Archive | September 13th, 2010




A Jordanian complains about his king and the Zionists

Sep 13, 2010 

Philip Weiss


The other night in Jordan my wife and I ate at a fancy place and when the bill came, I had to walk off to the cash machine to get more money. 

When I got back my wife was sitting with the restaurateur and two of his friends drinking tea and having a political conversation. The men were complaining about King Abdullah of Jordan. The night before the king’s brother had had a wedding in the desert. 15 million dinar ($22 million). Earlier this year the queen had had a birthday. 10 million dinar. Then the queen was off to Italy to help the poor children of Italy. There are no poor children here?

I was excited to hear Jordanians complaining about their king. They spoke English well, they were sophisticated men. I sat on a plastic chair that a boy brought over.

The king doesn’t care about his people. There is a layer of rich people and then nothing, and then there are the common people. Many make 3-500 dinar a month. But it takes 1000 dinar a month to live in this country.

I said, What will it take to change that? The restaurateur said, “Obama can change it, maybe.”

In that moment, the conversation made a sudden turn.

I felt he was saying that Obama was propping the king up to support Israel and that only when American support for Israel changed would the corrupt dictatorships of the Arab world begin to loosen.

I said, “Do you think Obama can bring middle east peace?”

The man made a face. “No. He canot. No one can do that.”

Why not? “When someone takes your land and your house, and make you flee, and they rape your mother and kill your sister, do you think that you can forget that? No. No one can forget that.”

Besides, he went on, there was a difference between the Palestinians in the 67 territories and the ones in the 48 territories. In the 48, they are relatively comfortable, they can make money. But in the 67 it is a prison. You know, he went on, Netanyahu is more powerful than Obama. “Because what is the most powerful thing in the world, money. And who has the most money? The Jews. So Netanyahu doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want.”

I said, “But Abdullah and ‘Asad just met in Damascus and said that they would accept Israel on the 67 lines. The Arab League has said the same. Why isn’t that possible?”

My wife stood up. “Phil I’m gong tback to the hotel.” She finds political conversations boring. I told her to wait a minute.

He said, “No one can make a peace. God can’t make a peace. Besides, there are too many people making money off the situation.”

And after that we shook hands and left.

A few comments: I went to Jordan to learn more about the Arab context of the problem. And it is interesting that this man has a more sophisticated understanding of the root of the problem than most people in the United States, when he speaks so feelingly of the Arab dispossession and persecution of the Palestinians. Few people in the U.S. are aware of these things. Even though Brown scholar Glenn Loury talks about the Nakba on, this is a minority understanding. If you read Michael Beschloss’s book on great presidential decisions or Robert Kaplan’s book on The Arabists, you will find that the creation of Israel is described as a great liberal advance. But it wasn’t a liberal advance. It was solving a European problem with a colonial enterprise that resolved itself with ethnic cleansing. The ethnic cleansing is remembered and resented across the Arab world. The Israelis thought that they could merely push the problem away, and they still think that, but it has haunted them.

The conversation reminds me of why I am for the right of return. Because it is way overdue, because as Gideon Levy says in his column that Adam quoted here the other day, it is the soul of the issue, because it is right, because it is about respect, because the U.N. demanded it again and again and again, and because it would heal more than anything else would heal. These old grievances must be dealt with. There is only one way to put them aside, acknowledgment, apology, compensation. And yes, restoration of villages and homes when people wish to return (without eviction).

The description of Jewish power will strike many people as anti-Semitic. And I guess it is; certainly it is imprecise and makes gross generalizations about a group of people. Some years ago Tom Friedman (who is rich as Croesus) spluttered that the Arab world is filled with conspiracy theories; surely he meant talk like this. While it is true that I should have said to the man that I am Jewish, (my wife was impatient, I wanted to ask him if he was Palestinian and didn’t), I would just point out that his statement is consistent with, a, Seymour Hersh saying on Amy Goodman that the Iran bombing push is about “Jewish money” in the political system, b, MJ Rosenberg saying recently that Netanyahu has more power in Congress than Obama does, again because of election contributions/the lobby, c, Juan Cole saying that neoconservative ideas persist because half of the Fortune 400 billionaires are neocons (which yes is shorthand for rightwing Jews), d, Netanyahu saying, in a recently discovered video from ten years back, that the U.S. is “something that can be easily moved” (or similar words; lousy internet connection here).  I have always said that an honest descripton of how much money Jews bring into the political process is necessary if we are going to straighten this issue out. Denying Jewish power is an intellectual dodge–yes, one widely undertaken to prevent another Holocaust. Well sorry it’s not helping. 

