Archive | April 2nd, 2011

Jihad and Terrorism

NOVANEWS

 

By Bushra Tarrar

 

Flag of Jihad

 

Its tragic that West has mutilated the meaning of Jihad and associated it with terrorism, so have they labeled the freedom movements in Kashmir, Gaza or any other struggle by the Muslims. The basic force behind all this is the Zionist agenda supported by the Neo-Cons for obvious ulterior motives. But a greater tragedy is that the Muslim scholars have not made any committed effort to educate the people not only in the West but in their home countries too.

The literal meaning of ‘Jihad’ is struggle; struggle could be for any morally and ethically acceptable goals and objectives. To eliminate poverty, illiteracy, disease or any other evil can be termed as Jihad. The normal accepted perception of Jihad is to fight in the battle field to defeat the enemy, but one thing must be borne in mind that Jihad can only be waged either in self defence or for the liberation of the oppressed and aggrieved. But jihad can never be waged to capture territory for expansion.

Also jihad cannot be waged without a state decree and that state must be based on the Islamic principles, the head of the state should be able to fulfill all the requirements laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.

People from within a Muslim state can wage a struggle to establish a shariah compliant government but this would be more in line with a political movement. If such a movement is denied space then the struggle becomes more aggressive and militant in nature. Therefore, Islamists when choked have no other option but to resort to force. In most cases militancy is through constant denial and use of brutal force by the people in power.

It is the greatest tragedy of the last and the present millennium for Muslims internationally not to have adopted a uniform jihad policy and to have left it to splinter groups or organizations to frame jihadi policies and to make others act on them. Whereas the major developed countries, which happen to be non Muslim, act in unison in political, economic, military and social matters, the Muslim countries mostly act singly or selfishly. The existence of sects, royalty, class division and illiteracy in the Muslim countries, all foreign to Islam, have stood in the way of adoption of unified policies and programmes by them. Resultantly, this has given an excuse to the powerful countries to label true jihadi Muslim movements terrorist or anti-humanity and have given them a chance to dominate or crush the Muslim countries where the jihadi organizations were based or to dictate to the Muslim governments.

The word ‘terrorism’ has yet to have a universally acceptable definition but in general terrorism means the threat or use of force against civilians or the armed forces for political purposes. Groups of terrorists, acting singly or jointly, engage in bombings, killings, hijackings, skyjackings and large-scaled destruction of property. The dimension of suicide attacks and bombings has been added to the regular terrorist efforts in the 20th and 21st centuries. Now international terrorism is on the rise as one state arranges terrorist mission in another state. Or one state masterminds mid-air explosion of planes in international air space as the US blamed Libya of it several years earlier. The US also blamed Afghanistan of promoting terrorism through Al-Qaida of causing suicide plane attacks on the world trade centre and the pentagon in 2001. She, together with other world powers, attacked Afghanistan and replaced the Taliban Afghan government. India and Pakistan have blamed each other for government-sponsored terrorist attacks and have been close to fighting a war. So has Sri Lanka blamed India of supporting the Tamil tiger’s guerrillas in the country.

The United Nation has taken note of international crime that threatens the foundations of all states. Terrorism has, thus, become” one of the most dangerous forms of international crime.”on the other hand, members of the Irish liberation  movement against the United Kingdom, the Kashmir’s liberation movement against India, the Palestine liberation movement against Israel and the Chechen liberation movement against Russia  claim that they have attacked opposite government forces and their supporters to win freedom.

In the absence of a proper definition one man’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. Today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir, Palestine and some other places the occupation forces label the resistance as an act of terrorism though they are all fighting to liberate their lands. USA, The UK, NATO, India and Israel are all occupation forces.

Within the cloak of the freedom fighters have hidden their agents like TTP who apparently act to liberate the land but in essence are targeting the innocent people. Their lives and properties are hit wantonly where ever they may be. Fight for liberation means struggle against  cruel rulers  to regain lost territories or religious, economic or other freedoms, this fight is basically a political movement but at times get militant when force is applied to curb it.

Jihad means the exertion of efforts for the cause of ALLAH. “True jihad must begin in the heart of every individual against the evils of his /her own soul. This is the greater jihad (Jihad-e Akbar) without which the jihad of the sword, the lesser jihad is simply a warfare. “society is nothing but a conglomeration of individuals, and the reform of society on Islamic or ideal lines is necessary before any jihad is waged to obey the main Quranic injunctions:

  • Kill them until there is no persecution .

  • Fight against those who stop others from following the way of ALLAH.

  • Fight against those who treat helpless women, man and children cruelly.

  • Fight against those who fight against you and turn them out of the places taken forcibly from you.

The holy prophet (may peace be upon him) once advised Muslims strongly that they should carefully measure the strength of the enemy and make the best preparations before attacking him.

In this sense and the sense of the foregoing paragraph, jihad is justified:

  • when the individuals and society are rightly reformed.

  • when all forms of the preparations on the social, national and international levels have been made to defeat the enemy.

Unluckily, the different Muslim societies and jihadi organizations did not take the requisite steps necessary for the supremacy of truth, justice and fair play in jihadi struggle against evil, injustice and cruelty.

Firstly, in the present-day world context, they did not initiate movements to remove and replace the dictatorial and monarchical governments in the richest and largest Muslim countries in the Middle East the common people in these countries have not been properly educated, nor have they been given their due share in the governments. The defence of these countries is weak and dependant on the very western powers that are responsible for the creation of Israel. Science and technology are in the wrong order, and education, on the whole, is out of tune with modern requirements. The prime aim, for example, of the Al-Qaida organization should have been the reform of the Arab regimes and societies. This could have thrown up people-friendly governments and would have contributed to the raising of joint Arab armed forces capable of throwing out Israel from the Palestinian territories.

Secondly, the jihadi organizations and their supporters, for example, in Pakistan did not set in motion movements against corruption, illiteracy, governmental and administrative inefficiency in different forms. Clearly, the common people could have risen to great heights if these organizations, together with them and their leaders, had started jihad against political, social and economic evils in the country .our industry and agriculture could have been in excellent shape. Our science, technology and general education could have been of the finest order .our armed forces could have depended on a solid economic base for a long and decisive war against the enemy. True independence and democracy, with an educated population and booming economy, would have been possible. Then the armed jihad, after the social jihad, would have been more practicable and more in accordance with the advice of the holy prophet.

Ijtihad means making the greatest effort to discover fresh religious truths. Both ijtihad and jihad mean supreme endeavour. Ijtihad is the application of reason to the holy Quran and Sunnah to determine solutions of the problems of the changing times. A mujthid is the person rightly qualified to apply his reason or interpret religion for the solutions of new problems.  many Sunnis have held, rather wrongly, that ijtihad is not possible now as a true mujtahid cannot be the found after the founders of the four Sunni schools of thought,*that is, since A.D.825.this pattern of thinking should now be reversed for the improvement of individual and social life. After a speedy revival of ijtihad, new explanations of jihad should be put forward in accordance with the changed circumstances in its global perspective, the new balance of power in different parts of the world and the methods or modes of jihad that can truly make Muslims successful and victorious. In no case should jihad appear to have methods and aims of terrorism. Jihadis should be able to root out individual and social evils inside the country, and then they should strike hard on the enemies inside the country and outside within the scope of the Holy Quran, Sunnah.

Bushra Tarrar is a graduate of The Punjab University. She has written two books,. Ruh-e-Qayadat (Spirit of Leadership) and Tahafuz-e-Bint-e-Hawa (Protection of rights of the daughter of Eve) in Urdu that won her a place in the circle of Urdu writers.

Besides Opinion Maker, she also writes regular column for Urdu Newspapers. She comes from an agriculture family that is active and firmly believes in the social uplift of the people.

 

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Libya Rhetoric – An Analysis

NOVANEWS

I would be willing to believe that the President has had an epiphany and really wants to lead the nation in the way of goodness, if it weren’t for his persistent catering to the distinctly less than good Israelis and their Zionist lobbies. No. President Obama’s statements are just too out of national character to be believable.

Lawrence Davidson

 

President Barack Obama speaks about US and NATO involvement in military action against Libya

Spokespersons for NATO, European politicians, members of the Obama administration, and the President himself have been out and about seeking to articulate justifications for the ongoing intervention in Libya. For better or worse, their public statements do not always make sense.

Part I – Rhetoric

On 22 March 2011 French Prime Minister Francois Fillon insisted that “we are not at war with Libya, we are protecting the civilian population, excluding explicitly any occupation forces.” Now just what does that mean? Can the army of the government of Libya, operating against rebels in the midst of civil war, possibly be defined as “occupation forces”? You might not like Muammar Qaddafi, but he and his supporters are indigenous to the country.

On 28 March 2011 the Secretary General of NATO, General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, insisted that coalition forces in Libya were acting in a strictly “impartial” manner even as NATO aircraft attacked the town of Sirte in support of rebel forces. “NATO is impartial” repeated the General, and is present in Libya to “protect civilians within the framework of the UN mandate, no more no less.” This statement is utterly surreal. Does the Secretary General actually believe this? Can it be that he is ignorant of what his organization is actually doing in North Africa? Is he consciously attempting to mislead?

On the same day Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking on ABC’s This Week televison program, repeated for what must be the hundredth time the allegation that Muammar Qaddafi was preparing to massacre civilians in Benghazi as well as other parts of eastern Lybia and quick US action prevented a “full scale slaughter.” U.S. Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, speaking at a Pentagon briefing, again on the 28th of March, said that the message being sent to Qaddafi loyalists is “Stop killing your own people.” No one is denying that Qaddafi is a tyrant and a man perfectly capable of murdering his fellows. However, as a rule the United States has supported many such “leaders”such as Hosni Mubarak, Augusto Pinochet, the last Shah of Iran, Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, Argentina’s old junta of Generals, Indonesia’s Suharto and, as of late in a de facto manner, the monarch of Bahrain. Why is Qaddafi’s murderous ways so special? Then again, for all the talk of mass murder in Libya, there has been little incontrovertible evidence of it and surely if there was such evidence Fox TV would be running the video images every fifteen minutes.

Finally, there was the statement of President Barack Obama, delivered to the American people on the evening of 28 March 2011. Certainly heartfelt in its delivery, the 28 minute speech was a mixture of established rationales (America “halted a slaughter that could have shaken the stability of the entire region”) and national glorification (“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and more profoundly our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.”) First of all, just how Qaddafi’s attempt to assert government control over rebellious provinces would “shake the stability of the entire region” or endanger the present processes of reform in Egypt and Tunisia, is yet to be explained.. Actually, it can be argued that it was the violent suppression of unarmed demonstrators calling for democratic reform by the monarch of Bahrain (and not the violence in Libya) which sent out the signal that repression in the form of shooting down your own people was now an acceptable option in the region.

Secondly, while I am willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt and accept that he speaks from the heart, his statement about who we Americans are as a nation is not historically accurate. Our military interventions have never reflected any sincere sense of “responsibilities to our fellow human beings.” Just ask the Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Palestinians, the Chileans, the Guatemalans, the people of El Salvador, Cubans, Panamanians, Filipinos, ad infinitum. I would even be willing to believe that the President has had an epiphany and really wants to lead the nation in the way of goodness, if it weren’t for his persistent catering to the distinctly less than good Israelis and their Zionist lobbies. No. President Obama’s statements are just too out of national character to be believable.

