Archive | October 25th, 2011

Five Things You May Not Know About Muammar Gaddafi

by Enver Masud

“Libyans awake from a ludicrous nightmare: Gaddafi achieved nothing in his 42-year rule,” David Gardner wrote yesterday in the Financial Times. Others have expressed similar sentiments. Here are the facts:

Gaddafi Seized Power in Bloodless Coup: Muammar Gaddafi, aka Col. Gaddafi, seized power in 1969 in a bloodless coup by overthrowing King Idris of Libya — Idris achieved power with British backing in 1949.

Libya Ranks #1 on the Human Development Index: According to the United Nations Development Programme, Libya ranked first in Africa (53 globally) on the Human Development Index – ahead of Saudi Arabia at 55, Iran at 70, South Africa at 73, Jordan at 82, Egypt at 101, Indonesia at 108, India at 119, Afghanistan at 155.

It is reported that Libyans receive free housing, education, health care, substantial cash when they marry, and overseas education if they qualify.

Largest Oil Reserves in Africa: According to the U.S. Energy Information, “Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa”.

Program to Privatize Oil: On February 21, 2011, five days after the Arab Spring broke out in Libya, Qaddafi launched a new program to privatize all Libyan oil to every citizen of Libya, initially providing $21,000 to every Libyan from a total of $32,000,000,000 in the Year 2011, so that the health, education, transport, and some other ministries could be abolished and individual Libyans could use the profits of their own investments, including from oil ownership, to obtain the relevant services.

This, Gaddafi said, is the best way to eliminate corruption, including the theft of Libyan oil by foreign oil companies, and to decentralize governmental power.

Great Man-Made River Project: The Great Man-Made River Project, begun in 1984 by Col. Gaddafi, has been called the 8th Wonder of the World. It supplies fresh water to the cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte and elsewhere.

The U.S. threatened to nuke this “chemical weapons factory”. Foreign companies covet the fresh water.

Rate your news media on a scale of 1 to 10. Assign 2 points for each of the five points above that you previously knew (1 point for partial knowledge). The resulting total is an indication of how well your news media covered the US/NATO backed civil war in Libya.

Are Libyans awakening from a “ludicrous nightmare”, or does the death of Gaddafi mark the beginning of a new era of imperial exploitation? We’ll know in a few years time.

2011 Copyright – Enver Masud

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The Negev ‘s Hot Wind Blowing

Over the past 15 months the dusty plains of the northern Negev desert in Israel have been witness to a ritual of destruction, part of a police operation known as Hot Wind. On 29 occasions since June 2010, hundreds of Israeli paramilitary officers have made the pilgrimage over a dirt track near the city of Beersheva to the zinc sheds and hemp tents of al-‘Araqib. Within hours of their arrival, the 45 ramshackle structures — home to some 300 Bedouin villagers — are pulled down and al-‘Araqib is wiped off the map once again. All that remains to mark the area’s inhabitation by generations of the al-Turi tribe are the stone graves in the cemetery.

The al-Turis are determined to stay on their ancestral lands to maintain their traditional pastoral way of life; Israel wants the land for a forestation program, to beautify the Negev and attract more Jews to settle there.

The struggle over al-‘Araqib has played out many times before in other Negev locations since Israel ’s founding in 1948. Then, and in the early years of state building, all but 11,000 of the Negev ’s population of 90,000 Bedouin were expelled to Egypt , Jordan , Gaza and the West Bank. Today, with the highest birth rate of any ethnic group in Israel , the Bedouin number about 190,000, nearly a third of the Negev ’s population. Half of them continue to live in rural communities, all of which Israel has refused to accord normal legal standing.

But in September the Israeli government announced a plan to complete the unfinished business of 1948. Over the coming months and years, Israel intends to implement a scheme to evict some 40,000 Bedouin from their homes in the Negev in a program of forced urbanization. It will be an act of wholesale removal unseen in this desert region for more than a generation.

“Integration”

The exact number of Bedouin to be affected is unclear, as Israel has made little effort to assess the true population of the “unrecognized villages,” as the rural dwelling places are known. Officials estimate, however, that 40 percent of the villagers will be relocated to a handful of overcrowded and under-resourced government-built townships for the Bedouin, languishing at the very bottom of Israel ’s social and economic tables.

Thabet Abu Ras, a professor of geography at Ben Gurion University in the Negev , calls the plan a “declaration of war” on the Bedouin way of life. He is supported in this view by the Steering Committee of the Negev Arabs, a coalition of community groups, NGOs and political parties in southern Israel , which has accused the government of formulating a policy of “ethnic cleansing.” Meanwhile, Talib al-Sana, a Bedouin member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, warns of a “Bedouin intifada.”

In a last-ditch effort to stop the scheme, a four-person team including Abu Ras headed to the United States in October to lobby American Jewish leaders and publicize the Bedouin’s case in the media. Their hope, probably forlorn, is that the Israeli government can be embarrassed into reversing its policy if the American Jewish community brings enough pressure to bear. Abu Ras told the  Jerusalem Post  newspaper: “Being a minority in the US has made this community very sensitive, and the Jewish community is very involved in politics. If they care about Israel , they should stand for democratic Israel more than anything else.”

The evacuation plan is the personal project of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has rapidly intensified official efforts to impose a solution to a decades-long legal struggle between the state and the Bedouin over the title deeds to nearly 800,000 dunams — or 200,000 acres — of the Negev . A statement from Netanyahu’ s office , published on September 11, the day the cabinet endorsed the plan, said it would “bring about a better integration of Bedouin in Israeli society.”

Few Bedouin share the official optimism. On October 6, thousands converged on the Negev ’s main city of Beersheva in the largest protest ever held in the city. A huge banner, in three languages, expressed their verdict: “ Israel has stolen the lands of its Arab citizens of the Negev .”

The Prawer Plan

The Prawer plan, named for Ehud Prawer, the head of planning policy in Netanyahu’ s office , is intended as the coup de grace of the Israeli government’s efforts to strip the Bedouin of most of their ancestral lands. Abu Ras notes that the Bedouin’s outstanding claim on hundreds of thousands of dunams in the Negev is one of the major territorial issues left unresolved since Israel’s founders sought to implement the Zionist goal of concentrating Palestinian Arabs in the smallest possible area while allowing Jews to take control of the maximum amount of land.

This policy has applied equally to the 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of Israel as it has to Palestinians under occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. According to estimates by groups like Adalah, an Arab legal center in Israel , since Israel’s founding the Palestinian minority has lost at least three quarters of its lands in areas outside the Negev , under the pretext of land nationalization programs. Much of this land transfer was achieved by means of legislation such as the notorious Absentee Property Law of 1950, which passed on to the state all lands belonging to refugees from the 1948 war, including those internally displaced in Israel, and the Land Acquisition Law of 1953.

The cleared lands were then repopulated exclusively with Jews, often only a few dozen people controlling vast swathes of territory. Israel originally termed this policy “Judaization,” targeting in particular the two areas where Israel ’s Palestinian citizens, then as now a fifth of the population, were seen as a potential strategic threat : the Galilee and the Negev . In both regions there was a fear, which has barely diminished over subsequent decades, that a rapidly growing and spreading non-Jewish population could forge alliances with neighboring Arab states and attempt to secede. Control of the Negev , which is filled with military sites, including a nuclear reactor at Dimona, and which constitutes 55 percent of Israel ’s land mass, is regarded as especially important.

In recent years, the terminology of ethnic domination has been modified to reflect the need for greater opacity. Moving the Bedouin off their historic lands and bringing in Jews in their place is today more commonly described as “developing” the Negev or encouraging a “stronger population.”

Underscoring the real motivations behind the Prawer plan, however, Netanyahu’ s office announced at the same time a separate scheme to create ten rural Jewish satellite communities around the Negev town of Arad . These settlements will house 1,500 military families as Israel relocates yet another army base from central Israel to the south. The Arad scheme was drawn up over the objections of both environmental groups concerned about delicate desert ecosystems and the Bedouin.

