Archive | March, 2011

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Land Day Tigers

Mar 30, 2011

Hatim Kanaaneh

landday

The Land Day memorial in Sakhnin. (Photo: ifpbphotos)

The headline in Haaretz announced: “Police gearing up for possible Land Day trouble.” I called my village body and asked him what to make of that. Toufiq agreed that it foreboded ill. Thirty-five years have taught us all how to avoid violent confrontations between large numbers of Palestinian youth and armed Israeli policemen.

“The ball is in their court: If they want to stir up trouble they will show up in force at the licensed demonstration site; If they keep their distance our youth will shout out their anger at the imaginary enemies and go home peacefully,” Toufiq explained the obvious.

“It says in Haaretz that ‘the security forces are not ruling out the possibility of unrest given the recent events that have engulfed the Middle East in recent weeks.’”

“That shows how feeble-minded their big shots are. We don’t have the critical mass, the sheer numbers that are needed for the Tahreer Square phenomenon. And we can’t speak for the country as a whole. We are still struggling for the right to have rights in Israel beyond the gilded right to vote. After all that is what Land Day was all about: the right to say ‘no’ to the dictates of the Zionists. And it has gone from bad to worse. Just yesterday the Knesset passed two more racist laws specifically to disadvantage us. But we need to keep shouting. Perhaps the world will hear us one day even if Netanyahu and Lieberman remain deaf.”

“Some of us are hearing them clearly though. You heard about the dispute in the Bedouin village where the mayor chose to take all his employees on an all-expenses paid picnic on Land Day instead of striking.”

“Well, he is ahead of his time. Remembering the Nakba is now banned. Land Day is next.”

“See you at the demonstration tomorrow.”

You don’t maintain your dignity in Arrabeh and keep away from Land Day events. Arrabeh, together with neighboring Sakhnin and Dier Hanna, was at the heart of the mini-Intifada in 1976 that established the landmark memorial now observed throughout the Palestinian community the world over. So, three days ago, Toufiq and I attended a youth function in honor of Land Day at our newly-constructed Mahmoud Darwish Cultural Center. A shy and aspiring artist, one of my many nieces, waxed very effusive in conducting a tour for us of the many Land Day paintings by local artists on display at the center. By the time the evening started, the five-hundred seat auditorium was full. The Communist Youth Club in charge of the event added an extra row of plastic chairs up front for us, for the mayor and his wife who also arrived appropriately late, for Abed Abidy, the famed Palestinian Artist who designed the Land Day memorial in Sakhnin, and for few other Arrabeh elders.

No singing of national anthems, no recitation of the Koran, and no flags on display; this was a strictly local and secular function. The mayor was invited to the podium and spoke. He sang the praises of so many men and women who made history in 1976, bragged about his administration’s achievements, chief among which was the newly appointed committee for street names, (Arrabeh is 22 thousand and addresses are still designated by clan areas), and finally complained of the continuing government neglect and the authorities’ continuing designs on our remaining village land. To this day, he explained, ‘they’ refuse to implement a combined winter drainage and summer irrigation scheme for our fertile Battouf Valley, the only agricultural land of its size in all of Israel that continues to lack irrigation. And what excuse ‘they’ give? ‘They’ want to guarantee the survival of a rare insect that lives only in the Battouf Valley, he reported. “They give priority to insects over us!” the mayor explained at the end of his speech to the tumultuous clapping of the large audience. I wasn’t sure if they clapped that hard in admiration or out of impatience.

Next came the star of the evening, the home-grown crooner Amal Morqus, a beautiful young woman from another Galilee village with big black doe eyes who couldn’t possibly be mistaken for anything other than Arab and with a voice quality that matched the best of them in the whole Arab world. In midlife, she had put on a little weight, just enough for the perfect belly dance sexiness were she to dare and wiggle her god’s gifts a little. But no, she is a proper honorable Arab diva and she conducts herself with the proper aplomb. She sang a selection of songs of longing and hope from her various albums. The one song that really brought the house down with the entire audience clapping rhythmically and singing along was a catchy local tune with appropriately adapted words about the loss of land: “Pour out your copious tears, oh my eyes, for they have taken my land by oppression and rape,” the refrain went. At the end of the evening a hoard of teenagers stormed the stage for a closer look at Amal and perhaps a touch of her hand. I walked up and got a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. I had been to her house a while back to pick up some of her albums for my grandchildren in NY and California.

I asked Amal to give my kind regards to her aging father. Briefly, in the early 1950s he was my Arabic language teacher before he was fired because of his communist leanings. He was small of build but had a very firm earth-molded farmer hand that left one’s cheek smarting for hours on the occasion that he punished one for some grammatical mistake. His name is Nimr, Arabic for ‘Tiger.’ We called him ‘Little Tiger’ in contradistinction to ‘Big Tiger,’ our other teacher by the same name who was large of build, darker of skin, and an internally displaced Palestinian or ‘present absentee.’ Big Tiger went on to become a school principle, on the strength, it is rumored, of having persuaded several relatives of his to sign away their right to their land in their former village, now a thriving Jewish-only community. He even was reputed to carry a handgun; he was that close to the authorities. Little Tiger, Amal’s father, made a living as a day laborer in Haifa and become a full-blooded communist, rising in the party’s hierarchy as his means of survival dwindled. To this day, every time I meet Little Tiger, a mysterious twitching develops in my left cheek, a sign of fondness I presume.

Yesterday, just before sunset, I heard the sound of a loudspeaker from a pickup truck. I stepped out to my garden to make out what kind of announcement: Was it a wedding invitation, the call for another religious lecture in one of our seven mosques, or just another door-to-door salesman? It was none other than Zahi, another communist, reminding all of their duty to turn out in mass today for the memorial march of Land Day. Zahi – Arabic for ‘the one who shines brightly’ – has a distinctive booming voice that I would recognize anywhere. It runs in the family. I knew his late father and his late grandmother before him and they all seemed to have boom boxes for larynx.

And successfully wrestling with boulders also ran in the family. Zahi had worked for years at a stone cutting shop in the village while his late father was the strongest compressor operator who would be called on by contractors when they encountered an especially solid layer of quarts. The grandmother, known in her time by her nickname of Dallua’a – the spoiled widow –was a legend in her own time. She lost her husband at an early age and raised her three young boys by the sweat of her brow, single-handedly clearing a good stretch of mountainside land of rocks, spurning many suitor and eking a living for herself and her three orphans against all odds. The three grew to be among the earliest communists in the village even before Israel’s rejection of communism made it the fashionable thing for Israel’s Arab citizens to stream to it in their droves. When the state contested her ownership of her land Dallua’a turned to Hanna Naqqara who found in her an admirable subject for his defense of Palestinian land. He was a city dweller, a graduate of the American University of Beirut, and a licensed lawyer when lawyers were so rare that ‘they could be found only in brides’ trousseaus,’ as we say locally. Still, when he would stay overnight in Arrabeh he would insist on spending the night at Dallua’a’s hovel and no one in our conservative community of the time would blink an eye about it; she was that independent a soul. In court, with Naqqara’s coaching, she put on a veritable show for the Israeli judge: She brought the prickly pears from the cactus she grew on her cleared land to prove how delicious, how healthy, and how natural the process of growing and eating it was: No need for any ploughing, for any watering or for any tending whatsoever. And you could collect and peal the fruit with your bare hands. That is why all those agricultural experts had testified to the court that her land had laid fellow for three years and hence should revert to the state. She even challenged the judge to come and see for himself if he could make any of the boulders she had pushed to the perimeter of her land budge at all, or alternatively if he were interested in wrestling with her as her way of proving how healthy the fruit was for you.

Commitment to land and Land Day runs in the family as well: in 1976 on ‘the mother of all land Days’ itself, women in Dallua’a’s neighborhood were rumored to have trapped an Israeli tank in a narrow alley and forced its commander to negotiate a withdrawal under a hail of stones. On the eves of the following Land Day memorial marches Abu-Zahi, her son, would be routinely arrested and fined and warned to behave to no avail. And to this day, no Land Day march is complete without the shrill voice of Zahi on the mobile loud speaker urging all to show their “commitment to Galilee, to Palestine, to the blood of our martyrs.”

By 13:00 hours a near thousand youth and striking men and women in Arrabeh marched to lay wreathes of wild spring flowers on the grave of Kheir Yasin, the first of the six unarmed youth who were killed 35 years ago in the mass protest against the confiscation of Palestinian land in Israel. A liberal Jewish friend showed up and gave me a sympathetic hug in full view of the military blimp that appears regularly on our southern horizon every Land Day. I suddenly remembered the many meetings I had attended in my days in the Ministry of Health for no other reason than to be counted as the token Arab participant. I insisted on giving my friend a second extended hug facing south. He had lost a son in a bus explosion and I felt the deeper significance of his solidarity. “Take our picture together!” I wanted to shout at the blimp. We marched to the Western entrance of Arrabeh to meet the gathering thousands from the rest of the country, mostly Arabs but with a few busloads of Jewish leftists. The three speakers at the farmers market where the official event took place this year were mercifully brief and said all the expected blather. Only one theme surfaced that was new: the repeated call for unity. Perhaps the police were right to be on the alert. But they saved themselves the trouble of showing up in force and the entire event ended peacefully enough.

Hatim Kanaaneh is the author of A Doctor in Galilee: The Life and Struggle of a Palestinian in Israel.

 

On Land Day, the Jewish National Fund’s racist legacy is exposed

Mar 30, 2011

Max Blumenthal

“The complete evacuation of the country from its other inhabitants and handing it over to the Jewish people is the answer.”
–Jewish National Fund director Yosef Weitz, March 20, 1941

“The Jewish National Fund is the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners – Jewish people everywhere.”
–Jewish National Fund mission statement

The first pogrom against Al Arakib, courtesy of the Jewish National Fund (photo by Active Stills)

The first of 21 pogroms against Al Arakib, courtesy of the Jewish National Fund (photo by Active Stills)

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Land Day massacre by Israeli soldiers of unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrating against the expropriation of their farmland in the Galilee and the expansion of Jews-only settlements around their villages. According to Hatim Khanaaneh, a renowned doctor and activist whose memoir, “A Doctor In Galilee” is the best first hand account I have read of official Israeli discrimination against its Palestinian citizens, soldiers from the Golani Brigade celebrated the massacre in a nearby Jewish moshav by dancing and singing “Am Yisrael Chai.” The Land Day massacre electrified the Palestinian national movement inside Israel and popularized Toufiq Ziad’s poem, “Ounadikom” (I call out to you), an enduring cry of anti-colonial resistance that was recited this January in Cairo’s Tahrir Square by Waseem Wagdi.

On this year’s Land Day, the Jewish National Fund distributed a series of hysterical fundraising appeals and press releases that highlighted the organization’s sense of desperation. The letters are full of schnorring and devoid of content, as the JNF has no response to the factual arguments of its critics or to the reports of its recent abuses in the Negev. Instead, the organization has called for a“Stop the Hatred Day” and concocted a new slogan: “They destroy, we build.” Of course, anyone who is familiar with Al Arakib knows that it is the JNF that destroys and the indigenous Bedouins who rebuild.

Since it was founded in 1901, the JNF has been at the forefront of ethnic cleansing in Palestine. And now the group’s machinations are being exposed and countered through an effective, non-violent campaign based on a simple appeal to human dignity, international law and basic rights. It is no wonder its leadership is so defensive and desperate.

The excellent Israeli documentary “The Diaries of Yosef Nachmani” used the memoirs of one of the JNF’s top officials to expose the organization’s role in forcing Palestinian farmers off their own land, often through trickery and manipulation. JNF director Yosef Weitz was instrumental in hatchingPlan Dalet, the campaign to ethnically cleanse at least 400 Palestinian villages and expel their residents in 1947 and 1948. After the war of 1948, Weitz orchestrated the planting of hundreds of thousands of non-native trees west of Jerusalem to cover up the scores of villages that had just been ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias. Today those trees look as natural to the landscape of the Judean Hills as the hair plugs on Joe Biden’s scalp.

The Land Day protests were sparked by the Israeli government’s “Judaization” of the Galilee, a plan that led to mass expropriations by the Israel Land Authority (ILA). Through a 1960 law, ILA was required to allocate half of the seats in its council to the JNF. A law the following year clearly statedthe JNF existed “for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties.” In other words, the JNF openly discriminated on the basis of ethnicity. Having acquired 70 percent of its land through confiscations from Palestinian refugees and present absentees through the Absentee Property Law of 1950, the JNF became a key mechanism for expropriation and ethnic cleansing under the guise of developing Israel for its Jewish citizens.

The 1995 Supreme Court Ka’adan ruling forbade the ILA from leasing land exclusively through the JNF. The court made its ruling on the grounds that the JNF openly discriminates against non-Jews. However, a Knesset vote in 2007 undermined the ruling, prompting the Israeli newspaper Haaretz toeditorialize: “The Jewish National Fund’s land policy counters the interests of the state and cannot discriminate by law against the minority living in Israel.” (The title of the editorial was, “A Racist and Jewish State.”)

Today, though the ILA is able to sell some of its land to private developers, the JNF still controls 6 of 13 seats on the ILA’s council while maintaining numerous arrangements for land swaps with the state. With the ILA in possession of 93 percent of Israel’s land, the JNF remains in a prime position to dictate how the Galilee and Negev are “Judaized.” But as Alaa Mahajneh of the Palestinian-Israeli legal rights center Adalah points out, the increasingly complex arrangements make legislating equality from within the Israeli legal system even more difficult.

In recent years, the JNF has focused its efforts on an area in the Negev known as Al Arakib. It is the ancestral home of the Al Touri Bedouin tribe. In 1951, the Bedouins were removed from their land by the Israeli army, which told them they could return once it completed a series of training exercises. Years passed until the tribe came back, but by then they were considered “present absentees” thanks to the aforementioned Absentee Property Law. This meant that they were internal refugees with no rights to their own land, even if they had property deeds. Their land had been transfered into the hands of the Development Authority, the custodian for confiscated land at the time, and then handed over to the ILA, which eventually authorized the JNF to do what it does best: ethnic cleansing.

Nuri El Okbi, a veteran Bedouin rights activist from Al Arakib, attempted to move back to his family’s property, where the ruins of his father’s house lay. Not only did El Okbi have land deeds his parents had saved in a halvah box to prove their right to the land, he had aerial photos dating from 1947 that clearly showed his family’s home and fields. Each time he encamped there, however, Israeli police officers removed him by force. After the 40th attempt to return, El-Okbi received a restraining order forbidding him from setting foot on the land where he spent his childhood. He can not return because he is not a Jew. In other countries during other times, this was considered apartheid.

Since the JNF has set its sights on Al Arakib, the village has been destroyed 21 times. Israeli police have used rubber bullets, percussion grenades, teargas, batons and bulldozers against women, children, and the elderly — all unarmed — in their effort to remove the Bedouin un-people from the area. During the first destruction of Al Arakib, a squad of Israeli high school age students were hired to remove belongings from the homes of Al Arakib residents — the “Summer Camp of Destruction.”The students vandalized homes in the process and reportedly belted out the familiar “Am Yisrael Chai!” when the bulldozers moved in. ILA bulldozers accompanied by riot police have attempted todestroy and desecrate the Al Arakib cemetary, which contains graves more than a century old. And recently, the Israel State’s Attorney Office has announced plans to sue the residents of Al Arakib for $1 million shekels for the demolition of their own homes.

