Archive | June 21st, 2010



Published 17 June, 2010

In response to a global outcry following Israel’s deadly clash with a humanitarian aid ship, Israel has said it would relax restrictions on products allowed into Gaza.

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Following a two-day special session of Israel’s Security Council, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday announced it would allow more goods into Hamas-ruled Gaza, which is struggling to restore a sense of normality following a devastating three-week winter war with Israel (2008-2009).

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“It was agreed to liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza [and] expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision,” read a statement released by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the meeting.

The Israeli-approved product list will include “all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils, mattresses and towels,” as Haaretz, the Israeli daily, quoted Raed Fattouh, the Palestinian co-ordinator of supplies to Gaza, as saying.

Israeli officials added that they want the international community to work toward the immediate release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas fighters on the Israeli-Gaza border in 2006.

“International pre-occupation” with Israel

The decision to relax the land embargo comes a little over two weeks since Israeli forces engaged a humanitarian aid ship Mavi Marmara headed for Gaza. The highly publicized confrontation left nine pro-Palestinian Turkish citizens dead and Israel on the defensive against claims that it used excessive force against the crew members of the flotilla.

The Turkish ship was part of a six-vessel aid flotilla sailing to Gaza with the intent purpose of breaking an Israeli naval blockade that has deprived the coastal zone of a long list of vital goods since the embargo went into effect in 2006.

Israel responded that its commandos acted in self defense against the occupants of the aid ship, who allegedly brandished knives and metal pipes as the Israeli soldiers attempted to board the ship by helicopter.

Israel has rejected UN demands for an international inquiry, saying it would launch its own internal investigation with the oversight of two foreign observers.

The EU says it will reserve judgment on the probe into the deadly raid on the aid flotilla.

EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, told European lawmakers on Wednesday that Israel’s naval operation, in which nine activists were shot dead, was “unacceptable.”

Ashton described Israel’s decision to set up an independent investigative commission as a “step forward.” But she noted the EU will chart the progress of the panel “before drawing further conclusions.”

By far the worst political fallout stemming from the flotilla incident involves political and economic relations between Israel and Turkey, which will carry a heavy price tag.

According to Turkish media, Ankara has frozen billions of dollars worth of defense agreements with Israel. Some of the scrapped projects include a $5 billion deal in which Turkey was to receive 1,000 Israeli-made Merkava Mark III tanks, a $50 million program to upgrade Turkish M-60 tanks, and an $800-million deal to purchase two Israeli patrol aircraft and an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

Turkey said Thursday it may not send its ambassador back to Israel unless it receives an apology for the death of nine Turkish crewmembers aboard the Gaza-bound aid ship, and other steps are taken to make amends, a government official speaking on condition of anonymity told AP.

The official said Turkey’s envoy would not return if demands are not met “within a reasonable timeframe.”

During the Security Council meeting, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for a “daring and assertive” political initiative to address Israel’s deepening international isolation.

“A political initiative will break us out of the isolation and prevent phenomena like the flotillas to the Gaza Strip and international investigations,” Barak told the council.

Whether Barak’s proposal for a different political tact will open the way for a Palestinian peace plan remains to be seen. But if ever there was a time for a big breakthrough on that front, this appears to be it.

Israel’s naval embargo, other restrictions to remain

Israeli media reported that a long list of construction materials, including cement and steel (which Israel believes may be used to rebuild military installations), will continue to be barred from entering the coastal zone. Critics of the construction ban say without such items it is impossible for the 1.4 million residents of Gaza to rebuild.

Israel’s decision to partially lift the embargo does not seem to affect Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza that has been in place since 2007 after Hamas took control of the tiny enclave (about twice the size of Washington, DC), which is wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.

The security cabinet, which began its discussions to ease the embargo on Wednesday, noted that “existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war material” would continue.

A spokesman for Hamas was quoted by Haaretz as calling the Israeli measures “media propaganda,” and the goods that Israel is allowing into the coastal strip as “trivial and secondary.”

“What is needed is a complete lifting of the blockade. Goods and people must be free to enter and leave. Gaza especially needs construction materials, which must be allowed to come in without restrictions,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

Robert Bridge, RT

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A GOP Victory in November Will Make Things Interesting

by Jeff Davis

We’ve seen Obama blow through hundreds of billions in stimulus money, that did nothing for ordinary Americans. We’ve seen Obama incompetence, failing to do oversight on offshore oil rigs that has led to the biggest ecological disaster in US history, and we’ve seen Obama arrogance shoving through a health care bill that a vast majority of voters were screaming at their politicians not to pass. When the Republicans win back Congress in November, it will open up limitless opportunities for Congressional investigations from Obama’s dubious citizenship to whose pockets all that stimulus money wound up in.

An article from reports: “Rep. Darrell Issa, the conservative firebrand whose specialty is lobbing corruption allegations at the Obama White House, is making plans to hire dozens of subpoena-wielding investigators if Republicans win the House this fall. The California Republican’s daily denunciations draw cheers from partisans and bookings from cable TV producers.

He even bought his own earphone for live shots…now, he’s making clear he won’t be so easy to shrug off if he becomes chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2011.”

Obama was raised in the most corrupt political machine on earth, Chicago. Everything is patronage, payback and bribery. The last thing in the world Obama needs is for the Republicans to gain investigative power while he’s still in office.

The Politico article goes on: “Issa has told Republican leadership that if he becomes chairman, he wants to roughly double his staff from 40 to between 70 and 80. And he is not subtle about what that means for President Barack Obama. At a recent speech to Pennsylvania Republicans here, he boasted about what would happen if the GOP wins 39 seats, and he gets the power to subpoena.

‘That will make all the difference in the world,’ he told 400 applauding party members during a dinner at the chocolate-themed Hershey Lodge. ‘I won’t use it to have corporate America live in fear that we’re going to subpoena everything. I will use it to get the very information that today the White House is either shredding or not producing.’ In other words, Issa wants to be to the Obama administration what Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) was to the Clinton administration — a subpoena machine in search of White House scandals.”

And he won’t need to search very hard to find those scandals. I’ve got two words for you, Darrell: “Special prosecutor.” Remember the good old days when there was one new Clinton scandal after another being investigated by Congress?

And imagine what this administration has to hide! We could begin with that $787 billion of “stimulus” money created out of thin air in 2009 and which then disappeared into somebody’s pockets. How about the open and unabashed bribery of certain Senators in exchange for their votes for Obamacare?

Or how about Obama’s attempts to bribe certain politicians not to run for political office so his cronies would go unchallenged such as Joe Sestak, who declined a political appointment/bribe and went on to defeat Arlen Specter? Or how about Obama and his wife frequently eating lobster and caviar and taking pointless trips on Air Force One? The list goes on and on.

And finally, there is the one subject which has so far been officially untouchable–the birth certificate. Will the GOP dare go that far? All it would take would be just one of those subpoenas, Darrell, to throw this impostor and his Israeli controller, Rahm Emanuel right out on the streets.

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Israeli Chair of Gaza Flotilla Attack Investigation Doesn’t Believe Panel Should Exist

June 15, 2010

by Michael Leon

Zio=Nazi Supreme Court justice Yaakov Tirkel to chair Gaza panel, whose premises he disputes (Haaretz)

There can be no doubt that whatever the misgivings of some of the U.S. military brass about Israeli militarism, President Obama though his actions has demonstrated unwavering commitment to Israel’s murder on the high seas and contempt for international law.

 From Tikun Olam:

By Richard Silverstein

This is getting damned strange. The Obama administration and Israel have been haggling for a week over the nature and composition of the supposedly independent commission which will investigate the Gaza flotilla disaster.

We hear that the U.S. demanded that someone of judicial ‘stature’ like a Supreme Court justice be appointed as chair. Bibi finally acquiesced and appointed Justice Yaakov Tirkel. But there’s one problem. The incoming panel chair doesn’t seem to believe in the panel. Here is how Haaretz characterized the judge’s remarks in a searing editorial attacking the commission:

Netanyahu’s panel will have no powers, not even those of a government probe, and its proposed chairman does not believe in such a panel. In an interview to Army Radio, Tirkel said there is no choice but to establish a state committee of inquiry.

He opposed bringing in foreign observers and made clear that he is not a devotee of drawing conclusions about individuals and dismissing those responsible for failures.

When a Haaretzreporter confronted Tirkel about these remarks, the former justice evaded the question saying, “I don’t remember what I said.“


One of the two international “observers” David Trimble, is a co-founder of the newly launched Israel advocacy group, Friends of Israel, joining John Bolton, Dore Gold, and Spain’s former right-wing prime minister, Jose Aznar. At its founding, the group released this statement:

This initiative “is promoted by people who are not Jewish and whose motivations are based on the deep conviction that Israel is part of the Western world. In fact, today Israel is a fundamental actor for the future of the West.

Although the peace process is important, the members of Friends of Israel Initiative are more concerned about the onslaught of radical Islamism as well as the specter of a nuclear Iran since these are threats affecting not only Israel, but the entire world.

…The sponsors of this Initiative believe there is no West without Israel.”



Ironically, Friends of Israel announced its inauguration the day after the Mavi Marmara massacre. Can anyone possibly believe that David Trimble is a disinterested party capable of sitting in judgment (even as an observer) of the IDF’s behavior in this matter?

Also joining the Israeli investigative panel will be an IDF major general. Does anyone detect a slight conflict of interest here? How can a senior officer of the IDF sit in judgment of the IDF in what is supposed to be an “independent” panel?

Haaretz’ editorial also called the flotilla investigative body a “farce:”

The government’s efforts to avoid a thorough and credible investigation of the flotilla affair seem more and more like a farce. The conclusions of an ostensible probe are intended to justify retroactively the decision to blockade Gaza, to forcibly stop the Turkish aid flotilla in international waters and to use deadly force on the deck of the Mavi Marmara.

To make the costume seem credible, the Prime Minister’s Bureau asked a retired Supreme Court justice, Yaakov Tirkel, to chair the committee. Alongside him will sit foreign observers in order to legitimize the conclusions in international public opinion.

…As far as Netanyahu is concerned, it will be enough for television channels to broadcast footage of dark-suited jurists, and politicians addressing them, to present the semblance of an “examination.”




The Obama administration, ever willing to throw out a lifeline to Israel’s right-wing government, welcomed the fraudulent panel:

…The White House press secretary issued a statement hailing the Israeli announcement as an “important step forward.” The statement added that “the structure and terms of reference of Israel’s proposed independent public commission can meet the standard of a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation,” as sought by the United Nations Security Council.

“But,” the White House cautioned, “we will not prejudge the process or its outcome and will await the conduct and findings of the investigation before drawing further conclusions.”



He better give himself that “out,” as this panel will satisfy no one but the B-boys, Bibi and (possibly) Barack.






June 14, 2010

 by Gordon Duff



By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

“Would you go to a doctor who worked in a germ warfare lab?  Would you hire a check forger to work in a bank?  Would you hire a child molester to watch your kids?  Well, we have hired Israel to watch our ports, our nuclear facilities, our airports and much more, a country we know for certain will give us a phony video, an altered container scan or a falsified radiation reading if it serves their purpose.”

This week we learned that Israel had staged scenes from the Freedom Flotilla attack using actors and a common Hollywood special effects, called “double negative.”  The actors were shown standing among peaceful humanitarian workers, waving weapons around.  This became a problem when the stage Israel used wasn’t quite the same.  We ended up with a film showing our Israeli “terrorists” walking through solid steel time and time again.  Israelis film industry has been suffering of late.  Even the phony bin Laden videos have given over to audio.  The new bin Laden they use was doing Marlboro commercials in Egypt before they took him on.

