West Braces for Clash of Cultures

English (US)  September 20th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

By Ismail Salami

With the publication of the profane pictures of the holy Prophet of Islam in Charlie Hebdo magazine, the West seems to be consciously moving in a direction where chaos will dominate the international arena and a clash of cultures will inevitably run deeper for an indefinite period of time.

Magazine director Stephane Charbonnier said his staff is "not really fueling the fire," but rather using its freedom of expression "to comment (on) the news [of the blasphemous film] in a satirical way."

The French magazine has a history of attacking Islam. On February 9, 2006, it also published some cartoons denigrating the holy Prophet. The Grand Mosque, the Muslim World League and the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) in France filed a suit saying that the cartoons contained elements of racism. In 2007, executive editor Philippe Val was, however, acquitted by the French court. Surprisingly, François Fillon, the prime minister, and Claude Guéant, the interior minister voiced support for Charlie Hebdo.


According to reports, France is closing its embassies and schools in 20 countries, fearing a violent backlash from protestors over the blasphemous cartoons. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said, “Is it relevant and intelligent in this environment to add fuel to the fire?”

The publication of the cartoons, which came immediately after the release of the anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, has provoked widespread protests in most parts of the Muslim world.

It is painful to say that the French government has not only authorized such an anti-Islam move but it has also rejected a request by Muslims to hold demonstration in front of the Paris Grand Mosque on Saturday. According to the police ban, organizers of a possible demonstration will face six months in jail and a fine of 700 euros ($900). In a similar move, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls ordered a ban on any further demonstrations against the anti-Islam film made in the United States.

“I have issued instructions so that this does not happen again. These protests are forbidden,” Valls said in an interview with France 2 television network.

Protest is a form of freedom of expression which is denied Muslims in France but is given lasciviously free rein in the anti-Islam moves in the country.

There are abortive attempts by western analysts to interpret the two baneful incidents in the light of freedom of expression and thereby explain away the emotional hurt of the Muslim world. However, to an intellectually trained mind, this seems more than just an insult to Islam and the Muslims.

The calculated move of the French magazine in publishing the insulting cartoons immediately after the blasphemous film indicates a united front forming against Islam in the West. On the one hand, the move can be seen as an attempt to help escalate the crisis in the Middle East region and on the other hand to plunge the world into a vortex where a clash of civilizations is imminent.

Should we naively believe that the anti-Islam film which has caused much uproar and intellectual chagrin in the Muslim world is the work of a Coptic Christian Egyptian fraudster, a small-time porn director and a bunch of extremists who harbor deep hatred against Islam? This is a good question and it deserves an answer. Still, the answer seems to be found in the incident which followed the film i.e. the publication of the blasphemous cartoons.

Seen from an analytical point of view, the entire scenario apparently tilts the scale in favor of the Zionists who capitalize on a large-scale fracas between the Muslim countries and the rest of the world. In fact, they are the ones who will catch the bigger fish in these trouble waters.

Amidst this craftily authored plan, Israel has commenced a series of war games in Golan Heights, the biggest the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has conducted in the six years since the second Lebanon war on Hezbollah in 2006. Military sources say the war game looks like a real war with tens of thousands of soldiers and senior officers, including the artillery and the air force taking part. Israeli officials have announced that the situation in Syria is precariously volatile and that the country is in possession of a huge arsenal of chemical weapons which they fear might fall into the hands of wrong people stockpile if President Bashar Assad is ousted. This is the excuse which they use to justify their military show-off. In point of fact, Israel is readying itself to wage a military encounter in the region by using the anti-Islam scenario.

With the Muslim world in turmoil over the anti-Islam video and cartoons, Israel will be in a position to turn the situation to its own benefit, depict the Islamic world in a negative light with the help of western media and exploit the rift deepening between the Muslims and the West. These facts suggest that there are certain Zionist elements in the West which are fomenting Islamophobia in the world in order to bring about a lethal encounter between the East and the West and serve the interests of Israel in the long run.

- Dr. Ismail Salami is an Iranian writer, Middle East expert, Iranologist and lexicographer. He writes extensively on the US and Middle East issues and his articles have been translated into a number of languages. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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    Not a Gaffe, but the Real Romney

    English (US)  September 20th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

    Romney doesn't understand the double standard.

    By Ralph Nader

    There was something missing from the release of a tape showing Mitt Romney pandering to fat cats in Boca Raton, Florida with these very inflammatory words: “There are 47 percent who are with him, (Obama) who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. These are people who pay no income tax.” Romney said his job “is not to worry about those people.”

    Hey, Mitt, why start with the 47 percent? Fully 100 percent of the nation’s 500 biggest corporations are dependent on various kinds of corporate welfare – subsidies, giveaways, bailouts, waivers, and other dazzling preferences – while many pay no tax at all on very substantial profits (see their familiar names – General Electric, Pepco, Verizon etc. – here).


    Are the corporations that receive this corporate welfare going to vote for President Obama? (Mr. Romney has declared that corporations are people.) Of course they’re not. Nor are all of the 47 percent of people who are “dependent upon government.”

    Mr. Romney doesn’t understand the double standard where government checks, whether already paid for or not, to people are called “entitlements” while far bigger checks to corporations are called “incentives.” Romney has lost control of his self-consciousness. Here is a man who talks about 47 percent of American households paying no income taxes (more on this later) while he has refused, unlike his father, to release back years of tax returns because they’ll show he has parked much of his wealth and income in foreign tax havens like the Bahamas precisely in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

    Indeed, as tax expert and former New York Times Pulitzer prize-winner David Cay Johnston said on Democracy Now, Romney has maneuvered the tax laws so that his five sons will continue to receive millions of tax-free dollars from their parents’ enormous pot of wealth.

    Why aren’t the big-time Democrats making much more of an issue of this “make or break” Romney campaign vulnerability? Maybe it is because, as author Kevin Phillips once said, “The Republicans go for the jugulars while the Democrats go for the capillaries.”

    Now, either ignorance, callousness or both infected Mitt Romney’s pejorative characterizations of the “government dependent” 47 percent with victim mentalities who believe that they are entitled to the government providing them the necessities of life without paying income tax. Let’s see who these people are in these recessionary times. Unemployed Americans. Americans who are too poor to pay income taxes. Elderly Americans who live on their social security checks from money for which they spent their decades of working years paying. Americans using the “earned income tax credit,” so vigorously supported and extended by President Ronald Reagan. And disabled Americans who have no dollars for any income tax.

    What do many of the 47 percent pay to the government? They pay payroll taxes for social security and Medicare, federal fees and state and local taxes on their property, and sales taxes.

    The avarice of Romney and his buddies at the strip-mining, job-exporting, bankrupting private equity company called Bain Capital has no bounds. He thinks it’s perfectly fine for companies like Verizon, Boeing, Duke Energy, Navistar, Wells Fargo and Pepco to use all of our country’s government funded public infrastructures and services, and yet not only pay no income tax but actually rig the tax system so they can get billions back in “benefits” from the U.S. Treasury, as General Electric has done for years. At the same time, Romney never speaks out against 35,000 super-wealthy Americans who also do not pay any federal income tax. He rarely questions crony capitalism, wants to maintain an even bigger bloated military budget, and spearheads the many-sided supremacy of corporations over real people throughout our entire political economy. He is, essentially, a corporation running for president masquerading as an individual.

    If the Democrats are anything but inept and defeatist, they will wrap Romney around Congressman Paul Ryan, his vice-presidential nominee, and recover the Congress in November. The Romney-Ryan campaign is now hanging by a few threads, unmasked even before those millions of American voters who dutifully vote for politicians who disrespect and betray their economic plight and political powerlessness once in office.

    The so-called presidential debates are coming up (see Open Debates.org). Let’s see if President Obama thinks it is fair play to recall Mr. Romney’s words and put his underlying real values on the table before tens of millions of viewers.

    Romney’s excursus in Boca Raton was not a gaffe. It was the inner Romney, raised by good Romneys but braised by the fevered extremists in his party who have asserted that today Ronald Reagan himself would not receive their vote.

    (Kudos to David Corn and Mother Jones magazine for bringing the Romney tape to the American people.)

    - Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of 'Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us'. Visit: www.nader.org.
    If you like this article, please consider making a contribution to the Palestine Chronicle.

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      The Sorrows of Syria

      English (US)  September 20th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

      Published on Sep 15, 2012 by AlternateFocus

      The Syrian government has has tried with great determination and dexterity to fragment the society and to exploit sectarian differences and class differences to prevent the emergence of a secular nonsectarian nationalist opposition. Michael Provence is the director of the Middle East Studies Programs at the University of California, San Diego. His research focuses on the colonial and post-colonial Arab world, particularly popular insurgency and nationalism, and he has travelled and lived in many countries in the region including Lebanon and Syria.

      News & Politics

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        Norman Finkelstein - Political scientist - BBC HARDtalk 2012

        English (US)  September 17th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

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          A Never-Ending Horror Story: The Massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Thirty Years Later

          English (US)  September 16th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

          Oum Hussein points to a picture of one of her sons killed in the massacre: "The youngest one burned my heart."
          Credit: Habib Battah/Al Jazeera

          Hamed Chamas holds up a photo of the pile of bodies he hid under for two days. Among the dead were his father and 22-year-old brother.
          Credit: Habib Battah/Al Jazeera

          by SONJA KARKAR

          It happened thirty years ago – 16 September 1982. A massacre so awful that people who know about it cannot forget it. The photos are gruesome reminders – charred, decapitated, indecently violated corpses, the smell of rotting flesh, still as foul to those who remember it as when they were recoiling from it all those years ago. For the victims and the handful of survivors, it was a 36-hour holocaust without mercy. It was deliberate, it was planned and it was overseen. But to this day, the killers have gone unpunished.


          Sabra and Shatila – two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon – were the theatres for this staged slaughter. The former is no longer there and the other is a ghostly and ghastly reminder of man’s inhumanity to men, women and children – more specifically, Israel’s inhumanity, the inhumanity of the people who did Israel’s bidding and the world’s inhumanity for pretending it was of no consequence. There were international witnesses – doctors, nurses, journalists – who saw the macabre scenes and have tried to tell the world in vain ever since.

          Each act was barbarous enough on its own to warrant fear and loathing. It was human savagery at its worst and Dr Ang Swee Chai was an eye witness as she worked with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society on the dying and the wounded amongst the dead. What she saw was so unimaginable that the atrocities committed need to be separated from each other to even begin comprehending the viciousness of the crimes. [1]

          People Tortured. Blackened bodies smelling of roasted flesh from the power shocks that had convulsed their bodies before their hearts gave out – the electric wires still tied around their lifeless limbs

          People with gouged out eye sockets. Faces unrecognisable with the gaping holes that had plunged them into darkness before their lives were thankfully ended.

          Women raped. Not once – but two, three, four times – horribly violated, their legs shamelessly ripped apart with not even the cover of clothing to preserve their dignity at the moment of death.

          Children dynamited alive. So many body parts ripped from their tiny torsos, so hard to know to whom they belonged – just mounds of bloodied limbs amongst the tousled heads of children in pools of blood.

          Families executed. Blood, blood and more blood sprayed on the walls of homes where whole families had been axed to death in a frenzy or lined up for a more orderly execution.

          There were also journalists who were there in the aftermath and who had equally gruesome stories to tell, none of which made the sort of screaming front page headlines that should have caused lawmakers to demand immediate answers. What they saw led them to write shell-shocked accounts that have vanished now into the archives, but are no less disturbing now. These accounts too need to be individually absorbed, lest they be lumped together as just the collective dead rather than the systematic torture and killing of individual, innocent human beings.

          Women gunned down while cooking in their kitchens. [2] The headless body of a baby in diapers lying next to two dead women. [3] An infant, its tiny legs streaked with blood, shot in the back by a single bullet. [4] Slaughtered babies, their bodies blackened as they decomposed, tossed into rubbish heaps together with Israeli army equipment and empty bottles of whiskey. [5] An old man castrated, with flies thick upon his torn intestines. [6] Children with their throats slashed. [7] Mounds of rotting corpses bloated in the heat – young boys all shot at point-blank range. [8]

          And most numbing of all are the recollections of the survivors whose experiences were so shockingly traumatic that to recall them must have been painful beyond all imaginings. One survivor, Nohad Srour, 35 said:

          “I was carrying my one year-old baby sister and she was yelling “Mama! Mama!” then suddenly nothing. I looked at her and her brain had fallen out of her head and down my arm. I looked at the man who shot us. I’ll never forget his face. Then I felt two bullets pierce my shoulder and finger. I fell. I didn’t lose consciousness, but I pretended to be dead.”[9]

          The statistics of those killed vary, but even according to the Israeli military, the official count was 700 people killed while Israeli journalist, Amnon Kapeliouk put the figure at 3,500. [10] The Palestinian Red Crescent Society put the number killed at over 2,000.[11] Regardless of the numbers, they would not and could not mitigate what are clear crimes against humanity.

          Fifteen years later, Robert Fisk, the journalist who had been one of the first on the scene, said:

          “Had Palestinians massacred 2,000 Israelis 15 years ago, would anyone doubt that the world’s press and television would be remembering so terrible a deed this morning? Yet this week, not a single newspaper in the United States – or Britain for that matter – has even mentioned the anniversary of Sabra and Shatila.”[12]

          Thirty years later it is no different.

          The political developments

          What happened must be set against the background of a Lebanon that had been invaded by the Israeli army only months earlier, supposedly in ‘retaliation’ for the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador in London on 4 June 1982. Israel attributed the attempt to Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) then resident in Beirut. In reality, it was a rival militant group headed by Abu Nidal. Israel wanted to oust the PLO from Lebanon altogether and on 6 June 1982, Israel began its devastating assault on the Lebanese and Palestinian civilian population in the southern part of Lebanon. Lebanese government casualty figures numbered the dead at around 19,000 with some 30,000 wounded, but these numbers are hardly accurate because of the mass graves and other bodies lost in the rubble. [13]

          By 1 September, a cease-fire had been mediated by United States envoy Philip Habib, and Arafat and his men surrendered their weapons and were evacuated from Beirut with guarantees by the US that the civilians left behind in the camps would be protected by a multinational peacekeeping force. That guarantee was not kept and the vacuum then created, paved the way for the atrocities that followed.

          As soon as the peacekeeping force was withdrawn, the then Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon moved to root out some “2,000 terrorists” he claimed were still hiding in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. After totally surrounding the refugee camps with tanks and soldiers, Sharon ordered the shelling of the camps and the bombardment continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening of 15 September leaving the “mopping-up” of the camps to the Lebanese right-wing Christian militia, known as the Phalangists. The next day, the Phalangists – armed and trained by the Israeli army – entered the camps and proceeded to massacre the unarmed civilians while Israel’s General Yaron and his men watched the entire operations. More grotesquely, the Israeli army ensured there was no lull in the 36 hours of killings and illuminated the area with flares at night and tightened their cordon around the camps to make sure that no civilian could escape the terror that had been unleashed.

          Inquiries, charges and off scot-free

          Although Israel’s Kahan Commission of Inquiry did not find any Israeli directly responsible, it did find that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for “not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the danger of massacre” before sending the Phalangists into the camps. It, therefore, lamely recommended that the Israeli prime minister consider removing him from office. [14] Sharon resigned but remained as Minister without portfolio and joined two parliamentary commissions on defence and Lebanese affairs. There is no doubt, as Chomsky points out “that the inquiry was not intended for people who have a prejudice in favour of truth and honesty”, but it certainly gained support for Israel in the US Congress and among the public. [15] It took an International Commission of Inquiry headed by Sean MacBride to find that Israel was “directly responsible” because the camps were under its jurisdiction as an occupying power. [16] Yet, despite the UN describing the heinous operation as a “criminal massacre” and declaring it an act of genocide [17], no one was prosecuted.

          It was not until 2001 that a law suit was filed in Belgium by the survivors of the massacre and relatives of the victims against Sharon alleging his personal responsibility. However, the court did not allow for “universal jurisdiction” – a principle which was intended to remove safe havens for war criminals and allow their prosecution across states. The case was won on appeal and the trial allowed to proceed, but without Sharon who by then was prime minister of Israel and had immunity. US interference led to the Belgian Parliament gutting the universal jurisdiction law and by the time the International Criminal Court was established in The Hague the following year, the perpetrators of the Sabra and Shatila massacre could no longer be tried because its terms of reference did not allow it to hear cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide pre-dating 1 July 2002. Neither Sharon nor those who carried out the massacres have ever been punished for their horrendous crimes.

          The bigger picture

          The length of time since these acts were carried out should be no impediment to exposing the truth. More than 60 years after the Nazi atrocities against the Jews in Europe, the world still mourns and remembers and erects monuments and museums to that violent holocaust. How they are done, to whom they are done and to how many does not make the crimes any more or less heinous. They can never be justified even on the strength of one state’s rationale that another people ought to be punished, or worse still, are simply inferior or worthless beings. It should lead all of us to question on whose judgment are such decisions made and how can we possibly justify such crimes at all?

          The atrocities committed in the camps of Sabra and Shatila should be put in the context of an ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people. The MacBride report found that these atrocities “were not inconsistent with wider Israeli intentions to destroy Palestinian political will and cultural identity.” [17] Since Deir Yassin and the other massacres of 1948, those who survived have joined hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing a litany of massacres committed in 1953, 1967, and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and the killing continues today. The most recent being the 2008-2009 Gaza massacre – that 3 week merciless onslaught, a festering sore without relief as the people are further punished by an impossible siege that denies them their most basic rights.

          Thus were the victims and survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacre gathered up in the perpetual nakba of the slaughtered, the dispossessed, the displaced and the discarded - a pattern of ethnic cleansing perpetrated under the Zionist plan to finally and forever extinguish Palestinian society and its people.

          This is why we must remember Sabra and Shatila, thirty years on.

          Sonja Karkar is the founder of Women for Palestine (WFP), a Melbourne-based human rights group and co-founder of Australians for Palestine (AFP), an advocacy group that provides a voice for Palestine at all levels of Australian society. She is the editor of the website http://www.australiansforpalestine.com . Her email address is sonjakarkar@womenforpalestine.org


          [1] Dr Ang Swee Chai, “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, Grafton Books, London, 1989

          [2] James MacManus, Guardian, 20 September 1982

          [3] Loren Jenkins, Washington Post, 20 September 1982

          [4] Elaine Carey, Daily Mail, 20 September 1982

          [5] Robert Fisk, “Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War”, London: Oxford University Press, 1990 [6] Robert Fisk, ibid.

          [7] Robert Fisk, ibid.

          [8] Robert Fisk, ibid.

          [9] Lebanese Daily Star, 16 September 1998

          [10] Amnon Kapeliouk, “Sabra & Chatila – Inquiry into a Massacre”, November 1982

          [11] Schiff and Ya’ari,, Israel’s Lebanon War, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1984,

          [12] Robert Fisk, Fifteen Years After the Bloodbath, The World turns its Back, shaml.org, 1997 [13] Noam Chomsky, “The Fatal Triangle” South End Press, Cambridge MA, p.221

          [14] The Complete Kahan Commission Report, Princeton, Karz Cohl, 1983, p. 125 (Hereafter, the Kahan Commission Report). [15] Chomsky, ibid. p.406

          [16] The Report of the International Commission to Enquire into Reported Violations of International Law by Israel during Its Invasion of the Lebanon, Sean MacBride, 1983 (referred to as the International Commission of Inquiry or MacBride report) [17] United Nations General Assembly Resolution, 16 December 1982

          [18] MacBride report, ibid. p.179


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            Sabra and Shatila: Thirty Years On

            English (US)  September 16th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

            On the 30th anniversary (September 16-18) of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in which hundreds of defenseless Palestinian refugees were slaughtered by Lebanese right-wing militias under the cover of the Israeli military, Al Akhbar publishes an account of the events by a Palestinian survivor who was a young boy when he witnessed the killings.

            Palestinians carry the pictures of their deceased loved ones during a memorial service commemorating the Sabra and Shatila massacre. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

            By Hasan Khiti

            Sabra was bustling with life, even after three full months of death and destruction brought about by the Israeli siege of Beirut. So was the Shatila camp.

            People had returned to their homes with a false sense of security. Everyone, including my 13-year-old self, was deceived into thinking the war was over.

            Then came the news of the killing of “elected” president Bashir Gemayel that shook us out of this delusion. A neighbor went out on his balcony and shot a hail of bullets into the sky to celebrate.

            Sabra and Shatila: Escaping Justice

            My feelings were a mixture of outrage and panic. I was repulsed by those who did not respect the sanctity of death and was simultaneously worried that the assassination would usher in a new season of deaths.

            The next day, Israeli warplanes clouded the Beirut skies again, flying lower than I had ever seen them before.

            Then came the stories of blood and corpses and kidnapping. Some people spoke about passing through Sabra over rivers of blood. They were not exaggerating.
            They flew low enough for me to easily see the Star of David on their hulls.


            My father – who has since passed away – came home in the middle of the day. I think my uncle had arrived earlier. They discussed rumors about the Israeli army beginning to enter Beirut. In Sabra, where we lived, there was still no sign of armies or battles.

            My uncle said that a friend told him that he passed by Israeli armored vehicles near the Sports City on his way from the nearby Fakhani area.

            But the smiles on the grownups’ faces suggested that we were not in danger. We felt safe even after the family decided to move to the old people’s home where my father worked as a nurse and pharmacist.

            I do not remember any battles occurring nearby during the first day in the shelter. All I can remember is the explosion of gas cylinders in Sabra’s main square and the sound of sniper fire coming from the vicinity of Shatila camp.

            The sniper was kept busy with people pushing mannequins into his line of fire as we enjoyed the free show.

            My room had a southern view facing Shatila. I could not make out what was happening, but I could clearly hear the sounds of heavy military vehicles and see the lights from the flares.

            I would spend my time watching the shadows made by the window’s grill on the opposing wall each time a new one was fired.

            One night, my father’s colleague arrived from “the camp,” which is how residents referred to Shatila. We never heard Sabra being called a “camp” until after the slaughter.

            For its inhabitants, Sabra was just the name of a street that starts at al-Dana petrol station in Tariq al-Jdideh, passing through Sabra square, and terminating at the entrance of Shatila camp.

            We thought the name “occupied Beirut” would become something normal, like occupied Jerusalem or occupied Haifa.
            So, my father’s colleague arrived and some people began to make fun of him. Someone asked him in a loud voice to tell them how exactly he managed to cross over all the dead bodies in Shatila.

            He turned around and left behind him the grinning faces. The grownups were smiling again, therefore, we were safe.

            But the rumors kept multiplying and the news on the radio confirmed the gravity of the situation to all who refused to believe.

            We decided to escape to the center of Beirut, especially after our neighbor arrived with her children. She told us how they were being led by gunmen to the Sports City stadium. But a landmine exploded and they were able to flee amidst the confusion.

            Then came the stories of blood and corpses and kidnapping. Some people spoke about passing through Sabra over rivers of blood. They were not exaggerating.

            We were used to moving to my aunt’s every time it got dangerous in our area. We piled into our neighbor’s truck and headed towards the city. My older brother, Oussama, remained in the old people’s home with my father.

            We passed by the municipal stadium and reached the Cola bridge. The street was eerily empty. I think my mother panicked and asked my neighbor to stop.

            We climbed out of the truck and walked through deserted streets. Our distress grew as time passed and we did not see a single human being outdoors. Usually, these are the most crowded streets in Beirut. But that day, nobody dared to leave their homes.

            We went back through Fakhani and the Arab University. Among the ruins of the campus, I saw them for the first time.

            Ghosts, I thought. They were moving like spirits among the rubble. It was as if they relished in the destruction. Standing tall and proud, the buildings seems to have provoked them to bring more ruin to the city.

            My mother’s voice came as an alarm among the crowded images. Do not stare at the soldiers, she warned, and told us to walk faster.

            We were back at the old people’s home. The slaughter was over. But the battles in Beirut were still raging. The radio reported that there was still some pockets of resistance in the city. After a while, the station went silent, an announcement of their defeat.

            The last thing we heard the announcer say was an appeal to those who were resisting to the end. And then three words, “they are here.”

            We then thought the name “occupied Beirut” would become something normal, like occupied Jerusalem or occupied Haifa. But the resistance would not leave the occupiers alone.

            The closest operation to where we were happened one night on Corniche al-Mazraa. The sounds of bullets and shells brought back some of our dignity that we had felt was robbed of us a few hours earlier.

            One day, I was far from the old people’s home at my uncle’s house. I do not recall why I decided to go to Sabra square, but I met a woman who had just arrived from Tariq al-Jdideh.

            She seemed as if it was her first time in Sabra. Anyway, she did not live there. She was eager to know if the news about the massacres were true.

            I had heard the BBC describe it as an apocalypse, but I told her it was not true. All these people died from sniper fire, I explained.

            I do not know what she thought of me afterwards. Maybe she thought I was lying. But I do not care, her question irritated me.

            For someone to come and tell you that you have been slaughtered was not easy, especially if you are trying to convince yourself that it could not happen. It is not pleasant for one’s street to carry the stigma of such horror.

            We were slaughtered, but our dignity and pride forbade us from becoming subjects of pity. Maybe that is why I used to be relieved by reports saying that the victims were no more than a few dozen and hated officials who reported that the death toll reached three thousand. Maybe I was ashamed. I apologize to that woman.

            It seemed the occupation was becoming normalized. One of the soldiers once asked my uncle’s wife in colloquial Arabic if she had any water.

            The occupation did not remain for too long. Resistance operations inflicted serious damage. Israel withdrew, leaving behind the stench of death.
            I wished I had some poison to put in it, although I know I could never do something like that. The wish ushered in many fantasies of revenge. At night, I would plan brave commando operations and dream of destroying the Israeli army.

            But the occupation did not remain for too long. Resistance operations inflicted serious damage. Israel withdrew, leaving behind the stench of death.

            They withdrew but the terror would come back from time to time. Rumors forced hundreds of people to flee their homes into Beirut.

            The crowds joining the great escape betrayed a strange feeling that “they” were coming, sometimes from the east, sometimes from the west.

            Some said that the Lebanese army was spreading the rumors so as to be able to enter the area and announce itself as the savior. When this happened people threw rice at the soldiers in celebration.

            The Italian troops were the main reason we felt safe. They were in charge of guarding the camp and myths were created about their dedication.

            Some said they clashed with the Lebanese army to prevent them from entering the camp. Others said they had told the Lebanese soldiers, “here begins Palestine” and that they were not allowed into the camps.

            On the third anniversary of the massacres, the blood of had not yet dried when the terror came back with all its ugliness.

            It was the beginning of the devastating War of the Camps waged by Syria’s proxy militias in Lebanon. A new war was added to the “events” that the Lebanese like to call their national calamity. But that’s another story.

            Hasan Khiti left Lebanon for Germany after the War of the Camps. He currently lives in Munster where he works as a chemicals expert. He wrote this text in 2001.

            This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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              Freedom Sailors: The Maiden Voyage of the Free Gaza movement and how we succeeded in spite of ourselves

              English (US)  September 10th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

              A must-read high seas Palestinian human rights adventure

              By Gale Courey Toensing

              The citizen activists who recount their stories in "Freedom Sailors" put their lives on the line for an ideal by boarding two questionable old fishing boats to challenge Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza. They are to be celebrated as heroes and the real upholders of small "d" democracy.

              The ideal they upheld in word and deed is that indigenous Palestinians have the human, national and civil rights to live as free people in the land their ancestors have lived on since time immemorial.


              "Indigenous Palestinians" are those Christians, Muslims and Jews who lived together peaceably in historic Palestine until the unilateral creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Yes, Jews are indeed indigenous to Palestine, but the indigenous Jews of Palestine were considered Jewish Arabs in the same way that there are Christian Arabs and Muslim Arabs - sharing the same Arabic language, food, music and culture. The European Jewish colonizers of Palestine are not the indigenous Jews of Palestine and they are not "returning to their ancient homeland," They never lived there. They are descendants of Eastern Europeans, who converted to Judaism in the 8th century. And they continue to steal and colonize Palestinian land and kill Palestinians.

              Citizen activists like the Freedom Sailors are the people Margaret Mead was referring to in her famous quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

              The smears of "anti-Semitism" (yawn) in the negative reviews here are old and tired and totally discredited. They are written by the Zionist state's ever vigilant, ever aggressive watchdogs who are ready to pounce on anyone standing up and speaking out for freedom, justice and peace for Palestinians and their ancestral homeland. Ignore them. (But first we should thank them for bringing so much attention to "Freedom Sailors" and assuring that the book's sales outstrip all expectations!) When the only two countries in the United Nations voting to support Israel's illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine are the United States and Micronesia (does everyone know where that is?) it's clear that world opinion supports the Palestinians and views the Zionist state as being on the wrong side of history.

              Alice Walker said that "Freedom Sailors is a powerful record of the political and humanitarian activity of some of the best humans we are ever likely to meet or learn about. These women and men leave us with the most wonderful of questions: Is human courage and sacrifice the same as love? . . . To read this book is to see what we can be like, in the face of imminent danger."

              Buy this book and read it! It's a lovely heartfelt account of this human rights adventure on the high seas by the courageous members of the Free Gaza movement, who threw self-interest to the Mediterranean winds in an effort to defy Israel and meet and greet the Gaza population of Palestine in their own seaport on their own land.

              Freedom Sailors: The Maiden Voyage of the Free Gaza movement and how we succeeded in spite of ourselves
              by Greta Berlin (author and editor) and William L. Dienst MD (editors) (Published Jun 23, 2012)
              Paperback, $15
              Available from http://www.amazon.com

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                To the letter

                English (US)  September 9th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                Contemporary Egyptian artists are exploring the resources of Arabic calligraphy, among them Omar El-Nagdi, writes Mohamed Mursi

                'God created perfection and absolute beauty in a world of eternal being before man was created. He created the world of the transcendental, light-giving logos before anyone could read it, as it preceded the creation of man. When God created man, his first command was: read'

                Calligraphy was not known to the Arabs when the Quran made their language the dominant tongue of the region. But it wasn't long after the establishment of the first Muslim empires, first in Mecca and later on in Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, that cohorts of talented scribes turned the art of writing into one of Islam's main decorative arts.

                Arab artists today are still exploring ways of using calligraphy in their work, and sometimes it can fetch very high prices. Not long ago, a calligraphy piece by London-based Egyptian artist Ahmed Mustafa called the Night of the Israa sold for $850,000 at auction in Doha.


                The Egyptian artist Omar El-Nagdi, whose work is inspired by the Islamic heritage, is another master of this kind of art. Born in Bab Al-Shaariya not far from the Al-Shaarani Mosque, El-Nagdi developed an eye for calligraphy from an early age. Visitors to the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris had the chance to admire some of his exceptional work not long ago.

                El-Nagdi envisions his art in a wider perspective than the merely physical. This is how he puts it: "God created perfection and absolute beauty in a world of eternal being before man was created. He created the world of the transcendental, light-giving logos before anyone could read it, as it preceded the creation of man. When God created man, his first command was: read."

                The Arabic alphabet includes all the elements of geometry in its three-dimensional as well as its two-dimensional forms. Looking at the Arabic alphabet, one can almost imagine the touch of a hand exploring its calligraphic potential, investigating its various paths, moving from the circular to the angular, following the curvatures of its nature and aspiring to the heights of its architecture.

                Take the letter (Ì), for example, with its concave structure and elegant capping, or (ã), with its subtle composition and malleability of form. There is a poetry in the way the Arabic letters connect and a subtleness in the way they flow. In the hands of a skilled artist, the scope for innovation is immense, and in the hands of an adventurous one, it is almost unlimited.

                Across the Arab world, many artists have pushed the boundaries of calligraphy, taking it from tradition and into the globalised world of contemporary appreciation. People like Jamil Hammoudi, Madiha Omar, Wagih Nahlah, Salwa Shoqeir, Othman Waqiallah and Ibrahim Al-Salhi have all experimented with the classical forms of calligraphy at some time in their careers, some taking the letters down unexpected paths.

                To capture the gamut of classical calligraphy is not an easy task, but some artists have sought to go further and to explore horizons that extend beyond tradition. Some have turned the art of calligraphy into a riff on abstraction, for example, while others have infused it with the energy of expressionism. However, the link with the past remains intriguing, and even those who have wanted to explore the outer horizons of calligraphy have never lost their appreciation for the roots of their art.

                The Iraqi artist Abdel-Ghani Al-Ani has said that Arabic calligraphy is an endless quest for perfection. It is like music or poetry: there is no end to exploration or boundary to the unknown. According to Al-Ani, "calligraphy is like the sea; it belongs to all. But if you take some water from the sea and place it in a bottle, then this bottle and this part of the sea are yours."

                Al Ahram

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                  The Anne Frank and Rachel Corrie stories

                  English (US)  September 9th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                  US activist Rachel Corrie was brutally killed defending the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza. She would have been admired and defended by Anne Frank as a result of her universal call for justice in the face of war and terror, writes Jennifer Loewenstein

                  Rachel Corrie

                  Until Israel acknowledges, offers reparation, and honours international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and until the Israeli state can publicly apologise for the enormous historic injustice committed against the indigenous people of Palestine, the wound it has created will continue to fester and spread, as it already has, across the Middle East and into the four corners of the world, casting modern-day Israel into the role of a pariah state. Its status as such has been increasingly recognised, even by western powers that understand Israel can continue to act with impunity only as long as it remains under the protective umbrella of US military power.

                  Al Ahram


                  Sixty-seven years after the end of World War II, a team of researchers and cameramen from the Anne Frank House in Holland showed up at the Capitol Lakes retirement centre in Madison, Wisconsin, in the US to interview my father-in-law, Fritz Loewenstein. Fritz is the only person still living known to have been boyhood friends with Anne Frank's "secret annex" companion, Peter van Pels, known in the Diary as Peter van Damm.

                  The oral account Fritz gave lasted over two hours, the interviewers, including Teresien da Silva, head of collections at the Anne Frank House in the Netherlands, who travelled to Madison personally, asking probing and thorough questions about every aspect of his life before his family fled Germany in the 1930s, especially insofar as it intersected with the life of Peter van Pels.

                  For Fritz, this meant recalling many unwanted ghosts of his own past and what it was like for him as a Jewish schoolboy growing up under the darkening cloud of Nazism in 1930s Germany. There is no question that Anne Frank's life and death, and all who played a part in it, still capture the imagination of millions long after her senseless killing. Fritz's account of his childhood friendship with Peter will be featured prominently in new documentary footage on Anne Frank that will become available at the Anne Frank House later this year. Over a million people visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam annually to see for themselves the place where Anne lived with her family and the van Pelses in hiding from the Nazis for more than three years.

                  Fritz Loewenstein's father was a doctor in the German town of Osnabrueck in the 1920s and 1930s. Germany had been their family's home for generations, and they had lived successfully there, as cultured and upstanding German patriots, for decades. The Loewensteins hoped very much to be able to weather the worst of National Socialist rule, but as time passed it grew clearer and clearer to Fritz's father and mother that they would have to get their family out.

                  Fritz recalls his own, personal anti-Hitler campaign: washing the swastikas off the door of his father's clinic each morning. That was in the spring of 1937 as it grew increasingly difficult for Jews to leave Germany. The Loewenstein family, at least that part of it, was fortunate: they were able to get out with some of their belongings and immigrate to the United States, the first choice of many Jews fleeing the horrors of the Nazi regime. They ended up in Binghamton, New York, where my husband, David Loewenstein, grew up.

                  Throughout the interview with the crew from the Anne Frank House, David marveled at what an iconic figure Anne Frank has become. People of all ages the world over still read Anne's remarkable Diary of her incarceration and visit the place where Anne hid from the Nazis with her family after the Germans invaded and occupied Holland. I remember reading Anne Frank's Diary when I was 12 years old, utterly absorbed in the world of this creative and eloquent child despite the fact that she and her family were caught and deported to concentration camps where everyone but Anne's father, Otto, ultimately perished.

                  She nevertheless remains a beacon of hope and perseverance to victims everywhere who have suffered persecution. Although some have tried to claim that Anne's life and death were uniquely Jewish experiences, fully comprehensible only to other Jews, I maintain that the source of Anne's appeal is universal. In both her life and death, Anne Frank embodies the human will and desire to live and resist some of the worst odds imaginable. We recognise in Anne a child wrestling with the circumstances of a nightmarish human condition.

                  On 28 August, 2012, in Israel, judge Oded Gershon issued a verdict in the civil trial of US activist Rachel Corrie. Unsurprisingly, the Israeli state and military machine exonerated itself from all responsibility for Rachel's killing. I expected this. In the nine years since she was crushed to death by a D-9 armoured Caterpillar bulldozer out doing routine -- read, illegal and unconscionable -- work destroying the landscape and the lives of tens of thousands of people from Rafah, Gaza, Rachel has been virtually unknown to the vast majority of the educated US public. Unlike Anne Frank, whose life has been immortalised by the circumstances of her death, Rachel's name, life and death have been virtually blacked out of US official history, like the news out of Palestine more generally. She remains unknown, obscured, or distorted by deliberate disinformation.

                  The cause Rachel died defending, and the people she stood up for -- people whose voices have yet to receive equal validation as credible and legitimate voices bearing witness to their own suffering and ruin -- are still waiting to receive the long overdue recognition they deserve as the indigenous inhabitants of historic Palestine against whom a crime of unimaginable brutality and magnitude was committed. These are the refugees and their descendants who fled, were dispossessed of their land, expelled, threatened, and killed or massacred by the invading Zionist armies determined to create the Jewish state of Israel out of historic Palestine.

                  Until Israel acknowledges, offers reparation, and honours international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and until the Israeli state can publicly apologise for the enormous historic injustice committed against the indigenous people of Palestine, the wound it has created will continue to fester and spread, as it already has, across the Middle East and into the four corners of the world, casting modern-day Israel into the role of a pariah state. Its status as such has been increasingly recognised, even by western powers that understand Israel can continue to act with impunity only as long as it remains under the protective umbrella of US military power.

                  Rachel was a resilient, articulate and defiant 23-year-old college student who went to Gaza with others members of the International Solidarity Movement to bear witness to Israel's ruthless and deliberate objective of erasing, to the best of its ability, anything that remained of a coherent Palestinian national life, history and culture. Because Rachel stood up for the voiceless victims on the wrong side of US-Israeli Middle East policy, her name and legacy have been blacked out of official historical records like classified information. She exists in whispers only, a shadow in the halls of power and in the mainstream media where the official version of modern political-historical events are authorised and spun and where US support and complicity in Israel's regional hegemonic goals help sustain the necessary illusion of Israel's overall benevolence.

                  If our nation's authorities have managed so far to relegate Rachel to the dustbin of American history, a white American girl from an upstanding family of Christian origin whom nobody would have deliberately stopped to search at an airport, or questioned at a checkpoint beyond the Mexican border, and if official America has so far successfully committed to the black hole of US foreign affairs the life and death of a courageous white heroine who nevertheless chose to fight for justice on the "wrong" side of American policy, what does this say about the overall status and credibility of Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims trying to make their voices heard or to get their cases re-opened and examined by a government unconditionally supporting its Israeli client while busy slaughtering civilians and "suspects" with manned aircraft and pilotless drones in its own overseas battlegrounds?

                  How many Palestinian Rachels have left diaries and records of the abuses their people have suffered at the hands of colonial and imperial powers and their supplicants over the last century?

                  The occupation, ethnic cleansing, dispossession, fragmentation and wholesale colonisation of Palestine have been essentially reclassified and defined in language used to render legitimate the tactics and goals of modern Israel. Its overtly racist framework and raison d'être and the methodologies used to perpetuate policies in order to maintain the Jewish majority of the state have been recast, in the US and Israeli narratives, as the necessary social and political preconditions all Palestinians must accept before "peace" talks can begin again. In plain English, only a total capitulation of sovereignty over the land, including sacred religious sites, and the renunciation of Palestinian nationhood will satisfy Israel's leadership, which has the audacity to insist that the Palestinian leadership "come to the negotiating table without preconditions."

                  Transfer, ethnic cleansing, the silencing of all protest, the right to resist the illegal expropriation of land and resources, a collective denunciation of Palestinian spiritual and historical legacies, and the geographical fracturing of any remaining indigenous lands such that any territorial contiguity or unified national policies are no longer possible have become the "rational" and indispensable preconditions for the survival of the Jewish state. The Israeli "neighbourhoods" in "Judea and Samaria" that are "developing" as a result of "natural growth" serve as one example of life on Israel's terms, just as the "separation barrier" functions to guarantee the "security" and "well-being" of the Jewish-Israeli public.

                  With the exception of a heavily monitored border between Egypt and Gaza in the city of Rafah, the boundaries of Israel have been redrawn so that what remains of Palestine is entirely encircled, monitored and controlled by Israel and its US backer.

                  Had she lived, Rachel would likely have gone on to document with precision what this meant in real terms for the people of Gaza day after day. As it is, too few organisations and individuals have systematically described the totality of these policies on the lives of a million-and-a-half Gazans -- before and after the Israeli "disengagement," Hamas's 2006 election victory, the total blockade of Gaza (only acknowledged officially after the "civil war" of 2007), Operation Cast Lead, and the repercussions of the Arab Spring for Palestinians across the region.

                  Rachel saw for herself how the destruction of Palestine was being engineered and implemented in the Gaza Strip. With clear eyes, keen perception and a conscience too rare in today's world, Rachel described in her diary and in letters to her mother the unspeakable misery Israel's routine procedures had on even the most trivial aspects of Gazan life: everyone and everything was affected by the checkpoints, settlements and settler roads, the curfews and the closures. No one could escape the soldiers with their guns, bombs and tanks. No one could avoid the sadistic and gratuitous actions and their consequences that resulted directly from carefully crafted strategies intended to inflict pain and permanent psychological damage on the lives of children and adults alike. No one could flee the arbitrary humiliations endured day after day; the water shortages and electricity blackouts; the shortages of food, medicines, and the materials to allow the construction of buildings and repair of roads; the ever-present awareness of one's virtual imprisonment -- all of which defined Gaza long before it entered the consciousness of activists or the pages of the alternative western news media.

                  Rachel's death occurred during a time of great violence during the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) and -- in the United States -- just days before the Bush administration began its war on Iraq. The timing and pretexts used to justify more land theft and natural-resource appropriation could not have been better. America's "war on terror" was about to peak with the beginning of the "shock and awe" campaign over Baghdad. The then Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, had skillfully linked his administration's policies to the psychopathic US obsession with "terror" and "terrorists" initially concocted by conservative and neo-conservative politicians and corporations devising ways to expand and consolidate US hegemony over a region saturated with oil and natural gas resources.

                  It required very little effort to portray Palestinians as partisans of the "other" in the "clash of civilisations;" like the mercurial and fanatical members of Al-Qaeda, Palestinians were portrayed as part of the vanguard of the war against the West and its "freedoms". They led the war against Israel and the Jews and provided ready ammunition for anyone who might suggest that theirs was a struggle for freedom and self-determination much like the struggles of other colonised peoples determined to live on their own land and rule themselves. To have suggested that the Palestinian cause was just and an inspirational popular resistance movement carried forward by an oppressed, exploited and weak David against a monstrous and cruel Goliath to gain freedom and independence was to invite vehement and vicious attacks upon oneself and others who dared to speak this truth.

                  The violent context of the Second Intifada exacerbated the most racist and sanctimonious assertions by those who claimed that Israel was defending itself against terrorist-infidels and that Sharon's crusade was a necessary and vital component of the United States' battle against evil. Little, if any, effort was put into US reporting from the Palestinian side because it was understood -- part of the accepted canon -- that Israel was fighting for its survival.

                  Like many who bear witness to criminal regimes that oppress, dispossess and kill people under their rule, Rachel was deeply troubled by what she had been witnessing in Gaza -- in a landscape that defied description. On the day she was crushed to death, Rachel stood between a bulldozer and a family home to protest one of the infinite number of indignities and crimes hurled like grenades at a population of overwhelmingly poor and defenseless refugees trying each day to find new ways of surviving without going mad. According to the Israeli courts, Rachel's death was a "regrettable accident". Rachel had put herself into a dangerous situation in the middle of a war zone. She was to blame. The victim was responsible for her own murder; the stateless, poor and dispossessed were to blame for their status as refugees and for their relentlessly miserable treatment, imprisonment, dehumanisation and occupation.

                  Rachel left a diary, letters and a legacy of courage and steadfastness that mirrored the courageousness and determination of the people around her. She refused to move when the bulldozer came closer, and, after a certain point, she was trapped and unable to escape. Her death, like her life, reflected the outrage of a young woman who knew she was too weak to prevent the demolition of homes and the creation of a "closed military zone" in an area earmarked for destruction long before she had arrived in Rafah.

                  In another age, Rachel's diary would be the iconic classic of a young woman living a great adventure and one determined to survive and fight for what she believed was right. In another time, Rachel's story would be read by school children around the world and millions of people would visit the place where she stood alone facing an armoured bulldozer to say with her body, "this has to stop!"

                  In our day, she is an unknown martyr in the annals of official history. Her courage has been decried and condemned, her name sullied and vilified. But I believe that Anne Frank would have admired Rachel. She would have recognised the universal call for justice in the face of war and terror, the dangers inherent in the dehumanisation of an entire people and the brutal occupation of their land. She would have verified the violence that a silent and indifferent world bestows upon the victims of nations bloated with power and a righteous sense of their God-given destiny, nations determined to avenge their past, and licensed to kill.

                  Equally, I believe she would have been mortified by the way her own Diary and the death she was subjected to have been used as moral justifications for the actions of a state defined by blood and soil, and by the way her own popularity has been buoyed by an ideology she would most probably have found repugnant and contrary to the lessons she herself had learned and the horror she had experienced. I believe Anne Frank would have agreed with Rachel's mother, Cindy, who -- when asked if she thought Rachel should have moved away from the bulldozer -- replied, "I don't think that Rachel should have moved. I think we should all have been standing there with her."

                  The writer is faculty associate of Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.

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                    PA vows to hold elections amidst growing economic hardship

                    English (US)  September 9th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                    Local elections are on the cards, but Hamas continues to protest that it has no freedom to campaign in the West Bank, reports Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

                    Al Ahram

                    The Palestinian Authority (PA) is planning to hold local elections in the West Bank in mid-October despite Hamas's refusal to do likewise in the Gaza Strip.

                    The Fatah-dominated PA views elections as the ultimate arbiter between itself and Islamist Hamas, which is in control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas views elections as the would-be fruit of national reconciliation with Fatah.

                    Despite several agreements and understandings reached through active Arab -- especially Egyptian -- mediation, the two main Palestinian political groups have failed to reach a solid final agreement that would end more than five years of tension, starting soon after Hamas defeated Fatah in the 2006 general elections.


                    With a supposedly large chunk of eligible Palestinian voters set to boycott the upcoming elections, it is expected that the turnout will be modest, which would allow Hamas to further question the credibility of the elections under current circumstances.

                    Most of the municipal and local councils in the West Bank are already controlled by Fatah following the sacking of pro-Hamas councils and mayors in the context of the oft-bitter hostility between the two groups.

                    In many cities and localities, the PA has been refusing to organise elections, fearing Islamists would win the polls.

                    However, with Hamas substantially weakened in the West Bank due to a combined repression campaign by the PA security agencies and the Israeli occupation army, which saw most Hamas's community leaders and members of parliament thrown behind bars, the PA seems fairly encouraged to hold the elections.

                    Hamas has been demanding, but to no avail, that the PA introduce preparations for genuine elections, including allowing freedom of speech and other civil liberties that would allow Islamists to campaign freely.

                    Israel, for its part, has kept up its vehement hostility towards Hamas, vowing to detain Islamist candidates for their "affiliation with a terrorist organisation".

                    The PA admits it can do nothing to prevent Israel from targeting Hamas, apart from appealing to the international community to pressure Tel Aviv.

                    But international pressure on Israel may not be good enough for Hamas to risk delivering its leaders and candidates into the jaws of the lion -- risking having a new generation of Islamist leaders languishing in open-ended detention in Israeli jails and detention camps without charge or trial.

                    The holding of local elections in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, comes in the midst of severe political and economic crises facing the PA and threatening its very survival.

                    Earlier this week, the extremist Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called for the elimination of President Mahmoud Abbas, calling him a terrorist.

                    Lieberman is the second most powerful politician in Israel following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and his remarks shouldn't be taken lightly.

                    Abbas has vowed to once again seek United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state. However, it seems that behind-the-scenes pressure by the United States and its allies may have succeeded in convincing the Palestinian leadership to at least postpone its UN recognition bid for the time being.

                    Another postponement at the UN is guaranteed to weaken Abbas in the view of his people. The aging Palestinian leader has been severely castigated of late after saying during a meeting with a visiting Israeli delegation, which included rabbis, in Ramallah last week that "Israel was created in order to stay forever."

                    Several Palestinian leaders and intellectuals scoffed at the remarks, calling them "treasonous and catastrophic".

                    Abdel-Sattar Qassem, a former presidential candidate and university professor, said Abbas had no right whatsoever to sell out the Palestinian cause.

                    "Palestine is not the property of the Abbas family; he has no right to cede what doesn't belong to him and his family," he said.

                    Nonetheless, most if not all Fatah leaders have remained mum, refusing to comment on Abbas's remarks, which most Palestinians view as an embarrassing taboo.

                    The main reason for Fatah's refusal to publicly distance itself from the remarks has to do with the fact that Abbas tightly controls Fatah's coffers and any severe criticisms directed at the chairman may cost the critics their financial survival.

                    Meanwhile, a severe economic crisis, whose harshness has no parallel since the start of the Israeli occupation 1967, is hitting hard in the occupied territories, causing families to adopt unprecedented austerity measures.

                    With its foreign aid and revenue dwindling, the PA government is barely able to pay salaries for its estimated 160,000 civil servants.

                    As a result, the PA has failed to pay electricity and water bills to Israel, prompting the Israeli government to threaten to cut off electricity to the West Bank, including Abbas's own office in Ramallah.

                    On Monday, 4 September, the state-run Israeli TV disclosed the content of a letter sent to Netanyahu by Energy Minister Uzi Landaou in which the latter threatened to cut electricity off to the West Bank.

                    Landaou, an extreme right winger, was quoted as saying that the PA was indebted to Israel for huge sums of money which would force him to cut off power to the Fayyad government.

                    The suffocating economic crisis is forcing most Palestinians to prioritise their spending, with many families unable to send their grown up sons and daughters back to college due to poverty.

                    Demonstrations protesting widespread poverty have been taking place in some areas such as Ramallah and Bethlehem. However, the scope of the protests doesn't seem to pose an immediate threat to the survival of the PA regime in Ramallah.

                    The PA is not a sovereign entity and is not free to carry out normal economic activities such as free import and export, due to Israeli restrictions and control over border crossings connecting the West Bank to the outside world.

                    This is the reason most economic experts argue that it is nearly impossible for the PA to successfully overcome its recurrent economic and financial crises as long as Israel remains in control of the Palestinian territories.

                    Others go as far as arguing that it too late for the Palestinians to establish a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state on the West Bank, given the phenomenal expansion of Jewish colonies throughout the occupied territory.

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                      Palestine’s Golden Oil

                      English (US)  September 5th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                      Photo credit: Vivien Sansour

                      BY SAM BAHOUR

                      Underneath much of the Middle East lies the world’s oil supply, which is pumped year-round to keep the global economy humming along. In one special place in the Middle East—better known as the Holy Land—a different type of oil reigns supreme: olive oil. In this strategic region in the Levant, Palestine has a large amount of land devoted to the olive tree; about 45% of agricultural land in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) is planted with twelve million olive trees, the vast majority of which are in the West Bank, and its valuable, healthy fruits take center stage in the political conflict between Palestinians and Israelis every harvesting season.

                      Land is at the core of this conflict. Israel’s military has confiscated land for illegal Israeli settlements, erected an illegal “Separation Barrier” that separates Palestinian farmers from their plantations, and has not spared Palestinian olive groves: it has uprooted olive trees as a way of punishing the population. The vast majority of Palestinian olive trees are in the West Bank, which has 739,500 dunams (184,875 acres), or 98.6% of the total, whereas, the Gaza Strip had only 11,200 dunams (2,800 acres) of olive trees, which is 1.4%. However, in the Gaza Strip, over 7,300 dunums (1,825 acres) of land along the perimeter fence with Israel, previously cultivated with olive trees, were leveled during Israeli incursions in recent years. An olive seedling can take several decades to fully mature and many of Palestine’s olive trees are hundreds of years old. The horrifying reality is that Israel has added olive trees to their campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and the result is that Palestine’s golden oil is becoming scarcer and much more dangerous to harvest.
                      olives on branches, Palestine


                      Cultivating olive trees and harvesting this murky, tangy, golden liquid is the livelihood for approximately 100,000 Palestinian families. Olive picking is more than a seasonal chore—it is a way of life. Families tend to their olive trees all year round to harvest them in October and November. Family members, young and old, gather in the fields from early morning to sunset to share in the hard work of hand picking the olives, collecting them in large nylon bags, then hauling them to the nearest olive press to extract the valuable yield of olive oil. For the thousands of families who have harvested olives for generations, the value of land means little if not cultivated, hence the olive tree, being a lifelong investment in the land, takes on special meaning. It is not uncommon to find inheritances that distribute olive trees among descendants, thus one can understand how the Israeli destruction of trees is viewed as a direct, deliberate, and violent provocation.

                      Palestinian olive oil is sold locally this year for 400 NIS ($114) for a 16-kilogram jug. A recent Oxfam briefing paper, “The Road To Olive Farming,” notes that “in a good year, the [Palestinian] olive oil sector contributes over $100 million of income annually to some of the poorest communities.” This figure amounts to one quarter of the gross agricultural income in the OPT.

                      Olive oil cultivation is a core sector in Palestine’s economic mix. The Oxfam paper notes that “in 2006, 21,000 tons of olive oil remained [for export] once the needs of the domestic market had been met.” The global olive production industry is valued at over $10 billion; the export potential for Palestinian olives and olive oil has not even begun to be tapped.
                      olives on branches, Palestine

                      Photo credit: Vivien Sansour

                      When the Israeli occupation is not making its presence felt, the season of the olive harvest is absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, the Israeli occupation cannot be ignored. The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the OPT issued an “Olive Harvest Factsheet” in October 2011 lists the threats facing Palestine’s olive sector:

                      44 out of 66 [Separation] Barrier gates are only open during the harvest season, impeding the regular maintenance of the groves and undermining their productivity.
                      Some 40% of applications for “visitor permits” to access [Palestinian] olive groves behind the Barrier, submitted by Palestinians on the eve of the 2010 harvest season, were rejected.
                      In the vicinity of 55 Israeli settlements, Palestinian access to olive groves is limited to certain times during the harvest season, when Israeli forces are deployed on the ground.
                      Between January and September 2011, more than 7,500 olive trees belonging to Palestinians were uprooted, set on fire or otherwise vandalized by Israeli settlers.
                      Of 97 complaints about settler attacks against Palestinian trees, followed up by the Israeli NGO Yesh Din, none (zero) has so far led to the indictment of a suspect.

                      These facts speak for themselves. It is not enough that Israel has confiscated and illegally annexed Palestinian lands by constructing the Separation Barrier; Israel is determined to make sure that even those Palestinian lands that remain will be inaccessible for Palestinians to earn a dignified livelihood. But Palestinians are not known to give up so easily. Rural communities everywhere feel a deep attachment to their land, trees, and crops, more so than those who live in urban societies. It is this attachment that accounts in part for the Palestinian determination to carry on, focused on our right to work our lands.

                      The international solidarity that has been expressed by volunteers coming from all corners of the world to join in planting saplings in February and harvesting the olives in October is a tremendous source of strength. Whether you actually participate along side Palestinian farmers, buy Palestinian olives, olive oil and olive soap from anywhere in the world, or you are helping to get the word out to hold Israel accountable for its actions, together we are standing on the side of humanity in a conflict that seems to have none.

                      SAM BAHOUR is a Palestinian-American business development consultant from Youngstown, Ohio living in the Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and blogs at www.epalestine.com.

                      RESOURCES: Alternative tourism trips of olive tree planting and olive harvesting are available via the Olive Tree Campaign, at the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine (jai-pal.org), and Palestinian olives and olive oils, among other products, may be purchased online at fair trade outfits such as the Canaan Fair Trade shop (canaanusa.com/shop) or the UK’s Zaytoun project (zaytoun.org).

                      Dollars and Sense

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                        Egypt: Our Submarines Are None of Israel’s Business

                        English (US)  September 3rd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                        Reports Say Israel Pressing Germany to Scrap Deal

                        by Jason Ditz

                        Egyptian officials are bashing reports that the Israeli government is trying to sabotage their submarine buys, saying that the deals are between Egypt and Germany and are none of the Israel’s business.

                        “The only two parties determining the fate of this deal are the German and Egyptian governments and not Israeli newspapers which try to destabilize security within Egypt,” one Egyptian official was quoted as saying.

                        Egypt had a deal to acquire two submarines from Germany, and Israeli officials were quoted in the Israeli press as saying that they were demanding Germany reverse the plan. German Defense Ministry officials were also claimed to have promised to oppose the deal.

                        Israel has regularly been proactive in trying to get arms deals cancelled when their neighbors acquire them, but it would be unusual for them to do so with Egypt, a long-time ally.


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                          Up to 1,000 British Troops Face War Crimes Probes Over Iraq

                          English (US)  September 3rd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                          Posted By Jason Ditz

                          Some 1,00o British soldiers (http://bit.ly/PADO8q) are still facing possible war crimes charges related to their role in the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and the subsequent occupation of the nation, according to officials familiar with the situation.

                          Most of the charges are related to detainee abuse, and are based on testimony from the detainees themselves. Lawyers defending the soldiers say the evidence to support their allegations is “weak” in many of the cases.

                          Britain has by and large shrugged off war crimes allegations in Iraq, though a public inquiry into the practice after British soldiers tortured hotel receptionist Baha Mousa to death found that there were “systemic” problems related to the treatment of detainees.

                          Corporal Donald Payne was the only British soldier who pled guilty in Mousa’s killing, and was sentenced to 12 months in prison, the first time a British soldier was ever convicted of a war crime.


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                            Warmongering Zionist PM Netanyahu tells US "time has run out' on Iran diplomacy

                            English (US)  September 3rd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                            Source tells 'Yediot Aharonot' that Netanyahu initiates shouting match with US Ambassador Shapiro on Obama's Iran policy.

                            PM Netanyahu at defense budget cabinet meeting Photo: GPO / Amos Ben-Gershom

                            Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu got into a diplomatic shouting match with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro over US President Barack Obama's handling of Iran's nuclear program, saying "time has run out" for diplomacy, Yediot Aharonot cited a source as saying on Friday.

                            According to the report, which The Jerusalem Post could not independently verify, the showdown took place as Netanyahu met with Shapiro and Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, who visited Israel earlier in the week.

                            PM to 'speak the truth' on Iran in UN speech


                            A source that participated in the meeting said that a particularly angry and stressed Netanyahu began a tirade against the US president, attacking him for not doing enough on Iran. "Instead of pressuring Iran in an effective way, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities," the source quoted Netanyahu as saying.

                            Angered about continued US rhetoric that diplomacy needs more time to work, Netanyahu said flatly: "Time has run out," Yediot reported.

                            The American ambassador is said to have responded politely but firmly, telling Netanyahu that he was distorting Obama's position. Obama promised not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, he explained, and left all options on the table, including military options.

                            At that point, diplomatic sources told the paper, "sparks flew" in an escalating shouting match between Netanyahu and Shapiro as the stunned congressman watched.

                            Netanyahu and Obama may meet face-to-face on the sidelines of September's United Nations General Assembly meeting.

                            Jerusalem Post

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                              Hope and despair for Lebanon's Palestinians

                              English (US)  August 31st, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                              The Eid Al-Fitr holiday has been bleak for Palestinians in Lebanon this year, but there are signs of hope, writes Franklin Lamb in Beirut

                              Pain-stricken and frustrated women hold posters depicting their jailed relatives during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails at the headquarters of the Red Cross in Gaza

                              Remarkably, during this last Ramadan holiday season in Lebanon designees from both the Shia Higher Islamic Shia Council and the Sunni Dar Al-Fatwa figuratively pointed their binoculars deep into the eastern sky and in almost-unheard-of unison proclaimed that the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr this year was to be on 19 August. It was a good omen for many in Lebanon that Shia and Sunni religious leaders had agreed on this important event, given the internal and external forces at work to divide further the two main denominations of Islam in the country, as well as all of Lebanon by sect, confession, geography, region, tribe, clan and neighbourhood.

                              It was also good news for Palestinians living in places like Finland, which these days has approximately 20 hours per day of sunlight, since many devout Muslims have very long fasts. Mercifully, a majority of Muslims far up north tend to adopt the mere 16 hours of daylight for fasting, using Mecca hours for dawn-to-dusk days without touching food or water, as well as avoiding bad thoughts or acts of incivility, as they test and renew their devotion to Islam while engaging in introspective self-criticism.


                              During the three-day Eid holiday, much of Muslim Lebanon becomes less active and many businesses close, including Lebanon's largest wholesale fruit and vegetable market which borders the Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp. Just before closing time on the eve of the Eid, this observer entered the vast produce market, now run mainly by Shia who buy agricultural products from the Bekaa Valley and southern farmers (minus one of Lebanon's oldest and most important crops, hashish).

                              With little refrigeration, many of the wholesalers next to Shatila dumped, in time for the Iftar and Eid feasts, large quantities of fine produce at a designated corner of the 10-acre market. They have been doing this for more than three years and ever since the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign was lucky enough to convince the owners to dump their leftovers or soon-to-spoil fruit and vegetables in the southeast corner bordering the Shatila Camp. As a result of this charitable act, rather than disposing of the extra produce in dumpsters, Palestinian refugee families are given the much-appreciated chance to collect free produce for their families.

                              Every day, men, women and children from the Shatila Camp, as well as poor Lebanese and Syrian workers, can be seen climbing over and through holes in the cinderblock wall bordering Shatila and gathering excellent produce. This basic humanitarian gesture is an example of how the Shia can, and do, reach out to the largely Sunni Palestinian community. Cross-confessional gestures such as this are among the reasons Palestinians in Lebanon support Hizbullah and the growing regional and international resistance to Israel it leads.

                              The Eid this year also coincides with International Al-Quds Day, which was introduced from Iran in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini and is commemorated on the last Friday of Ramadan in order to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and oppose Zionism and Israel's control of Jerusalem.

                              In Lebanon's refugee camps this holiday season, there is intense heat, little electricity or drinking water, and a paucity of fresh air or breeze available to the jammed-in populations. Ain al-Helwa, the largest of Lebanon's 12 camps, according to the most-recent UNWRA statistics houses 47,500 refugees but in reality is home to more than 100,000. These people, like their fellow countrymen elsewhere temporarily in Lebanon, have few reasons to celebrate this Eid. The competition for breathing space has increased as the camp's population has swelled even more with refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.

                              This year there are fewer sweets for the children, less food, not many gifts or new clothes and few flowers to place on the graves of deceased loved ones, a gesture by custom made during traditional Eid cemetery visits. In the tightly packed Palestinian cemeteries, of which there are only four in Lebanon, sometimes as many as five layers of bodies are buried on top of one another due to a lack of space.

                              There is another anniversary that coincides in Lebanon this year with the Eid Al-Fitr and with the International Al-Quds Day, but it's no occasion for joy among the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. This is the second anniversary of the 17 August 2010 amendment to article 59 of the Lebanese labour law, which constituted a betrayal of Palestinian refugees by Lebanese politicians. Before the vote, promises were heard across the political spectrum to enact legislation granting the elementary civil rights to work and to own a home in Lebanon to the Palestinian refugees. This country is the only one on earth that denies Palestinian refugees the basic right to work, or even to own a home.

                              The legislation passed was a cruel hoax, and it has not facilitated one Palestinian refugee obtaining a job over the past 24 months. The amendment, while waiving work-permit fees that were never a serious problem in obtaining a work permit, left in place numerous restrictions and catch-22 Kafka-esque barriers that previously blocked Palestinians from being able to work. The Lebanese parliament also left in place the 2001 law that outlawed any Palestinian from owning a home in Lebanon.

                              Lebanese ministers of labour over the past two years have failed to implement the new law, such as it is, by refusing the simple act of signing the implementation papers. Fewer than two months ago, a Palestinian delegation was promised yet again that the majority party in parliament would see to it that the minister of labour did his job as mandated by the Lebanese constitution. Once more, nothing was done. On this second anniversary of the fake Palestinian work-permit legislation, most Lebanese politicians who have made so many promises to this observer and to others over the past four years in order to comply with international and Lebanese law and to grant basic civil rights to Palestinians in Lebanon remain asleep on this issue.

                              Nevertheless, the hope of the Palestinian refugees to achieve their basic civil rights to work and to own a home has not been extinguished in the camps this holiday season by the impotence of Lebanon's big-talk but do-nothing parliament. One reason for hope comes from the voices of people like Heba Hajj, a Palestinian living in the Ain Al-Helwa Camp.

                              This observer visited her recently after sneaking into the Camp through a claustrophobic 30-inch and heavily-trafficked sewer conduit at its eastern edge. The US embassy has made crawling through this sewer line sort of obligatory for Americans wanting to visit the Camp, since it has directed the Lebanese Armed Forces not to grant Americans permission to enter the Camp out of presumed, but misplaced, concern for their wellbeing.

                              Heba, meaning "gift" in Arabic, then a youngster of 14 years, proclaimed three years ago when she volunteered to help achieve the right to work and home ownership for "my people", as she referred to them, stated to this observer that "failure is not an option for the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign; our only choice is success." And so it remains.

                              While the most elementary civil rights still have not been granted, Heba continues to inspire with her rapid, charismatic and at times mesmerising speeches outlining what needs to be done and how to do it in order to achieve dignity for her fellow refugees. This blooming, 17-year-old Jean d'Arc has zero problems countering, verbally at least, some of the toughest-looking wannabe Salafis and jihadists from the eight Islamist groups who periodically show up at Ain Al-Helwa. Heba explains that she wants the help of the Usbat Al-Ansar group, which earlier this month helped resolve the traffic-blocking sit-in by controversial preacher Sheikh Ahmed Assir in nearby Saida, but she draws a line at the Jund Al-Sham, or gangs who claim a spot under the loose cloak of Al-Qaeda.

