Archive | April 24th, 2011

‘The Palestine Cables’: Obama administration killed off independent U.N. investigation into Zio-Nazi Holocaust in Gaza

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

23gaza_massacres_person_dead_in_rubble.jpeg

by Alex Kane

 

It was a shocking event in a twenty-two day assault filled with them:  the Israeli military shelled a United Nations compound in Gaza City January 15, where humanitarian aid like fuel and water pumping stations were stationed as well as hundreds of Palestinians displaced by the Israeli bombardment.  John Ging, the Gaza Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) described the scene on Democracy Now!

This morning, there were three rounds of white phosphorus which landed in our compound in Gaza. That set ablaze the main warehouse and the big workshop we have there for vehicles. At the time, there were 700, also, people displaced from the fighting. There were full fuel tankers there. The Israeli army have been given all the coordinates of all our facilities, including this one. They also knew that there were fuel tankers laden with fuel in the compound, and they would have known that there were hundreds of people who had taken refuge.

It was one of a number of incidents during “Operation Cast Lead” where the Israeli military attacked United Nations facilities.  But the possibility of an further inquiry that would investigate violations of international law during these attacks was killed following intense U.S. lobbying, according to newly published State Department cables released by WikiLeaks and reported on by Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch.  The efforts by the Obama administration to scuttle any investigation is similar to their efforts on the Goldstone report, and shows in detail how the U.S. uses its muscle in international forums to protect Israel.

A report was published in May 2009 on nine incidents where U.N. facilities were attacked by Israel.  The full report was never published, although a summary of the U.N. report stated that the “Government of Israel is responsible for the deaths and injuries that occurred within the United Nations premises” in seven of the nine incidents investigated.

A number of recommendations were made for further follow-up, which included seeking compensation from Israel and seeking public statements from Israel that allegations of Palestinian fighters firing from within UNRWA facilities were unfounded.  The most controversial recommendation included in the report was the call for an “impartial inquiry” into violations of international humanitarian law.  But the possibility of that inquiry was quashed in the cover letter to the summary of the report, written by Ki-Moon.  “As for the Board’s recommendations numbers 10 and 11 [which called for further inquiries], which relate to matters that did not largely fall within the Board of Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, I do not plan any further Inquiry,” Ki-Moon wrote.

And despite Moon’s insistence at a press conference that the work of the board of inquiry was “completely independent,” State Department cables tell a much different story of U.S. pressure on Moon to kill off the possibility of an independent investigation.

Lynch reports:

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.

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Syrian Conflict Escalates

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

Propagandists seeking US intervention, shift blame on puppet Obama.

by Tony Cartlucci

Bangkok, Thailand April 23, 2011 – It is no secret that Syria has been marked for regime change for at least two decades. In a 2007 speech given by General Wesley Clark regarding what he called a US “policy coup,” he relayed a 1991 conversation between himself and then Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz indicated that America had 5-10 years to clean up old Soviet “client regimes,” namely Syria, Iran, and Iraq, before the next super power rose up to challenge western hegemony.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Clark was again passed plans drawn to implement regime change throughout the Middle East, specifically to attack and destroy the governments of 7 countries; Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Lebanon and Libya. In 2002, then US Under Secretary of State John Bolton, would add Syria to the growing “Axis of Evil.”

In a recent CNN article, acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner stated, “We’re not working to undermine that [Syrian] government. What we are trying to do in Syria, through our civil society support, is to build the kind of democratic institutions, frankly, that we’re trying to do in countries around the globe. What’s different, I think, in this situation is that the Syrian government perceives this kind of assistance as a threat to its control over the Syrian people.”

Toner’s remarks come after the Washington Post released cables indicating the US has been funding Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005 under the Bush administration and was continued under Obama. To suggest America is promoting any conceivable form of democracy in Syria, when it itself is ruled by a monopolistic corporate oligarchy within which special interest driven agendas transcend presidential administrations is tenuous if not scandalous. It is quite clear that Wolfowitz’ agenda back in 1991 had long ago leaped from the drawing board and into practice, undermining the Syrian government through sanctions and seditious, foreign funded “civil society” networks.

What has ensued in Syria during the also admittedly US-funded “Arab Spring” is a puppet show of sorts, where Obama feigns surprise and confusion over what to do about Syria’s unrest. As the violence escalates, the propagandists predictably argue that Obama is doing “nothing” as Syrians yearn for “true democracy and freedom.” Undeniably, however, the US has fueled the unrest from the very beginning and most certainly is far from doing “nothing.”

In a recent AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, stated that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.” The report went on to explain that the US “organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there.” Posner would add, “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.”

The ripple effect of course are the uprisings themselves, facilitated by yet more aid, equipment, and the complicity of the corporate owned media, disingenuously portraying the events as “spontaneous,” “genuine,” and “indigenous.” Protesters running amok in city streets from Cairo, Egypt to Daraa, Syria carrying out arson and mayhem are described as “peaceful protesters” and any attempt by regimes to restore order is deemed an “acts of repression.”

With the preplanned operation to effect regime change in Syria already well underway, propagandists and co-conspirators like Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) member Elliot Abrams disingenuously berates Obama for standing idly by. In a recent article published on the CFR’s website, Abrams argues that “the Obama Administration should be in no “bind” or “quandary” about Syria,” citing “200 peaceful protesters now dead in the streets of Syria’s cities.”

Abrams also brings up Iran, and that collapsing Syria’s Assad regime would be a step toward isolating and collapsing Iran as well. Also of interest, Abrams reconfirms reports that Libya indeed was amongst one of many nations that supplied fighters to Iraq, funneled through Syria he emphasizes, in an oafish attempt to bolster his argument for removing Assad from power. These fighters were drawn from eastern Libya, where many of them now are part of the US-backed rebellion against Qaddafi.

Abrams’ propaganda and similar pieces are meant to create a strategy of tension to herd the people into their political camps, create the illusion of debate, and justify an already foregone conclusion – regime change in Syria. Abrams concludes his piece by stating that the US “should side clearly with the people of Syria, who want an end to the Asad nightmare.” Quite obviously, the US already has. Just as one sitting through a bad play they already know the ending of, we too are made to endure a poorly performed act put on by puppet politicians as the corporate-financiers coax us through another leg of their agenda.

We must then look past the puppet show and instead focus on the corporate-financier puppet masters hovering above the stage. We must see them as the problem, and understand that replacing them is the solution.

