Archive | April 20th, 2010



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

…off to Washington, DC

I am speaking twice this week at George Mason University: on Thursday and Friday. Check your local listings.

Group challenges Egypt’s barrier to Gaza in court

“Palestinian supporters in Egypt are taking the government to court to prevent them building an impregnable barrier along the border with Gaza.”

British soldiers accused of sickening sex assault on Iraqi boy, 14

“”They made us sit on each other’s laps,” he said. “They were enjoying humiliating and abusing us, I wished I was dead at this moment.” (thanks Suha)

For you, Jamal Mubarak

“Constitutional jurist Ibrahim Darweesh says that amendments to the constitution have already settled the outcome of the upcoming presidential election in favor of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) candidate, particularly Gamal Mubarak, the head of the NDP’s Policy Secretariat and the son of President Hosni Mubarak.”

This is Obama for you

“President Barack Obama has said on the Jewish state’s 62nd anniversary that the United States shares an “unbreakable bond” with Israel and he was confident the relationship “will only be strengthened” into the future.”

Salam Fayyad: in the footsteps of dumb Lebanese

“Prime Minister Salam Fayyad testing a massive dish of musakhan, a traditional Palestinian food, in the West Bank village of Arura, near Ramallah on 19 April 2010. The dish has a diameter of 4 meters. “

Literature as anthropology

“”I don’t want my work to be used as a piece of anthropology, a textbook for people who don’t know about the Arab world,” explained Egyptian writer Youssef Rakha, one of 39 Arab authors younger than 40 selected for the Beirut39 book festival. “I think [Arab literature] is in danger of becoming something else — something non-literary,” he added.”

They will kill for you, Jamal Mubarak

“As Egyptian activists have grown more brazen in recent weeks, three members of the nation’s parliament have criticized the Interior Ministry for not harshly cracking down on demonstrators calling for widespread political reforms. “Shoot them [activists] and use bullets against those outlaws. We are 80 million Egyptians, and we don’t care if we lose a bunch of contraveners like them,” said Nashaat Kassas, a lawmaker. His comments, aimed at Interior Minister Habib Adli, came after opposition protests on April 6 and April 13. “If it was my decision, I’d have questioned the minister [Adli] about his leniency towards those demonstrators,” said Kassas, a member of the ruling National Democratic Party.

“Getting Away With Murder”

“CPJ’s 2010 Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and killers go free”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Iranian religious kooks

“A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.”

Oh, please. As if there was ever a left in Israel

Lamenting the decline of the so-called Israeli left.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid

“City bureaucrats may withdraw funding from Pride Toronto next year if the activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is allowed to march in this summer’s Pride parade.”

Discipline and punish the puppets

“The army has begun looking into ways to crack down on the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of the so-called nonviolent public uprising it is supporting in the West Bank, The Jerusalem Post has learned.”

Traditions of Kings versus the conduct of strugglers and rebels

Saudi clumnist, Dawud Shiryan, rules that the traditions of kings are superior to the conduct of strugglers and rebels.

Dahlan lobby in DC is keen on not opposing Israel

“The models of Gandhi and King can be a powerful tool to peacefully oppose the occupation, while not opposing Israel itself.” Fortunately, such a view has the support of 0.000004 of the Arab people.

Real Tunisia

“But Tunisian citizens see another side of the country: a repressive state obsessed with maintaining the ruling party’s monopoly on power. My Human Rights Watch colleagues and I came up against Tunisia’s harsher side last month when we traveled to Tunis, the capital, to release a report critical of the country’s authoritarianism.”

Yes, let the young go to priests for protection

“Pope: church will protect young from abuse”

Western sensibilities: how nice

“”The whole system sounds a bit unsavory to Western sensibilities but the system is ubiquitous in Bangkok…” Yes, genius. Western sensibilities are so hostile to porn, sleaze, prostitution and denigration of women. Oh, yeah.

Hariri MP, `Uqab Saqr, Dancing the `Ardah in Janadiriyyah festival in Saudi Arabia

I thank my Saudi sources for unearthing this for me. Witnesses told me that Prince Salman invited Saqr to perform the dance and Saqr, of course, obliged.

Condemning Kramer

“Much has been made of Martin Kramer’s suggestion that Palestinians be denied food and medicine in order to weaken their opposition to the Israeli occupation. We, along with a group of 25 other professors, scholars, and Harvard alumni, add our voices to the chorus of condemnation directed towards Dr. Kramer and express our concern that the Weatherhead Center has lent him its credibility. As academics, we question both the ethical and scholarly basis of Dr. Kramer’s public statements. We maintain that this is not a question of protecting Dr. Kramer’s free speech, as was indicated by the Weatherhead Center’s response to criticism. Rather, it is about maintaining appropriate standards of ethical and intellectual conduct; Dr. Kramer’s repellent statements evince a clear failure to meet those standards.”

when a war criminal state expresses worries about its image

“The reason the Communications Ministry is blocking the entry of iPad tablet computers into Israel is that the device’s wireless communications could interfere with frequencies used by the military, said MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) yesterday. He wrote a letter to Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, calling on him to allow the importation of Apple’s new computers, which the ministry banned last week. Ilatov said the ban had harmed Israel’s image around the world, and kept Israelis from using cutting-edge technology.”

Chomsky warns

“Noam Chomsky, the leading leftwing intellectual, warned last week that fascism may be coming to the United States.”

those two royal clowns feel like dancing, dancing

The Saudi king and the Bahraini king feel like dancing. (Saudi news agency)

“But the simplest way to help the black family would be to lock up fewer black men for non-violent offences.”

“IMAGINE that the world consists of 20 men and 20 women, all of them heterosexual and in search of a mate. Since the numbers are even, everyone can find a partner. But what happens if you take away one man? You might not think this would make much difference. You would be wrong, argues Tim Harford, a British economist, in a book called “The Logic of Life”. With 20 women pursuing 19 men, one woman faces the prospect of spinsterhood. So she ups her game. Perhaps she dresses more seductively. Perhaps she makes an extra effort to be obliging. Somehow or other, she “steals” a man from one of her fellow women. That newly single woman then ups her game, too, to steal a man from someone else. A chain reaction ensues. Before long, every woman has to try harder, and every man can relax a little. Real life is more complicated, of course, but this simple model illustrates an important truth. In the marriage market, numbers matter. And among African-Americans, the disparity is much worse than in Mr Harford’s imaginary example. Between the ages of 20 and 29, one black man in nine is behind bars. For black women of the same age, the figure is about one in 150. For obvious reasons, convicts are excluded from the dating pool. And many women also steer clear of ex-cons, which makes a big difference when one young black man in three can expect to be locked up at some point.”

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By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

As usual, America is in a war for all the wrong reasons, pushed by Israel, bought off by drug money and backed into a corner.  At a time when a “new broom” and strong leadership is needed, we respond with “damage control.”  Even with the press descending into simple “drum beating” for an Israeli attack in Iran to get at the gas supplies needed for her secret pipeline deals, her “shill” in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal is simply no longer credible.

