Archive | January 14th, 2011

The Last Days of the Jewish State

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A few minutes ago, I came across a press release written by Left Israeli MK Nitzan Horowitz.

Horowitz, a member of  Mertz Party, disclosed the new suggestions made by the McCarthyite Knesset Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Organizations.

According to Horowitz, the commission is now considering the following measures:

· New bills and regulations restricting the entry to Israel of anyone who may be affiliated with left activity. This may take place without the need for court.

· Putting an end to foreign citizens status, including parents who are married to Israelis

· Reducing drastically the rights of prisoners and detainees – along with new initiatives of minimum prison terms, increased enforcement, penalties and so forth

· Denial of Israeli citizenship from an increasing numbers of Israelis convicted of various offences

· Stripping Knesset members of their rights.

· Giving judicial powers to administrative proceedings; for example,  the establishment of a clerical tribunal for foreigners

· Preventing the entry of Arab communities

· Seize funding to cultural institutions that are promoting  ‘leftist materials’

· Eliminating tax exemption on donations to human rights organizations

· Cancellation of contracts with  public bodies associated with human rights organizations.

· Allocated assigning  posts for civil service volunteers to human right associations will be cancelled.

· Restricting access to the websites of human rights organizations and public institutions

· Preventing the entry of  representatives  of human rights organizations to educational institutions

I guess that the picture is clear.

Israel turns against itself. Its days are numbered.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on The Last Days of the Jewish State

MUHANNAD OTHMAN ALAZZEH

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Date
 

 

Muhannad is a Palestinian artist who resides in Alazzeh refugee camp in occupied Palestine. However, he originates from the southern Palestinian village of Biet Jibrin, which has been ethnically cleansed by the Israeli Zionist troops in 1948. “Don’t beautify the Apartheid wall”, a quote by Alazzeh for an interview on the role of Palestinian and international artists and his views on the segregation wall built around the West Bank. Al Azzeh was born in September of 1981 to Othman Alazzeh, an Arabic literature teacher and Amal Alazzeh.

Since he’s shown an interest in Art and painting at the age of 10, his parents got him to participate in ‘Alwan’ (meaning colours in Arabic) workshop in Jerusalem, where he learnt and developed his talent at a young age and then published some of his work at the workshop’s magazine.

Watch video: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/bg-6003896/bomb_it_2_muhnned_alazzh_the_west_bank/

In year 2003 Muhannad started his studies at Abu Dis University in occupied Palestine doing a BA in fine Art. However, before completing his first year, Alazzeh was arrested from his home by Israeli Occupation Forces for allegations of in-campus ‘student activism’.  Although this period of his life remains a tough one, yet the experience has not put him down but enriched his artistic talent and made him more determent to express and utilise his ability for the benefit of the people of Palestine.

His most recent participation in an exhibition entitled “Not Politics” was about his 3-year time in Israeli jails. The work, which he referred to as “April the 15th” (the day he was arrested) included some abstract paintings representing life outside the jail as seen from the inside. “A cell’s window was the only hope left, through its bars you could glimpse the ray

A UK  exhibition is due in March  (5th- 13th, Israeli Apartheid Week) at the  Duke of York Picture House, Brighton.

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on MUHANNAD OTHMAN ALAZZEH

RANA SHUBAIR: YES, I CAN DARE TO DREAM IN MY GAZA

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http://www.paltelegraph.com

Although I’m not a fervent advocate of using technology in every aspect of our lives, I have chosen to open my laptop and type this piece instead of writing it in  my notebook first, just for a change, and may be to please my ears with the clicking sound of my fingers striking the keyboard. I guess this shows that I’m in continuous pursuit for change even in the tiny aspects of life. Change; something referred to as being healthy nowadays is, by all means, a vital part of life for all those living in the tremendously stressful life of the 21st Century. 

Seeking this change from the ordinary and mundane schedule of mine here in Gaza, I chose to go downtown today, a place where I seldom go and to amuse myself with just walking around and examining the faces of the people and what life looks like in that part of town. Downtown Gaza is a place where the majority of  the population of Gaza shops. It’s lined up with stores on both sides situated on a fairly narrow street, as well as small vending huts where one can find almost anything. As I treaded up and down the street, I held my hand over my nose as I passed the rows of power generators placed in front of literally every store.

Their roaring and screeching makes you feel as if they are somehow venting their anger at you. No sooner did I put my hand down when I suddenly felt a gush of fuel combustion hit my face making me choke. My mind suddenly tries to picture the days when the only mean of transport available were horse drawn carriages. Although our streets are full of donkey and horse- pulIed carts today, there are still outnumbered by the monstrous vehicles and you won’t find anyone wishing they owned one.  “I wish these nasty vehicles would just disappear and be replaced with  primitive carriages”, I thought to myself.  I would get one of my own and take care of my horse as if it were one of my children. The fresh air, the sound of horses trotting along, oh how peaceful  it would be indeed! I could  easily breathe fresh air and relieve myself. It’s so ironic, I thought to myself, we tell ourselves: ” I need to go out to get some fresh air”, but from what I’m smelling as I walk up and down the streets here, I’m convinced that I need to by a pack of medical masks to protect my lungs. 

My imagination was spurred at that moment and more images appeared before me. I’d buy a cow and drink from her fresh milk every morning. I’d buy chickens and ducks and a dog to guard them. I’d let my kids fetch the chicken eggs without screaming hell if they got dirt on their clothes. 

The dozens of shops displaying all sorts of items failed to lure me into buying anything except for the item which I especially came for. I felt a vacuum; an emptiness inside which could not  be  fulfilled by merely buying and possessing items. So instead, I walked a long way to a bookstore, a place which gives me a sense of freedom, enlightens my mind and uplifts my soul. Reading, the only  daily pastime of mine which takes me to faraway places. I see myself beyond the deep oceans and soaring high into the skies above,  may be flying with the migrating birds. How lucky those birds are for possessing the freedom to fly away from the earthly life of human beings.

The siege may imprison our bodies, but I must learn to discover the  world where my mind lives. My soul will not be crushed when I’m denied material needs, for the soul is a lofty being which can enrapture my own spirit.

 Over sixty years of hardships and abominable suffering of my people cannot in any way be underestimated and deemed as sixty years of failure. If the people of Palestine had minds only accustomed to physical and mortal needs, they would have been dead and defeated long ago. But,  it is the life of the mind and soul which keeps them going, holding on to their rights no matter how long the path to freedom is.