The conversation gave me a sense of purpose. Zionism created this thoughtful man’s rage. Which, yes, is shared across the Arab world. This grievance must be answered. Only madmen want to strip Jews of power in western societies. Jewish power is just the flavor of the elite these days, the meritocratic culture of the west. The idea is to change Jews. Young Jews, liberal Jews, aware Jews, empowered Jews, universalist Jews, led by people like Lynn Gottlieb and Rebecca Vilkomerson, freely acknowledge the man’s grievance and are working to change the Jewish adherence to Zionism. That is the most productive work I can do.

91 year old, and his grandson, among three farm workers killed by Israeli shells in Gaza

Sep 13, 2010

Adie Mormech

When 91 year old Ibrahim Abu Sayed left his home this morning to check on his land and animals by the remains of his old house, he took with him his 17 year old grandson Hossam and his friend and neighbour Ismail Abu Oda, who was 16. His son and Hossam’s father didn’t want to come because it was the final day of EID, the muslim celebration that follows Ramadan.

Despite his age, Ibrahim Abu Sayed was still mobile enough to regularly check his three dunums of land, as he had done for decades, the last decade being the hardest as his house was destroyed in 2000 by Israeli bulldozers and his rebuilt house destroyed in the three-week attacks by Israel on Gaza over the new year of 2009.

But early Saturday evening would be the last time Ibrahim, Hossam and Ismail would work their land. 700 metres from the border where their land was located, north of Sharab street, Israeli tanks made an incursion into Gaza. The grandfather, his grandson and friend did not stand a chance as the tanks fired shells directly at them.

We met the family members at the hospital. The wife of Ibrahim was devastated, screaming in horror at the fate that had befallen her family.

“I was there half an hour before it happened”, said Mohammed Abu Oda, another relative. “I saw them by their sheep. I heard the shells from the Israeli tanks, the shells we learned soon afterwards had killed our relatives.”

They were killed instantly, and according to the doctor (who wished to remain anonymous) who examined once they had arrived at Beit Hanoun hospital. Ibrahim suffered severe shrapnel injuries to his face, chest and stomach and his grandson Hossam had the back of his head blown away. We verified this immediately as we saw the mutilated bodies in the morgue. Ismail, the friend of Hossam, had arrived at the hospital 30 minutes after the others but had been buried before we got there; most part of his head was shot away. The boys were close friends, studying in the 9th and 10th grade respectively, and had expected to return to school the following day after Eid.

But on that day they still were on holidays, so they helped Ibrahim, like they were used to do. Because despite of having faced their hardest times, after their house was destroyed and their land bulldozed, the bedouin family still had no other job other than farming. Although they were obliged to farm their land close to the border, it was still far enough away to be outside the Israeli imposed “buffer zone”

“Israel claims that there’s a three hundred meter buffer zone, but they were 700 meters far from the border”, said an Uncle of Ismail, Majdy Abu Oda. “The people there are farmers who’ve been living there for years. We, the people here, were never dangerous for the Israelis. They have photos of the people who live and work here, the area is full off observation cameras. So they knew them.”

That was why the family considered themselves to be safe, even though there were tanks at the border. But they paid with their lives for that. More victims of Israel’s ‘collective punishment’, a crime against humanity according to article 33 of the Geneva Convention of which Israel is a signatory member.

So a 91 year old man, his grandson and a friend of his were killed while tending to their livestock on their own farm, 700 metres from the border with Israel. Where is the clamour for justice? Where is the international outrage that at least should be comparable to the Israeli settlers shot a week ago, who actually were not settled on their own land according to international law? Israeli armed forces have continued to wage a war against civilians in Gaza, long after the Israeli air and ground assault in the winter of 2008/2009.

With the family clearly posing no threat, and known as long term residents of the area, there is little imagination required to understand the ease with which these Israeli soldiers felt they could kill these three men with impunity, once their livelihood had already been destroyed.