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Nuclear War in the Mideast

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

 

By Karla Fetrow

Three Warning Bells

It is the spring of the year; a time of rebirth, renewal and regeneration.  It is also a time that painfully signals the advancing epidemic of poor global health.  It marks one year since the Mexico Gulf Coast oil spill; a tragedy that analysts say isn’t really as great as it first appeared.  They point to a few large water fowl that have returned to their nests, some clean public beaches and a return of tourism for generating the economy.  In the meantime, the families of those who died in the oil spill continue to mourn their losses.  In the meantime, thick, black oil continues to ease from the sea.  In the meantime, the fishermen who depend on shrimp and crab harvests, return home empty handed.

This trembling spring, still wounded, marks one month since a devastating earthquake and accompanying tsunami killed Japan and its best hopes of recovery by critically damaging its nuclear reactors and initiating a full break down.  Anxiety arises, not just for the plight of the Japanese people, but also the effects the radioactive cloud will have on the global environment and economics.  Their fears are justified.  Not only was Japan the third largest economy in the world, proving that industry and technology can provide for millions on an island no larger than California, environment and economy are intricately tied.  In the wake of the disaster and the tons of contaminated water emptying into the sea, food companies and their customers nervously debate the safety of eating Northern Pacific fish, even with the assurances that the radioactive dispersing will be too minute to have any effects on a marine life diet.

It is the spring of the year, and both the Atlantic and Pacific side of the northern hemisphere are bleeding, but the biggest wound to have struck masquerades blandly behind the name of spreading democracy to the Mideast and Africa.  The biggest wound to have struck is in the deployment of depleted uranium missiles.

Depleted Uranium and the Gulf War Syndrome

Exposure to the dust from depleted uranium missiles has long been suspected to be the cause of Gulf War Syndrome.  When the United States first began its nuclear weapons program in the 1940′s, it stored the depleted uranium as an unusable waste product.  It was hoped that someday technology would become advanced enough to use the high density nuclear material.  By 1980, it was.  Depleted uranium is a very dense metal; 1.67 times as dense as lead, only slightly less dense than tungsten or gold.  It has been used in tank armor, sandwiched between steel armor plates, in ammunition from a 30 mm caliber armor piercing round to the A-10 Thunderbolt II cannon used by the US Air Force.

Depleted uranium weapons were liberally used during the Persian Gulf War, during the bombings by  NATO and the United Nations over the Serbian Republic of Bosnia in September 1995, against Yugoslavia in spring of 1999; in this century, during the attack on Afghanistan and then further in Iraq in 2003. Their effects have been largely minimized by the deploying governments and the media, but the effects have long-ranging and devastating consequences.

One hundred thousand veterans continue to complain of Gulf War Syndrome.  A year 2000 CNN report attributed the phenomena, which includes headaches, memory loss, chronic fatigue and dizziness to possible over-exposure to pesticides and chemicals.

According to the CNN report, “In 1999 doctors from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas presented the results of brain scans performed on victims of the syndrome showing depleted brain cells in three areas of their brains.

“This year we show that brain cell losses from specific areas of the brain correlate with different symptoms and abnormalities,” lead researcher Robert Haley said in a report released at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

The scans performed on 12 veterans with severe cases of the syndrome found brain cell losses of between 10 percent and 25 percent in three regions deep inside the brain — the basal ganglia in each hemisphere and the brain stem. Scans performed on healthy veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War were normal.”

Arthur Kerschen, who claims to be a Molecular and Cellular Biologist for a private (unnamed) Biotech Company, is a skeptic.  He felt  the Gulf War Syndrome was a lot of hype and paranoia perpetrated by the American Legion, which urged all Gulf War veterans to sign in with their database.  He stated, “Make no mistake about it, the proponents of Gulf War Syndrome will stop at nothing less than a large monetary settlement with the United States government, at taxpayers expense; and an end to United States efforts to liberate oppressed peoples of the world.”

These early accounts did not include the possibility that exposure to depleted uranium could be the culprit.  Kerschen’s statements were based on an observation that those who claimed the symptoms were spread out evenly over the territory of Iraq instead of restricted to a particular platoon or region, thus, in his professional opinion, ruling out the possibility of biological or chemical weapons.  The CNN report concentrated solely on the possibility that known chemicals, apart from the weapons used, were the culprit.

The Hazards of Depleted Uranium Artillery

Depleted uranium artillery projectiles are  favored by the military as they are shelf sharpening, penetrate deeply into their target and are pyrophoric.  When a DU penetrator reaches the interior of an armored vehicle, it catches fire, often igniting ammunition and fuel, killing the crew, and possibly causing the vehicle to explode.  When a DU projectile explodes, it leaves behind a dust that is both toxic and radioactive.  When the powder is ingested, either through drinking, eating or breathing it in, it causes damages to the kidneys, liver, bone marrow and chromosomes.

Although the metal itself is not radioactive, the low level radiation from exploded DU projectiles has a half life of 4.4 billion years.  Because it is a very heavy and dense metal, unexploded shells sink deeply into the ground, eventually leaching radiation into the soil and water.  Effectively, the radiation does not dissipate over time, but instead accumulates with additional detonation.

In April of 1991, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority described the potential problems of radioactive dust spreading over the battlefields and getting into the food chain and the water. At that time it warned that forty tons of radioactive debris left from DU weapons could cause over five hundred thousand deaths. The amount of radioactive debris left behind in the Gulf War is over three hundred tons.

At least 350 sites in Iraq were contaminated during DU weapons bombing.  The Nation now reports 140,000 cases of cancer with six to seven thousand new ones reported each year.  The bombing not only increased birth defects and severe deformities within civilian exposure, but sixty-seven percent of those enlisted into active military service who parented children after their return home, had babies with birth defects and/or  cancers.

Depleted uranium has been proven to cause serious damage to troops, civilians and the environment, but the US, France and Britain have blocked a UN ban proposal. The US Government categorically denies the dangers of depleted uranium, despite evidence that 90,000 of registered claims of Gulf War Syndrome have deteriorated into cancers and debilitating diseases.  The problem, as explained by medical specialists, is once the dust settles into the lungs, it will not come out.  The depleted uranium, with its four billion year half life, is there to stay.

Is Libya Next?

According to Phyllis Bennis, from the Institute of Policy Studies, “The U.S. and its allies appear to be using depleted uranium bombs in Libya, which is going to have enormous consequences for the future of Libya. We see political consequences in terms of the U.S. and its allies ending up, as they have in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, in control of the post-intervention government that gets created.”

