Archive | February 3rd, 2011

How About a Clean Break-with Israhell?

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross  

by Philip Giraldi, February 03, 2011

Back in 1996, a group of leading neoconservatives led by Richard Perle drafted a memorandum for then (as now) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recommending that Israel adopt a more aggressive and assertive policy towards its neighbors. They called it a “Clean Break” to suggest that it would be a major shift in policy. Today, as American foreign policy looks more like a shipwreck than a victory lap, there is perhaps a need for a Clean Break by Washington. As the relationship with Tel Aviv has an impact far beyond Israel’s size and importance it should, ironically, be the first element in the foreign policy disaster that is examined.

Many Americans who indulge in the mainstream media believe that Israel is a close friend and ally to the United States and that when it is criticized the complaints are often unfair and might even in some cases be motivated by anti-Semitism. Some Americans, mostly evangelical Christians, actually believe that Israel is a special nation either because it is the homeland of the Jewish people or anointed by God and that all other nations of the world should defer to it and protect it. Still other Americans realize that Israel is a nation with good and bad aspects but are intent on using American power and wealth to nurture it because they share either ethnic or religious ties with it.

Some Americans look beyond the bumper sticker definitions to recognize that Israel is indeed like many other countries in most respects but that it is also a special nation in that it has as its protector the most powerful and wealthiest nation on earth. Some think that role to be appropriate because the US has an obligation to guarantee Israeli security, while others would disagree. Those who disagree frequently do so because they find the Israeli influence over the United States to be a dark force, sometimes leading Washington and its elected officials to endorse policies that do not serve the interests of the American people. They would cite examples like the Iraq War, in which supporters of Israel played an enabling role, as well as the ongoing agitation to attack Iran, which would be a replay of Iraq only much much worse.

That Israel is able to control many aspects of America’s relationship with foreign nations is clear and the hubristic Israel Lobby makes virtually no effort to hide what it is doing. On January 18th, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on the United States to veto any resolution in the United Nations condemning the Israeli settlements policy. The settlements are illegal under international law and the pending resolution in the UN carefully uses the precise language previously employed by US administrations to criticize their expansion in an attempt to create an acceptable document and avoid a veto, but the result is not good enough for Gillibrand. Joined by 15 other senators as cosignatories, Gillibrand maintains fatuously and falsely that any criticism of the settlements “hurts the prospects for a peace agreement and is not in the interest of the United States.” In reality, as she well knows, it is US acquiescence in the settlements that damages the US standing in the world.

The past ten days has also provided several other examples of how Israel exerts a strongly negative influence on American foreign policy. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address urged support for democratic forces in Tunisia. But he did not provide similar support for the democratic forces in Egypt and for the new government in Lebanon, which are both nations currently experiencing political unrest. Why? Because both are frontline states with Israel, meaning that Washington can only consider its relationship to them in terms of whether their political developments are good for Israel or not. This has been excruciatingly clear in the numerous comments by US government spokesmen relating to developments in Cairo: Israel is almost invariably mentioned. The United States prefers to give Cairo billions in aid and covertly support the dictatorial rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because Egypt has kept the peace with Israel. Washington will likewise oppose any government in Lebanon that is beholden to Hezbollah, even if it does not threaten the US or American interests in any way, because Hezbollah is the enemy of Israel.

Looking at the Middle East region objectively, one has to question Washington’s actions. The US national interest is to have a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which would require an end to the Israeli settlement policy. It also mandates non-hostile relations with Lebanon and Egypt, nothing more. The Suez Canal is the only asset controlled by Egypt that has international significance and it is in Cairo’s interest, no matter what kind of government it has, to keep it open and bringing in revenue. Egypt, Palestine, and Lebanon produce nothing that the US needs to have and they are not important markets for American goods. None of them threatens any genuine American vital interest.

In another related development, last Wednesday newly elected senator Rand Paul said that he favors ending all foreign aid, including the aid given to Israel and Egypt, because the United States can no longer afford it. Rather than encouraging anyone to debate the issue on its merits, the Israel Lobby, Democratic politicians, and a representative from Paul’s own Republican Party immediately attacked him, saying the proposal was unthinkable. Well, think again. Israel gets billions of dollars yearly from the US for no good reason beyond its ability to manipulate Congress and the media. Paul’s opening the door to a serious discussion about ending that subsidy is long overdue.

Senator Gillibrand’s excursion into fantasy, Rand Paul’s experience in opening Pandora’s box, and the developing situation in Egypt together illustrate how Israel is a United States national security liability and always has been. The relationship narrows the options that US policymakers can pursue in dealing with problems relating to the Muslim world. Arguments that Israeli and American foreign policies are and need to be identical based on shared opposition to international terrorism and other such “values” are fallacious and are based on constructs that are essentially false.