To complete its project in and around Al Arakib, the JNF has accepted millions of dollars in funding from a racist and anti-Semitic evangelical broadcasting network, GOD TV, that openly propagates End Times theology demanding that all Jews to convert to Christianity or suffer in an “everlasting lake of fire.” With the JNF’s help, GOD TV’s huckstering CEO Rory Alec will be able to fulfill his mission of “redeeming the land for Christ” by building “GOD TV Forest” on the ruins of Al Arakib. Meanwhile, Alec has lavished money on Givot Bar, a Jewish town in the area that is likely to benefit from the newly approved Communities Acceptance Law allowing small communities to openly discriminate against applicants on the basis of ethnicity and sexual orientation (and it is unlikely that blue collar Mizrahi Jews will be able to afford the 5000 Shekel application fee Givot Bar requires).

Recently, the Australian television news show Dateline produced an excellent report on Al Arakib. Dateline told the story of El Okbi, comparing him to the Australian aboriginal rights advocate Eddie Mabo, who won a landmark court case eliminating the white colonists’ legal fiction of Terra Nullius, a concept that still forms the basis of Israeli land confiscations.

Dateline then interviewed Shalom Siza, an official from the JNF’s bureaucratic parent, the ILA. In three lines, Siza summarized the logic of the JNF and the Zionist movement that brought it into being: “Every year, [the Bedouins] invade and we remove them. They invade and we remove them. We’re not going to let this land be invaded.”

Having turned the indigenous people of Palestine into “invaders” in their own land, the JNF’s leadership insists that their intentions are good. “I can tell you one simple thing,” JNF CEO Russell Robinson wrote in a March 28 email newsletter. “No other organization is doing anywhere near as much as JNF is to help enhance the quality of life for this [Bedouin] population.”

Go here and here to take action to stop the JNF.

 

 

Israel’s incitement problem

Mar 30, 2011

Noam Sheizaf

Following is an excerpt from an interesting post by Noam Sheizaf over at +972. Read the entire piece here.


When I was a kid, I loved Danni Din stories. Their hero was wonder-kid Danni Din, which became the worlds’ only invisible person after mistakenly drinking a strange liquid left on the window by the reckless Prof. Katros. As befits superheroes of his kind, Danni didn’t take advantage of his unique condition by rushing into the girl’s dorms, but instead dedicated his childhood to helping Israel’s security forces. Danni Din fought in the Six days war, caught terrorists and rescued IDF prisoners, and though even at a very young age I sensed there was something tragic in his condition (he was to remain invisible forever, not to mention the fact that he never seemed to grow up), I dreamed of getting the opportunity to perform such heroic acts for our country myself.

Last week, in the wake of another round of the endless debates over the “Palestinian incitement”, I got an e-mail with pictures of the front (above) and back cover of one of the latest Danni Din stories, published in 1997. The author of the mail, an Israeli parent, was shocked to see the militaristic tone in the book his son, a second grader and an avid reader, brought home from the public library one day.

“Saving the president”, the 1997 Danni Din story, featured a new heroine: Dina Din, the invisible girl. The book has a somewhat bizarre plot: the invisible kids are abducted by extraterrestrials (the late 90’s were the days of the X-Files mania), only to escape after a fierce battle, in which they take control over the aliens’ spaceship. Headed back to earth, they intercept a plot by Hamas to send a flying suicide bomber that would crash into president Bill Clinton’s Air Force One – on his way to Israel, naturally – with the intention of blowing up the plane and killing all its passengers.

“Will our invisible heroes succeed in saving the beloved president and the planes passengers from death?” asks the back cover.

Danni Din’s war on Arab terrorists is not unique. Almost every adventure book I remember from my childhood featured at least a handful of evil Arabs (never mention the P word), if not full Egyptian military divisions. Some of the Arabs in those books were thieves and kidnappers, but most of them were terrorists.

The best known of these books were the “Hassamba” series, featuring a group or kids operating like a secret army unit in the service of Israel’s defense, getting their orders directly from the most senior generals. These books weren’t about politics: While Shraga Gafni, the author of Danni Din series (as well as many other Israeli classics), was a rightwing ideologue , Hassamba’s Yigal Mossinson was a Tel Aviv bohemian.  His books were a bit more sophisticated, but the militaristic-nationalist tone was largely the same.

Whenever I hear Israeli advocacy groups speaking of incitement, I think of Danni Din and Hassamba. I also remember the maps of Israel we use to draw in school: none of them featured the green line, just one big happy Jewish state, from the sea to the Jordan; and we never marked the Palestinian towns on them, only Jewish cities. Does this qualify as incitement?

Read the entire piece here.

Zionism’s history, real and imagined

Mar 30, 2011

David Samel

Jerry Slater’s magnum opus on the history, present and future of Zionism has led to a large volume and variety of debate. He offers a lengthy defense of the creation and existence of a Jewish State despite recognizing the inherent injustice forced upon the indigenous Palestinian population. He concedes that this unfairness, which has taken the form of dispossession, military occupation and inequality, has been egregious and intolerable, but argues that it theoretically could have been kept to an acceptable level and could possibly be reduced to such level in the future. I think there are some serious flaws in his analysis that deserve attention.

First, Jerry thoroughly analyzes the history of Zionism as a prelude to making his case for the two-state solution as exclusive remedy for the conflict. I have no quarrel with this procedure, but rather than sticking to actual historical facts — the events that Palestinians have had to live with over the past century — he relies upon a parallel history of what might have been had Zionism reached its ends through less onerous means. He understands that “relocation” of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians was necessary to pave the way for a Jewish State, but theorizes that the trauma could have been reduced if only the Israelis had settled for the 55% of the land designated for them by the United Nations, thereby reducing the number of Palestinians living in the Jewish State; those Palestinians were offered bribes to leave their ancestral homeland; and those that refused were subject to “compulsory relocation” in an “essentially nonviolent” manner with the bribe money stuffed in their pockets.

This fantasy strikes me as poorly conceived and completely implausible. Jerry assumes that “the international community” and “Jewish supporters of Israel” would “surely” have financed this plan, but who would have implemented it? Ethnic cleansing most definitely was not part of the UN partition plan. He estimates that 50,000 Palestinians would have refused the bribes; how would they have been expelled “essentially nonviolently”? If Arab armies had tried to intervene to stop compulsory relocation, who would have fought them?

Even more importantly, so what? Why is Jerry bothering to conjure up a vision of a kinder and gentler nakhba? Where we go from here depends on what happened, not flights of imagination. Palestinians and the rest of the world have been living with the consequences of what really did happen, and the future must be guided by those realities.

Necessity of a Jewish State

Jerry’s most oft-repeated theme is that the long history of worldwide anti-Semitism made a Jewish State a necessity. He expertly disposes of most commonly heard pre-Holocaust justifications for the Jewish State in Palestine: biblical history, territorial rights, Balfour/League of Nations. But then, he claims that the exigencies of the Holocaust committed by Europeans gave rise to a Jewish right, borne of necessity, to dispossess Palestinians. He recognizes the injustice in that, but accepts that the Palestinians just have to live with it for the greater good. Jerry also argues that even today, Jews are uniquely vulnerable to outbreaks of anti-Semitism, so much so that they need more protection than other groups, many other groups, who seem, I guess superficially, to have it quite a bit rougher today.

I’m not sure any Palestinians would consider this argument to be “irrefutable,” as he claims it to be, but let’s bypass this issue for the time being. What I would like to address is the logical leap he makes with virtually no analysis whatsoever. If Jews truly are as uniquely imperiled as he says, and certainly they were far more imperiled at the time of Israel’s founding, Jerry simply assumes that having “their own state” was an obvious remedy that requires little or no elaboration. He concedes that Israel has not been a safe place for Jews for 63 years of its existence, but speculates that it might become a safe haven in the future he envisions of a “fair” two-state agreement.

Consider this hypothetical. If a young woman has to walk to work through a high crime area at night, purchasing a car might be a reasonable way to provide much-needed protection. However, if she’s a chronic drunk or terrible driver or the only car she can afford is a used Ford Pinto, this “solution” actually increases the chances that harm will come to her. So it is with Israel. Because of the manifest unfairness on the Zionist plan to take another people’s land for a Jewish State. and the even worse execution of that plan, causing catastrophe to an innocent indigenous population, Israel has always been one of the least safe places on Earth for Jews. Jerry’s insistence that it was an “irrefutable” argument in the post-World War II era that Jews needed their own state makes about as much sense as saying it is irrefutable that the young woman in my hypothetical needs a Pinto. At most, he can argue that Jews required special protection at that time, and still require the promise of such protection should there be another outbreak of virulent anti-Semitism (a point much more debatable than irrefutable). But the creation of a Jewish State by European immigrants who had dispossess people who have lived there for centuries was a frying pan into the fire (or perhaps fire into the frying pan) solution, confirmed by the last 63 years of insecurity.

One State v. Two State

My biggest objection to Jerry’s analysis is the fratricidal tone he takes with respect to one-state proponents, foreseeing dire consequences if they continue in their supposed folly. He claims that people who advocate for one truly democratic state are consigning Palestinians to perpetual misery in the current status quo. In his view, preference for one state implies “giving up” on two, and “condemn[ing Palestinians] to live indefinitely under Israeli occupation and repression.”

Once again, he offers no analysis to support this logical leap. If by some miracle Israel followed Jerry’s prescription and made genuine moves toward ending the occupation and creating a Palestinian state, how many one-staters would stand in the way and demand that Palestinians refuse that option and continue to suffer under occupation until they achieve deliverance to the one-state promised land? In a comment, Jerry claims to find it “appalling that many here, from the comfort of their own homes in the US or Europe, want to insist that the Palestinians just must maintain their maximal current demands, even if the practical consequence of doing so is to ensure a continuation of the occupation.” Who is presuming to insist that the Palestinians take any particular position? Who is insisting on a choice between one state or a continuation of the occupation? If anyone is insisting on anything, Jerry is insisting that Palestinian citizens of Israel accept permanent second-class status, and that Palestinians under occupation or in the Diaspora affirm the legitimacy of their own dispossession and the delegitimization of their right of return guaranteed under international law.

Jerry also insists that one-staters hold their tongue. Why should those of us who feel that a Jewish State, especially one with Israel’s awful history rather than the alternative history Jerry has imagined, is an anachronism whose continued existence cannot be ethically defended, refrain from voicing our opinion? Sure, the Palestinians living under occupation are much worse off than those living as second-class citizens, but demanding the kind of equal citizenship rights we take for granted here in the U.S. is not an obstacle to their relief. If anything, casting a spotlight on this overriding injustice is more likely to propel progress toward ending the far greater misery of the occupation than it is to retard it. If there is a growing chorus of one-staters, might not Israel become more flexible in easing the occupation or more amenable to a genuine two-state solution, in order to head off the more “extreme” solution of true democracy? Some prominent Israeli politicians have made a similar argument, that Israel faces a choice between two states and one apartheid state.

When the African National Congress opposed apartheid, it demanded full and equal rights, not simply relief from the worst aspects of apartheid. Demanding full and equal rights for Palestinians, which in my view is inconsistent with the notion of a Jewish State, might be an excellent way to move American and western public opinion. Moreover, Israel is refusing to abide by what has long been a worldwide consensus in favor of the 2ss not because of one-state proponents, but because it wants to keep holding as much territory as possible. Jerry has no basis for his bitter criticism of one-staters’ imagined willingness to sacrifice Palestinians on the altar of a “quixotic quest.” If he wants to defend his two-state position, fine, though I’m not at all convinced, but I do wish he would reconsider his overheated attacks on people who don’t find him all that irrefutable.

Finally, Jerry has the good sense to direct his ire not at Palestinians themselves but at their supporters who enjoy comfort and security, but his reasoning is equally applicable to Palestinians who advocate for one democratic state, who must be committing the same grave errors. Jerry is fond of making points with old jokes, so let me give it a try – please excuse the morbid taste. The Nazis catch two Jews hiding in the forest and bring them before a firing squad. One starts crying and begging for his life. “On your mark!” More sobbing, more begging. “Get set!” The other Jew turns and says, “Shh! Don’t make trouble.” The nakhba is 63 years old. For the last 43 years, Israel has inflicted a brutal military occupation on Palestinians. No Israeli government has made bona fide overtures toward ending the occupation, much less giving Palestinian citizens equal rights. Things are getting worse and the current government may be the worst of all. And Jerry is turning to Palestinians and their supporters who demand the full measure of what should be guaranteed to them as universal human rights and says, “Shh! Don’t make trouble.” One-staters might disagree with you, Jerry, but they’re not the problem.

Israeli activists call for a ‘no fly zone’ over Gaza

Mar 30, 2011

Adam Horowitz

The following announcement was sent out by the Israeli activists behind the “return to sender” campaign working to end US support for Israel:

We will join the Palestinians in calling for a
No-Fly Zone Over Palestine

Together we will call upon the world: Ban Israeli planes from bombarding the besieged Gaza

Together we will demand: US and EU – end your support of Israeli crimes

A couple of weeks ago, the UN Security Council decided to implement a no-fly zone over Libya, aimed at protecting its citizens. Last week Israeli fighter jets bombed the besieged Gaza several times, killing helpless civilians and children. Israeli jets also Invaded the sovereign skies of Lebanon, as has routinely been done before, in violation of international law.

Palestinian civil society organizations are calling upon the Security Council and the international community to protect the Palestinian people and prohibit these deadly jets form flying over Palestine, as is being enforced over Libya. Similar calls were also voiced by Ismail Haniyeh and Salam Fayyad.

The different factions in Gaza have agreed to a ceasefire, given that Israel puts stops its aggression. Israeli authorities have also confirmed that Hamas is interested in a ceasefire. Nevertheless, Israeli forces continue in bombing civilians while the heads of the state prepare us for a weeks-long confrontation, stating that “Hamas no longer remembers Cast Lead”. While Hamas and Fatah are discussing unity, the Israeli prime minister warns us that such a unity will put an end to negotiations.

These are American weapons, American funding and American backing

Without their military, economic and diplomatic aid, Israel could not possibly carry on the illegal siege of Gaza, the bombing of civilians, the blatant disregard of the International Law and world consensus, and maintain its illegal settlements project, oppression and apartheid.

The US presents itself as a defender of democracy and of human rights, while doing everything to financially, diplomatically and militarily support Israeli occupation and apartheid, imposing an illegal and inhumane siege on those who are in need of protection.

This action is part of R€FU$E – Western Supported Occupation & Apartheid. The campaign targets the EU-US complicity in Israeli occupation and aims at raising awareness to this critical issue. We demand that both the EU and the US join the international community, in deeds rather than words, and act in order to protect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

Join us on Sunday | April 3rd | at 19:30 in front of the US Embassy, 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv!

Thousands of Palestinians take part in ‘Land Day’ protests across Israel/Palestine

Mar 30, 2011

Kate

The West Bank village Nil’in recognizes Land Day, and as per usual is met with tear gas.

Land Day: What it means and why it’s important / Yousef Munayyer
Today, March 30th, marks Land Day or Youm Al Ard in Arabic. Perhaps more than May 15th, when the Nakba is often marked, or June 5th, when the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is marked, Land Day is symbolic of the totality of the Palestinian struggle. It’s a day that refugees, who dwell in dismal camps dreaming of return, internally displaced or marginalized Palestinians in Israel and Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza are bound together in commemoration of what the Palestinian struggle is all about: a people’s desire to live free on their native land.
So what precisely is Land Day? An info brief here explains.