Rana Shubair

Interpreter and Writer 

Gaza, Palestine

Posted in GazaComments Off on RANA SHUBAIR: YES, I CAN DARE TO DREAM IN MY GAZA

ISRAEL BEGRUDGES PALESTINE ITS FRAGILE TOURISM

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The Israel lobby here in the UK is creating a storm in an advertising teacup in a bid to throw a spanner in the works of Palestinian tourism.

 

Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem is not Israel

The Jerusalem Post reports that Britain’s advertising watchdog has launched an investigation into “a barrage of complaints” over a ‘Travel Palestine’ advert in the National Geographic magazine because it “appears to blot out the existence of the State of Israel”.

http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=202744

The Palestinians’ modest attempt to attract tourists to their country was promptly met by the Israel lobby’s ‘usual suspects’ squealing their indignation and making fatuous territorial claims.

The advert was published by the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received 60 complaints. The Zionist Federation of the UK, for example, grumbled that the advert was misleading as it gave the “false impression” that Palestine is a country; that Jerusalem is part of Palestine; and that Palestine extends from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan.

“The ad would mislead tourists, since on traveling to territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, they would not find the sites and facilities which the advertisement promotes,” said the ZF.

One London lawyer wrote to the ASA that the claim that Palestine lay between the Mediterranean the Jordan “implies that ‘Palestine’ has a Mediterranean coastline; but while this is true as regards to Gaza, that territory is not within the de facto jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. More seriously, it implies that Palestine occupies the whole or the bulk of the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, ignoring the existence of Israel”.

Another complainant said the notion that Palestine lies between the Mediterranean and the Jordan was racist. “This echoes the racist chant of ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free’ sung by anti-Israel activists. It is a racist statement.”

Yet another lawyer said the ad refers to Jerusalem in the same context as other cities in the West Bank. “It implies that Jerusalem is in Palestine. In fact, Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. East Jerusalem is also under Israeli governance; while East Jerusalem may presently be disputed territory, it cannot be said to be part of ‘Palestine’.”

And still another insisted that “the ad promotes the city of Gaza, but fails to mention that the Palestinian territories comprise two non-contiguous areas, one the West Bank and the other Gaza, and that it would be very difficult if not impossible for a tourist to travel between the two areas, or to get into Gaza either via Israel or Egypt”.

Today The Guardian also ran the story, reporting that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had welcomed the launch of an official investigation, calling the advert “deeply disturbing” and “an affront to international law”.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/10/palestinian-holiday-ad#

Here’s what he advertisement actually said…

“Palestine is a land rich in history with a tradition of hospitality. From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and Gaza, the Palestinian people welcome you to visit this Holy Land. Important to the three major religions around the world, Palestine has been a meeting point for diverse cultures since prehistoric times. Starting from the earliest religious pilgrims, the country has seen famous visitors come and go.

“Palestine lies between the Mediterranean coast and Jordan River, at the crossroads between Africa and Middle East. The individual faces in any Palestinian town remind you of this rich history of cross-cultural influences.

“Today Palestine is proud to offer comfortable, stylish accommodation, fabulous restaurants, refined artists, and galleries, exquisite handicrafts, innumerable archaeological and religious sites, and antiquities from all ages.

“It takes a visit to this wonderful country to appreciate the most palpable facet of its culture: the warmth and humour of the Palestinian people. Join a long list of visitors over the centuries who have seen the beauty of the land.”

What is wrong with that? It could have said a great deal that was detrimental to Israel, without breaching the guidelines, but it didn’t. It is substantially honest and truthful, and quite harmless.

The complaints, such as the accusation that the Palestinian tourism advert is “an affront to international law”, are laughable. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are  internationally recognised as one integral territory. Israel’s responsibility under the Oslo Agreements to “respect and preserve without obstacles, normal and smooth movement of people, vehicles and goods within the West Bank, and between the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.

In 1999 Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement establishing a 28 mile road corridor giving Palestinians safe passage between the two parts of Palestine. Israel reneged on it.

The problem, as always, is that Israel’s administrative ‘laws’ are framed to ride rough-shod over citizens’ rights enshrined in international law and to entirely disregard its own obligations.

Furthermore East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, is Palestinian territory. Israel’s capital is Tel Aviv and the international community does not recognise Israel’s claim to an undivided Jerusalem. The capital of a future Palestinian state to expected to be in East Jerusalem, which is not “disputed territory” however much Israel would like it make it so by continuing to steal and ethnically cleanse it.

As for Gaza, it comes under the legitimate and democratic authority of a Hamas government, which would have played a leading role in an inclusive Palestinian Authority had it not been for US/British/EU meddling. In any event, tourists should be free to access the Gaza Strip by sea or air or through the land crossings with Egypt and Israel, but their rights are still denied by the cowardly Western powers in cahoots with their lawless “ally” in Tel Aviv.

 

Palestine wiped off the map

Besides getting its facts straight in future, Israel ought to put its own house in order and pay attention to previous ASA rulings. Last year, as The Guardian reminds us, two Israeli government tourist ad campaigns fell foul of the watchdog. “One included images of the Palestinian-run West Bank in a holiday advert. The ASA said it featured various landmarks that were in East Jerusalem, which were part of the occupied territories, and ordered that it not be used again. The other depicted the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights – also part of the occupied territories – as part of Israel.”

But Israel takes no notice. Check the Israeli travel section within the current National Geographic

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/israel-guide/?source=A-to-Z

and you’ll see that the main picture features the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem, which of course is not in Israel but is part of the occupied Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem.

The accompanying ‘Israel Map’ doesn’t mention Palestine and depicts the whole of the West Bank, including Gaza, as belonging to Israel, literally wiping Palestine off the map..

The section even includes an article, ‘Nablus: Tourists Welcome’, implying that this Palestinian town is in Israel.

I spoke to Matt Wilson in the ASA’s press office and asked if, for the sake of balance, informed comment from the Palestinian side would be considered in the investigation process.  He suggested that information, provided it’s strictly relevant to the scope and context of the complaint, be submitted through enquiries@asa.org.uk.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on ISRAEL BEGRUDGES PALESTINE ITS FRAGILE TOURISM

REMOVE ‘ THE ISRAELI SHACKLES’ ANT WREST BACK AMERICA

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By Rex Williams

 

“Kennedy warned us that secrecy would bring us tyranny”quoted Gordon Duff.  And we have seen a lot of that lately.  President Kennedy also told the Newspaper Publishers Association that “it is to the printing press, the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news, that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: Free and Independent.”