The prime minister’ s office issued a statement describing the Arad project, without a trace of irony, as central to a “Zionist vision for making the Negev flourish, and in line with the government’s policies of development, progress, attracting the population to the periphery and increasing the availability of housing.” At least two unrecognized Bedouin villages, al-Tir and neighboring Umm al-Hiran, are due to be emptied of their combined 1,000 residents to make way for the new Jewish communities.

Enclosure

For the Bedouin, the prospect of such displacement is a painful echo of their experiences in Israel ’s early years.

Shortly before Israel ’s creation, the Bedouin tribes held claim to about 2 million dunams — 500,000 acres , or about a sixth of the total territory of the Negev — on which their herds had grazed for generations. But more than 85 percent of the Bedouin were expelled either during the 1948 war or in subsequent years by the Negev ’s military government. The state quickly appropriated these lands.

In the early 1950s, 11 of the 19 tribes that remained were forcibly relocated to a small “security zone” in the northern corner of the Negev , near Beersheva, known as the Siyag, or “enclosure.” A few of the other eight tribes, already based inside the Siyag, were required to move to other sites in the enclosed zone. In many cases, the tribes were told by the army that they would soon be allowed to return to their original lands. This promise that was never kept.

Having severed the Bedouin’s physical connection to their ancestral lands, the Israeli authorities began a campaign of harassment to destroy their pastoral way of life. During the period of the military government, which lasted until 1966, the tribes’ movements were severely restricted, their herds were confiscated and their crops uprooted or burned. As the Bedouin slowly emerged from two decades of punitive military rule, many agreed to relocate to state-planned townships. Seven were established for this purpose from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, and half of the Negev Bedouin settled there, chiefly, though not exclusively, those lacking significant land holdings.

The rest of the Bedouin remained defiantly in their 45 villages, even though the state refused to recognize them. Over subsequent decades the state intensified its policy of harassment, denying water, electricity and all other public services to the unrecognized villages, and declaring the domiciles therein illegal and subject to demolition.

The inhabitants of the unrecognized villages, in particular, have continued to stake their claim to ownership either of their ancestral lands or of the areas they were given in lieu of them by the state. In some cases, Bedouin who relocated to a township later returned to their former villages, as they realized that the state had reneged on its side of the bargain by failing to develop the townships, offer agricultural opportunities to the inhabitants or expand the communities to deal with natural growth.

Struggles for Ownership

The unrecognized villages have been fighting a battle against the authorities on two related fronts. First, they have been demanding that their 45 villages be recognized by the state as agricultural communities and given access to public services. With this aim in mind, in 1997 they created an unofficial regional council — modeled on those with jurisdiction over Jewish communities — to draw up a master plan for each village, a precondition for legal building within the municipal boundaries.

And second, they have waged a struggle through the courts for recognition of ownership of their lands, making some 3,200 claims on nearly 800,000 dunams, or 6 percent of the Negev . Some Bedouin are believed not to have submitted claims for fear of opening themselves up to legal moves by the state to dispossess them.

Each of these parallel struggles has met with limited success.

Of the 45 villages, ten were given partial recognition in 2003 and incorporated into a regional council, known as Abu Basma, overseen by Jewish officials. Special legislation was passed in 2009 to ensure that this council holds no elections for the foreseeable future. Abu Basma, with some 35,000 residents and controlling just 58 dunams, has the highest population density and smallest territorial jurisdiction of all the regional councils in the Negev . It is also the only one of 47 regional councils in Israel that lacks territorial continuity. By contrast, the ten other regional councils in Israel ’s south — home to 45,000 Jews — have jurisdiction over an expanse of rural land, some 11 million dunams.

Abu Ras has observed of Abu Basma that its “jurisdiction is restricted to the built-up area of each village and does not include the lands between the villages or the surrounding land. Despite the Bedouin way of life, Abu Basma has not been allocated any agricultural areas.”

To resolve the question of the Bedouin’s land claims, the state began a registration program for the Negev in the early 1970s. The state sought to prejudge the outcome in 1976 by appointing a committee headed by Plia Albek, a senior legal adviser to the Justice Ministry. (A year later Albek would become the key official to provide legal cover for the new Likud government’s decision to declare much of the West Bank “state land.”) In the Negev , she determined that the territory was mawat (dead), or unsuitable for cultivation, a legal classification used by the Ottomans. Overnight this decision turned the Bedouin into “squatters” and “trespassers,” terms used by officials to this day. The committee, however, did approve partial compensation of 20 percent of the land for anyone with a claim to more than 400 dunams.

Despite its current claim that the Bedouin have no legal title to the areas in which they reside, Israel did in fact acknowledge in its early years their ownership of large tracts of the Negev . Officials appear to have accepted that the Bedouin’s failure to register their lands with the Ottoman rulers derived from a fear that, among other things, they might be conscripted into the Ottoman army as a consequence. And while the British mandatory authorities who followed did not carry out land classification in the Negev , they determined that the land “belongs to the Bedouin tribes because of their residence on the land from time immemorial.” Many of the Bedouin have documentation to prove that their families were paying taxes on their land for many years prior to Israel ’s creation.

Confirming Israel ’s earlier position toward Bedouin land claims, the Adalah legal center recently discovered in Israel ’s military archives a “top secret” document from 1952. In it the Negev ’s military governor, Michael Hanegbi, observed that the tribes’ transfer to the Siyag “was mainly achieved by persuasion and economic pressure, since we had no legal basis” for relocating the Bedouin.

The same year a government-appointed committee recommended recognition of the Bedouin’s legal claims. The panel members included high-level officials such as Yosef Weitz, the head of the Jewish National Fund, and Yehoshua Palmon, a senior adviser to Israel ’s founding premier, David Ben Gurion. The committee suggested that the Knesset pass a law to nationalize the land and compensate the Bedouin financially or with alternative territory.

Another official document — this one from 1966, and written by Sasson Ben-Zvi, then the Negev ’s military governor — referred both to the government’s recognition of Bedouin land ownership and to the purchase by the Jewish National Fund of areas of the Negev from the Bedouin before Israel’s establishment.

But following Albek’s reclassification of the Negev as mawat, and therefore as state land, officials have claimed in court cases that the Bedouin are not landowners, conceding as a “good will gesture” only that the Bedouin have a status as “guardians.” So far, of the 800,000 dunams under legal contestation, the state has reached an arrangement with 380 Bedouin claimants over 205,000 dunams. Much of that land is located within the master plan of the Abu Basma villages. The rest of the 2,750 claims have yet to be settled.

Taking a Harder Line

The pressure to deal with the Bedouin’s claims intensified following a Supreme Court hearing in 2000 in which the Israeli planning authorities promised to find new ways to incorporate the inhabitants of the unrecognized villages into the regional plan for the Beersheva district. They also agreed to come up with alternatives to settling the villagers in the seven townships, including by creating rural communities.

It was against this backdrop that the centrist government of Ehud Olmert set up a committee in 2007 under a retired Supreme Court justice, Eliezer Goldberg, to “recommend to the government a policy for regulating Bedouin settlement in the Negev .” The eight-person committee included two Bedouin representatives, though no one from the unrecognized villages. In December 2008 it issued its report to the Housing Ministry.

In many respects, Goldberg broke with previous state policy. He acknowledged that the Bedouin had endured an “intolerable situation,” that they were neither trespassers nor squatters, and that they had “general historic ties” to the land. He suggested that the Bedouin’s forced relocation to the Siyag in the 1950s qualified them as internal refugees. He recommended that the 45 villages be granted recognition wherever possible, and that most buildings designated as illegal be reclassified as “gray,” allowing for their later legalization. Unlike Albek, Goldberg set no minimum land holding for Bedouin owners to receive compensation from the government and he allowed for land as well as financial compensation. He also recommended establishing a new planning body to regulate Bedouin settlement in the Negev .

The report received a lukewarm reception from Bedouin groups, including the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages. They were impressed by the conciliatory tone, but wary of the dangers posed by various omissions and vague formulations that could be exploited by less sympathetic officials. The biggest concerns were that Goldberg failed explicitly to recognize the Bedouin’s historical right to the land and that he proposed legalizing the unrecognized villages subject to several conditions that did not apply to Jewish communities. These included having “a minimum mass of residents,” proving “municipal fitness” and ensuring that the village “accorded with a master plan.” Given that traditional planning policy in the Negev had not only overlooked the unrecognized villages but also pursued of a policy of severely restricting Bedouin development, this last condition was regarded as particularly onerous.