It is a given that Israel has destroyed any credibility it once had.  It is one thing when a cheap set up job is leaked but this one was sent out special delivery Government of the State of Israel, stamped all over it.  This was pure suicide.  Only idiots that want to be fooled, polticians in the pocket of AIPAC and Fox News were really taken in.  Frankly, with no integrity to sacrifice in the first place, humiliation is impossible anyway.  With the “news cycle” such as it is, a new massacre or terrorist bombing could happen at any time.  As Israel needs one quickly, it is quite possible we may get one.

I guess I never thought that any country would go as far as to place people, spawned just like in a video game, in something used as vital evidence supporting Israel as “defending themselves.”  Not much hope of making that dog hunt anymore.  Maybe that dog never should have been tossed in a well at birth.  Israel’s continual rantings about terrorism might all have been movie magic from day one.    We now have to go back decades and look for photos and videos that are now likely to have all been altered like the films Israel sent of the dancing Palestinians on 9/11.  Nothing was altered on these, they were simply many years old, just like the still photos of weapons Israel claimed they found on the Freedom Flotilla, photos with digital signatures from as early as 2006.

What Israel has presented to us as “self defense” is now an act of terrorism.  I don’t know if putting armed terrorists in a film, Israeli actors dressed up with steel waving steel rods around, is a crime but it should be.  Were there any question, the films make it clear.  What we need to know is why has falsifying evidence of terrorist acts become an industry in Israel, a nation that handles the security, including the video security, of most world airports, including nearly all airports in the United States? 

Would you go to a doctor who worked in a germ warfare lab?  Would you hire a check forger to work in a bank?  Would you hire a child molester to watch your kids?  Well, we have hired Israel to watch our ports, our nuclear facilities, our airports and much more, a country we know for certain will give us a phony video, an altered container scan or a falsified radiation reading if it serves their purpose.

Think of the Americans continually piping on about Israel as our ally, the great democracy, the bastion of liberty in the Middle East.  Even the ill named Simon Wiesenthal Center or ADL, issuing a mass fatwa declaring the entire population of the planet either anti-Semites or “self hating Jews” or a combination of both won’t get them past this one. 

Israel already killed off their “Auschwitz” card when they were caught dubbing  “Go Back to Auschwitz”  over the screams for help from Flotilla wounded, like ventriloquists.  We have even heard that Israel is now telling the Palestinians to go back to “Gazauschwitz.”  Odd sense of humor.

There is no doubt America was burned in the flood of intelligence received from Israel after 9/11.  “Their” agenda, a long history of grudges, was settled at the cost of thousands of American lives, lives still being lost. 

A question comes to mind, why develop an industry for falsifying evidence of terrorism?  What comes to mind at first is, of course, that Israel has a multi-billion dollar industry in selling security equipment and services, managed by Mossad personnel who are allowed now to work in the private sector and still actively serve their government.  But does it go deeper?  If you can and will, as Israel has shown us, add people into videos, then you can also remove them.  When we see videos of “Arab terrorists” planting bombs or firing weapons as in Mumbai, what else are we not seeing?  Have the players been switched?  Have some people been removed?  Why? 

 Thus far we have seen proof that Israel creates phony passports from any country and moves agents where they choose.  We have also seen videos altered to cover the murder of innocent civilians.  From this we can guess that when we see a video of a rock throwing teen being shot it may well have been a child carrying school books instead.  This is exactly the kind of thing done with the videos from the Freedom Flotilla and no reasonable person could imagine that Israel sat on this 35 year old technology without ever using it.

Were phony videos and agents using falsified passports used to cover the 7/7 bombings in London?  A curious set of circumstances involving the Netanyahu visit, alterations of his plans to avoid areas under attack bring the videos showing “Arab looking” suspects under suspicion.  Now we know it could have been anyone or no one, the bombs could have been planted at any time and remotely activated. 

Once you take that step into deception or the moment you are caught doing something you may have done for decades, you can’t close that door again. 

Most intelligence professionals recognize that a significant percentage of Israelis who do business around the world are employed by their intelligence agencies.  Many of these individuals carry Australian, German or British passports, many more seem to be Arabs, speaking local dialects with perfection.  Many American contracting companies have had Israeli agents placed among their employees as have UN NGO organizations, many well know charities and, of course, the press. 

 However, the majority are employed in selling, installing, maintaining equipment in high security installations or, in fact managing the installations themselves, providing broad services.  This is, as it were, the rub.  Stipol Airport in Amsterdam, the airport the Detroit “Crotch Bomber” hurried through with no passport was an Israeli run facility. 

Where were the videos showing who our terrorist met with while in Shipol, an airport with the broadest high definition video of any facility outside Israel?  Oh, the video is missing, it disappeared, the Israeli company running the airport misplaced it.  Wasn’t there time to cut in a pack of dancing Palestinians who could have been shown strapping a bomb to his “johnson?” 

They could have all been carrying steel bars and walked right through the airport walls to get there.  When they left, they might have just disolved through the floor like vampires.

Times Square was supposed to get us to forget the Mossad fiasco in Detroit, another airport managed by Israelis.  When the Indian passenger picked out by the bomb dogs was taken into custody, where did that video go?  What was his name?  Did he simply disappear?  Was he sent back to Israel like the dancing Israeli video crew on 9/11? 

 When the government of Yemen reported that the “Al Qaeda” operatives, you remember, the ones Dick Cheney released from Guantanamo, had been in contact with Israeli handlers, where did that story go?  Yemen has their laptops, filled to the brim with helpful hints on running operations, Mossad style.

The issue then is one of trust.  Can an airport be guarded by the same people who shuffle assassins and terrorists through airports?  Can we accept a group of special effect clowns to handle video security footage that we may end up going to war over?  No matter how cheaply priced or how nicely packaged the stolen American technology being offered is, shouldn’t it matter who we do business with?


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June 14, 2010

 by Bob Higgins

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

“We need to be realistic about operating in a mile of water”

Tony Hayward, the cherubic little weasel who serves as the front man for British Petroleum, BP, Beyond Pathetic or whatever they are calling their ‘brand’ this week, made the statement above, on camera to reporters while standing on an oil fouled Louisiana beach a couple of weeks ago.

Earlier that day I had a fairly heated argument with an elderly acquaintance who recently became enraptured by the ‘Teabaggers.’ This giddy political infatuation has had the gruesome effect of making him more of a pain in the ass than he was previously.

At one point in the ‘discussion’ he asked me why BP was drilling at 5000 feet below the surface and I told him that most of the ‘easy oil’ has been used up and drilling is increasingly taking place in ever riskier and more technologically challenging sites.

His angry retort was ‘Bullshit, the tree huggers won’t let them drill in shallow water.’

I tried to point out that there are nearly 4000 active oil platforms in the Gulf at depths ranging from a few feet to more than two miles but it was like talking to a wall… or a Teabagger; I gave up and drank my beer.

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are:
‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Ronald Reagan used the line above at campaign stops from coast to coast during the 1980 election and all the yokels got a big kick out of it. By yokels I mean the thirty percent of the electorate that believes in free markets, creationism, drill baby drill and the Tooth Fairy.

Yokels, the people who appeared as ‘hard hats,’ the ‘silent majority’ who supported the war in Vietnam and Nixon’s ‘peace with honor,’ then morphed into anti government Reaganites, who stood and saluted when they heard the quote above.

 It was the same crowd, following the same ‘message’ of ‘get big gubament off our backs’ that became backers of the Cheney/Bush administration and today get all gooey eyed in the presence of knuckleheads like Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Michelle Bachman and other purveyors of far right quackery.

You know them … yokels.

For more than thirty years I’ve watched the antics of this crowd of semi literate, anti social yahoos as they resisted every social program, every attempt by government to regulate the excesses of business, fought against civil rights and equal rights for women against every scientific step forward, and created a dangerously toxic atmosphere of nativist intolerance, jingoistic American exceptionalism and anti intellectualism that today clouds every corner of our public discourse from the halls of congress to the corner tavern.

After the OPEC blockade of 73-74 many people awoke to the realities and dangers of our near total dependence on oil and fossil fuels and turned their thoughts and efforts toward renewable energy solutions like solar, wind and geothermal. Visionaries of the time even spoke of tidal and wave energy as future sources; this was thirty five years ago.

Upon taking up residence in the White House Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof, spoke out on behalf of a national energy policy, expanded the strategic petroleum reserve and began to lead the dialogue on America’s renewable energy future. I began to hope that we were finally boarding the right train.

And then the yokels, led by their noses by the oil driven and money hungry business community and an out of control defense establishment elected Ronald Reagan.

“Trees cause more pollution than automobiles,” declared Reagan; then, in a classic example of leading from the front, he had the solar panels removed from his roof. It was a clear statement that would set the tone for future energy policy and place control of the game in the hands of the energy moguls.

Control of the nation’s energy ‘policy’ by corporations solidified with the election of the Cheney/Bush administration, a time when the oiligarchs of ‘Cheney’s ‘Energy Task Force‘ were practically installed in offices down the hall from the Co-President from Halliburton.

And then along came al Qaeda.

A glance through the headlines of the last month or any equal period in the last decade should reveal an enemy far more sinister and dangerous than anyone fitting some stereotypical profile of the swarthy Middle Eastern zealot with bombs in his shoes, anthrax laced baby powder or incendiary skivvies.

No terrorist or terrorist organization has ever dreamed and certainly never succeeded in wreaking the financial havoc on this country, and the world at large, as have the bankers and brokers of our ‘business’ community. (For those old and unlucky enough to remember 1929; this was their second shot at our destruction)

The harm caused by their carefully crafted schemes to enrich themselves at the expense of citizens, taxpayers, and their own shareholders and customers exceed by orders of magnitude anything conjured up by the most fanciful “terror movie of the week” screenwriter.

No terrorist in memory has managed to pull off the environmental damage and potential suffering of BP’s epic fouling of one of the world’s most productive, beautiful and important bodies of water in a toxic spill caused by a sordid combination of institutional negligence, criminal penny pinching, regulatory corruption, and felonious irresponsibility.

“But the terrorists killed almost 3000 of our citizens on 9/11,” you may say.

How many people died and are still dying due to Union Carbide’s crimes in Bhopal. How many died and are still dying in Nigeria, in Ecuador and dozens of other locations on nearly every continent due to the criminal behavior of large corporations.

The unholy collusion between insurance companies, their lobbyists, the US Chamber of Commerce and the resulting lack of health insurance for forty million of our people kills an estimated 45,000 people every year and I have seen no “War on Insurance Companies.”

Faisal Shahzad, the “wanna bomber” whose almost comically bungled attempt to plant a car bomb in Times Square fizzled in every way, occupied the bubble heads of cable news for weeks.

In terms of actual destruction his caper was a big zilch but it completely upstaged the gushing toxic plume that even then was spreading inexorably through the Gulf of Mexico and now threatens the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions and the ecosystem of most of our southern coast.

I would like someone to spend a day on a research project for which there will be no reward but my profound gratitude:

  1. Take out a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle creating two columns. Label one column ‘Terrorists’ and the other ‘Corporations.’

  2. Now using Google and the Internet and beginning with the year 1950 or 1984 (Bhopal) or any date of your choosing, list all the acts, events, ‘accidents’ and crimes historically attributed to corporations or terrorists and enter them on your paper in the appropriate column.

I’ve done this as a thought experiment (I’m too lazy and disorganized to write the list) and when I have, the same pattern always emerges. Large corporations are more dangerous, by far, than al Qaeda or any other non state terrorist groups that you can name… in the aggregate.