                              "I want you to do something worthwhile with your lives so we can get back to Palestine without more delay! Do you want to spend your whole lives in Lebanon? It's not and never will be our country," she scolds as she asks for help to organise a major Intifada, or uprising, here in Lebanon, the idea being to prevent another anniversary from passing without Palestinian refugees attaining the civil rights to work and to own a home.

                              Heba is encouraged this holiday season, despite the failures of Lebanon's political parties, international activists and the international community -- "so very concerned with humanitarian values," as she lectures her friends -- and most especially the failure to date of groups here in Lebanon, including the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, to achieve such goals.

                              This remarkable youngster idealistically reminds her coterie of like-minded teens of last week's words of Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, in whom she and her friends trust and believe. During his International Al-Quds Day speech, Nasrallah stated that Khomeini's declaration of Al-Quds Day falls within the context of a long continuum of religious and political commitments to "the sacred cause of Palestine" and that Al-Quds Day should not be simply a seasonal occasion to support the Palestinian people.

                              "Unfortunately, today the suffering of the Palestinian people has become secondary and just an ordinary news item in the Arab and Islamic world," Nasrallah said. "Even in the entire world, which claims to be civilised, the news has become secondary and even late news. Today, the nation can do much more for Palestine and its people. At the very least, the rulers can stop blockading the Palestinians before asking them to assist in lifting the siege of the Palestinians. A part of the blockade suffered by the Palestinian people is practiced by some Arab regimes. This embargo must be lifted and support must be reinforced."

                              Heba and her friends interpret these words to mean Hizbullah will use its power in the Lebanese parliament to grant them the right to work in Lebanon, thus delivering a less bleak future. The Palestinians in Lebanon and their international supporters are acutely aware that Hizbullah holds the majority power in the Lebanese parliament and will do so at least until next year's parliamentary elections, if the latter are even held, which to this observer appears doubtful.

                              Heba particularly liked Nasrallah's words, which she quoted, to the effect that "we must help the Palestinians to uphold the right of return and to refuse any resettlement, as well as to reject assimilation in any country, as is happening through their forced migration to countries in Latin America and Europe and to Australia and elsewhere." Members of the Lebanese parliament who support the country's granting the right to work and to own a home to Palestinians insist that if a political decision is made by the parliamentary majority led by Hizbullah, the necessary legislation, still in the legislative hopper from two years ago, can be enacted in the space of an afternoon.

                              Heba and Hizbullah's other supporters, who share Nasrallah's oft-expressed views demanding human rights for Palestinians in Lebanon, believe that the resistance block will on this 30th anniversary of the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila Camps finally act on what Khomeini declared was a "moral, religious and political" obligation of all people of good will.

                              The writer is a political analyst based in Beirut, Lebanon.

                              Al Ahram

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                                Blackmailing the PA into submission: Avigdor Lieberman -- "a thug disguised as a politician"

                                English (US)  August 31st, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                With the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process going nowhere, mainly due to Israeli intransigence and American complicity, Israel is increasingly bullying the Palestinian Authority (PA) into doing its bidding, says Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

                                Palestinians pray on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City

                                Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the second-most powerful Israeli official after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has called PA President Mahmoud Abbas "a terrorist who will have to be eliminated". Lieberman also urged the international community, especially the Quartet for the Middle East peace process, which includes, the UN, US, EU, and Russia, to organise new elections that would see the PA replaced by another Palestinian entity that is more acceptable to Israel.

                                Lieberman's remarks, which he repeated several times in the past few days, came in part as a response to declared PA plans to restart endeavours at the UN for recognising Palestinian statehood and accepting "Palestine" as a member-state at the international organisation. "There is a division of labor between [Hamas premier Ismail] Haniyeh and Abbas. Haniyeh and Hamas are leading armed terrorism while Abbas is leading political terrorism."

                                Palestinian officials retorted by calling Lieberman "a thug disguised as a politician". PA negotiator Saeb Ereikat said Lieberman was continuing his rudeness and incitement without the Israeli government taking any measures to rein him in. "The whole world condemned those declaration and we were officially informed by the Israeli governments that it and its premier were not related and did not necessarily share his view."


                                The United States, Israel's guardian ally, firmly opposes Palestinian plans at the UN. American officials wary of angering Israel and her powerful supporters at the American domestic arena, especially during an election year, have threatened to punish the PA in case it went along with its statehood recognition plans at the UN.

                                However, Israel is worried that American pressure, especially financial pressure, may not eventually succeed in thwarting PA plans. Netanyahu sought to distance himself from Lieberman's remarks, especially calling Chairman Abbas a "terrorist". However, the Israeli premier, who some PA officials consider a "mere diplomatic carbon copy of Lieberman" made no signs suggesting that he opposes the essence of Lieberman's recalcitrant approach towards the PA, namely constantly narrowing its horizons and forcing it to grovel at Israel's feet.

                                In fact, nearly every Israeli measure in the West Bank shows that the Netanyahu government is not really interested in reaching a balanced and dignified settlement with the PA, a settlement that would free Palestinians from Israeli domination. Last week, Israel's electric company said it was considering cutting off power to large parts of the West Bank due to unpaid bill totaling $125 million.

                                The PA has been undergoing a sever financial crisis stemming from the failure of donor countries to make good on their promises to bail out the PA, forcing the Ramallah government to take some austerity measures and postpone the payment of salaries to civil servants and public employees. Israeli electricity is distributed to the West Bank by the Jerusalem District Electricity Co, a private firm. In a news conference last week, officials of the Jerusalem Company said some 12 Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank were the main debtors.

                                It is unknown why the PA has accepted liability to pay the electricity bill for the refugee camps when the UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency, is supposed to be the main body that should cater for the refugees. In addition to the electricity crisis, several Palestinian towns in the West Bank are facing an acute water shortage crisis due to scarcity of drinking water. Some localities, especially in the southern parts of the West Bank, receive tap water only once every five or six weeks, which lasts for a few hours.

                                The problem stems from the fact that the lion's share of water resources in the West Bank is allocated for Jewish settlements which in many cases leaves many Palestinian literally thirsty. When Palestinian citizens complain to PA officials about the dearth of water supplies, the officials simply tell the complainants. "Sorry, we are as helpless as you are. We can do nothing about this because the Israelis control the water distribution system."

                                Still more, Israeli measures go far beyond merely stealing and arrogating Palestinian water. The so-called Israel Civil Administration, which is a tool of the Israeli occupation army and Jewish settlement enterprise, has been destroying water cisterns belonging to Palestinian villagers and peasants in the so-called area C where, according to the Oslo Accords, Israel maintains security as well as civilian authority. In recent days and weeks, the Israeli army destroyed several cisterns south of the town of Dahiriya, 20km south west of Hebron. According to Azmi Shoyoukhi, head of popular committees for resistance, Israeli troops destroyed three cisterns, several huts, as well as a number of water containers in the proscribed area.

                                Residents and human rights activists in the region say the ultimate Israeli goal behind these measures is to force Palestinians to flee the area in order to expand Jewish settlements. Israel, say political observers, is hell-bent on preventing the establishment of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank. On Monday, Netanyahu declared that the Gush Itzion settlements were an integral part of Jerusalem, which he called Israel's "eternal and undivided capital." International Law doesn't recognise Israeli sovereignty over any part of the occupied territory.

                                The latest Israeli measures to corrode whatever remaining prospects for a balanced and fair resolution of the enduring Palestinian issue are coinciding with a serious escalation of organised Jewish terror against Palestinian civilians. The latest wave of Jewish terror in the West Bank included hurling a firebomb on a passenger Palestinian car, causing serious burns to five people, including children.

                                More to the point, an East Jerusalem youth was nearly killed after fanatical Jewish youths tried to lynch him while walking on a West Jerusalem street. Jewish terror is encouraged by rampant incitement against Arabs and Muslims in the Israeli media and synagogues and also by the extreme leniency with which the manifestly racist Israeli justice system deals with Jewish terrorists especially when the victim is Arab.

                                Al Ahram

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                                  Infographic: Palestinian homes demolished

                                  English (US)  August 31st, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                  Report by an Israeli non-governmental organisation says 2011 was a record year for Palestinian displacement.

                                  The recent verdict in the Rachel Corrie case has once again thrown the spotlight on the Israeli policy of house demolitions.

                                  Nearly 10 years ago, the 23-year-old American activist was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to obstruct the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

                                  Corrie and a group of activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) were acting as human shields to try to stop the Israeli army demolishing Palestinian homes and clearing land around the Palestinian town of Rafah.

                                  Since 1967, Israel has practised a range of policies leading to the internal displacement of about 160,000 Palestinians within the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Of these actions, house demolitions are the most visible.

                                  These are carried out by the Israeli army for a number of reasons, including "administrative" demolitions, where Palestinian homes have been built without Israeli-issued permits, as well as punitive demolitions – where a family member is accused of being involved in militant activity.

                                  The most devastating demolitions, however, are caused by large-scale military operations, such as those during the war on Gaza in 2008-09.


                                  Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) argues that, seen in their totality since 1967, these home demolitions amount to an intentional "policy of displacement".

                                  Last year, ICAHD presented the United Nations with a report, charging that Israel had a deliberate policy of forcing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem, and that this might constitute a war crime.

                                  The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, dismissed the report.

                                  ICAHD said 2011 was the record year of displacement , with the destruction of some 622 Palestinian structures by Israeli authorities, of which 222 were family homes. This resulted in 1,094 people being displaced – almost double the number for 2010.

                                  View the full interactive posting at Al Jazeera

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                                    Lying Judge Clears Israel of Blame in Corrie Death

                                    English (US)  August 28th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                    In typical Zionist fashion, a judge for the Zionist entity cleared the Zionist military of any responsibility in Rachel Corrie's death and instead blamed her for being crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer. This makes Corrie a double victim of the "Jewish state" -- first, by being murdered by one of its "citizens" and now by have her character smeared and besmirched by virtually calling her a terrorist.

                                    August 28. The revealing part of his decision is how Israeli Judge Oded Gershon described the totally non-violent International Solidarity Movement of which Rachel Corrie was a member. According to the Israeli site Ynet news he said it "abuses the human rights discourse to blur its actions which are de facto violence." and further that "This included an army of activists serving as 'human shields' for terrorists wanted by Israeli security forces, financial and logistical aid to Palestinians including terrorists and their families, and disruption of the sealing of suicide bombers' houses."

                                    With that fantastic collection of lies as the basis of his thinking it's a given that Gershon would dismiss the civil suit of the parents of Rachel Corrie and that's exactly what he did. Ynet news says the judge concluded because in 2003 there was a "war time situation" and that the IDF had tried to keep people out of the area the Israeli government bore no blame for what happened.

                                    Read more at The Struggle

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                                      Iran and the Brunt of Nuclear Crucifixion

                                      English (US)  August 28th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                      U.S. bases surround Iran.

                                      By Ismail Salami – Tehran

                                      With over 2000 highly operational nuclear weapons already in the world, it seems ridiculously ironic to try to attribute global insecurity to Iranian nuclear energy program which the US, Israel and some western countries claim to include military purposes.

                                      In a recent report, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) has published satellite imagery which it claims indicates ‘pink colored material’ covering a building at a sensitive military site in Iran which UN inspectors wish to visit. They claim the tarp at the Parchin military complex may be an effort to hide clean-up work. This think tank institute is run by David Albright who garnered extreme notoriety over the lies he spread about Iraq’s alleged WMDs.

                                      In fact, it is widely believed that Mr. Albright’s ubiquitous lies infernally contributed to the outbreak of the US-led invasion of Iraq, wreaking a humanitarian havoc upon the country and claiming the lives of over one million Iraqis. In other words, Albright paved the way for US military aggression and an ongoing violence in Iraq. Crowned with duplicity of first water, Albright is now at the helm of a shadowy institute which works under the cloak of a think tank.

                                      Prior to the outbreak of US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Albright held a string of interviews with different western media and argued that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. Several months before the war, he said in an interview with PBS, “I personally believe there's plenty of evidence for biological and chemical, and there's sufficient evidence to believe that there's a reconstituted nuclear weapons program. As an inspection attitude, I think you have to assume that they have more than what the evidence suggests, and that it's very important for inspectors to go in there with a very skeptical attitude and insist that the Iraqis prove them wrong.”


                                      In another interview with CNN in 2002, Albright said, “In terms of the chemical and biological weapons, Iraq has those now. How many, how could they deliver them? I mean, these are the big questions.”

                                      Unfortunately, Albright’s fictitious reports were deliberately and systematically cited in different western media which afforded Bush administration an excuse to justify the invasion of Iraq.

                                      Now Albright is working as the president of an institute of a misleadingly sonorous name known as Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) which is more reminiscent of Pakistan intelligence agency (ISI). Clad in a different cloak, Albright is once again pursuing the same path of mischief he followed regarding Iraq.

                                      These facts aside, what should really agitate international mind and perturb sensible people should include the states in possession of the myriad nuclear bombs across the world.

                                      According to arms control website, these nuclear states are as follows:

                                      • United States: Approximately 5,000 total warheads: 1,737 deployed strategic warheads, approximately 500 operational tactical weapons (some 200 deployed in Europe), and approximately 2,700 reserve warheads (active and inactive) in storage.

                                      • Russia: Approximately 5,500 total warheads: 1,492 operational strategic warheads, approximately 2,000 operational tactical warheads (not deployed), and approximately 2,000 reserve warheads in storage.

                                      • China: About 240 total warheads.

                                      • France: Fewer than 300 operational warheads.

                                      • United Kingdom: Fewer than 160 deployed strategic warheads, total stockpile of up to 225.

                                      Add to the list India, Israel, and Pakistan which have never joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and have constantly refused to sign any related treaties whatsoever.

                                      In addition to the aforementioned report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed in June that at the start of 2012, “eight states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel—possessed approximately 4400 operational nuclear weapons. Nearly 2000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possess a total of approximately 19,000 nuclear weapons.”

                                      According to the SIPRI, Israel possesses 80 highly operational nuclear warheads.

                                      Israel, which follows a policy of nuclear ambiguity, never comments on its nuclear capabilities. However, they are widely known to possess 300 to 400 nuclear warheads with 80 of them in high operational alert according to SIPRI, that is, they are ready to fire. On the other hand, Germany has generously helped Israel develop its military nuclear capabilities. In fact, they were largely paid for by the German government for reasons only known to themselves. According to Spiegel, a German shipyard has already built three submarines for Israel in the northern German city of Kiel, and three more are planned. Israel is reportedly arming the submarines with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Funny enough, the German government has been aware of Israel's nuclear weapons program for years and commenced delivering the submarines in the full knowledge that they would equip them with nuclear missiles.

                                      The idea that there are over 2000 highly operational nuclear weapons in the world is some beyond imagination. The definition of highly operation is that they can be shot at any desired time.

                                      Given the destructive power of these nuclear weapons and the fact that they can easily bring the world to the brink of destruction if not to total chaos, the idea of a safe world is but absurdly grotesque. Even more grotesque is the fact that a number of the so-called international bodies lie through their teeth about Iran’s nuclear energy program which Iranian leaders vehemently enunciate are meant for only civilian purposes and shut their eyes to the potentially apocalyptic horror these weapons can unleash in the hands that hold them.

                                      An inquisitive mind may ask: Why should Iran bear the brunt of nuclear crucifixion while there are already over 2000 highly operational nuclear bombs which are capable of plunging the world back into a state of the pre-creation cosmic blob?

                                      - Dr. Ismail Salami is an Iranian writer, Middle East expert, Iranologist and lexicographer. He writes extensively on the US and Middle East issues and his articles have been translated into a number of languages. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                        Permission to Engage: Wikileaks 2007Video of Iraq Footage Unpi cked

                                        English (US)  August 28th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                        Filmmaker: Shuchen Tan

                                        On July 12, 2007, the US military shot several Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, an event that shocked the world when footage of the attack was later released by Wikileaks.

                                        "The attack took place on a Thursday, when residents of the area had gone to a local market," explains filmmaker Shuchen Tan. "When they saw helicopters hovering over, they ran to their houses, thinking they'd be safe in there but it was those very houses that were blown up."
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                                        Permission to Engage traces the people involved in that fateful day and hears their versions of what happened.

                                        Those killed included a young Iraqi photojournalist and his assistant, a father out with his children and some neighbours who were caught in the attack while trying to help the wounded.

                                        "It was quite challenging to track down the victims and their families. We didn't have names, didn't have addresses, we didn't have anything," explains Tan.

                                        "And when we found them, most of them didn't want to share their stories. They felt they had been left by the West and not treated well."

                                        The families of the victims and a disillusioned former US soldier who was serving in Iraq around that time unpick the footage in forensic detail and relate their accounts of what happened.

                                        Al Jazeera

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                                          Muppet urges Israelis to prepare for possible emergency

                                          English (US)  August 27th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                          Moishe Oofnik, the Zionist entity's muppet version of Oscar the Grouch

                                          The Zionist entity's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet
                                          meeting in Jerusalem Aug. 26. (Reuters/Uriel Sinai, Pool)

                                          By Jeffrey Heller

                                          JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- The Israeli muppet on the cover of a new emergency pamphlet being distributed nationwide puts a happy face on some grim warnings in a country preparing for possible war with Iran.

                                          Israelis, the military-issued booklet says, would have only between 30 seconds and three minutes to find cover and hunker down between the time air raid sirens sound and rockets slam into their area.

                                          The 15-page pamphlet has started to appear in mailboxes across the country, and instructs Israelis how to prepare a safe room or shelter for emergency situations.


                                          On the cover a smiling Moishe Oofnik, the Israeli muppet version of Oscar the Grouch -- the resident pessimist of the US children's show Sesame Street -- sticks out of the trash can he calls home.

                                          He strikes a more pensive pose inside the booklet, resting his head on his hand under instructions on what to do when sirens wail.

                                          Stepped-up rhetoric by Israeli officials in recent weeks has suggested Israel might soon attack an Iranian nuclear program its sees as an existential threat, raising international concern about regional conflict.

                                          Israeli ministers have said up to 500 civilians could die in any war following a strike on Iran.

                                          An Israeli military source said on Monday the emergency pamphlet was part of a regular, public awareness campaign and noted it also included advice on how to act in the event of an earthquake.

                                          "There are always innovations the public needs to know about, it doesn't mean anything is going to happen today, tomorrow or the next day," the source said.

                                          Iran denies it is seeking atomic weapons and has promised to retaliate strongly if it is attacked. Israel fears that Iran's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip could also launch rocket strikes.

                                          Israel stepped up the distribution of gas masks and other protective gear to the public some weeks ago, but the mailing of what-to-do information suggested an escalation in preparation for possible conflict.

                                          The pamphlet urges Israelis to have a "family talk" about getting ready for any national emergency.

                                          "You should find the proper time to have the conversation -- not during mealtime or when you are watching television. It should not be held after a family argument or when you are agitated about some other pressing matter," it advises.

                                          Maan News Agency

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                                            Wounded Knee: Still Wounded After All These Years

                                            English (US)  August 26th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                            By Gale Courey Toensing August 22, 2012

                                            When American poet Stephen Vincent Benet wrote Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee in 1931, his poem made no mention of the massacre of Lakota Indians that had occurred 42 years earlier on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. But since 1970, when historian Dee Brown published his book of the same name about the site where the U.S. government’s 7th Cavalry slaughtered hundreds of unarmed men, women and children, Wounded Knee has become the iconic site representing the U.S. government’s genocide against all the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.

                                            On Sunday, August 19, I was with around 35 other volunteers from Re-member, an independent, nonprofit organization that works with the Oglala Lakota Nation on Pine Ridge, visiting the Wounded Knee memorial site. It was the first day of a week of volunteer work that included building bunkbeds and outhouses for Lakota families whose homes still lack indoor plumbing and electricity.

                                            Dakota High Hawk and members of his tiospaya—his extended family—spend days at the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre talking to visitors and selling their crafts. The Re-member delegation sat under a “shade”—an arbor covered with cooling pine boughs that offered some protection from the the 90-degree-plus Plains sun—and listened as the 23-year-old Dakota gave a presentation about the massacre that took place at this historic place on December 29, 1890.

                                            Read the full story at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                              The Children Are Still Dying: Violence is Not News

                                              English (US)  August 26th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                              By Ramzy Baroud

                                              Somewhere in my home I have a set of photo albums I rarely go near. I fear the flood of cruel memories that might be evoked from looking at the countless photos I took during a trip to Iraq. Many of the pictures are of children who developed rare forms of cancer as a result of exposure to Depleted Uranium (DU), which was used in the US-led war against Iraq over two decades ago.

                                              I remember visiting a hospital that was attached to Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. The odor that filled its corridors was not the stench of medicine, but rather the aroma of death. At a time of oppressive siege, the hospital lacked even basic anesthetic equipment and drugs. Children sat and stared at their visitors. Some wailed in inconceivable pain. Parents teetered between hope and the futility of hope, and at prayer times they duly prayed.


                                              A young doctor gave a sweeping diagnosis: “No child that ever enters this place ever leaves alive.” Being the young reporter I was at the time, I diligently made a note of his words before asking more questions. I didn’t quite grasp the finality of death.

                                              Several years later, Iraq’s desolation continues. On August 16, 90 people were killed and more were wounded in attacks across the country. Media sources reported on the bloodbath (nearly 200 Iraqis were killed this month alone), but without much context. Are we meant to believe that violence in Iraq has transcended any level of reason? That Iraqis get blown up simply because it is their fate to live in perpetual fear and misery?

                                              But the dead, before they were killed, were people with names and faces. They were fascinating individuals in their own right, deserving of life, rights and dignity. Many are children, who knew nothing of Iraq’s political disputes, invited by US wars and occupation and fomented by those who feed on sectarianism.

                                              We often forget this. Those who refuse to fall into the trap of political extremes still tend to process and accept violence in one way or another. We co-exist with tragedy, with the belief that bombs just go off randomly and that surviving victims cannot be helped. We somehow accept the idea that refugees cannot be repatriated and the hungry cannot be fed.

                                              This strange wisdom is most apparent in Sudan. In the Upper Nile state, people are dying from sheer exhaustion before they reach refugee camps in Batil. Some walk for weeks between South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, seeking respite and any chance of survival. Those who endure the journey - compelled by fighting between the Sudanese army and rebels groups – might not survive the harshness of life awaiting them at Batil. The BBC News reported on August 17, citing a warning by Medecins Sans Frontieres, that “[p]eople are dying in large numbers in a refugee camp in South Sudan.”

                                              I almost stumbled on the ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ in Batil (as described by MSF's medical co-ordinator, Helen Patterson) while reviewing reports of the deteriorating situation in some Darfur refugee camps. Batil now hosts nearly 100,000 of the estimated 170,000 refugees who recently fled their homes. According to the medical charity, 28% of the children are malnourished, and the mortality rate is twice that of the accepted emergency threshold.

                                              Darfur is, of course, a festering wound. Many of the internally displaced refugees often find themselves in a constant state of displacement, as was the case earlier this month. UN officials say that ‘all’ 25,000 people in a single refugee camp, Kassab, went on the run again after armed groups clashed with government forces. They settled in another ‘shelter’ nearby, the town of Kutum. According to the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the supposed new shelter ‘lacks water, food and sanitation’ (CNN, August 9).

                                              Since then, the story has somewhat subsided. Not because the fleeing refugees are in a good standing, but because this is all the attention that 25,000 refugees can expect from a media awash with news of two-faced politicians and celebrity scandals. It might take a ‘peacemaking’ celebrity to place Batil or Kassab on the media map for another day or two, and surely nothing less than a sizable number of deaths to make the refugees a relevant news item once again.

                                              That said, no attention-seeking VIP is likely to venture out to Mali anytime soon. While the humanitarian crisis in West Africa is reaching frightening levels, the media continues to address the conflict in Mali in terms of the logic of Western interests being threatened by rebels, coups and jihadists. Aside from the fact that few ask of Western complicity in the chaos, 435,000 refugees are flooding neighboring countries. This was the most recent estimate by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on August 16, but the fact is ignored by most media.

                                              The World Food Program says that the food crisis is devastating - not only for distraught refugees, but also for millions within the country. Malian children are, of course, outnumbering all other victims. They are helplessly dragged around through endless deserts. When they die, they merely leave a mark as yet another statistic, estimated without much certainty, and, sadly, without value.

                                              However, here may lay the moral to the story. Every Malian, Sudanese, Iraqi, Syrian, Palestinian, Yemeni or Rohingya child matters immensely to those around him. His or her life – or death - might conveniently serve to fortify a political argument, make a good National Geographic reportage, or a Facebook photo with many ‘shares’ and ‘likes’. But for parents, families, friends and neighbors, their children are the center of their universe, however poor and seemingly wretched. Thus, when UNICEF or UNRWA complains about a shortage of funds, it actually means that thousands of innocent people will needlessly suffer, and that centers of many universes will dramatically implode, replacing hope with bottomless despair, and often rage.

                                              It may be convenient to assign conventional political wisdom to explain complex political issues and violent conflicts. But protracted conflicts don’t make life any less precious, or children any less innocent. It is a tragedy when Iraqis seem to be on a constant parade of burying their loved ones, or when the Sudanese seem to be on a constant quest to save their lives. It’s a greater tragedy, however, when we get so used to the unfolding drama of human violence that we can accept as destined the reality of children crossing the Sahara in search of a sip of water.

                                              - Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London.)

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                                                The Dispensability of the Abbas Regime

                                                English (US)  August 26th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                Why does Lieberman want to get rid of Abbas?

                                                By Ludwig Watzal

                                                When Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Ehud Barak are not demonising Iran and its leadership, their colleague Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman starts talking, or even better, writing bizarre things. In a letter to the Middle Eastern Quartet (US, Russia, EU and UN) he called for the ousting of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whose term has already expired in 2010.

                                                The letter is a hodgepodge of statements about Mahmoud Abbas’ alleged shortcomings and of Israel’s alleged concessions. Beyond that the letter is plainly embarrassing. That the former Moldovian bouncer and today’s settler (Lieberman) has such a political leeway shows that Netanyahu is not in charge of his cabinet. After the child has already fallen into the well, Netanyahu and Barak declared that Lieberman’s position is not that of the Israeli government. In an orderly functioning democratic political system such a minister would be dismissed.


                                                Historically, the Israeli leadership has always sought to damage the reputation of any Palestinian leader, regardless how harmless he was. Yassir Arafat was not only depicted as a “terrorist” but also as “Hitler”! Not to speak of other racist characterizations attributed to him. The hand-tame Mahmoud Abbas, who was pushed against Arafat’s will into the position of Prime Minister, was cartooned by Ariel Sharon as “plucked chicken” after he became ”President” of the Palestinian Authority. It should be noticed that Abbas negotiated the Oslo Accords and the infamous “Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement”. Abbas was formerly better known by his nom-de-guerre Abu Mazen.

                                                Brighter Israelis than Lieberman know that Abbas is Israel’s best shot in town. He is the perfect “prison- warden”. He follows Israel’s and US orders and protects Israeli colonizers against the wrath of his own people. He initiated the putsch against the only democratically elected government in Palestine on behalf the US and Israel. Having such an obedient servant, why does Lieberman want Abbas to be removed from office? Does he want Hamas instead? Israel together with the Western powers and the fundamentalist reactionary Arab regimes want to get rid not only of the secular Syrian regime but also of the secular Palestinian one. From Tunisia to Iran, the region would be controlled by Islamic Wahhabi fundamentalists.

                                                At first sight, this seems absurd and would not appear to be in the interest of the West and Israel. But after second thoughts, this alliance makes some sense. After Qatar subsidized the transfer of the Hamas political bureau from Damascus to Doha, Hamas has become politically tame. After the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood has made its peace with the US and got its political share of the lucrative Egyptian cake, Hamas “radicalism” does not anymore look as frightening to the West as the Israelis claim. The terror image of Hamas, created by Israeli hasbara (propaganda), led to political impasse that was detrimental to Western interests.

                                                The US Empire has finally come to terms with Islamic fundamentalism after Saudi Arabia and Qatar made it palatable, though with one exception: Iran. Here comes the doctrine of sectarianism into play. The US Empire tries to balkanize the Middle East along sectarian lines in order to control the newly formed small entities. This doctrine appears successful in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. It looks promising in Syria and is expected to be implemented later in Iran. Then perhaps it will also be applied to Russia and China.

                                                In this Machiavellian power game, the question of Palestine vanishes from the agenda of Western neocolonialists and its fawning corporate media. For the moment, Israel’s colonization of the remnants of Palestine can continue without impediment. But the ghosts that haunt Israel’s unjust grip of the homeland of another people will not disappear, whatever its cheerleaders tell their audience.

                                                Or does Lieberman wants to get rid of Abbas hoping that Hamas will take over the West bank and establish a “terrorist regime”? In case of an attack on Iran, would this not be another chance to drive the Palestinian people out from what is left of Palestine? When a so-called new historian calls the Palestinians “barbarians”, Israeli politicians name them a “cancer” and others call for transfer (“ethnical cleansing”), would an attack on Iran not be the “right” moment to implement such a radical and criminal plan?

                                                - Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual bog “Between the lines”. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                  The Corner Report is Back!

                                                  English (US)  August 26th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                  Our apologies for The Corner Report's temporary malfunction. It was due to technical difficulties beyond our control -- but, then again, aren't they all?.

                                                  We're back and we'll be posting new stories later today.

                                                  Thanks for your patience!

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                                                    Sacred White Buffalo Experience: Going Native, in a Good Way

                                                    English (US)  August 14th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                    Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy
                                                    photo courtesy Peter Fay

                                                    By Gale Courey Toensing August 13, 2012

                                                    If this were The Onion, the headline would be something funny like MIDDLE-AGED WHITE WOMAN FINDS GOD IN LAKOTA SWEAT LODGE.

                                                    But it’s Indian Country Today Media Network and I didn’t find God. What I found was a sizeable chunk of myself, a really effective purification practice for body, mind and emotions, and a major point of reference on my somewhat checkered spiritual journey.

                                                    But if you know Lakota people, you’ll find my headline funny. They’re always talking about doing everything “in a good way”—from participating in ceremony to taking out the garbage. It cracks me up. So after seven years of being around Indian people as a reporter for ICTMN, I’m finally going Native—in a good way—thanks to ceremony.

                                                    I give thanks to Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy, the sacred white buffalo calf born June 16 on Peter Fay’s ranch in Goshen, Connecticut, for bringing me to the sweat lodge, and thanks to Peter for taking such good care of him.

                                                    I give thanks to my friends X and Y—the husband and wife here in the northwest corner of Connecticut who are relatives of Marian and Chub White Mouse, Lakota people of Pine Ridge. X and Y, who asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, have participated in the White Mouse family’s sun dance for years. I give thanks to Marian and Chub, Marian’s brother Wilbur Leon Old Man Morrison, and Shirley Khabass (whose husband Samir is Palestinian, hence, the Arab name). They are traditionalists who follow the Lakota ways and they traveled from Pine Ridge and elsewhere to participate in the ceremonies for the white buffalo baby.

                                                    And I give enormous thanks to Steven Stonearrow, the medicine man (pejuta wicasa), holy man (wicasa wakan) for being the intermediary between this world and the spirit world on my first experience of ceremony.

                                                    Read the full story at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                      These Guys

                                                      English (US)  August 13th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

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                                                        UN-Backed Rogue States Plan Syria’s Slaughter

                                                        English (US)  August 11th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                        'The greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy.'- Former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark.

                                                        By Felicity Arbuthnot - London

                                                        On 4th May 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Chaired a Security Council meeting: “Highlighting Changing Nature, Character of Scourge of Terrorism.” This followed a ministerial-level meeting on: “threats to international peace and security posed by terrorism.”

                                                        Ban Ki-moon’s opening address underlined the importance of unity in tackling the problem: “By working together – from strengthening law enforcement to tackling the underlying drivers of extremism – we can greatly reduce this major threat to peace and security”, he stated.

                                                        Presumably he did not encourage Permanent Members of the Security Council and other UN Member nations in funding terrorism, or “extremism”, since he continued: “The Security Council reiterates its strong and equivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever and where ever and for whatever purposes (stressing) that any terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation.”

                                                        The thirteen page final document further, states that: “The Security Council recognizes the continued need to take measures to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism and terrorist organizations (reiterating) Member States obligations in this regard …”


                                                        Also that: “ … Member States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat of use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State …”

                                                        Moreover : “The Security Council reiterates the obligation of Member States to refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or person involved in or associated with terrorist acts, including by suppressing recruitment of members of terrorist groups …”

                                                        US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, said that: “the threat of terrorism continued … in spite of the death of Osama bin Laden” (a US state sponsored act of terrorism of enormity which had apparently escaped her.)

                                                        The US “condemned all terrorism” and would, she said, use all its powers: “including the power of our values … to combat terrorism” – as children collecting firewood, farmers, families, youthful shepherds and goat herders, funeral and wedding parties, die under US drones in numbers in thousands, on orders now directly from the President. Death by computer games from “operatives” thousands of miles away. Some “values.” Quite some terrorism.

                                                        Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar, Pakistan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN said that: “No country has suffered as much from terrorism as Pakistan.” An ironic understatement given this US ally is attacked, often daily, by the US.

                                                        Sir Mark Lyall Grant, for rogue state UK, pledged his country’s support in the fight against terrorism, and thanked Saudi Arabia for its efforts – who, as the US and UK is allegedly heavily backing terrorists in the sovereign nation of Syria.

                                                        Ban Ki-moon was also worried about rising militancy in the Sahel region of Africa: “in part because of the fallout from developments in Libya.” A destruction, massacre and another lynching of a sovereign leader he had apparently forgotten the UN - avowed to: “Save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” - under his stewardship and compliance, had given the green light to.

                                                        To read the whole document is to enter a world populated with people for whom reality has apparently long vanished.

                                                        So much for fighting terrorism and the protection of the sovereign State.

                                                        On 3rd August the Times of India and others confirmed an open secret: “President Obama has signed a secret order authorizing US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Assad's government ... Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence ‘finding’, permits CIA and other US agencies provide support that could help the rebels oust President Assad.”

                                                        On the same day Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague (another day, another poodle) announced, using near identical words, increase in support for the Syrian “opposition forces”, including the cash to train “citizen journalists” to get the word out about (government) atrocities in Syria. Translation: learn convincing lies and propaganda, photoshop and add a few film sets to stage “demonstrations”, “atrocities” – remember the Libya ones, filmed in India, for (just one) example?

                                                        The (UK) Daily Mail quoted ominously former British Army Commander, Richard Kemp, a former member of the Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee, as saying: "The UK Government cannot give practical support to the rebels without a presence inside Syria, and any Foreign Office officials seeking to liaise with the opposition leaders would require close protection from Special Forces."

                                                        On 5th August, Senators John McCain (Arizona) Lindsey O. Graham (South Carolina) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut) advised the US government to directly and openly provide assistance, including weapons, intelligence and training, to the Syrian insurgents.

                                                        On 7th August, Secretary of State Hillary (“We came, we saw, he died”) Clinton, hurtling pointlessly round the world like the proverbial headless chicken, threatening, lecturing, ranting, talked of the urgency of planning for a: “post-Assad Syria.”

                                                        Today William Hague announced he is committing “an additional” five million pounds to the terrorists. Which begs the question how much was the British government providing already?
                                                        Another open secret has also come out: Turkey is training terrorists to go to Syria. Turkey, of course NATO Member, but desperate to get in to the pretty well doomed European Union with it’s near certainly dying currency, appears to be prepared to do anything to curry favour - and in doing so appears to be the first figurative Turkey to vote for Christmas -clamoring to leap in the economic oven and be roasted.

                                                        Veteran Russian politician Yevgeny Primakov is under no illusions:

                                                        "Mercenaries and volunteers from other states are fighting (Assad) jointly with" violent internal forces. Most Syria opponents are nonviolent. They want peaceful conflict resolution. Washington has other ideas.

                                                        "President Obama has given a direct order to the CIA to support the Syrian opposition."

                                                        "That is flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, which does not endanger the United States or anyone else."

                                                        "Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding militants. Turkey is giving them active support." So are other regional countries.

                                                        This would appear to be borne out by photographer John Cantile and his colleague Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlemans, kidnapped by “rebels” on 19th July and who escaped a week later.

                                                        Cantile told the BBC he was held in a camp by 30 foreign extremists including some from Britain and Pakistan, stating that some of his captors were: “young men with south London accents”.

                                                        He asserted that some of the insurgents could not even speak Arabic, with around a dozen of his captors speaking English, out of whom nine spoke with London accents.

                                                        “Not a Syrian in sight. This wasn't what I had expected”, Cantile added. “Two of them were so anglicised they couldn't speak Arabic”. This was confirmed by Oerlemans who also said there were Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Chechens and other nationalities.

                                                        Britain, seemingly, does not alone fund terrorists, it exports them. The Foreign Office confirmed the kidnapping, but declined to confirm there were British amongst the criminals. Well, they wouldn’t, would they?

                                                        “The Security Council recognizes the urgent need for additional efforts to be made at national, regional, and international levels in order to prevent the illicit proliferation (of) materials of all types (which could) fuel terrorist activities”, states the Security Council document. An utterly meaningless thirteen pages, as Security Council Member Countries fund terrorism against a sovereign nation and government.

                                                        The Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jafari, as the usual suspects railed about his government’s human rights abuses, reminded of Prime Minister Cameron’s reaction to last year’s UK riots: “(Cameron) said that ‘when it is related to national security, don’t talk to me about human rights We care about the human rights of our people …’ There are third parties in the domestic crisis in Syria”, added Mr Jafari. Sir Mark Lyall Grant called his remark : “utterly grotesque.” (Daily Telegraph, 20th June 2012.) Another flight from reality.

                                                        In the same article, eminent British based cardiac surgeon Fawaz Akhras, President Assad’s father in law, made a similar point: “When the London riots burst out Mr Cameron said he would bring the army out, now would you compare (the riots) to Homs?

                                                        “What would you do? Just watch them killing? There is a responsibility to ensure the security of your people.” In Professor Akhras’s profession, he is used to dealing with people who are incapacitated, of course.

                                                        As I write I do so where, because of the Olympics, not a war, we have ground to air missiles on domestic buildings, war ships with an array of armaments at all venues, 20,000 soldiers, armed police. Any of the lethal weaponry deployed in arguably Britain’s most populated region, if used, could wipe thousands of us out.

                                                        We are residents, not insurgents, we are not in a war zone, but we are potential Olympic cannon fodder; collateral damage. And the US-UK axis and others fund terrorists and blame Syria’s government.

                                                        To end where this started, mad, bad and very dangerous to know.

                                                        Oh, and by the way, in 1980 the US boycotted the Moscow Olympics -because the then USSR had invaded and occupied Afghanistan. Think about it.

                                                        - Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                          Why Afghanistan Can’t wait

                                                          English (US)  August 11th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                          Ali and Abdulhai

                                                          by Kathy Kelly and Dr. Hakim

                                                          Two days ago, we spent three anxious hours in an outer waiting area of the “Non-Immigrant Visa” section of the U.S. consulate here in Kabul, Afghanistan, waiting for our young friends Ali and Abdulhai to return from a sojourn through the inner offices where they were being interviewed for visas to come speak to audiences in the United States.

                                                          They are members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers and have been invited to travel with the U.S.-Mexico “Caravan for Peace” that will be touring the United States later this summer. We didn’t want to see their hopes dashed, and we didn’t want to see this opportunity lost to connect the experiences of poor people around the world suffering from war. The organizers of the Caravan envision and demand alternatives to the failed systems of militarized policing in the terrifyingly violent, seemingly endless U.S.-Mexico drug war. They want to connect with victims of war in Afghanistan especially since, as the top producer of opium and marijuana in the world, Afghanistan has a failing war against drugs as well.

                                                          It’s an unprecedented invitation, at a desperately crucial human moment.

                                                          A friendly Afghan woman working there as a security guard suggested that the length of the wait might be a good sign – perhaps it meant that one of their interviewers had taken a special interest in our young friends’ case. This was what we’d been hoping for. Ali and Abdulhai each carried packets containing letters of support from four U.S. Senators and three U.S. Congressional Representatives, along with the summary of a petition signed by 4775 people. Maybe some interviewer was taking time to read the letter from Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire — and perhaps Ali and Abdulhai had been given a chance to mention that Mairead would be joining them in Kabul this coming Human Rights Day on December 10th for a campaign calling on 2 million friends worldwide to support a cease-fire mediated by the U.N., silencing the guns of all sides currently fighting in Afghanistan.


                                                          The kindly guard, at least, was interested to know more about who the boys were. In snatches of conversation throughout the morning, having little actually to do in the United States’ fortress of an embassy, she seemed to welcome a slight relief from boredom.

                                                          U.S. soldiers inside an adjacent locked office with opaque windows seemed considerably busier, supervising arrivals and departures of construction equipment and machines. The building project going on is apparently part of a massive expansion of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, targeted to have it surpass the embassy in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, as the largest U.S. Embassy – in the world.

                                                          Hoping the best for our two young friends, we were already drafting lines about the worth of friendships – of bonds of concern and cooperation built across borders – starting off our thank-you letter to the thousands who had signed our online petition requesting visas for Ali and Abdulhai.

                                                          Throughout the three hour wait, we were intensely curious as to how the interviews were going. How were Ali and Abdulhai conveying everyday life in Kabul’s working class “Karte Seh” district, where they tutor former child street vendors whom they’ve helped enroll in school? How would they convey the life circumstances of the adult Afghan seamstresses for whom they’re now providing machinery, a workplace, and a chance at a livelihood free of exploitation by middlemen? The women converse with each other as they work, their voices soft and animated. Throughout the morning hours, for the hours they can find free, they come in and depart, some with the burka veil covering their faces, but all adamant that among the challenges they all face, with many of them enduring serious abuses at home, none are so great as the burden of feeding their families in the chaos and unavoidable poverty of a society stricken by war.

                                                          To whom, at this moment, were Ali and Abdulhai describing their principled work? Was the interviewer hearing about the scene every weekday afternoon after school, when about two dozen little children spill into the Volunteers’ yard, full of life and joy, eager to learn from their volunteer tutors but already needing Ali and Abdulhai’s guidance as they act out the deadly prejudices they acquire from adults. Was the interviewer understanding the vital importance of the mission of the Volunteers, seeking and finding creative ways to persuade a panicked nation to find strength in fellowship within and across ethnic lines, Hazara, Pashto, Tajik, Uzbek or many others?

                                                          Do the interviewers – does their supervising agency – even want Afghans to find such fellowship? Do they want to add the authority and prestige that comes with travel to visions like that of the Volunteers, determined that ordinary people can overcome traditional fears and hatreds, living together in mutually supportive community without any need for revenge, without the need for weapons, and without the need for the oversight of foreigners engaged in a military occupation?

                                                          Our new friend in the office saw them first. “Here come your friends,” she said. “Rejected,” she added, as we looked at their faces. She and another Afghan guard listened sympathetically as Ali and Abdulhai described their absurdly brief interviews – they too had spent all but ten minutes of the three hours merely waiting. During those ten minutes, the interviewer had never touched the documents they submitted in their packets.

                                                          Abdulhai was informed that he didn’t work for the government, that people in Afghanistan didn’t know him and that Afghanistan “is in a bad situation.”

                                                          Ali showed us his rejection letter, and dryly commented that he was sorry they had each spent $160 US dollars, so needed for their work in their communities, as the purchasing price for this souvenir. It merely stated that they were ineligible to receive visas because they didn’t demonstrate sufficient evidence, if allowed to leave Afghanistan, that they would return to their dedicated work here.

                                                          The stepwise, methodical work of the U.S. Embassy – of buttressing, of shoring up U.S. interests (always in the sense of U.S. rule), — will continue behind its growing walls; employing the tools of militarism, exploiting and rewarding the distasteful work of war profiteers, casting a cold eye on any threats, however fanciful, to U.S. security or U.S. comfort, such as independent, uncontrolled grassroots mobilization for peace among ordinary Afghans.

                                                          Meanwhile in small ways, real strength asserts itself – in small work, repeated a thousand fold, by people like the Afghan Peace Volunteers – in tutoring a crowd of children, in helping a desperate mother win the right to feed her family, in calling on worldwide solidarity behind a U.N.-imposed ceasefire for the U.S. and Taliban – in small actions we invite the world to emulate the torrent that erodes walls, – the small acts that together make up the meaning of a life, with which we build an alternative to the lie of exceptionalism, the lie of security, the lie of violence.

                                                          Right now, those eager to serve the vision of a peaceful Afghanistan are invited to repeat our victory last month when we turned around the visa rejection for Hakim. We had hesitated, this past week, to flood the embassy with letters supporting Ali and Abdulhai – but that hesitation is no longer needed. We urge the thousands who believe in the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ vision and practice to take simple supportive steps right now, by writing letters, such as can be found at _________________________, to the addresses listed there.

                                                          Our small steps, together, help us abandon the lie that we can’t make a difference. Inside the U.S. Embassy, behind blinding walls and distorting cameras, perhaps officials can’t see what we’re doing – they certainly don’t seem to see what they are doing – but we can make ourselves manifest to one another. We have the imagination and the hope to build small things that will become great in their proper time. To build the right things. To see the connections between us growing strong.

                                                          So this is that thank you note we were writing in the event of a quick victory for Ali and Abdulhai, the decisive victory that all armies work towards, and that did not come. We haven’t yet secured a visa for these young men, or won them their right to ride with the Caravan of Peace. It is possible that we won’t. But we want to thank you nonetheless, expanding our humble thanks for those who have already helped us, to encompass everyone around us who is taking their part, in ways we cannot see, to build the world that is coming. Thank you. We haven’t succeeded yet, and yet “we succeeded beyond their wildest imaginings” – the imaginings of those fettered by the embassy’s walls and the walls of the government directing it. We’re still outside, here with the world that’s arriving.

                                                          We can’t wait to build a better world, a world of friends without borders, and Ali and Abdulhai give us yet another dignified reason to explain why Afghanistan can’t wait.

                                                          - Kathy Kelly (kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org); Dr. Hakim (weeteckyoung@gmail.com) mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers (www.ourjourneytosmile.com)

                                                          1565 words posted in Af-Pak war, American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                            Incarcerated inside Israel: Palestinians Tortured, Isolated

                                                            English (US)  August 11th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                            (Photo: Activestills.org)

                                                            By Graham Peebles

                                                            Detention without trial, the presumption of guilt, denial of family visits, solitary confinement, torture, violent interrogation, and denial of access to appropriate health care, such is the Israeli judicial system and prison confinement experienced by Palestinian men, women and indeed children.

                                                            Currently there are, according to B’T selem “4,484 Palestinians – security detainees, confined in Israeli prisons.” Family contact is virtually impossible for prisoners, most of who are held inside Israel. This contravenes international law in the form of the universally trumpeted Fourth Geneva Convention (Article’s 49 & 76), consistently violated and disregarded by Israel.

                                                            International laws – legally binding upon Israel, who are not above the rule of law, must be respected and enforced. Richard Falk UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, in the UN news 2/5/12 called “on the international community to ensure that Israel complies with international human rights laws and norms in its treatment of Palestinian prisoners.” The UN makes its feelings clear in the ‘Question of Palestine Administrative Detention’ report (UNQAP) when it says, Israel “has historically ratified international agreements regarding human rights protection, whilst at the same time refusing to apply the agreements within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, attempting to create legal justifications for its illegal actions.” A comprehensive list of international legally binding agreements dutifully signed, ratified and consequently disregarded by various Israeli governments are cited by the UN, which sits hands tied, impotent it seems in the face of Israel’s illegal and violent occupation (a fact that cannot be stated often or loudly enough), submissive to the imperialist Godfather. America.


                                                            Since the six-day war in 1967 an estimated 750,000 Palestinians have been incarcerated in Israeli prisons, including 23,000 women and 25,000 children. This constitutes, Richard Falk states “approximately 20 per cent of the total Palestinian population in the occupied territory or 40 per cent of the Palestinian male population there.” Staggering figures of those personally imprisoned, whist a whole nation is held captive intimidated by an illegal occupying power upon their homeland.

                                                            Hungry for Justice

                                                            On the 14th May a major hunger strike by Palestinians held captive within Israeli prisons ended, just in time to save the lives of two prisoners close to death, having not eaten for 77 days. Protesting at their treatment in custody, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) use of solitary confinement, torture during interrogation and inside prison and administrative detention, which allows for incarceration without charge. The peaceful action initiated by two men held under the draconian administrative detention order in late February, grew into a mass action, which began on 17th April with, Amnesty estimates 2,000 prisoners on hunger strike.

                                                            Israel through the IPS responded to the strike with their customary brutality, assaulting striking detainees and imposing, Amnesty found in ‘Starved of Justice. Palestinians detained without Trial (SOJ),’ “systematic measures to punish hunger-striking prisoners and detainees and pressure them to end their strikes, putting their lives at risk. These measures included solitary confinement; preventing the detainees from contact with family members and lawyers; refusing to transfer hunger strikers whose health was in danger to hospitals suitable for their condition.” In fact many of the very issues the strikers were protesting about.

                                                            An agreement was reached between the Palestinians prisoners and the IPS, in which The United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) 4thJune 2012 reports, “Israel committed to meeting some of the prisoners’ demands in exchange for security guarantees.” The UN goes on to say, “As part of the deal, Israel committed to ease conditions as long as prisoners refrained from “security activity” inside Israeli prisons, such as “recruiting people for terrorist mission.”

                                                            By ‘easing conditions’ Israel committed to move prisoners from solitary confinement into the main block, - in every probability they aught not have been held in isolation to begin with and agreed to allow family visits from Gaza, denied since June 2007 when Hamas, to the fury of Israel, was democratically elected and took over governance of the Gaza Strip. However ‘limitations’ are to be placed upon family visits, the details of which Israel has yet to clarify. Ambiguity a weapon of control and manipulation utilised by the occupying power. In addition they conceded to “ease restrictions on visits from the West Bank, and improve the conditions under which “security prisoners” are being held.” All sufficiently vague as to be impossible to enforce or monitor.

                                                            They also agreed to not extend the detention of those being held under the contentious and illegal as employed by Israel, administrative detention order providing there is no “new information that requires their detention” Such ‘new information’ would no doubt be conveniently filed within top-secret folders denying open scrutiny, and remain undisclosed on ‘security’ reasons. A term increasingly and universally employed to justify the unjust in a World built on fear and the perpetuation of injustice.

                                                            All measures written into the agreement are long overdue, they constitute the minimum conditions that should be adhered to within any law-abiding society and if implemented, would be a positive move. It should not however take a large group of starving men to force Israel to observe the prisoners human rights including due process of law.

                                                            Israel’s concessions however are indifferent to the rule of law, carefully designed to be easily manipulated and over time forgotten, As Aber Issa Zakarni, the wife of Abadallah Zakarni, an imprisoned member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and one of those on hunger strike, told IRIN. “If this agreement is implemented, it means a great victory for us and for human rights. But I am also scared. In the end everything might just stay the same.” Her fears are well placed, a month after the deal was agreed Amnesty International in its detailed report ‘ Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel ’ (SOJ) found “the Israeli authorities had agreed as part of the deal to release administrative detainees at the end of their current orders ‘unless significant new information was received’, our information is that it is business as usual when it comes to detention without charge or trial,” in fact “Israel has renewed at least 30 administrative detention orders and issued at least three new ones since this deal was struck, and family visits for Gazan prisoners have still not started.”

                                                            This failure by Israel to honour the agreement, their word and signature, will surprise nobody but disappoint many. The Israeli authorities cannot be trusted, close monitoring of any agreements the IPS/IDF sign up to is required and clear methods of implementation and indeed enforcement are necessary, although historically neither happen. For standing behind Israel, supporting them ideologically and diplomatically, arming and financing every area of illegal action of the occupation of Palestine, is of course their partner in crime, America.

                                                            Imperialist Measures

                                                            A key issue in the hunger strikers protest was administrative detention, a brutal relic from an imperial past. The darkest page within a catalogue of abuse and judicial arrogance, it is one of a series of suppressive measures written into the ‘Defence (Emergency) Regulations’, that formed part of the British authorities rule-book in mandatory Palestine to control the ‘Great Arab Revolt’ against British colonial rule and the influx of Jews in 1937. The draconian regulations were quietly pasted and copied into Israeli domestic legislation in 1948, where they remain, legitimizing actions such as house demolitions, extensive stop and search measures, the imposition of curfews, and indefinite administrative detention.

                                                            Administrative detention (AD) gives the occupying Israeli authorities the power to detain Palestinians (or indeed Israelis) without charge, withhold any evidence and to hold them ‘presumed guilty’ and as B’T Selem states, “since detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it.” With no notification of the ‘crime’ for which they are being held, negating all process of law and assuming guilt until proven innocent. It (AD) is as the UN (UNQAP) describes, “a procedure whereby a person is detained without charge or trial.”

                                                            The observation of due process of law is a fundamental human right. The European Convention on Human Rights, report on Due Process, states, “the rights to an effective remedy, to access to court/fair trial, to fair trial in criminal matters, to reputation, to freedom of movement and to property are all contained in the UDHR (Articles 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17 respectively).” Administrative detention is only allowed under international law in extreme circumstances, it should the UN report (UNQAP) makes clear “be used as a last resort and on an individual, case by case basis.” Far from being exceptional over the past year the number of administrative detentions has almost doubled, as of March 2012, from a total of 4,610 Palestinians being held captive, B’T Selem state “Israel was holding 320 in administrative detention”.

                                                            Administrative detention should not, the UN go on to say “be used as a substitute for criminal prosecution when there is insufficient evidence.” As it clearly is being used by Israel, whose use of AD, like of course pretty much everything the Israeli forces are doing within the Occupied Palestinian Territories, “does not meet international standards set by international law” (UNQAP) In fact the UN report found that Israel contravenes the laws that apply to the use of administrative detention, the list of violations warrants inclusion in full, Israel they state:

                                                            • “Widely practices the use of torture and corporal punishment;
                                                            • Deports and incarcerates administrative detainees outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
                                                            • Uses administrative detention as a form of collective punishment;
                                                            • Engages in humiliating and degrading treatment of administrative detainees;
                                                            • Administrative detainees are usually not informed precisely of the reasons for their detention;
                                                            • Is obliged to release administrative detainees as soon as the reason for the detention ceases to exist;
                                                            • Detainees are not given the right to communicate with their families.
                                                            • Israel fails to separate administrative detainees from the regular prison population;
                                                            • The conditions of detention regularly fall below an adequate standard required by international law; and, In the case of child detainees, Israel regularly fails to take into account the best interests of the child as required under international law.

                                                            The tone of frustration is heard within every exasperated UN sentence. Israel tramples on international law, believing themselves above and beyond its reach. Laws, which, when dutifully lined up in opposition to Israeli criminality and abuse, and consistently implemented would be giant steps in righting the wrongs daily inflicted upon the Palestinian people and creating the conditions for peaceful co-existence.

                                                            Administrative Abuse

                                                            Detainees under administrative detention are sentenced to periods of six months, at the end of which the term may and inevitably is repeated, without limit. Those held captive are not informed if they will be released or held for a further six months until the end of their current term. The IPS manipulates inmates, tormenting them with promises of liberty and threats of incarceration, cultivating hope in order only to crush it, maximizing suffering and control. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel: Stop Jailing People Without Charge, report the case of one of the hunger strikers, Tha’er Halahleh, 33 years of age, “Israel has held him in administrative detention a number of times since 2000, for a total of more than four years in jail without charge or trial.” Four years made up of six-month terms. As well as being illegal under international law (as the Un report makes clear), this is psychological torture, not only for the prisoner but their family also, who as Amnesty International in its detailed report ‘Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel ’ (SOJ) make clear, suffer great anxiety, “administrative detainees and their families must live with the uncertainty of not knowing how long they will be deprived of their liberty and the injustice of not knowing exactly why they are being detained.”

                                                            Arrests and detention without charge based all too often on spurious ‘evidence’ secured by the unaccountable and secretive Israeli intelligence agency, whose claims cannot be verified, must stop. A legitimate demand human rights groups have been making for decades, Amnesty (SOJ) for one has “urged Israel to end the practice of administrative detention and to release detainees or charge them with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and try them according to international standards” Even Israel’ supreme spinner Mark Regev, seems to agree, saying The Guardian 13/5/2012 reports, “We would prefer administrative detention was only used when there was no alternative”, sadly though, as Mark in his wisdom explains “in some cases you can’t expose in a public forum your confidential sources and methods because it may put lives at risk.” By ‘sources’, one suspects he is obliquely alluding to Guantanamo Bay, where the use of torture is a useful method employed to elicit or coerce whatever information, coined evidence is required.

                                                            Adding Torture, Insult to Injury

                                                            Whilst held by Israel Administrative detainees and ‘regular’ Palestinian prisoners suffer verbal and physical abuse, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) 2011 report details, “Methods of torture included: insults; beating using batons, sharp tools, feet and hands; tying the feet and hands to a chair and beating with batons or wires; and other methods. Additionally, detainees were held in cells or small rooms, were placed in solitary confinement, and were forced to stand for long hours in cold weather or under the sun.” All are illegal under international law. This time in the form of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

                                                            The practice of Isolating inmates completely from their family constitutes another form of torture, Palestinian prisoners are not allowed family visits, denied access to health care, contributing to deteriorating health for those with serious and chronic illness, they face forcible transfers, deportation and solitary confinement.

                                                            Words and Action

                                                            The UN secretary General, Ban Ki Moon in The Guardian (13/5/12) “urged that those detained must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees or released without delay.” To all rational minded people, this is the correct and right course of action, echoed by Amnesty (SOJ) “Israel has a duty to uphold due process and fair trial rights, and to take effective action to end torture and other ill treatment of detainees.” Fine words and right, Israel however listens not to such pronouncements.

                                                            It is time long overdue that Israel was treated as the criminal state it is, one that disregards the law, tramples on human rights and sees itself as unaccountable. Action is needed to support such calls for the observation of human rights enforce the repeated demands for justice. Let Israel, who has imprisoned a nation’s people, be placed in solitary confinement, subjected to sanctions and forced to honour agreements and the rule of law, international and indeed domestic.

                                                            Perhaps then, after so many painful years, the suffering of the Palestinian people would come to an end and a gentle peace would be allowed to settle upon what was once the Holy Land.

                                                            - Graham Peebles is Director of The Create Trust (www.the createtrust.org), a UK registered charity Supporting fundamental Social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: graham@the createtrust.org.

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                                                              Caught in the middle

                                                              English (US)  August 11th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                              Increasingly, Palestinian groups in Syria are finding neutrality a difficult position to keep, especially when some are funded by Iran, Al-Assad's regional ally, writes Khaled Amayreh

                                                              Palestinians reacted angrily but helplessly to the killing last week of as many as 21 Palestinians, ostensibly at the hands of the Syrian army at the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus.

                                                              According to the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other eyewitnesses, Bashar Al-Assad regime forces shelled the densely populated refugee camp with mortar fire around sunset Thursday, when refugees had just broken their day-long Ramadan fast.

                                                              At least two shells landed in Jauna Street in the middle of the camp, killing 21 and injuring more than 60 others.

                                                              Eyewitnesses said the second shell caused most of the casualties as refugees gathered to rescue occupants of a house hit by the first shell.


                                                              The Yarmouk camp is located not far from the Tadamun neighbourhood, where intensive fighting was taking place between regime forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the military arm of the Syrian revolution.

                                                              Palestinians in Syria and elsewhere, including the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas maintained strict neutrality between the regime and the opposition. However, this neutrality didn't assuage the regime's suspicions that the refugees, or many of them, had their hearts decidedly with the FSA and the opposition in general.

                                                              The fact that virtually all Palestinian refugees are Sunni Muslims reinforced these suspicions on the part of the regime, especially after some Palestinian factions, such as Hamas, more or less ended their presence in Syria.

                                                              A high-ranking Hamas official was found dead in Damascus a few weeks ago amid strong speculations that agents of the Alawite regime may have been responsible for the mysterious murder.

                                                              A few months ago, a bus carrying two dozen cadets of the Palestinian Liberation Army (the Syrian Region) were abducted and summarily executed or decapitated at the hands of the so-called Shabbiha forces working for the Al-Assad regime.

                                                              Predictably, the regime denied responsibility for the killings, insisting that "armed thugs" committed the atrocities.

                                                              However, most Palestinians in Syria and occupied Palestine don't take seriously the regime's denials, knowing that a regime that doesn't hesitate to murder, even en masse, and its own citizens will not spare the Palestinians.

                                                              The Syrian regime defends the bloody repression of the mostly-Sunni opposition, arguing that its rule is being targeted by an international conspiracy due to its supposed uncompromising stance on Israel and the United States as well as its support for the Palestinian cause and Hizbullah.

                                                              The opposition, however, accuses the regime of using the Palestinian issue as a "red herring" to keep the small and esoteric Alawite sect in power. The Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam and is considered by many Muslims as heretical.

                                                              Eager to protect Palestinian refugees in Syria, who number around 450,000, Palestinian officials repeatedly appealed to "all Syrian parties" to leave the Palestinians alone.

                                                              "Our people are guests of the Syrian people and government and take no sides in the current crisis. We therefore appeal to the warring sides in Syria to respect the neutrality of our people," said Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas.

                                                              Similar statements have also been issued by Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh.

                                                              Palestinian leaders and factions are worried, though, that upsetting the Syrian regime could endanger the security and safety of the refugees.

                                                              This is the argument voiced privately by Ahmed Jebril, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (General Command), who is based in the Yarmouk Refugee Camp.

                                                              The Iranian-funded group is widely detested by Palestinian refugees for siding with the repressive regime in Damascus and also for alienating the majority Sunni population who have come to view some refugees as cheap mercenaries working for the Syrian regime.

                                                              But Jebril believes that his fate is inextricably linked with that of President Al-Assad, a view angrily rejected by others within the group.

                                                              This week, his opponents urged him to leave the group and choose between loyalty to Palestine and loyalty to Bashar Al-Assad.

                                                              The choice is not easy. If Jebril abandoned Al-Assad, he could lose everything, including his own life.

                                                              Hamas has quietly scaled down its presence in Damascus, with most of the group's top leaders leaving for Qatar and Egypt.

                                                              The move gave the Islamist group more freedom to be in harmony with the general mood in the occupied territories where the Palestinian public in both the West Bank and Gaza is decidedly supportive of the revolution and vehemently opposed to the Alawite regime.

                                                              In recent months and weeks, Islamist preachers began giving sermons on the need to identify with and support the Syrian revolution.

                                                              Moreover, homilies have been given in mosques educating worshipers on the "heretical nature" of Al-Assad's Alawite sect, which has dominated the political scene in Syria for the past 45 years.

                                                              On Friday, a preacher at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem called the Syrian regime "murderous, evil and godless".

                                                              "The regime of Bashar Al-Assad is the enemy of Muslims, the enemy of humanity and the enemy of God. We pray to the Almighty to speed up victory over this criminal regime."

                                                              Another preacher in Hebron described the regime as "much worse than Israel".

                                                              "We have been living under the Israeli occupation for many years, but we haven't witnessed the kind of things we watch on TV," said the preacher, alluding to the gruesome images of death and destruction in Syria.

                                                              Similarly, Hamas's media outlets, including radio and TV, have markedly changed their tune in favour of the Syrian revolution.

                                                              Hamas is the ideological daughter of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, the ultimate anathema for the Al-Assad regime and one of the main revolutionary groups fighting to topple the regime.

                                                              The Al-Assad regime calls the Muslim Brothers Ikhwan Al-Shayatin or "the brothers of Satan" and considers them the ultimate enemy.

                                                              Given the fact that the bulk of Hamas's constituencies are conservative religious Muslims, Hamas has probably come to realise that maintaining strict neutrality between the Damascus regime and its Sunni opponents is beyond its ability. Hence, the new tone.

                                                              This is not the same with the Islamic Jihad group, which depends on Iran, Al-Assad's regional ally, for its financial survival. The relatively small group has said it is maintaining its presence in Damascus and has no plans to leave.

                                                              Nonetheless, the group is avoiding making comment on, or giving its reactions to, the Syrian crisis, likely to avoid upsetting the various sides in the situation, including the Palestinians themselves.

                                                              1080 words posted in SyriaLeave a comment

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                                                                Gaza pays the price for Rafah attack

                                                                English (US)  August 11th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                Hamas politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouk tells Amira Howeidy he suspects Israel infiltrated the terrorist group which killed 16 Egyptian border guards in Rafah

                                                                Moussa Abu Marzouk

                                                                Al Ahram

                                                                Following the slaying of 16 Egyptian border guards at Al-Masoura border point in Rafah on Sunday Hamas politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouk -- the 61-year-old has been based in Cairo since Hamas's leadership in exile left its headquarters in Damascus -- finds himself in the eye of the storm.

                                                                While no evidence has emerged to identify the perpetrators -- several of whom were killed in Israeli air strikes -- Egypt's media has been quick to blame the massacre on Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and, by extension, Hamas.

                                                                A statement released by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on Monday pointed the finger at Palestinian involvement in the attack, claiming the assault was accompanied by mortar fire from "Gaza elements" in the area around the Israeli-controlled Karam Abu Salem border crossing.

                                                                "How is that possible?" asks a clearly disgruntled Abu Marzouk. "They're not in the same place."


                                                                Al-Masoura and Karam Abu Salem, he points out, are five kilometres apart.

                                                                The military's statement, he said, contained "inaccuracies".

                                                                "I'm in a position to say that there were no elements from Gaza involved in this terrorist attack."

                                                                According to Abu Marzouk, a thorough investigation by Hamas security officials in Gaza of cross-border traffic ahead of, and on the day of, the assault, revealed nothing to support SCAF's claim.

                                                                The Palestinian file has long been dealt with by Egyptian intelligence whose new chief, Murad Mowafi, appears to be more popular than his predecessor, at least in Hamas's eyes.