Bennis sees the US led NATO forces into Lybia as a stepping up of war efforts similar to the actions of deployment in Afghanistan.  “What we’re seeing is a clear commitment on the part of NATO and the U.S. for regime change—exactly what the U.N. resolution was not designed to do,” she states.  ” And what we’re hearing now is a sort of playing with words among NATO countries—the U.K. and France, in particular, that had been the most aggressive in wanting to escalate and take an official position in support of regime change in Libya.”

Oddly, for a country so anxious for change, a study of its political climate doesn’t reveal the marked determination of peaceful revolution by a unified citizenry as was evidenced in Egypt.  Gaddafi seems to have a lot of supporters.  Though a strong case of human rights violations could be filed against him, an even stronger case could be brought out against the NATO forces supposedly assisting the rebels, and in fact, jeopardizing the lives of countless citizens.  The bombings consistently occur in areas occupied not only by Gaddafi’s armies, but among rebel strongholds and in densely populated areas.  The Tehran Times reported that cruise missiles had been used since the earliest days of the conflict, missiles well known to contain  Depleted Uranium either as flight stabilizers in the wings, or as weight kinetic energy enhancer. In the last week of the conflict, A-10 airplanes were deployed, and those too are well known for using DU bullets.

The arid climate of Libya; like Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan; favor the dispersion  in the air of particles of depleted uranium, which can be inhaled by civilians for years after the explosion. These particles can also be picked up by trade winds that disperse them across countries and continents.  The inevitable outcome of this contamination is an increase in cancer, respiratory illnesses and deformed babies around the world.

The motivating factor for the escalating war in Libya is not concern for the well being of the citizens.  It is the concentration of Western influences for the continuing a monopoly over Mideast oil, and an ambition to control the changing politics of the Mid Eastern countries.  This lack of true humanitarian impulse will blacken the eye of organized trade for decades to come.

It is the spring of the year, and the warning bells have struck twice with vivid images for the world to see.  It has struck a third time, invisibly, in a massive effort to cover up the long term effects of depleted uranium warfare.  It has been wrapped in the secrecy of governments and military officials.  It has been categorically denied with categorical evidence in the victims of DU particle inhalation, in the malformation of small children, for a war that can not be won.  It is the most unclean and hideous of wars; a war that concentrates solely on profits for an industry that chooses wealth now, and a dead Earth later.  The Depleted Uranium already in the air is with us to stay.  It will compromise the natural health and chromosome structure of all living creatures for generations to come.  The question for the weary world, shouldering the consequences of unethical decision making, should we continue to allow the bombing of Mid Eastern countries with weapons of mass destruction, or will the bells toll on until they are forever silent?

As stated by Ramsey Clark in An International Appeal to Ban the Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons,
“Depleted-uranium weapons are an unacceptable threat to life, a violation of international law and an assault on human dignity. To safeguard the future of humanity, we call for an unconditional international ban forbidding research, manufacture, testing, transportation, possession and use of DU for military purposes. In addition, we call for the immediate isolation and containment of all DU weapons and waste, the reclassification of DU as a radioactive and hazardous substance, the cleanup of existing DU-contaminated areas, comprehensive efforts to prevent human exposure and medical care for those who have been exposed.”  The time for denial is over.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium

http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=238790

http://archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/11/27/gulfwar.brain.reut/

http://www.biofact.com/gulf/

http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_19046.shtml

http://www.iacenter.org/depleted/mobiliz.htm

http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/402.html

http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=238790

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/4/19/phyllis_bennis_uk_sends_troops_into

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Koch Brothers’ Pernicious Political Influence

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

by Stephen Lendman
An earlier article on America’s Tea Party discussed its backers, including David and Charles Koch, billionaire owners of Koch Industries, a privately owned energy conglomerate with interests in manufacturing, ranching, forestry, finance, and numerous other ventures in 60 countries and 45 states.In 2009, Forbes called it America’s second largest private company after Cargill with annual revenues of $100 billion. Donating generously to recruit, educate, fund, and organize Tea Party protests, they helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement of working Americans backing policies oppositie their own self-interest, added proof of the power of persuasion to deceive and betray.On April 4, Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund contributor Tony Carrk published a report headlined, “The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right,” saying:They use their vast wealth to bankroll “right-wing political action groups, think tanks, and individual politicians” to advance extremist notions of limited government, deregulation, privatization of state enterprises, assets and resources, low corporate and personal taxes, minimal social services, anti-unionism, and overall business friendly anti-populist policies.They strongly oppose healthcare and financial reform, collective bargaining rights, and environmental sanity, among other issues. Since the mid-to-late 1990s, they donated over $85 million to dozens of right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups, including Americans for Prosperity, an anti-labor group for unrestricted free enterprise, limited government, tax cuts for the rich, job-killing trade agreements, and right to offshore jobs freely to low-wage countries.The Kochs also donated directly to 62 of the 87 House Republican freshmen and participate actively in state politics, spending $5.2 million on candidates and ballot measures in 34 states since 2003, besides direct donations to 13 governors last year.According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings alone, Koch Industries PAC contributed $43,000 to Republican Scott Walker’s governatorial campaign, second only to the $43,125 given by state housing and realtor groups. Moreover, Koch PAC helped Walker and other Republicans by contributing $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. RGA then spent $65,000 supporting Walker and $3.4 million on television attack ads and mailings against his opponent, Milwaukee Democrat Mayor Tom Barrett.It made the difference between victory and defeat, and let Walker advance anti-labor, pro-business legislation favoring Koch and other corporate predators, including a provision to let Walker use no-bid contacts to sell state assets. Among them – dozens of small power plants Koch may covet and be able to buy cheap.Moreover, with 2012 elections ahead, the Kochs plan to raise $88 million for potential Republican presidential candidates, besides millions more for House and Senate ones, as well as state and local officials.Access the full CAP report through the following link:
http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2011/04/pdf/koc
h_brothers.pdfIt details vast Koch holdings and interests, as well as its web of political influence that let Charles and David amass an estimated combined $44 billion personal net worth.On April 7, the Center for Public Integrity’s (CPI) John Farrell headlined, “Koch’s web of influence,” saying:“Koch spends tens of millions trying to shape federal policies that affect their global business empire,” CPI explaining that its lobbying disclosure files and federal regulatory records show “a lobbying steamroller for the company’s interests….”In recent years, its spending soared from $857,000 in 2004 to $20 million in 2008, then another $20.8 million through 2010 “to mold, gut or kill more than 100 prospective bills or regulations.”CPI founder, Charles Lewis says:“The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Koch’s lobbying expenses ranked in the top five among oil and gas companies alone, using 30 well-connected firms in 2010 to assure its interests are well-served.Another key Koch issue is controlling the message, the topic of Nation magazine contributors Mark Ames and Mike Elk in their April 20 article headlined, “Big Brothers: Thought Control at Koch,” saying:Ahead of last November’s elections, Koch pressured its employees to support company choices, “warning them about the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country” for disobeying.Last year’s Citizens United Supreme Court decision, granting corporations unlimited free speech, lets them politick brazenly within the law, including intimidating employees to back company choices and spread right-wing propaganda.“Legal experts say that this kind of corporate-sponsored propagandizing has been almost unheard-of (since) New Dear-era laws,” restricting workplace political activism and pressure.Moreover, Citizens United lets companies prohibit unions from similar practices because of infringing on private property. The decision literally legitimizes “court-enforced corporatocracy.” As a result, “workers across the country should start preparing for a future workplace environment in which political proselytizing is the new normal,” at the same time prohibiting opposition views.A Final CommentOn April 19, Ralph Nader’s article headlined, “Waiting for the Spark,” speculating about “(w)hat could start a popular resurgence in this country against the abuses of concentrated, avaricious corporatism” that aroused Nader once to call Washington “corporate occupied territory.”Today, in fact, it’s a wholly owned subsidiary, doing whatever corporate interests want because bipartisan complicity serves them at the expense of peace, democratic values, and public needs.As a result, growing inequality, poverty, hunger, homelessness, unemployment, injustice, and despair affect millions of Americans, on their own and out of luck because politicians don’t care.What will ignite them, asks Nader, suggesting that “(h)istory teaches us that the spark usually is smaller than expected (and) wholly unpredictable or unimaginable.”Dry tinder, in fact, proliferates everywhere. What better time than now for a clean sweep “Jeffersonian revolution.” It can’t come a moment too soon to rid America of noxious influences like Koch and corrupt politicians, hired hands serving them at the expense of vital popular needs gone begging.Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