For many months Goldberg’s recommendations languished in the government’s bottom drawer.

After Netanyahu took office in 2009, however, he set up a new committee under Ehud Prawer to “implement” the report. The committee included no Bedouin members at all, and talked to no Bedouin representatives during its deliberations. Prawer was already known for his hardline views on the Bedouin. In 2006, as deputy head of the National Security Council, he had declared at the Herzliya conference, an annual security convention attended by Israel ’s political, military and diplomatic elites, that the removal of settlers from Gaza the previous year provided a model for handling the Bedouin in the Negev .

In the end, the Prawer committee’s recommendations, leaked in early 2011, bore little resemblance to the Goldberg report.

Prawer’s proposals were roundly condemned by human rights organizations in Israel , including the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Bimkom, a planning rights group. These activists, along with the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, had earlier sponsored their own panel of experts to draft an alternative plan, which Prawer ignored. Oren Yiftachel , a geography professor at Ben Gurion University in the Negev and a member of the human rights-oriented committee, said its proposal was “better, cheaper and much more humane for both Jews and Arabs of the Negev .”

It proposed that the Bedouin villages be recognized and treated as a “distinct type of settlement” in the planning system, much like a moshav, kibbutz or Arab village in the Galilee , and that the inhabitants be allowed to continue an agricultural way of life. It noted that, contrary to official claims that the Bedouin villages were too “scattered” or small to be accommodated in the regional plan, there were more than 100 Jewish rural communities in the Beersheva area, with an average population of just 300 residents. The average unrecognized village had a population, even according to the minimal official figures, of 1,740 residents. There was also a precedent for recognition of previously unregistered communities: In 2010, the government retroactively legalized some 60 Jewish farms established illegally across the Negev by individual ranchers.

The Prawer report was considered a major step backwards for the Bedouin. It made no mention of the Bedouin’s historical connection to their lands, and did not name a single unrecognized village or suggest any be recognized. It also discriminated between those Bedouin who had been forced off their land by the state into the Siyag and those still on their ancestral lands. The latter were entitled to land compensation, though at a rate reduced to half of their holdings, whereas the former were entitled only to monetary compensation and an option to buy a plot in one of the government townships. Abu Ras, who also heads Adalah’ s Negev project, estimated that under the Prawer plan the Bedouin would receive between 180,000 and 200,000 dunams of their outstanding claim of 600,000 dunams.

Draconian Revision

The Prawer report was put aside in June 2011 under pressure from the far-right coalition faction of Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Netanyahu agreed instead that it would be “revised” by the unlikely figure of Yaakov Amidror, the head of the National Security Council. Amidror, an icon of the national-religious community and a settler, is best known for his hardline positions against Palestinian statehood and his belief that Israel should reoccupy Gaza .

Bedouin leaders were appalled that a man responsible for the handling of Israel ’s gravest security threats should be put in charge of deciding their fate. Netanyahu’s militarized approach to the Negev Bedouin was confirmed a short time later by news that he had apppointed Moshe Yaalon, a former chief of staff and the current minister of strategic affairs, to enforce the revised Prawer plan. Rawia Abu Rabia, a Bedouin lawyer with ACRI, spoke for many in noting that the government “sees us as enemies.”

The new version of Prawer is even more draconian than the original. It reduces the amount of Bedouin land to be recognized to 100,000 dunams, a sixth of the outstanding claims. The rest of the land is to be confiscated. Monetary compensation will range from 20 to 50 percent of the land’s value. Recognition of the existing villages is considered a last resort. Unlicensed new construction will be dealt with severely, while owners of existing illegal buildings will have a deadline for obtaining permits, after which demolition will be strictly enforced and its costs charged to the homeowner. A special court for dealing with Bedouin objections to land confiscation will be staffed with government appointees.

Harshest of all, the amended plan requires the forced removal of tens of thousands of Bedouin from their lands, destroying what is left of their traditional pastoral way of life. The villagers would be relocated either to one of the communities in Abu Basma or to one of the original seven townships. The government has set aside up to $2 billion to destroy the villages and relocate the inhabitants, including $320 million for economic development. The Negev ’s Bedouin, however, have reasons to be skeptical about whether the latter money will materialize. An earlier Israeli government, that of Ariel Sharon , promised in 2003 to spend $200 million on building housing and improving infrastructure for the Bedouin. A year later, according to classified US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks, Israeli officials privately conceded that they did not have “ even a quarter of the money needed for completion of the projects.”

Sense of Urgency

For those Bedouin who may doubt the government’s determination to carry out its plan, officials have been making an example of two unrecognized villages, one them al-‘Araqib. The other is the joint village of al-Tir and Umm al-Hiran, northeast of the township of Hura . Its 1,000 inhabitants have received notification of the wholesale destruction of the village to make way for a new Jewish community, Hiran. The courts have accepted the state ’s argument that the inhabitants have no attachment to the land, even though they were eventually moved there after eviction from their ancestral lands in Khirbat Zubala in 1948, which subsequently became a kibbutz called Shuval.

Bedouin leaders are now considering ways to halt the plan in its tracks. As well as their American tour, they are preparing to take their fight to the United Nations and other international bodies, according to Talib al-Sana. They hope for a sympathetic hearing at the UN after publication of a report in August by James Anaya, the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. Anaya rejected Israel ’s contention that the Negev Bedouin are not the region’s “indigenous people.” It is precisely such mounting international pressure that is creating a sense of urgency among Israeli officials to close the Bedouin file for good.

But the Netanyahu government’s position, like its forebears’, also derives in large part from a long-standing Zionist concern that an unrestrained Bedouin population might eventually forge dangerous alliances with enemy groups. Those fears, rarely articulated directly, explain the decision to entrust the Prawer plan to such safe pairs of military hands as Amidror’s and Yaalon’s.

Hints about the nature of such security concerns, however, do occasionally shine through. In 2004, for example, the Jerusalem Post  reported that the Israeli authorities were seeking to remove Bedouin families from an area around the Nevatim airbase in the Negev to “reduce any missile threat” to military aircraft taking off or landing. Intelligence sources quoted by the paper suggested that the villagers could receive anti-aircraft missiles smuggled from Gaza to shoot down the planes “since the smugglers were Bedouin from the Sinai with close links with their Negev tribesmen.”

Likewise, the amended Prawer plan stresses that the Bedouin must be prohibited from establishing any communities west of Road 40, the main highway through the Negev — a restriction that keeps them well away from the Gaza Strip. Containment of the Bedouin in the Siyag was always motivated in significant part by a fear that a dispersed Bedouin population might link up and make common cause with Palestinians in either Gaza or the West Bank. The Negev provides a bridge between the two.

It is unlikely to be coincidental that, as the Netanyahu government pressed ahead with the Prawer plan, the military authorities in the West Bank unveiled an almost identical scheme for restricting the settlement of the Bedouin there. The goal, as Amira Hass reported in Ha’aretz in September, is for the Civil Administration to uproot all the Bedouin from Area C — the 60 percent of the West Bank that, by the terms of the 1993 Oslo accords, remains under full Israeli control and that Israel hopes to annex in any future peace deal with the Palestinians. Most of the 27,000 Bedouin in the West Bank are the descendants of those expelled from the Negev in 1948. They will be moved well away from areas that are contiguous with Israel .

One Negev Bedouin leader, Amal al-Sana al-Hajouj, observed: “If we accept what they are offering, we will see a violent, overcrowded, poverty-ridden area. We want to restart the negotiating process so we, the Bedouin, can start to contribute to the area and not just be people living in poverty.” All indications are, however, that the Netanyahu government, like its predecessors, is incapable of seeing the Bedouin citizens of Israel through any prism other than that of security.

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D E S P E R A T I O N –Judeophiles now trying to claim OWS is an “Islamic front”

NOVANEWS
by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

I must admit that I have not checked the Israeli newspapers since this AM, but from the news on the radio, I doubt that much has changed since then.  As for the rest of the media–mainly England , the US , France and Germany —and Al Jazeera (I check out about 15 on-line newspapers a day) there’s not much about Israel-Palestine.  Had expected to read tons of missives in op-eds and letters against Walter Pincus’s argument  that the United States must end military aid to Israel .  After all, Pincus is a well-known columnist, and the Washington Post is a reputable newspaper that does not often publish heady stuff out of step with US policy.  But oddly there seems to have been no response, or perhaps I’ve missed it. 