This brings to mind the often misquoted line from the bandit in the Huston/ Bogart classic ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre: ”We don’t need no badges.’

Real life villains don’t always fit the visual bill as if sent over from the casting department. The real villains aren’t necessarily swarthy, shifty eyed guys wearing turbans or sombreros, swinging from monkey bars with AK’s in their teeth, draped with bandoleers of bullets. Most of the really, really bad guys look like Tony Hayward, like shitweasels with silk neckties, Gucci shoes and MBAs.

Terrorists, who needs them? Corporations are doing a better, far more efficient job of destroying the world, its economy, its ecology and its people than a bunch of ‘stinking’ terrorists.

Bob Higgins

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The settlers’ one-state argument, or ploy

Posted: 21 Jun 2010

Apart from the small point that all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are illegal according to international law and every single settler living there is ipso facto a law breaker–something the author conveniently omits to mention–this piece by Hagai Segal at Ynet is actually a round-about argument for a one-state solution:


the major harm to Jewish freedom of movement beyond the Green Line is only a tiny part of the overall harm to their basic rights. In fact, the Jews in Judea and Samaria are the only population group in the area still wholly subordinated to a military administration.

Since Oslo, most Palestinians enjoy civilian self-rule, yet 300,000 settlers cannot build a balcony without getting an IDF permit.




I somehow doubt, however, that Segal really wants to see equal treatment for all human beings, even Muslim and Christian human beings, in the West Bank. What we have here is an increasingly common, cynical ploy by settler advocates to mobilize and deploy the language of universal human rights and egalitarianism in order to advance a Jewish nationalist agenda. It is an inversion of the rhetoric used to speak out on behalf of Palestinian rights and humanity. Playing with the language of equal rights is a dangerous thing. If Hagai Segal doesn’t watch out, his kind of talk might erase the Green Line and advance the struggle for equal rights throughout historic Palestine.

Liberal Zionists excommunicate anti-Zionists

Posted: 21 Jun 2010

It is interesting that when push comes to shove, liberal Zionists will side with rightwingers (Jeremy Ben-Ami will fall into the arms of Jeffrey Goldberg) rather than break bread with non-Zionists and anti-Zionists and Palestinian solidarity types and realists. In the end, their concern for the Israeli state and its continuance trumps their concern for justice. The dynamic is illustrated here in a piece by Israeli Assaf Sagiv where he places leftwingers, anarchists, anti-Zionists outside of Israeli society, the other side of a “chasm.” It is a form of excommunication. And thus, there is no chasm between Sagiv’s imagined left and Avigdor Lieberman. In the end the concern for the Jewish collective trumps the universalist impulse that drives, say, Emily Henochowicz, the young idealistic Jews, who do not see the Jewish state as a necessary response to anti-Semitism.

This is an unfortunate dynamic. I hope it breaks down. And I think it will, but when? J Street will inevitably endorse Divestment from the occupied territories and have an art exhibit by Emily Henochowicz and try and work with Steve Walt and other realists, even Palestinian solidarity types. But it seems like a long ways off.



Today in Palestine: Groundbreaking for 600 settlers’ homes!

Posted: 21 Jun 2010

Land theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing

22 Palestinian homes to be razed in East Jerusalem
Jerusalem municipal planning committee approves plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem to make room for a tourist center.

Ground broken for 600 J’lem settler homes
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli construction vehicles and bulldozers began digging in Jerusalem on Monday morning, in what is believed to be ground work for the building of some 600 new settlement units.  The homes were announced in late February, and are set to be built near the illegal Pisgat Ze’ev settlement and the Palestinian neighborhood of Shu’fat.

J’lem to authorize al-Bustan demolition
The Jerusalem municipality is slated to authorized on Monday the “King’s Garden” plan, in which 22 houses in east Jerusalem’s al-Bustan neighborhood will be demolished. The plan, which has made waves throughout the world, has caused various bodies in the city council to bare their teeth as the Right demands that an even harsher plan against Arab illegal building be implemented, while Meretz and the Left have announced their intentions of resigning from the city government.,7340,L-3908061,00.html

Report: Israel revoking Jerusalem residency of hundreds
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Many Palestinians from Jerusalem who choose to study and work abroad are finding out that they have imperiled their right to return to their hometown, an Israeli newspaper reported Saturday.  The 1952 Law of Entry into Israel determines that anyone who is not an Israeli citizen or the holder of an immigrant’s permit or immigrant’s certificate does not have the right to live in Israel, and his residency in Israel is conditional on a residency permit that has been granted to him according to this law, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported regarding a Palestinian deportee.

Israeli High Court Rejects Appeal Against Deporting Jerusalem Legislators
The Israeli High Court rejected on Sunday an appeal against deportation orders targeting three Palestinian legislators and a former minister from Jerusalem.

Activism/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
Protesters prevent unloading of Israeli ship
(06-20) 12:35 PDT OAKLAND — Hundreds of demonstrators, gathering at the Port of Oakland before dawn, prevented the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship.  The demonstrators, demanding an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, picketed at Berth 58, where a ship from Israel’s Zim shipping line is scheduled to dock later today. The day shift of longshoremen agreed not to cross the picket line.

Video of Activists in Oakland California: Protesters Picket Israeli Cargo Ship
In Oakland, California an Israeli ship was blocked by protesters for the first time in history. 700-1000 protesters blocked three different gates at 5:30 A.M. keeping dockworkers from unloading the Israeli cargo.   ILWU members refused to cross picketline – citing “health & safety” provisions of their contract. Management demanded “instant arbitration.” The arbitrator took a look at the picketlines at each gate to the SSA Terminal and ruled that ILWU members were justified in refusing to cross.   All dockworkers were sent home with FULL PAY.  Special thanks to the Brass Liberation Orchestra for their performances today.

Huge outpouring of Oakland picketers stop unloading of Israeli ship, Henry Norr
If anyone had any doubts that the movement for justice in Palestine is growing by leaps and bounds, in numbers, breadth, and determination, check out what happened this morning in Oakland, CA

Update from Oakland: Victory!, Henry Norr
Quick follow-up on today’s action at the Oakland docks: we won! Something like 400 or 500 people – many who had also been there at 5:30 in the morning, plus others who hadn’t made the first shift – turned up to resume the picket line at 4 p.m. I was surprised there weren’t more: I had assumed there would be far more people in the afternoon, with the BART running, but I guess even in the Internet age it’s hard to get people out with only a a couple of hours notice.

More pictures

Compilation of coverage from:  Ynet, IMEMC, Al Manar, Haaretz,

Soldiers Attack Nonviolent Protestors in Beit Jala
Israeli soldiers attacked, Sunday, a nonviolent protest against settlements and the Annexation Wall in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, leading to a number of injuries. The soldiers also attacked bystanders and reporters

Hebron’s Youth Against Settlements red card occupation
Hebron – Ma’an – Clashes erupted between protesters demanding free movement in the downtown core of Hebron and Israeli police attempting to enforce a closure of the street confronted each other on Saturday.  Blowing vuvuzelas and holding red cards, gathered demonstrators demanded Israel “get off the field” and halt its military occupation of the city, occupied by some 700 settlers, guarded by at least 1,500 soldiers.

Al-Ma’sara demands the release of Palestinian activist Hasan Brijiyyeh
On June 18th, 2010, Israeli occupation forces suppressed Al-Ma’sara’s weekly protest which called for the release of Hasan Brijiyyeh who was arrested last week for his involvement in organizing the demonstrations which oppose the construction of the Apartheid Wall and insist upon the struggle to preserve the Palestinian land.

Bil’in: occupation forces arrest 3 solidarity activists, wound 3 protesters
June 19th, 2010– The weekly march headed towards the area of the Wall where the occupation forces were already hiding behind the concrete blocks of the Wall. The demonstrators attempted to cross the gate of the Wall, which was closed with barbed wire. During the ensuing clashes, three demonstrators were injured.

Ni’lin: occupation forces assault medical staff and a press
June 19th, 2010– The occupation forces beat the medical staff, threw down their important medical equipment, and arrested them. Hamud Said Amira, a cameraman from Ni’lin, was also assaulted during the demonstration. On the other side of the Apartheid Wall, the occupation forces set fire to olive trees.

Wadi Rahal: Scouts lead protest against the Apartheid Wall in spite of threats from IOF
June 19th, 2010– The scouts of Wadi al-Rahal led the residents and the international solidarity activists in the weekly march against the Apartheid Wall in the village. After the Friday prayers, the march started from the center of the village and moved towards the area of the Wall in an attempt to reach the confiscated lands.

Lebanese Christian women plan new Gaza aid convoy
A group of women planning to sail to Gaza gathered to pray by a statue of Our Lady in south Lebanon, before setting out on boat called Mariam, a voyage bringing aid to Gaza., Spokeswoman Rima Farah said she felt their prayers were already being answered as Israeli officials have now announced plans to  slightly ease the blockade on Gaza., “The participants are committed to making progress and our only weapons are faith in the Virgin Mary and in humanity,” she told Agence France Presse.

Israel Preparing to Repeat the “Marmara” Scenario, Lebanon to Respond
20/06/2010 Lebanon is preparing to explain its position at the UN Security Council in response to Israeli threats to prevent ships that could sail from Lebanese ports in an attempt to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Sunday.  The paper quoted an unnamed source as saying that Lebanon will reject Israeli accusations, especially after the letter sent by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev on Friday to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council members pointing to alleged links between the sponsors of a new Gaza-bound aid ship and Hezbollah.

European women organize new siege-breaking trip to Gaza
Women for Gaza organization has decided to send an aid ship to Gaza Strip with women on board to break the Israeli naval blockade on the coastal enclave.

Canadian who was on flotilla slams Israeli policy change
“It’s another one of these publicity stunts Israel is conducting,” the former Toronto resident said from Jordan. “I don’t want people — especially in my hometown — to fall prey to this propaganda.”

Maariv: Targeted boycott and divestment pushing companies out of the settlements
The cover story of this morning’s (June 21 2010) Maariv business section reports that targeted boycott and divestment actions — Israeli, Palestinian and international — are pushing an increasing number of Israeli companies out of the West Bank settlements and into Israeli proper:

“Stand up… and Break the Siege” Initiative continues to challenge closing off of Palestinian roads
June 19th, 2010– The villages of northeast Ramallah organized the second mass demonstration in Bittin to open the main road to Ramallah and to expose the Israeli occupation forces’ policy of collective punishment. The campaign is the first of its kind in demanding the opening of closed roads by the occupation forces.

Participate in the World Education Forum in Palestine, October 28-31 2010
The World Education Forum (WEF) will take place in Palestine between the dates of October 28th through the 31st under the umbrella of the World Social Forum (WSF) program. Established in 2001, the WSF uses social exchange and active cooperation to oppose war, colonialism, neo-liberalism and a strictly market-driven approach to economic and social policy from which only a handful of elites are able to benefit. The WSF has become the ‘open space’ for global civil society with the basic goal of affecting positive change throughout world.

Punishing Dissent
Education minister vows to punish professors who back academic boycott
Gideon Sa’ar says government will act during the summer against academics who joined call for Israel boycott.

How I was summoned to the Knesset
On Monday, June 21, I am to appear before the Knesset Education Committee and the Minister of Education, Mr. Gideon Saar, following my unequivocal words to my students, condemning the 43 year-old occupation and rule over the life of the Palestinian people.  A school principal should have a clear and unequivocal moral position about any subject and issue on the agenda of Israeli society. A principal is not an educational clerk. A principal must have, for example, something to say about the deportation of the children of migrant workers, trafficking in women, the separation fence, the withdrawal from Gaza, minimum wage law, settlers attacking Palestinian villagers to exact a `price tag`, the removal of Arabs from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, the siege on Gaza, corruption in government, or the relations of religion and state.