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Zio-Nazi’s shot in West Bank tried to break through Palestinian roadblock, probe shows

NOVANEWS

 

Nephew of Culture Minister Limor Livnat killed, three others wounded after Palestinian security forces shot at their cars near West Bank holy site of Joseph’s Tomb.

Haaretz

Palestinian security forces opened fire early Sunday on three cars full of Israelis who entered the West Bank compound of Joseph’s Tomb without permission and then tried to break through a local checkpoint, according to an initial investigation by the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian Authority.

Ben-Joseph Livnat, a 25-year-old father of four and nephew of Culture and Science Minister Limor Livnat, was killed in the shooting. Three other people were wounded, and are in light to serious conditions.

Shooting at Joseph's Tomb near Nablus Ben-Joseph Livnat, 25, was killed when shot by Palestinian officers near Joseph’s Tomb on April 24, 2011.
Photo by: AFP

A senior Israel Defense Forces termed the incident “a serious mishap caused by both sides.” The army is refraining from referring to the shooting as a terror attack, but has called it an unjustified attack against civilians.

The Palestinian Authority opened its own investigation into the matter, and reported that that the officer on duty began shooting in the air in response to the Israelis’ “suspicious movement”.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned the incident as “murder” and ordered the IDF to carry out an investigation of its own. He also demanded the Palestinians probe the incident quickly and take every step necessary to perpetrate those responsible.

“No problem of coordination can justify an incident like this and the shooting of innocent people,” he said.

The officers on duty during the shooting were detained for questioning by the Palestinian Authority, but it is not yet clear whether they will be taken in for investigation by Israeli forces as well.

Livnat and the other three casualties were part of a group of some 15 worshipers who entered the site in three separate cars without military authorization. A Palestinian Authority representative said that the officer fired into the air because he believed that the group was acting suspiciously, but did not aim at the car.

“The main problem is that they [the Israelis] entered the city without coordination,” said Jibril al-Bakri, the Palestinian governor of Nablus.

The tomb, which some believe to be the final resting place of the Biblical patriarch Joseph, is located in an area of the West Bank under full Palestinian control.

Hours after the incident, dozens of Palestinians rioted near Joseph’s Tomb, and burned tires, Israel Radio reported.

The tomb was attacked and ransacked by Palestinians at the start of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, and one of the Israeli policemen stationed there was killed.

After 2003, Jews were allowed intermittent access, which was expanded in 2009 to one coordinated monthly midnight visit.

Despite military warnings, flocks of Bratslav Hasidim and other religious pilgrims routinely enter the compound to pray without permission, often late at night. Shots have been fired in the past at such groups entering without authorization.

Security forces have tried to crack down on the unauthorized pilgrimages and have in the past arrested trespassers, though every detainee has been released within hours without significant penalty.

A military spokesman on Sunday stressed that the army coordinated a monthly pilgrimage to the site for hundreds of worshipers, to give them authorized and secure access to the site. One such visit was held just two weeks ago, said the spokesman.

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US to fund Internet activism in authoritarian countries

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Move seeks to empower activists to create change in their home countries; State Dept. notes Internet’s presence in Arab uprisings.

Jpost.com

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is set to disburse more than $25 million to facilitate Internet use for activists whose governments prevent such access.

The aid comes as opposition protesters in countries such as Syria and Iran try to use such technology to communicate – despite heavy government reprisals and disruption of their online organizing.

“This administration believes that democratic change must be home-grown. That means empowering democratic activists to get their own messages out – and they need Internet freedom to do that,” Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner told The Jerusalem Post.

State Department officials declined to delineate precisely which groups – including the countries in which they’re located – would receive the American grants, or the dates they would be rolled out. The money is expected to help develop technologies that activists can use to circumvent government control of the Internet.

“The US government has spent billions over decades trying to promote democracy – but the best way to do that is to support democracy activists and give them the tools they need to prevail. Allowing them to use the Internet freely means they can continue to give voice to the kind of democratic future they want for their own societies,” Posner said.

The move was welcomed by human-rights activists, including Human Rights First, which issued a statement praising the overture on Wednesday.

The group called the funding “an important step toward protecting the fundamental rights of activists working in nations that deny or censor access to the Internet, and target those who use this resource in their human rights work.”

The congressional reception has been more lukewarm, with concern among Republicans about how the money will be used and how effective it will be – particularly given the party’s focus on trimming budgets in light of the large federal deficit and the faltering American economy.

Capitol Hill aides said they had been briefed by the State Department on the subject, as debate on the issue moved forward.

The Obama administration is not the first group to funnel money towards opposition groups for technology and other components that activists can use to challenge their regimes.

The George W. Bush administration devoted even more resources to this effort, and a WikiLeaksdocument revealed last week highlighted support for Syrian opposition groups.