He certainly didn’t envisage 2011 in that comment or he would have known that we have now  reached the stage where “the recorder of man’s deeds” would be compliant to the dictates of a foreign power, its slant on the news but not, certainly not the “courier of his news”, if ‘news’ means truth. If I remember correctly the media in those days had a large element of independent ownership which has since been engineered to become the mouthpiece of Israel and all the hatred and evil that means, to us all throughout the whole world.

The likes of Murdoch, with his shock-jocks, the trademark of Fox News, a perfect example of media manipulation, must accept some degree of responsibility for all the events in the US. It is really his entry into the US media ownership (and the apathy of the people)  that has created such an angry political environment whipped along by easily purchased Congress members and perhaps the worst collection of Presidents since Jimmy Carter,  who at least made an effort to right some of the wrongs.

So there is more to this Arizona shooting than meets the eye.  It is almost a given that every action that occurs in the US these days has some larger agenda and fortunately there are such stalwarts as Gordon Duff, Jeff Gates, Philip Giraldi, Alan Hart, Alison Weir, Anthony Lawson, Stuart Littlewood, Grant Smith, Paul Balles, Franklin Lamb, James Petras, James Morris and so many others whose works find a home on My Catbird Seat and who all possess the credentials and experience to stretch our thinking to consider more than just the obvious surface, because below that surface is another world entirely and it isn’t pretty.

Along with so many unsolved crimes in the US starting with the assasinations of the  Kennedys to 9/11 in between, and now the Arizona action, it does make one wonder whether the powers that be are behind the very poor rate of solving major crimes as one feels that even with the shooter in custody, the real story won’t ever come out. People that plan these things are big on covering their tracks as well we know. As a person from another country, I always understood that depending on the leanings of the law officer concerned, one could almost be arrested for breathing the air,  so  litigious was the climate in all the states. However, when it comes to major political crime on a grand scale such as the assassination of a President, the experts can make it appear  as though it is the act of a “lone gunman” as we shall  see once again, particularly if someone makes the case easier, saves the state a fortune as well, by having him shot as he walks with his guards. Sounds like an old story, still not solved. They, whoever they really are, know how to do this.

But surely there are some good, law abiding, uncorrupted people somewhere in the US. Right at this moment, one could be excused for thinking otherwise.

Who is the beneficiary of the US being in turmoil, agonizing over the Arizona crime, publicly engaged in self-flagellation, while the rest of the world says, “what do you expect….it is America. Normal for them over there.  Access to weapons and all that stuff, don’t you know”.  So we all wait until the next event occurs and the people again become pre-conditioned to this climate as a way of life. After all, the US does have a history of such matters and there will another  one soon, as sure as night follows day. Who benefits????

WHO? Let’s see if this can be analysed and proven, rationally.

Back in the seventies, there was a fashion for management training on a large scale. I mean, if you didn’t attend a course on business, marketing, sales, organization development, or Customer Relations Management, you didn’t progress and it was mandatory for people to apply these new found principles to their everyday life. It had some detractors and rightly so for some of it was rubbish . But some survived and rightly so . One that did was developed by a team from New Jersey, two gentlemen called Kepner and Tregoe, whose principles of Rational Management were  first taught to the aspiring middle and senior management people with great results. I, for one, have never forgotten the disciplined thinking that applies to their principles.

The point I am making here is that the application of such rational processes to the answers extracted  from the likes of the well informed writers to these pages would allow us to fill in the gaps by analyzing the situation regarding “WHO” above, making decisions on matters that need to be addressed, considering potential problems and adverse consequences of such decisions. I would state confidently, that if the process was followed, the questions asked and the answers given, the real beneficiaries to the turmoil being created almost daily in the United States,  would be patently clear, indisputable. Then all you have to do is find a national paper to print the results.

Well, that’s another story.

A commenter stated that we should be ‘suspicious of mainstream media’. Wise words. Blatant manipulation of the truth should be an indictable crime. Such a climate would close down Murdoch overnight, as well as the Jewish press per courtesy of the New York Times and its team of specialist (highly paid) sayanims doing the Zionist bidding. It could also develop into a new industry.”keepers of the “truth” and even become an academic study, The theme being ‘if we cannot prove it we will not print it,  or the reverse, ‘if it worthy of printing, regardless of our leanings, it will be printed , honestly and truthfully.

The penalty for breaching the rules, real dollars. A licence for being a public newspaper would be renewable annually.

Listen to what we can learn from JFK, the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination. The President and the Press: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association,President John F. Kennedy, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel,New York City, April 27, 1961

 

 

Behind it all will be the evil empire the Zionist Regime, the real rulers of the United States, whose extremist policies and political corruption together with the US veto, have made Israel a pariah state for which every US citizen is paying dearly, every day of every year and which, in relation to credibility, has made both the United Nations and the United States  a laughing stock.

Remove the Israeli shackles and wrest back America. You own it, not Netanyahu and his international thugs.


Rex Williams is a retired businessman, and has been a management consultant and director, involved in aviation, information technology and  has a long term interest in the military and politics. He is a strong activist against injustice and hypocrisy.

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Zionist Hagee Night To Honor

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CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS VIGOROUSLY PROTEST REV. JOHN HAGEE’S “2011 NIGHT TO HONOR ISRAEL”

Christian Zionist John Hagee Draws Fire

ALBUQUERQUE – Mikey Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundationand member of the JewsOnFirst advisory board, and Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Co-Director of www.JewsOnFirst.org, vigorously protest the participation of the New Mexico Jewish Federation in Rev. John Hagee’s “2011 Night to Honor Israel,” which takes place tonight, Tuesday, January 11, in Albuquerque. We urge that people not attend the event nor support the misguided work of Christians United for Israel.