Israel’s bad relationship with its Muslim neighbors has led to frequent wars and more limited military actions since the founding of the country. In a normal world, the onus would be on Israel to establish a modus vivendi with its neighbors, but it has regularly chosen to use the mailed fist as its first option. Since it is a small country lacking in resources, it has only been able to accomplish this by seeking out what might be described as a force multiplier. To that end it has opted to use its powerful lobby to shift US policy in its favor, relying on America as a source of funds and both political and military protection. Its leading politicians have even bragged about how the United States does its bidding. This has done extreme damage to the United States, which has initiated at least one war as a result, and has been engaged in what must be described as a nearly continuous and escalating conflict with the entire Muslim world on behalf of Israel. This has trashed America’s reputation and has come at a real cost of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. The benefit to the American people has been zero.

In accomplishing its strategic objective of making the United States its permanent protector, Israel and its lobby have also corrupted both Congress and the White House and have created a permanent distortion in how Washington sees the world and responds to it. Israel’s enemies, even if they do not threaten the United States in any way, have become America’s enemies. This has made the US in the eyes of much of the world the enabler of Israeli actions and has in turn made Americans the targets of international terrorism. Osama bin Laden was very clear on the subject, stating that the United States is a partner in the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. The Israel relationship is a recruiting tool for those who seek to do harm to the United States. Without the Israeli nexus, there would have been no 9/11 and there would be no hysteria about the danger from terrorists driving growth in government and the development of the anti-libertarian security state.

And the relationship is expensive. Israel seeks to militarily dominate its neighbors. It does so with American-provided weapons and maintains its edge through US coproduction agreements that essentially fund jobs in Israeli defense industries that compete directly with US companies that sell the same products. Even though Israel is one of the richest countries in the world, Washington gives it a vast array of advanced weaponry for free and also hands to it the technologies that enable it to eliminate American jobs. As Israeli companies can bid on defense contracts just as if they were American companies, they frequently also wind up getting the work that would go to Americans. Because of the high level of American direct aid plus unique tax breaks for American citizens who give money to Israel, Israelis have free medical care and university education, benefits that few Americans enjoy.

And, finally, Israel is not afraid to bite the hand that feeds it. It is annually rated by the FBI as the “friendly” country that is most aggressive in spying to obtain US defense secrets and advanced technology. The mainstream media is complicit in not featuring stories that relate to Israeli espionage, but the cases number in the hundreds. Several spies who have been caught in the act have received a slap on the wrist instead of real punishment. One, Ben-Ami Kadish, was even able to continue to receive his government pension after stealing and passing on defense secrets.

Now I will be the first to admit that my narrative presented above reveals my own biases in that I am appalled at what Israel and its supporters have done to my country. But I have to believe that by any objective standard, the relationship with Israel does nothing good for the United States and does, instead, a great deal of damage. That leading policymakers are afraid to challenge the billions of dollars flowing to Tel Aviv while US senators line up to sign on to a letter that opposes their own country’s interests is a tragedy of epic proportions. That Washington will define its own interests in the Middle East largely in terms of whether they are compatible with those of Israel is nothing short of betrayal of the Constitution, which established a national government that would benefit the American people and make them both safe and prosperous. One hesitates to borrow rhetoric from the neoconservatives, but sometimes even they get something right. It is indeed time for a clean break, but this time with Israel.

 

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on How About a Clean Break-with Israhell?

Egypt: What a Mess

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross  

 

Is the Revolution Legitimate Populist Rebellion, or Part of a Plan to ‘Balkanize’ Egypt

By Michael Collins Piper

 

http://michaelcollinspiper.podbean.com

 

If there is anything that can be said about the crisis in Egypt—which is reverberating throughout the Middle East—it is that it is ultimately open to multiple interpretations. Any “expert” who purports to give you “the last word” on the topic is deceiving you and himself. Geopolitical strategists, armchair pundits and conspiracy theory devotees are competing to tell the world “what’s really happening and why,” but there is no single truth to the matter.

First of all, consider the issue of popular unrest in Egypt. All serious evidence indicates the Mubarak regime has sustained itself through force and oppression and, not surprisingly, support from the Egyptian military. In addition, Mubarak has maintained a close relationship with the United States and, thus, with Israel, with which it entered a controversial peace agreement in 1979 that remains today. These factors have preserved Mubarak’s rule—at least until now.

However, within Egypt, there has been long, widespread discontent among a variety of domestic sources, ranging from Islamic fundamentalists in the Muslim Brotherhood to more “Western”-oriented young people to working families struggling to pay food bills to peasants in poverty.