According to documents first reported by The Washington Post, the opposition Movement for Justice and Development, established by Syrian exiles in London, has received about $6m. since 2006, some of it used to help fund an anti-regime television channel.

Though critics of the Obama administration have charged that it has not done enough to continue to bolster such groups in a sustained way, Syria expert David Schenker said the Bushera funds had a limited impact.

“My sense was that [the funding] was relatively low, and we had a hard time spending it because everybody we gave money to went to jail,” he said. “The assistance the US provided was limited, not for lack of trying. It’s very difficult to provide money to groups in that atmosphere.”

Schenker said he was pleased to see the new funds targeted for Internet access, but suggested that their effect in Syria would likely be contained.

“I think helping people to circumvent the activity of authoritarian governments to control the flow of information is a good thing,” he said. “There’s great potential there, and I’m glad to see there’s some funding – but Syria’s not an Internet revolution. This is not a panacea.”

Posted in USAComments Off on US to fund Internet activism in authoritarian countries

Airport passenger screener charged in distributing child pornography

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

TSA officer Thomas Gordon Jr. is being held. (Image: Government Employees (AFGE)…

A passenger screener at Philadelphia International Airport is facing charges that he distributed more than 100 images of child pornography via Facebook, records show.

Federal agents also allege that Transportation Safety Administration Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia, who routinely searched airline passengers, uploaded explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site on which he also posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.

Homeland Security agents arrested the TSA officer March 24, and he is being held without bail.

Although the case was unsealed Thursday, neither the indictment nor the news release mentioned Gordon’s job searching airline passengers for TSA.

Posted in USAComments Off on Airport passenger screener charged in distributing child pornography

Libya: US confirms first Predator strike

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

US Predator drone (file)

 

The US military has confirmed the first strike by an unmanned Predator drone aircraft in Libya.

Nato said the drone destroyed a Libyan government multiple rocket launcher near Misrata at approximately 1100GMT.

Drones can hit military targets more easily in urban areas, minimising the risk of civilian casualties.

Earlier, Libya’s government warned that tribes loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi might take over the fight against the rebels in the western city of Misrata.

The deputy foreign minister said the Libyan army was being withdrawn and suggested that the tribes would not show the same level of restraint over civilian casualties.

But a rebel military spokesman in Benghazi said Col Gaddafi was “playing games” and would not allow his forces to leave Misrata.

Human rights groups say more than 1,000 people have died there.

Bunker

Several hours after the Pentagon’s announcement confirming the Predator strike, Nato revealed that the target had been a “Gaddafi regime multiple rocket launcher (MRL) in the vicinity of Misrata”.

“The MRL system had been used against civilians in Misrata,” the alliance said in a statement.

Predators have previously been used in Libya only for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

On Thursday, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said President Barack Obama had approved air strikes in support of the Nato-led mission because that was where the US had “some unique capabilities”.

Gen James Cartwright, the vice-chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said forces loyal to Col Gaddafi were digging in or “nestling up against crowded areas” to avoid being targeted by Nato warplanes.

The more precise Predators bring “their ability to get down lower and therefore, to be able to get better visibility, particularly on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions,” he added.

The BBC’s Peter Biles in Benghazi says the first drone attack in Libya could mark the start of a new phase of Nato’s air campaign.

It is certainly a further attempt to protect civilians who are under attack from Libyan government forces, our correspondent adds.

Early on Saturday, two missiles apparently fired by Nato aircraft struck a concrete bunker near Col Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli.

 

The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen was shown bomb damage at a compound in Tripoli that Gaddafi supporters say was used for water storage

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said three people were killed by a “very powerful explosion” inside a water storage facility.

However, journalists who were taken to the site reported that it seemed like the bunker was being used for military activities. Smoke was rising from one of the two craters and ammunition crates lay nearby.

‘Misinformation’ in Misrata

Meanwhile, fierce clashes are continuing between rebels and government troops on the outskirts of Misrata, Libya’s third largest city.

 

 

Click to play

 

Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kaim says tribes have given the Libyan army an ultimatum

On Friday, the rebels said they had driven Col Gaddafi’s forces from buildings along Tripoli Street, from where snipers had been shooting at anyone who ventured out including women and children.

Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Khaled Kaim, said the army might stop fighting in Misrata and withdraw because of the threat of further Nato air strikes.

He said local tribes would instead try to negotiate with the rebels, and if that failed, the tribes would fight them.

Col Ahmed Bani, a military spokesmen for the Benghazi-based rebel Transitional National Council, told the BBC: “This is misinformation. Gaddafi would never pull out of Misrata, it is too important too him.”

He added: “We have just spoken to somebody from Misrata who is now in Benghazi – a member of the Bushaala tribe, one of the largest in Misrata.

“He says that the claims by the Gaddafi government are not true. All local tribes are fighting against Gaddafi’s troops, not with them.”

Libyan soldiers captured by rebels in Misrata (23 April 2011)

Captured Libyan soldiers told reporters that they had been told to withdraw from Misrata

A doctor in Misrata told the BBC it was just a move to buy time.

“The spokesman is totally ridiculous. He just wants people to think the Libyan people are behind the regime,” he said.

“If Gaddafi arms the people of Libya in the towns around Misrata, it will be the end for him, because they will rise up against him.”

The doctor said the humanitarian situation was improving, but not significantly.

The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen reports from Tripoli that the regime says the reason Col Gaddafi has remained relatively secure in the west of Libya is that the principal tribes – which wield a lot of power and influence – are on his side.

However, the government has previously used the prospect of tribal civil war as a warning, and it may well be that the minister was making more of a threat than expressing the reality of what is going to occur, our correspondent says.

The regime is feeling increasingly isolated and is hoping for some kind of a diplomatic solution, he adds.

The popular revolt against Col Gaddafi – inspired by similar uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia – began in February and a UN mandate later sanctioned air strikes against Libyan state forces to protect civilians. Nato took full command of the mission on 31 March, and since then more than 3,000 sorties have been flown.

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Fedia Hamdi’s slap which sparked a revolution ‘didn’t happen

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

Fedia Hamdi celebrates after being released from prison last Wednesday.

Ed note–what ELSE were we lied about concerning the “revolutions” that have swept throughout the area?

Fedia Hamdi, the Tunisian market inspector accused of hitting Mohamed Bouazizi, celebrates after being released from prison last Wednesday. Photograph: Andy Hall/AFP

It was the slap that started a revolution. When the Tunisian street trader Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, was slapped in the face by a female municipal inspector last December, he burned himself alive in protest and sparked a wave of anti-government riots that engulfed the Arab world.

