Archive | April 20th, 2011

Top IsraHell rabbi urges Obama to free spy Pollard



Demonstrators call for the release of Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American who was jailed for life in 1987 on charges of spying on the United States, in Jerusalem in 2008.

Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi Yonah Metzger on Sunday called on US President Barack Obama to free Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard if he wants Jews to vote for his reelection.

AFP Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi Yonah Metzger on Sunday called on US President Barack Obama to free Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard if he wants Jews to vote for his reelection. Israeli public radio quoted Metzger as saying Obama should free Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel, before pushing the Jewish state into peace initiatives.

“Obama should prove his friendship with Israel and immediately free Jonathan Pollard before applying pressure to advance diplomatic initiatives,” he said during a Friday

Rabbi Metzger

sermon at a Jerusalem synagogue, Israeli radio reported.

Metzger warned Obama that he would do well to free Pollard if he wanted another term in the White House. “I’m not making a prophesy, but rather echoing the frustrations of numerous American Jews who voted for him and are disappointed by his lackadaisical approach to the numerous appeals for Pollard’s released,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in January that he would officially seek for Pollard’s pardon and release in a letter to Obama.

The White House later confirmed receipt of the request, which is said would be studied before any decision was made.

Pollard, a former US Navy analyst, is serving a life sentence for passing thousands of secret documents about American spy activities in the Arab world to Israel between May 1984 and his arrest in November 1985. His case has been a thorn in the side of relations between Israel and the United States, its main ally.

Pollard’s arrest sparked a crisis in ties that only ended with Israel promising to end all espionage activities on US soil.

Israelis say Pollard’s punishment and the long-standing US refusal to reduce his sentence have been particularly harsh, given that he gave information to a friendly nation.

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Three Myths of IsraHell’s Insecurity And Why They Must Be Debunked



Here’s the reality of this moment: The only genuine threat to Israel’s security comes from its own oppressive policies, which are the fuel propelling the BDS movement.

—Prof. Ira Chernus

Former Secretary of State Rice, reassured Israel that the US military presence in Iraq should calm any Israeli security concerns

Here are the Three Sacred Commandments for Americans who shape the public conversation on Israel:

1. For politicians, especially at the federal level: As soon as you say the word “Israel,” you must also say the word “security” and promise that the United States will always, always, always be committed to Israel’s security. If you occasionally label an action by the Israeli government “unhelpful,” you must immediately reaffirm the eternal U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.

2. For TV talking heads and op-ed pundits: If you criticize any policies or actions of the Israeli government, you must immediately add that Israel does, of course, have very real and serious security needs that have to be addressed.

3. For journalists covering the Israel-Palestine conflict for major American news outlets: You must live in Jewish Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv and take only occasional day trips into the Occupied Territories. So your reporting must inevitably be slanted toward the perspective of the Jews you live among. And you must indicate in every report that Jewish Israeli life is dominated by anxiety about security.

U.S. opinion-shapers have obeyed the Three Commandments scrupulously for decades. As a result, they’ve created an indelible image of Israel as a deeply insecure nation. That image is a major, if often overlooked, factor that has shaped and continues to shape Washington’s policies in the Middle East and especially the longstanding American tilt toward Israel.

It’s often said that the number one factor in that tilt is the power of the right-wing “pro-Israel” (more accurately, “pro-Israeli-government”) lobby. That lobby certainly is a skillful, well-oiled machine. It uses every trick in the PR book to promote the myth of Israel as a brave little nation constantly forced to fight for its life against enemies all around who are eager to destroy it, a Jewish David withstanding the Arab Goliath. The lobby justifies everything Israel does to the Palestinians — military occupation, economic strangulation, expanding settlements, confiscating land, demolishing homes, imprisoning children — as perhaps unfortunate but absolutely necessary for Israel’s self-defense.

No matter how slick any lobby is, however, it can’t succeed without a substantial level of public support. (How powerful would the National Rifle Association be without the millions of Americans who truly love their guns?) Along with its other sources of power and influence, the right-wing Israel lobby needs a large majority of the U.S. public to believe in the myth of Israel’s insecurity as the God’s honest truth.

Ironically, that myth gets plenty of criticism and questioning in the Israeli press from writers like (to cite just some recent examples) Merav Michaeli and Doron Rosenblum in the liberal newspaper Haaretz, and even Alon Ben-Meirin the more conservative Jerusalem Post. In the United States, though, the myth of insecurity is the taken-for-granted lens through which the public views everything about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Like the air we breathe, it’s a view so pervasive that we hardly notice it.

Nor do we notice how reflexively most Americans accept the claim of self-defense as justification for everything Israel does, no matter how outrageous.  That reflex goes far to explain why, in the latest Gallup poll matchup (“Do you sympathize more with Israel or the Palestinians?”), Israel won by a nearly 4 to 1 margin.  And the pro-Israeli sentiment just keeps growing.

Our politicians, pundits, and correspondents breathe the same air in the same unthinking fashion, and so they hesitate to put much pressure on Israel to change its ways. As it happens, without such pressure, no Israeli government is likely to make the compromises needed for a just and lasting peace in the region.  Instead, Israel will keep up its attacks on Gaza.  In addition, if the Palestinians declare themselves an independent state come September, as many reports indicate might happen, Israel will feel free to quash that state by any means necessary— but only if Washington goes on giving it the old wink and nod.

If American attitudes and so policies are ever to change, one necessary (though not in itself sufficient) step is to confront and debunk the myth of Israel’s insecurity.

Three Myths in One

Israel actually promotes three separate myths of insecurity, although its PR machine weaves them into a single tightly knit fabric. To grasp the reality behind it, the three strands have to be teased apart and examined separately.

Myth Number 1: Israel’s existence is threatened by the ever-present possibility of military attack. In fact, there’s no chance that any of Israel’s neighbors will start a war to wipe out Israel. They know their history. Despite its size, ever since its war of independence in 1948, the Israeli military has been a better equipped, better trained, more effective, and in virtually every case a successful fighting force.  It clearly remains the strongest military power in the Middle East.

According to the authoritative volume, The Military Balance 2011, Israel still maintains a decisive edge over any of its neighbors. While the Israeli government constantly sounds alarms about imagined Iranian nuclear weapons — though its intelligence services now suggest Iran won’t have even one before 2015 at the earliest — Israel remains the region’s only nuclear power for the foreseeable future.  It possesses up to 200 nukes, in addition to “a significant number” of precision-guided 1,000 kg conventional bombs.

To deliver its most powerful weapons, Israel can rely on its 100 land-based missile launchers, 200 aircraft armed with cruise missiles, and (according to “repeated press reports”) cruise-missile-armed submarines.  The subs are key, of course, since they ensure that no future blow delivered to Israel would ever lack payback.

Israel spends far more on its military than any of the neighbors it claims to fear, largely because it gets more military aid from the U.S. than any other Mideast nation — $3 billion a year is the official figure, although no one is likely to know the full amount.

The Obama administration has continued a long tradition of guaranteeing Israel’s massive military superiority in the region. Israel will, for example, be the first foreign country to get the U.S.’s most advanced fighter jet, the F-35 joint strike fighter.  In fact, Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently complained that 20 of the promised planes aren’t enough, though he admitted that his country “faces no imminent threat” that would justify upping the numbers. Israel is also beginning to deploy its Iron Dome mobile air-defense system, with the U.S. funding at least half its cost.

In sum, none of the nations that Israel casts as a threat to its very existence can pose an existential military danger. Of course, that doesn’t mean all Jewish Israelis are safe from harm, which brings us to…

Myth Number 2: The personal safety of every Jewish Israeli is threatened daily by the possibility of violent attack. In fact, according to Israeli government statistics, since the beginning of 2009 only one Israeli civilian (and two non-Israelis) have been killed by politically motivated attacks inside the green line (Israel’s pre-1967 border).  Israelis who live inside that line go about their daily lives virtually free from such worry.

As a result, the insecurity myth has come to focus on rockets — the real ones launched from Gaza and the imaginary ones that supposedly could be launched from a future Palestinian state in the West Bank. Purveyors of the insecurity myth, including the American media, portray such rocket attacks as bolts from the blue, with no other motive than an irrational desire to kill and maim innocent Jews. As it happens, most of the rockets from Gaza have been fired in response to Israeli attacks that often broke ceasefires declared by the Palestinians.

Those rockets are part of an ongoing war in which each side uses the best weapons it has. The Palestinians, of course, have access to none of the high-tech Israeli guidance systems.  Their weaponry tends to be crude and often homemade.  They shoot their rockets, most of them unguided, and let them fall where they may (which means the vast majority harm no one).

Israel’s weapons actually do far more harm. Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli assault on Gaza that began at the end of 2008, killed far more civilians than all the rockets Palestinians have ever launched at Israel. Despite (or perhaps because of) its grievous losses, the Hamas government in Gaza has generally tried to minimize the rocket fire. When Hamas calls for all factions in Gaza to observe a ceasefire, however, the Israelis often ramp up their attacks.

Jewish civilians do run some risk when they live in the West Bank settlements. In the most recent horrific incident, a Jewish family of five was slaughtered at the Itamar settlement.  In response, Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalonshowed clearly how the deaths of individual settlers are woven into the myth of Israel’s “existential insecurity.”  “This murder,” he declared, “reminds everyone that the struggle and conflict is not about Israel’s borders or about independence of a repressed nation but a struggle for our existence.”

The logic of the myth goes back to the premise of the earliest Zionists: All gentiles are implacably and eternally anti-semitic. By this logic, any attack on one Jew, no matter how random, becomes evidence that all Jews are permanently threatened with extinction.

Most Zionists have been unable to see that once they founded a state committed to regional military superiority, they were bound to be on the receiving as well as the giving end of acts of war. It is the absence of peace far more than the presence of anti-semitism that renders Israelis who live near Gaza or in the West Bank insecure.

However, according to the myth, it’s not only physical violence that threatens Israel’s existence. In the last two years, right-wing Israelis and their supporters in the U.S. have learned to lie awake at night worrying about another threat…

Myth Number 3: Israel’s existence is threatened by worldwide efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Early in 2010, Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, that the country was not “suffering from terror or from an immediate military threat” — only to warn of a new peril: “The Palestinian Authority is encouraging the international arena to challenge Israel’s legitimacy.”

The “delegitimization” alarm was first sounded by an influential Israeli think tank and then spread like wildfire through the nation’s political and media ranks.

There are shreds of truth in it. There have always been people who saw the Jewish state, imposed on indigenous Palestinians, as illegitimate. Until recently, however, Israelis seemed to pay them little heed. Now, they are deemed an “existential threat,” as Yadlin explained, only because the old claims of “existential threat” via violence have grown unbelievable even to the Israeli military (though not to the government’s American supporters).

It’s also true that challenges to Israel’s legitimacy are growing rapidly around the world and that the specter of becoming a “pariah state” does pose a danger.  The head of that think tank got it half-right when he warned that Israel’s “survival and prosperity” depend on its relations with the world, “all of which rely on its legitimacy.” Survival? No. After all, being a pariah state doesn’t have to be existence threatening, as North Korea and Burma have proved.

But prosperity? That’s at least possible. When the Israelis complain about “delegitimization,” they focus most on theboycott/divestment/sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims not to eliminate the state of Israel, but to use economic pressure to end Israel’s occupation and economic strangulation of Palestinian lands. (Nor is there any real evidence to back up the charge that this is some vast conspiracy coordinated by the Palestinian Authority.)

Were Israel to start behaving by accepted international moral norms, the BDS movement would fade from the scene quickly enough, ending the crisis of “delegitimization” — just as the rockets from Gaza might well cease. But here’s the reality of this moment: The only genuine threat to Israel’s security comes from its own oppressive policies, which are the fuel propelling the BDS movement.

So far, however, “effects on the Israeli economy are marginal,” according to a popular Israeli newspaper. The BDS campaign, it reports, “has been far more damaging when it comes to the negative image that it spreads.” A growing number of foreign governments are criticizing Israel, and some already recognize an actual Palestinian state. In diplomatic terms, Israel’s legitimacy rests on the good will of its sole dependable ally, the United States.

More than any military need, that political need offers the U.S. powerful leverage in moving toward a settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian crisis. The triple-stranded myth of Israel’s insecurity, however, makes the use of such leverage virtually impossible for Washington.  Israel’s president put his country’s needs plainly in March 2010: “[Israel] must forge good relations with other countries, primarily the United States, so as to guarantee political support in a time of need.” So far, the U.S. has continued to offer its strong support, even though President Obamaknows, as he recently told American Jewish leaders, that “Israel is the stronger party here, militarily, culturally, and politically. And Israel needs to create the context for [peace] to happen.”

But what if the American public knew the facts that Obama acknowledged? What if every solemn reference to Israel’s “security needs” were greeted not with nodding heads, but with the eye-rolling skepticism it deserves? What if Israel’s endless excesses and excuses — its claims that the occupation of the West Bank and the economic strangulation of Gaza are necessary “for the sake of security” — were regularly scoffed at by most Americans?

It’s hard to imagine the Obama administration, or any American administration, keeping up a pro-Israel tilt in the face of such public scorn.

To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which Chernus discusses what to make of American attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians, click here, or download it to your iPod here.


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EVOLVING STORY: Zio-Nazi Ambassador Leaves Cairo Amid Speculations of Opening Egypt’s Border with Gaza Soon



“Egypt doesn’t need investment from the enemy” says Egypt’s minister of finance.

“Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel should not be taken for granted” says Egypt’s foreign minister.

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat


Zio-Nazi ambassador to Cairo, Itzhak Levanon

Editor’s note: We are told that Egypt could open the border with Gaza at any time and is considering tearing down the “Berlin wall” barrier that imprisons the population there.

When and if that happens, Israel’s blockade of Gaza by sea immediately be considered illegal, an unenforceable “paper blockade,” according to the Congress of Paris 1856, which is the current binding “rule of law” in such matters.***

When asked to comment about the terrorist attacks that hit New York on 9/11, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan University that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks would be beneficial for Israel. And the years that followed 9/11 proved that Netanyahu was right.

Israel has been the only party that really benefited from 9/11. Those terrorist operations had been enough of a provocation for the United States to wage its military wrath upon two of Israel’s formidable foes namely, Iraq and Afghan-Pakistani Muslim front.

And when again asked his opinion on the pro-democracy popular uprising in Egypt that took place last January, Netanyahu expressed his concerns this revolution might change the Egyptian foreign policy toward Israel. And the days that followed the Egyptian revolution proved that Mr. Netanyahu had been right again.

Did Mu-Barak Betray Egypt?

Ousting Mubarak should not be viewed as only an end to decades of corruption and autocratic domestic Egyptian policy but also to the equally corrupt foreign policy.  A considerable share of this  has-to-change policy is the Egyptian-Israeli’s.

The Middle East is one of the most politically volatile and inflammatory regions in the whole world. The Arab-Israeli conflict is on top of the Middle East political agenda and with Egypt as a main player in that conflict.

But the question now on the table is whether the strategy of America banking it’s foreign policy and national security goals on corrupt regimes, including Israel, was a disastrous one. For example why would American taxpayers give $2 billion a year to the Mubarak regime who then turned around and passes that on to Israel in a long term below market natural gas deal?

Zionist Begin – Carter – Zionist Sadat

Peace treaty misinterpreted

When the foreign policy of a prominent and leading nation in the Middle East such as Egypt has been neutralized and rather crippled for well over 30 years, then something seriously wrong must have been plotted behind closed doors. Who would benefit from a politically secluded Egypt?

Taking refuge in the Camp David accords and the peace treaty signed with Egypt in 1979, Israel with her backyard nice and quiet and her interest’s best served by a pro-Zionist Mubarak, managed to enjoy the most fruitful 30 years politics could offer.

The peace treaty was meant to put an end to the military confrontation between Egypt and Israel but not to put an end to the political and the soft power of Egypt. This is where Mubarak went terribly wrong misinterpreting this treaty.

Signing a peace treaty with Israel doesn’t mean that Egypt should keep silent about the Israeli aggression and the ongoing daily grab of the Arab land in Palestine.  It doesn’t mean watching a big Arab country like Iraq shamefully dismantled without moving a finger.

