Archive | October 29th, 2011



Gilad Atzmon: Remember that 94% of the Israeli Jewish population supported the genocidal tactics explored in the following video.

Learn more about Jewish identity politics,  The Wandering Who on  or



US setting up online embassy to reach Iranians

 by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

State Secretary Clinton says internet based embassy will help broaden Iranian’s “understanding” of US


Sorry, could not help myself.

Iranians ‘understand’ the US all too well. All they need do is look at what ‘the greatest country in the world’ did to Iran’s next-door-neighbor, Iraq. The fact that the USGOV would do something like this shows how inane and out of touch with the rest of mankind they truly are.


The Obama administration is setting up an Internet-based embassy to reach out to Iranians hoping to broaden their understanding of the United States.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the “virtual embassy in Tehran” will be online by the end of the year.

She told the BBC’s Persian-language service Wednesday the site will aim to answer questions on traveling and studying in the US.

Clinton said she wants to increase student visas for Iranians hoping to study at American schools.

The US hasn’t had an embassy in Iran since breaking off diplomatic relations shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran, likewise, has no embassy in Washington.

Clinton said reaching out to Iranians made sense because US efforts to reach out to the government haven’t been successful.

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Testimony of an Israeli activist who was robbed and beaten by settlers while attempting to assist the olive harvest

Oct 25, 2011

Ofer Neiman

The settlers arrive.

This is a testimony of A’, a 61 year old peace activist, who was beaten badly with clubs on his head and entire body by Jewish settlers during an olive harvest in the Palestinian village of Jalud; his ribs and several fingers were broken, and his camera and personal belongings were robbed:

Last Friday we arrived at the Palestinian village of Jalud to participate in an olive harvest with a group of Palestinian farmers from the village. Joining us were a group of international peace activists and a group of members from a Palestinian agricultural cooperative from the Hebron area. We climbed a hill in order to begin with the harvest; it is about a kilometer from the village. We went to the terraces where the olive trees were – some ladders and a tractor which came before us to unload the equipment required for the harvest were already there.

No more than five minutes passed from the time of our arrival, when four or five masked Jewish settelers arrived on the scene, accompanied by an armed guard in civilian clothes. Except for the guard, they all covered their faces with cloths – all white except one who covered his face with a black cloth. Seeing the direction that they came from, I assumed that they came from the illegal Jewish outpost of Esh Kodesh (“Holy fire”).

Upon their arrival, I immediately started filming them. They started arguing with the Palestinian farmers and shouted: “Get out of here! This is our land!”, “You haven’t been here for 10 years, haven’t farmed the lands, now they belong to us”. A shouting match developed, but at that point it did not become anything more than that.

Settlers surround the activists.

After the shouting ceased a bit, the farmers returned to the olive harvest. I continued filming, when suddenly I saw the armed guard and one of the masked men approaching me. I heard a sudden, loud explosion and I realized that one of them threw a shock grenade to where the people were harvesting. Immediately after the explosion I heard a round of shooting. At this point people started to disperse and I too began walking in the opposite direction. Stones were being thrown by both sides and the masked men started to cruelly beat the people left in the area. I distanced myself to about 20 meters from the area and went to a lower terrace, to avoid being in the range of the rocks being thrown, after I felt a rock hit my backpack. At this point I was about 50-60 meters away and quite far from the harvest area. In any case, everyone was already escaping in the direction of the village.

At this point three or four of the masked men approached me quickly. I was convinced that when they would realize I was an older man and that if I would identify myself as Israeli, nothing would happen. When they approached me, they initially thought I was Arab and told me: “Jib al-hawiya” (“Give your I.D”). I tried to tell them: “Calm down, guys, I’m Israeli, no need for violence”. At this point the man with the black cloth pulled my camera and tried to take it. I argued with him: “Aren’t you ashamed? Why do you act violently? I’m old enough to be your father!”. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I felt a blow to my head, followed by the feeling of blood gushing out of the wound. I fell to the ground and they continued to beat me with clubs. I yelled at the top of my voice: “Help! Someone stop this!”, but no one heard me.

The masked men managed to grab the stills camera from my hand, and took my backpack which had the video camera, cassettes and my glasses in it. When I tried to fight back to take my camera, I was again beaten, this time on my wrist. At this point they ran away with my belongings, while I was left bleeding and beaten, but with full consciousness and completely aware of my situation and of what had just happened. The truth is that at this point the actual beatings didn’t hurt as badly, and I was more worried about the amount of bleeding. In addition, I was completely in shock, and was in disbelief that this had just happened to me.

Settlers throw a sounds grenade.

I got up and started running up the hill. On the way I met A’ and M’, who was also covered in blood, and I realized that she had been beaten by the masked men at the beginning, right after the shock grenade exploded. After we met, we started walking down the hill, towards the village, while tear gas grenades were falling all around us, shot from a military jeep which was parked under the hill. I believe a second jeep was firing at us from the left side of the hill; we saw this other jeep only later on.

Somehow, between the falling grenades, we managed to get of the hill and we stopped about 50 meters from the military jeep. A’, who was with us, kept yelling at the IDF soldiers to stop firing at us and that people were wounded – but they just kept firing. When we arrived at the edge of the field, close to the road which leads to the village, the second military jeep approached. It was a border police jeep with the word “Police” on it, and it stopped about 20 meters from us. E’ or A’ yelled: “Come help us, there are wounded people here!”. A soldier emerged from the jeep, I was sure he was coming to help us. But instead, he walked to the back of the jeep, extracted a tear gas grenade and shot it at us. The grenade fell about five meters from us, but the wind was blowing in the other direction and the Palestinians told us to stay where we were and let the gas blow in the other direction. At this point I was continuing to bleed from the wound in my head and one of the Palestinians tied his kaffiyah (head cloth) around my head in order to stop the bleeding. M’, who was standing next to us, was also bleeding profusely.

A wounded Palestinian is evacuated.

After the gas blew away, we continued walking towards the village and A’ hurried forward in order to bring his vehicle from the village. We entered his car and M’, H’ and I drove to look for the Palestinian ambulance which was in the village. The ambulance took us to the clinic in the Palestinian village of Qablan, where they disinfected our wounds, cleaned the blood and the Palestinian paramedic instructed me to call Madah (Israeli emergency medical services) and to call an ambulance for ourselves. We called, and Madah instructed us to reach the Tapuach junction and that the ambulance would be waiting for us there.

When we arrived at the Tapuach junction, we waited for some time before the military ambulance arrived. An Israeli police car arrived with it and the policeman started to ask questions about what happened. The military paramedic tried to speed up the questioning, so the policeman came on to the ambulance with us in order to continue with the questioning until we arrived to the Ariel junction. The policeman, accompanied by an officer, followed us in a car to the Ariel junction and informed us that an investigator had already been sent to the area of Esh Kodesh to investigate. One of the policemen said that after we receive medical treatment, they will contact us to continue collecting our testimonies. From there we were evacuated to Belinson hospital in the Madah ambulance.

Comrades in Cairo send solidarity, and advice, to Occupy Wall Street

Oct 25, 2011


To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in sol­i­dar­ity. Having received so much advice from you about tran­si­tion­ing to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

(Photo: Nick turse/Alternet)

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demon­stra­tions, riots, strikes and occu­pa­tions taking place all around the world, its foun­da­tions lie in years long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repres­sion, dis­en­fran­chise­ment and the unchecked ravages of global cap­i­tal­ism (yes, we said it, cap­i­tal­ism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhab­i­tants. As the interests of gov­ern­ment increas­ingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transna­tional capital, our cities and homes have become pro­gres­sively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic devel­op­ment or urban renewal scheme.

An entire gen­er­a­tion across the globe has grown up realizing, ratio­nally and emo­tion­ally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under struc­tural adjust­ment policies and the supposed expertise of inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, indus­tries and public services were sold off and dis­man­tled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immis­er­a­tion rein­forced by a massive increase in police repres­sion and torture.

The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, cap­i­tal­ism and the austerity state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon home­own­ers find them­selves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.

So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to exper­i­ment with the new. We are not protest­ing. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaim­ing those same spaces of public practice that have been com­mod­i­fied, pri­va­tized and locked into the hands of faceless bureau­cracy , real estate port­fo­lios, and police ‘pro­tec­tion’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the bound­aries of your occu­pa­tions grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and dis­ci­plined? Reclaim­ing these spaces and managing them justly and col­lec­tively is proof enough of our legitimacy.

In our own occu­pa­tions of Tahrir, we encoun­tered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fun­da­men­tal to the pos­si­bil­ity of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces for gathering, leisure, meeting, and inter­act­ing – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inac­ces­si­ble, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, par­tic­u­larly for the mar­gin­al­ized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst.

What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engage­ment being made in the occu­pa­tions avoid the empty ideals and stale par­lia­men­tar­i­an­ism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occu­pa­tions must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.

But the ide­olo­gies of property and propriety will manifest them­selves again. Whether through the overt oppo­si­tion of property owners or munic­i­pal­i­ties to your encamp­ments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic reg­u­la­tions, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.

We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian rev­o­lu­tion was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resis­tance and even force that rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies used against the police to defend their tentative occu­pa­tions and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Bar­ri­cades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammu­ni­tion on us. But at the end of the day on the 28th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.

It is not our desire to par­tic­i­pate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.

If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishiz­ing non­vi­o­lence; if the state had given up imme­di­ately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after every­thing else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.

By way of con­clud­ing then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep dis­cov­er­ing new ways to exper­i­ment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never give them up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in sol­i­dar­ity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.

Comrades from Cairo.

24th of October, 2011.

Israeli effort to remove Bedouins from East Jerusalem is part of the plan to make two states impossible

Oct 25, 2011

Zach Resnick

The Israeli Civil Administration (ICA), which is in charge of all civil operations in the West Bank (though in practice routinely blurs the line between civil and military), “…is committed to removing all Bedouins from the West Bank”, and plan to start with the Jerusalem periphery. Forced deportation, the practice of forcibly removing civilians from their homes, is an example of a war crime (4th Geneva Convention, Article 49).