Two poems by Rashid Hussein
Rashid Hussein (1936-1977) was born in Musmus, Palestine, in 1936. He published his first collection in 1957 and established himself as a major Palestinian poet and orator. He participated in founding the Land Movement in 1959 … With the Land — The land comes near me / drinks from me / leaves its orchards with me / to become a beautiful weapon / defending me / Even when I sleep / the land comes near me / in my dream. / I smuggle its wild thyme / between exiles….

1,500 Israeli Arabs take part in Land Day protest in Lod
Haaretz 29 Mar 22:37 — Demonstrators protest against government demolitions of illegal houses in Lod, other ‘racist’ government policies, burn pictures of Lieberman and carry signs reading ‘Enough with the Ethnic Cleansing.’ … The protesters were demonstrating against the government demolition of the houses of the Abu Eid family, which left some 50 family members, 30 of them children, without a home …  Israeli Arab Knesset members and Jewish residents of mixed cities also participated in the protest.

Schools in Israel’s Arab towns close for Land Day marches
Haaretz 30 Mar — Schools in the country’s Arab towns will be closed today for Land Day Wednesday, commemorating 35 years since the Israeli government announced a plan to seize thousands of dunams of land in the Galilee. Arab MKs and the leaders of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee are scheduled to participate in a large rally in the Galilee town of Arabeh Wednesday afternoon. Smaller marches will leave from Sakhnin and Dir Hanna and meet up in Arabeh, after making stops at the graves of the six Israeli Arabs killed in clashes with security forces while protesting the seizure of land during the first Land Day on March 30, 1976.

Palestinians commemorate Land Day
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Five hundred students were chased and beaten by government security forces during a Land Day protest in Gaza City on Wednesday, an organizer affiliated with the March 15 coalition told Ma‘an. Hamas officials had earlier confirmed that one demonstration, joined by all factions, was given a permit to demonstrate on Land Day.
Teachers in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem devoted their first class Wednesday to the history of Land Day, and the Palestinian struggle to prevent land confiscations, as demonstrations swelled across Palestinian cities.
A protest march towards Beit El, an Israeli settlement in the central West Bank district of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, was blocked by Palestinian police on Ramallah’s Nablus street, organizers said.
In Israel, strikes were declared in dozens of Palestinian towns and cities, with a central demonstration in the Galilee town of Arraba, and a second organized in the Negev town of Araqib …
The protests have their root in the commemoration of the death of six Palestinian citizens of Israel, who took part in a general strike in protest of an Israeli decision to confiscate privately owned Palestinian lands in 1976

West Bank ‘Mistress of the Hill” challenges Jewish settlers
NABLUS, West Bank, March 30 (Bernama) — Om Ayman Sufan, a woman over 50 years old from the Borin village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, rarely sleeps at night in order to protect her house from Jewish settlers” assaults, reports Xinhua news agency. Situated on a hilltop that confronts the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, Om Ayman”s house is often attacked by Israeli settlers. Residents of the village called her the “Mistress of the Hill.” As the Palestinians mark the Land Day on Wednesday, Om Ayman, who became well-known for confronting and challenging Israeli settlers in her village, renewed her pledge to keep resisting them and refused to leave her house and the village.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land and property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers

Settlement building increases fourfold in ’10
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — As Palestinians commemorate Land Day, the anniversary of an uprising against Israel’s land confiscation, areport from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics released a report showing Israel’s settlement project is rapidly escalating. Thirty-five years on from the uprising, in which six young protesters were killed by Israeli forces, Palestinians constitute almost half of the population of the Palestine under the British Mandate, but have access to less than 15 percent of the land, the PCBS report said. Israel’s separation wall has confiscated around 733 square kilometers of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, the report notes … PCBS found that in 2010, Israel built 6,794 Jewish-only housing units on occupied Palestinian land, four times more than in 2009.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373357

Twana village: living in settler hell / Muhannad al-Adm
Hebron (PNN/Exclusive) 30 Mar — The al-Ra‘bi family lives in the village of Twana, south of Hebron in the southern West Bank, in a lasting state of panic induced by the settlers in the nearby outpost of Ma’oun, built on Twana’s land. The Twana villagers can’t leave and they can’t abandon their sheep, their only livelihood in this land of little rainfall. Jama‘a al-Ra‘bi, who owns the family home, says they can only wait and hold onto their land.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9801&Itemid=56

Israel bulldozes farmlands in south Bethlehem
West Bank, (Pal Telegraph) 30 Mar — Israeli bulldozers started Wednesday razing operations to  several agricultural lands of Al-Khader town in the south part of Bethlehem. Awad Abu Sawi, Bethlehem director of the local Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, said that dozens of settlers under the protection of Israeli army bulldozed yesterday more than 13 Dunums in the area of Hereka Qiqan which belonged to Palestinian citizens.
http://www.paltelegraph.com/palestine/west-bank/8799-israeli-bulldozes-farmlands-south-bethlehem.html

Israelis demolish village near Hebron to build public park
Ramallah (Gulf News) 29 Mar — Seven Palestinians from the village of Umm Nir, south east Yatta near Hebron, were injured in clashes with the Israeli army which raided their village for the third time and demolished a big portion of it that the colonists plan to replace with a public park for a nearby Israeli settlement. … Abul Aziz Abu Fannar, a spokesman of Yatta municipality, … added that the Palestinian residents of Umm Nir village owned a total of 3,600 donums of lands as private property, which the Israeli colonists were working to seize.
http://gulfnews.com/news/region/palestinian-territories/israelis-demolish-village-near-hebron-to-build-public-park-1.784586

Tractors confiscated in Al-Jiftlik, Jordan Valley
ISM 29 Mar — At approximately 7 am this morning the Israeli army entered the village of Al Jiftlik. Soldiers went door to door ordering all tractor owners to bring their farming vehicles to the closed military zone between Miswa settlement and a nearby Israeli army base, where they had set up a temporary base … Approximately forty tractor owners were questioned, and their ID’s and vehicle ownership were checked. They were made to stand next to their tractors, after which soldiers photographed and filmed the men with their vehicles. All people were informed that their tractors would be confiscated if they proved unable to provide proof of ownership. The forty farmers had to wait in the sun for up to 7 hours to find out the army’s decision on what would happen to their farming vehicles. At 3 pm four owners were ordered to drive their tractors into the military camp … The four tractors were confiscated and kept inside the military camp after the farmers brought them there. Faris, one of the farmers who had to bring his tractor into the military camp, said his tractor cost him 40.000NIS; “all the money I collected from farming, I put into the tractor.” He also indicated that he will be unable to continue farming his land without having a tractor.
http://palsolidarity.org/2011/03/17276/

Photojournal: Settlers and army collude in in ethnic cleansing
Jordan Valley Solidarity – 28 Mar — For the last week the family of Nabeel and Ghada Daraghme have become the latest victims of Israel’s brutal policy of ethnic cleansing in the Jordan Valley … Nabeel and Ghada are bedouin cattle farmers, moving between ‘Ein el Hilwe, Al Hadidiya and Tubas during the year. They have four children: Firas, the eldest, herds the cattle in the mountains every day from around 5am, whilst the others are all young and attend the school in ‘Ein El Hilwe, run entirely by volunteers from our project.
http://topalestineinsolidarity.blogspot.com/2011/03/settlers-and-army-collude-in-ethnic.html

Homes destroyed by Israel army in Amniyr, south Hebron hills
Christian Peacemaker Teams 29 Mar — At 7:00 am on the morning of March 29th 2011 the Israeli military demolished the village of Amniyr , destroying seven tent dwellings and confiscating the remains. This is the second time in just over a month that the Israeli army has demolished the village … One resident was injured by a blow to his head by the butt of a gun, and four required treatment for inhalation of teargas used by the soldiers. Israel does not deny that the demolished homes are on private land owned by the village’s Palestinian residents … Immediately after the demolitions were finished, villagers began to reconstruct what they could of the rubble. As residents started gathering stones from a demolished sheep pen, the sounds of an Israeli bulldozer could be heard across the valley as it continued to excavate new construction for the illegal Israeli settlement of Susiya.
http://palsolidarity.org/2011/03/17253/

Settlers stone police in nightly clash
Ynet 30 Mar — Police arriving at Givat Ronen to arrest resident of West Bank outpost greeted with stones, forced to send for backup, officers say. Settlers: Police behaved violently, injured three. MK compares internal security minister to Gaddafi
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4049649,00.html

Gaza

Israeli air strike kills Gaza militant linked to rocket attack near border
Haaretz 30 Mar — Israel Air Force jets struck Wednesday a group of Palestinian militants in southern Gaza, killing one gunman and wounding another as they rode a motorcycle, Gaza medical officials said. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed carrying out the dawn strike, saying it targeted Palestinians who had launched a short-range rocket across the border on Tuesday. No one was hurt in that attack … They had been driving to mosque prayers when they were struck on the road from Khan Younis to Rafah in south Gaza, Islamic Jihad said in a statement … Earlier on Wednesday, Israel’s air force bombed a smuggling tunnel  [Reuters: Hours after the air strike, a small al Qaeda-linked group in Gaza, Tawheed And Jihad, issued a statement saying that it had carried out Tuesday’s rocket attack.]
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-air-strike-kills-gaza-militant-linked-to-rocket-attack-near-border-1.352893

Early morning air strike kills 1
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli forces launched an air strike on the southern Gaza Strip shortly after the dawn prayer on Wednesday, killing one militant and injuring a second. In a statement from the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, officials identified the slain man as Mohammad Abu Mu‘ammer … Spokesman of the higher committee of ambulance and emergency services Adham Abu Salmiya said the 24-year-old man died shortly after being taken to hospital. He confirmed that a second was being treated for critical injuries as a result of the strike. Officials said a drone had carried out the attack. Mu‘ammer is the sixth member of the Al-Quds Brigades to be killed in the last ten days
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373657

Gaza family mourns boy killed by Israeli shell
EI 29 Mar — Some playing cards and other small items were all that Mahmoud Jalal al-Hilu, 10, left behind when he was killed by an Israeli tank shell on 22 March as he played near his home in the Shuja‘iya neighborhood east of Gaza City. “As I was heading to the mosque for afternoon prayers, Mahmoud was just coming back from school, and said, ‘Dad, classes are canceled today because there was Israeli shelling,'” Abu Hamad al-Hilu, 48, told The Electronic Intifada as he received visitors who had come to offer condolences on the death of his son.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11886.shtml

Saving Gaza one family at a time / Ken O’Keefe
GAZA CITY 28 Mar — Two years on, the Samouni family in Gaza is still without basic needs and the children continue to suffer from the trauma of Israel’s extended attack called Operation Cast Lead and the ultimate loss of parents, siblings and other family members. Many of these children were made to live next to the corpses of their loved ones for days, so you can imagine what is happening in their heads and their hearts. We have already built a playground on Samouni land; we have planted a small Olive Tree Orchard and laid the floor for the classroom/community centre. The next phase of building the centre/classroom is outlined at the following link
http://salem-news.com/articles/march282011/samouni-family-ko.php

Defense ministry ordered to release internal documents on Gaza policies / Amira Hass
Haaretz 30 Mar — The ministry has been ordered to release information regarding the minimum nutritional requirements needed to sustain Gaza residents, names of officials responsible for policy of limiting the entry of goods into the Strip … The documents still have not been uncovered while the Defense Ministry decides whether it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. . 
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/defense-ministry-ordered-to-release-internal-documents-on-gaza-policies-1.352768

Bill: Ban money transfers from Israel to Gaza
Ynet 30 Mar — Twenty rightist Knesset members on Wednesday submitted a bill that would ban the transfer of funds from Israel to Gaza as long as terrorist activities continue in the Hamas-ruled territory.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4050021,00.html

More Palestinians return to Gaza from Libya
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — A third group of Palestinians returned to Gaza from Libya on Tuesday, the Palestinian consulate in Alexandria said. The group left Libya through the As-Saloum crossing into Egypt, and entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, the consulate said in a statement.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373463

Power cable equipment to enter via sole crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Three truckloads of goods for the Gaza Power Authority will be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Palestinian liaison officer Raed Fattouh said he was informed by his Israeli counterpart.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373653

Gaza court sentences man to death
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — A military court in the central Gaza Strip sentenced a man to death by hanging on Wednesday, after a judge found him guilty of treason contributing to the death of a Palestinian. A second man was found guilty of treason and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Both sentences were accepted unanimously by the military panel, but are appealable.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373658

Israeli minister proposes Gaza island
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 30 Mar — Israel is considering building an artificial island with sea and air ports off blockaded Gaza, as a long-term solution to shipping goods into the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, the transport minister said. Yisrael Katz told Army Radio on Wednesday he wants an international force to control the island for “at least 100 years” and for unloaded cargo to be brought into Gaza along a 4.5-km (3-mile)-long bridge with a security checkpoint to prevent arms smuggling.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110330/wl_nm/us_palestinians_israel_island

Detention

Awarta police officer detained in night raid
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — A 40-year-old policeman was detained by Israeli forces from the village of Awarta overnight Tuesday, a day after dozens were rounded up in connection to a murder investigation involving a settler family from the adjacent Itamar settlement … Police identified the latest man detained from the village of Awarta as Samih Ilias Al-Qadi. An Israeli military spokesman said he could not comment on events in the village.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373762

Child exiled from home for stone-throwing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — A 14-year-old Jerusalem boy was banned from his neighborhood by a district court, his family said Wednesday.  The child is prohibited from entering his home district for 60 days, after being convicted of stone throwing, relatives said. Salim Bader Ash-Sha‘ar will have to live with relatives and stop attending school for the duration of the order … The order, the center said, was handed down in lieu of jail time for the child.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373697

Mentally handicapped 12-year-old arrested by Israeli forces in Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 29 Mar — A mentally handicapped Palestinian child has been arrested and interrogated by Israeli forces because he was playing with a plastic gun. At the beginning of March this year an Israeli jeep on patrol halted in Al-Bustan district to arrest a 12-year old mentally handicapped child named Mahdi Abu Nab from outside his home. Mahdi, who is a student at a school for the mentally disabled, was playing with a plastic toy gun, which troops saw as reason enough to take the boy by force and into the jeep.
http://silwanic.net/?p=14212

Boy found to have lied about rape
Ynet 30 Mar — Police released four Palestinians residing illegally in Israel who were arrested Tuesday on suspicion that they had raped an 11-year old Israeli boy, when it turned out the latter had been lying … The case had been likened to ‘Clockwork Orange’ by police investigator Guy Kalderon, who was involved in their arrest on charges of rape and indecent acts
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4049847,00.html

IOF troops arrest 5 Palestinians
WEST BANK, (PIC) 30 Mar — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up five Palestinians in various West Bank areas at dawn Wednesday after breaking into many homes, Israeli military sources said. Locals in Azun village, Qalqilia, said that the IOF soldiers took away a 16-year-old boy, while locals in Bethlehem reported that two citizens were rounded up in Husan village and Doheisha refugee camp.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bc

Hamas says 2 detained by PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Hamas officials in the West Bank said Wednesday that Palestinian security forces detained two of its members from the Tulkarem district for political reasons.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373728