Saber Zaneen General Coordinator of the Beit Hanoun solidarity group, ‘Local Initiative’ released a callout for justice in a statement:

“Today the occupation committed a new crime which will be added to its black list. Three martyrs now rest in heaven after the shelling an again we call on the international community and civil society to pressure the occupation forces to stop such crimes against Palestinian civilians and to start working on giving some protection to the local people in the Gaza Strip.”

Adie Mormech is a human rights advocate based in the Gaza Strip who was previously abducted by the Israeli navy from the eighth Free Gaza Movement boat, the Spirit of Humanity. He volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement.

On 9/11 anniversary, Park 51 Islamic center sparks rallies, for and against

Sep 12, 2010

Alex Kane and Ellen Davidson

Thousands rallied in Manhattan’s City Hall Park, near the site of Ground Zero, on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to denounce anti-Muslim bigotry, while blocks away an equal number demonstrated against the proposed Cordoba House Islamic community center at 51 Park Place in lower Manhattan.

At the Unity and Solidarity Rally, speakers denounced racism, urging protesters to fight growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Israel/Palestine conflict. The multiracial crowd heard antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, former U.S. Rep. and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Attorney Ramsey Clark, the Raging Grannies and representatives of peace, religious, labor, and community organizations including the Albany Central Labor Federation, the Bail Out the People Movement, Riverside Church, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, the Islamic Society of North America, United for Peace and Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Veterans for Peace. The anti-Islamophobia protest was organized by the International Action Center and backed by a broad coalition of leftist, Muslim, Arab and Palestine solidarity groups. Demonstrators marched to Foley Square, chanting and holding signs against anti-Muslim bigotry.

At the anti-Cordoba House rally, the mostly white participants waved U.S. flags and chanted “No mosque here.” Speakers at the anti-community center rally included Pamela Geller, a leading voice on the Islamophobic right, and the notorious Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has stated that he “hates Islam.”

The slide show below features pictures from both actions.

This report originally appeared in the Indypendent.

After Birthright: ‘We’re not stereotypes’

Sep 12, 2010 

Rachel Marcuse


A short film made in December, 2007 by Images for life project with Al-Rowwad center in Aida refugee camp.

Last month, activist Rachel Marcuse spent 10 days in Israel as part of the Taglit-Birthright program — a fully sponsored trip for young North American Jews to learn more about the country. She went to bear witness and ask questions about the Israeli state’s treatment of Palestinians, and to learn about other complex issues in Israel today. After the program, she spent another 10 days elsewhere in Israel and the West Bank of Palestine talking to Israeli Jews, Palestinian citizens of Israel, international activists, and Palestinians in the occupied territories. This is the sixth of a seven-part series on what she found. You can read the entire series here. This series first appeared in and this story can be found here.

Hannah and I wait for the green-and-white bus in Jerusalem to take us to the checkpoint where we’ll cross into the West Bank on our way to Bethlehem. As soon as we’re on board, it feels like we’re entering a very different place — Arab music plays on the bus radio and a poster of a horse hangs above the driver. We get out at the heavily-fortified checkpoint and are waved through by a bored-looking guard who glances at our foreign passports, but doesn’t inspect them.

We get into a taxi and pass the Separation Wall, covered by some incredible graffiti. The taxi driver offers to take us on a tour of the art of the famous street artist, Banksy, who has done numerous pieces on the wall and around Bethlehem. We decline as we have an appointment at the Al-Rowwad Centre in the Aida Refugee Camp just outside Bethlehem.

The group sums up its work:

Al-Rowwad (Pioneers for life) is a cultural and theatre training centre, established in 1998….Alrowwad, initiator of the “Beautiful Non-violent Resistance”, is an independent, dynamic, community-based not-for-profit organization which strives to empower children and women by targeting behaviour, knowledge, concepts and practices through beautiful and non-violent means. 

We are greeted by three friendly staff when we arrive. One of the young men, it turns out, started using Al-Rowwad’s services himself 11 years ago. He’s now 22 and runs IT for the Centre. There is zero green space in Aida Camp, where the houses are stacked on top of each other, and it becomes clear that the Centre plays a vital role in the camp for kids who don’t have much in the way of resources or community services and are often just really bored.