Part II – Prospects

In the meantime, NATO spokespersons project a 90 day mission in Libya, but this is probably optimistic, for the complications and contradictions are only now beginning. Here are some examples:

1. The rebels cannot defeat Qaddafi unless they are armed with much heavier weapons then they now possess and also trained in their use. Despite Secretary of State Clinton verbal gymnastics this would be the sort of reinterpretation of UN Resolution 1973 that is very likely to lead to the splintering of the NATO coalition. Will President Obama support actions that might have long term detrimental consequences for the alliance?

2. If the coalition creates a well armed rebel army and assists it with close air support, it will almost certainly kill and maim as many, if not more, civilians as they move west, than Qaddafi was allegedly in the process of killing as his forces moved east.

3. The rebel coalition is tribal in nature and potentially fractious in character. What holds them together is not their alleged desire for democracy, but rather their dislike of Qaddafi. In a post-Qaddafi Libya there is a chance that the rebels will start fighting among themselves over control of the country’s resources?

4. There are some reports that a NATO multinational force is being considered to keep the peace in Libya. Well, Qaddafi always said that this was a “Crusader” venture against his country. Putting European troops into Libya would be utterly stupid. But, you never know where the mysterious logic of present day Western leaders might lead you.

Part III – Conclusion

There is a really remarkable irony in all of this. It was back in 2003 that Muammar Qaddafi gave up his nuclear and chemical weapons programs. On the face of it such moves toward disarmament are good things. However, I don’t think you will be seeing many more of them in the future. The present intervention in Libya, whether justified or not, has demonstrated to everyone (and, no doubt, particularly to the Iranians) that if you want to keep the Americans and their friends out of your country, having an atomic bomb or two may well be the only sure way of doing so.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC

 

Netanyahu tells Ban next flotilla must be stopped

Apr 01, 2011

Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers 

The judge releases and the police detain — the attack of Jerusalem police against the Palestinian Civil Society continues
31 Mar — The Jerusalem police continue to harass the leadership of the Palestinian Civil Society, especially in Silwan. Jawad Siyam, one of the leaders of the community center of Wadi Hilweh, was arrested on January for an alleged assault of another Palestinian. After three months in house arrest, the Jerusalem court decided yesterday to release him. Today the police tried to raid Siyam’s house looking for him. Later he was called for investigation where he was arrested. It is not the first time that the police tries to bypass the court decision.
http://settlementwatcheastjerusalem.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/jawad2/

Peace Now: East Jerusalem settlement set to grow
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 Apr — An Israeli landowner is seeking to sell plots for 30 homes in a Palestinian neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, where 117 settler families already live, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Friday. Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran said that although the landowner has declared himself ready to sell to the highest bidder – Jew or Arab – the outcome is most likely to be an extension of the existing settlement enclave in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. “We know the owner…he is a settler himself,” she told AFP.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=374598

A tour of Lifta village: the spring, mosque, and cemetery are living relics of pre-Nakba times
Jerusalem/Misa abu Ghazala/ PNN-Exclusive 31 Mar — From the mountains northwest of Jerusalem, the village of Lifta overlooked the holy city with its mosque, school and houses all built in an artistic architectural style. The agricultural land was cultivated with olive trees, vegetables and grain, which reached the boundary of the Old City at the western gate. Lifta was one of the most important villages surrounding the capital in terms of money and agricultural wealth.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9814&Itemid=56

Beit Ommar: IDF imposing collective punishment
Ynet 31 Mar — A week has passed since the IDF blocked the entrance from Highway 60 to the Palestinian village of Beit Ommar. Residents of the village, which is located between Hebron and Jerusalem, are able to exit it only from the west. They claim this extends their journey to Jerusalem and makes their daily lives more difficult in general. “This is a policy of an army that imposes collective punishment on all the residents,” Biet Ommar council head Nasri Sabarna told Ynet Thursday … “It is true that there is a small group of youngsters who throw stones, and we are vehemently against this,” Sabarna said, “But why do all of Beit Ommar’s residents have to suffer because of it? … “We do not have total control over every resident. We are trying to lower the level of violence, but when a settler throws stones at Palestinians does the army block the entrance to his settlement?”
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4050582,00.html

Witnesses: Palestinian child run over by settler
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — An Israeli settler ran over a three-year-old girl and fled the scene in central Hebron on Thursday, locals said. Lana Al-Ja’bari was transferred to hospital with moderate injuries, her relatives said. She was run over near the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the presence of Israeli soldiers, witnesses said. On Monday, an Israeli settler ran down a Palestinian girl on her way to school south of Hebron. He remained in the area until police arrived. However, in two other incidents in March, Israeli settlers driving in the West Bank struck Palestinians and drove away. [End]
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=374418

Settlers attack shop, home in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Israeli settlers attacked a shop and a home in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, witnesses said. Onlookers said settlers destroyed the contents of a store in Jaber neighborhood and damaged a Palestinian home in Tel Rumeida in central Hebron.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=374413

Jewish settlers attack Palestinian family
BETHLEHEM, (WAFA) 1 Apr — Jewish settlers Friday attacked the Da‘ado family from al-Khader, a town south of Bethlehem, while they were in their agriculture land, said family members.  They said that when they entered their property, they were surprised to find a number of settlers farming the land. When the family members tried to stop the settlers, they attacked and beat Yassin Da‘ado, 47, and threatened to shoot him.  An Israeli force arrived at the scene to protect the settlers and arrested Yassin. The soldiers also confiscated the family members’ identity papers and notified them not to enter their property for a week claiming it was a closed military zone.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=15744

Army incursions / harassment

Israeli army continues to harass local Palestinian farmers
[with photos] 31 Mar — Yassir and his family (including 8 children) have been living during the spring time in Khirbet Samra,  Jordan Valley, since 2006. At 8.30 pm yesterday evening the Israeli army came to his home claiming to be looking for terrorists from Nablus who they said they knew were staying with him.  Despite his insistence that only his family were there they made everyone leave the tents and requested to see the ID papers of all of the family, including his terriifed young children. On the request of the army the family produced their ID. All the ID’s showed that they were related and none of the IDs produced were Nablus IDs. The army refused to say why they believed that people from Nablus were staying with the family. For some time the family were made to stand while the army decided what to do.The army then claimed that they believed that the family were hiding guns in their tents. They made their way straight to where the children slept and ransacked their tent emptying all the clothes onto the floor. After failing to find any guns they went to the milk store and poured the contents of the milk vessels onto the floor and mixed it with sugar … Yassir and his family keep goats. They use their milk to drink, to make cheese for them to eat and then sell what is left in Hebron. The milk from the family’s goats is their only form of income. That morning all of the goats had been milked and their full store (60 litres) was destroyed. At no point did the army show any documents which proved the search was legal as well as speaking in Hebrew the whole time so that the family were unable to understand what was happening. After destroying the family’s livelihood they left. 
http://topalestineinsolidarity.blogspot.com/2011/03/israeli-army-continue-to-harrass-local.html

Soldiers stop Palestinians from planting olive trees
RAMALLAH, (WAFA) 1 Apr — Israeli soldiers Friday prevented a group of Palestinian youth from planting olive seedlings in Aboud, a village northwest of Ramallah, marking Land Day.  A group of 50 participants were planting olive seedlings when they noticed a settler, guarded by Israeli soldiers, taking pictures of them. Soldiers stopped the planting and uprooted some of the seedlings the group had planted.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=15745

Soldiers declare Wadi Qana a closed military zone
SALFIT, (WAFA) 1 Apr — Israeli soldiers Friday declared Wadi Qana, a valley near the West Bank town of Salfit, a closed military zone and prevented residents and farmers from entering or leaving it.  Nathmy Salman, mayor of nearby village of Deir Istiya, said that a large number of Israeli soldiers prevented farmers and residents from entering their land in Wadi Qana and locked up the farmers who were in the valley in an old house and warned them from leaving before 2 in the afternoon.  Meantime, 13 buses carrying Jewish settlers from Alfe Menashe and Karne Shomron settlements were seen in the valley.  Israeli soldiers refused to let farmers and livestock breeders to market their daily production of milk, which jeopardized the only source of living for these farmers.  On the other hand, Israeli police issued Mosleh Mansour, a resident of Wadi Qana, an arbitrary fine of around $300 for crossing the road on foot, on the pretext of obstructing traffic.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=15743

Young man arrested in Al Hadidiya
1 Apr — We have just heard that a young man from Al Hadidiya has been arrested whilst walking from Al Hadidiya, near the land that Roi settlement has stolen from the community. His family saw the army take him, but have been given no information about why he’s been arrested, where he is, how long he’ll be held, or what he’s been arrested for … Two days ago we visited the small Palestinian Bedouin community of Al Hadidya, which is situated between the Israeli colonies (settlements) of Roi and Beqa’ot and a large Army training area. The community has faced years of persecution and attempts to force them from the land, including repeated demolitions, arrests and beating of villagers and increasing restrictions on movement to and from the village. Only three days ago two young men from the village were arrested and badly beaten. They were then refused permission to travel to health clinics to get medical care
http://topalestineinsolidarity.blogspot.com/2011/04/we-have-just-heard-that-young-man-from.html

Siege

Netanyahu to UN chief: Upcoming Gaza flotilla must be stopped
Haaretz 1 Apr — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the flotilla, scheduled to head toward the Gaza Strip in May, is a provocation and goods can easily be transported to the strip via land.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-to-un-chief-upcoming-gaza-flotilla-must-be-stopped-1.353536

Qassam operative killed in tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — A member of the armed wing of Hamas died Thursday after a tunnel collapsed in the southern Gaza Strip. He was identified as Hasan Abu Jaser from Jabaliya in southern Gaza.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=374430

Activism / Solidarity

Israeli soldiers assault Palestinians near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 1 Apr — Israeli soldiers Friday assaulted Palestinian residents of Qusra, a village southwest of Nablus, who performed Friday prayers on their land near Shilo settlement, illegally constructed on the village’s property.  At least 1500 Palestinians performed the prayer on their land, which is threatened to be seized by settlers.  Israeli soldiers attacked the worshippers while they prevented others from reaching the area.  Jewish settlers previously attacked Palestinians and uprooted olive trees in the same area.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=15742

Three injured as troops attack weekly anti-wall protests in the West Bank
PNN 1 Apr … In the village of Bil‘in, where anti wall protests have been organized for the past six years, three men were injured when Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters….After the midday prayers in the local mosque finished, villagers were joined by international and Israeli peace activists and marched up the gate of the wall separating villagers from their lands. Troops stationed there opened fire at protesters injuring Bassem Yassen, 34 years old, Rani Burnat, 29 and Kamel Al Khateb, 19. The men sustained injuries when soldiers fired tear gas canisters directly at them … The nearby village of Ni‘lin held a similar protest on Friday.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9816&Itemid=56

Running water to Al Farisiya
JV Solidarity — 31 Mar — In the autumn of 2010 Jordan Valley Solidarity ran water to the farming village of Al Farisiya, who have been persistently harassed by the Israeli occupation in recent years in an attempt to confiscate their land and ethnically cleanse the area of Palestinians … And all this work was carried out by Palestinian and international volunteers working together. Over 100 families have access to this water, and the green fields and greenhouses in the area are testament to this. We met a local farmer who showed us his cucumbers, beans, peas, palms and other plants that are being irrigated with the water. He said to us: “The Israeli’s believe they can kick us off the land, but its our land and we won’t go.” … And why does the Israeli Army not simply destroy it? The pipe itself does not count as a fixed structure, and similarly, the reservoirs constructed to store the water are simple, plastic lined constructions. Although this does not make them safe from Israel’s destructive policies, it does give the water system some measure of protection. The only part of the process which does count as a fixed structure – the water pump, is located in Area B and therefore not subject to the same level of military rule.
http://www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=207:running-water-to-al-farisiya&catid=14:2009&Itemid=21

