Archive | May 10th, 2011

Controversial Birmingham surveillance cameras are taken down

by Jasbir Authi,

Birmingham Mail May 10 2011

Police have been criticised for installing new cameras recently.

WORK has started to remove secret surveillance cameras which were part of a highly controversial counter-terrorism initiative from two predominately Muslim Birmingham suburbs.

A team of contractors began taking down some of the 218 CCTV and ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) in the Sparkhill and Washwood Heath areas yesterday.

The cameras, which were set up as part of the £3 million Project Champion, were dramatically shelved following a massive public outcry over the lack of formal consultation.

They would have logged the vehicle details of everybody entering or leaving these areas, leading to accusations that they were being used to spy on Muslims.

It had been revealed that it could cost up to £630,000 to remove all the cameras this month. The grey towers which held the cameras will be taken down at a later date.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe watched the first covert monitor being removed on leafy Hodge Hill Road near to Stechford Road.

Asst Chief Cons Rowe said: “The work starting today shows that we have listened to what our communities wanted and acted upon those wishes.

“We have liaised closely with our communities to keep them informed of developments and when they can expect cameras to be removed from actual streets.

“I would like to stress that the cameras have never been operational.

“We accept that mistakes were made and we are keen to learn the lessons that emerged from the review into Project Champion. The removal of the cameras is part of that learning process.

“Our neighbourhood teams will now focus on forging closer links with local communities across the affected areas.”

Springfield volunteer and grandfather-of-eight Mohammed Suleman, aged 58, said: “The whole community had spoken against the cameras. They were not happy with them. We sent out a strong message to the police and after consulting with groups, they listened to us.”

Councillor Salma Yaqoob (Respect Sparkhill) said: “It’s fantastic that they are taking the cameras down. It’s taken time, a lot of campaigning but finally they came down. I’d like to thank the efforts of Steve Jolly who, as a local resident and activist, helped us to work together.”

‘SALMA YAQOOB AND OTHER COUNCILLORS AGREED IN THE BIGINIG FOR THE POLICE TO INSTOL THE SPYING CAMERAS  UNTIL MEMBERS OF THE BUBIC OBJECTED TO THE PROJECT SALMA CAM FROM NOWEAR AGAINST THE PROJECT TIPICAL PILOTION’ SHOAD ADMIN

A decision over the future use of the removed cameras, some of which could be resold or redeployed elsewhere, will be made by the Police Authority after a consultation process has taken place with the community.

Read More http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/05/10/controversial-birmingham-surveillance-cameras-are-taken-down-97319-28663621/#ixzz1LylQ2Lx9

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The Fog of War and the Murder of Osama Bin Laden – the inevitable war against Pakistan

NOVANEWS 
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Irfan Salah Butt
 
Cageprisoners,

Will Obama now be able to declare war on Pakistan who have a stated nuclear capability and have admitted to having caught terrorists on their own soil?

The raid on 2nd May 2011 is about as mysterious as the attack on the twin towers on 9/11 itself. If conspiracy theorists and people all over the world do not fully trust the Obama administration can they be blamed? This is not the first time an American administration has been caught fabricating stories and events around the world in the name of national security and foreign policy. The events of 2nd May 2011 perfectly fit Obama’s policy of bringing Osama bin Laden to “justice” and widening the War on Terror into Pakistan, as people who understand the mechanics of US foreign policy should be fully aware. Was it a great intelligence plan and befitting reply to the ISI for their audacity in dismantling the terror network of Raymond Davis in Pakistan or just a simple raid to kill the world’s most wanted terrorist?

The raid that took place in Abbotabad in the early hours of the morning of 2 May 2011 was reported more like a Hollywood script as opposed to a professional operation staged by the ever so brave, wonderful, elite, perfect, Rambo-esque, no mistakes Navy Seals. The professional reality makers went to work as the might of the Obama media machine went into full swing. There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden was killed in that house on that day by the best elite within the elite commando force in the world. This was the objective of the press briefings and that is how the western media followed sheep like into the clutches of the Obama administration.

Three days later, however, and the world is realising that the story that was told on the morning of the 2nd May 2011 is changing. You can fool most of the American people most of the time but you cannot fool the rest of the world all the time. America lost the moral high ground years ago: Extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Waterboarding, Drone attacks, Aafia Siddiqui, Blackwater, Raymond Davis – the list is endless. Most people outside of the West do not trust the US administration and they have every right not to. American lies and cover ups have become the norm in the War on Terror which Muslims around the world feel is a war on Islam where lawlessness and anarchy reign supreme and where a blood-thirsty American people will accept anything the US administration does on its behalf. There is no place for chivalry in this war as the enemy is not an enemy but an evil ideology that threatens the very way of life of the Western world. The rhetoric has worked so much that the invasion of a sovereign country and the cold blooded murder of an unarmed man “identified” as Osama Bin Laden and the attempted kidnap of women and children is tolerated by the freedom loving people of the West as justified. Is it surprising if the rest of the world does not share the idealistic vision of human rights, freedom and justice as interpreted by the US administration?

The fire fight that took place between the Navy Seals and Osama bin Laden was very quickly ditched for a different story altogether. Maybe the lack of bullet holes in the building after a 40 minute fire fight was a fog of war too far. Going down in a blaze of glory and martyrdom may not have whetted the appetite of the American people even if it was falsely claimed that he was using women as human shields. In fact the change of heart is so embarrassing that it only further indicates the fabrication and lies that the US administration have concocted to gain maximum political leverage from the whole affair.

The conflict of statements between Obama and Leon Panetta (the serving head of the CIA) was never more telling than in their respective responses to the killing and the events on the ground. Panetta opines that had Osama surrendered he would have been taken alive as per CIA policy (one wonders how and when that is exactly followed). Obama clearly stated that the mission was a search and kill type operation. If the former is believed and as we are now told that Osama bin Laden was not armed, then why was a second shot required to make sure he was dead? Surely he could have been shot in the leg as was his alleged wife and taken alive. The reality is that nobody is quite sure what the law is anymore as it can only be interpreted by those that are prosecuting the War on Terror. One would have the thought that the head of the CIA and the President of the USA (a Harvard trained lawyer) would be well briefed on the position in law – but then again the US has always dealt with the war as one where its actions are lawful in domestic and international law so long as they fulfil national interests. No surprise then that the Attorney General defended the killing yet Geoffrey Robertson QC (international and criminal law expert) has pointed to the dangers of the precedent that is set. Others would say what he found difficult to – that it was cold blooded murder.

Accordingly as Obama himself has argued it could be said that those killed on 911 did not have burials and were shown no mercy. If that is a principle which creates a basis for what the “elite and brave” unit of the Navy Seals did then the entire system of justice in the USA is undermined or fails to exist – or maybe this is another exceptional case in an exceptional war? When those accused of crimes are murdered by the state something that is fundamentally wrong with the world is perpetrated by those pretending to defend it. With it comes the demise and inevitable end of the American empire. Oppression and injustice has never in the history of the world led to freedom and liberty.

If one is to believe the astonishing story of the body of Osama bin Laden being thrown into the sea the US administration could not have done a better job to add insult to injury and incite further violence against itself. The amazing deference shown by the US in burying the body within a few hours of the raid in the middle of the sea must break all records in the history of Islam. It also shows the utter hatred of the enemy and fear of a man that dared to challenge the might of the superpower of our times. Sea burials are as much from Islam as is eating pork. Both situations are permissible where it is borne out of necessity. The body was taken from land to sea and so no such necessity existed. As the Mufti of Dubai correctly stated he could have been buried on any piece of land anywhere in the world in secret. No “shrine” would have been created. Was this not a deliberate attempt to humiliate the sensitivities of the enemies of the USA while at the same time appease the blood thirsty, feed-him-to-the-sharks, American public?