We’re shown several videos about the separation wall and the checkpoint, all created by people at the centre, including, of course, the children. We are shown images of the line-ups at the checkpoint: 5,000 Palestinians cross each day into Jerusalem — many to go to work — often lining up at 3 a.m. in order to make it through in time.

Two of the staff members, Murad and Ahmed, both in their early 20s, take us on a tour of the UN-administered refugee camp. We see kids filling containers with water at a pump, because, we are told, “you never know when the Israelis are going to turn off the water.” We wander through a housing compound and are quickly offered tea by several residents. This is typical. Throughout the West Bank, we are offered tea and coffee constantly — everyone, it seems, wants to sit us down and tell us their story. The friendliness, the hospitality, is almost overwhelming. We stop at one woman’s house and she brings us black tea with mint and a plate of watermelon. Her little girl is fascinated by my camera and puts on my hat and sunglasses. She doesn’t speak any English, but, as always with kids, it doesn’t really matter.

We hear something from this family that we hear echoed in stories from many Palestinians: “We’re not stereotypes,” i.e., “We’re not terrorists.” It’s interesting that this thought is articulated so clearly — and in English at that! It almost feels like many of the folks we talk to have received media training — but perhaps it’s more about practicality. The Palestinians’ very livelihood, in many ways, depends on support from the international community and everyone takes the opportunity to talk to a foreigner, especially if she’s writing about them.

Later in the day, in Ramallah, we meet other folks who really do get media training. These are the activists with the International Solidarity Movement:

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli apartheid in Palestine by using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles. Founded by a small group of primarily Palestinian and Israeli activists in August 2001, ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by providing the Palestinian people with two resources, international solidarity and an international voice with which to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force.

“Fred,” our Australian media contact, meets us at a café in central Ramallah. (Fred is not his real name: all of the activists take code names to counter the frequent harassment from the Israel Defense Forces.) The café, named “Stars and Bucks,” has no formal connection to Starbucks, although it certainly imitates the aesthetic of the global chain. “Fred” checks us out with some care and eventually brings us back to the ISM apartment so I can interview some of the activists.

I’m interested in why they’re here. The response from the half dozen young people we meet, all between 22 and 30, is that the movement connects directly to them. They feel that their home governments are complicit in oppression of the Palestinians and that they had to do something. A sense of justice comes out in the conversations.

“Hassan,” a former business consultant from London, explains his decision to come to the West Bank: “First, my government supports and legitimizes the crimes of the Israeli state. Second, the conflict is a key source of geo-political conflict in the world. It’s up to citizens of the world to stop it when the solution is so simple.”

Hassan shows me a tear gas canister that nearly hit him at a demonstration a couple of weeks back. He tells me that these large metal canisters are frequently shot into crowds — as opposed to over, which is theoretically the soldiers’ obligation — wounding, and even killing, many in the process. The ISM activists act as human shields. They take the lead from local Palestinians and hope that their presence as internationals will reduce the number of injuries… and deaths. They are not always successful. I think of Rachel Corrie. ISM’ers take photographs, record video and disseminate these records around the world.

“Eli,” also from the U.K., was politicized while doing her Master’s degree. It’s her second time in Palestine. She’s still shocked by the situation, especially in Hebron: that’s where she saw graffiti that read “Gas the Arabs.” I ask her why she thinks more Israelis aren’t involved in peace activism. She tells me that the Israel propaganda machine keeps people willfully ignorant. She says, if you’re a Jew in Israel, it’s “easy to have a nice life.” The soldiers, she worries, are “just teenagers who are bored.”

We leave the apartment and head to an inexpensive hotel near the central square in Ramallah. We drop our stuff off and go out to get some food. Although we are two of the very few women on the street after dark, no one bothers us. The men strike us as less aggressive than in Israel. We grab some shwarma — possibly the best I’ve ever had — and head back to the hotel. We fall asleep to the sound of the call to prayer.

Tomorrow, Hannah and I will go to Hebron. It turns out to be the most tense place I have ever been.