                                                                Abu Marzouk says Hamas has conveyed its position on the assault to the relevant intelligence officials. "I think they are competent, have sufficient information and are fully aware of what's happening."

                                                                The possibility of Israeli infiltration of the group that carried out the attack cannot be discounted, insists Abu Marzouk. That Hamas's politburo chief is so adamant on the point suggests that Egyptian intelligence, too, is unlikely to have dismissed the possibility.

                                                                Military officials have said the attack happened as the border guards were about to break their Ramadan fast. Thirty five gunmen attacked the border post, killing 16 soldiers before stealing two armoured vehicles. One got bogged down in sand dunes while the second stormed into Israel. The Israeli army said it targeted the assailants from the air. It is unclear how many gunmen were killed, or if any managed to escape.

                                                                Abu Marzouk finds several similarities between the latest attack and that of 17 August, 2011, when six Egyptian border guards were killed by Israeli fire near Taba.

                                                                Both occurred in the month of Ramadan. During last year's incident Israeli occupation forces were reportedly chasing a group that had infiltrated southern Israel and killed eight Israelis. Israel was chasing nine militants, says Abu Marzouk. Like this week's assailants their faces were covered and they carried no form of ID. Their bodies were handed to the Egyptian authorities but until now their identities remain a mystery.

                                                                "The difference this time," argues Abu Marzouk, "is the likelihood that the Al-Masoura attack was infiltrated by Israel."

                                                                "First the assailants target Egyptian border guards, then they head into Israel only to discover that they're very, very exposed to the Israeli air force which instantly kills them all. Next thing you know Israel is cheering its victory over a terrorist group."

                                                                "Instead of arresting the militants, or making any attempt to do so, Israel chose to kill them, making any identification extremely difficult. The Israeli occupation army shelled and completely destroyed the Jeep the assailants were driving, leaving very little for Egyptian investigators attempting to trace the car's origin."

                                                                The Israeli operation, says Abu Marzouk, was anything but impulsive.

                                                                "The perpetrators could be Islamist extremists but the possibility of them being infiltrated by Israel remains strong." While Tel Aviv projects an image of professionalism and [intelligence] awareness, repeatedly stressing that it had issued warnings of an imminent terrorist attack in the area, it is in fact "realising its objectives as far as Egypt is concerned".

                                                                The Rafah border crossing was immediately closed following the operation.

                                                                "The Egyptian public is being misinformed about the situation in Gaza and the end result is the collective punishment of Gaza's population" which has lived under Israeli siege since 2007. Abu Marzouk says there are "thousands" of Palestinians stranded at airports, including 1,200 pilgrims in Jeddah, who cannot return to Gaza following the border closure.

                                                                But who are the "Islamist", "Jihadist", "extremist" "Salafist" militant groups that have been headline fixtures since the attack?

                                                                Abu Marzouk warns against taking such reports too seriously. Global Jihad, the Mujahideen Shura Council and the Soldiers of Islam could easily be one and the same, he says. "It takes four or five people to form such a group. They give it a name then change it later on."

                                                                Since taking control of Gaza in 2007 Hamas has confronted a number of incidents in which radical Islamist groups abducted foreigners. It managed to free a BBC journalist held by the Army of Islam in 2008 but last year failed to secure the release of an Italian activist. He was killed last year in response to Hamas's arrest of a radical Muslim cleric.

                                                                But such incidents, says Abu Marzouk, remain exceptional. Violent Salafi groups are barely significant "and probably comprise a few individuals, no more"

                                                                "Gaza isn't the source of this extremism. It is being exported to Gaza, and Sinai is only a passage."

                                                                This is not the story being told by Egypt's media.

                                                                Its coverage has provided little in the way of information, though it has laid on the anti-Palestinian sentiment that was a feature of the Mubarak-era. Nor has there been any serious discussion of the failure of Egypt's Armed Forces and intelligence agencies to prevent such a large scale attack in a security sensitive zone.

                                                                Abu Marzouk warns against the levels of "misinformation" in reporting the attack. One of the most popular theories to date is that President Mohamed Mursi's decision to "open" the Rafah border crossing allowed extremists easy access to Egypt.

                                                                "Let me be clear," says Abu Marzouk. "Rafah border policy hasn't changed since Mubarak's ouster." The only positive development is that more Palestinians are allowed passage "on the days it is open". From 350 to 450 per day, the number has increased to around 1,000.

                                                                "This has been the case since SCAF assumed power in the wake of the revolution, well before Mursi won the elections."

                                                                The number of Palestinians crossing has increased but everything else remains the same. The border opens irregularly and food, medical equipment and supplies are not allowed but are diverted, as per Israel's demand, to the Karam Abu Salem crossing which Israel controls.

                                                                Though the Rafah crossing has been little affected by Mubarak's demise, Cairo's relations with Hamas and other resistance factions has noticeably improved. Abu Marzouk is now based in Cairo with his family, something that would have been inconceivable before Mursi's election. And Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh, long shunned by Mubarak, received a red carpet welcome in Cairo two weeks ago.

                                                                If he is right and Israel was involved in the attack, what kind of message does Abu Marzouk think Tel Aviv is sending?

                                                                "It's not just a message. It's an effort to sabotage everything good that has happened, the improvement in dealing with the blockade and Gaza's needs and how Egypt will handle the Palestinian file in the future. There's Sinai, the future of the peace settlement and even the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement. Israel wants to maintain the pre-revolution status quo. Their possible involvement in the Rafah attack should be understood within this context."

                                                                1272 words posted in Israel, GazaLeave a comment

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                                                                  A Book Review: Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide, 1846-1873

                                                                  English (US)  August 11th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                  Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide, 1846-1873

                                                                  By Steven T. Newcomb - Indian Country Today columnist

                                                                  Once in a while a book comes along that is transformative. Murder State, by Brendan Lindsay, is such a book. Recently released by University of Nebraska Press, Murder State is heart- wrenching and deeply informative. I see it as one of the most important works ever published on the history of American Indians in California in the mid-nineteenth century. It ranks up there with David Stannard’s 1992 masterpiece American Holocaust, in the context of overall Indian history.

                                                                  Lindsay uses the UN Genocide Convention, Rafael Lemkin (who coined the term “genocide”), and genocide studies as key aspects of his framework of analysis. He has provided a meticulously detailed and comprehensive account of the murderous treatment of the original peoples of California by Euro-Americans who poured onto Indian lands during the gold rush days. White citizen groups utilized democratic processes as a means of committing genocide against the original nations and peoples of California.

                                                                  It was methodical, it was well-planned and it was well-executed—with lethal and ghastly results.

                                                                  Read Steve's full view at
                                                                  Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                    From White Buffalo Naming Ceremony, a Conversation With Lakota Medicine Man Steve Stonearrow

                                                                    English (US)  August 9th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                    By Gale Courey Toensing August 8, 2012

                                                                    Lakota Medicine Man Steve Stonearrow traveled to northwestern Connecticut along with a group of Lakota elders to perform a naming ceremony for a white buffalo born June 16. This interview took place the night of July 29, the day after Stonearrow named the white buffalo Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy in ceremony.

                                                                    How and why did you become a medicine man?
                                                                    How and why are really hard questions because you don’t become one, you’re born that way. In Lakota culture, men follow a lineage system; their ancestors are medicine people, they become medicine people. I didn’t come to this till late in life after a couple of stays in federal prison, including one long stay where I began to learn these ways. You’re given a choice to become a medicine person by the spirits and you’re only given the choice once. They never come back and ask you again.

                                                                    Lakota Medicine Man Steve Stonearrow

                                                                    Read the full story at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                      White Buffalo Calf Named Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy Amid Fire, Water and Thunder

                                                                      English (US)  August 9th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                      Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy
                                                                      photo courtesy Peter Fay

                                                                      By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                      GOSHEN, Connecticut—A week after a crowd of more than 1,000 people from all over the country flocked to a ranch in northwestern Connecticut to witness a naming ceremony for a sacred white buffalo, the baby calf named Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy and his mom were peacefully grazing in the back pasture.

                                                                      Everything was back to normal at the Mohawk Bison Ranch, owner Peter Fay said on Friday, August 3, a week after the Saturday, July 28 naming ceremony. “I expected that many people to come,” Fay said.

                                                                      Fay is not a Native but has opened his heart and mind to the Lakota beliefs regarding the birth of a white buffalo and to the Lakota people who traveled from across the country to conduct the naming ceremony. The Lakota say that the birth of a white buffalo—which happens once in every ten million births—is an intensely sacred event. They say it’s a manifestation of the White Buffalo Calf Maiden, or Ptesan Wi, who is revered as a prophet. In a time of famine, the Maiden taught the Lakota seven sacred rituals, including the sweat lodge, and gave them their most important symbol of worship, the sacred pipe. The birth in Goshen was so important that Lakota Medicine Man Steve Stonearrow traveled from California to conduct the ceremony. Lakota elders Chubb and Marian White Mouse, Marian’s brother Wilbur Leon Old Man Morrison, and Shirley Khabass, traditionalists who follow the Lakota ways, travelled from Pine Ridge and elsewhere to join him. A local couple who are relatives of the White Mouse family and have participated in the family’s sun dance for years also participated in the naming ceremony. The couple, who asked not to be named for privacy reasons, were responsible for getting the word out to Indian country about the white buffalo birth. Fay too was among those in the group that performed the ceremony. “It was cool,” he told Indian Country Today Media Network. “It’s so good to be around Steve. He’s amazing and he makes everything feel so easy. If you tumble a little bit, he knows it right away and fixes it. The same with Marian.”

                                                                      Read full story at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                        No More Hiroshima, Nagasaki!

                                                                        English (US)  August 8th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                        Dimona nuclear reactor, Israel. (file)

                                                                        By Rebecca Johnson

                                                                        Sixty-seven years ago, on August 6, the first uranium bomb was exploded above Hiroshima with the force of 15 thousand tons of TNT. Tens of thousands were killed by the blast and fireball that engulfed the city, and a similar number died of radiation sickness and injuries in the days and months that followed; in total 140,000 dead by 1945’s end.

                                                                        Three days later, Nagasaki was shattered by a plutonium bomb. This was the same design that the United States had tested in the New Mexico desert three weeks earlier, causing the Manhattan Project’s lead scientist Robert Oppenheimer to reflect that he had become a “destroyer of worlds”.

                                                                        Over the next 40 years, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, Soviet Union, Britain, France and China) amassed some 70,000 nuclear weapons with a combined explosive force of 15 million tons.


                                                                        October this year will mark 50 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Presidents Kennedy and Krushchev managed – by luck as much as judgment – to pull back from the brink of nuclear war.

                                                                        There were several more near misses caused by miscalculation and sabre-rattling, before civil society around the world created pressure that started a cascade of nuclear arms reductions and brought the Cold War to an end.

                                                                        Explaining why he reached out to US President Reagan to discuss nuclear disarmament in 1986-7, President Gorbachev has highlighted both the influence of the peace movement and the “nuclear winter” studies by US and Soviet scientists, which demonstrated that a Soviet-American nuclear war would cause planet-wide freezing and environmental devastation that could extinguish life on earth.

                                                                        Twenty years after the Berlin Wall was pulled down, most people prefer to ignore the awful fact that thousands of nuclear weapons still endanger all life on Earth. Reading the media you might think the main problems are Iran’s nuclear programme and the risk of nuclear terrorism.

                                                                        Iran doesn’t actually have any nuclear weapons and Ayatollah Khamenei recently said they were “haraam” – religiously forbidden under Islam.

                                                                        Nonetheless, Iran’s accelerating uranium enrichment and related nuclear and missile activities warrant concern, not least because near neighbours Pakistan, India and Israel do have nuclear weapons, and an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would change the Middle East, whether or not Tehran chose to weaponise.

                                                                        Between them Israel, Pakistan and India could have 300-400 nuclear weapons, adding to almost 19,000 still held by the five nuclear-armed states recognised by the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

                                                                        These arsenals – and the doctrines and operations attached to their deployment – are the threats we should worry most about. All-out nuclear war may be less likely now, but recent studies demonstrate that a regional nuclear war would cause global famine, jeopardising over a billion people.

                                                                        The new “nuclear winter” studies update the 1980s research, examining the use of 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons on urban centres in India and Pakistan.

                                                                        This limited regional scenario (0.04 percent of the explosive power in today’s arsenals) recognises the fallibility of deterrence and that suspicious neighbours could reproduce the risk factors that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, including miscalculation, miscommunication, military escalation and, potentially, rogue commanders.

                                                                        Growing cyberwarfare capacities in many countries add an extra dimension of volatile danger to an explosive mix.

                                                                        Millions of tons of sooty smoke would be propelled by the nuclear explosions into the upper atmosphere. Skies would darken, temperatures across the planet would fall by an average of 1.25 deg.C. , and rainfall would be disrupted.

                                                                        In addition to widespread radioactive contamination, these climate effects would persist for a decade, with devastating consequences for agriculture and the health and life cycles of many species.

                                                                        In addition to the tens of millions that would die from the direct effects of nuclear detonations on South Asia’s major cities, over one billion people around the world would be put at risk of death by starvation. Infectious epidemics and further conflict would exact an additional toll.

                                                                        The Red Cross has determined that if nuclear weapons were used today, any attempts at responding or coping with the humanitarian needs of survivors would be utterly overwhelmed.

                                                                        These new climate and health studies demonstrate that a limited, regional nuclear war would have global health and humanitarian consequences on a scale never seen before, regardless of whether people live in a “nuclear-weapons-free zone”, such as cover Africa, Latin America, the Pacific and Central and South-East Asia.

                                                                        As we remember the devastation wrought by two relatively small nuclear bombs in August 1945, we cannot afford to be complacent. Proliferation and nuclear threats will continue as long as some countries value and hold on to these most inhumane weapons of mass destruction. A treaty banning nuclear weapons is urgent, necessary and achievable, and negotiations on such a treaty should begin. Now.

                                                                        - Dr Rebecca Johnson is vice-chair the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Her article was published by ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. It was provided to the PalestineChronicle.com by Human Wrongs Watch - http://human-wrongs-watch.net.

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                                                                          Occupied Lives: I have no future

                                                                          English (US)  August 8th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                          PALESTINE CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

                                                                          Mamoun Ahmad Dalloul in front of his destroyed factory in Tel-el-hawa.

                                                                          Mamoun Ahmad Dalloul (36) lives in Tel-el-hawa with his wife and 9 children. Until recently, he owned a dairy-products factory that produced milk, cheese and yoghurt. Since December 2008, Mamoun has re-built his factory 4 times after it was repeatedly targeted and destroyed by Israel’s forces. On 04 June 2012, at around 1:00, his factory was targeted and destroyed by Israel’s forces for the 5th time.

                                                                          The direct targeting of a civilian object constitutes a war crime, as codified in Article 8(2)(b)(ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Similarly, under the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 53, the destruction of private property is prohibited unless rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. The destruction of such factories infringes upon human rights principles, including the right to work and right to attain an adequate standard of living contained in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


                                                                          On the evening of the most recent attack, Mamoun received a call from his brother, who lives adjacent to the factory, informing him that the factory had been destroyed by a missile from an F16: “I rushed to my factory and, when I arrived, there were firefighters and police. The neighbors were panicking and standing in the streets. I was told that a missile had hit the factory and then penetrated 6 or 7 meters into the ground. There was something like an earthquake for 5 minutes, and then the missile exploded and pulled everything into the crater. I do not know what kind of missile it was.”

                                                                          After 5 attacks on his factory, Mamoun is devastated: “The first time my factory was destroyed was in December 2008 during Operation Cast Lead. The factory was very big and on the ground floor of our residential apartment. I received a call from Israel’s forces, who told me that the building would be targeted in the next 15 minutes. My family and I fled immediately. 3 missiles were fired from an F16 and the building was completely destroyed. In just a few minutes, we lost everything. We were suddenly homeless and I had lost my only source of a livelihood.”

                                                                          Mamoun and his family were forced to shuffle from one household to another, looking for a place to stay: “We would stay at my parents’ house for a few days then move to my brother-in-law’s house and spend a few more at my brother’s house. My son kept asking why we had no home. Finally, as my wife is a refugee, UNRWA built us a single residential unit. I then rebuilt my factory in Sabra, which is in central Gaza City. It was very small and modest because there was barely any construction material in Gaza, as well as money constraints. 6 months later, it was destroyed by Israel’s forces. I then partnered with someone else and tried to rebuild in a different location, but it was destroyed while we were still constructing.”

                                                                          click here.

                                                                          Public Document


                                                                          For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893

                                                                          PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org

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                                                                            Zionist Media Domination: The Jewish Suicide Bomber That You Never Heard Of

                                                                            English (US)  August 6th, 2012 by admin ( Email )


                                                                            by Martin Iqbal
                                                                            Monday, August 6th, 2012

                                                                            In 1983 American police foiled a significant terror attack that most Americans to this day are utterly oblivious to. On October 18, 1983, a suicide bomber strapped with explosives was caught in the spectators’ gallery of the US House of Representatives, attempting to blow up the US Capitol.(1) The reason most Americans know nothing of this plot, is that the terrorist was a Jewish Israeli named ‘Israel Rabinowits’. The astounding ignorance of Americans is owing to the supreme control that Zionist Jews wield over the American press. Michael Collins Piper reports(1) that this event was mentioned just once in The Washington Post – the so-called newspaper of record in the American capital – and only once, in passing, in The New York Times.


                                                                            A search of the New York Times online archive mirrors Piper’s findings, and it reveals the staggeringly trivial and obfuscatory nature of the NYT’s reportage. The November 2, 1983 article(2) titled “BOMB CARRIER IN U.S. HOME PROMPTS TIGHTENED SECURITY” is significant for a number of reasons.

                                                                            First and foremost it must be acknowledged that the article appeared not on the first page (as would be expected for a suicide bomb attempt on the US Capitol), but on the paper’s Late City Final Edition, Section A, Page 22, Column 1. After searching the archive from 1981 to the present day, I can say confidently that there is no other mention of this event, even on the day of or following the attempted attack.

                                                                            This is consistent with Michael Collins Piper’s findings with respect to the Washington Post:(1)

                                                                            And for the record, even though it was certainly qualified as “big” news, even The Washington Post buried the story in its local news section – across from the obituaries.

                                                                            The title of the NYT article is purposefully misleading and deceptive. The terrorist is described as a ‘bomb carrier‘, (no mention of ethnicity or religion) and the U.S. House is referred to as ‘home‘ in what on the face of it seems to be a mistake, but what is likely intentional. This euphemistic description of the event (buried on page 22) is clearly meant to make the article less of a ‘grabber’ so that readers pass over the information. One can only imagine what the (front page) headline would have been if the Jewish terrorist had been Muslim: Islamist Suicide Bomb Attempt Prompts Tightened Security at U.S. House.

                                                                            Reading further into the article we see that the terrorist’s name is eventually revealed in the fifth paragraph, and the fact that he is Jewish is completely omitted from the entire text. Conversely, reportage on terror attacks perpetrated (allegedly or otherwise) by Muslims consistently pivots on and emphasises the perpetrator’s ethnicity and religion (information which is always conveyed in the headline).

                                                                            Despite publishing not a word on the terrorist’s potential motives, the NYT also actually tries to humanise the terrorist in indirectly suggesting that Rabinowits had moralistic ambitions. The article reveals that Rabinowits’s lawyer told a court that his client “wanted to address Congress about world hunger“.

                                                                            The very fact that most Americans know nothing of this event is a telling indictment of the Zionist-controlled nature of the ‘free’ media in the United States. This important event has been barely covered, and where it has been covered, it has been documented in a deceptive, misleading, and trivial manner. What is even more sickening and telling is how this Zionist media outlet in particular actually attempted to humanise the terrorist – no doubt purely because he was a member of the tribe.
                                                                            Update: 24 February 2012

                                                                            Hat tip to Irradiee for suggesting newspaperarchive.com, a search of which has uncovered the fact that Israel Rabinowits was not locked up by the American authorities for his attempted terror attack. Instead – just like his modern day Mossad cohorts who took part in the 9/11 attacks – he was sent back to Israel.

                                                                            A January 9, 1986 issue of the Titusville Herald(3) reveals that approximately two years after the attempted terrorist attack, Israel Rabinowits was sent back to Israel where he is “apparently” in prison:

                                                                            Meanwhile, a House official said Wednesday that a man carrying a homemade bomb who was arrested in the House gallery after threatening to blow up the Capitol more than two years ago was deported to Israel, where he is apparently in prison.

                                                                            Jack Russ, the House sergeant at arms, said Israel Rubinowits was ordered never to return to the United States after the October 18, 1983 episode.

                                                                            What is interesting about this passage, buried on page 9 of the paper, is that it appears within an article that is placed on the front page of the newspaper. The title of this article is “US Says Khadafy Trains Terrorists“. Laughably, the newspaper attempts to contextualise this Jewish Israeli’s attempted terror attack within alleged terrorism committed by Muammar Gaddafi – revolutionary and longtime enemy of the terrorist states of Israel and the United States of America.

                                                                            1) ‘The Confessions of an anti-Semite’ by Michael Collins Piper, Chapter 18
                                                                            2) ‘BOMB CARRIER IN U.S. HOME PROMPTS TIGHTENED SECURITY’ – New York Times, November 2, 1983

                                                                            Editor’s note: Only an abstract of the archived New York Times article can be viewed online (here), however I have gained access to the full version which is published here [rtf] -- below.

                                                                            3) Titusville Herald, January 9, 1986, page 9, article titled: ‘US Says Khadafy Trains Terrorists'

                                                                            BOMB CARRIER IN U.S. HOME PROMPTS TIGHTENED SECURITY
                                                                            Published: November 2, 1983

                                                                            WASHINGTON, Nov. 1—The Capitol police re-adjusted metal detectors and installed sensitive bomb-detecting equipment last month after a tourist entered the House gallery with a homemade bomb under his shirt.
                                                                            Jack Russ, the sergeant-at-arms of the House, said today that the urgent steps following the Oct. 18 scare were the beginning of a tighter security system.
                                                                            In an interview, Mr. Russ said the bomb taken into the building ''was not a dud.'' It failed to explode because the man ''had not placed his wiring properly,'' he said.
                                                                            Aiming at Tighter Security
                                                                            If the new detection devices and metal detector settings had been in place Oct. 18, he added, the man ''would not have been able to get in the front doors,'' adding that ''I think we'll have the state of the art'' in security measures when the changes were made.
                                                                            The Capitol Police said the man arrested in the gallery was Israel Rubinowits, a 22-year-old Israeli who threatened to blow up the Capitol when approached by the police. His court-appointed lawyer, Carl Angelis, told a hearing in the District of Columbia Superior Court that Mr. Rubinowits wanted to address Congress about world hunger.
                                                                            Mr. Rabinowits was charged with making threats of bodily harm, a charge that carries a maximum 20-year prison term and a $5,000 fine. He was held when he failed to make bond of $25,000.
                                                                            Mr. Russ said Mr. Rubinowits had under his clothes two plastic one-liter bottles wrapped in cardboard, strapped to his body with a rope and wrapped in a white cloth bag. The thin copper wire attached to the bottles did not set off a metal detector outside the gallery entrance. Directions for Making a Bomb
                                                                            The bottles contained black powder, a flammable liquid of unknown composition, glass, stones, ceramic tile and metal fragments, Mr. Russ said. The man carried several typed pages with diagrams entitled, ''How I Made the Bomb,'' instructions that were ''technically correct,'' Mr. Russ added.
                                                                            The device was taken to the Fort Belvoir in suburban Virginia and was exploded.
                                                                            Mr. Russ said preliminary estimates indicated that the blast could have had the force of two to five sticks of dynamite, enough to injure ''quite a few people.''
                                                                            As the House was voting on establishing a medal to commemorate Vietnam veterans, the man got up, walked to the front rail of gallery and pulled out the device.
                                                                            Mr. Russ said that Mr. Rubinowits was flicking a switch on a battery when four plainclothes officers closed in. ''Stop or I will blow it up,'' Mr. Rubinowits yelled before he could be subdued.
                                                                            Congress has metal detectors outside each gallery entrance, but on Oct. 18, Mr. Russ said, the machines were calibrated to pick up such items as guns, knives and large belt buckles.
                                                                            ''We have made them more sensitive,'' he said. ''We have made significant changes and we intend to make more.''

                                                                            1375 words posted in American Zionism, Media WatchLeave a comment

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                                                                              Murder of Arafat: How the Israeli Quintet Indicted Itself

                                                                              English (US)  August 6th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                              By Sam Bahour

                                                                              'We have to get rid of Arafat.' -- Israeli defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to Prime Minister Sharon caught on an open mic. (Source: Haaretz, Hebrew)

                                                                              We operated against Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi [two Palestinian leaders extrajudicially assassinated by Israel] when we thought the time was suitable. On the matter of Arafat we’ll operate in the same way, when we find the convenient and suitable time. One needs to find the time and to do what has to be done.” -- Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to Ma’ariv newspaper. (Source: The Guardian)

                                                                              Yasser Arafat may be dead, but for all intents and purposes he lives on and continues to be a thorn in Israel’s side. Earlier this month a Swiss doctor announced that high levels of toxic polonium-210 were found on some of Arafat’s belongings. Polonium-210 is a highly radioactive substance, one that would require a nuclear reactor and expertise to produce and handle. Israel, being a nuclear power and having publicly expressed a motive for Arafat’s “elimination,” fits the description.

                                                                              Swiss doctor Francois Bochud, director of the Institute of Radiation Physics in Lausanne, Switzerland, was quoted in the report on a nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera that “We have evidence there is too much polonium, but we also have hints from the medical records that this may not be the case. The only way to resolve this anomaly would be by testing the body.”


                                                                              If exhumation and examination of Arafat’s body (currently reposing in its tomb, located a half a kilometer from my home) seven years after his death reveals the presence of polonium-210, the question demanding an answer will be: who killed him and why?

                                                                              It may seem a futile task to focus on a single person’s death when the region is engulfed in wholesale killing, until, that is, you realize that the killing of Arafat was meant to be an accelerator in the process of bringing about the wholesale demise of an entire indigenous people.

                                                                              A Palestinian attorney in the Galilee has pointed the finger at those he believes are most likely responsible for the murder of former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. The accused are named and their histories cited; their own words indict them, and their acts of sustained violence speak volumes.

                                                                              The charge sheet incriminates five of Israel’s top brass:

                                                                              1- Ariel Sharon, in his capacity as Prime Minister of the Government of Israel, 2001-2006 (currently reported as being clinically dead);

                                                                              2- Avi Dichter, as head of the Shin Bet (Israeli internal security), 2000-2005 (Member of Knesset for Kadima Party);

                                                                              3- Shaul Mofaz, in his capacity as Israeli Minister of Defense, 2003-2006 (now leader of the Kadima Party);

                                                                              4- Moshe Ya’alon, in his capacity as Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, 2003-2005 (now a Deputy Prime Minister of Israel);

                                                                              5- Meir Dagan, as Director of the Mossad from 2002 to 2011 (currently a leader of a movement called “Yesh Sikkui”).

                                                                              The person who has made these accusations is Palestinian-Arab Israeli writer and lawyer, Sabri Jiryis, a graduate of the Hebrew University law faculty and a prominent Palestinian activist with Arafat’s political party, Fatah. For a long time, Mr. Jiryis served as Arafat’s adviser on Israeli affairs as well as serving as the director of the Palestine Research Centre in Lebanon and later in Cyprus. He was one of Arafat’s confidants for decades, until Arafat’s death.

                                                                              Mr. Jiryis has just posted on his website a revealing analysis of the historic context leading up to Arafat’s assassination, entitled: Arafat’s Murder – The Crime and its Ramifications. The essay was posted in Arabic which may limit the non-Arabic-speaking world’s benefit from this insider’s exposé.

                                                                              Bottom line: Mr. Jiryis meticulously assembles and presents hard evidence demonstrating why these five Israeli leaders, in particular, should be brought before a court of justice. His analysis offers no words of rage or revenge but rather a cold, clinical review of a systematic series of actions and statements by each of these Israeli leaders which would logically bring any objective observer to the conclusion that, if justice is to be served, these five persons should be charged with Arafat’s murder and put on trial.

                                                                              Following the Al-Jazeera airing of their documentary concluding that Arafat may have been poisoned by radioactive polonium, Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s successor, ordered an investigation into Arafat’s death. In reply, in Cairo, on July 17, 2012, the Arab League set up an independent committee to probe the death of the iconic former Palestinian leader.

                                                                              As the independent investigation committee embarks on its mandate, Mr. Jiryis’ analysis can make an important contribution by putting Arafat’s murder into historical context. Israeli leaders have employed murder, assassination and mass slaughter ever since Israel’s founding, and before. The reins of power in Israel remain in the hands of those who seek to murder the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence. Meantime, when Arafat’s turn finally came, the trail of evidence left behind was so glaring that it would be an insult to humanity if those responsible are not brought to justice.

                                                                              Whatever happens with this renewed effort to determine how Arafat died and who was behind his death, the Palestinian struggle for emancipation from 65 years of dispossession and 45 years of military occupation will not end. The idea that Palestinians are going to wake up one morning and decide to enjoy life under Israeli military occupation or as refugees is simply hallucinatory, as any thoughtful reading of world history would indicate.

                                                                              Historic twists of fate are unpredictable, with many ironic overtones. Maybe, just maybe, the analysis by an Israeli-trained Palestinian attorney together with the clues to be found in Arafat’s dead body will usher in a long-overdue era of Israeli accountability for crimes against the Palestinian people.

                                                                              - Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business development consultant. He frequently provides independent commentary on Palestine and serves as a policy advisor of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He blogs at http://www.epalestine.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

                                                                              1004 words posted in Israel, Apartheid StateLeave a comment

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                                                                                Pandering for the Jewish Vote in the US: A Tradition and a Culture!

                                                                                English (US)  August 6th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                Romney statement consistent with US presidential campaigns tradition ..

                                                                                By Hasan Afif El-Hasan

                                                                                Governor Mitt Romney, the presumptive presidential Republican nominee suggested in a speech delivered in Israel that the reason the Israelis has had greater economic success than the Palestinians was in part because of cultural differences. He said: "As you come here and you see the GDP per capita for instance in Israel which is about 21,000 dollars and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) which is more like 10,000 dollars per capita you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality." He added that "Culture makes all the difference."

                                                                                Mr. Romney does not seem to know the Palestinians are under occupation and Israel has control over all major resources in the occupied lands. Land confiscation, structural constraints, arbitrary restrictions imposed on the population and daily military attacks by the Israeli military has a detrimental impact on the Palestinian economic development. Let me brief Governor Mitt Romney on the situation in the occupied lands:


                                                                                The Palestinian territory that includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. During the first two decades of the occupation, the Israeli military introduced regulations and restrictions aimed at shaping the occupied economy according to the requirements of Israel’s interests. It controlled the types of fruit and vegetables that could be planted and distributed for the purpose of creating dependency, undermine competition and facilitate confiscation of land and water. Israel used the licenses to restructure the industries in line with its needs while suppressing all competition, and it reoriented the Palestinian work force to provide cheap labor to Israel.

                                                                                Since 1994, when managing the daily lives of the Palestinians was transferred to the PA, the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B, and C and designated areas H1 and H2 in the City of Hebron, each area has its own laws and regulations. Israel created Jewish only areas in the form of settlements, industrial parks and military bases that are strategically dispersed throughout the territory and connected by a massive network of Jewish only highways and bypass roads. Areas A and B where majority of the Palestinians reside are not contiguous. They have been split into more than two hundred enclaves, making it extremely difficult for the Palestinian residents to travel from one enclave to another.

                                                                                The Jewish only settlements and roads have divided the major population centers into communities living in multitude of disconnected enclaves and the military enforces restrictions on movement of people and products. Israel controls the legitimate movement of the occupied inhabitants through a series of permits and decrees backed by checkpoints, patrols and closures. Israeli military has erected hundreds of checkpoints and constructed the separation wall that subdivided the isolated enclaves into even smaller isolated communities. Even the President of the PA, the Prime-Minister and members of his cabinet need written permits to travel in the territory.

                                                                                The Palestinians’ economy under the PA has been crippled as a consequence of the Israeli occupation. The shrinking economy in the West Bank as well as the poverty and starvation of the people in Gaza enclave are an Israeli man-made disaster and unfortunately, this is sanctioned by the US. According to the 2009 international Monetary Fund report, the economy of the West Bank, that was not bombed or sealed completely like Gaza was “stalling and a failure” due to the tightened restrictions of movement and free access to the outside world. Israel’s unchallenged control of the occupied land blocked the indigenous Palestinians from controlling their resources, the land, water, borders and commerce.

                                                                                Palestinians’ houses and even villages are being demolished daily especially in Area C; building permits are not issued; the farmers are not allowed to dig wells more than one third as deep as the Israeli settlers; and Israel restricts access to the land needed to meet Palestinian population growth. Israel confiscated privately owned land by first converting it into state property or “closed for military reasons” then into settlements and bypass roads. Israel diminished the areas accessible to Palestinian economic and agricultural development. Palestinians are denied access to more than forty-two percent of the West bank. Closing borders by Israel has disrupted commerce and limited trade with neighboring Arab countries. And the occupation made the Palestinians captive consumers for the Israeli products and Israel has control over Palestinian’s taxation.

                                                                                The olive and its oil have always been a major source of income for the Palestinian farmers. The Israeli military and the settlers have been destroying olive orchards in many localities and prevented the farmers from harvesting what was left of their trees. Settlers harass and shoot at farmers trying to harvest their olive crop and quite often uproot and torch olive-laden trees.

                                                                                Since the Gaza Strip has been ruled by the Islamist movement in June 2006, the Strip has been declared “enemy entity” by Israel with backing from the US. This meant tightening the siege on the strip, preventing movements of people and merchandise across the borders, shutting off fuel and power to its residents and crippling its economy in the process. Israel reduced the diesel supplies to Gaza thus no electricity for homes and businesses, no sewage treatment, no irrigation or drinking water and no fuel to power hospitals electrical generators. The siege created shortage of raw materials, ranging from computer parts to cement and steel, destroyed Gaza’s small industry, shut out construction and hindered any economic development. The siege created severance between Gaza and the West Bank, reduced trade between the two regions and affected patients who required medical treatment in Israel. The Strip population that constitutes 40% of the Palestinians under occupation is left dependent on the meager international aid when Israel allows it to bring relief supplies shipments.

                                                                                Before the siege, ocean fishing had been one of the main industries in Gaza where more than 40,000 people made their living, and fish was a major source of protein for the population. Israel has restricted Gaza’s fishermen from laying their nets beyond three miles from Gaza’s shores. The International Solidarity Movement estimated the average catch dropped from 3000 tons per year in the early 1990s to less than 500 “due to the Israeli siege.”

                                                                                After the three-week Israeli attack in December 2008 on Gaza, which followed two years of economic siege, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Christine Nieuwenhuve, the World Food Program’s Director said, “We are hearing that 60% of the land in the north may not be exploited anymore.” The FAO estimated that the business of 13,000 families who depended on herding and farming suffered significant damage.

                                                                                Governor Mitt Romney statement about the Palestinian economy and culture is consistent with the American presidential campaigns tradition of pandering for American Jewish money and voters to support their candidacies. When Senator Barrack Obama was running for the high office in 2009, he visited the Israeli town of Sderot, Israel was dropping smart bombs on the besieged and starved people of Gaza killing and injuring hundreds of civilians, and the Palestinians retaliated with sporadic home-made rockets fired on Israel’s southern area that did not kill or injure any Israelis. Instead of acting as a statesman urging both sides to stop violence, Obama asked for more Palestinian blood in an emotional plea. He told the Israelis: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." According to the American political analyst Alan Dershowitz, “This heartfelt statement [of Obama] sealed the deal for many supporters of Israel.” In the American politics, pandering for money and votes is a tradition and a culture!

                                                                                - Hasan Afif El-Hasan is a political analyst. His latest book, Is The Two-State Solution Already Dead? (Algora Publishing, New York), now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                  Obama's October Surprise: Bombing Iran

                                                                                  English (US)  August 6th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                  By Jacob Heilbrunn

                                                                                  President Obama could bomb Iran in late October to try and ensure that it does not develop nuclear weapons. A devastating strike would create an upsurge of patriotism in America and fully neutralize Mitt Romney's contention that Obama is a foreign-policy wimp. It could allow Obama to sweep to victory in November.

                                                                                  Will he do it?


                                                                                  One reason he might is that Mitt Romney is singlehandedly pushing the entire debate about Israel and Iran to the right. The parameters have changed markedly. As TNI editor Robert Merry and others have noted, Romney's efforts to ingratiate himself with Jewish donors and voters have prompted him to suspend any notion of an independent American foreign policy in the Middle East. Traditionally, the green or red light for military action has come from America, at least when it comes to actions that directly impinge upon American interests. Ronald Reagan, for instance, successfully demanded that Israel halt its attacks on Lebanon in 1983. Romney, by contrast, has effectively promised to give Israel a veto power over military action, indicating that he will do whatever Benjamin Netanyahu wants. As Romney observed in December, he would never, ever criticize Israel. Instead, he would get on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu and ask, "What would you like me to do?" So it's fair to say that Romney would outsource his foreign policy to Netanyahu when it comes to Israel and its enemies.

                                                                                  What's more, anyone who thinks that Romney is bluffing should think again. It's no accident that his senior adviser on the Middle East is Dan Senor, a hard-line neoconservative. As the New York Times notes today, Romney relies upon him for advice and frequently cites his book Start-Up Nation. Senor wasn't dissembling when he said in Israel that Romney was prepared to endorse an attack on Iran—he simply got a little ahead of the program.

                                                                                  Obama has not been far behind in giving Netanyahu close to carte blanche. But he has not gone as far as Romney in endorsing the threat that Iran should be precluded from having the capability of building a nuclear weapon. But as Netanyahu champs, or tries to give the impression of champing, at the bit to bomb Iran, Obama must be weighing whether or not he should call Netanyahu out on his threats. So far, the Obama administration has been doing everything in its power to dissuade Israel from speedy action. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's visit to Israel was another sign that the administration is trying to reassure Israel of its commitment to its security. But his emphasis was on sanctions:

                                                                                  The most effective way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is for the international community to be united, proving to Iran that it will only make itself less secure if it continues to try to pursue a nuclear weapon.

                                                                                  But as Romney calls for "any and all measures" to stop Iran, Obama surely could deflate his sails by launching a strike in October. If it worked, he would be hailed as a hero. The consequences of a strike wouldn't be felt for at least a few weeks—the nightmare scenario is that an oil shock would result in a quadrupling of oil prices, plunging the world into a new Great Depression. Enough time for Obama to sail back into office as a tough foreign-policy president. Given Obama's congenital caution and sobriety, he seems unlikely to follow such a course. But it should not be ruled out. The neocons may be closer to helping bring about an assault on Iran than even they realize. They've already captured Romney. But they may also be on the verge of capturing Obama. Their sustained campaign of pressure, in other words, may be more effective than anyone has acknowledged. For the fact is that Obama already has amply demonstrated his ruthlessness when it comes to confronting America's adversaries. If he were able to carry out regime change in Tehran, he might even start referring to himself as the new Decider.

                                                                                  National Interest

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                                                                                    Do you know what you are?

                                                                                    English (US)  August 6th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                    You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter.
                                                                                    You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
                                                                                    This universe is not outside of you.
                                                                                    Look inside yourself;
                                                                                    everything that you want,
                                                                                    you are already that.

                                                                                    - Rumi
                                                                                    Persia (Iranian) Poet

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                                                                                      Europe and US Richly reward Israel for Pariah Status

                                                                                      English (US)  August 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                      US President Obama signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 during a ceremony July 27 in the presence of the major US Jewish organizations in a shameless effort to "secure" Jewish votes in the upcoming election.

                                                                                      By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth

                                                                                      Israel has barely put a foot right with the international community since its attack on Gaza more than three years ago provoked global revulsion.

                                                                                      The right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu has serially defied and insulted foreign leaders, including US President Barack Obama; given the settlers virtual free rein; blocked peace talks with the Palestinians; intimidated and marginalized human rights groups, UN agencies and even the Israeli courts; and fuelled a popular wave of Jewish ethnic and religious chauvinism against the country's Palestinian minority, foreign workers and asylum seekers.

                                                                                      No wonder, then, that in poll after poll Israel ranks as one of the countries with the most negative influence on international affairs.

                                                                                      And yet, the lower Israel sinks in public estimation, the more generous western leaders are in handing out aid and special favors to their wayward ally. The past few days have been particularly shameless.

                                                                                      It was revealed last week that the European Union had approved a massive upgrade in Israel's special trading status, strengthening economic ties in dozens of different fields. The decision was a reversal of a freeze imposed in the wake of the Gaza attack of winter 2008.


                                                                                      Amnesty International pointed out that the EU was violating its own commitments in the European Neighborhood Policy, which requires that, as a preferred trading partner, Israel respect international human rights, democratic values and its humanitarian obligations.

                                                                                      Equally troubling, the EU is apparently preparing to upend what had looked like an emerging consensus in favor of banning settlement products - the only meaningful punishment the EU has threatened to inflict on Israel.

                                                                                      With some irony, Europe's turnabout was revealed the same day that Israel announced it was planning to destroy eight villages in the West Bank, expelling their 1,500 Palestinian inhabitants, to make way for a military firing zone. Four more villages are also under threat.

                                                                                      The villagers' expulsion was further confirmation that Israel is conducting a "forced transfer" of Palestinians, as recent EU reports have warned, from the nearly two-thirds of the West Bank under its control.

                                                                                      Europe's only real leverage over Israel is economic: business between the two already accounts for about 60 per cent of Israeli trade, worth nearly 30 billion euros. But rather than penalizing Israel for repeatedly stomping over the flimsiest prospects for a two-state solution, the EU is handsomely rewarding it.

                                                                                      It is not alone. The United States is also showering economic benefits and military goodies on Israel, in addition to the billions of dollars in aid it hands over every year.

                                                                                      In the past few days alone, President Obama signed a new law greatly expanding military cooperation with Israel and awarded $70 million – on top of an existing $210 million donation – for it to develop the Iron Dome missile defense system; the Pentagon arm-twisted Lockheed Martin into collaborating with Israeli firms in revamping the new F-35 fighter jet; and Congress approved a four-year extension of US loan guarantees to make it cheaper for Israel to borrow money on the international markets.

                                                                                      Meanwhile, Obama’s rival for the presidency, Mitt Romney, has criticized Obama for being too miserly towards Israel. As he stood shoulder to shoulder with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, Romney issued a press release suggesting that his administration would spend even more US taxpayers’ dollars on Israel’s missile defense system.

                                                                                      All this munificence is coming from the two dominant parties to the Quartet - the international group comprising the US, the EU, the United Nations and Russia. The Quartet's role is to champion the very two-state solution Israel is striving so strenuously to destroy.

                                                                                      In a further irony, the World Bank issued last week its latest report on the state of the Palestinian economy, concluding that its situation was so dire the Palestinian government-in-waiting, the Palestinian Authority, could not be considered ready for independent statehood. The report noted that the Palestinians were heavily reliant on foreign donors and that local private businesses, agriculture and manufacturing were all in decline.

                                                                                      With feigned obtuseness, the World Bank recommended that the PA increase exports to foreign markets, glossing over the biggest impediment to such trade: the severe restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods into and out of Palestinian territory.

                                                                                      As the Quartet has grown ever more silent in the face of Israeli transgressions, US politicians have stepped in with cynical maneuvers to shore up Israel's intransigence and destroy any hopes of a peaceful solution.

                                                                                      Last week, for example, US lawmakers were reported to have put their names to a congressional resolution recognizing the recent report of Israel's controversial Levy Committee. The report concluded that Israel was not occupying the West Bank and that consequently the settlements there are legal.

                                                                                      The topsy-turvy character of international diplomacy was acknowledged this month by a recently retired British ambassador to the Middle East. Tom Philips, who served in Israel and Saudi Arabia, writes in the latest edition of Prospect magazine that Europe and the US need to use "big carrots and big sticks" if there is to be any hope of reviving the peace process.

                                                                                      But Mr. Philips believes the US is "genetically indisposed" to forcing change on Israel. He proposes instead choking off donor money to the PA so as "to put the full weight of the occupation on Israel, a burden I do not think they would be able to endure".

                                                                                      In another of the rich ironies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it now seems even some diplomats are concluding that the Palestinians will be best served by destroying the fledgling government that was supposed to be the harbinger of their independence.

                                                                                      The real obstacles to peace - Israel, its occupation and western complicity - might then be laid bare for all to see.

                                                                                      - Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. A version of this article first appeared in The National (Abu Dhabi).

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                                                                                        Obama inks 'secret order' to aid Syria rebels

                                                                                        English (US)  August 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                        New order broadly permits CIA and other US agencies to support rebels seeking to depose Bashar al-Assad from power.

                                                                                        US and Western officials have noted improvements in the coherence of the Syrian armed opposition [AFP]

                                                                                        US President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorising US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, Reuters news agency said quoting sources familiar with the matter.

                                                                                        Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding", broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide aid that could help the rebels dislodge Assad from power.

                                                                                        The shift towards supporting Assad's armed opponents intensified following last month's failure of the UN Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.

                                                                                        The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment on the matter.

                                                                                        The White House has apparently stopped short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some US allies have been doing just that.

                                                                                        US and European officials have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks. That represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterised Assad's opponents as a disorganised.


                                                                                        Overt support

                                                                                        Separately from the president's secret order, the Obama administration has stated publicly that it is providing some backing for Assad's opponents.

                                                                                        The State Department said on Wednesday the US government had set aside a total of $25m for "non-lethal" assistance to the rebels.

                                                                                        A US official said that was mostly for communications equipment, including encrypted radios.

                                                                                        The State Department also says the US has set aside $64m in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, including contributions to the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies.

                                                                                        'Nerve centre'

                                                                                        A US government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the US was collaborating with a secret command centre operated by Turkey and its allies.

                                                                                        Last week, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad's opponents.

                                                                                        This "nerve centre" is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100km from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a US airbase where US military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.
                                                                                        In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

                                                                                        Turkish authorities are said to be increasingly involved in providing Syrian rebels with training and possibly equipment.

                                                                                        European government sources said wealthy families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were providing significant financing to the rebels. Senior officials of the Saudi and Qatari governments have publicly called for Assad's departure.

                                                                                        On Tuesday, reports emerged that the Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles, weapons that could be used against Assad's helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

                                                                                        Syrian government armed forces have employed such air power more extensively in recent days.

                                                                                        NBC network said the shoulder-fired missiles, also known as MANPADs, had been delivered to the rebels via Turkey.

                                                                                        On Wednesday, however, Bassam al-Dada, a political adviser to the Free Syrian Army, denied the NBC report, telling the Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya that the group had "not obtained any such weapons at all".

                                                                                        US government sources said they could not confirm the MANPADs deliveries, but could not rule them out either.

                                                                                        Current and former US and European officials previously said that weapons supplies, which were being organised and financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were largely limited to guns and a limited number of anti-tank weapons, such as bazookas.
                                                                                        Source: Agencies

                                                                                        622 words posted in Syria, Politics, , American Empire, , TurkeyLeave a comment

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                                                                                          Racism Unleashed: Is Romney Just a Pretty Face?

                                                                                          English (US)  August 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                          Mitt Romney should apologize for his racist remarks. (Wikicommons)

                                                                                          By Stuart Littlewood

                                                                                          Mitt Romney is listed among People magazine's 50 'most beautiful' of 2002. He was up there with Nicole Kidman, Britney Spears and Julia Roberts. But how pretty does he look in 2012?

                                                                                          This US presidential hopeful from AIPAC’s Republican wing came here to England and put his foot in it by questioning Britain‘s readiness to host the Olympics. We were already on the case, thank-you Mr Romney. But please remember that it’s largely America’s misbehaviour around the world that puts such a colossal strain on Olympic security and makes other nations’ teams so nervous.

                                                                                          His remarks drew some sharp responses, and thus began a series of “mis-steps” that characterized the presidential candidate’s misadventure into the wider world and culminated in an unforgettable “kiss my ass” invitation by one of his campaign aides. Mis-steps is a curiously polite US word that seems to be gaining currency here. It conjures up the erratic progress of a stumblebum.

                                                                                          No surprise that while in London he met with the Quartet’s zio-stooge Tony Blair to have his mind further poisoned and confused.


                                                                                          Romney then went to Israel to annoy the Palestinians by stating the bleedin’ obvious - that the Israeli economy had outpaced the Palestinians' - and suggesting that this phenomenon could be explained by the superior “culture”.

                                                                                          He came to a fundraiser attended by the mega-rich at the King David Hotel Jerusalem with, he said, "a sense of profound humility". After all, he was expecting a nice fat cheque for $1 million. Was he aware that this is the same King David Hotel that was blown up by a Jewish terror gang in 1946 when it served as the British administration’s headquarters, murdering 91?

                                                                                          That infamous attack had Menachem Begin's fingerprints all over it and was one of the deadliest bombings in the Arab-Israel conflict. Begin of course went on to become an Israeli prime minister, having all the qualifications.

                                                                                          The Israeli newspaper Haaretz observed that Romney’s speech “sounded as if it could have been written by Netanyahu's bureau”. He said: “As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.”

                                                                                          This brilliant analysis is apparently based on a book Romney had read called “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” in his search for reasons why two neighbouring places have such disparate prosperity. “Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference,” he said, this being his conclusion.

                                                                                          A few weeks ago a World Bank report said that the Palestinian economy’s modest growth was not sustainable because it was driven by aid – it was artificial and therefore not strong enough to support statehood. Before that, an Israeli government report had said the Palestinian set-up was not economically stable enough to support a state. And why would that be? Because Israel is pulling every dirty trick imaginable to impoverish and incapacitate the Occupied Territories and keep them in subjugation.

                                                                                          Given their freedom like other people the Palestinians of course could stand on their own feet and would not need Western taxpayer support.

                                                                                          Had Romney spent as much time in Palestine as he did in Israel he could have discovered the truth first-hand. He’d have seen the bleedin’ obvious - that the reason the Palestinian economy is on it knees has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with the illegal and brutal military occupation, and the fact that donor countries like the US, Britain and the EU have been propping up and perpetuating the occupation for decades. How can the Palestinians prosper when the Israelis won't allow them to export or import or otherwise do business freely with the outside world?

                                                                                          As for Palestine's weakening agricultural sector what has happened to their water? It’s been stolen and the Israelis are filling their swimming pools and washing their cars with it and channeling it to their own agricultural crops on confiscated Palestinian land, while the Palestinian farmers’ supply is down to a trickle.

                                                                                          And are Palestinians allowed to develop their own energy resource - the Gaza offshore gas field? No. Israel is trying to steal that too.

                                                                                          Romney also ignores the endless checkpoints and other restrictions that block freedom of movement and commerce within the Occupied Territories. It’s bleedin’ obvious the Palestinians can't grow their economy until they shake off Israel's shackles. The dimmest American politician, surely, can figure that out.

                                                                                          But it suits the West’s corrupted political class to let the evil continue.

                                                                                          Romney scheduled a very brief meeting with the Palestinian Authority’s unelected prime minister Salam Fayyad and laced it with a second insult by not traveling to Ramallah. Did he pop over to Gaza and shoot the breeze with Haniyeh and Al-Zahar? Nah, such a reality-check would have been too much for a sheltered Republican softie.

                                                                                          Instead he donned the obligatory kippah for the Zionist cameras and hasbara scribes and prayed at the Western Wall. He met Netanyahu, Israel's belligerent prime minister. One of Romney's senior policy adviser promised support for a unilateral military strike by Israel, which has some 400 nuclear warheads, against Iran which has none... notwithstanding that the Israeli regime is considered by more and more people to be clinically mad.

                                                                                          And to underscore his ignorance he declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. Well, Israel would certainly like Jerusalem to be its capital and for everyone in the world to acknowledge it, but few do for very good reason.

                                                                                          “All I can say is that this man needs a lot of education,” said Saeb Erekat, top Palestinian Authority negotiator. “He doesn’t know the region, he doesn’t know Israelis, he doesn’t know Palestinians, and to talk about the Palestinians as an inferior culture is really a racist statement,” At last, here's something Erekat says that we can agree with.

                                                                                          Romney’s visit to Poland on the final leg of his visit to the real world was hardly a public affairs triumph either, according to the BBC. As Mark Mardell reported, “even his press team finds it difficult to respond to the most basic inquiries about what their candidate has said”. And Romney’s press secretary spectacularly lost his rag with reporters and refused to answer questions after their visit to Warsaw’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “Shove it” and “kiss my ass”, he told reporters.

                                                                                          Far better if glamour-boy Romney had stayed home to irritate the good people of Massachusetts. I thought we Brits were hard up for political talent. But, dear God, is this charmless individual the best presidential material our American friends can offer a world that cries out for integrity and courageous leadership?

                                                                                          As I was about to file this, an email from JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace) arrived with the text of an open letter to Romney, which they hope to deliver at the end of the week. It says:

                                                                                          “To Governor Mitt Romney,

                                                                                          “Your statements in Jerusalem regarding the growth of the Palestinian and Israeli economies were inaccurate and misleading. Israel's Occupation of Palestinian land makes it impossible for the Palestinian economy to succeed, not ‘cultural differences.’ Your comments were not a reflection of the values Jews, Americans, and our allies hold dear. We call on you to apologize to the Palestinian people for your willful lack of understanding of the facts on the ground and the racist assumptions behind them.”

                                                                                          JVP also point out that Romney managed to get his facts completely wrong in claiming the Israeli GDP is twice that of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, when it is actually about ten times greater.

                                                                                          - Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine can now be read on the internet by visiting www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk . He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                            PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in Occupied Palestine

                                                                                            English (US)  August 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                            Palestinian Centre for Human Rights LTD(non-profit)

                                                                                            Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

                                                                                            ·IOF killed a Palestinian worker and wounded 3 others at a checkpoint near Jerusalem.

                                                                                            ·IOF use force to disperse peaceful protest organized by Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.
                                                                                            -3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and a Swedish human rights defender were wounded.


                                                                                            ·IOF conducted 33 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one into the Gaza Strip.
                                                                                            -IOF arrested 10 Palestinians, including a child, in the West Bank.
                                                                                            -IOF blew up a part of a house in Nablus.

                                                                                            ·Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
                                                                                            -IOF arrested a Palestinian woman in the old town of Hebron.

                                                                                            ·Israeli gunboats fired at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                            ·IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
                                                                                            -Israeli settlers uprooted or burnt 30 olive trees in Nabi Saleh village near Ramallah.


                                                                                            Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law in the OPT continued during the reporting period (26 July – 01 August 2012):

                                                                                            On 30 July 2012, IOF killed a Palestinian worker and wounded 3 others at al-Zaeem checkpoint, east of occupied Jerusalem.

                                                                                            During the reporting period, IOF used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized in protest to the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and a Swedish human rights defender, were wounded. Dozens of demonstrators also suffered from tear gas inhalation.

                                                                                            In the Gaza Strip, IOF continued to fire at Palestinian fishing boats. During the reporting period, PCHR documented two attacks in this regard, which did not cause casualties.

                                                                                            During the reporting period, IOF conducted at least 33 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, IOF arrested 10 Palestinians, including a child.

                                                                                            The most violent house raid took place in Nablus, when IOF raided and searched a house 4 times in order to arrest a Palestinian. When they finally found it, they blew up the part of the house where he was hiding, apparently as a retaliatory act against the family for not telling about the place where he was hiding.

                                                                                            In the Gaza Strip, IOF conducted a limited incursion into al-Maghazi refugee camp, during which they leveled areas of Palestinian land which they had already razed.

                                                                                            The full report is available online at:



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                                                                                              English (US)  August 1st, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                              A Palestinian woman picks okra also knowm as lady's fingers in a field close to the village of Yabad in the Israeli occupied West Bank. (Saif Dahlah / AFP / GettyImages)

                                                                                              By Yousef Munayyer Aug 1, 2012 12:45 PM EDT

                                                                                              Yes, Mitt Romney’s ‘analysis’ of the economic disparities between Israelis and Palestinians was racist on multiple levels.

                                                                                              There is just something about those Jews; they are so good at making money. Most people in the modern world would dismiss such a statement as anti-Semitic. But when the presumptive Republican candidate for president insinuates the same in the pursuit of pandering for pro-Zionist support it seems excusable.

                                                                                              There is a history of excusing the perpetuation of, or even engaging in, anti-Semitic tropes as long as they advance the Zionist agenda. ‘Father of Zionism’ Theodor Herzl famously sought to get the Ottoman Sultan Abdel Hamid, whose empire was in severe economic crisis, to give Palestine to the Jews in return for Jewish help with his finances. The Sultan must know, Herzl notes in his diary in 1896, that “the Jews would be prepared to devote their command of money to the regulation of Turkish finances.” He wrote what the Sultan could achieve ’with Jewish help:’“Let the Sultan give us this parcel of land [Palestine], and in return we would set his house in order, regulate his finances, and influence world opinion in his favor.”


                                                                                              You would think the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman would object to Romney’s statements or at minimum ask for a clarification of his comments. After all, he did write an entire book on the stereotype of Jews and money. Yet it seems that as long as Romney engages in such generalization about Jews while agreeing to say yes to Israel 100 percent of the time then it is excusable. That is why Abe Foxman did comment on Romney’s remarks…and praised them.

                                                                                              Romney’s remarks on culture are racist, not only for advancing stereotypes about Jews, but also because they attack Palestinian culture. Romney claims that he didn’t say anything about Palestinian culture; he may have not said it directly but the implication was clear.

                                                                                              In essence, Romney said that here in this same geographic space you have two economies where everything else is constant but culture. Therefore “culture makes all the difference.” In the world of social science, this is called spurious correlation, and such analysis is unbecoming of a man who has dual Law and MBA degrees from Harvard, and is running a presidential campaign on his experience as a CEO of a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

                                                                                              But it's not about culture. Does culture have a place in an analytical debate about economic success? Perhaps. But not at the expense of all other established variables!

                                                                                              The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and many other agencies have issued countless reports about the Palestinian economy and how the infrastructure of Israeli apartheid is the primary limitation of its growth. How can an economy prosper with severe restrictions on movement, restricted import and export, 500+ checkpoints, no access to 60 percent of the land for private investment, severe limitations on access to water and agricultural space, etc.? By ignoring well-established reasons for Palestinian economic limitations, i.e. Israeli restrictions, and explaining things only through differences in ‘culture,’ Romney is blaming the victims of Israeli occupation for their plight and yes, this is racism. Just imagine if he had said the same about cultural differences accounting for disparities between black and white socio-economic factors in America without contextualizing the very real structural and historical factors that contribute to them.

                                                                                              In 2006, Bill Clinton, who was not worried about being elected, gave a more candid assessment of Palestinian culture and abilities: “I have never met a single poor Palestinian anywhere in the world except in the Palestinian territories. Every single Palestinian I know in America is a millionaire or a college professor, and I say that with deep respect, but when there is a conflict, when there is an absence of security, there is always an absence of opportunity."

                                                                                              Romney is too intelligent not to know for sure that it is the Israeli occupation and not cultural differences that has devastated the Palestinian economy. But he is so insistent on toeing the Netanyahu line that he’d make a racist comment to avoid acknowledging the very existence of occupation.

                                                                                              The degree of Israel pandering in this presidential election campaign is disgusting, and it's bound to get worse. The question of “Who loves Israel more?” has become a prominent part of the political discourse in an American election season.

                                                                                              The United States is free to have whatever sort of domestic politics it deems appropriate but don’t be surprised if I, many other Americans, and the rest of the world for that matter, scoff at any mention of America as an “even-handed mediator.”

                                                                                              Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.

                                                                                              Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, The Palestine Center.

                                                                                              The Daily beast

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                                                                                                United States of Israel: Israeli Voters in US Election

                                                                                                English (US)  July 26th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                By Jamal Kanj

                                                                                                With the conclusion of the presidential primaries in the 50 US states, a new election campaign is shaping itself in the unofficial 51st state, otherwise known as Israel.

                                                                                                A parade of US officials and politicians are lining up to visit Israel this month, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just completing her homage.

                                                                                                Other administration visitors include National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

                                                                                                As President Barack Obama did in 2008, presumptive contender for the White House Mitt Romney is scheduled to make his christening visit before the end of this month.


                                                                                                Republican officials Ari Fleischer, President George W Bush's former spokesman, and executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition Mathew Brooks spent several days earlier this month, touring Israel ahead of next week's campaign by Romney.

                                                                                                Brooks and Fleischer were supporting the iVoteIsrael initiative. Unlike what the name implies, iVoteIsrael is not about Israeli elections but a campaign to vote for Israel in the US election.

                                                                                                The organisation's British-born campaign strategic manager Aron Shaviv told the New Jersey Jewish News: "We just encourage people... to think about what (American) candidate is best for Israel."

                                                                                                iVoteIsrael is a subsidiary of a US registered, non-profit organisation established to register dual Israeli-US citizens living in Israel to vote in the 2012 US election. It is funded by US tax-deductible contributions from wealthy Jewish Americans.

                                                                                                Asked about the source of iVoteIsrael funding, Shaviv told +972 magazine: "Much of the donated money comes from the (Sheldon) Adelsons of the world".

                                                                                                Adelson, an American casino tycoon, has contributed hundreds of millions, advocating Israeli causes. He has poured more than $70 million into supporting Republican candidates in this election cycle.

                                                                                                Unofficial estimates suggest there are about 100,000 to 300,000 holders of US-Israeli dual nationality in Israel; many of them from Florida.

                                                                                                Shaviv told reporters: "If you can bring 5,000 in Florida, that's a game changer." In fact, the US election in 2000 was decided by a mere 537 votes in Florida.

                                                                                                According to Fleischer: "There is a possibility that a large number of absentee ballots coming into Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio can make the difference." He was referring to major swing states, which if won, would likely determine the next president.

                                                                                                While claiming to be nonpartisan, iVoteIsrael seeks the election of a president who is willing to give Israel an "absolute commitment".

                                                                                                Displaying typical Zionist arrogance, iVoteIsrael literature claims the "outcome of 2012 elections matters more to Israelis than average Americans".

                                                                                                iVoteIsrael must have overlooked the fact that there are more unemployed Americans than the entire population of Israel, suggesting the outcome of the elections matter for more US citizens than all of Israel.

                                                                                                Not to be outdone, the Democrats are prostrating and Hillel Schenker, vice-chairman of Democrats Abroad Israel, called on Israeli-US citizens to vote for Obama because his "sensitivity towards Israel's security needs cannot be compared to anyone else".

                                                                                                It is reprehensible to see both parties pandering to citizens with sworn loyalty to another nation for votes that could influence the outcome of a US election, particularly as it is based on issues that matter only to Israelis and not Americans.

                                                                                                - Jamal Kanj writes frequently on Arab issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: jkanj@yahoo.com. (This article was first published by Gulf Daily News Newspaper)
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                                                                                                  Land Theft Turtle Island; Land Theft Palestine

                                                                                                  English (US)  July 23rd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                  Indigenous peoples' land loss in the U.S.A.

                                                                                                  Indigeneous people's (Palestinians) land loss in Palestine.

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                                                                                                    Gun Lake Refinances $165 Million in the ‘Post-Patchak’ Era

                                                                                                    English (US)  July 23rd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                    By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                    Good financial news for all of Indian country

                                                                                                    In a significant development for Indian country financing, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians has announced it has refinanced $165 million in outstanding debt—and saved a fortune by doing so.

                                                                                                    The tribe’s refinancing of an original loan of $165 million that was incurred to develop and build Gun Lake Casino was completed three years in advance of the scheduled July 20, 2015 maturity date. The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, had secured the $165 million in financing through the investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs in July 2010, in order to continue constructing the casino on the tribe’s 147-acre reservation in Wayland County, Michigan. Construction had started in months earlier, but slowed down when the economy made it hard to find permanent financing for the project.

                                                                                                    Tribal leaders were happy to announce the refinancing deal. “We are very pleased to have secured favorable terms to refinance our existing debt,” Gun Lake Chairman D.K. Sprague said. “This shows a lot of confidence in our operations and optimism for a bright future, not only for our citizens, but the local economy.”

                                                                                                    The casino opened in February 2010 and in the year-and-a-half since then the tribe has contributed more than $8 million in revenue-sharing to the state and local governments. The tribe employs more than 800 people at the casino. “As a result of the financial markets improving, and the Gun Lake Casino exceeding expectations, the Tribe was able to significantly reduce its cost of borrowing.”

                                                                                                    The tribe saved tens of millions of dollars by refinancing three years in advance of the loan’s maturity date, spokesman James Nye told Indian Country Today Media Network.


                                                                                                    Read the full story at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                                                      Kolodny’s In Search of First Contact Rewrites History, and Then Some

                                                                                                      English (US)  July 23rd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                      By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                      In her extraordinary book In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery (Duke University Press Books, 2012), internationally renowned literary critic Annette Kolodny takes a fine-tooth comb to two medieval Icelandic sagas. Untangling the myths, politics and conventional history surrounding the “discovery” of Turtle Island, she reveals the narratives of Europeans’ first contact with the Indigenous Peoples of America—500 years before Christopher Columbus set foot there.

                                                                                                      In Search of First Contact is a groundbreaking work in that it is the first book to look at the Vinland sagas—those of the Greenlanders and Eirik the Red—as works of American literature. In the process, the volume documents the various Viking groups, including those of Eirik and his sons, who discovered, explored and attempted to colonize North America—an endeavor that lasted for three years—and their first encounters with the Indigenous Peoples of this vast continent. Fascinating in and of themselves, these stories challenge the dominant narrative that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America.

                                                                                                      Read the full story at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                                                        Farewell, Alex, My Friend

                                                                                                        English (US)  July 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                        Alexander Cockburn. Photo: Tao Ruspo

                                                                                                        By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

                                                                                                        Our friend and comrade Alexander Cockburn died last night in Germany, after a fierce two-year long battle against cancer. His daughter Daisy was at his bedside.