As for the rest, since there’s not much else, today is a good day to read ‘Today in Palestine ’ (item 4).  Apart from one or two articles that you’ve received from me, the remainder will be new to you, and will give you a far truer picture of what is happening here than you will receive from the commercial media.   One of the reports refers to El Kahalil—in other words, the Arabic for what in English we call Hebron .

The three items preceding Today in Palestine are fairly brief. 

Regarding  the first, I realize that I already sent you info about  the censure of Palestinian textbooks in Jerusalem , but included the present report from the Guardian because it is fuller.

Item 2 tells how Israeli police target a Palestinian store for hanging a sign that they disapprove of.

Both of the preceding show that Israel is using more and more fascistic methods to counter the Palestinian desire for freedom.  It won’t work.  But that does not mean that suffering will end until justice comes.

Item 3 is a Palestinian’s take on the prisoner release—a release that for many was freedom from jail, but not freedom as such.

May we see happier times, which don’t yet seem to be in the offing.  But they will come.  They must.

Dorothy

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

1.  LA Times 5:39 PM PDT,

October 24, 2011

East Jerusalem school textbooks are a war of words

Palestinian Authority-issued books are vying with Israeli-edited versions in classrooms. Israel says some passages incite violence. Parents and teachers are incensed.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-palestinian-textbooks-20111025,0,216250,full.story

By Edmund Sanders,

Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Jerusalem

 

When East Jerusalem teachers ask students to open their history books these days, pupils are wondering: Which one?

Two sets of textbooks are vying for the formative minds of thousands of Palestinian students in Arabic-language schools in East Jerusalem . One was written by the Palestinian Authority, and the other is a revised version reprinted by Israeli authorities.

It’s a textbook war that underscores the long-running battle of narratives in the Mideast conflict, where the fight over the future is often rooted in understanding of the past, and schoolbooks can play a critical role.

At first glance, the textbooks, for the full range of course work, appear identical. But comparing the books page by page quickly becomes a game of Can You Spot the Difference? A small Palestinian flag flying over a picture of a school in one first-grade math book mysteriously disappears in the Israeli version.

Sometimes entire chapters or pages are excised. Other times it’s just a word or line, leaving blank spaces that make passages incomprehensible and pages look like redacted CIA documents.

Although the Israeli government is demanding that schools use only its books, parents have gone class to class, backpack to backpack, to replace Israeli versions with the unedited ones. Officials estimate that most East Jerusalem schools are quietly using Palestinian versions, despite threats from the city to take action against schools that do.

Officials in Jerusalem, which funds about 50 public schools in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and provides partial assistance to dozens of private institutions, say they have the right to ensure textbooks are accurate, don’t incite violence and respect Israel’s legitimacy.

Much of the editing, they say, focuses on Palestinian poetry that promotes the role of children in the struggle against occupation or appears to glorify martyrdom. One eighth-grade textbook featured a poem that referred to the “ecstasy” of a child dying in martyrdom. Another stated that “if jihad could speak, it would call you to enter it.”

 Other cuts included a 10th-grade history lesson that described Zionism as a “racist” movement with “alleged” historical ties to the Holy Land . Another book featured a picture of a British Mandate-era postage stamp that had been digitally altered to remove a Hebrew inscription.

Palestinian parents, teachers and officials, however, say Israel ‘s edits are politically motivated, essentially erasing all references and symbols relating to Palestinian identity, history and nationalism.

Among the cuts:

— Nearly all images of Palestinian flags, Palestinian Authority logos or references to Palestinians’ right of return to homes they or their families fled during Israel ‘s war for independence.

— An eighth-grade lesson about the environmental harm of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

— A reference in a 10th-grade history book to the 1969 arson attack against Al Aqsa mosque by an Australian fanatic.

— An entire chapter on Palestinian history, including a picture of Palestine Liberation Organization founder Yasser Arafat.

— Palestinian population statistics in a sixth-grade civics book.

Palestinian Authority officials say Israel is censoring content it doesn’t like.

“These changes cause the text to lose its soul and its meaning,” said Dima Samman, head of the Jerusalem unit of the authority’s Education Ministry, which has provided the curriculum for East Jerusalem schools since 2001 under an agreement with Israel . Before that, schools used Jordanian textbooks.

For several years, Jerusalem officials made minor edits to textbooks used in public schools, Palestinian officials say, using a black marker or stickers to cover up Palestinian Authority logos and other content deemed objectionable. Then the city began reprinting the textbooks entirely, allowing authorities to delete content digitally and permanently after discovering that many students simply peeled off the stickers.

This year city officials announced that their edited books would be introduced into several dozen semiprivate schools in East Jerusalem , but they assured parents that the changes would be minimal.

When the latest Israeli-edited textbooks were distributed last month, parents and students expressed shock, saying the omissions were heavy-handed.

“They are testing us,” said Abdul Karim Lafi, who heads a parents association in East Jerusalem that is organizing a boycott of the Israeli textbooks. “If we stay quiet now, eventually they’ll cancel the rest of the Palestinian curriculum within a few years.”

Israeli officials say the dispute is not about rival narratives or opposing political views, but about preventing students from being exposed to teachings they say promote violence, intolerance and hatred.

“They are being misled and taught falsehoods,” said Moshe Marzuk, a former army intelligence official and counter-terrorism expert who reviews the textbooks for the city. He said most of the books reject any Jewish connection to the land and emphasize the Palestinians’ right of return.

“Censorship?” he said. “On the contrary. I view this as a humanitarian act of prevention, a system’s act of self-defense against incitement to violence that will explode in its face sooner or later.”

Part of the the problem, some say, is Israel ‘s somewhat crude method of editing, which relies chiefly on deleting words or images, sometimes in a manner that makes the textbooks unusable. Key words and phrases such as “martyr,” “we shall return,” or “usurp” are simply deleted without substitution.

Redactions only draw attention to the content that Israel is trying suppress, said one East Jerusalem teacher who did not want to be identified for fear of losing her job. She said most of her students look up the missing words and passages, usually with help from teachers.

“Kids are naturally curious, so this just makes them want to fill in the blanks,” said the teacher. “In fact, they probably remember it even more than they would have. It just doesn’t work.”

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

News assistant Batsheva Sobelman in The Times’ Jerusalem bureau contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

 

2.  Mondoweiss,

October  25, 2011

 ‘Israeli police target Sheikh Jarrah store for hanging posters of Erdogan’

TheWar of Ideas in the Middle East

Israeli police target Sheikh Jarrah store for hanging posters of Erdogan

 

http://mondoweiss.net/2011/10/israeli-police-target-sheikh-jarrah-store-for-hanging-posters-of-erdogan.html#more-55121

 

by Anonymous

 October 25, 2011

Like 0 Retweet 1.

For the past year Palestinian store owner Azzam Maraka has been displaying posters of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in his store windows near the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem . Today Israeli police arrived for the fifth time since the posters were hung to fine Mr. Maraka 475 Israeli shekels (equivalent to approximately 130 US dollars) totaling 2375 shekels (~$650) to date.

Azzam Maraka argues with Israeli police over his right to display posters in store window.

Maraka considers Erdogan a friend of the Palestinians partly due to Turkey ‘s participation in the 2010 flotilla to Gaza . Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have deteriorated after Israel refused to apologize for the killing of nine Turkish passengers on board the Mavi Marmara, a ship loaded with humanitarian aid bound for Gaza.

According to Maraka, the citations were issued in violation of a law prohibiting signs of any kind to be displayed on the street on which the store is located. Yet the signs of neighboring businesses and public buildings are of similar size and have not been targeted.

Maraka believes that he is being singled out because of political reasons related to strained relations between Israel and Turkey .

Israel ‘s seemingly political crackdown is further complicated because the neighborhood where the store is located is behind the green line, the internationally recognized border dividing Israel from the Palestinian West Bank.