It doesn’t mean approving of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and tightening the inhuman blockade on Gaza. It doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to the hostile wars of Israel in Lebanon and Gaza. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the only comment any Egyptian foreign secretary could make concerning Israel’s wrongdoings is, “see no evil, hear no evil”.

Changing tones

Egyptian Foreign Minister, Nabil el-Arabi.

After years of knowing in advance every Egyptian official response, Israel has lately been dismayed by the harsh statement made by the Egyptian minister of finance, Samir Radwaan. When he was asked to comment on the possibilities for Israeli investments in the country, he  simply replied “Egypt doesn’t need investment from the enemy”.

May be this was meant to be off the record and not made an official statement by Mr. Radwaan. He could have been giving vent to his anger and discontent over the 80 billion dollars loss deal Mubarak made with Tel Aviv that supplied Israel natural gas needs at the below market prices that Tel Aviv itself called the “Gas theft”.

Why did a relatively poor country like Egypt deprive it’s people of critically needed foreign exchange, for the benefit of a country that could afford to have one of the largest weapons of mass destruction stockpiles?

The minister of finance was not alone in these late accusations, by Mr. Netanyahu, of anti-Israeli hostile comments.  Dr. Nabil el-Araby, the new Egyptian foreign minister, who while being interviewed on Egyptian TV lately, said thatthe peace treaty with Israel should not be taken for granted, and that the Egyptian side is absolutely entitled to revise its terms whenever needed.

He added that there were still items in the treaty that Egypt has not benefited from nor activated yet concerning the security arrangements in Sinai and along the borders with Israel. Dr. el-Araby, was not referring to going back on Egypt’s obligations concerning the Camp David accord; rather he was talking of a new foreign policy that would serve Egypt’s best interest.

Zio-Nazi Embassy Protest

On Friday April 8, Thousands of angry Egyptians, on hearing the Israeli news of the latest military attacks on Gaza, marched to the Israeli embassy in Cairo and practically besieged the building with protesters. They not  only denounced the Israeli attacks but also demanded the Israeli ambassador to be expelled and the instant freeze of the supply of Egypt’s natural gas to Israel.

Hardly a week has passed since the march on the Israeli embassy before Israel is once again faced with news leaked from the office of the Egyptian foreign minister that spoke of the intentions of Egypt to open the borders with Gaza soon.

This news was broadcast on al Jazeera/Arabic channel on Saturday April 16, and on the following day there were breaking news of Itzhak Levanon, the Israeli ambassador in Egypt leaving Cairo on a flight to Tel Aviv without comments or any statement about his sudden visit to Israel.  On the same day the Egyptian government gave a special permit to the family of the late Italian activist, Vitorrio Arrigoni, to pass through the Egyptian crossing point into Gaza and bring his body back home.

But whatever discussions Mr. levanon might be engaged in through the coming days in Tel Aviv one thing is certain. He is going to assure Tel Aviv that Egypt is regaining its political power back and that the long years of Egypt playing “ see no evil, hear no evil” as far as Israel is concerned are gone.

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IsraHell will not collapse peacefully but it will dissolve: Dr. Franklin Lamb



Interview by Kourosh Ziabari

Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director of the Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of “The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon” and is doing research in Lebanon for his next book.

Lamb has been a Professor of International Law at Northwestern College of Law in Oregon. He earned his Law Degree at Boston University and his LLM, M.Phil, and PhD degrees at the London School of Economics.
As a Middle East expert and commentator, Dr. Lamb has appeared on Press TV, Al-Manar and several other media outlets. His articles and analyses have been published by Counter Punch, Veterans Today, Intifada Palestine, Electronic Intifada, Opinion Maker, Dissident Voice, Daily Star and Al Ahram.

Dr. Lamb generously accepted my interview requested and joined me to discuss the recent developments in the Middle East including the Libya civil war, Bahrain massacre and Egypt’s revolution.
What follows is the complete text of my interview with Dr. Franklin Lamb, political commentator, university professor and Middle East expert.

Dr. Franklin Lamb

Kourosh Ziabari: Frequent and unstoppable revolutions are taking place in the Middle East and North Africa. Popular movements of the Muslim nations of Tunisia and Egypt brought to an end the longstanding tyranny of Zine El Abedine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. Sooner or later, the same destiny awaits the dictators of Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia who were all once the stalwart allies of the United States and its European cronies. What’s your estimation of the recent developments in the region and how do you forecast the future of chained revolutions of the Middle East?

Franklin Lamb: I believe the uprisings will continue during this historic Islamic and Arab Awakening and will not cease until those who are sacrificing their blood in these countries—and some you did not mention-achieve their common goals of dignity, human rights, and much more control over their lives and their country’s natural resources. This truly historic regional uprising will, in my view, also contribute critically to the liberation of Palestine and the end of the 19th Century Zionist colonial project. Resent reactions by Israeli leaders and some in Washington make plain that the Muslim and Arab world will not allow their regimes to continue to undermine the Palestinian cause by accepting Western aid and various American bribes to collaborate with the Zionist occupation in their midst. Eventually the current uprising will replace perhaps as many as ten regimes and to its great credit, will count the implementation of UN Resolution 194 and the full and long overdue return of the Palestinian Refugees to their homeland.

KZ: The Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is relentlessly massacring his own people and has remained defiant in the face of growing international pressure and anger at his atrocious and inhumane actions. The international community has so far failed to tackle the Gaddafi problem and Libya is already engulfed in a civil war. The NATO forces are opening fires on the unarmed civilians and nobody has made any decision to capture Gaddafi and hold him accountable for the crimes he has committed. What’s your analysis of the situation in Libya? Given the immense investment of the American and European companies in the oil sector of Libya, can we foresee a future in which Gaddafi is removed from power and tried for his criminal policies?

FL: I agree that what is going on in Libya is a civil war and that the so-called “Obama Doctrine” has become farcical with respect to Libya. NATO should stop its bombing which has killed many of those they were tasked to protect and the international community must insist on a ceasefire and sending humanitarian aid. Enforcing a ceasefire would be a legitimate international role but taking sides in a civil war has only very rarely led to the desired outcome and violates Art. 2 (7) of the UN Charter which prohibits unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of Member States.

Yes, the West will insist on a replacement for Gaddafi and one who is more reliable that he has been recently with respect to the three American hegemonistic requirements or pillars. These include the demand that the next leader must continue to supply the West with cheap oil, and unlike Gaddafi recently, the new regime must insure internal stability and not become an embarrassment for its partners. Also the US will demand that Libya’s new government must not confront Israel seriously and it must be friendly toward US military projects and bases.

KZ: What’s your viewpoint regarding the reaction of international community in general, and the United Nations in particular, to the developments in Libya? The UNSC authorized the use of a no-fly zone over Libya in its resolution 1973 and imposed some sanctions on the Gaddafi regime in the resolution 1970. Are these measures adequate to draw to an end the atrocities which are taking place in Libya? Overall, do you agree with a military option with regards to the Libyan question?

FL: No the military option, while “legal” in the sense that it was passed by the UN Security Council was not legitimate nor are they effective in terms of achieving the claimed objective of UNSC Resolution 1973. Other measures such UN sponsored dialogue and enforcement of a ceasefire were available and should have been employed. Daily the military option is being shown to be ineffective and is in fact deepening the tragedy. It is not too late for the UN to revise its resolution and insist on a ceasefire and dialogue among the factions and making use of the good offices of the Arab League and African Union. On 4/18/11, one month after UNSCR 1973 was adopted, UN Secretary-General Key Ban Moon called for an immediate UN enforced ceasefire. This should be implemented without further delay.

KZ: As you may admit, Bahrain has one of the blackest human rights records in the Persian Gulf region and its longstanding tradition of suppressing the Shiite majority is almost known to everyone. The Bahraini officials have accused Iran of interfering in their internal affairs and turned a blind eye to the wave of protests which is encompassing the whole country. What’s your idea about the situation in Bahrain? Will the oppressed Shiite majority of Bahrain gain enough power to claim their rights and prosper in their uprising against the dictatorial regime?

FL: I think the people of Bahrain will absolutely succeed in their legitimate quest for dignity and freedom. It is apparent that the majority population in Bahrain is determined to succeed and the international community is, albeit too slowly, supporting their struggle. A recent University of Maryland poll shows that nearly 70% of the American public is supporting the Middle Eastern uprisings even if it means weakening Israel.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration hypocrisy toward the unarmed civilians being killed in Bahrain is flagrant and runs deeply counter to American values.

Speaking on 4/13/11 at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a gathering sponsored by Qatar and the Brookings Institution, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured the World that “America’s core interests and values have not changed, including our commitment to promote human rights equally in every country.”

Clinton’s remarks prompted some groans from the audience, and one Georgetown University student impolitely blurted out “Tell that to the people of Bahrain and prove it lady!”

What the exasperated student, and others in the audience apparently found outrageous was Clinton’s comment that, “We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to American values doesn’t make sense in such a diverse region at such a fluid time” as she hailed Bahrain for what she called a “decades-long friendship which we expect to continue long into the future.” Referring to the government crackdown, she added that “violence is not and cannot be the answer.”

Clinton explained that the Obama administration will neither recall its ambassador to Manama nor threaten sanctions — a striking disparity that is fueling ­anti-U.S. sentiment among Bahraini opposition groups. The Obama Doctrine words are all about freedom and democracy and change, but in Bahrain, the reality is that the Obama Doctrine amounts to a protection for the dictatorship.

By contrast, Obama has repeatedly justified military attacks in Libya, saying: “Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested. These acts are against core American values.” But while the same human rights abuses noted by Obama are happening in Bahrain, the Obama Doctrine is not on the Presidents teleprompter.

It appears that core American values aren’t so important when the regime being reformed houses the Fifth Fleet and has Saudi neighbors, themselves afraid of potential protests, according to the Wall Street Journal. What the rude Georgetown student at Clinton’s speech this week understood, is that as Joe Stork, Deputy Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch noted a couple of days ago concerning yet another brutal Khalifa government killing of unarmed civilians, “Four detainee deaths in nine days is a crime, not a coincidence. The government tells families of detainees nothing about their whereabouts or well-being while they are alive, or about the circumstances of their deaths. “Emergency laws should not be used as a cover for brutality,” Stork reminded the Obama administration that torture and killing of the peaceful protesters in Bahrain at the hands of both the Bahraini armed forces and the additional forces provided by Saudi Arabia are not supported by the American public.

Obama administration officials, like most of the US media, have been playing a game of criminal silence about the situation in Bahrain. Political institutions have been trying to stoke the fire of Shiite-Sunni sectarianism instead of trying to resolve the real issues – the barbaric actions and unfair political and economic policies of the ruling family in Bahrain, a state of forceful repression.

Interviewer, Kourosh Ziabari

KZ: What will be the impacts of Egyptian revolution on the future of Israel-Egypt relations? It’s quite evident that the Zionist regime is immensely afraid of the establishment of an Islamic government led by a democratically-elected president in Egypt. They have clearly voiced their concern over the developments taking place in Cairo and are desperately trying to preserve the heritage of the Camp David Accords which they achieved painstakingly in 1987. Will a new Egyptian government threaten the interests of the Israeli regime in the Middle East? Will the United State intervene to preclude the destruction of relations between Israel and Egypt?

FL: Yes, I think both processes will occur. During the Tahrir Square uprising we heard much about the need for dignity of the Egyptian people and dignity for Arabs and Muslims. What captured the world’s attention were the demands for jobs, democracy, freedom from fear of arbitrary arrest, torture and detention by the myriad security services and much more control of the economy by the Egyptian people.

Now were are hearing more about fundamental issues, such as the Camp David Accords, which have been festering among Egyptians and most Arabs for three decades. This treaty with Israel was nothing more than the Western bought Egyptian leadership accepting an American bribe in the amount of more than three billion USD per year to concede Palestine to the Zionists and abdicate Egypt’s historic role.

The intense humiliation, not just inflicted on Egyptians, Arabs and Muslims everywhere, but felt by fair minded people around the World who value human rights and support the liberation of Palestine, was endured by never accepted.

History is in the process of correction the injustice caused by the 19th Century Zionist colonial enterprise and I believe the Egyptian people will eventually abrogate Camp David which in its essence is a Western imposed Capitulation Treaty we used to see two centuries ago in Asia, and of course in China as well as in Africa. Camp David will not stand and nor will the giveaway of Egyptian natural gas, or the siege of Gaza from the Egyptian side.

The United States and her allies and certainty Israel will use all their resources to prevent the scrapping of Camp David. But the fact of the matter is that there is a new Middle East rising and they are her people not hegemonic foreign powers who will decide its future.

KZ: Can we foresee the formation of a new Middle East in which the intolerable presence of the Zionist regime is eliminated? Do the Arab world uprisings imply the isolation of Israel and increase the chances of its being dissolved? Reports associated with the CIA imply that Israel cannot survive for longer than 20 years. Do you agree with this prediction?

FL: Absolutely I do. The 19th Century Zionist colonial enterprise was grafted onto Palestine under a series of truly bizarre coincidences that could never be sustained. Of course the Zionist movement was well funded and well-armed and the colonial powers, particularly Britain was in no position to fulfill even their League of Nations mandate. Their occupation was co-opted by Zionist forces while at the same time the exhausted post-World War II international community was simply not interested in being an honest broker in the struggle between the indigenous Palestinian population and the arriving foreign European colonists.

Both the CIA and the politicians in Israel see the historical handwriting on the wall. Israel will not collapse peacefully but it will dissolve. Hopefully the colonists who came from Europe and America will return whence they came or will agree to live as equals with the native population of Palestinians in a democratic, secular state governed by one person one vote and without discrimination based on any religion.

Another process we are witnessing is the increasingly universal rejection of the illegitimate State in Palestine by the Western, including the American, public who are becoming more educated about what really happened during  the 1948 Nakba and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Previously many blindly accepted the continuous recitation by the international Zionist Hasbara distributors that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people with a land.” Not many people believe this anymore as the growing BDS (boycott/divestment/sanctions (BDS) movement )and other human rights campaigns aimed at delegitimizing Israel are illustrating.

Six decades of serial crimes by Israel has educated the World that establishing an apartheid State on stolen Arab land was an historic and moral mistake and in not sustainable. Sooner perhaps rather than later the CIA predictions will likely come to pass.

KZ: What’s your idea about the destiny of the revolutions in the Middle East? What are the implications of this wave of uprisings for the United States and its European allies? Iranian authorities say that the Middle East revolutions are modeled on Iran’s 1979 revolution. Do you agree with them?

FL: To comment of the last part of your question first, I would not go as far as to say that the 1979 Iranian Revolution provided an exact template for what is occurring now, 32 years later. But I strongly believe that the Iranian revolution is a fundamental cause of the 2011 uprisings. Firstly, we often hear some argue that the current rebellions are all about bread and butter issues and are not motivated by religion. I don’t agree. While the issues expressed on the streets have been largely those we discussed above, I think a fundamental factor that initiated what we are witnessing is Islam. Islam is all about justice and sacrifice for the commonweal of the community, the Ummah. Islam is about the dignity of the individual. I believe that Islam provided the inspiration and the strength of the populations involved in each of these historic uprisings to preserve in the fact of brutal repression and to develop a resistance culture to preserve until victory.

Consider how each Friday the prayers in the Mosques and Husaynieh’s [religious buildings constructed for the congregation of worshippers] in the region provided the opportunity to gather, to mutually inspire, to rededicate, to plan and to support the rebellions. Every Friday became a day of renewed resistance to oppression. From my point of view this is what Islam is all about; dignity of the individual, the quest for justice in the face of oppression, individual freedom and resistance to injustice and oppression until victory. Without the power of Islam I do not think these rebellions would have ignited as we have witnessed them, nor would they be succeeding as they are.

I think it is very difficult to exaggerate the positive consequences for scores of million of freedom seeking people in the region resulting from the great Islamic and Arab Awakening of 2011.

While those who are freeing themselves from dictators correctly realize that counter-revolutions have begun to hijack their rebellions ad turn back their achievements, so much work and perseverance in required, the region will never return to the hegemonic repression of the past 100 years.

The United States, in large measure due to its installment of dictators, now finally being toppled by their repressed peoples, its theft and exploitation of natural resources in the region, and its wars against the civilian populations in the region, is being expelled along with its allies.