                                                                                                        Alex kept his illness a tightly guarded secret. Only a handful of us knew how terribly sick he truly was. He didn’t want the disease to define him. He didn’t want his friends and readers to shower him with sympathy. He didn’t want to blog his own death as Christopher Hitchens had done. Alex wanted to keep living his life right to the end. He wanted to live on his terms. And he wanted to continue writing through it all, just as his brilliant father, the novelist and journalist Claud Cockburn had done. And so he did. His body was deteriorating, but his prose remained as sharp, lucid and deadly as ever.


                                                                                                        In one of Alex’s last emails to me, he patted himself on the back (and deservedly so) for having only missed one column through his incredibly debilitating and painful last few months. Amid the chemo and blood transfusions and painkillers, Alex turned out not only columns for CounterPunch and The Nation and First Post, but he also wrote a small book called Guillotine and finished his memoirs, A Colossal Wreck, both of which CounterPunch plans to publish over the course of the next year.

                                                                                                        Alex lived a huge life and he lived it his way. He hated compromise in politics and he didn’t tolerate it in his own life. Alex was my pal, my mentor, my comrade. We joked, gossiped, argued and worked together nearly every day for the last twenty years. He leaves a huge void in our lives. But he taught at least two generations how to think, how to look at the world, how to live a life of joyful and creative resistance. So, the struggle continues and we’re going to remain engaged. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

                                                                                                        In the coming days and weeks, CounterPunch will publish many tributes to Alex from his friends and colleagues. But for this day, let us remember him through a few images taken by our friend Tao Ruspoli.

                                                                                                        Alex and Jasper

                                                                                                        Alex writing

                                                                                                        Alexander Cockburn. Photo: Tao Ruspo

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                                                                                                          Israeli protester dies a week after self-immolation

                                                                                                          English (US)  July 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                          Moshe Silman set himself on fire during a protest rally in Tel Aviv on July 14, 2012.
                                                                                                          Moshe Silman set himself on fire during a protest rally in Tel Aviv on July 14, 2012.Moshe Silman (

                                                                                                          "Israel robbed me of everything and left me with nothing." -- Moshe Silman

                                                                                                          An Israeli protester, who set himself on fire during a demonstration against social injustice and cost of living in Israel, has died of his wounds.

                                                                                                          According to Israeli media reports, Moshe Silman, who suffered second- and third-degree burns on 94 percent of his body, died on Friday, after fighting for his life for almost a week.

                                                                                                          Silman, 57, set himself on fire on Saturday during a demonstration held to mark the first anniversary of the social justice protests that swept Israel last year.

                                                                                                          Israelis have held several demonstrations in Silman's support in the past days. They also attacked and torched the office of the National Insurance Institute in Tel Aviv, which is blamed for Silman's financial troubles and his attempted suicide.

                                                                                                          Silman, who had been recognized as 100 percent disabled by the National Insurance Institute, was receiving only NIS2,300 (about USD570) in disability benefits and was recently informed that he was not eligible for government housing. He was facing eviction in less than two weeks from the apartment where he had been living in for the past year.

                                                                                                          ''I can’t afford medication or rent. I paid millions in taxes, I served in the army and in the reserves until I was 46. I won’t be homeless and that is why I am protesting against all the wrongs Israel imposes on people like me," Silman wrote in a letter left at the site of the incident, adding that Israel "robbed me of everything and left me with nothing."

                                                                                                          In his letter, he also blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for his economic hardships.

                                                                                                          Press TV

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                                                                                                            Israel's 'No Occupation' Report: Way Cleared for Annexation

                                                                                                            English (US)  July 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                            EU reports criticized Israel for the 'forced transfer'. (Activestills.org)

                                                                                                            By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth

                                                                                                            The recently published report by an Israeli judge concluding that Israel is not in fact occupying the Palestinian territories - despite a well-established international consensus to the contrary - has provoked mostly incredulity or mirth in Israel and abroad.

                                                                                                            Leftwing websites in Israel used comically captioned photographs to highlight Justice Edmond Levy's preposterous finding. One shows an Israeli soldier pressing the barrel of a rifle to the forehead of a Palestinian pinned to the ground, saying: "You see - I told you there's no occupation."

                                                                                                            Even Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, seemed a little discomfited by the coverage last week. He was handed the report more than a fortnight earlier but was apparently reluctant to make it public.

                                                                                                            Downplaying the Levy report's significance may prove unwise, however. If Netanyahu is embarrassed, it is only because of the timing of the report's publication rather than its substance.


                                                                                                            It was, after all, the Israeli prime minister himself who established the committee earlier this year to assess the legality of the Jewish settlers' "outposts", ostensibly unauthorised by the government, that have spread like wild seeds across the West Bank.

                                                                                                            He hand-picked its three members, all diehard supporters of the settlements, and received the verdict he expected - that the settlements are legal. Certainly, Levy's opinion should have come as no surprise. In 2005 he was the only Supreme Court judge to oppose the government's decision to withdraw the settlers from Gaza.

                                                                                                            Legal commentators too have been dismissive of the report. They have concentrated more on Levy's dubious reasoning than on the report's political significance.

                                                                                                            They have noted that Theodor Meron, the foreign ministry's legal adviser in 1967, expressly warned the government in the wake of the Six-Day War that settling civilians in the newly seized territory was a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

                                                                                                            Experts have also pointed to the difficulties Israel will face if it adopts Levy's position.

                                                                                                            Under international law, Israel's rule in the West Bank and Gaza is considered "belligerent occupation" and, therefore, its actions must be justified by military necessity only. If there is no occupation, Israel has no military grounds to hold on to the territories. In that case, it must either return the land to the Palestinians, and move out the settlers, or defy international law by annexing the territories, as it did earlier with East Jerusalem, and establish a state of Greater Israel.

                                                                                                            Annexation, however, poses its own dangers. Israel must either offer the Palestinians citizenship and wait for a non-Jewish majority to emerge in Greater Israel; or deny them citizenship and face pariah status as an apartheid state.

                                                                                                            Just such concerns were raised on Sunday by 40 Jewish leaders in the United States, who called on Netanyahu to reject Levy's "legal maneuverings" that, they said, threatened Israel's "future as a Jewish and democratic state".

                                                                                                            But from Israel's point of view, there may, in fact, be a way out of this conundrum.

                                                                                                            In a 2003 interview, one of the other Levy committee members, Alan Baker, a settler who advised the foreign ministry for many years, explained Israel's heterodox interpretation of the Oslo accords, signed a decade earlier.

                                                                                                            The agreements were not, as most assumed, the basis for the creation of a Palestinian state in the territories, but a route to establish the legitimacy of the settlements. "We are no longer an occupying power, but we are instead present in the territories with their [the Palestinians'] consent and subject to the outcome of negotiations."

                                                                                                            On this view, the Oslo accords redesignated the 62 per cent of the West Bank assigned to Israel's control - so-called Area C - from "occupied" to "disputed" territory. That explains why every Israeli administration since the mid-1990s has indulged in an orgy of settlement-building there.

                                                                                                            According to Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Levy report is preparing the legal ground for Israel's annexation of Area C. His disquiet is shared by others.

                                                                                                            Recent European Union reports have used unprecedented language to criticise Israel for the "forced transfer" - diplomat-speak for ethnic cleansing - of Palestinians out of Area C into the West Bank's cities, which fall under Palestinian control.

                                                                                                            The EU notes that the numbers of Palestinians in Area C has shrunk dramatically under Israeli rule to fewer than 150,000, or no more than 6 per cent of the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Settlers now outnumber Palestinians more than two-to-one in Area C.

                                                                                                            Israel could annex nearly two-thirds of the West Bank and still safely confer citizenship on Palestinians there. Adding 150,000 to the existing 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, a fifth of the population, would not erode the Jewish majority's dominance.

                                                                                                            If Netanyahu is hesitant, it is only because the time is not yet ripe for implementation. But over the weekend, there were indications of Israel's next moves to strengthen its hold on Area C.

                                                                                                            It was reported that Israel's immigration police, which have been traditionally restricted to operating inside Israel, have been authorised to enter the West Bank and expel foreign activists. The new powers were on show the same day as foreigners, including a New York Times reporter, were arrested at one of the regular protests against the separation wall being built on Palestinian land. Such demonstrations are the chief expression of resistance to Israel's takeover of Palestinian territory in Area C.

                                                                                                            And on Sunday it emerged that Israel had begun a campaign against OCHA, the UN agency that focuses on humanitarian harm done to Palestinians from Israeli military and settlement activity, most of it in Area C. Israel has demanded details of where OCHA's staff work and what projects it is planning, and is threatening to withdraw staff visas, apparently in the hope of limiting its activities in Area C.

                                                                                                            There is a problem, nonetheless. If Israel takes Area C, it needs someone else responsible for the other 38 per cent of the West Bank - little more than 8 per cent of historic Palestine - to "fill the vacuum", as Israeli commentators phrased it last week.

                                                                                                            The obvious candidate is the Palestinian Authority, the Ramallah government-in-waiting led by Mahmoud Abbas. Its police forces already act as a security contractor for Israel, keeping in check Palestinians in the parts of the West Bank outside Area C. Also, as a recipient of endless international aid, the PA usefully removes the financial burden of the occupation from Israel.

                                                                                                            But the PA's weakness is evident on all fronts: it has lost credibility with ordinary Palestinians, it is impotent in international forums, and it is mired in financial crisis. In the long term, it looks doomed.

                                                                                                            For the time being, though, Israel seems keen to keep the PA in place. Last month, for example, it was revealed that Israel had tried - even if unsuccessfully - to bail out the PA by requesting a $100 million loan from the International Monetary Fund on the PA's behalf.

                                                                                                            If the PA refuses to, or cannot, take on these remaining fragments of the West Bank, Israel may simply opt to turn back the clock and once again cultivate weak and isolated local leaders for each Palestinian city.

                                                                                                            The question is whether the international community can first be made to swallow Levy's absurd conclusion.

                                                                                                            - Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.jkcook.net. (A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi)

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                                                                                                              Longing for Human Solidarity - For What?

                                                                                                              English (US)  July 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                              'Just don't sit and stare, do something.' (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)

                                                                                                              By Richard Falk

                                                                                                              Being disinclined to look in mirrors, not only to avoid evidences of aging, but also because of an autobiographical deficit, I have recently started to question the vectors of my motivation. Not to raise doubts but to seek some understanding of ‘for what?’ I am especially wondering the reasons behind my solidarity with the struggles of distant strangers, why such solidarity is not more widely shared with likeminded friends, and why the inevitable priorities as to what is emphasized and what is ignored have the shape they do. Most pointedly, why am I giving the Palestinians so much more attention and psychic energy than the Kurds, Tibetans, or Kashmiris, and a host of other worthy causes? And how do I explain to myself a preoccupation with the unlawful, immoral, and imprudent foreign policy of the U.S. Government, the sovereign state of my residence upon whose governmental resources I depend upon for security and a range of rights?

                                                                                                              There are rational answers that tell part of the story, but only a part, and probably the least illuminating part. I was drawn to the Palestinian struggle as a result of friendship with prominent Palestinian exiles while still a student. I formed a well-evidence belief that the U.S. Government and the organized Jewish community were responsible for the massive and enduring confiscation of Palestinian land and rights. And with this awareness came some added sense of responsibility. ‘Just don’t sit and stare, do something.’


                                                                                                              And with this modest kind of engagement came pressures to do more by way of public identification and witnessing, which led to a somewhat deeper awareness, greater familiarity, and of course, a dumpster full of harsh criticism. After many years of speaking and writing, the opportunity and challenge to do more in relation to Palestine/Israel conflict came my way unexpectedly in the form of an unsolicited invitation in 2008 to become the next Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council.

                                                                                                              I never sought such a position, and realized that it would expose me to an escalating onslaught of vicious personal attacks and threats, an expectation that has been amply fulfilled. It is always uncomfortable to be the target of toxic language, and it is even more scary and disturbing to expose my closest partner in life and love to such calumny. Besides the hotly contested terrain that exists whenever Israeli policies are subject to objective scrutiny and criticism, a position within the UN hierarchy is both burdensome and often frustrating. True, being a Special Rapporteur is essentially a voluntary post, without salary or civil service affiliations, although ‘compensated’ to some degree by institutional independence within the UN, which I have discovered in my four years, can be a considerable blessing. There is little doubt in my mind that if I had been a paid employee I would long ago have been handed a pink slip. As it is I have merely endured a barrage of slanderous insults, including from the Secretary General and Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the UN in New York.

                                                                                                              Lest I protest and complain too much, I hasten to add that there are also deep and moving satisfactions. I find particularly satisfying the extent to which my two reports each year on the Israeli occupation of Palestine provide a truthful witnessing to the unspeakable ordeal of this prolonged and harsh occupation. Actually, it is less and less an occupation and more and more an apartheid style form of annexation, aggravated by continuous land grabs, various instruments of ethnic cleansing, and a range of gratuitous cruelties most recently dramatized by a series of heroic hunger strikes by Palestinians protesting those aspects of their plight resulting from violent arrest procedures, administrative detention, and deplorable prison conditions falling far below accepted international standards. Bearing witness, giving the Palestinians an authentic voice with which to formulate their grievances, and having the means to issue press releases calling attention to particular incidents of abuse, makes me feel as though my time is well spent even if the bodies keep piling up on the Palestinian side of the border. Part of the challenge in such a role is to realize the discouraging constraints on what can be achieved. Governments mainly don’t listen, and even when they do, their actions and policies are rarely informed by moral imperatives, and so nothing changes however much the evidence is present.

                                                                                                              The devastating impact of the Gaza blockade has been known and lamented for years by political leaders, and yet the costs of doing anything about it have seemed so great that even those who complain most loudly in the chambers of the UN are silent or worse when it comes to doing something. Someone at my level is shouting to be heard amid the clamor that prevails in the diplomatic discotheques of New York and Geneva, and even when heard, must learn to expect nothing to be done or else despair, even madness, will soon follow.

                                                                                                              Beyond this rational balance sheet of gains and losses, is a deeper less accessible convergence of feelings and impulses, which cannot be explained, but only acknowledged. I am not sure why direct exposure to victimization has such a powerful animating effect on my behavior, but it does. I do feel that a sense of responsibility emerges with such knowledge, especially that derived from direct contact with the suffering of victims caught in some historical trap not of their own making. Also, whether visiting North Vietnam as a peace activist during the Vietnam War or seeking to understand the Iranian Revolution by talking with its leaders as the extraordinary process was unfolding in Tehran, I felt a meta-professional obligation to share this privileged exposure by talking and writing about it, however inadequately, particularly, as seemed generally to be the case, that the mainstream media distorted and manipulated their presentations of such historic happenings as misleadingly seen through their Western optic of (mis)perception.

                                                                                                              Somewhere in this agonizingly slow formation of my character there was being constructed a self that took the shape of ‘engaged scholar’ and ‘citizen pilgrim.’ In retrospect, I think I was reacting somewhat dialectically to my academic colleagues who mostly felt it inappropriate to speak out on controversial issues although they viewed it as entirely professional to consult with the government and quite all right to avoid the public sphere altogether by packaging themselves as experts who should not be expected to take public stands on partisan issues that divided the polity. I felt, increasingly with age, the opposite. I came to believe that it was an organic part of my integrity as teacher/scholar to create a seamless interface between classroom and sites of political struggle. In truth, not entirely seamless as the classroom must always be treated as a sacred space by a faculty member. It should be maintained as a sanctuary for the uninhibited exchange of views, however diverse and antagonistic, in an atmosphere of disciplined civility. I have always felt that a primary duty of a teacher is to establish sufficient trust with students, that is, permission and encouragement of openness of expression with a clear understanding that performance will be objectively assessed, and not affected by agreement or disagreement with what the teacher happens to believe. This is a delicate balance yet far more conducive to learning than a sterile and journeyman insistence that what people beyond the campus are dying for can be usefully addressed with sanitary dispassion.

                                                                                                              In the end, this vital domain of conscious pedagogy and unconscious morality, is spiritually validated by an unmediated and uninterrogated sense that this or that is ‘the right thing to do.’ It certainly helps to remain as free as possible of vested interests and career ambitions that tend to crush an implicit pledge of truthfulness that authentic witnessing depends upon. And beyond witnessing there exists an iron wall of moral obligation: caring about the future, doing what I can to make the world a better place for human habitation and co-evolution with nature, which I have understood as a species obligation that has been made historically urgent ever since an atomic bomb was exploded over the Japanese city of Hiroshima and is now also deeply connected with protecting the planet from the multiple hazards of global warming hopelessly embedded in our carbon-dependent life styles as promiscuously promoted in disastrous directions by the greed of superrich fossil fuel billionaires and their far too powerful corporate allies.

                                                                                                              I have not rested these life commitments on the teachings of any particular religious tradition or institution, although I have long found the great world religions, East and West, despite their menacing contradictions and multiple readings, as providing me with the most profound sources of wisdom and guidance. It is the basis of my ecumenical longing for human solidarity, along with my feelings of awe produced by contact with cosmic and natural wonders, and deeply informs my sense of the spiritual ground of the human adventure. These sentiments are reinforced in my case by a commitment to an emergent form of cosmopolitan citizenship that owes allegiance to the ethics and praxis of human sustainability, the individual and collective dignity of all human beings, and a respectful kinship with and love of our non-human co-inhabitants of the planet. Such perspectives, I believe, respond to our historically precarious situation as a species, and here in America, this concern is accentuated. For this is a country with a surfeit of moral and political pretensions. It exhibits hubris to an alarming degree, and in extravagant ways, and is endangering itself along with the rest of the world by a refusal to heed what the geopolitical mirror of reflection warns about.

                                                                                                              - Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Visit: http://richardfalk.wordpress.com.

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                                                                                                                Israel to urge EU to blacklist Hezbollah after Burgas blast

                                                                                                                English (US)  July 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman calls the European Union to blacklist Hezbollah after blaming the Lebanese Shia movement for the recent bombing attacks in Bulgaria
                                                                                                                AFP , Sunday 22 Jul 2012

                                                                                                                Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. (Photo: AP)

                                                                                                                Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is to head to Brussels on Monday to press his European Union counterparts to blacklist Hezbollah as a 'terror' group after a deadly bombing in Bulgaria.

                                                                                                                Israel blames the Lebanese militant group and its Iranian ally for the attack near the Black Sea resort of Burgas which killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver on Wednesday.

                                                                                                                The foreign ministry announcement late on Sunday came after Israeli intelligence chiefs told government ministers that they had evidence that Iran and Hezbollah had plotted attacks in more than 20 countries over the past two years.


                                                                                                                "Minister Lieberman is travelling to Brussels and will ask the countries of the European Union to include Hezbollah in its blacklist of terrorist organisations and to tighten security measures at airports and around Israeli and Jewish institutions," the ministry statement said.

                                                                                                                Lieberman said that Wednesday's bombing in Bulgaria, itself an EU member state, "has changed the way in which Hezbollah is seen".

                                                                                                                "This is a new terrorist crime by Hezbollah which joins a long list which this organisation has been responsible for in recent years... European countries must draw the lessons."

                                                                                                                Lieberman is due to hold talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, as well as his British and French counterparts William Hague and Laurent Fabius.

                                                                                                                Shiite militant group Hezbollah is the leading force in Lebanon's governing coalition and has representation in the cabinet. EU countries maintain contacts with its political wing.

                                                                                                                But Israel regards the group, with which it fought a devastating but inconclusive war in Lebanon in 2006, as one its principal foes.

                                                                                                                Prime Minister Benajmin Netanyahu told Sunday's cabinet meeting: "It is very important to be able to prove to the world that Iran and Hezbollah are behind this wave of attacks on every continent.

                                                                                                                "Iran and Hezbollah made preparations to carry out attacks in more than 20 countries around the world over the past two years," a statement from his office said.

                                                                                                                No one has yet claimed responsibility for the Bulgaria bombing, which was the deadliest on Israelis abroad since 2004.

                                                                                                                Israel, in blaming Iran and Hezbollah for Wednesday's bombing, said it fitted a pattern of other attacks or attempted attacks on Israelis including in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya and Cyprus.

                                                                                                                Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast denied any involvement, saying Tehran condemned "all terrorists attacks".

                                                                                                                Iran has in turn accused Israel of carrying out deadly attacks on its nuclear scientists. Shiite militant group Hezbollah has also blamed Israel for the killing of one of its commanders, Imad Mughniyeh, in a Damascus car bombing in 2008.

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                                                                                                                  Reviving Canada's indigenous narrative

                                                                                                                  English (US)  July 15th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                  Totem poles almost did not survive colonisation in North America, but they seem to be making a comeback.

                                                                                                                  Totem pole carving - like many other aspects of culture among indigenous peoples in North America - is something that almost did not survive conquest and colonisation.

                                                                                                                  Totem poles as an art form flourished in the 19th century. But when Christian missionaries arrived from England, they decided that the poles were the devil's work.

                                                                                                                  Now, however, the art form seems to be making a comeback.

                                                                                                                  Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds reports from Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

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                                                                                                                    Israel legalizing grab of Palestinian land

                                                                                                                    English (US)  July 15th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                    Klalid Amayreh

                                                                                                                    A special committee appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to look into the "legality" of Jewish colonies in the West Bank has concluded that Israel has a legal right to grab Palestinian land, irrespective of the rule of international law and any other considerations.

                                                                                                                    The committee, made up of highly fanatical Talmudic-minded figures, such as Edmond Levy, who opposed the dismantlement of Jewish colonies in Gaza in 2005, argued that the West Bank was not really an occupied territory and that the Israeli state could legally steal as much of that territory as it sees fit for meeting the needs of Jewish settlers. The occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by Israel is not recognized by the international community, including the United States.

                                                                                                                    The drafters of the committee recommendations belong to a Jewish school of thought which teaches that the ancient or Biblical land of Israel covers much of the Middle East, including the entirety of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon as well as parts of Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.


                                                                                                                    Moreover, the compilers of the committee report seem to be racist to the hilt, as they paid virtually no attention to the very existence of the Palestinian people, treating them as if they didn't exist.

                                                                                                                    According to the Israeli media, the only positive "gesture" the report compilers made toward the Palestinians was a recommendation that Israeli army officers treating Palestinian litigations pertaining to land grab issues wear civilian cloths instead of military uniforms in order to give an appearance of formality and justice.

                                                                                                                    There is no doubt that the latest measure on the part of the Israeli government represents a pornographic breach of justice. But so what? Israel has always behaved and acted this way, with unlimited and unrestricted backing from its guardian-ally, the United States.

                                                                                                                    In the final analysis, Israel itself is a gigantic war crime and crime against humanity. Hence, the latest measure, although it goes beyond chutzpah, should be viewed within the normal order of things, since it is characteristic of a criminal state that is not unlike history's worst criminals.

                                                                                                                    Indeed, for the Israeli government to ask a committee of settlers and Jewish supremacists to draft recommendations that would determine Palestinian rights, including the right to life and survival, is very much akin to Nazi Germany asking hard-core Nazi ideologues to preside over a body that would deal with the "Jewish problem."

                                                                                                                    Moreover, the legalization of the land grab of Palestinian land at the hands of European and Khazari invaders and other Jewish land thieves coming from distant parts of the world, such as Ethiopia, Peru and India, shows that the lebensraum concept is as Jewish as it is German.

                                                                                                                    There are small difference related to the details. The Germans wanted a wider living space in the east, whereas genocidal Jewish terrorists claim the land of Palestine belonged to their ancestors three or four thousand years ago.

                                                                                                                    Would any of you cede his or her house if someone came to you, insisting that the house belonged to his ancestors several thousands of years ago? Yet, this is exactly what these gun-wielding, kippa-donning terrorists have been doing for more than four decades, terrorizing unprotected Palestinians, stealing their land, and shouting Mavet le-Arabim or death to the Arabs.

                                                                                                                    A few years ago, Israeli spokespersons would tell unsuspecting western diplomats that the settlers were a marginal group of fanatics who in no way represented the collective conscience of the Israeli society or indeed the Jewish people. Yet, the settlers have come to represent the overall conscience and soul of Israel. They, not only tightly control the government and Knesset, but have been effectively able to take over the Israeli army and police, rendering Israel a de facto fascist state.

                                                                                                                    Don't misunderstand me. The fascist epithet is not my invention. It was used by an Israeli cabinet minister who remarked two years ago that "we already live in a fascist state."

                                                                                                                    The Israeli Jewish society continues to drift toward more brazen forms of fascism and more violent forms of jingoism. This augers very bad for non-Jews as well as many liberal Jews who still harbor some modicum of rectitude and human decency.

                                                                                                                    But implosion and ultimate demise will be the sure kismet of fascist societies which divide humans into children of a greater god and children of a lesser god, or sons of light or sons of darkness.

                                                                                                                    The Israeli designs against the Palestinians are quite nefarious so much so that we can perfectly refer to the Zionists as the Nazis of our time. I am not claiming that Israel has murdered six million Palestinians. But then, does one have to kill six million people in order to qualify for the Nazi epithet? Stalin and his mostly Jewish aides did kill far more Ukrainians than Hitler killed Jews, yet we don't call him a "Nazi."

                                                                                                                    None the less, the attempted annihilation of the national existence of a given people is a Nazi act irrespective of any academic hallucination to the contrary.

                                                                                                                    More to the point, the attempted annihilation of an ethnic or cultural or religious community becomes brazenly diabolical especially when brashly racist "justifications" are used to rationalize the criminal act.

                                                                                                                    Needless to say, Israel and Nazi Germany look very much like Tweedledum and Tweedledee as far as racism is concerned. Germany invoked the German master race as well as the Übermensch/Untermensch concept. The Zionists are invoking the Chosen people mantra which really justifies all acts of aggression and criminality against non-Jews even to the point of viewing them as beasts of burden created solely in order to serve the master race. Some Chabad rabbis have issued an edict that would allow a Jew to murder a non-Jew in order to harvest his organs in case the Jew needed one.!

                                                                                                                    The Germans spoke of lebensraum while the Zionists speak of settlements, arguing that Israel's borders end where Israeli tanks stop.

                                                                                                                    And sheer military might is the ultimate god of both schools of evil, Nazism and Zionism.

                                                                                                                    Nazism has gone into oblivion, finding its way to the dust bin of history. I have no doubt that Zionism will eventually meet the same fate. Seventy years are nothing in the annals of history.

                                                                                                                    In a world where every thing can be denied, there are forces undeniable. And on Earth where nothing is sure, we have our certainties. And the demise of Israel is undoubtedly a historical certainty.

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                                                                                                                      The Arafat forensic file reopened

                                                                                                                      English (US)  July 15th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                      While the Palestinian Authority has dodged many bullets on its dubious relation with Israel, it may not be able to dodge the charge that Israel assassinated Yasser Arafat, writes Saleh Al-Naami
                                                                                                                      Al Ahram

                                                                                                                      Palestinian Mahmoud Sarsak, a former player with the national football team, is carried by his supporters in Rafah after his release from Israeli prison where he was held for three years without charges or trial. Sarsak had staged a hunger strike for more than 90 days to press for his release

                                                                                                                      Palestinian Authority (PA) spokespersons were clearly at a loss for words in response to the results of an investigation into the death of former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat carried out by Al-Jazeera and broadcast last week. The seemingly incontrovertible revelation that the commission formed by the PA leadership eight years ago to probe the circumstances surrounding Arafat's death was not serious in its intent to unearth the truth has been deeply embarrassing for PA officials. The Al-Jazeera report revealed quite a few details that the commission should have been able to learn and that were previously unknown to the Palestinian public.

                                                                                                                      Under the onslaught of public pressure, the Palestinian leadership announced that it was ready to cooperate with the research teams that took part in the Al-Jazeera investigation. PA spokesmen took the occasion to state that they had no shadow of a doubt that Israel was behind the poisoning of "Abu Ammar" (Arafat's nom de guerre) and that they were determined to get to the truth. At the same time, they tried to give the impression that the commission that was formed in the aftermath of Arafat's death continued to function and that Tawfiq Al-Tirawi, the Palestinian intelligence chief during Arafat's last days, was still its head.


                                                                                                                      Al-Tirawi stated that the commission would soon submit a report to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, adding that the commission had learned that there had been breaches in the security systems and services that were protecting Arafat when he was under blockade in his headquarters in Ramallah shortly before his death in 2004. The former intelligence chief said that Arafat had increasingly come to feel that his life was in jeopardy because of statements coming out of Israel signalling that he was targeted for assassination.

                                                                                                                      Statements by PA officials may do little to defuse the heat of criticism. It was not the fact that the commission headed by Al-Tirawi did very little that angered many Palestinians, but that no one had ever heard of this commission before. Nevertheless, the PA leadership has vowed to cooperate with various international agencies and to offer all possible assistance and facilities in the interest of uncovering the circumstances behind Arafat's death, which is now strongly suspected to have been the result of poisoning. Communications are currently in progress with the Institute of Radiophysics in Lausanne to discuss arrangements for a team from that institute to travel to Ramallah in order to determine whether it will be necessary to exhume Arafat's remains in order to perform the necessary tests to ascertain whether the cause of death was indeed polonium poisoning. Some questioned the necessity of this, since all experts interviewed by Al-Jazeera agree that exhumation will be necessary in order to determine the levels of this radioactive substance in the body.

                                                                                                                      In order to lend greater credibility to their pledges, PA officials have called for a UN Security Council resolution to form an international inquiry commission on the assassination of Arafat. Member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation Executive Committee Saeb Ereikat told reporters that President Abbas asked French President Fran³ýois Hollande to pursue the necessary measures in the Security Council to create a trustworthy international inquiry commission to investigate the circumstances behind the death of Arafat, similar to the UN commission that was tasked with investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri. Ereikat said that in the event that such a UN commission was not created, the Arab League would call for an international Arab investigation and that the Arab League secretary-general was currently studying the matter closely. He added: "We must learn the truth behind the assassination of Arafat and the means by which it was accomplished."

                                                                                                                      Talal Okal, a member of the board of trustees of the Yasser Arafat Foundation and a member of the committee that this foundation created in 2009 to discover the causes of the late Palestinian president's death, said that the PA's task was complicated by international pressures to prevent Palestine from obtaining a seat in the United Nations. "The situation is difficult and complex, but the PA now has no other choice but to press for an international investigation in light of the extreme sensitivity of this matter among the Palestinian people who attach great importance to the need to discover the circumstances surrounding the death of their leader, Arafat."

                                                                                                                      But Palestinians are not alone in demanding an inquiry since learning the information that came to light in the Al-Jazeera investigative report. The Tunisian foreign minister, Rafiq Abdel-Salam, has called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League to discuss the subject. Nevertheless, Okal believes that the Palestinians will encounter stiff international resistance to their pursuit of an international inquiry into Arafat's death. "The US administration and Israel will exert enormous pressure on the PA to keep it from turning to the UN," he said. "It is not just a question of technology or material capacities. There is also the refusal on the part of countries concerned to supply answers that will help the course of the investigations. Foremost among these are France and the medical team in Percy Hospital (to which Arafat was moved in November 2004 after a grave deterioration in his health in Ramallah). In addition there will be mounting Israeli pressures to prevent a full investigation."

                                                                                                                      Okal held that the Al-Jazeera report confirmed Palestinian suspicions that Israel was responsible for Arafat's death, but "the investigation remains incomplete both in terms of conclusions and in terms of their ramifications." He went on to argue that US administration will do its utmost to prevent an international investigation because of the great embarrassment that would cause to Washington. "In fact, the international community, and the members of the International Quartet in particular, collaborated with the perpetrator and even remained a step ahead so as not to find itself in the position of having to take a public position against Israel which these partners know with certainty was the perpetrator. Once again, the great powers -- the manufactures of international policies --should be ashamed of themselves for their flagrant exercise of double standards in view of how they acted in similar cases."

                                                                                                                      Okal added: "The decision to assassinate an international figure of the stature of the martyr Yasser Arafat is not one that could have been taken by a few. Most likely some former Arab leaders had advanced knowledge of the plan to eliminate Arafat."

                                                                                                                      Many Palestinians remain unconvinced that the PA leadership is serious in its intent to unearth the truth about the death of Arafat. There reason for this is quite simple: many members of this leadership were instrumental in the drive to eliminate Arafat politically. Ghassan Abu Samha, a teacher in Gaza, asks: "Why did Mahmoud Abbas agree to cooperate with Israel and the West after plans were put into effect to annihilate Arafat politically at the height of Al-Aqsa Intifada?" He goes on to observe: "Unfortunately, Abu Mazen [Abbas] displayed no resistance whatsoever to the Israeli-US project, which subsequently furnished the conditions for Arafat's physical annihilation."

                                                                                                                      Some Palestinians are of the opinion that the PA leadership's cooperation in putting into effect the US-Israeli devised "roadmap" unveiled by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in March 2003 helped pave the way for the elimination of Arafat. As one source explained, Arafat "stood in the way of designs to eliminate the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel realised could not be accomplished unless there was close cooperation between the PA security agencies and Israeli intelligence, especially in the West Bank."

                                                                                                                      In fact, as we look back, perhaps the first step toward sidelining Arafat was the restructuring of the PA hierarchy so as to create the position of prime minister. Even then, it was no secret that the Bush administration and the Sharon government had eyed current PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, for the job. Abbas was firmly and publicly opposed to the use of armed force as an instrument of resistance against the occupation, which, from the perspective of Tel Aviv and Washington, made him the ideal successor to Arafat.

                                                                                                                      Curiously, Al-Jazeera's revelations pointing to Arafat's assassination by poisoning coincide with the success of Palestinian protest movements to prevent a meeting between Abbas and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz in Ramallah. This coincidence is not without considerable symbolic significance to many Palestinians. Mofaz was the Israeli minister of defence at the time of Arafat's death and of all the members of Sharon's government at the time he was the most ardent advocate of eliminating Arafat, a view that he expressed on numerous occasions. According to some Palestinians the very willingness of PA officials to meet with Mofaz, in particular, is proof of their disregard for the Palestinian blood that was shed in the Intifada.

                                                                                                                      As the foregoing suggests, the Al-Jazeera documentary has reignited controversy in Palestine on a number of interrelated issues that have profound significance to the Palestinian people. Naturally, all eyes are on the PA leadership to see whether it will take the steps necessary to confirm the sincerity of its desire to investigate the circumstances surrounding Arafat's death. The PA leadership, for its part, is caught in a vice. On the one hand, it cannot circumvent the overwhelming popular demand to learn the truth. On the other, it fears that it will lose all justification for sustaining its relationship with Israel in the event that the investigation establishes what Palestinians already believe to be true, that Tel Aviv is guilty of the crime.

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                                                                                                                        War of lies and apathy

                                                                                                                        English (US)  July 15th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                        Washington may have overcome the "Vietnam Syndrome" in its war on Iraq, but US peace movements are left to deal with the American public's indifference to human suffering caused by wars, writes Kathy Kelly
                                                                                                                        Al Ahram
                                                                                                                        Click to view caption

                                                                                                                        An archival photo of looters caught inside a bank by US soldiers and being searched as they lay on the ground in Baghdad

                                                                                                                        In April of 2003, I returned from Iraq after having lived there during the US "Shock and Awe" bombing and the initial weeks of the invasion. Before the bombing I had travelled to Iraq about two dozen times and had helped organise 70 trips to Iraq, aiming to cast light on a brutal sanctions regime, with the "Voices in the Wilderness" campaign. As the bombing had approached, we had given our all to helping organise a remarkable worldwide peace movement effort, one which may have come closer than any before it to stopping a war before it started. But, just as, before the war, we'd failed to lift the vicious and lethally punitive economic sanctions against Iraq, we also failed to stop the war, and the devastating civil war that it created.

                                                                                                                        So it was April and I'd returned home, devastated at our failure. My mother possessed ample reserves of Irish charm, motherly wisdom, and, for purposes of political analyses, a political analysis consistent with that of Fox News Channel. She knew I was distraught, and aiming to comfort me, she said the following in her soft, lilting voice. "Kathy, dear, what you don't understand is that the people of Iraq could have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein a long time ago, and they ought to have done so, and they didn't. So we went in there and did it for them." She clearly hoped I could share her relief that the US could lend a helping hand in that part of the world. "And they ought to be grateful, and they're not."


                                                                                                                        My mother, then in her 80s, was actually quite anti-war, but she was also against evil dictators, and the governance of any country where she was consistently told we might need to invade. If a war could be packaged as necessary to achieving humanitarian goals, then my mother would almost certainly join the majority of US people, over the past decade or so, in tolerating wars or at least enduring them with a general indifference to any accounts of the human suffering the wars might cause.

                                                                                                                        Although the war in Afghanistan is often referred to as the longest war in US history, the multi-stage war in Iraq, beginning in 1991 and inclusive of 13 years of continual bombardment and nightmarish, generation-wasting economic warfare waged through militarily-enforced sanctions, constitutes the longest war, one which in real terms is of course ongoing.

                                                                                                                        John Tirman, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, attempted, in his book The Deaths of Others, (Oxford University Press, 2011), to understand how US people could be so indifferent to the suffering caused by US military actions. He was following up on his seminal study of Iraq war casualties, released by John Hopkins and printed in The Lancet, which had concluded that in the three and a half years following Shock and Awe, the war and its effects had killed upwards of 660,000 Iraqis. This credible report, backed by prestigious academic institutions, had been ignored by the government, and thus also by the media, allowing a disinterested public to avoid learning information they'd mostly been careful not to ask for.

                                                                                                                        In his book, Tirman was now trying to understand how the US public could have been so indifferent.

                                                                                                                        His eventual explanation focuses on how hard US war planners (and war profiteers) have worked to overcome "the Vietnam Syndrome", which is to say the healthy democratic rejection of the Vietnam War, which authorities across the liberal-to-conservative spectrum have tended to see as a sort of disease to be eliminated. The inoculation campaign had been very effective: by creating an all-volunteer army, by carefully regimenting and "embedding" reporters and relentlessly emphasising "humanitarian" goals to be achieved by any exercise of our power overseas, the US military-industrial complex has been able to assure that the majority of US people won't rise up in protest of our wars. If the public can be persuaded that a war is essentially humanitarian, Tirman believes their indifference can be counted on, in spite of the number of US soldiers killed or maimed or psychologically disabled by their wartime experiences, regardless of the drain on US economies however stricken or depressed, and without any apparent concern for or even awareness of the horrendous consequences borne by the communities overseas that are the targets of our massively armed humanitarianism. Adding to a predisposition on behalf of saving people from evil dictators, the US population and that of many Western allies face declining availability of jobs. Available jobs are increasingly controlled by either the military-industrial complex or the prison (criminal justice) industrial complex.

                                                                                                                        A few years ago, many people disenchanted with the Iraq and Afghan wars placed hopes in Obama as someone who would uphold the rule of law, including the international laws, ratified by US congresses past, against international aggression and war crime, ending those abuses by the US military, its private-sector contractors, and the CIA, which have contributed so to worldwide hostility against the US and have arguably so greatly lessened our security. But the Obama administration, in its de facto continuation of both wars, in its massive escalation of targeted assassinations worldwide and its secrecy about drone warfare against Pakistan, has repeatedly shown our government's unshakeable allegiance to militarists and those radically right-wing advocates of corporate power we're often now asked to call "centrists".

                                                                                                                        I think we in the peace and anti-war movements find ourselves stalemated. Groups are outspent and out-manoeuvred by military and corporate institutions with power to undercut whatever "clout" our movements might have developed because these two complexes have now arrogated so much antidemocratic control over the media and the economy. Nonetheless, grassroots groups persist with arduous and often heroic efforts to continue educating their constituencies and reminding ordinary people that the defence industry is not providing them with any of the security that it assuredly isn't providing for people trapped in our war zones.

                                                                                                                        What direction should the peace and anti-war movements pursue now? Now, when it seems difficult to point towards substantial possible gains? Now, as the US continues to wage multiple wars and build on a weapons stockpile that already exceeds the combined arsenals of the next most militarised 18 countries on Earth? In advance or in retreat, we have to keep resisting. Surely, we must continue basic "maintenance" tasks of outreach and education. Voices for Creative Nonviolence tries to assist in educating the general public about people who bear the brunt of our wars -- so we travel to war zones and live alongside ordinary people, trying, upon our return, to get their stories through to ordinary people in the US. We hope that by doing so we can eventually help motivate civil society into action to oppose these wars. But while working to preserve the heart of the society, its civilisation in the best meaning of that term, we know we must always organise for and participate in campaigns designed to have the greatest possible impact on policymakers now, and through them on those whose lives are so desperately at stake. That commitment in turn is part of our message to our neighbours to reclaim their humanity through action.

                                                                                                                        It's not just each other's hearts, but also each other's minds that citizens of a democracy are called upon to exercise. We must constantly appeal to the rationality of the general public, engaging in humble dialogue so they can appeal to ours, helping people see that US war-making does not make people safer here or abroad, that in fact we are jeopardised as well -- if only by the intense anger and frustration caused by policies like targeted assassination, night raids, and aerial bombings of civilians.

                                                                                                                        We should celebrate the tremendous accomplishment of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). In just 12 weeks the "99 and 1" logos reintroduced people, worldwide, to the normalcy of discussing, in all manner of public discussions, the fundamental unfairness of systems designed to benefit small elites at the expense of vast majorities; and the OWS movement welcomed anyone and everyone into solidarity in building towards more humane, more just, and more democratic communities. The peace movement should participate in and encourage this remarkable network, and similar organisations that will spring up to complement it, not only to demand more jobs and better wages but also to stipulate what kinds of jobs we want and what kinds of products we want those jobs devoted to creating. We must campaign for jobs that build our society instead of converting it into junk -- that produce constructive and necessary goods and services and above all not the weapons that we employ in prisons and battlefields at home and abroad.

                                                                                                                        We must think hard about ways to democratise our country, and reverse the "unwarranted influence" over our society which, half a century ago, a Republican president was warning us already belonged to the military industrial complex. Enormous sums of money, along with human ingenuity and resources, are now being poured into developing drone warfare and surveillance to be used abroad and increasingly at home, but the more intelligence our leaders collect, the less we, the led, have access to. The drones aren't there to help us understand the Afghan people -- how they huddle together on the brink of starvation, dared to survive the capricious and uncivilised behaviour of a nation gone mad on war. Have we any means of imposing civilisation, not on desperate people around the world, but on those who lack it -- the elites that control our military, our economy, and our government?

                                                                                                                        And honestly, I couldn't persuade my own mother. I should admit here to a recent conversation with my sisters, the oldest of whom recently shared, "we weren't sure whether or not to tell you, but mom really did hope you were working for the CIA."

                                                                                                                        We never know how we will influence others and what unexpected developments might happen. The destiny of a world of seven billion people should never be shaped by a few activists -- as it currently is shaped by a remarkably few activists occupying the US Pentagon, our business centres and the White House. We're not supposed to make any change we can securely claim credit for -- we're supposed to do good for the world -- to speak truth to it, to resist its oppressors, to surprise it with decency, love, and an implacability for justice; and trust it to surprise us in turn.

                                                                                                                        With eyes wide open, willing to look in the mirror, (I'm drawing from the titles of two extraordinarily impressive campaigns designed by the American Friends Service Committee), we must persist with the tasks of education and outreach, looking for nonviolent means to take risks commensurate to the crimes being committed, all the while growing ever more open to links with popular movements and respectful alliances well outside our choir. We must civilise the world by examples of clear-sightedness and courage. We're supposed to do what anyone is supposed to do; live as full humans, as best we can, in a world whose destiny we can never predict, and whose astonishingly precious inhabitants could never be given enough justice, or love, or time.

                                                                                                                        The writer co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence, www.vcnv.org.www.vcnv.org.

                                                                                                                        1919 words posted in Anti-war, Iraq warLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                          Israel mulls sanctions on UN agency in West Bank due to staffers' illegal activity

                                                                                                                          English (US)  July 15th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                          Israel wants to 'reassess' role in the West Bank of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
                                                                                                                          By Barak Ravid
                                                                                                                          Haaretz| Jul.15, 2012 | 2:26 AM | 33

                                                                                                                          A Palestinian boy rides a bicycle past tents in the West Bank village of Susiya June 24, 2012

                                                                                                                          The Foreign Ministry and Israel Defense Forces are considering imposing sanctions against a UN agency in the West Bank and Gaza following allegations that agency employees have engaged in illegal activity such as illegal construction.

                                                                                                                          As senior officials in Jerusalem put it, Israel wants to “reassess” the role in the West Bank of the agency, the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

                                                                                                                          The two options under consideration are limiting the issuing of visas to OCHA employees and rescinding work and travel permits to local residents who work for OCHA.


                                                                                                                          Over the past six months, there has been a major deterioration in relations between OCHA and the Israeli government, a senior Israeli source said. Israeli officials have been furious over the conduct of OCHA staff in the part of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and military control.

                                                                                                                          Known as Area C, this area comprises 55 percent of the West Bank and includes the Jewish settlements, IDF firing ranges and most of the Jordan Valley and Judean Desert. It is estimated that about 120,000 Palestinian live in Area C.

                                                                                                                          The senior Israeli official said OCHA had promoted several projects in Area C without Israeli approval including illegal construction. Senior officers from the office of Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, asked OCHA’s director in Israel to immediately halt the illegal activities, but nothing has changed.

                                                                                                                          The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, COGAT, oversees civilian activities in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                          Israeli ire over the issue is so great that Dangot ordered a halt to all OCHA’s illegal project work and instructed that a demolition order be issued for any illegal construction. Dangot also asked that the Foreign Ministry lodge a formal complaint at the United Nations in New York.

                                                                                                                          About a week ago, officials from the Foreign Ministry, Dangot’s office and other ministries met to consider the sanctions against OCHA.

                                                                                                                          “OCHA’s activity harms other UN agencies helping the Palestinians,” a senior Israeli official said. “The agency encourages the delegitimization of Israel through false reports that it distributes to the entire international community, creating irreversible damage to the entire UN.”

                                                                                                                          On July 10, Israel’s UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, sent a harsh letter to the UN’s undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, who directly oversees OCHA. Prosor expressed Israel’s desire to put matters in order regarding OCHA’s activities in the West Bank and Gaza.

                                                                                                                          To read the full letter click here

                                                                                                                          According to Prosor, “since the beginning of OCHA’s operations in the PA [the Palestinian Authority], 12 years ago, its presence was never officially established,” Prosor wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz. He said Israel would like to start a “dialogue with OCHA in regard to its status and activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

                                                                                                                          According to Prosor, “In spite of its continual overtures, Israel has received only one statement that addresses OCHA’s actions and staff − a letter that dates back to 2004,” he wrote. He said the situation in the West Bank and Gaza had “changed considerably since then, and we therefore believe there is a need to review OCHA’s role in light of the current situation.”

                                                                                                                          Prosor asked Amos for a full list of OCHA’s staff and employees in the West Bank and Gaza, “including full name, location and job description.” He also asked for “a review of OCHA’s main activities in the past two years and its prediction for future activities.”

                                                                                                                          Prosor also requested clarifications about the roles played by OCHA and “other UN bodies providing assistance to the Palestinian population.” These other agencies include the the UN Relief and Works Agency, the UN Development Program, and the World Food Program.

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                                                                                                                            Ghazals from Ghalib, translated by M. Shahid Alam

                                                                                                                            English (US)  July 15th, 2012 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                            Only a few come back to us in roses and tulips.
                                                                                                                            Many more lie buried, dust on their sleeping eyelids.

                                                                                                                            By day, the daughters of the Pleiades play out of sight.
                                                                                                                            At night, they lift their veils in ravishing display.

                                                                                                                            My eyes pour blood on this night of savage partings:
                                                                                                                            two lamps I have lighted to sanctify love's sorrow.

                                                                                                                            I will make them pay for the years of torment, if
                                                                                                                            by chance, these darlings play houris in paradise.

                                                                                                                            He shall have sleep, perfumed air, silken nights,
                                                                                                                            if you untie your jasmine-scented hair in his arms.

                                                                                                                            I have no use for your coy approaches to the divine.
                                                                                                                            Past your schools and creeds, we worship God alone.

                                                                                                                            If Ghalib were to keep this up (he cries inconsolably),
                                                                                                                            every man, woman, child will be forced to leave town.


                                                                                                                            Hope is the bleak dawn of
                                                                                                                            despair: troubles nest with me.

                                                                                                                            For death a day is fixed: why
                                                                                                                            will not sleep come to me?

                                                                                                                            I have laughed at my lows.
                                                                                                                            Now, they are not so funny.

                                                                                                                            He gives a prize for piety.
                                                                                                                            My heart turns away from it.

                                                                                                                            If you cannot see my scars,
                                                                                                                            can't you smell? I burn too.

                                                                                                                            I am in this place where
                                                                                                                            no news of I gets to me.

                                                                                                                            I will die pleading for it.
                                                                                                                            Death arrives but gingerly.

                                                                                                                            Ghalib, will you make it to
                                                                                                                            Kaaba? As if that bothers you.


                                                                                                                            I did make free with her, got away with it.
                                                                                                                            It could get tricky had she lost her cool.

                                                                                                                            Are you man's nemesis, fire, fury, the plague?
                                                                                                                            Be this, that and more: also be for me.

                                                                                                                            Lord, you scripted life's troubles for me.
                                                                                                                            I wish you'd give an extra heart or two?

                                                                                                                            Ghalib, she would have come around to it,
                                                                                                                            if only you had stayed around till mercy.

                                                                                                                            Mirza Ghalib, tranlated by M. Shahid Alam
                                                                                                                            From: Prairie Schooner
                                                                                                                            Volume 85, Number 1, Spring 2011
                                                                                                                            M. Shahid Alam's translations of Ghalib have appeared in Chicago Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kimera, and Salt River Review.

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                                                                                                                              Elite Killers Kill At Large For Kidon, Mossad

                                                                                                                              English (US)  July 11th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                              As a rule, the Kidon kill team is comprised of four highly seasoned men. (Press TV)

                                                                                                                              By Ismail Salami - Tehran

                                                                                                                              A new book reveals that a department known as Kidon within the Mossad has dispatched assassins into Iran in order to murder the nuclear scientists, thereby stunting the country’s nuclear energy program.

                                                                                                                              Authors Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman in their book Spies against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret Wars state that the notorious spy agency has killed at least four Iranian nuclear scientists, including targeting them with operatives on motorcycles, an assassination technique used by the elite killers at Kidon.

                                                                                                                              The Kidon killers "excel at accurate shooting at any speed and staying steady to shoot and to place exquisitely shaped sticky bombs" and consider it their hallmark.

                                                                                                                              Kidon, known to be one of the world's most efficient killing machines, is technically described as a little Mossad within Mossad.

                                                                                                                              Tasked with carrying out covert ops across the world, Kidon has embarked on a number of black ops and assassinations in different countries.


                                                                                                                              Those who kill for Kidon are selected either from within the Mossad spy agency or from among the natives of the countries where they plan to carry out assassinations.

                                                                                                                              For instance, in case of the nuclear assassinations conducted in Iran by Kidon, they basically hired people with Iranian or dual nationalities. One of the Mossad assassins was Majid Jamali Fashi who confessed he had cooperated with Mossad for financial reasons only.

                                                                                                                              Majid Jamali Fashi assassinated Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a professor at Tehran University in January 2011 by blowing an explosive-laden motorbike via a remote-controlled device. He reportedly received training from Mossad inside Israel as well as $120,000 to assassinate the Iranian scientist. According to his confession, Jamali Fashi received forged documents in Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev Airport to travel to Tel Aviv.

                                                                                                                              He confessed, “I woke up early in the morning and as we were trained I went to the warehouse. I had to prepare the box which contained the bomb. I took the motorbike out of the house and reached a location that I had to contact them. I went to the alley [where the professor resided]. It was vacant. No one was there. I brought the bike to the sidewalk and parked it in front of the house. They told me that the mission had been accomplished and that I had to discard my stuff.”

                                                                                                                              Jamali Fashi was executed under the Iranian judicial system on 15 May, 2012. Parenthetically, Azerbaijan has in recent years become an apparent haven for Mossad spies and assassins.

                                                                                                                              Another Mossad operative of Iranian nationality has been identified as Ja’far Khoshzaban, alias Javidan, who has been working under the auspices of Azeri security forces and who has been involved in nuclear assassinations. Iranian intelligence ministry has demanded the extradition of Mossad’s Iranian spy from Azerbaijan. Iran has reportedly obtained documents, suggesting that Azeri officials have aided and abetted Mossad and CIA agents in their targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists, namely Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. As a matter of fact, CIA is constantly mentioned along with Mossad as the main elements in the nuclear assassinations.

                                                                                                                              Ahmadi Roshan was assassinated on January 11, 2012 when an unknown motorcyclist attached a magnetic bomb to his car near a college building of Allameh Tabatabaei University in northern Tehran.

                                                                                                                              Using the same ‘sticking bomb technique’, the Kidon assassins attached bombs to the vehicles of Iranian university professors Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi and detonated the explosives on November 29, 2010. Professor Shahriari was killed immediately, but Dr. Abbasi and his wife only sustained minor injuries.

                                                                                                                              As a rule, the Kidon kill team is comprised of four highly seasoned men: 1. Tracer 2. Transporter 3. Helper 4. Killer. The tracer spots the target. The transporter guides the assassination team to the target. The helper basically serves as the motorcycle driver who helps the killer and the killer is tasked with shooting the target or attaching magnetic bomb to the car of the victim.

                                                                                                                              According to the book Spies against Armageddon, the Kidon agents are well-trained in shooting and placing “exquisitely shaped sticky bombs" and consider it their hallmark.

                                                                                                                              These facts aside, it rather seems sort of naïve to disregard the role of the CIA-backed MKO terrorists in the nuclear assassinations and give all the credit to the Kidon agents. There is solid evidence which evinces the MKO role in the assassination of the Iranian scientists.

                                                                                                                              American commentator Richard Silverstein believes that the primary source of income for the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) comes from the assassinations the group conducts within the Iranian soil at the behest of the Mossad. He argues that “If you’re a terrorist on behalf of Israel, as MKO is, then you’re kosher as far as (US-based Israeli publicist) Dershowitz is concerned. And your money is golden. Where does the money come from? Possibly from the Iran assassinations the MKO performs on Mossad’s behalf, which undoubtedly pay well. Then there’s the possibility that the USD 400-million Bush allocated for destabilizing Iran in 2007 has found its way either to the MKO or Mossad (or both)”

                                                                                                                              More to the point, the CIA works in the same satanic league with the Mossad and MKO. Time and again, the officials in Washington have encouraged and even confessed to the killings of the Iranian nuclear scientists.

                                                                                                                              Former US senator Rick Santorum callously described the assassination of Iranian scientists as “wonderful,” threatening that those who work for Iran's nuclear program “are not safe.”

                                                                                                                              "On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that's a wonderful thing, candidly."

                                                                                                                              He also said, "I think we should send a very clear message that if you are a scientist from Russia, North Korea, or from Iran and you are going to work on a nuclear program to develop a bomb for Iran, you are not safe.”

                                                                                                                              Also, former Bush administration ambassador to the UN John Bolton said on Fox News that the killing of an Iranian scientist and sanctions against Iran constitute only “half-measures in the quest to stunt Iran’s nuclear ambitions”.

                                                                                                                              Former White House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for covert action, including "taking out their scientists" and cyberwarfare.

                                                                                                                              Quotations of this nature are legion and all these facts reinforce the idea that Washington has been making clandestine efforts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear energy program in cahoots with Tel Aviv and their lackey i.e. the MKO.

                                                                                                                              - Dr. Ismail Salami is an Iranian writer, Middle East expert, Iranologist and lexicographer. He writes extensively on the US and Middle East issues and his articles have been translated into a number of languages. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

                                                                                                                              1106 words posted in American Empire, Iran, , Israel, , American ZionismLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                Alice Walker: Recently I Wrote a Letter

                                                                                                                                English (US)  July 11th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                Recently I wrote a letter to Yediot publishers in Israel declining an offer they'd made to publish my novel The Color Purple. Though the letter is self-explanatory there have been many erroneous and curious interpretations of it. Many media outlets requested interviews, among them the BBC, CNN, The New York Times, and Fox news. However, I have chosen to give one interview only. I accepted the invitation to be interviewed by an Israeli paper because I feel it is important to speak directly to the Israeli people; both Jewish and Arab.

                                                                                                                                Below is that interview for the benefit of English speaking readers. My responses to the questions I chose to answer are in italics.

                                                                                                                                Alice Walker

                                                                                                                                Ms. Walker, It is a great honor for us to have this chance to interview you for the literary section of Yedioth newspaper, and to spread your opinions to our readers. Thank you for your time and patience. I hope answering these questions will reflect to the Israelis what we look like and will help to arouse a discussion.

                                                                                                                                Tzlil (Avraham)

                                                                                                                                It has been years since you had a book published in Israel. A new edition of "The Color Purple" could have been an excellent opportunity to let your views and beliefs be known to the general public in Israel. Could you please elaborate on the reasons that made you refuse its re-publication?

                                                                                                                                There is an international cultural boycott of Israel because of its practice of apartheid and persecution against the Palestinian people. Please Google The Russell Tribunal on Palestine for details of how this charge was determined last fall in Cape Town, South Africa.


                                                                                                                                You have said before that the current situation in the occupied territories reminds you of your youth, living under the racial segregation in the United States. Could you point out some of the similarities you found? Was there any specific moment when they became clear to you?

                                                                                                                                I have written extensively about my experiences in Gaza and the West Bank and these articles may be found on my blog: alicewalkersgarden.com. When I was in the West Bank it was shocking to see the apartheid wall, which is immense and forbidding. And to realize that it's purpose is not only to enforce segregation between Palestinians and Israelis but that it also steals huge amounts of Palestinian land. Land Palestinian farmers need to work in order to feed their families. I sat with a family of four and watched a huge Volvo digging machine dig the deep trench directly in front of their drive that the wall will be placed in. The noise was deafening and the vibrations shook the small house. The children, two young boys, will have to cross three check points each morning to go to school. The youngest boy had been severely beaten the week before our arrival by an Israeli soldier and was still so frightened he hid during most of our visit.

                                                                                                                                Another friend's house will be so close to the wall she will never again see the sun rise from her window. And of course there have been thousands of house demolitions with people simply run off. This began as early as 1947-48 with Israel's "War of Independence" which was for the Palestinians the "Nakba" or Catastrophe. It is continuing now.

                                                                                                                                At the Allenby bridge en route to the West Bank I saw how rudely Arab people were treated. Women, children, old people. Yelled at and kept waiting indefinitely for the least little thing. With no water, no toilet facilities. Treated really worse than animals in this sense. And this reminded me very much of the way people of color were treated during segregation/American apartheid in the South where I was born. My partner and I were also treated disrespectfully. I was interrogated for over four hours and altogether we were detained, without water or food, for over nine hours. The arrogance was also reminiscent of the white supremacist swagger of police, especially, in the South. And some of these Israelis were very young. I did not like the distortion of personality I saw occurring in them because of their involvement in enforcing the Occupation.

                                                                                                                                In the South every single thing was segregated: water fountains, public toilets and hotels and restaurants, but in "Greater Israel" i.e. the Occupied Territories, there's even segregation of the roads! Our Palestinian taxi driver tried hard to stay on the Arab only roads but one of them was blocked. He then, with great trepidation, got onto the big Jewish Settler only highway. This was simply amazing to experience. As was the realization that Palestinians have different colored license plates and that one of our group of artists and writers, a Palestinian man, had to leave our van because even inside a van he's not permitted to enter Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                The way Palestinians are shot and killed, or arrested and beaten, as if they are not human beings, also reminds me of growing up in the South, where we were made to feel that Black life had no value. Also, the use of prison to keep politically conscious and active people out of the population. At this moment there are Palestinians in Israeli jails and prisons on a hunger strike because the majority of them were arrested without ever having been charged with anything. In the South too black people were often beaten and jailed and never given a fair trial, or sometimes never even told what they were arrested for. They were often put to work on plantations owned by the prison and by other plantation owners in the area. It was a way to re-enslave black people. After demolishing their houses and taking their land Israel has made use of workers in the Palestinian communities to build their Jewish only settlements.

                                                                                                                                One thing that makes Israeli apartheid worse than the American South or South African apartheid is the reluctance of the world's citizens to denounce it. There is a tremendous amount of fear that is just beginning to lessen as more people speak out about it. People have a great dread of being labeled anti-Semitic. They know they can lose their livelihoods and that even their lives might be in danger. This is a real consideration.

                                                                                                                                Don’t you suppose an artist would be more influential when acting within a society in which injustice takes place, instead of boycotting it? If not, can it be deduced that you don't believe in a writer's ability to set a change in motion?

                                                                                                                                I was seventeen years old when I left my small segregated town in Georgia and, feeling it was my right to sit in any empty seat, I sat down in the front of the bus. I was ordered immediately to the back of the bus because a white woman complained to the white bus driver (the only kind that existed in the South at that time). I was on my way to my first year of college. I had been writing poetry since I was nine, but I realized I would never have the luxury of only writing poetry; that I would have to be politically active in order to achieve enough freedom to write at all.

                                                                                                                                I have felt incredibly lucky as poet, writer, activist, because I am able to use every part of myself - my mind, emotions, my body - to be of assistance to the liberation of people and other beings in the world. I have every faith that my words, because they are the best of my thinking, will reach others, even if they disagree with me. And that my political activity can also bring comfort to those who perhaps do not read. Political activity is how I considered the making of The Color Purple into a movie, by the way.

                                                                                                                                I am tormented knowing what is being done to the children of Gaza, for instance, because my country has paid for weapons Israel uses to murder and terrify them. When I was in Gaza I talked with psychiatrists and social workers and of course with some of the children. My view is that all children are the responsibility of all adults. The Jewish child is precious, so is the Arab child. So is the African Child and the Indian child and so on. To turn away from them is impossible for me. That is just how it is. When I was a child myself I thought all the adults I saw (not the white people, of course, because it was clear they marched to a very different drummer) thought this way. It was clear the whites wanted only our labor and nothing else; certainly not our presence outside the labor force. This is the Israeli attitude toward Palestinians, from what I've seen and read.

                                                                                                                                Some would say political sanctions should be hold against governments, and not their citizens. Preventing regular Israelis exposure to your art doesn't harm the policy-makers but the simple man on the street. Cultural isolation might only make Israelis feel they're being attacked and will cause an even larger fixation in their stands. What is your response to this?

                                                                                                                                I think much of the world and certainly my own country has done a disservice to Israel in not stopping its many war crimes and abuses of humanity. The UN has tried to hold Israel accountable for its actions, the World Court has also tried, and I don't know how many other major respectable bodies. Israel sails along as if under a spell of immunity. What can the average citizen, who is also a mother, also a child, also a father or a brother or an uncle or aunt, with full human feelings of compassion and horror do? Our governments in the case of Israel are worse than useless. They aid and abet behavior by Israel that they condemn anywhere else on the globe.

                                                                                                                                Sometimes for a moment of bitter amusement I compare the treatment given Israel by the US government and its treatment of Cuba. Every move of Cuba's is condemned even when it would benefit the US (for instance, Cuba sent doctors and medicines to the victims of hurricane Katrina years ago, only to be refused - I forget exactly what was the excuse to maintain hostilities to this small, disobedient nation); Israel on the other hand is simply promised an eternity of support and good will no matter what atrocities it commits.

                                                                                                                                By the way, when The Color Purple was published in Israel in 1986 I was happy to have it there. I have nothing against the Hebrew language, or any language for that matter. I assumed this time around the book might even have been published in both Hebrew and Arabic. Why not? Since there is a large Arab speaking population in Israel. There was no cultural boycott in 1986 and I had not yet gone to Gaza or to the West Bank. I had not observed and experienced the mistreatment of the Palestinian people, nor stood beside them, experiencing their suffering in myself.

                                                                                                                                Many Israelis agree with you and think the occupation is immoral. What should they do to change the situation – after all, one can't boycott his own county?

                                                                                                                                But of course you can boycott anything that deserves it. Find a way. In our struggle we boycotted the Montgomery, Alabama bus company that for decades had forced black people to sit in the back of the bus. We boycotted stores where black women and children (and men) were not allowed to try on the clothes and shoes they bought. We boycotted wherever we could. There is a part of the population, anywhere one goes, that will never descend to acts of physical violence, yet these people feel deeply. They need a way to express their human understanding of injustice; they need to express solidarity with the oppressed. They need to exercise compassion. These are human needs. That is why boycotts are inevitable.

                                                                                                                                Why did you choose to focus your efforts in Israel? The situation in Israel is rather difficult, but other places in the world – such as China, Syria or Sudan – deal with horrible things and on a much larger scale. Your book "Overcoming Speechlessness" deals with Congo and Rwanda, (countries in which genocide, massacre, organized sexual abuse and amputation of limbs have taken place) side by side with dealing with Israel. Do you really believe there is room for comparison?

                                                                                                                                If you read much of my work you will see that Israel is not singled out for scrutiny. I spent ten years working on the exposure to the world of the practice of female genital mutilation, widely practiced in many African and Arab and some Asian countries. My support of the ongoing struggles of Native Americans, and native Hawaiians, is a matter of record. I have stood with Tibetans in their struggle with the Chinese. I have stood with women everywhere. As well as with the abused animals of the planet. Israel's behavior is not worse than that of my own country, by the way, especially in its treatment of the Palestinians; in fact the similarity to the way the US has treated Native Americans is striking.

                                                                                                                                What I am pointing out is the savage nature of physical violence wherever it occurs. I believe humanity must make a concerted effort to outgrow this behavior. Whether you kill someone by chopping off their limbs with a machete, while looking them in the eye, or whether you incinerate them from the air, and never see their face, the violence is the same. There is a tendency to think violence in Africa is incomparable to Israeli violence because the weapons used are not so clean and efficient and distant as the ones manufactured in the west.

