Archive | July 13th, 2011

GILAD ATZMON ON RED ICE RADIO

NOVANEWS

http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/2011/07/RIR-110709.php

Gilad Atzmon – Zionism & Multiculturalism
July 9, 2011

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel, now living in the UK. He is a successful jazz musician as well as a prolific writer. Atzmon writes on political matters, social issues, Jewish identity and culture. He specializes in writing about Jewish identity politics and how it fits into Jewish ideology. His papers are published in many press outlets around the world. His novels ‘Guide to the perplexed’ and ‘My One And Only Love’ have been translated into 24 languages. Gilad joins us as the third guest in our series to discuss Zionism and multiculturalism.

He’ll begin discussing the three different types of Jewish ideology: the Jewish people, the Jewish religion and Jewishness. Then, he’ll point out different Jewish manifestations in politics, left vs. right and talk about the oxymoron of Jewish left. Gilad will also talk about the Abrahamic Jews, Jewish migration and why the Middle East is so important, especially for the Zionists. We’ll discuss why so much money goes to Israel, the America/Israel connection, the Rothschilds and why Britain joined forces with Israel.

Gilad tells us about Jewish anti-Zionists and the difference between being Jewish verses operating politically as Jews. He’ll also talk about anti-Semitic sensitivity and where he thinks it comes from. Gilad ends the interview using music as a metaphor to share his thoughts on multiculturalism and struggle. Topics discussed: Zionism, the Jewish left, “The Invention of the Jewish People” by Shlomo Sand, “the chosen ones”, Jewish Marxists, the Jewish lobby, colonial paradigm, the Balfourd decleration, “Jewishness”, Uriel da Costa, racism, metaphysics, Israel, multiculturalism and more.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

Tonight’s message begins with a needless killing of a 19 year old Palestinian.  The Israeli radio news reported that he died in the hospital, and that the soldiers had shot at the lower part of the body, but said nary a word about his being left to bleed to death.  Another family mourning.  For what!   By the way, this being left to bleed to death is nothing new.  It is an every day practice of Israeli soldiers!  Well, I’m exaggerating a little, but not much.  Disgusting!

Item 2 also talks about shooting, but this time about shooting fishermen out fishing.

Item 3 contains 2 items: an update on the flotilla, and a request for help.

Item 4 is a French translation of Gush Shalom’s press release about taking the new law to the Supreme Court.  Yesterday I sent out the English.  I include the link, in case you missed it and do not speak French.

Item 5 reports EU concern over the new Israeli law making boycotts of settlement products, etc. illegal.  How about sanctions, friends!  Why just talk, no action?

Item 6 is the link to the latest ‘Today in Palestine.’  Please do check this out so that you will know what is happening in this small part of the world!

All the best,

Dorothy

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

1.  1.  Palestine: Palestinian youth killed by Israeli army in Nablus

13-07-2011

http://imemc.org/article/61666

IMEMC & Agencies:

Palestinian medical sources reported that a 19-year-old college student was shot and killed, on Wednesday at dawn, by Israeli military fire in Al Far’a refugee camp, north of the northern West Bank city of Nablus; several residents were kidnapped.

The sources identified the slain youth as Ibrahim Sarhan, a student of the Al Najah University in Nablus.

Eyewitnesses reported that at least eleven armored Israeli military vehicles invaded the refugee camp approximately at 3 a.m., broke into and searched several homes causing damages.

The eyewitnesses added that as Sarhan was walking towards the camp’s mosque to perform dawn prayers, soldiers opened fire at him hitting the major artery in his thigh.

Seeking help, the youth then tried to drag himself into a nearby home, but the soldiers grabbed him dragged him on the ground, before leaving him to bleed to death by preventing local medics from approaching him.

Following the killing of Sarhan, dozens of residents took off to the streets, and clashed with the invading forces.

Later on, soldiers broke into dozens of homes and searched them before kidnapping several residents. All of the kidnapped residents, except for two, were released later on, eyewitnesses said.

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2.

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For Immediate Release

contact: Civil Peace Service Gaza +970 (0) 595 629 228

When:  13 July 2011, 9pm local time
Where: Fishing port, Gaza
Who:    Ruqaya Al-Samarrai, British human rights worker for Civil Peace Service Gaza
Khalil Shaheen, Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Mahfouz Kabiriti, President of Palestine Association for Fishing and Marine Sports
What:   Key members of the Civil Peace Service initiative to monitor human rights violations in       Gazan territorial waters will speak about today’s attack from Israeli armed naval forces.

Today’s report and background information below:

photos and video available upon request, email press@cpsgaza.org

Israeli naval forces attacked the Civil Peace Service Gaza monitoring boat with water cannons earlier today.

Civil Peace Service Gaza is an international third party non-violent initiative to monitor potential human rights violations in Gazan territorial waters.

The initial attack happened at 12.05pm local time. There were four people aboard the Oliva boat at the time, two CPS Gaza crew members (from the UK and Sweden), the captain and a journalist.

British human rights worker Ruqaya Al-Samarrai stated: “We were fewer than two miles away from the Gaza coast when they fired at us. We saw them firing water at some fishing boats so we headed to the area. When we got close, the warships left the fishing boats, and turned on us. They attacked us for about ten minutes, following us as we tried to head to shore and eventually lagged when we reached about one mile off the Gaza coast.”

A fishing boat was also fired at and damaged with live rounds. Currently Israel claims to allow fishing boats to work within three miles off the coast of Gaza, but the limit is rarely respected and fishermen as close as 1.5 nautical miles are regularly targeted.

Background

Restrictions on the fishing zone are of comparable significance to Palestinian livelihood. Initially 20 nautical miles, it is presently often enforced between 1.5 – 2 nautical miles (PCHR: 2010). The marine ‘buffer zone’ restricts Gazan fishermen from accessing 85% of Gaza’s fishing waters agreed to by Oslo.

During the Oslo Accords, specifically under the Gaza-Jericho Agreement of 1994, representatives of Palestine agreed to 20 nautical miles for fishing access. In 2002 the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan empowered Catherine Bertini to negotiate with Israel on key issues regarding the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and a 12 nautical mile fishing limit was agreed upon. In June 2006, following the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit near the crossing of Kerem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom), the navy imposed a complete sea blockade for several months. When the complete blockade was finally lifted, Palestinian fishermen found that a 6 nautical mile limit was being enforced. When Hamas gained political control of the Gaza Strip, the limit was reduced to 3 nautical miles. During the massive assault on the Strip in 2008-2009, a complete blockade was again declared. After Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli army began imposing a 1.5 – 2 nautical miles (PCHR: 2010).