Mr. Maraka intends not to pay the fines and is prepared to have the issue heard before the courts.

The author of this post is currently traveling in Israel/Palestine and would prefer to remain anonymous.

.{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

 

3.  October 22, 2011

Conditional Freedom

http://palestinefrommyeyes.blogspot.com/2011/10/conditional-freedom.html?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=e1d0b651a0-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

 

Posted by Shahd Abusalama

The first stage of Shalit’s swap deal has already happened.  As agreed, 477 detainees were set free before Gilaad Shalit was delivered by the resistance to the Red Cross to be enjoying the full range of his freedom in the meantime. The Gaza Strip has opened the gate to welcome with several thousands of crowds of Gaza inhabitants 210 prisoners; 131 of whom are from Gaza , and another 179 who were deported to Gaza according to Israel ’s inhumane stipulations. The release of a total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners should be completed within two months.

Since Tuesday, celebrations of freedom could be heard all cross the Gaza Strip, bringing to the spirits of Gazans a sense of remarkable hope for attaining freedom. However, the road to freedom will remain incomplete even with one Palestinian still suffering inside the Israeli Occupation prisons, so what if around 6 thousand political prisoners are still locked up behind their merciless bars, including 164 children, whose imprisonment is prohibited according to the International Law.

The most emotional part of this swap deal is the deported prisoners. They have long-waited to be free again to return to the bosom of their families, but Israel has instead deported them to other places where they have to wait for even longer to wrap their beloved ones with their arms again. The freedom of these deported released prisoners is not freedom, it’s better to describe it as freedom to submit to Israeli rules.

Early in the evening, my parents went to a celebration held in the neighborhood for some released detainees. I was sitting alone when suddenly my phone rang. It was my mother.  I could hardly hear her because of celebrations that were going around her. “You should come and see how people are dancing with joy and singing for freedom,” she said. I got so excited that I could no longer stay home and I decided to join them immediately and see for myself the joyous atmosphere there.

I didn’t know the exact address of the festival but I didn’t worry about it as I was certain that the resonance of the songs of freedom would guide my steps. The lights along with the Palestinian flags of all sizes were everywhere decorating the dark-blue sky. The walls were dressed with the photos of our heroes who sacrificed their precious years for the sake of freedom for their people. The region was filled with people coming from different parts of the Gaza Strip to share with the released detainees the happiness of their freedom.  The festival included folk dancing performances, songs for free Palestine and poetry dedicated to those who were free and to those who are still suffering behind Israeli bars.

Rawda Odeh carries a photograph of her son Loai

Very close to the end of the festival which lasted for several hours, my father called me and mum to introduce us to his friends. A woman with a beautiful Palestinian traditional dress lined with threads of the colors of the Palestinian flag, white, red, black and green, was standing beside a blond man. “Rawda, Yacoub, here is my daughter, Shahd,” my father addressed them. Then the man, Yacoub,  stepped forward, kissed my fore head and hugged me and left me surprising of his reaction wondering still who he was. Then Dad continued with a big smile on his face “This is my friend from Jerusalem who was imprisoned with me in Nafha prison for 15 years, and we were freed together in Ahmad Jibreel’s exchange deal. And this is his brother’s wife, Rawda, who was imprisoned for 5 years as well in the 70s.”

I then realized that they were here a day ago to come to see Loai, Rawda’s son, who was freed in this swap deal but deported to Gaza . She was hoping that she would hug her son, Loai, as soon as he is released and she had been waiting for ten years daydreaming about that day. Her son was sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment but thanks to this exchange deal of prisoners, he only spent ten years jailed. However, it was very disappointing for her to find out that he would be deported to Gaza forever and that he will not return back home. She challenged everything to have the opportunity to hug her son again tightly and for that she traveled with her husband’s brother from Jerusalem to Jordan and then to Egypt and then to Gaza through Rafah Border. It’s so ironic to know that she had to suffer two days of travelling to enter Gaza while if Israel allowed her to enter though Eriz border, it would take her less than two hours to reach Gaza. No wonder, torture is something Israel enjoys very much.

A little after meeting these amazing parents who had waited ten years to meet their son Loai, I met Loai. “Congratulations for your freedom. I’m very glad you’re finally released.” I said while expressions of happiness and admiration were very obvious on my face. He was very nice young man with enthusiastic eyes for the future. After short chat, I discovered that Loai is an English Literature student, just like me. He already finished three levels at Al-Najah University in Nablus but didn’t graduate because of his imprisonment at the age of 23.  “I’m going to continue my studies in Al-Azhar University and you will have to help me and give me so much support.” He said while laughing. I kept nodding my head admiring his unbelievable determination and his civility: “of course! Anytime!”

Yacoub Odeh, Loai’s uncle, who endured severe torture (still visible on him physically) and seventeen years of imprisonment until his release in Ahmad Jibreel’s swap deal in 1985

Soon after, we had to separate as time was getting late and everyone needed to go back home and rest after long hours of dancing and chanting. On the way back home, my father was expressing how happy he was to meet his friend, Loai’s uncle, again after more than  24 years of separation, as he is denied access to Jerusalem by Israel . “Can you imagine that his blondness is because of the torment he endured by the Israeli Army?”  He told me with an angry voice. He read my exclamation marks on my face and continued “the Israeli soldiers used to use a thin stick and knock on the top of his head in sensitive places continuously and slowly for long hours as a way of torturing psychologically and physically at once. However, this is maybe the least torturing method. Israeli soldiers do a lot more than that…”

My father left me speechless to think of how much our prisoners have endured from the heartless and the awful Israeli soldiers. How unfair that after a prisoner gets released, his freedom is conditional; under the merciless rules of Israel , and they have no right to complain. It makes me sad to think that this beautiful family is now going to be scattered between Jerusalem , to where they belong, and Gaza , to where their son is forced to live from now on. This is only one example of more than 200 hundred Palestinian families who are going to suffer the same fate. Lots of thoughts occupy my mind but the question remains “where is justice and human rights?” 

Posted by Shahd Abusalama at 3:32 PM   Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook2 comments:

 

4.  Today in Palestine

October 24, 2011

http://www.theheadlines.org/11/24-10-11.shtml

 

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

Switching Focus from Iraq to Iran

NOVANEWS
by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

 

By Ray McGovern

You might think that by now I would be so used to infuriating neocon drivel that, to preserve my own sanity, I would avoid looking at the Washington Post or at least its editorial pages.

I have tried. But it seems that after almost a half century in Washington, and particularly after the recent rash of “wars of choice,” it is simply not possible. One has to keep an eye on what bloody mischief the neocons are devising.

The Post’s lead editorial on Sunday is ostensibly about Iraq and blaming President Barack Obama if things get worse after U.S. troops leave in December. But these days Iran is the main concern of the neocons who infect that editorial page.

In the wake of Obama’s withdrawal announcement on Friday, the Post’s neocon editors are worried that:

“Mr. Obama’s decision to carry out a complete withdrawal [of troops from Iraq] sharply increases the risk that … Iran will be handed a crucial strategic advantage in its regional cold war with the United States; and that a potentially invaluable U.S. alliance with an emerging Iraqi democracy will wither.”

The bugaboo of Iran is raised no less than six times in the five-paragraph editorial. One is prompted to ask an innocent question: Which country did the neocons think would profit if Saddam Hussein, Iran’s archrival, were removed and his army destroyed?

America’s neocons apparently hoped that Israel would be the beneficiary, with a U.S.-occupied Iraq serving as a land-based aircraft carrier for applying military pressure on neighboring Iran and Syria. But you don’t start a war on hope.

That Iran would almost surely benefit the most from the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a no-brainer. And that is precisely why, before the attack on Iraq, Israeli leaders were insisting “we do Iran first.”

But the U.S. neocons thought they knew better and that sequencing Iraq before Iran would be an easier sell with the American people. After all, they had already been trained to hate Iraq’s Saddam Hussein because of the first Persian Gulf War in 1990-91. In the early part of the last decade, Iran’s leaders were a much more amorphous target.

The neocons also thought the conquest of Iraq would be easy with American military might crushing not only the Iraqi military but the country’s will to fight. “Shock and awe” would pave the way to a “cakewalk.”