Violence and Aggression/War Criminals
IOF troops advance in northern Gaza, detain Jerusalemite youths
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) advanced into the outskirts of Beit Lahia town in northern Gaza Strip at dawn Monday and fired at citizens’ homes at random, local sources said.

A Widow Mourns, An Army Lies
Last week Palestine Monitor reported that Israeli police shot and killed Shu’fat resident 39-year-old Ziad Jilani in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Joz. Now his widow, a U.S. citizen, reflects on her husband’s life and death, and the journey he’s taken her on. Reporting from Kara Newhouse.

Who will be punished for killing civilans in the Gaza war?, Amira Hass
The decision to indict Staff Sgt. S. for killing two women during last year’s war in Gaza has caused a stir. But his lawyer will rightly ask, why him, and not all the others who killed civilians?’

Abbas’s militias kidnap Hamas leader in Jenin
Militias loyal to Mahmoud Abbas kidnapped Sheikh Khaled Al-Haj, a Hamas leader, on Sunday only two months after the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) released him from its jails.

Siege/Human Rights/Humanitarian Issues/Restriction of Movement
Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – May 23 – June 19

Israeli steps to ease blockade not end of siege: Hamas
GAZA, June 21 (Xinhua) — The Israeli decision to ease the blockade of Gaza by extending the list of items allowed into the territory “does not mean the end of the siege,” an official from the deposed Hamas government said on Monday.  “Israel is maneuvering,” Hamas Minister of Economy Ziad al-Zaza told the Gaza-based al-Quds Radio, adding “the Israelis are deceiving the world to avoid the recent wave of international criticism.”

Inside Story – Lifting the blockade
George Mitchell, the US special envoy to the Middle East, met with Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, on Saturday to discuss ongoing political deadlock in the Middle East. On Friday he met with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in Ramallah. Both Abbas and Ismail Haniya, the deposed prime minister, however, reiterated that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip must be completely lifted. But can those making this demand capitalise on unprecedented international pressure to achieve that end? And will more planned aid flotillas bound for Gaza help or hinder?

Concerns over Gaza blockade “ease”
Israel has announced it will loosen its blockade on the Gaza Strip by allowing a greater variety of goods to enter the territory, which has been deprived of basic imports including medicine and construction material for more than three years. The Israeli prime minister’s office said it will start prohibiting only items deemed as “weapons or war material” to mitigate security risks. But specifics as to what constitutes “war material” have not been mentioned, fueling widespread fears that much needed items will remain banned from entering Gaza. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports from Jerusalem. [June 21, 2010]

Report: German government to demand sea aid to Gaza
The German parliament is to issue a cross-party demand that Israel allow humanitarian aid to reach the Gaza Strip by sea, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Saturday.

MK Zoabi: Blockade easing proves politics as motivator, not defense
Arab lawmaker who took part in Gaza-bound flotilla says it marked ‘beginning of total collapse of Israeli siege.’ Adds: I won’t be deterred by political persecution, scare campaign.,7340,L-3908076,00.html

No Gaza optimism over easing blockade
“I don’t need ketchup or mayonnaise from Israel. I need my business back,” says Nasser al-Helo standing on a busy street in Gaza City.

Israel willing to increase transfer of goods to Gaza by 30%
Shortly after announcement on easing of blockade, coordinator of government activities in territories tells Palestinians Israel prepared to raise number of trucks entering Strip each day from 100 to 130. MK Hasson: PM sending dangerous message that terrorism pays off.,7340,L-3908047,00.html

Gaza power plant: Ramallah stalls fuel deliveries
Gaza – Ma’an – The Gaza Energy Authority said Monday that the central Strip fuel station has been receiving some 33% of the necessary amount of industrial diesel, and accused the Ramallah government of curtailing supply. The report renews an argument which first arose in February, one month after the EU handed over control of Gaza fuel deliveries to the Palestinian Authority, at the government’s request. The PA, citing budgetary difficulties, had the EU contribute funds to civil servant salaries but had trouble funding sufficient amounts of fuel.

Gazan family sends plea for their daughter’s health condition
Gaza, June 20, (Pal Telegraph) The family of Reem Riad Abdel-Gawad (14 years), appealed to President Mahmoud Abbas and every other concerned direction to provide the necessary treatment for their daughter suffering from an abnormality of the left hand that grows while she grows up.  Reem’s mother said that her daughter suffers from inflation in the bones of her left hand, pointing out that the size of her daughter’s hand gets bigger and heavier while her daughter grows up.

Gazans decry tax increases
Residents of the Gaza Strip have been facing a new burden – a significant rise in taxes on a number of items ranging from gas to cigarettes.  The taxes, which have been introduced by Hamas, the Palestinian group ruling the territory, have been increasing the strain on many business owners and shopkeepers.  Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports on how some are questioning the legitimacy of the financial measures.  [June 20, 2010]

A day on the road to Gaza
When Egypt announced it would open Gaza’s Rafah border crossing on June 1, hundreds of Gazans flocked to the border. Photo: International Solidarity Movement  Two days after the flotilla massacres on May 31, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt announced in response to mass demonstrations in Cairo and across the world, that Egypt was opening the Rafah border crossing, breaching the siege of the Gaza Strip that holds its 1.5 million people in a stranglehold.  Hundreds of Gazans flocked to the southern-most border of the coastal enclave. Many were left waiting on the border for days, denied entry to Egypt.  On the Egyptian side, only a small trickle of aid passed through the dusty hopelessness of northern Sinai through the myriad military checkpoints on the road to Gaza.

Flotilla activists: Violence led to blockade removal
Following Israel’s decision to ease Gaza blockade, pro-Palestinian activists celebrate victory, say ‘without the deaths onboard Marmara, we might not have witnessed results today’.,7340,L-3908370,00.html

Olmert aides: Barak responsible for siege
Following decision to ease blockade on Strip, former prime minister’s associates blame defense minister for Israel’s ‘coriander and pasta policy’ which was harshly criticized by world. ‘He was the one who insisted on preventing the inflow of products with no security risk,’ one of them says.,7340,L-3908233,00.html

First person: Life of a Palestinian refugee
The United Nation marks World Refugee Day on June 20, a day meant to focus attention on the plight of 40 million uprooted people around the world. Alia Salman is a Palestinian woman who was living in Iraq until the war changed her life. Now a resident of Anaheim, California, she tells Al Jazeera her story in her own words. (June 20, 2010)

Palestinian Women under Occupation
The Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations is a Beirut, Lebanon-based organization engaged in “strategic and futuristic studies on the Arab and Muslim worlds, (emphasizing) the Palestinian issue. In early 2010, it published the second of its series, “Am I Not a Human,” a report titled, “The Suffering of the Palestinian Woman under the Israeli Occupation, ” discussed below.

Israel’s Arab Security Guards
PNA hopeful to open more police stations under proximity talks
The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is hopeful to get an Israeli approval through proximity negotiations to build new police stations in the West Bank, a source told Xinhua Saturday.  The source added that the 28 police stations would be built on B areas where the PNA — under Oslo agreement — have administrative control in these areas while it shares security control with Israel.

Nablus: not allowed to visit Joseph’s Tomb!
Yesterday, while in Nablus, we went to Joseph’s Tomb – just on the edge of downtown Nablus, and near Balata and Askar refugee camps.  There was no one else there as we parked next to the low white-washed domes.  But there was a Palestinian Security post right across the streets. One soldier/policeman came with his big gun, and said we were not allowed to be there. He gestured at the top of the mountain facing us. There I saw one of the concrete cylindrical Pillbox” towers used by Israeli forces. The Palestinian policeman said the Israelis either had, or would momentarily be, calling him on the radio to say we weren’t allowed to be there.  But, I said, the Oslo Accords provide for free access to all religious sites.

Political Developments/Flotilla Fallout
US signals better relations with Israel (AFP)
AFP – The United States signaled Sunday strained relations with Israel were on the mend, announcing White House talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early next month and backing him to the hilt over his plans to ease a four-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.*

Netanyahu drops opposition to Likud plan for renewed settlement building
PM delayed discussion on the construction freeze in for months but will not oppose new initiative and may even support it.

Netanyahu: Decision to ease Gaza siege weakens Hamas
Prime Minister tells Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that easing civilian blockade allows Israel to focus on real security concerns.

Aluf Benn / Turkey can take credit for ending Israel’s blockade of Gaza
It is now clear, even to Israel’s leaders, that the Turkish flotilla – despite activists’ deaths and not having actually reached Gaza – accelerated policy change in Gaza.

Freed Islamic leader urges national unity
Nayef Rajoub, the popular Islamic leader in the al-Khalil region, has been set free after spending 48 months of captivity in Zionist jails and detention camps for “taking part in illegal elections.”

Other News
Dubai to have security cameras ‘everywhere’ (AFP)
AFP – Dubai, where a top Hamas commander was killed in January in an assassination blamed on Israel’s Mossad spy agency, is to have security cameras “everywhere,” the police chief was quoted as saying on Sunday.*

Report: Brodsky used cover name Alexander Verin
Der Spiegel says Israeli arrested in Poland on suspicion of aiding Mabhouh assassination used several cover names while in Germany; claims Berlin angry over ‘Mossad’s use of Holocaust in passport request’.,7340,L-3907484,00.html

Experts to discuss ‘hasbara’ at TA conference 
The Israel Security Council – a private initiative that brings together 28 experts, including academics and former military officials – will hold a conference on Sunday in Tel Aviv to address the problems faced by the country’s often lackluster hasbara (public diplomacy) efforts. In a press release issued on Thursday, the council said the conference was being held as “Israel’s image is right before our eyes becoming a national security problem for the State of Israel. A need has been created for someone to fill this vacuum and designate the goals and objectives needed for hasbara.”

West Bank women get first radio station
The new Arabic station, Nisaa (Women) 96 FM, will be run by men and women and aimed at a broad demographic, with programming focused on social issues as well as music and call-in shows with experts.  “The broadcasts will focus on women’s issues, but they will also target men in order to influence them for the benefit of women,” Maysoun Odeh Gangat, the station’s founder, told reporters in Ramallah at the formal launch.

Richard Falk:The Shock Resulting from Flotilla Attack has Reinforced the Campaign to de-Legitimize Israel
Richard Falk  the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. In 2001 Falk served on a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories with John Dugard. He is also an American Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University with a long and distinguished career in academics, politics and law. He recently gave this exclusive and revealing interview to Intifada Palestine’s Elias F. Harb .

Our western privilege is the legacy of historical violence, Max Ajl
David Bromwich has responded to my comment about non-violence and violence with a strong, textual case for non-violent mobilization. Engagement is welcome. There is space for tactical and conceptual clarification and discussion. First, though, several mistakes, misinterpretations, and mis-directions demand correction. Bromwich insists that “For Gandhi and for King non-violence was a principle,” and proceeds to lay out their ideas, appending a post-script with extended quotations. I do not know why Bromwich brought up King, who was anyway not the dogmatic pacifist he presents, and whose non-violent activism achieved its partial successes against the specter of violence in American urban centers and the threat of revolutionary militancy from the Black Panthers and the social spirit they stood for. Anyway, I did not bring King up. Here I will stick to Gandhi…

Turkey, Israel, the U.S., Helena Cobban
Several strongly pro-Israeli members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have stepped up their campaigns against NATO ally Turkey over the past week, in a campaign that has been quietly orchestrated by the big pro-Israel organization AIPAC. (See, for example, the ‘Related Materials’ linked to on this page of the AIPAC website.)