It all fell apart with the phony Marjah operation, a “joint operation” against a town of 80,000 Taliban fighters that turned out to be a couple of small villages in the middle of poppy fields that McChrystal decided needed protection.  Surprise, Surprise.

While Karzai, our disastrous ally, hated by his own people, tried to bully the United States into letting him consolidate control, not over Afghanistan but control over “certain enterprises,” that he has been operating with his partners, India and Israel, McChrystal has been buckling under, “kissing up” to Karzai’s brother, believed by every informed source to be the largest narcotics trafficker in the world.

Now, McChrystal is placing the blame on Iran for financing and arming the Taliban and, at the same time, pointing out that nearly 100,000 “contractors” in Afghanistan, 94% of them armed are “too many.”  He could, if he thought about it a second, also point out that most of them are Taliban.  In fact, he could also point out that he is paying up to $3000 per truck that comes into Afghanistan, thousands of trucks per month, to the Taliban as ransom.

He could also point out that the years and years he has been training and arming the Afghan army, their utterly ineffective Army, and the Afghan police force, their utterly ineffective police force, the ammunition and weapons they get have been flowing to the Taliban also.

Were he more honest, he could point out that the reason he is trying to negotiate with the Taliban is that, if fact, they really aren’t the Taliban at all.  You have a country full of drug lords, the allies that America used in their initial attack against, well, we aren’t so sure anymore. 

See, we never found Al Qaeda training camps, we never found Osama bin Laden, in fact, we have absolutely no reliable information that bin Laden had anything to do with 9/11.

We do know that thousands of Indian “security personnel” are organizing, arming and financing terrorist operations against Pakistan and that, of the hundreds of European contractors and UN officials in Afghanistan, hundreds are Israeli agents, some of them training terrorists themselves, who have crossed into Iran and have murdered hundreds. 

 All of this is going on under McChrystal’s nose, while Pakistan suffers daily terrorist attacks from groups trained and financed in Afghanistan but stays quiet about it because their very survival depends on US aid.  You can’t tell the US the truth.

Lying has become second nature to us.


Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, knows where our weaknesses are, he knows where the bodies are buried.  If you are watching the press, you are seeing “holocaust denialists” being jailed, fined and attacked daily.  The emails coming out of Israeli financed sources, many originating from former “Pentagon pundits,” the former officers who lied continually to help justify the disastrous invasion of Iraq, are all warning about attacks on Israel and a new “holocaust,” with Iran building gas chambers, and making soap, lampshades, the whole Hollywood thing that Israel uses to guilt out the Europeans when they need a few billion, when they have blown up a school and haven’t hunted down all the journalists who could report on it yet or, well, there are so many games now.

Ahmadinejad invited the world’s scholars to Iran a bit ago, to study the holocaust.  He knew Israel was going to yell “Auschwitz” when they came after Iran’s oil and gas with their massive military forces supplemented by the United States.  Now there is a massive move by Israel to build up a frenzy about the holocaust.  Since it is against the law to say any more, I have to move on.

Last week, Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations requesting a couple of things:

  • A new and comprehensive 9/11 investigation
  • An international commission to address terrorist attacks on Iran that are staged from bases in Afghanistan and Baluchistan
  • A plan to address that massive flood of narcotics coming out of Afghanistan

Why has Ahmandinejad chosen 9/11?  Since most of the members of the 9/11 Commission have either rescinded their approval of the report they were forced to submit though incomplete, asked for criminal investigation or stated outright that the report is a cover-up and 5 years of new evidence, “leaks” and “cooler heads” has brought informed people around the world to accept the idea that 9/11 may have been conceived in an office and not a cave.  The mainstream news in the United States is no longer able to keep it all quiet, what is likely to be the worst crime of the last hundred years.


Recent reports have shown that only some of the money, billions of dollars, coming from the Afghan drug trade has bought the following governments:

  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Tajikistan
  • Kyrgyzstan

What we aren’t saying is that billions in narcotics trafficking money has seriously influenced policy in these other countries:

  • United States
  • Afghanistan
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • Belgium
  • Pakistan
  • Switzerland
  • Spain
  • Poland
  • Kazakhstan
  • India
  • Canada
  • Russia
  • Italy
  • France

Americans remember the flood of narcotics that filled America’s cities during the 1980s.  Dozens of movies have been made describing CIA involvement in drug trafficking, it has become a major  part of our pop-culture.  Every muscle-bound super hero has fought the CIA and their drug importing from Southeast Asia, Columbia or Afghanistan. 

Now that we have reliable reports and testimony that this is actively going on with full complicity from, not only foreign governments, but multiple US administrations, not just Reagan but continuing on today, we have no excuse for looking away.  When FBI translator, Sibel Edmonds, broke the story, finally able to testify when her “national security” gag orders were overturned, no network nor major paper would report it.  It is still on the record, though.

General Stanley McChrystal knows.  He has seen her testimony.  He has been told it is reliable.  He knows that tons of heroin are flown out of Afghanistan and distributed around the world and he knows that nearly everyone around him is either involved or afraid to speak up.  Is he only a puppet himself?  This is how things are beginning to look.  Compared to the real power of the “narco-billions,” one American general is nothing.


I have spent dozens of hours meeting with and talking to people who know about Afghanistan, from members of their royal families, to tribal leaders to activists.  We all agree on a few things:

  • Unless all opium production is immediately eradicated in Afghanistan, any attempt to build an economy or organize the country will fail, overwhelmed by the “gun culture” built to support a massive narcotics operation that is growing by 20% or more a year.
  • A massive program of economic realignment supported by powerful military operations will be necessary when the opium crops are destroyed or the country will erupt into full scale civil war.  Estimates are that it will take two years for America to accomplish what the Taliban did, eliminating opium production, the biggest threat Afghanistan poses to the world, a thousand times bigger than any imaginary terrorist training areas.
  • Karzai is weak, too tied to corruption to be credible, too close to India to be trusted by Pakistan and too unstable to manage even the few miles around Kabul he has “ruled” for all these years.  He must go, replaced by a strong ruler with blood ties to a tribal groups across the nation.  There are several potential candidates far more qualified than Karzai, who has been abandoned by the Jirga’s and is likely to get another “no confidence” vote in May
  • The Afghan army needs to be disbanded, as it is a mercenary army that doesn’t represent the country.  Afghanistan has always had universal compulsory military service and has strong military traditions based on that.
  • The current concept of a national police force has failed.  Until a force based on regional ethnic lines that received broad support from regional/tribal leaders, where such systems are still operating, the current “abomination” must go.  It has become little more than a Mafia.
  • A substantial region along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border is under the control, not of terrorists but criminal elements, even worse than those ruling the country.

It is entirely possible that, with a real president in Afghanistan, perhaps not in Kabul but Kandahar, and a rational policy to end narcotics production, replacing it with a program that will provide education, medical care and needed local services such as cold storage for food along with solar/wind based power systems, Afghanistan can reach a sustainable level of “disorder” in 24 months, not 10 years.  With opium production left as it is, in accordance with McChrystal’s wishes, the chaos will continue indefinitely.  Is this the plan?  Was it the plan all along?