It remains to be seen if in the future in the United States can reengage with Iran and the new order in the Middle East. If it does it will have to be on the basis of mutual respect and fair dealing with each of t`he countries in the region.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on IsraHell will not collapse peacefully but it will dissolve: Dr. Franklin Lamb

Dorothy Online Newsletter


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC


Dear Friends,

The first of the 7 items below is an interview of Neve Gordon on Academic Freedom, and the threats to it in Israel.  These threats are real.  With the loss of Academic Freedom, Israel will be yet less of a democracy than it claims to be.  While the people in countries that are Israel’s neighbors are pouring in the streets and are confronting their leaders demanding freedom to (among other things) express their opinions, Israel restricts this right more and more.

Item 2 is on Wiki-Leaks.  I don’t normally bring these, supposing that your own newspapers are probably full of them, but this one shows so clearly the means that the United States uses to help Israel in its ways, that I couldn’t resist sharing.

In item 3, Amira Hass rightly states that the Itamar murders do not justify stripping Palestinians of rights.  The problem is that the Israeli government and military will use every excuse to do just that.  Both (and also many Israelis) see the Palestinians not as human beings but as the ‘enemy.’

Item 4 reports that international activists are joining Gaza fishermen so as to document and report Israeli transgressions with regard to fishing rights in Gaza waters.

Item 5 relates that Israeli luminaries have signed a letter pressing for a Palestinian state.  I wonder if underlying this move is not the fear of a single state coming into being?  I do not mean to imply that these signatories are not people who do not believe in Palestinian rights.  I’m relatively sure that they do, and do regard Palestinians as human beings.  Sill, they could have pressed for a single secular state with equal rights for all its citizens.  The fact is that they didn’t.

In item 6 Richard Falk claims (with goodly justification) that Goldstone has breathed new life into the Gaza report.

The final item is a report on the first day of the three day 6th Bil’in conference—6 years of weekly demonstrations!  They have not brought the land back to the villagers, nor the trees that were uprooted, but they tell the world that Bil’in will not give up, will not leave, will continue to non-violently protest the theft of its land.

All the best,



1. April 20 2011

[forwarded by Ruth H.]

Independent commentary from Israel & the Palestinian territories

Tuesday, April 19 2011|Dahlia Scheindlin

Academic Freedom Under Attack? Interview with Prof. Neve Gordon

It has been a troubled year for Israeli academia. The rising nationalist sentiment in the government, legislature and civil society has spilled over into bitter struggles on campuses throughout the country. Nationalist groups such as IsraCampus, Israel Academia Monitor, and the ultra-nationalist Im Tirtzu have set their crosshairs on academia, seeking the dismissal of faculty members and control over curricula, and urging foreign donors to withdraw funds unless the faculty they have targeted are removed. They have published blacklists and ranked each university and department according to political legitimacy. Much of the fire has been directed at Ben Gurion University (*).According to an NRG story that appeared after the interview below, one donor threatened to suspend funds if certain political positions were not officially repudiated by Ben Gurion’s administration (Hebrew).

One striking result has been the politicization of very basic social concepts that should be part of the consensus, concepts once considered to be above politics. Thus the term “democracy,” is viewed by the ultra-nationalists as a left-wing political ideology, and it is increasingly de-legitimized in Israeli discourse. The concept of human rights is even more controversial. For the ultra-nationalist students and organizations, the term “human rights” symbolizes one-sided support for the Palestinians and subversive attempts to destroy the state. The liberal universalism that underlies human rights values is anathema to a parochial notion of state, and clashes with the creeping raison d’etat.

Therefore, a human rights conference planned by the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University in early April was a white-hot target for the nationalists. Im Tirtzu launched a well-orchestrated campaign  to pressure university president Professor Rivka Carmi to cancel the conference, on the pretense that it was not “balanced.” Dr. Dani Filc, the Department chair, responded that seven right wing speakers had been invited but declined to come. Still the demands continued, reaching University officials, Minister of Education Gideon Saar, the chair of the Knesset’s Education Committee, Alex Miller (Israel Beitenu). The conference was held as planned.

In this charged environment, Professor Neve Gordon agreed to be interviewed for +972. Professor Gordon was Chair of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University for much of this controversial period. He is the author of Israel’s Occupation and an outspoken critic of Israel’s government policies vis-à-visthe Palestinians. He is very close to the issues, having been the target of no small controversies himself in the past.


There’s an assault on Israeli academia in general. It involves an alliance between forces such as IsraCampus and Israel Academic Monitor on the one hand, who try to convince donors to stop giving money to universities that harbor leftists, and Im Tirzu, which tries to mobilize government Ministers and Members of Knesset to pressure the top university executives to discipline recalcitrant academics. There’s an alliance between elements in civil society, a handful of donors, and the government to stifle academic freedom and criticism of Israeli policy. The phenomenon is not only in the academic sphere…it also includes, for example, the attacks on the human rights organizations in Israel.

As I understand it, the assault has a twofold objective. The idea is to prevent the flow of information from Israel abroad, and because both academics and the Israeli human rights community have strong networks outside of Israel they are the one’s currently targeted. Simultaneously, there is an attempt to stifle internal debate, by reducing the limiting discussions about policies that lead to social wrongs and more violence and aggression.


To a certain extent. We are seeing a totally new phenomenon in Israeli academia: students sitting in class, filming the classes and then passing information on to the monitor groups and the media. The recordings are almost always edited, so the information doesn’t reflect what really went on in class.

Such students consider themselves to be class monitors , rather than  people who have come to the university in order to study, broaden their horizon and expand their knowledge…not unlike the McCarthy era in the US, some Israeli student see themselves as agents of the state, as spies.


Some are open-minded and some are less so…We are blessed with excellent students; I think the student quaspy is still a small minority. But they definitely exist.

Another issue is foreign donors. Donations are a relatively small percentage of the budget, often 10% or less. Yet the donors wield immense influence…The monitors send information to donors in the US or England and a handful of these donors send letters to university administrations pressuring them to stifle academic freedom.

So there are attacks from Knesset and from foreign donors, and the mechanism of academic monitors feeds both.


There are very few. But I believe they would be less influenced, because the sphere of legitimate  discourse is still much broader inside Israel,when it comes to criticizing government policy.


It’s hard to judge in the short term, but I believe we’ll see that they’ve succeeded a great deal in the long term.

Up to now, they haven’t managed to get anyone fired from the universities, because we still have a tenure system. But they’ve created gatekeepers. It’s becoming increasingly impossible to hire people who are critical of the Israeli government, or who have signed a [critical] petition…If [potential candidates] know this in advance, they will stop expressing their opinions and if they do decide to speak out, it will be more difficult for them to get hired…Not only the IsraCampus monitors but also politicians, the media and university administrators now agree that it’s OK for students to film professors in class and to monitor what petitions they sign…That’s a great success for those movements.

It’s extremely disturbing, because the student doesn’t understand his or her role in the university, and sees him or herself as an uncritical agent of the state… Ultimately the criticism is internalized, and many professors think twice or fear to speak their opinions.

The right turns the whole notion of academic freedom on its head – they say that people like me are the ones who stifle free speech. I find the implication that we control the discourse in Israel to be ludicrous. All one needs to do is turn on the television or read a newspaper. People who think like me are on the margins and their views are rarely heard in the mainstream media.


The two last editors of Ben Gurion’s Department of Politics and Government student newspaper were [involved with] ImTirzu. The people who protested against the human rights conference were members of our department.  I’m proud they feel comfortable doing this, knowing they won’t be penalized. [The idea that their opinions are stifled] is a lie that certain activists are disseminating to the press …The Department and Ben Gurion University has proven itself open to a plethora of viewpoints.

But those who assault academic freedom don’t really want to debate, they want to attack. They don’t want to appear at our conferences – we invited people who represent the other side and they declined  to come…Knesset members, donors and protesters  demanded that our human rights conference will be “balanced” by including people who are against human rights. The whole notion of “balanced” is now being used as a weapon against the left. If there’s a conference on Darwin we do not need to invite creationists. For a Holocaust conference we should not be inviting Holocaust deniers – although one could claim that in the name of balance we would have to. Why, one might ask, should we invite people who are against human rights? We need to ask ourselves in which countries are HR conferences criticized? Iran, China, Syria..Are these the countries we want to follow?

The radical right wants to create a situation whereby only its views heard. The recent request to suspend me from teaching required courses is extremely telling. [A few weeks ago, Kadima MK Otniel Schneller wrote to Alex Miller (Israel Beitenu), Chair of the Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee, demanding that “at the very least, Gordon be prevented from teaching required courses that would force students to hear his defamatory views.”] (Hebrew)


Professors have coordinated to sign petitions [against such attacks], and there have been some discussions. But there isn’t really any organized, strategic or concerted attempt to deal with the phenomenon.


Universities are not islands, they are part of Israeli society, and the attack on academic freedom merely reflects the more  general attack on liberal values. The attacks on human rights organizations, the fact that the Education Minister wants to erase democracy and citizenship studies from the curricula and replace it with Zionism and Judaism and the spate of racist and anti-democratic legislation going on in the Knesset, as well as the recent poll of youth attitudes, are all part of the same trend in Israeli society.


We don’t need to imagine a dark future, we’re already there. Democracy is severely curtailed, we’re on a dark path, and unless something radical changes, unless a miracle happens, I think that within not so many years, the last remnants of Israeli democracy might be lost. The pattern may still change, but if the youth polls are correct, Knesset legislation in the future will be even worse. Democracy will be destroyed.


I’m not sure it’s the role of academics to change society. People should speak out in support of democracy and criticize undemocratic elements, but not necessarily through academia. Civil society movements should lead… academics  are not only academics, they are also something else, they are also members of civil society. And as members of civil society, academics need to struggle for social justice, locally and nationally.


I think it has three major roles. One is the search for truth and knowledge. The second is to teach student how to think critically. The third role is to educate the students to be good citizens. Our role is not to try to convince students of our views; when we do that we become didactic, rather than encouraging critical thinking we encourage dogma. We want them to be independent thinkers; not to tell them what to think.

*Proper disclosure: I teach as an adjunct faculty member in the Politics of Conflict program at the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University).




academic freedom, Ben Gurion University, human rights, im tirzu, IsraCampus, israeli democracy, Neve Gordon

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Nabi Saleh: A tiny…

4 comments for ”Academic Freedom Under Attack? Interview with Prof. Neve Gordon“

1.     Louis Frankenthaler

April 19, 2011
9:29 am

What Dr. Gordon describes is part of a calculated and comprehensive effort to end dissent and to attack the dissident community, including NGOs, academics, protesters, etc. At the same time the Monitors and self anointed priests of proper thought seem to have no shame and no inhibitions when it comes to wielding economic pressure on those institutions that espouse opinions with which they disagree…

2.     Michael W.

April 19, 2011
10:46 am

I agree, Dr. Neve Gordon is at the center of a boycott campaign orchestrated and supported by – Dr. Neve Gordon.

The Dr. Neve Gordon is an innocent victim of a vicious campaign advocated by the anti-democratic advocate Dr. Neve Gordon.
Okay, back to Earth. I don’t understand Why Dr. Gordon is complaining that people are actually following his advice for once, the advice he wrote in the LATimes. Does it really matter who is the first to be targetted? Did he really think the boycott campaign will end when all his political and ideological opponents have been defeated by the international BDS movement? I say he won’t be. He’ll be the first. If he can selectively support aspects of the BDS movement, why can’t other Israelis do the same? As long as he works at an Israeli institution, he’s fair game for the BDS movement, a movement he supports widely.

3.     directrob

April 19, 2011
2:39 pm

No need to write about your opinion, the professor proofs quite capable of explaining the situation.

4.     Dorothy Naor

April 20, 2011
3:17 am

Given the revolutions now taking place in the Middle East, without people as Neve Gordon (and perhaps even with them)Israel is likely to become one of the few non-democratic and fascist countries in the Middle East, similar to Germany in the early and mid 1930s. But this is not unusual for tribal societies.

Dahlia Scheindlin is a leading international public opinion analyst and strategic consultant based in Tel Aviv, specializing in progressive causes, political campaigns in many countries, including new/transitional democracies and peace/ conflict research. In Israel, she works for a wide range of local and international organizations dealing with Israeli-Palestinian conflict issues, peacemaking, democracy, religious identity and internal social issues in Israeli society. Dahlia is currently writing her doctoral dissertation in comparative politics at Tel Aviv University. The focus of her research is unrecognized (de facto) states. In the fall of 2010 she will begin teaching at Ben Gurion University. Dahlia writes a monthly column for the Jerusalem Report magazine and is a regular media commentator and guest lecturer.



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© 2011 +972 Magazine+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as the the wider geopolitical context. The magazine’s stated purpose is to offer a fresh, on-the-ground perspective and analysis of the rich and unexpected cultural and social life in this region. +972 is jointly owned by its authors.

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2.  APRIL 20, 2011 BLOGSDaniel DreznerDavid HoffmanParag KhannaMarc LynchClyde PrestowitzTom RicksDavid RothkopfStephen Walt


Special Relationship

Exclusive new cables released by WikiLeaks reveal the United States’ heavy-handed efforts to help Israel at the U.N.


In the aftermath of Israel’s 2008-2009 intervention into the Gaza Strip, Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, led a vigorous campaign to stymie an independent U.N. investigation into possible war crimes, while using the prospect of such a probe as leverage to pressure Israel to participate in a U.S.-backed Middle East peace process, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables provided by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The documents provide a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the U.N. as American diplomats sought to shield Israel’s military from outside scrutiny of its conduct during Operation Cast Lead. Their release comes as the issue is back on the front pages of Israel’s newspapers, following the surprise recent announcement by Richard Goldstone — an eminent South African jurist who led an investigation commissioned by the U.N.’s Human Rights Council — in a Washington Post op-ed that his team had unfairly accused Israel of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians.

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The new documents, though consistent with public U.S. statements at the time opposing a U.N. investigation into Israeli military operations, reveal in extraordinary detail how America wields its power behind closed doors at the United Nations. They also demonstrate how the United States and Israel were granted privileged access to highly sensitive internal U.N. deliberations on an “independent” U.N. board of inquiry into the Gaza war, raising questions about the independence of the process.

In one pointed cable, Rice repeatedly prodded U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to block a recommendation of the board of inquiry to carry out a sweeping inquiry into alleged war crimes by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. In another cable, Rice issued a veiled warning to the president of the International Criminal Court, Sang-Hyun Song, that an investigation into alleged Israeli crimes could damage its standing with the United States at a time when the new administration was moving closer to the tribunal. “How the ICC handles issues concerning the Goldstone Report will be perceived by many in the US as a test for the ICC, as this is a very sensitive matter,” she told him, according to a Nov. 3, 2009, cable from the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

Rice, meanwhile, assured Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during an Oct. 21, 2009, meeting in Tel Aviv that the United States had done its utmost to “blunt the effects of the Goldstone report” and that she was confident she could “build a blocking coalition” to prevent any push for a probe by the Security Council, according to an Oct. 27, 2009 cable.

Israel launched a three-week-long offensive into Gaza in late 2008 in an effort to prevent Hamas and other Palestinian militants from firing rockets at Israeli towns. The Israel Defense Forces killed as many as 1,400 Palestinians. Thirteen Israel soldiers were also killed during Operation Cast Lead, and a number of U.N. facilities faced repeated attacks. The military campaign raised calls at the U.N. for an investigation into reports of war crimes.

In response, Ban commissioned a top U.N. troubleshooter, Ian Martin, to set up an independent U.N. board of inquiry into nine incidents in which the Israeli Defense Forces had allegedly fired on U.N. personnel or facilities. The U.N. probe — which established Israeli wrongdoing in seven of the nine cases — was the first outside investigation into the war, with a mandate to probe deaths, injuries, and damage caused at U.N. locations.

The board’s 184-page report has never been made public, but a 28-page summary released on May 5 concluded that Israel had shown “reckless disregard for the lives and safety” of civilians in the operation, citing one particularly troubling incident in which it struck a U.N.-run elementary school, killing three young men seeking shelter from the fighting. Israel denounced the findings as “tendentious, patently biased,” saying that an Israeli military inquiry had proved beyond a doubt that Israel had not intentionally attacked civilians.