In short, to suggest, as some have, that the Egyptian rebellion was orchestrated solely by the United States and/or Israel would ignore genuine grassroots Egyptian concerns. Israel and the American supporters of Israel know that many Egyptians of all political stripe and religious persuasion have never been comfortable with the U.S.-Israeli-Egyptian relationship and that an element of Egyptian opposition to the Mubarak regime has been its cozy concert with Israel.

As a consequence of this, many pro-Israel elements are taking a firm stand against “democracy” in Egypt precisely because they fear a popularly elected regime replacing Mubarak could be hostile to Israel, no matter what the new regime’s religious flavor—if any at all.

Note, too, that one of the leading critics of the Mubarak regime is Nobel-Prize-winning former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei. Supporters of Israel consider ElBaradei to be problematic because he was a critic of the Bush administration’s campaign against Saddam Hussein of Iraq, raising questions about Bush claims that Saddam was engaged in building nuclear weapons. Likewise, ElBaradei has stood in the way of Israeli and American efforts to provoke a confrontation with Iran over its efforts to engage in nuclear development.

In the meantime, despite all of this, it is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Israel could nonetheless stand to benefit from turmoil in Egypt. The average and perhaps less informed observer might find this difficult to understand.

A carefully crafted “think piece” entitled “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” featured in the February 1982 edition of the World Zionist Organization’s Jerusalem-based publication Kivunim: A Journal for Judaism and Zionism, candidly put forth an Israeli strategy to wreak havoc in the Arab world, dividing the Arab states from within. The author was Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist with close ties to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

The program—which amounted to “balkanizing” the various Arab republics, splitting them into religious enclaves in which, for example, Shiite Muslims or otherwise Sunni Muslims would predominate—was an agenda which Israeli dissident Israel Shahak said, quite simply, was designed “to make an imperial Israel i nto a world power,” by disrupting the Arab states and thereby setting the stage for Israeli dominance in the Middle East. Israel would then emerge as a major global force all its own.

Such gamesmanship by Israel is part of a philosophy known as “catastrophic Zionism,” a term used almost exclusively by Israel and Jewish writers and little known to even many otherwise well-read students of the Middle East.

The theme of “catastrophic Zionism,” sometimes called “war Zionism,” suggests that Israel—as a state—relies on crisis and the potential of war with its neighbors as a foundation of its very existence. This has actually has been the belief of many hard-line “right wing” elements going back to the earliest days of Israel.

In light of the crisis in Egypt, the question remains: Is Israel willing to take the gamble again, splitting its presumed ally, Egypt, as part of a longer-term plan for Middle East expansion, to further underscore “catastrophic Zionism” as a foundation for Israel’s survival?

2011 by Michael Collins Piper

http://michaelcollinspiper.podbean.com

michaelcollinspiper@yahoo.com

Posted in EgyptComments Off on Egypt: What a Mess

Speak out Say No to Zionist Racism

NOVANEWS

 

Dear All,

When I stood up with four other young, proud Jews and interrupted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before the Jewish Federation’s General Assembly in November, we knew it would upset and infuriate people–especially in my home community of New Orleans where the event took place.

But we did it anyway, inspired by the brave example of many people who took similar actions in the past, often at much greater risk. Some of the people who inspired us were 11 Muslim students at University of California-Irvine who earlier last year disrupted the talk of Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., as he defended his government’s violations of human rights and war crimes in Gaza.

Remarkably, these Muslim students, who acted in the best tradition of human rights activists everywhere, may now face criminal charges. After the students were disciplined by the University,  the Orange County District Attorney empaneled a grand jury which almost always leads to indictment on felony charges. The deadline for charging the students is this Monday, February 6. They need us to speak out on their behalf.

 

I can’t help but notice the difference between how these Muslim students are being treated, and how we young Jews were treated. And perhaps, if you once took a stand like them, how you were treated.

We challenged the same government, and spoke for the same values of human rights and equality. We both interrupted speakers representing a foreign government. 

But while my fellow Jewish protesters and I were removed from the hall and faced no punishment beyond some bruises from the attacks of audience members, these students saw their group suspended by the University, an unheard of step in a case that did not involve hazing or alcohol abuse. And more shocking, they may face criminal charges that would remain on their records forever.  

What will happen to the Irvine 11, and to freedom of speech for all of us?

As the Los Angeles Times editorial board asked yesterday in Free the Irvine 11, “Is it really necessary to threaten the futures of students who engaged in a nonviolent protest that didn’t, ultimately, stop Oren from delivering his remarks?”

 

Please sign here if, like these brave student activists, or the young Jews in New Orleans, you have ever interrupted a person, a speaker, or an event to make a stand for human rights and justice. Let’s stand in solidarity with the Irvine 11 and tell the Orange County DA to “Charge me, too!” If interrupting to make a point about human rights is a crime, we are all criminals, and we have plenty of good company.