Afghanistan has attracted vermin from around the world.  We have half a dozen intelligence agencies training terrorists in Afghanistan, all financing the efforts by taking part in the narcotics trade.  Attacks on both Iran and Pakistan are being staged in Afghanistan with full complicity on the part of MI-6, the Indian RAW, the Mossad, the CIA and dozens of contractor groups.  All have become so enmeshed in narco-trafficking that nobody can be trusted.  Billions of dollars are floating around in an area with no law, no accountability, just mayhem, chaos and brutality.  We have created a nightmare.

Every gangster in the world that can get there, is there, working for the UN, passing out bibles or Koran’s or pretending to advise someone on something.  Most advice is where to put laundered drug money, the second largest industry in Afghanistan.


If you can judge a policy by its results Afghanistan was invaded to rebuild its drug infrastructure and overthrow the government of Pakistan.

9/11 provided cover, that and the fiction of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, fantasies about terrorists that never existed.  It was all made up.  When the Bush administration needed to arrest terrorists, they went to the drug lords and had them kidnap people off the streets. 

This is how we got Dr. Aafia and her children, one of whom may have been released by her kidnappers, American or Pakistani gangsters, we aren’t sure.  She had been missing for 7 years and suddenly, dropped off on the street.  We still aren’t sure if this is one of Aafia’s missing children.

The White House ordered these kidnappings and covered up their phony “Al Quada” arrests by hiding innocent people in secret prisons, torturing them for years and, eventually releasing 95% of them.

This was our real war on terror, a farce, at least to those who weren’t kidnapped and tortured.  It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.  Our entire military and intelligence networks were tasked with one thing, to invent a cover story to justify two invasions, invent terrorist groups, capture “suspects” and play along.  When the real CIA and military couldn’t do it, we hired foreign gangsters and mercenaries, all for one thing, “cover.”

With the controlled press at home, the phony 9/11 cover-up going full steam and troops in combat, well, you know how it ended up.  The criminal gangs responsible are still trying to cover their trail.  The GOP is trying to stop financial reforms meant to end the looting or our economy, the “tea baggers” are trying to blame “liberals” for the acts of the Bush criminal dictatorship and AIPAC is working overtime, trying to start a new war while the last two they pushed America into are still going on.  Who is AIPAC?  Are they American or Israeli?


I got an email yesterday telling me about how Israel barely survived when all the Arab countries went after them in 1967.  This is the story we are still telling but it is a total lie.  The 1967 war was planned by Israel to seize land and was a sneak attack, first destroying the entire Egyptian air force on the ground, then wiping out their army, an army with no air cover. 

Syria was a walkover then.  To get away with it, Israel attacked the American spy ship, USS Liberty, bombing, strafing and torpedoing it, murdering 34 Americans.

Anyone who tries to tell you the 1967 war was anything but a “blitzkrieg” by Israel, a sneak attack on her neighbors with no warning, kept secret by the the planned attack on the USS Liberty is a liar.

Israel had tried the same thing, attacking Egypt in1956, with the help of France and Britain.  Israel send tanks across the Sinai, just like in 1967, this time backed by air power from France and Britain.  This “blitzkrieg” was called Operation Kadesh. 

Moshe Dyan and Ariel Sharon planned the attack with friends in Paris and London.  However, the United States, under President Eisenhower, wouldn’t allow it.  The UN Security council drafted a resolution condemning the invasion but Britain and France vetoed it.

Then America threatened to economically destroy France and Britain if they didn’t withdraw troops and end support for Israeli aggression.  Eventually this led France to leave NATO, if that is something you wondered about.  We call this, “the Suez crisis” but, frankly, we don’t call it anything at all because it makes a good case for Israel’s history of aggression and its capability to get western governments to support its policies of conquering the Middle East.

How has this history worked out?  Any patterns appear here?  The myth of the 1967 war no longer holds water once we learn it wasn’t their first try, once we accept they learned from being caught during the Suez Crisis, and decided to attack the American ship that would have discovered their lie.  Israel invaded Egypt with a sneak attack, 1956 and 1967.


Is there a vast plot out there, one capable of pushing the United States into war, bankrupting the world’s financial system or taking over oil and gas supplies?  Do nations like Israel, India, Pakistan, Britain and the United States train terrorists?  Was the invasion of Afghanistan really the result of 9/11?  History says otherwise.

Was the invasion of Iraq the result of 9/11 or “weapons of mass destruction?”  History says otherwise.

Did Bush “make America safe?”  Maybe, what’s left of it anyway, depending on what you call safe.  Safe from what?  I am not entirely sure we are safe from him, even though he is gone.  We still have his wars, his drugs, his Supreme Court justices, his trillions in debt and the Bush economic collapse. 

 We still have the controlled press, a divided nation and the reputation around the world as a brutal pawn of Israel and a total economic failure.  You don’ t think this is how we look, not just in Africa, Asia and the Middle East but Europe as well?

General Stanley McChrystal is simply, like Karzai is now, like Bush was then, the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.  When we needed leaders, people of vision, we got small men, with small hearts and small brains. 

 They told themselves they were wolves but were driven like sheep.  As is often said now, was there never any plan or are things as they are because the plan was chaos and death?

Who won the war?  That’s easy.  Israel won and will win again.  Not the people of Israel but the criminal conspiracy that has taken over that country like Bush and Cheney took over America. 

This is a rabid gang, backed by the news media, playing decent Jews around the world for fools.  Who is going to lose? The people, Israeli, American most of all, but all people will lose.  All of this planning, the lying, the total lack of honor and decency won’t buy anything but big homes, fast cars, expensive wine and the ability to live the sexual sickness that so many of our power seekers are driven by.

Today Stanley McChrystal has shown us that he believes his failures, failures of conscience, failures of intellect, failures of duty can be blamed on Iran.  As the darling of the press, he may be able to help Israel push America into another war, one we can’t even begin to think about winning.  It never was about winning, it was about chaos, it was always about money.

Is it that simple?




by Michael Leon

Kathe Kollwitz, Losbruch (Charge) Kathe Kollwitz, Losbruch (Charge)

The Ten Martyrs

“These I remember, and my soul melts with sorrow, for strangers have devoured us like unturned cakes, for in the days of the tyrant there was no reprieve for the martyrs murdered by the government.”
– From the Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, Martyrology Service referring to ten rabbis executed by the Romans, 1st Century

By Michael Leon

States committed to war don’t always crow about their tyranny and the blood of their victims. Israel is quiet when it devours Gaza, issuing vague statements about self-defence. [A reader here says, “Long past time Israel clean out the Mohammedan (sic) squatting vermin from the W. Bank and Gaza.”

The sentiment is common in Israel, the language is rare. No need for crude rhetoric, Israel engages more often in a subtle machinery of oppression to bolster official lies fed to the world, accompanied by well-crafted propaganda and institutional censorship.

Its forays into targeting journalists to block public debate are new, though its attacks on whistleblowers have a long, sordid history. Ask Mordechei Vanunu, who blew the whistle on Israel’s illegal nuclear weapons program 24 years ago and is still not allowed to leave Israel, his prison state. You are not forgotten, Mordechei Vanunu.