International abduction

Report: Abducted Gazan may have information on Shalit
Ynet 30 Mar — Israel may have ordered Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi’s abduction because he has information on kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Der Spiegel reported Tuesday … The report says that the senior power plant official, who disappeared from the Ukraine and later surfaced at an Israeli prison, was actually kidnapped by Kiev intelligence agents at the Jewish state’s behest.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4049655,00.html

Abu Sisi’s wife: He never spoke about Shalit
Ynet 30 Mar — Wife of Gaza engineer who was allegedly kidnapped by Israel, says he has no ties to Hamas or knowledge about Gilad Shalit’s abduction … Veronica Abu Sisi said that her husband distanced himself from anything that is related to Hamas and politics. “It is not a subject that ever came up at our home,” she said. “I am sure that he has nothing to do with it. Everything we know about the captive soldier is that Hamas abducted him.”
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4049937,00.html

Politics / International

UN chief: End occupation, divide Jerusalem
Ynet 30 Mar — In message delivered by his assistant at Uruguay conference Ban Ki-moon says occupation is morally and politically unsustainable and must therefore end. ‘A way must be found for Jerusalem to emerge as a capital of two States,’ he adds
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4049602,00.html

Palestinian leadership rejects Israeli threats to thwart state recognition
30 Mar — The Palestinian presidency on Tuesday denounced Israeli threats of unilateral measures if the United Nations recognized Palestine as an independent state. “These threats are a proof of isolation and failure of Israel’s policy,” said Nabil Abu Rdineh, spokesman for Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “The Palestinian people have the right to establish their independent statehood on all occupied lands,” Abu Rdineh added, noting that “the countries that recognize Palestine are more than those which do not.”
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90854/7335126.html

Egypt denies report on opening embassy in Gaza
Xinhua 30 Mar — Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian territories on Tuesday denied reports on opening the Egyptian embassy in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. “The Egyptian embassy exists where the Palestinian legitimacy exists,” ambassador Yasser Othman said, referring to the West Bank where the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) holds sway. “There is no need to open two embassies because of the division, ” he told the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam newspaper.
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90854/7335066.html

Abbas meets European consuls in West Bank
Xinhua 30 Mar — Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday met consuls of Britain, France and Germany in the West Bank and discussed efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Nabil Abu Rdineh, spokesman for Abbas, said that the participants discussed the upcoming meeting of the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators, which comprises the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, in the middle of April.
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90854/7335145.html

PLO factions urge leaders to seize opportunity for unity
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — PLO factions in Gaza on Tuesday called on Hamas and Fatah to seize the current opportunity to achieve national Palestinian unity. In a statement, five PLO factions urged all parties involved to facilitate President Mahmoud Abbas’ proposal to visit the Gaza Strip and make a unity deal between his Fatah party and Hamas. The Hamas-run Gaza Strip has been separated from the West Bank since 2007
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373555

Hamas official: Party will accept Abbas initiative to end division
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Hamas head of the Palestinian legislature Aziz Dweik said Tuesday that the party would respond positively to President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative to visit Gaza and end the national division.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373585

Arab League could host Palestinian unity talks
CAIRO (AFP) 29 Mar — The Arab League is willing to host Palestinian reconciliation talks, Secretary General Amr Mussa said on Tuesday after a meeting with Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar in Cairo.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110329/wl_mideast_afp/palestinianspoliticsarab

Israel, Tunisia spar over Jewish immigration
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 Mar — Israeli and Tunisian diplomats were locked in a war of words on Tuesday over Jewish immigration after Israel said it was upping funding to help Jews move from the North African country to Israel … That drew a furious response from the Tunisian foreign ministry, which condemned Israel’s “interference” in the country’s internal affairs by offering financial incentives to encourage Jews to emigrate. It also prompted the leader of the Jewish community in Tunisia to criticize the Israeli government for its offer and say that “no Jew is going to leave the country.” … “Tunisia is outraged by the statements… [from] a country which still denies the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, shamefully defying international law,” it said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373617

US to seek new term on UN panel despite concerns of anti-Israel stance
AP 30 Mar — The Obama administration will seek a new term on the United Nations Human Rights Council despite concerns that the panel remains a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment and a forum for repressive nations to deflect attention from abuses they may have committed, The Associated Press has learned.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/u-s-to-seek-new-term-on-un-panel-despite-concerns-of-anti-israel-stance-1.352916

Other news

State Comptroller: IDF controls 39% of Israel’s land within the Green Line
Haaretz 29 Mar — State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss harshly criticized the use of state land by the Israel Defense Forces in a report issued on Tuesday, finding that it controls 39 percent of Israel’s land inside the Green Line. In his report, Lindenstrauss said that the IDF bases are spread out on over 8.7 million dunams in Israel and occupy 39 percent of land within the Green Line. The report further stated that over 40 percent of land in Israel, 8.8 million dunams, is under building restrictions due to military considerations.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/state-comptroller-idf-controls-39-of-israel-s-land-within-the-green-line-1.352642

Court asked to intervene after 21 Israeli Arabs laid off without warning
Haaretz 30 Mar — A state official on Wednesday filed a petition with labor court on behalf of 21 Israeli Arabs who were laid off by the Kimat Hinam market chain, citing fears that the dismissals were carried out as part of a discriminatory procedure.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/court-asked-to-intervene-after-21-israeli-arabs-laid-off-without-warning-1.353045

Ethiopia: 80 Falashmura injured during protest outside Israeli embassy
Ynet 30 Mar — Some 2,000 Ethiopian Jews demonstrate in front of embassy in Addis Ababa; demand to be allowed to make aliyah. Eighty protesters arrested
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4050023,00.html

pleasant news of the day:
Student-teacher invention wins plaudits at home and abroad
UNRWA Bethlehem 28 Mar — For 14-year old Iman Qraqa‘a and her teacher, Maysoon, it has been an unforgettable week. The student-teacher team from an UNRWA school in Bethlehem has won first place at the Palestine Science and Technology fair and a place at the Intel fair in Los Angeles with their invention of a life-saving ventilation system.
http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=942

Analysis / Opinion

UPDATED: In the cross-hairs: Palestinian citizens of Israel / Yousef Munayyer
It seems like the Israeli Knesset wasn’t done with its targeting of the Palestinian Arab minority for the day by the time I had concluded this post. Late yesterday, the Knesset passed a “citizenship-loyalty law” which stipulates that Israeli courts can strip Israeli citizens “who spied for a terror organization, brought about an armed conflict, aided an enemy in wartime, served in the enemy’s armed forces or carried out acts detrimental to the State’s sovereignty”. And of course, it’s up to the Israeli government, dominated by anti-Arab rightists, to define what all of that means. If an Palestinian citizen of Israel, for example, calls for changes in Israeli policy that can be deemed as acting against the “State’s sovereignty” then they can be stripped of their citizenship.
http://blog.thejerusalemfund.org/2011/03/in-cross-hairs-palestinian-citizens-of.html

A morning at an Israeli checkpoint / Alain and Katia Salomon
NYTimes [!] 30 Mar — PARIS — We have just returned from a week in Israel and Palestine. We organize a chamber music festival in Southwest France and are interested in bringing Israeli and Palestinian students to our master classes … We reached the Kalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem on Friday, March 11, at 9:30 in the morning. We chose to get off the bus with everyone else, even though as foreigners we could have stayed on. We were stunned by what we saw: dwarfing cement structures, barbed wire, cameras. As we lined up we could see an Israeli woman soldier inside a multifaceted concrete blockhouse, peering out at us. Ahead of us there was a tunnel of bars just wide enough for one person. At its end a turnstile was blocked electronically from somewhere. As we entered this narrow space I looked at the barbed wire further on. We are Jewish, and began to weep. How was it possible that our own people, who have gone through such suffering, can inflict this ordeal, intended to humiliate and intimidate another people? And then we were seized by fear. If there had been a surge of panic or a fire, we would all have been trampled, for there was no escape. The stories of women giving birth here, some losing their babies, came painfully to mind.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/opinion/31iht-edsalomon31.html?_r=1

How can Israel change Muslim extremists’ attitude toward Israel? / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 29 Mar — Two weeks ago, after the link Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made between the murder in Itamar and Palestinian incitement publications, I reported about a study analyzing the weekly Torah-portion pamphlets distributed in their thousands in Israeli synagogues … Pinchas Leiser, a veteran activist for the Oz Veshalom movement for Zionism, Judaism and peace, has asked that I inform readers that enlightened Sabbath brochures exist alongside the hate pamphlets … There is also an enlightened side in Islam’s attitude toward Judaism. This is presented in a new book edited by Prof. Moshe Ma’oz, “Muslim Attitudes to Jews and Israel: Ambivalences of Rejection, Antagonism, Tolerance and Cooperation.” The book, which brings together studies by Muslim and Jewish researchers and clerics, calls into question the common perception that Islam is anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli. Ma’oz says most scholars of Islam point out that alongside periods of humiliations, persecutions and political discrimination, Jewish communities in Muslim countries enjoyed long periods of coexistence and tolerance. The attitude of Muslims toward Jews was to a large extent better than their attitude toward Christians and immeasurably better than Christianity’s attitude toward Judaism.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/how-can-israel-change-muslim-extremists-attitude-toward-israel-1.352464

Israel criminalizes commemoration of the Nakba / Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
29 Mar —   …The Nakba bill is just the latest piece of discriminatory legislation targeting the Palestinian minority in Israel, who constitute 20 percent of the overall population of the state. More than twenty bills are presently being discussed in the Israeli Knesset that impact — both directly and indirectly — the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel …”Any racist law will succeed within this Zionist and right-wing Knesset. Any law which any fool or any crazy or any hysterical and racist person could imagine, anything, he can pass it within this racist Knesset,” [MK Haneen] Zoabi said. “I think that the message is that there is no place for the Palestinian or the Palestinian identity to be a part of this state. It is a kind of political strategy in order to change the laws of the political game. These laws have a political function. It is not a mere expression of Zionism.”
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11884.shtml

U.S.

US senators press Clinton on anti-Israel ‘incitement’
WASHINGTON (AFP) 29 Mar — Twenty-seven US senators pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday to make clear to Palestinian leaders that any incitement to violence against Israel or Jews is “not tolerable.” “We would like to know what specific steps you are taking to press for an end to this dangerous incitement,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Clinton urging action after the grisly stabbing slayings of a family of five Israelis, including three children.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110329/pl_afp/israelpalestiniansconflictuspoliticssenate

Appeals court overturns release of Gitmo detainee
WASHINGTON (AP) 29 Mar — Federal appeals court judges on Tuesday rejected what they described as a Guantanamo Bay detainee’s “Forrest Gump” defense, because they found it unlikely he was an innocent who repeatedly just happened to find himself at hot spots in the war on terror.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110329/ap_on_re_us/us_guantanamo_detainee

Population near ground zero doubles since 2000
NEW YORK (AP) 29 Mar — After the Sept. 11 attacks, there were grim questions about the future of the shaken, dust-covered neighborhoods around the World Trade Center. Would residents flee uptown or to the suburbs? Would the epic job of rebuilding lower Manhattan be too much to bear? Who would want to live so close to a place associated with such horror? As it turns out, plenty of folks. Census figures released last week show that the number of people living near ground zero has swelled by about 23,000 since 2000, making it one of the fastest-growing places in the city.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110329/ap_on_re_us/us_census_ground_zero

 

Human Rights Watch confirms Qadhafi’s use of landmines as Uganda offers him refuge

Mar 30, 2011

Seham

Rebels claim Gaddafi laid mines around Sirte
This video, posted on Facebook on March 30 by group that calls itself the “Intifada of February 17, 2011,” claims to show rebels discovering and holding landmines on the approach to Sirte. The description, translated from Arabic, says: “Battalions of Gaddafi laid the mines in the path of the advance freedom revolutionaries’ advance to the city of Sirte..rare courage in how the revolutionaries are dealing with these mines.”

Attacks and Counterattacks From All Sides
Human Rights Watch Libya: Government Use of Landmines Confirmed
(Benghazi) – Muammar Gaddafi’s forces have laid both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines during the current conflict with armed opposition groups, Human Rights Watch confirmed today.

And more news from the Arab uprisings:

Gaddafi’s stand risks stalemate in the east
Without coalition air strikes, outgunned rebels fall back through Ras Lanuf and complain about lack of support.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/03/201133061249171629.html

Misrata battle killed 18 residents on Tuesday:rebels
ALGIERS, March 30 (Reuters) – Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi killed 18 civilians in the city of Misrata on Tuesday and the troops are still shelling and fighting skirmishes with rebels, a rebel spokesman said. But a blockade of Misrata’s Mediterranean port by pro-Gaddafi forces has now ended, allowing two ships to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate people wounded in the fighting, the spokesman told Reuters by telephone.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/misrata-battle-killed-18-residents-on-tuesdayrebels

Gaddafi forces push rebels back
Rebels in Libya are struggling to hold their front line after Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces recaptured several towns in the east of the country.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/world-africa-12906562

Kadafi’s troops defending Surt force rebels to retreat 100 miles
Without the support of allied airstrikes, hundreds of rebels flee east in the face of rocket attacks, reversing much of their advance over the weekend. A sustained counterattack by Libyan government troops Tuesday sent overmatched rebel fighters fleeing eastward for almost 100 miles, erasing much of the weekend gains by opposition forces attempting to overthrow Moammar Kadafi.
http://feeds.latimes.com/%7Er/latimes/middleeast/%7E3/O2CmT5NvhWk/la-fg-libya-counterattack-20110330,0,5614079.story

Libyan rebels retreat from Bin Jawad
Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have forced opposition fighters to abandon the town of Bin Jawad, a day after they had taken it, and retreat further east to Ras Lanuf. Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL-UQ6QbTDk&feature=youtube_gdata

Misrata rebels say under intense Libya attack
ALGIERS, March 29 (Reuters) – Rebels in the Libyan city of Misrata said they were under intense attack on Tuesday by forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi, and they appealed to governments meeting in London to help them. “Gaddafi’s forces are launching intensive and vicious military campaigns against us in Misrata,” rebel spokesman Mohamed said by satellite telephone. “They are determined to capture the city. Today was tough for the rebels.”
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/misrata-rebels-say-under-intense-libya-attack

Rebel Advance Stalls as Qaddafi Forces Counterattack
Having halted a westward push by rebel fighters, pro-Qaddafi forces on Tuesday marched eastward to Ras Lanuf, an oil town.
http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=78f8b1e71c2fa15ba49af024697b9a65

Libya coalition launches 22 Tomahawk strikes-US
WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) – A coalition of countries conducting air strikes against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces launched 22 Tomahawk missiles in the last 24 hours, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. Coalition countries also flew 115 strike sorties, the Pentagon said in a new tally of military activities over the last 24 hours.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/libya-coalition-launches-22-tomahawk-strikes-us

Powerful blasts rock Libyan capital Tripoli
TRIPOLI, March 29 (Reuters) – A series of powerful explosions rocked Tripoli on Tuesday and state television said several targets in the Libyan capital had come under attack from “crusader aggressors”. Reuters reporters heard at least three explosions from their location in central Tripoli at around 1540 GMT. Libyan state television said several “civilian and military targets” had been bombed by “colonial, crusader aggressors”.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/powerful-blasts-rock-libyan-capital-tripoli