The fishing community is often similarly targeted as the farmers in the ‘buffer zone’ and the fishing limit is enforced with comparable aggression, with boats shot at or rammed as near as 2nm to the Gazan coast by Israeli gunboats.

The fishermen have been devastated, directly affecting an estimated 65,000 people and reducing the catch by 90%. The coastal areas are now grossly over-fished and 2/3 of fishermen have left the industry since 2000 (PCHR: 2009). Recent statistics of the General Union of Fishing Workers indicate that the direct losses since the second Intifada in September 2000 were estimated at a million dollars and the indirect losses were estimated at 13.25 million dollars during the same period. The 2009 fishing catch amounted to a total of 1,525 metric tones, only 53 percent of the amount during 2008 (2,845 metric tones) and 41 percent of the amount in 1999 (3,650 metric tones), when the fishermen of Gaza could still fish up to ten nautical miles from the coast. Current figures indicate that during 2010 the decline in the fishing catch continues. This has caused an absurd arrangement to become standard practice. The fisherman sail out not to fish, but to buy fish off of Egyptian boats and then sell this fish in Gaza. According to the Fishermen’s Union, a monthly average of 105 tons of fish has been entering Gaza through the tunnels since the beginning of 2010 (PCHR 2009).

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). “The Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip.” Oct. 2010.http://www.pchrgaza.org/facts/factsheet-bufferzone-aug.pdf

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. “A report on: Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Fishers in the Gaza Strip.” August 2009.http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/Reports/English/pdf_spec/fishermen3.pdf

This email was sent to dor_naor@netvision.net.il by press@cpsgaza.org |

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Civil Peace Service Gaza | al-Mina | Gaza City | Gaza Strip | 11111 | Palestinian Territory, Occupied

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

3.From Alice F Azzouzi

Electricity CUT again–and its still hotter than hell!

Our electricity pirated early this morning through a broken window from the electric plug inside an military office was cut after 4 hours.

After endless complaints to the port authority and the Greek Coast Guard, the port authority’s pitiful solution is to hook our electric line into a little Coast Guard boat and borrow electricity from them.

However, after the port authority official left, the Coast Guard chief came over and said they don’t have enough fuel to run their generator to give us electricityl!

So back to complaining about being at a dock for 12 days with no shore power!!!!

Its time for another round of calls to the Greek embassy and consulates and the State Department.  Thanks for all of you who called yesterday!

Please emphasize that our boat must be released from this political imprisonment!!!

Many thanks.

Ann

——————————–
Ann Wright
microann@yahoo.com
Facebook: http://www.www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504291178
Twitter: annwright46
“Dissent: Voices of Conscience”
www.voicesofconscience.com

— On Wed, 7/13/11, Garrett (Kaleo) Larson <garrett.larson1@gmail.com> wrote:

From: Garrett (Kaleo) Larson <garrett.larson1@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [wesailforjustice] Limited Pirated electricity back to the Audacity of Hope–thanks to your complaints to Greek Embassy & State Dept, but the boat is still imprisoned!
To:
wesailforjustice@googlegroups.com
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 6:24 AM

Glad there is progress. In the mean time put boards, 1″xs on either side of the wire to protect it while being run over.

Love to you Ann,

~ Kaleo ~

On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:15 PM, ann wright <microann@yahoo.com> wrote:

Thanks to everyone for bombarding the Greek Embassy and consulates and the US State Department with strong complaints about the continued imprisonment of the Audacity of Hope and the shore electricity being cut yesterday to us.

After numerous phone calls to the Port Authority, US Embassy and Harbormaster, two reps from the Port Authority came and demanded that the Greek Army facility inside the US Embassy warehouse compound plug in through a broken window our shore electrical line into their office electrical outlet.

This is not a good fix as our electrical cord from the ship to the warehouse is driven over by huge trucks moving grain from the Russian cargo ship docked behind out boat.  Plus we do not have enough electricity from the one plug to run more than two electrical devices on the ship.

Please continue to complain about the imprisonment for the 12th day of the Audacity of Hope!

Many thanks.

Ann

——————————–
Ann Wright
microann@yahoo.com
Facebook: http://www.www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504291178
Twitter: annwright46
“Dissent: Voices of Conscience”
www.voicesofconscience.com


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Call the Greek Embassy in Washington and .the Greek consulates around the Country and the State Department-Kim Richter Write a text message 202-647-8308

Embassy of Greece
2217 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel. 202.939.1300
Fax. 202.939.1324
Office Hours:

Consulate General – New York
69 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10021
Telephone: 212.988.5500
Fax: 212.734.8492
Web Address:
http://www.ypex.gov.gr/www.mfa.gr/AuthoritiesAbroad/North+America/USA/GeneralConsulateNewYork/en-US/
E-mail: nycons@greekembassy.org
States of Jurisdiction: Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Hours of Operation: Mo – We & Fr: 9:00am – 2:30pm, Tu & Th: 9:00am – 3:30pm
Passports Applications Acceptance Mo – Fr : 9:00am – 12:30 pm

Consulate General – Chicago
650 North St. Clair Street
Chicago , IL 60611
Telephone: 312.335.3915
Fax: 312.335.3958
Web Address: http://www.greekembassy.org/chicago/
E-mail: grgencon.cis@mfa.gr
States of Jurisdiction: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, N.Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, S.Dakota, Wisconsin
Hours of Operation: Mo – Fr 9:30am – 2:00pm

Consulate General – Boston
86 Beacon Street
Boston , MA 02108
Telephone: 617.523.0100
Fax: 617.523.0511
Web Address: http://www.greekembassy.org/boston/
E-mail: boston@greekembassy.org
States of Jurisdiction: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Hours of Operation: Mo – We & Fr 9:30am – 1:30pm, Th 9:30am – 1:30pm & 2:30pm – 4:30pm

Consulate General – San Francisco
2441 Gough Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Telephone: 415.775.2102
Fax: 415.776.6815
Web Address: http://www.greekembassy.org/sanfrancisco/
E-mail: sfgr@greekembassy.org
States of Jurisdiction: Alaska, California (Zip Codes 93000 and up), Idaho, Montana, North Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Hours of Operation: Mo – Fr 10:00am – 2:00pm

