Archive | September 8th, 2010

THE INVISIBLE ENEMY

NOVANEWS

“Wikipedia Journalism” Can be Contagious and Deadly

September 8, 2010 

by Michael Leon  

 Acinetobacter baumannii – Superbug

Via the Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

Many Injured Contractors were repatriated via the Military Medical Evacuation System which was/is badly contaminated with Multi Drug Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.  Soldiers and Contractors alike lost lives and limbs to this dangerous Superbug.

Injured Contractors played an even larger role in the spread of MDRAb across the US and to every country of the “coalition” than did the soldiers themselves.  Injured Contractors were infected  in field hospitals, Landstuhl, Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval, and then transferred to Civilian Community hospitals.    Civilian hospitals were seldom warned their new transfers were infected with a life threatening highly contagious bacteria.

The DoD’s usual knee jerk reaction was to cover this problem up rather than deal with it.  Lie about to be exact.

Steve Silberman, Investigative Journalist for Wired, has written again, on the spread of this Superbug and the Military and “Wikipedia Journalism’s” aiding and abetting the enemy.

Is Wikipedia Journalism Aiding the Spread of a Deadly Superbug?

by Steve Silberman at NeuroTribes

Japan is in an uproar. Last week, officials at the Teikyo University Hospital admitted that 46 patients in the past year have been infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium called Acinetobacter baumannii, and that 27 have died. Today, the number of infected patients was increased to 53, and hospital announced that it would admit no new patients until it checks for the presence of the bacteria in more than 800 patients currently in the hospital. In a contrite press conference, hospital officials admitted that they had not promptly reported the infections to local authorities as they are legally required to do, and that this delay likely contributed to the spread of the bacteria through the wards, and to patient deaths.

Meanwhile, other Tokyo hospitals are also now reporting infections and deaths. Yurin Hospital discovered that eight of its patients — aged 59 to 100 — were colonized by the bacteria, and four of them have died. Three patients at the Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital were also infected, and one has died. The bacteria seems to be spreading rapidly through hospitals in the Japanese metropolis, aided by patient transfers, overuse of antibiotics, lack of sufficient infection control, and failure to report the infections to health authorities. Seeking to place the blame for the seemingly sudden upsurge of the bacteria, The Daily Yomiuri ominously speculated today, “Could medical tourists bring something more sinister than their own health problems with them when they come to Japan?”

Sadly, none of this is a surprise to me: not the rapid spread of the bacteria, not the deaths, and not the failure to acknowledge the problem until numerous patients had died or become colonized, and not the frantic seeking to place the blame by demonizing people from other cultures. The same pattern emerged in an epidemic of Acinetobacter baumannii infections among American and Canadian troops returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I wrote about for Wired magazine in 2007, in an in-depth investigative feature called “The Invisible Enemy.”

Back then, it was the U.S. Defense Department officials who were slow to acknowledge rampant acinetobacter infections in the ranks, and they were not nearly as eager to take responsibility as Japanese officials have been this week. Indeed, there seemed to be a coordinated effort to mislead the press about the true source of the infections. Antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumanniiis almost always found in hospitals and other health care facilities. It is a nosocomial infection — like MRSA, Clostridium difficile, and the other horsemen of the post-antibiotic apocalypse, it preys on those who are already sick, elderly, or traumatically injured, piling agony upon agony. That’s why troops and civilians gravely wounded in war are one of acinetobacter’s favorite target demographics: all that fresh, exposed meat, left undefended by already weakened immune systems or immunosuppressive drugs. Particularly among the young — car-crash victims and the like — many acinetobacter infections go undetected, because the primary trauma alone is enough to kill the patient.

The story coming from Washington, however, was that the source of the bacteria was Iraqi insurgents who were intentionally “dosing” improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with the superbug, in the form of dog feces or rotting meat. The alternate version of the official story was that Acinetobacter baumannii lurks in the Iraqi soil itself, waiting to pounce on young American warriors like some kind of microbial jihad. In the fog of war, reporters bought these official story lines and parroted them dutifully, from CNN’s Situation Room to CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who called A. baumanniian Iraqi bacteria” (as if organisms carry passports) after barely surviving an IED attack and subsequent infection in 2006. In the military and the press, the bacteria acquired the catchy nickname “Iraqibacter,” which has a darkly ironic grain of truth to it — wounded Iraqi citizens cared for in our field hospitals in the early days of the war became infected at much higher rates than our troops, and were then released back into a country with a health-care infrastructure that had been bombed back to the Stone Age.

For more information about how the Pentagon conducted a secret war against this bacteria, see my 2007 story. But I knew when I filed it that the saga of the medical battle against Acinetobacter baumannii was just beginning. Since my story ran, there have been numerous outbreaks of the superbug in hospitals in Europe and Asia, with scores of patients — both military and civilian — left dead.

In time, the “dosed IED” story slowly faded away. But one aspect of the misleading press coverage of the bacteria refuses to die: the notion — repeated by the Mainichi Daily News and other Japanese papers this week — that multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is commonly found in water and soil. This notion — that A. baumannii is nearly ubiquitous in the natural world — has been reinforced by everyone from local TV news stations to the New York Times.

Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is not commonly found in water and soil. It is found in hospitals and clinics, where the tenacious organisms earn their resistance to the best drugs we can throw at them; it is particularly prevalent in intensive-care units, lurking among those moist places where medical equipment enters the body, such as catheters and breathing tubes.

To put it another way, Acinetobacter baumanniiis not a “wild” superbug. It is a thoroughly domesticated superbug, inadvertently trained and evolved by us, living alongside us in a terrible synergy, and thriving on the spoils of war, aging, disease, and the failure to implement proper infection controls.

Beyond misleading shaggy dog-poop stories from Pentagon spokespeople, the source of this problem in journalism may be tragically mundane. Acinetobacter in general — that is, not baumannii — is one of the largest and most diverse genera of bacteria on the planet, comprising more than 30 distinct species, including Acinetobacter baylyi and Acinetobacter haemolyticus. Right up at the top of the Wikipedia entry for Acinetobacter, Googling journalists on deadline are informed that the bacteria is an “important soil organism.” While that’s true of some members of the genus, it’s not true of the species causing these infections. You have to get down in the fine print to realize that A. baumannii — the evolutionary sequel — is a whole other kind of beast, native to hospitals, and worthy of its own Wikipedia entry.

This confusion has resulted in hundreds of news stories — and even a fact sheet [PDF link] put out by the Infectious Diseases Society of America — claiming that Acinetobacter baumannii is “commonly found in water and soil,” when the scientist who discovered antibiotic resistance in the organism, Lenie Dijkshoorn, a senior researcher at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, told me when I interviewed her for my Wired story, “My colleagues and I have been looking for Acinetobacter baumannii in soil samples for years, and we haven’t found it. These organisms are quite rare outside of hospitals.”