Mikey Weinstein and Rabbi Haim Beliak express their shock that the Jewish community of New Mexico would associate with Rev. Hagee and Christians United for Israel. Weinstein and Beliak reject the attempt to cast the conflict between Israel and Palestinians into religious language as unhelpful and misleading. Weinstein and Beliak point to the intolerance and bigotry of Hagee’s expressions as out of sync with the values of America and Judaism.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org), a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and the first New Mexico organization ever to be so nominated in the state’s history, has been described by Harper’s Magazine as the “Constitutional Conscience of the (United States) Military.” JewsOnFirst.orgis a web site that defends the First Amendment and encroachment by the Christian right.

By blaming the victim (the Jews) in his 2006 book Jerusalem Countdown: A Prelude To War, Hagee repeats a pattern of thought that is unacceptable.

Hagee claims that the Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves by rebelling against God (which is code language for not accepting Jesus as their Messiah). Hagee claims that the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis was God’s way of forcing Jews to move to Israel. Further, Hagee’s theological and material support of Israel seeks to foster the conditions for a cataclysmic world war. Hagee’s theology ignores the pursuit of peace but seeks instead, the mass death of the world’s people including most Jews. John Hagee believes “end-times war is a necessary precondition for the ‘Rapture’ that will lift Christians, but not Jews, bodily into Heaven.” In an interview with Terri Gross, Hagee depicts Jews as Christ killers, an ancient lie about Jews. (http://www.jewsonfirst.org/audio-video/Display5.aspx?id=5149)

Last week in a conference call to Christian supporters Hagee repeated his claim that “land for peace” was Biblically unjustified. Again, Hagee incorrectly cast the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis as a religious one. (http://www.christianpost.com/article/20110107/hagee-asserts-dividing-israel-is-not-gods-will-evangelicals-disagree/)

In televised sermons broadcast all over the world, Hagee has called the Catholic Church, “the Great Whore.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/opinion/
04rich.html?_r=4&pagewanted=print
 Free account required)

Hagee blames the misery of the Katrina disaster on plans for a gay pride parade. Even Dennis Prager, one of the speakers at tonight’s event, was astonished at Hagee’s claims. (http://thinkprogress.org/2008/04/23/hagee-katrina-mccain/)

Christians United for Israel helped to distribute an anti-Islamic film. (http://www.jewsonfirst.org/08a/cufi_obsession.html)

Hagee regularly expresses disdain for Reform and Conservative Jews (http://www.jewsonfirst.org/07b/yoffie.html). Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the leader of the Union for Reform Judaism, has expressed severe reservations about any connection to Hagee or CUFI. (http://www.jewsonfirst.org/06b/fp012.html)

Weinstein and Beliak approached the organizers of “2011 Night to Honor Israel” event asking that they inform the public of Hagee’s remarks and that these expression of hate did not bring honor to Israel. Weinstein and Beliak also demanded that the event be cancelled. Robert Efroymson, the chair of the event, offered to debate the issues but did not substantively respond to what Hagee was saying or to the request to cancel.

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Co-director of JewsOnFirst.org, can be reached at 310-592-8960.

Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/)

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Peace and justice organization Ask Military to End Inhumane Treatment of bradly Manning

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by Michael Leon 

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
9999 Joint Staff Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20318-9999

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army Chief of Staff
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-1400

Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps
3000 Marine Corps Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-3000

Colonel Daniel J. Choike, Base Commander
Marine Corps Base Quantico
3250 Catlin Avenue
Quantico, VA 22134-5000

Dear Adm. Mullen, Gen. Casey, Gen. Amos, Col. Choike,

The undersigned organizations are deeply concerned about the inhumane treatment of Pfc Bradley Manning, who has not been convicted of any crime, and yet has been subjected to six months of solitary confinement with no known end date. It has been reported by his attorney and a visitor that Manning’s mental health is suffering from this cruelty, which serves no known judicial purpose and could result in Manning being found unfit to stand trial.

Your conduct, as judged by the information available to the public, appears to be in clear violation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a treaty to which the United States is a party and which is therefore, under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land. The treaty is also enforced by US Code Title 18, Part I, CHAPTER 113C.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice states that “No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence.” The same UCMJ bans cruel and unusual punishments following convictions.

We urge you to come into immediate compliance with the law. As a U.S. citizen and as a member of the U.S. military, Bradley Manning has legal rights that are being grossly violated. If you have reclassified Manning as an enemy in some sort of war, the same is true. The US Code bans war crimes, defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party. The following are a few examples of the rights you are bound by the Supreme Law of the Land to respect for prisoners of war:

-Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated.
-The Power detaining prisoners of war shall be bound to provide free of charge for their maintenance and for the medical attention required by their state of health.
-Prisoners shall have opportunities for taking physical exercise, including sports and games, and for being out of doors. Sufficient open spaces shall be provided for this purpose in all camps.

This is not to suggest that Bradley Manning could rightly be considered some kind of Prisoner of War, but under international treaties which the U.S. has signed, EVEN POWs are guaranteed certain rights now being ignored in the case of Manning, a citizen of the United States. Manning is, in fact, being subjected to treatment almost certain to cause permanent psychological damage. Please see the enclosed letter from Psychologists for Social Responsibility to Robert Gates re. Bradley Manning on January 3, 2011. The following steps should, at a minimum, be taken immediately to mitigate the damage and increase the likelihood of Manning being capable of assisting in his own defense. He should be permitted:

-Lifting of the baseless POI (prevention of injury) status that allows guards to harass him with inquiries
-Extensive daily interaction with other accused but not convicted prisoners
-His meals in a common area with other accused but not convicted prisoners
-Nightly sleep undisturbed by light, noise, or interruption
-Sleep during daytime as desired
-Normal blankets
-Sight at all times of daylight or night’s darkness
-Exercise in his cell anytime he wants
-At least three hours outside each day, and access to basic exercise and sports equipment
-Whatever reading material he wants

Please contact us to discuss this matter further at david at davidswanson dot org

Sincerely,

Backbone Campaign, Bill of Right Defense Committee, CodePink, Courage to Resist, DC Bill of Rights Coalition, DC National Lawyers Guild, Defending Dissent Foundation, Democrats.com, Friends of Human Rights, Jobs for Afghans, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, National Accountability Action Network, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Peace Action, Peace of the Action, Progressive Democrats of America, Tackling Torture at the Top – subcommittee of Women Against Military Madness, United for Peace and Justice, Voters for Peace, WarIsALie.org, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait

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STOP SELLING TEAR GAS TO GESTAPO’S

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No More Tears: Tell the Profiteers at CSI to Stop Selling Tear Gas to Israel

 
Targeting: # Leo Helmers and James C. Shevlet, Jr., The Carlyle Group, # Michael Monteleone, Point Lookout Capital, and Don Smith, CEO Combined Systems Inc.
Started by: CODEPINK

On Thursday women’s and civic groups from across Israel and Palestine flooded the streets to mourn Jawaher Abu Rahma, an activist who was participating in a weekly demonstration against Israel’s land confiscations and separation wall when she was hit with tear gas fumes, collapsed, and died on New Years’ Eve.