Rachel Marcuse is a Vancouver-based activist, facilitator and apparatchick. The executive director of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), a municipal political party, she also freelances, focussing on facilitation skills, youth-engagement and strategic planning. Her views do not necessarily represent the positions of any organization whatsoever.

Injustice is Injustice

Sep 12, 2010 

Joseph Glatzer

Yesterday, I started this 9th 9-11 anniversary as I would any other day: watching Al Jazeera English video clips from their You Tube channel

I start with an “Inside Story” about Mohamed ElBaradei and other opposition movements inside Egypt demanding change.

Next, I watch a report about Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi’s house being attacked and vandalized.  He was put on unofficial house arrest by Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Basij forces to prevent him attending the annual al-Quds day march.

The regime fears a repeat of last year’s Green Movement tour de force; when they used the oppurtunity for mass protests: against Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and the ruling regime in their country.

Then, a Nour Odeh report from the West Bank.  Even on Eid many Palestinian families are denied visits to their loved ones.  Hundreds of Palestinians’ are buried in unmarked graves, identified by number only.  Israel refuses to return the bodies to the families.

Then, a short interview with Jesse Jackson on the NY Mosque and images of the counter-protests are shown.

Finally, a segment about a new “Museum of Shame” in Turkey; commemorating the victims of the 1980 military coup.  Several referendums will be voted on tomorrow in Turkey, including one that lifts immunity for military officials involved in the 1980 coup.

From a pro-US authoritarian government in Egypt, to an anti Imperialist & pro-Palestinian government in Iran, to a pro-US/anti-Palestinian government in Israel, to anti-mosque protesters in the US, all the way to a pro and anti-US/pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian government in Turkey.  It doesn’t matter.

It’s not about pro or anti anything.  It’s about insider vs. outsider, people in power vs. the people, the marginalized vs. the glorified.

No matter the purported ideology of the government they are all fighting the people, and the people are fighting for justice.

After watching these clips in succession it hit me: I’m not just for the Palestinians.  I’m for anyone anywhere fighting the power that oppresses them; no matter what ideological disguise it uses to cloak itself.

Posted in Middle East2 Comments



From the Desk of Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can’t Wait

Dear F,

Debra Headshot

Nine years ago, in the immediacy of the 9-11 disaster, many of us knew that our society would never be the same.  The next day, Muslim men were being rounded up and detained, without charges.  Immediately, U.S. troops were on the way to Afghanistan.  Within weeks, the USA PATRIOT Act was passed with lightening speed, paving the way for a juggernaut of war and repression.

Within days, protest and resistance began; within 18 months the largest worldwide anti-war protests in history deprived the Bush regime of a legitimate “coalition” to invade Iraq.  The numbers and determination were never strong enough to stop the wars, though they did give the world some sense that people living in the U.S. were not completely blind to injustice.

A profound change was promised when the Democrats took over Congress in 2006 and the Presidency in 2008.  We all know, if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves, where that’s gone.  I’ll give you only two examples from this week: 

  • Binyam Mohammed, innocent, and released from Guantanamo finally after 8 years, was told by the US 9th District Court this week that he has no standing to sue Jeppesen Dataplan, the company who conducted the infamous “rendition” flights on which we was moved to 3 countries by the United States, and tortured.  Why?  The court agreed, 6-5 with the Obama administration that national security and state secrets are more important than his life. Lawyer Glenn Greenwald: “The ruling handed a major victory to the Obama administration in its effort to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy power.” 
  • The Obama administration has dramatically increased drone bombings in Pakistan, though 20% of the country has been flooded leaving its people increasingly desperate.  Last week, 24 were killed, including children, identified by US authorities as “insurgents.”

But in response, the strongest angry voices now, the media coverage, and all the intiative, are with the reactionary “tea party” anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, pro-war movement, which spouts ugly racist ideas of white, Christian entitlement.  These sentiments putporting to be “from the people” are orchestrated.  The movement is led and funded by powerful Republicans, and in no way does it represent the interests of the people.  When one of their preachers threatens to burn a Koran and gets world-wide press attention, it’s not “spontaneous” and it is dangerous.

A World Can’t Wait supporter noted this week on our Facebook page that the anti-war movement is now invisible… even though we know the sentiments of most people in this country are against the war in Afghanistan.