So what’s the big deal?  The big deal is that errors in medical journalism — particularly ones that proliferate everywhere in big media virtually unchallenged — can lead to bad medicine. I felt a chill pass over me when I read a 2006 paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journalthat quoted Major Homer Tien, a Canadian trauma surgeon serving in Afghanistan, saying that because he believed the windblown desert sand carries A. baumannii, “There’s talk of building an antechamber to the hospital, so you’d have a double set of doors, to help keep the sand out.”

In any health-care setting, infection-control resources are stretched thin. Hospitals — on the front lines or back home — simply cannot afford this kind of confusion. Every news story that echoes the false claim that Acinetobacter baumannii is “commonly found in soil and water” is part of the problem.

A citizen journalist named Marcie Hascall Clark — the wife of a contractor who picked up the bacteria in a hospital after being wounded in Baghdad — has been sounding the alarm for years, a voice in the online wilderness. By 2007, when I wrote my Wiredstory, many physicians in the military had already figured out what was really going on, and were starting to implement strict protocols — including rebuilding the field hospitals, increasing disease surveillance, and isolating infected and colonized patients — to minimize colonization and new infections among wounded troops. The US medical establishment and smart science bloggers like Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug, have also awakened to the growing threat of this particularly nasty and adaptive organism. “In the all-star annals of resistant bugs,” McKenna wrote in June, “A. baumanniiis an underappreciated player.” 

Much of the media, however — from America to Japan — has yet to catch up.

 

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AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN STUDY GROUP (APSG)

NOVANEWS

Afghanistan:—Indigenous Participation is Essential in Af-Pak Study Group

September 8, 2010 

by Khalil Nouri

By Khalil Nouri Staff Writer / Editor 

There has recently been a call for the establishment of an Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group (APSG) that will be modeled off the Iraq Study Group (ISG) of the Baker-Hamilton Commission. The project is driven by the realization that this regional dilemma cannot be resolved militarily – it requires a political solution. Why? Because the coalition’s death toll is approaching 2,000 and frustration among NATO allies is mounting, evidenced by the news that Canada, the Netherlands, Romania – and most recently Poland – are all contemplating a full pullout.

 

Baker and Hamilton

Given these conditions, despite the fact that Washington’s Afghanistan policy is due for a review and maybe an overhaul in December, political challenges are on the rise and moving rapidly beyond the vast U.S. military’s ability to adapt. Tribal imbalance, years of ethnic feuds, cultural and religious divides, weak governance, opium cultivation, corruption, civilian deaths and warlord dominance have made this an uphill struggle for the West, and one too vaunting to repair. Thus, we hear the call for an Iraq-like study group.

However, the profound contrasts between the two nations demand participation by those who grasp all of the essential and unique aspects that must be considered in order to deliver a valid analysis. Due to the fact that the symptoms and root causes of the chaotic conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are so dramatically different, native independent Afghan and Pakistani experts must be employed to ensure the Study Group delivers solutions that are both transparent and realistic.

Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia (R), who authored the legislation in 2005 that created the Iraq Study Group, believes U.S. Afghan policy is adrift and sent President Barack Obama a letter stating:
We are nine years into our nation’s longest running war and the American people and their elected representatives do not have a clear sense of what we are aiming to achieve, why it is necessary, and how far we are from attaining that goal.”

Congressman Wolf and ten additional congressional representatives – a bipartisan group – urged the President to immediately appoint a study group to evaluate U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Based on the current political climate and the unique issues of the Afghanistan war, the APSG agenda and the results will be much different than the ISG’s. Qualified intellectuals can best identify and assess critical success factors and can delicately weigh the complex home grown political impasses.

A combined group of independent indigenous Afghan and Pakistani thinkers along with former U.S. dignitaries is required to create a comprehensive study that is credible and accurate. Without these types of individuals it is nearly guaranteed that any analysis coming out of Washington will be flawed, which could potentially have devastating consequence.

FORMATION OF THE STUDY GROUP

This Study Group tool is designed to measure the successes and failures of the war in Afghanistan and provide a foretaste for the upcoming Obama Administration’s policy review in December. In that regards, assembling not just an Afghanistan study group, but an Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group is essential; because both countries are inextricably linked, and it is impossible to solve Afghanistan’s ills unless there is a close and simultaneous study of Pakistan as well.

Moreover, Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, proposed the same idea, similar to a new ISG during Obama’s fall 2009 internal strategy review. The Ambassador wrote that the group should not become “a months-long Baker-Hamilton-style commission” but should instead be “a panel of civilian and military experts to examine the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy.”

However, there was to be a similar construct like the previous group, except that the civilian experts for this group would include expatriate Afghans in the mix.

MAIN OBSTACLES

Convincing an increasingly skeptical American public that success in Afghanistan is achievable is a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Yet, there is legitimate cause for this cynicism because according to a General Petraeus analogy, “Helping to train and equip host nation forces in the midst of an insurgency is akin to building an advanced aircraft while it is in flight, while it is being designed, and while it is being shot at. There is nothing easy about it.

This is just one of the many complexities the U.S. must address that plague this war-torn nation. The endless list includes issues that will involve other regional actors, especially those who have historically interfered in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.

The most complicated situation of all is in Kandahar, where tribal analysis is needed to assess the exact symptoms that are hindering governance, tribal balance, reconstruction and opium eradication.

The question that seems to be forefront in everyone’s mind is whether the conflict is winnable. However, we first need an answer to the everlasting mystery of what success in Afghanistan looks like. What are we fighting to achieve? Would it be satisfactory merely to ensure that Afghanistan did not become, what it was, a terrorist base? This leads directly to the thorny issue of attempting to pacify the Taliban, which so far has yielded negligible results.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s lack of leadership and increasingly erratic and alarming behavior has caused U.S. officials much consternation, as little to no progress has been made on reforming a corrupt Afghan government.

The recent firing of Afghanistan’s deputy prosecutor because he tried to indict a corrupt crony within Karzai’s inner circle, and the Kabul Bank’s financial disaster – an institution which bankrolled Karzai’s fraud-tainted election campaign – are events that have not only exposed the criminal and corrupt nature of the Karzai government and his family, but have also caused a national crisis.

Karzai’s ballot stuffing, corruption and incompetence have become the greatest obstacle to winning over Afghans from the Taliban, because he is now seen as nothing more than an illegitimate puppet. So, should there be such urgency for merely conducting another round of voting when the Karzai’s can buy the election? Or is it time for a more radical reappraisal of the Afghan constitution?