But the most controversial part of the probe involved recommendations by Martin that the U.N. conduct a far-reaching investigation into violations of international humanitarian law by Israeli forces, Hamas, and other Palestinian militants. On May 4, 2009, the day before Martin’s findings were presented to the media, Rice caught wind of the recommendations and phoned Ban to complain that the inquiry had gone beyond the scope of its mandate by recommending a sweeping investigation.

“Given that those recommendations were outside the scope of the Board’s terms of reference, she asked that those two recommendations not be included in the summary of the report that would be transmitted to the membership,” according to an account contained in the May 4 cable. Ban initially resisted. “The Secretary-General said he was constrained in what he could do since the Board of Inquiry is independent; it was their report and recommendations and he could not alter them, he said,” according to the cable.

But Rice persisted, insisting in a subsequent call that Ban should at least “make clear in his cover letter when he transmits the summary to the Security Council that those recommendations exceeded the scope of the terms of reference and no further action is needed.” Ban offered no initial promise. She subsequently drove the point home again, underlining the “importance of having a strong cover letter that made clear that no further action was needed and would close out this issue.”

Ban began to relent, assuring Rice that “his staff was working with an Israeli delegation on the text of the cover letter.”

After completing the cover letter, Ban phoned back Rice to report that he believed “they had arrived at a satisfactory cover letter. Rice thanked the Secretary-General for his exceptional efforts on such a sensitive issue.”

At the following day’s news conference, Ban flat-out rejected Martin’s recommendation for an investigation. While underscoring the board’s independent nature, he made it clear that “it is not my intention to establish any further inquiry.” Although he acknowledged publicly that he had consulted with Israel on the findings, he did not say it had been involved in the preparation of the cover letter killing off the call for an investigation. Instead, he only made a request to the Israelis to pay the U.N. more than $11 million in financial compensation for the damage done to U.N. facilities.

When contacted about the cable by Turtle Bay, a U.N. spokesman, Farhan Haq, declined to comment on its contents, noting only that the original investigation was designed only to resolve a dispute with Israel over the damage done to its facilities and seek restitution.

But the issue was far from over. The U.N. Human Rights Council, which the United States has long criticized for singling out Israel for censure, had already established its own commission headed by Goldstone. Goldstone agreed to take on the assignment after he revised the terms of reference to allow for investigation into both Israel and Hamas. The Goldstone investigation coincided with U.S. efforts to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process. Israel was livid over the development, warning that it could undermine peace prospects.

In a Sept. 16 meeting with Rice, Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, called the Goldstone Report, which had been released the day before, “outrageous,” according to a diplomatic cable, adding that it would give Hamas a “free pass” to smuggle weapons into Gaza. Rice agreed, calling the report deeply flawed and biased. But she also saw its release as an opportunity to convince Israel to pursue a U.S.-backed peace process. She asked Ayalon to “help me help you” by embracing the peace process and highlighting Israel’s capacity to hold its own troops accountable for possible misconduct. She underscored that the Goldstone Report could be more easily managed if there was positive progress on the peace process, according to the cable. She also advised Israel that it “would be helpful” if it would emphasize its own judicial process and investigations” into the matter.

Rice reinforced that position a month later in a meeting with Lieberman, but the foreign minister was skeptical about the prospects for peace in the Middle East. “Israel and the United States had a responsibility not to foster illusions. A comprehensive peace was impossible,” said Lieberman, who “cited Cyprus as an example that Israel might emulate, claiming that no comprehensive solution was possible, but security, stability and prosperity were.”

The release of the cables comes as Rice is very publicly sticking with her position taking on the Goldstone Report. “The United States was very, very plain at the time and every day since that the Goldstone report was deeply flawed, and we objected to its findings and conclusions,” Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. “We didn’t see any evidence at the time that the Israeli government had intentionally targeted civilians or intentionally committed war crimes.”


3.  Haaretz,

April 20, 2011

Itamar murders don’t justify stripping Palestinians’ rights

Our law and order authorities do not protect the Palestinian villages from the thugs who ‘exact a price’ from Palestinians in revenge for the razing of an unauthorized settlers’ hut by authorities. How can we expect them to protect the Palestinians against the avengers of the murder of the Fogel family?

By Amira Hass

The Israeli settlement enterprise does not need the murder of Jewish families in order to strip Palestinian families of their land and endanger the future of both peoples. But when such a murder “falls into its hands,” the settlement enterprise knows how to make the most out of it, by building new neighborhoods and outposts, blaming Palestinian nature and education, and dropping biblical terms like “bitter enemies” and “Amalek.”

The history of white settlement in other peoples’ countries is full of sickening murders carried out by individuals who belonged to the indigenous peoples or by African slaves. These actions did not prevent the systematic expulsion and near extinction of the original inhabitants. It is not acts of murder that brought an end to slavery or apartheid. At the same time, abominable murders in Algeria did not make French colonialism, or any other colonialism, legitimate.

At the time, the whites attributed the murders to the nature of the savages, their inborn viciousness and their lowly race. The takeover and murderous enslavement were regarded as a divine and courageous mission and as a means of preserving law and order. Now, decades or centuries later, many recognize the brutality that characterized the settlement enterprise of their forefathers.

The attempt to guess what will be in 150 years is best left to soothsayers. We are interested in today and tomorrow. And today we must take seriously the words of the former chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, Brig. Gen. Avichai Ronski, one of the founders of Itamar. Speaking in an interview with the Walla news website, even before the release of the names of the suspects in the murder of the Fogel family, Ronski said: “A village like this, like Awarta, from which the murderers of the Fogel family and of the Shebo family emerged, must suffer as a village. A situation must be created whereby the inhabitants prevent anyone in this village from harming Jews. Yes, it is collective punishment. They must not be allowed to sleep at night, they must not be allowed to go to work, they must not be allowed to drive their cars. There are many ways.”

Not a single word about the two murderers who came from Itamar or about the Authorities of Law and Order which excelled at not finding the murderers of two other Palestinian farmers who had been shot to death near Itamar.

Even before the suspects were caught, the soldiers punished Awarta collectively. After all, in the jargon of Israeli street judgments, a Palestinian is convicted even before he becomes a suspect.

The gag order on the investigation of the murder did not allow us to write what the army did in the village during the past month. But why, in order to collect fingerprints or DNA samples, did soldiers have to break washing machines, refrigerators, televisions and toys? Why should bags of rice, sugar and bottles of oil be emptied on the floor?

But for our former chief military rabbi this is not enough. He is demanding more. Will his former colleagues, still in uniform, not follow orders? Will his spiritual pupils not translate his words into deeds? And whoever protests will be accused of condoning the slaughter of infants.

But even without murder, the Palestinian villages suffer, as do the cities and towns, at the hands of the settlers and the Israeli authorities. There is abuse by individuals and structural and institutional abuse. All are exacting revenge on the Palestinians because this is their land. The individuals are taking over olive groves and water springs, and they expel people from their homes. The authorities are prohibiting construction and planting, confiscating land by the force of decrees, destroying houses and expelling. The water sources have been taken over long time ago. And everything is immersed in a mikveh of court rulings.

Our law and order authorities do not protect the Palestinian villages from the thugs who “exact a price” from Palestinians in revenge for the razing of an unauthorized settlers’ hut by authorities. How can we expect them to protect the Palestinians against the avengers of the murder of the Fogel family? The settlers are sent there by the state. How can we expect the state to prevent them from continuing to do what they have been sent to do? To plunder, abuse and sabotage the future for all of us.


4.  Ynet,

April 20, 2011

Gaza fishermen protest (Archive) Photo: AFP

Pro-Palestinians sail to ‘document IDF aggression’

Foreign activists onboard ‘Oliva’ to escort Palestinian fishermen along Gaza coast, record any international law violations. IDF says will not allow blockade’s breache,7340,L-4058956,00.html

Aviel Magnezi

A yacht carrying pro-Palestinian activists sailed along the Gaza Strip coast Wednesday, escorting Palestinian fishing boats, with the intention of “documenting Israeli aggression towards Gaza fishermen.”

The tracking boat, “Oliva,” took to sea Wednesday morning carrying activists from the Unites States, Spain, Italy and Belgium belonging to different foreign organizations. One of the organizers of the event was Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, who was killed last week in Gaza by an Al-Qaeda linked organization.

One of the activists said they do not intend to sail outside the known fishing borders, but rather to “supervise and document violations of the international law by photographing and distributing them”.

The activists added that their main concern is to make sure the Palestinian fishermen “enjoy the freedom to fish.”

“Even if the fishermen decide to cross the borders set by the Israeli navy, we’ll document the aggression,” a Belgium activist onboard the boat told Ynet.

Only documenting? (Archive Photo: AFP)

The activist added that the Palestinian fishermen are obedient and do not wish to stir up any provocation.

The Oliva is a 24-foot yacht carrying a flag with the slogan “CPSGAZA” (Civil Peace Service Gaza) and all of the activists onboard are dressed in white.

According to the organizers, ever since Operation Cast Lead Israel has limited the fishing area in Gaza, setting the borders only 3 miles off-shore – what they claim is a breach of the Oslo Accords.

They added that the Israeli navy forces consistently threaten to fire at Palestinian fishermen and confiscate their boats.

Full steam ahead?

Statistics presented by the organizers, which they claim to have come from the Red Cross, indicate great poverty amongst fishermen in Gaza. “Nearly 90% of the fishermen in Gaza are considered poor or have a monthly income of $100 to $190, or are considered very poor, earning less than $100 per month – this compared to only 50% in 2008,” an activist said.

“In a few days we’ll begin our full operation, with every boat carrying at least two activists per sail,” the Belgium activist informed Ynet. “You’re welcome to read up on our mission on our website and you’re invited to show your support. Entering Gaza to join us might be a little hard though.”

An IDF official stated that “the navy will not permit any sea-craft from Gaza Strip to violate the blockade and will operate according to the political echelon’s decision.” Other officials added that the IDF does not intend to act violently or aggressively in any way, but only to make the laws clear.

Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report


5.  NY Times,

April 19, 2011

Israeli Luminaries Press for a Palestinian State


JERUSALEM — Dozens of Israel’s most honored intellectuals and artists have signed a declaration endorsing a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders and asserting that an end to Israel’s occupation “will liberate the two peoples and open the way to a lasting peace.”

The signers plan to announce their position on Thursday from the same spot in Tel Aviv where the Jewish state declared its independence in the spring of 1948. The page-long declaration is expected to be read there by Hanna Maron, one of the country’s best-known actresses and a winner of the Israel Prize, the country’s most prestigious award, which is granted yearly on Independence Day.

Of the more than 60 who had signed the declaration by Tuesday, about 20 were winners of the Israel Prize and a number of others had been awarded the Emet Prize, given by the prime minister for excellence in science, art and culture. Signatures were still being collected on Tuesday.

“The land of Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people where its identity was shaped,” the statement begins. “The land of Palestine is the birthplace of the Palestinian people where its identity was formed.” It goes on to say that now is the time to live up to the commitment expressed by Israel’s founders in their Declaration of Independence to “extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness.”

Yaron Ezrahi, a political theorist at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the signers, said the group chose this week to issue its declaration because it was Passover, which marks the freedom of the Jewish people from slavery.

“We don’t want to pass over the Palestinian people,” Mr. Ezrahi said. “This is a holiday of freedom and independence.” He added that given the struggle for freedom across the Arab world today and the Palestinians’ plans to seek international recognition of their statehood by September, it was important for Israeli voices to be added to the call.

Two weeks ago, another group of several dozen prominent Israelis, many of them from the fields of security and business, issued what they called the Israeli Peace Initiative, a more detailed but somewhat similar plan for a two-state solution. Both groups say they are upset by their government’s policies in this regard, which they consider insufficient.

The Palestinian leadership says that unless Israel ends the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it will not return to negotiations with it and will instead seek international recognition of Palestinian statehood by September at the United Nations.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the real problem is that the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state. Official recognition of that, it says, would revive negotiations, although there are also clear differences over land and Israel’s security needs.

Mr. Netanyahu is expected to announce by the end of May his proposal for moving forward with talks on a two-state solution.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 20, 2011

An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect day for the planned announcement of an endorsement of a Palestinian state by Israeli intellectuals and artists. It is Thursday, not Wednesday.


6.  Al Jazeera,

April 20, 2011

Goldstone breathes new life into Gaza report

The Goldstone Report fails to justly present the facts about Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.

Richard Falk

Critics say the Goldstone Report’s emphasis on Hamas violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza unfairly compares war crimes by Palestinians to those of Israel [EPA]

Ever since it first struck the raw nerve of Israeli political consciousness, I thought it misleading to associate the Goldstone Report so exclusively with its chair, Judge Richard Goldstone. After all, despite his deserved prominence as an international jurist, he was the least substantively qualified of the four members of the mission.

Part of the intensely hostile Israeli reaction undoubtedly had to do with the sense that Goldstone – a devoted Zionist – had been guilty of betrayal. Perhaps even the betrayal of ‘a blood libel,’ because he seemed to be elevating his fidelity to the ‘law’ above tribal loyalties; he should never have been mixed up with such a suspect entity as the UN Human Rights Council in the first place.

What should be observed – and what stands out over time – is the degree of importance that even the extremist Israeli leadership attaches to avoiding stains on its reputation as a law-abiding political actor. This seems true even when the assessing organisation is the UN Human Rights Council, which Israel, as well as the US government, never misses a chance to denounce and defame.

Implicit in their fury is a silent acknowledgement that the UN is a major site of struggle in the ongoing war of legitimacy being fought against Palestinian claims of self-determination.

This assessment was embarrassingly confirmed by the US senate’s reaction to the Goldstone retreat. The senate unanimously passed a resolution on April 14 calling on the UN “to reflect the author’s repudiation of the Goldstone report’s central findings, rescind the report, and reconsider further council actions with respect to its findings.” It also called on the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, “to do all in his power to redress the damage to Israel’s reputation.”

This ill-informed and inflammatory wording is quite extraordinary, starting with the reference to Goldstone as ‘the author’ of the report, thereby overlooking the reality that it was a joint effort. His input was probably the smallest, and the other authors have reaffirmed their support for the entire report.

What is revealed by this senate initiative is the degree of partisanship now present in official Washington, which should – at the very least – lead the Palestinian Authority to seek venues for future negotiations with Israel other than those provided by the US government.

It is probably true that, if Goldstone had not been so vilified for his association with the report, it would have experienced the same fate as thousands of other well-documented UN reports on controversial issues. By lending his name to the fact-finding mission and its outcome, Goldstone became the lightning rod – and the target of vicious attacks.

But he was also heralded at the time by fair-minded persons around the world for his integrity in the face of such hostile fire. In this regard, Goldstone became the sacrificial scarecrow; he failed in his appointed role of keeping the birds of prey at a safe distance.

Studies and Israel’s premeditation

There is a double irony present: Goldstone was partly selected to head this sensitive undertaking because, as a known supporter of Israel, he would make it harder for Israel to complain about bias. Yet – precisely because of the difficulty Goldstone’s credibility posed for Israel’s propaganda machine – the level of attack on him reached hysterical heights, and exerted such intense pressure that he eventually retreated.

Two other aspects of the situation are often neglected or misstated. First of all, several other respected international studies had already confirmed most of the conclusions reached before the Goldstone Report was released in September 2009. Other prior reports highlighting the international law issues were published by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Al Haq, and especially the comprehensive report of an earlier detailed and authoritative fact-finding team. The team was composed of internationally respected international law experts under the leadership of John Dugard, a leading South African jurist and former UN special rapporteur for Occupied Palestine; its work was carried out on behalf of the Arab League.

Against such a background, in a substantive sense, the Goldstone Report did not say anything that had not already been established by a community of NGOs, journalists, UN humanitarian workers and civilians who were on the scene during the attacks. Such an overwhelming and informed consensus is what makes mockery of the effort by the US state department and the senate to repudiate the report.

The second element that should be kept in mind, but is rarely ever acknowledged even by those who stand 100 per cent behind the report, is that it was not – as the media claimed – unduly critical of Israel. On the contrary, in my view, the report was one-sided – but to the benefit of Israel.

Let me mention several evidences of leaning toward Israel: the report proceeds on the basis of Israel’s right to self-defense. It does not bother to decide whether, in a situation of continuing occupation, a claim of self-defense is available under international humanitarian law. Furthermore, the report did not examine whether the factual conditions prior to the attacks supported even modest Israeli security claims – considering that a truce had been working until Israel provocatively broke it on November 4, 2008 by conducting a lethal attack within Gaza.