In 2003, the joke circulating in neocon-dominated Washington was whether the next U.S. target should be Iran or Syria with the punch-line: “Real men go to Tehran.”

Also, the neocons’ top allies in the Bush administration – Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld – understood Bush’s personal animus toward Hussein. Bush once called Hussein “the guy that tried to kill my dad.” Cheney and Rumsfeld knew an open door when they saw one. Bush, an impressionable fundamentalist Christian-Zionist, was bereft of strategic understanding.

However, eight-plus years later – with nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers dead and about $1 trillion spent, with Iraq torn by sectarian and political violence and with the Iraqi government essentially ushering the U.S. forces out by refusing to extend immunity from Iraqi laws for any U.S. troops who would remain – the neocons must finally face the hard truth: their grandiose scheme was a flop.

Chicken Hawks

It is not only American soldiers who will be coming home from an immoral, illegal and ill-thought-out war. The chickens, too, are coming home to roost. And, without admitting they were really dumb, the neocon chicken hawks are inadvertently admitting soto voce, that they didn’t have a strategic clue.

And they still don’t. It is a safe bet that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud associates are admonishing the neocons who still hold great sway in Official Washington: “See? We told you we should have done Iran first. But it’s not too late.

“Now we have another compelling reason to put the ‘military option’ on Iran right in the middle of the table — and, finally, exercise that option. Or you can go down in history as a bunch of wimps.”

The new compelling reason for war is that Iran’s influence in the region has zoomed in this zero-sum game between “evil” Tehran and the Tel Aviv-Washington “axis of good.” In the words of this Sunday’s Post, “Iran will be handed a crucial strategic advantage,” ironically, because of the disaster in Iraq.

So, there’s no time to waste. To warn still-gullible Americans about the dangers of Iran’s new strategic advantage, it’s imperative to enlist the neocons in the U.S. news media, those running the foreign policy shops for the leading Republican candidates, and the neocon holdovers inside the Obama administration.

Time, also, to revive the specter of Iran getting a nuclear weapon. Let’s see if neocon favorite CIA Director David Petraeus can twist enough arms of his subordinates to reverse the unanimous judgment of the U.S. intelligence community that Iran stopped work on a nuclear weapon in 2003.

Petraeus has always risen to the occasion when the neocons have wanted to accuse Iran of meddling in Iraq — evidence or no evidence. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Petraeus’s CIA Steers Obama on Policy.”]

Let’s have him issue warnings about the possibility that Iran will take potshots at U.S. troops as they leave.

And, oh yeah, let’s get him to provide the kind of “intelligence” that will turn a cockamamie plot about Iran supporting an assassination attempt on the Saudi ambassador from admittedly “implausible” status to that of plausible — well, plausible enough for the neocons who dominate the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM). [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Petraeus’s CIA Fuels Iran Murder Plot.”]

Chalabi Made Us Do It

Speaking of which: One of the Post’smost prominent neocon columnists, David Ignatius, sought out the neocons’ beloved charlatan Iraq War propagandist Ahmed Chalabi, whom Ignatius describes as “the most effective lobbyist in favor of the 2003 U.S. invasion.”

“You will not be surprised,” wrote Ignatius, “that Chalabi offered no apologies for a war that cost many thousands of American and Iraqi lives and more than a trillion dollars.  Quite the contrary, he lauded the United States for its role in overthrowing Saddam Hussein,” though he criticized the follow-through of the occupation.

Ignatius, too, raised the obligatory specter of Iran, asking Chalabi about reports that he has become “an overly enthusiastic supporter of Iran.” The slippery Chalabi replied that he favored good relations with Iran and “wanted Iraq and Iran to be ‘a meeting ground rather than a battle ground.’”

Is Ignatius, at this late stage in the U.S. history with Chalabi, not yet aware that he tends to play both ends … and then goes with the side that appears to be winning?

Ignatius wants us to believe that the mess in Iraq was pretty much all Chalabi’s fault, ignoring the painful reality that Chalabi could have accomplished zilch if not for the neocon-dominated FCM that eagerly promoted his self-serving lies.

Many of the Iraqi “walk-ins” who lied to U.S. intelligence and the FCM about Saddam Hussein’s supposed WMD and alleged ties to al-Qaeda had been scripted beforehand by Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress.

Knowing Chalabi (all too well), Ignatius says it should come as no surprise that Chalabi remains adamantly unapologetic for the war on Iraq. But why should Chalabi be subjected to any accountability when almost none of his willing collaborators in the press have been?

Chalabi may have been, as Ignatius claims, “the secret instigator of the Iraq war.” Even so, he would have accomplished little without a mountain of intentional gullibility at the Washington Post and other top U.S. news outlets, a pattern that continues to this day.

Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Posted in IranComments Off on Switching Focus from Iraq to Iran

US withdraws ambassador to Syria due to “security threats”

NOVANEWS
by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

 

 

Cairo/Damascus – The United States has pulled its ambassador out of Damascus following a number of threats and allegations of an ‘incitement campaign’ being carried out against him by the Syrian authorities, a US spokesman said Monday.

‘Ambassador Robert Ford was brought back to Washington as a result of credible threats against his personal safety in Syria,’ US State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

Toner said it was not known when Ford might go back to Syria, adding that ‘we hope that the Syrian regime will end its incitement campaign against Ambassador Ford.’

Over the past few months, Ford has been outspoken against the Syrian government’s use of violence against pro-democracy protesters.

‘Ambassador Ford’s presence is a benefit to our mission in Syria as he has worked diligently to deliver our message and be our eyes on the ground. This decision was based solely on the need to ensure his safety, a matter we take extremely seriously,’ Toner added.

Ford ‘has informed the Syrian foreign ministry of the dangers and the incitement campaign against him in local media, overseen by the government, before he left the country on Saturday,’ a source at the embassy in Damascus told dpa earlier.

He was subjected to several attacks by loyalists to President Bashar al-Assad, who described Ford’s stances as ‘blatant interference in internal affairs and incitement against authorities.’

In July, supporters of al-Assad attacked the US and French embassies in Damascus, after both envoys visited the restive city of Hama.

In September, Ford was pelted with tomatoes by a pro-government group, Washington said.

More than 3,000 people, including at least 187 children, have been killed in the government’s clampdown on the protests since they began in March, according to the United Nations.

Protesters have taken to the streets demanding greater freedoms and the ouster of al-Assad.

At least 11 people were killed on Monday alone by troops and mobs loyal to al-Assad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Six of them were killed in the central province of Homs, while a further five died in the northern province of Idlib.

Two of the victims were members of government troops killed by gunmen, believed to be army defectors who joined the protesters, the London-based group said.

Meanwhile, a Syrian army unit crossed the border into the area of Hneider in Lebanon’s Wadi Khaled and snatched two people wanted by the Syrian regime, the Lebanese MTV television said quoting residents in the area.

The infiltration into the Lebanese territories by Syrian troops has become a daily routine to chase army defectors and activists wanted by the regime of President al-Assad.

Residents of Lebanese villages that border Syria have expressed grave concern over cross-border incursions by Syrian army troops and called on the Lebanese government to interfere.

Since the uprising in Syria erupted in mid-March, some 5,000 refugees, among them activists and army defectors, have fled into Lebanon.

Tit for tat: Syrian ambassador leaves US

Washington – The Obama administration pulled its ambassador out of Syria over security concerns, blaming President Bashar Assad’s regime for the threats that made it no longer safe for Robert Ford to remain.

The Syrian government quickly ordered home its envoy to the United States, raising the diplomatic stakes.

Ford travelled to Washington this weekend after the US received “credible threats against his personal safety in Syria”, state department spokesperson Mark Toner said on Monday.

Ford has been the subject of several incidents of intimidation by pro-government thugs, and enraged Syrian authorities with his forceful defence of peaceful protests and harsh critique of a government crackdown that has now claimed more than 3 000 lives.

“We hope that the Syrian regime will end its incitement campaign against Ambassador Ford,” Toner said. “At this point, we can’t say when he will return to Syria.”

Toner said the US embassy will remain open in Damascus and that the threats were specifically directed toward Ford. His return is conditional on a US “assessment of Syrian regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground”, Toner said.