TESTING THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

Mr. Obama’s foreign policy will be tested further by year’s end before he evaluates his Afghanistan strategy in advance of the July 2011 start-date to begin pulling U.S forces out. His commander in the field is surely about to get tested again, and in a very dramatic way. The opposition in Afghanistan is keying their operations off of our timelines.

At this critical time, Obama is seeking the right policy position on Afghanistan, but his decision will only bear fruit if the Study Group were to include the real influential, intelligent Afghan-Americans who have inside knowledge that no other American is capable of obtaining for lack of bloodline connections.

General Petraeus, who is admired as a military commander that possesses profound intelligence, was the general in Iraq when the ISG was put together and he showed his full support for the process despite President Bush initially being opposed to it.

Subsequently, President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, all ended up supporting the initiative. It is highly likely that General Petraeus’s current war assessment will once again be weighed without bias or robust deconstruction. But Afghanistan is considerably more complex than Iraq – the General himself has admitted as much, yet the findings of this study can be misleading if the knowledge of Afghan natives is not leveraged.Subsequently, President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, all ended up supporting the initiative.

It is highly likely that General Petraeus’s current war assessment will once again be weighed without bias or robust deconstruction. But Afghanistan is considerably more complex than Iraq – the General himself has admitted as much, yet the findings of this study can be misleading if the knowledge of Afghan natives is not leveraged.

SOME RECOMMENDATIONS

The controversial withdrawal date of July, 2011 means different things to different people, and hopefully this study will clear the uncertainty surrounding it.

If the Study Group’s findings are intended to create a roadmap for good policy implementation, then it must initially include people of competence and capability to evaluate matters thoroughly. It is critical because the study will provide that official second opinion. This analysis must be as sound as possible or we will perpetually lack a solution to this 10-year old war in the graveyard of empires.

Above all, the Study Group should ratify and affirm the fact that the United States has no intention to betray and abandon Afghanistan, but it should begin by discarding the current strategy of accepting corruption as a necessary evil.

Furthermore, the costly military campaign is more likely jeopardizing America’s vital security interests as opposed to protecting them. The U.S. should pursue more modest goals that are both consistent with America’s true interests and are in balance with the norms and culture of Afghanistan that are, above all, more likely to succeed.

Senator Obama should welcome this type of analysis and critique of his strategy, especially considering he did not mind seeing an independent commission criticize President Bush during the Iraq Study Group.
However, with public doubts about Afghanistan growing, and with President Obama’s team preparing to conduct their own review in December; an independent commission might be launched as well. If so, it could greatly complicate the Obama Administration’s efforts to control its own destiny in Afghanistan. An Afghanistan/Pakistan Study Group that included Afghan-Americans would be a better alternative.

CONCLUDING

The formation of a bipartisan APSG that included prominent Afghan-Americans (and possibly Pakistani-Americans) is critical to working towards agreement on the most responsible path forward for the coalition, United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However well-intentioned the APSG is, foreign governments can no longer afford to dictate Afghanistan’s future without indigenous feedback, especially considering the results it has historically borne.

It is time to let Afghans participate in the effort to halt their nation from spiraling into chaos. It is time for Afghan-American voices to be included in this analysis and strategic decision-making process. And it is finally time to allow Afghans, for the first time, to have some input in determining the fate of their own country. 

Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan. www.nwscinc.org

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RESTORE A QURAN DAY

NOVANEWS

Military Religous Freedom Group to Donate a New Qur’an to Afghan Army for Every One Destroyed by Terry Jones

September 8, 2010 

by Michael Leon

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) will not let the Qur’an-burning Islamophobia and plain bigotry go unchallenged.

From the Military Religious Freedom Foundation:

After being contacted by scores of our active duty military clients asking us to do something in response to Terry Jones’ planned “Burn A Koran Day,” MRFF has decided that the most appropriate response would not be to try to stop Jones, but to donate to the Afghan National Army, as a gesture of good will and a statement of opposition to this entirely un-American act of religious bigotry, a new Qur’an for each one destroyed by Jones and his followers. 

 Restore a Quran day

 

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HAMAS RE-POSITIONING THEMSELVES

NOVANEWS

Hamas Re-positioning Themselves as American Solidarity Grows

September 8, 2010 

by Michael Leon  

Mr. Khaled Misha’l – Resistance Movement — (Hamas) Political Bureau

 – As world-wide resistance to the terror state of Israel grows, so too does American solidarity for Middle-East justice groups fighting off Israeli oppression and aggression. Such solidarity has shed light on Israel’s anti-negotiation, anti-peace stance, thus improving understanding by the American people of the position of Israel’s victims. “Negotiation today does not serve the Palestinian side… Just as there is currently no parity in the field of confrontation, there is also no parity around the negotiating table,” says Khaled Mesh’al, resistance movement. –

By Stuart Littlewood at MyCarBirdSeat–Hamas have been criticised recently for dragging their feet over the need to re-think their image.

They now seem to have at least made a start on this important task judging by a remarkable interview with Hamas chief Khaled Mesh’al by Middle East Monitor.

Headed Khaled Mesh’al lays out new Hamas policy direction’, the interview runs to 14,000 words and is not an easy read unless you find yourself on a long train journey without an attractive companion.

Nevertheless it makes a real effort to begin the process of ‘coming in from the cold’ and deserves a wide audience.

I hope Mr Mesh’al won’t mind too much if, for convenience, I reduce his lengthy and carefully worded position statement – for that is what it is – to a few bullet-points…

  • Hamas is a grassroots movement rather than a military group which exists to serve the interests of Palestinians at home and abroad. It is also a national liberation movement with resistance its main tool.
  • Hamas’s objective is ending the Zionist occupation and restoring Palestinian rights. Resistance is the means of achieving this.
  • Hamas only employ “legitimate resistance” – i.e. against the enemy occupying Palestinian land and holy places. They do not use resistance against their enemy’s allies who supply the weapons and munitions used to kill Palestinians. Nor do they extend resistance outside Palestine.
  • Resistance is a realistic option for Hamas. It has succeeded in removing the occupier from southern Lebanon and Gaza and is clearly effective in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Armed resistance against Israel is the result of Israeli occupation, injustice and oppression, not religious differences.
  • In Palestine there is a ‘special relationship’ between Muslims and Christians and they are united in the defence of Jerusalem and the cause.
  • Women are playing a wider role at the organizational level in Hamas.
  • Hamas believe that negotiations right now would only benefit Israel. Peace cannot be made when one party is so powerful and the other so weak. For the Palestinians negotiation under these circumstances means surrender.
  • Hamas do not recognise Israel. Doing so would effectively legitimize the occupation and the rest of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Such recognition would be unacceptable in terms of international law and human values.
  • Israel’s drip-drip demand for recognition is a sign of weakness bordering on an admission of illegitimacy.
  • Hamas is not looking for recognition by the West. It already has the legitimacy of the ballot box and its long struggle for justice.
  • Hamas aim to promote their just cause and win more friends internationally to support their legitimate right to resist the occupation.
  • There will be no peace in the region until the powers deal with Hamas and respect their interests and rights and quit favouring Israel at Palestine’s expense.
  • Hamasbelieve the Zionist entity is weakening and its “Greater Israel’ project is doomed. Israel is in a state of moral collapse and its ugly face has been exposed. Reading all the signs it is unnecessary to bow to demands to negotiate a political settlement.
  • Hamas are in no great hurry. They’ll wait.