The sea burial however is the most mystifying aspect to the whole episode and perhaps gives us a clue as to what really happened on 2nd May 2011. The fact of the matter is that the US administration has decided not to release pictures of the murdered body of Osama bin Laden and nobody will ever be able to verify his death or body as it is now allegedly sitting somewhere at the bottom of the Arabian Sea. The only “evidence” we have of his killing is from the US administration which has historically lied to the world and covered up its actions in the name of national interests.

The ongoing conflict between the CIA and the ISI in the war on terror and the recent Raymond Davis debacle points to a theory that is plausible to those familiar with the ground realities in Pakistan. It is inconceivable that the ISI would be unaware that the most wanted man, perhaps in the history of the world, was a few metres from the Pakistan Military academy. The whole foreign policy dispute of the entire region is that Pakistan is harbouring terrorists. India and Afghanistan were the first to say “we told you so” and now Pakistan is under immense pressure to give explanations. It is thus out of the question that the ISI was complicit in giving safe passage to Osama bin Laden. There are better places than an obvious three 3 storey house on a main road that was once allegedly used by Abu Faraj Al-Libi (the ISI captured high ranking Al Qaeda operative) as a hideout in May 2005. Pakistan has aided the USA more than any other country in the War on Terror and thus it makes no sense that it would harbour Osama bin Laden. Equally if for some other reason he was being given a safe haven he would not have been found even if a thousand Raymond Davis’ were on the ground in Abbotabad or any other city in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden would have been kept in a secret prison within a secret prison with no contact to the outside world whatsoever. The ISI would not risk the international condemnation and reprisals by putting him in a safe house on a main road in an open district of Abbotabad. It is simply not possible.

The audacity of the ISI in breaking the CIA network with the capture of Raymond Davis (who many believe was the Station Head of the CIA) and subsequent arrest of hundreds of operatives which would have been built up after years of hard work and the loss of many lives is the real reason this mission took place. The biggest drone attack to date against civilians in Waziristan followed the day after the release of Raymond Davis as the US released its anger and frustration at its “strategic partner”. It is interesting to note that Raymond Davis (a possible nom de guerre used by the CIA) shares his name with a nuclear Physicist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate. Was this a mere coincidence?

With the sea burial and lack of photographic evidence is it not entirely plausible that Osama bin Laden was not in the house that was raided on 2nd May 2011? The US administration has already accepted they did not know for sure that he was there prior to the raid and initial reports suggested that they were only sure of a high value target. It is plausible that the raid was successful in killing members of his family or another high value target. It may be that the US administration has very credible intelligence that Osama Bin Laden was killed in a previous battle or of natural causes. They may have obtained video evidence of the same which would lead to the confidence in assuring that he “will never walk on the face of the world again”.

To gain maximum political leverage Obama “informs” the whole world that Osama bin Laden is dead and phase two of the inevitable war against Pakistan is activated (phase one being the drone attacks): the use of select ground operations against targets within Pakistan. The fact that this constitutes an act of war in violation of international law seems to be under the radar as the law givers once again re-interpret domestic and international law to suit their national interests.

One would expect a sovereign Pakistan to demand evidence for the murder of Osama bin Laden and warn the US not to violate its airspace and sovereignty again. Further if we are to believe the last account of what happened, Osama bin Laden was shot “above the left eye with part of his skull blown off”. Surely some of his DNA can be found in the house that he purportedly lived in for 6 months. Hair, skin fibres, fingerprints can easily be taken by the ISI to verify his presence. Failure to provide any evidence whatsoever renders the whole episode a figment of a defeated American imagination.

If the Pakistani government can prove that Osama Bin Laden was not there in the first place it may well give them the diplomatic offensive it so desperately needs to prevent the war that Obama so desperately craves. Failing to stop phase two of the war will merely mean that the US administration is ever emboldened to carry out more drone attacks and commando type raids in violation of international law and the sovereignty of Pakistan. In due course this could escalate to sanctions, air strikes and an all out war which looks all the more inevitable if the strategic objective of neutralising the nuclear assets of Pakistan is to be realised. Bush went to war with Iraq under the pretext of terror and weapons of mass destruction with no evidence whatsoever and in violation of international law without the support of the international community. Will Obama not be able to declare war on Pakistan who have a stated nuclear capability and have admitted to having caught terrorists on their own soil? Perhaps the real shots that were fired on 2nd May 2011 were political in nature, setting the new rules of engagement that the US administration is prepared to take in the next phase of the War on Terror.

Irfan Salah Butt
Barrister at Law
Legal Advisor to Cageprisoners

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

  NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

 

A total of 22,867 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods.

Since the end of the War of Independence, 2,443 people have been killed in Israel in ‘terror’ attacks – 13 in the past year.

 

In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2010, 183 members of the security forces – police, IDF, Border Police, Israel Security Agency and other organizations – have been killed in the service of the state.

 

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2011/Israel_63_years_independence-May_2011.htm

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

Dear Friends,

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs anually on the eve of Memorial Day for Israelis killed in wars publishes the statistics of its fallen.  The above are the stats for 2010.  What they do not tell you is that quite a few of the ‘fallen’ servicemen/women did not die in the service of their country, but rather died by their own hand.  This is the subject of the initial item below.  There have been years, in fact, in which suicide was the number one killer in the military.

 

The 3 following items all deal with the Nakba law, enacted on March 22, 2011.  It is an unjust law that in its modified form aims at institutions rather than at individuals, docking funds for any school, club, hospital, etc that commemorates the Nakba, thus supposedly implying negative views of  Israel’s independence.  If you can imagine how Jews would feel should some country decide to outlaw commemoration of the Holocaust, then you can imagine how Palestinians feel by not being allowed to commemorate dispossession of their land.

 

Item 2 is by a Jewish Israeli commentator, Merav Michaeli, who complains that this year by contrast to previous ones, on Independence day (which immediately follows Memorial Day) due to the new law, she will be thinking more of the Nakba (the Palestinian Catastrophe) then of Independence

 

Item 3 is by a Palestinian citizen of Israel who argues that “If Israel is to embrace its Palestinian-Israeli citizens, recognizing the minority’s narrative is a vital starting point for full civil participation and greater feelings of belonging.”  Indeed, this would seem to be so true that one wonders if by enacting the Nakba law Israel’s leaders are shouting that they don’t want to recognize the minority in any way.  They want rather to rid themselves of it.

 

Item 4, Independence Day and the Nakba law, is again from the Palestinian standpoint, and argues that the law is intended as intimidation, which can hardly be denied.

 

The report of the 5th item is disgusting!  Rahat is an Israeli Bedouin town that Israel constructed so as to have an excuse to force Bedouin citizens of Israel into when it stole their lands.  Palestinian Bedouins are traditionally farmers and husbandmen.  Cities do not allow the Bedouin to live their traditional lives or practice their traditional roles.  Moreover, in building Rahat, Israel did not provide other employment for its inhabitants.  And now, after what Israel continues to do to the Bedouins—demolishing existing communities, it rubs salt into the Bedouin wounds by bringing tanks and other military equipment into Rahat for a ‘show’ on Independence day.  What kind of a country is this Israel anyhow?

 

The final items has an entirely different subject.  I almost left it out, because it does not fit in with the rest.  But I think it will interest you.  The issue is whether or not the United States Supreme Court will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The details are in the article.