In an immediate response, Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha promptly left the US on Monday, said Roua Shurbaji, a Syrian Embassy spokesperson.

She said no other steps were being taken by the embassy and declined to comment on the US allegations.

Ford was the first American ambassador to Syria since 2005. President George W Bush’s administration withdrew a full-time ambassador from Syria over charges the country was involved in terrorism and the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Syria has denied any involvement.

Praised

The Obama administration decided to return an ambassador to Syria earlier this year in an effort to persuade Syria to change its policies regarding Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and support for extremist groups. Syria is designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the state department.

Although Ford’s appointment in January, while the Senate was out of session, was originally criticised by some Republicans in Congress, he has won praise within the administration and beyond for his determination to meet Syrian opposition leaders in a hostile environment, and tough criticism of the Assad regime’s brutal military response to mass demonstrations.

The Senate unanimously approved Ford’s nomination earlier this month, with foreign Rrlations committee chairperson John Kerry, a Democrat, praising Ford for continuing to visit cities under siege and “speak truth to power.”

Ford was greeted by demonstrators with roses and cheers when he travelled to the restive city of Hama in July, prompting immediate recriminations from the Syrian government, which tried to then limit where Ford could travel.

Only days later hundreds of regime supporters attacked the US embassy in Damascus, smashing windows and spray-painting obscenities on the walls.

Ford also has been the subject of several incidents of intimidation by pro-government thugs, often in co-ordination with pro-Assad media capturing the humiliation.

Media reports said Ford was hit last week with eggs and tomatoes while going to a mosque in Damascus. Other such incidents have occurred after meetings with dissident groups or individuals, and his postings on Facebook have provoked thousands of Syrian and other responses, and even some death threats from pro-Assad hardliners.

The US last month decried Ford’s treatment and “unwarranted and unjustifiable”, after Assad supporters tried to force their way into a meeting he was having a prominent opposition figure.

Syrian police were slow in responding, and Ford was trapped inside the building for about three hours. But White House press secretary James Carney insisted at the time that the US had no plans to remove Ford for his safety.

Diplomacy

Haynes Mahoney, the embassy’s deputy chief of mission, confirmed that Ford has left Syria but said Washington hadn’t not formally recalled him – a symbolically significant diplomatic step.

At the time of Ford’s arrival in Damascus, Syria was bouncing back from years of international isolation.

Still, Assad largely shrugged off US attempts to pull it away from its alliances with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

And as the Arab Spring protests escalated in Syria, Ford dropped his engagement efforts and took on an increasingly high-profile role defending the rights of Syrian protesters.

Toner lamented that the threats deprived the United States of a valuable emissary to the Syrian people at a time they face daily violence from Assad’s security forces.

Clashes on Sunday saw forces flood into villages where residents have been on strike and shoot two people dead, according to activists.

President Barack Obama has called on the UN Security Council to sanction Syria for using deadly violence against citizens who are rising up against the authoritarian government there.

A seasoned diplomat with extensive Middle East experience, Ford “has worked diligently to deliver our message and be our eyes on the ground” in Syria, Toner said.

“This decision was based solely on the need to ensure his safety, a matter we take extremely seriously.”

Posted in SyriaComments Off on US withdraws ambassador to Syria due to “security threats”

ZIONIST REVOLUTION’S IN THE MIDDLE EAST

NOVANEWS

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on ZIONIST REVOLUTION’S IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Syria’s Kurds: Are They About to Join the Uprising Against Assad?

NOVANEWS
 by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

 

 

ed note–the answer to this is “yes’, because Israel and America will use whatever they have at their disposal when they want a government removed and replaced.

Time.com

“I am sick, I cannot sleep,” says Hervin Ose, fighting back tears as she remembers her friend and fellow Syrian Kurdish activist, Mashaal Tammo. “Till now I cannot believe he is not here. Sometimes I even try to call him, sometimes I wait for him to call me.”

On Friday Oct. 7, Hervin met Tammo at a friend’s house in Qamishli, a Kurdish-majority town in northeastern Syria, just across the border from Turkey. “He had a sadness about him,” she recalls, speaking via Skype. Tammo, one of the few Syrian Kurdish leaders to have openly called for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, had recently escaped an assassination attempt. Now he spoke as if he was going away on a long trip. “My message is finished in this life,” he told her. Before taking his leave Tammo even snapped a few pictures of his friend. “I wondered,” says Hervin. “He’d never taken a photo of me before.” (See pictures of Syria’s ongoing protests.)

It was the last time she was to see him alive. Hours later, according to reports, masked assailants gunned down Tammo inside his Qamishli home, leaving his son and another Kurdish activist wounded. Hervin, who insisted on being quoted by her real name — “I am a wanted person already… I am tired of being afraid,” she says — has no doubts as to who ordered her friend’s murder. “Bashar,” she says, “he made this decision.”

The day of the funeral, after going to see Tammo’s body at the morgue, Hervin joined tens of thousands of people — as many 100,000, she says, though most observers put the figure at 50,000 — on the streets of Qamishli. It was, by any count, the largest protest in the northeast since the beginning of the popular uprising against the Assad regime. It too ended in bloodshed when Syrian security forces began to spray the mourners with gunfire, killing at least two people.

Although protests have been taking place in the north since the early spring, they now show signs of escalating, observers say. (Since Tammo’s funeral, they have continued every day, one activist told me.) According to Henri Barkey, a Lehigh University professor and former State Department official, the fresh wave of demonstrations may well mark the Syrian Kurds’ long awaited entry into the popular revolt against Assad. “After Tammo’s murder, [the Kurds] are now a party to the conflict,” says Barkey. As he sees it, “increased mobilization” in the Kurdish northeast, one of the poorest and least developed regions of Syria, now appears to be imminent. (See why the Syrians should refrain from armed conflict.)

Of course, were Syria’s Kurds to rise up en masse, the numbers of protesters would be much higher, acknowledges Hervin. (Syria is home to 2 million Kurds, or about 10% of the population.) What stands in the way, she says, is the disconnect between a number of local political parties and the people on the street, particularly young Kurds. “The young people understand the responsibility they have, they understand that the Syrian revolution needs their help,” she says. “The normal people support, they have joined … but the parties haven’t made up their mind.”

Earlier this year, the Syrian regime managed to drive a wedge between the parties, promising to grant citizenship rights to 300,000 stateless Kurds descended from families who escaped Turkey after a series of brutally suppressed Kurdish uprisings. Banking on these and future concessions, a number of Kurdish groups chose to remain on the sidelines rather than join the popular uprising against Assad. A telling sign came in the wake of Tammo’s release this June summer after more than three years in prison. According to a source familiar with the details of the event, when Tammo reiterated his support for the anti-Assad revolution at a reception held in his honor, several Kurdish leaders left the room in protest.

Precedent may also have played a role. In 2004, when anti-government riots swept through Qamishli, as well as Kurdish neighborhoods of Aleppo and Damascus, Syrian security forces responded not only by killing dozens of Kurds but also by deploying several Arab tribes against the protesters. Solidarity with the Kurds among Syria’s Arab population was scarcely perceptible. The memory of the 2004 events, according to observers, has kept many Kurds wary of closing ranks with the Arab opposition.

Yet another obstacle, according to anti-Assad activists, is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the militant group whose nearly 30-year long conflict against Turkey has claimed over 40,000 lives to date. (On Oct. 19, the PKK staged a series of coordinated attacks in southeast Turkey, killing 24 soldiers.) Many Turkish analysts believe that Assad is now using the PKK or one of its factions as leverage against the Turks, who have lost all faith in the Syrian regime. “Even if Syria doesn’t admit this, there is a link between them and the PKK,” says Huseyin Yayman, a Turkish expert. “With Syria’s backing, the PKK has room to operate against Turkey.” The PKK has done little to dispel such suspicions. In a recent interview, Cemil Bayik, one of the group’s leaders, warned that if Turkey were ever to intervene against Assad, the PKK would fight on Syria’s side.