It will be hard for western readers, unless they are dyed-in-the-wool Israel stooges, to find much that’s objectionable in the new policy. Given the decades-long suffering and the 90 years of betrayal, many will feel it makes perfect sense from the Palestinian perspective. So it is a powerful weapon – or would be if edited down to a manageable size and presented as a discussion document or released as a promotional leaflet.

Mesh’alis at pains to explain that resistance is a means not an end; it is a strategic tool for liberation and the backbone of their working system. He introduces a chilling note, however, in the context of jihad and the struggle when he talks about innovative methods, tactics and tools “such as expanding martyrdom operations and developing them to become a lethal weapon against the enemy, and striking deep at its security”.

And this is where he nearly derails himself. People who were with him up to that point are likely to leave in droves. Saying such a thing is shocking to western ears and Mesh’al is committing public relations suicide if he doesn’t ruthlessly blue-pencil that bit.

 Right now negotiation is “a fruitless gamble”

Addressing the thorny question whether Abbas, a minority factional leader propped up by the US and Israel, should be negotiating with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, Mesh’al scores some good points: “Negotiation needs to be based on unity at a national level. If one party sees benefit in a certain step towards negotiation, and pursues such a decision alone and without referring to the people, they will be placing themselves in a difficult situation and will grant the enemy an opportunity which it will certainly use against them…

“Negotiation today – under the current balance of power – is in the service of the enemy, and does not serve the Palestinian side. The conflict on the ground has not developed in a manner that has forced the Zionist enemy to resort to negotiation; it refuses to this day to withdraw from the land, and does not recognise Palestinian rights. Thus negotiation in such conditions is a kind of fruitless gamble.

“Israel is exploiting negotiations to normalise its relations with the Arab and Islamic world and to penetrate it, and to distort the nature of the conflict; Israel is the sole beneficiary of the negotiations as they stand…

“Just as there is currently no parity in the field of confrontation, there is also no parity around the negotiating table.”

As regards the mantra endlessly mouthed by western powers that Hamas must recognize Israel, Mesh’al says: “We refuse to recognise the legitimacy of Israel because we refuse to recognise the legitimacy of occupation and theft of land.”

Well, who can argue with that?

He makes a nice point about religion and how this is not the driver of resistance: “For us, religion is a cornerstone to our lives, belonging and identity, our culture and our daily actions; it is the energy that promotes patience and steadfastness, and gives rise to more sacrifice and generosity. This is a tremendous energy in the face of injustice, aggression and the powers seeking to harm our people and our nation. But we do not make of religion a force for engendering hatred, nor a cause or a pretext for harming and assaulting others, or grabbing what is not ours, or encroaching on the rights of others.”

Mesh’al points to how Palestine is famed for coexistence and tolerance among all faiths, and to illustrate the relationship between Muslim and Christian he quotes a verse from the Qur’an: “You will surely find that, of all people, the most hostile to those who believe are the Jews and those who are polytheists; and you will certainly find that, of all people, the nearest in friendship to those who believe are those who say: ‘We are Christians.’”

Looking ahead, Mesh’al acknowledges Israel’s military might but points to its increasing failures.  “Yes, it is capable of waging war, but it has long been unable to achieve victory.”

The Greater Israel project is dead, he says, “because the Zionist enemy is no longer able to accomplish it, and because Israel continues on the same path as did apartheid South Africa”.

Hamas see no quick fix but are sounding pretty upbeat. Are they deluding themselves?

Perhaps the answer lies in this appealing little saying from the Qur’an, which ends the interview: “For it is by turns that We apportion unto people such days of fortune and misfortune”. 

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk

See: 

Khaled Mesh’al lays out new Hamas policy direction

 

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A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS


We’re supposed to believe Zionist groups care about Islamophobia?

Posted: 08 Sep 2010

When the Jewish press in the US writes that Jewish groups there are working to combat anti-Muslim sentiment, it’s hard to take it seriously. The amount of Zionist racism and violence directed at Palestinians and Arabs in general is largely ignored, if not supported, by the Zionist lobby.

Hypocrisy is their middle name.

 

Are urban slums the future?

Posted: 08 Sep 2010

Dhaka, in bustling Bangladesh, is a megacity growing at an incredible rate. And it’s part of a massive global shift:

The earth’s countryside is emptying out, more quickly all the time. It took about 10,000 years for the human population to become 3 percent urban — a period extending roughly from the dawn of human settlement until 1800. A century later, Earth was still just 14 percent urban. But in 2007, the United Nations announced we’d crossed a monumental threshold. For the first time, more than 50 percent of the world lived in cities rather than rural villages and farms. By 2030, some projections say more than 80 percent of humanity will be urban, with many inhabiting the slum-choked cities of the developing world.

The shift is “a watershed in human history, comparable to the Neolithic or Industrial revolutions,” urban theorist Mike Davis wrote in his book “Planet of Slums.”

In the simplest sense, this transformation has a dual cause: Masses of migrants are abandoning the countryside, and they keep having babies after coming to town. By some accounts, fertility is a larger slice of the pie.

“It’s roughly a 40/60 split,” said Deborah Balk, an urbanization specialist with the CUNY Institute for Demographic Research in New York City. “We have more large concentrations of people than we’ve ever had before. That is new. And those concentrations themselves, they have momentum.”

 

Castro tells Ahmadinejad to respect the Jews

Posted: 08 Sep 2010

Atlantic reporter Jeffrey Goldberg – a man fond of war, Israel and conflict with Iran – is invited to Havana to meet and converse with Fidel Castro.

There is much to digest but this is especially interesting:

He said the Iranian government should understand the consequences of theological anti-Semitism. “This went on for maybe two thousand years,” he said. “I don’t think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything.” The Iranian government should understand that the Jews “were expelled from their land, persecuted and mistreated all over the world, as the ones who killed God.