The roughly 2,300 people of the Bedouin community that the ICA is targeting reside in 20 communities in the hills to the east of Jerusalem, in the E1 settlement bloc. More than 80% of them are 1948 refugees. Over two-thirds are children. The communities have all lost access to land due to settlement expansion, most have demolition orders pending against their homes, none have access to the electricity network, and only half are connected to the water network. Despite receiving humanitarian assistance, 55% of Bedouin/herding communities in Area C of the West Bank are “food insecure”; the U.N. defines food security as, “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Over 200 families were re-located from the area in the 1990s, some by force. Of these, more than 85% report they had to abandon their traditional livelihoods. More than 500,000 Israeli civilians live in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, built in contravention of international law (4th Geneva Convention, Article 49). In this year alone, at least 755 Palestinians had been forcibly displaced due to demolitions, and 127 due to settler violence – some 40% of these were Bedouin.

The relocation deal proposed to the roughly 20 Bedouin small communities that live in the Jerusalem periphery, is to move inside a major municipal garbage dump (also see thisPDF). This is a ‘settlement’, not of two parties negotiating (relocation agreement), but of the ICA giving a compensation package. This is akin to saying, “sorry we are removing you again (first time was in 1948) from your homes and traditional lifestyle, but take this money and we’ll call it even?”  The ICA has argued that this is a step up from their current lifestyle, mainly because the ICA is essentially bribing them by building up their new infrastructure and giving them money; they also maintain that urbanization is superior to their traditional herding lifestyle. The current Bedouin way of life is only in a humanitarian and cultural crisis due to Israeli colonization and restrictions over their lives. The new ‘deal’ the ICA is proposing may not even meet basic standards of living and a minimum standard of cultural perseverance, as enshrined in international law and previous bilateral agreements on the part of the Israeli government.

There is an ethical dilemma for NGOs and those generally in the human rights world here. When a case of deportation or something similar gets high media visibility, it makes it more likely that the Israeli government will punish the occupied population. Increased humanitarian support always results in more demolition orders and a furthering of the elaborate matrix of control. Sometimes the soundest advice for Palestinian communities is to ‘settle’ with the Israeli government, and in turn get maybe slightly more land and cash in their new package. The ICA and the Israeli government have long understood the colonial principle of ‘divide and conquer’ by cutting deals with small individual communities and coaxing them not to resist colonization.

The ICA strategy is to make life as terrible as possible for the Palestinians where they are now, while making the land where they want the population to be moved to as desirable as possible so they ‘choose’ to move. The ICA is planning to make this forced relocation happen in 2-3 months, so it’s very important that the story of the Bedouin community gets heard in the international community soon. It’s only a matter of time before the ICA tries to forcibly remove the Bedouins elsewhere in the West Bank. The Israeli government wants to urbanize a traditionally rural population to make it easier to judaize the West Bank, and to more easily control the Palestinians. It makes strategic sense that they are trying to remove those in the E1 settlement bloc first, because full colonization of that area as planned, would effectively divide the West Bank into two parts, eliminating any illusion of territorial contiguity that was once there. It unarguably destroys the possibility of any two state solution that isn’t legitimized apartheid.

Zach Resnick is living for a year in Israel/Palestine and blogging at Thoughts from Jerusalem. He recently graduated high school and is spending a year before Oberlin College interning for the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, studying jazz music at Shtriker Conservatory, and taking in life in Israel/Palestine.

Israeli police target Sheikh Jarrah store for hanging posters of Erdogan

Oct 25, 2011


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.

DAM is touring the US – and needs your help to finish their 2nd album

Oct 25, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Mali Huriye is my favorite song from DAM‘s 2006 album Dedication (lyrics here). DAM is a Palestinian hip hop group from Lyd, and they’re currently trying to raise money to finish their second album. From their IndieGoGo fundraising page:

Heralded by the major French newspaper Le Monde as “the spokesman of a new generation,” DAM, the first Palestinian hip hop crew and among the first to rap in Arabic, began working together in the late 1990s. Struck by the uncanny resemblance of the reality of the streets in a Tupac video to the streets in their own neighborhood of Lyd, Tamer Nafar, Suhell Nafar, and Mahmoud Jreri were inspired to tell their stories through hip hop.

 After their timely song “Min Irhabi” (“Who’s the terrorist”) was downloaded over a million times shortly after its internet release in 2001, DAM became a household name among youth throughout the Middle East. Rolling Stone in France distributed the song free in one of their issues, and the song has been featured in various compilations.

Ten years of performing all over the world have strengthened DAM’s commitment to continue living in their hometown of Lyd – fifteen minutes from Tel Aviv – working to provide the youth of the city and neighboring communities with programs and opportunities that have otherwise been denied to Palestinian citizens of Israel. In addition, they have conducted workshops for young people from the West Bank to the US, Canada, and Europe.

DAM’s music is a unique fusion of east and west, combining Arabic percussion rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies, and urban hip hop. “IHDA” (“Dedication”), DAM’s long-awaited first international album, was released in 2006, and DAM has seen its songs and members featured in films such as “Ford Transit” (Dir. Hany Abu Assad), “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?” (Dir. Morgan Spurlock), “Salt of this Sea” (Dir. Annemarie Jacir), and “Local Angel” and “Forgiveness” (Dir. Udi Aloni). DAM’s history and influence on the Arab hip hop scene is detailed in the feature-length documentary “Slingshot Hip Hop” (Dir. Jackie Reem Salloum). The group has also been featured in Vibe, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Q, Basement, Reuters, and The New York Times, and has appeared on MTV, CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. . .

Our new album will cost us over $35,000 and we have covered some of this but we need $23,000 more to finish and get it out. The money we raise will cover studio bills, recording the last few songs, mixing, mastering, cover art, design and printing of the CD. Anything extra will go towards making a music video for a song from the new album and promotional material.

Help DAM finish their album here.

Also, DAM is about to kick off a U.S tour be sure to check them out if they’re playing near you:

DAM U.S TOUR Oct/Nov 2011

Saturday, October 29 Slingshot Hip Hop screening followed by Q&A with DAM & Jackie Salloum
Location: Wayne State University Community Arts Auditorium
Time: 4 PM; doors at 3:30 PM; $3 public, $2 students
Detroit, MI

For more info:

Sunday, October 30, Songs For Freedom: A Benefit for the Freedom Theatre of Jenin 
Location: Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY)
Time: 7PM; $100 tickets
New York, NY

Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner
Directed by Jo Bonney
Musical appearances by DAM, David Byrne, Suzan-Lori Parks, Aimee Mann, Angelique Kidjo, Audra McDonald as well as a special performance by the acting company of The Freedom Theatre.

Tickets and info:,com_shows/task,view/Itemid,40/id,5863

Tuesday, November 1, Fordham University
Location: Fordham University
Time: to be announced
New York, NY

Wednesday, November 2, Slingshot Hip Hop screening followed by Q&A with DAM & Jackie Salloum
Time: 6:00pm at Daniels Auditorium
Location: Nichols College, Daniels Auditorium
Dudley, Massachusetts
More info:

Friday, November 4,  Slingshot Hip Hop screening and DAM show
Slingshot Hip Hop screening, Time: 5:30pm followed by Q&A with DAM and Jackie Salloum
DAM performance, Time: 8pm
Location: Portland State University
Salmon Street Studio, 109 SE Salmon St Portland
Portland, OR
Info: link to oia.pdx.edudetails/an_evening_of_palestinian_hip_hop/

Wednesday, November 9, Hip Hop for Palestine event – DAM and INVINCIBLE
Location: The Loft at Center Stage (1374 West Peachtree Street)
Time: 9pm (doors @ 8pm)
Tickets $15
Atlanta, GA

Friday, November 11, Rutgers University
Time: 8-11pm
Trayes Hall, DCC
New Brunswick, NJ

Saturday, November 12, Brown University
Providence, RI
More info coming…

Sunday, November 13, The Middle East Downstairs
DAM, Shadia Mansour, Mazzi, Yusef Abdel Mateen
Time: 8pm
Location: 472 Massachusetts Ave,Cambridge, MA, 02139
Boston, MA

Tickets & info: link to www.ticketweb.comsale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3987875&pl=mideastrestaurant


There are still dates open to book DAM: please contact


Hamas achieves something the peace process could never deliver

Oct 25, 2011

Mohammed Said AlNadi

On Tuesday October 18, 2011 a prisoner exchange deal was successfully carried out between Hamas and Israel for the first time. Since the capture of Shalit, Israel had been intractably headstrong on negotiating any deal with Hamas, and therefore, many attempts and mediations to broker an agreement failed.

On the one hand, the Israeli government was clearly caught in a dilemma, being under heavy pressure from the Israeli public, including Shalit’s family, demanding his release, and, at the same time, from those Israelis who rejected any deal, which, according to them, would secure the release of “terrorists” who had “blood on their hands.” On the other hand, Hamas always seemed unflinching and couldn’t lose but win, since it had nothing to lose.

For more than five years, the Palestinian people have suffered from countless Israeli incursions and military operations, which Israel constantly claimed were in search of Shalit, and which claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians. Add to this, a strangling blockade—termed as “illegal” and a “collective punishment” by almost all international and human rights organizations—was enforced on 1.6 million people in the Gaza Strip.

At the beginning, the “we will not negotiate with terrorists” rhetoric was dominant in Israeli officials’ speeches. But later, Israel came to realize, after more than five years, that any armed endeavor to retrieve Shalit would be unavailing, and that it should succumb to Hamas’s terms.

There were several incidents in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in which kidnapped soldiers were exchanged for prisoners, and this always was the way to go. When Gilad Shalit was captured in 2006, the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert knew there was nothing to do except to negotiate with Hamas, and that the issue would go on to the next Netanyahu government. So he must have preferred to abdicate that responsibility, especially amidst continuing lobbying by thousands of Shalit supporters and his family, who set up a protest tent outside his residence, trying to push him to agree to Hamas’s demands. Olmert then fumblingly accused both parents of hampering any possible talks to release their son, because they were launching a huge media campaign.