                                                                                                                                You have said before that you support the "One State" solution – a solution that is not accepted by the majority of Palestinians and Israelis. Both peoples want their own national state. Is there, in your opinion, a realistic way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

                                                                                                                                I believe Israelis and Palestinians will have to learn to live together on equal terms. In one country. A two state "solution" is no longer possible. I don't think it ever really was. People who talk about this seem to be talking about an "idea" rather than a true possibility. Where would the Palestinian state exist, for instance? Where is the land for it? Would Israel ever permit its free existence? I don't think so. And the idea of "land swaps." As a gardener and daughter of generations of farmers, I must say this is an absurd notion. One wants the land of one's choosing, where the soil is fertile and good. And where one's ancestors are buried. Not a bit of desert that nobody else wants.

                                                                                                                                In the past you supported Obama, but recently you called Israel and the US Terrorist Organizations. Are you disappointed in President Obama? If so, why? Will he have your support in the upcoming elections?

                                                                                                                                Our system of government is fraudulent and always has been. From its inception it was a "democracy" for rich white men with property. It is still that way to a discouraging extent. It was founded on terrorism and genocide, slavery and exploitation on a scale almost impossible to comprehend. I think the coming elections are a disgrace to the Planet. Imagine spending billions of dollars for elections that could be used for housing and decent drinking water for the millions who have none. I have written a new poem called DEMOCRATIC WOMANISM that posits the direction I would like the world to move. With women of courage, mostly of color (and with our brave male allies) imbued with an understanding of democracy and socialism, leading all of us back to care of the earth as part of our duty to coming generations. And to the planet itself. Patriarchal leadership, including Obama's, has been a huge disappointment, and this is an understatement.

                                                                                                                                When George W. Bush was elected you said in an interview: " I know that Martin Luther King would have felt very saddened because he gave his life for a very much larger vision ". Did it remain your view till this day? Do you ever wonder what Dr. King would have thought of Obama's America? What should be done to fulfill his full vision?

                                                                                                                                Martin Luther King was a leader, a person of conviction. He would find it difficult to comprehend, as I do, why Obama is incapable of standing up to Israel and why, whenever he tries, he soon collapses again. I believe Obama started out in the presidency as a good and decent person. With much ambition, but that is not a crime. However, killing people in distant lands by drone attack is, in my opinion, a crime. Condoning Israel's crimes makes him an enabler of criminal behavior and complicit in the misery Israel causes to poor and frightened people. This is almost unbearable to face, because I, like so many others, love Barack. But we have lost him to the US government machine that is only running true to course in its treacherous machinations around the globe.

                                                                                                                                I introduced Barack Obama when he came to San Francisco. We were ecstatic that he was with us. I told him, in the moments we had alone before going onstage, that he didn't have to be president. You can be a writer, I said, because he writes so well. You could have a good life of being anonymous when you felt like it, writing anything you like. You could be free, I said. He laughed.

                                                                                                                                But I still feel this way. Better a writer than a president of the United States any day of the week. No country on earth is worth losing one's soul. As a student of Buddhism, though not a Buddhist, I must add: there are ways to re-claim the soul, but it takes a lot of meditation and eternities of work.

                                                                                                                                Do you believe the USA should end its Alliance with Israel?

                                                                                                                                I think the USA should be fair. To Israel and to Palestine. It should simply observe, and comment on, the truth of what is happening there. It should stop sending to a cruel, bullying government in Israel our tax money that we need desperately at home; it should stop sending weapons. It should not want the gas that is reported to be under the ground in Gaza so much that it is willing to look away as the people of Gaza are bombed into oblivion. It should care that 95 per cent of the water in Gaza, because of American made bombs, is unsafe for the people to drink. It should free itself of the burden and distraction from its own needs that Israel has become.

                                                                                                                                There are many books and documentaries that can help us educate ourselves about what happened in the past and is happening right now. I recently wrote the foreword to a magnificent book by Miko Peled, son of the Israeli Zionist general, Matti Peled. It is called appropriately The General's Son: An Israeli in Palestine. Miko's sister Nurit Peled-Elhanan (whose young daughter Smadar was killed in a suicide bombing) has written an equally courageous and transformative book Palestine in Israeli School Books, about the indoctrination of Jewish children against Arabs that prepares them to treat Palestinians as eternal enemies, never as true human beings. There is the incredibly balanced and thoughtful book One Country, by Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada as well as Palestine Inside Out, by Saree Makdisi, a book of devastating detail about what life is like for the average Palestinian under Israeli rule. There are documentaries: Five Broken Cameras comes to mind. But also a film I provided narration for: Roadmap to Apartheid, made by an Israeli and a South African who should know something about apartheid.

                                                                                                                                I am particularly moved by testimony (found on Youtube) of former Israeli soldiers who refuse to fight defenseless Palestinians whose only" crime", more often than not, is that they don't want to be forced out of their homes. On the American boat in our recent Flotilla attempt to bring letters to Gaza there was such a former soldier. He was the one who volunteered to climb down in the dirty water underneath the boat each day to see whether the Israeli experts at sabotage (some of whom he'd trained) had damaged the propellers of our boat.

                                                                                                                                As a person that paid a heavy personal price for her political activism, can you please share an advice or two on how one can keep his activist spirit over years without giving in to bitterness and Indifference?

                                                                                                                                I have a deep sense of oneness with the planet, the cosmos. I realize I am home, forever, in this Universe. A Universe that seems to me perfect in every way. It is tragic that our focus on harming others is fatally distracting humans from this invigorating reality. Whatever happens to me I will always be part of this amazing Wonder that is life in this vast Creation. I am thankful. When I am not overwhelmed by sadness I am filled with joy.


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                                                                                                                                  Peace process 'clinically dead'

                                                                                                                                  English (US)  July 8th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                  The Palestinian Authority is reverting to old oppressive tactics as its raison d'être is increasingly questioned, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
                                                                                                                                  Al Ahram

                                                                                                                                  A Palestinian protester kicks a tear gas canister back at Israeli security forces during clashes at a protest against the nearby Jewish settlement of Kdumim, near Nablus; bottom: Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (c) in Amman attending the funeral of Hamas member Kamal Ghanaja who was killed in his home in Damascus

                                                                                                                                  A visibly nervous Palestinian Authority (PA) has been clamping down on dissent following the cancellation earlier this week of a planned visit to Ramallah by Israel's deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz.

                                                                                                                                  Mofaz is widely viewed here as a war criminal for his role in the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of children, especially in the Gaza Strip, while serving as chief of staff of the Israeli army.


                                                                                                                                  The cancellation of Mofaz's visit to Ramallah came after dozens of Palestinian activists took to the street, shouting "Mofaz assassin" and "Don't let the child-killer enter Ramallah."

                                                                                                                                  Mofaz had intended to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, ostensibly to explore ways and means to resume stalled peace talks between Israel and the PA.

                                                                                                                                  During his recent visit to the United States, Mofaz told American leaders he anticipated the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians in a few weeks.

                                                                                                                                  Israeli sources, however, argued that Mofaz wanted to meet with Abbas only for publicity and in order to appear as capable of stirring the stagnant waters of the Palestinian-Israeli scene.

                                                                                                                                  "This visit by this war criminal and child killer is totally unjustified. The so-called peace process is dead thanks to unending settlement expansion. So why would Abbas meet Mofaz? It is an insult to the Palestinian people, especially to the hundreds of families whose children were murdered at the hands of this criminal," said one protester, Jamil, who gave only his first name.

                                                                                                                                  He added: "Israel and most Jews view every Palestinian taking part in the resistance, even non-violent resistance against the evil occupation, a terrorist.

                                                                                                                                  "So, don't we have the right to call these virulent murderers terrorists?"

                                                                                                                                  The PA Interior Ministry deployed crack security personnel to suppress and forcefully disperse demonstrators. Eyewitnesses reported that at least six protesters sustained non-lethal injuries.

                                                                                                                                  The scuffles and beatings generated a lot of anger and indignation, which culminated in Abbas's decision to cancel the visit.

                                                                                                                                  A group of activists said they had prepared a lawsuit demanding Mofaz's arrest for war crimes upon his arrival in Ramallah.

                                                                                                                                  One Fatah official was quoted as saying that Abbas decided to "delay" the meeting with Mofaz in consideration of popular opposition to it.

                                                                                                                                  The Palestinian leadership, meanwhile, denied that Abbas and Mofaz were going to discuss the resumption of stalled peace talks. However, such denials seem to carry little weight in the eyes of most Palestinians. Indeed, most observers in occupied Palestine agree that the PA is eager to resume peace negotiations with Israel and is only seeking a face-saving formula to do so.

                                                                                                                                  The PA leadership said repeatedly it would not resume stalled peace talks with Israel until Tel Aviv halted settlement expansion in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. But last month Abbas hinted that he would return to the negotiations table if the Israeli government agreed to release an undisclosed number of Palestinian prisoners, presumably in order to make the resumption of talks more palatable to the Palestinian public.

                                                                                                                                  As no positive response came from the Israeli government, Abbas declared the peace process "clinically dead", blaming Israel for its collapse.

                                                                                                                                  Meanwhile, the PA is reverting to repressive measures that characterised its behaviour prior to the Arab Spring. For example, the PA security agencies have outlawed Al-Aqsa TV operations in the West Bank, accusing the pro-Hamas Gaza-based satellite station of incitement against Ramallah.

                                                                                                                                  The press-fettering measure, coupled with the reported arrest of some pro-Hamas operatives in the West Bank, is already hindering efforts to promote reconciliation with Hamas.

                                                                                                                                  Hamas has suspended the functioning of the election committee, arguing that it would be futile to hold elections at a time when the PA security agencies continued to launch a witch-hunt campaign against its supporters in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                  Another factor contributing to PA nervousness is the ascendancy to power in Cairo of Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist that is generally viewed as more sympathetic to Hamas than to Fatah.

                                                                                                                                  In his keynote speech at Cairo University earlier this week, Mursi said Egypt would continue to support the Palestinian cause and pursue efforts to bring about reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

                                                                                                                                  Nonetheless, the bulk of the Fatah leadership seems to be resigned to the fact that a new reality is taking shape in Egypt and that Fatah has no choice but to deal with the new Egyptian leadership.

                                                                                                                                  During the Mubarak era, the United States and Israel repeatedly pressured the regime in Cairo to bully the PA leadership into accepting Israeli dictates. Now with an Islamist president in power in Cairo, it is unlikely that the new regime will agree to play the role of "facilitator" or "enforcer" of American policy in the region.

                                                                                                                                  Finally, reports revealing that the PA had asked Israel to apply for a $1 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have caused a lot of embarrassment to the PA leadership. PA officials denied any knowledge of the matter.

                                                                                                                                  The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last week that PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad asked the governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, to request the loan on behalf of the PA.

                                                                                                                                  The IMF refused the request, arguing that it doesn't want to set a precedent of a state taking loans for a non-state body.

                                                                                                                                  The PA is facing a crushing financial crisis that has been described as the worst since its establishment 18 years ago.

                                                                                                                                  Some observers view the PA decision to ask Israel to obtain an IMF loan as an expression of desperation as many donors have failed to make good on their aid pledges to the PA.

                                                                                                                                  998 words posted in PALESTINE, Israel, , Apartheid StateLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                    Watch: What killed Arafat? Clayton Swisher, Ali Abunimah on The Stream

                                                                                                                                    English (US)  July 8th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                    from Electronic Intifada:

                                                                                                                                    Al Jazeera investigative reporter Clayton Swisher is joined by Ali Abunimah on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to discuss Swisher’s bombshell revelations that the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have died of polonium poisoning.


                                                                                                                                    The program debunks several myths about Arafat’s death, including the false claim – being spread by Israeli sources – that he died of AIDS, and explains some of the background, findings and limitations of Aljazeera’s investigation.
                                                                                                                                    Why polonium?

                                                                                                                                    Also, in a fascinating article in Wired called “A Poison for Assassins,” Pulitzer Prize winning science writer Deborah Blum explains why polonium – which was famously used to murder Russian spy turned dissident Alexander Litveninko in 2006 – makes such an attractive poison for would-be assassins:

                                                                                                                                    By mass, polonium-210 is considered to be about 250,000 times more poisonous than hydrogen cyanide. Toxicologists estimate that an amount the size of a grain of salt could be fatal to the average adult.

                                                                                                                                    In other words, a victim would never taste a lethal dose in food or drink. In the case of Litvinenko, investigators believed that he received his dose of polonium-210 in a cup of tea, dosed during a meeting with two Russian agents. (Just as an aside, alpha particles tend not to set off radiation detectors so it’s relatively easy to smuggle from country to country.) Another assassin advantage is that illness comes on gradually, making it hard to pinpoint the event. Yet another advantage is that polonium poisoning is so rare that it’s not part of a standard toxics screen. In Litvinenko’s case, the poison wasn’t identified until shortly after his death. In Arafat’s case — if polonium-210 killed him and that has not been established — obviously it wasn’t considered at the time. And finally, it gets the job done. “Once absorbed,” notes the U.S. Regulatory Commission, “The alpha radiation can rapidly destroy major organs, DNA and the immune system.”

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                                                                                                                                      Palestinians reclaim streets despite PA police repression

                                                                                                                                      English (US)  July 8th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                      Protests by Palestinians in Ramallah were met with swift, violent repression by Palestinian Authority forces. (Issam Rimawi / APA images)

                                                                                                                                      By Eoin O'Ceallaigh
                                                                                                                                      Ramallah, 8 July 2012

                                                                                                                                      On Saturday, 30 June, approximately 1,000 people gathered in al-Manara square in Ramallah to protest the Palestinian Authority’s invitation to Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s deputy prime minister and an indicted war criminal, and demanding an end to negotiations with Israel.

                                                                                                                                      The protest was swiftly and violently repressed by plain-clothed mukhabarat (secret police) thugs, with PA police coordination. The repression took the form of mukhabarat and police beating people with batons and metal chains, sexually assaulting and spitting in the face of female protestors, kidnapping and beating several people, including journalists, in police stations. Many were treated in the hospital for their injuries.

                                                                                                                                      Read the full story at The Electronic Intifada

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                                                                                                                                        Reel Bad Arabs: Hollywood Induced Islamophobia

                                                                                                                                        English (US)  July 8th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

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                                                                                                                                          Thoughts of an American Muslim on Independence Day

                                                                                                                                          English (US)  July 4th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                          'The next day, I will go back to defending American ideals ..'

                                                                                                                                          By Nihad Awad

                                                                                                                                          As we mark one of history's most triumphant acts of liberty, I want to share with you some of the many things America's Muslims are doing to preserve this fundamental principle of the American identity.

                                                                                                                                          The revolution we honor each year on July 4th was in part sparked by unreasonable government intrusions into individual liberty. In 1761, Boston lawyer James Otis spoke against overly-broad warrants issued by the British government. These Writs of Assistance allowed the crown's agents to search any house or ship they wished, without any specific reason. John Adams -- signer of the Declaration of Independence and our nation''s second president -- said of Otis' speech, "Then and there, the child Independence was born."

                                                                                                                                          In times of threat, public opinion often shifts away from liberty. Ten years after the 9/11 terror attacks, the Pew Research Center found that a troubling number of Americans supported government monitoring of credit card transactions (42%) and phone calls (29%). Similarly, the Associated Press found disconcerting percentages of Americans embracing the ideas of warrantless monitoring of domestic phone calls (23%) and email (30%).


                                                                                                                                          A lawsuit filed on behalf of a California Muslim serves as one example of turning to the Constitution to preserve American liberty from over-broad or warrantless government intrusions into individual liberty. The lawsuit asserts that the FBI violated Yasir Afifi's First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights when the bureau failed to obtain a warrant to place a GPS tracking device on his car to monitor his daily activities.

                                                                                                                                          American liberty is about going before a judge, providing reasonable suspicion and getting a warrant, not about unchecked government power to intrude into a person's life.

                                                                                                                                          Liberty in the form of free exercise of religion is also crucial to our nation. Everyone who went to elementary school in this country knows the pilgrims came to the New World to escape religious persecution in Europe.

                                                                                                                                          In 2011, 54 bills or amendments aimed at interfering with Muslims' religious practices -- so-called "anti-sharia" bills -- were considered in 25 states and the U.S. Congress. This trend continues today. It is often carried out under the banner of a conspiracy theory that asserts Muslims are working to undermine the Constitution and replace it with Islamic law.

                                                                                                                                          Yet we know that no religious code can replace American law. Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states, "This Constitution ... shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby."

                                                                                                                                          Laws intended to target Muslims have been passed in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, and South Dakota. This is a serious threat to the First Amendment, which prohibits government from making any law "respecting an establishment of religion."

                                                                                                                                          Muslims, along with interfaith and business partners, have been active in opposing such bills. The 2010 amendment to Oklahoma's state constitution, which violates the First Amendment by explicitly subjecting Islam to government censure, immediately faced a legal challenge from a Muslim living in that state. A federal judge put the law on hold after determining that the challenge had merit and will likely result in the law being ruled unconstitutional. [The judge did indeed rule that the law was unconstitutional.]

                                                                                                                                          There are countless examples of Muslims defending American liberty. Muslims have worked to undo the sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allow for indefinite detention of Americans without charge or trial. The NDAA is unconstitutional because it disregards the Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process for "all persons" and the Sixth Amendment right to a fair and speedy trial.

                                                                                                                                          When presidential candidates Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich asserted that they would impose loyalty oaths on Muslims who may have wanted to serve in their administrations, Muslims again asserted American principles, pointing out that Article VI of the Constitution prohibits "religious tests" for public office. America is about who merits the position, not what their faith might be.

                                                                                                                                          I am grateful for the opportunity to live the American dream and help fulfill that dream for all our nation's citizens. On July 4th, I will join my fellow Americans of all beliefs and backgrounds to mark the courage the Founding Fathers showed in asserting liberty from a tyrannical British king. The next day, I will go back to defending American ideals, because that is what my faith compels me to do.

                                                                                                                                          -Nihad Awad is national executive director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties organization. Contact him at: nawad@cair.com. (This article was provided by ISLAM-OPED, a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations - CAIR)

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                                                                                                                                            On Human Identity

                                                                                                                                            English (US)  July 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                            'My orientation is in support of those who struggle against the odds.' (UN)

                                                                                                                                            By Richard Falk

                                                                                                                                            Early in my blog life I wrote about Jewish identity. It was partly an exercise in self-discovery, and partly a response to those who alleged that I was a self-hating Jew, or worse, an anti-Semite. These attacks on my character were hurtful even as I felt their distance from my actual beliefs and worldview. In my mind and heart criticisms of Israel and support for the Palestinian struggle for their rights under international law and in accord with fundamental ideas of justice had to do with taking suffering seriously, which for me is the most solid foundation of human identity.

                                                                                                                                            It is my conviction that in a globalized world human identity should serve as the moral trump card in relation to conflict situations. Of course, the optic of human identity can produce a variety of interpretations of a particular situation, and is not meant to eclipse other experienced identities. The Holocaust was a most horrifying instance of what the great Catholic monk, mystic, and writer, Thomas Merton, called the unspeakable. The memories of victimization can never function as a moral excuse for the victimization of another. Tragically, the unfolding of Israel’s quest for security and prosperity beneath the banner of Zionism has generated a narrative of severe Palestinian suffering taking multiple forms, ranging from the prolonged and acute vulnerability of statelessness and rightslessness to the humiliations of living decade after decade under harsh military rule in an increasingly apartheid setting.


                                                                                                                                            But our wider concern beyond the specifics of any given situation should also encompass the future of humanity. So long as ethnic, religious, and nationalist identities are given precedence in a world of inequality and critical scarcities of water, energy, food, and health, there will be oppression and widespread abuse. For the modern world the identity of the part, whether state, religion, or ethnicity, has consistently prevailed over the identity of the whole, whether that whole is understood to be humanity or world. As a result, globally reasonable policies to control global warming or world poverty or the instability of financial markets seem unattainable. Primacy accorded to the national interest continues to obstruct the fulfillment of the human interest.

                                                                                                                                            In earlier periods of history this kind of dispersal of authority was sustainable, although often cruel in maintaining hierarchies as during the colonial period and in relation to the annihilation of many indigenous peoples whose pre-modern wisdom has much to teach us about survival in the emergent post-modern world of scarcities and limits.

                                                                                                                                            At the same time, a plural world order allowed for diversities that were consistent with the variety of religions, civilizations, cultural traditions, and worldviews. Warfare and exploitation made such a world order morally deficient, but so were the envisioned alternatives associated with a global state or world government. A potential tyranny of the whole seemed to most of us worse than the anarchic failures arising in a world of sovereign states.

                                                                                                                                            Increasingly, conflict patterns based on the technologies of oppression and resistance are illustrating the menacing realities of a borderless world. Drones ignore borders. Cyber warfare is heedless of space. We cannot go on in this manner much longer without bloodying our heads against the stone walls of history. We are living as a species on borrowed time. It is not the occasion for panic, but it is a time to recalibrate our relations with one another, with nature, with past and future, with this inevitable and mostly invisible transition of mentalities underway– from the enclosures and openings of a spatially oriented world of borders to the before and after of a temporally shaped world now and in the future beset by scarcities and limits.

                                                                                                                                            In such a global circumstance, human identity is not so much a choice as a destiny thrust upon us. It can produce a spectrum of responses. The tendency is to strengthen border controls, increase surveillance, indulge in blame games, and build high, electrified walls, making sovereign territory resemble at its best ‘a gated community’ of gargantuan proportions or at its worst ‘a maximum security prison.’ In this sense, the captivity of Gaza prefigures one kind of regressive future that resists the imperatives of a world of limits, seeking to lull us in the belief that we can remain safe in a world of borders.

                                                                                                                                            And so my orientation is in support of those who struggle against the odds, and for freedom, and it is in solidarity with those who believe that empathy and compassion bring greater security than guns and guard dogs. For me this means a celebration of human identity, and a citizenship that is derived primarily not from the blessings of a state or the sense of national belonging, but from the feeling that life is a journey toward a just and humane future, a pilgrimage endowed with spiritual significance throughout its unfolding. It is an engagement with impossible possibilities for the future, dreams and dramas of human fulfillment, and the person who fully endorses such a journey and the human identity that accompanies it is what I choose to call, and aspire to be: ‘a citizen pilgrim.’

                                                                                                                                            - Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Read more articles by Richard Falk. Visit: http://richardfalk.wordpress.com.

                                                                                                                                            928 words posted in Human RightsLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                              'Those Damn Palestinians'

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  July 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                              By Sam Bahour

                                                                                                                                              Those damn Palestinians. They refuse to sit still. They just don't get it. They are unable to fathom their reality. The more outrageous their situation becomes, the more human they become. When all the powers-to-be thought that they had sufficiently battered (or bought) Palestinians into full political submission, Palestinians embarked on yet another act of terrorism—the terror of dance, music, song, and cultural celebration.

                                                                                                                                              This is not just any act of humanity; it is one of global dimensions. The world had better take note.

                                                                                                                                              To begin with, Israel dispossessed Palestinians of 78% of their homeland and created the world’s largest refugee population. Any Palestinian who remained in Israel was involuntarily made an Israeli citizen and the state created a system of structural discrimination, much worse than that against black South Africans before the end of Apartheid.


                                                                                                                                              As if that was not enough, Israel militarily occupied the remaining 22% of Palestine and subjugated the rest of the Palestinians - those in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip - to a state of prolonged disenfranchisement. As if that was not enough, Israel then embarked on an aggressive illegal settlement enterprise, one that now numbers over 500,000 Jewish-only settlers scattered throughout the militarily occupied territory.

                                                                                                                                              And to add insult to injury, 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza were besieged and made to live as if in the Dark Ages. Palestinian homes in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank are regularly demolished; Palestinians are imprisoned administratively without charge; Palestinian economic resources are micro-managed by Israel; an illegal Separation Wall, higher and longer than the infamous Berlin Wall, was built on occupied lands; and the list goes on and on.

                                                                                                                                              What do Israel and the international community get in return for their systematic plundering of Palestinian livelihood? A stubborn, collective Palestinian memory which refuses to cower under the weight of historical injustice. If this was merely a memory it would not be a big deal, but those damn Palestinians insist on keeping that memory alive via the performing arts, music, song, dance, theater, circus, festivals, and the like.

                                                                                                                                              Even Palestinians engaged in performing arts would not be so intolerable if that were the extent of their activity, but it is not; those damn Palestinians insist on sharing their cultural resistance with artists around the globe and repeatedly inviting other communities to join in solidarity.

                                                                                                                                              Case in Point

                                                                                                                                              Every year now, since 1993, the Popular Arts Centre, a Palestinian organization that promotes professional performing arts, organizes an event known as the Palestine International Festival for Dance and Music. This year, performances are scheduled over five days, from July 4th through July 9th. The festival is loaded with meaning.

                                                                                                                                              For starters, the celebration is distributed among four Palestinian cities: Ramallah, Qalqilya, Nablus, and Nazareth. The inclusion of Nazareth, a Palestinian city inside Israel, is a conscious decision on the part of the organizers: a form of resistance to the cultural siege and systematic isolation imposed by the Israeli Apartheid system on those of us living under direct military occupation (in the West Bank and Gaza), and those of our brethren inside Israel, whom most Palestinians under occupation are unable to physically reach. The message is clear. We are one people and refuse to allow a forced military separation to keep us apart.

                                                                                                                                              Then, there is the festival's theme this year—“learning,” in the non-conventional sense. The theme is meant to showcase the importance of popular education as developed by the late and renowned Brazilian educator and influential theorist of critical pedagogy, Paulo Freire. All the festival activities this time around have been consciously designed as forms of Freirean popular education, in the service of Palestinian liberation.

                                                                                                                                              American theologian Richard Shaull, drawing on the works of Paulo Freire, has written:

                                                                                                                                              “There is no such thing as a neutral education process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘practice of freedom’, the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”

                                                                                                                                              Those damn Palestinians. They keep seeking out and learning from examples from around the world instead of accepting their predicament of dispossession.

                                                                                                                                              A glance at the festival’s agenda for 2012 leaves one in awe at the breadth of global solidarity. In addition to the cream-of-the-crop of Palestinian dance troupes, Irish, Chinese, and Egyptian performers are all participating. The festival will open with the Irish musical stage show, “Rhythm of the Dance,” a two-hour dance and music extravaganza of Irish talent depicting the epic journey of the Irish Celts throughout history. The festival’s closing performance, “One Hundred Hands,” will be performed by the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe.

                                                                                                                                              This year’s Palestine International Festival for Dance and Music will mobilize over 200 volunteers and tap an unprecedented level of support from Palestinian private sector sponsors and donors. UNICEF and the Consulate of Sweden are also supporting the festival.

                                                                                                                                              More of the Same

                                                                                                                                              And, as I close this article, I just received a call from the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp. I’m being asked to participate in the events of the upcoming Freedom Bus Tour, a nine day procession across the West Bank which will visit 14 communities to engage them in expressing their oral history, through an interactive theater technique termed Playback Theater.

                                                                                                                                              The truth is, you see, that we damn Palestinians do get it. We understand very well that justice will ultimately prevail. We have studied world history closely and know that no people in struggle have lived under military occupation forever and no people who maintain a living collective memory will remain refugees forever. We get it—discrimination, in all its shapes and forms, is destined to crumble at the feet of all those who actively support it, fund it, or turn a blind eye to it.

                                                                                                                                              Now, off to celebrate our humanity. Please join us.

                                                                                                                                              - Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business development consultant from the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh, located 10 miles north of Jerusalem. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.epalestine.com.

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                                                                                                                                                Video: On the Ground for SB 1070 Ruling

                                                                                                                                                English (US)  June 27th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                By Jorge Martin Melchor June 27, 2012

                                                                                                                                                The Supreme Court ruled June 25 that Arizona’s local law enforcement can be required to ask about someone’s legal status if they have reason to believe they are in the country illegally in its released opinion on SB 1070. But the court also argued that police can’t engage in racial profiling. But the court also argued that police can’t engage in racial profiling.

                                                                                                                                                Read the full post at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                                                                                                  Occupied Lives: I will build my house again

                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  June 27th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                  Hassan Al Najjar in his rented house in Abbassan village.

                                                                                                                                                  Three years ago, on 11 January 2009, Hassan Al Najjar’s (62) house in Khuza’a village was destroyed by Israeli forces. This happened during the Israeli offensive against Gaza, codenamed ‘Cast Lead,’ a 22 day military assault on the Gaza Strip that resulted in a massive amount of destruction and fear: “I cannot even begin to explain how this affected me. I am in total shock. I had put great effort into building that house. 14 years of hard work, and in 5 minutes it was all on the ground.”

                                                                                                                                                  Hassan’s destroyed house in Khuza’a.

                                                                                                                                                  Hassan’s house is located approximately 500 meters from the Israeli border. This is near the buffer zone, a military no-go area that was proclaimed by Israel to exist between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which extends along the entire northern and eastern perimeter of the Gaza Strip adjacent to Israel, but inside Palestinian territory. In 2009, Israel announced that the buffer zone would extend 300 meters into Gaza, although in reality it can extend as far as 1,500 meters. The buffer zone is often enforced using live fire, which results in the loss of Palestinian lives, land and property.


                                                                                                                                                  After Operation Cast Lead, Hassan, his 2 wives and their 12 children moved to a rented house in Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis, and gradually began rebuilding their lives. 2 months ago, they started reconstructing their destroyed home. However, just 2 weeks ago, on 14 June 2012, at around 2:30pm, the house was bulldozed again by Israeli forces: “Our two story house was in the final stages of reconstruction. In fact, there were workers in the house when Israeli forces began approaching the village. The workers saw the bulldozers coming and ran.”

                                                                                                                                                  No prior warning was given by Israeli forces of the impending attack on Hassan’s house: “They had warned the ICRC that they would destroy a school- Shuhada Khuza’a- nearby, but they extended this destruction to my house.” No explanation has been provided as to why only Hassan’s house was attacked on 14 June 2012.

                                                                                                                                                  Hassan is not the only Palestinian who has had their home destroyed near the buffer zone: “There are people whose houses were taken down before. It was like a nightmare watching it happen to other people, but the real nightmare began when they destroyed my own house.”

                                                                                                                                                  This attack has had anegative effect on Hassan and his family: “I have to rent two separate houses for my 2 wives and the children. It is not like before, where we could all live together in one big house. The family has been split up.” This has resulted in an even heavier financial burden for the family.

                                                                                                                                                  Moreover, nothing could be salvaged from Hassan’s house. The cost of the loss of his property is estimated to be USD 45,000: “I will not be able to re-use any of the construction material and I will also have to pay a lot of money to have the debris removed when I start building again. Luckily, the house was empty though, so I do not have to replace furniture or personal items again. I am lucky though that I can rebuild, when the time comes.”

                                                                                                                                                  The destruction of Hassan’s house also sheds light on the reality that, owing to the closure, building materials remain unavailable or too expensive in the Gaza Strip: “It was not easy to reconstruct the house. It was very hard to find the building material. The cement available in the market is also of very poor quality. I really had struggled to find the material to rebuild my house.” This home, which he struggled to reconstruct, was easily destroyed by Israeli forces.

                                                                                                                                                  Hassan still maintains that, irrespective of the risks involved, he will try to reconstruct the house yet again: “It is my land. I will keep rebuilding, even if I do it 1000 times. Nobody can explain my suffering regardless of the number of words that are said or written. I just need to gather my strength for now, but I will build my house again. In spite of everything that is happening now, I am confident that I will be living under one roof with my family again someday.”

                                                                                                                                                  The direct targeting of a civilian object constitutes a war crime, as codified in Article 8(2) (b) (ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Similarly, under the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 53, the destruction of private property is prohibited unless rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. The subsequent enforcement against private property in the buffer zone results in the violation of numerous human rights provisions, including the right to adequate shelter contained in Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

                                                                                                                                                  To see a video narrative given by Hassan Al Najjar please click here.

                                                                                                                                                  Palestinian Center for Human Rights

                                                                                                                                                  802 words posted in Gaza, Human Rights, , IsraelLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                    Morsi wins Egypt's presidential election

                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  June 24th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                    Muslim Brotherhood candidate declared the official winner with 13.2 million votes.

                                                                                                                                                    Tens of thousands of people flocked to Tahrir Square on Sunday to celebrate Morsi's victory [EPA]

                                                                                                                                                    The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi has officially won Egypt's presidential election and will be the country's next president, the electoral commission has announced.

                                                                                                                                                    Morsi picked up 13.2 million votes out of just over 26 million, giving him about 51 per cent of the vote. His competitor, Ahmed Shafiq, the final prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, received 12.3 million. More than 800,000 ballots were invalidated.

                                                                                                                                                    Farouq Sultan, the head of the election commission, delivered a long speech before announcing the results in which he defended the body's "independence and integrity" amidst what he called meddling by unnamed political factions.
                                                                                                                                                    The final results

                                                                                                                                                    Turnout: 26,420,763 (51 per cent)
                                                                                                                                                    Invalidated votes: 843,252
                                                                                                                                                    Morsi: 13,230,131 votes (51.7 per cent of valid votes)
                                                                                                                                                    Shafiq: 12,347,380 votes

                                                                                                                                                    Read more on Egypt Live Blog

                                                                                                                                                    The two candidates filed 456 complaints about the electoral process, Sultan said, most of them allegations of either forgery or Christian voters being blocked from polling stations in Upper Egypt. The vast majority of those complaints were dismissed.

                                                                                                                                                    Tahrir Square erupted into celebration after Morsi's victory was announced. Tens of thousands of his supporters waved Egyptian flags and chanted "God is great" and "down with military rule."


                                                                                                                                                    Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt's military ruler, congratulated Morsi on his victory, state television reported. Reactions also trickled in from around the region: The governments of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the Palestinian Authority congratulated the winner.

                                                                                                                                                    There was no immediate reaction from Shafiq's campaign.

                                                                                                                                                    Gehad el-Haddad, Morsi's campaign spokesman, said in an interview shortly after the results were announced that Morsi would work to be a "president for all Egyptians."

                                                                                                                                                    The president-elect is expected to take his oath of office later this month in front of the country's supreme court.

                                                                                                                                                    Political uncertainty ahead

                                                                                                                                                    Morsi's victory caps off more than a week of behind-the-scenes negotiations between the Brotherhood and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). He claimed victory just hours after last week's runoff election, based on unofficial numbers tallied by the Brotherhood, but the commission delayed its official announcement until Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                    In the intervening days, Khairat al-Shater, the Brotherhood's political boss, met generals from SCAF at least once. Sources say they were negotiating exactly what powers the president will have.

                                                                                                                                                    Despite Morsi's victory, many of those questions about his power remain unanswered.

                                                                                                                                                    "This is not the end of the game, it's a start of a huge responsibility," el-Haddad told Al Jazeera. "It comes with more challenges, turning from being the largest opposition group in Egypt to leading the country with its national front."

                                                                                                                                                    Shortly before the polls closed last week, the generals issued a decree sharply limiting the powers of the new president. It permitted him to declare war, for example, only with the approval of the military council.

                                                                                                                                                    SCAF will also keep control of legislative power, and the budget, until a new parliament is elected. Egyptians went to the polls in November to elect a legislature, which was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, but it was dissolved earlier this month after a high court ruling found parts of the electoral law unconstitutional.

                                                                                                                                                    Saad el-Katatni, the speaker of the now-dissolved parliament, also met with officials from SCAF, and told them that the Brotherhood would not accept the court ruling or the election-night decree. But it's unclear whether the Brotherhood ultimately accepted those decisions in exchange for the presidency.

                                                                                                                                                    Either way, the military council - which has promised to hand over power to a civilian government on June 30, in a "grand ceremony" - will remain a powerful force in Egyptian politics, despite the election of a civilian president.

                                                                                                                                                    Al Jazeera

                                                                                                                                                    613 words posted in EgyptLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                      Our Muslim Brothers

                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  June 23rd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                      'Long Live the Revolution'. (via Aljazeera)

                                                                                                                                                      By Uri Avnery

                                                                                                                                                      Everybody knows by now why we are stuck in Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                      When God instructed Moses to plead with Pharaoh to let his people go, Moses told him that he was unfit for the job because “I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

                                                                                                                                                      Actually, in the Hebrew original, Moses told God that he was “heavy of the mouth and heavy of the tongue”. He should have told Him that he was also heavy of the ears. So when God told him to take his people to Canada, he took his people to Canaan, spending the prescribed 40 years – just long enough to reach Vancouver – wandering hither and thither in the Sinai desert.

                                                                                                                                                      So here we are, in Canaan, surrounded by Muslims.


                                                                                                                                                      For decades, my friends and I have warned that if we dither in making peace, the nature of the conflict will change. I myself have written dozens of times that if our conflict is transformed from a national to a religious struggle, everything will change for the worse.

                                                                                                                                                      The Zionist-Arab struggle started as a clash between two great national movements, which were born more or less at the same time as offshoots of the new European nationalism.

                                                                                                                                                      Almost all the early Zionists were convinced atheists, inspired (and pushed out) by the European nationalist movements. They used religious symbols quite cynically – to mobilize the Jews and as a propaganda tool for the others.

                                                                                                                                                      The Arab resistance to the Zionist settlement was basically
                                                                                                                                                      secular and nationalist, too. It was a part of the rising wave of nationalism throughout the Arab world. True, the leader of the Palestinian resistance was Hadj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, but he was both a national and a religious leader, using religious motives to reinforce the national ones.

                                                                                                                                                      National leaders are supposed to be rational. They make war and they make peace. When it suits them, they compromise. They talk to each other.

                                                                                                                                                      Religious conflicts are quite different. When God is inserted into the matter, everything becomes more extreme. God may be compassionate and loving, but His adherents are generally not. God and compromise don’t go well together. Especially not in the holy land of Canaan.

                                                                                                                                                      The religionalization (if a Hebrew-speaking Israeli be allowed to coin an English word) of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict started on both sides.

                                                                                                                                                      Years ago, the historian Karen Armstrong, a former nun, wrote a thought-provoking book (“The Battle for God”) about religious fundamentalism. She put her finger on an astonishing fact: Christian, Jewish and Islamic fundamentalist movements were very much alike.

                                                                                                                                                      Delving into the history of fundamentalist movements in the US, Israel, Egypt and Iran, she discovered that they were born at the same time and underwent the same stages. Since there is very little similarity between the four countries and the four societies, not to mention the three religions, this is a remarkable fact.

                                                                                                                                                      The inevitable conclusion is that there is something in the Zeitgeist of our time which encourages such ideas, something not anchored in the remote past, which is glorified by the fundamentalists, but in the present.

                                                                                                                                                      In Israel, it started on the morrow of the 1967 war, when the Army Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Goren, went to the newly “liberated” Western Wall and blew his Shofar (religious ram’s horn). Yeshayahu Leibowitz called him “the Clown with the shofar”, but throughout the country it evoked a resounding echo.

                                                                                                                                                      Before the Six Days, the religious wing of Zionism was the stepchild of the movement. For many of us, religion was a tolerated superstition, looked down upon, used by politicians for reasons of expediency.

                                                                                                                                                      The overwhelming victory of the Israeli army in that war looked like divine intervention, and the religious youth sprang into life. It was like the fulfillment of Psalm 118 (22): “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” The pent-up energies of the religious sector, nursed for years in their separate ultra-nationalist schools, burst out.

                                                                                                                                                      The result was the settlers’ movement. They raced to occupy every hilltop in the occupied territories. True, many settlers went there to build their dream villas on stolen Arab land and enjoy the ultimate “quality of life”. But at the core of the enterprise are the fundamentalist fanatics, who are ready to live harsh and dangerous lives, because (as the Crusaders used to shout) “God Wills It!”.

                                                                                                                                                      The whole raison d’être of the settlements is to drive the Arabs out of the country and turn the whole land of Canaan into a Jewish state. In the meantime their shock troops carry out pogroms against their Arab “neighbors” and burn their mosques.

                                                                                                                                                      These fundamentalists now have a huge influence on our government’s policy, and their impact is growing. For example: for months now, the country has been ablaze after the Supreme Court decreed that 5 (five!) houses in Bet El settlement must be demolished, because they were built on private Arab land. In a desperate effort to prevent riots, Binyamin Netanyahu has promised to build in their stead 850 (eight hundred and (fifty!) new houses in the occupied territories. Such things happen all the time.

                                                                                                                                                      But let there be no mistake: after the cleansing of the country of non-Jews, the next step would be to turn Israel into a “halakha state” – a country governed by religious law, with the abolition of all democratically enacted secular laws that do not conform to the word of God and His rabbis.

                                                                                                                                                      Substitute the word “shariah” for “halakha” – both mean religious law – and you have the dream of Muslim fundamentalists. Both laws, by the way, are remarkably similar. And both cover all spheres of life, individual and collective.

                                                                                                                                                      Since the start of the Arab Spring, the fledgling Arab democracy has brought Muslim fundamentalists to the fore. Actually, that started even before, when Hamas (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) won the democratic, internationally monitored elections in Palestine. However, the resulting Palestinian government was destroyed by the Israeli leadership and its subservient US and European subcontractors.

                                                                                                                                                      Last week’s apparent victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian presidential elections was a landmark. After similar victories in Tunisia and the events in Libya, Yemen and Syria, it is clear that Arab citizens everywhere favor the Muslim Brotherhood and similar parties.

                                                                                                                                                      The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, is an old established party which has earned much respect with its steadfastness in the face of recurrent persecution, torture, mass arrests and occasional executions. Its leaders are untainted by the prevalent corruption, and admired for their commitment to social work.

                                                                                                                                                      The West is haunted by medieval ideas about the horrible Saracens. The Muslim Brotherhood inspires terror. It is conceived as a fearsome, murderous, secret sect, out to destroy Israel and the West. Of course, practically no one has taken the trouble to study the history of this movement in Egypt and elsewhere. Actually, it could not be further removed from this parody.

                                                                                                                                                      The Brotherhood has always been a moderate party, though they almost always had a more extreme wing. Whenever possible, they tried to accommodate the successive Egyptian dictators – Abd-al-Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak – though all of these tried to eradicate them.

                                                                                                                                                      The Brotherhood is first and foremost an Arab and Egyptian party, deeply embedded in Egyptian history. Though they would probably deny it, I would say – judging from their history – that they are more Arab and more Egyptian than fundamentalist. They certainly have never been fanatical.

                                                                                                                                                      During their 84 years, they have seen many ups and downs. But mostly, their outstanding quality has been pragmatism, coupled with adherence to the principles of their religion. It is this pragmatism that also characterizes their behavior during the last year and a half, which – so its seems – caused quite a number of voters who are not particularly religious to prefer them to the secular candidate who is tainted by his connection with the corrupt and repressive former regime.

                                                                                                                                                      This also determines their attitude towards Israel. Palestine is constantly on their mind – but that is true of all Egyptians. Their conscience is troubled by the feeling that at Camp David, Anwar Sadat betrayed the Palestinians. Or, worse, that the devious Jew, Menachem Begin, tricked Sadat into signing a document that did not say what Sadat thought it said. It is not the Brothers that caused the Egyptians who greeted us enthusiastically, the first Israelis to visit their country, to turn against us.

                                                                                                                                                      Throughout the heated election campaigns – four in a year – the Brotherhood has not demanded the abrogation of the peace agreement with Israel. Their attitude seems to be as pragmatic as ever.

                                                                                                                                                      All our neighbors are turning, slowly but surely, Islamic.

                                                                                                                                                      That is not the end of the world. But it surely compels us, for the first time, to try to understand Islam and the Muslims.

                                                                                                                                                      For centuries, Islam and Judaism had a close and mutually beneficial relationship. The Jewish sages in Muslim Spain, the great Maimonides and many other prominent Jews were close to Islamic culture and wrote some of their works in Arabic. There is certainly nothing in the two religions that precludes cooperation between them. (Which, alas, is not true for Christianity, which could not tolerate the Jews.)

                                                                                                                                                      If we want Israel to exist and flourish in a region that will for a long time be governed by democratically elected Islamist parties, we would do well to welcome them now as brothers, congratulate them on their victories and work for peace and conciliation with elected Islamists in Egypt and the other Arab states, including Palestine. We must certainly resist the temptation to push the Americans into supporting another military dictatorship in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere. Let’s chose the future, not the past.

                                                                                                                                                      Unless we prefer to pack up and head for Canada, after all.

                                                                                                                                                      - Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                                                                                        Israel murders more Palestinians

                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  June 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                        A two-year-old is among the victims of a barrage of violence Israel this week thrust on the Palestinians, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
                                                                                                                                                        Al Ahram

                                                                                                                                                        Palestinian medics treat a man wounded by Israeli fire in a hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip

                                                                                                                                                        The Israeli occupation army and paramilitary Jewish settlers killed more than 10 Palestinians this week, including a two-year-old toddler who died after her Gaza home was hit by a missile fired from an Israeli military drone.

                                                                                                                                                        Israeli sources claimed some of the victims were involved in attempts to attack Israeli targets or trying to lay landmines along the Israel-Gaza borders, which is disputed by Palestinians who argue that Israel is killing Palestinians for the sake of it.


                                                                                                                                                        On Monday, 18 June, Israeli aircraft killed four Palestinians in two separate attacks in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. Five other Palestinians were also injured.

                                                                                                                                                        The killing in northern Gaza came after suspected resistance fighters killed a Jewish settler along Israel's border with Egypt. Two of the fighters were subsequently killed by Israeli troops.

                                                                                                                                                        In addition to the toddler, Hadil Al-Hadad, the Israeli army targeted two people riding a motorcycle in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza as well as two other people affiliated with the military wing of Hamas. The Israeli air force also targeted metal workshops and foundries Israel claimed were involved in manufacturing rockets. The Israeli army has targeted dozens of these workshops, exacerbating the already shocking state of poverty in the Strip.

                                                                                                                                                        Earlier in the week, fanatical Jewish settlers chased and killed two unarmed Palestinians near the town of Yatta in the southern West Bank. Palestinian eyewitnesses described the killing as amounting to an execution.

                                                                                                                                                        Israeli sources, quoting settlers involved in the killings, claimed the Palestinians were trying to steal money from a Jewish settler.

                                                                                                                                                        Settlers implicated in murdering Palestinians are routinely "advised" by their religious leaders to concoct narratives that would exonerate them in case they are arrested or prosecuted by the authorities.

                                                                                                                                                        Hamas and other Palestinian groups retaliated by firing homemade missiles on nearby Israeli settlements, injuring four Israeli soldiers.

                                                                                                                                                        Israeli sources said as many as 30 rockets were fired from Gaza onto Israel in less than 24 hours. Most of the rockets landed in open fields.

                                                                                                                                                        Hamas possesses a small arsenal of mostly primitive and ineffective rockets it hopes can create a semblance of deterrence vis-³-vis Israel. On the other hand, Israel uses the "rockets of Hamas" as a propaganda tool to justify murdering Palestinians on a nearly daily basis.

                                                                                                                                                        Hamas and other Palestinian military factions have fired thousands of homemade rockets on Israeli targets, mostly as a response to deadly Israeli aggressions, creating fear and panic in nearby settlements and towns, but very few casualties.

                                                                                                                                                        On the other hand, Israel has killed thousands of mostly civilian Palestinians and destroyed hundreds of homes, using state-of-the-art of US technology, including F-16 jet fighters and armed drones.

                                                                                                                                                        It is unclear why Israel is escalating its terror and violence against the Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                                        Israeli and Palestinian commentators believe the stepped-up attacks on Palestinians are intended to further exhaust the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and keep it in a perpetual state of imbalance. Israel may also be trying to appease settler circles following a recent government decision to evacuate a few settlers from a settlement outpost near Ramallah.

                                                                                                                                                        The Palestinian Authority (PA) blamed Israel for the "recent escalation". It reiterated accusations that Israel was effectively eliminating any prospective chances for the resumption of the stalled peace process.

                                                                                                                                                        Hamas, for its part, accused the PA of adopting "a cowardly stance vis-³-vis Israeli aggression". Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that while Israel was murdering Palestinians non-stop, the PA was still pandering to the murderers' government, in the hope of resuming a peace process that everyone knows leads will nowhere.

                                                                                                                                                        Barhoum said recent contacts between occupied Ramallah and Israeli authorities aimed at resuming negotiations between the two sides were a brazen betrayal of Palestinian blood.

                                                                                                                                                        Earlier, it was reported that PA negotiator Saeb Ereikat might meet with Shaul Mofaz, leader of the Kadima faction that recently joined the Binyamin Netanyahu government.

                                                                                                                                                        SETTLERS ATTACK MOSQUE: Meanwhile, Jewish settlers attacked an desecrated a mosque in the Palestinian village of Jabaa near Ramallah, torching the entrance of the mosque and scrawling anti-Palestinian slogans on its walls.

                                                                                                                                                        The slogans scribbled read: "The war has begun" and "You will pay the price."

                                                                                                                                                        The torching of the mosque is the sixth of its kind in the West Bank in the past two years. Israeli sources suspect the terrorist act was carried out by settlers protesting Israeli government plans to evacuate dozens of settlers living in apartments built on private Palestinian land near Ramallah.

                                                                                                                                                        Despite the shocking frequency of such incidents, the Israeli army has failed to apprehend the perpetrators, who are believed to act on instructions or religious edicts issued by their rabbis.

                                                                                                                                                        Settler and pro-settler groups have long infiltrated the Israeli army and justice system to the point that the Israeli army is hesitant to confront settlers head-on, even when they are caught red-handed murdering, harassing, beating or aggressing Palestinians.

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                                                                                                                                                          Hamas heartened by apparent Mursi victory

                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  June 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                          Palestinians and Israelis react to the possible victory of Islamists in Egypt's presidential race, with Fatah and Tel Aviv left worried, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
                                                                                                                                                          Al Ahram

                                                                                                                                                          Palestinians carry trays of sweets and an Egyptian flag in front of a placard depicting Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi in Gaza City

                                                                                                                                                          Palestinian Islamists, who closely followed this week's Egyptian presidential elections run-off, reacted with deep satisfaction to the apparent victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi over his secular opponent Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

                                                                                                                                                          Prior to the elections, Hamas leaders commented tersely and diplomatically on political developments in Egypt, saying they were standing at the same distance from all political players in the Egyptian arena. However, it was clear beneath such words what party and candidate Hamas and other Islamist groups were favouring.


                                                                                                                                                          Hamas is the daughter of the Muslim Brotherhood and has always had umbilical bonds with the mother organisation. Some of Hamas's prominent leaders, such as Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, have been granted Egyptian citizenship, his mother being Egyptian.

                                                                                                                                                          The mother of the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Aziz Duweik, now imprisoned in Israel without charge or trial for his political activities, is also Egyptian, which qualifies him to obtain Egyptian citizenship according to recently amended laws.

                                                                                                                                                          Many Palestinian Islamist leaders also received their college and postgraduate education in Egypt.

                                                                                                                                                          In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinian youths took to the streets to celebrate Mursi's apparent victory shortly after the Brotherhood's candidate appeared on television to claim victory in the presidential elections.

                                                                                                                                                          Others distributed sweets and exchanged calls of congratulation.

                                                                                                                                                          "This is a victory for Palestine as much as it is for Egypt. We hope that with an Islamist president at the helm of power in the biggest and most powerful Arab state, Israel will learn how to be humble a little bit," said Mohamed Amr, a Hamas activist in Hebron in the southern West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                          "This is really a political earthquake of historical proportions. This is the first time an Islamist president reaches power in an Arab country. The psychological and political effects and repercussions of this event will be tremendous and far-reaching," Amr added.

                                                                                                                                                          Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Moussa Abu Marzouk were the first Palestinians to congratulate the Muslim Brotherhood on their victory. The two leaders voiced hope that Egypt under Mursi would display a tougher stance towards Israel.

                                                                                                                                                          Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, hailed the elections as a "democratic wedding", saying he hoped Egypt would enjoy political stability and economic prosperity. He added that the Palestinian people were pinning a lot of hopes on the triumph of the Egyptian revolution.

                                                                                                                                                          Hamas has plausible reasons to be optimistic about the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood to the highest authority in the most important Arab country.

                                                                                                                                                          First, Hamas is certain that Egypt under Mursi would not bully or coerce the Islamist group, and the Palestinians in general, to accept deals with Israel against their will and convictions as was the case during Mubarak's reign when the Egyptian regime was consistently used -- by the United States -- as a hammer to pressure the PA leadership to give concessions to Israel. In fact, most Palestinians think that the Mubarak regime was a liability, not an asset, for the Palestinian cause. This fact was manifested during the genocidal Israeli campaign against Gaza more than three years ago (Operation Cast Lead).

                                                                                                                                                          Second, Hamas, which suffered immensely thanks to the Mubarak regime's efforts to strangle the Gaza Strip economically, even by building a deep concrete and steel wall along the Gaza-Sinai border, hopes that with Mursi as president, augmenting the Israeli blockade to Gaza by sealing the border crossings will be a thing of the past.

                                                                                                                                                          Third, Hamas hopes that Egypt will from now on link its commitment to the Camp David Peace Treaty to Israeli behaviour towards the Palestinians. Some Brotherhood leaders have made statements favouring such a linkage.

                                                                                                                                                          Fourth, Hamas hopes and possibly calculates that with an Islamist president, Egypt will show more understanding to Hamas's stance vis-³-vis its rival, Fatah.

                                                                                                                                                          In the past, it was generally thought that the Mubarak regime was biased in Fatah's favour in reconciliation talks under Egyptian sponsorship.

                                                                                                                                                          FATAH'S REACTIONS: The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership has not officially commented on the outcome of the presidential elections in Egypt, perhaps because the results have not been announced formally by the proper authorities in Cairo.

                                                                                                                                                          PA officials in Ramallah said President Mahmoud Abbas would congratulate whoever becomes the president of Egypt.

                                                                                                                                                          However, the general feeling among low and mid-ranking Fatah leaders was one of consternation, even indignation, at Mursi's apparent victory.

                                                                                                                                                          A comment appearing on a Fatah Information and Culture Department's website claimed that the "Muslim Brotherhood's real face has been unmasked."

                                                                                                                                                          "We hope that the Egyptian people will elect the right leader, now that the depravity of the Muslim Brotherhood has been exposed, and that people are now frightened by the Brotherhood's hysterical desire to take control over all political institutions in Egypt, all at the expense of stability and societal peace."

                                                                                                                                                          The writer, Yehia Rabah, obviously ignored the fact that the Brotherhood earned, not arrogated, their electoral victories.

                                                                                                                                                          "The military institution is the only qualified party to which Egypt can be entrusted. It is the only guarantor of peace and security," Rabah added.

                                                                                                                                                          An anti-Islamist secularist, Rabah said Egypt would be in "safe hands" as long as the army kept its grip on the country, regardless of popular political forces.

                                                                                                                                                          "We must thank God for blessing Egypt with people [the military] who will uphold the trust, maintain security, protect Egypt's sovereignty and its vital role in the region."

                                                                                                                                                          Other Fatah leaders have expressed worries that the new Egyptian leadership will be more supportive of Hamas, which would enable the Islamist movement to enhance its overall status and position in the Palestinian arena.

                                                                                                                                                          Finally, the Israeli reaction to the apparent election of Mursi was quite grim and sombre, with one Israel lawmaker arguing that the "advent of the Islamists to the centres of power in Egypt is more dangerous to Israel than Iran's nuclear weapons."

                                                                                                                                                          Knesset member Benyamin Ben-Eliezer, a veteran Israeli politician and close friend to ousted president Mubarak, was quoted as saying that Israel has no choice but to talk to the Muslim Brothers.

                                                                                                                                                          Alex Fishman, a prominent Israeli political analyst wrote in the mass circulation daily Yedith Aharonot that Israel should now get accustomed to the disturbing reality of a hostile Egypt ruled by Islamists.

                                                                                                                                                          "An Egyptian regime under Islamic leadership will not be able to accept Israeli strikes in Gaza. The day when Mursi is in power and the [Israeli] air force strikes the Strip, possibly killing innocents, will also be the day marking the end of formal relations between Israel and Egypt."

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                                                                                                                                                            Supremes Support Lawsuit Against Interior’s Land-into-Trust Authority

                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  June 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                            By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                                            The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an individual has standing to sue the Interior Department for taking land into trust for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, to build a casino in Wayland County, Michigan. The decision, issued on June 18, could have ramifications far beyond one tribe because it means that the status of Indian trust lands is no longer secure, and it opens the floodgates to legal challenges to Interior’s trust acquisitions for six years after the department acquires trust land for an Indian tribe.

                                                                                                                                                            Read the full story at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                                                                                                              Dam Removal Launches Penobscot River Restoration

                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  June 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                              Heavy machinery began Great Works Dam demolition.

                                                                                                                                                              By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                                              BRADLEY, Maine – It was a great day to restore a river.

                                                                                                                                                              Under a cloudless blue sky on a warm spring day in Maine, scores of people stood on the banks of the Penobscot River and watched heavy rock-smashing tractors roll over a riprap road in the water toward a decrepit concrete fish passage, and begin jack hammering it to pieces. The demolition of the Great Works Dam and the restoration of a free-flowing river from Old Town to the Gulf of Maine had begun.

                                                                                                                                                              When the Great Works Dam is completely removed later this year and the downstream Veazie Dam, the dam closest to the ocean, comes down next year, migratory sea-run Atlantic salmon and other native anadromous fish that have been blocked – one might say ethnically cleansed – from reaching their spawning grounds for more than 100 years, will be free to return and reestablish self-propagating populations. The restoration of the endangered Atlantic salmon to their historic home waters will not only create economic and recreational opportunities for the communities along the river and beyond, it will also play a crucial role in restoring the cultural traditions and the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the Penobscot Indian Nation.

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                                                                                                                                                                Once-Green Sahara Hosted Early African Dairy Farms

                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  June 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                Colorful rock art of domesticated cattle decorates a wall at Wadi Imha in the Tadrart Acacus Mountains in the Libyan Sahara. Images like this reveal the importance of cattle to Neolithic African people. CREDIT: Roberto Ceccacci, © The Archaeological Mission in the Sahara, Sapienza University of Rome

                                                                                                                                                                By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

                                                                                                                                                                The sandy dunes of the Sahara may seem an unlikely place for a dairy farm, but about 7,000 years ago, herders tended and milked cattle in what is now desolate desert, new research shows.

                                                                                                                                                                About 10,000 years ago, the Sahara desert went through a phase called the Holocene African Humid Period. Fossilized bones show that by the sixth millennium B.C. (or about 7,000 years ago), cattle, sheep and goats roamed over green savanna, and rock art depicts cows with full udders. The occasional image even shows milking, said study researcher Julie Dunne, a doctoral student at the University of Bristol. But it's difficult to get a firm date for those images.


                                                                                                                                                                By analyzing pottery fragments, Dunne and her colleagues have now shown that these early herders were not only milking their livestock, but also processing that milk into products like yogurt, cheese and butter.

                                                                                                                                                                "The most exciting thing about this is that milk is one of the only foodstuffs that gives us carbohydrates, protein and fat," all in one substance, Dunne told LiveScience. "So it was incredibly beneficial for prehistoric people to use milk." [Top 10 Mysteries of the First Humans]

                                                                                                                                                                Saharan dairies

                                                                                                                                                                Dunne and her colleagues analyzed tiny fragments of pottery taken from the Takarkori rock shelter, a prehistoric dwelling in the Libyan Sahara. They ground up small pieces of the pottery, conducting chemical analyses to investigate the proteins and fats embedded in the shards. By doing so, the researchers could see what the pots once held.

                                                                                                                                                                They found evidence of a varied diet, with signs found for plant oils and animal fat. The most common fats were of animal origin, Dunne said, with some deriving from flesh and others from milk. The most dairy-fat rich pottery shards came from the same time periods when more cattle bones are found in the cave layers, the researchers reported today (June 20) in the journal Nature.

                                                                                                                                                                By looking at variations in the carbon molecules in these preserved fats, the researchers were able to get an idea of what kind of plants the cattle were eating. They found their diets varied between so-called C3, or woody plants, and C4 plants, which include grasses grains and dry-weather plants. (C3 and C4 refer to the type of photosynthesis these plants use.)

                                                                                                                                                                That fits with the archaeological understanding of this early herding civilization as moving between seasonal camps, Dunne said.

                                                                                                                                                                "It suggests that they were moving between summer and winter camps and eating different plants at one place than another, so this all ties together very nicely," she said.

                                                                                                                                                                Spread of milk and butter

                                                                                                                                                                No one has ever before looked for evidence of dairy farming in these herding tribes, Dunne said, but the new findings help explain how humans got their taste for milk. People first settled down to an agricultural lifestyle in the Near East about 8,000 or 9,000 years ago, she said. Soon after, they took up dairy farming. The milk habit then spread across Europe in fits and starts.

                                                                                                                                                                At the same time, though, people were also migrating from the Near East into what is now Egypt and other parts of Africa, Dunne said. This movement spread dairying to north Africans, who were previously settled hunter-gatherers and fishermen. As new immigrants moved in with cattle, these native people would have quickly seen the benefits of "marvelous big hunks of food on the hoof," Dunne said.

                                                                                                                                                                Humans had to evolve to match their new source of protein, however. Originally, mankind was lactose intolerant, meaning that milk drinking was an invitation for an upset stomach. Processing milk into yogurt and cheese would have helped, Dunne said, but humans also adapted: As dairying spread, so did genes that confer lactose tolerance.

                                                                                                                                                                "You're really seeing evolution in action over a very short timescale, just 1,000 to 2,000 years," Dunne said.

                                                                                                                                                                The researchers now plan to analyze more pottery samples from more northern African dwellings. The goal, Dunne said, is to get a better picture of how dairy — and cows — spread among the people of the continent.

                                                                                                                                                                Cattle "really played an enormous part in their ideology and their general day-to-day life," she said.


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                                                                                                                                                                  Pulitzer Prize Winner Alice Walker Declines to Publish The Color Purple in Israel, Awaits a ‘Just Future’

                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  June 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                  Pulitzer-prize winner, Alice Walker and former Anishanaabek Chief Robert Lovelace aboard the Freedom Flotilla in protest of Israel’s illegal sea blockade of Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                  By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                                                  Author, poet and human rights activist Alice Walker has declined an offer to publish her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Color Purple in Israel because the country is “an Apartheid state,” she said.

                                                                                                                                                                  In a June 9 letter to Yediot Books, Walker thanked the publisher for wanting to issue her novel but said she would wait for “a just future.” Walker said that last fall the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in South Africa, on which she served as a jurist, “met and determined that Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories. The testimony we heard, both from Israelis and Palestinians … was devastating. I grew up under American apartheid, and this was far worse. Indeed, many South Africans who attended, including Desmond Tutu, felt the Israeli version of these crimes is worse even than what they suffered under the white supremacist regimes that dominated South Africa for so long.”

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                                                                                                                                                                    Wikileaks' Assange Seeks Asylum in Ecuador

                                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  June 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                    Julian Assange requested asylum in Ecuador and is sheltering in the South American country's London embassy [EPA]

                                                                                                                                                                    Julian Assange's attempt to gain asylum in Ecuador is just the latest turn in one of the biggest media stories of our time. The WikiLeaks co-founder is currently in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, which issued this statement on June 19:

                                                                                                                                                                    "This afternoon Mr Julian Assange arrived at the Ecuadorean embassy seeking political asylum from the Ecuadorean government. We have immediately passed his application on to the relevant department in Quito. While the department assesses Mr Assange's application, Mr Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorean government."


                                                                                                                                                                    This story goes back to 2010, which news junkies may come to remember as the year of WikiLeaks, Assange's online whistle blowing machine.
                                                                                                                                                                    The midterm media players

                                                                                                                                                                    In April of that year, WikiLeaks released footage of 18 civilians in Iraq shot dead by troops on board a US helicopter, cockpit video the Pentagon had insisted was no longer in existence. A few months later, the site began posting hundreds of thousands of classified US government documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Then came the diplomatic cables, which provided an insider's view of American diplomacy, and uncensored views of US diplomats on the countries they deal with.

                                                                                                                                                                    It was also the year that Mr Assange began to be pursued by Swedish and, eventually, British authorities.

                                                                                                                                                                    Assange has been accused of raping one woman and sexually assaulting another during a trip to deliver a lecture in Sweden in August 2010. He was arrested in London in December of that year, after a European arrest warrant was issued. After eight nights in prison, he was granted bail at $315,000. Since then he's been under house arrest at, at least, two addresses in the UK.

                                                                                                                                                                    Throughout his legal ordeal, Assange has maintained the sex was consensual and that he was being persecuted for reasons of politics. He also said he feared the Swedish authorities would simply hand him over to the Americans, who might already have a cell at Guantanamo with his name on it.

                                                                                                                                                                    In February 2011, a British court ruled that Assange be extradited to Sweden. He has been embroiled in battles in the British courts ever since. In November last year, the High Court ruled that Assange's extradition was not unfair or unlawful, and last week the country's highest court backed that decision.

                                                                                                                                                                    With his legal options in the UK exhausted, Mr Assange had one more appeal route open to him. He had until June 28th to file an appeal at the European court of human rights.

                                                                                                                                                                    But instead he walked into the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, and requested political asylum.

                                                                                                                                                                    Why Ecuador?

                                                                                                                                                                    Anti-American sentiments run high there. In April last year, Ecuador announced that it was expelling US ambassador Heather Hodges, over claims she made in diplomatic cables of widespread corruption within the Ecuadorean police force. The cables were written with the frankness that comes when the author believes their work is confidential. But they were released to the world via Wikileaks.

                                                                                                                                                                    The country's deputy foreign minister first raised the prospect of sheltering Assange in 2010, when American politicians were calling him an enemy of the state.

                                                                                                                                                                    In mid-2011, I attended a WikiLeaks event at the stately manor house where Assange was under house arrest. Many people spoke that day, but I remember one in particular.

                                                                                                                                                                    He was Ecuadorean, an official at the embassy in London. Of Assange, he said something along the lines of: "We Ecuadoreans always knew Washington did not approve of our president, the same way it does not approve of Hugo Chavez or other leftist leaders in Latin America. But we never knew the extent of American animosity or interference in our country's affairs. WikiLeaks and the almost 1,500 diplomatic cables originating for the US embassy in Ecuador changed all that. They made the murky world of diplomacy crystal clear. Our country will always be grateful to Julian Assange. That is why I am here today, to support him and his organization."