In my judgment here’s what happened to them: Reverse selection. What’s reverse selection? Over 2,000 years they were subjected to terrible persecution and then to the pogroms. One might have assumed that they would have disappeared; I think their culture and religion kept them together as a nation.” He continued: “The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust.” I asked him if he would tell Ahmadinejad what he was telling me. “I am saying this so you can communicate it,” he answered.

 

Decency to the stranger hasn’t gone out of fashion

Posted: 08 Sep 2010

On the one hand, many of us are compassionate:

A third of the world’s population has given money to charity in the past month, the largest study ever carried out into global social conscience reveals today.

The “World Giving Index” used Gallup surveys of 195,000 people in 153 nations and asked people whether they had volunteered or given money or help in the last month. It also asked respondents to rank how happy they are with life.

It found that a fifth of the world’s population had volunteered, almost a third had given money to charity, and 45% had been “good samaritans” and helped a stranger.

The UK came eighth on the index overall and finished joint third, alongside Thailand, in terms of giving money, with 73% of the population having donated to charity. However Australia, New Zealand and the United States were far more charitable overall. In Europe, only Switzerland and Holland fared better than Britain.

Rich countries dominated the top positions – yet around half of the top 20 places were taken up by developing nations including Guinea, Guyana and Turkmenistan. Strikingly, India ranked at 134 and China at 147 – with Chinese people among the least likely on the planet to volunteer. Only 4% said they had done.

And yet here in Australia, demonising asylum seekers has become a national sport. What kind of country do we want to be?

Come bow down to the Murdoch King

Posted: 08 Sep 2010

Who ya Daddy?

They are unlikely to lay on a private jet to whisk him to the Med, but David Miliband has been given the seal of approval by the Murdoch empire after being invited to dinner next week by the media baron’s son James.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, is also due to attend the dinner on 17 September.

Rupert Murdoch summoned David Cameron for talks on his yacht before the Tory leader became prime minister. A private jet owned by Matthew Freud, Murdoch’s son-in-law, flew him to Greece. Tony Blair flew to Australia for a private Murdoch conference in 1995. The Miliband dinner will be a more low key affair in London.

David Miliband has still not decided whether to attend because his violinist wife Louise Shackelton is playing that night. But a source said it was right for Miliband to sup with Murdoch: “That is what you do when you are trying to persuade people that Labour is a strong and effective opposition party.”

Ed is not being left out. He is to have lunch next Wednesday with Dominic Mohan, editor of the Sun, and possibly Brooks.

 

John Mearsheimer and co on the futile “peace process”

Posted: 08 Sep 2010

Only Al-Jazeera English would host a discussion on the Middle East that actually tells things how they are. Unafraid to discuss the power of the Zionist lobby, Israeli colonisation and Greater Israel:

 

 

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CAN SAUDI KING ABDULLAH INVITE HIS BROTHER NETANYAHU TO RIYADH?

NOVANEWS

ALAN HART: SHOULD SAUDI KING ABDULLAH INVITE NETANYAHU TO RIYADH?

September 8, 2010 

by Gordon Duff  

KING ABDULLAH OF SAUDI ARABIA

Should Saudi King Abdullah invite Netanyahu to Riyadh?

By Alan Hart

The suggestion that he should was made by Thomas L. Friedman in his column for the New York Times on 7 September. My first response was to say to myself, “That proves Friedman doesn’t understand the complexities of the conflict and is at least a little bit bonkers.”

 But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that King Abdullah should do what Friedman suggested. In a moment I’ll get to what I think the Arabs and the Palestinians especially would have to gain without losing anything, but first here’s the essence what Friedman wrote.

 He noted that eight years have passed since the Arab peace initiative pushed by Abdullah when he was Crown Prince was presented to, and approved by, an Arab League summit in Beirut. (It offered a full and final peace, including the normalizing of relations between the entire Arab region and Israel, in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, and a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugee problem).

 Friedman then commented that the plan has been “floating out there in the ether of diplomatic possibilities” ever since its approval in 2002. “It is time to bring it out of the air. King Abdullah should invite Mr. Netanyahu to Riyadh and present it to him personally.”

 Friedman went on:

“Abdullah need not go to Jerusalem, as Anwar Sadat did, or recognize Israel. He can, though, still have a huge impact on the process by simply handing his plan to the leader for whose country it was intended. I can’t think of anything that would get these peace talks off to a better start. It feels to me as though Netanyahu is taking this moment seriously, but he is still very wary. By handing him the Abdullah plan, the Saudi monarch would unleash a huge peace debate in Israel. It would make it more difficult for Netanyahu to continue settlement building – and spur an Israeli public that is also still wary to urge Netanyahu to take risks for peace and support him for doing so. Netanyahu is the only Israeli leader today who can deliver a deal.

“The Saudis can’t just keep faxing their peace initiative to Israelis. That has no emotional punch. It actually says to Israelis: if the Saudis are afraid to hand us their plan, why should we believe they’ll have the courage to implement it if we do everything they suggest? Israelis are isolated. Seeing their prime minister received by the most important Muslim leader in the world in Riyadh would have a real impact.

“Both Israelis and Palestinians are going to have to do something really hard to produce a two-state solution. Saudi officials have developed a reputation in Washington for being experts at advising everyone else about the hard things they must do, while being reluctant to step out themselves. This is their moment – to do something hard and to do something important.”

Netanyahu has apparently said that he will go anywhere for peace, so let’s suppose for the sake of discussion that King Abdullah does invite him to Riyadh and he goes.

Either at his meeting with Abdullah to take personal delivery of the Arab peace plan or afterwards, Netanyahu would say there was one element of it that was completely unacceptable to all Israelis – the proposal that a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem should be on the basis of UN Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948. Its key words are the following:

“… the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

Down the years (and consistent with its Nakba denial), Israel has put two fingers up to Resolution 194 and denied the Palestinians a right of return, on the grounds that conceding the right would be an act of national suicide. As it was put, for example, by Likud spokesman Zalman Shoval in March 2007, “If 300,000-400,000, or maybe a million, Palestinians would invade the country, that would be the end of the state of Israel as a Jewish state.”

A truth, which all of Israel’s leaders have known for many years, is that the Palestinian right of return does not have to be an obstacle to peace unless they want it to be. Under the pragmatic Arafat’s leadership, the decision was taken to accept that in the event of a genuine and viable two-state solution, the right of return would have to be limited to the territory of the Palestinian state. Though they could not say so in public, Arafat and his leadership colleagues were completely aware this would mean that probably not more than 100,000 refugees would be able to return and that the rest would have to settle for compensation.