Mordechei Vanunu, State Prisoner of Israel
Mordechei Vanunu, State Prisoner of Israel

America is of course the worst offender of the modern age in this respect; Neil Sheehan, Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo can attest to this fact, though we need look no further than the ongoing imbecilic programs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Israel with American acquiescence wants to be a permanent militaristic state; it’s doing well in this regard. As for blocking public debate about its war crimes, it will not succeed.

Its crude forays into threatening journalists will ultimately fail but not before doing a lot of damage to actual living human beings like Anat Kamm and Uri Blau. But Israel is not so big on humanism. 

This seems to be the objective: Expose war crimes, face prison or death.

The Romans would be impressed, for in the days of this tyrant there is no reprieve.


Kamm affair: Suspected wrongdoings exposed by Uri Blau demand investigation

The media recently exposed the arrest of Israeli journalist Anat Kamm, who is accused, among other charges, of having passed classified documents to Ha’aretz reporter Uri Blauwhileshe was serving as a clerk in the office of OC Central Command. Kamm has been under house arrest since December 2009.

Some of the documents Kamm transferred to Blau formed the basis for an article [License to Kill] published in Ha’aretz in November 2008, in which Blau revealed that the army has continued to assassinate Palestinians in the West Bank on Israel’s wanted list, in disregard of the High Court of Justice’s judgment regarding such actions.

During the second intifada, Israel officially adopted a policy of assassinating Palestinians it suspected of being activists in Palestinian armed organizations fighting against it. International players and human rights organizations strongly criticized this policy, and in 2002, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel petitioned the High Court to order the army to cease the practice.

More than four years later, in December 2006, the High Court gave its decision. The justices held that the policy was lawful, but imposed restrictions on its implementation. The court held, inter alia, that in the West Bank, where Israeli military forces have complete control, it is preferable to arrest a person rather than kill him. The last declared assassination carried out by the army in the West Bank occurred in August 2006.

B’Tselem’s investigations over the years indicate that, alongside the declared assassinations, the army has also carried out a policy of intentional killing under the guise of “arrest operations” (see B’Tselem’s report, “Take No Prisoners“), and continued to do so even after the High Court’s ruling.

Blau’s article strengthened the suspicions arising from B’Tselem’s investigations. The documents published in the article ostensibly showed that senior officers approved, in writing and in advance, the killing of Palestinians they defined as wanted, as well as the killing of uninvolved civilians liable to be in the company or vicinity of such persons.

After the operation was carried out, the IDF Spokesperson published an announcement stating that the soldiers had opened fire because their lives were under threat.

Despite the serious details exposed in Blau’s article, none of the persons involved has been questioned, and the senior officers involved in giving the unlawful orders have remained in their positions. Moreover, the IDF Spokesperson’s announcement stated that the attorney general at the time, Menachem Mazuz, “found no basis for the claim that IDF forces acted in breach of law or contrary to the High Court’s ruling” in the cases mentioned in the article.

This determination is astonishing given that Blau’s article raised, at the very least, the firm suspicion that unlawful orders to kill had been given even in non-life-threatening situations, and when it was possible to arrest the suspects. The authorities ignored the severity of the actions exposed in the article and chose to focus their attention solely on Kamm’s actions.

B’Tselem’s investigations of actions carried out by the army in the West Bank since the article was published show that the army has apparently continued to implement an assassination policy under the guise of arrest operations. The following are some examples:

Nablus, 26 December 2009: In the early hours of the morning, soldiers killed Ghassan Abu Sharkh, Nader a-Sarkaji, and ‘Anan Subuh while each was in his house in the Old City of Nablus. The IDF Spokesperson claimed that the three refused to surrender, and that the soldiers opened fire after they felt their lives were in danger.

B’Tselem’s investigation raised the suspicion that the soldiers had made no attempt to arrest Abu Sharkh and a-Sarkaji before shooting and killing them. B’Tselem wrote to the judge advocate for operational matters requesting that a Military Police investigation into the circumstances of the incident be ordered. No response to the request has yet been received. (More information on the case)

Jenin, 15 December 2008: Around 11:00 P.M., a force of soldiers and undercover personnel killed Jihad Nawahdah in al-Yamun, Jenin District. The IDF Spokesperson contended that Nawahdah tried to flee, and the forces, who were engaged in an operation to arrest wanted persons, fired at the lower part of his body, hitting him.

They took him to hospital, but he died on the way there. According to a testimony given to B’Tselem, however, as Nawahdah was walking in the street, a few minutes after having left a café, he was struck in the back by shots fired from a vehicle that suddenly stopped next to him, although he was unarmed and did not pose any threat.

 B’Tselem wrote to the judge advocate for operational matters requesting that a Military Police investigation into the circumstances of the incident be ordered. To date, the organization has received only a preliminary response indicating that the matter had been forwarded to the relevant military officials for examination.

Bethlehem, 12 March 2008: Around 6:00 P.M., a joint army, Border Police, and Israel Security Agency force killed Muhammad Shhadeh, Ahmad Balbul, ‘Imad al-Kamel, and ‘Issa Marzuq Zawahreh while they were riding together in a car in the center of Bethlehem.

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s announcement, the forces were engaged in an action to arrest wanted persons, and the four men were killed after the security forces found that they were armed.

However, testimonies given to B’Tselem indicate that no attempt was made to arrest them or fire at them in order to immobilize them, and that the forces directed massive gunfire at the vehicle. Also, the testimonies indicate that when the driver, ‘Imad al-Kamel, got out of the vehicle unarmed, the soldiers fired a single shot at his legs.

After he fell to the ground, the forces shot him with automatic gunfire. The testimonies also raise serious suspicion that the forces shot him to verify that he was dead. B’Tselemwrote to the judge advocate generalandthe attorney general demanding that they order a Military Police investigation into the matter. On 22 September 2009, the Office of the Judge Advocate for Operational Matters informed B’Tselemthat the judge advocate generalhadorderedthatthematter be forwarded for processing to the deputy state attorney for criminal matters.

B’Tselem has not received any further information from the authorities relating to the matter. (More information on the case)


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by Bob Higgins

An Open Letter of Reconciliation & Responsibility to the Iraqi People

A newly released Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” video has made international headlines showing a July 2007 shooting incident outside of Baghdad in which U.S. forces wounded two children and killed over a dozen people, including the father of those children and two Reuters employees.

Two soldiers from Bravo Company 2-16, the company depicted in the video, have written an open letter of apology to the Iraqis who were injured or lost loved ones during the attack that, these former soldiers say, is a regular occurrence in this war. You can view the Wikileaks video here: and you can view the Press Release here

An Open Letter of Reconciliation & Responsibility to the Iraqi People

From Current and Former Members of the U.S. Military

Peace be with you.

To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the “Collateral Murder” Wikileaks video:

We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses.

We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.

We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.

We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and what we carried out in the name of “god and country”. The soldier in the video said that your husband shouldn’t have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.