International abduction

PA ambassador: Gaza engineer not linked to Hamas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Palestinian Ambassador to the Ukraine Mohammad Al-As‘ad said Friday that the Gazan engineer held by Israel was not affiliated to Hamas or any other faction … The engineer’s family said he was detained because of innovations he made at the power station, which enabled the Gaza Strip to halt its use of Israeli industrial diesel. Abu Sisi initiated a trial run using purified fuel brought in through tunnels from Egypt. Shortages of fuel imported through Israel have frequently led to mass blackouts in the Gaza Strip, often endangering hospital machinery dependent on electricity … [Sisi’s sister] Suzanne said her brother was “not linked in any way to any political faction, he was working as the head of the operations of the plant before Hamas came to power, and he continues his work as a university professor.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=374532

Politics / Diplomacy / International relations

Israel holds secret talks with Russia in bid to thwart recognition of Palestinian state
Haaretz 1 Apr — Isaac Molho, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior adviser and top negotiator on the Palestinian channel, made a secret trip to Moscow on Wednesday and met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The purpose of the visit was to dissuade Russia from supporting the European Union’s intention to present in two weeks’ time a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-holds-secret-talks-with-russia-in-bid-to-thwart-recognition-of-palestinian-state-1.353404

Abbas to visit Cairo
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to go to Cairo on Wednesday in his first visit since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=374425

Other news

Israeli, Palestinian launch West Bank venture capital fund
Haaretz 31 Mar — Yadin Kaufmann, who invested in Israeli startups that gave the world the USB flash drive and satellite communications systems, and Palestinian software entrepreneur Saed Nashef recruited an initial $28.7 million from companies like Google Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. They said their aim is to boost the West Bank’s community of software entrepreneurs and build a robust economy for an eventual independent state.
http://english.themarker.com/israeli-palestinian-launch-west-bank-venture-capital-fund-1.353358?localLinksEnabled=false

Court releases Israeli leftist activists, slams police for limiting free speech
Haaretz 1 Apr — The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court released on Sunday leftist activists detained while demonstrating outside a West Bank outpost, stressing specifically that police had no authority to limit their freedom of speech. The activists were detained after a demonstration near the Havat Maon outpost on Saturday to protest the stabbing of a Palestinian days earlier. Police and Army forces presented them with a document declaring the area a closed military zone, leading to an argument in which 15 people were arrested.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/court-releases-israeli-leftist-activists-slams-police-for-limiting-free-speech-1.353402

Analysis / Opinion

In Palestine, curse anything but the land / Mohammed Rabah Suliman
EI 1 Apr — …A state is not what Palestinians would feel worried about having or losing. A state is a meaningless and enigmatic concept. A farmer never knows what “state” stands for, neither does a fisherman. A teacher would possibly know, but he or she would never feel it. All of them, however, know one simple word, one grand concept, one sacred entity. It is a reachable concrete and spiritual one: the land. This is how they raise their children. They raise them to love their land and feel it under each step they take. These children soon start to see this land in the morning sky above, they soon touch it on the seashore, and feel it in the rainfall
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11892.shtml

For the love of Egypt: When besieged Palestinians danced / Ramzy Baroud
Pal Chronicle 31 Mar — A dear friend of mine from Gaza told me that he hadn’t slept for days. “I am so worried about Egypt, I have only been feeding on cigarettes and coffee.” My friend and I talked for hours that day in early February. We talked about Tahrir Square, about the courage of ordinary Egyptians and about Hosni Mubarak’s many attempts to co-opt the people’s revolution. We were so consumed by the turmoil in Egypt that neither of us even mentioned Gaza.
http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16762

Dominici in Israel: Dispossession by law / Seraj Assi
31 Mar — Imagine you are an Israeli Arab. You receive a graduate fellowship in an American university. You set there in the campus cafeteria, meet with a Syrian or Lebanese colleague or friend, a fellow Arab who happens to share with you the same religion, nationality and language. You then return home for the summer vacation. You are arrested, stripped of your citizenship and expelled out of your homeland. This episode is not taken from a satirical novel. It is what the new Knesset law all about. The law already passed in its second and third reading. “Knesset passes law to strip terrorists of Israeli citizenship” was Haaretz headline. That is, not only does the law make dispossession and transfer of Palestinians legal, but also label the entire people terrorists.
http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16764

Shin Bet chiefs spearhead the occupation / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 31 Mar — …the Shin Bet, unlike its counterparts in the West, is involved in almost every aspect of our lives: from the granting of a security classifications of a large number of people to carrying out assassinations, from the bloated and ridiculous security detail it gives to our leaders to its operations tracking and pursuing left-wing and settlement activists. It decides who will be allowed to enter the country and who will be allowed to invest here. The Shin Bet state, which philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz prophesied, has already been with us for some time.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/shin-bet-chiefs-spearhead-the-occupation-1.353218

Go ask the Palestinians / Allegra Pacheco
Haaretz 1 Apr — The Imad Mughniyeh Group, affiliated with Hezbollah and Fatah, said it had ‘abandoned many attacks’ due to the presence of children … all the Palestinian people I have spoken with here in the West Bank who heard of the murders shake their heads and say how terrible they were ‏(and none saw the pictures‏). And in the next breath they add, “and I’m sure it wasn’t a Palestinian who did this.” The murders were condemned by Palestinian militant groups, the political leadership and civil society. And yet the Israeli government has had a field day, accusing the Palestinian collective of incitement to murder and using the incident as a pretext to expand settlements — and to hold hostage the entire village of Awarta ‏(over 5,000 people‏), adjacent to Itamar
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/go-ask-the-palestinians-1.353458?localLinksEnabled=false

Twilight Zone: Return to Shuk Hatikva / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 1 Apr — A great miracle happened here: Munir Dweik, our devoted taxi driver in Gaza, received a permit to visit Israel, for the first time in 18 years. [He had] spent his teen years working in the Hatikva quarter’s chicken market. This week he paid a return visit … His eyes light up again at the sight of the used taxi lots in south Tel Aviv. In Gaza, their cost is astronomical. If only he could take one of these with him. And if only he had listened to a friend in the market who told him he should get married then, in the 1980s, to an Israeli Arab woman, and get an Israeli ID card and stay here. If only he’d listened. The friend told him the day would come when Gaza would be completely closed off. But Munir couldn’t believe it: They’ll only keep the bad people out, not everyone. If only he’d listened to his friend … See you, Munir. When the madness is over.
http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/twilight-zone-return-to-shuk-hatikva-1.353503

Love song for Palestine / Roni Shaked
Ynet 31 Mar — Unlike the square uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the Palestinian protest in Bethlehem and other West Bank cities is more of a festival, featuring patriotic music, film and street performances. The women, most of whom do not wear the Hijab, dance with men side by side. The festive atmosphere and the lyrical slogans do not scream revolution. “We will pick the flower of unity,” one sigh read. “My homeland, your wonderful smell is dearer than my soul,” another announced. [an odd piece, flawed in many ways, but interesting]
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4049873,00.html

Registering the diaspora to vote / Hugo van Randwyck
31 Mar — Palestinian youth are demanding unity, they have camped out in the squares of the West Bank and taken to the streets in Gaza. A coalition of organizations calling themselves March 15 drove the movements. What they were calling for was the election of a new Palestinian National Council, the supreme body of the PLO, and demanding the participation of Palestinians across the Middle East and in the wider diaspora. Many dismissed the demand as impossible, but I hold that there are mechanisms, and straightforward ones at that, which could make the idea a practical reality.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=373432

Winning entries of first annual Israeli apartheid film contest / Rick Colbath-Hess
EI 1 Apr — A year ago, the Ramallah-based Stop the Wall campaign and itisapartheid.org began to collaborate on the first International Israeli Apartheid Short Film Contest. This contest encouraged the local Palestinian and larger international community to submit short films on the theme of Israeli apartheid. From the videos submitted, the top ten short films were chosen to be showcased on the website (www.itisapartheid.info).
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11889.shtml

Former official bemoans government’s disregard of Supreme Court / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 1 Apr — Human rights activist Yehudit Karp says discrimination against Arab communities in the field of education is just one example of a failure to enforce court rulings.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/former-official-bemoans-government-s-disregard-of-supreme-court-1.353406

1989: Israel protest song is born of three mothers / Yuval Ben-Ami
[with video clips] 972mag 31 Mar — In the midst of the first intifada, patriotism in Israel was on the rise. It was us (The Israeli military) against them (rioting Palestinians and the hostile international press). Few dared to challenge that axiom … Then, in the midst of 1989, three very different artists went on to redefine the Israeli protest song with great courage. All three of them were female singers, and all three got sharply criticized for taking a stand. Two of the three actually hurt their careers, and while they both recovered, the memory of drama stuck to their names … Listeners did not miss Alberstein’s point. She dared to reference the irony of the occupation being maintained by the nation that suffered the holocaust. That was an absolute first. The Israeli public was shocked.
http://972mag.com/1989-israeli-protest-song-is-born-of-three-mothers/

Book review: Waiting for redemption in “The Hour of Sunlight” / Raymond Deane
EI 30 Mar — The Hour of Sunlight chronicles the life of Sami Al Jundi, former supervisor of the Seeds of Peace Center in Jerusalem. But the book doesn’t deliver on its promise to show readers “the path to a resolution” of the conflict.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11887.shtml

Iraq

Thursday: 5 Iraqis killed, 14 wounded
At least five Iraqis were killed and 14 more were wounded in the latest violence. U.S. forces were involved in one incident that occurred when a bus driver couldn’t understand their commands. U.S. troops fired on a bus in Kirkuk, wounding a female student. A sticky bombwounded two people. In Baghdad, a Katyusha rocket landed in Karrada where it killed one person and wounded three others; other rockets landed in the Green Zone. A university student was wounded when a sticky bomb attached to his car exploded in Ghazaliya. Another sticky bomb was spotted on a car belonging to a B.O.C. member; it blew up a few minutes later without causing casualties….
http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2011/03/31/thursday-5-iraqis-killed-14-wounded/

Afghanistan

Two more Afghan civilians killed by NATO as toll mounts / Jason Ditz
AntiWar 31 Mar — Killings become embarrassingly common in recent weeks — …According to reports, NATO troops opened fire into traffic in Kandahar after a civilian car’s brakes failed near a checkpoint, which they assumed was a suicide attack. The hail of NATO bullets killed two teenage boys and wounded at least two others. Such attacks are becoming increasingly common under Gen. David Petraeus’ watch, and hardly a week goes by in which at least one incident of civilian killings by coalition troops is not reported.
http://news.antiwar.com/2011/03/31/two-more-afghan-civilians-killed-by-nato-as-toll-mounts/

What price an Afghan life? / Peter Singer
Guardian 1 Apr — If Nato treated all human life as of equal value when paying compensation it would change the face of the Afghan conflict … Thanks to a freedom of information request from the Guardian, we know how much the MoD has paid families when a member has been killed. Here are some examples: daughter hit by shrapnel from air-strike and later died of injuries, $1,000; mother killed during bombing, $5,000; two brothers and two sons killed by hellfire missile strike, $32,000. The variation in the figures is not explained, but in no case was more than $8,000 (about £5,000), paid for the loss of a single life. Now let’s take a look at the value of a British life.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/01/afghan-life-nato

U.S.