Consulate General – Los Angeles
12424 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Telephone: 310.826.5555
Fax: 310.826.8670
Web Address: http://www.greekembassy.org/losangeles/
E-mail: lagr@greekembassy.org
States of Jurisdiction: Arizona, California (Zip Codes 90001-92999), Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, South Nevada
Hours of Operation: Mo – Fr 9:30am – 2:00pm, Visa Section 10:00am – 12:00pm

Consulate General – Tampa
601 Bayshore Blvd., Suite 800
Tampa, FL 33606
Telephone: 813.865.0200
Fax: 813.865.0206
Web Address: http://www.greekembassy.org/tampa
E-mail: grgencon.tam@mfa.gr
States of Jurisdiction: Alabama, Florida, Mississippi
Hours of Operation: Mo – Fr 10:00am – 2:00pm ( BY APPOINTMENT ONLY )

Consulate – Atlanta
Tower Place, Suite 1670 3340, Peachtree Rd., N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30326
Telephone: 404.261.3313
Fax: 404.262.2798
Web Address: http://www.greekembassy.org/atlanta/
E-mail: atlanta@greekembassy.org
States of Jurisdiction: Georgia, Kentucky, S. Carolina, Tennessee
Hours of Operation: Mo – Fr 10:00am – 2:00pm

Consulate – Houston
520 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 450
Houston , TX 77027
Telephone: 713.840.7522
Fax: 713.840.0614
Web Address: http://www.greekembassy.org/houston/
E-mail: houston@greekembassy.org
States of Jurisdiction: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands
Hours of Operation: Mo – Fr 10:00am – 2:00pm

Many thanks from those of us sweltering in the Greek heat as we protect the Audacity of Hope!!!

Ann

——————————–
Ann Wright
microann@yahoo.com
Facebook: http://www.www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504291178
Twitter: annwright46
“Dissent: Voices of Conscience”
www.voicesofconscience.com

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From Irish

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=56455

French Ship Carries Freedom Flotilla’s “Dignity” to Gaza
By Begoña Astigarraga


Activists on hunger strike in Spanish embassy.

Credit:Bego Astigarraga/IPS
Buy this picture

ATHENS, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) – The French vessel Dignité-Al Karama is the only boat from the Freedom Flotilla II actually sailing for Gaza in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade imposed in 2006. At the same time, six Spanish members of the humanitarian aid mission went on hunger strike in the Greek capital.

The hunger strikers, who have occupied the Spanish embassy in Athens since Jul. 5, were travelling on the Spanish ship Gernika (Guernica) that was part of the flotilla carrying 500 activists from 45 different countries, and 5,000 tonnes of aid, bound for the Gaza Strip.

Nearly all the ships have been confined to port in Greece for the last 10 days, except for the Dignité-Al Karama which sailed from the French island of Corsica Jun. 25, evaded the Greek blockade on more than one occasion and remains the only vessel of the flotilla still sailing freely.

With 10 representatives of several delegations of the humanitarian coalition on board, the Dignité received permission Jul. 9 to sail for the island of Rhodes, Manolis Plionis, a member of the Greek delegation of the Freedom Flotilla II – “Stay Human”, confirmed to IPS.

From on board the Dignité, French Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nicole Kiil-Nielsen told IPS that after having been stopped last week in Ormos Kouremenos, in Crete, they were taken to Sitia by the Greek coast guard and eventually allowed to sail from there.

“We had to stop in Crete to refuel, as we did not have enough fuel to reach Gaza,” Kiil-Nielsen said. “Now, the Dignité is free and we are organising another group of passengers, probably international, to go on to Gaza.”

Manuel Tapial, coordinator of Rumbo a Gaza (Sailing to Gaza) Spain, told IPS that “the Dignité-Al Karama is heading for Gaza on its own, representing the dignity of the flotilla, and carrying representatives of the international coalition delegations.”

In addition to the crew and MEP Kiil-Nielsen, passengers include Vangelis Pissias, the coordinator of the Greek delegation, Swedish-Israeli musician Dror Feiler and actor Guillermo “Willy” Toledo, representing the Spanish delegation.

Meanwhile, six Rumbo a Gaza activists began a hunger strike at the Spanish embassy in Greece Monday Jul. 11, after medical checks. Two other members of the group participated in the protest from Madrid.

In a communiqué released Monday, the activists said they would fast until “the Spanish government shows some sign that it will intercede (with the Greek authorities) so that the Gernika may sail freely across the Mediterranean.”

The six hunger strikers are among a score of activists who occupied the Spanish embassy in Athens with the declared intent of remaining there until their country’s Foreign Ministry responded to their demands, and until their ship, held by the Greek authorities in Kolymbari, Crete, was released and allowed to go to a safe port or return to Spain.

However, the activists say they have only received an official statement from the Foreign Ministry announcing its decision “not to make any public commitment to the release of the Gernika,” which prompted them to take stronger measures in pursuit of their demands.

In an open letter sent Monday, Tapial upbraided the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party’s (PSOE) prime ministerial candidate Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba: “The government you represent has forsaken us, and our only remaining option is protest action to rescue the Gernika, by right and with dignity.

“Mister Rubalcaba, as leader and candidate of the PSOE, speak out and call for the release of the Gernika, a ship bought with the money of thousands of people throughout Spain who believe that a project like this one is necessary to show effective support for the besieged people of Gaza.

“Listen, commit yourself and take action,” the Rumbo a Gaza coordinator demanded.

The Gernika is still confined to port in Greece, in spite of having resubmitted to the authorities all the necessary documentation for permission to set sail, said Elvira Souto, one of the hunger strikers.

Eight other vessels, including two cargo ships, are still blocked in various Greek ports, while an Irish ship is in a Turkish port undergoing repairs for alleged sabotage suffered two weeks ago.

The crew of the Canadian vessel Tahrir has decided to give up plans to sail to Gaza for the moment; the U.S. ship Audacity of Hope is still in custody in Athens; and the other French boat, the Louise Michel, the Italian vessel Stefano Chiarini, the Freedom for All, the Methimus II and the Gernika are regrouping, ready to form a new flotilla, columnist Eric Verlo wrote in his blog at www.notmytribe.com.