MJ Rosenberg: AIPAC Circulates Racist Anti-Turk, Anti-Arab Video
The “pro-Israel” lobby is slipping big time. First, earlier this spring, its student activities czar, Jonathan Kessler, openly spoke about how AIPAC muzzles Congress.  But this is worse. Yesterday, it’s press liaison circulated a blatantly racist video. (He sent it out to his media contacts by email to avoid too much of a direct link to AIPAC. Nice try).

Cartoonists get the story, even if MSM is muzzled, Philip Weiss
Here’s Jeff Darcy at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, great. Hispaper promptly retrenched from his view of Gaza. And here’s Matt Bors, more Gaza inhumanity. Thanks to Idrees Ahmad.  Oh and here’s Emily Henochowicz again. Her paintings for the “apartheid wall.”

Book review: Victor Kattan’s legal history of the colonization of Palestine
In order to understand how the law works, one needs to situate it in its political and historical context, otherwise it loses its relevance. That’s what Victor Kattan’s new book From Coexistence to Conquest does. It is a novel attempt to examine the legal history of the Israeli-Arab conflict, describing law as one factor among many that shaped the development of events. Mazen Masri reviews.

Sunday: 50 Iraqis Killed, 77 Wounded
At least 50 Iraqis were killed and 77 more were wounded in attacks that focused mostly on Baghdad. Turkish troops also struck in northern Iraq where civilians were among the casualties. Also, an American-born al-Qaeda spokesman repeated the group’s demands, which include the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

New clashes in Iraq over electricity cuts (Reuters)
Reuters – Iraqi police fired water cannon Monday to disperse stone-throwing protesters in the southern city of Nassiriya, demonstrating over crippling power cuts that are stoking tensions following a March election.*

Iraqi army confronted UK deportation officials on Baghdad plane
Army officer reportedly warned UK officials not to return Iraqis by force again, as UNHCR condemns removals to Baghdad.

Inside Iraq – Iraq parliament’s first session
Three months after its elections, Iraq is still without a government. Tough political horse-trading is underway and party bosses are jockeying to win the coveted position of prime minister. All parties have wrapped themselves up in Iraqi nationalism and vowed to make services, security and fighting corruption their top priorities. But polls indicate that Iraqis do not believe a word of it. What everyone is reluctant to discuss openly and freely, however, is who Iraq’s neighbours would prefer to become prime minister. Despite denials and protestations by Iraqi politicians, the decision of who should govern Iraq is made as much in Tehran, Damascus and Washington as by Iraqi voters.

Iraqi FM says political ‘bickering’ risks street riots (AFP)
AFP – Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warned on Monday that prolonged “bickering” over who should be the war-torn country’s prime minister is angering the public and risks stoking deadly street riots.*

Iraq’s Allawi fears plots to assasinate him (AFP)
AFP – Former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, who is locked in a struggle to form a new government after inconclusive polls, said in an interview Monday he had been warned of plots to assassinate him.*

Iraq: Finding hope for former child fighters
BAGHDAD, 14 June 2010 (IRIN) – Sheikh HM’s message to the teenagers gathered around him after Friday prayers at a Baghdad mosque was straightforward: “Islam is simple. Be a moderate Muslim and not an extremist one to win the love of God.”  The cleric, who gave only his initials for fear of retaliation, said the only way to win the war against terrorism and sectarianism in Iraq is to keep young people away from extremists.

Hezbollah: diplomacy doesn’t work with Israel
BEIRUT, June 20 (Xinhua) — Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah stressed Sunday that diplomacy is not the best way to deal with Israel, vowing to never stand on the “neutral side” when it comes to dealing with the Israeli threats to Lebanon.  “Some groups are adopting a conspiracy path to protect Israel,” Hezbollah’s MP Mohamad Raad was quoted by the National News Agency (NNA) as saying during a ceremony in the southern village of Zawtar.

Jumblatt: Sovereignty secured by safeguarding Resistance’s arms
MUKHTARA: Preserving the Resistance’s weapons guarantees Lebanese sovereignty and strengthens ties between Lebanon and Syria, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said Saturday. Jumblatt made his remarks during a luncheon banquet at his residence in Mukhtara, where the guest of honor of was Syria’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim.

U.S. and other World News
Report: Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to quit White House
Washington insiders say top adviser has reached reached an understanding with the president that he will serve only half the full four-year term.

Meanwhile the press in the U.S. likes to focus on executions in Iran…World opinion condemns the US for a ‘savage’ execution
Around the world and across the US, the firing squad execution in Utah has been met with a wave of criticism from those entirely opposed to the death penalty and those who say that shooting is not the most humane method of killing a prisoner.

Lieberman tells Web users to ‘relax’ about ‘kill switch’
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley on State of the Union Sunday.

Proposed Muslim centre near 9/11 site draws protest
A proposal to build an Islamic Centre near Ground Zero, where the twin towers of the World Trade Centre once stood in the US city of New York, has met with loud opposition from some Americans. Two hijacked airliners were flown into the towers on September 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people, an event blamed on, and claimed by, al-Qaeda. The Cordoba Initiative group, which says it aims to improve Muslim-West relations, plans to build a community centre near the site to help spread the message of tolerance. Local authorities, including New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, as well as residents in the neighbourhood, have welcomed the centre. But a small, vocal group led by the Stop Islamisation of America movement says the centre has no business being near Ground Zero. Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey reports. (June 20, 2010)

Academy-Award Winning Filmmaker Oliver Stone Tackles Latin America’s Political Upheaval in “South of the Border”, U.S. Financial Crisis in Sequel to Iconic “Wall Street”
Academy-award winning filmmaker Oliver Stone has taken on three American presidents in “JFK,” “Nixon,” and “W.” and the most controversial aspects of the war in “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July.” He looked at the greed of the financial industry in the Hollywood hit “Wall Street” and its forthcoming sequel. In “South of the Border”, his latest documentary out this week in the United States, Stone takes a road trip across South America, meeting with seven presidents about the revolution sweeping the continent. The leftist transformation in the region might be ignored or misrepresented as nothing but “anti-Americanism” in the corporate media, but this film seeks to tell a different story. Stone joins us along with the film’s co-writer, the Pakistani-British author and activist Tariq Ali.

Ethnic in Uzbek in Kyrgyzstan: We have become like Palestinians
400,000 uprooted people crammed into squalid camps on Kyrgyzstan’s sun-parched border with Uzbekistan with little access to clean water or food.

Iran executes Jundallah leader
The leader of Jundallah, an Iranian Sunni Muslim group that has been engaged in an insurgency against the Iranian government for years, has been hanged in public in Tehran, the capital. Abdulmalek Rigi, who was executed on Sunday, was the government’s public enemy number one. He was accused of being behind several attacks since 2005 that have killed more than 150 people, including security personnel and civilians. Jundallah says it is fighting for the rights of Sunnis, who they claim are discriminated against and oppressed in the Shia dominated country. Al Jazeera’s Dan Nolan reports.

Jordan patients seek justice over malpractice
Jordan is known for its advanced and high-quality medical services, but a recent increase in malpractice claims has dented the reputation of the country’s healthcare system. Last year, Jordan’s ministry of health said it had received about 3,000 complaints related to medical negligence. Now, victims of botched operations are calling for compensation in court and a change in the law. Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from the capital, Amman, on the struggle of patients seeking justice. Viewers should note her report contains graphic pictures of surgery being performed.


Rabbi who went after Helen Thomas has supported ethnic cleansing

Posted: 21 Jun 2010

Sorry I can’t use this contributor’s name but he/she makes some good points, to the rabbi who exposed Helen Thomas.

Dear Rabbi Nesenoff,

Helen Thomas has been rightfully criticized for her comments to you.  Yet you are on record at your website supporting the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians without a word of criticism from any journalist I’ve read.  You wrote:

“So after the Holocaust in the late 1940s it was a (sic) natural for the Jews to go back there– to their land and reclaim it again. And with the world feeling really guilty right after the Holocaust it made it that much easier to get the land back and kick out hundreds of thousands of Arabs who were living there and dwelling peacefully with their families and loved ones. But it was ours first as it was promised to us by G-d in the Torah so we have a claim to it. And that’s why we have a Jewish Homeland and so I went there this summer with my family for my son’s Bar Mitzvah.”


You seem to think this argumentation is acceptable for some people, but insufficient to convince a wider audience and yet in making a broader case you compound the problem: “In the final analysis, the Arabs of Palestine ended up with nearly 85% of the original territory of that area, and it’s called Jordan, or in reality, their ARAB Palestinian state!”

So you’re on record regarding Jordan being the Palestinian state.  This is very similar to the language used by Helen Thomas, but when it comes to Palestinians losing homes and land no (or few) journalists stand up for them and do the research into your own viewpoints. Since there are still millions of Palestinians living between the river and the sea, what rights do you see them as having? Should they be “transferred” to Jordan as some in the Knesset propose and as the ZOA seems to support?  Should they have their own independent state comprising the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip?  Or should they have full equal rights with Israel’s Jewish citizens — one person, one vote — in one state?  (According to the human rights organization Adalah there are over 30 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel so it isn’t reality-based to say there are equal rights now for Palestinian citizens of Israel. And clearly Palestinians in the territories have even fewer rights with the dual standard of law that exists there — one for Jewish settlers and one for Palestinians.)

Please elaborate your position, and do you repudiate your previous position of support for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians or do you think Israel should extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with no Palestinians present?

Do Palestinians expelled from Ashkelon (as late as 1950), where you studied for a year at age 14 according to your website, have a right of return to Ashkelon (what they called Al-Majdal)?  If not, why not? 

Finally, you write, “The truth is that 70% of the Arabs who left in 1948 – perhaps 300,000 to 400,000 of them – never saw an Israeli soldier! They did not flee because they feared Jewish soldiers or Jewish thugs….” Do you deny the massacres of Palestinians that took place in some Palestinian villages, most infamously in Deir Yassin in April 1948 before the establishment of the state of Israel and the entry into war by several Arab states?

I would appreciate answers to all of these questions as I am deeply troubled by the views you have spelled out. Helen Thomas has apologized. Will you apologize for the viewpoints you have spelled out on your website?

Michael Wolff cant resist trivia

Posted: 21 Jun 2010

Michael Wolff is a provocateur and got me to read what he has to say about Tony Judt, with his teaser, Did Judt make it up? But it’s a foolish trivial point, something about a piece Judt wrote with his son. I don’t care if he scripted his son. I feel a little played, when Israel and Palestine are in the lead paragraphs. Michael, you’re a smart mother, take on the substance here; deal with the crisis of Israel, which a lot of your friends support and you may actually possess the cold wicked distance to judge. It’s in crisis, there could be great bloodshed. Leave the trivia alone. Tell us where Jeffrey Epstein, your old pal, is on Israel. Tell us where Matthew Freud is on Israel. You know money.Tell us about the Jewish establishment and whether they grok jack about Zion.

Update from Oakland: Victory!

Posted: 21 Jun 2010

Quick follow-up on today’s action at the Oakland docks: we won! Something like 400 or 500 people – many who had also been there at 5:30 in the morning, plus others who hadn’t made the first shift – turned up to resume the picket line at 4 p.m. I was surprised there weren’t more: I had assumed there would be far more people in the afternoon, with the BART running, but I guess even in the Internet age it’s hard to get people out with only a a couple of hours notice.