Another truth is that Jerusalem does not have to be an obstacle to peace unless Israel’s leaders want it to be. If they don’t want Jerusalem to be divided again, the Arabs will say, “Okay. Let it be an open, undivided city and the capital of two states.”

My point so far is that if Netanyahu did go to Riyadh, he would discover that the Arab peace plan of 2002, subject only to clarifications of the flexibility of the Arab position on the right of return and Jerusalem, actually offers what a rational Israeli government and people would accept with relief.

What would the Arabs and the Palestinians especially have to gain if King Abdullah did invite Netanyahu to Riyadh and he went?

In one scenario, and assuming that most Israelis are not beyond reason (an assumption I do not make), it might unleash what Friedman described as a “huge peace debate in Israel.” And that just might open the door to peace on terms virtually all Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could just about accept.

In another scenario – continued Israeli rejection of the Arab peace plan of 2002 – it would enable King Abdullah and all of his Arab brothers at leadership level to say to the world, and America especially, something like: “Now you cannot be in any doubt about what the obstacle to peace is – Zionism. If you really want peace, you must now play your part and use the leverage you have to call and hold Zionism to account for its crimes.”

If that didn’t mobilize support in the Western world for an acceptable measure of justice for the Palestinians and peace for all, nothing ever will.

Footnote: 

Some readers will say that a genuine and viable two-state solution, even if it was possible, is unacceptable because it would not provide the Palestinians with enough justice. My response is quite simple. One state for all is by far the best solution for all; but because of the reality of the existence of a nuclear-armed Zionist entity, the two-state solution is the best deal the Palestinians are ever likely to get.

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UN NUCLEAR HYPOCRISY

NOVANEWS

Nuclear Hypocrisy: UN Atomic Agency Curtails Probe of Israel’s Nuclear Capability

September 8, 2010

 by Michael Leon 

Mushroom Cloud
Nukes okay if held by Israel

World’s worst nuclear offender gets another pass

By Jonathan Tirone

September 06, 2010 (Bloomberg) -Sept, 03, 2010– United Nations investigators, ordered to write a report about Israel’s atomic capabilities, said they couldn’t compile enough information to assess the extent of the country’s nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency released documents today showing a split between member countries who want more light shed on Israel’s nuclear work and others that say the Vienna-based organization doesn’t have the right to pry. The IAEA’s 151 members voted in September 2009 to have the agency review Israel’s program as part of an effort to create a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East.

Israel declined to cooperate with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s inquiry on “political and legal” grounds, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a July 26 letter among the 81 pages of documents, calling the probe “unjustified.” Amano asked Israel to consider signing the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty when he visited the country last month.

Countries including Canada, the U.K. and U.S. opposed the probe, saying that the inquiry risked turning the IAEA into a political battleground, according to the documents. Others, including China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey, supported the investigation. Divisions over Israel will be discussed at the IAEA’s annual General Conference which convenes Sept. 20 in the Austrian capital, according to a provisional agenda of the meeting.

Israel has refused to open its nuclear facility in Dimona to UN inspectors. It says the site is a research facility. IAEA inspectors make routine checks, aimed at preventing the removal of atomic bomb-making material, from Israel’s Soreq Nuclear Research Center. 

While Israel has never acknowledged having atomic weapons, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington- based policy study group, estimates that the Jewish state possesses enough material for between 100 and 170 weapons.

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JEWISH NEW YEAR: THIS IS OUR PROMISE

NOVANEWNS    

Jewish Voice for Peace

Dear,
 

Tonight, the Jewish year of 5770 will come to an end, and a new year

 will begin.One of the most beautiful elements of Jewish tradition is

the opportunity during this time to look back and look forward –

to acknowledge our wrongs of the year past, to honestly assess

our actions, to think about what our hopes are for the next year,

and how we will try to fulfill them.We invite all of you – Jews and

non-Jews alike – to take a moment, reflect, and share with us your

hopes, dreams, and promises for the future on our website,

 This Is My Promise. Our promise to you this year is to be more

powerful, more courageous, and more effective in building

 a fierce and fearless movement for justice for all peoples in Israel

and Palestine.That’s why we are so deeply gratified to start the year

with such extraordinary news.One, we are greatly honored that Rabbis

Brant Rosen and Alissa Wise will be the co-chairs of Jewish Voice for

Peace’s new Rabbinical Council. You can learn more about the Council here,

 and download prayers and reflections that you can use during this holiday.

We know they will help you spark a dialog and raise awareness.Two, a brave

group of Israeli actors, writers, playwrights and directors recently declared

that they would not cross into the West Bank to perform in an illegal settlement.

You could think of it as their promise for the year. They were immediately

vilified by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and countless others and

asked us for support.We went to our friends in the arts world and the

amazing happened:

 more than 150 of the bright lights in American film and theater stood up to support these artists of conscience,

including people like Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Tony Kushner,

Julianne Moore, Mira Nair, Cynthia Nixon, Mandy Patinkin, Ed Asner,

Wallace Shawn, Jennifer Tilly,  Eve Ensler, Vanessa Redgrave

 and so many more. No matter what happens next, this is already

a breakthrough in shining a bright light on the illegality of the Israeli

 settlements, and the necessity of taking a stand for human rights and

international law. And because it is happening now, at the New Year,

I can’t help but consider the meaning of standing up for what is right

in this world – and that for our brothers and sisters in Palestine,

the consequences of speaking their conscience is so much greater.

And so…I’m making a promise this year:

To remind the world to fight for justice for Palestinian prisoners of

conscience. To continue to stand in solidarity with the brave Israelis

who are speaking out. To do everything we can to continue to build a

movement that fights for equal rights – nothing more, nothing less –

 for everyone, Palestinian or Israeli.

And in the end, we face the new year with great hope. Our movement

is stronger than ever, and the tide is turning. What is your hope for this year?

Tell us at www.thisismypromise.org.

Shanah Tovah – Happy New Year – may it be a year of sweetness,

peace, and justice for you, your family, your loved ones, and the world.

And to our Muslim friends Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak. 

Rebecca Vilkomerson
Jewish Voice for Peace

PS. Like you, we are deeply alarmed by growing anti-Muslim hatred

across the U.S. In this time of reflection, we urge you to read

Muslim Community Center? Why Not? Why Should Jews Care?

by our friends at www.JewsonFirst.org.

 

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ZIO=NAZI UNFAIR TRIAL

NOVANEWS

Israel: Activist Convicted After Unfair Trial

Leader of Protests on Unlawful Land Confiscation Faces 20 Years in Jail

September 8, 2010

2010_OPT_Protest.jpg

Palestinians hold a symbolic key during a protest in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah on May 14, 2010.