More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.

Our government may ignore you, concerned more with its public image. It has also ignored many veterans who have returned physically injured or mentally troubled by what they saw and did in your country. But the time is long overdue that we say that the value of our nation’s leaders no longer represent us. Our secretary of defense may say the U.S. won’t lose its reputation over this, but we stand and say that our reputation’s importance pales in comparison to our common humanity.

We have asked our fellow veterans and service-members, as well as civilians both in the United States and abroad, to sign in support of this letter, and to offer their names as a testimony to our common humanity, to distance ourselves from the destructive policies of our nation’s leaders, and to extend our hands to you.

With such pain, friendship might be too much to ask. Please accept our apology, our sorrow, our care, and our dedication to change from the inside out. We are doing what we can to speak out against the wars and military policies responsible for what happened to you and your loved ones. Our hearts are open to hearing how we can take any steps to support you through the pain that we have caused.

Solemnly and Sincerely,

Josh Stieber, former specialist, U.S. Army

Ethan McCord, former specialist, U.S. Army

Add your name to the petition here: Letter to Iraq

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 by Robert L. Hanafin

Since neither established political party has been able (or willing) to get us out of Iraq or Afghanistan except for lip service, promises, and more deceit, I’ve dreamed of the demise of two party political control over the American political system, because I see that having a multi-party system would be preferable to the one party dominance that the two party system represents.

For example here in Ohio, at least until NOW, the only way a third party or independent minded candidate (one not blessed by the Ohio state Democratic or Republican party apparatus) could get on the ballot was by running as lets say a Libertarian/Republican or Green or Socialist running as a Democrat. Now finally a slew of independent candidates from Tea Baggers to Socialist have gotten enough signatures to break dual party hold over the ballot box.

The Ohio Secretary of State’s office was recently asked this question about two party ballot control. I noticed that now when I vote in a primary election in Ohio that I can vote for a political party other than just “Republican” and “Democratic.” Why are there different political parties holding primary elections this year (2010)?

The response from the Ohio Secretary of State was that citizens have the right to form political parties and to have the candidates of those political parties appear on the ballot with the party label.

Minor political parties have been granted access to Ohio’s primary elections process for the 2010 election cycle. Therefore, voters will see a list of political party choices (other than just the two major political parties) on their absentee ballot application, and both major and minor political party ballots will be available to vote as an absentee ballot and on Election Day.

The upside of having more than two parties is that each party would more closely represent the views and values of party members instead of a spread from let’s say left of center to moderates representing the Democrat Party and moderates to right of center the Republican what we are witnessing is the birth of not a third party movement stealing votes from the two but the emergence of a multiparty system that both the Dems and Republicans will do everything to prevent in the name of corporate greed, wars, hidden agendas, and yes special interests that have kept the established party in power at state level for far too long.

The downside is that even I have to accept the coexistence of people and parties that do not share my values and yet reach some kind of compromise or understanding not to kill each other out of hate, racism, or shear anger. If I register to vote as an Independent, Green, Socialist, Libertarian, or Democrat then I have to learn to compete fairly, honestly, and respectfully with Constitutionalists, or Republicans to get my views and vote across.

Frankly, I believe the hardest part is not accepting the existence of more political parties to choose from, the hard nut to crack is being willing to accept defeat at the polls. For instance, I believe there is more about being sore losers at the polls to the Tea Party movement than there is any real or imagined threat to the public from Big Government.

In Ohio for the longest or first time that I can remember, now that I’ve lost interest in supporting any of the two party candidates, because I can tell little difference between them, I’m thrilled to see the emergency of more than two parties making it on the ballot.

My wife and I have not decided yet which party or candidate to support (well really candidate) but it will not be a Democrat or Republican nor some yahoo running as a Dem or Repub claiming to be an independent. We now have from the Independent, Socialist, Constitutional, Libertarian, Green, Democrat, and Republican parties to choose from.

Yes, the two parties still hold dominance over our political system at the lower city and county level, but that is because the independent parties if I may have yet to learn to organize at the grassroots level. That much credit I will give the Tea Bag movement or Constitutionalists Party if I may. They are showing an ability to organize at local level that the Libertarian or any other fringe party has not except maybe at state and federal level.

Suffice it to say, at least from Ohio, I feel a warm and fuzzy that not only do I now have freedom of political choice, I’m finally seeing more than one flavor to register as. I for one plan on registering either as an Independent or Socialist. Socialist some of my former conservative friends would say, how could a retired military officer even think that way.

When all is said and done I am not arrogant enough to tell anyone how to VOTE, but only to ask our readers to VOTE SMART regardless if you endorse or worship the status quo of the two party system or are a anti-incumbent like me, at the minimum check what exactly each party really stands for?

How does what they say they stand for represent your views and values?

Once you understand what each party represents, then check out the specific candidate to see how closely he or she represents your values and view then go from there.

Again not telling anyone what to do one way or another but speaking for myself, I intend registering as anything but a Democrat or Republican in this primary, because by our Ohio State law during a Primary is the only time a voter can register party affiliation.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News

Is the Two Party Political System Doomed?

Looking at the emergence of more than the traditional two parties in Ohio, I would not go as far as to say that the two party system is as much doomed as in trouble or hurting. Using the emergence of multi-parties in one state also IS NOT a measure on how effective this anti-incumbent passion really is nationally.

No more than a single survey taken by one mainstream media outlet tells us that most Tea Baggers are more educated than the media assumed, make more money on average than media assumed, and related stereotypes made by the media. The picture mainstream media made of gun toting, racial slur spitting, angry white men and women did not quite fit the stereotypical image the media now wants to paint Tea Baggers to show they are a serious threat to the established Republican Party.

Frankly, the rise of the Constitution Party clearly shows Tea Baggers just may be able to hold their own as a political party who knows. However, we shall see.

Regardless, besides the Democrats and Republicans, voters in Ohio can now select to register party affiliation with the Green Party of Ohio, Constitution Party of Ohio, Libertarian Party of Ohio, Independent Party of Ohio, and Socialist Party of Ohio.

The Green Party of Ohio has been around a lot longer than the two party system controlling the ballot would like. Like a thorn in the side of the Republican Party that the Libertarian Party can be, one could consider the Green Party as moderate to left of center to leftists voters.

It is composed of grassroots activists, environmentalists, advocates for social justice, nonviolent resisters, and regular citizens who’ve had enough of corporate-dominated politics. A good portion of the Peace movement would may also be found in this party in growing numbers.

The Constitution Party of Ohio has not been around as long as the Green Party, but it has been around a lot longer than the Tea Party movement that today has given a reawakening to the Constitution Party not only at national but local levels. One would consider members of this party to be moderate fiscal conservatives, to right of center, to far right in political views.

In fact, it is their fringe element that makes them a break away from the Republican Party. The founders of the Constitution Party feel that most Americans want the same thing: Peace, Prosperity and Freedom. For these ends our Founding Fathers created a Constitutional Republic, which for the first 100 years prospered like no other nation in history.