Going on a Political Offensive Against the Occupation of Afghanistan

On the anniversary of the longest war in U.S. history, World Can’t Wait will publish the Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them ad in The New York Times.  This is an important way of making the demand to end this occupation visible!

With a new introduction, we’ll put the statement already published in The New York Review of Books; The Nation; The Humanist, and Rolling Stone online, before 4 million Times readers.  We’ve not done a full page Times ad since 2007.  Going into the “paper of record” with a message profoundly challenging the legitimacy of the war.  There have been no such ads in three years!

I’ll be writing you more, and individually, about contributing to the ad.  It won’t happen without a tremendous outpouring of energy and funds.  I believe it will really matter, and contribute to the kind of atmosphere we need.  If people from inside the U.S. military can risk their lives to leak the truth about U.S. war crimes, we should do all we can to end the silence of complicity.

Crimes Are Crimes ad


Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can’t Wait
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Protecting “honour” in the Islamic Republic

Posted: 12 Sep 2010

Following the recent extensive essays by Robert Fisk on honour killings around the world, here’s another shocking case:

Tehran, Iran. Farsnews reported that on April 25th, 2010 police found a 24 year old woman dead in her apartment, on Shariati St. After an initial investigation it became apparent the woman was called Mahsa and was a transsexual that had undergone sex-change assignment (his name before sex-change was Masood). Mahsa was strangled, and the police found out that her brothers were perpetrators. In addition the brothers stole money they found on her. The two brothers confessed to the killing of Mahsa, and mentioned the reason as “opposing her immorality”. Their father, who in Iranian Shari’a law is the Vali’ye Dam (Masa’s blood-owner), forgave his two sons for the murder. One brother was sentenced to 8 years in prison, with five years suspended jail time and the other for three with two years suspended jail time. In other words the brothers would only serve three and one year respectively in prison for murder!

This is a painful example of how Iranian law concedes if not indirectly sanctions honour killings in defense of any family “dishonour.” This is further proof that for all of Iran’s trumpeting of their so called “progressive” policies towards sex-change, many of the laws of the Iranian Islamic Republic actively encourages terror, violence and murder. Such policies terrorises LGBT minorities in Iran and incites direct violence that damages families and whole communities. GME calls upon the Iranian Supreme Leader and the judicial system to repeal these laws and decriminalise homosexuality and any discrimination against sexual minorities. In an exclusive interview to GME, Saghi Ghahranman, CEO of the Toronto based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) stated that “it is possible to advocate and educate parents to understand and accept their children if the law is not supporting murder, and if it does not force a fabricated morality over loving family bonds.” She added that: “this is why we think it is most crucial for the penal code to change in a way that preserves rather than destroys a loving family.” Saghi believes that such imposed morality is at the core of the legislations that encourages Honour Killings that are becoming common place Iran.


News of the World needs to learn what ethics are all about

Posted: 12 Sep 2010

Hello my name is Rupert and I make money from finding the mobile phone numbers of famous people:

The News of the World paid a private detective to provide hundreds of pieces of confidential information, often using illegal means, a confidential document obtained by The Independent on Sunday has revealed.

The “Blue Book”, a ledger of work carried out by Steve Whittamore for News International titles, including the NoW and The Sunday Times, details a series of transactions including obtaining ex-directory phone numbers, telephone accounts, criminal records checks and withheld mobile numbers. It reveals the itemised details of checks on public figures, including Peter Mandelson, ordered and paid for – at up to £750 a time – by reporters working for the redtop. Staff from a number of other national newspapers made similar requests, and their details are contained in further dossiers held by the Information Commissioner, the privacy watchdog.

Among the journalists requesting information from Mr Whittamore, who was later convicted of offences committed under the Data Protection Act, was the former NoW editor Rebekah Wade, now Rebekah Brooks.


The corrupting influence of Jewish money

Posted: 12 Sep 2010

Gideon Levy in Haaretz:

Just as the benefit to Israel of the belligerent and heavy-handed U.S. Jewish lobby is quite dubious – to the extent that for a long time it has seemed it would be better for Israel if it disappeared altogether – so, too, we must now question the Jewish money flowing to Israel from those who choose not to live here: Does Israel actually benefit from this practice, or does this merely serve as a bed for degenerative rot?