© 2010 Reuters

Related Materials: 

Israel: End Crackdown on Anti-Wall Activists

More Coverage: 

More Human Rights Watch reporting on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Israel’s conviction of Abu Rahme for protesting the unlawful confiscation of his village’s land is the unjust result of an unfair trial. The Israeli authorities are effectively banning peaceful expression of political speech by convicting supporters of nonviolent resistance.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

(Jerusalem) – An Israeli military court’s conviction of Abdullah Abu Rahme, an advocate of nonviolent protests against Israel’s de facto confiscation of land from the West Bank village of Bil’in, raises grave due process concerns, Human Rights Watch said today. On August 24, 2010, Abu Rahme, who has been detained for more than eight months, was convicted on charges of organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations and inciting protestors to damage the separation barrier, throw stones at Israeli soldiers, and participate in violent protests.

The convictions were based on allegations that did not specify any particular incidents of wrongdoing and on statements by children who retracted them in court, alleging they were coerced, and who did not understand Hebrew, the language in which Israeli military interrogators prepared the statements they signed. Abu Rahme, a 39-year-old schoolteacher, helped organize protests against the route of the Israeli separation barrier that has cut off Bil’in villagers’ access to more than 50 percent of their agricultural lands, on which an Israeli settlement is being built. He remains in custody pending sentencing, and could face 20 years in prison.

“Israel’s conviction of Abu Rahme for protesting the unlawful confiscation of his village’s land is the unjust result of an unfair trial,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Israeli authorities are effectively banning peaceful expression of political speech by convicting supporters of nonviolent resistance.”

Human Rights Watch reported in March that Israel has detained dozens of Palestinians who advocate nonviolent protests against the separation barrier and charged them based on questionable evidence, including allegedly coerced confessions from minors.

Israeli soldiers arrested Abu Rahme on December 10 at 2 a.m., when seven military jeeps surrounded his home in Ramallah, where he had resided for two years. An Israeli military court indicted Abu Rahme on December 21 on charges of incitement, stone throwing, and illegal possession of weapons. The arms possession charge was based on an art exhibit, in the shape of a peace sign, that Abu Rahme constructed out of used M16 bullet cartridges and tear gas canisters that the Israeli army had used to quell protests in Bil’in. Abu Rahme was ultimately acquitted of this charge. On January 18, military prosecutors added the charge of organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations to the indictment. Because Abu Rahme’s interrogation had already ended, he was never questioned about this charge.

Demonstrations against the separation barrier often turn violent, with Palestinian youths throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. Violence at demonstrations may result in the arrest of those who participate in or incite violence, but it does not justify the arrest of activists who have simply called for or supported peaceful protests against the wall, Human Rights Watch said.  Under international law, authorities can prosecute organizers of demonstrations or other assemblies only if evidence exists that the organizers of the assembly are themselves directly responsible for violence or incitement to violence. The authorities have a duty to ensure the protection of the right to assembly even if a demonstration leads to violence by others.

The indictment states that from August 2005 to June 2009, Abu Rahme was a member of a popular committee that, on Fridays, led villagers from Bil’in “in mass marches meant to disturb order” by attempting to damage the separation barrier and by “instructing” youth from the village to “throw stones at the [Israeli] security forces.”

“The defendant also prepared bottles and balloons filled with chicken feces, which the protestors then threw at the security forces,” the indictment stated.

Abu Rahme’s conviction on both the incitement and the organizing and participating in illegal demonstration charges raises serious due process concerns.

Abu Rahme was convicted of offenses that the prosecution alleged he committed at various, unspecified times over the course of four years ­- from 2005 to 2009 ­­­­- rather than on any particular dates, which made it impossible for the defendant to provide an adequate defense for his actions. The prosecution failed to specify when supposed offenses took place and what the form the offenses took, and the interrogators did not ask specific questions regarding the defendant’s role in the alleged incitement and organization of protests. The verdict acknowledged that “the witnesses’ interrogations should have been more comprehensive and exhaustive and should have gone to more details regarding the offenses.”

The only evidence that Abu Rahme incited others to throw stones was a statement by one 16-year-old child to this effect, and by another 16-year-old that Abu Rahme prepared balloons filled with chicken feces for protestors to throw at soldiers. Both youths later retracted their statements, saying that they were threatened and beaten by their interrogators. The interrogators denied threatening and abusing them in detention, and the court accepted the interrogators’ account rather than the boys’. However, the state did not contest that the interrogations of both youths occurred in highly threatening circumstances. They were interrogated the morning after being arrested by the Israeli military during raids on their homes, between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., and having been accused of throwing stones.

The state did not contest that the children’s parents or guardians were not present during their interrogations, in violation of an Israeli court ruling on the issue. The boys were denied access to lawyers until after their interrogations. Neither youth could read Hebrew, the language in which the statements they signed were written. The interrogating officers admitted that they had received no training in questioning minors, that the minors did not read Hebrew, and that they had neglected to ask the witnesses many relevant and specific questions concerning the charges brought against the defendant.

One other child witness whose statements the court also admitted as evidence claimed only that Abu Rahme was a member of the Bil’in popular committee and that he participated in the protests.

All the child witnesses claimed to have been abused during interrogation. H. Y., 16, claimed in court that the soldiers who arrested him beat him and that from the time he was arrested until the next day when his interrogation began, he was left handcuffed and blindfolded on the ground, without food. The children stated in court that their signed statements incriminating Abu Rahme were prepared by their interrogators in Hebrew, a language they could not read. A.B., a fourth witness who was not a minor, testified that he signed his “confession” after his interrogator threatened to beat him and to put him in solitary confinement. K.H., 16, said he signed his confession after the interrogating officer yelled at him, threatened to hurt his parents, and hit him.

The military court declared the children to be “hostile witnesses” for contradicting the statements they had signed during their investigation, and accepted their statements as evidence. The verdict states that there was no need to take into account the alleged “circumstances of the arrest,” because the youths did not mention those circumstances in the trial or during their interrogation, and did not complain that their judgment had been “impeded.” The verdict further argued that the children’s testimony during the trial was not credible, noting that two of them “smiled” during the trial and that three had lied and given “dishonest testimonies.” For example, one witness stated there was no “popular committee” in Bil’in, but later said the “committee members” were angry at him for throwing stones. By contrast, the verdict found that the witnesses’ statements to the police had an “inner logic,” without acknowledging that these statements were prepared by an Israeli security official in a language the witnesses could not read, and that they signed these statements in a coercive atmosphere after having been arrested in the middle of the night and interrogated in violation of Israeli law.