In a move to exert further pressure, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman telephoned Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma and persuaded him to withdraw his country’s flag from the Swedish/Greek/Norwegian vessel Juliano, giving the Greek coast guard the opportunity to block the ship in Heraklion.

Greece and Israel are currently carrying out joint military manoeuvres, the sixth held in a short space of time.

Israeli ambassador to Spain Raphael Schutz said there is “no humanitarian crisis” or shortage of food and medicine in Gaza. The Freedom Flotilla should be seen “for what it is: a propaganda event intended to build solidarity with a terrorist group that wants to wipe Israel off the map and kill the greatest possible number of Jews and Israelis,” he argued. (END)

——————————–
Ann Wright
microann@yahoo.com
Facebook: http://www.www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504291178
Twitter: annwright46
“Dissent: Voices of Conscience”
www.voicesofconscience.com

Greta Berlin, Co-Founder
+33 607 374 512
witnessgaza.com
www.freegaza.org
http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza

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4.  Hi Dorothy,

I thought this French translation on Uri’s request might be of interest. It refers to the anti boycott law.
Brigitte

[For the English see http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/1310485548 Dorothy]


Date:13 Jul 2011 15:41:18 +0100
From: larosierejfrancois@yahoo.fr
To: conseil@nord-palestine.org
Subject: [conseil] Israël: loi sur le boycott

En attendant elle a été approuvée. Amitiés. Jean-François

Gush Shalom adresse une requête à la Cour Suprême: la Loi sur le Boycott
est  anti-constitutionnelle et anti-démocratique, en réprimant toute critique de la politique
dans les Territoires Occupés.


Communiqué de presse – 12 juillet 2011

Gush Shalom -(le Bloc de la Paix)-, qui dans les années 1990 a été le premier organisme israélien à mener un boycott des produits des colonies, a présenté aujourd’hui (mardi 12 juillet) un appel à la Cour Suprême contre la “Loi sur le Boycott” approuvée la nuit dernière par la Knesseth en session plénière. La requête a été enregistrée pour Gush Shalom par les avocats Gaby Lasky et Neri Ramati.

L’appel déclare que la nouvelle loi viole les principes démocratiques fondamentaux: “la majorité parlementaire cherche à travers la Loi sur le Boycott comme à travers d’autres parties de la législation, à réduire au silence toute critique de la politique gouvernementale en général et de la politique du gouvernement dans les Territoires Occupés en particulier , et d’empêcher un dialogue politique ouvert  et productif, qui constitue la base du fonctionnement d’un régime démocratique “(art. 7).

L’appel remarque aussi que “la réduction a-priori au silence de la voix d’un camp par le parti de l’autre camp, nuit de façon substantielle à la liberté d’expression et constitue un signe clair de l’affaiblissement du régime démocratique” (art. 32)

De plus, il est prouvé que la Loi sur le Boycott est anti-constitutionnelle et anti-démocratique en tant qu’elle viole le droit à la liberté d’expression et à l’égalité, qui sont des droits fondamentaux des citoyens d’Israël” (art. 7) -une violation qui n’est ni “proportionnée”, ni “dans un but digne de valeur”, les seules circonstances dans lesquelles une telle violation pourrait être considérée comme acceptable.

En outre, il est déclaré que la nouvelle loi occasionne un préjudice sévère à la Liberté de Vocation  des sociétés commerciales, à la liberté professionnelle des sociétés, puisqu’elle brouillerait la différence entre des produits fabriqués à l’intérieur du territoire souverain d’Israël et ceux fabriqués dans les colonies des Territoires Occupés: il pourrait être demandé (dans certains pays) aux sociétés israéliennes cherchant à entrer sur des marchés étrangers et à accroître le commerce de leurs biens de déclarer qu’elles n’assurent pas de production dans les Territoires ou qu’elles n’achètent pas de biens qui y sont produits. D’ailleurs, l’article 4 de la Loi sur le Boycott ren d de telles sociétés susceptibles de perdre des avantages significatifs provenant de l’Etat –d’Israël-” (art. 59).

L’appel affirme que le boycott est un outil légitime dans le discours démocratique, qui ne doit pas être enfreint. Des exemples variés  et constituant des précédents sont cités, allant du boycott par les ultra-Orthodoxes des restaurants qui servent de la nourriture qui n’est pas kasher au récent boycott du fromage fermier au prix excessif, ou au boycott du tourisme vers la Turquie lancé par des syndicats israéliens. En même temps que de tels exemples israéliens sont mentionnés des cas historiques de boycotts qui ont conduit à un changement politique et à un changement en conscience, comme le boycott lancé en Inde par le Mahatma Gandhi contre les produits britanniques, les boycotts de la communauté afro-américaine contre la ségrégation dans les années 1960, et d’autres. Par cons&ea cute;quent, la nouvelle loi passe passe pour être une violation du principe d’Egalité parce qu’elle vise le droit des opposants à l’occupation à s’engager dans un boycott idéologique, tandis que d’autres sortes de boycotts sur une base idéologique qui se poursuivent en Israël seront autorisés à continuer sans être interrompus, tels qu’un boycott des artistes qui n’ont pas fait leur service militaire dans les Forces de Défense Israéliennes, celui des chanteurs homosexuels ou celui des entreprises qui n’observent pas le Sabbat.

L’ancien député Uri Avnery, militant de Gush Shalom, a déclaré: “La Loi sur le Boycott est une tache noire sur les lois de l’Etat d’Israël. J’ai l’espoir sincère que la Cour l’invalidera et auverz ce qui reste de la démocratie israélienne.”

Pour plus de renseignements: Adam Keller, 054-2340749.

(traduction Y.J.)

!DSPAM:4e1da6e013952121316661!

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

5.  Haaretz,

July 13, 2011


European Union expresses concern over Israel’s boycott law

EU says legislation may affect freedom of expression in Israel; mixed reaction among European Jewish organizations.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/european-union-expresses-concern-over-israel-s-boycott-law-1.373076

By Danna Harman and Jonathan Lis

Tags: Israel boycott Benjamin Netanyahu

The European Union put out a carefully worded but clearly critical statement on the new Israeli boycott law on Wednesday, saying it intended to “discuss this matter and raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities.”

“The EU recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in the legislative process.