 

All the best,

Dorothy

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1.  By Max Blumenthal  May 9, 2011

 

Despite declaring an “all-out war” on suicide, the Israeli army saw the epidemic rise in 2010

 

http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/05/on-israeli-memorial-day-suicide-fratricide-and-accidents-remain-top-causes-of-soldier-deaths/

On Israel’s Memorial Day observances for “fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks,” the Defense Ministry’s commemoration unit claimed that 183 Israelis “were killed in the line of duty or in terror attacks since last year’s Remembrance Day,” according to YNet. The number appears to represent a wild exaggeration that is inconsistent with past statistics documenting the number of Israeli soldiers killed annually in combat operations versus those who died by suicide or in accidents. In recent years, suicide has been either the leading cause or among the leading causes of deaths in the Israeli army.

 

While I was having lunch in Tel Aviv last summer with my friend Ruth Hiller, a founder of the Israeli anti-militarization group New Profile, she told me that around 50 percent of Israelis buried in military cemeteries had died through suicide, accidents or fratricide. I asked my roommate at the time, Yossi David, a left-wing Israeli blogger who had served in occupied Hebron, if Hiller’s figures were accurate. “All I know is that there were two suicides a month in my unit during training,” David said. “It happened all the time.”

 

In 1989, the Israeli army’s personnel department put the rate of suicides at 35 a year. By 2003, during the height of the Second Intifada, 43 Israeli soldiers died by suicide, making it the leading cause of death in the army. By 2010, suicide was on the rise again. During the first seven months of the year, 19 soldiers had killed themselves, a ten percent spike from the previous year. That number exceeded the number of deaths that occurred that year in combat operations.

 

In 2008, an Israeli border policeman committed suicide in front of French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy. A young soldier shot himself last year after learning that his friend had committed suicide moments before. The phenomenon continues to plague the Israeli army despite Brigadier General Avi Zamir’s pledge in 2005 to “wage an all-out war on suicide by soldiers.”

 

The suicide rate has been particularly high among Ethiopian members of the Israeli army. By 1997, six years after an airlift brought the second wave of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, Ethiopian soldiers accounted for 10 percent of army suicides — but comprised only four tenths of a percent of the army. Racism was a key factor in the epidemic. One soldier’s suicide note read: “Every morning when I get to the base, six soldiers are waiting for me who clap their hands and yell, `The kushi [black] is here.’”

 

During Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s last major combat operation, the army suffered its largest loss of life in an accidental incident of fratricide, when a tank shell killed three members of the Golani Brigade. This year, several Israeli troops died at the Gaza border when their comrades accidentally rained mortars down on their position.

 

40 Israeli prison guard cadets died weeks before in the Carmel Wildfire when their bus was trapped in the flames. The cadets presumably comprised the majority of the 70 “soldiers and civilians” whom the Israeli Army spokesman claimed (via Twitter) were “killed in operational duty and terror attacks since last Memorial Day.”

 

Tagged with: ethiopians • idf • israel • israeli army • israeli soldiers • memorial day • militarism • militarization • palestine • Racism • suicide

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

2.  Haaretz Monday, May 09, 2011 

What kind of independence is this?

The Nakba Law is a sad reflection of the non-independence of the State of Israel. It is not merely that, after 63 years, Israel is unable to recognize that no matter how necessary and justified its establishment was, it was accompanied by wrongs and pain inflicted on others.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/what-kind-of-independence-is-this-1.360641

 

By Merav Michaeli

 

Thanks to the Nakba Law, this will be my first Independence Day during which I think more about the Nakba than about Independence Day. The Nakba Law, which bars public funding for groups that mark the Nakba – which is Arabic for “catastrophe” and is the name Israeli Palestinians use for the events of 1948 – is yet another act by successive Israeli governments that constitutes a blow to Israel’s Arab citizens, harms them and pushes them into the corner. But the thing is that these acts also harm the state itself. They push the Jews into a corner and damage the Jewish society that exists within the sick and twisted reality created by these actions.

 

Israel’s Jewish society is falling apart because Israeli governments do not allow it to give up the role of frightened victim under constant threat, or to stop fighting the rest of the world. In the same way, the Nakba Law means that instead of fostering a potentially empathetic discourse between the majority and the minority, the Nakba becomes just another time for hatred and quarrels.

 

“A mature, wise and righteous nation should be able to understand that there are other people here, who cannot take part in celebrating an independence that pours salt on the open wound in their hearts,” Avirama Golan wrote in Haaretz last month. But how will the Jewish nation in Zion understand the open wound in the hearts of the Arab citizens who live here if it has never had a proper chance to be exposed to the story of their catastrophe, certainly not as a legitimate narrative? The vast majority of citizens do not grasp the significance of the Nakba because they have not had the opportunity to hear firsthand about the pain, trauma and loss that the Israeli Palestinians experienced in 1948. Until now, Israeli governments have disregarded, hidden or denied this pain; from now on, acknowledging it is also prohibited by law.

 

The Nakba Law is a sad reflection of the non-independence of the State of Israel. It is not merely that, after 63 years, Israel is unable to recognize that no matter how necessary and justified its establishment was, it was accompanied by wrongs and pain inflicted on others. The country is insecure about itself and its continued existence; both its leaders and its opposition figures tirelessly warn that the state will cease to exist, each in accordance with his or her own ideology and fears. Sixty-three years after its establishment, the State of Israel and its Jewish society lack confidence, require external approval and recognition, and feel threatened by the entire world – and even by the minority that lives within. Is that independence? Is that what the “free people in our land,” as per the national anthem, looks like?

 

Thus the citizens of Israel arrive at this Independence Day in a kind of schizophrenic state, which is expressed every time they answer the question “How are you?” with the answer “Personally, excellent.” Personally cannot be less than excellent because collectively we are victims all the time, either because someone is threatening us or because someone is blaming us. Collectively, everything is onerous and difficult and exhausting, so personally everything is simply wonderful. That’s why every year the public opinion polls discover anew that Israelis are supremely happy with their lives even though they don’t trust the government and can’t make it through the month without an overdraft. Thus it is that on the 63rd anniversary of the state’s founding, the citizens of Israel have more and more foreign passports and more and more thoughts about living elsewhere.

 

I hope that one day we get to celebrate an Independence Day when we will be genuinely independent – when we want to make peace, when we realize that there are partners with whom to do it, when we understand that the Arab citizens here want to be reconciled with us and that they declare this in the Israeli Arab Future Vision document, and when we stop fearing that soon we will no longer be here. Happy Independence Day.

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

3.  [Forwarded by Ruth H.]

 

Jerusalem Post May 8, 2011 0:12 IST   

 

Independence Day and the ‘Nakba Law’  [the law was enacted March 22, 2011.  While it has not yet had an actual case, now that In

 

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=219803

 

By ISSA E. BOURSHEH

 

If Israel is to embrace its Palestinian-Israeli citizens, recognizing the minority’s narrative is a vital starting point for full civil participation and greater feelings of belonging. 

  

‘We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.”

 

This is what the founders of the State of Israel guaranteed to the family of nations and its own people. Full and equal citizenship; and this is what I, as a Palestinian-Israeli, am anticipating, with fairly low expectations.

 

Mabrouk [congratulations], Israel, you’ve made it. You’ve become a prosperous and flourishing state; now let us take one step further toward recognizing the minority’s narrative and not claim sole ownership over the “truth.”