Emily Ratner,

Young, Jewish, and Proud

P.S. The DA’s deadline for filing charges is Monday, February 7, so let’s get as many signatures before then to make our point.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Speak out Say No to Zionist Racism

A dangerous shift on 1967 Lines

NOVANEWS
 

US position on borders perhaps opens the door to dangerous Israeli ambitions to transfer non-Jewish citizens.

Ali Abunimah 

24 Jan 2011

 

One of the more astonishing revelations in The Palestine Papers — detailed records and minutes of the Middle East peace process leaked to Al Jazeera — is that the administration of US President Barack Obama effectively repudiated the Road Map, which has formed the basis of the “peace process” since 2003. In doing so it has backed away even from commitments made by the George W. Bush administration and blown an irreparable hole in the already threadbare “two-state solution.”

 

But even worse, the US position perhaps unwittingly opens the door to dangerous Israeli ambitions to transfer — or ethnically cleanse — non-Jewish Palestinian citizens of Israel in order to create an ethnically pure “Jewish state.”

Shortly after it took office in January 2009, the Obama administration publicly called on Israel to freeze all settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. After months of grueling shuttle diplomacy by US envoy George Mitchell, Obama eventually made do with an Israeli promise of a ten-month partial settlement moratorium excluding Jerusalem.

While those talks were ongoing, frustrated Palestinian negotiators tried repeatedly to wrestle a commitment from Mitchell that the terms of reference for US-brokered peace negotiations that were to begin once the settlement moratorium was in place would be for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 line with minor, agreed land swaps between the Israeli and Palestinian sides. This, the Palestinians argued, was the position the Bush administration had endorsed and was contained in the Road Map peace plan adopted by the Quartet (US, EU, Russia and the UN) in 2003.

But in apparently contentious meetings between Mitchell and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and their respective teams in September and October 2009 — whose detailed contents have been revealed for the first time — Mitchell claimed the Bush administration position was nonbinding. He pressed the Palestinians to accept terms of reference that acquiesced to Israel’s refusal to recognize the 1967 line which separates Israel as it was established in 1948 from the West Bank and Gaza Strip where Palestinians hoped to have their state.

Dropping the 1967 border

On 23 September 2009, Obama told the UN General Assembly that his goal was for “Two states living side by side in peace and security — a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people.”

Related

Expelling Israel’s Arabs, without their consent

In 2008, Israeli negotiators – including then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni – proposed “swapping” some of Israel’s Arab villages into a future Palestinian state, even though a vast majority of Israeli Arabs oppose such a plan.

But this did not satisfy the Palestinians. The next day during a meeting at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York, Erekat refused an American request to adopt Obama’s speech as the terms of reference for negotiations. Erekat asked Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Hale why the Obama administration would not explicitly state that the intended outcome of negotiations would be a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with a third party security role and a staged Israeli withdrawal. Hale responded, “You ask why? How would it help you if we state something so specific and then not be able to deliver?” according to Palestinian minutes of the meeting.

At the same meeting, which Mitchell himself later joined, Erekat challenged the US envoy on how Obama could publicly endorse Israel as a “Jewish state” but not commit to the 1967 borders. Mitchell, according to the minutes, told Erekat “You can’t negotiate detailed ToRs [terms of reference for the negotiations]” so the Palestinians might as well be “positive” and proceed directly to negotiations. Erekat viewed Mitchell’s position as a US abandonment of the Road Map.

On 2 October 2009 Mitchell met with Erekat at the State Department and again attempted to persuade the Palestinian team to return to negotiations. Despite Erekat’s entreaties that the US should stand by its earlier positions, Mitchell responded, “If you think Obama will force the option you’ve described, you are seriously misreading him. I am begging you to take this opportunity.”

Erekat replied, according to the minutes, “All I ask is to say two states on 67 border with agreed modifications. This protects me against Israeli greed and land grab – it allows Israel to keep some realities on the ground” (a reference to Palestinian willingness to allow Israel to annex some West Bank settlements as part of minor land swaps). Erekatargued that this position had been explicitly endorsed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice under the Bush administration.

“Again I tell you that President Obama does not accept prior decisions by Bush. Don’t use this because it can hurt you. Countries are bound by agreements – not discussions or statements,” Mitchell reportedly said.

The US envoy was firm that if the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not agree to language in the terms of reference the US would not try to force it. Yet Mitchell continued to pressure the Palestinian side to adopt formulas the Palestinians feared would give Israel leeway to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank without providing any compensation.

At a critical 21 October 2009 meeting, Mitchell read out proposed language for terms of reference:

“The US believes that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that achieves both the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state encompassing all the territory occupied in 1967 or its equivalent in value, and the Israeli goal of secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meets Israeli security requirements.”