Furthermore, the EU does not advocate boycotts,” a spokesperson for foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

“However, as part of such fundamental values as free expression and speech that the EU cherishes and shares with Israel, we are concerned about the effect that this legislation may have on the freedom of Israeli citizens and organizations to express non-violent political opinions.”

Meanwhile, the umbrella organization of French Jewish organizations in France, known as the CRIF, welcomed the controversial new Israeli boycott law Wednesday. The CRIF’s director general Haim Musicant pointed out that a similar such law has long existed in France, much to the satisfaction of the French Jewish community.

“Commercial boycotts of Israel have been illegal in France for many years,” he explained to Haaretz. “And this has been good in fighting such negative action. I believe this is a good model. I know that many other European countries are looking into adopting the French models themselves.”

But, even as such official Jewish organs were applauding the Israeli measures, other community voices were speaking out against them. Yachad, a new British Jewish Israel advocacy organization inspired by the American J-Street, decried the law.

“Yachad will not join those who call for a boycott of Israeli produce because we believe in debate and we are opposed to a policy of isolation. However, we fiercely and unapologetically defend the right of Israelis and Jews to express their opinion as enshrined our tradition and as stated in Israel’s own Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty,” said Daniel Reisel, Yachad’s chair.

“The first and most obvious problem with the boycott law is that violates the freedom of individual free speech. To seek to punish someone for their political opinions limits their freedom, creates a climate of fear and suspicion, and compromises the ability of every person to speak their mind,” Yachad went on to said in a statement. “Second, the law violates basic freedom of expression and debate in a democratic society….(and) finally, the anti-boycott law is likely to prove counter-productive. People who have previously resisted the idea of boycotts as political leverage may now start to consider it simply due to the infringement of their freedom of speech which the current law entails.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the boycott law, which was passed in the Knesset Monday night. The law, which penalizes people or organizations who call for a boycott on Israel or the settlements, provoked sharp criticism from opposition MKs and leftist organizations in Israel.

Netanyahu said the law does not taint Israeli democracy. “What stains (Israel’s) image are those savage and irresponsible attacks on a democracy’s attempt to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not,” he said.

According to the law, a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott’s targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. The court will then decide how much compensation is to be paid. The second part of the law says a person or a company that declare a boycott of Israel or the settlements will not be able to bid in government tenders.

On Tuesday, Israeli leftist organizations launched a legal and a public campaign against the law.

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

6.  Today in Palestine

http://www.theheadlines.org/11/12-07-11.shtml

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Haredi entertainer convicted of indecent acts

NOVANEWS

Jerusalem court convicts David Bruckner after he offers boy free CD, money to come with him then committed sexual assault

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Tuesday convicted haredi entertainer David Bruckner of indecent acts against a 12-year-old boy.

Bruckner was arrested in January 2010 over suspicions that he committed indecent acts against a 12-year-old. At the end of the investigation into the case he was indicted for four counts of indecent acts.

The indictment reveals that Bruckner took advantage of his status and popularity: Offering the 12-year-old to accompany him to synagogue and promising him that when they got there he would give the child a free CD. When in fact they arrived at their destination Bruckner committed the indecent acts. He then sexually assaulted the child three more times at his apartment.

After committing the acts he gave the child a CD and NIS 20 ($6) – and warned him not to tell anyone what occurred between them. The next day the child once again came to Bruckner’s apartment and received NIS 200 ($60) from him as hush money.

Bruckner admitted to meeting the child and admitted that the child visited his home but denied the charges and claimed that there was no sexual contact involved.

Judge Gad Ernberg rejected his version of the events and convicted him. Bruckner’s sentence will be given later in the trial.

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Syria condemns Zionist Clinton’s remarks about Assad

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Syria condemns Hillary Clinton’s remarks about Assad Protesters erected Syrian flags on the US embassy complex

Syria has condemned as “provocative” a statement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that President Bashar al-Assad has “lost legitimacy” to rule.

After a crowd attacked the US embassy in Damascus on Monday, Mrs Clinton said Mr Assad was “not indispensable”.

France also blamed the regime after its embassy was similarly targeted.

The attacks have since been condemned by the UN Security Council, which called on Damascus to protect diplomatic property and personnel.

Syria’s state news agency Sana said Mrs Clinton’s remarks “amount to further proof of the flagrant interference of the US in the internal affairs of Syria”.

President Barack Obama echoed Mrs Clinton’s comments late on Tuesday, telling CBS that “increasingly you’re seeing President Assad lose legitimacy in the eyes of his people”.

The embassy attacks came after the US and French envoys visited the northern city of Hama – a focus of anti-government unrest – last week, to show solidarity with residents facing a security crackdown. Syria said they had sought to incite the protests.

Human rights groups say at least 1,400 civilians and 350 security force personnel have been killed since anti-government demonstrations across Syria began in mid-March.

The Syrian government denies targeting civilians, saying it is tackling armed groups.

On Monday, three staff members at the French embassy were injured after protesters used a battering ram to try to enter the building. The protesters broke windows and replaced the French tricolore with the Syrian national flag.

The residence of the US ambassador, Robert Ford, was also briefly attacked.

President Obama said Washington had “sent a clear message that nobody can be messing with our embassy and that we will take whatever actions necessary in order to protect our embassy”.

In the strongest criticism from Washington to date, Mrs Clinton said: “President Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power… Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.”

Syrian officials denounced the remarks in a statement on Tuesday.

“The political leadership [of Syria] does not draw its legitimacy from the United States, but solely from the will of the Syrian people,” it said.

Syria expects the US and its envoys “to refrain from any actions that are liable to provoke the sentiments of Syrians and their attachment to their national independence”.

In a statement also issued on Tuesday, the UN Security Council said it condemned the attacks “in the strongest terms”.

“Members of the security council recall the fundamental principle of the inviolability of diplomatic missions and the obligations on host governments, including under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to take all appropriate steps to protect embassy premises,” the statement said.

“In this context, the members of the Security Council call on the Syrian authorities to protect diplomatic property and personnel.”

Dialogue ends

The diplomatic spat coincided with the close of a government-organised dialogue conference in Damascus that many opposition leaders have boycotted.

In the final statement from the two-day meeting, participants said that dialogue was the only way out of the current crisis.

It called for the immediate release of political prisoners and all those arrested during the past five months of unrest, and for a democratic and pluralistic Syria.