NY court asserts jurisdiction for PLO bombings lawsuit
Ynet 1 Apr — A New York judge has concluded that he has jurisdiction to preside over litigation resulting from a lawsuit filed against the Palestine Liberation Organization by victims of bombings in Israel … The ruling came in a 2004 lawsuit that seeks up to $3 billion in damages as a result of attacks between January 2001 and February 2004.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4050701,00.html

‘Foreign Policy’ runs piece describing Israel’s ‘carnival of hate’ toward Palestinians

Apr 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

Matt Berkman writes about a letter to Hillary Clinton signed by 27 Senators condemning Palestinians for inciting violence and questions the double standard for incitement:

[I]f it is indeed the case that “words matter” -and if the elimination of violent and dehumanizing rhetoric is, as the letter says, “critical to establishing the conditions [for] a secure and lasting peace”-then what can explain the senators’ silence on the veritable carnival of hate and racist incitement against Arabs and Palestinians that has lately engulfed Israeli society?

Anyone who reads Israel’s press these days will find it difficult to do so without chancing upon yet another outrageous example of such incitement. Be it thedeclaration of Rabbi Dov Lior, a senior authority on Jewish law in the Religious Zionism movement, that the offspring of non-Jews possess “genetic traits” of “cruelty and barbarism”; or an open letter signed by dozens of Israel’s municipal chief rabbis calling on Jews “to refrain from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews”; or the wives of those state-sponsored rabbis urging Jewish girls not to date, work with, or perform national service in the company of Arabs; or even news of the publication of “The King’s Torah,” a theological text widely endorsed by settler rabbis that authorizes the killing of non-Jewish children and babies, since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”

Could it be that the senators who so rightfully condemn the glorification of violence when it issues from an obscure Palestinian official are simply unaware of the multiple proclamations of such a prominent figure as Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party (a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition) and a former Chief Rabbi of Israel’s Sephardi Jewish community?  “It is forbidden to be merciful to [Arabs],” Yosef was quoted as saying in 2001, “You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.” More recently, Yosef sermonized that “Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and all these evil people should perish from this world.” “God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians,” he said.

…Not surprisingly, this rising tide of racism in Israeli society has translated into both discriminatory legislation directed against Israel’s Arab citizens and into violent hate crimes which, while not as gruesome as the massacre in Itamar, are more pervasive, bordering on quotidian..

But it should be made clear that the routine acts of violence against Arabs within Israel – and even the daily pogroms, or “price-tag” attacksinflicted on West Bank Palestinians by rogue settler bands – are only the tip of the iceberg. The whole wide-ranging system of occupation in the West Bank, and the hardhearted policies that promote the economic asphyxiation of the entire civilian population in Gaza – themselves the most deadly form of “incitement” – are underwritten on the ethical and cultural plain by the growing disdain and racial animus against Arabs in Israeli society.

At B.U., a student activist teaches me about Bil’in

Apr 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

Along with a co-editor of the Goldstone Report, I spoke at two law schools Wednesday, Northeastern and Boston University. Northeastern is a progressive law school and there was an enveloping sense of solidarity, especially when a softspoken young man with an Arab name and a bag with Frieda Kahlo’s image on the side came up to me after and said that he was organizing the undergraduate boycott movement. I was in the right place at the right time.

At Boston University there was more opposition, and it was actually energizing, so I’d like to describe that. There is a strong chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at BU, and I met several of those students before the event in a regal hall at the law school. One of them in a sweatshirt was leaning back in his chair next to his girlfriend and the others were giving him grief about how long he’d been active and he grinned and said, “Hey I’ve been working on Palestine since I was 15,” and I had the impression I had many times that night, that the young people have a clear understanding of the issue, way ahead of me. The apprehension of the left surrounding Palestine is ending, the issue is The issue if you’re a young leftist. I’m talking about the political territory they’ve taken. Just as South Africa was, or the Freedom Marches in the 60s, or Central America in the 80s– Israel/Palestine is the focus for idealistic activists, and they don’t have any of my generation’s hangups as we used to say (more about the hangups below).

Two of the B.U. students told me about the campus scene. If you’re with Students for Israel, the pro-Israel group, you’re pretty much on the right in campus life. When Israeli Apartheid Week happened in February, the pro-Israel groups mobilized against it and tried to get it off campus as anti-semitic, but Students for Justice in Palestine pointed out to the university president that four of their members were Jewish, so where’s the anti-Semitism? The university let the apartheid week demo stay. Then when David Horowitz tried to jump in gangbusters with the pro-Israel folks, to make an issue about Israeli apartheid week at the school, the Students for Israel said to Horowitz, thanks but no thanks, don’t “push it.” Apparently they were afraid that his blatant Islamophobia would drive Arab students into the ranks of the Justice for Palestine crowd.

Three or four pro-Israel students came to our Goldstone talk and they all asked questions. They were in the second row. Their questions were polite, almost friendly. They didn’t really have numbers, if I were in their crowd I would have been intimidated. The room was against them, young and old. Apparently two of the pro-Israel students were Hasbara fellows. They didn’t denounce us, they just questioned us about Hamas’s tactics and the festering refugee issue and similar matters. I saw them clapping at the end, politely.

Afterward a young Jew came up to me and talked about her Jewish agony about the issue and not wanting to be anti-Israel but also not wanting to endorse what’s going on there. Her father had read the Goldstone Report and confessed to her that it was accurate– which left her in a quandary about what to do about it. I urged this person to explore Jewish Voice for Peace– and J Street too if that’s where she felt more comfortable– and start walking the road. It’s a hard road for young Jews. That wasn’t the only encounter of this nature that we had. It seems that young idealistic Jews who have been raised loving Israel are in a state of agony right now. The facts are so overwhelmingly negative, from the Netanyahu government to the unending peace process to the killings of Palestinian children; and a good part of the Jewish community is opening its eyes to the truth, at last. Ancient orders inside the community, to maintain unity to the outside world, or to see the Diaspora as beneath Eretz Israel, a lot of those religious orders are dissolving. (Noam Sheizaf discusses the growing war inside the official liberal American Jewish community over Israel, here).

A bunch of us went out to dinner after and I learned two things. Tyler Cullis of B.U. told me that the antiwar movement on campus is weak, and in its place the pro-Palestinian movement is growing. You might remember that when the antiwar movement was strong in 2002-2005 or so, there were battles among organizers about giving any place to the Palestinian issue. Well that struggle is over. Tyler said that the students who would be in antiwar groups are working on Palestine, and there are lots of creative actions around it.

The other thing I learned was about life in Bil’in.

A student named Ian Chinich had worked in the West Bank with the popular committees. He is Jewish but unlike so many in my generation of Jews is not burdened by the racism and xenophobia that I grew up with. In a word, he is from a more comfortably empowered, multicultural milieu. So he could get past these cultural issues in an instant– where it has been a tormented struggle for me.

He was not as pitying as I am of the pro-Israel students. He said they’re supporting ethnic cleansing; and he told us stories of two families being ethnically cleansed in East Jerusalem before his eyes. Then he told me about the nighttime raids on Bil’in to take away boys on charges of throwing stones. The Israelis would identify boys who threw stones at the demonstrations and it was a six month sentence for throwing stones and two years if you damaged an Israeli jeep. As soon as the boys were imprisoned they were put under pressure to sign documents in Hebrew, a language they could not read, implicating the leaders of the popular committee for ordering the boys to throw stones. Israel is trying to smash the popular committees of resistance, and Chinich and other activists had slept in Bil’in for a few weeks, to try and help the tiny village resist the raids.

Chinich said he got used to a lot of things in the resistance movement– he got used to tear gas, he got used to the percussion grenades (which scare the shit out of me). But he never got used to the nighttime raids.

They came at 4 in the morning. The soldiers used the stirring for morning prayer to hide their own movements through the village. Then they knocked down the front door, and dragged the 14 year old or 15 year old away. They bound the boy’s hands and carried him off through the village with a phalanx of soldiers. Chinich was there to try and prevent arrests, so he felt a sense of failure every time a boy was dragged off. Because the looks on the boys’ faces, he said, was pure childlike terror. I thought about the honor we granted the stone throwers in Egypt, I thought about Jewish history in Europe, when they broke our doors down.

B-D-S

Apr 01, 2011

Adam Horowitz

From a Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago press release:

“In the lyrics to our song, we sing ‘apartheid and ethnic cleansing go on in Palestine every day, but without the help of you and your money, the occupation will go away.’ While the struggle to end Israel’s apartheid policies is not an easy one, it’s true that we in the United States can support justice and peace by refusing to support companies and institutions that support Israel and its occupation of Palestine,” said Joy Ellison, an activist with Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago (PSG-Chicago). “We hope that this flash mob empowers our community to stand up against apartheid and challenges Chicago businesses and institutions that are actively supporting the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Before this performance at “The Bean” in Millennium Park, the flash mob was held outside of Chicago Cultural Center, home of the Chicago Sister Cities International office. For the last two years, activists with PSG-Chicago have pressured the city of Chicago to end its relationship with its Israeli sister city, Petach Tikva. Petach Tikva, an officially segregated city, is the first Jewish-only settlement in historic Palestine and the site of the primary detention center where Israeli forces abuse and torture Palestinian political prisoners. Human Rights group Amnesty International dubbed Petach Tikva “Israel’s Guantanamo.”

You can listen to, and download, the song here.

Former head British spook says Israeli intelligence couldn’t be trusted

Apr 01, 2011

Michael Desch

Here is a very important piece in today’s Ha’aretz quoting former British MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove saying that his service did not trust the Israelis because they “play by different rules.” This sentiment is shared in the U.S. intelligence community too. The Israelis are among the most “aggressive” services operating against us (See this GAO report on foreign intelligence activities in the ’90s; Israel is Country B, right up there with the People’s Republic of China), and they pursue their own agenda. The reason that there is so much opposition to Jonathan Pollard’s release, for example, is that there is a widespread belief in the community that the Israelis transferred some of the Pollard intelligence on the U.S. Navy to the Soviets in exchange for the release of Soviet Jews. (See Seymour Hersh’s piece, “Why Pollard Should Never Be Released (The Traitor)” The New Yorker Magazine, January 18, 1999, pp. 26-33)

International Crisis Group warns against ‘Cast Lead II’

Apr 01, 2011

Kate Gould

The International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a warning that the recent escalation of air strikes on Gaza and rocket attacks into Israel has created “the conditions for a rapid deterioration toward the kind of clash to which neither side aspires, for which both [Israel and Hamas] have carefully prepared, and from which they will not retreat quickly.”

In June of last year, I had a glimpse of the destruction wrought during Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ military offensive on the Gaza Strip and Palestinian militants’ barrages of rocket fire into Israel. Even back then I met Israelis and Palestinians who were gravely concerned about a renewal of catastrophic hostilities. As the ICG report illustrates, the “combustible context” of the present circumstances necessitates 1) an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire between Israel and Hamas 2) an end to the closure regime on Gaza which constitutes an “assault on normal, dignified life” and 3) Palestinian reconciliation efforts should be supported, which will “require a different approach by international actors, Western countries in particular” to Hamas.