Beyond this, the claimed security justification seemed artificially fashioned to serve as a rationalisation for an aggressive and unlawful all-out military assault against Gaza. The assault sought to destroy Hamas; induce the return of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit; and punish Gazans for voting for Hamas back in 2006.

In addition, there was evidence that the Israeli army had been planning Operation Cast Lead for six months prior to launching the attack on December 27, 2008. There were a variety of justifications aside from securing southern Israel: striking at Gaza before Obama took office; influencing – in Kadima’s favor – the Israeli domestic elections that were about to take place; restoring confidence in the army after its failures in the Lebanon war of 2006; and sending a message to Iran that Israel would not hesitate to use overwhelming force whenever its interests dictated.

Mortalities and scars of war

The Goldstone Report did appropriately emphasise the severe Israeli departures from the law of war by attacking with disproportionate and indiscriminate force against a crowded, mainly urbanised society. But it failed to emphasise a distinctive feature of the attacks: that Israel denied the civilian population of Gaza the option to leave the war zone and become refugees, at least temporarily.

To keep civilians – especially children, the elderly, and the disabled – so confined leaves permanent psychic wounds, as has been reported by many post-attack studies and residents of Gaza. Aside from the psychiatric casualty, the casualty figures that count the dead and the wounded must also be considered: part of the public horror of Operation Cast Lead resulted from the 100:1 ratio of war dead, a measure which further casts light on the defenseless of the Gazan population. At the same time, it dramatically understated the real losses to the Palestinians.

If the psychologically damaged are added to the Palestinian total and the friendly-fire victims are subtracted from the Israeli side, reducing their total deaths from thirteen to six or seven, the ratio becomes more grotesquely one-sided.

In view of this one-sidedness, together with Israel’s initiation of the attacks and its role as the occupying power, the report gave excessive emphasis to Hamas violations of international humanitarian law, which should have been noted, but not treated (as was the case) as virtually symmetrical with those of Israel.

As has been pointed out in the media, including by Goldstone, his retraction was limited to the admittedly important issue of whether Israel intentionally targeted civilians as a matter of policy. Even this limited retraction is unconvincing because it rests so heavily on Israel’s self-investigations, which the post-Goldstone UN fact-finding mission jointly headed by an American judge, Mary McGowan Davis and the Swedish judge, Lennart Aspergen, found in their recent report failed to meet international standards. As mentioned previously, the retraction by Goldstone was also seriously undermined by the joint statement of the three other members of the Goldstone mission who publically reaffirmed the report in its totality.

Only half satirically, I would think that the Goldstone Report might be better rechristened now as the Chinkin Report or blandly become known as the ‘Report on Israeli and Hamas War Crimes during Operation Cast Lead.’

Whatever the name, the main allegations have been confirmed over and over again, and it is now up to the governments making up the UN General Assembly and Security Council to show the world whether international criminal accountability and the International Criminal Court is exclusively reserved for sub-Saharan African wrongdoing!

Goldstone defined

Many have asked whether the Goldstone retraction will doom the future of the report. In my view, rather than performing a funeral rite, Goldstone miscalculated; he has given the report a second life. It may still languish in the UN system, thanks to the geopolitical leverage being exerted by the United States to ensure that Israeli impunity is safeguarded once more. But this new controversy surrounding the report has provided civil society with renewed energy to push harder on the legitimacy agenda which is animating the growing Palestinian solidarity movement.

Never before has the Goldstone Report received such affirming attention even from American mainstream sources. Astonishingly, even the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen chided Goldstone for trying belatedly to distance himself from the report, going so far as to suggest that he is responsible for a new verb: ‘to Goldstone’.

“Its meaning: to make a finding, and then partially retract it for uncertain motive.” Cohen’s formal definition – “to ‘Goldstone’: (Colloq.) To sow confusion, hide a secret, create havoc.”

History has funny ways of reversing expectations. Just as most of the world was ready to forget the allegations against Israel from the ghastly 2008-09 attacks on Gaza and move on, Richard Goldstone inadvertently wakes us all up to a remembrance of those morbid events, and in the process, does irreparable damage to his own reputation.

It is up to persons of conscience to seize this opportunity, and press hard for a more even handed approach to the application of the rule of law in world politics. There is much righteous talk these days at the UN and elsewhere about the ‘responsibility to protect,’ contending that the Qaddafi threats directed at Libyan civilians justified a No Fly Zone and a full-fledged military intervention from the air undertaken with UN blessings and NATO bombs and missiles. But, not even a whisper of support was provided for the still beleaguered people of Gaza with a No Fly Zone, despite a debilitating unlawful blockade that has lasted almost four years – a severe form of collective punishment that directly violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

This blockade continues to block the entry of building materials needed in Gaza to recover from the devastation caused more than two years ago.

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades, most recently editing the volume International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice (Routledge, 2008).

He is currently serving his third year of a six year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


7. Press release

20 April 2011

Hundreds Celebrated Popular Struggle at the opening of the 6th Bil’in Conference
Dozens of diplomats and senior figures from across the Palestinian political spectrum joined hundreds of activists in the opening of the 6th International Bil’in Conference on Popular Resistance. Palestinian PM, Salam Fayyad, called for the international community to promote Palestinian self determination.

The 6th International Bil’in Conference on Popular Resistance opened today in a festive opening session participated by Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, the recently released protest organizer, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Abbas Zackie of behalf of the PLO, and former Vice President of the European Parliament, Luisa Morgantini.

For more details: Luca Morales +972-595-9110332

During the opening session, Palestinian Prim Minister Fayyad called on the international community to promote Palestinian self determination, saying that “The international community must be committed to promoting a Palestinian state withing the 1967 borders and supporting the planned deceleration of independence coming September”. He also called on the international ommunity to protect and safeguard the Palestinian nonviolent resistance and specifically referred to the recent arrests of Bassem and Naji Tamimi of the Nabi Saleh popular committee.

More than 20 diplomats from around the world attended the opening, including Christian Berger, representative of the European commission and the Consul Generals of Britain, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Romania, Poland and Austria. The US, France, Sweden, Germany, the Czeck Republic, Hungary and Ireland have also sent lower level diplomatic representation.

In a live video feed from the Gaza Port, Jaber Wishah of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, announced the launching the a naval peace team that will accompany Gazan fishermen and report on human rights violations as part of the Civil Peace Service Mission – Gaza. The project is supported by more than 50 international and local organizations, including the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

The openinig was followed by a panel on the needs and strategies of the Palestinian popular struggle, including the role of women and the influences of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions.

See here for a complete schedule of the conference.

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC


When tribal identity and an exaggerated sense of insecurity trump reason and compassion
Apr 19, 2011


A friend in Saudi Arabia sent a note with the subject line above, about Bahrain, and asked that we protect his/her identity.

I have to tell you that the situation in Bahrain and the reaction of my fellow Sunni Saudi friends and relatives here to the unfolding events across the causeway has actually made me more pessimistic than ever regarding a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How are they related? you may ask. Well… while the Israeli state and military’s treatment of the Palestinians is definitely far worse than the treatment of the Bahraini state and military of their Shi’ite citizens so far, it is the reaction of the majority of Bahraini and Saudi Sunnis that I have found most alarming and depressing.

While I can’t excuse it, I now better understand how and why 90% of Israelis are so terrified by the presence of a dirt-poor half starved Palestinian populace on their doorstep in Gaza that they wholeheartedly supported Operation Cast Lead and the resulting murder of over 1000 mainly unarmed civilian Palestinians. In a similar manner, ordinary putatively educated Sunni Saudis lined up behind the Bahrain government’s violent suppression of Bahraini Shite demonstrators. While a few of my fellow Sunnis initially sympathized with the poor and jobless Shi’ite demonstrators, it did not take a lot of propaganda effort for the ruling elite or the “haves” in Bahrain to turn an economic struggle between haves and have-nots into a phantom Iranian inspired sectarian conspiracy to dominate all the Sunnis in the Gulf area. It seems that wherever you go, people subconsciously pick and choose the information they absorb into their minds, based on their preconceived belief systems.

Sunnis in Saudi Arabia who cheered on the Tunisian, Egyptian and Yemeni revolutions suddenly changed their minds when it came to their Shi’ite neighbors clamoring for equal rights. In that way, they are not different from Liberal American Jews who support South American leftist guerrilla movements and Black Liberation movements at home, but go silent or hostile when it comes to the Palestinian armed or even unarmed struggle.

Therefore, I am more pessimistic than ever that the Israelis will ever feel remorse or guilt for whatever cruelty the extremists among them mete out to the Palestinians. People will only change their minds when they are forced to. That means that the only way the Israelis will change their attitude toward the Palestinians is if they have absolutely no other choice.

Saudi Arabia buying more Pakistanis for Bahrain crackdown, US still supporting the sectarian regime

Apr 19, 2011


and other news from the Arab uprisings:

Bahrain braced for new wave of repression
Arrests and troop movements signal another government crackdown on protests in the tiny Gulf state.

Bahrain: Attack on Rights Defender’s Home
(Manama) – Unknown assailants lobbed teargas grenades at the home of a leading Bahraini human rights defender in the early hours of April 18, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The attack, which took place at 3:30 a.m. in the village of Bani Jamra, targeted the home of Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Committee.

Bahraini forces demolish two mosques
Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have reportedly destroyed two more mosques in line with the country’s policy of demolishing Muslim religious sites.

‘Bahraini forces arrest teachers, pupils’
Bahraini police and soldiers enter the western village of Malkiya., Bahraini security forces have reportedly arrested several teachers and students in the town of Hamad in a new wave of crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

Kuwaitis defy orders to invade Bahrain
A number of Kuwaiti naval officers have disobeyed orders to reinforce the violent Saudi-backed crackdown on the popular revolution in Bahrain.

Bahraini Activist Defies Threats
President of Bahraini group says he will continue to campaign against torture and unfair imprisonment, despite intimidation by the security forces.

Bahrain escapes censure by West as crackdown on protesters intensifies
Bahraini government forces backed by Saudi Arabian troops are destroying mosques and places of worship of the Shia majority in the island kingdom in a move likely to exacerbate religious hatred across the Muslim world. “So far they have destroyed seven Shia mosques and about 50 religious meeting houses,” said Ali al-Aswad, an MP in the Bahraini parliament.

Saudi Arabia buying more Pakistanis for Bahrain crackdown
The Fauji Security Services (Pvt) Limited, which is run by the Fauji Foundation, a subsidiary of the Pakistan Army, is currently recruiting on war footing basis thousands of retired military personnel from the Pakistan Army, Navy and the Air Force who will be getting jobs in the Gulf region, especially in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. But sources in the Fauji Foundation say over 90 per cent of the fresh recruitments, which started in the backdrop of the recent political upheaval in the Arab world, are being sent to Bahrain to perform services in the Bahrain National Guard (BNG), and that too at exorbitant salaries. Thousands of ex-servicemen of the Pakistani origin are already serving in Bahrain and the fresh recruitments are aimed at boosting up the strength of the BNG to deal with the country’s majority Shia population, which is calling for replacement of the Sunni monarchy. Bahrain’s ruling elite is Sunni, although about 70% of the population is Shia… Pakistan in fact turned its gaze towards West Asia following the visits of, first, Saudi prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and then, Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa, in March. Though pro-democracy sentiments haven’t gathered a critical mass in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is worried that the popular upsurge in Bahrain, a mainly Shia country over which Sunni kings rule, could well, with time, permeate across the border. The Americans seem to have endorsed Riyadh’s decision to seek Islamabad’s assistance. In return, the Saudi prince has offered support to resuscitate the Pakistan economy and meets its energy demands. But the khaki circles in Rawalpindi believe that Pakistan won’t commit its regular forces to a country other than Saudi Arabia.

Exposing The Bahraini Regime
Saudi Arabia has sent forces to Bahrain. What does the intervention of Gulf forces mean to the region? Will it provoke Iran? And could Bahrain be the next state to fall?

Suleiman questioned by Egyptian prosecutors
Former vice-president questioned in connection with violence against protesters during uprising that toppled Mubarak.

Egypt: Mubarak Family’s Wealth Doesn’t Add Up
CAIRO — Egypt’s financial oversight body says the former president of Egypt and his family have amassed wealth beyond their means in the form of properties and bank accounts. The state news agency said Monday the agency found that the 82-year old former president and his two sons and wife own several properties around Egypt, including luxury apartments, and palaces, as well as empty land plots and valuable farm land.

Anti-American protests grip Iraq
Supporters of anti-Occupation cleric Moqtada Sadr suggested there could be a rebel uprising if U.S. forces stay beyond December and tribal leaders in the northern province of Ninawa called recently for the departure of American forces.

Health Directorate: 98 wounded in Sulaimaniya protests
Sulaimaniya hospitals in Iraq received 98 wounded including 65 members of the security forces injured in Monday’s protests, Sulaimaniya Health Directorate reported on Tuesday.

Libya death toll ‘touches 10,000’
Opposition claim comes as UN gets humanitarian access to Misurata and efforts are on to evacuate those stranded.

10,000 Libyans flee to Tunisia
Some 10,000 Libyans have fled in the last 10 days from the besieged Western Mountains region to Tunisia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said Tuesday.

Libyan rebels claim control over Ajdabiya
A Libyan ship carrying mostly Ghanian migrants and some injured residents from Misurata has arrived in the opposition-held city of Benghazi.  The vessel was carrying almost 1,000 people. The UK has pledged almost $2.5m to help move those stranded in the besieged city.  Meanwhile, fighters loyal to Muammar Gaddafi surrendered to pro-democracy forces near the town of Ajdabiya on Monday. The area is now under full rebel control. The rebels are hoping more NATO airstrikes will push back Gaddafi loyalists. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna spent the day in Ajdabiya with opposition forces.

Fighting continues in Misurata
Britain is due to hold urgent talks on Libya’s humanitarian crisis at the United Nations later on Monday. The besieged city of Misurata is one of the main places of concern. An opposition spokesperson says shelling by Gaddafi’s forces on Sunday alone killed at least 17 people. Al Jazeera has gained access to the city. Cameraman Craig Pennington and corrrespondent Jonah Hull boarded a trawler carrying supplies from Malta, and made the 24 hour voyage to Misurata.

Snipers, cluster bombs panic Libya’s Misrata
MISRATA, Libya (AFP) – Snipers, cluster bombs and intense shelling are spreading panic in Misrata, an AFP reporter said on Monday, as a doctor reported 1,000 people killed in six weeks of fighting in the besieged city. With fears growing that refugees will attempt a chaotic mass escape by sea from the city of 400,000, UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for a ceasefire and a political solution to the two-month-old conflict in Libya.

Libyan forces pound Misrata, 1,000 evacuated by sea
Evacuees say conditions in Misrata are becoming increasingly desperate and hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed.

Misrata, Libya Rebel City, Pounded By Gaddafi Forces
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – A chartered ship evacuated nearly 1,000 foreign workers and wounded Libyans from Misrata on Monday as rebels said they had gained ground in fighting with government forces in the besieged city. “We wanted to be able to take more people out but it was not possible,” said Jeremy Haslam, who led the International Organization for Migration (IOM) rescue mission.

Gaddafi Forces Firing On Civilians In Misrata, Says Head Of NATO Military Operations In Libya
OTTAWA (Reuters) – The head of NATO’s military operations in Libya Monday accused forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi of hiding in hospitals and firing on civilians from the roofs of mosques in the rebel-held city of Misrata.

Video: AJA exclusive video of skirmish in Misrata
April 18, 2011: Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive video that portrays revolutionaries clashing with Gaddafi Forces and foreign mercenaries in a school yard in the Karzaz district of Misrata.

Civilians stranded in Libya’s stalemate
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are caught in the middle of Libya’s military stalemate.   More than half a million have already fled and 5.000 a day are crossing into Tunisia and Egypt.  But many more remain stranded. In Misurata, they have been under siege for nearly two months but now Gaddafi’s government has promised UN officials safe passage into the city. Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports.