The court chose to disregard statements by character witnesses indicating that Abu Rahme has long been committed to nonviolent protest. Dov Khenin, a member of the Israeli parliament, and Dr. Gershon Baskin, founder and director of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information, testified on the defendant’s behalf as character witnesses. An Israeli protester, Jonathan Pollack, acknowledged Palestinian youths often have thrown stones but told Human Rights Watch that he had attended “dozens” of protests with Abu Rahme and had never seen him incite others to violence.

On December 10, 2008, one year before Abu Rahme’s arrest, he received the Carl Von Ossietzky Medal for Outstanding Service in the Realization of Basic Human Rights, awarded by the International League for Human Rights in Berlin. European Union (EU) High Representative Catherine Ashton said in August 2010 that the EU considered Abu Rahme to be “a Human Rights Defender committed to nonviolent protest.”

Abu Rahme was convicted of incitement to throw stones and of organizing illegal protests, based on article 7(a) of Israeli military order 101 of 1967, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and prohibits “attempting, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area [of the West Bank] in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order.” Abu Rahme was also convicted of organizing and participating in illegal protests under the same military order (articles 1, 3, and 10), which requires obtaining a permit for any gathering of 10 people or more listening to a speech “that can be interpreted as political,” or for any 10 people or more walking together for a purpose “that can be viewed as political.” Persons who call for or “support” such gatherings are subject to the same penalties. The civil law applied within Israel, by contrast, requires a permit only for “political” gatherings of more than 50 people.

Another Bil’in resident, Adeeb Abu Rahme, was the first person to be charged by Israeli military prosecutors with organizing illegal demonstrations and with incitement since the first Palestinian intifada, which ended in 1993, according to Abdullah Abu Rahme’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, and to the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, of which Abdullah Abu Rahme is a leader. The same charges have been used against four members of Bil’in’s popular committee, including Abdullah and Adeeb Abu Rahme, and these represent the first such charges in close to 20 years. Abdullah Abu Rahme’s conviction and the subsequent use of these offenses to charge other protestors raise concerns that Israeli authorities are applying the law selectively to stifle non-violent protest leaders.

Sentencing is scheduled for next month, after which Abu Rahme will appeal the conviction.

Background

Israel’s separation barrier – in some places a fence, in others an eight-meter-high concrete wall with guard towers – was ostensibly built to protect against suicide bombers. However, unlike a similar barrier between Israel and Gaza, it does not follow the 1967 border between Israel and the West Bank. Instead, 85 percent of the barrier’s route lies inside the West Bank, separating Palestinian residents from their lands, restricting their movement, and in some places effectively confiscating occupied territory, all unlawful under international humanitarian law.

In Bil’in, the wall cuts villagers off from 50 percent of their land, putting the land on the “Israeli” side. The Israeli settlement of Mattityahu East is being built on the land to which the village no longer has access. In September 2007, after years of protests organized by Bil’in’s Popular Committee, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the separation barrier in Bil’in must be rerouted to allow Bil’in villagers access to more of their land; the military only recently began survey work preliminary to rerouting the barrier.

The International Court of Justice ruled in a 2004 advisory opinion that the wall’s route was illegal because its construction inside the West Bank was not justified by security concerns and contributed to violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law applicable to occupied territory by impeding Palestinians’ freedom of movement, destroying property, and contributing to unlawful Israeli settlement practices. Israel’s High Court of Justice has ruled that the wall must be rerouted in several places, including near Bil’in, because the harm caused to Palestinians was disproportionate, although the rulings would allow the barrier to remain inside the West Bank in these and other areas.

In contrast to its treatment of those protesting the route of the wall and other unlawful Israeli practices in the Occupied Territories with overwhelmingly peaceful means, in January 2010 the Israeli Knesset approved a wholesale amnesty to protesters involved in violent protests in connection with the 2005 evacuation of Jewish settlements from Gaza.

In 2005, Abu Rahme’s brother, Rateb Abu Rahme, was shot in his foot and arrested for assaulting a border policeman and stone-throwing. During the trial, the court ruled, based on filmed evidence, that the border policeman had given false testimony. The Police Officers Investigations Unit then indicted the soldier, who confessed that he had fabricated the event; the border policeman was released after the conclusion of the investigation and transferred to a different unit within the Israel Defense Forces. Rateb Abu Rahme was acquitted.

Earlier this year, a military court decided not to investigate the death of a relative of Abdullah Abu Rahme, Bassem Abu Rahme, who was killed by a tear-gas canister during a Bil’in protest on April 17, 2009. In July 2010 the Military Advocate General agreed to investigate the event after the Abu Rahme family’s lawyer threatened to petition the High Court of Justice and after receiving the findings of forensic experts, indicating that the canisters were fired directly at the protester in violation of the open-fire regulations.

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ZIONIST TESTIMONY ABOUT THE NAKBA

 

NOVANEWS

3 Files  View Slideshow  Download All
Amnon Neumann Testimony.pdf (209KB); Amnon Neumann_The Nakba2.jpg (68KB); Amnon Neumann- The Nakba1.jpg (55KB)

I recommend reading the interview.  It touches on what soldiers did to Palestinians during the Nakba (the Catastrophe 1948-9) and also touches on the effect of their acts on some of the soldiers. Because the interview is from the perspective of someone who participated in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, it is worth reading even for those of you familiar with Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and either edition of Ben Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. 

 Many thanks to those who conducted the interview and made it available to the rest of us.

 Dorothy

—————- 

From: 1948 LEST WE FORGET

To: undisclosed-recipients:

September 08, 2010

“Zochrot” have conducted this intriguing interview with one of Palmach’s fighting members (The Jewish Underground Forces in 1948) outlining only some aspects of the ethnic cleansing process resulting in the 1948 Palestinian Nakba. We applaud Zochrot for this interview.

Please note that some aspects of the testimony by Amnon Neumann may not appeal to some of the readers.

Antoine Raffoul

Coordinator

1948: LEST WE FORGET

www.1948.org.uk

We may occasionally send you e-mail updates on our activities. If at any time you wish not to receive this information, please let us know by sending us a blank message with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

“Zochrot” have conducted this intriguing interview with one of 
Palmach’s fighting members (The Jewish Underground Forces in 1948) 
outlining only some aspects of the ethnic cleansing process resulting 
in the 1948 Palestinian Nakba. We applaud Zochrot for this interview.

Please note that some aspects of the testimony by Amnon Neumann may 
not appeal to some of the readers.

Antoine Raffoul
Coordinator
1948: LEST WE FORGET
www.1948.org.uk

We may occasionally send you e-mail updates on our activities. If at 
any time you wish not to receive this information, please let us know 
by sending us a blank message with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.
  
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  Amnon Neumann_The Nakba2.jpg
(68KB)

  Amnon Neumann- The Nakba1.jpg
(55KB)

 

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