Ashraf Mattar stands in front of Al Jazeera Hotel in Gaza City, destroyed during ‘Cast Lead’

Stage set for Operation Cast Lead II?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened that if the rocket attacks continue—and Islamic Jihad has promised they will—“there will be an even more painful military retaliation.”While the assailants of the bus bombing in Jerusalem—which killed one passenger and wounded dozens—are still unknown, the attack added fuel to a fire already stoked by several months of airstrikes and rocket attacks. Tensions in the West Bank have also been exceptionally volatile in the wake of the murders of five family members in the Israeli settlement of Itamar. According to a UN report, “in the days before the killings in Itamar, there was already a sharp increase in the number of settler incidents” and the number of settler attacks on Palestinians continued to rise in its aftermath.

Israel’s Deputy Minister Silvan Shalom has ominously warned that “the period of restraint is over” adding that “I hope it won’t come to another Operation Cast Lead, but if there is no other choice, we will launch another operation.” Operation Cast Lead was the 22-day Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip more than two years ago which killed approximately 1,400 Palestinians, a majority of whom were civilians, and wounded 5,300 more. Thirteen Israelis were killed during the hostilities, including three civilians struck by rocket attacks in Israel, and nearly 800 were wounded.

Israel’s air strikes have already killed 14 Palestinians since March 19th, including 5 children, and injured dozens. Rocket attacks have injured a number of Israelis and have reached, for the first time, the outskirts of Tel Aviv. On Tuesday, March 29th, eye-witnesses in Gaza reported seeing Israeli tanks accompany bulldozers leveling more agricultural land in the Strip.


Sderot Bus Stop Converted to Double as Rocket Shelter

The On-going “Assault on a Normal, Dignified Existence”

The ICG points out that the ceasefire must be accompanied by ending “an access regime that is best defined as neither a siege nor blockade, but rather as an assault on a normal dignified existence, and an engine of impoverishment, social isolation, and political disaffection”.

Israel continues to bar Palestinians in Gaza from accessing the construction materials they need to rebuild the war-ravaged Strip. During my visit to Gaza, I saw large areas of the Strip that still looked like a vast moonscape of mounds and craters of rubble, where Israeli air strikes had leveled entire neighborhoods to the ground. Just a few days before my visit, the International Committee of the Red Cross called the closure regime on Gaza “collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law”, noting that “the whole of Gaza’s civilian population is punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility”.

I saw neighborhoods teeming with thousands of makeshift tents, pieced together with tarps and scrap metal, where survivors of Cast Lead lived. These families slept on the rubble of what was once their home before Israeli airstrikes or bulldozers demolished it wholesale. Many Palestinians told me that during Cast Lead, they had taken shelter in schools. With 46% of the schools damaged or destroyed during those three weeks and with Israel’s continuous denial of UN requests to import construction materials to build new schools, it is unclear where civilians could go for any modicum of protection against a full-scale Israeli military offensive.


Survivors of ‘Cast Lead’ Still Living in Tents in Beit Lahiya

Ceasefire Requirements for Hamas

ICG highlights that in any ceasefire agreement Hamas must be committed not only to ending its own rocket and mortar attacks but that Hamas “should continue to enforce the ceasefire on recalcitrant groups”, like the Salafi-Jihadist militants routinely firing rockets into Israel.

On two separate occasions last year I visited Sderot, the Israeli town that bore the brunt of rocket attacks during Cast Lead. I was struck by how the character of the entire town is shaped by these rocket attacks. The bus stops have been transformed to double as rocket shelters, rocket shields have been installed on the roofs of school buildings, and even the playground structures are fortified shelter in the 15 seconds they have between the sounding of the ‘Color Red’ rocket warning siren and when the rocket will land. I met an Israeli named Nomika Zion, who vividly described what it was like to live in Sderot during Cast Lead. She recounted times when the ‘Code Red’ siren would sound 60 times in a single day, while at night her walls would shudder from the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, less than a mile away.

“Israel should refrain from targeting farmers and those collecting rubble”

The ICG points out that “Israel should refrain from targeting farmers and those collecting rubble in the buffer zones that the Israeli army enforces on the Strip’s perimeter”. Remote-controlled Israeli machine guns fire at Palestinians whom Israeli security forces determine to be too close to the Gaza/Israel border. Since Cast Lead, dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been killed and many more have been wounded by Israeli fire while collecting rubble and scrap metal or tending to their farms in these buffer zones.

Seeing some of these rubble and scrap metal collectors at work was the first image I saw upon entering the Gaza Strip. I peered through the openings in Israel’s caged walkway from Erez crossing to see Palestinian boys piling rubble onto donkey-drawn carts in what looked like the aftermath of an earthquake. Later, I learned that they were collecting scrap metal and rubble to sell for production of recycled cement. While notorious for its poor quality and suspected contamination with depleted uranium, recycled cement is still in high demand due to Israel’s ban on construction materials. On my bus ride from Gaza City to its southern border in Rafah, I saw boys collecting rubble or processing rubble collections in at least a dozen different neighborhoods. Gaza has one of the world’s highest rates of unemployment and locals told me that bomb-site scavenging, dangerous though it was, was the only work these boys and young men could find.


Palestinians in Gaza Use Rubble for Recycled Cement

International Community Must Support Palestinian Unity

Finally, ICG notes the imperative for Palestinian unity between the rival factions of Hamas and Fatah. The report emphasizes that Western countries “should pledge to work with any government that adheres to a ceasefire”, rather than boycott a unity government which would, in meaningful reconciliation effort, include Hamas.

Netanyahu has already rejected the negotiation of a peace agreement with any Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, even though the only way to ensure a ceasefire could be effective and fully protect Israeli civilians would be to gain Hamas’s buy-in.

For the Good of All Civilians: Ceasefire, Normalization of Life in Gaza, and Hamas Engagement

The greatest protection for civilians would clearly be an effective ceasefire rather than a renewal of violence as witnessed in Cast Lead—which saw the deadliest 24 hours for Palestinians since 1948 and the greatest number of rocket attacks in Israeli history. The ICG points out that rather than protecting civilians, the primary intentions of Israel and Hamas are to ‘deliver messages’ of deterrence:

“Hamas is seeking to deliver a message to Israel that it will not be intimidated and that it too can control the timing, pace, and scope of the confrontation. The same is true for Israel, intent on demonstrating its continued deterrent power.”

The ICG report should serve as a wake-up call that the “assault on normal, dignified life” for Palestinians in Gaza and the U.S. and Israeli isolation of Hamas endanger, rather than protect, civilian lives on both sides of the Israeli-Gaza border.

Kate Gould is the Director of Advocacy and Outreach for Just Foreign Policy. This article was originally posted at Just Foreign Policy’s blog here.

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All we need to know about racist Israeli politics

Posted: 31 Mar 2011

One:

Young Israelis are moving much further to the right politically, according to a survey to be released Thursday.

The study found that 60 percent of Jewish teenagers in Israel, between 15 and 18 years old, prefer “strong” leaders to the rule of law, while 70 percent say that in cases where state security and democratic values conflict, security should come first. A similar picture emerges in the 21 to 24 age group.

The comprehensive survey was conducted on behalf of Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation, in cooperation with the Macro Center for Political Economics, by the Dahaf Institute.

According to the authors, the report shows a strengthening of Jewish-nationalist beliefs among Jewish youths, and a clear weakening of the importance given to the state’s liberal-democratic base.

Among Jewish youths, support for the definition of Israel as a Jewish state as the most important goal for the country grew from 18.1 percent in 1998 to 33.2 percent last year, the survey reports. At the same time, there has been a consistent drop in those who back the importance of Israel’s identity as a democratic country – from 26.1 percent in 1998 to 14.3 percent in 2010.

Support for Israel to eventually live in peace with its neighboring countries also fell significantly, from 28.4 percent 12 years ago to 18.2 percent last year. This is the third such survey of young people conducted by the two organizations in the past 12 years.

The study was carried out in July 2010, among a representative sample of Jewish and Arab youth. It included 1,600 participants, 800 aged 15-18 and 800 21-24, which is considered a relatively large group.

The right wing enjoyed a clear majority of support among the young people surveyed. Among Jews, the numbers stood at 57 percent and 66 percent for the two age groups respectively, while those who said they considered themselves to be left wing made up only 13 percent and 10 percent of those respondents.

The support for the right rose overall from 48 percent to 62 percent during the study’s 12-year period, while support for the left fell from 32 percent to 12 percent.

As to the possibility of peace with the Palestinians, 755 of the Jewish respondents said they do not believe negotiations will lead to peace, and most prefer that the present situation continue.

Two:

As Palestinians commemorate Land Day, the anniversary of an uprising against Israel’s land confiscation, a report 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. Israel says the wall was built to prevent attacks, but its route runs deep inside the West Bank, often as far as 22 kilometers, according to UN reports. Land between the wall and the Green Line has been used for illegal Israeli settlements and military bases.

PCBS found that in 2010, Israel built 6,794 Jewish-only housing units on occupied Palestinian land, four times more than in 2009.

Three:

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.

“The Israeli military would continue the naval blockade, but in a more localised way,” he said.

Katz said he had pitched the project to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him to put together a plan, which “has been under examination for many months” by experts.

A spokesman for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority described the idea as “pure fantasy” and an attempt by Israel “to divert attention from the real problems of Gaza resulting from the Israeli siege”.


ALP fails so media goes to the ALP for thoughts?

Posted: 30 Mar 2011

 

Sometimes the Australian media is so clueless as to make me wonder why they even bother.

The NSW Labor Party was devastated in last Saturday’s election. So who does the mainstream media turn to for thoughts? The Labor Party.

New Matilda published my investigation yesterday on the Greens. It’s received a huge response, with many people pleased somebody had revealed the levels of hatred directed at the party, Zionist lobby bullying and so-called progressive Jews and others remaining silent in the face of these actions. People won’t forget.

Here’s a small part from my article that didn’t make the final version:

 

The days since the New South Wales election have seen a litany of commentators, journalists and politicians pontificating on the reasons behind the Labor Party defeat, Liberal Party landslide and Greens difficulty in winning lower house seats.

Many in the mainstream media have called upon tired ALP figures to critique the failings of their own party. Unsurprisingly, the results have been mixed. It’s as if editors only want to hear the words of people who created the mess; their disastrous rule seemingly warranting reverential treatment.

Former NSW Labor cabinet minister Frank Sartor barely took any responsibility for the public’s displeasure with his party on ABC TV’s Lateline. The 16 minute interview largely ignored policy and focused almost solely on internal Labor troubles. No questions were asked why both major sides of politics are struggling to attract new members. It was little different when Leigh Sales spoke to Federal front-bencher Mark Arbib on ABC TV’s 7.30. Likewise with former Prime Minister Paul Keating with Sales again.

Labor’s right-wing factional head Eddie Obeid wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that factions weren’t to blame for the ALP’s disastrous showing on the weekend, a view contradicted by years of factional brawling.

But this was insider media only allowing insiders to comment and create the post-election narrative.


Even the Bush cabal knew Gitmo was breaking laws

Posted: 30 Mar 2011

 

Yet more evidence that Washington is a law unto itself:

 

The Bush administration was so intent on keeping Guantanamo detainees off U.S. soil and away from U.S. courts that it secretly tried to negotiate deals with Latin American countries to provide “life-saving” medical procedures rather than fly ill terrorist suspects to the U.S. for treatment, a recently released State Department cable shows.