However, the statement rejected all kinds of foreign interference.

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Suspect charged with harrassing Katsav witnesses has criminal background

NOVANEWS

Suspect is a 49-year-old retired commander who was dishonorably discharged, has been tried and served prison time for fraud, embezzlement, extortion.

One of the private investigators suspected of harassing witnesses on behalf of former President Moshe Katsav, has a history of ethical misconduct, according documents obtained by Haaretz on Monday.

The suspect, a 49-year-old retired commander who was released two days ago to house arrest, has been brought to court over multiple cases of fraud and embezzlement, and has even served prison time for his criminal misconduct. He has implicated prominent businessmen and politicians in his various and sundry nefarious dealings.

The suspect served as an officer in an intelligence unit in the IDF, after which he joined an elite criminal investigation unit in the police. He was expelled from the police in 1991 when he was caught selling five VCR’s illegally.

Bilha Gilor, a judge at the Haifa District Court who presided over one of the retired military man’s cases, wrote over a decade ago that “there is no way of knowing what could bring a man who served in an exclusive Israel Defense Forces unit and then in an elite unit in the police, to take advantage of his talents in the criminal world.”

Gilor was referring to a case in which the suspect was convicted after he fraudulently presented himself as a private investigator or someone close to private investigators and then attempted to extort politicians and businessmen using information he had allegedly collected for their opposition.

The suspect was arrested after the Mayor of Kiryat Yam, Shmuel Siso, reported him to the police for blackmail.

He used forged documents, including court statements, medical assessments and bank records to con 120 thousand NIS from his victims.

In 1999 the suspect was sent to prison for 40 months after reaching a plea bargain to reduce his sentence.

He has since been involved in other illicit activities and in March last year was brought in for using a bugging device, intending to blackmail a Carmiel rabbi.

The suspect arrived at the Rabbinate in Carmiel pretending to be a businessman wishing to open a restaurant. He then offered the rabbi cash in exchange for assistance, hoping he could then frame and extort him.

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Naziyahu: Law that punishes boycotters proof of IsraHell’s “democracy”.

NOVANEWS

In a heated Knesset debate, prime minister defends controversial law which bans calls for boycotts on Israel; opposition head Livni: You are leading the country into an abyss.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Wednesday the boycott law, which was passed in the Knesset Monday night. The law, which penalizes people or organizations who call for a boycott on Israel or the settlements, provoked sharp criticism from opposition MKs and leftist organizations in Israel.

Netanyahu said the law does not taint Israeli democracy. “What stains (Israel’s) image are those savage and irresponsible attacks on a democracy’s attempt to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not,” he said.

“Don’t get confused,” Netanyahu continued. “I approved the law, and if I hadn’t approved it it wouldn’t have passed. I am against boycotts targeting Israel.” Netanyahu spoke of the settler families who might be affected by boycotts. “We have brothers living eleven minutes away from here, in Ma’ale Adumim. You want to get rid of Ariel and Gush Etzion? Go to the Knesset and form a government that will act that way. But hurting families and children in Ariel? I find that illegitimate .”

Netanyahu also mentioned the political freedom enjoyed by Sheikh Raad Saleh of the Islamic Movement and MK Hanin Zuabi (Balad). “Do you know Sheikh Raad Saleh? He is walking freely and speaks everywhere. And he wasn’t allowed into Britain.” Referring to Zuabi, Netanyahu said “an MK who spoke here took part of a the provocation flotilla that was trying to break a security naval blockade.”

Kadima chairwoman MK Tzipi Livni took the podium after Netanyahu and blamed him for using others’ weaknesses to gain more power. “You are leading Israel into an abyss,” she said.

On Tuesday, Israeli leftist organizations launched a series of protests against the boycott law passed in the Knesset the night before.

The Gush Shalom movement took its campaign to the legal level and filed a petition to the Supreme Court claiming the boycott law is unconstitutional and anti-democratic.

According to the law, a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott’s targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. The court will then decide how much compensation is to be paid. The second part of the law says a person or a company that declare a boycott of Israel or the settlements will not be able to bid in government tenders.

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Syria VP says no country has right to call for Assad to resign

NOVANEWS

Syrian Vice President Farouk Shara rebukes U.S. for saying that Bashar Assad had ‘lost legitimacy’ to remain in power.

Syrian Vice President Farouk Shara has said that no country has the right to call for President Bashar Assad to step down, according to a report published Wednesday.

“No one has the right to interfere in the Syrian affairs,” he added in remarks to the Algerian newspaper Al Khbar.

In the sharpest rebuke of Assad, who has been facing unprecedented protests to his rule since mid-March, U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday said Assad had “lost legitimacy” for failing to lead a democratic transition.

“The Syrians alone are the ones to make decisions for themselves along with President Bashar Assad whom they have elected,” said Shara, who is heading “national dialogue” talks boycotted by opposition.

The United States stepped up its criticism of Assad after his supporters attacked the U.S. and French embassies in the Syrian capital Damascus on Sunday.

Around 1,400 Syrians have been killed in a security crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations, according to human rights groups.

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In IsraHell, Things You Can Say, Things You Cannot

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by Ran HaCohen, July 13, 2011

The anti-boycott law passed Monday night. Much has been said about what the American administration — blind as always to Middle East realities — tagged “an internal issue.” Let me just add that my readers should remember, from now on, that there are things I am not allowed to say. For example, I expressed my support for the boycott on settlements products several times in the past; I am not allowed to do it anymore. I am not saying I could say whatever I wanted to before now: self-censorship is almost inevitable for critical writers living in Israel. But now you’ve got an official confirmation from the Israeli parliament: Israelis are not allowed to speak out their mind freely. The “only democracy in the Middle East” openly joins the “democracies” around it — when some of these “democracies” try to become democracies. We lag behind. Or better: we are moving backwards. Very rapidly.

The law might be overruled by Israel’s Supreme Court, but this will only spur the fascist coalition to curb the court as it has been eager to for years. Meanwhile, Gush Shalom — which initiated the boycott on settlements products many years ago — removed the list of those products from its Web site. “We cannot afford to publish the list anymore,” they say. The much more mainstream Peace Now, on the other hand, which never endorsed the boycott before (too “controversial”), now recognizes the outrage on the Left and tries to capitalize on it.