The new Netanyahu government seemed enormously unmanageable in the talks that were brokered by the German mediator and Egypt as well and unequivocally refused Hamas’s demands. Netanyahu himself was said to be “shocked” by the scope of concessions he would be making if he had agreed to Hamas’s terms, and then proposed what was called a “final offer” to the Palestinians, with much poorer conditions. Hamas rejected the offer and made its position clear that Shalit would not be released unless its demands were met.

Now the question is, doesn’t the fact that Israel surprisingly gave in to Hamas’s demands mark a historic victory for Hamas and a huge gain for the Palestinian people, and, at the same time, show Israel’s weakness? Still, one may argue that some Palestinian political prisoners like Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat, who were initially named to be released, were not included in the final list; also, some of the released prisoners were either exiled to a number of countries or to the Gaza Strip. And, most importantly, several thousands of the Palestinian prisoners are still incarcerated behind Israel’s bars.

The shift of Israel’s stubborn stance on the deal five years ago to a more condescending one represents a humiliating blow to Israel’s big ego. The effect of this stunning knockdown was evident in Netanyahu’s first public statement as saying “I would like to make it clear: We will continue to fight terrorism. Any released terrorist who returns to terrorism—his blood is upon his head. The State of Israel is different from its enemies: Here, we do not celebrate the release of murderers. Here, we do not applaud those who took life. On the contrary, we believe in the sanctity of life. We sanctify life. This is the ancient tradition of the Jewish People.”

Right after Shalit was released. Netanyahu tried to look smart and convincing in front of the public when he said it was a compelling Jewish tradition to ransom a Jewish life even if at a high price. This also implies Netanyahu’s racist mentality and moral bankruptcy, through vilifying the released Palestinian prisoners. He obviously wanted to avoid any awkward situation before the Israeli people, among whom a considerable number thought he had given a heavy price, and that the government “conducted itself incorrectly” in the negotiations, while some other backed the deal. So he tried to contain the turnabout by emphasizing Israel’s commitment to cracking down on the released “miscreants”. Also, he deliberately meant to stir the public’s altruistic emotions when he said: “Citizens of Israel, today we are all united in joy and in pain.” He tried to redeem himself when he reminded the public with “the pain of the families of the victims of terrorism” but “a leader finds himself alone and must make a decision. I considered – and I decided. Government ministers supported me by a large majority,” he maintained.

Furthermore, at the same time, he came to play the role of the “savior” since he was able to bring Israel’s boy home when he fatherly escorted him to his parent’s bosom. “I have brought your son back home,” said Netanyahu, addressing Shalit’s parents.

The 477 prisoners already released and the other remaining 550 to be released in two months, making a total of 1027, is indeed a good number, if we take into account the fact that a number of those prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment would have never been released if such a deal didn’t take place. And I think it wouldn’t have been wise if Hamas turned the deal down because of some prisoners Israel struck off the list. Those prisoners, unfortunately, will have to continue to steadfastly face the same fate of the rest of the prisoners, lead them and go on with their struggle against the Israeli Prison Service.

Exile definitely feels like another prison for those who were forcibly made to leave their families and homeland according to the terms of the deal, but still it’s better than staying in Israeli jails.

Regardless of the pros and cons of the deal, it was a momentous achievement by the Palestinian resistance. At least, it was enough to see the happiness of a 70 year old prisoner’s mother while embracing her son, who would never have been freed through the peace process.

Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin promotes a call for Palestinian genocide– Blumenthal

Oct 25, 2011


Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin promotes call for Palestinian genocide, Max Blumenthal

In a blog post cheering the release of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, neoconservative activist Rachel Decter Abrams descended into a twisted call for genocide, calling for Israel to throw released Palestinian prisoners whom she described as “child sacrificing savages” and “unmanned animals” — along with “their offspring” — “into the sea, to float there, food for sharks.”

And more news from Today in Palestine…

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Erasure of culture & history

Al-Barghouthi: “There Should Be A Complete Cessation Of Settlement Construction, Not A Partial One”
Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, calls on the national consensus for the complete cessation of settlement activity, including Jerusalem, the Ma’an News Agency reported.
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PLO ‘not informed’ of US proposal on settlement freeze
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — PLO official Saeb Erekat said Tuesday that the US had not officially informed the Palestinian leadership of any proposal to partially freeze settlement building. The Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Tuesday that the US had made an offer to the Israeli government and the PA suggesting Israel halt the construction of new neighborhoods but could continue building in existing settlements on occupied Palestinian land, apparently to cope with natural growth.
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Israel plans building 4000 new housing units south of occupied Jerusalem
The Israeli government has recently endorsed the building of a new Jewish suburb south of occupied Jerusalem that envisages the construction of 4000 housing units, Hebrew press reported on Monday.
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Zionist plan to isolate the village of Eksa to the north of Jerusalem
Hebrew media sources revealed a plan to isolate the village of Eksa to the north west of occupied Jerusalem to separate it from the nearby Ramot settlement in the city.
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Days before the beginning of the 36th session of UNESCO—the body expected to approve Palestinian membership and grant protection to Palestinian heritage sites—a group of 84 international archaeologists signed a petition calling Israel to stop building the planned Museum of Tolerance on the site of the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem.

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Ir Amim, a nonprofit that seeks to make life in Jerusalem more equitable for Arab and Jewish residents, claims agreement is illegal and ostensibly privatizes one of Israel’s most important tourism and archaeological sites.

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World condemns Israel’s Jerusalem landgrab, while US says it is ‘within the frame of our policy concern’, Philip WeissIsrael is pressing ahead with its plans to colonize more of the land between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, a settlement that cordons off Jerusalem from the Palestinians. The Givat Hamatos project destroys the two-state solution–even in the eyes of ardent supporters. still demolishing Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem
Israel is continuing with its policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem on the pretext that the properties do not have official permits. In at least one case, the home owner was forced to demolish his home himself; failure to do so would have landed the man with demolition by the authorities and a heavy fine. A staggering 95 percent of building permit applications submitted by Palestinians are refused by the Israeli authorities.

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Strength of the Right

Welcome to the rural community of Wad Rahal (the Valley of Travelers) in Palestine. Located only three kilometers from Bethlehem, 1700 people call this village home. This community sits in between Palestine’s hillsides creating a picturesque farming village.
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Palestinian Village of Umm Salamuna

The cement curb-like structure is deceiving to the viewer. It looks harmless next to the winding road. At most, its existence might strike the viewer with curiosity, not alarm. Yet this curb not only brings a reminder of the occupation’s past violent actions but also a bleak future. For this curb is the start to the route of the Apartheid wall that is being built in the small Palestinian village of Umm Salamuna.

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Existence is Resistance
Khalil lives with his 4 children and his wife in a small neighbourhood near the Etzion Settlement Block. Khalil is a farmer in the area, tending olive and fruit trees. For generations Khalil and his family have lived in this small neighbourhood where about 35 other people live. His home is humble. It is a two-room house. The washroom does not exist within his house but just outside his front gate there sits an outhouse. His walls and roof have been patched with tin and scrap wood. The oven for cooking is outside in the yard. His home has been unchanged since 1967. Not by choice, but through an order from the Israeli Military.

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Hebron teachers protest measures that keep them from school
Ben Lorber – +972 Magazine – The IDF has suddenly decided to force Hebron school teachers to go through checkpoint metal detectors that place the health of preganant women and people with heart devices at risk. The teachers refuse and schoolchilrern join their protest, meeting army violence. In the background hover the Hebron settlers, who have long since targeted the Qurtuba School.
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Overdue Books: Returning Palestine’s “Abandoned Property” of 1948,  Hannah Mermelstein
Cultural genocide extends beyond attacks upon the physical and/or biological elements of a group and seeks to eliminate its wider institutions… Elements of cultural genocide are manifested when artistic, literary, and cultural activities are restricted or outlawed and when national treasures, libraries, archives, museums, artifacts, and art galleries are destroyed or confiscated.
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Israeli Regime Violence

Israeli rights group reverses verdict, brings about indictment of abusive policeman

According to the indictment, Sahar Tannous allegedly pulled a handcuffed Palestinian by the shirt, threw him to the floor, hit him in the legs with a club and cursed him.

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Violent confrontations in Bir Ayyub

 Violent clashes erupted in Bir Ayyub district of Silwan on Saturday evening, 22 October. Confrontations were provoked by settlers and Israeli forces, who maintain a heavy presence in the neighborhood. Bir Ayyub has been one of the hardest hit districts of Silwan by state and settler violence, particularly since the 2008-09 Gaza assault.

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Israel Police raid Jerusalem buildings suspected of housing Hamas activity
Police raid two buildings in Dahiyat al-Barid in north Jerusalem, where Hamas allegedly operates, and another in Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem where PFLP operatives suspected of gathering.

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Settler Violence & Aggression

Settlers throw stones against the crowds celebrating the prisoner’s release

The settlers in Silwan tried to provoke the Palestinians, who were celebrating the prisoner’s release, by throwing stones, showering them with water pipes, and verbally insulting. Despite the settlers’ attempts to end the celebrations, Palestinians continued celebrating for a second day.

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RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority on Monday said the Israeli government was “implicitly encouraging settlers to continue on their rampage” by failing to hold them to account for violent crimes. “Israeli violations against Palestinians and their property and livelihood continue to increase with little or no action by the Israeli authorities to hold people to account under the rule of law,” a government statement said.