Erekat’s response was blunt: “So no Road Map?” The implication of the words “or equivalent in value” is that the US would only commit to Palestinians receiving a specific amount of territory — 6258 square kilometers, or the equivalent area of the West Bank and Gaza Strip — but not to any specific borders.

“Two states for two peoples”

This is an earthquake. It not only up-ends the two-state solution as it is conventionally understood, but opens the door to possible future American acceptance of Israeli aspirations to create an ethnically-pure Jewish state by “exchanging” territories where many of Israel’s 1.4 million Palestinian citizens are concentrated. This would be a violation of these Palestinians’ most fundamental rights and a repudiation of the universally-accepted self-determination principles established at the Versailles Conference after World War I. It potentially replaces the two-state solution with what Israeli officials call the “two states for two peoples solution.”

Then Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni elaborated what this would look like during a November 13, 2007 negotiating session with Palestinian officials, confidential minutes of which were also revealed among The Palestine Papers:

“Our idea is to refer to two states for two peoples. Or two nation states, Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security with each state constituting the homeland for its people and the fulfillment of their national aspirations and self determination.”

Livni stressed, “Israel [is] the state of the Jewish people — and I would like to emphasize the meaning of ‘its people’ is the Jewish people — with Jerusalem the united and undivided capital of Israel and of the Jewish people for 3007 years.”

Livni thus makes clear that only Jews are guaranteed citizenship in Israel and that Palestinian citizens do not really belong even though they are natives who have lived on the land since before Israel existed. It negates Palestinian refugee rights and raises the spectre of the expulsion or “exchange” of Palestinians already in the country. Yet Livni’s troubling statement appears to reflect more than just her personal opinion.

A 29 October 2008 internal Palestinian memorandum titled “Progress Report on Territory Negotiations” states that Palestinian negotiators rejected the notion that Palestinians could be included in land swaps. But, according to the document, “the Israelis continued to raise the prospect of including Palestinian citizens of Israel” in such swaps, during negotiations between Palestinian officials and the government of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In September last year, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman presented a plan the UN General Assembly in which Israel would keep West Bank settlements and cede to a future Palestinian state some lands with highly concentrated populations of non-Jewish citizens. “A final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians,”Lieberman said, “has to be based on a program of exchange of territory and populations.”

While Lieberman heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, and Livni the Kadima opposition (often inaccurately perceived as more “moderate” than Israel’s current government), the two politicians’ views are symptomatic of increasingly overt racism within Israeli society.

The Obama administration’s failure to press Israel to accept the international consensus that the Palestinian state would be established on all the territories Israel occupied in 1967, except for minor adjustments, dooms the two-state solution. It may well be that a US administration that came to office promising unparalleled efforts to bring peace, ends up clearing the path for Lieberman’s and Livni’s abhorrent ideas to enter the mainstream.

This is not only catastrophic for Palestinian rights and the prospects for justice, but represents a return to nineteenth century notions, banished in the wake of two world wars, that population groups can be traded between states without their consent as if they were mere pieces on a chess board.

Ali Abunimah is author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and is a contributor to the newly-released book The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict. He is a co-founder of the widely read online publication The Electronic Intifada, an award-winning online publication about Palestine and the Palestine conflict. He has written hundreds of articles on the question of Palestine for publications all over the world, including Al Jazeera.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A dangerous shift on 1967 Lines

Palestinian negotiators must not take key decisions on our behalf

NOVANEWS

 

We Palestinians in Israel will not stand for our rights being given away by so-called representatives

Haneen Zoabi

The Guardian,

31 Jan 2011

Comment

Had the offer made by “representatives” of the Palestinian people to Israel during peace negotiations – revealed this week in the Palestine papers – been accepted, the resulting agreement would have been in conflict with international law. It would also have had a profound impact on all Palestinians: not only those under occupation or refugees in the diaspora, but also Palestinians like myself – the 1.2 million of us who make up 18% of the population of Israel.

First, giving up the refugees’ right of return – as was apparently accepted by the Palestinian negotiators – would mean giving up the demand for the reunification of Palestinian families divided by the nakba, our expulsion from Israel in 1948. At this time some Palestinians remained in Israel, while others were displaced. Israel has since refused to allow hundreds of divided families to be reunited.

Furthermore, Israel currently prevents one Palestinian from marrying another from Gaza, the West Bank, Syria or Lebanon and remaining within the borders of Israel, on the pretext of preventing the right of return. So I, for example, can marry a British citizen and live in Nazareth but cannot do the same with a Palestinian who does not hold Israeli nationality.