Qaddafi likens Western airstrikes to ‘Hitler’s campaigns’
Amid London talks on Libya’s future, Qaddafi shows no signs of stepping down and loyalist troops today repelled the westward advance of rebels who had gotten nearly to Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/rNVxPoGrQ0c/Qaddafi-likens-Western-airstrikes-to-Hitler-s-campaigns

NATO chief: No military solution to Libya crisis
Anders Fogh Rasmussen says there could be no solely military solution to Libya crisis, urges all parties to seek political solution as soon as possible. NATO agreed to take over Libya operations from coalition forces on Sunday.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4049572,00.html

Gaddafi forces intimidate rebels
Al Jazeera has received video which appears to show soldiers loyal to Muammar Gaddafi beating pro-democracy fighters who they had detained.
http://youtu.be/s6o7c-Ev8n4

Developments
Turkey to take over Benghazi airport
NATO member to distribute aid from rebel-held city as Erdogan suggests Ankara could mediate between rebels and Gaddafi.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/03/2011328131044101778.html

Clinton: UN resolution gives us authority to arm Libyan rebels
The United States paved the way to arming rebel groups in Libya as leaders from nearly 40 countries met in London to discuss the next moves against Colonel Gaddafi’s regime.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/clinton-un-resolution-gives-us-authority-to-arm-libyan-rebels-2256768.html

NATO’s in charge – so who is doing what in Libya?
After more than a week of debate about who should have what role in the international intervention in Libya, NATO is set to assume full command. The roles of other nations involved in Libya’s conflict are likely to change as well. What were those roles, and what will they be now?
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/Lz7SEIk6buQ/NATO-s-in-charge-so-who-is-doing-what-in-Libya

NATO may order ground forces into Libya, U.S. admiral admits
Speaking to members of Congress today, Adm. James Stavridis admitted that, while allied forces were not yet considering the deployment of troops on the ground in Libya, it was a possibility. This could run counter to President Barack Obama’s pledge that no U.S. soldiers would set foot on the ground in the embattled country, where the decades-long leadership of Col. Muammar Gaddafi has come under an intense challenge from civilian protesters.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/29/nato-may-order-ground-forces-into-libya-u-s-admiral-admits/

Gaddafi Can Live In Uganda
KAMPALA, Uganda — Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is welcome to live in the East African nation of Uganda, the president’s spokesman told The Associated Press on Wednesday, in what appears to be the first country to offer him refuge. An intense diplomatic effort is under way to find a country where Gadhafi can go, as an international military effort against Gadhafi’s forces continues.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/30/gaddafi-uganda-exile_n_842451.html

Obama: Coalition’s objective is to topple Gadhafi
President Barack Obama tells NBC News he believes a Western air assault and international sanctions have left Gaddafi ‘greatly weakened’ and unable to control most of his country; Obama does not rule out arming rebels.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/obama-coalition-s-objective-is-to-topple-gadhafi-1.352753?localLinksEnabled=false

NATO: Gadhafi could leave under pressure from U.S. and its partners
NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe says intelligence on the rebel forces battling Gadhafi has shown ‘flickers’ of al-Qaida or Hezbollah presence.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/nato-gadhafi-could-leave-under-pressure-from-u-s-and-its-partners-1.352663?localLinksEnabled=false

‘More than reasonable chance’ Gaddafi will leave-US
WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is likely to leave power if an international military drive applies a full range of military pressure on him, a top U.S. and NATO commander said on Tuesday. “If we work all the elements of power, we have a more than reasonable chance of Gaddafi leaving, because the entire international community is arrayed against him,” Admiral James Stavridis, who is NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and also the commander of U.S. European Command, said during testimony at the U.S. Senate.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/more-than-reasonable-chance-gaddafi-will-leave-us

Best solution for Libya is Gaddafi’s departure-Italy
LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) – The best solution to the Libyan crisis would be for leader Muammar Gaddafi to go into exile, but only the African Union could persuade him to do so, an Italian diplomatic source said on Tuesday. “There is a tacit agreement among everybody that the best thing would be for Gaddafi to go into exile, because the reason for continuing the war is the presence of Gaddafi,” the source said on the sidelines of a foreign ministers meeting in London to discuss Libya.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/best-solution-for-libya-is-gaddafis-departure-italy

Qatari PM urges Gaddafi to go within days
LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) – Qatar’s Prime Minister urged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Tuesday to step down to halt bloodshed and said that he might only have a few days to negotiate an exit. “We urge Gaddafi and his people to leave,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told a news conference.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/qatari-pm-urges-gaddafi-to-go-within-days

World leaders say Gaddafi must go
The United Kingdom has hosted a summit on the developing situation in Libya, with leaders from forty countries saying that Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, must leave the country. The British hosts of the summit said that they did not discuss arming the rebels, even though the French foreign minister said it was a subject that his government was prepared to bring up. What the UN, NATO, Arab League and government representatives did agree to, however, was to establish a “contact group” to coordinate all international action on Libya. Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan reports from London.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKnHc3zwh_Y&feature=youtube_gdata

New Libya contact group to meet in Qatar
London meeting agrees move will help efforts to map out Libya’s future, amid apparent split over arming rebels.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/europe/2011/03/2011329172644996505.html

Libyan opposition: We want international political support more than weapons
Members of the Libyan opposition’s Interim National Council appealed for support at the London meeting of world leaders.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/nhU0jQlCBbk/Libyan-opposition-We-want-international-political-support-more-than-weapons

France sends envoy to Libyan rebel stronghold
LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) – France has sent a special envoy to the rebel city of Benghazi to liaise with the interim administration, its foreign minister said on Tuesday. “We have arranged a French diplomatic presence in Benghazi to liaise with the transitional (Libyan) National Council,” Alain Juppe told reporters.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/france-sends-envoy-to-libyan-rebel-stronghold

New Libya contact group to meet in Qatar
London meeting agrees move will help efforts to map out Libya’s future, amid apparent split over arming rebels.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/europe/2011/03/2011329172644996505.html

New Libya commander: Stalemate not in anybody’s interest
Adm. James Stavridis, the head of U.S. European Command and the top military official in the Libya war, told lawmakers on Tuesday that a number of scenarios are possible in Libya, but the continued rule of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi was not in the interest of Libya, America, or the world. “A stalemate is not an acceptable solution,” Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican John McCain (R-AZ) told Stavridis at the Tuesday morning hearing. McCain said that while he supported the military intervention in Libya, “An opportunity was lost by not imposing a no-fly zone over Libya three weeks ago.”
http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/29/new_libya_commander_stalemate_not_in_anybody_s_interest

Libya rebels not anti-West, but Qaeda a worry-group
LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) – Libya’s rebels are not the anti-Western militants Muammar Gaddafi says they are, but worsening turmoil and killings of civilians by the West would help al Qaeda get a foothold, according to a British think tank. Quilliam, a group that studies Islamists, said in a report that while Libya had jihadist groups, “they are nowhere near as powerful or as widespread as the Gaddafi regime has claimed”.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/libya-rebels-not-anti-west-but-qaeda-a-worry-group

More countries slam NATO action in Libya
President Obama used the prime time speech to answer his critics and explain his case. The speech came as Russia and Indonesia called for an immediate ceasefire and Turkey offered to act as mediator.
http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/asiapac/stories/201103/s3177136.htm

British officials ‘working with rebels in East
David Cameron said British officials were liaising with rebel ground forces in eastern Libya. “We are actually now in proper contact with the rebels and a Foreign Office official is now having proper discussions with them, which I think is vital as we need to get to know and work with them.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/british-officials-working-with-rebels-in-east-2255739.html

Humanitarian Crisis
LIBYA: Aid workers call for access to the vulnerable
NIAMEY 29 March 2011 (IRIN) – Mechanisms must be established quickly to ensure humanitarian access to millions of Libyans trapped behind battle lines, relief officials say.
http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=92313

Some 2,000 people flee from Tripoli by boat to Italy and Malta
GENEVA, March 29 (UNHCR) – For the first time since conflict erupted in Libya in mid-February, hundreds of people have been fleeing by boat from Tripoli in recent days across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy and Malta.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/some-2000-people-flee-from-tripoli-by-boat-to-italy-and-malta

Iraqis in Libya wait for evacuation
Displaced Iraqis who flew Iraq to build up a safe and prosperous life did not expect to witness the day where they would urge for evacuation and call to return to their homeland due to insecurity and turmoil in Arab countries.
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-62268-Iraqis-in-Libya-wait-for-evacuation.html

Analysis/Op-ed
Qaddafi Forces Advance on All Fronts Despite Bombardment, Juan Cole
Leaders of much of the world agreed that Qaddafi must go on Wednesday morning at a conference in Europe. Canadian jets pounded an ammunition dump on Wednesday morning near the beleaguered city of Misrata. US naval vessels launched Tomahawks at munitions storage points in Tripoli. And US ships fired on and chased away ships of the Libyan navy, which had been harassing merchant vessels carrying goods to the harbor of Misrata. Qaddafi’s forces continued to try to take all of Misrata on Tuesday, pounding the city center with tank and artillery fire. The rebels made a stand at the harbor district and insisted that they continued to control it. Likewise, Qaddafi sent reinforcements to the tank brigade that has been attacking the southwestern rural town of Zintan, among the first cities to have defied him. Qaddafi’s forces also pushed back the rag tag military forces from Ben Jawad. back to Ra’s Lanuf. Qaddafi’s response to the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 calling for the protection of Libyan civilians has been to launch a wideranging war against his opponents, with an eye toward consolidating his territory in the west (Zintan, Misrata, Ra’s Lanuf) in ways that the no-fly zone cannot impede. Likely these advances will provoke further aerial intervention in coming days, leveling the playing field for the rebels.
http://www.juancole.com/2011/03/qaddafi-forces-advance-on-all-fronts-despite-bombardment.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+juancole%2Fymbn+%28Informed+Comment%29

Beneath veneer of true love for Qaddafi, rebellion simmers in Tripoli
While the chest thumping of many Qaddafi loyalists in Tripoli is authentic, other Libyans in the capital are not afraid to say they side with the rebels.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/VSbCfm3ua_A/Beneath-veneer-of-true-love-for-Qaddafi-rebellion-simmers-in-Tripoli

Can Libya’s people be protected if Qaddafi stays?
Libya’s rebels, many of whom have stories of loved ones lost to Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, are driven by his legacy of torture, murder, and disappearances.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/bmCSajKO-R0/Can-Libya-s-people-be-protected-if-Qaddafi-stays

Inside Story: Libya’s end game
World powers met in London to discuss arming rebel fighters in Libya. The talks focussed on military operations in the country and justifications for providing weapons to those opposed to Muammer Gaddafi, Libya’s embattled leader. The meeting follows Barack Obama, the US president’s first speech on Libya since the intervention began. Obama said he ordered the military action to enforce UN Resolution 1973, because if the coalition had waited one more day, there could have been a massacre among Libyans by Gaddafi’s forces. At the same time he spoke of the limitations of action and made a distinction between intervention and regime change. He delivered a straight dismissal of more aggressive action, describing any attempt to include regime change as a “mistake”. Which begs the question if the US and the rest of the international community are not trying to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi by force, then what is the proposed ‘end game’ for Libya? Inside Story presenter Kamahl Santamaria, discusses with: Oliver Miles, a former British ambassdor to Libya; Mustafa Alani, director of the Security Progamme at the Gulf Research Centre and Aly Abuzaakouk, president of the Libyan Human and Political Development Forum. This episode of Inside Story aired from Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

The myth of tribal Libya | Alaa al-Ameri
Portraying Libya as ‘tribal’ is not only wrong – it dismisses the notion that our uprising has anything to do with national dignity. In the last few weeks, the word “tribalism” has been used extensively in the context of the Libyan democratic uprising – a spectre looming over the country, embodying the devil we don’t know. This was first introduced into the public mind by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi during his address last month in which he threatened the bloodshed and destruction that his father’s regime has let loose on the Libyan people.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/30/libya-tribal-myth-national-dignity

What international law?
“The constraints imposed on Libyan forces are similarly radical and far-reaching, going well beyond the obligations imposed by general international law on governments responding to insurgencies. The resolution demands ‘the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence’, and bans all flights in Libyan airspace unless their sole purpose is ‘humanitarian’. If the expansive authority granted to international forces and the novel obligations imposed on Libya by Resolution 1973 are sanctioned by international law, what kind of law is this? And does it deserve our fidelity?
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/03/what-international-law.html

We’ve avoided a Libyan Srebrenica, so when is the bombing going to stop? | Jonathan Freeland
When there was a clear and present danger, intervention was the right thing to do. But the threat is receding. Barely through the entrance and we’re looking for the exit. The Libyan intervention is just 11 days old, but already the clamour is for an end. Polls show almost identical levels of weak support on both sides of the Atlantic, a meagre 45% in Britain and 47% in the US. (At the equivalent stage, 90% of Americans backed the war in Afghanistan, and 70% supported the invasion of Iraq.) Each day brings conflicting signals as to whether the end is near. News of rebel advances on Monday brought hope that Colonel Gaddafi might be gone by the end of the week. The morning bulletins on Tuesday brought word of pro-Gaddafi successes, suggesting that the dictator would not be out any time soon.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/29/libyan-srebrenica-time-stop-bombing

Why Obama’s Libya speech didn’t matter, Stephen M. Walt
The president is tiptoeing through a mine-field of conflicting imperatives, seeking to justify a war that he has launched even though there are no vital strategic interests at stake. And make no mistake: it is a war. When your forces are flying hundreds of sorties, and firing missiles and dropping bombs on another country’s armed forces, it is Orwellian to call it anything else.
http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/29/why_obamas_libya_speech_didnt_matter

Defending the motion, As’ad AbuKhalil
Sir Campbell wants Western governments to “nurture democracy and to exercise a benign influence”. This is the same argument made by colonial powers after the first world war either to deny independence to certain countries, or to accord them “mandate” systems—presumably to nurture their political development.
http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/674/showCommentModule:1

A Debate on U.S. Military Intervention in Libya: Juan Cole v. Vijay Prashad
As President Obama defends the U.S.-led military attacks on Libya, we host a debate. University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole has just published an article titled “An Open Letter to the Left on Libya.” Cole defends the use of military force to prevent a massacre in Benghazi and to aid the Libyan rebel movement in their liberation struggle. In opposition to U.S. intervention in Libya, University of Trinity Professor Vijay Prashad warns the United States has involved itself in a decades-long internal Libyan struggle while it ignores violent crackdowns by U.S.-backed governments in Bahrain, Yemen and other countries in the region. [includes rush transcript]
http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/29/a_debate_on_us_military_intervention

Libya, Obama, and Empire, William Blum
The words they find it very difficult to say — “civil war”. Libya is engaged in a civil war. The United States and the European Union and NATO — The Holy Triumvirate — are intervening, bloodily, in a civil war. To overthrow Moammar Gaddafi. First The Holy Triumvirate spoke only of imposing a no-fly zone. After getting support from international bodies on that understanding, they immediately began to wage war against Libyan military forces, and whoever was nearby, on a daily basis. In the world of commerce this is called “bait and switch”.
http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/03/libya-obama-and-empire/

Libya’s Blood for Oil, Susan Lindauer
Who are we kidding? The United States, Britain and NATO don’t care about bombing civilians to contain rebellion. Their militaries bomb civilians every day without mercy. They have destroyed most of the community infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan before turning their sights on Libya. So what’s really going on here?
http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/03/libyas-blood-for-oil/