Jawaher is only the most recent protester killed or seriously injured by the tear gas purchased from Pennsylvania-based company Combined Systems Inc. and fired by the Israeli military. Jawaher’s brother was killed almost two years ago and two US citizens, Tristan Anderson and Emily Henochowicz, were injured last year. 

Take action with us to stop the gas and the tears: Sign our petition to executives at CSI and their investors telling them to stop selling to the Israeli military. 

Combined Systems Inc. (CSI) is located in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, but the tear gas canisters it makes litter the villages of Palestinians thousands of miles away. The Israeli military is using CSI’s tear gas as a weapon as it tries to crush the growing movement of unarmed protest against Israel’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. 

Even more disturbing, you as a US taxpayer are paying for at least some of the tear gas that Israel is shooting at Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters. In 2007 and 2008, the US State Department provided $1.85 million worth of “tear gasses and riot control agents” to Israel as part of the US’s $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel.

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STOP CONFLICT CHOCOLATS

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Dear friends,

Ivory Coast is on the brink of war. But if cocoa companies cut off revenue to the brutal and ousted leader who is clinging to power, he’ll be unable to pay his soldiers and could be forced to step down. Click to send an immediate message to the CEOs of chocolate companies urging them to back democracy and peace: 

Send a message

Ivory Coast, called the ‘pearl of West Africa’, is on the brink of civil war — and chocolate companies could play a critical role in stopping the bloodshed. 

Despite losing elections in November and united international pressure and sanctions to remove him, Laurent Gbagbo is clinging to power. Revenues and tariffs from cocoa, the country’s largest export, are bankrolling his brutal army that has murdered hundreds of winning party supporters. If chocolate companies immediately and publicly refuse to do business with Gbagbo, his cash supply could dry up – and without the support of the army, his power base would dwindle, and he could be forced to step down. 

This situation could spiral into all-out war within days. Chocolate lovers of the world, let’s flood popular brands like Nestlé, M&M/Mars and Hershey’s with messages to end trade with Gbagbo now and commit to working only with the legitimate government. Click to send a message directly to leading companies — and we will publish which companies have cut their financial ties to Gbagbo:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/ivory_coast_chocolate/?vl 

All regional, African and international institutions recognise Alassane Ouattara as winner of the November elections and the legitimate President of Ivory Coast, but Gbagbo refuses to step down despite threats of military intervention. More than 200 Ivorians have already been killed, and 25,000 have fled to neighboring countries, whilst pro-Gbagbo TV and radio stations are inciting violence against UN peacekeepers and sparking fears that his supporters could undertake campaigns of widespread brutality. The risk of a dangerous spiral into civil war looms ominously and threatens regional stability. 

Ouattara, the legitimate winner, is doing what he can for peace and has agreed to accept ministers from Gbagbo’s cabinet into his new administration, but Gbagbo insists he be President. Millions of Ivorians risked their lives to participate in democratic elections and exercise their right to vote. Caving in to Gbagbo would only reward impunity and his violent crackdown – and would encourage other election-losers in Africa to cling to power, as happened recently in Kenya and Zimbabwe. 

The Ivory Coast accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s cocoa supply. Cocoa companies alone can’t unseat a dictator, but the Central Bank of West African States has just suspended services to Gbagbo — and cutting the cocoa industry’s financial support to his army could be the tipping point. Companies have long bolstered Gbagbo’s abusive regime, many through shady financial operations. Three national cocoa institutions gave more than $20.3 million to finance the war effort in 2002-2003, when some of the worst killings and human rights violations were taking place. 

We know these companies are making delicate calculations right now and they listen to consumers — Nestlé just stopped sourcing palm oil from Indonesia after a massive public campaign by Greenpeace to stop rainforest destruction. 

It is crucial that the international community escalate pressure, but at this critical time, if they act fast, cocoa companies could hold the key to removing Gbagbo’s illegitimate regime. Click to send a message now — if enough of us persuade them urgently to sever ties to Gbagbo and his forces, we can help pull Ivory Coast back from the precipice. 

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/ivory_coast_chocolate/?vl 

The world has taken a strong stand to support fair elections and combat impunity in Ivory Coast. Now its future hangs by a thread. If we take action and stand with the democratic Ivorian people now, we can offer hope for a peaceful solution. 

With hope, 

Stephanie, Benjamin, Alice, Graziela, Maria Paz and the rest of the Avaaz team 

P.S. The CEO of Nestlé Paul Bulcke, will co-chair the Davos World Economic Forum at the end of January. If 75,000 of us send messages,we will also deliver our appeal to cocoa companies directly to him.

More information:

Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo facing crisis as cash noose tightened – The Guardian, January 3, 2011:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/03/ivory-coast-president-laurent-gbagbo 

Ivory Coast: Africa mediation fails to end stalemate – BBC, January 4, 2011: 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12110119 

Côte d’Ivoire: Pro-Gbagbo Forces Abducting Opponents – Human Rights Watch, December 23, 2010: 
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/12/23/c-te-d-ivoire-pro-gbagbo-forces-abducting-opponents 

West Africa Central Bank Says Alassane Ouattara Controls Ivory Coast Funds – Bloomberg, December 24 2010: 
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-24/west-africa-central-bank-says-alassane-ouattara-controls-ivory-coast-funds.html 

Fresh Cote d’Ivoire Violence Erupts as Armed Groups Clash – Amnesty International, 12 January 2011: 
http://amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/fresh-c%C3%B4te-divoire-violence-erupts-armed-groups-clash-2011-01-12 

UN News Centre on Côte d’Ivoire: 
http://www.un.org/apps/news/morenews.asp?Cr=UNOCI&Cr1 

Sweet success for Kit Kat campaign: you asked, Nestlé has answered – Greenpeace, May 2010: 
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/Sweet-success-for-Kit-Kat-campaign/ 