Now why would China want to work with the US on net censorship?

Posted: 12 Sep 2010

Is this our web future?

A Chinese writer calls for a global coalition to fight material that powerful interests don’t like, such as the recent Wikileaks revelations about the failed Afghan war.


Blair the mendacious

Posted: 12 Sep 2010

These kinds of revelations just keep on coming (yet so many in the corporate press can’t stop fawning over the former British Prime Minister).

Tony Blair mounted an intense political lobbying campaign to rescue a struggling mobile-phone business owned by a client of the bank that pays him a £2 million annual salary.

The firm, Wataniya, had already built a brand-new network in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank.

But it almost collapsed before launching its service, jeopardising a £450 million investment, because Israel’s government was refusing to let it use the frequencies it needed to operate.

Acting in his capacity as the international Middle East peace envoy, Mr Blair helped to save the company by spending months putting pressure on Israel’s prime minister and his colleagues in a bid to change their minds.



Controlling the Murdoch empire is both necessary and just

Posted: 12 Sep 2010

Here’s something you will virtually never see in Australia. A mainstream newspaper (in this case, the London Observer) taking on the Murdoch empire, front and centre, calling it out for its smears and lack of rigorous ethics (to put it mildly):

Rupert Murdoch‘s News International (NI) is drawing up plans to sponsor an academy school in a move that is likely to trigger anxiety about the media mogul’s influence.

The Observer understands that executives at NI, which owns the Times, the Sun, the Sunday Times and the News of the World (NoW), are actively discussing sponsoring a school in east London, close to the company’s headquarters in Wapping.

The idea, which is being spearheaded by Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the Sun, who is now chief executive of NI, has been under discussion for several months but is still at an early stage, according to sources.

The plan will alarm Murdoch’s critics who claim the tycoon’s media empire, which spans broadcasting, publishing and internet interests around the world, already wields formidable influence over the UK’s political system and society.

And this commentary, from the same paper today:

When Rupert Murdoch appeared on his own Fox News Channel last week and was, astonishingly, asked about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal – “the story that was really buzzing around the country and certainly here in New York”, as the anchorman put it – Murdoch cut him off with the words: “I’m not talking about that issue at all today. I’m sorry.”

Seen against the background of Sun Valley, Idaho, and in short sleeves and sunglasses, Murdoch appeared more like a gangster fighting extradition proceedings than the attendee of a media conference. For some reason, the vicious agility of the elderly Hyman Roth in The Godfather, Part II came to mind. Naturally, the Fox News anchor didn’t challenge the man he called Mr Chairman and the matter of the mass hacking of phones belonging to MPs, public figures and celebrities was dropped as Murdoch moved to praise his own organisation for its robust criticism of the Obama administration, delivering one swift jab at a competitor, the Financial Times, in the process.

Murdoch is a problem for British society and the News of the World phone-hacking story – given further impetus over the last 10 days by the New York Times and the Guardian – is a symptom of the chronic malignity of his power. In the last 40 years, we have grown used to News International (NI), so that it is difficult to imagine Britain without Murdoch’s occupation, without, for instance, the leaders of the main parties humiliating themselves and our political system to gain his endorsement, or News International journalists and executives treating the law, national institutions and Parliament with disdain.

Murdoch has become one of the political issues of our time, as menacing in his own special way to democracy and conduct of politics as many other threats our society faces, only we do not see it, because his power is used behind the scenes to extend his commercial influence and so his grip on the flow of so much of the information in Britain. He and his equally unappealing son, James, (probable salary £1.3m) may bellyache about the BBC, but when you set the advertising spend and income of BSkyBnewspapers and websites into the equation, you realise that Murdoch is by far the greatest force. alongside those of ITV and the BBC and add his

In February, I evoked the nightmare of Berlusconi’s Italy when commenting on the fact that News International had concealed the truth about the extent of the phone hacking and that people such as Rebekah Brooks, formerly editor of the Sun and News of the World and now chief executive of NI, had refused to turn up to answer questions from the Commons culture, media and sport select committee. This is wrong in one respect. Berlusconi is at least an Italian operating in his own land. As an American citizen, Murdoch appears to have scant interest in the plurality of information in Britain and therefore the health of British society.