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Medics: Gazan man killed in Rafah tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A smuggling tunnel underneath the Egypt-Gaza border collapsed on Tuesday morning killing a young man from Khan Younis, medics said. Medics in the Gaza Strip identified the man as 29-year-old Ahmad Rabee. The victim had been missing for hours after the tunnel collapsed in the Brazil neighborhood of Rafah before his body was found
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IOF artillery blasts southern Gaza
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened artillery fire at southern Gaza Strip at a late hour on Monday night targeting the vicinity of the Gaza international airport to the east of Rafah city.
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OPT: New projects to ease Gaza housing crisis
GAZA CITY 25 October 2011 (IRIN) – In response to a growing housing crisis in the Gaza Strip in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), several new building projects have been initiated by the Hamas-led government, and thousands of families have begun purchasing properties in new communities, officials say.

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Besieged Gaza paid the price for the release of the prisoners
Without doubt, the prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel is a huge achievement for the Palestinians. Ex-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in 2006 that he would not give in to Hamas and would not release any Palestinian prisoners. The entire population of Gaza was then besieged by Israel in its efforts to find and free their soldier held captive in Gaza, Gilad Shalit; Israel wasn’t prepared to give anything in return for their man. During the siege, of course, Israel bombed and invaded Gaza, killing 1,400 Palestinian civilians, one-third of them children. They could still not find and free Shalit. His freedom came when the deal suited the Palestinians and the Israeli government caved in to their demands.
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Political Detainees

Army Kidnaps Ten Palestinians In The West Bank
The Palestine News & Info Agency (WAFA) reported Tuesday that the Israeli military kidnapped ten Palestinian citizens in different parts of the occupied West Bank.
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Israeli Troops Arrest Jerusalem Development Worker, Raid Home

On Sunday evening Israeli soldiers raided the offices of the Jerusalem Organization for Development, arrested the director of the social department Kifah Sarhan, and tampered with files. The raid lasted more than five hours, according to eyewitnesses, and soldiers isolated workers in one room of the office. Palestinian official news wire Wafa reported that the soldiers broke many private doors in the organization. “The

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Israel, your new best friend Mitt Romney (who loves you to death)

Posted: 28 Oct 2011


Think Progress reports on a truly fundamentalist position from the Presidential candidate that will only further isolate the Zionist state:

If Mitt Romney becomes president, there are a lot of important foreign policy decisions that he’d leave up to others. Most notably, Romney often says that whatever the generals decide, that’s the course he’ll take in Afghanistan (although he backtracked on that stance when pressed recently). Now it seems that a President Romney will allow the Israeli government to decide American policy toward that country. The free daily newspaper Israel Hayom — a media outlet closely associated with right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — asked Romney if, as president, he would ever consider moving the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In his answer, Romney made some astonishing claims. First, that his policy toward Israel will be guided by Israeli leaders; second, on the Jerusalem issue, he’d do whatever Israel tells him to do; and third, he does not think the United States should take a leadership role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Calling all Zionist artists; come protect occupying Israel and do your duty

Posted: 27 Oct 2011

A rather tragic story in the Jerusalem Post, which yet again utterly ignores why an increasing number of musicians and artists in general are boycotting and ignoring Israel; it’s the occupation, stupid. No amount of PR will change the brutal facts on the ground:

Their aim, as an old Elvis Costello song professes, is true.

An influential group of US entertainment industry executives has for the first time launched an organization to counter cultural boycott efforts against Israel, the likes of which contributed to Costello’s canceling of scheduled shows here last year.

Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) pledges to use a wide range of measures to bolster the resolve of artists who sign contracts to perform in or travel to Israel and then face calls from various “boycott groups” to cancel their trips, according one of its founders, Steve Schnur.

Schnur is a worldwide executive of music and marketing for Electronic Arts and president of Artwerk Music Group, and is responsible for licensing music for some of the most popular computer video games.

“We felt that if we could create a place where artists can get information from other artists and from people they know who understand what Israel is really about – the freedom, the democracy and equal rights – and not rely on the disinformation they’re given about ‘apartheid’ Israel, then maybe we could change things,” Schnur said in a phone call this week from Los Angeles.

“Our aim isn’t to applaud the fact that artists have come to Israel, but to enable others to continue to go there.”

The boycott issue has always been present with regard to international artists and Israel, but in the past few years, pro-Palestinian organizations abroad have stepped up efforts to bombard scheduled acts with e-mails, letters and Facebook campaigns urging them to cancel.

While most artists have withstood or ignored the pressure, some, like Costello, the Pixies and the late Gil Scott-Heron, have succumbed to the campaigns and scrapped their shows here. According to Schnur, many others likely don’t even bother to consider booking a show in Israel, to avoid the expected brouhaha.

He recalled his “aha” moment while attending the Elton John show in Ramat Gan Stadium last year in the shadow of the controversy over the previously mentioned cancellations.

“I was visiting Israel on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles and giving a master class in Tel Aviv,” said Schnur. “It was shortly after the flotilla incident, and the Costello and Pixies cancellations, which were really exploited in the media as being part of an all-out boycott effort.

“It was really the first time I had heard the word ‘apartheid’ associated with Israel, and it really angered me. So I’m sitting at the Elton John show, and he comes out and makes his statement, saying, ‘Nobody’s gonna stop us from coming here’ and ‘We don’t cherry-pick our conscience,’ and it hit me over the head that I needed to do something.

“I’ve always been involved in Jewish and Zionist activities and I could have written a check, but I wanted to get my hands dirty and make a difference this time. The next day, I saw David Renzer [then-chairman/ CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group] at the master class and told him what I was thinking. Together, we decided that if we could help educate artists by having direct contact with them, we could change the grotesque bombardment of disinformation and threats coming their way so they could make decisions based on critical thinking and accurate information.”

Schnur and Renzer are joined on the CCFP advisory board by a growing list of prominent media execs, artists, attorneys and agents, including Idan Raichel; David Lonner, CEO of Oasis Media Group; Gary Foster, principal of Krasnoff Foster Productions; Doug Frank, former president of music operations for Warner Brothers Pictures; and the organization’s Israel point man, Ran Geffen-Lifshitz, CEO of Media Men Group, the country’s largest music publishing company.

“What we’re doing is to help people make the right decision on the question of boycotting Israel,” Geffen-Lifshitz said this week.

“Music should be separated from politics; this whole boycott issue is a slippery slope.

Once an artist gives in to boycott pressure and cancels an appearance here, his fans begin to think that boycotting Israel is legitimate.

From there, what’s to stop a boycott of Israeli products? We have to say ‘stop’ now.”

Think before you travel to “paradise”

Posted: 27 Oct 2011

Ethical tourism is an issue that rarely permeates the mainstream media (hello New York Times).

Congrats to Reporters Without Borders for launching “Censorship Paradise” about three nations regularly visited, Thailand, Mexico and Vietnam.

More here:

Reporters Without Borders is launching a new awareness campaign today, one aimed at drawing the attention of holidaymakers to free speech and freedom of information problems in Thailand, Vietnam and Mexico.

“This campaign’s aim is to make people think before they set off for the sun,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “We are not calling for a boycott of these destinations but we want travellers to see what is behind the scenes. We have chosen three countries that are a paradise for vacationers and a hell for journalists: Mexico, Vietnam and Thailand.

“The palm trees, beaches and temples often conceal harsh treatment of journalists and bloggers. We advocate responsible tourism. It is your choice where you take your vacation but it is our duty to tell you where you are venturing.”

Eighty journalists have been killed in the past 10 years in Mexico. Covering drug trafficking has become a risky activity there. Murders of journalists go unpunished so nothing stops the killers from continuing to ply their trade.

Many subjects are taboo in Thailand and Vietnam. Criticising their rulers or exposing the corruption that permeates the upper levels of government can land you in jail for 15 or 20 years.

The campaign consists of three visual ads that will be placed in magazines and in free press publications covering all of France, and on the Internet. A dedicated website,, will support the entire campaign, which will be relayed by Reporters Without Borders’ international bureaux and will be circulated to its network of correspondents all over the world.

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Romney promises to abdicate American foreign policy towards Israel . . . to Israel

Oct 29, 2011


Can it even get worse than this in the GOP Primary? Think Progress reports Romney stated he would abdicate American foreign policy towards Israel . . . to Israel:

Now it seems that a President Romney will allow the Israeli government to decide American policy toward that country. The free daily newspaper Israel Hayom — a media outlet closely associated with right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — asked Romney if, as president, he would ever consider moving the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In his answer, Romney made some astonishing claims. First, that his policy toward Israel will be guided by Israeli leaders; second, on the Jerusalem issue, he’d do whatever Israel tells him to do; and third, he does not think the United States should take a leadership role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

ROMNEY: The actions that I will take will be actions recommended and supported by Israeli leaders. I don’t seek to take actions independent of what our allies think is best, and if Israel’s leaders thought that a move of that nature would be helpful to their efforts, then that’s something I’ll be inclined to do. But again, that’s a decision which I would look to the Israeli leadership to help guide. I don’t think America should play the role of the leader of the peace process, instead we should stand by our ally. Again, my inclination is to follow the guidance of our ally Israel, as to where our facilities and embassies would exist.

Yowza. TP flushes it out in their must read post but there’s even more frightening quotes inthe interview at Israel Hayom. Asked how he would change Obama’s policy if he were in the White House:

By being silent as protesters took to the streets in Iran, by not establishing crippling sanctions against Iran for their nuclear program, and by not mouthing a credible military threat to their ongoing nuclear program. The right course is for the president to declare that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to America, and to punctuate that commitment. I have called for us to deploy two aircraft carrier task forces, one to the gulf, one to the Mediterranean to communicate our resolve in that regard.

Sounds like war drums for Iran.

Tahrir tells Oakland– ‘Don’t afraid, go ahead’

Oct 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

Amazing pictures by Mohammed Maree (thanks to Raw Story) demonstrating the Melvillean principle: “genius all over the world stands hand in hand, and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round”.



Oktoberfest in Palestine

Oct 28, 2011

Philip Weiss


October’s almost over, and it’s the weekend, to boot– I better get this picture up! This is Florian Bieringer, 21, at the Taybeh Oktoberfest on a hilltop in Palestine at the beginning of the month. He’s lifting up a Taybeh beer. The Oktoberfest was mobbed by internationals. Beiringer said that the Taybeh Oktoberfest has more integrity than any Oktoberfest he’s been to outside his native Bavaria.