The U.S. offered to transport, guard and pay for medical procedures for any captive the Pentagon couldn’t treat at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba, according to the cable, which was made public by the WikiLeaks website. One by one, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Mexico declined.

The secret effort is spelled out in a Sept. 17, 2007, cable from then assistant secretary of state Thomas Shannon to the U.S. embassies in those four countries. Shannon is now the U.S. ambassador in Brazil.

At the time, the Defense Department was holding about 330 captives at Guantanamo, not quite twice the number that are there today. They included alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two other men whom the CIA waterboarded at its secret prison sites.

The cable, which was posted on the WikiLeaks website March 14, draws back the curtain on contingency planning at Guantanamo, but also contradicts something the prison camp’s hospital staff has been telling visitors for years — that the U.S. can dispatch any specialist necessary to make sure the captives in Cuba get first-class treatment.

“Detainees receive state-of-the-art medical care at Guantanamo for routine, and many non-routine, medical problems. There are, however, limits to the care that DOD can provide at Guantanamo,” Shannon said in the cable, referring to the Department of Defense.

The cable didn’t give examples of those limits. But it sought partner countries to commit to a “standby arrangement” to provide “life-saving procedures” on a “humanitarian basis.”

It’s unclear what prompted the effort. The cable said then Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had approved making the request at the behest of then Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, who at the time oversaw Guantanamo operations.

Negroponte said Wednesday that he had “no recollection” of the request but that it would have been unrealistic to expect the Latin American nations to agree to it, “because anything to do with Guantanamo was always so politically controversial for any of these countries.” England didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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ABC News24 on killing Afghan civilians, Assad and ignoring indigenous lessons

Posted: 01 Apr 2011

Last night I was a guest on ABC TV News24′s The Drum to discuss issues of the day (video here). 

Foreign issues were front and centre.

America’s Kill Team in Afghanistan – US troops murdering civilians for fun – is just the latest example of occupiers in inhospitable lands treating those they’re supposed to protect with contempt. It happened in Vietnam – calling Vietnamese gooks – and today in the Muslim world they’re named towelheads. Indeed, as I said, there are countless examples of American soldiers since 9/11 explaining – especially during the largely ignored Winter Soldier hearings in 2008 – what they did to Iraqis and Afghans; often dehumanising and smearing them.

Liberation, indeed.

In Syria, President Assad has tried to appease pro-democracy protesters by offering to “reform”. But Damascus isn’t a US client state so therefore far less able to be pressured by Washington. Furthermore, Israel would much rather Assad remain in power (Zionism always needs a bogeyman). I argued that anybody predicting the Middle East at the moment was a fool but it was clear real democracy in Syria would be most welcome. Of course, the West would create the Islamist monster to scare us all.

Finally, Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called for a welfare to work plan that would force those on the lowest incomes to earn their keep. The issue here isn’t just that this is the easiest, tabloid-friendly policy – look, get those dole-bludgers to work! – but that it comes after similar plans were tried and failed in the Northern Territory intervention, a policy opposed by most indigenous leaders. I said that the best way to raise far more money by the state was to tax the rich on a much higher rate. They can afford it.

Serco’s trick; reward failure with a pay rise

Posted: 01 Apr 2011 12:50 AM PDT

Australia’s immigration detention centres, woefully mismanaged by Serco and the Federal government, is in chaos

But not to worry. Serco head honcho clearly deserves more money for causing misery to countless thousands:

Serco Group Plc (SRP), a U.K. outsourcing company that derived about half its revenue from public-sector contracts last year, raised the pay of Chris Hyman, its chief executive officer, by 18 percent, to 1.86 million pounds ($2.97 million), and that of Finance Director Andrew Jenner by 7 percent, to 948,300 pounds, the Financial Times reported, citing the company’s annual report.

Those figures exclude pensions and long-term incentives, for which comparable figures weren’t immediately available, the newspaper said.

In addition to his basic salary and annual bonus, Hyman exercised share options worth 1.6 million pounds during the year, the FT said.

Mark Serwotka, who heads the Public and Commercial Services union, said it “ought to be a national scandal” that such executives are “making vast sums” when their profits depend largely on the taxpayer, the newspaper said.

Serco said the pay levels were justified as the business “performed strongly in highly competitive markets,” the FT added.

Time in Australia to pile onto anybody who speaks out against Israel

Posted: 01 Apr 2011 12:45 AM PDT

One

While Andrew Robb describes Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s criticisms of the Greens as ‘contrived’, he accuses the Greens of anti-semitism.

It is NSW Greens policy to support a boycott of the state of Israel.

Senator elect Leigh Rhiannon told online opinion site New Matilda that the Greens could have campaigned better around the NSW Greens policy.

“Collectively we didn’t do enough to amplify support for [a boycott] and show that this is part of an international movement,” she is quoted as saying.

“This creeping anti-semitism I think is something we don’t need in Australia,” says Andrew Robb.

“The boycott is driven, in my view, strong ant-Israel views that are starting to emerge in parts of the community,” he says.

“The fact that the Greens, not only this one Senator, but the fact that the NSW state conference of the Greens has adopted a resolution calling on a boycott – it’s a very extremist position,” says Andrew Robb.

Two:

Newly elected NSW Government member Chris Hartcher has reiterated his intention to hold Marrickville Council to account over its support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Earlier this month, then shadow minister for inter governmental relations told The AJN he was “putting Marrickville Council on notice”.

“I don’t intend to allow councillors to waste ratepayers’ money on this sort of thing if the NSW Coalition is elected to form government next month,” he said at the time.

When contacted by The AJN this week, Hartcher reiterated that if he is appointed as minister, he “will move quickly on the issue of Marrickville Council”.

Under Section 434 of the Local Government Act, a minister can ask councils to account for particular practices.

Speaking of Murdoch thuggery over Israel/Palestine

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 09:50 PM PDT

Another small step in the glorious path of Rupert Murdoch’s legacy. How can I hate Palestinians this week, my minions? 

Here’s Australian Murdoch editor David Penberthy writing today about the Greens and racism (this coming from a man whorecently suggested backing BDS against Israel was akin to Kristalnacht under the Nazis.).

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago describing this planned identification of businesses with links to the Jewish state as “a polite modern rendering of Kristalnacht”.

Some Greens were deeply offended by this. Their indignation at protecting the memory of the Holocaust can be easily dismissed as confected.

If they regard this period of history as something we should learn from, surely they would baulk at the idea of creating a blacklist of businesses with links to the Jewish state.

Jewish Labor MP Michael Danby was perfectly happy to place this proposal in its proper historical context, saying that Marrickville Council could just start painting the Star of David on offending businesses.

If every council in the world adopted this policy, the Israeli state would be destroyed economically. It would cease to exist.

The Greens clearly believe they were damaged by sinister coverage of the policy. They weren’t. They were damaged because the policy is sinister. The paring back of the Greens’ primary vote from what had been forecast in the polls suggested two things.

It suggested their policies are out of step with the mainstream, and that the mainstream may also be uneasy with the way the Greens have been behaving in coalition with the Federal Government.

Neither of those messages has sunk in with the Greens, as evidenced by an interesting interview that Jamie Parker gave this week to the Left-oriented opinion website New Matilda.

The piece was written by the independent journalist Antony Lowenstein [sic], a strident critic of the Jewish state and the author of My Israel Question.

Lowenstein asked Parker about the reaction of Jewish people in the inner-west to the coverage of the Israel boycott. He also spoke to Parker about the fact that his car had been vandalised and that he had received death threats and letters calling him a Nazi and a Jew-hater.

Parker was quoted as saying the following:

“These Jews provide cover for extreme actions if they occur. If there’s a sniff of you being critical of Israel, such Jews will attack you and cut you loose. Lefty Jews told me that you can’t be surprised if extreme people do extreme things but they wouldn’t come out in public and condemn it.”

Parker’s choice of language in this interview has now been picked up by people in the Jewish community, some of them with links to ALP, as further evidence that the Greens have got a few issues they need to resolve here.

“These Jews” now believe Parker went close to claiming the Greens had been a victim of some kind of Jewish conspiracy.

As Pauline Hanson might say, Jamie, please explain.

Here’s some advice for Penberthy and his cuddly mates; read something about what’s happening in Palestine instead of receiving your information from the Zionist lobby. You’re embarrassing yourself with this ignorance, like defending apartheid South Africa during its darkest days.

One day you’ll realise this. You’re on the wrong side of history (but of course, your charming boss has backed every US-led war in the Middle East for the last decades).

The ugly little Australian coalition against Palestinian rights (that will fail)

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 09:10 PM PDT

So this is how it works when advocating for Palestinian human rights. You’ll be smeared, accused of anti-Semitism and told you hate Jews. Anything to avoid discussion about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians; apartheid. 

I wrote an article this week for New Matilda detailing the New South Wales Greens and its policy of backing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. A number of key figures were interviewed about the NSW election campaign, what went right and what went wrong.

Today’s Murdoch Australian leads with this laughable front page non “story”, essentially finding countless corporate politicians and Zionist lobby hacks to smear the NSW Greens Federal Senate member Lee Rhiannon for daring to support the “radical” BDS:

Greens leader Bob Brown is under mounting political and diplomatic pressure to pull his hard-left senator-elect Lee Rhiannon into line as she intensifies her support for a radical boycott of Israel.

Ms Rhiannon, who will take her Senate spot on July 1 when the Greens take the balance of power in the upper house, yesterday drew condemnation from Labor and the Coalition after expressing regret that the NSW Greens did not campaign harder for a boycott of Israeli goods and services at last weekend’s state election.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson said last night the policy was disgusting and he feared it represented an extremism that would make its way to Canberra.

Dr Emerson told The Australian: “Confirmation by senator-elect Rhiannon of this disgusting policy is reprehensible.”

He applauded voters in the inner-western Sydney seat of Marrickville, who returned erstwhile Labor deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt to parliament over Greens candidate Fiona Byrne, a supporter of an Israeli boycott.

“Good on the people of Marrickville for rejecting this Greens extremism, and I am confident that the rest of Australia will too.”

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the Gillard government did not condone nor support any boycotts or sanctions against the Jewish state.

Senator Brown’s office said an Israeli boycott was not Greens national policy, but Coalition figures said they were concerned Ms Rhiannon would influence the party’s platform when she arrived in Canberra.

Ms Rhiannon was quoted on the online news site New Matilda as saying, in the wake of the Coalition’s landslide victory in NSW, that the Greens should have spent more time building support for the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, particularly among academics, Arab communities and social justice groups.

“Months before the election we needed to explain why the Greens backed BDS and we needed to work closer with our allies on BDS – academics, the Arab community and social justice movements in Sydney and Melbourne,” Ms Rhiannon was quoted as saying.

“Collectively we didn’t do enough to amplify support for BDS and show that this is part of an international movement.”

An Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce spokesman warned yesterday that boycotts on Israeli goods could prevent access to potentially groundbreaking water-saving technology and telecommunications switches that may be picked up by the National Broadband Network.

Ms Rhiannon refused to return The Australian’s calls yesterday, as did all federal Greens MPs.

Tony Abbott denounced her position, calling on Julia Gillard to distance Labor from Ms Rhiannon’s views. “The Coalition completely rejects any campaign designed to weaken Israel and can’t understand why a supposed environmental party are involved in this nonsense,” the Opposition Leader told The Australian.