 

Just as the four characters of Rashomon recount events from their points of view, this is how we see the events of 1948, without sympathy or the other’s catastrophe. A lot has happened since, and neither we nor the reality remain the same. In order to move ahead to real, full citizenship for all, we must confront our history with open ears and eyes, willing to listen to another narrative that might not fit well with our own.

 

MY PARLIAMENT recently passed the “Nakba Law,” prohibiting state funds from being used to commemorate the Nakba. How does that fit into full citizenship? If Israel is to embrace its Palestinian-Israeli citizens, telling the Nakba story is a vital starting point for full civil participation and greater feelings of belonging.

 

While Jewish Israelis are honoring their heroes, Palestinian-Israelis have the right to honor theirs. I want to be able to remember my grandfather’s saying, “I would rather die as a dog in my own land rather than live as a king in exile”; I want to be able to examine the relationship between Arabs and Jews in Mandatory Palestine, and I want to be able to criticize the Zionist and Palestinian leadership equally. I want to be able to visit demolished villages and have an open, honest dialogue about our past, and future. I want to be able to discuss not only the Jewish immigration to Israel, but also the exodus of my people. I want you to know about my history as much as I know about yours. I want you to know who Emile Habibi and Tawfik Toubi are, just like I know who David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett are.

 

If we are to share a brighter future, we must learn about the aliyas to the Holy Land, but also about the exodus of Palestinians.

 

In a perfect world, we all might be able to celebrate Independence Day and Nakba Day jointly. Realistically, I would compromise on an Independence Day on the fifth of Iyar and a Nakba Day on 15th of May; live and let live.

 

The Israeli and Palestinian narrative may never agree, but I trust that in the long term, with proper steps taken now, we will be able to reach a point of understanding. We might never celebrate Independence/Nakba together, but we may be able to have sympathy toward a hope that is not lost – to be free people in our land.

 

The writer is a graduate student at Tel Aviv University. 

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

4.  Palestine Monitor|2 May 2011

 

Bracing for Nakba Day in Israel and Palestine

 

http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/bracing-for-nakba-day-in%C2%A0israel-and-palestine/

 

As the Israeli military has announced it will increase troop deployment in the Occupied West Bank for the approaching Nakba Day, Palestinian schools and communities prepare for their first ‘illegalized’ commemoration of the day that marks the evacuation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes to make way for the creation of Israel.

 

On 22 March, the Israeli Knesset approved the “Nakba Law,” which criminalizes stated-funded organizations, bodies and schools from observing 15 May as the Palestinian catastrophe, instead of Israeli Independence day.

 

Palestinian schools inside the Green Line have already experienced signs that portend increased censorship. According to an Alternative Information Center report, officials from Israeli Ministry of Education visited Palestinians schools on Land Day, 30 March, requesting that school officials send the Ministry a list of teachers and students that were absent that day.

 

This act of intimidation was received as a reminder to schools that the Ministry of Education is in fact watching their political activities.

 

The Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education, an Israeli organization founded in 1984 to advocate for and protect Arab education in Israel, have vocalized their opposition to the law and dedication to Palestinians’ right to observe national days that form cultural and collective memory.

 

In the past, Palestinian schools have worked with their mayors and local councils to develop lesson plans, activities and video screenings to memorialize the Nakba. Since the passing of the “Nakba Law,” FUCAE is working with legal organizations, Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, to understand how Palestinian schools will be able to recognize their historical narrative without incurring heavy fines.

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

5.  Monday, May 09, 2011   

 

 Islamic Movement protest in Rahat Photo: Amir Cohen

 

    Rahat objects to IDF Independence Day exhibit

 

Source says Bedouin city’s mayor, who represents Islamic Movement, ‘would rather have Nakba Day’

 

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4066563,00.html

 

Ilana Curiel

 

The head of Rahat’s business licensing department tried to prevent the IDF from establishing an exhibition of its tanks and weaponry at the entrance to the Bedouin town on Monday, apparently on orders from the mayor, who is a representative of the Islamic Movement.

 

Traditionally, every Independence Day, sees the army choose various locations throughout the country to showcase its weapons for the benefit of Israel’s citizens. A lot at the entrance to Rahat was approved by police as well as the local authority for the exhibit. 

 

But on Monday morning Sami Abu-Sahiban, whose department is preparing to construct its headquarters on the lot, was found yelling at IDF representatives to go home. 

 

“You don’t respect the authority under which you are acting. You don’t have the proper permits. Let’s see you do this type of thing in Tel Aviv,” he said, unmoved by the permits shown to him by the officials present. 

 

Some of the soldiers who were present at the scene are Bedouin, and many of them confessed to feeling uncomfortable. A few explained that Rahat Mayor Faiz Abu Sahiban, who represents the Islamic Movement in the city, was behind the outburst. 

 

“The municipality would prefer to have Nakba Day here rather than Independence Day. They want to show the residents that they are ostensibly objecting to the exhibit,” said a source from the defense Ministry who resides in Rahat. “They have to behave this way.”

The mayor did not deny the allegations, explaining that in prior years the exhibition was held outside the city’s territory but that this year the army wanted it to be inside. “This makes the residents uncomfortable,” he said.

 

“When the army does navigation training in the area they don’t update us either. This is no way to behave. They bring tanks here, what for? We can see tanks on TV. Let them bring Iron Dome.”

 

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

6.  [Forwarded by Sam Bahour]

 

Wall Street Journal

 

The Supreme Court and the Jerusalem Debate 

 

The court may rule on whether the U.S. should recognize the city as Israel’s capital. 

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703859304576307371730275828.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

 

By SETH LIPSKY 

 

 

Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin used to warn against deciding the political status of Jerusalem in the U.S. Congress. But what about at the Supreme Court? It’s a pressing question because America’s highest court might soon rule on whether, under American law, Jerusalem is or is not part of Israel. 

 

The court has just agreed to hear a case in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being sued by a 9-year-old American citizen named Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky. M.B.Z., as the court refers to the youth, was born in Jerusalem and wants the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to issue him a certificate of birth abroad stating that he was born in Israel. 

 

What makes the case so explosive is not only that it involves the question of Jerusalem, but that it also pits the executive branch against the Congress. In agreeing to hear the case, the court specifically ordered the lawyers to focus on whether the law “impermissibly infringes the President’s power to recognize foreign sovereigns.” The case also involves presidential signing statements. Can a president, in signing a piece of legislation, announce that he doesn’t agree with part of it and doesn’t intend to enforce the law? 

 

Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers argue that this case raises a political question of the kind that the Supreme Court has steered away from in the past. But it’s not a dispute between, say, Democrats and Republicans. It involves a law passed in 2002, when the Senate was controlled by the Democrats and the House by the Republicans. 

 

The relevant law is the part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2002 that deals with “United States policy with respect to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” The Supreme Court will adjudicate the provision stating that, for “purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary [of State] shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.” 

 

The bill passed the Senate, of which Mrs. Clinton was then a member, by unanimous consent. In other words, she’s now refusing to carry out a law she helped pass. But when President George W. Bush signed the law, he issued a signing statement suggesting that he didn’t intend to enforce that part of the law. The measure, he said, “impermissibly interferes with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct the Nation’s foreign affairs and to supervise the unitary executive branch.” 

 

Mr. Bush also complained that “the purported direction” would, “if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the President’s constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the Nation in international affairs, and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states.” 

 

Mr. Bush was challenged by the infant Mr. Zivotofsky—via his parents—not long after he was born. In the fight over whether the Supreme Court would take the case, Mrs. Clinton echoed Mr. Bush’s concerns, citing her department’s view that “any unilateral action by the United States that would signal, symbolically or concretely, that it recognizes that Jerusalem is a city that is located within the sovereign territory of Israel would critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.” 