But for the last century, America has grown weary from war, debt and tyranny. Our nation’s own history has verified what our founding fathers keenly understood: that as government grows and becomes more centralized, the liberty of the people inevitably recedes

Despite their slight emphasis on Peace and Americans being weary of war, and debt, very few members of the Tea Party Movement have expressed fiscal concerns about the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, admitting war weariness leads to an open door for these fiscal conservatives to find some common ground with people in the Peace movement the only thing needed is a two way olive branch that neither established party has offered either group of fiscal conservatives or Peace activists.

The Libertarian Party of Ohio some would consider a close cousin of the Constitution Party. The most notable national figure in the Libertarian Party movement has been Congressman Ron Paul of Texas who has continuously run as a Republican. Like the Green Party of Ohio, the Libertarians have been around quite a while. In fact at least since 1971 nationally, and 1972 in Ohio. Also like the Green Party, the Libertarian Party of Ohio has managed to get a candidate or two on the ballot in Ohio as Republicans.

To sum up the political philosophy of the Libertarian Party would be quite difficult for like the established parities there is a left, center, and right wing. Suffice it to say that like the Constitution Party, the Libertarians do not believe in Big Government, never have. However, unlike the Constitution Party they are more passionate and serious about no involvement in foreign entanglements, no foreign aid, no military draft, and have taken a public opinion against both the Iraq and Afghanistan War without hitting the streets in significant numbers to protest or oppose the wars.

However, they do recognize the fiscal costs of the wars. On balance, unlike the Green Party or Socialist Party that I will discuss next. The Libertarians also do not believe in social welfare or entitlement programs for these are subsidized by Big Government. For example, Libertarians may be willing to compromise and accept the funding of Veterans Health Care and Benefits at taxpayer funding, but not government subsidized health care for those who never served the nation in some way.

Then of course they also may not compromise when the cost of Veterans Care goes up too much. Point is where does the Libertarian Party draw the line on which social programs it will support and which it will not.

The Socialist Party of Ohio (SPOH) was founded in 2010 however the Democratic Socialist Party of Ohio has been around since the turn of the 19th Century. In fact the Socialist Party has been a part of Ohio history longer than any other party outside of the Democrat and Republican. Today it is the state chapter of the Socialist Party USA The current SPOH is the successor of the state organization of the Socialist Party of America. SPOH was founded in 2010. The party has finally qualified itself for ballot access in Ohio for the 2010 primary election.

From the SPUSA Statement of Principles….THE SOCIALIST PARTY strives to establish a radical democracy that places people’s lives under their own control – a non-racist, classless, feminist socialist society… where working people own and control the means of production and distribution through democratically-controlled public agencies; where full employment is realized for everyone who wants to work; where workers have the right to form unions freely, and to strike and engage in other forms of job actions; and where the production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few.

We believe socialism and democracy are one and indivisible. The working class is in a key and central position to fight back against the ruling capitalist class and its power. The working class is the major force worldwide that can lead the way to a socialist future – to a real radical democracy.

Just as the election of Barack Obama brought out the Tea Party movement to energize the Constitution Party, Obama’s election has brought out the Socialist Party at National level that could create just as much a thorn in the side of the Democrat Party as the Constitution and Libertarian do the Republican mainstream.

In the words of Ohio Socialist Senatorial Candidate Dan La Botz who has the signatures needed to get his name on the ballot for U.S. Senate in Ohio, when asked by the media what his working definition of socialism was, and did he think Americans have a good/bad view of socialism, and why?

Dan responded: “The Republican’s battle against the Democrats’ health care plan has had a surprising result. The conservatives accused Obama of being a socialist because of that plan. This has led many to draw the conclusion that if they believe in health care for all, then they must be socialists. So overnight, millions of people have become open to thinking about the socialist alternative.”

‘We live today in a country where capitalism and the corporations provide the model for life: selfishness, competition, greed, and disdain for others. It’s a poor model, violent, and destructive,” Dan said.

He believes that,  “as a people should take collective, social control over the largest industries and corporations in our country. We should democratically elaborate a plan to use our wealth to provide a decent life for all. Most Americans, I believe, share this vision of a just society. We might make our nation one where we take care of each other, where we insure that all are taken care of. We might in that process, create a nation where one loved one’s neighbor as one’s self.”

Like the Green Party, a growing number of Peace activists and members of the Peace movement are beginning to see the Socialist alternative. However, what I’ve learned about multi-party political systems that evolved in democracies elsewhere on earth (England and Japan come to mind, but are not the only examples) is that the minority parties somehow have to form alliances with other minority parties in order to challenge the dominance of a one or two party system of power that is controlled by corporations and a wealthy elite.

For multi-parties to thrive in the American experience would take achieving something that the two party system has failed to do FIND COMMON GROUND on everything from health care of all, smaller government, and fiscal conservatism that does less harm than good for our people.

One closing comment on the emergence of multi-political parties is that a few have not an will not get mainstream media attention due to their heritage and by nature. The Constitution Party should now be able to gain mainstream media coverage due to the news generated by the Tea Party movement. In comparison the Socialist Party will get very little attention, because this party challenges the very corporate dominance of mainstream media.

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Jordan Valley

Observers: Alix W., Susan L. (reporting)


An organization, like a country, needs goals. MachsomWatch’ s goal is clear, and we work towards that with our monitoring and reporting every day: “an end to the Occupation” with the corollary dictum of accountability on the part of the authorities. 

But the country to which we belong and which is about to celebrate its 62nd Independence Day? What seems clear only is that it is clinging to settlements; that it is dominated by the army, and is subservient to the settlers, as the Occupation carries on with aggression against people who are not Jews in lands that they, Jews, have occupied and a stagnation that is cruel and heartless and entirely contrary to what this country should have been about. 

13:00 Beit Dajan

Where Route 578 joins Route 57 is a hamlet, Beit Dajan, whose name we learn from the forlorn sign lying at the side of the road, telling that “additional classrooms at Frush Beit Dajan” have been provided by US Aid, the Village Council, etc. We decide to explore and follow a dirt track alongside what must be a lovely “river,” since there is lush greenery, palm trees and other shrubs in stark contrast to the barren hillside above.

A group of men sit under the shade of a tin roof, their tractors at rest, and as we drive carefully along the road, a group of smiling children, of all ages, girls and boys come, obviously from school, and we search, in vain, for the “additional school rooms” and wonder who will provide for this poverty stricken area, other than non Israelis.

There’s a quite a walk to the checkpoint at Hamra, but, after our expedition to the hamlet of Beit Dajan, we make our way there, by car, and find that many of the children live around the hamlet and must walk, to and fro, from home to school and back again, in what is an augur of the hot summer to come in the Jordan Valley.

13:30 Hamra Checkpoint

We’re greeted by a soldier who stops eating his lunch under the shelter of the tin roofed walkway, used by nobody except soldiers, and mutters to us, as if saying something by heart, about this being a “closed military area,” (which is why there are so many Palestinians here, of course), and that we must stand away from the checkpoint.