His overriding concern is that the government remains covertly in step with his plans for expansion and that the flow of profits to News Corp remains uninterrupted. It is as though we had handed over a huge chunk of British agricultural land or given up our food distribution networks to a relentless foreign corporation.

But the amazing thing about Murdoch’s power is that it is maintained even though we owe him absolutely nothing and he is, theoretically, at the mercy of laws and regulations that can be activated to control him. His power is in a sense illusory, maintained because people choose to believe it.


Zionist settlers are just like you and me, except for illegally occupying another people’s land

Posted: 11 Sep 2010

This story really needs to be circulated. Occupation is now as Zionist as hatred of Palestinians but better PR may convince the most gullible people who believe that “nice” people live in the colonies and should be allowed to stay. Oh sure, they have no legal right to do so, Palestinians are given virtually no services or backing by the state and abuses occur daily.

But the settlers seem like charming people:

In the past, West Bank settlers marketed their presence as of vital importance to national security and strategy. But these threats failed to conquer their audience, and two years ago, Yossi Dagan, assistant to the Samaria Regional Council head and chief of its strategy department, decided to change the tune. He came to the conclusion that the average Israeli preferred to sample fine wine than hear about rockets falling on Tel Aviv, and set himself a goal: to bring as many media personalities and opinion-makers as possible on tours of the West Bank.

The tours are neatly tailored to suit the character of each group. Most of them begin at Bruchin, where guests are told that while the settlement was established in the wake of a government decision and had received most of the required permits, it was still termed an (illegal ) “outpost” by the official report authored by Talia Sasson. Visitors continue to a tasting at the Tura Winery in Rechalim, where they receive a bottle as a gift, intended to show them the high quality of life on the other side of the Green Line. From there they go to the Giv’ot Olam (Hills of Eternity ) organic farm of Avri Ran.

In the past, Ran’s farm was synonymous with violence against Palestinians and hostility toward journalists. These days, visitors are invited to sit with Ran’s children, drink homemade yogurt and eat omelets made from organic eggs and bread baked on site, while listening to tales of local agriculture and settlement. Dagan has managed to attract many government ministers, as well as media personality Avri Gilad, poet/columnist Menachem Benn and the former head of the Israel Bar Association, Shlomo Cohen.

Following his visit, Benn moved to the Nofim settlement, where he pays NIS 2,800 a month to rent a seven-room house. Gilad, a radio presenter for 25 years, suddenly discovered the West Bank. The day after his visit, he said on Army Radio: “I went on a tour that revolutionized my awareness of settlements in Samaria. I visited places I was raised to detest. I returned in a state of confusion: confused about the injustice done to citizens who were called on by the state to settle, given building permits and then frozen out. I was surprised to meet people with whom I had a lot to talk about, with great warmth and intimacy. Most of the discussion [about settlers] on the left is hatred. What really surprised me was the proximity – 23 minutes and you are deep into the area.”


Our selective amnesia when outrages occur

Posted: 11 Sep 2010

Guy Rundle writes in the Sunday Age of “the contradictions and hypocrisies of much human rights campaigning these days.”

It’s so much easier to get outraged over Iranian abuses than to focus closer to home.

Posted in Middle East1 Comment




Is this really surprisingly?

“LONDON (Reuters) – The United States has released several thousand Iraqi prisoners into Iraqi custody despite documented evidence that Iraqi security forces have abused detainees, Amnesty International said Monday.

The handover of prisoners occurred following the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq last month.

“Iraq’s security forces have been responsible for systematically violating detainees’ rights and they have been permitted to do so with impunity,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Yet, the U.S. authorities, whose own record on detainees’ rights has been so poor, have now handed over thousands of people detained by U.S. forces to face this catalogue of illegality, violence and abuse, abdicating any responsibility for their human rights.”

The Amnesty report documents thousands of arbitrary detentions and beatings of detainees to obtain forced confessions.

It estimated 30,000 people were being held without trial in Iraq and 10,000 of those were recently transferred from U.S. custody.

Amnesty said it believed several detainees had died, possibly as a result of what it described as torture and other ill-treatment by interrogators and prison guards.”

Posted in USAComments Off on OBAMA DEMOCRACY?

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