Meet the “leaders” of the Libyan “revolution”, As`ad AbuKhalil
“But oddly, the Libyan revolution has been led by inauspicious technocrats from within the Gadhafi regime. One of these is Mahmoud Jibril, a US-educated professor who became secretary of the national planning council under Gadhafi.   Jibril spent years working with Gadhafi’s son Saif on political and economic reforms, and while many of those efforts were stifled by reactionary elements in the regime, the job put him in contact with international diplomats…But the chairman of the National Council is Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who was much more of a public figure under Gadhafi. He rose through Libya’s legal system to become justice minister...”
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/03/meet-leaders-of-libyan-revolution.html

Bahrain
Human Rights Watch: The Violence in Bahrain was no “Accident”
Robert Cooper, a hand-picked senior adviser to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, must not have gotten the memo. His boss had acknowledged that Bahraini security forces used violence and excessive force to suppress largely peaceful pro-democracy protests, offered her condolences to the families of those killed, and stressed that Bahrain’s rulers need to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/29/violence-bahrain-was-no-accident

Human Rights Watch Bahrain: Wounded Protesters Beaten, Detained
(Manama) – Bahraini authorities are systematically targeting demonstrators and bystanders wounded in anti-government protests for harassment and mistreatment, and in some cases denying them critical care, Human Rights Watch said today.
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/30/bahrain-wounded-protesters-beaten-detained

Doctors in danger
The Bahrain hospital on the front line of unrest.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/world-middle-east-12899617

Bahrain arrests Internet activists – rights group
DUBAI, March 30 (Reuters) – Bahrain has arrested at least three Internet activists in a crackdown against pro-democracy protest that started two weeks ago, a human rights groups said on Wednesday. Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights named the three as prominent blogger Mahmood al-Yousif, teacher and trade unionist Sana Abdul-Razzaq Zinedine and Ayat al-Qurmozi, a poet and university student. The Bahrain Youth Movement also said Yousif and Qurmozi were arrested.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/bahrain-arrests-internet-activists-rights-group

repression in Bahrain: not in the US press
Another source in Bahrain sent me this:  “They are arresting people left and right now.  Its crazy.  EVERYONE is getting arrested.  It doesn’t matter who.  They even arrested Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al Yousif (at 3 am by the way).  I really have no idea why he would be arrested.  I mean look at his blog.  Its really tame.  All he is known for is making “No Sunni No Shii just Bahraini” badges and calling for my internet freedom.  I mean, yes he supported the February 14 movement but really thats about it.  Arresting him is a new low.  Now that he is arrested, they might as well arrest everyone who has ever blogged, tweeted, or posted facebook messages calling for reform (because he was calling for reform and not regime change).  Basically – we can no longer have opinions in Bahrain.  Here is hisblog.”
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/03/repression-in-bahrain-not-in-us-press.html

Shiite ex-MPs exposed to prosecution in Bahrain (AFP)
AFP – Bahrain’s parliament on Tuesday accepted the resignation of 11 Shiite MPs, exposing them to possible legal action, after a news blackout on the arrests of top activists in a crackdown on anti-regime protests.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110329/wl_mideast_afp/bahrainpoliticsunrestparliament

BAHRAIN: Protesters try to get back to Pearl Square
Protesters broke the Bahrain government curfew early Saturday during a fierce sandstorm and tried to reach the Pearl Square traffic circle, where they had camped for weeks before authorities removed them  in a violent crackdown. The antigovernment protesters from Shiite villages hoped to take advantage of the sandstorm to evade police and retake the traffic circle. Sayed Hadi Naser of Sanabis said he and about 25 friends were surprised not to encounter any security forces as they made their way there about 12:30 a.m.
http://feeds.latimes.com/%7Er/latimes/middleeast/%7E3/IMj6P_fM468/bahrain-king-hamad-bin-isa-al-khalifa-protesters-crackdown.html

Bahraini troops close in on protesters
Bahraini army troops have besieged mourning demonstrators in the northeastern village of Ma’ameer as the Persian Gulf state sees more violence against anti-government protests.
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/172152.html

Bahrain’s Shiite leader wants Saudi-led force out (AP)
AP – Bahrain’s Shiite opposition leader is demanding the Saudi-led force the Gulf nation’s Sunni rulers invited to help quell the anti-government protests leaves the country.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110330/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_bahrain_protests

Bahrain opposition urges Iran not to ‘meddle’ (AFP)
AFP – Bahrain’s Shiite opposition leader on Wednesday urged Shiite Iran to keep out of the Arab country’s internal affairs, after government charges that Tehran had orchestrated month-long protests.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110330/wl_mideast_afp/bahrainpoliticsunrestshiiteiran

Syria
Assad blames ‘conspirators’ for Syria unrest
Syrian president delivers first public speech since security forces curbed anti-government protests across the country.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/20113308737507793.html

Bashar al-Assad to Face the Nation, Qifa Nabki
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is scheduled to address his people tomorrow afternoon, one day after sacking his cabinet in the wake of increasingly bloody nationwide protests. Speculation is rampant on Twitter, Facebook, and the media about what al-Assad is likely to say.
http://qifanabki.com/2011/03/29/bashar-al-assad-to-face-the-nation/

Yemen
‘US, Saudis keep Saleh in power’
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been able to stay in power only by relying on foreign supports and funding, especially from the US and Saudi Arabia, Director of Institute for [Persian] Gulf Affairs (IGA) says.
http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=233816

Yemeni protesters blame Saleh for violence
SANAA: Yemeni protesters demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule said Tuesday they would insist he leave power soon, blaming him for violence that has raised U.S. fears of chaos that could benefit militants.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=126563

Other Mideast
Saudi Arabia prints 1.5m copies of religious edict banning protests
Fatwa calls for united front under leadership following aborted attempt to stage mass demonstration earlier this month. Saudi Arabia is printing 1.5m copies of an edict by religious scholars outlawing protests in the conservative kingdom as un-Islamic, the state news agency said. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and a major US ally, is an absolute monarchy that does not tolerate any form of public dissent.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/29/saudi-arabia-edict-banning-protests

TUNISIA: Torched police station that symbolized repression turned into art exhibition
The police station in the Tunis suburb of La Goulette stands deserted at its posh location near the seaside boardwalk, its walls blackened by smoke and fire and windows smashed. Police officers’ notebooks and files lay in piles on the floor along with thousands of old applications for identity cards that date back to the 1970s, computers and remains of ancient typewriters. The storage room where the weapons used to be kept has been emptied. Graffitti sprayed on the walls tell ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to go to hell.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/03/tunisia-police-station-symbol-oppression-torture-art-photos-ben-ali-uprising.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fmiddleeast+%28L.A.+Times+-+Middle+East%29

Report from the ‘Mondo Awards’ in Gaza

Mar 30, 2011

Yousef M. Aljamal

awardbanner

(All Photos: Yousef M. Aljamal)

On Monday, March 28th The Center for Political and Development Studies in Gaza organized a ceremony to honor the winners of “The Mondo Awards” for their creative writing in English. “The Center held this celebration as an initiative to pay more attention to the young talented writers, encouraging them to keep writing, upgrading them to the international standards and helping them to spread the Palestinian culture globally” said Mahmoud Alhirthani, CPDS chairman. He added, “The CPDS mission aims at developing and rehabilitating the Palestinian young people, culturally and intellectually.”

Samiha
Sameeha Elwan (left) accepting her award.

The ceremony began with an opening speech by Alaa al-Shawa, who welcomed the audience and congratulated the winners. “Organizing this ceremony today is an expression from our side to support and encourage these young people, and to promote their creative talents,” said Alshawa. She added that this celebration marked the beginning of a special program for the CPDS to promote the talents of the students in co-ordination with other skills, thus contributing in opening new horizons to them, and encouraging them to develop their cultural and foreign relations.

Rawan
Rawan Yaghi (left) accepting her award.

For his part Dr. Hani ALBassos, the CPDS vice-president said, “honoring the winners is an expression from the CPDS’s administration to the winners and it represents a strong belief that these young youths are able to spread Palestinian culture, deliver our message and issues to the outside world, and register their place on the map of world.” He stressed that these young people demonstrated a high potential of excellence, as they succeeded to win three awards out of the seven that were assigned in the Competition that included participants from all over the world.

Dr. ALBassos made clear that the CPDS’s administration wanted to embrace and encourage youth innovation, and refine their talents in order to interact with Palestinian institutions in addition to the world. He also pointed out that this celebration came as the CPDS planned to pay more attention to the cultural and intellectual innovations of the Palestinians youth, to help show them to the world.

Mohammed
Mohammed Suliman (left) accepting his award.

I read a speech on behalf of Mondoweiss co-editors Philp Weiss and Adam Horowitz that thanked the center for organizing this celebration to honor the winners in this competition, and the contributors to the ” Gaza- two years after the war ” series. The statement pointed out that this competition aimed at sharing the reality of the Gaza strip which the world must be informed about. Weiss and Horowitz also pointed out that the discussions in the United States about Gaza are often associated with violence and condemnation, but through this competition the winners showed another view about Gaza.

Dr. Nihad ALSHaikh Khalil, a lecturer in the history department at IUG, said that the participation of Palestinian young people in this competition demonstrated their abilities to live up to globalization, and represent their country in the international forums to defend their people’s issues. Dr. Khalil urged the students to use the modern tools of technology, but also to protect themselves from modern culture too, pointing out that the world is witnessing significant shifts and profound changes that require young people to bear the burden.

At the end, the winners talked to the audience abut their participation in this competition and what they gained via this participation and briefed their stories in this competition.  Sameeha Elwan talked about her experience writing, that began after the 23-day war. She mentioned her mother’s reaction when she learned that Samehaa was writing. Her mother said,”You write about politics,” and Sameeha responded, “no mom, I write about you, my life and Palestine and ironically, our life is politics.” Mohammed Suliman talked about his experience and how he started blogging and writing about Palestine. Also, he talked about Mondowiess and how he was able to publish his first article there. Rawan Yaghy read the story that won the Mondo award before the audience. The winners all thanked the CPDS center for celebrating them.

At the end of the celebration the board of administration honored the winners, and MP Hussam Altaweel stressed out the importance of Unity to achieve Palestinian goals.

 

On land day, don’t stop boycottin’

Mar 30, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

World: News**News**News

NOVANEWS

 

 

 

Obama OKs Covert Support for Libya Rebels

Libyan rebels massacre black Africans

Assad vows to defeat foreign ‘plot’

Clinton: UN Resolution Gives US Authority to Arm Libyan Rebels

‘Obama more belligerent than Bush’

Are US Soldiers Using Rape, Murder, And Bombing Of Children As War Strategy?

Argentina denounces bombings on Libya

Assad Leaves State of Emergency in Place

Settlement building increased fourfold in 2010

Foreign Troops Kill Two More Afghan Civilians in Kandahar

Assad blames ‘conspirators’ for Syria unrest

Audit of Pentagon Finds $70 Billion in Waste

Russia: Coalition troops in Libya must stay within UN mandate

Gadhafi Forces Cancel Out Much of Rebels’ Weekend Gains

Iran welcomes closer ties with Egypt

U.S. dismisses Assad claim of foreign conspiracy feeding Syria unrest

Gadhafi not close to military breaking point, U.S. army chief says

Britain: IsraHell right to exist not up for discussion or compromise

Netanyahu: Allegations of improper funding are ‘baseless slander’

‘Police beat and spat on us’

Gaza kids visit Turkey, tour ‘Marmara’ ship

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on World: News**News**News

Obama on Libya: Defending the Indefensible

NOVANEWS

 

by crescentandcross

 

by Stephen Lendman

Obama’s March 28 television address wreaked of hypocrisy, lies and disdain for basic democratic values, making an indefensible case for naked aggression against a non-belligerent country. America’s media approved.

On March 28, New Times writer Helene Cooper headlined, “Obama Cites Limits of US Role in Libya,” saying:

Obama “defended the American-led military assault in Libya on Monday, saying it was in the national interest of the United States to stop a potential massacre that would have ‘stained the conscience of the world,’ ” even though no threat existed until:

– Washington showed up with co-belligerents France and Britain;

– beginning in 2010, armed and funded so-called “rebels” who, in fact, are cutthroat killers, rapists and marauders, terrorizing every area they control, including their Benghazi stronghold; and

– support them with daily “shock and awe” terror attacks, causing increasing numbers of deaths and injuries, as well as destruction and contamination of all areas struck by depleted uranium bombs, missiles and shells, spreading radiation over wide areas.

Despite Pentagon denials, conservative estimates put civilian deaths at over 100, besides combatants killed and unknown numbers murdered by rebel allies. Since March 19 air attacks began, nearly 1,500 sorties have been flown, that number to rise exponentially as daily strikes continue under US command, running all NATO operations under AFRICOM’s General Carter Ham. Alleged new commander, Canada’s Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, is his subordinate, a Pentagon figurehead.

The alleged handover is fabricated. NATO is code language for America/the Pentagon. Obama lied announcing otherwise, saying Washington’s role will be limited to stop potential “slaughter and mass graves” in Benghazi. In fact, he supports and/or ignores rebel terror killings against defenseless civilians, making him complicit in their crimes, besides widespread ones caused by NATO, America’s missile. US attacks, in fact, will continue throughout the campaign, perhaps lasting months at an enormous cost, besides hundreds of billions annually in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Making an indefensible case, Obama said:

“For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant – Muammar Gaddafi,” ignoring the numerous regional and global ones America supports, including rogue Israeli regimes, lawlessly terrorizing Palestinians for over six decades with generous US support and funding.

Addressing the issue, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, Denis McDonough, said:

“I think it’s very important that we see each of these instances….in the region as unique. We don’t get very hung up on the question of precedent….because we don’t make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent. We make them based on how we can best advance our interests in the region.”

Precisely true on the last point. However, policy decisions are very consistent. Allies are supported whether despots or democrats. Outliers are opposed, even benign ones posing no threat to America or neighbors. The rule of law is a non-starter. So are democratic values, “principles of justice and human dignity.”

Only imperial aims matter, especially resource and human exploitation adventurism for money and power. For generations, they’ve guided US policies, notably since WW II, at home and abroad.

Yet pseudo-left apologists back Obama’s Libya war, its faux “humanitarian intervention” to save lives, including darling of the left Rachel Maddow, defending the indefensible, pretending Obama’s different from Bush when, in fact, he’s worse, waging four, not two wars.

He also:

– supports others in Palestine, Yemen and Somalia;

– operates US Special Forces in at least 75 countries globally;

– backs killing US citizens abroad lawlessly;

– endorses holding detainees indefinitely without charge;

– practices torture as official US policy; and

– backs the worst of despotic states, notably in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt under a military junta, Algeria under a military dictatorship (Abdelaziz Bouteflika more figurehead than president), other GCC states, besides others in Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Yet Maddow and other faux liberals call Obama a peace president. No matter how great the body count, she’s firm saying “he appears to be walking more of that walk as well as talking that talk.”

He indeed talks plenty while letting imperial forces reign death and destruction on non-belligerent nations, spends hundreds of billions of dollars, then claims we’re too broke to address vital homeland needs, especially social ones and crumbling infrastructure.

Cheerleading Print Media Support

For decades, The York Times endorsed all US imperial wars, the tradition maintained on March 28 in an editorial headlined, “President Obama and Libya,” saying:

Obama “made the right, albeit belated, decision to join with allies to try to stop (Gaddafi) from slaughtering thousands of Libyans,” despite clear evidence that Washington, France, Britain and rebel killers initiated attacks. Love or hate him, Gaddafi justifiably responded in self defense.