 

So far, lower courts have agreed with Mrs. Clinton that this matter is a “political question” and not justiciable. But the young Mr. Zivotofsky’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin, was able to convince the Supreme Court to hear the case by arguing, in part, that this matter is no longer a “political question” precisely because Congress has already acted. 

 

Given all the other foreign affairs and political disputes in which Congress does act—from foreign aid to the United Nations to the Senate’s ratification of treaties—it’s illogical to suggest that the terms for issuing certificates of birth abroad are beyond the reach of the elected legislature. 

 

Mr. Lipsky, editor of the New York Sun, is the author of “The Citizen’s Constitution: An Annotated Guide” (Basic Books, 2009). 

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US needs Pakistan like a fish needs a three-seater

Posted: 09 May 2011 12:29 AM PDT

After the recent US murder of Osama Bin Laden – was Pakistan warned about the attack? Some almost certainly were but denied it to give the impression that Pakistan wasn’t colluding with the super-power (which they are, in a massive way) – where’s the relationship likely to go now?

Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker gives a good overview of the situation and reveals the typically inept application of US foreign policy:

It’s the end of the Second World War, and the United States is deciding what to do about two immense, poor, densely populated countries in Asia. America chooses one of the countries, becoming its benefactor. Over the decades, it pours billions of dollars into that country’s economy, training and equipping its military and its intelligence services. The stated goal is to create a reliable ally with strong institutions and a modern, vigorous democracy. The other country, meanwhile, is spurned because it forges alliances with America’s enemies.

The country not chosen was India, which “tilted” toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Pakistan became America’s protégé, firmly supporting its fight to contain Communism. The benefits that Pakistan accrued from this relationship were quickly apparent: in the nineteen-sixties, its economy was an exemplar. India, by contrast, was a byword for basket case. Fifty years then went by. What was the result of this social experiment?

India has become the state that we tried to create in Pakistan. It is a rising economic star, militarily powerful and democratic, and it shares American interests. Pakistan, however, is one of the most anti-American countries in the world, and a covert sponsor of terrorism. Politically and economically, it verges on being a failed state. And, despite Pakistani avowals to the contrary, America’s worst enemy, Osama bin Laden, had been hiding there for years—in strikingly comfortable circumstances—before U.S. commandos finally tracked him down and killed him, on May 2nd.

American aid is hardly the only factor that led these two countries to such disparate outcomes. But, at this pivotal moment, it would be a mistake not to examine the degree to which U.S. dollars have undermined our strategic relationship with Pakistan—and created monstrous contradictions within Pakistan itself.

In 2009, Senators Richard Lugar and John Kerry, recognizing that American military aid had given the Army and the I.S.I. disproportionate power in Pakistan, helped pass legislation in Congress sanctioning seven and a half billion dollars in civilian assistance, to be disbursed over a period of five years. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, apparently at the direction of the military, flew to Washington, and insisted that his country would not be micromanaged. So far, less than a hundred and eighty million dollars of that money has been spent, because the civilian projects require oversight and checks on corruption. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, submits expense claims every month to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad; according to a report in the Guardian, receipts are not provided—or requested.

Middle East revolutions happened despite of us

Posted: 08 May 2011 10:36 PM PDT

The social and political significance of the ongoing Arab revolutions are powerful.

Last Friday I spoke in Sydney alongside insightful American reporter Matthew Cassel – who recently was on the front line of the Egyptian revolution and is soon to work for Al-Jazeera English – and Australian journalist Kate Ausburn. It was a fascinating night of discussion and provocation at the opening of the Resistance conference.

Summary of my points? Israel is on the wrong side of history (determined to oppress one people in the name of “Jewish democracy”) and the corporate media’s role in amplifying US foreign policy should be challenged and rejected.

Here’s what I said:

Julian Assange talks about Middle East uprisings and why Wikileaks still matters

Posted: 08 May 2011 10:22 PM PDT

 

Liberal hawks should hang heads in shame over Libya

Posted: 08 May 2011 09:42 PM PDT

The Western-assisted war in Libya isn’t going too well. So much for a quick victory against Gaddafi forces. The utterly confused strategy, even with US-led bombing runs, has not overwhelmed government troops.

Gary Younge writes in the Guardian that such missions should force “liberal interventionists” who backed this war to question (yet again!) their belief in our governments to carry out noble wars without crimes and errors:

The problem is not mission creep, it’s the mission. There are only so many times their governments can reasonably keep doing the same thing and expect different results and there can be only so many times liberal hawks can “trust” their governments to do differently.

Despite Obama’s initial foreboding, Libya is not Iraq. It came with legal sanction, European insistence, Arab cover, a credible, if not exactly viable, resistance on the ground, and the immediate threat of massacre. Iraq had none of those.

UN support makes the bombing legal, it does not make it legitimate. This is no mere semantic matter. Just because something is within the law does not make it a good idea. International law should be a prerequisite for action, not the basis for it. The Iraq war would still have been a disaster even if the UN had endorsed it. It would just have been a legal disaster.

One of the more pathetic aspects of this misadventure is how it has exposed the discrepancy between their imperialist rhetoric and postcolonial decline. Obama hoped the US would play a “supporting role”; in reality it is centre stage. Indeed the show could not go on without Washington. However, even at this early stage, American domestic support for this war is fragile. Most believe the US should not be involved and that it does not have a clear strategy – and, in any case, they are not that interested. This is not a question of the ends justifying the means. As both Iraq and Afghanistan have shown, the west does not have the military or political means to achieve its ends even on its own terms.

The Libyan rebels’ demands are important. But solidarity does not involve unquestioningly forfeiting responsibility for one’s own actions to another, but rather it is a process of mutual engagement demanding an assessment of what is both prudent and possible. It is now clear that the Libyan uprising, like other revolutions in the region, could not succeed militarily.

Imagining an America that doesn’t invade and occupy

Posted: 08 May 2011 06:23 PM PDT

This is a moving piece. Written by US journalist Michael Hastings (a friend and colleague) about the real opportunity that should be taken with the death of Osama Bin Laden.

An imperial nation that continues to believe it can rule by brute force and invade Muslim nations is delusional:

Osama bin Laden’s actions, and our reactions to them, have defined my adult life. I was in New York City on September 11th, 2001, a senior in college. After the towers collapsed, I walked 95 blocks to get as close to Ground Zero as possible, so I could see first-hand the destruction that would define our future. By the time I got to Baghdad four years later, very few Americans believed that the people we were fighting in Iraq posed a threat to the United States. Even the military press didn’t bother lying about it anymore, referring to our enemies as “insurgents” rather than “terrorists.” A woman I loved was killed in Baghdad in January 2007 — Al Qaeda in Iraq took credit for it — and my younger brother fought for 15 months as an infantry platoon leader, earning a Bronze Star. Other friends, both American and Iraqi, suffered their own losses: homes, limbs, loved ones.

By the fall of 2008, when I had moved on to Afghanistan, bin Laden and Al Qaeda were barely footnotes to what we were doing there. “It’s not about bin Laden,” a military intelligence official told me. “It’s about fixing the mess.” This added to the growing despair Americans felt about the war: If it wasn’t about bin Laden, then what the fuck was it about? Why were we fighting wars that took us no closer to the man responsible for unleashing the horror of September 11th? A top-ranking military official told me last year that he didn’t think we’d ever get bin Laden. Yet each time our presidents and generals told us why we were still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, they always used bin Laden and September 11th as an excuse. As long as they insisted on fighting these wars we didn’t need to fight, the wound to the American psyche wasn’t allowed to heal.