                                                                                                                                                                    Last month, Assange interviewed President Rafael Correa on his talk show, which is broadcast on the state-funded Russian news channel, RTV. Correa happens to be locked into a Chavez-like struggle with Ecuadorean media, most of which is owned by right-wingers. He has attracted criticism for going too far in his response.

                                                                                                                                                                    But the two men appeared to get on well during their 25 minute online chat. Assange described Correa as "a leftwing populist who has changed the face of Ecuador."

                                                                                                                                                                    Toward the end of their discussion, Correa told Assange: "Cheer up. Welcome to the club of the persecuted."

                                                                                                                                                                    That chummy exchange doesn't quite square with the official tone of the statement from the government in Quito, the one about passing Assange's asylum application to the relevant department.

                                                                                                                                                                    Because Julian Assange is no stranger to the Ecuadorean government. He is no ordinary asylum seeker. They know who he is; what he's done; how Wikileaks has affected Ecuador and other countries that live in the long, cold shadow of a superpower.

                                                                                                                                                                    Assange is considered a renegade, but he's no fool. I very much doubt that he would walk into that embassy without knowing precisely how his asylum application would turn out.

                                                                                                                                                                    Incidentally, he saw this coming. When I interviewed Assange for The Listening Post, in November 2010, we talked about the legal net closing in on him. I asked where he saw himself living in five years.

                                                                                                                                                                    Assange replied, "Well, I joked the other night. The way things are going, what do I do? Apply for refugee status in Cuba?"

                                                                                                                                                                    Right neighbourhood; wrong country.

                                                                                                                                                                    He might even be able to see Guantanamo from the plane. Although it would be unwise of him, at this stage, to fly through American airspace.

                                                                                                                                                                    Richard Gizbert is the presenter of Al Jazeera's Listening Post.

                                                                                                                                                                    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
                                                                                                                                                                    Source: Al Jazeera

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                                                                                                                                                                      The state of Gaza: Five years after Hamas took power in the city, how has life changed for its citizens?

                                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  June 10th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                      By Donald MacIntyre

                                                                                                                                                                      The front office of Kamal Ashour's small family clothing factory in Gaza City opens on to Izzedine al-Qassam Street, named, like Hamas's military wing, in honour of the Islamist mujahid who led the anti-Zionist, anti-Mandate, Black Hand gang and was shot dead by British police in 1935.

                                                                                                                                                                      Which makes it serendipitous to see the mannequins on one of its shelves triumphantly displaying four samples of the 2,000 acrylic cardigans and polo sweaters Ashour has just shipped off to the UK firm of JD Williams in the first clothing exports to leave Gaza for five years. And a lot more so to be talking on Ashour's landline to a Jewish-Israeli clothier in Tel Aviv about how fast, if he had half a chance, he would revert to buying his goods from here, as he once did.

                                                                                                                                                                      Having made the call, Ashour, a short, spry septuagenarian who used to export at least 80 per cent of his clothing to Israel, has thrust the phone into my hand to demonstrate just how highly his most favoured customer values his business. Sure enough, the Israeli trader explains that, since the blockade imposed in Gaza by his own government in 2007, he has been forced to find a Chinese supplier instead of Ashour; that, yes, the sweaters may be slightly –though "not much"– cheaper, but that he would still prefer Ashour every time. "Look, I've been working with Gaza for 30 years and with this guy for 11 or 12. The overall quality is high, better than China. He's very, very good to work with. I trust him completely. If he says he will do something, he does it. He never changes his mind."


                                                                                                                                                                      Such is his nervousness about discussing a politically sensitive topic that, unlike Mr Ashour, his Israeli client, whose name we know, begs us not to use it. For this is a conversation across enemy lines. Gaza is still officially classified by the Israeli Cabinet as a "hostile entity" and since the turbulent events that unfolded in June 2007 the exports to Israel and the West Bank on which its economy depended have been prohibited.

                                                                                                                                                                      Five years ago this week, Gaza was in chaos. The BBC correspondent Alan Johnston was being held as a hostage by the criminal jihadists who had kidnapped him in March. The Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, seized by militants on the Gaza border, had already been in captivity for a year. But in the streets outside, a brief but bloody civil war was raging between militants in the two biggest Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah.

                                                                                                                                                                      Two years earlier, Ariel Sharon had pulled Israeli troops and the 8,000 settlers they had been protecting out of Gaza. Then, in January 2006, Hamas unexpectedly beat Fatah in notably clean parliamentary elections held throughout the occupied territories. The victory was not primarily because of ideology. (Fatah was committed to a two-state solution with Palestine, consisting of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem living side by side with Israel, while Hamas had always refused to recognise Israel.) Rather, it was because Palestinians were fed up with Fatah's corruption, the failure of negotiations to bring any results, and perhaps because some, at least in Gaza, initially bought into Hamas's extravagant boasts that its militants had "liberated" the territory from Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                      Finding itself leading the new Palestinian Authority in uneasy co-habitation with a Fatah president in Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas was faced with a boycott by a US-led international community which effectively refused to recognise the results of the election it had sanctioned in the first place. The outcome was a coalition with Fatah; but it was a shotgun marriage that quickly degenerated into civil conflict.

                                                                                                                                                                      Hamas, despite partially covert American help for the Fatah forces, was victorious. When the bloodshed ended on 14 June 2007 Hamas was left in charge of Gaza, Fatah of the West Bank. And Israel responded with its blockade of Gaza – central elements of which are still in force today – which the senior UN official Filippo Grandi said 12 days ago had "completely obliterated" the territory's economy, and which leaves a deeply puzzling question: why is Israel still maintaining an export ban which, in Grandi's words, has "penalised" the "common people" and the "business community" of Gaza but has left its Hamas rulers intact and unscathed?

                                                                                                                                                                      Through the past five years, punctuated by Israel's bloody three-week military offensive in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009, Ashour has stayed in contact with his old Israeli customer. He explains that he last used his coveted businessman's permit to visit the Israeli's premises and drink tea with him, after Benjamin Netanyahu finally agreed the prisoner exchange with Hamas that made headline news with the release of Gilad Shalit last October. Ashour recalls that one of the Israeli's sons told his father: "'Look, Shalit's out. The crossings must open now. Kamal could produce 10,000 pieces for us.'" At which point the clothier thrust a wad of 14,000 shekels (around £2,300) in banknotes into Ashour's hand as a down-payment for just such an order. The Israeli trader's optimism after the Shalit prisoner exchange was understandable, because one of the reasons cited by the government for maintaining the blockade in the first place had been the IDF soldier's continued incarceration.

                                                                                                                                                                      Stacked in a storeroom are the sweaters the Israeli has paid for, neatly boxed up and waiting for the moment when they are allowed to leave Gaza for Tel Aviv. A moment which still shows no sign of coming, since the Netanyahu government has not lifted its decree that no goods will leave Gaza for destinations in Israel or the West Bank. Which is exactly where 85 per cent of the territory's exports went before June 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                      In any case, it hardly compares with the 6,000 garments – two truckloads – Ashour used to send out to his Israeli customers every week. He did all he could to help out his impoverished employees after June 2007, first keeping them on half-pay and then with loans from his own pocket. But whereas he used to employ 35 to 40 workers for three shifts all the year round, in the past year he has employed only 25 for two shifts, and for just three months. Those that could, found jobs as bakers, taxi drivers, street cleaners or more frequently on NGO-sponsored short-term work programmes or as Hamas policemen. Those who he temporarily re-engaged came back – except the policemen. It is a neat illustration of how the slump in private-sector employment since 2007 served to boost the payroll of the Hamas authorities.

                                                                                                                                                                      Now, the British order completed – and the second batch ready for dispatch – the factory is silent and empty. Ashour believes, not unreasonably, that a resumption of commerce between Israel and Gaza would foster better relations all round, and that, "I never saw a businessman throw a stone." Breaking into English for his final rhetorical flourish, he adds: "The Jews understand me very good. For business, Tel Aviv is better for me than London or New York."

                                                                                                                                                                      The outrage that followed the fatal shooting by Israeli commandos of nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the flotilla that set sail for Gaza in an attempt to break the blockade in May 2010, awakened Western governments to the need to be seen to press Netanyahu to lift the siege. The most immediate result of the subsequent negotiations between Tony Blair, as the international envoy of the "Quartet" (a mediating coalition of the UN, the US, the EU and Russia), and the Israeli Prime Minister was the rapid flow of Israeli goods into Gaza supermarkets as the military lifted it capricious "security" ban on a bizarrely comprehensive selection of commodities, which had ranged from musical instruments and razor blades to coriander, and as an infuriated US Senator John Kerry had discovered on a trip in 2009, pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                      Blair also secured a resumption of raw-material imports for Gaza's industry – which allowed Ashour to bring in his acrylic cloth from Turkey through Israel for the first time since 2007 and other manufacturers to start serving local markets again. Netanyahu also – in theory – agreed to allow exports, though in practice this has been mainly confined to dispatches, heavily subsidised by foreign governments, of flowers and fruit to Europe. Even conservative estimates put the total levels of Gaza exports at less than two per cent of pre-June 2007 levels.

                                                                                                                                                                      It was less painful for Israel to change the policy, of course, because it had so manifestly failed. Indeed, whatever its effects on Gaza's long-suffering public, it had done nothing to weaken, let alone dislodge, Hamas. Through the long period of international boycott, Israeli blockade and the 2008-2009 war, the Islamic faction has tightened its grip on government. At the end of last month, Gaza was once again alive with hopeful talk that Fatah and Hamas would heal the split that began so bloodily and form a "unity" government – an outcome strongly opposed by Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                      Gaza, like the West Bank, is a land the Arab Spring forgot; but that does not mean its politics have been unaffected. Hamas has a dual leadership –de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and Khaled Meshal outside the territory. The uprising, fast becoming a civil war, in Syria and Bashar Assad's brutal treatment of it, now condemned by Hamas, forced Meshal to leave his Damascus base, leaving him in need of new allies. And the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – which will be even more marked if its presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi wins this week's run-off – provided him with the chance to do just that. Deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak—and some of the intelligence chiefs still in post – always favoured Fatah over Hamas. But Hamas is an offshoot of the Brotherhood. And if the West is prepared to talk to the Brotherhood in Egypt, might they not in time, he may have reasoned, do so to Meshal himself, especially if he has a new accord with Abbas?

                                                                                                                                                                      In the short term, moreover, no new Fatah-Hamas agreement was ever going to mean economic change for the better in Gaza. And the changes negotiated after the Mavi Marmara debacle were as significant for what they did not include as what they did. Not only were exports banned to the very markets in the West Bank and Israel they had overwhelmingly served, but Israel did not lift the ban – other than on imports for strictly identified projects supervised by the UN and other international organisations – on bringing in building materials, including for reconstruction needed after the 2008-2009 war. The latter decision, ostensibly on the grounds that Hamas could divert such materials for is own purposes, including military ones such as underground bunkers, went to the heart of the contradictions in Israeli policy in Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                      For both Hamas and the private sector have been importing everything they need from Egypt through the tunnels Gazan entrepreneurs constructed under the Egyptian border to beat the siege after 2007. It is almost impossible to overestimate the impact of the tunnels; "smuggling", though technically correct, hardly seems an appropriate term to cover the cars, motorcycles and livestock coming under the border. Nor for the bulk building materials such as the truckloads of Egyptian cement from El Arish you can see trundling north along the Gaza Strip's main Saladin Road.

                                                                                                                                                                      Indeed something of a construction boom, however temporary, is the main factor behind a fall in unemployment to around one in three of the workforce, according to UN figures; there is even a shortage of skilled workers, such as carpenters and steel-fixers. Building sites abound in Gaza City, many funded with cash from the new breed of Gaza millionaires, many themselves tunnel operators and close to Hamas.

                                                                                                                                                                      Meanwhile, a 2km stretch of the sandy, potholed Al Rasheed coast road is being proudly transformed into a "corniche", one of several projects financed by PalTel, the main Palestinian telecommunications company, apparently to avoid the embarrassment of paying taxes directly to Hamas. Huge mounds of earth and roadside pyramid-shaped stacks of steel piping brought in at the beginning of the year testified to the scale of the project – with 5m-wide pavements, a central reservation and a pedestrian tunnel for families to get safely to the beach (a safety that can hardly be guaranteed in the sea itself, still dangerously polluted by the 15,000cm a day of raw sewage long pumped into the Mediterranean). Not only does this traffic fatally undermine the stated "security" goals of the Israeli policy, but it is of huge financial benefit to Hamas, which is levying 10 shekels (£1.65) on every ton of aggregate, 20 on cement, and 50 on steel.

                                                                                                                                                                      The building boom cannot disguise the huge hole – which only a restoration of exports to the West Bank and Israel would truly start to repair – still left in Gaza's economy. But the construction industry's resilience is a reminder that even in the darkest days it has passed through since 2007, up to and including the aftermath of the war, there has always been more to Gaza than its stereotype outside the territory.

                                                                                                                                                                      At one extreme, of course, the narrow alleys separating the famously overcrowded, zinc-roofed, breeze-block slums of the Jabalya refugee camp testify to a level of poverty in which the UN says more than 70 per cent of Gazans depended on food or cash aid. At the other, the glamorous young women, some daringly without headscarves, smoking narghila on a sociable Thursday evening under a late May new moon on the terrace of the Arabesque Al Deira hotel are a reminder that, for all its problems, Gaza City is the most metropolitan and in many ways sophisticated of all the Palestinian urban centres. It has two universities of its own as well as the offshoots of others in the West Bank, it has its crop of lively bloggers, often fearlessly critical of the Hamas authorities. It has some of the best of all Palestinian painters –and, for that matter, rappers. Its music school has just become part of the prestigious Edward Said Conservatory network...

                                                                                                                                                                      It is a paradox which bothers Iqbal Qishta, who, like Gaza's many hundreds of would-be exporters, has fallen victim to what increasingly looks like Israel's systematic determination to separate Gaza from the West Bank. For the third change Netanyahu refused to make in the negotiations with Blair was to free the movement of people through the Erez Crossing out of Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                      The elegant Ms Qishta, who runs a successful Gaza City hair and beauty salon and has decided to take a university degree at a proudly unmarried 37, has been refused permission to attend a hairdressers' convention in the West Bank city of Tulkarem. In previous times a veteran of such events – evidence that there are no security grounds against her – she argues that her presence and those of her peers in the past was as much the conventions' gain as those of the Gaza invitees. "They can learn from us; for example some of the ways we dye hair in crazy colours which we get from Egypt and take to the West Bank."

                                                                                                                                                                      She is half-irritated and half-amused as she describes how far Palestinians in the West Bank, who now rarely if ever meet Gazans, have internalised an image of them as ingénues at best and barbarians at worst. At a previous convention, she says, "One woman from Jericho asked me: 'Do you still all live in asbestos shacks?' They wouldn't believe we were from Gaza; they thought we were 1948 Palestinians [Arabs living in Israel]. It's because of the media. They just show bombardments or they go to the Beach [refugee] camp and show kids playing in some sewage puddle, people wearing bad clothes and graffiti. They don't go to the Mövenpick hotel [actually now the ArcMed, but still called after the Swiss company which originally built it in the more-hopeful 1990s] or the Lighthouse restaurant or the Al Deira."

                                                                                                                                                                      Qishta insists she will try again each year to attend the convention – resenting that it is easier for to go to Cairo through the Rafah crossing than to join her fellow Palestinians for a short meeting in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                                      Even more sweeping is the military's ban on students attending – as it routinely did before the first intifada broke out in 2000 – universities in the West Bank. Last month an unprecedented judgement in Israel's Supreme Court gave the state 45 days to reconsider the routine application of the ban to four women in their thirties and forties, all of whom have been active in promoting women from attending courses in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                                      But it did not intervene at all on the case of Loujain Alzaeem, 18, a law student with outstanding grades who has long been ambitious to follow in her mother's footsteps to go to Birzeit University in Ramallah. "My dream since I was a kid was to go to Birzeit. It is one of the best universities in Palestine and the law faculty is very good. The fact my mother went there is a big factor and she has told me a lot about her time there. I can go to London but I can't go to Birzeit or Jerusalem or anywhere like that. [The Israelis] just don't want any students from here to go to the West Bank and that's it."

                                                                                                                                                                      Not only has the military made no claim against Loujain – or the four older women – on security grounds, but her father Shaharbeel, one of the most prominent and best-connected lawyers in the country, a well-known advocate of non-violence, with clients in Israel and the West Bank as well as Gaza, is one of the select few with a permit to travel through the Erez Crossing into Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                      The passage of people, like goods, between Gaza and the West Bank looks very much like a one-way street. Israel has deported Gazan-registered Palestinians living in the West Bank – even when married to West Bankers – for no other reason than that they hold Gaza IDs. And while it has promised under severe pressure from human-rights organisations to legitimise 5,000 Gazans by giving them new West Bank IDs, another 13,000 live under daily threat of deportation. The prisoners released in the exchange for Gilad Shalit whom Israel judged most dangerous were deported to Gaza – Sharharbeel Alzaeem calls it Israel's "New Australia" policy. But the large majority of the 3,000 Gazans per month allowed to leave Gaza, and then only temporarily, are either medical patients sick enough to meet Israel's strict criteria for treatment outside the Strip, or traders allowed through Erez to negotiate imports.

                                                                                                                                                                      In Alzaeem's view, this is part of a "systematic policy. They are trying to separate Gaza and the West Bank, and to throw Gaza south, towards Egypt." He argues that an embargo which stimulated the extraordinary growth of the tunnels economy is a "very clear sign that that they want Gaza to be dependent on Egypt and not Israel". He adds scornfully that if there was to be a state, Israel would prefer it to be Gaza, leaving in the West Bank "a few [Palestinian] islands surrounded by settlers, islands which would need little more than a municipal council to run".

                                                                                                                                                                      The student ban may also be more congenial to Hamas than Israel admits. Last year the de facto government refused exit permits to eight outstanding high-school students who had been awarded scholarships to study in the United States, citing "social and cultural reasons". As Amira Hass, who knows Gaza better than any other Israeli journalist, wrote last month in Haaretz, Israel's oldest daily newspaper: "Like the State of Israel, the Hamas education ministry doesn't like it when Gazan youth go to the West Bank or overseas. And for good reason: political and religious indoctrination ebbs when horizons open up. If Israel genuinely wanted to weaken Hamas rule, it would respect freedom of movement, which has been restricted since 1991."

                                                                                                                                                                      It's hard not to escape the conclusion – heavily denied by Israel – that there have been convenient aspects to a separated and Hamas-controlled Gaza, especially when military officers admit privately that the faction, for now, is often active in preventing smaller groups from firing rockets at Israel. The split between Gaza and the West Bank is, after all, an obstacle to the full two-state solution that many doubt the Netanyahu government really wants.

                                                                                                                                                                      Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, the Israeli NGO which has done more than any other to highlight the impact of the Gaza closure, says that for decades Israel pursued a policy of economic integration which made Gaza wholly dependent on the West Bank and Israel for its exports, and that no economic recovery is possible without exports to its existing markets there rather than to "non-existent markets" abroad. "The idea of a two-state solution is premised on the integrity of Gaza and the West Bank, where four million Palestinians share economic, education, familial and social ties," she says. " Sealing Gaza off from the West Bank means sealing off access to schools, jobs, family unity – and the possibility of a two-state solution."

                                                                                                                                                                      Along with Kamal Ashour, Abed Al Rauf Abu Safar is another of the very few Gaza businessman who has managed, albeit with considerable difficulty, to get exports out through Israel – in his case, tomatoes to Saudi Arabia through Jordan. The amounts are nothing like the six or seven trucks he used to send each week through the now-closed Karni crossing, packed with vegetables for Israel and the West Bank; Abu Safar used to pay to equip dozens of farmers in the central and southern Gaza Strip for plantation, and then recoup the cost from his export revenues. He is acutely aware that since his loads passing through Israel on their way to the Allenby Bridge across the Jordan river meet all the stringent checks imposed by the military, it is not security but a policy of separation that stops him exporting similar loads to Israel and the West Bank. Instead, Abu Safar is now keeping his West Bank customers supplied from farms in Jordan – one of dozens of the more successful Gaza businessmen to shift operations abroad in a flight of capital directly triggered by Israeli policy. "It's a tragic situation," he says, "for Gaza."


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                                                                                                                                                                        "Hath a Palestinian not eyes?"

                                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  June 10th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                        7 words posted in PALESTINELeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                          Palestinians polarised by Egyptian scene

                                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  June 9th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                          Mubarak's Egypt backed Fatah against Hamas. Now, the shoe is on the other foot as Egypt goes to the polls to choose a president, writes Khaled Amayreh in Hebron

                                                                                                                                                                          Al Ahram

                                                                                                                                                                          The trial and conviction of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his interior minister, Habib El-Adli, earlier this week have reverberated through the Palestinian political street, drawing conflicting reactions from Palestinian factions, each according to its ideological and political orientation.

                                                                                                                                                                          Palestinians have been following up rather closely on developments in Egypt ever since the start of the 25 January Revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime, which was widely considered at Israel and America's beck and call.

                                                                                                                                                                          A clear polarisation is noticed between the Islamist and secular nationalist camps, particularly Hamas and Fatah.


                                                                                                                                                                          Other smaller Palestinian factions, such as the leftists and liberals, are displaying marked ambivalence, having to choose between erstwhile historical and ideological foes on the one hand and a resurgent regime in the style of ex-president Mubarak on the other.

                                                                                                                                                                          Hamas, the Islamic liberation movement, is the ideological daughter of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak's long-standing foe that now stands at the forefront of post-Mubarak forces and effectively controls the first parliament after the revolution.

                                                                                                                                                                          Moreover, Hamas doesn't hide its preference for Mohamed Mursi, the presidential candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood who will contest a run-off election with Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, on 16-17 June.

                                                                                                                                                                          Hamas and most Palestinians view as a gigantic disaster the possible success of Shafik, "snatching" the presidency in Cairo from revolutionary hands.

                                                                                                                                                                          "God forbid this would send us backward to the Mubarak era; it would be depressing to even entertain the idea. The election of Shafik would be good news for Israel and the Jews, and bad, I would say very bad news to every patriotic Arab and Muslim, not only in Palestine and the Middle East but all over the world," said Fathi Imran, a prominent Islamist leader in the Bethlehem region.

                                                                                                                                                                          Imran, who spent over 10 years in Israeli jails for his political activities against the Israeli occupation, said the rectification of the revolution's course in Egypt is not only a matter of concern only for Egyptians, but for the entire Arab and Muslim world.

                                                                                                                                                                          "When Egypt is down, we are all down and we will all suffer, but when Egypt is prosperous and strong, so will we be. The fact that Israel has been visibly disappointed by the dramatic collapse of the Mubarak regime speaks volumes. In a nutshell, Mubarak was an ally and servant of Israel and the United States."

                                                                                                                                                                          This is not how Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank, views the former Egyptian regime and the man who was at its helm for over 30 years.

                                                                                                                                                                          Officially, Fatah stands neutral between Shafik and Mursi. However, it is clear that Fatah's heart lies with anti-Ikhwan (Brotherhood) forces. The reason for this somewhat strange attitude has nothing to do with any special infatuation on Fatah's part with the symbols of the former Egyptian regime.

                                                                                                                                                                          "Fatah and the Palestinian Authority [PA] leadership are calculating that Mursi might well win the upcoming elections and do not want to alienate in earnest the Muslim Brotherhood, as this would harm Fatah," argued Talal Okal, a prominent political analyst.

                                                                                                                                                                          "On the other hand, most Fatah leaders believe that if Mursi became president of Egypt, that would not auger well for Fatah, especially its power struggle with Hamas.

                                                                                                                                                                          "Hamas is highly likely to benefit, politically and psychologically, from the presence of its ideological colleagues at the helm of power in the most important Arab capital."

                                                                                                                                                                          A MAJORITY FOR MURSI: Despite the sharp polarisation between Fatah and Hamas, it seems that a comfortable majority of Palestinians favour Mursi over Shafik.

                                                                                                                                                                          An Internet poll of some 17,500 web- surfers by the Maan News Agency showed that 53.5 per cent would vote for Mursi while 39.5 per cent would cast their votes for Shafik. About seven per cent said they were undecided.

                                                                                                                                                                          The informal but probably indicative poll shows that most Palestinians are hopeful that the Palestinian cause would stand to benefit from an Islamist or quasi-Islamist government in Egypt.

                                                                                                                                                                          It is likely though that a united front against Shafik, including Mursi, the Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi and the moderate Islamist candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, would significantly reduce support for Shafik and could put an end to his election chances.

                                                                                                                                                                          Meanwhile, reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is effectively awaiting the outcome of the run-off round between Shafik and Mursi on 16 June. The two parties are not saying so openly, but scrutiny of the Palestinian political scene reveals that the elections will certainly impact the reconciliation process between the secular Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Islamist Hamas.

                                                                                                                                                                          The two groups reached a series of agreements and understandings of late, creating a general impression that a final reconciliation was in the offing, if not readily at hand.

                                                                                                                                                                          However, mutual suspicions, and even accusations and recriminations, continue to prevail over the Palestinian political arena.

                                                                                                                                                                          What is more is that a solid majority of Palestinians no longer believe optimistic statements about the nearness of reconciliation from Hamas and Fatah leaders.

                                                                                                                                                                          Some Palestinian analysts believe that the next Egyptian president will not be able to do much in terms of reuniting Fatah and Hamas or delivering the Palestinians and their just cause from the tentacles of the Israeli occupation. Such analysts argue that the president-to-be will be too busy dealing with complex domestic issues in Egypt.

                                                                                                                                                                          However, there are those who think that no Egyptian leadership -- especially in revolutionary Egypt -- can afford to treat the Palestinian issue as secondary. One of the factors that tainted Mubarak's rule and hastened its demise was its obsequious stance vis-à-vis Israel during the Zionist state's all-out blitzkrieg against the Gaza Strip in 2008-09.

                                                                                                                                                                          Many Egyptians, Arabs and Muslims link wanton Israeli massacres of Palestinian civilians, using the latest weapons of death, such as white phosphorus to the times of the Mubarak regime, not criminalising Israeli violence.

                                                                                                                                                                          984 words posted in Egypt, Israel, , American ZionismLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                            Stealth war revealed

                                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  June 9th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                            In an unprecedented move, Israeli officials own up to a cyber attack targeting Iran. But why, asks Saleh Al-Naami

                                                                                                                                                                            A Palestinian woman sits with her wounded grandsons in a hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, after an Israeli airstrike, Sunday; a Palestinian protester holds a flag in front of Israeli soldiers and border police during a protest outside Ofer prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, marking the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East War, Tuesday

                                                                                                                                                                            Recently a large number of retired Israeli generals volunteered to give interviews to local and foreign media to clearly state that Israel is behind the recent cyber offensive on sensitive Iranian computer systems. The Russian cyber security software maker Kaspersky Lab was the first to leak the attack, in which the "Flame" virus was used. In a detailed report, the company said that the goal of the attack was to gather intelligence about Iran's nuclear intentions, not as an attack like the "Stuxnet" virus in 2009 that disrupted centrifuge equipment for uranium enrichment at Iranian nuclear facilities.

                                                                                                                                                                            What was surprising is that Moshe Yaalon, deputy prime minister and strategic affairs minister, openly declared that Israel was behind the cyber attack.


                                                                                                                                                                            This was the first time in Israel's history that an Israeli official openly admitted his country's responsibility in a covert operation against another state. Yaalon's unprecedented move primarily aimed to conceal the US's role in the attack, since many sources confirmed that the US played a key role in it.

                                                                                                                                                                            According to Israeli analysts, Yaalon was quick to claim Israel's responsibility to prevent US President Barack Obama from using the attack to improve his standing in the US presidential race. This move by Israel angered the White House which leaked news to The New York Times that the US -- not Israel -- is the actual perpetrator of the attack, and that there are strict orders by Obama to intensify cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear programme.

                                                                                                                                                                            Israelis agree that the White House leak sends a message to US public opinion, and American Jewish organisations especially, that Obama is determined to stop Iran's nuclear programme. Also, that criticism of this administration's policies on Iran by some members of the Israeli government is unfounded. Whether or not the most recent cyber attack was carried out by the Americans or Israelis, or a joint effort, it is clear that cyber attacks against Iran's nuclear programme have become one of the most effective direct devices being used to curb Iran's ability to sustain a nuclear programme.

                                                                                                                                                                            Amos Harel, a military analyst with Haaretz newspaper, asserted that a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities ahead of US presidential elections is not a realistic option, since Obama would never approve it. Obama, writes Harel, is worried that such an attack would negatively affect his bid for a second term because it would trigger high oil prices, which would compound the economic crises in the US. This would directly serve the interests of the Republican candidate.

                                                                                                                                                                            Regardless of the role of these cyber attacks, everyone in Israel agrees they are not enough to halt Iran's nuclear programme. Former Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi explained that the strategic goal of thwarting the Iranian nuclear programme is based on three main pillars: a covert war; strict political and economic sanctions; and a real and serious military threat. The covert war includes cyber warfare, assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, and bombing Iran's nuclear infrastructure.

                                                                                                                                                                            Ashkenazi stated that a covert war might delay Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb, but it would not stop the programme altogether. Thus, despite the claimed successes of cyber attacks, Israeli officials are still putting pressure on the US administration to take military action against Iran's nuclear programme, by directly threatening that Israel would step in if Washington doesn't. Decision makers in Tel Aviv believe Washington fears the repercussions of an Israeli attack on US interests in the region, therefore Israeli officials are trying by all means to suggest that Israel is committed to military action against Iran's nuclear programme.

                                                                                                                                                                            At a seminar at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak expressed deep concern because there is an impression in Washington that Israel has stepped back from the option of using military action against Iranian nuclear programme targets. "This is not true," Barak insisted. "We assert our right to use all means to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, because it is threatening to use them against us."

                                                                                                                                                                            Despite his fiery words, however, Barak said that Israel does not believe 2012 will be a decisive year in dealing with Iran's nuclear programme, meaning that Israel will not necessarily attack Iranian nuclear facilities within the year. This may be because Israel realises that cyber attacks and other components of the covert war against Iran over the past three years has undermined Tehran's ability to continue its nuclear programme just as planned, and therefore there is no urgency to take immediate military action. At the same time, Tel Aviv wants Washington to lead the world in further economic sanctions against Iran since such a step would force decision makers in Tehran to back down from plans to develop nuclear weapons.

                                                                                                                                                                            One cannot ignore the fact that some Israeli security officials doubt Tel Aviv's abilities to carry out such an attack, since all Israeli estimates confirm that any attack on Iran's nuclear programme would only delay it for another three years.

                                                                                                                                                                            Professional military circles differ in their recommendations on what steps to take next against Iran. Former director of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin argues that a nuclear Iran would be a worse threat to the world than the Cold War between East and West since the 1950s. Yadlin, the director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, supports military action against Iran and believes it is unlikely that Iran is capable of strongly responding to an attack by Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                            He noted, however, that the success of an Israeli military attack against Iran would depend on how the world community would react in the aftermath. Yadlin suggested that world countries must maintain economic and political pressure on Tehran after the proposed Israeli military attack, and emphasised the need to gather "international legitimacy" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons at any cost.

                                                                                                                                                                            But former Mossad director Meir Dagan entirely disagrees, and warns that after an attack Iran would be entirely free of any international restrictions and would hastily step up the pace of nuclear weapons production. An attack would also give Iran the right to respond to Israel through powerful missile attacks that could kill thousands of Israelis. Dagan went further than speaking against attacking Iran's nuclear facilities, and convinced a number of Western intelligence chiefs to co-sign a recent op-ed article in The New York Times that asserts that Iran's nuclear programme can be stopped through economic sanctions and covert wars. The article also warned that a military attack would have counter results.

                                                                                                                                                                            No doubt, Israel's threats against Iran are an attempt to influence the positions of superpowers who will meet mid-month with Iranian officials to hear Tehran's final response to their proposal about halting its nuclear programme, before these countries impose unprecedented economic sanctions against Iran at the beginning of July. Ironically, what adds to Israeli pressure on the US administration is the fact that some of Washington's Arab allies also want it to urgently stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

                                                                                                                                                                            Israeli Radio reported last week that Dennis Ross, former Obama adviser, said that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia threatened the US administration that if Iran succeeds in developing a nuclear weapon, Riyadh would also pursue the same goal.

                                                                                                                                                                            In a nutshell, Tel Aviv is trying to pressure Washington to launch a proxy war on its behalf, or at least impose highly effective economic sanctions that cause Tehran to shelve its nuclear programme.

                                                                                                                                                                            Al Ahram

                                                                                                                                                                            1310 words posted in Israel, Iran, , American ZionismLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                              Palestinian hunger strike footballer 'at risk of death'

                                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  June 7th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                              Members of Mahmoud al-Sarsak's family walk past a poster demanding his release (5 June 2012) Mahmoud al-Sarsak was once regarded as a star player in the Palestine national football team

                                                                                                                                                                              Human rights groups have warned that a Palestinian footballer who has been on hunger strike for 80 days in an Israeli prison faces imminent danger of death.

                                                                                                                                                                              "The Israeli Prison Service refuses

                                                                                                                                                                              to transfer him to a civilian hospital for proper treatment” -- Physicians for Human Rights-Israel who was once a star player in the Palestinian national team, was arrested as he left the Gaza Strip en route to a match in 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                              Mr Sarsak has since been held without trial or charge.

                                                                                                                                                                              He is one of a handful of Palestinian prisoners who have rejected a deal that ended a mass hunger strike on 14 May.

                                                                                                                                                                              Under the deal, Israel agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners - held in isolation for up to 10 years - and lifted a ban on family visits for prisoners from Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                              'Unlawful combatants'

                                                                                                                                                                              Mr Sarsak has not eaten solid food since mid-March. Although he has taken fluids and some vitamin supplements, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said on Wednesday that he could die at any time.

                                                                                                                                                                              "Despite the urgency of his condition, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has denied Mahmoud access to independent doctors from PHR-Israel until today," a statement said.

                                                                                                                                                                              "The IPS also refuses to transfer him to a civilian hospital for proper treatment."


                                                                                                                                                                              PHR-Israel said Mr Sarsak had lost 33% of his body weight, and suffers from frequent incidents of fainting and loss of consciousness, in addition to lapses in memory.

                                                                                                                                                                              An Israeli government official told the BBC Israel "does not wish to see any prisoners have their health put at risk. This is precisely why we made huge efforts to end the recent strike, with the co-operation in terms agreed with the prisoners themselves, the Palestinian Authority and other organisations.

                                                                                                                                                                              "Sadly, Sarsak chose to exclude himself from this agreement, preferring to put his own life at risk. We are providing him with all required medical treatment, but hope he will join his fellow prisoners and end his strike."

                                                                                                                                                                              The 25-year-old footballer was once regarded as a star player in the Palestine national side.

                                                                                                                                                                              For three years he has been held under Israel's so-called "Unlawful Combatants Law", which allows for Palestinians from Gaza to be detained for an unlimited time without charge or trial.

                                                                                                                                                                              Amnesty International issued a new report strongly condemning administrative detention.

                                                                                                                                                                              Palestinians in Ramallah demand the release of Mahmoud al-Sarsak and Akram Rikhawi (29 May 2012) Israel says many of the Palestinian prisoners are suspected of being members of militant groups

                                                                                                                                                                              The human rights group said administrative detainees had been "subjected to violations such as the use of torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation, as well as cruel and degrading treatment during their detention, sometimes as punishment for hunger strikes or other protests".

                                                                                                                                                                              Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said administrative detention was only used as a last resort, and to help avoid retribution.

                                                                                                                                                                              "If we get information from someone whose neighbour is making explosives for suicide bombers and that evidence is presented in court, then terror groups will take violent action against him and his family," Mr Regev said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

                                                                                                                                                                              "Administrative detention is specifically allowed under international law, and it is factually incorrect to say otherwise," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                              As of the end of April there were at least 308 Palestinian administrative detainees, among them 24 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Amnesty said.

                                                                                                                                                                              Israel says that many of 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in its jails are suspected of being members of Palestinian militant groups.


                                                                                                                                                                              603 words posted in Israel, Apartheid StateLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                Naksa: When the Tanks Came Rolling in

                                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  June 7th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                Would it not be better to admit the wrong that was done to the native people, do some restorative justice, and begin to discuss among ourselves how we Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and others can live TOGETHER in a country in full equality?

                                                                                                                                                                                By Mazin Qumsiyeh
                                                                                                                                                                                June 6, 2012

                                                                                                                                                                                It seems like yesterday that we watched Israeli tanks rolling down the hills towards our sleepy town of Beit Sahour 45 years ago today. As a child it was the most frightening sight. The second stage of the Zionist expansion on the land of Palestine unleashed terror that our generation had not experienced but my parents’ generation had during the Nakba when between January 1948 and the end of 1949, some 530 villages and towns were ethnically cleansed.

                                                                                                                                                                                The changes I witnessed the 45 years since the "6 day" invasion of 1967 have been nothing short of monumental. Those hills that the tanks rolled down on are all now filled with colonial settlements that scar the ancient landscape. The Israeli quarries have literally dug up other hills and trucked stone and soil away to build the "Jewish state" while destroying Palestinian lives.


                                                                                                                                                                                But I do not want to take time here to write of these violations. I think anyone can find thousands of documents and reports from independent human rights groups and international agencies describing the horrors of colonization, apartheid, and occupation in this "holy land". Nor will I address how people who teach their children about Jewish suffering over the ages teach them that it is OK to inflict this suffering on native/indigenous people. Nor do I want to write on this occasion of the treachery of western countries who profess human rights and international law actually become complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nor do I want to address the treachery of Arab leaders (yes including some Palestinians) who were complicit in helping make 7 million of us refugees or displaced people. I do want to talk about us, the people, and especially about mental occupation.

                                                                                                                                                                                Occupiers/colonizers are of course always dependent not just on military might but also on propaganda and psychological manipulation to reach their goals. For example, from the late 19th century, the Zionists successfully infiltrated the minds of their victims with notions like "Arabs" and/vs. "Jews". With this one simple concept, Zionists succeeded in,

                                                                                                                                                                                1) equating a linguistic group with a religion and elevating Jewishness to a supposed national structure ("a people")

                                                                                                                                                                                2) removing Arab Jews as a viable group whose allegiance lies naturally with their fellow Arabic speaking people

                                                                                                                                                                                3) fostering anti-Jewish feelings (mistakenly called anti-Semitism) to help their cause in conflating Zionism with Judaism. Before that they coined and popularized the term anti-Semitism to confuse the Europeans and claim they are Semites.

                                                                                                                                                                                From those early efforts in the 19th century, the people of the world were subjected to sustained intensive efforts at brainwashing.

                                                                                                                                                                                We actually understand these propaganda efforts as natural and expected in efforts to propel racist ideologies. What we do not understand is why many native Palestinians accepted defeat and even adopted the Zionized version of history. Even some of our school textbooks perpetuate the mythologies that keep the Zionist nightmare a reality. It is easy to keep it alive when we, the victims keep the myth of the exodus from Egypt to Masada to the falsified history of Josephus to the suppression of our Canaanite ancestry to the notion that Jewishness is somehow biological.

                                                                                                                                                                                Some of this is due to those who are religious confusing metaphors and myths with historiography. Some of it is due to ignorance: e.g. ignorance of the fact that the Philistines were actually Canaanite people and not from Crete or that both ancient Arabic and Hebrew were dialects of Canaanite Aramaic. Some of it is pure foolishness; for example that somehow we can "return" Palestine to an idealized (fictional) Islamic or Jewish state.

                                                                                                                                                                                Would it not be better to admit the wrong that was done to the native people, do some restorative justice, and begin to discuss among ourselves how we Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and others can live TOGETHER in a country in full equality?

                                                                                                                                                                                How about a new joint political movement to reform and to dismantle the dysfunctional Israeli and Palestinian political structures so as to build a new reality? Aren't 64 years of Nakba and 45 years of Naksa long enough?

                                                                                                                                                                                There are 11.5 million Palestinians in the world and billions of fellow human beings who know what is right to contend with at best half a million deluded Jewish Zionists (and the equally deluded Christian Zionists who support them). What prevents justice (i.e. peace) is apathy and ignorance.

                                                                                                                                                                                Is it not time to shed these?

                                                                                                                                                                                - Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He is author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle" and “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment”.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Sectarian Divide Takes Alarming Turn

                                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  June 7th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                  In a conflict of this nature, there are no winners. (BBC)

                                                                                                                                                                                  By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                                                                                                  The conflict in Syria is giving way to a troubling phenomenon of hastily drawn sectarian lines throughout the Middle East. A perpetual and repugnant war is likely to replace the collective aspirations for equality, freedom and democracy that fuelled the non-violent uprising nearly 15 months ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Between May 25 and 26, 108 civilians were remorselessly butchered in the central town of Al Houla. The majority of them were women and children. The massacre was not the first, and is unlikely to be the last in what has become a Syrian bloodbath with no end in sight. The nature of the dreaded battle is already being defined in sectarian terms. Even carefully-worded statements by UN chief Ban Ki-moon have acknowledged the worrying situation. “The massacres of the sort seen last weekend could plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war, a civil war from which the country would never recover,” he warned at a forum in Istanbul.

                                                                                                                                                                                  While intellectuals and political analysts may contend with definitions of ‘civil war’, ordinary Syrians have no other option but to recognise the horrifying reality. “The civil war has begun,” a Syrian activist told BBC correspondent, Paul Wood, who is reporting undercover in Syria. “We will look back at this time, and say this was when it started,” the activist reportedly said.


                                                                                                                                                                                  Then, it will matter little why the uprising started, or whether its leadership still possesses a truly democratic vision regarding the future of Syrian society post President Bashar Al Assad and his Baath regime. Even Syria’s class conflict is now being viewed through sectarian glasses. “Their sect [the Alawites] is full. Ours [the Sunnis] is hungry,” a Syrian woman told the BBC (May 31).

                                                                                                                                                                                  Throughout the Syrian uprising, it was the Syrian regime that was accused of desperately trying to redefine the conflict around sectarian lines. If it did so, now it is succeeding — not just in Syria, but throughout the region.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Equally worrisome is the fact that the fledgling civil war in Syria might possibly spill into neighboring Lebanon. This comes as no surprise considering the cultural, political and sectarian overlaps between both countries. Syria was, until recently, the main power broker in Lebanon — first as an arbitrator in the country’s protracted civil war, but eventually as a powerful party dominating the country’s political and civic lives. Some Lebanese groups welcomed the Syrian presence, while others considered it a form of foreign occupation and pushed to end it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The bitterness continued, however, as did the accusation of various Lebanese groups, Hezbollah included, of conspiring with the Syrian government to ensure its continued influence in Lebanon. Now Hezbollah, once hailed for forcing Israel out of Lebanon, stands accused by the Syrian opposition of helping to crush the revolt in Syria. The tension reached an all-time high in Lebanon, when a Lebanese Sunni Islamist was arrested in the northern city of Tripoli for his involvement with a ‘terrorist organisation.’

                                                                                                                                                                                  “His supporters claimed he was being targeted for giving help to Syrian refugees by a security establishment believed to be under the influence of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group that is allied with Damascus,” reported the Financial Times on May 23. That single act resulted in several days of demonstrations and sectarian clashes which killed at least eight people. Lebanese Sunni and Shiite groups both called on their supporters to use restraint. Influential Arab countries are now sounding the alarm as well. Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz reportedly wrote to Lebanese President Michel Sulaiman, expressing concern about sectarian strife and the “targeting of a main sect” (Financial Times, My 23); but to no avail. On Saturday, ten more Lebanese were killed in similar clashes in Tripoli. The “regional spillover” from a possible “all-out civil war” in Syria — as described by UN envoy Kofi Annan — is already in full effect.

                                                                                                                                                                                  With thousands of Syrian refugees crossing into Lebanon, reported weapon smuggling on both sides of the border, and the growing emphasis on the sectarian nature of the conflict, geopolitical boundaries between both countries will eventually prove irrelevant. The porous border may no longer be able to keep the conflict on one side only; in fact, most media discussions concerning Syria somehow evolve into ones concerning Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iran. References to Shia and Sunni are no longer being used with any particular sensitivity, paving the road for a complete polarisation of the conflict around sectarian lines.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The capture of Lebanese Shiite tourists by Syrian militants suggestive of the new direction of the raging conflict, but it could in fact also signal a larger conflict that could engulf the entire region. This is an urgent matter, especially since the sectarian conflict in Syria is now at an advanced stage, and neighboring countries — Iraq, Lebanon, and even Turkey — have all suffered the terrible consequences. In the case of Iraq, the rift was exploited to the absolute maximum in the years following the US invasion in 2003. In the case of Syria, there are some parties — starting with Israel — who wish to see that prospect take roots.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Aside from the fact that sectarian conflicts are senseless and revenge-driven, in the case of Syria they could divide the country around new political borders. Unlike Syrian resistance to French colonialism in the early 20th century, each party in a divided Syria would seek foreign intervention – read neocolonialism – out of despair to defeat its opponents. In a conflict of this nature, there are no winners.

                                                                                                                                                                                  “Many [Free Syrian Army] FSA volunteers have told me they are fighting for a secular and open democracy,” reported Paul Wood. “But others have said they want to kill Alawites and Shias [Shiites], ‘Just those with blood on their hands.’”

                                                                                                                                                                                  This is how civil wars often start, but no one knows how they end.

                                                                                                                                                                                  - Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). (This article was originally published in Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com.)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1008 words posted in SyriaLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Terry Moore: Why is "x' the unknown?

                                                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  June 7th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                    6 words posted in ( / )Leave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Zionists eager for Mursi

                                                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  June 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                      Instead of embracing a Mubarak throwback, the Zionist lobby is warming to Mohamed Mursi in Egypt's presidential race, sure he will fail miserably and carry the blame, writes Franklin Lamb from Beirut

                                                                                                                                                                                      Mohammed Mursi

                                                                                                                                                                                      Washington, according to Israel, must insist that Egypt not only maintain its peace treaty with Israel, but Obama must tell the Brotherhood that any referendum on the Camp David Accords will be interpreted by the US as an attempt to destroy that agreement. According to Israeli government water carrier Dennis Ross, "In recent conversations, Brotherhood leaders have expressed their belief that they would not be blamed if the treaty were revoked by a nationwide vote, as seems likely. They need to be told otherwise."

                                                                                                                                                                                      The results of the opening round of the historic Egyptian presidential elections, the first ever in Mother Egypt where the results were not known in advance, present an encouraging snapshot of a "new democratic Egypt". The two candidates that will face each other in the 16-17 June final round of voting will be the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi (who got 25 per cent of the first round vote) and Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafik (who took 24 per cent).

                                                                                                                                                                                      Mursi and Shafik represent very different strands of Egyptian society. Shafik will continue to draw his support from people fearful of an Islamist takeover, and those exhausted by the upheavals of the past 16 months.


                                                                                                                                                                                      Both finalists will carry substantial political baggage into round two. While Mursi will have the vast and competent Muslim Brotherhood organisation working during the next two weeks to get out the vote for him, as well as the support of most Islamist parties, his candidacy still faces pervasive voter doubt over having the long outlawed Muslim Brotherhood control both the Egypt's parliament and its presidency. Egyptian voters appear to be worrying that this kind of broad power is too similar to the Mubarak era and also eliminates checks and balances needed to moderate the Muslim Brotherhood's pledge to enact Sharia law and to honour its commitment to scrap military rule.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The following statement by the Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi, delivered just last week at a Cairo University campaign rally, is raising concern: "The Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path, and martyrdom in the service of God is our goal. We shall enforce Islamic Sharia, and shall accept no alternative to it."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Israel and the US will back Shafik in various ways and he will benefit from the view that he represents Egypt's military, many of the country's wealthy and powerful and more conservative voting blocs, the business community, Coptic Christians (roughly 10 per cent of the voters) who understandably seek security above all else, and many others who will vote for what they calculate to be the lesser of two evils.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yet barring surprises such as ex-president Hosni Mubarak being found innocent of all charges on 2 June when the verdict is to be announced in his case, which many lawyers are predicting is exactly what will happen, Mursi will very likely prevail in the mid-June run-off and become Egypt's first democratically elected president.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Many Middle East analysts, including American University of Beirut professor of political sociology Sari Hanafi, believe this result will be good for the more than five million Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora, those still under Zionist occupation in their own country, and welcomed by all who advocate the Palestinians' full return to their as yet occupied country.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The prime minister of the Palestinian government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, declared Thursday that "the Egyptian presidential election results will have a very positive affect on the course and future of the Palestinian cause as well as the role and place of the Muslim people in the world."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Haniyeh knows that the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Hamas evolved, is highly sophisticated politically and while it tries to avoid attracting condemnation, or worse, from Washington and Tel Aviv, the Muslim Brotherhood's intentions regarding Camp David, giveaway gas and other deals with Israel, and even diplomatic relations with the occupiers of Palestine are clear. A majority of Egyptians believe all will eventually be discarded, as will the sole remaining 19th century colonial enterprise itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hamas officials have also acknowledged that they are looking more to Egypt and the Brotherhood for support as they move away from Syria, and a top Hamas official, Moussa Mohamed Abu Marzouk, settled in Cairo after fleeing the unrest in Syria and maintains close ties with the Brotherhood.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Mursi has a long history of criticism of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. He has referred to Israel's foreign minister, Joseph Lieberman, as a "vampire" and the settler movement as "Draculas". Mursi has also criticised Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas for what he called gullible collaboration with Israel, for believing they would voluntarily accept a Palestinian state, and he has praised Hamas for resisting the Israeli occupation.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Brotherhood leaders have said they intend to use their influence with both Fatah and Hamas to urge them to compromise with each other to press Israel to recognise a Palestinian state. "The Brotherhood will gently pressure Hamas to be more pragmatic, although that is a direction in which Hamas is already moving," according to Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Centre.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Speaking with Muslim Brotherhood representatives in Cairo and Beirut over the past several months, the party's position expressed to this observer is that the common thread that stitches together all the continuing regional uprisings can be described as a fundamental quest for dignity and the casting off of humiliation, either from Western imposed despotic regimes or from their illegitimate and aggressive agent, Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Even before the completion of Egypt's first democratic elections, which long-time election monitor Jimmy Carter labelled "very encouraging" there is broad recognition in Egypt that basic dignity demands the return of Palestine and its holy places, not just to the 1.5 billion Muslims and nearly as many Christians worldwide, but to all people of good will.

                                                                                                                                                                                      While no official Muslim Brotherhood decisions have been published regarding relations with Gaza and occupied Palestine, signs are everywhere from non-enforcement of Mubarak-Israeli-US pressures on Rafah, Gaza, travel and trade prohibitions, that full normalisation of relations between Egyptians and Palestinians under occupation is imminent. And Israel and its American lobby know it and are preparing.

                                                                                                                                                                                      On Capitol Hill, and among the more than 60 intensively active and well-funded pro-Zionist organisations in the US, a campaign has already begun to neuter the Egyptian voter's choice next month, as surely as was achieved during the three decades of Mubarak rule. A couple of examples. AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) has launched a campaign to have the Obama administration, during the run-up to the coming US election, now barely six months away, demand three things from the Mursi presidency: "that the Muslim Brotherhood scrap key elements of its political programme and disassociate itself from 'Islamism'; that it publicly pledge to fight 'terrorism' ie the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, and that the Muslim Brotherhood pledge in writing to fully abide by the Camp David Accords."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Washington, according to Israel, must insist that Egypt not only maintain its peace treaty with Israel, but Obama must tell the Brotherhood that any referendum on the Camp David Accords will be interpreted by the US as an attempt to destroy that agreement. According to Israeli government water carrier Dennis Ross, "In recent conversations, Brotherhood leaders have expressed their belief that they would not be blamed if the treaty were revoked by a nationwide vote, as seems likely. They need to be told otherwise."

                                                                                                                                                                                      When measured against what the Muslim Brotherhood stands and has struggled for since its founding in 1928 by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan Al-Banna, as well as the growing demands of the Egyptian public coupled with regional pleas for Egypt's new government to restore Arab and Muslim dignity, these Israeli-US demands are patently absurd.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ever in the service of Israel, Elliot Abrams, writing in the Zionist Islamophobic Weekly Standard, is proposing an approach that appears as fanciful and misguided as his WMD 2002-3 schemes to get the US to attack Iraq on behalf of Israel or his continuing five year campaign to get the US to bomb Iran for Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Abrams is arguing recently, apparently seriously, that since the Muslim Brotherhood will be Egypt's new government, Israel can still prevail if his advice is followed. Obviously unhappy with the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood governing Egypt, Abrams does what he is paid to do for Israel -- he metaphorically paints pigs hoping they will look like princesses.

                                                                                                                                                                                      He is publicly blaming the US for not "standing by the Mubarak regime like the Russians are with Syria's [regime]." He declared: "Had Mubarak and the army played their cards better, Shafik might have been Mubarak's successor without the harmful uprising that Egypt has experienced. Egypt's peace treaty with Israel with all its blessings would be secure. Now, unless Shafik wins, Camp David is finished but we still have some excellent options." It is unclear who Abrams is speaking about when he says, "we".

                                                                                                                                                                                      Abrams and elements of the Zionist lobby are telling Congress that "Israel must support Egypt's 'liberals' meaning, people who believe in democracy, liberty, and the rule of law rather than Islam as the guiding principles of Egypt and that the predicate must be that the electorate believes the Muslim Brotherhood had a clear chance and failed them." He continued: "If Shafik were to win many Egyptians will believe the elections were stolen by the army and the old regime's machine, and in any event power will be divided between the Muslim Brotherhood, on the one side, and the army and president on the other. There will be no clear lesson to learn when conditions in the country then continue to deteriorate given that the previous annual $6.5 billion foreign infusion into Egypt's economy has reversed to a current annual $500,000 outflow with foreign investors fleeing and tourism down 40 per cent from when Mubarak was in charge."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Interestingly, Abrams and other spokesmen for AIPAC and the Zionist lobby argue that Shafik's victory next month is not necessarily something Israel and the West should favour or work to arrange. Given that the Muslim Brotherhood is the leading party in parliament and with Salafis having an Islamist majority there, Abrams claims that this is actually good for Israel since its lobby will organise Congress to push the idea that Muslim Brotherhood control of both parliament and the presidency is dangerous and, "we can hold them and all Islamists in Egypt absolutely responsible for what happens to Egypt with its myriad problems and thus 100 per cent of the responsibility for Egypt's fate will drop on the Muslim Brotherhood."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Abrams continues: "If the Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi wins and he will, the Muslim Brotherhood will be in charge -- and be forced to deliver. And when they fail, as they will, given Israel's key friends in the international business community, it will be absolutely clear who was to blame and this is good for Israel. What is in Israel's interest is to support Egypt's military, which it has worked closely with for years, and encourage the army to fight with all its tools for its interests".

                                                                                                                                                                                      Abrams summarises his thesis in an AIPAC e-mail to donors: "So as far as Israel is concerned, a Mursi victory should not be mourned; given the situation in Egypt, in this election we can assure that the loser will pity the winner. Two cheers for Mursi! Now let's get to work."

                                                                                                                                                                                      The writer is a political analyst.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Al Ahram

                                                                                                                                                                                      1919 words posted in Egypt, American Empire, , Israel, , American ZionismLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will

                                                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  June 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                        President Obama in the Oval Office with Thomas E. Donilon, left, the national security adviser, and John O. Brennan, his top counterterrorism adviser.

                                                                                                                                                                                        By JO BECKER and SCOTT SHANE

                                                                                                                                                                                        New York Times

                                                                                                                                                                                        Published May 29, 2012

                                                                                                                                                                                        WASHINGTON — This was the enemy, served up in the latest chart from the intelligence agencies: 15 Qaeda suspects in Yemen with Western ties. The mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                        President Obama, overseeing the regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials in the White House Situation Room, took a moment to study the faces. It was Jan. 19, 2010, the end of a first year in office punctuated by terrorist plots and culminating in a brush with catastrophe over Detroit on Christmas Day, a reminder that a successful attack could derail his presidency. Yet he faced adversaries without uniforms, often indistinguishable from the civilians around them.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “How old are these people?” he asked, according to two officials present. “If they are starting to use children,” he said of Al Qaeda, “we are moving into a whole different phase.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        It was not a theoretical question: Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.


                                                                                                                                                                                        “He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record. His actions have often remained inscrutable, obscured by awkward secrecy rules, polarized political commentary and the president’s own deep reserve.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.

                                                                                                                                                                                        They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        His first term has seen private warnings from top officials about a “Whac-A-Mole” approach to counterterrorism; the invention of a new category of aerial attack following complaints of careless targeting; and presidential acquiescence in a formula for counting civilian deaths that some officials think is skewed to produce low numbers.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The administration’s failure to forge a clear detention policy has created the impression among some members of Congress of a take-no-prisoners policy. And Mr. Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, has complained to colleagues that the C.I.A.’s strikes drive American policy there, saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,” a colleague said.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Beside the president at every step is his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, who is variously compared by colleagues to a dogged police detective, tracking terrorists from his cavelike office in the White House basement, or a priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Mr. Obama, echoing the president’s attempt to apply the “just war” theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But the strikes that have eviscerated Al Qaeda — just since April, there have been 14 in Yemen, and 6 in Pakistan — have also tested both men’s commitment to the principles they have repeatedly said are necessary to defeat the enemy in the long term. Drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants; in his 2010 guilty plea, Faisal Shahzad, who had tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, justified targeting civilians by telling the judge, “When the drones hit, they don’t see children.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence until he was fired in May 2010, said that discussions inside the White House of long-term strategy against Al Qaeda were sidelined by the intense focus on strikes. “The steady refrain in the White House was, ‘This is the only game in town’ — reminded me of body counts in Vietnam,” said Mr. Blair, a retired admiral who began his Navy service during that war.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Blair’s criticism, dismissed by White House officials as personal pique, nonetheless resonates inside the government.

                                                                                                                                                                                        William M. Daley, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in 2011, said the president and his advisers understood that they could not keep adding new names to a kill list, from ever lower on the Qaeda totem pole. What remains unanswered is how much killing will be enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?” Mr. Daley said, describing the internal discussion. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”

                                                                                                                                                                                        ‘Maintain My Options’

                                                                                                                                                                                        A phalanx of retired generals and admirals stood behind Mr. Obama on the second day of his presidency, providing martial cover as he signed several executive orders to make good on campaign pledges. Brutal interrogation techniques were banned, he declared. And the prison at Guantánamo Bay would be closed.

                                                                                                                                                                                        What the new president did not say was that the orders contained a few subtle loopholes. They reflected a still unfamiliar Barack Obama, a realist who, unlike some of his fervent supporters, was never carried away by his own rhetoric. Instead, he was already putting his lawyerly mind to carving out the maximum amount of maneuvering room to fight terrorism as he saw fit.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It was a pattern that would be seen repeatedly, from his response to Republican complaints that he wanted to read terrorists their rights, to his acceptance of the C.I.A.’s method for counting civilian casualties in drone strikes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The day before the executive orders were issued, the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, had called the White House in a panic. The order prohibited the agency from operating detention facilities, closing once and for all the secret overseas “black sites” where interrogators had brutalized terrorist suspects.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “The way this is written, you are going to take us out of the rendition business,” Mr. Rizzo told Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s White House counsel, referring to the much-criticized practice of grabbing a terrorist suspect abroad and delivering him to another country for interrogation or trial. The problem, Mr. Rizzo explained, was that the C.I.A. sometimes held such suspects for a day or two while awaiting a flight. The order appeared to outlaw that.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Craig assured him that the new president had no intention of ending rendition — only its abuse, which could lead to American complicity in torture abroad. So a new definition of “detention facility” was inserted, excluding places used to hold people “on a short-term, transitory basis.” Problem solved — and no messy public explanation damped Mr. Obama’s celebration.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “Pragmatism over ideology,” his campaign national security team had advised in a memo in March 2008. It was counsel that only reinforced the president’s instincts.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Even before he was sworn in, Mr. Obama’s advisers had warned him against taking a categorical position on what would be done with Guantánamo detainees. The deft insertion of some wiggle words in the president’s order showed that the advice was followed.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Some detainees would be transferred to prisons in other countries, or released, it said. Some would be prosecuted — if “feasible” — in criminal courts. Military commissions, which Mr. Obama had criticized, were not mentioned — and thus not ruled out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        As for those who could not be transferred or tried but were judged too dangerous for release? Their “disposition” would be handled by “lawful means, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        A few sharp-eyed observers inside and outside the government understood what the public did not. Without showing his hand, Mr. Obama had preserved three major policies — rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention — that have been targets of human rights groups since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But a year later, with Congress trying to force him to try all terrorism suspects using revamped military commissions, he deployed his legal skills differently — to preserve trials in civilian courts.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It was shortly after Dec. 25, 2009, following a close call in which a Qaeda-trained operative named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had boarded a Detroit-bound airliner with a bomb sewn into his underwear.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Obama was taking a drubbing from Republicans over the government’s decision to read the suspect his rights, a prerequisite for bringing criminal charges against him in civilian court.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The president “seems to think that if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war,” former Vice President Dick Cheney charged.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Sensing vulnerability on both a practical and political level, the president summoned his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., to the White House.

                                                                                                                                                                                        F.B.I. agents had questioned Mr. Abdulmutallab for 50 minutes and gained valuable intelligence before giving him the warning. They had relied on a 1984 case called New York v. Quarles, in which the Supreme Court ruled that statements made by a suspect in response to urgent public safety questions — the case involved the location of a gun — could be introduced into evidence even if the suspect had not been advised of the right to remain silent.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Obama, who Mr. Holder said misses the legal profession, got into a colloquy with the attorney general. How far, he asked, could Quarles be stretched? Mr. Holder felt that in terrorism cases, the court would allow indefinite questioning on a fairly broad range of subjects.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Satisfied with the edgy new interpretation, Mr. Obama gave his blessing, Mr. Holder recalled.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “Barack Obama believes in options: ‘Maintain my options,’ “ said Jeh C. Johnson, a campaign adviser and now general counsel of the Defense Department.

                                                                                                                                                                                        ‘They Must All Be Militants’

                                                                                                                                                                                        That same mind-set would be brought to bear as the president intensified what would become a withering campaign to use unmanned aircraft to kill Qaeda terrorists.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Just days after taking office, the president got word that the first strike under his administration had killed a number of innocent Pakistanis. “The president was very sharp on the thing, and said, ‘I want to know how this happened,’ “ a top White House adviser recounted.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In response to his concern, the C.I.A. downsized its munitions for more pinpoint strikes. In addition, the president tightened standards, aides say: If the agency did not have a “near certainty” that a strike would result in zero civilian deaths, Mr. Obama wanted to decide personally whether to go ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The president’s directive reinforced the need for caution, counterterrorism officials said, but did not significantly change the program. In part, that is because “the protection of innocent life was always a critical consideration,” said Michael V. Hayden, the last C.I.A. director under President George W. Bush.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It is also because Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths. In a speech last year Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s trusted adviser, said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes. And in a recent interview, a senior administration official said that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under Mr. Obama was in the “single digits” — and that independent counts of scores or hundreds of civilian deaths unwittingly draw on false propaganda claims by militants.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But in interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        ‘A No-Brainer’

                                                                                                                                                                                        About four months into his presidency, as Republicans accused him of reckless naïveté on terrorism, Mr. Obama quickly pulled together a speech defending his policies. Standing before the Constitution at the National Archives in Washington, he mentioned Guantánamo 28 times, repeating his campaign pledge to close the prison.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But it was too late, and his defensive tone suggested that Mr. Obama knew it. Though President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate, had supported closing the Guantánamo prison, Republicans in Congress had reversed course and discovered they could use the issue to portray Mr. Obama as soft on terrorism.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Walking out of the Archives, the president turned to his national security adviser at the time, Gen. James L. Jones, and admitted that he had never devised a plan to persuade Congress to shut down the prison.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “We’re never going to make that mistake again,” Mr. Obama told the retired Marine general.

                                                                                                                                                                                        General Jones said the president and his aides had assumed that closing the prison was “a no-brainer — the United States will look good around the world.” The trouble was, he added, “nobody asked, ‘O.K., let’s assume it’s a good idea, how are you going to do this?’ “

                                                                                                                                                                                        It was not only Mr. Obama’s distaste for legislative backslapping and arm-twisting, but also part of a deeper pattern, said an administration official who has watched him closely: the president seemed to have “a sense that if he sketches a vision, it will happen — without his really having thought through the mechanism by which it will happen.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        In fact, both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the attorney general, Mr. Holder, had warned that the plan to close the Guantánamo prison was in peril, and they volunteered to fight for it on Capitol Hill, according to officials. But with Mr. Obama’s backing, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, blocked them, saying health care reform had to go first.

                                                                                                                                                                                        When the administration floated a plan to transfer from Guantánamo to Northern Virginia two Uighurs, members of a largely Muslim ethnic minority from China who are considered no threat to the United States, Virginia Republicans led by Representative Frank R. Wolf denounced the idea. The administration backed down.

                                                                                                                                                                                        That show of weakness doomed the effort to close Guantánamo, the same administration official said. “Lyndon Johnson would have steamrolled the guy,” he said. “That’s not what happened. It’s like a boxing match where a cut opens over a guy’s eye.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        The Use of Force

                                                                                                                                                                                        It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This secret “nominations” process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The video conferences are run by the Pentagon, which oversees strikes in those countries, and participants do not hesitate to call out a challenge, pressing for the evidence behind accusations of ties to Al Qaeda.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “What’s a Qaeda facilitator?” asked one participant, illustrating the spirit of the exchanges. “If I open a gate and you drive through it, am I a facilitator?” Given the contentious discussions, it can take five or six sessions for a name to be approved, and names go off the list if a suspect no longer appears to pose an imminent threat, the official said. A parallel, more cloistered selection process at the C.I.A. focuses largely on Pakistan, where that agency conducts strikes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The nominations go to the White House, where by his own insistence and guided by Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama must approve any name. He signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the total.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Aides say Mr. Obama has several reasons for becoming so immersed in lethal counterterrorism operations. A student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, he believes that he should take moral responsibility for such actions. And he knows that bad strikes can tarnish America’s image and derail diplomacy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “He realizes this isn’t science, this is judgments made off of, most of the time, human intelligence,” said Mr. Daley, the former chief of staff. “The president accepts as a fact that a certain amount of screw-ups are going to happen, and to him, that calls for a more judicious process.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        But the control he exercises also appears to reflect Mr. Obama’s striking self-confidence: he believes, according to several people who have worked closely with him, that his own judgment should be brought to bear on strikes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Asked what surprised him most about Mr. Obama, Mr. Donilon, the national security adviser, answered immediately: “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        In fact, in a 2007 campaign speech in which he vowed to pull the United States out of Iraq and refocus on Al Qaeda, Mr. Obama had trumpeted his plan to go after terrorist bases in Pakistan — even if Pakistani leaders objected. His rivals at the time, including Mitt Romney, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mrs. Clinton, had all pounced on what they considered a greenhorn’s campaign bluster. (Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama had become “Dr. Strangelove.”)