“Given the Greens are Labor’s political bedfellows, I call on the Prime Minister to pull her alliance partner into line.”

Other Liberal MPs expressed concern that Ms Rhiannon’s position would infect the federal Greens platform and contaminate government policy.

“I am particularly concerned that Lee Rhiannon, who is going to become a member of the governing Labor/Greens alliance federally, is going to bring those views into this alliance,” Liberal senator Mitch Fifield told The Australian.

But Senator Fifield also dismissed Dr Emerson’s attack on the Greens in light of the deal signed by Ms Gillard with Senator Brown last September to secure minority government. “The fact that Labor is prepared to be in a governing alliance with the Greens makes their denunciation of the (NSW) Greens’ Israel boycott ring a little hollow,” he said.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said Ms Rhiannon’s comments were “extreme”, “highly prejudicial” and “deeply troubling”.

She said that, in light of Ms Rhiannon’s views, the Prime Minister needed to guarantee the Greens would not influence her government’s foreign policy.

“Given that the Greens do not support our alliance with the US either, the Prime Minister must guarantee the Greens will not influence Labor’s foreign policy in the same way as they have influenced Labor’s policy on a carbon tax,” Ms Bishop said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said last night: “Australia is firmly committed to Israel’s security and fully recognises the significant security challenges Israel faces.

“The Australian government has consistently supported a negotiated two-state solution to the Middle East peace process where Israel and a future Palestinian state live side by side in peace and security.”

Ms Rhiannon, who entered the NSW Legislative Council in March 1999 and is a former member of the Socialist Party of Australia, is one of four new Greens senators who will travel to Canberra in July.

They will take the number of Greens in the upper house to nine, securing the party the balance of power and greater influence over Labor’s legislative agenda.

It is official Greens policy to “support the rights of the Palestinian peoples to statehood through the creation of a viable state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, based on the pre-1967 borders and the right of all peoples in the region to peace”.

In December, however, delegates from local NSW Greens groups unanimously endorsed a series of military, trade and services boycotts of Israel and the international BDS movement as a way of supporting Palestinian self-determination.

The proposal passed by the NSW Greens state council and, in a December 7 media release, called upon all Australians and “the Australian government to boycott Israeli goods, trading and military arrangements, and sporting, cultural and academic events as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territory”.

At the time, Ms Rhiannon said the Greens were hopeful their “backing of the BDS movement will win more Australian support for this important cause”.

An Israeli embassy spokeswoman urged the Greens to engage in dialogue rather than support boycotts, suggesting such a path would embolden radicals.

“Those who are behind the policy of singling out Israel through a boycott are clearly showing their true colours,” she said. “The whole boycott program strengthens the radicals in a lot of ways.

“A lot of people who support the boycotts have never read the BDS charter which states Israel should be just a one-state country.

“It does not support negotiations at all.”

Jeremy Jones, the director of international affairs with the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council, said the more Ms Rhiannon publicised her views on the BDS, the more it would harm the Greens.

“It is an extreme policy and it goes against any purported interest in reconciliation, peace or justice,” Mr Jones said. “The only possible impact (of a BDS) is to strengthen the hand of extremists on all sides of the equation.”

Mr Jones said he did not believe the federal Greens would accept a BDS as federal policy and suggested the policy had sparked a very strong negative reaction among the public in inner-city seats such as Marrickville.

This is “journalism”, Murdoch style. Find some opportunistic people to talk about anything except what Israel is doing in Palestine. It hasn’t worked globally and it won’t work here but this won’t stop lazy reporters making a story out of nothing. Of course, the fact that the paper didn’t mention that the New Matilda article from which they quote was written by me is simply the ethics-free zone in operation globally in the Murdoch empire.

Unfortunately, Greens leader Bob Brown has criticised Rhiannon, the sign of a leader who doesn’t really understand the Israel/Palestine conflict and is afraid to take on the Zionist lobby:

Greens leader Bob Brown has carpeted future Senate colleague Lee Rhiannon for her anti-Israel stance, telling her the policy was a mistake that cost the party votes in the NSW state election.

He has also accused Julia Gillard of insulting Australians by suggesting Greens voters do not have a love of family or their nation.

Senator Brown said the Israel boycott proposal was against his advice and had alienated NSW voters when the party should have been focusing on bread-and-butter issues.

He had conveyed his views to Greens senator-elect Ms Rhiannon in a “robust” phone call this morning.

Senator Brown said the federal Greens in no way endorsed the policy.

“The NSW Greens have taken to having their own shade of foreign policy,” Senator Brown said.

“It was a mistake. I differ from Lee on that, and so do the other components of the NSW Greens, who handled so badly that part of the campaign against my advice.

“I reiterate that the policy she and the NSW Greens had in the run to the NSW election was wrong emphasis.

“NSW voters wanted to hear about issues affecting them day-to-day, it’s one that has been rejected by the Australian Greens.”

The Victorian Greens also show themselves to be gutless in the face of Zionist pressure:

The Victorian Greens distanced themselves from their NSW counterparts’ controversial Israel boycott proposal today as a prominent Jewish federal MP attacked the policy as “absolutely extreme”.

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said the party’s state branch did not support the NSW branch’s BDS policy, which advocates a boycott, divestment and sanctions targeting Israel.

“We never have (considered it), it’s never even been put to any forum in Victoria as far as I am aware,’ he said of the policy, championed by NSW Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon.

Mr Barber said he was too far removed to say whether the BDS policy had hurt the party’s bid for the Sydney inner-city seats of Marrickville and Balmain.

“I’m just a state MP trying to get the trains running,” he said.

Labor’s Mark Dreyfus, the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, said he was concerned at Ms Rhiannon’s views and their potential to damage Australian-Israeli relations.

“I’m concerned that we’ve got a senator coming in on the 1st of July who seems to have absolutely extreme views on Israel, that I’m confident that the vast majority of Australians don’t share,” he told ABC radio in Melbourne.

“She’s actually calling, as are her state Greens party colleagues in NSW, for a boycott of the state of Israel, when we have a warm, longstanding friendship with the state of Israel.

“We have trade relations with Israel and we have very fruitful academic exchanges with the state of Israel.

“Australia would be the poorer if we were, for no reason at all, to cut off relations with the state of Israel – which is ridiculously what Lee Rhiannon is calling for.”

Finally – and all courtesy of the Australian, that bastion of corporate “journalism” – another Israeli spokesman says the boycott is problematic:

Israeli trade commissioner Ehud Gonen has warned that the Greens-dominated Marrickville Council’s policy of boycotting Israeli goods could contravene international trade rules that Australia has signed up to.

Mr Gonen told The Australian Online that, under the World Trade Organisation charter, Australia was forbidden from discriminating against goods imported from another member.

Marrickville Council in Sydney’s inner west passed a motion in December pledging to effectively sever all commercial, sporting, cultural, academic and government links with Israel.

The council undertook to identify links with any organisations or companies that “support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine”, and then sever them.

But Mr Gonen said today that Australia and Israel were both members of the WTO and signatories to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

“It’s not permitted within the WTO/GATT charter for elected bodies, including local governments, to do any boycott,” he said.

“Of course we know that Australia will respect its obligation. We think this boycott is illegal and it’s not going to happen.

“I personally take this, from a symbolic point of view, as very negative. But practically it makes no sense.”

So what does all this really mean? That the establishment is scared. Worried that BDS will take off in Australia like it has globally. Concerned that people will start looking more closely at a Zionist state that happily occupies Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. And where are the progressive Jews, unions and backers of Palestine speaking out in support of BDS? They need to raise their voices. Now.

Bottom line? This smear job will fail. And Israel will become increasingly internationally isolated. As it deserves. When you occupy another people for decades, you must pay a price. BDS is one answer.

These bullying tactics are even turning off many young Jews, something I hear all the time. For example, here’s Manny Waks, Zionist Australian, writing yesterday on J Wire:

Young Jews are regrettably alienated by prevailing approaches to the advocacy of Israel. I am unequivocally supportive of Israel—my birthplace and spiritual homeland—and at the age of 18 I travelled to Israel to serve in the Golani Brigade. I have also published widely in support of Israel and accept its centrality in the Jewish consciousness. However, and tragically, many young Jews are at best indifferent, and at worst antagonistic towards Israel.

In his 2010 article, The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment, Peter Beinart notes that, ‘In recent years, several studies have revealed, in the words of Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Ari Kelman of the University of California at Davis, that “non-Orthodox younger Jews, on the whole, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders,” with many professing “a near-total absence of positive feelings.”’ Inevitably, many within the younger demographic are alienated by the uncritical alignment with Israel of our structured communal roof bodies. National and State communal roof bodies should focus largely on matters that concern the local Jewish community. Advocacy of Israel should instead be the province of those organisations who unambiguously have this mandate. This would, to some extent, prevent the alienation of those Jews who do not have a favourable view of Israel.

We’ll be helping those splits grow even wider.

Scared of BDS, Zionists? Lingerie won’t save your nightmare

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 07:51 PM PDT

Almost comical (but actually tragic): 

“Like sexy panties?”

The Birthright Israel Alumni Community, an initiative of the Jewish Enrichment Center, wants you to oppose boycotts of Israel because that’s where Victoria’s Secret lingerie is manufactured.

Except that it’s not. After receiving fabric from Israel, the undergarments are actually made by Palestinian women and foreign workers in Jordan who toil under brutal, intolerable conditions and then sew “Made in Israel” tags onto their work. The underwear is then returned to Israel, which exports it to the U.S. Yay, exploited labor masquerading as economic cooperation!

Of course Australian establishment worried that true face of Israel is revealed

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 07:46 PM PDT

It’s ugly and racist

Long-time Australian human rights activist Pip Hinman writes in today’s ABC Unleashed of the stakes:

A vicious smear campaign against the Greens candidate for Marrickville Fiona Byrne in the NSW state election reveals just how worried the powers-that-be are about the prospect of the NSW Greens winning a lower house seat.

This smear campaign focussed almost exclusively on the Greens pro-Palestine stand, in particular its support (along with ALP councillors) for Marrickville council’s decision to sign on to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

In the context of an election rout of Labor, and a shoe-in for the Coalition, the Greens had a real chance in two lower house seats.

Labor opted to conduct the scare campaign over the Marrickville Council BDS motion (that the Greens and Labour councillors had all supported). It was game on. The Greens were unprepared, and the result is history.

There was a de facto anti-Green alliance of both major parties, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and the Australian Jewish New, a powerful alliance that ran a slanderous campaign asserting that the Greens are anti-Israel (or anti-Semitic) because they support BDS and Palestinian rights.

The anti-BDS and anti-Greens campaign in Marrickville – which reached fever pitch in the last two weeks of the election campaign – included the outrageous accusation that the Greens are “fascists” and “Nazis”. Greens billboards in the Marrickville electorate were plastered with swastikas, as well as racist and sexist abuse.

The attempt to slur those who criticise Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as fascists – or supporters of the Nazi’s attempts to wipe out the Jewish population in Eastern and Central Europe during the World War II – is a crude and desperate attempt to silence critics.

While some anti-BDS campaigners would disagree with this sort of slanderous tactic, they nevertheless equate criticism of Israel’s policies with a form of anti-Semitism.