Still, there were more than enough people to re-create strong picket lines at all three gates to the berth where the Israeli ship was coming in. Faced with the prospect of workers again refusing to cross the picket line and the arbitrator again ruling in their favor, the company that runs the dock (SSA, or Stevedoring Services of America, which has also run the port of Basra, Iraq, since the American invasion in 2003) elected to cancel the evening shift. The ship docked while we picketed, and presumably it will be unloaded tomorrow – right now we don’t have the strength to keep up the picket line indefinitely, and even if we did, we can’t really ask the longshore workers to stay off the job forever. But we succeeded in delaying it for a full day, which was exactly what we’d hoped to achieve. 

And while none of the local TV stations made it to the 5:30 a.m. picket – despite an extensive media outreach effort – they were there in droves this afternoon. The couple of segments I caught tonight weren’t too bad, even though they gave disproportionate time to the two Zionist counter-protestors who camped out, waving Israeli flags, across the street from the afternoon picket. As of 11:00 p.m. PDT on Sunday, Google News finds 284 stories about the action, and my sampling suggests that most of them – such as this story from the Bay Area News Group, which includes the Oakland Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, and most of the other community papers in the region – are fair if not actually sympathetic.

One final observation: the Oakland police were out in force from before dawn until our closing rally at 7 p.m., but aside from bugging us to stay out of the almost completely deserted roadway in front of the pier, they made no effort to interfere with the picketing, even when we blocked the two or three cars that tried to cross the line. In fact, they weren’t even dressed in riot gear, and some of them went out of their way to be polite. Quite a change from their behavior at the same location in April 2003, when we called a similar early-morning community-labor picket to protest a ship being loaded with supplies for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the cops responded by blasting us, without the slightest provocation, with an array of “sub-lethal” toys they had recently received from the Department of Homeland Security, including “flash-bang” grenades and guns firing wooden dowels and bean-bag rounds. 

I’ll never forget either that action or today’s, but this one was a lot more satisfying!


A year after Cairo, global poll on Obama’s Israel/Palestine policy is highly disapproving

Posted: 20 Jun 2010

At a time when Obama gets pretty good grades from people around the world for his statesmanship (64 percent approval overall), Jim Lobe reports that the same Pew poll shows that people in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon disapprove of Obama’s handling of the Israel/Palestine conflict by figures of 84 percent, 88 percent and 90 percent respectively. Can you do any worse? Numbers are almost as high for his Iraq steering. And interestingly, Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of I/P by 41 to 39 percent. Hmmmm.

Note that the approval #s generally in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon were much higher a year ago; also that Obama is faulted worldwide on his handling of Israel/Palestine by 48 percent disapproval to 31 percent approval, the largest gap in any of his numbers.

a tale of 3 headlines

Posted: 20 Jun 2010

let some ketchup into Gaza…

No Gaza optimism over easing blockade

BBC: “I don’t need ketchup or mayonnaise from Israel. I need my business back,” says Nasser al-Helo standing on a busy street in Gaza City. 



steal some more Palestinian land…

Netanyahu drops opposition to Likud plan for renewed settlement building

Haaretz: PM delayed discussion on the construction freeze in for months but will not oppose new initiative and may even support it.



…Amreeka, happy!

US signals better relations with Israel

AFP – The United States signaled Sunday strained relations with Israel were on the mend, announcing White House talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early next month and backing him to the hilt over his plans to ease a four-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.



Turkish officials blow AIPAC claims out of the, uh, sea

Posted: 20 Jun 2010

This is a crosspost from Cobban’s site, Just World News

Several strongly pro-Israeli members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have stepped up their campaigns against NATO ally Turkey over the past week, in a campaign that has been quietly orchestrated by the big pro-Israel organization AIPAC. (See, for example, the ‘Related Materials’ linked to on this page of the AIPAC website.)

First prize for anti-Turkish rabble-rousing has to go to Rep. Shelley Berkley (D- Nevada), who told a press conference convened Tuesday to discuss the recent flotilla murders incident that “Turkey is responsible for the nine deaths aboard that ship. It is not Israel that’s responsible.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that Berkley also “pointed to Turkish funding and support for the expedition.”

The always-excellent M.J. Rosenberg has more details about the anti-Turkey campaign here. He also notes that, “The bash-Turkey movement did not start with the flotilla incident. It began when Turkey spoke out against Israel’s bloody invasion of Gaza in 2009.

Luckily, however, Turkey’s currently-ruling AKP (Justice and development Party) sent a high-powered delegation over to Washington for most of the past week, where they worked hard to get Turkey’s side of the story heard. Some details about their meetings are here. The Middle East Institute conference that I live-blogged Friday morning (here and the next four posts) was just one of the team’s engagements.

During the morning, as reported in those live-blog posts, conference participants heard from Adana deputy Ömer Çelik, the AK Party’s chairperson for external affairs, İbrahim Kalın, the chief foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Turkey’s ambassador in Washington, Namik Tan. The three men went to great lengths to refute some of the most damaging accusations that AIPAC and others have launched against the Turkish government, and to explain its position.

As they all noted, the current disagreements are not only over the flotilla murders incident, but also over Turkey’s role, along with Brazil’s President Lula Da Silva, in brokering the May 17 enriched uranium exchange agreement with Iran, and in voting against the latest round of sanctions that the Security Council imposed on Iran.

Here are some of the crucial points the three men made– both in the open session of the conference and in a smaller press gaggle held in conjunction with it:

1. The men strongly denied that the Turkish government had played any role in organizing the aid flotilla. Kalin told the press gaggle: “We advised them not to go but this was an international NGO initiative and we couldn’t prevent them.”

2. Like many of the other governments from whose ports boats sailed to join the aid flotilla, the Turkish government gave a thorough pre-sailing inspection to the passengers and freight on the Mavi Marmara and the other two boats that sailed from Turkish ports, to ascertain that no weapons were on board and to register the names of passengers.

3. In an additional attempt to forestall violence, the Turkish government also coordinated directly with the governments of the U.S. and Israel while the boats were preparing to sail. In the press gaggle, Kalin said, “We discussed it with the U.S. and the Israelis. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was on phone with our foreign minister many times before sailing and we understood they would act very differently from way they did act with the boat.”

Celik said of the Mavi Marmara.

It had been thoroughly checked before it sailed. If Israel had concerns about the ship it could have informed Turkey and Turkey would have taken necessary measures.

Before the ship sailed Israel didn’t say anything. The Israeli forces could have disabled the steering and towed the ship to Israel.


4. On allegations that the Turkish government favors Hamas over the (western-supported) Fateh Party and its leader Mahmoud Abbas, Celik told the press gaggle:

I’m not here to defend Hamas but all the parties do need to be at the table. We have excellent relations with all parties inside Palestine. [Hamas head] Khaled Meshaal has visited Turkey only once, right after the 2006 elections, which Hamas won, while Mahmoud Abbas has been to Ankara God knows how many times including very recently and stretching back to the time that he and Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Ankara together in the lead-up to the Annapolis Peace conference and they addressed our parliament together.

The reason we insist Hamas needs to be at table is we don’t want anyone pushed out of the table when they represent half of the Pal people.


He also said that Turkey has used its relationship with Hamas to continue pushing Hamas towards support for the two-state solution. “It took the Hamas people a long time to come to the idea of the two-state solution, but they did,” he said. He cited Meshaal’s recent

interview with Charlie Rose

as evidence for this.

5. On claims that Turkey’s current policies are motivated by anti-semitism or anti-Israeli feelings, Celik said,

We always want to have good relations with the American Jewish community. But if the Jewish community wants to change our behavior on issues of importance to us we can’t accept that. We have a long history of good relations. We invited all the Jewish community representatives here in DC to come and meet with us. Some came and some didn’t come. Those who didn’t come made a mistake.

.. Remember that we gave our support to Israel’s OECD membership. Turkey is Israel’s only true friend in region.

Friends do not threaten each other. If they threaten each other, then they’re not friends.

Israel’s friends should ask “What is the cost to Israel to lose Turkey’s friendship?”




6. At points throughout the conference, the three men noted that not only is

Turkey a longstanding member of NATO

, and its only majority-Muslim member, but also that it currently has troops deployed alongside American troops in Afghanistan and in the waters off Somalia. I can note (which the three Turkish speakers graciously did not) that Israel is not a NATO ally, and has no troops risking their lives in risky, US-led NATO deployments anywhere in the world.

7. One last note came in the panel discussion that I missed a lot of, due to the press gaggle. There was a question near the end that I did hear, as to whether Turkey is now seeing an intensification of the years-long struggle between its secularizers and its Islamists (of whom, the AKP are a politically moderate but very politically successful part)– with the suggestion that the current uproar among Turkey’s 74 million people over the flotilla murders is somehow being manipulated by the AKP and other Islamists.

The answer was given by Cengiz Candar, a very pro-American Turkish journo whom I’ve known a bit for decades, who is also extremely secularist in his views. His answer was, basically, that the “secular-Islamist struggle story” inside Turkey is old news, and no longer particularly intense; and that Turkish people’s feelings about the flotilla murders have nothing to do with that divide. That was interesting. It reminded me of some conversations Bill and I had when we were in Turkey last summer, when several people who are strongly associated with the secularizing stream in Turkish society said they thought the AKP was doing a generally excellent job in governing the country– including on issues of minority rights for ethnic and religious minorities, women’s rights, and so on.

… Bottom line: Turkey, which is an important and “emerging” power in the Middle East in its own right, as well as a crucial U.S. ally, looks as though it is not about to back down in the face of attacks and intimidation from the rabidly nationalist Netanyahu-Barak government in Israel or their politically powerful backers in the U.S. political system.

What I also heard from the Turkish leaders and representatives who spoke at the conference, though, was that they were eager to overcome the current, sharp disagreement with Israel; that they recognized that, given the strong emotions aroused among the peoples of both Turkey and Israel by the flotilla raids, it would be hard for the Erdogan government and the Netanyahu government to overcome this agreement on their own– and that therefore they strongly wanted help from the U.S. administration in mediating and de-escalating this conflict.

The three men repeatedly made the case that (presumably in comparison with what some political forces inside Turkey are urging them to do) the demands they are making of Israel with respect to the flotilla are modest. “Israel must apologize for those killings, and accept the international inquiry as called for by the U.N. Secretary General,” said Amb. Tan.

Of course, in any kind of a similar case of a civilian vessel being attacked by the military forces of another state while on the high seas, many much weightier demands could also be made.

We could also note that one of those killed in the Israeli raid was a Turkish-U.S. dual national, Furkan Dogan. Ibrahim Kalin confirmed at the conference that the Turkish autopsy found that Dogan received four bullet wounds in his head and one in his chest. “This was not shooting in self defense, this was unjustified killing,” he said.

Thus far, however, the U.S. government has done nothing to try to bring Dogan’s killer to any form of account. (Are some U.S. citizens more equal than others, I wonder? Especially, if some of them happen to be Muslims?) And at a broader level, there are no signs at all that the Obama administration is prepared to do anything at all to help Turkey’s anguished government and people win the apology from Israel and the “credible, international inquiry” that they say they so urgently need.

Last Sunday, as we recall, the Obama administration came out with strong support for the (navel-gazing) Israeli-dominated whitewash body constituted by the Israeli government.

No word of any U.S. support for Turkey’s request for an Israeli apology for the killing of nine of its citizens and the wounding of many more.

I am ashamed of my government.



Daybreak outpouring of Bay Area picketers stops unloading of Israeli ship

Posted: 20 Jun 2010

If anyone had any doubts that the movement for justice in Palestine is growing by leaps and bounds, in numbers, breadth, and determination, check out what happened this morning in Oakland, CA:

• somewhere between 700 and 1,000 demonstrators from all over the San Francisco Bay Area made their way at 5:30 on a Sunday morning deep into the Port of Oakland to stage a spirited community-labor picket line in front of a berth where an Israeli freighter, the Zim Shenzhen, was due to dock;

• dock workers from Local 10 of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union refused to cross the picket line;

• under the terms of the ILWU contract, an arbitrator was summoned to the site, he upheld the legality of the dock workers’ refusal to cross the line, and the company was compelled to cancel the shift and send the workers home. 