Update: Octoberfest changed to Oktoberfest, at antidote’s guidance.

‘NYT”s Gordon (who gave us Saddam’s ‘mushroom cloud’) relies on Israeli expert to interpret Saddam

Oct 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

Call me conspiratorial, but here’s a story about the Israeli presence in our discourse that makes me want to take a bath. Wednesday’s New York Times ran a story about a collection of Saddam Hussein’s confidential documents that show him to have a conspiratorial turn of mind regarding Israel’s machinations in the Middle East.

But deep in that very story, the reporter, Michael Gordon, says that he relied on an Israeli expert who has access to the archive.

And–surprise—the article is highly favorable to Israel. It paints Saddam Hussein as an anti-semite who routinely misread other leaders and mistakenly saw an American-Israeli conspiracy in several actions of western governments in the 1980s and 90s, and particularly during the Iran-Iraq war.

I know: those Arab conspiracy theorists! But why is the New York Times turning to an Israeli expert? And doing so with so little transparency.

Near the top, the article says that the “voluminous” archive, seized by the Americans when they invaded Iraq in 2003, landed at the National Defense University, that some “outside researchers” examined a “small portion” of the documents, and that 20 documents were made public Tuesday in conjunction with a conference of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

It is not till the tenth paragraph that reporter Michael Gordon states his reliance on an Israeli expert to interpret the documents. Gordon writes that Saddam grievously miscalculated Iranian intentions in 1980, “according to Amatzia Baram, an Israeli expert on Iraq who has studied the documents.” (The article later identifies Hal Brands, an assistant professor at Duke, as another expert who has seen them.)

Here are those 20 documents that the Wilson Center released, on line. I’m guessing it’s a few hundred pages. A lot for a busy reporter to go through.

It is not clear from the article how much of the archive Gordon has gone through himself. It’s not clear how many nuggets Baram found for him. Call me conspiratorial, but I’d like to know.

Just who sent Michael Gordon to Saddam Hussein’s description of New York as a “Jewish city” that brainwashes UN officials? Who sent him to Saddam’s boast from 1982, during the Iran-Iraq war, “Once Iraq emerges victorious, there will not be any Israel… Technically, they are right in all of their attempts to harm Iraq”?

Who is Amatzia Baram? He gave a couple of interviews in the AIPAC newsletter Near East Report in 2002, making the case for ousting Saddam. Look at The Israel Lobby by Walt and Mearsheimer (pp. 259-260); Baram recanted in 2007, saying “If I knew then what I know today, I would not have recommend going to war, because Saddam was far less dangerous than I thought.”

And who is Michael Gordon? A guy with a famous episode of piping bad information about Saddam. In 2002 he paved the way to the Iraq war with an article saying that Saddam was getting nukes– the famous “aluminum tubes… mushroom cloud” piece in 2002, based on brilliant inside sources that proved to be hogwash.

Read Michael Massing’s devastating piece on Gordon’s reporting in the New York Review of Books.

Administration “hard-liners,” Gordon and [Judith] Miller added, worried that “the first sign of a ‘smoking gun’… may be a mushroom cloud.” The piece concluded with a section on Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, relying heavily on the information supplied by Ahmed al-Shemri. “All of Iraq is one large storage facility,” he was quoted as saying…

Gordon and Miller argue that the information about the aluminum tubes was not a leak. “The administration wasn’t really ready to make its case publicly at the time,” Gordon told me. “Somebody mentioned to me this tubes thing. It took a lot to check it out.” Perhaps so, but administration officials were clearly delighted with the story.

Racism toward Arabs is what unifies the Zionist right, says JJ Goldberg, liberal Zionist

Oct 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

At the Forward JJ Goldberg has a good piece on the recent call for political unity within the Jewish community on the Israel question, a “pledge” defied by the neocons and by J Street, which are attacking one another. Goldberg is in the J Street camp. His piece ends on the racism of the right wing.

So here’s what I’m starting to think: What unifies the Jewish right is not love of Israel but fear and loathing of the Arabs, and anything and anyone giving Arabs a moment’s satisfaction — even an Israeli prime minister who has served his fellow Jews before — is craven, foolish and treasonous.

Unify that, guys.

Now I would say that loving Israel means dining on racism, breakfast lunch and dinner. That argument is going to take place as soon as the neocons are finally exiled, and the liberal Zionists begin to have it out with the non-Zionists…

Palestine’s UNESCO bid to come up Monday (amid Simon Wiesenthal Center hypocrisy)

Oct 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

It looks like the vote on Palestine’s bid for membership in UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, will be on Monday:

The Palestinians will need to win over two-thirds of UNESCO’s 193 members on Monday to get full membership.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, is petitioning to block the Palestinians. It offers this piece of hysteria about “Palestine”:

Should ‘Palestine’ become a UNESCO member, it will surely seek to leverage its membership to gain international support to erase the history of the Jewish people in Eretz Israel and seek to have holy sites, like the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Joseph’s tomb in Nablus, Rachel’s tomb in Bethlehem, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, declared as wholly Palestinian heritage sites.

That’s rich. Or as they say in middle school, he who smelt it dealt it; Science Magazine has published a sharp critique of Simon Wiesenthal’s efforts to erase Muslim history in Jerusalem through the construction of the Museum of Tolerance on the Mamilla Cemetery, destroying a cemetery with remains going back to Salah-ad-din’s time. Here’s the link and promo:

In science news around the world this week, the Museum of Tolerance is under fire for intolerance…

The article itself quotes a letter by 84 respected archaeologists speaking out against the Wiesenthal’s grave-disturbing methods. And the Wiesenthal Center refused to comment.

4-year-old Palestinian girl is rendered quadriplegic by Israeli military training in occupied West Bank

Oct 28, 2011


Shame on me. Perhaps aggregating news has made me desensitized to the barbaric daily violence inflicted against Palestinians.  I skipped over the following headline from my list today and chose one about Jordan’s Abdullah & Grapel instead, as if they are more worthy of recognition than this little girl:

Child Suffers Quadriplegia After Being Shot By Israel Army Fire During Training
Palestinian medical sources in occupied Jerusalem reported that a 4-year-old child, was shot by a stray live round in her neck fired by Israeli soldiers during training at the Anatot military base, built on lands illegally annexed from the residents Anata Palestinian town, north of Jerusalem.

Her name is Aseel Ara’ra, a picture of  can be found here. I wish I could apologize to her.aseel 1

aseel via Maan

Update: Original version of this piece carried the wrong picture of Aseel. Thanks to commenters for correction.

Palestine in Oakland– Scott Olsen and Tristan Anderson

Oct 28, 2011

Alex Kane

Protesters in oakland carry iraq war veteran scott olsen after he was struck in the head by a police projectile (photo: Jay Finneburgh/

Occupy Oakland protesters got a whiff of the weekly Palestinian experience  two nights ago when a crackdown complete with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades tore through their protest encampment. (See Adam Horowitz’s post here). The injury of Iraq War veteran and activist Scott Olsen, who is in the hospital with a fractured skull, adds to the obvious similarities seen in protest crackdowns in the U.S. and Palestine.

This is in addition to reports that the same arms firm supplies both the Oakland Police Department and the Israeli army with tear-gas.

Olsen was reportedly hit by a tear gas canister in his head, resulting in a fractured skull injury. Olsen was in a coma, although Reuters reported last night that “Olsen was breathing on his own and could undergo surgery in the next day or so.”

The scenes of blood streaming down Olsen’s face were eerily reminiscent of what happened toTristan Anderson in 2009.  An American activist from Oakland, Anderson was also struck in the head by a tear gas canister, although in his case it was fired by the Israeli army during a protest in the West Bank village of Nil’in. Anderson was in an Israeli hospital for over a year, and a sham IDF investigation declared the shooting “an act of war,” absolving their soldiers of responsibility.

These two cases, side by side, matter, and not just because of coincidence but for what it tells us.

The similarities between Olsen and Anderson’s injury (although thankfully Olsen seems to be recovering) and the  force used on protesters in Oakland make clear how militarized the police in the U.S. are, as Charles Pierce points out in Esquire (h/t Liliana Segura’s Twitter):

Make no mistake about it: The actions of the police department in Oakland last night were a military assault on a legitimate political demonstration. That it was a milder military assault than it could have been, which is to say it wasn’t a massacre, is very much beside the point. There was no possible provocation that warranted this display of force. (Graffiti? Litter? Rodents? Is the Oakland PD now a SWAT team for the city’s health department?) If you are a police department in this country in 2011, this is something you do because you have the power and the technology and the license from society to do it. This is a problem that has been brewing for a long time. It predates the Occupy movement for more than a decade. It even predates the “war on terror,” although that has acted as what the arson squad would call an “accelerant” to the essential dynamic.

Basic law enforcement in this country is thoroughly, totally militarized. It is militarized at its most basic levels. (The “street crime units,” so beloved by, among other people, the Diallo family.) It is militarized at its highest command positions. It is militarized in its tactics, and its weaponry and, most important of all, in the attitude of the officers themselves, and in how they are trained. There is a vast militarized intelligence apparatus that leads, inevitably, to pre-emptive military actions, like the raids on protest organizations that were carried out in advance of the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Sooner or later, this militarized law enforcement was going to collide head-on with a movement of mass public protest, and the results were going to be ugly. (There already had been dry runs elsewhere, most notably in Miami, in 2003, during protests of a meeting of trade ministers.)

The militarization of the police was clearly accelerated by a “war on terror” framework, and the Olsen/Anderson injuries are the real-life, tragic consequences that these policies have. Now, an American uprising is clashing with that security-first mentality. How many more Scott Olsens will we see?