Second, the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state – which was also apparently accepted by the negotiator Saeb Erekat – would delegitimise the citizenship of Palestinians in Israel. In practice, Israel has acted as a Jewish state since its founding, and undermined the rights of Palestinian citizens for more than 60 years, with chronic, institutionalised discrimination. International recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would give this discrimination a legal and ethical justification. Arab Israeli citizenship would become conditional, and the inferior status of Palestinian citizens and residents as non-Jews, and thus by definition excluded outsiders, would become entrenched. Indeed, it would call into question their very future in such a state, their homeland.

Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state by concerned international parties would serve to legitimise the series of racist laws and bills currently before the Knesset, and would turn the legal, political struggle of the Palestinian national minority into an illegal and illegitimate struggle – a move that would be fatal to democracy. It would become far easier to criminalise any party, individual or action that sought the establishment of genuine democracy and equality. Ultimately, it would effectively block the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. Israel should be a democratic state, not an ethnic state.

Third, we reject the proposed exchange of populations between Israel and the West Bank, championed, among others, by Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. This proposal has increasingly pervaded Israel’s political culture. According to a recent poll, 53% of the Jewish Israeli public believes that the state is entitled to encourage Palestinian citizens to emigrate. Making our citizenship a subject of negotiations would send out the clear and dangerous message that it is temporary, and open to question. As with residents of the occupied Palestinian territory – whose temporary legal status has become permanent, after 43 years of Israeli occupation – making Palestinian citizenship in Israel temporary totally ignores the basic fact that we are indigenous people living in our homeland, not an immigrant minority.

Moreover, raising this question now carries particular dangers, given the politics of hatred and persecution towards the Palestinian minority. When a letter was published by a group of publicly funded rabbis calling on Israeli Jews not to rent flats and houses to Palestinians, the Israeli political leadership took no practical action against them. A further poll found that 46% of the Jewish public would not want to live next to Arabs.

It has been clearly established by the international community that any decisions that have a direct impact on the future status of a national minority must be taken after full consultation, and with their consent – including through a referendum. We therefore reject any proposal that would involve other parties taking such decisions on our behalf.

We, as Palestinian people living inside Israel and on the basis of our historic right and international law, have full right of veto – not only on matters that affect our lives, such as the return of the refugees, the Jewish identity of the state and population exchange, but also on all matters affecting and infringing the rights of the Palestinian people.

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Nazi Gestapo Extends child’s Imprisment

NOVANEWS
 

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Israeli military court at the Ofer detention center extended the detention period of 14-year-old Islam Saleh Tamimi, to almost three months.

The child, from the central West Bank village of An-Nabi Saleh, was detained from his home at 2am on the morning of 24 January. Local activist groups said he was taken to a police station and interrogated without his parents or a lawyer present and later beaten. 

The court decision was handed down after the child’s family refused a suggested plea bargain that they said would have seen their son exiled from his home and sent to stay with relatives who hold Israeli identity cards. 

He would have to remain under house arrest in the new location, the family said. The release also asked for a 10,000 shekel ($2,718) fine.

The village popular committee said the proposal exposed the “rudeness” of the Israeli military and the “occupation’s lack of humanity.”

In its weekly cabinet meeting, the West Bank government condemned the Israeli proposition, saying the child was to have been deported to Ramallah, along with his family. 

The family was to have rented a home in the city and installed a phone line, “so that the occupation officer is able to call the child and ensure his presence at home,” the cabinet said in a statement. 

In its attempt to force the relocation of the family and keep the child on house arrest, the cabinet called the Israeli decision “shameful and reflects the repressive policy and illegal practices of the occupation, which contravene human rights, especially children’s rights.”

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Zionist to hire European Propaganda Mouthpiece

NOVANEWS
 

Lieberman makes unprecedented move due to Israel’s ‘catastrophic’ status in public opinion

Itamar Eichner

 

As Israel’s image continues to deteriorate in the world, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has decided to make an unprecedented move by hiring a network of European firms to conduct the state’s public relations campaign throughout the continent.

The campaign will strive to acquaint Europeans with Israel’s character beyond the conflict with the Arab world. It will include more modern sides of the state – its culture, economy, history, tourism, high-tech, food, music, and more.

The Foreign Ministry has decided to launch the campaign in Europe’s most influential countries – Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Czech Republic. It is expected to cost NIS 12 million ($3.26 million) a year.

It will be the first time Israel uses ad firms in Europe to such great extent. During Operation Defensive Shield Israel hired the US firm Howard Rubenstein, and in 2004, during the debate on the separation fence at The Hague, it accepted services from the French firm Publicis services free of charge.

The move comes not a moment to soon, as reports from embassies abroad have been particularly concerning to Israeli leaders recently. In Britain and the Scandinavian states boycotts of Israeli products are on the rise, with successful chains in Britain refusing to sell products made in settlements and often all Israeli products as well.