To find out more about the cocoa trade and how to encourage fair trade and good business practices that reduce conflict as a matter of course:

Hot Chocolate: How cocoa fueled the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire – A report by Global Witness, June 2007: 
http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/cotedivoire.pdf 

Ending Child Trafficking in West Africa: Lessons from the Ivorian cocoa sector – Anti-Slavery International, December 2010:
http://www.antislavery.org/includes/documents/cm_docs/2010/c/cocoa_report_for_website.pdf 

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on STOP CONFLICT CHOCOLATS

DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

Dear Friends,

Five items below.  Have not included among them Gideon Levy’s latest, accusing Foreign Minister Lieberman of having no grasp of what democracy is.  Actually, I don’t believe that Lieberman has any desire to have Israel be a democratic state, and unfortunately he is not alone.  In fact, so long as emphasis is on a Jewish state, its foundation is demography, not democracy, no matter how many human rights organizations it allows.  Of course I support human rights orgs no less than does Levy.  They, however, can help keep us informed about what occurs, and can sometimes help ease a situation, but they cannot make Israel democratic.

Levy’s op-ed http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/democracy-a-concept-lieberman-has-yet-to-grasp-1.336724.

Item 1 tells us that settlers intend to build 50 more housing units in addition to the 20 that were originally planned on the site of the historic Shepherd hotel, which is no more, having been demolished on Sunday.  Israel’s leaders (including Jerusalem’s mayor) are rushing ahead to Judaize all of Jerusalem.  Methinks that possibly this is the one final straw that might bring some countries at least to pressure Israel to stop.  After all, East Jerusalem contains a large portion of sites dear to Christians.  At the rate that Israel is going, many of these sites might be in danger of destruction to be replaced by some Jewish museum or other artifact supposedly from Jewish biblical history.  Let’s hope that European states will open their eyes to what is likely to happen and stop it before it occurs.

Item 2 reveals what we already know, that money speaks louder than principles—well for some, at least.  Israeli firms involved in the building of the new Palestinian city have had to sign that they would not use products manufactured in the colonies.  I don’t know how many firms are involved.  Israel is pressuring them to not sign.  What the result will be we shall see anon.

In item 3 Netanyahu speaks of refugees and others who have entered Israel illegally, mostly via Egypt and the desert,  as ‘infiltrators.  At the end of the piece Netanyahu tells a tale about an incident that happened in his own family, which, in effect, made his grandfather and his uncle ‘refugees,’ or at least people seeking a safer place, and brought them to Palestine.  Israel was not in existence them.  You would think that the tale he tells would itself cause him to be more humane, to understand that not only Jews but also others sometimes need a refuge, or seek a better life.  But for people like Netanyahu and most Israelis, demography takes precedence over humanism.  Netanyahu forgets that Jews also were refugees, more than once in history.

In item 4 Terry Crawford-Browne updates us on what is happening in South Africa as concerns Israel, and as concerns the endeavors of a few South Africans to demean Archbishop Tutu, Judge Richard

Goldstone and Kader Asmal.  Very informative.

Item 5 reports that ‘The Beatles of Palestine,’ a troupe comprised of Palestinian refugees recently set foot for the first time in Palestine.  And why only now?  Actually, I am surprised that Israel allowed them to enter at all.  May the day come when Palestinian troupes can travel to their homeland as freely as most Jews and Christians can travel to their ancestral countries.

All the best,

Dorothy

———————————-

1. Haaretz,

January 12, 2011

Settlers seek to build 50 more housing units at E. Jerusalem hotel site

Right-wing activists detail plan to turn the main part of the historic building into a synagogue commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/settlers-seek-to-build-50-more-housing-units-at-e-jerusalem-hotel-site-1.336690

By Nir Hasson

Despite international protest, reconstruction of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem continued yesterday. Jewish settlers reportedly plan to build 50 more housing units on the site, located in the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in addition to the 20 units already authorized and whose construction began on Sunday.

Right-wing activists also said they plan to turn the main part of the historic building – originally constructed by the mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini – into a synagogue commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. Activists see this move as all the more poignant as Husseini was known for his collaboration with the Nazis. However, contrary to some activists’ claims, the mufti never lived in the building himself, instead giving it to his personal secretary, George Antonius.

American millionaire Irving Moskowitz, a supporter of Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, purchased the Shepherd Hotel in 1985.

The wing added to the structure during the Jordanian rule of Jerusalem is set to be demolished, and 20 of the housing units will reportedly be built on the garden south of the building.

“As we were forced to preserve the building, we will turn it into the neighborhood synagogue and dedicate it to the memory of the Holocaust victims,” said Jerusalem councilman Elisha Peleg (Likud ). “The synagogue will be doubly symbolic: It will replace the house of the mufti and it will mark the point where 78 physicians, nurses and patients were murdered on their way to Mount Scopus in 1948.”

While the first phase of the project is getting underway, the settlers have also submitted a larger plan to the municipality, requesting to add another 50 housing units. All in all, the project intends to include 70 units meant for Jews. The sensitivity of the site, however, means the plan will likely be delayed for an extended period of time. Peleg, for his part, believes the proposal will eventually pass.

“There isn’t a chance in the world it won’t pass, because it follows the existing plans for the area,” he said. “Jewish construction in the eastern part of Jerusalem will continue, because time is working for the Palestinians, who are illegally building thousands of housing units without permission.”

“There’s nothing provocative about this site, it’s not in the heart of any Arab neighborhood,” Peleg added.

Meanwhile, members of the Husseini family, who claim ownership of the building, appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding the construction work be stopped. The process of expropriating the hotel from the mufti and selling it to Moskowitz was inappropriate, the family argues, saying the building still belongs to them.

Those claims were rejected on Tuesday by a Jerusalem District Court judge, who also removed the injunction that prevented the start of the construction work.

================================

2. The Guardian,

13 January 2011

Israeli firms on Palestinian building project sign anti-settlement clause. Agreements involving companies building new West Bank city spark call for counter-boycott from Jewish settler groups

Share

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/13/israeli-firms-palestinian-project-boycott-settlement-goods

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

An artist’s impression of the new city of Rawabi. Photograph: Guardian

A dozen Israeli companies working on a Palestinian construction project have signed contracts stipulating they must not use Israeli products originating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.