However, despite Obama’s willful deception and lies, The Times claimed he “made a strong case for why America needed to intervene in this fight – and why that did not always mean it should intervene in others,” notably against subservient despots, no matter how much “violence on a horrific scale” they cause.

“Most important,” said The Times, Obama “vowed that there would be no American ground troops in this fight.” A previous article explained otherwise, accessed through the following link:
http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/03/us-led-libyan-ground-a
ssault-planned.html

Numerous reports, in fact, suggest a ground assault is planned for late April-early May if air and rebel attacks don’t oust Gaddafi, what most experts believe unlikely.

On March 28, New York Times writers Kareem Fahim and David Kirkpatrick suggested as much, headlining “Rebel Advance Halted Outside Qaddafi’s Hometown,” saying:

“….the American military warned on Monday that the insurgents’ rapid advances could quickly be reversed without continued coalition air support,” quoting General Ham saying more, in fact, may be needed, stopping short of suggesting ground forces deployed offshore will invade.

Whatever lies ahead, no matter how bloody and destructive, The Times insisted Obama “made the right choice to act.”

So did the Washington Post, its editorial opinion headlined, “Mr. Obama and Libya: Where’s the strategy to preserve success?” saying:

Obama “was right to act, and he deserves the credit that he claimed….He was right” saying “we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles of freedom and nonviolence,” ones, in fact, America spurns at home and abroad, especially during direct or proxy imperial wars.

On March 29, a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined, “Obama, Libya and the GOP,” saying:

Obama “made a substantial case for his Libya intervention, (and) we welcome the effort….The credibility of US power is essential to maintaining our influence in a Middle East that is erupting in popular revolt against decades of injustice,” much, in fact, America caused.

US media opinions mostly expressed support. The Los Angeles Times said “no one can complain that he didn’t make a thoughtful, compelling case for his decision to intervene.” The Philadelphia Daily News endorsed “the Obama Doctrine….a rationale for the use of US force, (his Monday speech perhaps) the beginning of a saner foreign policy.”

The Chicago Tribune wondered whether a “humanitarian mission (set) a precedent that will be used to demand American involvement in other places.” The Boston Globe endorsed his “swift Libyan intervention (wrongly calling it) the first time Obama has ordered US troops into a new conflict, (then saying it’s) a key test of his presidency and a moment that allowed him to delineate his most comprehensive vision yet for America’s role in the world and the role of the military abroad.”

According to the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Stephen Flanagan, Obama “laid the beginnings of an Obama doctrine. He said that there are instances where our safety is not immediately threatened but our interests and values are, and in those cases….we will act, particularly when we can act with a broad international coalition” of willing co-belligerents plus others bullied and/or bribed to join or endorse imperial aggression against another targeted country.

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on “Public TV’s Libya Limits”

America’s Public Television (PBS) and National Public Radio rely heavily on government and corporate funds. As a result, they provide managed news like major media networks, suppressing hard truths on vital issues.

PBS’ Libya reporting is instructive, FAIR saying:

“Over the past two weeks, the (flagship) NewsHour has featured an array of current and former military and government officials in discussion segments – leaving little room for antiwar voices, US foreign policy critics and legal experts.”

NPR and PBS are similar, supporting state and corporate policies throughout their histories, depriving listeners and viewers of real news, information and opinions on vital issues.

The 1967 Carnegie Commission report (creating PBS) envisioned a “forum for debate and controversy (to) provide a voice for groups in the community that may be otherwise unheard.” NPR’s founding mandate was similar, yet both operations represent power, money and privilege, not popular interests they were established to serve.

A Final Comment

In his book “The Next Decade,” Stratfor Global Intelligence founder George Friedman “consider(s) the relation of the American empire to the American Republic and the threat the empire poses to the republic(‘s)” survival, given its addiction to war and abandonment of the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 provision letting Congress alone declare it. It was last done on December 8, 1941 against Japan.

As a result, seven US decades of wars have been lawless. Moreover, no nation may attack another except in self-defense or until the Security Council acts – lawfully according to the UN Charter. In authorizing a no-fly zone (an act of war), SC members acted illegally, brazenly violating international law, letting America and co-belligerents France and Britain wage imperial war against a nation posing no threat to them or neighboring states.

Friedman stressed the importance of congressional declarations of war, “requir(ing) meticulous attention to the law and proprieties.” However, he stopped short of addressing international law or explaining the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Under it, every treaty America ratifies automatically becomes US law, the UN Charter, of course, included. No congressional or presidential act may contravene it, what, in fact, happens regularly, especially on matters of war.

As a result, in a recent interview, University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle was blunt, calling Obama’s war on Libya “plunder and aggression, (the) first major outright power grab by the United States and the major colonial, imperial powers against Africa in the 21st century.” For sure, it’s not the last.

 

Posted in USAComments Off on Obama on Libya: Defending the Indefensible

46% of Israeli teens: Revoke Arabs’ rights

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

 

THIS IS LIKE GERMANY IN THE POST 1933 BEGINNING OD THE NAZI ERA

 

Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s Youth Study reveals Israel’s teens think greatest threat to state is Jewish-Arab conflict, believe less in democratic values. As for who they trust most – IDF gets 93%

A new study examining Jewish and Arab Israeli teens’ opinions on a wide range of issues shows nearly half of Jewish youths support revoking Arab-Israelis’ basic rights.

The study focused on such issues as nationalism, democracy and attitudes towards State institutions.

The results: Israeli teens in 2010 believe less in democracy, are inclined towards rebelliousness and violence, are more racist and some have given up hope for peace. They are also more right-wing and patriotic.

The third Youth Study (previous studies were held in 1998 and 2004) conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in cooperation with the Macro Center for Political Economics examined Israeli teen and youth trends over the past 12 years.

In total, 1,600 teens from two age groups – 15-18 and 21-24 were interviewed.

Each age group included 600 Jewish and 200 Arab interviewees. The study’s conclusions, presented by the Dachaf Public Opinion Research Institute directed by Dr. Mina Tzemach, are available in a book which will be published Thursday.

According to the data, the importance of democracy as a national goal among Israeli teens has dropped from second place in 1998 (26%) to third place in 2010 with just 14.3%. Meanwhile, the importance of “Jewishness” as a national goal has climbed from third place (18.1% in 1998) to first place in 2010 with 26%.

About 60% of Jewish youths prefer “strong leadership” to rule of law and the study reveals that 46% of those asked tended to negate the basic political rights like the right to be elected from Israel’s Arab citizens.

Asked how they feel when they think of Arabs, 25% responded with “hate” and 12% responded with “fear”.

When it comes to State institutions, the IDF received Israeli teens’ virtual complete trust (93%). Surprisingly, the survey shows that more teens trusted politicians in 2010 – from 38% in 1998 to 43% in 2010.

Analysis of the data shows that a majority of Israel’s youth (42%) believe that the Jewish-Arab conflict is the biggest threat to the State of Israel, compared with 23% that claimed that the schism between religious and secular Jews is the most dangerous.

In 1998, the findings were quite different as 44% saw the religious-secular rift as the biggest threat, while only 27% believed that the Jewish-Arab conflict was the most menacing. Researchers believe this shows a process of radicalization within Israeli society.

“It is possible that the combination of years of intifada and its effect on Jews, together with the October 2000 riots and their effect on Arabs, and the increase in nationalistic rhetoric in the political arena over the past few years are behind the perception that this issue is the most threatening to both communities,” the researchers noted.

“There is no doubt that there is a direct tie between this perception and the drop in support for democratic values and equal rights for Arabs.”

Analysis also revealed that the increase in feelings of fear and aversion towards Arabs manifests in political identity. Thus, 13 years ago only 48% of those interviewed defined themselves as right-wing whereas in 2010 the result was 62%.

While in 1998, 32% of the teens defined themselves as left-wing, in 2010 only 12% considered themselves as such.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on 46% of Israeli teens: Revoke Arabs’ rights

What the Patriot Act Does For You

NOVANEWS

 

by crescentandcross

 

by Philip Giraldi

 

Incessant warmaking overseas will someday end when the United States runs out of money or soldiers or both.  But less well understood is the collateral damage here at home where the consequences of the global war on terror will linger on in the form of a shattered constitution.  The Patriot Act is generally promoted as the principal legislative tool being used to fight international terrorism.  It is, in reality, a devastating and poorly conceived bit of legislation originally approved just after 9/11.  It will soon be up for an extension in the US Senate.  President Barack Obama, who criticized it while he was a candidate but apparently has had a change of heart since that time, favors its renewal.  Most members of Congress, few of whom have ever read the entire act, want it renewed.  The mainstream media likes it because who can resist patriotism?

That is the bad news.  But there is also some good news. Libertarians, traditional conservatives, progressives, and even some tea partiers are for the first time uniting to stop the extension.  Senator Rand Paul led the charge in the Senate back in February, resulting in a temporary 90 day continuation of key provisions of the act that will expire in May.  Before that happens, the Patriot Act will again be up for Senatorial approval but this time there will be an open debate in front of the full Senate and under the scrutiny of the media.  It will be the first time that has happened since 2001.  There will also be a roll call vote with each Senator having to come down for or against.  It is an opportunity not to be missed to roll back the tide of government intrusion in the life of every citizen.

Americans should know what the Patriot Act has done to each and every one of us. Broadly speaking, the Patriot Act was designed to make it easier for law enforcement to investigate US citizens and permanent residents by easing legal restraints on records and activities that were hitherto considered private or required a judge’s order to access.  The Act has enjoyed bipartisan support since 2001.

Title 2 of the Patriot Act, entitled “Enhanced Surveillance Procedures,” contains many of its most controversial aspects of the new law.  Previously, obtaining information on foreigners residing in the United States was carefully regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court and the information generally had to be sought as part of an actual criminal investigation.  Under the new law, it became possible to investigate any foreign suspect as part of a law enforcement effort to obtain foreign intelligence information even if there was no evidence that a crime had been committed.  The difference is critical as the former procedure required actual evidence of a crime while the new procedure permitted investigation of just about anyone who could plausibly be linked to a foreign suspect to obtain information, allowing law enforcement to conduct wide ranging fishing expeditions.  The new rules also lifted the requirement that law enforcement demonstrate that the target of a FISA approved investigation was a foreign national and a possible agent of a foreign government. Anyone linked to the inquiry, even a US citizen, could become a person of interest.

Title 2 also permitted any district court in the United States to issue surveillance orders and search warrants in connection with proposed terrorist investigations and the Act specifically included electronic communications and voicemail records as subject to the warrants.  Using the warrants, the FBI is able to access from the internet service provider all records on a user, to include name, address, telephone billing records, session details, and payment information to include bank and credit card records.

Roving wiretaps are also authorized by the Patriot Act, permitting law enforcement to obtain warrants that allow them to switch from one communications medium to another if they believe that the target is changing his method of communication to make monitoring him more difficult.  This means that the FBI is empowered to tap multiple phones or computer lines simultaneously based on one blanket warrant.  Previously law enforcement had to show cause for the tap and it was limited to the telephone or computer line specified in the request.  Under Title 2 the FBI was also permitted to obtain whatever tangible public records are available to assist in an investigation.  This was the so-called library clause, where library borrowing records could be accessed by the police.

Title 4 and Title 8 of the Patriot Act deal with defining terrorism.  The definition was broadened to include many criminal acts hitherto regarded as non-terrorism, to include mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, intimidation, coercion, and racketeering.  It also includes activities “dangerous to human life.”  The definition of terrorist support activity was also made extremely broad and elastic, meaning that even a letter to the editor defending a terrorist group or the inadvertent contribution to a charity that was somehow linked to a group that the State Department had defined as terrorist could lead to criminal prosecution.  Under the new law, any alien, including legal residents, who is arrested on terrorist related charges can be detained indefinitely under orders from the Attorney General.  The evidence used to determine that the accused had possible links to terrorist organizations can be withheld at the discretion of the Justice Department and cannot be challenged, which means that it can be based on suspicion or uncorroborated information. There is no guarantee of any kind of due process for those who are arrested.

The Patriot Act also incorporates sections on money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  Few would argue with the money laundering provisions, but the act also includes the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of October 17th, 2001, which permits the freezing of assets and investigation of individuals suspected of being financial or material supporters of terrorism. The definition of supporter is extremely elastic and could be construed as providing material assistance or even verbal or written support.  The assets are frozen for as long as the government carries out the investigation and the government is under no obligation to proceed with any alacrity.  Several cases involving Islamic charities in Northern Virginia have been dragging on since 9/11, with no resolution in sight.  And “suspected” is the key word in terms of the standard of evidence, as there is no oversight or appeal to the process.  The information used to make the case is secret and available only to the government.

Probably most disturbing to libertarians are the National Security Letters (NSL) authorized in Title 5 of the Act.  The NSL has been described as an administrative subpoena that can be used by a number of government agencies that have investigative authority.  This means in practice that they are mostly used by the FBI.  The NSL is used to obtain documents and information relating to any individual or to organizations, to include employment, health, financial, and credit records.  There is no requirement for probable cause and there is no judicial oversight of the process.  The recipient of the NSL cannot reveal that he has received the letter to anyone and can be prosecuted if he violates that restriction.  At FBI, the letters can be issued by any Special Agent in Charge of any field office, which means that the authority to approve a NSL is essentially local, is not reviewed at a higher level, and does not have to be linked to any actual terrorism case.  Between 2003 and 2006, the FBI issued 200,000 National Security Letters.  As of 2005, the NSLs had been used to obtain more than one million personal records, including medical histories and credit reports.  A Justice Department investigation determined that most had nothing to do with terrorism.

There have been some legal challenges to the National Security Letters but the FBI, Defense Department, and CIA continue to issue them in large numbers. The first  challenge was a district court ruling in September 2004 that the national security letter statute was itself unconstitutional because it violates the First and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution, relating to freedom of speech and association and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.  This prompted Congress to amend the law to allow a recipient to challenge the demand for records as well as the gag order. The second challenge was a December 2008 appeals court decision that ruled that the amended gag provisions violate the First Amendment.   The FBI now must prove to a court that disclosure would harm national security when the recipient refused to comply with the gag order. The FBI claims that it has adopted both court rulings as policy, but it is not clear to what extent the gag rule remains in place.  Because of adverse publicity, the ability of the FBI to use NSLs at public libraries was terminated.

It is undeniable that the Patriot Act infringes on constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, freedom from illegal search, the right to habeas corpus, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom from the illegal seizure of private property, but defenders of the Acts claim that the infringements are moderate, incremental, and necessary. Defenders of the Constitution would claim that any infringement is illegal and therefore unacceptable.  There are also inconsistencies in terms of how the act operates.  It is legal under the act to intercept and read an email communication or listen to a phone conversation but illegal to open a letter moving through the United States Postal Service.  The part of the act criminalizing giving “expert advice and assistance” to a terrorist group is so broad that it would mean that someone advising the group to surrender to authorities could be arrested.  A doctor offering advice on child rearing at an orphanage in Hamas governed Gaza might likewise be prosecuted upon returning to the United States.