We stay where we are as many men come through the checkpoint, putting back their belts which have had to be removed in the usual fashion in these occupied parts. Everything is so slow moving at the checkpoint that the truck affording them a ride gets to the other side before they do.

13:30 — the school kids, girls and boys, arrive at the checkpoint (it’s taken them half an hour’s walk in this heat), and we note that some live in the Bedouin encampment above the checkpoint.

The vehicle with the open X-ray machine hums in the heat, and birds sing, while the same soldier with his weird muttering hovers around us, as we ask if he has something he wishes to say to us or ask us. No response. Somewhat mentally challenged, is what we decide!

The commander seems now to have finished his lunch, as he appears, as does somebody in the lookout tower above the checkpoint, and suddenly five soldiers are at work. The commander, a sergeant, tells us, once again, that we cannot stand where we do, and gets out his mobile phone to show us a photo of the red sign (indicating that we are in Area A – but who cares about Oslo any more).

13:35 — there’s now a line of cars waiting, at a safe distance, of course, to come into the checkpoint and more people, young and old coming through from Nablus. A young woman, holding a sleeping toddler makes her way from the checkpoint to the waiting taxi beyond. We join her and the taxi driver who tells of non-stop problems at the checkpoint. He himself is from the village of Al-Jiftlik and makes his way across the checkpoint over and over throughout the day.

As we talk to him, the commander comes, soldiers in tow, over to where we stand and copies the taxi’s license plate, which we also copy, into his phone and also takes a photo. This is the time that the taxi and its passengers beat a hasty retreat, but they are sure to be harassed at a later time. Such is the ethos of Occupation.

Four soldiers confront a group of young men, making their way on the narrow median strip at the checkpoint, but they proceed without being checked. And now there is no checking at all, as first an armored personnel carrier arrives with what we assume to be higher ups. There is now a long line of buses, many taxis.

Suddenly, as a result of the higher ups telling the solders to “move it,” perhaps as they’re being observed, who knows, everything gets moving, and in no time at all, the eight or nine small buses (taxis) move through the checkpoint into Nablus, followed by a group of seven young men who walk through the checkpoint, followed by many others, none of them checked.

 Along Route 578 from Hamra to Mehola on Route 90

Al Farasiya

We had heard that the occupation authorities confiscated four pumps used for agricultural purposes and for drinking water in Khirbet al Farasiya in the Northern Jordan valley on 15.4.10, and decided to see for ourselves the area in which these Bedouin encampments are situated. As in other parts of the OPT , water passes Palestinian homes on its way to the Israeli settlements, but Palestinians are denied access to this water even for drinking purposes.

Beyond the turnoff for Tayasir, the road, Route 578, continues down to the Jordan Valley proper, and, on the way, are a number of failing settlements that are hardly deserving of the name, since nothing seems to go on there, other than the building of yet more new homes, some of them empty, and plastic greenhouses, empty, torn and falling to pieces standing on the barren hillsides above.

The promise of agriculture, it seems clear, didn’t work here, but people, Jews, can go on living on occupied land, doing probably nothing except receiving handouts from the government, as an article in one of the Israeli newspapers described only last week.

Nevertheless, the Israeli authorities attack those Palestinian farmers who try to earn a subsistence living in the Jordan Valley , attempting to destroy the agriculture in their tiny hamlets. Yet none of this gets reported in Israel proper!   

No doubt about it, repeated Israeli aggression against the citizens of the Jordan Valley has one goal: to evacuate them from their land.  

14:45 Tayasir

The same mantra is read to us by the second lieutenant commander here. We can’t even, according to him, use the shade of the checkpoint to shelter from the sun. We stand in place in any case, but there is no movement of either pedestrians or vehicular traffic, so we move on.

Near the junction with Route 578, a picture perfect setting in the near distance: two camels standing as if for photos, a shepherd and his sheep and/or goats, a couple of men sitting under a tree and, beyond the summertime homes of the Bedouin. From one vantage point, nothing can disturb the peacefulness of this image, but the next moment we recall the Occupation and the evil it brings to bear on ordinary, hardworking people who want nothing more than to be left alone, in peace.

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A Nonviolent Che Guevara in Gaza

 By Ashely Bates, reprinted from her Dispatches from Gaza blog with permission

(Ed’s note. The spreading of the unarmed protests for real democracy to Gaza shows that the tactic is working. And if it works people will want to try it, in ways that defy stereotypes of “violent” Hamas-controlled Gaza. The only difference is that Israel can get away with a harsher response in Gaza so paying attention to stories like this is all the more important.)

In August of last year, I observed the weekly protest in Bi’lin, a West Bank village where the security fence under construction by Israel separates farmers from their land. As they had every Friday for more than three years, Palestinians, left-wing Israelis and international activists marched towards the fence.

Kids at the front of the group threw stones at the Israeli tanks, who replied with tear gas, skunk canons and rubber bullets. It was a sobering and unpleasant experience, but I never feared for my life.

Bil’in is one of the few places in the Palestinian territories where protesters have won victories in the Israeli courts. In September of 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court decided that the wall created “undue hardship” in Bil’in and must be rerouted. The IDF began carrying out the court’s demands last month, but declared Bil’in a “closed military zone” and forbad internationals from entering Bil’in on Fridays.

Today I observed a Bil’in-inspired demonstration the buffer zone near Beit Lahiya—but instead of skunk canons and tear gas, Israeli troops immediately fired live ammunition to disperse the 100 or so Palestinians and ISM activists.

No one was injured and the gunfire was aimed at the ground, but it was a terrifying experience. Protests like this have happened every week for the past two months and are attracting a growing number of participants from across Gaza.

I shared lunch with the organizer of the protests, Saber Al-Zaaneen, his wife and three young children. Mr. Zaaneen, a self-declared “left-winger” chose a gigantic picture of Che Guevara as the central decoration in his living room. (Most Gazans chose a picture of Yasser Arafat or Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the quadriplegic founder of Hamas.) He said he admired Guevara for “starting an international revolution against oppression.”

As we sat down, Mr. Zaaneen extended his hand. “You are Israeli. I am Palestinian,” he began. “No,” I interrupted, a bit startled and confused. “I am not Israeli. I am American.” He smiled kindly. “This is just an example. I want to have you in my house to drink tea. I want us both to say to our governments that we can live together in peace.”

After this awkward introduction, Mr. Zaaneen shared some of his life history. He studied sociology at the Islamic University of Gaza, has never traveled outside Gaza, and was a Fateh police officer before Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

He has hosted Israeli journalist Amira Hass in his home and corresponds with left-wing Israeli parliamentarians. Mr. Zaaneen is among about 100,000 former Fateh police officers who still receive their salaries from the Fateh government in Ramallah, even though he cannot work as a police officer under Hamas rule.

In July of 2008, Apache helicopters dropped fliers (see picture) warning Palestinians that they were not permitted to go within 300 meters of the border. Mr. Zaaneen knew that Israeli soldiers had shot at people and destroyed farms and houses within one kilometer of the border.

Feeling that Israel would continue encroaching unless Palestinians resisted, he began organizing non-violent direct actions in the buffer zones, such as accompanying farmers as they tended their fields and searching for bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops and left to rot.