All of Europe’s Israeli embassies were ordered to survey three local PR firms and take offers, with a goal of hiring European public relations advisers to guide diplomats.

The embassies will also poll public opinion now and in one year in order to gauge the success of the campaign. The goal is to invest €2.5 million in each country per year.

Lieberman told Yedioth Ahronoth Sunday that “the goal is to give our representatives in central European countries additional tools for the battle over public opinion”.

“With proper and professional work in the field we can significantly improve Israel’s standing and support for it,” he said. Envoys were also pleased, saying that Lieberman had been speaking of reform in PR for a while but that he had not backed it up with sufficient funds until now.

“Israel’s situation with public opinion in Europe is a catastrophe,” an Israeli diplomat in Europe said. “The Palestinians control messages and are preparing everyone for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. Public opinion supports them despite the fact that they are unwilling to come to the negotiations table. We have no choice but to wage a battle for our image.”

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Israel’s human rights abuses in the name of security

NOVANEWS

 

My husband and other Palestinian prisoners are being denied basic rights and subjected to harsh treatment in detention.

“Israeli security” is the sacred cow of the Israeli street and ruling establishment. Practically all the manifestations of Israeli racism directed at the state’s Palestinian citizens, as well as those living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, fall within this elastic slogan. In the name of this slogan, too, Israeli human rights organisations working to expose the practices of the state and army have recently hadrestrictions placed upon them.

The case of my husband Ameer Makhoul, which has received considerable media coverage and widespread local and international support, has played out against such a background. His arrest took place on 6 May 2010, but the story goes back to the time of the Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008 and the death of thousands of Gazans.

At that time, Palestinian streets and the Arab and outside world rose up at the pictures of the killing of children and the terrible destruction. There were demonstrations, marches and protests. It was then that Ameer was summoned by Shabak (GSS), the Israel security service, for questioning on his various activities and political work. After several hours, he was released in the middle of the night with a warning that he was walking a fine line by inciting young people – yet all he was doing was making them aware of their national identity.

He was told that the next time he was summoned for questioning, he would have to bid his family farewell for a long time. On 6 May, the Israel security service carried out its threat. At three in the morning, our home in Haifa was raided by a force of 16 police and armed security personnel. Ameer, our two young daughters, aged 12 and 17, and I were woken up by a violent knocking at the door and he was taken away before our eyes.

Ameer was held in the security service interrogation centre at Petah Tikva for 12 days and his basic legal rights, accorded by international and domestic law, were violated, including the right to see a lawyer and an independent doctor. When he felt unwell, he asked for a blood test but his request was rejected. Only after the legal defence team, in consultation with us, the family, decided to boycott the court, were they allowed to see Ameer. They found him stressed and in poor physical condition. It was clear to them from the statement he made that he had been subjected to cruel and harsh interrogation, coming within the definition of torture.

His confession having been extracted under these conditions, on 27 May 2010 Ameer was charged with spying for Hezbollah. Since then, he has languished in an Israeli prison with more than 7,000 other Palestinian prisoners charged with similar security offences. We await the results of the trial and the verdict of the judges.

It is not only those charged with violating security in Israel who are punished – their family and community are punished too.

Ameer is being tried in the midst of a vicious wave of racism against Palestinians. A recent report by the Israeli organisations B’tselem and HaMoked into human rights abuses in the same interrogation centre in Petah Tikva found that there have been 645 complaints filed by detainees over their treatment in the facility, but none have led to any criminal investigation. In fact, these very Israeli organisations are being targeted by parliament today because of their work in exposing the practices of various state institutions, including the police, security services and army.

The Israeli parliament (the Knesset) took a further step in this direction recently by announcing the establishment of a parliamentary committee to investigate the work of human rights organisations. Furthermore, the Israeli security cabinet decided to extend for a further six months the ban on the reunification of Palestinian families where spouses are Israeli Arabs or inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, West Bank or Arab States. This will mean the continued suffering and fragmentation of these families on the pretext of “Israeli security”.

Under these difficult circumstances, Ameer agreed to strike a plea bargain with the public prosecutor whereby the sentence would be limited to between seven and 10 years. Legal experts told us that, were Ameer not well-known as a political activist who speaks to the world at conferences and international forums, the deal would have been more favourable for him.

Ameer is on trial and the big question remains: can the judiciary and the bench rise above the prevailing atmosphere to deliver a just verdict?