What is Gush Shalom afraid of? One revealing aspect of the new law is the way it is to be imposed. The State of Israel will not indict anyone for calling for a boycott —  that wouldn’t look good abroad. Instead, anyone who feels offended because of a boycott call can sue the one who called for it, and in court —  that’s the law — the plaintiff does not have to prove the damage caused to him.

In other words, every Israeli producer based in the occupied territories can sue anyone calling for a boycott. If I call to boycott all settlements products — I am not saying I do, I say “if” — each and every Israeli firm based in the occupied territories can sue me, and there are hundreds of such firms. So not only do they operate on stolen Palestinian land, not only do they enjoy generous state benefits from my tax money (that’s why they moved to the territories in the first place) — now they can sue me and take my money too for calling for a boycott (if I ever do). What started as a dispossession of the Palestinians now moves to the dispossession of any Israeli who dares oppose that dispossession. What started as enslaving the Palestinians may end in enslaving their supporters within Israel.

This may be an innovation, but using the settlers themselves to promote the occupation is a typical old Israeli strategy. The state relegates some of its more embarrassing functions to the settlers. It’s not always the Israeli state that steals Palestinian land and water. It’s not always Israeli soldiers who harass Palestinian men, women, children, and cattle, who throw stones at them, burn their fields, cut down their trees, rob their olives, and sell the oil. Sometimes it is the state or its soldiers, but ever more often it is the settlers, the so-called civilians, backed covertly (or overtly) by the state. The settlers do the dirty work that the state would rather not do. The state gives them the tools — money, guns, legislation, turning a blind eye, impunity — while the settlers do the work. It’s the typical function of a militia in a fascist regime: so far it has terrorized the Palestinians, now it gets a legal license to terrorize its Israeli opponents. Remember it next time you hear Shimon Peres speak about “the extremists on both sides.” The Israeli extremist has a government behind him.

Racism at the Bottom

Returning to Israel from abroad is always a crucial moment. I always wonder how long will it take before I sigh and say to myself, “Oh, yes, I am in Israel.” Last year, it was when I took the early train from the airport — 5 a.m., confused after a night flight, hesitating for a second whether it was the right train. Suddenly, a young man in uniform yelled at me: “Move on, get inside! Don’t you see we’re already late?!” Oh yes, I am in Israel. I had just spent two weeks in Ethiopia, and no one, young or old, black or white, dared yell at me.

This time, perhaps unconsciously traumatized by that return, perhaps simply because of the backward train service from the airport late at night, I decided to take a taxi home. I took my seat next to an elderly driver, who was polite enough to help me with the luggage. He started driving, took a glimpse at a bystander on the airport’s pavement, and all of a sudden burst out in a series of curses, four-letter words of all kinds, too horrifying even to repeat, extremely rich on the backdrop of his poor Hebrew. I was shocked. I turned my head backward: the innocent bystander was a Muslim, bearded and neatly dressed in a white gown. He was just standing there, perhaps waiting for a taxi.

The driver noticed my shock and immediately began to apologize. Putting his hand on my knee he swore he didn’t mean it. He didn’t mean to offend me or to curse me, just that f*cking dirty lousy Arab standing there; they should not be allowed to be there at all!

I considered getting out, but I was too tired. So I asked the driver whether he knew that man, and what the man had done to him. He said he didn’t know that individual Arab, but all Arabs were the same, so to hell with them.

I told him I was just coming back from Antwerp and no taxi driver there would even dream of speaking that way of the local Jews, who (being mostly Orthodox) also grow beards and dress differently.

He explained that Arabs were liars: he took another Arab to Kfar Saba the other day, and as they arrived, the passenger asked him to continue to nearby Qalqilyah, just a few minutes away.

Wasn’t the driver happy to earn a couple of cents more? Not at all; he does not go to Qalqilyah. It’s in the West Bank. He refused. “We don’t do the Territories.” Too dangerous. A few stories on notorious Palestinian car thieves followed.

I asked the driver what he would do if I asked him to take me to  Ariel or Tapuach, illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“You are most welcome, my friend,” said the driver. “I’d be happy to take you there.”

“So it’s not that you don’t do the Territories; you do the Jewish settlements in the Territories, but you don’t do Arab places, right?”

“We do go to Arab places,” he said. “I can take you to Um-el-Fahm or Nazareth [inside Israel proper] — but not to the Territories. And that dirty Palestinian should have told me from the beginning that he wanted to Qalqilyah.”

“But if he had told you the truth, you would have refused to take him, right?”

The driver admitted that this was true.

“So what would you do in his place? What would you do if you had to get home to Qalqilyah, where no trains and no buses go?”

The driver finally conceded he had no solution for the Palestinian guy, whose only sin was having his domicile in Qalqilyah.

I returned to the other Arab, the bystander: What did he do to the driver? The driver now quoted something I said earlier: “You cannot generalize, every person is different.” And “Please do not misunderstand me, sir; I am not a bad person.”

He then told me he had emigrated 21 years ago from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Where 90 percent of the population is Muslim, I now add. He goes back every year to visit old friends.

I don’t think the taxi driver is a bad person. He is just a symptom. He has learned from experience that in the Israel of 2011 it’s legitimate to send a person to hell with a backpack full of dirty words just because he is Arab. Or better: that it’s legitimate to share with your passenger a backpack full of dirty words against an innocent Arab, provided your passenger looks Jewish. He didn’t want to be rude with me: on the contrary, it was his way of being friendly, of appealing to our common denominator: hatred toward Arabs.

Historians speak of anti-Semitism in pre-Nazi Germany as a common system of beliefs and utterances shared by the average (non-Jewish) person as normal, acceptable, respectable, even obvious facts of life. Everybody hated Jews, just like everybody hates cockroaches — what’s the big deal? The taxi driver reflects the Israeli mainstream nowadays. With such a government and such a public atmosphere, the old taxi driver is the last person I can blame.

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Zio-Nazi police will not face trial over death of Palestinian girl

NOVANEWS


 

Zio-Nazi policemen suspected of shooting dead a 10-year-old Palestinian schoolgirl in 2007 will escape prosecution after a court said that too much time had elapsed to allow a re-examination of the case.

The decision will come as a blow for the girl’s parents, who have campaigned for justice for their daughter, Abir Aramin, who died after being struck in the head during a school break.