As far as Ismail Hami is concerned, the PKK serves yet another purpose for Assad: to keep the Syrian Kurds in check. Hami, whose Kurdish Yekiti Party openly sides with the Syrian opposition, wants nothing to do with the PKK. “They have pulled their party [the PYD] out of the negotiations with the other Kurdish parties,” he says. “They have another attitude to what is happening in Syria. We cannot work together. They do not support the protests.” Hervin goes a step further, accusing the PKK of having played a role in her friend’s killing. “They had threatened Mashaal many times,” she says. “They attacked my house in Damascus and they told me, exactly, we will kill you and kill Mashaal … not by night, but by day.” They warned her against working with the mainstream Arab opposition, she says, telling her, “You are not good for what we want.” (See the top 10 elite fighting units.)

Back in May, during a protest in Qamishli, Hervin recalls, the PKK’s Syrian branch, the PYD, did their best “to make this demonstration weaker, smaller, and not important.” Then, she says, they hoisted banners of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, as well as PKK flags. “We’re against this flag,” says Hervin. “We’re against any flag except the Syrian national flag. We are Syrian … We don’t want the Syrian regime to [be able to] say this is a message to Turkey. Our problem is with Bashar, not with anyone else.”

In response to claims of involvement in Tammo’s murder, Roj Welat, a PKK spokesperson, noted by email that the PKK condemned the assassination, as well as “all attacks against all Kurdish politicians in all states.” Most probably, he wrote, “the assassination [was] carried out those who wanted to break up the unity of the Kurdish opposition.” The PYD, he added, “already said that this assassination against a Kurdish politician [was] carried out by Turkey. Turkey already has a very profound history record of political assassinations on the Kurdish people, and other ethnic backgrounds both in Turkey and in the region.”

Asked to provide his position on the anti-Assad uprising, Welat acknowledged “great problems in Syria” but refrained from criticism of the regime. The solution to Syria’s problem lies in democracy and freedoms, he wrote, as well as by “democratic autonomy for Kurds living in Syria.”

The Kurdish protesters are clearly concerned with being identified as a separatist movement. Although he acknowledges that his party’s ultimate goal may be Kurdish autonomy, Ismail Hami is quick to assure, “We see the Kurdish areas as a part of Syria. We have no ideas about separation.” Talking about autonomy, especially at this point, says Hervin, “is a crazy idea.” (See pictures of Syrians fleeing into Turkey.)

Yet it is precisely this which has led the mainstream Arab opposition to keep the Kurds at arm’s length, says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. The opposition, he says, “are leery of promising too much to the Kurds.” Strategically, the Kurds would be an advantage, perhaps even a decisive one, thinks Landis. Politically, however, they could be a liability. “The opposition understands that the Kurds are an important potential ally in weakening the government but they’re an ally that could easily become a Frankenstein,” says Landis. “If they begin asking for autonomy and so forth, the government is going to be able to use that against the opposition.”

“Once you stimulate the Kurds to make trouble for the government, the government will say, look, these people are going to tear Syria apart,” says Landis. By raising the specter of another Iraq, the government “will get the sympathy of people in Damascus and Aleppo, who are frightened of the Jazirah [the predominantly Kurdish northeast].” For them, he says, “the Jazirah stands for poverty — and anger.”

Reached by phone this Friday, Hervin, her voice drowned out by anti-regime slogans shouted into a loudspeaker, was attending another demonstration in Qamishli.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria’s Kurds: Are They About to Join the Uprising Against Assad?

US’s most powerful nuclear bomb being dismantled

NOVANEWS
 by crescentandcross in Uncategorized 

This undated handout photo provided by the National Nuclear Security Administration shows the United States' last B53 nuclear bomb. The 10,000-pound bomb is scheduled to be dismantled Tuesday, Oct. 25

ed note–remember as you read this folks–these things are designed for one purpose and one purpose only–TO KILL INNOCENT CIVILIANS and the US is the ONLY country to have used them thus, and yet we are worried about SOMEONE ELSE getting one of these, which, after considering what’s been done to Iraq and Afghanistan, makes perfect sense why others would want one (or 2).

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — The last of the nation’s most powerful nuclear bombs — a weapon hundreds of times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima — is being disassembled nearly half a century after it was put into service at the height of the Cold War.

The final components of the B53 bomb will be broken down Tuesday at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, the nation’s only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. The completion of the dismantling program is a year ahead of schedule, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, and aligns with President Barack Obama’s goal of reducing the number of nuclear weapons.

Thomas D’Agostino, the nuclear administration’s chief, called the bomb’s elimination a “significant milestone.”

First put into service in 1962, when Cold War tensions peaked during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the B53 weighed 10,000 pounds and was the size of a minivan. According to the American Federation of Scientists, it was 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.

The B53 was designed to destroy facilities deep underground, and it was carried by B-52 bombers.

Since it was made using older technology by engineers who have since retired or died, developing a disassembly process took time. Engineers had to develop complex tools and new procedures to ensure safety.

“We knew going in that this was going to be a challenging project, and we put together an outstanding team with all of our partners to develop a way to achieve this objective safely and efficiently,” said John Woolery, the plant’s general manager.

Many of the B53s were disassembled in the 1980s, but a significant number remained in the U.S. arsenal until they were retired from the stockpile in 1997. Pantex spokesman Greg Cunningham said he couldn’t comment on how many of the bombs have been disassembled at the Texas plant.

The weapon is considered dismantled when the roughly 300 pounds of high explosives inside are separated from the special nuclear material, known as the pit. The uranium pits from bombs dismantled at Pantex will be stored on an interim basis at the plant, Cunningham said.

The material and components are then processed, which includes sanitizing, recycling and disposal, the National Nuclear Security Administration said last fall when it announced the Texas plant’s role in the B53 dismantling.

The plant will play a large role in similar projects as older weapons are retired from the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal.

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GlobalPost: Qaddafi apparently sodomized after capture

NOVANEWS
by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

“Like the fact that the key members of the new NATO Rats “democratic” government in Libya (the one whose fighters, chanting the name of God, dragged a 69-year-old captive naked through the streets of Sirte, before placing his corpse on show in a shopping centre so that people could crouch beside the cadaver and take pictures of themselves grinning beside it on their mobile phones) are almost all men who were Gaddafi’s murdering, torturing, thieving ministers.
Until of course, the revolution broke out, or are self-confessed agents of the British or American intelligence agencies.

Remember that you heard it here, dear readers…”

Amid mounting questions about just how and when Muammar Qaddafi died, a GlobalPost analysis of video footage suggests a Libyan  fighter sodomized the former dictator after he was captured near Sirte. A frame by frame analysis of this exclusive GlobalPost video clearly shows the rebel trying to insert some kind of stick or knife into Gaddafi’s rear end.GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton said there is some question as to whether the instrument was a knife from the end of a gun, which Libyans call aBicketti, or a utilitiy tool known as a Becker Knife and Tool, which is popularly known as a BKT.

This latest video discovery comes as international and human rights groups call for a formal investigation into how the former Libyan leader was killed. In video clips that have emerged of his capture, Gaddafi can be seen injured but alive. Later he is seen with what appears to be gunshot wounds to his head andchest. According to the Geneva Conventions, however, abuse of prisoners under any circumstance is not permissable.

http://video-svc.globalpost.com/plugins/player.swf?p=_gp3_full&v=0d5f6fc6df8a0

The former leader had been in hiding since rebel fighters toppled the capital city of Tripoli. His death, which came shortly after he was driven away in a truck by opposition forces, has been the subject of much debate. A coroner’s report found that he was killed by a bullet to the head, which officials inLibya’s transitional government initially claimed was the result of crossfire between revolutionaries and loyalists as Qaddafi was being driven to a hospital.

But bowing to growing international pressure, newly installed interim leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil announced Monday that the Transitional National Council had formed a committee to investigate Qaddafi’s death (though he also claimed that Qaddafi might have been killed by his own supporters to prevent him from implicating them in his past crimes.)

On top of Qaddafi’s death, revolutionary forces are also being scrutinized for their treatment of loyalists in general. New York-based Human Rights Watch Monday warned of a “trend of killings, looting and other abuses” after 53 people, apparently Qaddafi loyalists, were found dead in a Sirte hotel. The condition of the bodies suggests they may have been executed.

The group has called for an investigation.

Posted in LibyaComments Off on GlobalPost: Qaddafi apparently sodomized after capture

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