Waving Palestinian and Turkish flags and chanting “Free, free Palestine – don’t cross the picket line” and “An injury to one is an injury to all – the Israeli apartheid wall will fall,” the demonstrators blocked three gates to the berth for more than four hours. The turnout was all the more impressive because the BART, the Bay Area subway system, doesn’t even start running until around 8 a.m. on Sunday, and even after people got to the assembly point in West Oakland, we had to walk more than a mile to get to the berth. 

The event was organized by an ad hoc coalition of dozens of community and labor organizations. The main leadership came from Palestinian-Americans and other Arab Americans, with the Bay Area branch of ANSWER also playing a key role. The idea arose in response to a call issued in the wake of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, which asked workers around the world to stop unloading ships carrying Israeli goods.

For veteran Bay Area activists, today’s victory echoed a historic milestone in 1984, when ILWU workers in San Francisco refused to unload a ship called the Nedlloyd Kimberley, because its cargo came from South Africa. Just 10 years later, Nelson Mandela was elected president, and apartheid – in its South African form – was dead.

With today’s day shift cancelled, most of the picketers have now gone home to get caffeine, food, and rest, but we’re not done yet: we’re going back to the site at 4 o’clock this afternoon to put up another picket line, in hopes that the ILWU workers will again refuse to cross the line and unload the ship. If you’re in the Bay Area, be there or be square – it’s your chance to make history. Just head for the West Oakland BART at 4 to march or get a ride to Berth 58. There’s more information here.


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Just one more–I apologize, but it’s too good to not forward–imagine if at multiple ports in the world, dock workers will refuse to unload Israeli ships.   Thought perhaps to leave this for tomorrow, but who knows how much news tomorrow will bring. 

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Christiana Voniati, a human rights activist from Cyprus, interviews Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace deputy director.

The article touches on the similarities – AND differences between the holocaust and what’s happening to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (as well as the growing incipient fascism in Israel itself).  To my mind, Surasky hits just the right balance in NOT equating the two periods, while at the same time pointing the relevant similarities. She says, in part:

“In Nazi Germany, the reign of Hitler was 12 years and before the Final Solution, the agenda to exterminate an entire people, you had a gradual legalized crushing and tightening of people’s lives. And there are Jews who we have worked with and Jews who lived through that time and they say “look, you can’t compare the systematic extermination in terms of the deaths of people.

But I lived through that experience of dehumanization, of the crushing of people’s freedom and spirit. And there are things that are similar.” The culture of collaborators that Israel creates to monitor and divide people. The black market that has emerged in Gaza similar to those in the ghettos.

The sickness. The way those with money find a way to survive and perhaps even profit, and those without have little recourse. The slow death by bureaucracy and laws—in the West Bank farmers need multiple permits just to farm their own land- no guns are needed to destroy a family.

The crackdown on human rights activists in Israel right now- the midnight raids and media gag orders on arrests of Israeli citizens, banning people like Noam Chomsky from the country simply because of their ideas, attempts to shut down human rights organizations…. These are not the elements of a healthy democracy. These are signs of an incipient fascism. And I use that word because our many friends on the ground in Israel use that word now.”

The interview also touches at some length at the developments in the US within the Jewish community, where there is a clear trend for the young generation to move away from the world-view of its parents (and grand parents).  Organizations like the ADL are becoming more and more isolated, even as they’re still seen as representing US Jews. – NOT!

Surasky’s words are really powerful, and in my view are very much to the point.  One issue on which I’d like to have seen more nuance is the oppression of Jews in the diaspora.  The term employed in the interview describes Jews as a “historically hunted/oppressed people”. Yet, while that was often true, it wasn’t always true, and there is a significant difference between how Jews got treated in the Middle East and North Africa, and how they got treated in Europe.

The reason I think it’s important to mention this is that if Jewish experience in the diaspora was invariably one of misery, then this supports the idea that the only place Jews might have security is Israel. 

Racheli Gai.

Echoes From The Warsaw Ghetto In Gaza

An Interview with Cecilie Surasky By Christiana Voniati

19 June, 2010

Gazing at letters that her grandmother wrote from the Warsaw Ghetto before she was killed , Deputy Director of the global organization “Jewish Voice for Peace”, Cecilie Surasky, discusses Israel’s “anti-Jewish” crimes and the inescapable comparison between the sufferings of Gazans and the gradual crushing of Jewish life in the Nazi ghettos in the period that led to the Final Solution . More significantly, the Jewish activist for peace reveals and explores the relationship between Jewish collective trauma and Israel ‘s aggression

“Jewish Voice for Peace” is based in the United States of America . Was this choice of location intentional?

We are based in the US and we have one hundred thousand people on our supporter list, mostly in the United States but certainly across Israel , Canada and all over the world. We think it is important to be in the United States because most of the terrible things you see happening in Israel (the expansion of settlements and taking of land, the attack on Gaza , the construction of the wall, attacks on human rights activists) couldn’t happen without US support.

We pay for it with billions in aid, we offer Israel diplomatic protection in the UN, and we have many Jewish and Christian Zionist institutional leaders in this country who are very vocal about defending Israel unconditionally. They want the US government to continue to give Israel permission to do whatever it likes including violating international law.

 And unfortunately, the majority of members of Congress are only too happy to oblige. The U.S. Congress, which is largely made up of Christians by the way, is shamefully committed to giving the Israeli government whatever they want. With relatively few exceptions, they have very little regard for Palestinian life or for Israeli life for that matter since this unconditional support is so destructive to Israel and to Jews everywhere.

That’s why we think one of the most important places after Israel , to have a strong and powerful Jewish voice for peace, justice and equality, is in the United States . Once we stop sending billions of dollars in military aid with no strings attached, once we stop diplomatically protecting Israel in international bodies when they violate the law, Israel will have to change.

This movement is primarily about accountability and ending the attitude of exceptionalism which allows Israel to consistently violate the human rights of Palestinians, and increasingly its own citizens, with impunity.

At Jewish Voice for Peace, our values are pretty simple: Full equality for Israelis and Palestinians. There is absolutely no difference between the value of life of my 7 year old son and the value of life of my Palestinian friend’s child. They are equally precious and have the same rights to health, education, to safety and well-being.

 Palestinians have a right to land which is justly theirs without having it stolen from beneath their feet. But the Israeli government has absolutely no respect for their rights. New settlements are built every day on Palestinian land. Even president Obama has said this theft of land must stop, but the Israeli government refuses.

Nonetheless, the western media represents Arab life as being less “grievable” than that of a western or Jewish life…

One of the most important things about doing this work is the connections that we make, as Jews, as Muslims, as Arabs or Westerners. And what you discover when you connect on a human basis is that we are remarkably similar. We value the same things. All people really want is to be connected to their family, to have work that means something to them, to have education and joy in their lives.

It’s very simple when you break it down. I know there is a long history of western racism, colonialism and Orientalism and we see ourselves as being superior to people all over the world. The only way to break down that false thinking to help people connect to each other, and it’s a revelation when you do.

One of the things to remember is that the very idea of international law and human rights is a product of WWII. It was institutionalized because of WWII, because of Hitler, because of what happened with the Nazis and to the Jews.

And Jews like Rene Cassin were among the pioneers of this idea, that all people are equal and equally deserving of certain basic rights. Today, we know this, whether they are gay, disabled, whether they are black or white or Muslim or Jew: this is the foundational framework for human rights advocacy,

So it is particularly appalling and outrageous to see 60 years later many Jewish organizations actually working to undermine this idea of international human rights. This goes against an incredibly important Jewish tradition and it’s a violation of everything we stand for and it’s anti-Jewish in the end. There was a time when much of the Jewish institutional world realized that freedom for one person required freedom for all.

That if you let bigotry and hatred against one group to stand, eventually it would come and take you. All of our fates are intertwined, let us not forget this. Jewish Voice for Peace is holding onto and celebrating this tradition. We are actively opposed to groups that are trying to undermine international law as a way to keep Israel from being accountable.

Exactly because of your fate as Jews, as a historically hunted people, one would expect that you would be the first to recognize the human rights of Palestinians.

Yes, historically, Jews are a hunted people. Some people survived and some others didn’t and that’s true for most of us. Yes there is a huge tradition of taking from that lesson and realizing that “Never Again” means never again for everyone. Period. Fullstop. “Never Again” is a phrase we say for the Holocaust.

 “Never Again” genocide, “Never Again” slavery. And the truth is that in the United States , Jews are one of the most liberal voting blocks. Somewhere around 80% of Jews voted for Obama. We contribute in this country to many of the most important human and civil rights causes. So that tradition is alive and well. But in the case of Palestine and Israel , many in our community simply have blinders. We call it PEP, Progressive Except Palestine.

You don’t have to compare what happened to Palestinians in Gaza to the Holocaust to make it seem more important than it already is. It already is so important and so unique in its own way.

The Holocaust was a systematic, well planned extermination of millions of people… And it was six million Jews but it was 11 million people altogether. The other 5 million were homosexuals, socialists, artists, intellectuals, people with disabilities. Obviously in the case of Gaza and the Occupied Territories we don’t have anything like that. But I do think that people do draw lessons from the rise of the Nazis.

In Nazi Germany, the reign of Hitler was 12 years and before the Final Solution, the agenda to exterminate an entire people, you had a gradual legalized crushing and tightening of people’s lives. And there are Jews who we have worked with and Jews who lived through that time and they say “look, you can’t compare the systematic extermination in terms of the deaths of people.

But I lived through that experience of dehumanization, of the crushing of people’s freedom and spirit. And there are things that are similar.” The culture of collaborators that Israel creates to monitor and divide people. The black market that has emerged in Gaza similar to those in the ghettos. The sickness.

The way those with money find a way to survive and perhaps even profit, and those without have little recourse. The slow death by bureaucracy and laws—in the West Bank farmers need multiple permits just to farm their own land- no guns are needed to destroy a family.

The crackdown on human rights activists in Israel right now- the midnight raids and media gag orders on arrests of Israeli citizens, banning people like Noam Chomsky from the country simply because of their ideas, attempts to shut down human rights organizations…. These are not the elements of a healthy democracy. These are signs of an incipient fascism. And I use that word because our many friends on the ground in Israel use that word now.

I have letters of my great grandmother –I am looking at them right now sitting at my desk- from the Warsaw ghetto. That’s where she was tortured to death and she wrote these letters to my grandparents asking for help. And I have letters from friends in Gaza . The tone of the letters feels similar to me.

They’re prisoners. They’re trapped. They don’t have enough food or supplies. They want help getting young relatives out. And they don’t know what may happen the next day- a bomb, a lethal attack. And mostly, a sense that the world doesn’t care. I am deeply haunted by that common message I heard from my great grandmother in the Ghetto and from people I’ve known in Gaza .

Of course we see the echoes of that and of course Jews in Israel are a traumatized people. But the problem is, it doesn’t help to compare Gaza to the Holocaust. Eleven million people are not being systematically slaughtered in Gaza . But what you do have is, as I said, a kind of a slow destruction of a culture, a slow destruction of life.

It’s a slow ethnic cleansing that is not only killing people but destroying families, destroying spirits, destroying an entire culture with a cruel and callous deliberate intention that causes massive unnecessary suffering on almost every level. They are literally prisoners. And that doesn’t need to be compared to the Holocaust to know how horrible and immoral and outrageous it is and how it must be stopped.