The move has sparked calls from Jewish settler groups and their supporters for a counter-boycott.

The lucrative contracts are conditional on the firms agreeing to eschew “products of the territories” in line with the Palestinian Authority’s boycott of goods and services from settlements.

The companies have signed agreements with Bayti, a Palestinian-Qatari group building a new city in the West Bank intended to become a hub for the technology industry and house 40,000 people.

The £850m Rawabi project is a sign of the West Bank’s flourishing economy.

Israeli politicians and settlement supporters have condemned the contracts. Dozens of members of the Knesset (parliament) have called for the government to boycott Israeli companies that have signed the Rawabi deals, a demand backed by the Knesset’s economics committee.

“Anyone building Rawabi should know that they won’t build Tel Aviv,” the rightwing pro-settler Knesset member Aryeh Eldad said.

The Land of Israel Lobby, headed by Eldad, said in a statement: “This is shameful and shocking collaboration with Palestinian economic terrorism.” The companies had “sold their Zionist souls for a deal with the enemy”.

Bashar Masri, Bayti’s managing director, said the clause was not new, adding: “I have been insisting on this for three years at least. I always put this in as a condition up front. Someone has decided to make an issue of this now.

“It’s the norm that we don’t support the aggressor, those who take our land and make our lives miserable.”

He said he expected “a whole lot more” Israeli companies to agree to the clause in order to win contracts with Bayti. “None of the people who have already signed have backed out, despite the threats of the radicals,” he said.

The Samaria Settlers’ Committee this week offered a 500 shekel (£90) reward to anyone disclosing the identity of companies involved. Two companies have been named in the Israeli media.

One, Ytong, which makes concrete blocks, denied it had agreed to boycott settlement products. “Ytong is not a partner to this boycott or any other,” the firm said in a statement.

Another, Teldor Cables, has a factory in the occupied Golan Heights, according to a report in Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has vigorously promoted a boycott of settlement produce in the West Bank, with shops ordered not to stock such goods.

The implementation of a law banning Palestinians from working in settlements has been delayed as alternative employment has not yet been found. An estimated 21,000 Palestinians work in construction, agriculture or industry in Jewish settlements.

The boycott movement has attracted support in other countries. Israel accuses its backers of trying to delegitimise the Jewish state.

An attempt by Masri to buy land from an Israeli company in East Jerusalem to build housing for Palestinians foundered this week after a campaign to block it.

The Jewish settlement of Nof Zion has been in financial difficulty for some time. “It’s in the heart of East Jerusalem, surrounded by thousands of Palestinian homes,” Masri said.

“But [the campaigners] wanted to block land going from a Jewish owner to a Palestinian owner. It’s a racist issue – they made this very clear.”

==============================

3. Ynet,

January 13, 2011

Netanyahu: ‘Infiltrators’ occupying Tel Aviv

Prime minister claims only ‘one thousandth’ of asylum seekers ‘real’ refugees; says Israel building fence to stop wave which threatens Jewish state

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4013315,00.html

Tani Goldstein

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that “infiltrators had occupied Eilat and Arad and are occupying Tel Aviv from south to north.”

During a speech before a Manufacturers Association of Israel general meeting, the prime minister said only a “thousandth” of them were “real refugees,” adding that Israel is building a fence along the Egyptian border “to stop the flood, so that Israel will remain Jewish and democratic.”

It is estimated that some 36,000 foreign nationals have entered Israel via the Sinai in recent years. In addition, many migrant laborers who entered legally now reside in Israel.

According to NGOs and local authorities, Tel Aviv tops  the rate of asylum seekers living in the city. Some 15,000 to 17,000 live in Tel Aviv, while Eilat has the highest proportion of asylum seekers with between 4,000 and 7,000. Some 500-2,000 live in Ashdod, 800-1,000 in Jerusalem, and 400-600 in Arad.

In last year’s Manufacturers Association meeting, Netanyahu also referred to this issue. “We have become almost the only first world country that can be entered by foot from the third world,” he said. He warned of a “wave of refugees that threatens to wash away our achievements and undermine our existence as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Haredi proud of IDF uniform

In Thursday’s speech, the prime minister also referred to the issue of haredi military service and the recently-approved program which aims to double the number of ultra-Orthodox serving in the army or performing National Service within five years.

“The willingness of the haredi population to contribute and serve is growing,” he said. “I have recently spoken to haredim in the Nahal unit and they told me that two years ago they would hide the uniform they hung out to dry. Now they hang it outside openly and proudly.”

He also related an anecdote from his own family. “I told them about my grandfather, who was a yeshiva student in Lithuania and son of a large family of rabbis,” the prime minister said. “He told me that he once stood on a railway station with his brother during the winter, and a group of thugs shouted at them, calling them ‘Yids’ and beating them.

“They pushed his brother into the mud, and he tried to defend his brother and fell into the mud too. Then he said to himself, ‘what a disgrace that the sons of King David and the Maccabees are pushed into the mud like this. If I live, I’ll make aliyah to the Land of Israel.'”

In addition, the prime minister promised that Israel will not demolish the houses of Major Eliraz Peretz and Major Roi Klein, who were killed on the Gaza border during the second Lebanon war.

“I will not allow the demolition of the houses of these heroes, who sacrificed their lives for Israel’s security,” he said. The houses of the two soldiers were built without a permit in the West Bank settlement Eli.

[They were not only built without permit, they were also built on private Palestinian owned land. Dorothy]

=============================

4.  From Terry Crawford-Browne

January 13, 2011

Subject: South Africa

Hi Friends

1.  Now that the country has “reopened” this week, the Palestine issue is

again HOT in South Africa.  Three right-wing Zionists on Monday began an internet petition demanding that Archbishop Tutu, Judge Goldstone and

Professor Asmal should resign as patrons of the Holocaust Centres in Cape

Town and Johannesburg. This all flows from the Cape Town Opera Company performances of Porgy and Bess in Tel Aviv in November.

A counter-petition launched by Open Shuhada Street to support the Arch has not only received much greater support, but the SA Zionist Federation has now issued a statement that the three right-wingers are no longer, as

claimed, directors of the Federation. It is the lead story on the front page

of the Cape Times both yesterday and today.