Thousands of Libyans flee remote western area-report
TUNIS, April 18 (Reuters) – Some 11,000 Libyans have fled a remote and mountainous western region, where government forces are fighting rebels, and crossed into Tunisia over the last week, Tunisia’s state TAP news agency reported on Monday. It said 3,000 people, including women and children, had arrived in the last two days alone at the southern Tunisian border town of Dehiba, fleeing “intense bombing” that had destroyed many houses.

Humanitarian coordination in Libya
As humanitarian aid arrives in Libya, shipments are prioritised for those areas, such as the besieged city of Misurata, which need it most. But the rest of the country also requires help, and UN under-secretary general Baroness Amos has arrived in Libya to help coordinate the relief effort. Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton, reporting from benghazi, tells us of the efforts underway to get help to the most desperate.

UN envoy secures lifeline for Misurata
UN deal with Libya allows humanitarian access to besieged port as UK pledges to fund rescue of 5,000 stranded migrants.

Libya: International community must urgently increase aid to Misratah
Much of Misratah remains without communications, power or water as civilians are caught up in a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Britain to send military advisers to Libya
Foreign minister says team will be sent to help support Libya’s opposition council, but will not train or arm rebels.

Gaddafi envoy holds talks in Morocco
RABAT, April 19 (Reuters) – Morocco hosted a visit by a Libyan deputy foreign minister on Monday, a rare diplomatic link between Muammar Gaddafi’s government and one of the staunch allies of the Western coaltion determined to overthrow him. Morocco has been one of the small number of Arab countries and the only North African state openly involved in talks with Western powers over the Libyan crisis.

All quiet in west Ajdabiya
A sandstorm on Sunday prevented NATO aircraft from targeting troops loyal to long time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as they advanced on Ajdabiya. Just 24 hours later, the weather conditions have changed, and anti-Gaddafi fighters advanced some 40km west of the city. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from the western edge of Ajdabiya with more details.

Saif admits Qaddafis are Brutal Foreign Occupiers, Juan Cole
Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of the dictator, gave an interview yesterday to the Washington Post. In it he justified the Libyan army’s horrific attacks on the besieged city of Misrata:‘ “You know what happened in Misurata? It’s exactly what happened in the Cold River [Nahr al-Bared], in Tripoli, Lebanon. The Lebanese army went and attacked three or four civilian districts in Tripoli to fight Jund al-Sham, the soldiers of Islam, you know that terrorist group in Lebanon. They destroyed maybe half the city, they didn’t kill civilians there, but they fought the terrorists because they were inside the buildings. The Americans, the West, they supplied the Lebanese army, and it is a legitimate mission to fight terrorists inside Tripoli of Lebanon. You remember? And I remember they sent an airlift with the Hummer vehicles, arms and munitions. The same thing in Grozny in Chechnya, when the Russian army fought the terrorists, because the terrorists went inside the buildings in Grozny. The same thing happened with the Americans in Fallujah. You know Fallujah? It’s exactly the same. You are not fighting or killing innocent people or civilians, because it is not in the interests of anybody to kill civilians, but the terrorists are there, the terrorists are there. ‘

Syria lifts emergency law
Government approves bill lifting emergency law, in place for 48 years, following demands by pro-democracy protesters.

Gunfire in locked-down Syrian city
Reports of shooting as thousands protest in Homs while Syrian government claims country is facing “armed insurrection”.

Protesters destroy government symbols in Syria’s Douma
Protesters took to the streets in the streets in the Damascus suburb of Douma on Sunday. They removed pictures of President Bashar al-Assad and his father, former president Hafez al-Assad.

Inside Story: Syria’s emergency laws
Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, says the country’s state of emergency should be lifted by next week. Inside Story, with presenter Darren Jordon, discusses with guests: Walid Saffour, president of the Syrian Human Rights Committee; Ivan Eland, a senior fellow and Director of the Centre of Peace and Liberty, at the Independent Institute. This episode of Inside Story aired on Sunday, April 17, 2011.

Essential Viewing: Five Tunisian Films from a Postrevolutionary Perspective
It is impossible to watch Tunisian film today from an exclusively prerevolutionary perspective. The present historical juncture will stealthily thrust itself to center stage. Besides, the value of film does not reside solely in its appropriateness to its own historical moment of production, but equally in its relevance to other, yet to come, historical moments. It becomes highly productive, not to say inevitable, that we rethink postcolonial Tunisian film through the lenses of the revolutionary and now postrevolutionary moment. When we do, it will have become clear that several Tunisian filmmakers had creatively evaded censorship and charted a counterintuitive genealogy of rebelliousness that cannot possibly be overlooked in our effort, scholarly or otherwise, to understand the provenance, scope, and significance of what happened on January 14, 2011.

Security forces fire on Yemeni protesters
Firing in Taiz comes as UN says that 26 children have been killed in violent protests over the last two months.

As Yemenis run low on gas and food, revolution could take off
Since protests began earlier this year, Yemen’s currency has plummeted, oil production has dropped, and food prices have risen by as much as 45 percent.

“Warning shot to the Saudis: People in Washington are getting sick of you!”
“… Riyadh, alarmed by the Obama administration’s failure to prop up its ally of three decades Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, is sending signs of its displeasure and its move toward exploring alternative security arrangements. Last month, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar reportedly went to Pakistan, ostensibly to discuss the possibility of importing Pakistani troops to help the Saudi regime suppress internal unrest should the need arise….. as a signal of possible Saudi interest in acquiring Pakistani nuclear weapons if Washington doesn’t protect Riyadh from Iran’s nuclear program.

Buy a T-shirt, donate to the Red Crescent
Get a T-shirt with the awesome Arab revolution logo on the right from here and the proceeds go to the Red Crescent, which has been doing incredible work tending to the injured in the Arab uprisings and particularly in Libya where its volunteers face great danger to help others. The Red Crescent is the regional equivalent of the Red Cross, with which it partners to provide emergency relief across the world.

Goldstone’s daughter was ‘furious’ with him, Times reports

Apr 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

The Goldstone Report and reconsideration won’t go away, they are back on the Times front page. A good report by the Times’ Ethan Bronner and Jennifer Medina on why Goldstone did it boils down to, He loves Israel and thought he was going to reconcile the two societies, Palestinian and Jewish, through his report but was oh-so wrong about the politics. A man who says he may have been “naive” about the U.N.’s commitment to evenhandedness seems to have been naive about the Jewish response to his document. Then there are the politics of his family, and his daughter who spent 10 years in Israel. Oh my, what was the Zionist judge thinking? And when is a shul going to stage the war inside the Jewish family? Times:

In trying to understand why he published an essay on April 1 in The Washington Post retracting his harshest accusation against Israel and toughening his stand toward Hamas and the United Nations — an essay that has been rejected by the fellow members of his investigation panel — the South African precedent is important. For Mr. Goldstone, it was the model of how the Gaza report would work. Instead, it helped drive Israeli politics farther to the right, gave fuel to Israel’s enemies and brought no notable censure on Hamas.

“I know he was extremely hurt by the reaction to the report,” said Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Foundation, who has known Mr. Goldstone for years and remains close to him. “I think he was extremely uncomfortable in providing some fodder to people who were looking for anything they could use against Israel.”..

Hailed by the Arab world and the anti-Israel left, he has been censured by those with whom he had always identified. One of his two daughters, who spent more than a decade in Israel and now lives in Canada with the man she married here, has been furious with him, according to a family friend; he was nearly unable to attend the bar mitzvah of his other daughter’s son in South Africa…

As he said in an interview with the newspaper The Forward, “I was driven particularly because I thought the outcome might, in a small way, assist the peace process. I really thought I was one person who could achieve an evenhanded mission.”…

The Times piece includes this egregious mischaracterization of the facts, in favor of Israel’s version of events:

One area of disagreement was whether 250 police cadets killed on the first day should be considered fighters. Israel said yes; most others said no.

In November, the Hamas interior minister, Fathi Hamad, told the newspaper Al Hayat that many of the dead were fighters: “It is a fact that on the first day of the war, Israel struck police headquarters and killed 250 members of Hamas and the various factions, in addition to the 200 to 300 operatives from the al-Qassam Brigades. In addition, 150 security personnel were killed.”

The implication was that the 250 cadets were fighters and that the total number of militants killed amounted to some 700. Many sent Mr. Goldstone the update.

BFD. As I have reported here earlier, Goldstone specifically rejected the Hamad #s back in January at Stanford as propaganda, and then embraced them in the Washington Post in April. Why’d he flip on such an essential particular? Pure political pressure, working on his guilty conscience.

My friend Len Weinglass (1933-2011)

Apr 19, 2011

Michael Steven Smith

Leonard Irving Weinglass, Attorney and Counselor at Law (1933-2011)

“Death is not real when one’s life work is done well. Even in death, certain men radiate the light of an aurora.” –Jose Marti

Len was not a 60s radical. He was something more unusual. He was a 50s radical. He developed his values, his critical thinking and world view in a time when non-conforming was rare. He told a newspaper interviewer in Santa Barbara in 1980 that “I would classify myself as a radical American. I am anti-capitalist in this sense — I don’t believe capitalism is now compatible with democracy.” Socialism he thought could be, if given a chance, that socialism was still a young phenomenon on the world scene, that another world, a non-capitalist world, was possible. He saw his legal work as his contribution to the collective work of the movement. He didn’t care a bit about making a fee. “I want to spend my time defending people who have committed their time to progressive change. That’s the criteria. Now, that could be people in armed struggle, people in protest politics, people in confrontational politics, people in mass organizations, people in labor.”  Defending people against “the machinery of the state” as he put it, was his calling. He felt that one may have a fulfilled and satisfying life if one “aligns with the major thrust of forces in the time in which you live.”

The third of four children, he grew up in a Jewish community of 200 families in Bellville, N.J. and attended high school in nearby Kearney, where he was a star end on the football team and Vice-President of his high school class. He went on to George Washington University down in D.C. for college on a scholarship. Len was an outstanding student and was accepted in 1955 into Yale Law School. There was a story that he liked to tell about his college job. He worked running an elevator at the Senate Office building. Lyndon Johnson was cold and rude to Len when riding in his elevator car. The one Senator who was friendly and who chatted with Len and always inquired as to how he was doing was…..Richard Nixon, whom Len was later to confound by winning a dismissal for Daniel Ellsberg and Tony Russo in the historic Viet Nam era Pentagon Papers case.

Len went from Yale in 1958 directly into the Air Force. In those days because of the draft there was no choice. One had to go into the military. Len was a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corp and rose from a second lieutenant to the rank of captain. The Air Force had charged a black airman with some sort of crime. Len was assigned the case and got him acquitted. This infuriated the brass, which was used to exerting its command influence over the results of military trials. French politician Georges Clemenceau once remarked on this practice, quipping that “Military justice is to justice as military music is to music.”

The brass had Len transferred to Iceland of all places. Why Iceland? Because it’s a country entirely populated by white people. There are no non-white genes in their DNA pool. Drug companies for this reason use Iceland to test drugs. The US government had a deal with Iceland that they would never send a non-white GI to Iceland so as not to risk polluting their gene pool. The brass figured Weinglass, the troublemaker, would never be able to defend a black man again, at least not while he was in their military. Len cooled his heels until he was discharged, learning Icelandic in the meantime so he could speak directly to the Judges there without an encumbering translator. When he arrived in an Icelandic court for his first trial the steps leading up to the building were lined with spectators. He asked his driver why? They wanted to see Len. They had never seen a Jew before.

He was discharged from the Air Force in 1961 and went on to set up a one-man law practice in Newark, New Jersey. When interviewed by the New York Times for Len’s obituary, Len’s friend and law colleague Michael Krinsky (Len was of counsel to the firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman of New York, NY) said he had first met Len in Newark in 1969. He considered Len “a modern day Clarence Darrow”. Krinsky told the reporter that Newark “was a rough place to be. A police department and a city administration that was racist and as terrifying as any in America, and there was Lenny representing civil rights people, political people, ordinary people who got charged with stuff and got beat up by the cops. He did it without fame or fortune, and that’s what he kept doing, in one way or another.” He did it for 53 years, being admitted to the bars in New Jersey, California, and New York.

We all know of Len for his famous legal work in the Chicago Seven case with Abby Hoffman, Dave Dellinger and Tom Hayden during the Vietnam War period. We remember his expertise in advocating for death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. He finally got his friend Kathy Boudin out of prison after 23 years. He represented Puerto Rican independentista Juan Segarra for 15 years. In the Palestine 8 case, where the defendants were charged with aiding the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, he was part of a team which stopped their deportation. That took 20 years. David Cole, his co-counsel along with Marc Van der Hout, remembers that Len “…coined the term ‘terrorologist’ while cross-examining the government’s expert witness on the PLO. He was a joy to work with in the courtroom. Our immigration judge, who was Lenny’s age, always eagerly wanted to know whether ‘Mr. Weinglass’ would be appearing whenever there was a proceeding.”

Len took the tough political cases, the seemingly impossible ones where his clients were charged with heavy crimes like kidnap, espionage and murder. “He wasn’t drawn to making money. He was drawn to defending justice,” Daniel Ellsberg said. “He felt in many cases he was representing one person standing against the state. He was on the side of the underdog. He was also very shrewd in his judgment of juries.” Len observed that a typical phone call to him started out with the caller saying “‘You’re the fifth lawyer I’ve spoken to’. Then I get interested.”

The case of The Cuban Five was Len’s last major case. He worked on it for years up to the time of his passing, even reading a court submission from his bed in Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. The case highlighted what Len considered the U.S. government’s hypocrisy in its “war against terror.” Len came into the matter at the appellate level after the Five had been convicted by a prejudiced jury in Miami. His client Antonio Guererro and the others were found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. sometime in the future. They were sent from Cuba to Miami by the government of Cuba to spy, not on the U.S., but on the counter-revolutionary Cubans in Miami who were launching terrorist activities from Florida directed at persons and property in Cuba, attempting to sabotage the Cuban tourist economy. They gathered information on the Miami based terrorists, compiling a lengthy dossier on their murderous activities and turned it over to the FBI. They asked the U.S. government to stop the terrorists, who were targeting the Cuban tourist industry by planting bombs at the Havana airport, on buses, and in an hotel, killing an Italian vacationer. But instead of stopping the terrorists, the U.S. government used the dossier to figure out the identities of the Cuban Five, had them arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to long prison terms.

What Len said about the use of the conspiracy charge is illustrative of his precision and clarity of thought.

Conspiracy has always been the charge used by the prosecution in political cases. A conspiracy is an agreement between people to commit a substantive crime. By using the charge of conspiracy, the government is relieved of the requirement that the underlying crime be proven. All the government has to prove to a jury is that there was an agreement to do the crime. The individuals charged with conspiracy are convicted even if the underlying crime was never committed. In the case of the Five, the Miami jury was asked to find that there was an agreement to commit espionage. The government never had to prove that espionage actually happened. It could not have proven that espionage occurred. None of the Five sought or possessed any top secret information or US national defense secrets.

Len was drawn to men and women accused of doing extraordinary acts of bravery and resistance. A sampling of some of his cases over his 53 years of practicing law are:

* 1971: Represented Kenneth Gibson who became the first African-American mayor of Newark, New Jersey in a taxpayer’s suit which led to his candidacy and reclaimed the largest real estate asset owned by the City of Newark.

*1971: The defense of Anthony Russo who was charged with Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers trial for the release of classified documents on the history of U.S.-Vietnam relations.

*1972: The defense of John Sinclair, Chairman of the White Panther Party in Detroit, Michigan. The case came before the Supreme Court, resulting in a landmark decision prohibiting the government’s use of electronic surveillance without a warrant.

*1973: The defense of Angela Davis who was charged with murder in connection with a shootout at the Marin County Courthouse in an attempted escape by inmates in California.

*1974: The defense of 8 Vietnamese students who faced deportation from the U.S. as the result of their political activities in opposition to the war.

*1975: Represented Jane Fonda in her suit against Richard Nixon, et. al. for unlawful harassment and violation of her constitutional rights of free speech and assembly resulting from her public activities in opposition to the war in Vietnam.

*1976: The defense of Chol Soo Lee, the only Korean on death row in the United States in California.

*1976: The defense of Bill and Emily Harris, members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, charged with the kidnap of Patricia Hearst.

*l977: The defense of the Altmore Brothers, black inmates in Alabama, who organized a prisoners’ union and were then charged with murder.