                                                                                                                                                                                        In office, however, Mr. Obama has done exactly what he had promised, coming quickly to rely on the judgment of Mr. Brennan.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Brennan, a son of Irish immigrants, is a grizzled 25-year veteran of the C.I.A. whose work as a top agency official during the brutal interrogations of the Bush administration made him a target of fierce criticism from the left. He had been forced, under fire, to withdraw his name from consideration to lead the C.I.A. under Mr. Obama, becoming counterterrorism chief instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Some critics of the drone strategy still vilify Mr. Brennan, suggesting that he is the C.I.A.’s agent in the White House, steering Mr. Obama to a targeted killing strategy. But in office, Mr. Brennan has surprised many former detractors by speaking forcefully for closing Guantánamo and respecting civil liberties.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Harold H. Koh, for instance, as dean of Yale Law School was a leading liberal critic of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies. But since becoming the State Department’s top lawyer, Mr. Koh said, he has found in Mr. Brennan a principled ally.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “If John Brennan is the last guy in the room with the president, I’m comfortable, because Brennan is a person of genuine moral rectitude,” Mr. Koh said. “It’s as though you had a priest with extremely strong moral values who was suddenly charged with leading a war.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        The president values Mr. Brennan’s experience in assessing intelligence, from his own agency or others, and for the sobriety with which he approaches lethal operations, other aides say.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “The purpose of these actions is to mitigate threats to U.S. persons’ lives,” Mr. Brennan said in an interview. “It is the option of last recourse. So the president, and I think all of us here, don’t like the fact that people have to die. And so he wants to make sure that we go through a rigorous checklist: The infeasibility of capture, the certainty of the intelligence base, the imminence of the threat, all of these things.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        Yet the administration’s very success at killing terrorism suspects has been shadowed by a suspicion: that Mr. Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding, in effect, to take no prisoners alive. While scores of suspects have been killed under Mr. Obama, only one has been taken into American custody, and the president has balked at adding new prisoners to Guantánamo.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “Their policy is to take out high-value targets, versus capturing high-value targets,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the top Republican on the intelligence committee. “They are not going to advertise that, but that’s what they are doing.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Obama’s aides deny such a policy, arguing that capture is often impossible in the rugged tribal areas of Pakistan and Yemen and that many terrorist suspects are in foreign prisons because of American tips. Still, senior officials at the Justice Department and the Pentagon acknowledge that they worry about the public perception.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “We have to be vigilant to avoid a no-quarter, or take-no-prisoners policy,” said Mr. Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief lawyer.


                                                                                                                                                                                        The care that Mr. Obama and his counterterrorism chief take in choosing targets, and their reliance on a precision weapon, the drone, reflect his pledge at the outset of his presidency to reject what he called the Bush administration’s “false choice between our safety and our ideals.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        But he has found that war is a messy business, and his actions show that pursuing an enemy unbound by rules has required moral, legal and practical trade-offs that his speeches did not envision.

                                                                                                                                                                                        One early test involved Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban. The case was problematic on two fronts, according to interviews with both administration and Pakistani sources.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The C.I.A. worried that Mr. Mehsud, whose group then mainly targeted the Pakistan government, did not meet the Obama administration’s criteria for targeted killing: he was not an imminent threat to the United States. But Pakistani officials wanted him dead, and the American drone program rested on their tacit approval. The issue was resolved after the president and his advisers found that he represented a threat, if not to the homeland, to American personnel in Pakistan.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Then, in August 2009, the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, told Mr. Brennan that the agency had Mr. Mehsud in its sights. But taking out the Pakistani Taliban leader, Mr. Panetta warned, did not meet Mr. Obama’s standard of “near certainty” of no innocents being killed. In fact, a strike would certainly result in such deaths: he was with his wife at his in-laws’ home.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “Many times,” General Jones said, in similar circumstances, “at the 11th hour we waved off a mission simply because the target had people around them and we were able to loiter on station until they didn’t.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        But not this time. Mr. Obama, through Mr. Brennan, told the C.I.A. to take the shot, and Mr. Mehsud was killed, along with his wife and, by some reports, other family members as well, said a senior intelligence official.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The attempted bombing of an airliner a few months later, on Dec. 25, stiffened the president’s resolve, aides say. It was the culmination of a series of plots, including the killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex. by an Army psychiatrist who had embraced radical Islam.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Obama is a good poker player, but he has a tell when he is angry. His questions become rapid-fire, said his attorney general, Mr. Holder. “He’ll inject the phrase, ‘I just want to make sure you understand that.’ “ And it was clear to everyone, Mr. Holder said, that he was simmering about how a 23-year-old bomber had penetrated billions of dollars worth of American security measures.

                                                                                                                                                                                        When a few officials tentatively offered a defense, noting that the attack had failed because the terrorists were forced to rely on a novice bomber and an untested formula because of stepped-up airport security, Mr. Obama cut them short.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “Well, he could have gotten it right and we’d all be sitting here with an airplane that blew up and killed over a hundred people,” he said, according to a participant. He asked them to use the close call to imagine in detail the consequences if the bomb had detonated. In characteristic fashion, he went around the room, asking each official to explain what had gone wrong and what needed to be done about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “After that, as president, it seemed like he felt in his gut the threat to the United States,” said Michael E. Leiter, then director of the National Counterterrorism Center. “Even John Brennan, someone who was already a hardened veteran of counterterrorism, tightened the straps on his rucksack after that.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        David Axelrod, the president’s closest political adviser, began showing up at the “Terror Tuesday” meetings, his unspeaking presence a visible reminder of what everyone understood: a successful attack would overwhelm the president’s other aspirations and achievements.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In the most dramatic possible way, the Fort Hood shootings in November and the attempted Christmas Day bombing had shown the new danger from Yemen. Mr. Obama, who had rejected the Bush-era concept of a global war on terrorism and had promised to narrow the American focus to Al Qaeda’s core, suddenly found himself directing strikes in another complicated Muslim country.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The very first strike under his watch in Yemen, on Dec. 17, 2009, offered a stark example of the difficulties of operating in what General Jones described as an “embryonic theater that we weren’t really familiar with.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        It killed not only its intended target, but also two neighboring families, and left behind a trail of cluster bombs that subsequently killed more innocents. It was hardly the kind of precise operation that Mr. Obama favored. Videos of children’s bodies and angry tribesmen holding up American missile parts flooded You Tube, fueling a ferocious backlash that Yemeni officials said bolstered Al Qaeda.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The sloppy strike shook Mr. Obama and Mr. Brennan, officials said, and once again they tried to impose some discipline.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In Pakistan, Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, in the wake of the bad first strike in Yemen, Mr. Obama overruled military and intelligence commanders who were pushing to use signature strikes there as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “We are not going to war with Yemen,” he admonished in one meeting, according to participants.

                                                                                                                                                                                        His guidance was formalized in a memo by General Jones, who called it a “governor, if you will, on the throttle,” intended to remind everyone that “one should not assume that it’s just O.K. to do these things because we spot a bad guy somewhere in the world.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Obama had drawn a line. But within two years, he stepped across it. Signature strikes in Pakistan were killing a large number of terrorist suspects, even when C.I.A. analysts were not certain beforehand of their presence. And in Yemen, roiled by the Arab Spring unrest, the Qaeda affiliate was seizing territory.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Today, the Defense Department can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not know. Officials say the criteria are tighter than those for signature strikes, requiring evidence of a threat to the United States, and they have even given them a new name — TADS, for Terrorist Attack Disruption Strikes. But the details are a closely guarded secret — part of a pattern for a president who came into office promising transparency.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The Ultimate Test

                                                                                                                                                                                        On that front, perhaps no case would test Mr. Obama’s principles as starkly as that of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric and Qaeda propagandist hiding in Yemen, who had recently risen to prominence and had taunted the president by name in some of his online screeds.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The president “was very interested in obviously trying to understand how a guy like Awlaki developed,” said General Jones. The cleric’s fiery sermons had helped inspire a dozen plots, including the shootings at Fort Hood. Then he had gone “operational,” plotting with Mr. Abdulmutallab and coaching him to ignite his explosives only after the airliner was over the United States.

                                                                                                                                                                                        That record, and Mr. Awlaki’s calls for more attacks, presented Mr. Obama with an urgent question: Could he order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial?

                                                                                                                                                                                        The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Obama gave his approval, and Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011, along with a fellow propagandist, Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but was traveling with him.

                                                                                                                                                                                        If the president had qualms about this momentous step, aides said he did not share them. Mr. Obama focused instead on the weight of the evidence showing that the cleric had joined the enemy and was plotting more terrorist attacks.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “This is an easy one,” Mr. Daley recalled him saying, though the president warned that in future cases, the evidence might well not be so clear.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In the wake of Mr. Awlaki’s death, some administration officials, including the attorney general, argued that the Justice Department’s legal memo should be made public. In 2009, after all, Mr. Obama had released Bush administration legal opinions on interrogation over the vociferous objections of six former C.I.A. directors.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This time, contemplating his own secrets, he chose to keep the Awlaki opinion secret.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “Once it’s your pop stand, you look at things a little differently,” said Mr. Rizzo, the C.I.A.’s former general counsel.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Hayden, the former C.I.A. director and now an adviser to Mr. Obama’s Republican challenger, Mr. Romney, commended the president’s aggressive counterterrorism record, which he said had a “Nixon to China” quality. But, he said, “secrecy has its costs” and Mr. Obama should open the strike strategy up to public scrutiny.

                                                                                                                                                                                        “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that’s not sustainable,” Mr. Hayden said. “I have lived the life of someone taking action on the basis of secret O.L.C. memos, and it ain’t a good life. Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. safe.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        Tactics Over Strategy

                                                                                                                                                                                        In his June 2009 speech in Cairo, aimed at resetting relations with the Muslim world, Mr. Obama had spoken eloquently of his childhood years in Indonesia, hearing the call to prayer “at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        “The United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam,” he declared.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But in the months that followed, some officials felt the urgency of counterterrorism strikes was crowding out consideration of a broader strategy against radicalization. Though Mrs. Clinton strongly supported the strikes, she complained to colleagues about the drones-only approach at Situation Room meetings, in which discussion would focus exclusively on the pros, cons and timing of particular strikes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        At their weekly lunch, Mrs. Clinton told the president she thought there should be more attention paid to the root causes of radicalization, and Mr. Obama agreed. But it was September 2011 before he issued an executive order setting up a sophisticated, interagency war room at the State Department to counter the jihadi narrative on an hour-by-hour basis, posting messages and video online and providing talking points to embassies.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Obama was heartened, aides say, by a letter discovered in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. It complained that the American president had undermined Al Qaeda’s support by repeatedly declaring that the United States was at war not with Islam, but with the terrorist network. “We must be doing a good job,” Mr. Obama told his secretary of state.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Moreover, Mr. Obama’s record has not drawn anything like the sweeping criticism from allies that his predecessor faced. John B. Bellinger III, a top national security lawyer under the Bush administration, said that was because Mr. Obama’s liberal reputation and “softer packaging” have protected him. “After the global outrage over Guantánamo, it’s remarkable that the rest of the world has looked the other way while the Obama administration has conducted hundreds of drone strikes in several different countries, including killing at least some civilians,” said Mr. Bellinger, who supports the strikes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        By withdrawing from Iraq and preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan, Mr. Obama has refocused the fight on Al Qaeda and hugely reduced the death toll both of American soldiers and Muslim civilians. But in moments of reflection, Mr. Obama may have reason to wonder about unfinished business and unintended consequences.

                                                                                                                                                                                        His focus on strikes has made it impossible to forge, for now, the new relationship with the Muslim world that he had envisioned. Both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the United States than when Mr. Obama became president.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Justly or not, drones have become a provocative symbol of American power, running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents. With China and Russia watching, the United States has set an international precedent for sending drones over borders to kill enemies.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Blair, the former director of national intelligence, said the strike campaign was dangerously seductive. “It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness,” he said. “It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        But Mr. Blair’s dissent puts him in a small minority of security experts. Mr. Obama’s record has eroded the political perception that Democrats are weak on national security. No one would have imagined four years ago that his counterterrorism policies would come under far more fierce attack from the American Civil Liberties Union than from Mr. Romney.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Aides say that Mr. Obama’s choices, though, are not surprising. The president’s reliance on strikes, said Mr. Leiter, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, “is far from a lurid fascination with covert action and special forces. It’s much more practical. He’s the president. He faces a post-Abdulmutallab situation, where he’s being told people might attack the United States tomorrow.”

                                                                                                                                                                                        “You can pass a lot of laws,” Mr. Leiter said, “Those laws are not going to get Bin Laden dead.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                          US Embassy to American in trouble in Israel: ‘You’re not Jewish? Then we can’t do anything to help you’

                                                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  June 2nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                          Sandra Tamari, right, at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference, alongside Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

                                                                                                                                                                                          By Philip Weiss

                                                                                                                                                                                          Sandra Tamari is a Palestinian-American Quaker who lives outside St. Louis. She is is a member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and has worked on divestment, as you can see in the picture above.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Last week she was deported from Israel and the American embassy asked if she was Jewish and then said it couldn't help her.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The press release from her supporters:


                                                                                                                                                                                          Sandra Tamari, a Quaker, mother of two, and member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, was detained at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport last week and aggressively questioned for over eight hours before being taken to a detention center and deported back to the United States. During questioning, Israeli security demanded she open her personal email account and accused her of being a terrorist.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Requesting help from the US Embassy, Tamari - a US citizen - was immediately asked if she is Jewish. When told that she was Palestinian, Tamari was advised they could do nothing for her.

                                                                                                                                                                                          "I found it curious that the first question the U.S. Embassy staff asked me is, 'Are you Jewish?' It gave me the impression that the support they could provide to me was based on my answer. When I told the Embassy that I was a Palestinian American with family in the West Bank, they told me they could do nothing to help me. Has the U.S. adopted Israel's racial and religious profiling tactics to discriminate against Arabs and Muslims?"

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank God for Matt Lee of the Associated Press. Here's the State Department briefing by Mark Toner from two days back. Lee asks:

                                                                                                                                                                                          back in the Middle East. One is, are you familiar with the case of this – a woman from St. Louis who’s a Palestinian American, who was deported from Israel, I believe several days ago, maybe even last week, who called the Embassy in Tel Aviv for assistance and was asked if she was Jewish? When she said that she was not, when she was Palestinian, they said that they couldn’t help her.

                                                                                                                                                                                          MR. TONER: Matt, I have no idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                          QUESTION: Okay. I sent --

                                                                                                                                                                                          MR. TONER: I’ll take the question.

                                                                                                                                                                                          QUESTION: Okay. I sent something about this, not to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                          MR. TONER: Yeah. I apologize. I didn’t see it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          More info from the press release:

                                                                                                                                                                                          Tamari, a vocal advocate for Palestinian rights and the ending of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, was attempting to travel to Israel and the occupied West Bank to participate in an interfaith delegation involving Palestinians and Israelis working for peace and coexistence. She was recently involved in the campaign urging the United Methodist church to adopt selective divestment from companies that profit from the occupation, co-authoring a widely circulated op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times last month during the United Methodists’ General Conference. It seems clear that Israel’s treatment of Tamari is related to her work on behalf of Palestinian rights.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Israel regularly discriminates against Palestinian Americans attempting to enter Israel and the West Bank, denying them entry while allowing Jews from the US and elsewhere to travel freely. The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee urges the State Department and elected US officials to address this blatant discrimination based on religion and ethnicity with their Israeli counterparts.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Tamari will be addressing her deportation this week with the offices of Rep. John Shimkus, Senator Richard J. Durbin, and Senator Mark Kirk.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Did Tamari get deported because of her divestment work? She wrote this pro-divestment piece for the Tampa Bay Times--along with Michael Berg (Jewish American) and Hala Abdelaziz (Palestinian-American). The trio wrote a similar piece for the Tampa Tribune. Excerpt:

                                                                                                                                                                                          Tragically, the Israeli occupation continues to strangle Palestinian society. Israeli political and religious leaders threaten Palestinians with transfer out of their homeland, enforce the occupation of the West Bank with incredible violence, and continue the naval blockade of Gaza which keeps the people there in dangerous deprivation. In the last 20 years, illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank have increased from 241,500 inhabitants to some 500,000, including East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Israel's occupation practices impose severe hardships on residents. Palestinians routinely find themselves trapped by barriers and the Israeli separation wall — unable to visit family members, friends, schools, businesses and places of worship. Death, injury or arrest is a distinct possibility, even for nonviolent protesters demonstrating against home demolitions or land confiscation.

                                                                                                                                                                                          About Philip Weiss
                                                                                                                                                                                          Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

                                                                                                                                                                                          754 words posted in American ZionismLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  June 1st, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                            by M. Shahid Alam

                                                                                                                                                                                            A night reading Rumi fills ancient wineglasses.
                                                                                                                                                                                            By day speed & freeway suck God out of me.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I have stayed up all night thinking of you.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Wall Street & City leech love out of me.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Who is my brother if the world is a village?
                                                                                                                                                                                            Jet and internet pluck my roots out of me.

                                                                                                                                                                                            If earth goes toxic, let’s move out to Mars.
                                                                                                                                                                                            This devil optimism takes the heart out of me.

                                                                                                                                                                                            When blue sky and sun wrap me in their arms,
                                                                                                                                                                                            Shähid, this friendship takes the dread out of me.

                                                                                                                                                                                            M. Shahid Alam teaches economics at Northeastern University in Boston. He is the author of Israeli Exceptionalism (Palgrave, 2010). His poems and Ghalib translations have appeared in Kenyon Review(forthcoming), Critical Muslim (forthcoming), Clapboard House, Prairie Schooner, Chicago Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Paintbrush, Black Bear Review, West Coast Review, Marlboro Review, Journal of South Asian Literature, Kimera, Sufi, Swan, Chowk, Blanket and Pulse.

                                                                                                                                                                                            P U L S E

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Taboo of truth-telling about Palestine in US classrooms tackled by new book

                                                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  May 31st, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                              By Steven Salaita
                                                                                                                                                                                              The Electronic Intifada
                                                                                                                                                                                              31 May 2012

                                                                                                                                                                                              Scholars of Palestine have long discussed the hazardous act of bringing up Israeli colonization in American classrooms (secondary and post-secondary). This act of informing students about a monumental conflict in which a colonial aggressor visits various forms of oppression on an indigenous population is perceived as hazardous for good reason. In the vast majority of secondary schools, mentioning Palestine in a favorable light is strictly taboo. The same, unfortunately, is true of university instruction, despite academia’s self-image as a place where free ideas can be exchanged.

                                                                                                                                                                                              In the past decade, dozens of university instructors have battled for their jobs amid pressure from fanatical Zionist groups seeking to have them fired, sometimes succeeding. Within university structures themselves, too much advocacy on behalf of Palestine (or too little subservience to Israel) has also led to controversy for academics — and in some cases their dismissal.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The reality is rarely stated in formal policies or in review committees, but it is clear, known to anybody even remotely interested in the “Israel-Palestine conflict”: anti-Zionism, of the vocal or furtive variety, is a career killer. Teaching Palestine, then, entails material consequences.


                                                                                                                                                                                              Remarkably, nobody has written a book specifically about these phenomena until now. Enter Marcy Knopf Newman’s The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Critical approach to education

                                                                                                                                                                                              Newman analyzes why the humanization of Palestinians is so acrimonious in American educational communities and explores the moral failings of Zionism vis-à-vis its advocates’ insistence that some commitment to Israel is a hallmark of the civilized modern. For this reason, Newman discards the glorification of modernity inherent in American education and argues instead for a critical approach to education that should be engaged with various world conflicts — even if those conflicts do not cast a positive light on the United States and Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The issue central to the book, of course, is that of Israeli colonization. In all discussions of it, Newman discards the flowery and diplomatic language of most writers and produces a searing — but fair and factually-supported — condemnation of Zionist practices dating to the nineteenth century. Newman is unmoved by even the humanistic discourses of Zionism, describing the movement in curt, albeit accurate, language as “foreigners invading and stealing other people’s land” (5). Newman devotes considerable energy to validating this observation with surveys of historiography, analysis of major Zionist mythologies, and discussion of Palestinian claims to repatriation. She also offers compelling personal stories about her transformation from youthful Zionist to adult decolonization activist.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The analysis and personal narratives provide context for the book’s million-dollar question: how does one teach Palestine? (Implied in the question are the prepositional clauses “without getting fired” and “to audiences long inculcated into the glories of Israel.”)

                                                                                                                                                                                              Newman provides various answers, all of them valuable despite what different readers will find as varying levels of usability.
                                                                                                                                                                                              The absurdity of “balance”

                                                                                                                                                                                              A technique of particular interest is to compare the oppression of Palestinians to that of other communities: here, Newman highlights First Nation peoples and African Americans in the US. Having written an entire book comparing the discourses of colonization in North America and Palestine, I am in no position to caution against such inter-ethnic comparison, but I would caution against sloppy or attenuated comparison. To be clear, Newman’s inter-ethnic comparisons generally work well, but she might have said more about the difficulties of juxtaposing distinct peoples into narrow methodologies. The majority of such juxtapositions offered by Palestinian activists are more annoying than enlightening — a pratfall that Newman, to her credit, avoids.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Newman invokes other oppressed communities to illuminate the absurdity of demands made of those who endeavor to teach Palestine. In relation to the frequent Zionist demand for balance and equal billing, Newman observes, “when I teach First Nation or African American literature I am not subjected to questions about where white writers fit into my syllabus” (13). This is an important point. The demand of “balance” is nowhere more pervasive than in instances in which somebody speaks favorably of Palestinians. It has become a rhetorical trope, one Newman eviscerates with great precision.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Need for courage

                                                                                                                                                                                              Another technique Newman suggests is simple personal courage. She couches this suggestion in the context of secondary education, where there is more pressure on teachers to avoid controversial subjects and to instruct students to succeed on standardized tests. She explains, “It may seem as if I am asking a lot of teachers to take on the burden of teaching Palestine to students, a topic not on state exams. But if we take a step back and examine American and Arab protests that have the potential to reshape our world, we will find that there are larger issues at stake” (193).

                                                                                                                                                                                              For Newman, Palestine should not be studied in a vacuum, but in relation to global issues of justice. Others have made a similar point before, but Newman’s emphasis on curricula as sites of engagement adds interesting dimensions to the globalization of Palestinian nationalism.

                                                                                                                                                                                              This is the greatest strength of The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans. Other strengths include a cogent analysis, clear writing, fearlessness and moral rigor.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Faith in education

                                                                                                                                                                                              I wouldn’t use the terms “weaknesses” or “flaws” to describe any of the book’s content. I can say only that Newman exhibits more faith than I in the power of education. This fact shouldn’t be surprising, as Newman has been a teacher in both colleges and secondary schools in various locations in the United States and in Arab countries. Years of teaching in college (though never in secondary schools) have numbed me a bit to the possibility that we can extricate the training of students from the interests of state power. Of course, I am precisely the sort of reader who needs to be reinvigorated by the power of Newman’s book.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Otherwise, I would suggest that the mixing of university and secondary education creates too broad a framework for one book. It would be easy to write a few books dealing with each educational site; those books could even be separated by region or types of school. Given that Newman is the first to undertake the analysis of Palestine in American schools and colleges, she bears little fault for the topic’s extensive possibilities. She has done an excellent job of synthesizing wide-ranging and complex issues into a singular analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I hope that the focus of the book doesn’t turn away potential readers. The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans is worth reading, even if you aren’t a teacher, for the task of educating others about Palestinian decolonization needn’t happen only in the classroom. Indeed, what happens in classrooms largely reflects the political sensibilities of those who don’t often spend time in them.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Steven Salaita is an author of several books, most recently Israel’s Dead Soul. Follow him on Twitter: @stevesalaita.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Image of The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans: Addressing Pedagogical Strategies

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Glenn Greenwald: Obama’s Secret Kill List "The Most Radical Power a Government Can Seize"

                                                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  May 30th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                The New York Times revealed this week that President Obama personally oversees a "secret kill list" containing the names and photos of individuals targeted for assassination in the U.S. drone war. According to the Times, Obama signs off on every targeted killing in Yemen and Somalia and the more complex or risky strikes in Pakistan. Individuals on the list include U.S. citizens, as well teenage girls as young as 17 years old. "The President of the United States believes he has the power to order people killed — in total secrecy, without any due process, without transparency or oversight of any kind," says Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com. "I really do believe it’s literally the most radical power that a government and president can seize, and yet the Obama administration has seized [it] and exercised it aggressively with little controversy." [Includes rush transcript]


                                                                                                                                                                                                NERMEEN SHAIKH: Glenn, I want ask you about another subject. On Tuesday, the New York Times published a major exposé about how President Obama personally oversees a "secret kill list" containing the names and photos and of individuals targeted for assassination in the U.S. drone war. According to the Times, Obama signs off on every targeted killing in Yemen and Somalia and the more complex or risky strikes in Pakistan. Individuals on the list include U.S. citizens as well as teenage girls as young as 17 years old. Glenn, can you comment on that?


                                                                                                                                                                                                GLENN GREENWALD: Well we, of course don’t imply that the President of the United States believes that he has the power to order people to killed — assasinated — in total secrecy, without any due process, without transparency or oversight of any kind. I really do believe it’s literally the most radical power that a government and a President can seize, and yet the Obama administration has seized this power and exercised it aggressively with very little controversy. What the New York Times article does is it adds some important, though very disturbing details. Probably the most disturbing of which is that one of the reasons why the Obama administration runs around claiming that the casualties of civilians are so low from their drone attacks, which everyone knows is false, is because they have redefined what a militant is. A militant in the eyes of the Obama administration formally means any male of fighting age, presumably 18 to 40, who is in a strike zone of a missile. So, if the U.S. shoots a missile or detonates a bomb by drone or aircraft and kills eight or a dozen or two dozen people without even knowing whom they have killed or anything about them, they will immediately label any male of a certain age a militant by virtue of their proximity to that scene.

                                                                                                                                                                                                What the New York Times article said, was that the rationale for this is that they believe that anybody who is even near a terrorist or any terrorist activity is "Probably up to no good." Ironically, that is, as Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News pointed out, the exact phrase that George Zimmerman used when describing Trayvon Martin to the 9-1-1 call, that he must be up to no good. The sort of suspicion, that even though we don’t know anything about somebody, the mere happenstance of where they are or what they’re doing entitles us not just to harbor a suspicion about them, but to kill them. And it is amazing that American media outlets continue to use the word "militant" to describe people are killed by American drones without knowing their identity, even though we now know that the Obama administration uses that word in a incredibly deceitful and propagandistic way. And the fact that Obama, himself, is sitting at the top of this pyramid, making decisions about life and death — issuing death sentences without a shred of oversight or transparency, really ought to be provoking widespread outrage, and yet with the exception of a few circles and factions it really isn’t.

                                                                                                                                                                                                AMY GOODMAN: And your response to William Daley, the White House Chief of staff and the Times saying that called the decision to strike the U.S. born cleric Anwar Awlaki and easy one?

                                                                                                                                                                                                GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is why I wrote yesterday, I think one of the things that the New York Times article did was shed light on President Obama’s character. We can talk a lot about his policies, and that usually is what’s most important, and we’ve known that he’s has been embracing these radical theories of executive power that even George Bush’s former former CIA and NSA chief General Michael Haden has lavishly praised and other Bush officials are over the moon about in terms of President Obama endorsing them. So, we know his policies have been extremist and radical, but here you have one of the most controversial things that a president can do — ordering an American citizen assassinated by the CIA in total secrecy with no due process, never been charged with a crime, even though they could have charged him if they really had evidence as they claim, that he was guilty of plotting terrorist attacks. Instead of charging him, they simply secretly ordered his assassination, and it turns out there was no struggling in terms of the difficult constitutional and ethical and legal issues this a obviously presents. According to the President’s own aides, they’re boasting to the New York Times that he has declared that this was an "Easy" decision, not anything that he struggled with, something that he made quite easily. So, we find out that not only is exercising this radical power, he is not even having any struggles with conscience or constitutional questions or legal or intellectual quandaries about it. It’s something that his national-security adviser, Tom Donilon, also bragged to the New York Times about. It shows how "Comfortable" he is using force, even against American citizens. That I think reflects really on the type of person that occupies the Oval Office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                AMY GOODMAN: You also write, Glenn Greenwald, in this piece, you recommend Aaron David Miller’s piece, the New York Times reporter who does a piece in foreign policy called "Barack O’Romney," that the reason these candidates, Romney and Obama, are not particularly fighting over foreign policy but domestic issues, is because of the broad, Democratic Republican consensus between the Republicans and the Democrats, even as they fight about what is going on in Washington, people talk about no consensus at all. In fact, there’s a serious consensus. Unanimity, in dealing with foreign policy, Glenn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                GLENN GREENWALD: Right, one of the things that progressives and Democrat partisans love to say is that Republicans will never give President Obama credit for anything. This is a complete untruth, it’s a total falsehood. You can go back over the last three years and find instance after instance after instance where not just Republicans, but the furthest right Neocons and national security state officials of the Bush administration have lavished President Obama with praise for his most binding [dog barking] and controversial policies, and I think that represents the kind of bipartisan consensus that he was talking about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                AMY GOODMAN: Well, I think you better go, Glenn. I don’t want you to get bit by the dog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                GLENN GREENWALD: I’m sorry about that. Someone just came to the door.

                                                                                                                                                                                                AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you for being with us. Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney, political and legal blogger for Salon.com, actually speaking to us from Brazil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1286 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Songs of War

                                                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  May 30th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                  We follow a Sesame Street composer as he learns how his music has been used to torture detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "It is music's capacity to take over your mind and invade your inner experience that makes it so terrifying as a potential weapon." - Thomas Keenan, the director of the Human Right's Project at Bard College

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Al Jazeera World

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Award-winning musician Christopher Cerf has composed music for the famous children's television show Sesame Street for 40 years. During this time, he has written more than 200 songs intended to help children learn how to read and write.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  But these innocent children's songs were abused for inhumane purposes.


                                                                                                                                                                                                  In 2003, it transpired that US intelligence services had tortured detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib with music from Sesame Street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Human rights researcher Thomas Keenan explains: "Prisoners were forced to put on headphones. They were attached to chairs, headphones were attached to their heads, and they were left alone just with the music for very long periods of time. Sometimes hours, even days on end, listening to repeated loud music."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "The music was so loud," says Moazzam Begg, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. "And it was probably some of the worst torture that they faced."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stunned by this abuse of his work, Cerf was motivated to find out more about how it could happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "In Guantanamo they actually used music to break prisoners. So the idea that my music had a role in that is kind of outrageous," he says. "This is fascinating to me both because of the horror of music being perverted to serve evil purposes if you like, but I'm also interested in how that's done. What is it about music that would make it work for that purpose?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cerf embarks on a journey to learn just what it is that makes music such a powerful stimulant. In the process, he speaks to soldiers, psychologists and prisoners tortured with his music at Guantanamo Bay and finds out how the military has been employing music as a potent weapon for hundreds of years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The resulting film, Songs of War, explores the relationship between music and violence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  360 words posted in American Empire, Iraq war, , Law, , Human RightsLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Obama campaign releases blatantly anti-Arab video ad

                                                                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  May 30th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                    WOMAN: “I have heard about him [Obama]. He’s an Arab.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                    MCCAIN: “No ma’am, no ma’am, he’s a decent family man, citizen .. .

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Submitted by Ali Abunimah | Electronic Intifada

                                                                                                                                                                                                    US President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has just released a blatantly anti-Arab video ad on its official YouTube channel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Hill reported:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    An Obama campaign Web ad released Tuesday looks to tie Mitt Romney to the controversial assertions held by real estate mogul and reality show host Donald Trump, who has become one of the Romney campaign’s most visible surrogates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The ad, called “Two Republican Nominees,” aims to do so by contrasting presumptive 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney negatively when compared to the supposedly more moderate Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee Obama defeated in 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Blatant anti-Arab racism

                                                                                                                                                                                                    But The Hill fails to note the blatant anti-Arab racism in the ad. It features a clip of an 11 October 2008 exchange at a Minnesota town-hall style campaign event between McCain and a woman in the audience. The exchange can be seen starting 15 seconds into the ad:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    WOMAN: “I have heard about him [Obama]. He’s an Arab.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                    MCCAIN: “No ma’am, no ma’am, he’s a decent family man, citizen, whom I just happen to have disagreements with.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the bigotry contained in the exchange is not obvious, try replacing the word “Arab” with “Jew” and then imagine what the response would have been to how McCain handled it then, and to Obama using it now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Few speak out

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The exchange caused outrage among Arab Americans during the 2008 campaign, but very few other public figures, especially not Obama, spoke up against this kind of racism – which also routinely conflates Arabs and Muslims.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In 2008, actor Ben Affleck was one of the few celebrities who spoke out against McCain’s bigoted response, that Obama is now lauding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the few who did was former Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell who told NBC’s Meet The Press on 19 October 2008:


                                                                                                                                                                                                    I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Powell, a former general who is poorly remembered by many Arabs for his role in the first Gulf War and the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, recalled that Muslims had died serving in US wars and he had been moved by a picture he saw in a magazine:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Of course many people might reject the notion that Muslim Americans and Arab Americans should only be honored and included to the extent that they participate in or endorse American militarism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    But what was remarkable in 2008, and is remarkable now is that it took a senior Bush administration official to say what few others were prepared to say. And even worse, the Obama campaign apparently seeks to benefit from this very same racism now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    More bigotry this campaign season?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It looks like the 2012 campaign is heating up to be as characterized by bigotry and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hysteria as 2008 and 2010. But no one can claim the bigotry is coming only from one side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Note: The Electronic Intifada does not endorse any political candidates. Like other news publications we blog and report on US politics and elections to the extent that they are relevant to the issues we cover and the readers we serve.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Update: Actor Ben Affleck spoke out at McCain bigotry Obama now praising

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      A Bipartisan Assault on Middle East Peace

                                                                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  May 30th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                      By Stephen Zunes | Antiwar

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a dangerous piece of legislation, H.R. 4133, which would undermine the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, weaken Israeli moderates and peace advocates, undercut international law, further militarize the Middle East, and make Israel ever more dependent on the United States.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The margin was an overwhelming 411-2, with eight abstentions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      House minority leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in co-sponsoring the bill, an indication of how closely the Democratic Party leadership aligns with the most right-wing Republicans when it comes to U.S. Middle East policy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Indeed, the way the Democratic Party is now allied with the Republican right could not be more obvious than the fact that the resolution passed on a “suspension of the rules,” a legislative procedure reserved for legislation on noncontroversial topics requiring little debate and allowing for a quick vote.


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Exempting Israel

                                                                                                                                                                                                      A number of provisions in the bill are highly disturbing to those who support Middle East peace, justice for Palestine, and genuine security for Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The “Findings” of the bill, rather than praising the growth of democratic movements in the Arab world, bemoans “the fall of some regimes long considered to be stabilizing forces,” indicative of how little either party cares for democracy in the Middle East. Similarly, rather than praise the grassroots pro-democracy movements and their strategic nonviolent action, the bill blames Iran for “seeking to exploit the dramatic political transition underway in the region to undermine governments traditionally aligned with the United States.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                      United in the belief that U.S. allies should somehow be exempt from accountability under international law, the bill calls on the United States to veto any “one-sided” resolutions at the United Nations Security Council directed at Israel, even those that are reasonably critical of Israel’s ongoing violations of international humanitarian law and previous U.N. security Council resolutions, or for possible future crimes against humanity and related war crimes, such as those documented by reputable human rights groups during Israel’s recent military assaults on Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      As an indication of how the Democratic Party is now even further to the right than former President George H.W. Bush, the bill also calls for additional unconditional loan guarantees to Israel, which the former Republican president tried to make conditional on a freeze in construction of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Although there has never been any real debate regarding the commitment of the United States to Israel’s security, this resolution takes the unprecedented step of insisting that that commitment be within the context of defending Israel as an explicitly “Jewish state.” The Israeli government certainly has the right to identify itself as a Jewish state or anything else. But this clause not only demonstrates a lack of concern about the security interests of the more than 20% of Israelis who are not Jewish and the millions of Palestinians who are effectively under Israeli military control. This resolution appears to be making an unprecedented commitment by the United States to guarantee the religious, ethnic, or cultural identity of a foreign country.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Similarly, although the Palestine Authority (PA) and virtually every other Arab government has pledged to make peace with Israel, including strict security guarantees, in return for an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab territory, the bill insists that the United States not just “encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist,” but its “right to exist as a Jewish state.” The PA and other Arab states — noting that no peace treaty in history has ever required recognition by one state of the other’s religious, ethnic, or cultural identity — have therefore rejected such a prerequisite. By including this new provision for Arab-Israeli peace in this resolution, which was not required of Egypt and Jordan in their peace treaties with Israel, it appears to be designed to sabotage any possible additional peace agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Arms Up

                                                                                                                                                                                                      With this bill, Congress has made peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors all the more difficult. It has also created a situation requiring increased U.S.-Israeli military cooperation and increased profits for U.S. arms manufacturers. Indeed, the bill calls for dramatically expanded U.S. arms aid and arms sales to Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      For example, instead of simply providing Israel with enough deterrent capability to ward off any potential combination of threats, the legislation calls on the United States to ensure that Israel maintains a “qualitative military edge,” presumably in order to have such a dominating military presence that the right-wing government can maintain its ability to invade, occupy, and subjugate its neighbors – in effect, to keep Israel in a constant state of war and increasingly dependent on the United States. To make sure President Obama takes this clause seriously, the bill requires the White House to put together a report every year detailing how the United States is ensuring that Israel’s superiority is being maintained. No such requirement is made in regard to any other country.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The legislation calls for dramatically increasing U.S. military aid to Israel over this year’s record of $3.1 billion in order to ensure Israel right of self-defense. The bill radically redefines “defense” to include military equipment that has generally been seen as offensive in nature, such as tanker aircraft, which are only necessary for offensive military operations like bombing raids and troop deployments in far-off countries such as Iran.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      U.S. military aid to Israel is already higher than the foreign aid programs to all of sub-Saharan Africa combined. With overall foreign aid already being reduced, this bill will translate into even deeper cuts in international assistance programs that aid the poor — such as vaccinations and other disease prevention, clean-water initiatives, food aid, sustainable development projects, and other programs that save countless lives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some “progressive” organizations such as MoveOn and Democracy for America have endorsed and are raising money to support a number of the right-wing Democrats who co-sponsored and voted for this extraordinary dangerous legislation. Unlike previous periods, when liberal groups stood up against both Republicans and Democrats who supported repressive right-wing governments and increased militarization in Central America and Southeast Asia, liberal groups today have no problem working to re-elect Democratic hawks who demonstrate a similar hostility to human rights, international law, and demilitarization in the Middle East.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Without such pressure from the left, the Democrats have little incentive to change their right-wing foreign policy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Originally published by Foreign Policy in Focus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        United States of Israel: The Increasingly Transparent U.S.-Israeli Conflict of Interest

                                                                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  May 30th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A former Likud activist who has become a critic of Netanyahu explains, “Bibi is a messianist. He believes with all his soul and every last molecule of his being that he—I don't quite know how to express it—is King David.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Warmongering Zionist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

                                                                                                                                                                                                        By Paul Pillar | The National Interest

                                                                                                                                                                                                        We have a comparative lull at the moment in what has been saturation attention to Iran and its nuclear program. The lull comes after the concentrated warmongering rhetoric associated with the recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the AIPAC conference in Washington, and before the opening in mid-April of the only channel offering a way out of the impasse associated with the Iranian nuclear issue: direct negotiations between Iran and the powers known as the P5+1. It is a good time to reflect on how much the handling of this issue underscores the gulf between Israeli policies and U.S. interests. The gulf exists for two reasons. One is that the Netanyahu government's policies reflect only a Rightist slice of the Israeli political spectrum, with which many Israelis disagree and which is contrary to broader and longer-term interests of Israel itself. The other reason is that even broadly defined Israeli interests will never be congruent with U.S. interests. This should hardly be surprising. There is no reason to expect the interests of the world superpower to align with those of any of the parties to a regional dispute involving old ethnically or religiously based claims to land.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        An article this week by Ethan Bronner in the New York Times addresses one of the drivers behind the Israeli policy: a historically based obsession of Mr. Netanyahu, for whom an Iranian nuclear weapon would be, as Bronner puts it, “the 21st-century equivalent of the Nazi war machine and the Spanish Inquisition.” The extent to which the issue is a personal compulsion of Netanyahu is reflected in estimates that even within his own cabinet (and even with the support of Defense Minister Ehud Barak), a vote in favor of war with Iran might be as close as eight to six. A former Likud activist who has become a critic of Netanyahu explains, “Bibi is a messianist. He believes with all his soul and every last molecule of his being that he—I don't quite know how to express it—is King David.” It is not in a superpower's interest to get sucked into projects of someone with a King David complex.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Given—as several Israelis who have been senior figures in the country's security establishment have noted—that an Iranian nuclear weapon would not pose an existential threat to Israel, one has to look to other reasons for the Israeli agitation about the Iranian nuclear program. Besides Netanyahu's personal obsession, there are the broader Israeli fears and emotions, the desire to maintain a regional nuclear-weapons monopoly and the distraction that the Iran issue provides from outside attention to the Palestinians' lack of popular sovereignty. Columnist Richard Cohen, in a piece last week that is clearly sympathetic to Israel, mentions one more reason: a desire to stem a brain drain to the United States of Israelis who would rather live in a more secure place. Clearly there is no congruence with U.S. interests here. In fact, taking in the talent that is found among the Israeli émigrés is a net plus for the United States and the U.S. economy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Iranian nuclear issue only reconfirms the noncongruence of U.S. and Israeli interests that should have been apparent from other issues. Most of those issues revolve around the continued Israeli occupation and colonization of disputed [Editor: the Occupied Territories are not "disputed" according to international law: they are illegally occupied.] land inhabited by Palestinians. The United States has no positive interest in Israel clinging to that land—only the negative interest involving the opprobrium and anger directed at it for being so closely associated with Israeli policies and actions. Another reminder of the lonely position in which the United States finds itself almost every time it automatically condones Israeli behavior came last week, when the United Nations Human Rights Council voted for an inquiry into how Israeli settlements in the occupied territories affect the rights of Palestinians. Initiation of the inquiry was approved with thirty-six votes in favor, ten abstentions and a single no vote by the United States.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        If the United States escapes a war with Iran by achieving success in negotiations (which Netanyahu and his government have in effect denounced and have helped to subvert by waging a covert war against Iran), Americans ought to reflect on how close they came to disaster by following the man who thinks he is King David. If it does not escape a war, it will be hard to find any silver lining in the consequences. But perhaps one would be that Americans would then be more likely to understand how contrary to their own interests it has been to follow the preferences of the Israeli government. Perhaps that could be a first step toward a more normal—and more beneficial for the United States—U.S. relationship with Israel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Warmongering Zionist PM Netanyahu Condemns P5+1 For Not Demanding Iran Halt All Enrichment

                                                                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  May 30th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Israel is pushing through additional sanctions on Iran, even as everyone admits Iran has no weapons program

                                                                                                                                                                                                          By John Glaser | Antiwar

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday condemned world powers engaged in nuclear talks with Iran for allegedly softening the demands on the Islamic Republic, as he pushed through additional economic sanctions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          “After a few rounds of talks – I am sorry to say that the demands from Iran are not enough,” Netanyahu said during a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies.”I hoped the P5+1 will demand that Iran halt all enrichment – but instead they are lowering their demands from Iran.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The P5+1 – Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany – failed to come to an agreement with Iran in the last round of talks in Baghdad. They demanded Iran stop 20 percent enrichment of uranium, despite being offered wider access to non-nuclear sites in Iran and despite the authoritative consensus of the U.S. intelligence community that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated no intention to do so.


                                                                                                                                                                                                          Netanyahu is now pushing through additional sanctions on Iran, limiting Israeli investment in corporations that have “major business connections” with Iran. ”Not only do we need to tighten the sanctions on Iran, we also need to toughen the demands from Iran and see their implementation.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Given that the threat of a nuclear Iran is nonexistent, its clear Israel’s bluster about Iran has little to do with fears of an Iranian bomb over Tel Aviv. As former CIA Middle East analyst Paul Pillar has written, “the Iran issue” provides a “distraction” from international “attention to the Palestinians’ lack of popular sovereignty.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                          For the Obama administration, Iran’s right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes is not being denied outright. They admit Iran has not nuclear weapons program. But they are determined to prevent Iran from so-called “nuclear capability” – not because of proliferation concerns, but because such a deterrent would hinder U.S. efforts at regime change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          331 words posted in Iran1 comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Israel – Self-made Global Pariah

                                                                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  May 26th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                            By Vacy Vlazna

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Every time Israel bans Palestinians from leaving Israel's West Bank-Gaza Prison, and every time a well-meaning foreigner is refused entry to give humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, Israel is consolidating its reputation as a global pariah, now, according to the BBC poll, on par with North Korea for having the highest negative influence on the global stage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Like Pavlov's dog, Israel rabidly salivates and attacks in response to any association with human rights and human decency. All compassionate attempts by the flotillas to bring aid to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza were confronted with Israeli violence, piracy, looting, and imprisonment peaking in the shocking Mavi Marmara massacre through which Israel recruited the whole of Turkey to the pro-Palestinian cause.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ordinary Greeks were focused on their nation's economic woes until Israel alerted them to Palestine's and their own loss of sovereignty when Israel closed Greek ports to deter the 2011 Gaza flotilla.


                                                                                                                                                                                                            Speaking of loss of sovereignty, average Europeans are now on the alert after Israel's tentacles clamped on airports and airlines to obstruct goodhearted people from simply and honestly entering Palestine via Ben Gurion airport. For every Fly-tilla aid worker turned away at their home airport or detained, humiliated and deported from Ben Gurion, and even removed from a plane for not being Jewish, Israel educated hundreds of thousands of their compatriots about its subversive bullying of once sovereign and once decent EU governments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This month, while Israel deprived Australians of the honor of meeting the highly respected human rights advocate, Shawan Jabarin, Director-General of AlHaq, who was to be the guest of The NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, Israel provided a valued consolation gift - the welcome bullet of stupidity that Israel shot into its own foot-in-mouth adding another notch to the BBC poll as the news of Israel's latest faux pas circulates in Australia and beyond.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Israel equal to North Korea! Israel's Ministry of Hasbara must be in a right flap utterly bewildered how its promotion of Israel as the only so-called 'democratic' and so-called 'civilized' nation in the Middle East has failed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            With the hubris of a fascist, Israel is blind to the facts on the ground- that it is deliberately assassinating its own character with war crimes and crimes against humanity. And every hasbaric utterance of a Regev, a Liebovitz, a Lieberman, a Netanyahu is suicidal repute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            North Korea is a world joke and in that lies the difference between people's perception of North Korea and Israel. To 4.17 million Palestinians under occupation and the 4.5 million diasporan Palestinians denied their right of return, Israel is not a joke.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Unlike Israel, North Korea hasn't illegally occupied another people, it hasn't rounded up another people into concentration camps ringed by 500 checkpoints, it hasn't stolen land and demolished homes of another people, it hasn't committed crimes against humanity and war crimes against another people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The international community only vaguely knows of North Korea through the occasional saber-rattling of the US, but the world has woken up to Israel's atrocities and human and civil rights abuses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            We all know of Israel's wars on the trapped citizens of Gaza to test its high-tech armaments, we know of the Mavi Marmara massacre, we know of the illegal Annexation Wall, we know of Israel's murder of children, we know of the 2500 hunger striking prisoners, its arbitrary arrests, its administrative detention, its extrajudicial executions. We know of the cancer of fanatical colonialism that ravages Palestinian lands, livelihoods and lives. We know how Israel dishonors the tragedy of the Holocaust by shrieking anti-Semitism when criticized, we know about Israel’s insolent disregard of hundreds of UN resolutions and daily violations of international human rights laws...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            ... as well as its months of screeching to plunge all of us into an unjust war with Iran.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            At this rate, Israel's abysmal lack of humanity will see it rightfully top the BBC chart as the worst country in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            - Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Power of Culture: PalFest Breaks the Siege of Gaza

                                                                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  May 25th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                              PalFest: A celebration of the power of culture. (Activestills)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              By Ayah Bashir - Gaza

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Amid the focus on the economic hardships caused by Israel's ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, it has been easy for many to overlook the fact that the territory's 1.6 million people have been kept under a cultural siege as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is ironic because much international debate has emphasized the rights and wrongs of cultural boycott of Israel in the context of the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              For years, the Palestine Festival of Literature — PalFest — has been trying to break this siege.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              PalFest began in 2008 in the West Bank, and tried its best to come to Gaza in 2009 with the clear objective of connecting international writers with Palestinian writers and audiences in Gaza. However, Israeli occupation forces denied organizers entry permits through the Erez crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip. In 2010, PalFest organizers tried again to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing — along the Strip’s border with Egypt — but were also denied entry by the regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed in February 2011.



                                                                                                                                                                                                              Academics, intellectuals and students had eagerly followed the news of whether or not the authors invited by PalFest would be allowed into Gaza this year. Undeterred by the disappointing denial, some authors last year were able to take part via video conference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              On 5 May this year, some 14 months after the Egyptian revolution began, we were finally able to welcome PalFest — and an impressive group of writers, artists, bloggers and social activists — to Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This would scarcely have been possible without the uprisings in the Arab world. This gathering demonstrates that despite the Palestinian cause being hijacked by dictatorships for many years, it continues to bring Arabs together as well and helps foster a re-emergent sense of pan-Arabism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not without a Struggle

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Egyptian novelist and PalFest founder Ahdaf Soueif, wrote in the independent daily al-Shorouk about the motivations behind the festival: “Civil society brings to life the conscience of the world, travelling by sea and air to express solidarity with our brothers in Gaza … the world asks: Will the Egyptian revolution, the awakening of Egypt, change the circumstances under which Palestine lives?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                              And although PalFest did finally come to Gaza this year, it wasn’t without a struggle. It is well known that the Egyptian government has contributed to the Israeli-engineered siege on Gaza. In spite of bureaucracy, restrictions and delays from the Egyptian foreign ministry to issue entry permits for the 43 writers, PalFest participants were so determined that they undertook a media campaign until the permits were granted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              A Joyful, but Delayed Welcome

                                                                                                                                                                                                              On 5 May at 2pm, and after thorough preparations inside and outside Gaza for the upcoming events, six BDS activists were on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing and the guests were on the Egyptian side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              But the hours passed and the sky began to darken. PalFest producer Omar Hamilton called. “Things are fine with most of us, but still there are issues with some of the participants’ papers!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It was Alaa Abed El-Fattah, his wife Manal and their infant son Khaled who were sent back, but not for long as they joined the group the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Only at 7pm, ululations and chants rolled through the place where the hosts were standing when they saw the bus approaching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Healing Wounds not Breaking Legs

                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Culture, art and academia contribute directly to shaping the individual and collective consciousness,” said Dr. Haidar Eid, PalFest’s partner in Gaza and a professor at al-Aqsa University, at a press conference and welcoming ceremony at Rafah as soon as the guests crossed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Eid, active with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI), spoke about the growth of BDS campaigns around the globe that aim to pressure Israel to end its policies of apartheid, colonization, abuses of human rights and regular violations of international law.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Solidarity with the Palestinian people through BDS is one of the key unarmed forms of resistance, he said. “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it,” Eid said, quoting Bertolt Brecht.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Eid also recalled the words of Mubarak’s last foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who once promised to “break the legs” of Palestinians if they dared “breach Egypt’s national security.” This time, “our brothers and sisters from Egypt are coming to kiss the feet of Gaza children, to heal the wounds created by the dictator’s regime,” Eid said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Literature, Poetry and Music

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Over the next four days, PalFest participants fanned out across Gaza, conducting writing and translation workshops in coordination with four universities and five public schools. At a creative writing workshop at Gaza University, for example, Egyptian novelist and Cairo University lecturer Sahar El-Mougy, shared her own literary experience with students. Similarly, Ahdaf Soueif, Khaled El- Khameissy and Tariq Hamdan had deeply engaged discussions with Al-Aqsa University students.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              A public concert at Gaza City’s Rashad al-Shawa Cultural Centre brought together Palestinian and Egyptian musicians. The event was opened by Palestinian singer Muhammad Akeila performing “Mawtini” (My Homeland), and Egyptian revolutionary band Eskenderalla performed “Ya Filastinia” (Oh Palestinians).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Poet Amin Haddad recited the words of his father, poet Fouad Haddad, the legendary dean of vernacular 20th Century Egyptian poetry:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sow the land with resistance

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Spread the seeds everywhere

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Where there is darkness, it brings light

                                                                                                                                                                                                              When imprisoned, it breaks the wall

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Be the first …

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Be the first Only blood is honest

                                                                                                                                                                                                              From the times of emigrant home

                                                                                                                                                                                                              To the day of victorious home

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sow the land with resistance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Performed with artistic sensibility and thoroughness, the concert was closed with a joint Palestinian-Egyptian song. “Build your palaces on our fields and orchards, from the efforts of our hard-working hands,” implored the song, a masterpiece written by Ahmad Fouad Nigm and performed by Sheikh Imam Issa in the 1970s.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Backing BDS

                                                                                                                                                                                                              For the first time, PalFest’s organizers made their support for the BDS movement crystal clear. “PalFest has endorsed the 2004 Palestinian call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. PalFest 2012 stands against the siege of Gaza; it is committed to re-invigorating cultural ties between Arab countries, ties that have been eroded for too long,” the festival said in a 29 April statement (“The 2012 Palestine Festival of Literature”).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This support was cemented during PalFest with meetings between organizers, writers and BDS activists in Gaza. All the discussions emphasized that BDS is a rights-based movement, that seeks to uphold the fundamental and universally-recognized rights of the Palestinian people: an end to military occupation and colonization; full rights for Palestinians citizens of Israel, and respect for the rights of refugees, including the right to return.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Authors participating in PalFest stressed the history of anti-normalization in the Arab world and mainly in Egypt as they promised to work on establishing the Egyptian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Others proposed efforts to end the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ), an economic and trade agreement that Egypt signed with Israel in 2004, which mainly functioned to remove the Arab taboo against conducting business openly with Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Closed Down by the Police

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The final night of PalFest at Dar al-Basha, a historic house in Gaza City, was shut down by the police — an incident for which the police chief later apologized verbally, although no written statement has yet been issued.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The repression did not dampen spirits. Participants and the audience left together for the Al-Quds hotel, and chanting “let’s continue,” they made sure the festival went on. It was an unforgettable night of poetry from Amin Haddad, Tariq Hamdan and music from the talented artist and oud player Hazem Shaheen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Between Darkness and Light

                                                                                                                                                                                                              In Gaza, the only breath of fresh air you can have is when you look at the sea. On my way home on the last evening, and as the taxi was moving along the coastline in the night, one might be shocked to see for the first time the ominous prison-like floodlights shining in the sea, or as Omar Hamilton accurately put it, “a perfect unmovable line of lights that cuts short the horizon, erases the possibility of the unknown.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                              On land, by contrast, all of Gaza was drowning in a sea of darkness, with queues of cars and motorbikes waiting for the fuel supply to run. Each time I came to the festival, until that moment, cars were waiting in an interminable line.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The contrast is really overwhelming. Sitting beside the taxi driver, an agitated and tense passenger angrily talked about the lack of electricity and abruptly lamented the loss of his father and house in Israel’s winter 2008-2009 attack on Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              He seemed traumatized; it didn’t seem usual to hear at that time of the night a story from the days of Operation Cast Lead. He was recalling an event that took place three years ago, as if it took place just hours before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It was a reminder that returning to the usual rhythm of Gaza life after the unusual and exciting experience with PalFest is really strange and difficult. Nevertheless, times are changing and the global BDS movement is helping to empower us and our supporters with effective moral choices to end the injustices we live through.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is why PalFest in Gaza was so important. In the face of so many obstacles, it was a celebration of the power of culture in the face of the culture of power.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Ayah Bashir is a recent MA graduate in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Her first degree was in English language and Literature. She is currently a member of the Gaza-based BDS organizing committee and also PalFest coordinator in Gaza. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (This article was also published in the Electronic Intifada - http://electronicintifada.net.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Israel is a crime against humanity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  May 25th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                By Khalid Amayreh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks to the fact that much of the western media deliberately avoids exposing Israeli criminality, probably for fear of being accused of anti-Semitism, much of the brutal ugliness of the Jewish state remains unknown to millions of Europeans and North Americans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is the reason that many people in the west are still buying the big, obscene lie that Israel is a western democracy which upholds basic human rights and civil liberties. But the facts on the ground are much uglier than many people think, irrespective of how vociferous and dogged Israeli hasbara operatives get when defending and justifying Israeli misdeeds and crimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The truth of the matter is that institutionalized oppression, racism and terror against the native Palestinians have always constituted and continue to constitute Israel's modus operandi.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, the shipyard dogs of Israeli propaganda will concoct a thousand lies and point to a thousand red herrings to divert attention from the subject. They would invoke the holocaust, Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, Treblinka, the Jewish origin of Christianity and many other impertinent issues in an effort to justify or more correctly distract attention from the real issue, namely the brazen evil fact of Jewish Nazism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                They would fornicate with the truth and with language in order to convince misinformed and often gullible westerners that Israel has to behave the way it does because otherwise its very survival would be in danger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                But the truth remains sufficiently plain for anyone willing to call the spade a spade. The task is certainly not easy, but not quite impossible, provided one maintains a respectable degree of rectitude and honesty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I am saying this because the bulk of Israel's supporters are malicious liars, e.g, know well they are supporting oppression and evil, or ignoramuses, like most Israel's supporters on the American arena.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                We don't deny the obvious fact that there are in the region other nefarious regimes which savage, torment and murder their own people in order to remain in power. However, violence in the neighborhood, however pornographic it may be, should never make Israel look good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                After all, Israel itself remains a crime against humanity, if only because it uprooted, supplanted and is seeking the national obliteration of millions of Palestinians whose main "guilt" is their being non-members of the holy tribe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Israel stole their land, demolished their homes, destroyed their villages, burned their fields and then expelled them to the four winds, while filling the ether with endless mendacious hasbara about Jewish democracy, morality and genius.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This week, the London-based human rights organization, Amnesty International, published its 2012 report about the status of human rights all over the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The group accused Israel of a long list of violations, including torture, restricting movement, limiting freedom of speech, detaining people without charge or trial for prolonged periods as well as maintaining a siege that strangles 1.6 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The truth of the matter, however, is that quasi-academic reports of Israeli human rights violation, even those published by respectable human rights groups, remain quite insufficient to fully communicate the ugly reality of the Israeli state. In the final analysis, Israel is sinking in a sea of racism, fascism (it doesn't matter if it is blunt or insidious racism), oppression and terror. One Israeli cabinet minister declared a few months ago that "we are already a fascist state."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                When I was studying at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jewish circles, such as the Bnai Brith organization left no stone unturned, protesting a local Baptist minister who claimed that God didn't hear prayers of Jews since Jews didn't recognize Jesus as their personal lord and Savior. After an avalanche of protests, the priest apologized.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Today in Israel, there are prominent politicians and religious leaders who shamelessly claim that non-Jews are donkeys in human shape, whose lives have no sanctity and who are not entitled to human dignity. There are rabbis who issue fatwas or edicts allowing Jewish doctors to let non-Jews injured in a car accident on Saturday die of their wounds rather than give them medical treatment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are even rabbis who would permit Jews to murder non-Jews in order to harvest their organs if the Jews needed one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Unfortunately, such scandalous abominations raise very few eyebrows in Israel. This happens at a time when Jewish leaders routinely, even innately, hurl the charges of hate and immorality at anyone and everyone who mentions Israeli criminality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                But so what? Israel and Jews have nothing to fear or worry about as long the US, its government, congress, and media, are in the Jewish pocket. The fact that the powerful and intimidating Jewish lobbies have succeeded in morphing most American politicians into absolutely docile political whores readily at Israel's beck and call.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Interestingly, this had a profound insolent effect on Israel. It was rumored a few years ago that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sought to silence Shimon Peres, then foreign minister, telling him "don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We control the American people and the stupid Americans know it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Besides, the ruling elite in Israel seems to have discovered that the more extremist and the more criminal and murderous Israel becomes, the more support and backing it receives from a disgracefully pliant Washington.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It is difficult to explain this strange phenomenon from the point of view the political sociology or political psychology. The only plausible explanation is that Jewish money and power have thoroughly corrupted American political culture so much that the U.S. is sinking down the drain, definitely though no dramatically.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have no doubt that the Palestinian people will never be able to deliver themselves from the clutches of Zio-Nazism as long as America remains thoroughly enslaved, beguiled and manipulated by world Zionism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Zionism might soon switch alliance to China the moment China's ascendancy to the helm of the world and America's demotion to the status of second or third-class global power is asserted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In any case, the peace and stability of the world depends to a large extent on the world community's willingness and ability to check the cancerous growth and lebensraum of Zionism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                To be sure, Zionists will not raise the white flag upon the first clash with a determined world community that is serious about justice and peace; they are too powerful and too arrogant to do that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                However, a meaningful transformation in the willingness of the international community to check the Nazi-like Zionist hegemony and supremacy will definitely make Zionism think twice before pursuing it genocidal drive toward world domination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have no doubt that Israel will disappear one day. I don't know when that day will come, but I feel it will come sooner than many people think. Israel is based on evil and oppression. It carries the seeds of its own destruction.