My friend Terry Bell, a journalist commentator, wrote the following comment:

THE petition by assorted Zionists to have Archbishop Tutu, Judge Richard

Goldstone and Kader Asmal removed as patrons of the Holocaust Centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town should be welcomed.  Because it provides an object lesson to us all, being the clearest indication of the abuse, both of

Judaism and the Holocaust, by more extreme adherents of the  fundamentally racist political philosophy of Zionism.

Judaism is a religion to which Jews of the political left, right and centre

belong;  the Holocaust is one of the greatest human tragedies in which Jews

were not the only victims. The fantasy of Jews as a national or racial

category – an article of faith to both Nazis and Zionists – was the reason

that Jews were murdered in the death camps of Germany’s Third Reich.  But, on exactly the same basis the Roma or Sinti, commonly known as Gypsies, were also slaughtered, along the “racially impure” offspring of World War I African-American soldiers and German women.

Then, of course, there were the socialists, communists and trade unionists,

among them people professing various religious beliefs and none.  They too ended their lives in the death camps of a regime based on the ideology of race, nation and intolerance of diversity.    Against this background, the

mission statement of the Holocaust Foundation makes perfect sense.  It

states that the object is to “build a more caring and just society in which

human rights and diversity are respected and valued”.

Archbishop Tutu in particular, could never be accused of not striving for

precisely such a goal.  Zionists, by the mere nature of an ideology based on

the fallacy of race and nationhood, would not qualify.  And, for Zionists to

claim ownership of the Holocaust as well as to equate Israel with Judaism is not just false, it is an obscenity.

2.   Now it appears that the leader of KADIMA and former foreign minister

Tzipi Livni is visiting Johannesburg and Cape Town later this month, and

will be speaking at the Holocaust Centre here on the 27th.  So there is a

move afoot to arrest her as a war criminal given her roles in the Lebanon

war in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009.  The Palestine Support

Group is meeting this evening, so no doubt this will now be added to the

agenda.

3.   The Convenor of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Pierre Galand will

be visiting South Africa in February to begin planning the third session of

the Tribunal in October, hopefully to be held in Parliament here in Cape

Town, on Israeli apartheid as a crime against humanity.

4.   Clint le Bruyn and I will be speaking on the 19th at an Anglican church

to report back on our experiences in Palestine.  I am arranging to speak at

St George’s Cathedral on either the 23rd or 30th.

5.   Given these foci on Palestine, we must now work on cancellation of

Ladysmith Black Mambaza’s planned tour of Israel in July.

Regards Terry

==================

5.  Haaretz,

January 13, 2011

‘The Beatles of Palestine’ give their first homeland performance

For decades, the band Al-Ashequeen has provided a soundtrack to life in the Palestinian territories. Last month, the group of Palestinian refugees set foot in the West Bank for the first time.

http://www.haaretz.com/culture/the-beatles-of-palestine-give-their-first-homeland-performance-1.336804

By By Ruth Sherlock

For decades the music band Al-asheqeen has provided a soundtrack to life in the Palestinian territories; their songs are heard at weddings, funerals, and in daily living.

The band, which was created in Damascus by Palestinians from refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon, has become a symbol of national heritage and a bastion of Palestinian cultural and religious tradition. But until last month, the group had never set foot on Palestinian land.

Under the auspices of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the group of 33 singers and dancers performed in ten concerts across the West Bank’s major cities and towns, including Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Hebron and Abu Dis.

In a semi-circular amphitheatre in Abu Dis, the Jerusalem neighborhood that leans against the West Bank side of the separation barrier, the band performed for a diverse and passionate crowd.

“They are the Beatles of Palestine!” a man in the audience shouted during the show.

An elderly woman donning traditional Palestinian garments swayed, her eyes closed, lost in the music reminiscent of times past. Teenagers sung the lyrics earnestly, drawing the air from the bottom of their lungs and waving the Palestinian flag high overhead. A three-year-old stood next to his mother clasping his hands together, mouthing the words.

“I have been in the United States for 30 years, but I know all the songs,” says a middle-aged man named Ahmed.

Following a medley of upbeat tunes the mood darkens and the rhythm slows. The song ‘From Akka Prison’ speaks of three Palestinians who were hung during the 1933 British Mandate period. Each man wants to be killed first so as not to have to see his friends die.

This is one of the darker songs of the band, which has historically been associated with Palestinian political resistance. Their songs often invoke a spirit of revolution, speaking of the 700,000 Palestinians who became refugees following the 1948 creation of the State of Israel.

“Despite the sadness of this song, we always listen to it, we often play this in our weddings” says Nasser Abu Khadder, a Political Science professor at Al-Quds University. “It brings us together.”

The music, explains Khadder, combines classical religious beats with nationalist feeling. The lyrics incorporate the words of famous Palestinian poets including Mahmoud Darwish.

Much of the music and dances are rooted in Palestinian folklore. In front of the stage, Palestinian women dancers move in traditional steps, their garments swirling around them.

Their dresses glint deep velvet purple and emblazoned on them are olive trees, almonds and flowers. The hand stitched Palestinian tapestry on each dress can take over one month to create.

The costume changes reflect territory’s regions and their inhabitants. “We have different areas of Palestine,” says Khadder. “Each region has its own dress code; the northern dress has lighter colors, while the south is made of darker shades and heavier material. And each area inside that is divided between Bedouins, villagers and city dwellers”.

Al-ashekqeen were founded in 1977 in Damascus by the prominent composer Hussein Nazek and lyricist Ahmad Dahbour. They soon became ‘Arafat’s band’, the musical accompaniment to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and its leader Yasser Arafat. But the deteriorating political situation and internal divisions led to the band’s separation and the group disappeared for nearly 25 years.

Today’s Al-asheqeen has changed its tracks. Only one of the original members of the group remains – Age Abu Ali. Today’s band consists largely of Palestinians residing in London, and their tone is decidedly moderate.

Singer and songwriter Nizzar al-Issa used to play at human rights groups’ events including for the London based Jews for Justice for Palestinians. “We are working on making a new look,” says al-Issa. “We want to transfer the message to the world that we look for peace.”

Mohammed Diab, from Safed refugee camp in Syria, has been singing with Al-Ashekeen since he was 18 years old. “We are not advocating violence in our songs,” says Diab. “I love life, and my people love life, and we have to resist to stay alive”.

Al-Issa insists that today’s ‘resistance’ comes in a call for peace. “Your weapon is your tongue,” he says “use it the right way; to achieve peace.”

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