*1978 The defense of Paul Skyhorse and Richard Mohawk, two organizers for the American Indian Movement, charged with first degree murder in the longest trial in the history of Los Angeles to that point.

*1980: The defense of Mark Loc, a Chinese-American member of the Communist Workers Party, charged with the attempted bombing of the National Shipbuilding Company in San Diego.

*1981: The defense of Kiko Martinez, a Mexican-American attorney and political activist, charged with a series of attempted bombings in Colorado.

*1982: The defense of Salpi Kozibiukian, an Armenian patriot charged with being part of a conspiracy to plant a small explosive device at a freight terminal of Canada Airlines at the Los Angeles International Airport.

*1982: The defense of Alvin Johnson, a black inmate in the State of Georgia who faced the death penalty as the result of charges that he killed a prison guard at the Reidville prison.

*1983: The defense of James Simmons, a Muckleshoot Indian from Oregon who faced the death penalty as the result of charges that he killed a guard at the Walla Walla prison in the State of Washington.

*1985: The defense of Stephen Bingham, an attorney charged with smuggling a gun into George Jackson in his attempted prison escape in 1971.

*1986: The defense of Spiver Gordon, a black political organizer and former associate of Martin Luther King, charged in Alabama with voter fraud as the result of organizing a registration drive.

*1987: The defense of Amy Carter, daughter of President Jimmy Carter, charged with l5 other students at the University of Massachusetts with the seizure of a building in protest over CIA recruitment.

*1988: The defense of Katya Komisurak, an anti-nuclear activist, charged with destroying a computer at Vandenburg Air Force base which was part of a first strike weapons system.

*1992: The defense of Peter Lumsdaine, an anti-nuclear activist, who was charged with destroying a Navstar satellite, part of a first-strike system, at a Rockwell International facility just prior to its being launched.

*1993: The defense of Marjorie Peters, an aide to the first African-American mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, charged in a politically motivated prosecution brought by the Bush Justice Department.

*1997: Served as legal advisor to a former Green Beret who was investigating the deaths of a thousands of Laotians, particularly children, who have been victimized since the end of the Vietnam War by unexploded anti-personnel bombs dropped by U.S. aircraft.

*1998: Represented Larry Hildes, a California attorney, who was arrested and had his hand broken by California police while serving as a legal observer for protestors who were opposed to logging the redwoods in the Headwaters of California.

*1998: Represented Majid Saatchi, an Iranian national residing in the United States, who was arrested and prosecuted for shouting “murderer” at the visiting foreign minister of Iran at the United Nations in New York.

*1999: Filed a federal habeas corpus action in the federal court in Philadelphia on behalf of Mumia Abu Jamal, an African American journalist and political activist, who has been on death row in Pennsylvania for a quarter of a century awaiting execution for the killing of a police officer, a crime he has steadfastly denied.

*2001: Filed application for parole on behalf of Kathy Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground, who was sentenced to 20 years to life in l984 for her participation in the robbery of a Brinks truck.

*2002: Filed a federal habeas corpus action in the Federal Court in Alexandria, VA on behalf of Kurt Stand, convicted of espionage on behalf of East Germany in l998 as a result of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act searches of his home, including the planting of a microphone in the marital bedroom.

Len grew up with his two adoring older sisters Elaine Nicastro and Natalie Franzblau and his much younger admiring brother Steve Weinglass during the depression in Bellville, New Jersey, a town near New York City which had a small Jewish community of some 200 families. Len’s grandfather, his mother’s father, was the head of the congregation and used to lead the religious services there. He owned some properties in New York City. Len’s father Sol Weinglass owned two local drugstores. Business went bad for both men. Len’s parents lost their home and had to move the family in with relatives for awhile. His grandfather, like many businessmen during that time of economic disaster, faced with ruin, killed himself.

“Childhood shows the man,” Milton wrote, “as morning shows the day”. When he was nine years old Lenny had a dear friend, Johnny; they were inseparable, palling around together all the time. They had a fight. Lenny came home with a badly blackened eye. His father asked what happened. Lenny replied that he was in a fight. But you must have really gotten in some punches too, inquired his father, you must have given it back to him.? No said Len, I didn’t hit him. Why, his father asked incredulously? Because, replied Len, “he was my friend.”

Len was a very successful and popular high school student in Kearney, New Jersey, a town near Bellville where his family had moved. He played saxophone, was tall and handsome, and sported a fifties pompadour hair style, spending a lot of grooming time behind a closed door in front of the bathroom mirror. His father jokingly complained that he had raised a girl. As vice-president of the senior class he was expected to go to the senior prom. Time went past. Prom night was approaching. Still he had no date. His sisters asked him whom he was taking to the dance. He wouldn’t tell. But he knew. He escorted a plain wall flower who otherwise might not have gone.

When Len graduated he wanted to take a trip across the country to California. He got his father to drive him to the highway. His dad sat in his car weeping as Len hoisted his thumb at passing trucks. Soon an l8 wheeler stopped and Len piled in. He called often from the road reporting that he was frequently picked up by cars and trucks, that everyone was nice to him, buying him meals and that he was making good time on his trip west.

He didn’t take any identification with him. There was a lot of anti-semitism in the U.S. in the early fifties. Len didn’t want people seeing his last name was Weinglass and identifying him as a Jew. When he got to California he got work on a truck farm, doing stoop farm labor with Japanese agricultural workers. One night one of them was killed. Len was afraid that without an ID he would be a suspect. He jumped the fence in the middle of the night and got out of there.

Len was reserved, modest, but self-confident, unflamboyant and precise. He was, as attorney John Mage has written, “…a meticulous, well-prepared litigator and with an extraordinary degree of practical wisdom and foresight.” Len’s dear friend the distinguished attorney Marty Garbus said Len was the best jury selector and cross-examiner he had every know. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark wrote to Len in the hospital that “You have been an inspiration to me since we first met in 1969. Your quiet, selfless, relentless, brilliant and heroic commitment to truth and justice — against all odds — has made a difference worldwide. Having been at your side here at home, in Chicago, Iran, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and for the Cuban Five I can testify to your sole, selfless commitment to a world of peace and principle and good times along the way.”

Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban Five, who is serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison in California, remembered Len’s last visit to him, which was shortly before he went into the hospital.

Not long ago Len came to visit me and we worked for several hours preparing for the next step of my appeal. I noticed at the time that he was tired. I was worried With his advanced age that he was driving alone after a long trip from New York. The weather was bad and the roads from the airport up to Victorville wind through the mountains surrounding the high desert. I mentioned my concern to him but he did not pay it any attention. That was the way he was, nothing stopped him.

Len had an ironic and wry sense of humor. He had a large one room cabin atop of a high hill overlooking the Rondout reservoir in New York’s Catskill mountains. He lived up there in a teepee off and on for several years before designing the cottage. He had a special joy, which he inherited from his mother Clara, gardening and raising fruit trees. This was an especially difficult pursuit because he had mistakenly planted the trees on the south side of the hill where they got plenty of sun but were vulnerable to a false spring, blooming early, then getting damaged by a frost, which could occur up there as late as June. Nonetheless Len persisted and sometimes got a crop of apples, pears, and plums. The crop would then be eaten by the neighborhood bears. “I grow the fruit,” Len complained, “then the bears come and eat it and I go to Gristedes.” With regard to his work in the courtroom with his friend and colleague the colorful Bill Kunstler during the the Chicago 7 case, Len reflected that he was often referred to as “the other lawyer.”

He kept his sense of humor even during those terrible final days at Montefiore Hospital. His surgeon operated on him but abandoned his attempt to remove what turned out to be a large spreading malignant tumor, undetected by the pre-op CTscan. When the surgeon saw what it really was, that it was an inoperable tumor, he could do nothing but sew Len back up and tell him the bad news. Len looked up at us from his bed in the recovery room after being informed by the surgeon, accessed the situation, and said, simply, “summary judgement.” And so it was. He lived but another six weeks, steadily declining, never getting to go home, never giving up, even as several doctors told him “you are in the final stretch.”

Len was strong and vigorous up to his last illness . Since his highschool days he never lost his interest in football and closely followed the professional game. He was a Giants fan of course, but sentimentally he liked the Green Bay Packers because they were the only team in the league owned not by billionaires, but by the municipality of Green Bay. While Len was in Montefiore hospital the Packers made it into the Superbowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers. “ Want to bet on the game,” I asked. “How about five bucks.” He raised his finger to the sky. “Ten?,” I ventured. “No,” he whispered. “Fifty.” So my nephew Ben got us a bookie in Connecticut and we put down fifty bucks apiece. The Packers were favored so we had to give away 3½ points. Len advised that this was a responsible bet. It sure was. The Packers wound up winning in the last quarter by 4 points. I congratulated Len on his sagacity. That win lifted his spirits.

Len was a longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild and served as a time as the co-chair of its intenational committee. He was the recipient of the Guild’s Ernie Goodman Award, named after the extraordinary Detroit socialist lawyer and Guild leader who helped build the auto workers union and later organized the Guild to send its members down south to protect black people during the civil rights movment.

The Dean of Yale Law School Robert C. Post wrote Len’s sister Elaine to express his sympathy, writing that “Leonard Weinglass lived a full and admirable life in the law and exemplified the spirit of citizenship that lawyers at their very best display. He brought great honor to the legal community and to Yale Law School, which takes pride in all he did and was.”

Len was a Jew, but rejected the idea that it was racial ties or bonds of blood that made up the Jewish community, seeing that view as a degenerate philosophy leading to chauvinism and cruelty. He rejected Jewish nationalism, embracing instead an unconditional solidarity with the persecuted and exterminated.

Len was not religious. The emergency room admitting nurse asked him what his religion was so she could fill out the questionnaire. He paused and answered “leave it blank.” Two weeks later when he was admitted to the hospital he again was asked what his religion was. “None,” he answered. Religion to Len was superstition. Being part of a sect was too narrow and confining for Len. The Jewish heretic who transcends Jewry belongs to a Jewish tradition. The historian Isaac Deutscher had a phrase for it, “the non-Jewish Jew.” Len was in line with the great revolutionaries of modern thought; Spinoza, Heine, Marx, Luxemburg, Trotsky, Freud, and Einstein, whose photo hung in Len’s Chelsea loft. These people went beyond the boundaries of Judaism, finding it too narrow, archaic, constricting.

I don’t wish to stretch the comparison. Len was not so much a radical thinker as a man of action. But his intellectual understanding – he was well educated and widely read – powered his activity. He had in common with these great thinkers the idea that for knowledge to be real it must be acted upon. As Marx observed, “Hitherto philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point however is to change it.”

Like his intellectual predecessors. Len saw reality in a state of flux, as dynamic, not static, and he was aware of the constantly changing and contradictory nature of society. Len was essentially an optimist and shared with the great Jewish revolutionaries an optimistic belief in the solidarity of humankind.

Len died in the evening of March 23, 2011 as spring was approaching in New York. He had plans to celebrate Passover in April, as usual, with his family in New Jersey. He knew quite a lot about Passover, led his family’s observance at the seder every year, and kept up a file on the holiday. He liked the idea that the Jews had the chutzpah to conflate their own flight from slavery with spring and the liberation of nature.

He had plans to tend his fruit trees on the side of the hill next to his Catskill cabin. He would have put in a vegetable garden near his three block long driveway, which frequently washed out and which he repaired with sysiphean regularity. He would have set out birdseed on the cabin’s porch rail, where he would sit in a lounge chair on a platform and watch the songbirds feed.

He loved being out on that porch, high up on a hill, particularly at day’s end, seeing the sun go down over the Rondout reservoir which supplied some of the drinking water to New York City. Back in 1976 he told a student reporter for UCLA’s Daily Bruin that leading a committed life was satisfying, fulfilling, and that was what made him happy.

He will be remembered personally as a good, generous, and loyal friend, a gentle and kind person; politically as a great persuasive speaker, an acute analyst of the political scene, and a far-seeing visionary. Professionally Len Weinglass will live on as one of the great lawyers of his time, joining the legal pantheon of leading twentieth century advocates for justice along with Clarence Darrow, Leonard Boudin, Arthur Kinoy, Ernest Goodman, and William Kunstler.

“Lenny cannot be replaced,” wrote his friend Sandra Levinson. “There are no words for the loss we all feel. Do something brave, put yourself out there for someone, fight for someone’s dignity, do something to honor this courageous just man.”

Leonard Irving Weinglass: Presente.

Michael Steven Smith

New York, NY

April l7, 2011

Lachrymose history is bunk

Apr 19, 2011

Delia Relke

A response to the post yesterday on the “meaning of Helen Thomas.”

… it is simply a fact – not less of a fact because anti-Semites turn it into a grievance – that Jews play an important and influential role in American cultural life. We are not just “the people of the book,” but the people of the Hollywood film and the television mini-series, of the magazine article and the newspaper column, of the comic book and the academic symposium. When a high level of concern with remembering the Holocaust became widespread in American Jewry, it was, given the important role that Jews play in American media and opinion-making elites, virtually inevitable that it would spread throughout the culture at large

Peter Novick, The American National Narrative of the Holocaust; There Isn’t Any” [2003]

It is much easier to talk about the fact that Jews are overrepresented in the upper reaches of Western culture and society if you put it in historical context.

First, you have to chuck out that “lachrymose narrative” that Zionists cling to, and address the hills and valleys of Jewish accomplishment and Jewish persecution.

Robert Wistrich’s theory of antisemitism as “the oldest hatred” is rubbish; misogyny is centuries older and provided a lot of the language of antisemism, to wit, the medieval myth that male Jews menstruate, and other “feminizing” concepts that have informed the bigoted view of Jews for centuries. Read Otto Weininger.

Only when you have debunked Zionist myth-making can you balance out the enormous contributions Jews have made to Western civilization on the one hand, and their easily misconstrued — and sometimes abused — influence on the other.

Wikileaks: U.S. threw its body down to block Goldstone Report’s progress to the Hague

Apr 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

Are the walls of the “special relationship” falling? No way. But five years after Walt and Mearsheimer, the issue is finally being poked at by the mainstream media. Here at Foreign Policy under the headline “Special Relationship,” Colum Lynch reports on the latest wikileaks cables on the U.S. and Israel, showing the efforts to stymie the Goldstone Report. If you go to the cables, Ambassador Rice speaks about building a “blocking coalition” against the report:

The new documents, though consistent with public U.S. statements at the time opposing a U.N. investigation into Israeli military operations, reveal in extraordinary detail how America wields its power behind closed doors at the United Nations. They also demonstrate how the United States and Israel were granted privileged access to highly sensitive internal U.N. deliberations on an “independent” U.N. board of inquiry into the Gaza war, raising questions about the independence of the process.

In one pointed cable, [Susan] Rice repeatedly prodded U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to block a recommendation of the board of inquiry to carry out a sweeping inquiry into alleged war crimes by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. In another cable, Rice issued a veiled warning to the president of the International Criminal Court, Sang-Hyun Song, that an investigation into alleged Israeli crimes could damage its standing with the United States at a time when the new administration was moving closer to the tribunal. “How the ICC handles issues concerning the Goldstone Report will be perceived by many in the US as a test for the ICC, as this is a very sensitive matter,” she told him, according to a Nov. 3, 2009, cable from the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

Rice, meanwhile, assured Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during an Oct. 21, 2009, meeting in Tel Aviv that the United States had done its utmost to “blunt the effects of the Goldstone report” and that she was confident she could “build a blocking coalition” to prevent any push for a probe by the Security Council, according to an Oct. 27, 2009 cable.

Rice assured Lieberman. Rice assured Lieberman. It wasn’t a month ago that even David Remnick described Lieberman as“proto-fascistic.” And we’re bombing Libya because of attacks on civilians and meanwhile kissing this guy’s behind?

Remnick, by the way, once mocked Walt and Mearsheimer by saying, oh if we somehow ended the Israel-Palestine conflict the lion would lie down with the lamb– wait here are his words:  “Mearsheimer and Walt give you the sense that, if the Israelis and the Palestinians come to terms, bin Laden will return to the family construction business.” Ha ha ha. As if our entanglement on one side of this conflict hasn’t helped destroy the American brand across the Middle East.