True or false? The woman at the centre of the controversy has now denied hitting Bouazizi and claims she was wrongly imprisoned for four months. Fedia Hamdi, 46, who has not spoken publicly about the incident until now, told theObserver that she had been used as a political pawn by the former Tunisian president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. “I feel I was a scapegoat,” she said. “I feel there has been a grave injustice and it hurts me to think that no one wanted to listen to my story.”

After 111 days of incarceration, Hamdi was freed by a tribunal in her hometown of Sidi Bouzid last Tuesday after defence lawyers demolished the case against her. Hamdi was found innocent of all charges when it emerged in court that only a single person claimed to have seen the slap – a fellow street trader who bore a grudge against her – while four new witnesses testified that there had been no physical confrontation.

“I would never have hit him [Bouazizi],” Hamdi said, speaking from her parents’ home in Meknassy, approximately 50km from Sidi Bouzid where the alleged incident took place. “It was impossible because I am a woman, first of all, and I live in a traditionally Arab community which bans a woman from hitting a man. And, secondly, I was frightened … I was only doing my job.”

The tale of Bouazizi’s self-immolation rapidly became the stuff of legend in the early days of the jasmine revolution. It was reported in media outlets across the globe that Bouazizi, a fruit and vegetable seller, had set up his stall as usual on the morning of 17 December in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid.

At about 11.30am Hamdi, accompanied by another municipal official, approached the market trader to insist that the regulations did not allow him to sell his wares without a permit. It was reported at the time that Hamdi confiscated Bouazizi’s electronic scales and his cart when he refused to pay a bribe. When he became agitated, it was alleged that she slapped him across the face. Hamdi, who is unmarried and has no children, denies this.

What is indisputable is that when Bouazizi tried to retrieve his cart from the police station, he was turned away. He then asked to see the local governor, but was also refused entry. At about 1pm he set himself alight. He later died of his injuries in hospital.

Within hours of Bouazizi burning himself alive, a crowd of 4,000 people had gathered in Sidi Bouzid to protest against his public humiliation. For many, Bouazizi’s death became a potent symbol of an ordinary individual who struggled to make a living under President Ben Ali’s corrupt regime. It was the spark that ignited a series of revolutions across the Arab world – most notably in Egypt, Yemen and Libya.

But for Hamdi, the reality was rather different. “I was just doing my job,” she says now, sitting in a large front room surrounded by her seven siblings and elderly parents. “The only thing I was trying to do that day was to apply the law and the law doesn’t allow market traders to go in a public zone. When I asked him to leave, he refused and he grabbed hold of my hand, hurting my finger. He was angry with me, so I let it go, but as a penalty I confiscated some of his bananas and peppers and gave them to a charitable association… Afterwards, I went back to my work and then I went home at 1pm and I didn’t do anything else.”

According to Hamdi, Bouazizi was “hysterical” when she left him. “He was almost unaware of what he was doing.” One resident of Sidi Bouzid, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that Bouazizi poured petrol on himself “as a threat. He didn’t mean to kill himself”. Several of Hamdi’s colleagues, some of whom set up a Facebook group to campaign for her release, suggest Bouazizi set himself on fire by accident while lighting a cigarette.

Whatever the truth of the incident, in the days after Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the atmosphere in Sidi Bouzid was extremely unstable. President Ben Ali, wishing to avert any further protest, ordered Hamdi’s detention on 28 December. She was kept under house arrest for three days before being taken to a civil prison in the town of Gafsa, 50km away. Hamdi was put in a group cell with other prisoners.

As the revolution raged beyond her cell door and Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia to the jubilation of the Tunisian people, Hamdi refused to reveal her identity for a month for fear of reprisal.

“I was so scared,” says Hamdi, tears falling down her cheeks. “And it made me sick to my heart that everyone refused to listen … I felt I was facing so much injustice.”

Who does she blame? “The media – for me, that is the root of the problem. Not so much the Tunisian media, because they came under pressure from the government, but the reaction of the international media shocked me because they have a reputation for honesty.” Does she feel anger towards the former president for his actions? “Of course,” she says. “Like the rest of the Tunisian people.”

In prison, Hamdi went on hunger strike for 15 days until doctors intervened. She remains traumatised by her experience, her hands tremble and she walks with a stoop. She has not been able to sleep since her release and finds eating difficult.

“It’s true that I have suffered,” she says. “But my family and my colleagues suffered much more because they were rejected by the community. They tried to tell their story but no one would listen … In prison, I missed my family so much. When I saw them again after I was freed, I felt newborn. I feel so thankful.”

In spite of all that she has been through, Hamdi insists she welcomes the deposition of the former president and her part in his downfall. “I am happy about the revolution,” she says. “I am a religious woman. All that happened was so hard, but it was my destiny and I am proud of my destiny. It was given to me by God.” As for the Bouazizi family, who continue to revere their son as a martyr: “I do not want to talk about this family any more. I want to move on.”

Does she eventually want to return to work? “Yes, absolutely,” she replies. “I’m convinced that justice is important. We should all believe in the law.”

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC

Dear All,

Just 3 items this evening.  The 2nd one nearly brought tears to my eyes.  I won’t elaborate.  Just enjoy it.  The first item is less pleasant.  It’s author argues that Israel intentionally targests civilians, either their bodies or their properties.  Item 4 is a link to a brief video of Palestinians celebrating Friday’s rites in the Holy Land.  All of these items have been forwarded to me by others.  I apologize for duplicates.

All the best,

Dorothy

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

1.  [Thanks to Ruth H for forwarding, Dorothy]

Independent commentary from Israel & the Palestinian Friday, April 22 2011

Does Israel intentionally target civilians?

http://972mag.com/does-israel-intentionally-target-civilians/

Roi Maor

Israeli policy (unlike Hamas or Hezbollah) is not intended to maximize civilian casualties. Yet it does intentionally target civilians: it is intended to produce maximal civilian distress, while avoiding mass civilian casualties.

In discussions about the Israeli-Arab conflict, one of the perennial issues is the targeting of non-combatants. The reactions to the brutal murders in the settlement of Itamar, and the collective punishment of the nearby Palestinian village Awarta (where the alleged killers live) have exemplified the concern many feel about the lack of distinction between those involved in hostilities and uninvolved civilians.

Even more attention has been given to the curious Washington Post article by Judge Richard Goldstone, who headed a UN fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of war crimes during the Gaza war of 2009. One of the key statements in this op-ed was (my emphasis):

While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

I believe Goldstone’s article (and to some extent, his committee’s report) miss a critical nuance. Israeli policy (unlike Hamas or Hezbollah) is not intended to maximize civilian casualties. Yet it does intentionally target civilians: it is intended to produce maximal civilian distress, while avoiding mass civilian casualties.