With the Patriot Act, any objection to Washington’s foreign policy can be construed as an act of terrorism.  We have empowered the police to read our private communications, place wiretaps into our homes and places of work, look into our finances and medical histories, and even search our houses without a warrant.  We no longer have the right to associate freely and our property can be seized by the government while we are being investigated.  The Patriot Act opens the door to fishing expeditions by the government that violate the rights of every American citizen.  It is a law that is worthy only of a police state and everyone who cares about the constitution should unite to demand its repeal.

Posted in USAComments Off on What the Patriot Act Does For You

Palestinian cleared of rape charges: The Police treated us like dogs

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

Four Palestinians released after being accused of rape, sexual abuse by 11-year-old boy from Bnei Brak; one of the men tells Army Radio that police beat them and didn’t tell them allegations against them.

Source–Haaretz

Four Palestinians who were arrested on suspicion of raping and sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy from Bnei Brak were released Wednesday night after it was found that the child had falsely accused the men.

The Palestinians claimed that they had never met the boy and had no connection to him.

“The police treated us like dogs, not like human beings,” one of the Palestinians told Army Radio in an interview on Thursday. “On Monday, the other three and I went to sleep around midnight. At 3 A.M. we heard someone trying to break the door to the apartment, and when we went to open it they sat us down on the floor and started beating us,” he recounted. “They tied our hands and legs, covered our eyes, and took our identification.”

According to police officials, the boy was apparently superficially acquainted with the Palestinian men, and after his relatives discovered this he fabricated the abuse story due to embarrassment.

Only after the Palestinians were taken to a court hearing on the extension of their remand after they were arrested on Tuesday, the boy underwent an investigation wherein he eventually confessed that he had fabricated the entire story.

The Palestinian said that the police broke the furniture in the apartments, and took their cell phones and laptops without even telling them the allegations against them.

“We were told we raped a boy and abused him, and I was in shock. I felt as though I was in a dream that I want to wake up from,” the Palestinian told Army Radio.

“When the investigation ended, they just dropped us off at a checkpoint and we had to walk in our slippers and night clothes all the way home. Even this morning, after I was released, I still didn’t understand all the suspicions against me.”

The police said in response, “The officers acted in a professional, efficient, and quick manner.” According to the police, the four Palestinians were released when it was found that they did not commit the crimes attributed to them.

On Tuesday, the child’s school informed his older brother that his behavior had recently changed and that they had noticed marks on his body.

The brother filed a complaint with the police who opened an investigation, during which the child testified that during the past two months he had been abused by the four men who work in an events hall in central Israel.

The four allegedly encouraged him to go to their apartment in the city in return for sweets and money. The child also claimed that the four allegedly raped him and abused him repeatedly.

 

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Libyan parents lost 18-month old son after killed by shrapnel following Nato airstrikes

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

 

By Associated Press

KHORUM, Libya — The grieving mother sat on the ground rocking her 2-month old daughter under a blanket on her lap, crying softly and accepting the soft words of condolences from neighbors.

Nizha Abdel-Salam and her family say her 18-month old son Sirajuddin al-Sweisi was killed when debris pierced the wall of their home as NATO airstrikes hit an ammunition near their village of Khorum early Tuesday morning.

“The house shook and there was so much dust everywhere we couldn’t see in front of us,” she said.

The family’s account of the child’s death could not be independently confirmed. The Libyan government says more than 100 people have been killed by airstrikes since the international campaign began on March 19. It says the number includes civilians and military personnel, but it has not provided a breakdown.

Government officials have struggled to provide solid evidence of civilian deaths and have not given straight answers when asked by journalists for details to back up the claims. They have taken journalists on several escorted trips to visit locations hit in strikes, saying they would show victims, but none have had civilian casualties and some appeared to be stage-managed.

Wednesday’s government-directed trip to the tiny mountain village of Khorum, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Tripoli, was the first that presented a civilian victim, though there was no way to independently confirm that airstrikes caused the explosions at the town ammunition depot. On Tuesday, Libyan state media reported airstrikes in the area.

U.S. and European military officials have not given specific locations of strikes. U.S. and allied officials have said they have seen no credible evidence of civilian casualties from the air campaign, and they say that precision weapons are used in the strikes in an effort to prevent civilians from being hurt. The campaign has targeted military facilities around the country, as well as ground troops besieging rebel-held cities.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Abdel-Salam, 27, said the blast hit their house at around 6 a.m. Tuesday. She said she rushed to the living room where her son had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor with his father, and she saw that a hot piece of metal had embedded into the side of the child’s face.

She rushed to pick up her crying son.

“His blood was streaming down my arm,” she said Wednesday, choking back tears. “He was crying out, ‘Mama, Mama,’ reaching out with his hand to me.”

A hole was visible Wednesday piercing the outside wall of their home into their living room, and the opposite wall of the room was pockmarked with holes. Parts of the other walls had been broken off in the home, located on the third floor of a four-story building.

The boy’s uncle showed reporters a picture on his mobile phone of the baby on his deathbed. Sirajuddin’s left cheek has a deep dark brown burn mark, his body swathed in a white shroud.

“We took him to the hospital where they treated him for the burns and some broken bones,” said Abdel-Hakim al-Sweisi. “But by nightfall he was dead.”

Neighbors said they heard a large explosion early Tuesday morning and said planes were heard overhead. They said the ammunition depot, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Abdel-Salam’s home, had exploded and a number of homes were damaged by debris.

Some neighbors said there were injuries, but the only death in the town was young al-Sweisi. The impoverished village is tucked away in the mountains near the region’s main town, Gharyan, an area dotted with olive groves and grazing sheep. Its largely unpaved roads were muddy and partially flooded Wednesday from recent rains.

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CIA Ground Forces Operating in Libya for ‘Several Weeks’

NOVANEWS
by crescentandcross

 

Obama Authorized Aiding Rebels Despite Denial Any Decision Was Made

by Jason Ditz

Antiwar.com

 

Already ill-defined and increasingly unpopular, the US War in Libya has taken several more hits today as evidence mounted that the administration has been overtly lying about the US role in the conflict, and had actual been conducting covert operations in the country for “several weeks.”

That was the revelation Wednesday, as US officials admitted that CIA ground forces have been conducting secret operations inside Libya for quite some time before the war was formally declared (two weeks ago Thursday) and even further before the first US strikes were launched (that Saturday).

Not only that, but Reuters revealed that President Obamasigned an order authorizing the US to secretly arm Libyan rebels weeks ago. This is particularly noteworthy because only yesterday the president pretended to be “considering” this action, saying no such decision had been made.

In his Monday address President Obama feigned pride over the fact that he got the US involved in the Libyan War within the first month of hostilities, far sooner than President Clinton had in Bosnia. Today’s revelations suggest that the president was committing American resources from the time the protest movement and the crackdown began to escalate into a civil war, and possibly sooner. The president’s already precipitous decision to involve the US in the internal Libyan conflict appears to have been even hastier than ever imagined.

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Neocons Target Assad Regime

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

Despite the clear opposition the Obama administration and apparent ambivalence on the part of the right-wing government in Israel, neoconservative hawks here have set their sights on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who they hope will be the next domino to fall victim to what the so-called “Arab Spring.”

In a much-noted op-ed published Saturday by the Washington Post, Elliot Abrams, who served as George W. Bush’s top Mideast adviser, called for the administration to take a series of diplomatic and economic measures similar to those taken against Libya before the U.S. and NATO’s military intervention, to weaken Assad’s hold on power and embolden the opposition.

He was joined the same day by the Wall Street Journal‘s hard-line editorial page which urged Washington to support the opposition “in as many ways as possible.”

“It’s impossible to know who would succeed Assad if his minority Alawite regime fell, but it’s hard to imagine many that would be worse for U.S. interests,” the Journal‘s editorial board asserted, while its increasingly neoconservative counterpart at the Washington Post, which last week called Assad “an unredeemable thug,” urged the administration to side “decisively with those in Syria seeking genuine change.”

And on Tuesday, a major candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, chimed in with a full-throated endorsement of Abrams’ recommendations and described Assad himself as a “killer.”

The latest campaign, which comes as the administration finds itself ever more deeply embroiled in a civil war in Libya and remains pre-occupied by challenges to friendly regimes in Bahrain and Yemen, was launched as it became clear over the past week that Assad faces what most observers here believe is the biggest crisis of his nearly 11-year-old reign.

More than 60 people have reportedly been killed in clashes between protestors and police around the country since demonstrations erupted in the southern town of Deraa two weeks ago.

Expectations that Assad, who dismissed his government Tuesday, would announce a series of reforms, including an end to a nearly 50-year-old emergency law, were dashed Wednesday when he blamed “conspiracies” for the unrest in a speech to parliament. Although he suggested that major reforms were indeed impending, he failed to specify either what they were or when they might be implemented.

“There will be more demonstrations,” predicted Bassam Haddad, a Syria expert at George Mason University, who added that the regime remains divided between reformists and conservatives. “If Bashar gets his way, I feel the response [to further protests] will be mild. But if the hard-liners get their way, there will be a crackdown that will have a snowball effect and that could turn into a nightmare for the regime.”

That would likely be welcomed by the neoconservatives some of whom have already suggested that a violent repression will enable them to invoke Washington’s intervention against Libya as a precedent for taking strong action against his regime.

The Obama administration, which has tried to engage Damascus as part of a broader strategy to weaken its alliance with Iran, has regarded Assad himself as reform-minded, but limited in his ability to move against an entrenched opposition in the security forces and his ruling Baath party.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Assad as a “different leader,” noting that “many of the members of Congress who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

The remark infuriated neoconservatives who have long considered the Assad dynasty as Public Enemy Number Two, after Iran, in the Middle East due to its ties with Tehran, its long-standing support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, and, since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, its alleged backing for Sunni insurgents there.

Indeed, the notorious 1996 “Clean Break” memo that was prepared for then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu by several prominent neoconservatives who, seven years later, would take senior posts in the Bush administration, depicted the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as one crucial step in a larger strategy designed to destabilize Syria.

During the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Abrams reportedly urged Israel’s defense minister to expand Israel’s bombing campaign to include targets inside Syria, a course that was supported publicly by other neoconservatives outside the administration. To their frustration, the Israelis rejected their advice.

Neoconservatives and their Congressional allies have fought tooth and nail against efforts by the Obama administration to begin normalizing relations with Damascus that were effectively broken off by the Bush administration after it blamed the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut on Assad’s regime.

Now, however, they clearly believe that the Arab Spring has presented a new opportunity for “regime change” in Damascus, one that must be seized with delay.

Abrams, who exerted a major influence on the Bush’s policy toward Syria, has called in particular for the administration to strongly and continuously denounce the regime, withdraw its ambassador, press for international action against Assad, including seeking his indictment by the International Criminal Court and using Washington’s influence with the new governments in Egypt and Tunisia to persuade the Arab League, which expelled Libya earlier this month, to apply the same sanction to Damascus.

But, aside from condemning specific incidents of violence by the security forces, as well as an expression of disappointment Wednesday at Assad’s speech before parliament, the administration has shown no inclination to follow this advice.

“Washington already has its hands full in the Middle East,” noted Dov Zakheim, who served in a senior Pentagon post under Bush. “In an environment in which American forces are engaged in three Muslim countries, the last thing Washington needs is to verbally trap itself in a situation in which pressure for yet more military action begins to mount,” he wrote in the Shadow Government blog at foreignpolicy.com Monday.

“The last thing the United States need is to get enmeshed in Syria’s troubles,” he added, noting that “[a]n unstable Syria might be tempted, as neither Assad pere nor fils were, to attack Israel on the Golan front, or to push Hezbollah into a war that Damascus would then widen…”

Similarly, Paul Pillar, a retired CIA analyst who served as National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East between 2000 and 2005, warned that regime change could turn out very poorly for both the U.S. and Israel and that Abrams’ and the Journal’s confidence that any successor regime would be preferable to Assad’s was ill-founded.

“Syria under Assad is probably the most secular place in the Middle East,” he noted in his blog at the nationalinterest.org website. “The influence of Islamism, in whatever form, in Syria has nowhere to go but up if there is regime change. That would not be welcome to those in Israel and the United States who worry about any political role for Islamists.”

 

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Libya: dragged away for reporting rape

NOVANEWS

Dear friends,


Last Saturday, Iman al-Obeidiburst into a Tripoli hotel, telling reporters she had been gang-raped by 15 of Qaddafi’s men. She was dragged awayby regime thugs, and no one has seen her since. Let’s raise a massive outcry for Turkey, which has helped free other Libyan hostages, to help save Iman. Sign now and forward this email:

Sign the petition

Last Saturday, a young woman lawyer named Iman al-Obeidi burst into a Tripoli hotel and pleaded with foreign journalists for help, showing bruises and crying that she had just been gang-raped by 15 of Qaddafi’s men. She screamed as she was dragged away by Libyan agents and has not been seen since.

Words cannot express the courage Iman showed in speaking out — and we can only imagine the terror she must be facing right now in the hands of Qaddafi’s infamous thugs. Her life is in danger, but we can help, if we act fast.

Qaddafi will ignore most international outrage, but he listened to the Turkish government when they asked him to release foreign journalists. Let’s urgently raise a massive global call to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to help save Iman — sign the petition and forward this email to everyone – it will be hand-delivered to the Turkish consulate in Benghazi, and through ads in Turkey, as soon as we reach 500,000 signatures:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/free_iman_al_obeidi/?vl

Iman said she was stopped at a Tripoli checkpoint and detained for two days, enduring rape and beatings by 15 state security men before managing to escape. She said other women were still being held by the regime thugs.

The men who raped Iman probably thought she would never dare to openly challenge Qaddafi’s terror-apparatus, or endure the shame of publicly admitting rape in a conservative society where all too often the woman is blamed for such crimes. But she has dared to break the silence that surrounds so many victims of Qaddafi’s brutality and of sexual violence everywhere.

The regime has called her a prostitute and promised to charge her with defaming government forces. But Libyans have demonstrated on the streets in force to stand with Iman and support her, and Turkish influence with Qaddafi could still be enough to free her. Let’s stand with Iman al-Obeidi, who dared to stand up to her tormentors and cry out for truth and justice – sign below to call on Turkey’s Prime Minister to act, and forward this email widely:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/free_iman_al_obeidi/?vl

Right now a brave young woman has risked everything for the values we all share, and is facing terrifying consequences. Let’s do all we can to save her.

With hope and determination,

Stephanie, Pascal, Alice, Rewan, Mohammad, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team

Sources:

Woman’s rape claim opens rare window into regime (including Video of the incident), The Independent
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/womans-rape-claim-opens-rare-window-into-regime-2254752.html

Turkey helps free Guardian journalist in Libya, Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/17/turkey-helps-free-guardian-journalist-libya

Turkey saves New York Times journalists in Libya, Todays Zaman
http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=238855

Libyan woman who alleged rape still missing, Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/video/africa/2011/03/201132963515140400.html

Libyan government offered money to appease Iman al-Obaidi, woman in rape-claim case, mother says, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/mother-of-libyan-woman-in-rape-claim-case-says-she-is-very-proud-of-her-daughter/2011/03/27/AFNppLkB_story.html

Fight as Libyan woman dragged from press by Gaddafi forces, Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8408506/Fight-as-woman-dragged-from-press-by-Gaddafi-forces.html

Thorough investigation urged over Libya rape case, Amnesty International
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/thorough-investigation-urged-over-libya-rape-case-2011-03-28

Libya: Immediately Release Woman Who Alleged Rape, Human Rights Watch
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/28/libya-immediately-release-woman-who-alleged-rape

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