The March 28 Sydney Morning Herald editorial said: “They [the Greens] may have paid a price for their Marrickville candidate’s indulgence in childish gesture politics as a local councillor. Fiona Byrne’s support for an absurd ban on firms with links to Israel from doing business with Marrickville Council only cast doubt on her and her party’s commonsense.”

An anti-BDS commentator to the online Green Left Weekly put it a little more crudely: “Singling out Israel [sic] for boycotts and ignoring all the human rights violation in the Muslim world is anti Semitic, no matter if ur [sic] Jewish or not …”

Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sisi kidnapped by Israel

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 07:07 PM PDT

Blogger Richard Silverstein is right, after watching Prime Minister Netanyahu speak: 

Can you imagine the leader of a democratic nation proclaiming before not just a national, but international audience, thata prisoner who hasn’t even yet been charged with a crime is guilty of being a member of a banned organization?

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IF NOT NOW WHEN?

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

 

By Joe Fallisi

“It ‘s funny how glibly the wicked think everything’s going to turn out fine.” (Victor Hugo)

“Those who lie once must often make a habit of it, because to conceal one lie it takes seven more.” (Friedrich Rückert)

I am a heavy burden on a person, I almost suffocate him and demand that he should carry me; and, without relieving him, I persuade myself and others that I am sorry and want to make it easy for him by all possible means, but not by allowing him to get rid of my weight” (Leo Tolstoy)

“There will be for a future generation a pharmacological method to make people love their status as slaves and therefore to produce dictatorships, as it were, without tears, a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies in which people will in effect be deprived of their freedom, but it will be pretty happy about it.” (Aldous Huxley)

“The fact that men do not learn much from history is the most important lesson that history teaches us.” (Aldous Huxley)

“Maybe the Earth is another planet’s hell.” (Aldous Huxley)

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping a human face – forever.” (George Orwell)

“The three Party slogans: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” (George Orwell)

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two and two is four. If this freedom is granted, all other freedoms follow.” (George Orwell)

Dear people of Ostuni, I turn to you as a fellow citizen. I arrived recently, but here I feel at home, as part of a family. I know there are ears here that can listen and understand more than is the case in a large anonymous city, where every voice is lost in the noise of traffic, where the masses are made up of isolated individuals, where no one really knows, and where one speaks. On my return from the Freedom Flotilla you welcomed me as a brother, like one of you. I’ve never forgotten this, and that is why I take the liberty of writing to you.

Our days are tragic. No prizes being handed out, no Big Brother, no Island of the Famous, or that Farm programme, or soccer game can hide the fact. We are being plunged into the vortex of war, one of the most infamous and unjust in history, almost facing us across our beaches!… Like the worst of traitors, a Judas,  Italy (until recently an ally and friend of Libya, and a country which had entered into fruitful and far-sighted cooperation agreements, and which asked for forgiveness for the horrors committed during the rule of Fascism) now lends its bases and Tornados to the imperialist marauders! Yet, as you know, our Constitution expressly prohibits it… Here is the article 11:

“Italy rejects war as an instrument of aggression against the freedom of other peoples and as a means of settling international disputes. It  allows, on an equal footing with other states, the limitations of sovereignty necessary for an order that ensures peace and justice between nations. It stands behind and encourages international organizations having such ends.”

Who can be so false and hypocritical as to include today’s “intervention” in such “limitation of sovereignty”, thus canceling the clearly expressed opening of the text of the constitution? In fact there is no doubt that the leaders of our country have dragged us into a “war as an instrument of aggression against the freedom” of another people, who have never dreamt of declaring war on us… and I can only guess what this people will think of the Italians from now on!… turncoats, servile, back-stabbers! And we are, unfortunately*.  And remember, we don’t have to be!… Germany, for example, has rejected this line… And besides, what do we think’s in it for us? … to pick up some miserable falling from the table of vultures? Rather, it would have been vastly better (would still be vastly better) if we could maintain a little dignity and pride, and say no to the ruin we visit on others. NOTHING was true. Everything was invented at the drawing board.

The pretexts with which we set on our African prey are phony… ten thousand dead, bombing innocent civilians, mass graves!… an unprecedented and incredible multiplication of lies… lies, instead of the real. Mandatory for TV audiences!… Gaddafi, is no saint, but compared to monstrous war criminals like Obama, he’s a cuddly, sweet koala bear. Portrayed as the devil himself!… relentless devourer of his own people (for some reason, however, the majority is with him…)… yet it is enough to inquire and think for oneself to understand what was going on… I am sure many of you have. Because the politicians shamelessly take us for mindless idiots, but it is they who are the madmen! The economies of the West – and the first being America on the verge of bankruptcy – bled dry by the usurious private banks and the wars around the world, want to take possession of Libya’s energy resources, put an end to its scandalous independence, which has lasted more than forty years, and set up an enormous military base in north Africa.

This brood of vampires shall turn the Libya of the glorious Jamahiriya and its Green Book into a Kosovo or an Iraq… a ruined, broken nation, reduced to the status of neo-colony… for the new Grazianis  ready to carry out new genocides! You know what all those tons of radioactive bombs mean, don’t you? The bombs we – the “democratic”, “progressive”, “human rights” exporting ones – are dropping on the soil of Libya? Please only consider the following figures: men have been around for about 8 million years and the earliest forms of multicellular life appeared on Earth 2.1 billion years ago. Well, the average life of DU is 4.5 billion years… And now that deformed children are being born in Fallujah or Gaza on a regular basis, so it shall be in Tripoli… NEVER before in history, has there been tyrannical despotism ofthis magnitude!… and yet we perpetrate such crimes quietly, as if nothing was happening!… until our own young people return mortally afflicted with cancer and leukemia!… No-fly zones and bombing raids on Libya as it seeks – rightly! – to defend its sovereignty. Defend. As we would do, as any other country would do.

Defending its territorial integrity against a group of rioters armed and paid for by foreigners… but nothing like this is happening, against, say, Bahrain which massacred unarmed demonstrators or Yemen and the nerve gas they use!… or Israel, the most racist state in the world, torturing the Palestinians and occupying their homeland for 63 years!… A few days ago the people of Madrid took to the streets to shout their opposition to the government that is, like ours, part of the coalition of the “willing” (murderers)… Let’s protest too! A small town in the South can set a good example for all of Italy!… I propose that we sit together in the square of our City Hall on Saturday, April 2 at 5 p.m.

Fellow citizens, it’s time to say ENOUGH to the destroyers of mother earth and of humanity… We must protest! Call, write to all authorities, and say no to war!… Let us REPUDIATE the caste of criminals! Do not stay silent, do not close your eyes, wake up! Our honour and the future of our children are at stake, and our children shall judge us one day… Let us live with dignity!

IF NOT NOW WHEN?

Joe Fallisi, Ostuni, Tuesday, March 29, 2011

* To fully realize the extent of the abyss (to which no adjective can apply) which the “government ” and (with even greater fervour for war) the “opposition” have pushed us into, I refer you to the text of the ‘Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the Italian Republic and the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’ signed “by the Honourable Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the leader of the Revolution, Muammar El Gaddafi” little more than two years ago:http://www .camera.it/_dati/leg16/lavori/schedela/apritelecomando_wai.asp? code = 16pdl0017390. I limit myself to drawing to your attention the fact that the treaty in question – which has now been completely trashed (as happened also in 1915, with Austria) – includes “respect for the sovereign equality of States; the commitment not to resort to threats or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of the other party or to any other form incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations; commitment to non-interference in internal affairs and, in accordance with the principles of international law, not to use or grant use of their territories in any hostile act against the other party; commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes.” No further comment is required.

Translation by Alexander Synge

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Militarism, Mutilation, and Minerals: Understanding the Occupation of Afghanistan

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC

 

By mid-2010, the war in Afghanistan had arguably passed Vietnam as the longest war in the history of the United States. At the war’s outset many U.S. citizens supported the invasion as a means of holding responsible those who orchestrated the attack on the World Trade Center. However, as time has passed and more American troops and Afghan civilians die, the U.S. government has struggled to maintain popular support by emphasizing other justifications for continuing the costly occupation. One of the most controversial concerns is the plight of women. Many commentators, some of them Afghan women, argue that the presence of coalition forces in their country has allowed them to be more active in politics and civil society.

But not all women agree, and many find the country just as dangerous as ever. Furthermore, some believe that, in reality, the U.S. is far more concerned with the nearly $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits that the U.S. discovered in June 2010. This short film allows women in Afghanistan to give voice to their reasons for opposing an ongoing occupation, and it features an interview with renowned Afghan feminist Malalai Joya.

 

 

Militarism, Mutilation, and Minerals: Understanding the Occupation of Afghanistan from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

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Stefanie Fox, Jewish Voice for Peace


NOVANEWS

3 easy ways to take part in Right to Education Month

1.  Send an email to five students or teachers, asking them to sign the petition online

2.  Sign up to get involved in campaign organizing—bring the campaign to life in your local communities and campuses.

3. Attend the Education Tour in your area.

Dear All,

Watching the coverage of the Egyptian Revolution last month, I was moved and inspired by the way young leaders set up classrooms in Tahrir Square, ensuring students would not lose access to education while waging their historic struggle for freedom and democracy. It was a great reminder to me that educators and students are always at the heart of the struggle for justice, and that no such struggle is complete without access to education, for all.

“We Divest,” the campaign led by Jewish Voice for Peace demanding that retirement fund TIAA-CREF divest from the Israeli Occupation, honors the legacy of educators and students in struggles for justice, and the urgency of the Palestinian fight for access to education by naming April “Right to Education Month.”

We will offer many ways for you to learn about access to education in Palestine/Israel, including firsthand from a group of young Palestinian activists who will be coming to a city near you. We also hope you’ll reach out to the educators and students in your life to let them know about the vital role they could play in this campaign. 

We all know the struggle for education and justice continues in Palestine/Israel. Students trying to attend classes are targeted for armed harassment at checkpoints. Teachers trying to teach in Gaza know building materials wait at the border while their decimated schools remain in rubble. The structure of Israeli Occupation systematically destroys Palestinian access to education: students and teachers face unlawful detention, armed harassment, curfews, checkpoints, closed schools, dorm raids, an apartheid Wall, separate and unequal roads, illegal arrest, and bombed schools and universities.

So why is the premiere retirement fund of educators—TIAA-CREF—playing a role in denying Palestinians their right to education? TIAA-CREF prides itself in providing “financial services for the greater good,” yet they invest in companies that make their profit from the economy of the Israeli Occupation.  In just two examples: Northrop Grumman makes the bombs that destroyed Gazan schools during Cast Lead and Elbit produces the cameras and other equipment outfitting the wall as it carves a path between students and schools.

Throughout April: Right to Education Month, Jewish Voice for Peace is proud to bring three young Palestinian activists from the West BankMira Bishara Dabit, Amer Shurrab, andHanna Qassis—to share with educators, students, and activists nationwide the challenges facing young people who live under Israel’s military occupation. They will also share their inspiring struggle to put an end to the injustice by holding companies like TIAA-CREF accountable for the impact of their investments in Occupation.

The Palestinian students’ stories about their struggles for human rights, including the right to an education, focus on the tried and true non-violent tactics of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). We hope you’ll use this month to jump more fully into the BDS action as well. Start organizing in your community today— the time is now to fight for education and justice for all.

Shabbat Shalom,

Stefanie Fox, Director of Organizing

Jewish Voice for Peace

 

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