One of the clearest articulations of this policy, cited in the Goldstone report, was made by Major General Gadi Eizenkot, in 2008, while discussing the lessons learned from the 2006 Lebanon war. According to him (Heb), trying to hit rocket launchers is “complete nonsense”, because “when there are thousands of launchers on the other side, it is impossible to hunt them down.” Israel, instead, should focus on deterrence:

Every village from which they fire from Israel, we will deploy disproportional force, and cause massive damage and destruction. As far as we are concerned, these are military bases.

Eizenkot emphasized that “this is not a recommendation, this is the plan and it has been approved”.

The concept which underlies this plan is clear. Hitting military targets is difficult, and destroying the enemy’s entire armed forces would require immense resources. Non-combatants, on the other hand, are labeled “soft” targets for a reason. By inflicting massive damage on the civilian population, one creates public political pressure, within the other side, to end hostilities under favorable conditions.

This has been Israel’s explicit policy in Lebanon for decades now. The Israeli Air Force official website, describing (Heb) an IDF operation in Lebanon in 1993, notes that many Lebanese civilians were forced to leave their homes, and adds that “the refugee convoys were supposed to apply pressure on the Lebanese government to act against the terrorist organizations.” A similar operation in 1996 is described (Heb) in even more explicit terms: “a massive bombardment of the Shiite villages in South Lebanon, in order to induce flight of civilians to the north, towards Beirut, thereby applying pressure on the government of Syria and Lebanon to restrain Hezbollah’s activities.”

The air force commander at the time is quoted explaining that the concept behind the operation was to create better conditions for Israeli political leadership, when it comes to negotiations with the Lebanese and the Syrians. “The way to implement this concept was to attack infrastructures, in order to create increasing economic damage, which will start affecting the residents and the Lebanese government.” The West Bank, as well as Gaza itself, have been targets of similar policies.

Certainly, Israel targets combatants and their armaments quite extensively. Much of the harm to civilians occurs as “collateral damage” during such attacks. This can be almost as reprehensible as targeting civilians intentionally, when callous indifference becomes extensive and systematic (as when the IDF’s chief ethicist pens a tome explaining why Israeli soldiers’ lives are more important than those of Palestinian civilians). Endemic cover-ups, unaccountability, and non-existent or inadequate investigations create an atmosphere of impunity which encourages attacks on non-combatants, even if there is no explicit policy directive to do so.

This can cause quite a lot of civilian casualties, but it does not mean that causing such casualties is an Israeli objective. Although efforts to avoid outcomes of this sort are almost always insufficient, they are not completely for show. To some extent, they are even motivated by genuine moral concern. Ultimately, however, they reflect strategic considerations.

Israeli policy makers believe that mass civilian casualties will create international pressure on Israel to end its military operations before they achieve their goal. This has been a major concern in almost every operation conducted in the Palestinian territories or in Lebanon over the past few decades. That is why, as a rule, the IDF prefers to avoid a large amount of non-combatant deaths.

On the other hand, Israeli policy is often explicitly intended to harm civilians, by causing them economic distress, displacement, disruption of critical service, shortage of basic goods, etc. This kind of effect is less likely to induce international pressure, yet Israeli decision makers believe it can produce public pressure on the enemy’s leadership, causing it to make concessions that are in line with Israel’s interests. Although many civilians die as a result of these actions, that is not their intent, and they are often carried out in a manner designed to actually reduce casualties, while maximizing non-lethal civilian suffering.

Are these policies better than intentionally causing civilian casualties? Morally, I think the distinction is shaky. Whether caused by deep indifference or during the course of trying to produce “mere” civilians suffering, it seems to me that the hurting of civilians, both lethal and non-lethal, is reprehensible and wrong.  Israeli hypocrisy on this issue is, of course, also a very poor ethical defense.

Politically, however, understanding the difference is quite significant. First, inaccurate allegations make it easier for Israeli hasbara to paint all criticism as lies (as the Goldstone “retraction” debacle makes clear). Second, recognizing this distinction gives Israel an incentive to continue its current policy. Although it is quite bad, a policy that seeks to maximize civilian casualties would be much, much worse. The Israeli government is avoiding this kind of policy because it believes it will pay an internal and international price. I would like to think that equal condemnation of all policies that target civilians would make Israel cease such practices altogether. However, it is just as likely to tilt it in the opposite direction.

Current Israeli policy on targeting civilians should be exposed, criticized and unequivocally condemned. But ignoring the nuances is counter-productive, even dangerous.

Comments11|

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2.  [Thanks to Ruth H for forwarding this strong and so important letter. Dorothy]

April 24 2011|+972blog

Young Mizrahi Israelis’ open letter to Arab peers

http://972mag.com/young-mizrahi-israelis-open-letter-to-arab-peers/

In a letter titled, “Ruh Jedida: A New Spirit for 2011,” young Jewish descendants of the Arab and Islamic world living in Israel write to their peers in the Middle East and North Africa

We, as the descendents of the Jewish communities of the Arab and Muslim world, the Middle East and the Maghreb, and as the second and third generation of Mizrahi Jews in Israel, are watching with great excitement and curiosity the major role that the men and women of our generation are playing so courageously in the demonstrations for freedom and change across the Arab world. We identify with you and are extremely hopeful for the future of the revolutions that have already succeeded in Tunisia and Egypt. We are equally pained and worried at the great loss of life in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and many other places in the region.

Our generation’s protest against repression and oppressive and abusive regimes, and its call for change, freedom, and the establishment of democratic governments that foster citizen participation in the political process, marks a dramatic moment in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, a region which has for generations been torn between various forces, internal and external, and whose leaders have often trampled the political, economic, and cultural rights of its citizens.

We are Israelis, the children and grandchildren of Jews who lived in the Middle East and North Africa for hundreds and thousands of years. Our forefathers and mothers contributed to the development of this region’s culture, and were part and parcel of it. Thus the culture of the Islamic world and the multigenerational connection and identification with this region is an inseparable part of our own identity.

We are a part of the religious, cultural, and linguistic history of the Middle East and North Africa, although it seems that we are the forgotten children of its history: First in Israel, which imagines itself and its culture to be somewhere between continental Europe and North America. Then in the Arab world, which often accepts the dichotomy of Jews and Arabs and the imagined view of all Jews as Europeans, and has preferred to repress the history of the Arab-Jews as a minor or even nonexistent chapter in its history; and finally within the Mizrahi communities themselves, who in the wake of Western colonialism, Jewish nationalism and Arab nationalism, became ashamed of their past in the Arab world.

