website is www.NormanFinkelstein.com. The article is an edited extract of the views of Finkelstein given at DemocracyNow.org.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Middle East Online

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Hamas: The battle of Jerusalem started

                                                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  October 25th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                    GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas stated on Sunday that the battle of Jerusalem has started and it is time for every Muslim to shoulder his share of responsibility in defense of his dignity by all means possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                    “We in the Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas will do everything in our power to support the victorious group that will win the battle of Jerusalem concentrating on mobilizing the potential of our people and nation and directing them against their main opponent, which is the Zionist enemy," Hamas said in a statement read by one of its leaders Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil.

                                                                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                                    The Movement stressed that the Israeli frenzied military attack on the Aqsa Mosque today was a process of testing the will and reaction of the Palestinian people and the Muslim nation in order to accustom them to such attempts as part of a repeated scene until their anger gradually fades away so they (Israelis) can eventually demolish the holy Mosque and wipe it off the religious map of Muslims.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hamas held the Palestinian Authority (PA), which it described as the authority of Oslo, and some Arab countries responsible for what is happening against the Aqsa Mosque, asserting at the same time that the battle of Jerusalem is decisive and the inevitable victory will be for the Palestinian people and their resistance.

                                                                                                                                                                                    For his part, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the repeated Zionist attempts to storm the Aqsa Mosque and the blockade imposed on it comes in the context of a scheme aimed to impose Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Mosque as a prelude to building the alleged temple.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Spokesman Barhoum told Al-Bayan media center that this attack on the holy Mosque would have not happened if the US had not given the Israeli occupation a green light to commit such crimes and violations and the PA had not persisted in its negotiations that encouraged the occupation to escalate its violations against the Palestinian land and holy places.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The spokesman added that no one is exempted from defending and protecting the Aqsa Mosque, calling for unleashing the hand of the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank to get the real battle started.

                                                                                                                                                                                    For his part, Sheikh Hamed Al-Beitawi, a representative of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative council (PLC), warned the Israeli occupation of persisting in its violations against the occupied city of Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque, stressing that Israel opened the gates of hell when it dared to attack the Aqsa Mosque.

                                                                                                                                                                                    “One billion and a half Muslims will not condone that the Zionists turn the Aqsa Mosque into a synagogue or an alleged temple,” Sheikh Beitawi underscored.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The lawmaker called on PA officials, Arab and Muslim leaders to stop all forms of normalization with the Israeli occupation and stop any security coordination with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    In the same context, Dr. Aziz Dweik, the speaker of the PLC, called on the Muslim nation to uprise urgently and immediately in defense of the Aqsa Mosque under attack.

                                                                                                                                                                                    “It is time for the nation to restore its dignity and prestige because it must not stay passive more than that or else it will be chased by shame and disgrace for ever,” Dr. Dweik said.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The Hamas change and reform parliamentary bloc, for its part, warned in a press release that Israel’s repeated violations against the Aqsa Mosque would trigger the situation in the whole region and called for immediate action to curb Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                    For his part, Dr. Yahya Moussa, a member of Hamas parliamentary bloc, said in a statement to the PIC that the Palestinian people is facing today another Israeli crime committed against their land and their historical and Islamic legacy.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hamas spokesman in central Gaza Yousuf Farhat, for his part, stated that the weakness of the Arab position encouraged Israel to carry out its repeated attacks on the Aqsa Mosque, calling on Muslim scholars and intellectuals to urgently move and assume their religious and national role towards the Mosque.

                                                                                                                                                                                    In a press release in Damascus, the Movement of Hamas also called on the Palestinian people and all Arab and Muslim peoples all over the world to organize angry marches in protest at the ongoing wanton aggression on the Aqsa Mosque.

                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Clashes erupt over al Aqsa Mosque

                                                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  October 25th, 2009 by admin ( Email )

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Taking Flight: Memories of Diaspora

                                                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  October 25th, 2009 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                                        Neither parent had answers to the children’s incessant questions: “where are we going?”

                                                                                                                                                                                        By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                                                                                                        The following is an excerpt from Ramzy Baroud’s forthcoming book: My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. The events are situated in Baroud’s historic home of Beit Daras, one of the nearly 500 Palestinian villages that were completely destroyed by Zionist militias in 1948. Baroud’s father, a very young boy at the time, and his family are fleeing on foot to their new destiny in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, where they remain to this day. Gaza was and remains a center stage of the struggle against Israeli occupation, and the ordinary people of the strip are major players that shaped past events and continue to do so to the present day, despite protracted sieges, sanctions, and every other attempt at crushing their resistance and forcing them into submission.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Spring was one of the most beautiful times of the year in the countryside of Palestine. With everything in full bloom, apricots, almonds, oranges and lemons, the perfume carried itself on the wind for miles. As the villagers embarked on this rite of passage, many captured a long