Bibi’s Sharia

Apr 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

From Ynet, Netanyahu on avenging the settler murders in Itamar:

Israel, Netanyahu stressed “will catch such killers wherever they may be and cut off their hands. This manifests both our commitment to the notion of justice and to our citizen’s security.”

Thanks to Annie.

Helen Thomas paid a price– and so did Jennifer Nelson

Apr 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

This is so delicious I’m not eating my lunch. Just be a little patient with a winding storyline…

Let’s go back to the dawn of time, the 2010 congressional campaign. Democratic congressman Mike McMahon was representing a Brooklyn-Staten Island district that included a lot of Arab-Americans in Bay Ridge. I met some of them, and they dug McMahon for saying halfway decent things about foreign policy. McMahon was on Foreign Affairs. And then during that campaign, McMahon had to fire his aide. Remember why?

In an effort to show that Republican challenger Mike Grimm has received most of his financial support from donors outside of New York’s 13th district, Democratic Rep. Mike McMahon’s re-election campaign gave the New York Observer a list of more than 80 Jewish donors to Grimm.

The list was entitled “Grimm Jewish Money Q2.”

At least half a dozen of the donors on the list live on Staten Island, which is part of the 13th district.

“Where is Grimm’s money coming from,” Jennifer Nelson, McMahon’s campaign spokesperson, asked the Observer. “There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees.”

The point is, you’re not allowed to even talk about this issue in American politics. And oh yeah, McMahon lost to Grimm.

Now part the misty clouds of yesteryear and enter the present. The Forward has a fabulous piece of reporting by Josh Nathan-Kazis and Nathan Guttman on how hard-right on Israel Michael Grimm is.

Rep. Michael Grimm broke ranks with his party and became the first House Republican to call for the release of Jonathan Pollard.

The freshman member from New York has made Israel a key element of his political work. And while the Republican House leadership has thus far refrained from speaking out in favor of a commutation of Pollard’s life sentence for spying for Israel, Grimm pays small heed to political consensus.

Grimm also came out against his own budget-cutting camp when talk of slashing aid to Israel was on the table. And he strongly opposes a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two states is the position adopted by President George W. Bush during his administration and by party leaders today.

Now why is Grimm taking these positions. Well– the Forward says it has something to do with… Jewish money.

Grimm is not Jewish. But his hawkish views on Israel seem to square with Jewish constituents, especially among the Orthodox community, in his congressional district, which includes Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. They are in line, too, with Jewish donors from outside that have helped him get elected.

During his electoral campaign, Grimm drew significant support from Jewish donors living outside the district — so much so that, in July 2009, the press office of incumbent Democrat Mike McMahon circulated a list of Grimm donors under the heading, “Grimm Jewish Money Q2.”

The press officer who distributed the list was quickly fired, and McMahon apologized for the list’s distribution.

Some of Grimm’s Jewish support, particularly during the early months of the campaign, came from the supporters of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a Sephardic kabbalist with deep ties among Israel’s political and business elite and with growing influence in the United States. Last June, Grimm sat beside Pinto at the front of the sanctuary in his Manhattan yeshiva while the rabbi delivered a lecture.

Yes I know, it’s rightwing Jewish money, but darling I’m just back from a liberal seder where they served wine from the Golan Heights. Even J Street won’t come out hard against settlements. American Jewish opinion on these issues is refractory.

And obviously these issues were central to the McMahon-Grimm race but when someone tried to tee the issue up, yes ok a little sloppily, but this is politics, she got axed.

A night in Bil’in

Apr 19, 2011

Morgan Bach

On April 4th, I read Hamde Abu Rahma’s article (“Israeli Forces Raided Two Houses in Bil’in at 1:30 a.m.” ) on the most recent night raids in Bil’in. One of the raids was conducted in a house where I stayed for four nights, and it prompted me to recall one of my experiences.

Photo by Haitham Al Khatib

On the 2nd of January, I was sitting in the Popular committee office, Facebooking and hanging out with Hamde and his brother Khamis, when one of them got a phone call. Someone who had been keeping watch had noticed Israeli military jeeps coming into a nearby village. What I heard was, “The army is coming.” My first thought was, this is a night raid. My second thought was, this has something to do with Jawaher Abu Rahma, who had died just the day before.

I knew a little about night raids. I’d watched the videos that our friend Haitham had taken; the raids usually involved the military declaring someone’s house a “closed military zone” and arresting someone inside for throwing rocks at a demonstration, or incitement, or something. In a lot of the videos there were international activists trying to get through the soldiers to help the family inside. There would be some arguing, some pushing, some gun-pointing.

I didn’t know where I saw myself in this chain of events. Maybe I would watch from a distance, or maybe I would be one of those internationals who stood up to the soldiers. A week earlier, I wouldn’t have put myself in that situation. But since then I’d been to three demonstrations, gotten yelled at, pushed around, gassed and sound bombed. I was so mad after that sound bomb landed next to me that I locked eyes with the offending soldier and mouthed a well-meant “f*#k you.” That was the angriest I’ve ever felt.

So things had changed in the last week. I wanted to show the soldiers I wasn’t afraid of them. And tell them how cowardly it was to follow orders without thinking. And how stupid they looked in those mesh camo hats.
After we got the news, I followed Hamde and his brother out of the office and started across the village toward their house. I didn’t know what their system was. I didn’t even know there was a look-out system, but seeing as we were the only ones out, I assumed these guys were it, and we were about to find out if the army was coming. I was wearing three layers, but it still took me a minute to realize why I was shaking uncontrollably. I tried not to think about the soldiers and instead tried to listen to the guys talking and laughing as we made our way through the olive trees. Once we were settled in Hamde’s room, Khamis got out his argheelah and started smoking, and Haitham soon joined us with his camera. They would follow the soldiers and videotape the raid as they had done many times before. Hamde brought us pita bread and avocado mixed with olive oil and salt for dipping.

I usually eat anything put in front of me, but I felt strangely queasy as I tried to force down bits of pita. It must have been obvious, because Haitham stopped his conversation and asked me if I was afraid. I lied and said no, it was just new for me.

Hamde told me if the soldiers came, they would go and I could stay here. I told him I wanted to come with. “Walla?” Hamde said, incredulous. I knew I’d have to fight a little harder if I meant to go. We forgot about it for a while. We talked about filmmaking, Haitham’s new camera, traveling, the drama between Khamis, the girl he wanted to marry, and her disapproving father, known affectionately to the family as “Doctor Donkey.” I sang the only Arabic song I knew (Ana Ayesh by Amr Diab) for the thousandth time, for Haitham’s camera. We hung out, three Palestinians and one American, and it was in those moments that they made me laugh and forget my nerves that I fell more in love with Bil’in. What could I, with my American passport and freedom to come and go from Palestine as I pleased, understand about life under occupation? I couldn’t eat, sing or crack jokes without shaking in anticipation of the raid.

So how did the children feel when their doors were broken down by armed soldiers? How did the mothers feel when their boys were bound and taken to the back of an army jeep? How did the fathers feel when their houses were invaded without their consent, and they could do nothing about it?

As it happened, the soldiers didn’t come to Bil’in that night.

It’s been three months, and I just learned from Haitham’s Facebook post that Khamis’ house was raided last night. Khamis owns the house where internationals stay, where I stayed for four days. Haitham’s video shows the soldiers poking around cabinets and under the sink where I brushed my teeth.

For those familiar with the IDF’s attempts to undermine non-violent demonstration in the West Bank, this image isn’t anything new. This desperate attempt to paint the demonstrations as inherently violent, hate-fueled and semi-militaristic has sanctioned several unfortunate practices, such as blackmailing families with sick children and making young boys sign statements in Hebrew that implicate leaders of the Popular Committees. Of course they think the internationals are hiding something in their quarters. But when I think of how my experience there strays from the IDF perception, it almost makes me laugh. Almost.

That was where I smoked argheelah with Hamde and his brothers and cousins on New Years Eve, learned about their boyhood days in Bil’in, then stayed awake most of the night battling mosquitoes. I woke up there to the news that Hamde’s cousin Jawaher had died from tear gas inhalation, and witnessed the village in mourning. For three days I packed and unpacked my bags because every time I tried to catch a taxi to Ramallah, someone would invite me into their house for lunch or tea or coffee, and the idea of leaving became less and less possible…and desirable. I would always come back to Khamis’ house. One night I sang songs to Hamde’s cousins while he took care of Haitham and made him ginger tea. I lived in that house for four days, and I knew when I saw Haitham’s picture of a soldier coming out of the side door that I finally had to tell this story, which is just the story of a foreigner on the edge of Bil’in’s story. But as a guest of that house I too feel traced, invaded, implicated, and I don’t think that anticipation will ever cease to make me queasy.

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Illegal theft of olive trees must be stopped


For around a decade now, illegal trade in ancient olive trees – including uprooting, stealing and smuggling them from the West Bank into Israel – has reportedly been flourishing.

The immoral wealthy have a new and tasteless toy: ancient olive trees adorning the gardens of their villas.

According to an investigative report by journalist Maya Zinshtein published in the Haaretz Hebrew edition on Monday, for around a decade now, illegal trade in ancient olive trees – including uprooting, stealing and smuggling them from the West Bank into Israel – has been flourishing.

It is a market worth millions of shekels a year, in which a single tree can command tens of thousands of shekels. The Haaretz report uncovered suspicions of criminal activities in this regard, along with an ugly greediness for pet trees that has nothing to do with the love of the land and its arboreal species.

Olive trees, one of the most beautiful and symbolic hallmarks of the land of Israel, have also become a status symbol for the upper thousandth percentile of the population. As a result, they are being uprooted from their natural surroundings, where they should have remained planted forever, ruining the landscape on both sides of the Green Line.

It is illegal to uproot and transport ancient trees without authorization. Many trees have been stolen from their owners in the territories, and in other cases, heavy pressure is brought to bear on Palestinian farmers to sell their trees, taking advantage of their powerlessness and making huge profits at their expense.

The government department in charge of enforcing the law pertaining to flora and fauna is partially paralyzed; a senior member of its staff owns a nursery, has a criminal record, and is suspected of taking bribes and of illegal trade in trees.

The state comptroller intends to soon publish a report on this department. But beyond the criminal nature of this commerce, the environmental and public aspects of this scandal cannot be ignored.

Uprooting ancient olive trees, which have been planted for centuries in public areas and have been an inseparable part of the scenery of the Galilee and the West Bank, and moving them to the private gardens of wealthy homeowners, rides roughshod over the landscape and heritage of this country.

Uprooting trees that farmers have tended for centuries and moving them to homes whose owners have no relationship to the land or to agriculture, is infuriating and improper. It is incumbent on the Agriculture Ministry and the Civil Administration to take immediate action to stop the theft of trees and the destruction of the landscape.

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Iran army general: Attacking us would be suicidal


Semi-official Iran Fars News Agency quotes Iranian Brig. Gen. Reza Pourdastan as saying aggression against Iran is impossible; general boasts that Iran’s military is stronger than ever.

The Iranian army’s ground force commander warned that attacking Iran would be suicidal, the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency reported on Wednesday.

“Today no enemy has the requirements and the desire to carry out a military attack against the powerful Iran and military aggression against Iran is highly unlikely and even impossible and is synonymous with the suicide of the aggressor,” Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said while addressing foreign military attaches in Teheran on Tuesday.

The General boasted that Iran’s military capabilities were stronger than they have been at any point in history.

There has been much speculation that Israel or the United States plan on attacking Iran in order to stop their nuclear program, which many charge is being used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies these allegations.

Iran has claimed that the U.S. and Israel were behind a mysterious computer worm known as Stuxnet that has harmed Iran’s nuclear program.

Gholam Reza Jalali said investigations by Iranian experts show that Stuxnet originated from the U.S. state of Texas and Israel.

Jalali heads a military unit called Passive Defense that primarily deals with sabotage. His comments were reported by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

Jalali is the first Iranian official to blame Tehran’s two arch-foes over the Stuxnet virus. Some reports in the Western media had indicated that the U.S. and Israel were behind it.

Iran has acknowledged Stuxnet hit a limited number of centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment facility, the centerpiece of its nuclear program.

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Nazi Settlers injure five Palestinians



Two Zio-Nazi settlers run as they prepare to attack Palestinian homes in the village of Burin in the West Bank on Tuesday.
Five Palestinians, including two photojournalists, have been injured in clashes with Zio-Nazi settlers in the northern West Bank.


Residents of the Har Brakha illegal Zionist settlement threw stones at houses in the nearby Palestinian village of Burin, and young Palestinians threw stones back at them on Tuesday, a Press TV correspondent said.

Zio-Nazi  soldiers then intervened and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the Palestinians.

A local photojournalist had his nose broken and another was slightly hurt.

Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority official responsible for the settlement file in the northern West Bank, said that armed Zio-Nazi settlers from the nearby settlement Har Brakha attacked the village and attempted to take over a house in order to raise a flag on top of it.

zio-Nazi army then attacked the village, firing live rounds and tear gas canisters at residents.

Dozens were slightly injured due to inhalation of tear gas, including four journalists who were covering the attacks.


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‘Syrian Protestors Proxy for US/IsraHell’

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC


Protest develops in Baniyas, Syria
An interview with Bassam Abu Abdulla from the Al Watan news agency in Damascus
The US, Western governments and popular media sow discord in Syria by supporting opposition groups who want the nation and its people to divide under developing democratic reforms.

In an interview with Press TV, Bassam Abu Abdulla, from the Al Watan news agency in Damascus, tells us that the US and Saudi Arabian governments as well as the Western media are manipulating reports and supporting opposition groups in Syria because the government has long been against the US and Israeli policy in the region.

Press TV: What can you tell us about recent events taking place in Syria?

Abu Abdulla: Generally, everyone should know that what’s going on in Syria is usually not what’s shown on the TV channels. There are a lot of facts that all people should know about what’s going on in Syria.

We are referring between two tracks. The first track is when we are talking about reforms. All Syrian people support reforms. And I think that millions of people were in the main cities, supported by what President Bashar had said, for the reforms.

But what’s going on now, what we could see yesterday in homes and other cities – in [Pisa], Baniyas or in parts of Daraa – are Salafi groups. These Salafi groups in the Syrian society are very small groups because Syrian society is generally in the middle of Islam. In Syria, extremism is generally not accepted and because of that we are talking about foreign factors reflected in the Syrian unrest.

Now, these Salafi groups are used as a tool by some foreign factors for example by the United States, [Saudi Arabia’s] Bandar bin Sultan and some parts in Lebanon, to realize some plans against the foreign policy of Syria.

We are talking about a conspiracy. It’s a very high percentage.

We are concerned about some TV channels like Al-Zajeera, Al Arabiya, France 24, BBC, and others, all these channels are now attacking Syria. There is a war against Syria with these TV channels because the reality is that nobody will talk, but the [news channels] are talking about a revolution.

There is no revolution in Syria. Millions of Syrian people are sitting in their houses and watching what’s going on.

The people [who cause upheavals], the Syrian Salafis, are not from Syrian society.

Press TV: How’s the situation in Syria compared with other events taking place in the region?

Abu Abdulla: Now, about the role of the foreign factors. Yesterday, I think, The Washington Post newspaper published that the United States Department of State supported the Al-Barada TV channel, a TV channel in opposition of Syria, paying them USD 6 million to secretly support some so-called opposition leaders.

I don’t trust these kinds of people who are living in Washington, Paris, or London.

The real situation is that because the Syrian position is against the American plans in the region and against Israel, and because Syria is supporting the resistance movements — generally, Hezbollah and Hamas [that are] against the American plans — the conspiracy against the US is continuing.

We are talking about different parties participating in these conspiracies. We can watch these different groups. The first group is the corrupted people inside Syria.

The second group is the Salafi group who is being supported by [Saudi Arabia’s] Bandar bin Sultan, the American CIA and [Israel’s] Mossad.

The third group is composed of some regional parties against Syria.

The fourth group is the Muslim brothers in London, and now they are in Saudi Arabia.

All these groups, besides the TV channels war, are working against Syria now. The Syrian government will soon face this situation because we are not talking about severe demonstrations, but we are talking about the Salafi group – those who speak a very strange language in the Syrian society and who want to divide the Syrian nation, which is a redline for all Syrians. Because of that we will soon see the Syrian government deal with them in another way.


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