Consequently we often tried to blend into the mainstream of society while erasing or minimizing our own past. The mutual influences and relationships between Jewish and Arab cultures were subjected to forceful attempts at erasure in recent generations, but evidence of them can still be found in many spheres of our lives, including music, prayer, language, and literature.

We wish to express our identification with and hopes for this stage of generational transition in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, and we hope that it will open the gates to freedom and justice and a fair distribution of the region’s resources.

We turn to you, our generational peers in the Arab and Muslim world, striving for an honest dialog which will include us in the history and culture of the region. We looked enviously at the pictures from Tunisia and from Al-Tahrir square, admiring your ability to bring forth and organize a nonviolent civil resistance that has brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets and the squares, and finally forced your rulers to step down.

We, too, live in a regime that in reality—despite its pretensions to being “enlightened” and “democratic”—does not represent large sections of its actual population in the Occupied Territories and inside of the Green Line border(s). This regime tramples the economic and social rights of most of its citizens, is in an ongoing process of minimizing democratic liberties, and constructs racist barriers against Arab-Jews, the Arab people, and Arabic culture. Unlike the citizens of Tunisia and Egypt, we are still a long way from the capacity to build the kind of solidarity between various groups that we see in these countries, a solidarity movement that would allow us to unite and march together–all who reside here–into the public squares, to demand a civil regime that is culturally, socially, and economically just and inclusive.

We believe that, as Mizrahi Jews in Israel, our struggle for economic, social, and cultural rights rests on the understanding that political change cannot depend on the Western powers who have exploited our region and its residents for many generations. True change can only come from an intra-regional and inter-religious dialog that is in connection with the different struggles and movements currently active in the Arab world. Specifically, we must be in dialog and solidarity with struggles of the Palestinians citizens of Israel who are fighting for equal political and economic rights and for the termination of racist laws, and the struggle of the Palestinian people living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and in Gaza in their demand to end the occupation and to gain Palestinian national independence.

In our previous letter written following Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009, we called for the rise of the democratic Middle Eastern identity and for our inclusion in such an identity. We now express the hope that our generation – throughout the Arab, Muslim, and Jewish world – will be a generation of renewed bridges that will leap over the walls and hostility created by previous generations and will renew the deep human dialog without which we cannot understand ourselves: between Jews, Sunnis, Shias, and Christians, between Kurds, Berbers, Turks, and Persians, between Mizrahis and Ashkenazis, and between Palestinians and Israelis. We draw on our shared past in order to look forward hopefully towards a shared future.

We have faith in intra-regional dialog—whose purpose is to repair and rehabilitate what was destroyed in recent generations—as a catalyst towards renewing the Andalusian model of Muslim-Jewish-Christian partnership, God willing, Insha’Allah, and as a pathway to a cultural and historical golden era for our countries. This golden era cannot come to pass without equal, democratic citizenship, equal distribution of resources, opportunities, and education, equality between women and men, and the acceptance of all people regardless of faith, race, status, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic affiliation. All of these rights play equal parts in constructing the new society to which we aspire. We are committed to achieving these goals within a process of dialog between all of the people of Middle East and North Africa, as well as a dialog we will undertake with different Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.

We, the undersigned:

Shva Salhoov (Libya), Naama Gershy (Serbia, Yemen), Yael Ben-Yefet (Iraq, Aden), Leah Aini (Greece, Turkey), Yael Berda (Tunisia), Aharon Shem-Tov (Iraq, Iranian Kurdistan), Yosi Ohana (born in Morocco), Yali Hashash (Libya, Yemen), Yonit Naaman (Yemen, Turkey), Orly Noy (born in Iran), Gadi Alghazi (Yugoslavia, Egypt), Mati Shemoelof (Iran, Iraq, Syria), Eliana Almog (Yemen, Germany), Yuval Evri ((Iraq), Ophir Tubul (Morocco, Algeria), Moti Gigi (Morocco), Shlomit Lir (Iran), Ezra Nawi (Iraq), Hedva Eyal (Iran), Eyal Ben-Moshe (Yemen), Shlomit Binyamin (Cuba, Syria, Turkey), Yael Israel (Turkey, Iran), Benny Nuriely (Tunisia), Ariel Galili (Iran), Natalie Ohana Evry (Morocco, Britain), Itamar Toby Taharlev (Morocco, Jerusalem, Egypt), Ofer Namimi (Iraq, Morocco), Amir Banbaji (Syria), Naftali Shem-Tov (Iraq, Iranian Kurdistan), Mois Benarroch (born in Morocco), Yosi David (Tunisia Iran), Shalom Zarbib (Algeria), Yardena Hamo (Iraqi Kurdistan), Aviv Deri (Morocco) Menny Aka (Iraq), Tom Fogel (Yemen, Poland), Eran Efrati (Iraq), Dan Weksler Daniel (Syria, Poland, Ukraine), Yael Gidnian (Iran), Elyakim Nitzani (Lebanon, Iran, Italy), Shelly Horesh-Segel (Morocco), Yoni Mizrahi (Kurdistan), Betty Benbenishti (Turkey), Chen Misgav (Iraq, Poland), Moshe Balmas (Morocco), Tom Cohen (Iraq, Poland, England), Ofir Itah (Morocco), Shirley Karavani (Tunisia, Libya, Yemen), Lorena Atrakzy (Argentina, Iraq), Asaf Abutbul (Poland, Russia, Morocco), Avi Yehudai (Iran), Diana Ahdut (Iran, Jerusalem), Maya Peretz (Nicaragua, Morocco), Yariv Moher (Morocco, Germany), Tami Katzbian (Iran), Oshra Lerer (Iraq, Morocco), Nitzan Manjam (Yemen, Germany, Finland), Rivka Gilad (Iran, Iraq, India), Oshrat Rotem (Morocco), Naava Mashiah (Iraq), Zamira Ron David (Iraq) Omer Avital (Morocco, Yemen), Vered Madar (Yemen), Ziva Atar (Morocco), Yossi Alfi (born in Iraq), Amira Hess (born in Iraq), Navit Barel (Libya), Almog Behar (Iraq, Turkey, Germany).

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

3. Easter in the Holy Land.  To all Palestinians, I wish you a traditional Jewish wish on the Passover: ‘For all who wish it, next  year in Jerusalem’ Easter, Xmas, and other days holy or not, with no need for passes and permissions.

Dorothy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFwrxvpXLy4

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