Right from the start, the idea of the War on Terror was a fuzzy one at best. We were promised there would be no “battlefields and beachheads,” as President George W. Bush put it. It would be a secret war, conducted mostly in the dark, no holds barred. And that’s how it might have played had we got bin Laden early on, dead or alive. But that’s not what happened. Instead, we went on a rampage in the full light of day. We got our battlefields and beachheads after all. Kabul, Kandahar, Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, Najaf, Mosul, Kirkuk, Basra, Kabul and Kandahar again — the list went on and on. We couldn’t find bin Laden, so we went after anyone who looked like him, searching for other monsters to put down: the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In the end, bin Laden got the carnage he had hoped to unleash. Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on September 11th. Since then, 6,022 American servicemen and women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 42,000 have been wounded. More than 3,000 allied soldiers have died, along with some 1,200 private contractors, aid workers and journalists. Most of the killing didn’t take place in battles — it was in the dirty metrics of suicide bombs, death squads, checkpoint killings, torture chambers and improvised explosive devices. Civilians on their way to work or soldiers driving around in circles, looking for an enemy they could seldom find. We may never know how many innocent civilians were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, but estimates suggest that more than 160,000 have died so far. Al Qaeda, by contrast, has lost very few operatives in the worldwide conflagration — perhaps only “scores,” as President Obama said this month. In truth, Al Qaeda never had many members to begin with. Not since Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand, setting off World War I, has a conspiracy undertaken by so few been felt by so many.

After learning of bin Laden’s death, I congratulated my friends in the military and the intelligence community, tweeted my appreciation to President Obama and his team, then sat back and listened to the horns honking outside my apartment in Washington. I thought of all the dead, and what adding this fucker’s name to the list actually means. My hope — and it is not one I have much hope in — is that our political leaders will use bin Laden’s death to put an end to the madness he provoked. Withdraw our remaining troops from Iraq, a country that never posed a threat to us. End the war in Afghanistan, where we will spend $120 billion this year to prevent the country from becoming a hideout for Al Qaeda. As bin Laden’s death makes clear, our true enemies will always find a hideout, no matter how many people we torture and bribe and kill. For the past 10 years, we have used the name Osama bin Laden to justify our wars. Perhaps, now that he is dead, we can use it in the cause of peace.

Arab democracy bad for Israel (says prominent US Zionist)

Posted: 08 May 2011 06:01 PM PDT

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has spent his life protecting poor little Israel and writing columns from his ivory tower. His latest piece proves what many people have been saying for a long time; Zionism cannot thrive, let alone survive, with real democracy in the Middle East. What does that say about supposed Jewish self-determination?

Have no illusions: The main goal of the rejectionists today is to lock Israel into the West Bank — so the world would denounce it as some kind of Jewish apartheid state, with a Jewish minority permanently ruling a Palestinian majority, when you combine Israel’s Arabs and the West Bank Arabs. With a more democratic Arab world, where everyone can vote, that would be a disaster for Israel. It may be unavoidable, but it would be insane for Israel to make it so by failing to aggressively pursue a secure withdrawal option.

Obama expresses “satisfaction” with assassination of Bin Laden

Posted: 08 May 2011 04:58 PM PDT

America is a Cowboys and Indians culture:

STEVE KROFT: Mr. President, was this the most satisfying week of your Presidency?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, it was certainly one of the most satisfying weeks not only for my Presidency, but I think for the United States since I’ve been President.

 

Solving world’s problems requires first identifying them

Posted: 08 May 2011 04:51 PM PDT

Why should we believe media over OBL post WMD lies?

Posted: 08 May 2011 06:46 AM PDT

The risk of implosion of the Syrian state

Posted: 08 May 2011 12:02 AM PDT

Robert Fisk paints a troubling picture of a nation that needs fundamental reform:

According to historian Farouk Mardam-Bey, for example, Syria is “a tribal regime, which by being a kind of mafia clan and by exercising the cult of personality, can be compared to the Libyan regime”, which can never reform itself because reform will bring about the collapse of the Baath party which will always ferociously defend itself. “It has placed itself – politically and juridically – upon a war footing,” Mardam-Bey says of its struggle with Israel, “without the slightest intention of actually going to war.”

Burhan Ghalioun makes the point that “the existence of the regime is like an invasion of the state, a colonisation of society” where “hundreds of intellectuals are forbidden to travel, 150,000 have gone into exile and 17,000 have either disappeared or been imprisoned for expressing their opinion… It is impossible (for President Bashar al-Assad) to say (like Mubarak and Ben Ali) ‘I will not prolong or renew my mandate’ like other presidents have pretended to do – because Syria is, for Assad, his private family property, the word ‘country’ is not part of the vocabulary.”

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Qatar’s PM holds secret meeting with Netanyahu: Zionist Radio

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Meeting included Qatar’s offer to replace Egypt as IsraHell’s source of natural gas

Zionist Radio has reported that Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassem, held a secret meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, in London.

Diplomatic sources in London said that the Qatari prime minister arrived in his private jet from Paris and met with Netanyahu.

“The meeting lasted for an hour and was held under heavy security arrangements taken by the British authority.”

The sources added that a few hours after the meeting, Qatar expressed its willingness to supply natural gas to IsraHell instead of Egypt.

Israhell Radio also described Qatar as an important player in the regional security arrangements, working closely with US intelligence agencies.

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Cheney: Reinstate torture methods in US

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Former US Vice President Dick Cheney

  

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney has praised harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, saying they should be reinstated for intelligence-gathering purposes.

 

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Cheney claimed that torture methods used against alleged terror suspects when he was serving during the Bush administration contributed to the tracking down of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who was reportedly killed last week in Pakistan, AFP reported. “All have said one way or the other that the enhanced interrogation program played a role,” said Cheney, adding that “My guess is that’s probably the case that it contributed, just as did a number of other factors.”

 

When asked whether harsh techniques such as waterboarding should be brought back if the US were to hunt a new target of high value, Cheney insisted, “I certainly would advocate it. I’d be a strong supporter of it.”

The former vice president went on to shrug off the tide of outside criticism that the use of waterboarding, or simulated drowning, is tantamount to torture, claiming that former officials in the George W. Bush administration tried very hard to ensure that what they did was legal.

“Waterboarding and all of the other techniques that were used are techniques that we use training our own people,” Cheney noted. “This is stuff that we’ve done for years with own military personnel and to suggest that it’s torture I just think is wrong.”

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with CBS, Bush-era Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also came out in support of Cheney’s stance and against the banning of the inhumane practice.

“I think that it’s clear that those techniques that the CIA used worked. And to have taken them away and ruled them out I think may be a mistake,” said Rumsfeld on Sunday.

The 78-year-old veteran politician also claimed that a major fraction of intelligence the US has on al-Qaeda has been extracted through the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

US President Barack Obama issued an executive order on January 20, 2009 banning torture at interrogations in US prisons amid calls for immediate closure of Guantanamo prison.

In January, however, Obama signed a major defense bill, effectively preventing the closure of the notorious US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, where 173 suspects are held in captivity with no hope of a fair trial amid widespread reports of illegal interrogation techniques practiced there.

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Bushehr plant set to join national grid

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Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant
  
  

Iranian and Russian experts have completed loading fuel into the reactor at Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, officially putting it into service.

 

After undergoing numerous tests, the nuclear power station has become operational, but will start generating electricity in two months’ time, reported Fars News Agency.