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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Meshaal tightens his grip

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  May 25th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Recent internal elections in Hamas have greatly strengthened the hand of Khaled Meshaal, who but a few months ago was set to leave his position as Hamas head, writes Saleh Al-Naami

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For over one month, internal elections were held in Hamas to choose the group's senior leadership, especially members of the politburo and the group's General Shura Council, which represents the group in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, diaspora and prisons. Members were also choosing representatives to branch Shura councils and leadership positions in various regions. The pressing question on the eve of elections was: how will the results affect the group's political and strategic choices in the coming phase, especially regarding resistance against occupation, reconciliation and other key issues? Also, what is the future of Khaled Meshaal's leadership of the group?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Contrary to general perception, the results bolstered Meshaal's position as head of the group's politburo and leader of Hamas. Sources told Al-Ahram Weekly that the most important outcome was the re-election of Meshaal, which empowered his supporters in central and branch leadership positions. Surprisingly, the elections increased the number of Meshaal supporters in branch leadership institutions in the Gaza Strip, especially branch politburos.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a key development since some group leaders in Gaza deliberately challenged Meshaal's leadership over the past year, especially Mahmoud Al-Zahhar who rejected the political steps that Meshaal took -- such as agreeing to the principle of "peaceful resistance" and reaching a deal with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Although Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was chosen as director of the group's branch politburo in Gaza, the composition of the new leadership of the branch bureau lends more weight to Meshaal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Ezzeddin Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military arm that is close to Meshaal, were able to increase their gains in the recent elections. Ahmed Al-Jaafari and Marwan Eissa, two leading members of the Brigades in the Gaza Strip, won, as did Rawhi Mushtaha and Yehia Al-Senwar, who were freed as part of the last prisoners' exchange deal between Israel and Gaza. Both men are closer to the military wing than the political bodies of the group.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In fact, the new general Shura Council in the Gaza Strip includes a large number of freed prisoners who are loyal to Hamas's military wing, which played a key role in freeing them from prison. This also bolsters Meshaal's stature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What truly boosts Meshaal's position, however, is that his supporters in the politburo in Gaza are charismatic leaders such as Al-Senwar and Mushtaha, who are very popular among Hamas grassroots supporters. Also, because his supporters in the politburo and General Shura Council are a cohesive camp, which is unmatched by another camp that has the same degree of cohesion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Although both Haniyeh and Al-Zahhar have reservations about Meshaal's policies, the two also have disputes with each other, which means that public opposition to Meshaal will diminish. On the one hand, although it is not yet clear how the group's internal elections took place in the West Bank, because of special security conditions for Hamas there, specifically constant detentions by Israel of the group's leaders and members, it is certain that the results of these elections bolstered Meshaal's position. All Hamas leaders in the West Bank backed Meshaal when he announced that he reached the Doha Declaration with Abbas, although the deal was strongly criticised by Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip. In fact, the influence of the West Bank in Hamas bodies is almost equal to the influence of Gaza, and therefore it is widely believed that West Bank representatives in Shura councils will support Meshaal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Although sources assert that there is no candidate who can compete with Meshaal as leader of the politburo, the outcome of internal elections should enable him to continue heading the bureau with more support.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Observers agree that Meshaal's successes guarantee that he will impose his policies and positions on the group with very little internal resistance, including on two key issues. First, reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority (PA). Meshaal, like the rest of Hamas leaders inside and abroad, knows well the foreign pressure on Abbas, especially by Israel, the US and some Arab countries, that inhibit efforts to end internal divisions. But at the same time, he believes that Hamas's interests would best be served by closing ranks since continued divisions drain Hamas politically, security-wise and financially.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Contrary to what Hamas leaders in Gaza believe, Meshaal views the price of Hamas monopolising power in Gaza as too high since it greatly hinders world recognition of the group and cooperation with Hamas. At the same time, it gives Israel a wide margin of manoeuvrability to launch military strikes against the group and its military wing in the Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Although the Arab Spring clearly changed how some Arab states are dealing with the group, the majority of these countries still refuse to deal with the group or its government in Gaza. Meanwhile, Meshaal is very disturbed by the high financial burden of maintaining a government in Gaza headed by Haniyeh. The leadership of the group abroad is required to raise funds for the government and its services to function, which is a difficult task since funding for the group has diminished, especially after Iran stopped most of the funds going to Hamas after the group refused to support the Syrian regime's crackdown against its people. As politburo chief, Meshaal is responsible for securing funds for the group and knows well the challenges of having a government in power in Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Meshaal is required to demonstrate the highest degree of flexibility on all issues related to national reconciliation, although he is aware that his mission is almost impossible for the time being. Meshaal wants to prove to Arab states, especially those who espoused Arab revolutions, that his group is very flexible for the sake of ending divisions and hence these states would pressure Abbas to agree to Meshaal's proposals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At the same time, Meshaal hopes that a better understanding of the group's positions by Arab states would increase official recognition of Hamas and expand relations to facilitate its integration in the nebulous Arab order taking shape in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Such a development would especially hinder Israel's ability to corner the group and strike it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Second, since the outset, Meshaal was one of the leaders who opposed Hamas taking part in elections and forming a government since it would be very difficult for his group to combine governance and resistance. Meshaal believes that it's too early for Hamas to be in power and is harmed even further if it monopolises power, which is the case right now. Sources told Al-Ahram Weekly that in private conversations Meshaal asserts that having Hamas in power gives Israel a large cache of targets to attack whenever it pleases. He further believes that the 2008 war on Gaza is confirmation of this, since every institution affiliated with the Gaza government became a "legitimate" target for Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Meanwhile, Meshaal and a large portion of Hamas leaders is beginning to feel the negative effects of Hamas being in power on relations with other Palestinian factions, especially the Islamic Jihad. Palestinian factions accusing Hamas of abandoning resistance in favour of staying in power, especially after it became apparent that Hamas does not quickly respond to attacks by Israel against the leaders and symbols of other factions -- which was apparent in the last confrontation -- because it fears that Israel would retaliate by targeting government institutions. Meshaal believes that a formula should be reached whereby the group can leave power in Gaza while maintaining the group's military strength.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hamas leaders who disagree with Meshaal, especially Al-Zahhar and to a lesser degree Haniyeh, have become a minority in the group's leadership circles. This allows Meshaal to attempt to convince other Hamas leaders of the need to find an exit from the duality of resistance and governance with the least losses. He is further empowered by recent election results, although Meshaal's success also depends on the positions of other parties, especially the PA and Arab parties that influence Palestinian affairs, specifically Egypt.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Al Ahram

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A 'victory' for hunger strikers?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  May 25th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israel ends with a deal brokered by Egypt. Only some of their demands will be met, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hundreds of Palestinian political and resistance prisoners in Israeli jails have ended a mass hunger strike protesting against cruel and inhuman prison conditions following the conclusion of a compromise deal with Israel brokered by Egyptian Intelligence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Israel refuses to grant the prisoners the legal status of "prisoners of war" and insists on considering them "terrorists" or "security prisoners" even though many of them were never involved in violent acts against the Israeli occupation.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    According to the agreement, the prisoners pledged to refrain from getting involved in any security- impinging activities inside their places of incarceration. This includes recruitment of activists in order to carry out resistance missions and abetting or aiding acts that may undermine Israel's security.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In return, Israel agreed to facilitate the living conditions of prisoners, including considering ending solitary confinement and allowing family visits from both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Allowing family visits cannot be considered an Israeli concession as such visits were always allowed since the start of the occupation in 1967.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Israel, according to the agreement, would be absolved from carrying out its obligations if the prisoners decide to declare a new hunger strike.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The agreement has been hailed as a "victory" by Palestinian leaders, including the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, while extreme right- wing figures in Israel dubbed the deal "surrender to terror".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Qaddoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, which monitors conditions in Israeli jails where Palestinian prisoners are incarcerated, described the deal as "satisfactory" and "good under present circumstances".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "The agreement doesn't meet all of our expectations, let alone our aspirations. This is a bitter struggle between two unequal parties and our brothers (the prisoners) in the Zionist bastilles and dungeons have made maximum efforts to obtain a semblance of conditions that would grant them some dignity and human decency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Any concession we extricate from Israel's parsimonious hands is an achievement."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fares pointed out that there is a general state of satisfaction among the prisoners following the conclusion of the deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "No one is euphoric or ecstatic, but at least some of prisoners' demands have been met, Israel is an enemy, not a friend, and we should not expect our archenemy to behave charitably towards us."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fares also thanked the Egyptian government for playing a key role in the conclusion of the agreement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The agreement doesn't meet some of the key Palestinian demands, especially those pertaining to so-called administrative detention, which Israel uses to incarcerate a given prisoner for years without charge or trial. Israel currently holds as many as 26 Palestinian parliamentarians without charge or trial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Palestinian inmates have repeatedly demanded an end to open-ended internment, which they charge is tantamount to "hostage taking". However, Israel, while recognising that keeping prisoners in jail for years without charge or trial is not "an optimal exemplification of justice", argues that administrative detention is an effective deterrent that it doesn't want to lose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Shortly before signing the agreement with the prisoners, an Israeli military court extended the captivity of Palestinian Legislative Council member Nayef Rajoub for another six months, for the fourth time running. Rajoub has spent a total of 10 years in Israeli jails on frivolous charges having to do with "inflammatory speech" and "incitement" against Israel's military occupation of Palestine,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The extension of Rajoub's detention is believed to be aimed at forestalling any agreement with hunger striking prisoners that might oblige the Israeli government to end his open-ended captivity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lawyers defending these leaders before Israeli courts argue that Israel resorts to "this manifestly illegal type of punishment" when it fails to establish a real case against prisoners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "When the Israeli attorney fails to present hard or indicting evidence against a detainee before Israeli courts, Shin Bet (Israel's domestic security agency) simply claims there is secret evidence, and the Palestinian defendant is sent to open- ended incarceration, not knowing why he is in jail or when he will be set free," says Mohamed Amr, a lawyer from the southern West Bank of Hebron.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "No other country in the world, perhaps with the exception of Stalinist and fascist states, adopts this as part of its justice system. And, above all of this, Israel claims to be the only real democracy in the Middle East."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another blemish that is likely to undermine the credibility of the deal between Israel and the Palestinian inmates has to do with Israeli goodwill. Israel is notorious for violating agreements reached with the Palestinians, especially those agreements not signed on Israel's own volition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For example, Israel has rearrested more than a dozen former prisoners freed as part of the Gilad Shalit deal last year. Israel had pledged to refrain from re-arresting any of the freed prisoners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Palestinian leaders also believe that Israel will seek "creative and innovative" tactics to further torment Palestinian prisoners and their families.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bassam Kawasmeh, who has spent several years in Israeli jails, told Al-Ahram Weekly that Israel's cruel treatment of Palestinian prisoners was a reflection of the supremacist and racist Jewish view of the rest of mankind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "What sort of treatment would you expect from a Jewish jailer or prison warden who sees you as an infra- human being, or outright animal. Their treatment of our prisoners is a direct reflection of their virulent religious ideology."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A few decades ago, Israel used to have somewhat modern laws guaranteeing a semblance of basic human rights and dignity in its jails and detention centres. However, as Israeli society kept moving towards extreme right-wing politics, and religious fanaticism became rampant, new draconian laws inflicting more pain and harassment on Palestinian prisoners were enacted by a justice system based on the notion that non-Jews are less than complete humans whose lives have no sanctity and whose rights are not protected.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    According to the late Israeli writer and intellectual Israel Shahak, when Jewish sages and rabbis use the term "human" they only refer to Jews as non-Jews are not considered truly human. Hence, they are not entitled to human rights. The same maxim applies to the rabbinic interpretation of the Ten Commandments whereby "thou shall not murder," for example, is understood to mean "thou shall not murder a Jew" as the lives of non- Jews have no sanctity especially when compared to Jewish lives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been quoted as saying that the prisoner agreement is a gesture of goodwill towards Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu hopes that Abbas will reciprocate by returning to a peace process with Israel that only saw the Jewish entity devour more and more Palestinian land and may already have rendered the creation of a viable Palestinian state unfeasible, due to ubiquitous Jewish settlements and colonies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Al Ahram

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The United States of Israel: US Congressman Introduces Visa Waiver for Israelis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  May 25th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Legislation introduced that would no longer require Israelis to obtain visas to visit the United States for tourism or business purposes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      By Rachel Hirshfeld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      US Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced legislation on Friday that would no longer require Israelis to obtain visas to visit the United States for tourism or business purposes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Visa Waiver Program allows nationals from certain countries to enter the US as temporary visitors for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa from a US consulate abroad.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Israel is our closest friend and democratic ally in the Middle East,” Sherman said in a statement. “Adding Israel to the Visa Waiver Program will boost business, tourism, and job creation here in the U.S. and enhance cultural ties between our two nations.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Israeli embassy in Washington also endorsed the bill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The embassy issued a statement saying, “This act would stimulate numerous business endeavors, and help promote closer cultural, economic, and touristic ties. The passage of this legislation would further strengthen the special and deep relationship between Israel and the United States.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      According to Sherman's office, the legislation contains counter-terrorism and information-sharing provisions, and would ensure that Israel adopts biometric travel documents prior to being admitted to the program.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Almost one-third of a million Israelis entered the US as temporary visitors annually in recent years,” continued Sherman. “Each had to get a US visa through a bureaucratic process that sometimes takes weeks. The number of Israeli visitors would increase substantially if Israel enters the Visa Waiver Program. That means more business, tourism, academic and cultural exchanges, and most importantly, job creation. This is an important way to further strengthen ties with our close friend and ally in the Middle East – Israel.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The bipartisan bill received the support of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), along with Representatives Ted Poe, Charles Rangel, Edolphus Towns, Steve Rothman, Bill Pascrell, Shelley Berkley, Eliot Engel, Michael Grimm, Mazie Hirono, Rush Holt, Aaron Schock, and Robert Dold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are 36 countries currently in the Visa Waiver Program. In 2010, over 17 million visitors entered the United States under the program, constituting 42% of all overseas visitors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Israel has been in similar discussions with the U.S. departments of State and Homeland Security to join the Visa Waiver Program since 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Arutz Sheva

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BBC Polling: How the World Sees Israel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  May 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For obvious reasons, Israel's image is deteriorating worldwide. (Activestills)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        By Jamal Kanj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In response to questions rating which country '… is having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world?' Israel was tie with N Korea for third place with highest negative influence on the global stage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The 2012 BBC Country Ratings Poll was conducted jointly by GlobeScan, an international opinion research consultancy, and The Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, USA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Respondents were asked to rate 16 countries for their “mostly positive” or “mostly negative” influence on the world. A total of 24,090 citizens in 22 countries were interviewed in late 2011 and early 2012. People’s perception was based on the world’s view of the country’s foreign and domestic policies.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ever since commissioning the poll in 2005, Israel has solidly ranked high on the list of nations with negative influence. Israel’s perceived unfavorable influence in the world has increased from 47 to 50% in 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Spaniards negative rating of Israel led the European Union at 74%, followed by France at 65%. Britain and Germany maintained the same high negative rating level at 68% and 69 % for each.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the Korean peninsula, the strong negative view of Israel climbed by 15 notches to 69%. Among the Chinese, Israel’s negative rating remained stable at 45%, while its positive perception dropped by 9 points to 23%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In India, public opinion on Israel has shifted from being divided in 2011 to negative in 2012, 29% vs 17%. Russia has moved from leaning positive in 2011 to negative in 2012, 26% vs 25%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Latin America maintained its overall negative perceptions with high majority in Chile, Peru and Mexico. Brazilian’s led South America by maintaining the same soundly unfavorable rating of Israel’s influence at 58%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In Australia and Canada, Israel’s negative influence has increased by seven points to 65% and 59%, respectively.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As expected, the only Western nation with favorable response came from the US at 50% vs 35%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the only Arab country included in the polling, the negative perception of Israel increased by 7 points to 85%. Egypt is one of two Arab countries having peace agreements with Israel, topped the negative rating in the 2012 BBC polling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Unlike the overly cosseted Israel, nations receiving high negative rating like Iran and N Korea were vilified pariah states by the West. However despite its pampering and Murdoch’s media empire, Israel still ranked equal with the mocked nations for the disgraced position.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In studying the BBC tracking poll since 2005, the correlations between the survey’s outcome and the influence of the Israeli lobby in Western countries is compelling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the US for instance, candid critical discussion of Israeli policies in the media is overly self-censored. Unlike EU and even Israeli papers, there is no single US nationally syndicated columnist in any major newspaper who openly challenges Israel or its lobby. Those who did were either sidelined as in the case of Buchanan and the late Novak to name few, or became jobless like UPI White House bureau manager Helen Thomas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        True American public opinion vis-à-vis Israel can be validated only after its political emancipation from Israel’s lobby. Until then, US’ sole Western positive rating of Israel remains a factor of America’s servile media and the pro-Israel election money machine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Jamal Kanj writes frequently on Arab World issues and the author of “Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America”, Garnet Publishing, UK . Jamal’s articles can be read at www.jamalkanj.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: jkanj@yahoo.com.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Palestine's Future in Safe Hands

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  May 22nd, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Palestinian history is now evolving in two opposing directions. (Activestills)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The commemoration of the Nakba needs to be more than a ritualistic event; the remembrance should be integrated into a clear and comprehensive national project aimed at offsetting the harm wrought to generations of Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is no question that Israel has repeatedly failed in distancing or erasing the memory of those ominous months in 1947-48 when hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed and their people expelled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Israel made incessant attempts to redefine the legal, spatial and even psychological boundaries of the conflict to another date — its occupation of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in June 1967.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The signing of the Oslo Peace Accord made any mention of pre-1967 events somehow a form of political ‘extremism’ tantamount to calling for the ‘destruction’ of Israel as a Jewish state. Worse, demanding a return to the 1967 border eventually became too much for Palestinians to expect as Israel began haggling over small spaces within that already shrinking area — barely 22 per cent of 1948 Palestine.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Nakba, although never forgotten, was temporarily forced to the sidelines as the ‘peace-makers’ endlessly spoke of ‘painful compromises’. An ultimate Palestinian compromise was meant to erase the Nakba from any practical context within the political process as envisaged by Oslo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Today, Oslo has more or less vanished. Now that the Palestinian National Authority is hanging by a thread, the Nakba is returning to reinforce its definition of the conflict. The massive rallies and the numerous events throughout Palestine and the Arab world on May 15, which were led largely by civil society, remind us of a history that cannot be ignored.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After nearly 20 years of peace talks, Palestinians are stating aloud that the conflict is not about divided ‘autonomous’ areas within the West Bank, but about the deaths of innocent people, the destruction of villages, the losses of homes, land and more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In an article published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on May 15, Hanan Ashrawi says that “Al Nakba is … not merely a historical date to be commemorated. It is the collective memory of Palestinians, which shapes their identity as a people. Al Nakba is not a distant memory, but a painful reality that continues to fester, as the rights of refugees continue to be denied and the inalienable rights of our nation remain unfulfilled”.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is precisely for this reason that neither old nor young Palestinians have forgotten. Every day is another manifestation of the same protracted Nakba that has lasted 64 years now. The hardships of young people today are inextricably linked to the violent and horrific uprooting decades ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Nakba has also remained an ongoing project through generations of Israeli Zionists. What is commemorated as Palestine’s ‘catastrophe’ is celebrated as Israel’s ‘independence’. While Israeli leaders like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continue to implement the very expansionist plans of Israel’s founders, the Israeli public and the rest of the world are being taught a highly deceptive version of history that either demonises the victim or completely denies his existence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Israeli activist and author Neve Gordon assures us that the Israeli government’s attempts to silence the voices of those who invoke the Nakba are ‘futile’. “The Nakba is a truth, and while the efforts to expose the unfolding historical events have recently experienced a fierce legal assault, its primacy over falsehoods guarantees that it will prevail,” he wrote in Counterpunch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The ‘fierce legal assault’ refers to the passing of the Nakba law by the Knesset in March 2011. The law allows the government to financially punish any public institution that dares to defy the Israeli ban on Palestinian memory. Yet, Palestinians continue to commemorate the Nakba more passionately than ever, in larger numbers. This growing sense of resolve was reflected in the incredible strength displayed by over 1,600 Palestinian prisoners who went on a hunger strike for nearly a month, protesting jail conditions, inhumane treatment, unlawful detentions and more. Their struggle concluded successfully a day before the Nakba’s 64th anniversary, proving that unity, will and clarity of purpose can achieve even the supposedly ‘impossible’.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          However, only a day after the Nakba commemoration ended, the BBC reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had sworn in a new cabinet in the West Bank. Not only is this another government made up mostly of Abbas’ allies and friends, it also lacks any real physical control on the ground. Worse, the new government has dashed the last hope that divided Palestinian leaderships can, after years of embarrassing disunity and infighting, mend their differences for the sake of the higher cause of the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          While Oslo has been dead for over a decade — ever since Palestinian masses revolted in the Second Intifada in 2000 — those who formed the new government once more reiterated their commitment to the ‘peace process’. Following a Palestinian letter to Israel’s prime minister, the latter dispatched an envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, who delivered to Abbas a counter letter. “Israel and the Palestinian [National] Authority are committed to achieving peace and the sides hope that the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu will further this goal,” read a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office (Jerusalem Post, May 12).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Palestinian history is now evolving in two opposing directions. One is stuck in the past, reproducing the same statements and referencing the same tired but fruitless language of peace, ‘confidence building’ and compromises. The other direction is being followed by protesting prisoners and thousands of people in refugee camps, behind Israel’s apartheid walls and all over Palestine. It is the latter, not former, that will eventually define the future of Palestine. Their discourse is the one that has defined every Palestinian generation, from before the Nakba to the present day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          - Ramzy Baroud is an internationally syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story. (This article was first published in Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com, on May 23, 2012)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Freedom Sailors - Fleet of many nations - Support Ship to Gaza

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  May 21st, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Published on May 17, 2012 by FreedomSailors

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We support Ship to Gaza and the efforts to end the illegal Israeli blockade. Stay human
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.shiptogaza.se/ (Ship to Gaza-Sweden)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.shiptogaza.se/en (in English)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Applying the Six-Day War to Iran

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  May 20th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              By Ray McGovern, May 19, 2012

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              With the 45th anniversary of the Six-Day War of June 1967 coming early next month, pro-Israel pundits like syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer are again promoting Israel’s faux narrative on the reasons behind Israel’s decision to attack its neighbors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Krauthammers of our domesticated, corporate media seem bent on waging pre-emptive war against an accurate historical rendering of the actual objectives behind that Israeli offensive that overwhelmed Arab armies and seized large swaths of Arab territory, land that hard-line Zionists refer to as "Greater Israel," i.e. rightly theirs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              With its surprise attacks on June 5, 1967, Israel rapidly defeated the armies of its Arab neighbors. It gained control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1979 as a result of the Camp David peace accord, a land-for-peace swap that U.S. President Jimmy Carter demanded and that then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin deeply resented.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Jewish settlement has proceeded apace on other territories conquered in the Six-Day War, particularly in the Palestinian West Bank, which Israel’s ruling Likud Party refers to by its Biblical names Judea and Samaria.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Likud’s charter declares that "the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. … The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In other words, in the Six-Day War, Israel seized land that hard-line Zionists consider to be part of their ancestral legacy. The surprise attack in 1967 was the means to that end. The Likud Party emerged several years later with the explicit intent of consolidating that control through a settlement policy called "changing the facts on the ground."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Time to Worry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yet, despite Israel’s continued expansion into those Palestinian lands, pro-Israel pundits are in a defensive mood these days, and with good reason. They see a particular need this year to whitewash Israel’s surprise attack on its Arab neighbors 45 years ago – not only because the anniversary is likely to draw more than the usual attention – but also because Israel’s strategic position has deteriorated markedly in the past year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For instance, the 80 million-plus Egyptians are no longer neutered by the joint Mubarak-Israel-U.S. effort to repress them and co-opt them into passivity vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Serious contenders in the upcoming Egyptian election have said they would reconsider the Egypt-Israel Treaty of 1979.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Some leading Egyptian politicians have added that they would fling wide open Egypt’s border with Gaza, where about 1.5 million Palestinians live in what amounts to an open-air prison. These Egyptians also are saying strongly sympathetic things about the widespread suffering in Gaza and the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Equally important, Egypt’s present government has already nullified the sweetheart arrangement under which Egypt was providing natural gas to Israel at bargain basement prices. (That alone is a very big deal.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And, in sad contrast to the deafening silence of senior American officials regarding Israel’s reckless killing of U.S. citizens, such as Rachel Corrie in 2003, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to demand an apology for Israel’s killing of Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The result of that dispute is a sharp diminution in what used to be very close military ties between Turkey and Israel — not to mention a lot of ill will, which can be very corrosive over the longer run.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Misinformed Americans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Regarding the events of 1967, America’s pro-Israel pundit class knows only too well that Egyptians, Turks, Syrians, Jordanians and other audiences in the Middle East will not buy Israel’s faux-history of the Six-Day War — many having been on the receiving end of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thus, it is abundantly clear that the primary targets of the disinformation are Americans like those who subscribe to the neoconservative Washington Post, whose editors in recent decades have been careful to keep their readers malnourished on the thin gruel of watered-down (or unreliable) facts about the Middle East (think, Iraq’s WMDs).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So, it would be simply too much to acknowledge, as former Israeli Prime Minister Begin did 30 years ago, in an uncommon burst of hubris-tinged honesty, that Israel’s attack on its neighbors in 1967 was in no way a defensive war — or even a "pre-emptive" war (there being no really dangerous Egyptian or other threat to pre-empt).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              While Prime Minister in 1982, Begin declared: "In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches (did) not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Such real history would lift the veil now shrouding Israel’s version that plays up the "threat" posed by Egypt and disguises the grand enterprise to expand Israel’s borders and — in double-contravention of international law — to colonize the occupied territories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To bolster Israel’s heroic rendition of the Six-Day War – and to apply its supposed lessons to Israel’s current plans to bomb Iran – Krauthammer reprised that triumphal version of Israel masterfully defending itself against imminent destruction by the Arabs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "On June 5 (1967), Israel launched a preemptive strike on the Egyptian air force, then proceeded to lightning victories on three fronts," Krauthammer wrote, cooing: "The Six-Day War is legend."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He then overlaid that gauzy history onto today’s confrontation with Iran: "Israelis today face the greatest threat to their existence — nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation — since May ’67. The world is again telling Israelis to do nothing as it looks for a way out. But if such a way is not found — as in ’67 — Israelis know that they will once again have to defend themselves, by themselves."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Noting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent coalition with the rival Kadima Party, Krauthammer also mocked the importance of former Israeli intelligence chiefs cautioning against a rush to war with Iran.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He wrote: "So much for the recent media hype about some great domestic resistance to Netanyahu’s hard line on Iran. Two notable retired intelligence figures were widely covered here for coming out against him. Little noted was that one had been passed over by Netanyahu to be the head of Mossad, while the other had been fired by Netanyahu as Mossad chief (hence the job opening). …

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "The [new] wall-to-wall coalition demonstrates Israel’s political readiness to attack, if necessary. (Its military readiness is not in doubt.) Those counseling Israeli submission, resignation or just endless patience can no longer dismiss Israel’s tough stance as the work of irredeemable right-wingers."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After reading this Krauthammer op-ed in the May 10 Washington Post, I decided, against my better judgment, to invest a half-hour writing a letter to the editor, trying to make it as factual as possible. Several days after its submission, I have given up any meager hope I may have harbored that the Post would actually print it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps that half-hour investment will not have been a complete waste of time if I can share the result with you:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, May 13, 2012

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In his May 10 op-ed column, "Echoes of ’67: Israel unites," Charles Krauthammer refers to May 1967 as "Israel’s most fearful, desperate month" and compares it to today, claiming that Iran poses "the greatest threat" to Israel’s existence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It ain’t necessarily so. In August 1982, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin admitted publicly: "In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches (did) not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Today’s "threat" from Iran is equally ephemeral. Krauthammer, though, warns ominously about "nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The allusion is to an illusion — the alleged threat by Iranian President Ahmadinejad to "wipe Israel off the map." But he never said that, an inconvenient reality reluctantly acknowledged by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor early last month. And in January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Israeli counterpart both publicly affirmed the unanimous assessment of U.S. intelligence that Iran is not working on a nuclear weapon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Who, then, is being apocalyptic? Krauthammer’s agenda is so transparent that a rigorous Fact Check should be de rigueur.


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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kucinich: NDAA Authorizes War Against Iran

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  May 20th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:06 By Congressman Dennis Kucinich, The Office of Dennis Kucinich | Speech

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s (D-OH) prepared speech to Congress follows. See video here. Congressman Kucinich is also distributing this flyer to Congressional colleagues. Additionally he recently spoke about Iran on the House Floor. See that video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FycJHGtrvH4&feature=youtu.be and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU9C_v6c6ls&feature=youtu.be. Kucinich will be back on the House Floor today (May 17) at noon for a “one minute” speech. "We must not stumble into another war," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "This week, Congress is considering two pieces of legislation relating to Iran. The first undermines a diplomatic solution with Iran and lowers the bar for war. The second authorizes a war of choice against Iran and begins military preparations for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                H.Res.568: Eliminating the Most Viable Alternative to War

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The House is expected to vote on H.Res. 568. Read the resolution. Section (6) rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Section (7) urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to Iranian enrichment.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This language represents a significant shift in U.S. policy and would guarantee that talks with Iran, currently scheduled for May 23, would fail. Current U.S. policy is that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, H. Res. 568 draws the “redline” for military action at Iran achieving a nuclear weapons “capability,” a nebulous and undefined term that could include a civilian nuclear program. Indeed, it is likely that a negotiated deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to prevent war would provide for Iranian enrichment for peaceful purposes under the framework of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty with strict safeguards and inspections. This language makes such a negotiated solution impossible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                At the same time, the language lowers the threshold for attacking Iran. Countries with nuclear weapons “capability” could include many other countries like Japan or Brazil. It is an unrealistic threshold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The former Chief of Staff of Secretary of State Colin Powell has stated that this resolution “reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                H.R. 4310: Authorizing War Against Iran and Preparing the Military for it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                While H. Res. 568 undermines our diplomatic efforts and lowers the bar for war, H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 begins military preparations for war. Section 1221 makes military action against Iran a U.S. policy. Section 1222 directs our armed forces to prepare for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                SEC. 1221. DECLARATION OF POLICY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (a) Findings- Congress makes the following findings:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (2) At the same time, Iran may soon attain a nuclear weapons capability, a development that would threaten United States interests, destabilize the region, encourage regional nuclear proliferation, further empower and embolden Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provide it the tools to threaten its neighbors, including Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as U.S. and Israeli intelligence, have all agreed that Iran does not currently have a nuclear bomb, is not building a nuclear weapon and does not have plans to do so. Both U.S. and Israeli officials also agree that a strike on Iran would only delay their nuclear program and actually encourage them to pursue a nuclear weapon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sustained, diplomatic engagement with Iran is the only way to ensure transparency and prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Rejecting or thwarting any inspections-based deal we are currently seeking with Iran, even when analysts are expressing guarded optimism that a near term deal is achievable, makes pre-emptive military action against Iran more likely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (7) In order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the United States, in cooperation with its allies, must utilize all elements of national power including diplomacy, robust economic sanctions, and credible, visible preparations for a military option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pursuing these non-diplomatic options, contrary to popular myth, does not help negotiations. U.S. policy toward Iran for the last three decades has primarily taken the form of economic sanctions, threats and isolation. None of these things has created meaningful change in the behavior of the Iranian government or achieved the transparency we seek. In fact, history has demonstrated that sanctions often preclude war; they do not prevent it. Sanctions hurt the same ordinary Iranians that we claim to support, and undermine their efforts to encourage democratic change in their country. Threatening military action against Iran can only undermine sensitive and critical diplomatic negotiations that could be our last chance to achieve the transparency and cooperation we seek from the Iranian government.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (8) Nevertheless, to date, diplomatic overtures, sanctions, and other non-kinetic actions toward Iran have not caused the Government of Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The United States, IAEA and Israel have all publically recognized that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. In a January 2012 interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated unequivocally that Iran is not trying to build a nuclear weapon. This clause further ignores that the U.S. and Iran have barely engaged in direct negotiations. Prior to last month’s negotiations, the U.S. and Iran had only engaged in 45 minutes of direct talks since 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (b) Declaration of Policy- It shall be the policy of the United States to take all necessary measures, including military action if required, to prevent Iran from threatening the United States, its allies, or Iran's neighbors with a nuclear weapon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is an authorization for the use of military force against Iran. It ignores the warnings of both current and former U.S. top military brass who have spoken in opposition to the use of military force against Iran, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. A February 2012 poll demonstrated that less than 20% of the Israeli public supports an Israeli strike on Iran if approved by the United States. Congress must avoid the same mistakes it made in the Iraq war and reject any language that can be construed as authorizing war against Iran.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                SEC. 1222. UNITED STATES MILITARY PREPAREDNESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Section 2 (A) pre-positioning sufficient supplies of aircraft, munitions, fuel, and other materials for both air- and sea-based missions at key forward locations in the Middle East and Indian Ocean;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (B) maintaining sufficient naval assets in the region necessary to signal United States resolve and to bolster United States capabilities to launch a sustained sea and air campaign against a range of Iranian nuclear and military targets, to protect seaborne shipping, and to deny Iranian retaliation against United States interests in the region;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (D) conducting naval fleet exercises similar to the United States Fifth Fleet's major exercise in the region in March 2007 to demonstrate ability to keep the Strait of Hormuz open and to counter the use of anti-ship missiles and swarming high-speed boats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A plain reading of these provisions in H.R. 4310 taken together with H.R. 568 makes it clear: Congress is setting the stage for war with Iran.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Palestinian Nakba: The Resolve of Memory

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  May 18th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The old may die but the young will never forget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Many Palestinians remember and reference al-Nakba, also known as the Catastrophe, on May 15 every year. The event marks the expulsion of nearly a million Palestinians, while their villages were destroyed. The destruction of Palestine in 1947-48 ushered in the birth of Israel. Older generations relay the harsh and oppressive memory of their collective experience to younger Palestinians, many of whom live their own Nakbas today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In covering al-Nakba, sympathetic Arab and other media play sad music and show black and white footage of displaced, frightened refugees. They rightly emphasize the concept of Sumud, steadfastness, as they show Palestinian of all ages holding unto the rusty keys of their homes and insisting on their right of return. Other, less sympathetic media discuss al-Nakba, if at all, as a side note – a nuisance in the Israeli narrative of a nation's supposedly miraculous birth and its progression to an idyllic oasis of democracy. What such reductionist representations often fail to show is that while al-Nakba started, it never truly finished.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Those who underwent the pain, harm and loss of al-Nakba are yet to receive the justice that was promised to them by the international community. UN Resolution 194 states that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date” (Article 11). Those who wrought this injustice are also yet to achieve their ultimate objectives in Palestine. After all, Israel doesn’t have defined boundaries by accident.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  David Ben Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel, once prophesized that “the old (refugees) will die and the young will forget.” He spoke with the harshness of a conqueror. Ben Gurion carried out his war plans to the furthest extent possible. Every region in Palestine that was meant to be taken was captured, its people were expelled or massacred in their homes and villages. Ben Guiron ‘cleansed’ the land, but he failed to cleanse Israel’s past. Memory persists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ben Gurion referenced my own family’s village – Beit Daras – which witnessed three battles and a massacre. In an entry in his diaries on May 12, 1948, he wrote: “Beit Daras was mortared. Fifty Arabs (were killed). The (villages of) Bashit and Sawafir were occupied. There is mass exodus from nearby areas (neighbors in Majdal). We sustained 5 dead and 15 wounded. ” (War Diaries, 1947-1949).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  More than fifty people were killed in Beit Daras that day. An old Gaza woman, Um Mohammed – who I discussed in my last book, My Father was a Freedom Fighter – refers to what is likely the same event:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “The town was under bombardment, and it was surrounded from all directions. There was no way out. The armed men (the Beit Daras fighters) said they were going to check on the road to Isdud, to see if it was open. They moved forward and shot few shots to see if someone would return fire. No one did. But they (the Zionist forces) were hiding and waiting to ambush the people. The armed men returned and told the people to evacuate the women and children. The people went out (including) those who were gathered at my huge house, the family house. There were mostly children and kids in the house. The Jewish (soldiers) let the people get out, and then they whipped them with bombs and machine guns. More people fell than those who were able to run. My sister and I…started running through the fields; we’d fall and get up. My sister and I escaped together holding each other’s hands. The people who took the main road were either killed or injured. The firing was falling on the people like sand. The bombs from one side and the machine guns from the other.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ben Gurion would not necessarily doubt Um Mohammed’s account. He candidly stated: “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves...politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves...The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country” (as quoted in Chomsky's Fateful Triangle, pp. 91-2).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It is precisely for this reason that neither the old nor the young have forgotten. Every day is another manifestation of the same protracted al-Nakba that has lasted 64 years now. Young people's hardships today are inextricably linked to the violent and horrific uprooting decades ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Al-Nakba has also remained an ongoing project through generations of Israeli Zionists. When Ben Gurion died in 1973, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in his mid-twenties. He was then serving his last year in the Israeli army, and today he rules Israel with a coalition that includes almost three quarters of the Israeli parliament. Like most Israeli leaders, he continues to contribute to the very discourse by which Palestine was conquered. He speaks of peace, while his soldiers and armed settlers take over Palestinian homes and farms. He makes repeated offers to Palestinians for ‘unconditional’ talks, as he repeats his violent rejection of every Palestinian aspiration. His lobby in Washington is much stronger than ever before. He reigns supreme, as he continues to fulfill the ‘vision’ of early Zionists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Old keys and deeds of stolen lands attest to the intergenerational experience that is Al-Nakba. Today Palestinians continue to be herded behind military checkpoints. They are denied the right to proper medical care, and their ancient olive trees are ruthlessly bulldozed. What Israel has not been able to control, however, is the resolve of Palestinians. The prison, the checkpoint and the gun reside in our collective memory in a way that cannot be held captive, controlled, or shot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In fact, al-Nakba is not a specific date or an estimation of time, but the entirety of those 64 years and counting. The event must not be assigned to the shelves of history, not as long as refugees are still refugees and settlers continue to rob Palestinian land. As long as Netanyahu speaks the language of Ben Gurion, other ‘catastrophic’ episodes will follow. And as long as Palestinians hold on to their keys and deeds, the old may die but the young will never forget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - RamzyBaroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1068 words posted in Nakba, PALESTINE, , ( / )Leave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nakba Denial: Erasing the Nakba

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  May 18th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I do not recall any reference to the refugees in Peace Now publications.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The [Nakba] law is actually an amendment to the Budget Foundation Law, and states that the minister of finance is entitled to reduce funds to any public institution, such as a school or university, if it commemorates "Independence Day or the day of the establishment of the state as a day of mourning..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By Neve Gordon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I first heard about the Nakba in the late 1980s, while I was an undergraduate student of philosophy at Hebrew University. This, I believe, is a revealing fact, particularly since, as a teenager, I was a member of Peace Now and was raised in a liberal home. I grew up in the southern city of Be'er-Sheva, which is just a few kilometres from several unrecognised Bedouin villages that, today, are home to thousands of residents who were displaced in 1948. I now know that the vast majority of the Negev's Bedouin population was not as lucky, and that, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, most Bedouin either fled or were expelled from their ancestral lands to Jordan or Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How is it possible that a left-leaning Israeli teenager who was living in the Negev during the early 1980s (I graduated from high-school in 1983) had never heard the word "Nakba"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How, in other words, is collective amnesia engendered?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are many explanations of how master narratives are created and how they suppress and marginalise competing historical accounts. In addition to the work carried out by state institutions and apparata, this careful erasure also demands the ongoing mobilisation of scholars, novelists and artists - as well as other producers of popular culture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I was growing up, the history depicted in Israeli high-school textbooks, as well as the historical narrative promulgated by the mass media (there was only one television channel in Israel at the time, which was government run), was validated by famous novelists and public intellectuals. According to a PhD thesis written by Alon Gan from Tel Aviv University, Amos Oz, for example, interviewed soldiers after the 1967 war and used his editorial prerogative to excise descriptions of abuse in order to produce an image of the moral Israeli combatant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thinking back to the days when I was involved in Peace Now, I now realise that, even for most Israeli doves at the time, a conflicted history only emerged post-1967 - with the occupation of the Sinai, West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Accordingly, the solution offered by Peace Now addressed the wrongs created in 1967, but had nothing to say about 1948. Indeed, I do not recall any reference to the Palestinian refugees in their publications. The seamless way in which the state had managed to completely suture the happenings of 1948, even among the Israeli peace camp, was indeed remarkable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To be sure, the Nakba existed in the landscape. There are hundreds of ruined Palestinian villages throughout Israel, many of which are still surrounded by the sabra cactus. The Nakba also emerged in a handful of literary works. S Yizhar's novella Khirbet Khizehre counts, for instance, how a group of Israeli soldiers laid siege to a Palestinian village and how they meticulously followed their "operation orders" by clearing the area of "hostile forces". The unnamed narrator details how they "assemble the inhabitants of the area ... load them onto transports, and convey them across [the] lines", and, finally, they "blow up the stone houses, and burn the huts". Published a few months after the 1948 war, the novella aroused a public debate, but for some reason neither the novella nor the ruins of villages across the countryside managed to register among the Jewish Israeli population.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Despite the Nakba's immediacy, many tactics have been successfully deployed to hide its traces. Often critics mention in this context Israel's ongoing scheme of planting forests on ruined Palestinian villages, but in my view the severe segregation characterising Israeli society has a much more profound impact. The actual geographical distance separating me from Bedouin youth my age was negligible, but the social spaces we occupied were worlds apart. The segregation was so intense that I never actually met, needless to say, played with, Bedouin children. I accordingly did not have any opportunity to hear their stories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    After all, history often emerges from quotidian details, like where one's grandparents came from. Mine emigrated to Mandate Palestine from Russia and Poland and I went to visit them at their kibbutz on most school vacations. Tragically, Jewish and Bedouin youth never had the occasion to share such information with each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Palestinian Rights

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Nakba, both as a word and as a historical phenomenon, began to surface among Jews in Israel - and indeed in the international arena - following a series of publications by the "new historians", whose writings spurred ferocious debates about Israel's role in creating the Palestinian refugee problem. Perhaps the most influential of these was Benny Morris' The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, which appeared in 1987 - almost four decades after Yizhar's novella.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Other historians such as Ilan Pappe, sociologists such as Baruch Kimmerling and geographers such as Oren Yiftachel took part in this debate, and, despite harsh attacks (often of a personal nature), they began to disrupt Israel's master narrative - which, until then, had placed all of the blame on Arab leaders. These Israeli academics were following in the footsteps of Palestinian intellectuals such as Walid Khalidi, Sami Hadawi, Ghassan Kanafani and Lebanon's Elias Khoury. But, because the claims were being made by Israeli Jews, their impact in Israel and abroad was much greater.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At around the same time, the first intifada erupted (December 1987). Images of brutal repression of nonviolent resistance prompted a discussion of Palestinian human and national rights in Israeli society. Within a period of four years (1988-1991), numerous Israeli NGOs were established in order to help protect different Palestinian rights. The Jewish Israeli rights practitioners then had the occasion to meet thousands of Palestinians who had suffered abuse at the hands of the Israeli military; they heard their stories about the present, but from these stories, alternative narratives of the past also emerged. In Gaza, after all, 75 per cent of the residents are refugees from the 1948 war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    During the Oslo years, new textbooks, which discussed the Palestinian refugee problem and mentioned, even if in passing, Israel's role in its creation, began to appear. In 2002, a group of Israelis created Zochrot (remembering), whose goal was to introduce the Palestinian Nakba to the Israeli-Jewish public, to express the Nakba in Hebrew, and to create a place for the Nakba in the intellectual environment. As one of its founders explained: "This is in order to promote an alternative memory to the hegemonic Zionist memory. The Nakba is the disaster of the Palestinian people: the destruction of the villages and cities, the killing, the expulsion, the erasure of Palestinian culture. But the Nakba, I believe, is also our story, the story of the Jews who live in Israel, who enjoy the privileges of being the 'winners'."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    These developments have led to a profound change in awareness among the Jewish Israeli public, so that, over the years more and more Israeli Jews have become familiar with the word "Nakba" and the historical events which it denotes. I see the difference among my students today. When I used to say the word "Nakba" in class in the late 1990s, hardly anyone knew what I was talking about; however, if I were to say "Nakba" today, there is hardly a student who would not know what I was referring to. This, it is important to emphasise, does not reflect a change in the views of Israelis towards the conflict, but the understanding of its historical origins is, nonetheless, less naive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nakba Backlash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is precisely within this context that one should understand the state's decision to reassert itself in an attempt to silence, once again, all talk of the Nakba. One strategy it adopted was the passing of the Nakba law, which was approved by the Knesset in March 2011. The law is actually an amendment to the Budget Foundation Law, and states that the minister of finance is entitled to reduce funds to any public institution, such as a school or university, if it commemorates "Independence Day or the day of the establishment of the state as a day of mourning... "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The legislation process itself was covered by the media, provoking a lively discussion, which in effect rendered the Nakba visible to a much wider audience than ever before. Furthermore, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah (The Legal Center for the Arab Minority in Israel) immediately filed a petition with the supreme court, arguing that the new law constituted a grave violation of the freedom of speech and was part of "a political persecution campaign that aims to de-legitimise an entire population of Israel's citizenry".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The two rights groups went on to claim that the commemoration of Nakba Day in no way denies the existence of the state of Israel, as the language of the bill attempts to suggest. Moreover, according to these organisations, the bill blatantly violates the rights of a minority to preserve its history and culture as well as to determine the stories it wants to tell about itself. They further argued that the bill seeks to single out and mark Israel's Arab citizens as dangerous and disloyal to the state, in that they seek to express their own narrative and interpretation of historical events (Independence Day/Nakba Day), a narrative that is frowned upon by certain political groups in the country.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a clear example of a "tyranny of the majority", where the political majority would violate the basic rights of the minority - in this case their freedom of speech - and consequently also their cultural freedom and freedom to interpret history in ways that offend the majority.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On January 5, 2012, the Supreme Court published its ruling, rejecting the appeal, and upholding the Nakba Law. President Dorit Beinisch and Justices Eliezer Rivlin and Miriam Naor concluded: "The declarative level of the law does indeed raise difficult and complex questions. However, from the outset, the constitutionality of the law depends largely upon the interpretation given to the law's directives." In other words, the court refrained from judging the constitutionality of the law before it was implemented in a concrete case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In this way, as Dan Yakir from the Association for Civil Rights stated: "The court completely ignored the claims regarding the chilling effect of this law, which forces state-supported entities to risk a significant reduction in their budgets before the law will be considered for judicial review. In this, it limits free speech." Yakir's point was that the law harms both the freedom of expression and the civil rights of Arab citizens, even before its implementation, because the law's formulation is so broad and vague, many institutions have already begun to censor themselves so as not to risk incurring penalties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Truth Goes both Ways

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Despite the legal setback with respect to the Nakba Law, as well as the well-orchestrated attack against organisations like Zochrot, the Israeli government's concerted effort to reinitiate national amnesia is futile. As the great Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt once put it, the fact that Leon Trotsky does not appear in Soviet Russian history books does not mean that he did not exist. "The trouble with lying and deceiving," Arendt explains, "is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide. In this sense, truth, even if it does not prevail in public, possesses an ineradicable primacy over all falsehoods."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Nakba is a truth, and while the efforts to expose the unfolding historical events have recently experienced a fierce legal assault, its primacy over falsehoods guarantees that it will prevail. Jewish Israeli society needs to confront the Nakba for what it was, as well as its ongoing ramifications, whether in the refugee camps across the Levant or in the hills of south Hebron, where Palestinians are under constant threat of expulsion; we need to recognise that the Palestinians have suffered - and still suffer - and that they have been stripped of basic rights by successive Israeli governments for more than half a century. This recognition is the condition of possibility for a better future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But if there is any hope for this region, the recognition must be reciprocal. The Palestinians, who have no doubt been wronged, must concede, as the late Edward Said urged them to do, that two wrongs do not make a right. Only once there is mutual recognition of the two historical narratives will an opportunity for reconciliation truly emerge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Neve Gordon is the author of Israel's Occupation and can be reached through his website: www.israelsoccupation.info. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (This article first appeared in Al Jazeera.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2140 words posted in Nakba, Human Rights, , PALESTINE, , Civil RightsLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Intifada over prisoners?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  May 14th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pressure is building on Israel as an open-ended hunger strike by thousands of Palestinian prisoners continues, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The mother of Palestinian prisoner Bilal Diab holds a poster of her son, who is on a hunger strike for 67 days. About 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel are on a hunger strike, demanding an end to imprisonment without trial as well as better conditions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With a massive open-ended hunger strike observed by thousands of Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli jails entering a "crucial phase", as inmates are being force-fed, Palestinian militant leaders have warned that the death of even one prisoner as a result of Israeli intransigence in face of the strike would trigger an all-out Intifada -- or uprising -- in the occupied territories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The warning came from militant leaders affiliated with Islamist groups, saying the Palestinian people wouldn't allow Israel to break the will of helpless prisoners demanding simple human decency and a semblance of acceptable treatment.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fatah, the ruling party in Ramallah, said it had no doubt Israeli failure to meet the just demands of the prisoners would "turn things upside down" all over the region, especially in the West Bank. "Israel would bear all the consequences due to its arrogance and intransigence, and we can't guarantee that there would be no violence," said Eissa Karaki, the PA minister responsible for the prisoners portfolio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "The situation is really serious and the Palestinian main street is 100 per cent behind the prisoners," Karaki added.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The prisoners' demands include an end to notorious administrative detention whereby a given detainee doesn't know why he in jail or when he will go home. Other demands include an end to solitary confinement, allowing family visits -- especially from the Gaza Strip -- and a termination of night-time raids and other humiliation tactics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The threat to trigger a new uprising should not be taken lightly, given the overwhelming popular support the hunger strike meets at the street level.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "This is probably the single issue that enjoys complete consensus among all Palestinians, irrespective of political divisions," said Ghassan Khatib, head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government press office in Ramallah. "All Palestinians are behind the prisoners, and any mishap or death would provoke stringent reactions, I have no doubt about it," he added.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The strong warnings from the Palestinian camp came in the aftermath of the Israeli Supreme Court on Monday, 7 May, rejecting an appeal from Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh. The two have been on hunger strike for over two months. Their lawyer, Jawad Boullus, accused the Israeli court of "ill will and malicious intent".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "The court is simply telling my clients that they have to choose either open-ended incarceration in humiliating conditions or death," Boullus said. He pointed out that the two captives were in a "very, very bad shape," adding that the Israeli court's failure to meet their demands amounted to approving their execution. Earlier in the week, Boullus visited Halahleh at the Ramleh Prison hospital. He said he had bleeding in the stomach, lost much weight and was suffering from severe headaches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On Saturday, it was rumoured that one of the two had succumbed to his prolonged hunger strike. However, the claim was soon denied by Palestinian officials. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation authorities reportedly offered to release and deport the two captives to Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The brother of Bilal Diab, Azzam Diab, said he was surprised at the presence of jail wardens in his cell. He said they asked him to go with them to the Ramleh Prison hospital to convince his brother to agree to end his strike in return to deportation to Gaza. He refused, saying he wouldn't be used to pressure his brother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders in both Gaza and the West Bank have teamed up to urge international governments to push Israel to end its cruelty against Palestinian prisoners. PA President Mahmoud Abbas said he was leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to enlist all international powers to exert pressure on the Israeli government to meet the just demands of the prisoners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Speaking in Ramallah during a reception ceremony in honour of Chinese envoy to the Middle East Wu Sike on Monday, Abbas urged China and other "friendly countries" to help save the lives of the prisoners. He added that Israel should at the very least release prisoners detained before the conclusion of the Oslo Accords in 1994, as well as women and children.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Abbas also reiterated the PA stance with regard to peace talks with Israel, saying the resumption of peace negotiations required the freezing of Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Palestinian leadership has also asked the Arab League to raise the prisoners' issue at the United Nations. However, no dramatic results are expected from any such effort, due to the general weakness and preoccupations of many Arab states in the wake of the Arab Spring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Despite its solidarity with the prisoners, the PA has been criticised, though indirectly, from quarters of the opposition for not "utilising all its cards for the benefit of the prisoners." The PA and Israel are partners in a crucial security arrangement called "security coordination". Israel would view the undermining of this arrangement so gravely that it would probably agree to relent with regard to Palestinian prisoners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      However, a decision by the PA to significantly reduce or terminate security coordination with Israel could also invite a severe Israeli reaction that might undermine the very survival of the PA itself. But even a mere threat to sever security coordination would sound alarm bells in Washington and trigger a sharp crisis which could enable the PA to demand a satisfactory settlement for the prisoners' problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the other hand, as Israel gears up for an electioneering summer, it would be politically inexpedient for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to appear as caving in to Palestinian demands. Others argue that Netanyahu is too strong and too popular -- that a decision to meet at least some of the Palestinian prisoners' demands wouldn't affect his re-election chances significantly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is uncertain how the current crisis will end. But what is near certain is that the prolongation of the crisis, especially if coupled with the possible death of some prisoners, would significantly increase tensions in the region.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Al Ahram

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'Being Palestinian': Global Citizenship Available

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  May 14th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        By Frank Barat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Before I start, I’d like to make it clear that not all views/takes on the subject will be mentioned in this piece. I will not talk about the 'views from Mars' (actually if there is 'people' on Mars they will probably be offended by the comparison. So if you do indeed exist, please forgive me) of certain 'Palestinian People deniers' US politicians that manage to be lunatic and mainstream at the same time. The fact that those views are hardly challenged and condemned in mainstream US politics and media says a lot about the 'land of the free'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The easiest way to define Palestinian is to say that 'a Palestinian' is either someone coming from historical Palestine, born from a Palestinian mother or a Palestinian father or someone born from a Palestinian father and mother but living outside of Palestine. A land, in its historical sense, extending from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A land full of history, conflicts and occupations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Without going too far back in history, the land of Palestine has been, throughout the 20th century, occupied by the Ottoman Empire, followed by the British (the Brits did not like the word occupation much so found a nicer name to describe it: A mandate.), the Kingdom of Jordan and Egypt. From 1948, something else happened with the creation, on top of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages, of the State of Israel.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This State then went on to occupy from 1968 till now, what is today known as the West Bank and Gaza (including East Jerusalem that Israel illegally annexed, also in 1968).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        People saying that the Palestinians never saw themselves as a People, or waited till 1964 to adopt the flag of the 1916 Arab revolt as their flag, are missing the point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The concepts of land ownership and Nation States, represented by flags, are not part of what Native people believe (being Palestinians, American Indians, Australian Aboriginals...). Those concepts where forced upon them by colonialism, imperialism and the self-proclaimed 'enlightened people' of the West.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Before they were forced to adopt a flag to justify their existence, the indigenous People of Palestine, relied on logic and respect. If a particular family had cultivated its olive trees in one place for a generation, then others will not intrude into that place. On the other hand, if a land was not cultivated for a few years, others could start using it. They felt as a People. They just did not feel the need to justify it, either by proclaiming a State, raising a flag or singing a national anthem. Their link to the land and their neighbours was, and still is, organic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's what we could call, the broadly accepted (outside of lunatic circles) definition of 'being a Palestinian'. (Pardon me for the use of shortcuts in the story).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, let's try to push the envelope further. What if 'being a Palestinian' was much more than that, and included in fact, many, many more people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What if, the 'we are all Palestinians' that we often hear in demonstrations, actually meant something a lot deeper than we think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        With the exportation and reproduction of the occupation in the daily lives of millions of people throughout the world, the words Palestine and Palestinian, resonates in thousands of different places, in hundreds of different ways and have out-lived their more historical definition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Could 'being Palestinian' over write DNA, genes, place of birth, Nation State and flag?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Palestine issue has truly become a global issue. The Palestine struggle is nowadays a symbolic cause that has brought thousands, millions of people, all over the world, together. People fighting for the right of the Palestinian People to be free, but also for a better, fairer, more beautiful world. Finding the key to the Palestine question could have repercussions for millions of people around the globe. Finding this key, will not only open the door of Palestine for millions of Palestinian refugees, it will also open a door, a window, in everyone's consciousness. This key could also free us from the chains of vulture capitalism, globalisation, individualism and neo-liberalism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It will open a window of solidarity, change and hope for the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'Being Palestinian', before having anything to do with nationality, means being someone that stands for justice, freedom and equality for all of us, regardless of our religion, ethnicity and place of birth. 'Being Palestinian' is someone that stands for the oppressed, against the oppressor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'Being Palestinian' could be the first truly global and free worldwide citizenship based on ethics instead of 'race' or nationality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The question facing us now is how to convince millions more people to adopt this citizenship.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You can agree or disagree of course, but please, don't call me a lunatic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Frank Barat is a Human Rights activist based in London. He has edited two books; 'Gaza in Crisis' with Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, and 'Corporate Complicity in Israel's Occupation' with Asa Winstanley. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Israel's Buffoon: The UN Nakba

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  May 14th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By Vacy Vlazna

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On May 15, 1948 the unilateral proclamation of the State of Israel which erupted into the brutal Palestinian Nakba or Catastrophe was also catastrophic for United Nations (UN) ringing the death knell for its stature and authority.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Like medieval kings, the US and Israel employed the UN to be its fool running around with a cap o' bells and sceptre (rendered useless by US veto) beginning with the 1947 Resolution 181, passed on 29 February by members (under coercion) recommending the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states which was understandably rejected by Palestine but accepted by Israel as a step toward its Zionist expansionist goal for the full realisation of a Jewish Eretz Israel.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ironically, on 30th February Menachem Begin, head of the terrorist gang, Irgun, brazenly announced the Zionist immutable dogma, "The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognised... Jerusalem was and forever will be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Disregarding Begin's rant, apart from having no mandate to approve or enforce the partition, 'the United Nations had no business offering the nation of one people to the people of many nations. Its General Assembly had neither the legal nor the legislative powers to impose such a resolution or to convey title of a territory; Articles 10, 11 and 14 of the UN Charter bestows the right on the General Assembly merely to recommend resolutions.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Nakba marks the onset of Israel's systematic ethnic cleansing strategy with the destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and the forced expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian civilians fleeing Haganah, Irgun and Lehi units that carried out the savage and systematic military offensives codenamed Plan Dalet:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          These operations can be divided into the following categories:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Forced to leave their cherished lands, the Palestinian exodus dispersed to 58 squalid refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank as well as in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. All 4.9 million Palestinian refugees come under the authority of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA). Its provision of health, education and humanitarian aid is vastly inadequate to the needs of the camps' three generations of desperate people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          UNRWA is funded mainly by the USA, the EU Commission, UK and Germany. This cabal of collaborators which has ignored Palestinian human and political rights since 1948, are in fact, the camps' prison guards perpetuating the normalisation of the Israeli occupation thus relieving Israel of its obligation to honour the Palestinian right of return set down in Resolution 194 (December 1948 ) of which Article 11 reads;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Israel dismissed Resolution 194, then flagrantly legislated in 1950 The Law of Return that gives all Jews the right to emigrate to and settle in Israel (aliyah) and obtain citizenship. Billions of dollars are spent promoting aliyah, the zenith of Zionism, and spent establishing 200 illegal colonies for over 500,000 illegal, mainly thuggish, colonists on occupied Palestinian land protected by the nuclear might of the Israeli military.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Within days after Palestine's failed bid to have its right to membership of the UN passed in September 2011, Israel insolently announced a further 1100 units to be built in the Gilo colony, and weeks later announced the future expansion of 50,000 illegal Israeli houses in Palestinian East Jerusalem. In April 2012, another three colony outposts, Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana were approved flying in the face of Palestine's prime condition for resuming the 'peace process' - that Israel stops colony expansion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The end of November 2011, saw Israel's houseboy, the Leader of the Free World and Honest Peace Broker, spit out his dummy summarily withdrawing the US and funding from UNESCO because it approved Palestinian membership to its organisation thereby jeopardising thousands of UNESCO's humanitarian projects.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Since 1948, there have been over 105 General Assembly UN resolutions and over 224 Security Council resolutions passed against Israel in relation to Palestine, Lebanon and Syria condemning or deploring Israel for deportations of Palestinians, for refusal to cooperate with the UN, for assassinations, for killing Palestinian students, for denying human rights of Palestinians, for raids on Gaza, for Israel's use of resources from occupied territories, for failure to abide by the Geneva Conventions, for repeated military interventions in Lebanon and Syria, reiterating Israel's claim to Jerusalem is null and void, calling on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories, to comply with UN decisions, reaffirming the "inalienable rights of the Palestinian people", including the right to national sovereignty and the right of return...to name a few.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Most have have been ignored and /or vetoed by the USA.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8 years ago, the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on the matter of the Israeli Annexation/Apartheid Wall that 'Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of this Opinion".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To this day, brave Palestinians demonstrate and struggle against the relentless encroachment of the Annexation Wall on their lands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In 2009, Resolution 1860 calling for the full cessation of war between Israel and Hamas was passed on the 9th January - TWO WEEKS after the war began with 200 Palestinians slaughtered on the first day. Ignoring the resolution Israel leisurely prolonged its Operation Cast Lead against unarmed and trapped Gazan families with another 9 days of hellish attacks. It ended the war a discreet two days before Obama's inauguration.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In March 2012, Michael Mandel, law professor at Canada's York University stridently criticised the UN's International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to refuse jurisdiction over Gaza war crimes:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "It's disgraceful but not surprising that the ICC has dismissed Palestine's complaint against Israel. It sat on the complaint for over three years, always proudly announcing that it was investigating it to give the appearance of impartiality. Meanwhile the ICC jumped to attention in less than three weeks when the US government, which is not a signatory to the treaty, wanted to go to war against Libya, justifying Western aggression with bogus charges against the Libyan regime...Ocampo [ICC prosecutor]and company have been busy putting Africa on trial for crimes aided, abetted and exploited by the rich countries, while the US government killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and tens of thousands of Afghans, and Israel has been committing Nuremberg's 'supreme international crime' of aggression against the Palestinians for 45 years."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also on May 10, the Electronic Intifada reported that UNRWA's Commissioner General, Filippo Grandi's appeal "to the Israeli government to find an acceptable solution, noting that the [2000 Palestinian political prisoners] hunger strikers' demands are generally related to the basic rights of prisoners, as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions." was hastily removed from UNRWA's website.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Israel's impunity to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, its 64 year defiance of UN resolutions amplify the UN's lethal incompetence. 187 member nations, (not including Israel's quislings and human rights hypocrites; USA, UK, Australia, Germany, France), are too gutless or subservient or self-serving to protect and enforce the international laws for which they are legally obligated;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          International human rights law lays down obligations which States are bound to respect. By becoming parties to international treaties, States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfil means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The 64 years of the uninterrupted Palestinian Nakba with its sweeping scale of tragic suffering challenges the UN's moral and political credibility and its very existence as Israel's buffoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          - Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hezbollah leader Nasrallah says Syria risks becoming like Iraq

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  May 14th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In Beirut speech, Hezbollah leader also says his movement can accurately hit targets throughout Israel in case of war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The speech marked the rebuilding of Beirut's southern suburbs, badly damaged in a 2006 war with Israel [Reuters]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, has accused the US, Israel and some Arab states of stoking "terrorism" in Syria during a speech broadcast to thousands of his supporters in southern Beirut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Who wants the destruction of Syria? America and Israel and some Arab countries," said Nasrallah, whose Shia movement is close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "They want to destroy Syria because it is the main ally of the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine."


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Condemning deadly twin blasts that killed dozens and injured hundreds of people in Damascus on Thursday, Nasrallah criticised the Syrian opposition over its accusation that Assad’s forces were behind the attacks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The explosions, the Hezbollah chief added, were proof that Syria risks descending into an abyss similar to Iraq.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "The Syrian people are at a crossroads," Nasrallah said, adding that one path leads to "reform", and the other to "destruction".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nasrallah spoke during an event in Beirut’s southern suburbs celebrating the reconstruction of the district, much of which was destroyed by aerial bombing in the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah TV channel Al-Manar said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At least 1,200 Lebanese died during the 2006 war, most of them civilians, while around 160 Israelis died, the majority of them soldiers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nasrallah said Hezbollah has weapons that can accurately hit targets throughout Israel and that if a new war broke out, the group would destroy several targets in Israel for every building destroyed in Beirut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Hezbollah leader said that in 2006 his movement had been able to strike Tel Aviv, but wished to protect the city.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He added that Hezbollah is "capable of striking very specific targets not only in Tel Aviv but everywhere in occupied Palestine".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nasrallah also voiced support for electoral laws based on proportional representation for upcoming polls in Lebanon in 2013, which he said needed to be held on time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The formation of Lebanon's government in recent years has come only after political wrangling between the mostly Sunni Future Movement led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the so-called March 8 coalition led by Hezbollah and other groups, including Christians.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Source: Agencies

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Prisoners Uphold Palestinian Cause

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  May 9th, 2012 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A critical shift in the Palestine-Israeli conflict is now underway. The shift promises an endgame for the Israeli plot in Palestine, and a possible collective response from the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Every Palestinian uprising in the past — from as far back as the late 1920s to the second Intifada in 2000 — has been sparked by a single event, which was a critical accumulation of numerous prior events that forced Palestinians to act en masse. Such a moment is now approaching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Current developments in Palestine include the complete bankruptcy of the Palestinian leadership, futile unity talks between major Palestinian factions, Israeli attempts to finalise its long-orchestrated colonial designs in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, and a failure of the international community to impose any real pressure on Israel. The high hopes some Palestinians pinned on Arab revolutions — and their sense of political clarity — have also been dissipating.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Since its establishment in 1994, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was a lost cause. Palestinian novelist Susan Abulhawa aptly described the Palestinian leadership as “doing little more than pick up the trash and keep people in line while Israel steals more and more of our land.” In fact, the PNA has done a terrific job in that regard, as many of the Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons have also served time in PNA jails.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Israeli politician Yossi Beilin, one of the original manufacturers of the Oslo accords, is pleading with PNA President Mahmoud Abbas to disown Oslo, which he describes as a ‘farce’. “Dissolving the Palestinian National Authority and returning daily control to Israel would be an action nobody could ignore...Do not hesitate for a moment!” he wrote, as quoted in the Christian Science Monitor on May 3. Expectedly, Abbas refused. His government is busy shutting down media outlets affiliated with Abbas’ rivals. So much for the institutional and political reforms promised early last year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The PNA is politically bankrupt as well. After months of heightened expectations surrounding Abbas’ moving UN speech last September, the big finale was a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this month. According to the letter, Israel is undermining the PNA’s power (cited in Bloomberg, April 17). Now the PNA is playing the waiting game. “The Palestinians will wait for the Israeli response and also will wait for the Americans to come up with any ideas to help push forward the peace process,” opined Palestinian political analyst Khalil Shaheen. As if not enough waiting has already taken place for the last two decades.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Meanwhile, Israel is moving forward with a clear vision regarding its overall objectives in the Occupied Territories. On April 24, an Israeli ministerial committee approved three colony outposts — Bruchin and Rechelim in the northern part of the West Bank, and Sansana in the south. Although all colony activities in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem are considered illegal by international law, Israeli law differentiates between sanctioned colonies and ‘illegal’ ones. This distinction has actually proved to be no more than a disingenuous attempt at conflating international law and Israeli law.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Since 1967, Israel placed occupied Palestinian land, privately owned or otherwise, into various categories. One of these categories is ‘state-owned’, as in obtained by virtue of military occupation. For many years, the ‘state-owned’ occupied land was allotted to various purposes. Since 1990, however, the Israeli government refrained from establishing colonies, at lease formally. Now, according to the Israeli anti-colonist group, Peace Now, “instead of going to peace the government is announcing the establishment of three new colonies.” Every physical space in the Occupied Territories — whether privately owned or ‘state owned’, ‘legally’ obtained or ‘illegally’ obtained — is fair game. The extremist Jewish colonists haven’t received such empowering news since the heyday of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The move regarding colonies is not an isolated one. The Israeli government is now challenging the very decisions made by the Israeli Supreme Court. On April 27, the Israeli government reportedly asked the high court to delay the demolition of an ‘unauthorised’ West Bank outpost in the Beit El colony which was scheduled to take place on May 1. The land, even by Israeli legal standards, is considered private Palestinian land, and the Israeli government had committed to the court to take down the illegal outposts — again, per Israeli definition — on the specified date.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Michael Sfard, an attorney with Yesh Din, which reportedly advocates Palestinian rights, described the request as “an announcement of war by the Israeli government against the rule of law.” More specifically, “they said clearly that they have reached a decision not to evacuate illegal construction on private Palestinian property.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Abbas is not just ‘out of ideas’, as described by the CSM, but is desperate for a lifeline that could breathe some life into his authority. The Palestinian people, however, seem eager to find an alternative that transcends the PNA. The irony is that Palestinian resistance is resurfacing among the most physically confined: hunger strikers in Israeli prisons, whose numbers on April 17 included over 1,500 inmates. “The newest heroes of the Palestinian cause are not burly young men hurling stones or wielding automatic weapons. They are gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons,” reported Jodi Rudoren in the New York Times on May 3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              These gaunt, chained adults are finally succeeding in unifying Palestinians in the occupied territories and the diaspora. As tens of thousands rally in solidarity with their cause, factionalism and politics are taking a backseat, at least for now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Palestinian uprisings don’t necessary regain stolen land, or free long-incarcerated prisoners. What they do often achieve is the mending of divisions, the reassertion of national rights and the re-articulation of political discourses. More importantly, a new uprising produces a new generation of leaders. This will come as an urgently needed change in Palestine’s political and revolutionary landscape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story. (This article was originally published in Gulf News – http://gulfnews.com)

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