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and blogger based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Arab Spring at 9 months — Helena Cobban

Oct 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

Helena Cobban has a long and insightful analysis of the Arab Spring at 9 months. Some of her conclusions:

1. The overwhelmingly peaceable and overwhelmingly civilian mass movements that swept the dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt from power were unalloyed good news. The outcomes in both those countries may not be as truly wonderful as we might hope. But the peoples of the two countries have provided themselves with a decent chance of being able to build robust and largely accountable and democratic political systems, in place for the repressive systems they have labored under for so many years. Read this account, from JWB’s upcoming, Cairo-based author Issandr El-Amrani, on how exhilarating he found Tunisia’s recent elections… (Okay, Issandr isless optimistic regarding Egypt. But still, I am sure he would agree with me that the prospects for serious positive political developments there are still far, far greater than any of us would have imagined just one year ago.)

2. The overwhelmingly civilian mass pro-democracy movements in Bahrain and Yemen also been deeply inspiring. Hey– I never gave a shout-out yet to Yemen’s fabulous, inspiring leader Tawakkol Karman for being a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Huge congratulations, Ms. Karman! despite the creativity and commitment of the members of the movements in those two countries, however, both have met serious resistance… And in both cases, that resistance has been supported by Washington. Shame, shame shame! (And something that all of us in the pro-justice movement here in the United States ought to be working hard to reverse.)

3. In Syria and elsewhere there have also been large-scale civilian mass movements taking real risks to fight for political reform. But it’s been harder to gauge the real reach and influence of those movements. And in Syria, as in Yemen, there have been serious armed elements involved alongside the unarmed mass movements.

4. Libya has been seen as a real test case for the whole western liberal notion of ‘R2P’– [responsibility to protect] which far too many western liberals take to mean that the “international community” (however fuzzily defined) has a prima facie duty to support the human rights of beleaguered peoples in all other countries. Actually, the UN’s R2P documents don’t say that. They say that governments everywhere have the first duty to protect the the lives and safety of their peoples; but that if they fail to do that, then the UN can step in to take such steps as are deemed necessary to save the peoples’ lives. Big difference.

So what we saw in Libya was a UN-allowed, NATO-led military intervention that was launched in the first instance under the rubric of enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in order to protect the civilians of Benghazi from what was described to us all as a completely certain humanitarian disaster. The western leaders never paid any heed to the facts that– as I blogged at the time– the humanitarian situation in Benghazi was actually getting better in the days immediately before their bombings started; or, that the African Union leaders were poised to undertake the kind of tension-deescalating negotiations that resolution 1973 had also called for.

Since March 19, Libya has seen scores of thousands of conflict-related deaths and maimings, and the country’s political space has been largely taken over by a clutch of mutually competing armed gangs. It looks very like Iraq in 2006 or so. And in keeping with that “Iraqi” theme, we saw the disgusting scenes of Muammar Qadhafi being brutalized while in captivity and then turning up shortly afterwards having been executed by a gunshot to the head.

Is this what the building a strong democracy looks like? No, no, no! I am in great fear as to the suffering and continued conflicts that the Libyan people will see over the months and years ahead.

Like Iraq before it, what happened in Libya is surely not a “model” for any people– in the Arab world or elsewhere– who seek a life of human dignity, security for their families, and accountable governance.

So the “balance sheet” for the Arab Spring is at this point decidedly mixed, but still on balance positive. What is clear is that the social and political forces that were unfrozen by Mohamed Bouazizi (and before him, to be fair, by Khaled Said in Egypt) have set the whole Middle East on a political course whose dynamism still has a lot more unfolding to do.

‘A historic forum:’ Sylvia Schwarz tells Minneapolis gathering that privileging Jews is racism

Oct 28, 2011

Sylvia Schwarz

Editor’s note: Yesterday we posted Sylvia Schwarz’s account of an October 16 forum she participated in in Minneapolis, titled “Seeking Israeli/Palestinian Peace: Varied Voices from the Jewish Community.” The post got a lot of comment and we asked Schwarz, a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, for the text of her prepared remarks. That follows. And below her text is a short response from Schwarz to the many comments.

I would first like to thank all of you for coming, and thank the Central Lutheran Church for hosting this panel. Especially I want to thank and commend Chuck Lutz for putting together this historic forum. I’m grateful for the opportunity to engage in honest discussions about the range of Jewish perspectives on Palestine, so thanks to my fellow panelists also.

Before I can address the topic of how the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network envisions peace in Palestine, including the State of Israel, I first have to talk about our name. Specifically: why “international,” why “Jewish,” and why “Anti-Zionist?”

We are an international organization with chapters in North and South America, Europe, and Israel. We work with like-minded individuals and organizations in Australia, New Zealand, India and North Africa. I don’t want to overstate our numbers; we are small, but we represent many more anti-Zionist Jews than there are members of IJAN and we are growing both in membership and in influence.

Why Jewish? We in IJAN believe we have a unique role to play in this issue. For more than a century Zionist Jews have claimed to speak for us, and through various tactics, the Zionists have convinced most people that all Jews think alike, that all Jews agree with Zionist ideologies and the actions of the State of Israel, and that any different perspective is evidence of anti-Jewish hatred, even when the different perspectives come from Jews.

We also feel that we have a special responsibility to speak and act in joint struggle with Palestinians as an oppressed people, first of all because Zionists have insisted that there is a dichotomy between Jews and Palestinians and that Jews must be privileged above non-Jews. We believe that this special status is racist.

As important and historic as this panel is, it also privileges Jewish voices above Palestinian ones, furthering the notion that some voices are more important than others.

Secondly, most of us grew up in Zionist households and were indoctrinated with Zionist ideals. For many Jews it is a cultural norm to contribute money to the Jewish National Fund. What many Jews do not know is that the JNF facilitates the expulsion of Palestinian people from their land and covers the crimes of ethnic cleansing with non-native trees. This is what the JNF calls “making the desert bloom.” As Jews of conscience, we feel a special responsibility because of our past participation in and contribution to organizations like the JNF.

Why anti-Zionist? It’s important, first of all, to understand what Zionism is. Modern Zionism is a political nationalist movement that seeks to grant a homeland to Jews. In the late 1890s, after a millennium of hatred, violence and expulsion of Jews in Europe, the young journalist Theodor Herzl came to the conclusion that the only way to “solve the Jewish question” or to keep Jews safe from persecution, was to separate them from non-Jews and allow them to attain upper class status in a state of their own. Through Herzl’s influence and supported by European imperialist aspirations, Jews began migrating to and colonizing Palestine.

By the 1930s immigrating Zionists had purchased less than 7% of the land of Mandate Palestine, and although Zionists were still a minority in the land, their political power was great. A British Labour leader at that time, Herbert Morrison said, “The Jews have proved to be first class colonizers to have the real good old empire qualities…”

The Zionists’ intentions were clear from the beginning. Ben-Gurion, in a 1937 letter to his son said, “We will expel the Arabs and take their places.” Joseph Weitz said in 1940 “there is no room for both peoples together in this country…The only solution is a Palestine, at least Western Palestine without Arabs…And there is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, to transfer all of them; not one village, not one tribe, should be left…” These quotes are just two of hundreds that show the early Zionist intention to ethnically cleanse the non-Jewish Palestinian people. Nothing less than complete control of all the land, with none of the non-Jewish Palestinians, would satisfy them.

There is no way to encourage people to abandon their homes voluntarily. Violence had to be used. What Israel calls the War of Independence, Palestinians call the Nakba or Catastrophe, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were violently expelled from their homes.

I am a Jew —- married to a Palestinian man who was three years old when he was forcibly expelled from his home in Jaffa, now in Israel. He grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, but he, like the other refugees and their descendents yearned to return to his former home within Israel. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed and ratified by Israel) is clear that it is an inalienable right for people to return to their homes. Yet in Israel, in order to keep a Jewish majority, this right is denied.

It is denied through a series of laws in the Israeli legal system. As I talk about these, try to imagine analogous laws in the US system privileging one ethnic group over another. In 1950 the Israeli Knesset passed the Law of Return, which says that any Jew, anywhere in the world has the right to come to Israel. Non-Jews do not have this right. In 1952 the Citizenship Law was passed, giving Jews from anywhere in the world the right to citizenship in Israel. Again, non-Jews do not have this right. The Jewish National Fund’s charter says that it holds land in perpetuity for Jews only. The JNF is a quasi-governmental agency, which owns outright 13% of the land of Israel, and administers another 80% through the Israeli Land Authority. This means that I, as an American Jew, any time I want, can go to Israel; I can become a citizen, and I can purchase or rent the property that my father-in-law was expelled from, yet my husband who was born there and left involuntarily, can never go back. Needless to say, he cannot become a citizen and he cannot rent or own property there.

Since the Law of Return and the Citizenship Law, numerous laws have been written in Israel privileging Jews over non-Jews. Palestinian Israeli citizens are denied educational opportunities, restricted in whom they may marry, and in where they may live. Palestinians in the occupied territories are denied the right to movement, to sufficient water, to free speech, and even to receive visitors. The age of majority, the age at which a child can be considered an adult, for Palestinians is 12 and the age of majority for Israelis, living only a few meters away, is 18. Think about that. A 12-year old boy’s voice hasn’t even changed. Yet he can be held as an adult in prison, and many are as is reported in a recent study by Defence for Children International.

When one ethnic group is given special privileges above other groups, this is racism. Racism is not just peripheral to Zionism, it is a central property of Zionism. When it is a legalized system of racism, it is apartheid. I challenge anyone here to fashion a legal structure that gives rights and privileges to one ethnic group only, and yet simultaneously does not take away those rights and privileges from other people. It cannot be done.

IJAN opposes Zionism because its central core tenet is that of colonialism, racism, and oppression. IJAN believes that members of an ethnic group should not be granted special privileged status under any law, that colonizing land and ethnically cleansing people from it is unjust, immoral, and illegal. We believe that the Holocaust and 3000 years of oppression against Jews do not justify oppression of another people. We condemn all types of racism, including anti-Jewish, anti-Arab and anti-Islamic racism, and we do not ally ourselves with people who espouse racism or hatred of any kind.