 

The facility, whose fueling process is now completed, is scheduled to continue running under its current state for two weeks before joining the national grid in two months.

In October 2010, Iran started injecting fuel into the core of the reactor at Bushehr nuclear power plant in the initial phase of its launch. However, engineers began removing the fuel rods in late February for safety reasons.

The unloading of the fuel delayed the plant’s joining the national grid, initially scheduled for the beginning of 2011.

Bushehr, which is Iran’s first nuclear power plant, operates under the full supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has already announced that the facility is quake-proof and will never experience a situation similar to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

According to the AEOI, the safety systems used at Bushehr meet the latest international standards, but the safety systems at the Fukushima plant belonged to the 1960s and 70s.

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Ab-A$$ can’t pay $alaries in May due to I$raHell halting funds tran$fer

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Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says Zionist decision to block funds puts the government in a ‘very difficult’ position as PA employee salaries go unpaid for first time since 2007.

Reuters

The Palestinian Authority said on Monday it had not been able to pay salaries for the first time since 2007 because of Israel’s decision to halt the transfer of funds it collects on its behalf.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Israel’s decision, a move driven by Israeli concern over a Palestinian unity deal including Hamas, had put the Ramallah-based government in a “very difficult” financial position.

Fayyad said the PA had paid salaries to its 150,000 employees promptly on the 5th day of every month since mid-2007. “We are now on the 9th and we have not been able to meet this obligation,” he said.

Israel recently blocked the transfer of 105 million dollars in customs duties and other levies it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, following a deal to reunite the two rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah.

Palestinians see reconciliation between the secular Fatah and Islamist Hamas as crucial for their drive for an independent state in Gaza and the West Bank. The two groups had been at odds since a brief civil war in 2007, after which Hamas seized control in Gaza, and Fatah was left to administer the West Bank.

Israel has condemned the unity pact as a “tremendous blow to peace”, with Netanyahu refusing to negotiate with Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction.

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‘Bin Laden dead long before US raid’

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Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi
 
 

Iran’s intelligence minister says the country has reliable information that former head of the al-Qaeda terrorist group Osama bin Laden died of disease some time ago.

“We have accurate information that bin Laden died of illness some time ago,” Heidar Moslehi told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

He questioned Washington’s claim that bin Laden was killed by American troops in a hiding compound in Pakistan on May 1.

“If the US military and intelligence apparatus have really arrested or killed bin Laden, why don’t they show him (his dead body) why have they thrown his corpse into the sea?” Moslehi asked.

“When we apprehended [former Jundallah ringleader Abdul Malik] Rigi, we showed him and also aired his interview,” ISNA quoted the intelligence chief as saying.

By releasing such false news, he said, the White House seeks to overshadow regional awakening.

Moslehi said US officials resort to such PR campaigns to divert attention from their domestic problems as well as their “fragile” economic situation.

US President Barack Obama claimed that Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces on May 1 in a hiding compound in Pakistan.

A US official later announced that bin Laden’s body was abruptly buried at sea, falsely boasting that his hasty burial was in accordance with the Islamic law, requiring burial within 24 hours of death.

However, burial at sea is not an Islamic practice and Islam does not have a timeframe for burial.

US officials also claimed their decision for a sea burial was made because no country would accept bin Laden’s remains, without elaborating on which countries were actually contacted on the matter.

Analysts, however, have raised serious questions as to why US officials did not allow for the application of a DNA test to officially confirm the identity of the corpse before its hasty burial.

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Al Jazeera’s War on Syria

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 Stephen Lendman

A previous article discussed Al Jazeera’s war on Gaddafi, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/04/al-jazeeras-war-on-gaddafi.html

Discussing its recent programming, it explained how compromised it’s become. For example on Libya, it’s been largely Western/Qatari propaganda, not legitimate news, information, and analysis.

It’s Syria coverage has been similar, providing its host country regime friendly reporting. Qatar is part of the Washington-led NATO anti-Gaddafi coalition. Shamelessly, Al Jazeera News channel (JNC) is on board supporting it.

Like America’s media and BBC, JNC’s biased reporting got one of its prominent journalists to resign in late April – its Beirut chief and host of the popular Hiwar Muftuh (open dialogue) program, Ghassan Bin Jiddo.

According to the Lebanon newspaper, As-Safir, it was to protest its recent coverage of Arab uprisings, saying:

The broadcaster “has abandoned professionalism and objectivity, turning from a media source into an operation room that incites and mobilizes. Ghassan Ben Jeddo believes JNC no longer pursues….independent and unbiased policies, and quite conversely, is in pursuit of a certain type of (policy) regarding the brewing uprisings in the region.”

Professor AbuKhalil’s Angry Arab News Service also expresses sharp criticism of Al Jazeera’s less than credible reporting. He said Bin Jiddo resigned for the above reasons and because of the broadcaster’s “recent radical shift….in alliance with the Saudi-Israeli alliance in the Middle East….Ghassan belongs to the Arab nationalist mold and is a fierce supporter of resistance to Israel.”

He had great influence at JNC, nearly became director-general before Waddah Khanfar got the job, so his resignation “will bring further embarrassment to the network.”

AbuKhalil also said he’s heard directly from others at Al Jazeera Arabic and English that “the majority are quite irate” about network coverage, especially on Bahrain, but also on Libya, Syria, and elsewhere, making all of its reporting suspect.

In late April, a report from a supposed eye-witness, identified as dentist Mohammad Abdul Rahman, about alleged clashes between security forces and protesters in Homs, Syria, were, in fact, fabricated.

After its airing, the real Abdul Rahman called the Syrian Satellite Channel. Condemning the false use of his name to provide unsubstantiated information about Homs, he said:

“I was surprised when one of my friends called me saying that my name was aired on Al Jazeera as an eyewitness….I didn’t call that channel. The broadcast statement is false and is in the framework of the huge media incitement campaign targeting Syria by this channel.”

It wasn’t the first time. Another man identified as Ammar Wahud, told JNC he was one of the protesters with information on Baniyas demonstrations. This time, however, it backfired when on air he said:

“There are mass protests in Baniyas but they are all in support of President Bashar Assad.” He then criticized JNC’s biased coverage but was stopped when the interview was abruptly ended.

In mid-October 2010, the Morocco Board News Service also condemned JNC for not covering Polisario dissident Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud’s “odyssey from the Moroccan city of Smara, where he voiced his support (for) the Moroccan Autonomy Plan for the Western Saraha, to the Algerian city of Tindouf where the separatist Polisario Front arrested him and sent him to an Algerian prison.”

Moroccans are mystified about JNC’s lack of interest, especially after its news team earlier covered stories about anti-Moroccan activities in the region. They’re also outraged about JNC’s biased coverage of human rights abuses in Morocco and Algeria, as well as siding with Algeria on the Sahara dispute.

“Moroccans, like other Arab viewers are starting to see through Al Jazeera’s screaming programs and theatrical discussions.”

Despite its earlier credible work, it now has a “country-by-country a la carte agenda,” picking and choosing between accurate and biased reporting, tainting all its work in the process.

For concerned Moroccans and others in the region, JNC’s avoidance of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud jailing by Algeria’s army provides proof of its “influenced and prejudiced policy.” Featuring other stories instead, his disappearance got short shrift.

As a result, Moroccans are tuning out. “It will take more than shouting matches and anti-Israeli rhetoric to convince” them otherwise.