• This article was written before Sunday’s sentencing, at which Ameer Makhoul was jailed for nine years

• Comments are set to remain open for 24 hours from the time of publication but may be closed overnight

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Mubarak turns his thugs loose on democracy protesters

NOVANEWS

 

 

So who are these people? asks Egyptian author Adhaf Soueif. In support of the president, they throw Molotov bottles and plant pots from the tops of buildings onto the heads of women and children. To establish stability and order, they break heads with rocks and legs with bicycle chains. To have their say in the debate they slash faces with knives. Who are they? Well, every time one of them is captured his ID says he’s a member of the security forces.


By Ahdaf Soueif

The Guardian

2 February 2011

 

Pro-Mubarak thugs

Pro-Mubarak thugs with whips ride horses into democracy protestors

I knew something was wrong when I woke up to the sound of car horns. It’s been so quiet and peaceful the last few days we’ve even started seeing the bats once again flitting in and out of the fruit trees at dusk. This wasn’t the normal noise of Cairo traffic; this was aggressive, patterned and constant, like what you get after a football match only lots more so.

Out of my window I saw the crowd marching across 15 May flyover. It’s odd: the pro-Mubarak lot are so much more regimented – and so much less civil: the noise pollution, the rude gestures at the street, the sticks, the attitude – and at the same time the perfectly scripted banners, the “stewards” marshalling and directing them.

By midday they had started to attack Tahrir Square; the attacks are continuing as I write now. I’m getting regular updates from the square from my son, nieces, sister and other friends in the thick of it. The people who on Tuesday night were listening to music and debating modes of government are now putting their bodies on the line. It’s all they have. The pro-Mubarak lot, of course, have sticks and stones, and swords and chains and dogs and trucks and … the military stand by and do nothing.

So who are these people? In support of the president, they throw Molotov bottles and plant pots from the tops of buildings onto the heads of women and children. To establish stability and order, they break heads with rocks and legs with bicycle chains. To have their say in the debate they slash faces with knives. Who are they? Well, every time one of them is captured his ID says he’s a member of the security forces. And his young captors simply hand him to the military who are standing by.

So, the regime once again displays its banality; unable to come up with any move that is decent or innovative, it resorts to its usual mix of brutality and lies. On Tuesday night President Mubarak came on TV and patronised the rest of the country by claiming that Egyptians were in the grip of fear, and pretended that his regime which has been de-developing the country and stealing the bread from people’s mouths is now suddenly equipped to “respond to the demands of our young people”. He reminded the people of his (now ancient) history as an air force pilot and added a tearjerker about being an old man who wanted die in his country.

And the next morning, not 12 hours after the president’s emotional appeal, the regime turned loose its thugs on the street. The same tactics that have been used against protesters over the last five years, the same tactics in force at the last elections to scare voters off the streets, appeared and with redoubled viciousness. This is the regime that is going to listen to the people and use the coming months to put in reforms. Sure.

Their next trick will be to say that the young people in Tahrir are “foreign” elements, that they have connections to “terrorism”, that they’ve visited Afghanistan, that they want to destabilise Egypt. But by now the whole world knows that this regime lies as naturally as it breathes. What was it one American literary diva said about another? “Everything she says is a lie including ‘and’ and ‘the’?”

The people here are so way ahead of their government. If you could see the kids on the street telling you that the regime wants to pin the responsibility for this movement on the Islamists in order to scare the west – when actually it was started by 11 Facebook youth groups only one of which has any religious colouring, and very mild at that. If you could see the small field hospital that’s gone up with volunteer doctors – mostly young women – treating the people, and the medicines pouring in from well-wishers. If you could see the young men with their dropped jeans and the tops of their boxers showing forming a human chain to protect what the people have gained over the last week in Tahrir Square. If you could see my nieces with their hair streaming like a triumphant banner tweeting for dear life in the midst of it all … you would know beyond a shadow of a doubt: Egypt deserves its place in the sun – out of the shadow of this brutal regime.

Ahdaf Soueif is the author of the Booker-prize nominated novel The Map of Love and many other books. She lives in Cairo and London.

Posted in EgyptComments Off on Mubarak turns his thugs loose on democracy protesters

Zionist Mu-Barak: Violence in Tahrir Square

NOVANEWS

 Earlier today, hired thugs threw Molotov cocktails at peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square, and men on camels and horses rode into the crowd with batons, injuring people and hoping to sow chaos, and thereby hoping to ensure that people think that the Mubarak government must stay in place to endure an “orderly transition.” Some reports assert that 5000 or more have been injured. Eyewitness reports are that captured thugs have police IDs. Others were reportedly bribed or beaten into throwing rocks or assaulting the revolutionary protesters. Government propaganda asserts that it is Muslim Brotherhood militants throwing the firebombs on the people.

The army, meanwhile, “is calling on protesters to go and stay home for Egypt’s security.” That is the counter-revolution. And as I write, reports are that anti-regime protesters have repelled Mubarak’s goons from Tahrir Square.

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