We support the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until Israel complies with international law. The call demands three things: 1. The end of the occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, which means also the dismantling of the illegal separation wall, 2., recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and 3. respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

It should be clear that we are demanding nothing more than the inalienable rights of all human beings. Because these rights are inalienable, they are not subject to negotiation, and therefore any peace deal which does not incorporate and affirm these inalienable human rights is bound to fail. Yet I remain optimistic that we will see peace with justice in Palestine because, as Theodore Parker said though it was often attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Response to commenters:

In 1975 the UN General Assembly voted that Zionism was racism. This was revoked in 1991 after considerable pressure. Nevertheless, Zionist philosophy, institutions, and Israeli law elevate Jews’ status above that of non-Jews. If one ethnic group is elevated in status and privilege above another group the non-privileged group is the victim of racism.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Murderous British imperialism – military operations in North Africa and the Middle East since 1945


By: Fight Racism

Murderous British imperialism - military operations in North Africa and the Middle East since 1945

When 112 cruise missiles were fired at Libya from US and British submarines on 19 March this year, we pointed out that this was the 46thseparate British military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa since the end of the Second World War. This region contains nearly two-thirds of the world’s proven oil reserves; control over these reserves and the distribution of oil is essential for the British ruling class and for the balance of power between the competing imperialist states.

The Middle East and North Africa currently supply 29 million barrels of oil a day or 39% of the world’s total. This is about five times as much as the world’s second biggest supplier Russia and 29 times as much as Latin America. China is now the second biggest energy user in the world. Within three years over two-thirds of China’s oil will be imported. Its main suppliers are currently Saudi Arabia, Angola and Iran. It will soon surpass the US as the main buyer of Saudi oil. Oil’s significance as a commodity will increase as countries like China, India and Brazil demand more fuel.

Domination of the Middle East is essential to the US and European imperialists’ attempts to constrain the emergence of potential rivals. US and British arms sales to loyal ruling classes have increased since the Arab Spring began in January 2011. Five current Arab heads of state trained at the British Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst; they are those of Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. Colonel Gaddafi was also a Sandhurst graduate.

British military interventions since 1945

1. 1945-48 Palestine Reinforce the British occupation army until the end of the mandate.

2. 1946 Iran Counter Soviet influence and Kurdish and Azerbaijani republics.

3. 1947 Aden Suppression of civil disturbances.

4. 1948-49 Somalia Prevent reunification of the country and maintain protectorate.

5. 1948-51 Eritrea Suppression of the Shifta revolt.

6. 1951 Iran Aqaba Iranian oil nationalistion.

7. 1951-54 Suez Canal Zone.

8. 1954–83 Cyprus Suppression of EOKA and occupation.

9. 1954 Egypt Intervention on the Nile.

10. 1955 Buraimi Oasis Preventing incursion from Saudi Arabia and its allies.

11. 1955-60 Yemen border incidents.

12. 1956 Bahrain Suppression of riots.

13. 1956 Egypt Suez crisis and invasion.

14. 1957-59 Muscat and Oman Suppression of resistance struggle.

15. 1958 Iraq Military coup ousts King Faisal II.

16. 1958 Jordan Military assistance to regime following Iraq coup.

17. 1958 Kuwait Iraqi General Qasim claims Kuwait is part of Iraq.

18. 1958 Lebanon Attempt to bolster Pro-western Christian government.

19. 1961 Kuwait Prevention of Iraqi incursion.

20. 1962-70 Yemen Civil war Britain sided with Royalists. 200,000 Yemenis killed.

21. 1963-67 Aden Attempted suppression of socialist-led national liberation struggle.

22. 1964 Yemen Radfan campaign against socialist-led revolutionaries.

23. 1966 Das Island Abu Dhabi oil dispute.

24. 1967 Libya Guarding oil installations and preventing coup against King Idris.

25. 1970 Jordan ‘Black September’ Operation Shoveller to protect King Hussein against an uprising in support of the Palestinians under attack from Jordanian troops. This was a critical intervention shaping the Middle East henceforward.

26. 1971-76 Dhofar (Oman) Suppression of socialist-led revolt.

27. 1973 Egypt RAF moves UN troops after Yom Kippur war.

28. 1974 Malta Defence of British bases during anti-crown disturbances. Premier Dom Mintoff declares Malta a republic and negotiates end of bases by 1979.

29. 1974 Kuwait.

30. 1974 Cyprus Operation Ablant evacuation of British nationals after Turkey invades.

31. 1977 Somalia British Special Forces support their West German counterparts at Mogadishu airport after the Red Army Faction hijack a Boeing 737.

32. 1978 Lebanon Supporting UN force; transporting Fijian troops via Tel Aviv en route to Lebanon.

33. 1979 Iran Revolution Evacuation of westerners.

34. 1982 Egypt Part of UN force stationed in Sinai.

35. 1983 Lebanon stationed in Beirut.

36. 1983 Aden/Yemen Evacuation of British nationals.

37. 1986 Gibraltar Reinforcement of air defences after US bombed Libya.

38. 1986 Cyprus Reinforcement of Akrotiri base after US bombed Libya.

39. 1987-88 Dubai Persian Gulf minesweeping by Royal Navy and RAF.

40. 1991 Iraq Gulf War I.

41. 1991-2003 Iraq RAF bombing raids and enforcement of no-fly zones.

42. 1994 Yemen Evacuation of embassy.

43. 1994 Kuwait Operation Driver to reinforce British garrison and warn Iraqi regime against invasion.

44. 2003-11 Iraq War.

45. 2011 Libya to evacuate British nationals.

46. 2011 Libya Enforcing UN no-fly zone and removal of Libyan government

Posted in UK1 Comment

The New Libya: Assassination, Ruination, Broken Promises and Body Snatching.


By Felicity Arbuthnot

Global Research

“As usual, we swim in a pile of dishonorable politicians. An Arab poem describes how the rotten rubbish floats to the top of the water while all the gems – corals and precious fish – stay at the bottom.” (An Arab friend.)

If events of the past few days are anything to go by, the UN-NATO insurgent allies are set to bring a grim, lawless, murderous and fundamentalist future to the “New Libya.”

Polygamy is set to return as the disenfranchisement of women, the West’s new friend and interim leader, Jalil Abd Al-NATO has declared. (He didn’t put it quite like that, but the particular interpretation of Sharia Law he espouses, does.)

A country which had health, education and welfare services of which most could only dream(i) is also set to instantly revert fifty years. Flying King Idris’ flag, Libya is being plunged seamlessly back to his era of illiteracy and neglect.

It will not get better. Britain is already demanding that bombarded, bereaved, largely broken Libya, pay compensation for its “liberation.” No, not satire, see:ii.

Libya also has its very own Falluja, in the fled, dead and now destroyed city of Sirte, flooded, ruined and heart rending. It also has its own Basra Roads. See the melted, bombed vehicles leaving Sirte and across Libya. Those inside them also melted or vaporized, a mirror image of that 1991 US massacre of the fleeing in Iraq..

Soon Libya will also have its own living memorials to their release from free healthcare, gasoline too cheap to meter and the highest living standard in Africa: deformed babies from the radioactive and chemically toxic depleted uranium weapons which rained down on them. Another mirror image of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans where these weapons were also used.

The events though, of the last days, have shone a light on the grim reality of the future for the population. The shocking spectacle of Colonel Quaddafi and his son’s bodies, displayed to the public, in a meat cooler in a mall, until decomposition forced a furtive, body snatch and night time burial in an undisclosed location, hardly bodes well for the “human rights” to come.

Neither does the breaking of the commitment to return the bodies to the remaining, so far, un-murdered family (iii.)

Their: “corpses should be dumped in the desert to be eaten by foxes”, stated one “liberator”, claiming that at the deaths: “we all took turns to stamp on” the former Leader’s face, some hitting it “with shoes.”

When Aisha Quaddafi called her father, minutes after his death, reports state that one of the thugs answered the call telling her: “Fuzzy head is dead.”

Aisha lost her husband and baby in a NATO bombing in July. She is an internationally respected lawyer, whose cases have included being part of Saddam Hussein’s defence team and who also defended Muntader Al Saidi, the journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush in Baghdad, for: “the widows, the orphans ..” the former President had created in Iraq, on his declared “Crusade.”

She is also a former Good Will Ambassador for the United Nations. One can only speculate how much good will she feels towards a UN which has endorsed the murder and plunder of family, people and land, now. She had lost her father, four brothers, her baby daughter, with her two little cousins, within little over three months.

One (of many) questions which should be answered over the shoddy, surreptitious disposal of the bodies of Libya’s rightful leader, his son and his Defence Minister, Abu Bakr Younis, is, if the stated reason is because the insurgents did not want his last resting place to “become a shrine”, was he really the monster Washington and Whitehall have trumpeted? Or did the “coalition” just have an eye on the resources he stubbornly kept, largely for the benefit of his people?

America’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate “first black” President, has declared the death of Muammar Quaddafi: “A momentous day in the history of Libya.”

This, as rebel forces going by the name of “The Brigade for Purging Slaves (of) Black Skin” have reportedly detained and displaced hundreds, while the people of Tawergha, a town of 20,000, have disappeared without a trace.

Numerous reports record that there are those avowed to ethnically cleanse Libya of dark and black skins. There are two million black Libyans, nearly one third of the population of little over six million.

Moreover, for all the horrific rhetoric over the deaths on 20th October, there are serious questions as to who really carried them out. “Our armed forces have been in action”, said Prime Minister Cameron. (Yes, the same Cameron who said there will never be “British boots on the ground …”)

Further: “British Special Forces are engaged in a frantic desert manhunt for Colonel Quaddafi’s son Saif ..” (iv)

Heaven forbid that this sophisticated man should survive to tell the stories of socializing with Tony Blair, Lord Peter Mendelson and Prince Andrew. Or of Blair’s alleged six visits to his father, twice courtesy the hospitality of Colonel Quaddafi’s private ‘plane.