On February 21, the New Media Journal (NMJ) headlined, “Al Jazeera and Middle East’s Quest for Democracy,” saying:

What began as a noble experiment more recently deteriorated visibly. For example:

“During the Egyptian uprising, (JNC’s) biased reporting became even more obvious….reign(ing) in its reporters,” perhaps under pressure to do it. Now “its true colors are fast emerging. Bias is clearly seen (in its coverage of or lack thereof) about Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Algeria, Bahrain, and, of course, its host country Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

“This is indeed unfortunate and (shows) when it comes to support(ing) democracy, (JNC was created) to give it lip service (but instead offers) biased reporting (of the kind) it accuses America or the American media of” doing. Unless it returns to its roots, it “will find itself in a dead end, much like some of the dictators it pretends not to support.”

Too often, however, JNC replicates Western reporting. As a result, it’s now part of the message presenting managed news, not unbiased reporting. That could be its undoing, at least as a source for real news, information and analysis, what too often it avoids.

Even Foreign Policy took note, now a Washington Post publication. On February 1, it headlined “The Al Jazeera Spotlight,” saying:

“There are various reasons why (some of JNC’s coverage) is lopsided and selective. Some of it has to do with the Qatari monarchy’s own diplomatic interests. A decade ago, Al Jazeera used to annoy the Saudi regime fairly regularly….until Riyadh (complained to) the Qatari government.” After it intervened, “the TV network softened the nature of its reporting toward Saudi Arabia,” and also slanted its other coverage.

Its bias largely depends on where Qatar stands and to what degree other nations influence its positions. In other words, it’s like BBC, supporting Britain’s agenda the way its founder and first general manager, John Reith, once explained, saying:

“(You) know (you) can trust us not to be really impartial.”

BBC never was nor has been to this day. In fact, most, perhaps all, Western media are deeply comprised by state and commercial interests. Increasingly it’s no different on Al Jazeera.

Now living in London and Dubai, Ghanem Nuselbeh is a Palestinian closely following Middle East events. Interviewed by Just Journalism on April 12, he expressed views about JNC’s reporting, saying:

As a Palestinian, he “had very high hopes for Al Jazeera, as the region’s first relatively impartial news channel….To put things in context, we must remember that (it’s) sponsored by the Qatari government and to a large extent, is an instrument of Qatari public diplomacy.”

“Qatar is one of the West’s leading regional allies, and home to (US CENTCOM bases)….Al Jazeera has in many instances been cutting-edge, and even revolutionary. For example, it was the first Arabic channel to use the word ‘Israel’ as a noun, rather than adjective, and to put this on the map. (JNC) also provided a platform for public debates about topics that have hitherto been considered taboo in the Arab World.”

But its “lack of coverage of Bahrain” and other regional countries “has undoubtedly damaged (its) image (on) the Arab street and I think this will take a long time to mend….I have also noticed significant variation between how (its) Arabic and English language channels report things.”

Angry Arab News Service Comments on Al Jazeera’s Syria Coverage

April 29: JNC’s “coverage has become so comically lousy that they in fact really help (Syria’s) propaganda (by) making it easy to discredit its coverage (and the fact that its coverage seems to be coordinated with….Al-Arabiyyah….the lousy news station of)” Saudi King Fahd.

April 28: “The main complaint about (JNC’s) coverage is not that it covers Arab upheavals but that its coverage is selective. “Any person can call and claim to be a ‘witness in Syria’ (and get) put on the air and allowed to say anything,” without checking its accuracy.

April 25: “You see the evidence of the Saudi-Qatari counter-revolution plot in the coverage of” Al Jazeera and (Saudi-controlled) Al-Arabiyyah. “They used to cover everything differently. Lately, the coverage is exactly the same: they devote the same amount of time to the same issues and they even use similar propaganda pieces.”

April 23: “What Al Jazeera does not cover – dictatorships of the GCC.”

April 14: Despite good Qatari – Syrian relations, JNC “never covered Syria uncritically….But lately, there is a shift: the coverage of the Syrian regime became more negative and government propagandists are visibly mocked and ridiculed (which is fine if it employed the same tactics with Saudi and NATO propagandists), and lately the channel relies on sensational Saudi propaganda sheets for coverage.”

For example, it “cited the more sensational and unreliable propaganda Saudi outlet, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (mouthpiec of Prince Salman and his sons), in its reference to a ‘secret Syrian intelligence’ document. (It’s) so clearly made up….The paper admits it lifted it from Facebook pages, and (its written instructions urge) goons of the regime to kill a certain number and to even shoot at soldiers. With Saudi media, I cite the Babylonian Talmud: they lie when they tell the truth.” Too often, Al Jazeera replicates it.

Current Al Jazeera Reporting on Syria

On May 1, JNC headlined, “Death toll rises as Syria crackdown continues,” saying:

“Syrian forces have continued their military crackdown in the flashpoint city of Deraa….shooting dead the son of (an) imam, witnesses say.”

Another unidentified witness said, “We are totally besieged. It is a tragedy.” Still another said, “The bullets are flying straight over my head as we are talking. It’s so close.”

JNC admitted it “could not independently corroborate the witness accounts.” Why then were unverified comments aired, besides offering no other views.

On May 1, JNC headlined, “Syrian protesters stay defiant amid crackdown,” saying:

“Anti-government protesters in Syria are planning further demonstrations….undaunted by a violent security crackdown unleashed on them.”

Again quoting an unidentified “source,” it said “(H)undreds of people have been arrested….in Deraa. (It’s) been blockaded since Monday, when the army went in backed by snipers and tanks….But no matter how panicked, or concerned they are, (protesters) say their morale is still high.”

On April 30, JNC headlined, “Blood continues to be shed in Syria,” saying:

“Amateur videos….show deadly crackdown continu(es) in major towns,” providing no information about who supplied them, as well as no other views.

On April 28, JNC headlined, “Syrian soldiers ‘switching allegiances,’ ” saying:

Unverified “(a)mateur footage is said to show that some troops have been shot at from within their own ranks for refusing to fire upon protesters in the city of Deraa.”

JNC admits it “cannot independently verify the footage,” but reports nothing about instances of armed instigators firing on and killing security forces. Doing so anywhere, of course, generates a robust response, even in democracies.

A Final Comment

Media coverage aside, the forty-year Hafez and Bashar al-Assad dictatorship has been repressively harsh. As a result, like elsewhere in the region, protesters genuinely want democratic reforms and social grievances addressed. However, violence isn’t how to achieve them, nor does international law permit nations to interfere lawlessly in the internal affairs of others, especially by inciting it for regime change.

Leaked WikiLeaks cables show Washington secretly financed Syrian opposition groups. Richard Perle’s 1996 document, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Security the Realm,” recommended rolling back its regime. Washington’s National Endowment for Democracy admits being active in the country. It operates to destabilize and oust regimes, not democratically reform them.

A March 30 Haaretz article reported a US-Saudi scheme to oust Assad, and on December 19, 2006, Time magazine writer Adam Zagorin headlined, “Syria in Bush’s Cross Hairs,” saying:

“The Bush Administration has been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad.”

Citing a “classified, two-page document,” Zagorin said Washington was “supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists in Europe.” Moreover, US officials were funding and maintaining “extensive contacts with a range of anti-Assad groups in Washington, Europe and inside Syria.”

At the time, according to an unnamed US official:

“You are forced to wonder whether we are now trying to destabilize the Syrian government.”

Efforts then were being coordinated with the National Salvation Front (NSF), connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. It wasn’t for democratic reforms. Though unstated, it was for regime change.

It now appears to be playing out violently on Syrian streets, and getting horrid media coverage explaining it, including by Al Jazeera, airing the same type propaganda as Western media.

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.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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