In a highly critical ruling, Nazi High Court described the police investigation into the girl’s death as a “sordid affair” that had been both “sloppy” and “negligent” and ordered the state to pay the family’s legal costs.

But it backed an earlier decision not to charge two border policemen allegedly involved in her death, in part because of the difficulty of conducting an investigation so long after the incident in the absence of fresh evidence.

Human rights organisation Yesh Din, which had petitioned the court to indict the policemen, expressed its dismay. “An innocent girl was shot and somebody has to take responsibility,” said Haim Erlich, the NGO’s director. “No justice was done.”

Abir was fatally wounded in January 2007 after buying snacks with her sister and two friends during a school break in the West Bank town of Anata.

Eyewitnesses claimed that border guards, who had clashed with stone-throwing Palestinian rioters nearby, fired at the girl from a passing jeep. The police opened an investigation but closed it a short while later, arguing it was possible she had been killed by a rock and that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

Residents said there were no clashes in that particular street, and a parallel investigation and autopsy carried out by IsraHelli NGOs concluded that she had been killed by a rubber bullet fired by police in the jeep.

 

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US Hardens Tone Against Assad

NOVANEWS

 

Jim Lobe

Escalating its rhetoric against Bashar al-Assad, the White House declared Tuesday that the Syrian president had “lost his legitimacy” but declined to call explicitly for his resignation or removal.

The statement, which echoed similar remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday, followed what appeared to be orchestrated attacks by pro-Assad demonstrators on the U.S. and French embassy compounds in Damascus Monday.

The attacks, which were condemned “in the strongest terms” by the U.N. Security Council Tuesday, were apparently motivated by the visits late last week of the U.S. and French ambassadors to Hama, which has become a major center of anti-government protests that have roiled the country for nearly four months.

“President Assad has lost his legitimacy,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

“President Assad had an opportunity to lead this [democratic] transition, and we have always said he should lead or leave. He had that opportunity, and he passed it up,” Carney said, adding that the Syrian leader was “not indispensable.”

The tougher rhetoric, as well as Ambassador Robert Ford’s visit to Hama, comes amid growing pressure on the administration, notably from neoconservative sectors and some liberal hawks, such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, to take stronger measures against the regime.

No one is calling for direct military action, particularly at a time when both the general public and even Republican members of Congress are showing distinct signs of war-weariness.

But the continuing cycle of protest and repression that has taken at least 1,400 lives since March is fueling calls for such steps as recalling Ford to Washington, referring Assad to the International Criminal Court, and imposing sweeping sanctions to cripple the country’s already struggling economy.

In terms of concrete action, the administration of President Barack Obama, working closely with the European Union (EU), has so far focused on censuring the regime’s repression in multilateral forums, including the Security Council, and imposing economic and diplomatic sanctions against Assad himself, as well as other key individuals in his inner circle and the regime.

But this has been deemed far too weak by the critics, particularly neoconservatives and other hawks, such as former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who have long accorded a high priority to regime change in Damascus due to its alliance with Iran and historic backing for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas, among other issues.

“This is an easy call: We have a chance to eliminate one of America’s worst enemies in the region – the linchpin of Iran’s alliances and terrorist apparatus,” wrote Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a group closely associated with Israel’s right-wing Likud Party, in this week’s edition of the neoconservative Weekly Standard.

“We have a chance to traumatize Tehran: The world will look a lot more precarious to supreme leader Ali Khamenei and a lot more hopeful to the millions behind Iran’s pro-democracy Green Movement if Bashar al-Assad goes down,” he added, urging that, in addition to imposing tougher economic sanctions and enhancing the opposition’s communications capacities, Washington do its utmost to persuade Turkey to turn decisively against the regime.

Analysts at the influential Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a spin-off of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), have also been calling for stronger measures, particularly in pressuring the Syrian economy.

“If the United States and its European allies really seek to force the Assad regime to lead a democratic transition and facilitate Assad’s eventual exit form the political scene, they will need to target Syrian energy to deprive the regime of vital foreign exchange earnings and curtail economic bailouts from Arab Gulf monarchies that historically have prevented the regime from instituting genuine change,” WINEP’s Andrew Tabler told a congressional human rights commission Tuesday.

Tabler, one of Washington’s most widely quoted Syria specialists, called on Obama to press key companies in Germany, Italy, France, and the Netherlands to stop buying Syria’s heavy crude oil and take other measures to ensure that Damascus can’t sell its oil in order to separate Assad from the business elite that supports him.

“To help end the bloodshed, Washington will need to be equally ruthless” in applying such sanctions as Assad has been in applying his “iron-fist-in-velvet-glove approach” to the uprising against him, warned Tabler, who also claimed Tuesday that the administration was preparing such measures “behind the scenes” as part of a “quiet sea change” in its approach to Damascus.

But such an approach carries significant risks, according to Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma who publishes the widely read Syria Comment blog.

“If we go down the road of augmenting sanctions in a serious way, that’s a slippery slope toward military intervention, because sanctions alone can’t overturn the regime,” he told IPS. “We haven’t seen a regime in the Middle East as tough as Assad’s collapse because of poverty, and we’ve learned from recent experience that poverty and blowing out the middle class are not the way to build a successful democracy in any case.”

Ironically, he said, the latest events have served the purposes of both capitals.

“For Washington, Ford’s trip and the tougher-sounding rhetoric demonstrate that Obama is on the side of the Arab Spring and eases the pressure on him by the critics to recall [the ambassador]. And by sending Ford into the eye of the storm in Hama, Clinton has made it easier for Assad to rally his supporters around the charge that the U.S. is leading the effort to destabilize Syria,” he said, adding that the latest developments were unlikely to substantially change the balance of power within the country.

Ford’s visit — and subsequent criticism of the regime — indeed won him plaudits from some of Washington’s fiercest anti-Assad hawks, who urged the administration to do more of the same.

Elliott Abrams, who served as former President George W. Bush’s senior Middle East aide, wrote on his blog at the Council on Foreign Relations site that the administration now faces a choice – whether to cite the attack on the U.S. embassy as a reason for recalling Ford or “to send him back to Hama and to ratchet up his public displays of disgust with the regime and its behavior.”

If the latter, wrote Abrams, “either he will become a symbol of resistance to tyranny (always a great role for any American envoy) or he will be expelled from Syria,” thus dramatizing “America’s final break with Assad…. Either way we win.”

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