Operation Cast Lead killed some 1,400 people and injured countless others. The attack didn’t just kill civilians including children, it terrorized an entire population of 1.5 million. It sent them a message that they can never be safe, they cannot protect their families.

The level of dehumanization required to justify this kind of treatment of an imprisoned population of 1.5 million people is terrifying. Of course when I hear Israeli government officials use almost identical language that Nazis used to describe Jews, calling Palestinians a virus or bug that must be eradicated, it gives me terrible chills.

That process of dehumanization is universal….it has happened in every corner of the earth, and the lesson is that Jews are just as capable as everyone else. We are not better or worse. We are the same.

As Jews, we have an obligation to strengthen and nurture the tradition within our community that struggles for peace and justice, and win out over this other culture that has taken over in the Jewish tradition that is traumatized and fear-based and supports Israel no matter what and really cultivates fear and hatred.

It is a struggle within our very own community. I promise you, there’s not one Jewish family that is not divided on this issue. There is a huge Jewish closet and people are finally starting to come out.

You say that the Jewish opposition to Israel ‘s criminal policies is quite strong, and yet those voices don’t come out through the media. The only voices that do come out of Israel and the United States are quite reactionary and belligerent. Why is this?

In Israel the Left is much smaller than it used to be, and there are historical reasons for this, most of which are relevant to the colossal failure of the Oslo Accords. But things are changing, especially outside Israel . The numbers of people who are joining our struggle for peace in the Jewish community are rising dramatically.

There’s a lot of struggle happening in the Jewish world right now, more than we have ever seen since the founding of Israel . Jews are finally taking off their blinders and at least starting to ask questions.

But most people don’t know this, and I will tell you why. Because we have all these dinosaurs running all the powerful Jewish organizations in this country who have been there forever. They are funded by an older generation that supports them and has a lot of money.

And I am talking about people like Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League or David Harris of the American Jewish Committee. We don’t have a spokesperson. Every Jewish community, every Jewish person has a different opinion. But the closest thing we have from visible Jewish representation are people like Abraham Foxman and he is from a completely different generation.

Nobody under 45 identifies with him. But there is a generational change that is happening which isn’t visible yet. Because the older people are dominating the airways. But that generation is going to have to leave the stage sooner or later.

How do you deal with people coming and criticizing you for anti-Semitism?

Since we started, we have been getting hate mail and death threats. Some said: “you should have burned in the ovens”. Interestingly enough, we get much less of it now, while our movement is growing. I won’t lie to you; it has been very difficult to do what we have been doing, because we are also all struggling in our own families.

As I have said before, there is not one Jewish family in the world that is not divided on this. But things are changing. What is extremely important is that younger Jews are educating and opening the eyes of the older generation. They go to school, they learn the facts and then they go back home and try to educate their parents. But we need to remember, it’s not malicious. It’s just that many elderly are closer to the memory of the Holocaust. (We also have many members over 60 who are absolutely clear about supporting Palestinian equal rights.)

They lived the horror. It’s easier for them to see enemies everywhere. But, like in your case with
Turkish-Cypriots, so do we, with our Arab neighbors, share the same physical closeness and genetic closeness. Young people are beginning to realize this more and more and they try to deconstruct their parents false and phobic convictions and it’s then that you realize how identity is constructed and even false. We need to collectively write a new national narrative.

We’re told that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about terrorism or anti-Jewish hatred or the need for security. And we believe it because Jews have been so persecuted for so many generations.

But it’s a false narrative. It’s not really about any of those things, not at its most basic core. It’s about land, and Israel ‘s constant thirst for more and more land that people already happen to live on.

Israel wants the land but not the people, hence the strategy of making life miserable so that those Palestinians who can leave will do so. The rest? Israel is basically offering them open-air prisons. This is the real narrative.

Israeli Jew[s], because of the Holocaust, because they are historically a hunted and persecuted people, wrote a national narrative that has literally integrated into the DNA of Israel which is: “The world hates us!” That is the narrative and so they feel that the world hates them, they act like the world hates them.

And when things like this happen, when international public opinion is outraged about the attack on Gaza or the attack on the flotilla, they just say “See, we told you they hate us”. And it becomes almost self-fulfilling in the end.

Of course, part of the problem is that anti-Semitism is very real. There are many people who do hate Jews, and those who would like to see us disappear. The Palestinian freedom movement is so clearly first and foremost motivated by a desire to see justice for Palestinians. And my experience with Palestinian leadership is that they have been extremely sensitive about making sure that genuine anti-Semites do not gain a foothold in the movement.

There will always be people who hate Jews, or gays, or Muslims etc…, but I think any of us seriously committed to universal human rights must guard against anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish hatred in all of its forms. The answer to bigotry is not more bigotry. It’s acceptance, and the creation of new communities based not on skin color but on values of universal equality. We should interrupt anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim rhetoric wherever we see it.

There can be no Jewish liberation without Palestinian liberation. It is so clear. We are enslaved by this dynamic, just as they are. We have become psychologically enslaved to our fear and our bigotry and Jewish Voice for Peace and the Jewish Liberation Movement is struggling to free our community from the grip of fear and trauma and to celebrate the wonderful diversity and richness of Jewish tradition that puts social justice for ALL people back at its center where it belongs.
Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman 
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Maariv: Targeted boycott and divestment pushing companies out of the settlements

The cover story of this morning’s (June 21 2010) Maariv business section reports that targeted boycott and divestment actions — Israeli, Palestinian and international — are pushing an increasing number of Israeli companies out of the West Bank settlements and into Israeli proper:

He [Yaakov Malach, CEO and owner of a company located at the Barkan Industrial Zone] says, “there is not a single factory in Barkan today that is not searching for alternative locations inside Israel, particularly if the construction freeze continues.” 

However, other factory owners are not willing to discuss the matter at the moment, for fear of prematurely harming their workers.  “Clearly, we’re concerned, and we are also examining things, but we don’t want to reveal the name of the factory,” a CEO of one of the largest factories in the area told Ma’ariv.

Along with this, Avraham Barkan, director of the Jezreel-Afula industrial zone administration, reports that he has received a number of requests from owners and managers of factories located over the Green Line, regarding the relocation of their activity to the Alon Tavor industrial park. 

Barkan attributes this to the factories’ fear of a shortage of workers as of the start of 2011, because of the Palestinian boycott, and to the fear that the construction freeze will continue

On June 17 2010, Calcalist’s Weekend Supplement profiled Who Profits?, the organization that compiles much of the data enabling targeted action:

Dr. Dalit Baum and Merav Amir watched all of that media noise from the side. They prefer to remain behind the scenes: to manufacture the thunder but to be away from the stage when it rolls into the media. The two are responsible for the project “Who Profits From the Occupation” that maps Israeli companies that earn money from the Israeli presence in the territories.

Baum and Amir, with another 10-20 activists, do an in-depth study of each company, “based on stock exchange reports, newspaper reports and more,” explains Amir.

Full translations of both articles are posted below.

Factories over Green Line looking for way back

Ronit Morgenstern, Maariv, June 21 2010 [business section cover story; Hebrew original here]

Ma’ariv has learned that the Achva factory, which is located in the Barkan industrial zone in Samaria, over the Green Line, is examining the possibility of relocating its factory for manufacturing halva and tehina into the boundaries of the Green Line. 

The revenues of the factory, which is the leading factory for halva in Israel and one of the leading manufacturers of tehina and pastries, come to about NIS 100 million per year.

Yaakov Malach, CEO and owner of the company, which exports about 25% of its products, says that he is encountering increasing difficulties on the part of clients in Europe, because he is situated over the Green Line.  “Selfridges of London took our products off the shelf in the past,” Malach relates, and adds that “it is difficult to reach sales points in Europe because of the fact that our products are marked as ‘Made in the West Bank.’”

Malach adds that the company also absorbs the special 7% tariff that is imposed on products manufactured over the Green Line, in order to keep his European clients.  “Now the situation is even more complicated because of the Palestinian boycott, which affects clients abroad. 

What will break us down, and other factories in Barkan, is the fact that starting on January 1, 2011 Palestinian workers will no longer be permitted to work in Israeli factories over the Green Line.”

Achva has recently invested some NS 35 million of its capital in setting up a new pastry factory in the Ariel industrial zone, near Barkan. 

“Despite the large investment, and despite the fact that we have prepared a nearby area for transferring the halva and tehina factory from the Barkan industrial zone to the site in Ariel, we are preparing an alternative within the Green Line, and examining sites along the Trans-Israel Highway,” Malach explains.

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 Maoist Development Projects in West Bengal

Chhotomoni Mahato (65), who earns her keep by plucking saal leaves in Patri village of West Midnapore, contributed Rs 10 to a Maoist-backed organisation to dig a pond in the area.

Those employed in various jobs in the locality are asked to stump up 20-25 per cent of their income for similar so-called development projects.

This is the Lalgarh area, 160 km west of Kolkata, deep inside West Midnapore district. Maybe extortion, but the Maoists have taken over the civic services, the law and order machinery, and even the judicial services in the area.

It is a “secret state” that seems to have survived the onslaught of 5,000 personnel of the Centre-state combined forces for the past one year.

In June last year, Hindustan Times went to discover this state within a state, carefully shielded from the public eye, emerging in different parts of West Midnapore.

The picture hasn’t changed.

In Kalsibhanga village, members of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) have created an irrigation canal that is 1,200 feet long, 5 feet wide, and also 5 feet deep.

The canal is connected with a pond that is 10 bigha (10 bighas = 144,000 square feet) in area. “This monsoon, we expect the surrounding farmland to get the needed irrigation through this canal. It will definitely increase rice production,” Manoj Mahato, PCAPA central committee member, told HT.

Inspector General (Western Range) of Police Zulfikar Hasan said: “We are aware that the PCAPA is running health centres. We have closed some of them.”

While there are allegations of extortion from local contractors, traders and service holders, the rebels say the contribution of funds and labour from people is voluntary.

The rebels have built and repaired roads of 50 km in some villages of the Jhargram sub-division.

The PCAPA claims to have dug about 200 wells, besides renovating around 1,000 existing ones, in their areas of domination, which spreads over 27 police stations in the three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

“The CPI(M)-led government in West Bengal never carried out development in this area,” said Lalmohan Mahato.

He had been a CPI(M) member before quitting the party in early 2009, in protest against corruption.

In Rameshwarpur village under the Bhimpur panchayat, the rebels run a health centre that offers service for 12 hours in the day. There are two doctors here though there are nine untrained persons who offer medical consultancy.

“This centre treats about 100 patients every day,” said Mahato.

The centre was in a government building that housed an anganwadi unit (mother- and child-care centre) before the rebels took it over more than a year ago.

There are 35 such health centres in the entire district. Rameshwarpur functions as headquarters for health services and medicines are dispatched from here.

In April 2010 the combined forces raided this centre and seized medicines, which was a temporary setback for the Maoist dispensation. “The forces took away medicines worth Rs 40,000 and smashed the almirahs,” said Haripada Mahato, in charge of the Rameswarpur health centre.

However, West Bengal CPI(M) State Secretariat member Robin Deb said the government had no objection to health centres, which are good for people. But if arms and ammunition is stored in them, the security forces must intervene.

The rebels are building a six-bed hospital next to the Rameswarpur health centre. “The basement has been built. It will be functional in two months,” Haripada Mahato said.

“Are they really building a hospital there?” asked an incredulous Aneesh Sarkar, deputy superintendent of police (operations), West Midnapore.

He is in the dark about it.

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