During and after the Gaza War, Mr. Zaaneen dropped his plans for larger-scale demonstrations. However, he was inspired by developments in Bil’in. “I wanted to experiment with that strategy in Gaza,” he said. “The strength of these demonstrations is that they attract international activists and journalists to see what’s really happening.”

On January 9 of this year, a new flier arrived from the Apache helicopters telling Palestinians not to go within 800 meters of the border. This reenergized Mr. Zaaneen because he “wanted to send a message to Israel that this is Palestinian land and the farmers are not leaving.

They bring money only from working the soil.” He visited universities and community organizations, and ultimately rallied a broad base of support. The transportation expenses and equipment are funded by private individuals; he receives no money from Fateh or Hamas.

People of all political stripes are welcome at his demonstrations, which now occur five days per week at border areas across Gaza. He calls his organization the Local Initiative Against the Buffer Zone. Every demonstrator must not bring weapons and must commit to non-violence.

“I don’t resist because I want to die,” he said. “I resist because I want freedom, land, education, opportunities, no occupation. This is the message of our movement. We want the whole world to know why the Palestinian people resist.”

Ashely Bates is a freelance journalist reporting from Gaza for the first time. She speaks Arabic and previously lived in Jordan as a Peace Corps volunteer. She currently serves as Program Director at Hands of Peace, a dialogue camp for Israeli, Palestinian and American teenagers.

 UPDATE: Israel’s army attacked  the group’s unarmed protest again, according to the Palestine Telegraph. “Israeli occupation forces opened fire today toward a peaceful demonstration in Rafah against the Israeli buffer zone in the Gaza-Israel border, no injuries were reported.”

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 Sheizaf: The persecution of Haaretz

Noam Sheizaf | April 20, 2010 Categories: Suppression of Dissent | URL:

Cross-posted from Promised Land.

Editor’s note: A recent Coteret post bemoaned, in this context, the absence of satire. Eretz Nehederet has now come through with a skit. It can be viewed here (Hebrew only; H/T Richard Silverstein.)

The persecution of Haaretz

Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily paper, has a status that exceeds its limited circulation. Israel’s supporters who whishes to portray it as a thriving democracy give Haaretz as an example; Critics of Israel use Haaretz when claiming that the US media is too easy on Israel (”The NYT would have never printed Gidon Levy’s op-ed“).

Even after suffering loses during the financial crisis and going through major cuts the paper remains the best source for information on human right issues and on Israeli politics. It is also the only Israeli newspaper to have an internet site and printed editions in both Hebrew and English.

These days, Haaretz is under attack. Rightwing groups, pundits, politicians and competing media organizations go after the paper. They accuse it of being “too liberal”, “too lefty”, even “anti-Israeli”. The attack was triggered because of the Kamm-Blau affair, but the case against Haaretz is far wider and deeper, and has a lot to do with the dangerous nationalistic mood in Israel right now.

Two articles on the front page of Maariv’s weekend edition took shots at Haaretz: Ben Dror Yeminiaccused the paper of aiding “the industry which demonizes and delegitimizes the State of Israel,” and Columnist Menahem Ben simply called for the paper to be shut down and its editor and publisher arrested for treason.

After the exposure of the Kamm affair, MK Michael Ben-Ari, a former student of Rabbi Kahana, cancelled his Knesset subscription for Haaretz and called interior Minister Eli Yishay to use his authority and immediately forbid the printing of Haaretz.

Surprisingly enough, Ben-Ari was joined by two MK’s from Kadima: MK Israel Hason, a former Shin Beit man, called for readers to boycott Haaretz, while MK Yulia Shmuelov wrote her own letter to minister Yishay demanding Haaretz to be shut down.

Radio Host Avri Gilad said last Sunday on the IDF station that “I mourn what happened to the Left and to the Left’s journal [Haaretz]… it is making the left irrelevant in Israel… every sensible person today understand that the Left has made the state of Israel its enemy.” There wasn’t even a slight protest heard.

And this is what rightwing columnist and editor for Jerusalem Post (who is rapidly becoming the Israeli Pravda), Caroline Glick, had to say:

By collaborating with Kamm first by publishing her stolen documents and hiring her as a reporter, and finally by covering up her crimes while suborning Blau’s perjury, Haaretz has demonstrated that leftist traitors have a powerful sponsor capable of exacting painful revenge on the State of Israel for daring to prosecute them.

In facilitating and supporting treason, Haaretz itself can depend on a massive network of supporters in Israel and internationally. Reporters, self-proclaimed human rights groups, and the leftist blogosphere in Israel and throughout the world as well as foreign governments happily swallow whole Haaretz’s manufactured stories about Israel’s purported venality.

I agree with Hanoch Maramri, Haaretz’s former editor, who wrote in The 7th Eye that Haaretz will survive this attack. The paper suffered boycott attempts during the first and second Intifada, when its editors insisted on reporting cases of abuse and illegal actions by IDF soldiers. But these were different times for journalism, and the real danger is that the delicate financial situation affecting all newspapers will make Haaretz change its line a bit so it wouldn’t bleed too many readers.

Even more important is what these events teach on the current moment in Israel. Most people outside this country fail to notice it, but we are at the dangerous turning point in which words and ideas, and not just acts, are becoming illegitimate in this country, even criminal. Haaretz won’t be the last victim.

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Another celebration of Israeli Independence Day. In New York, the Salute to Israel Parade is enlisting gullible kids from my elementary school to celebrate ethnic cleansing and politicide, giving them, once again, no hint that Israel Independence meant Nakba to the Palestinians, an intolerable act that should be compensated in kind: return of the refugees.

In Gaza, Israeli soldiers celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaoot by tapping out some warning shots to terrify Palestinian protesters trying to assert their right to free movement within the Gaza penitentiary, keeping them well away from the devastated buffer zone that could be growing crops but instead is raw dirt littered with bits of metal, bundles of useless wire, and broken irrigation tubing, the exposed earth constantly eroding and bleeding its carbon into the atmosphere.

Israeli settlers celebrated their day of independence by uprooting olive saplings in the Qaryut village south of Nablus. They had been planted for Earth Day. Settlers destroying baby trees planted for Earth Day.

Nice. Gabriel reminds us what Arendt had to say about the establishment of this imposition by terrible force and violence in the Middle East. And tomorrow, in Bilin, Palestinian civil society says Yom Ha’atzmaoot sameach to Israel by hosting a conference analyzing the civil resistance to Zionism of which Bilin has become a symbol, enchanting the world. 62 years and Israel is getting old.

In a desperate struggle in which so much hinges on language, on discourse, on representations, the Palestinian poetics of civil resistance is far more alluring than whatever elegant euphemism Israeli apologists will supply to explain away the murder of children.

Israel knows this and fears this and is petrified of a mobilized Palestinian people with Western support that will force them to yield or to murder children. They are already scared. Today, they must be terrified. Today, they murder children. But tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, things will change. They will yield. I have no doubt that you will make them yield.

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April 20th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | Category: Uncategorized

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