Quaddafi, in the flowery language which is Arabic, had called the insurgents “rats”, as Saddam Hussein had referred to them as “carion” and “crows.” So the Colonel is “found” in a sewer pipe. Get the connection? Few with a functioning brain would not wonder if this sewer rat image was not thought up by “intelligence” in Washington or Whitehall.

As the great “democracies” plunder and assassinate, do cast a passing thought to the (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (v) which celebrated its sixtieth anniversary on 10th December 2008, with great fan-fare.

“Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

“Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

“Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Sabah Al Mukhtar, President of the London based Arab Lawyers Association, is incandescent. “The US, UN, France and the UK should be seriously concerned regarding what has befallen Quaddafi. The serious legal implications of a killing with no trial, after an eight month bombardment. We have treated the law with contempt – and trampled on it for two decades.”

That the murderers are to investigate the murders renders Orwell redundant.

So far, of course, it seems we only have the perpetrators word that there was even a burial, somewhere near the port city of Misrata, disgraceful as it was. Perhaps, as with bin Laden, a precedent was set and the victims were simply fed to the fishes. Erase the evidence?

The burials – or disposals – were on two less than auspicious anniversaries. The British military disaster which was the Charge of the Light Brigade, in 1854, and the more recent, cravenly cowardly invasion of the tiny island of Grenada in 1983.

As ever, ignorance rules. After the disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq, with tope military brass now admitting that they had no idea of the complexity of the societies, (US) Colonel Cedric Leighton writes that in spite of the “celebrations” in Libya: “ … it is easy to think our job in the Middle East is over.” Buy a map, Colonel. Wrong continent. (vi.)

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BDS victory: French transportation giant Alstom loses $10 billion contract due to BDS pressure


by nora 

After several years’ worth of pressure by boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists worldwide, French transportation multinational Alstom has officially lost a significant contract bid with the Saudi Haramain Railway Project in Saudi Arabia. Alstom and Veolia, another French urban systems corporation, are involved with the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project that links West Jerusalem with settlement colonies in the occupied West Bank, and boycott activists have been campaigning heavily across Europe and in Saudi Arabia to encourage governments to cut contracts with Alstom and Veolia, and award bids to other companies.

This comes on the heels of Veolia’s loss of more than $10 billion due to severed contracts in Europe, after BDS activists launched strategic campaigns targeting local governments who contracted with the corporation.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) released a press statement today on the BDS victory:

The BDS National Committee (BNC) has declared a long sought-after victory as Alstom lost the bid for the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, worth $10 billion US dollars, after pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, including effective campaigning from the newly launched KARAMA, a European campaign to Keep Alstom Rail And Metro Away.

In 2008 the BNC, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, with partners in Europe and Israel, launched the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, due to the two companies’ involvement in Israel’s illegal Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) project, which explicitly aims to “Judaize Jerusalem,” according to official Israeli statements, by cementing Israel’s hold on the illegal colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in and around Jerusalem.

Since then, Veolia has lost more than $12B worth of contracts following boycott activism in Sweden, the UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Alstom, too, suffered substantial blows when the Swedish national pension fund AP7 excluded it from its investment portfolio, after having been excluded from the Dutch ASN Bank due to the company’s involvement in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, and has recently announced its intention to withdraw from the project.

The decision is in line with a decision adopted by consensus at the Arab Summit held in Khartoum in 2006 which condemned in the JLR project and called on “the two French companies [Alstom and Veolia] to immediately withdraw from the project,” and demanding that punitive measures be taken against them “if they don’t comply.” The Arab Summit also urged the French government to take the necessary measure in this respect to honor its obligations under international law. In March 2010, the UN’s Human Rights Council denounced Israel’s JLR project for being “in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.”

In commenting on the fierce competition between the Alstom-led consortium and its Spanish-led rival over the second phase of the lucrative Haramain Railway project, Emirati newspaper, Al-Ittihad, referred to “multiple factors” affecting the decision to award the contract, suggesting that political factors may have been taken into consideration.

The BNC and several partners have used private and public channels to urge the Saudi leadership to exclude Alstom from the second phase of this large project which will connect by rail Mecca with Medina after Alstom had won the much smaller contract for the first phase.

In 2009, BNC member organizations, Stop the Wall and the Civic Coalition to Defend Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem, have produced in-depth research about Alstom’s involvement in Israel’s illegal JLR project. Copies were sent to Saudi officials, prompting Palestinian leaders to address Saudi authorities urging them to exclude Alstom from their contracts.

Jamal Juma’a, Stop the Wall coordinator and BNC Secretariat member commented on the news saying: “This huge victory will be celebrated in the BDScampaign worldwide. We are hopeful that this will be the first of many decisions to kick Alstom out of the Arab world and beyond, sharply raising the price of its collusion in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.”

“The campaign to derail Veolia and Alstom will continue until they have ended their complicity with Israeli apartheid, and have paid reparations for the damage their actions have caused.”

“The global Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign has sent a strong message to corporations aiding Israel’s violations of international law: the price of their complicity will be extremely high.”

“We are deeply grateful to all our global BDS partners who made this happen through three years of diligent and effective campaigning.”

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John Spellar: UK’s shadow foreign minister in pocket of IsraHell lobby


by david 

Zionist Spellar

Britain’s Labor Party has been trying to rebrand itself lately after a 13-year spell in government. During an annual conference last month, the most memorable remark by its leader Ed Miliband was “I am not Tony Blair.”

This commitment to change does not appear to have affected Labor’s stance on the Middle East. John Spellar, a shadow Foreign Office minister, has an especially close relationship with London’s pro-Israel lobby.

An inspection of Spellar’s declaration of interests shows that he travelled to the Herzliya security conference, one of the key events on the Israeli political calendar, in February. His airfare and accommodation (estimated total: £1,970 or $3,170) was paid for by David Menton, a director of the Britain Israel Research Center (BICOM). In its own words, that lobby outfit is “dedicated to creating a more supportive environment for Israel in Britain.”

Thanks to a source who shall remain nameless, I also learned that Spellar’s researcher Linda Smith is a partner of BICOM staff member Luke Akehurst (a former spindoctor for the arms industry). Smith and Akehurst both serve as Labor members of Hackney Council, a local authority in London.

I emailed Smith earlier today, asking if her views on the Middle East differ from those of Akehurst but did not receive a reply. Spellar has also not responded to a request for comment.

Lobby at center of resignation scandal

This information about Spellar’s connection to BICOM appears all the more significant given the organization’s role in a controversy leading to the recent resignation of Liam Fox as Britain’s defense secretary. Fox, who belongs to the Conservative Party, was severely embarrassed over revelations that his close friend Adam Werritty was posing as his official adviser during foreign travels, when Werritty had been given no such job by the British government. The Guardian newspaper revealed that Werritty’s jet-set lifestyle was being bankrolled by three prosperous Zionists. They included Poju Zabludowicz, BICOM’s chairman. When Werritty attended the 2009 Herzilya conference, his expenses were covered by BICOM.

David Menton, the man who picked up the tab for Spellar’s trip to Israel earlier this year, is a business associate of Zabludowicz, a billionaire who owns a sizeable chunk of Las Vegas. Menton is a founder of Synova Capital, a private equity fund. According to Synova’s website, the fund’s cornerstone investor” is the Tamares Group, which is led by Zabludowicz.

I was intrigued to read an article by Spellar, in which he bragged of Labor’s affinity with the poor. It is difficult to square that posture with his willingness to go on junkets funded by a wealthy supporter of Israel, a state that denies an entire people their most elementary rights.

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EU in denial about aid for Motorola IsraHell


I know nothing” is a catchphrase associated with the TV sitcom Fawlty Towers. Less amusingly, it also sums up the line of defence from European Union officials when quizzed about how they are facilitating Israel’s crimes against humanity.

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU’s scientific commissioner, this week attempted to give an assurance that the technology firm Motorola Israel’s participation in research activities financed by the Union did not pose any legal or ethical problems. She stated that her aides do not have “any information about any radar systems Motorola Israel might or might not have installed in the West Bank.”

Her statement — made in response to a query from a British member of the European Parliament (MEP) — smacks of either dishonesty or incompetence. If the officials who drafted her reply had done a little searching beforehand, they would have learned that the European Commission has been recently appraised of Motorola’s work in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

In May, the Palestinian organization Stop the Wall sent a detailed paper to Geoghegan-Quinn outlining how a number of Israeli beneficiaries of EU science grants are abetting human rights abuses. Point (d) on that paper was devoted entirely to Motorola Israel. It said: “Motorola has created at least four surveillance systems used in at least 20 illegal Jewish-only settlements and military camps throughout the occupied West Bank.”

Treating Palestinians as “intruders”

Motorola Israel is taking part in two EU-funded research projects, with a combined value of over €9 million, at the moment. One of them, named iDetect 4All, relates to the development of equipment designed to raise the alarm when an “intruder” approaches a building or resource considered economically important.

The technology involved in this project appears to bear many similarities to the “virtual fence” that Motorola has installed around a network of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. A 2006 report in The Jerusalem Post noted that this radar system uses thermal cameras to identify “intruders” to the settlements. Reading between the lines, that means Motorola is helping to keep Palestinians away from illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

According to Geoghegan-Quinn, “checks” have taken place to ascertain that Motorola Israel is based within the state of Israel. These found that it was eligible to benefit from EUscience grants.

Yet the checks cannot have been too profound. The “association agreement” covering EU-Israel relations explicitly says that both sides must respect human rights. If Motorola Israel is – as can be proven – enabling human rights abuses, then it should be kicked out of the research programme immediately.

Call for action

Motorola Israel is one of numerous Israeli firms taking part in the EU’s research programme, which has a total budget of €53 billion for the 2007 to 2013 period. Last week, several groups representing Palestinian academics and students protested at how many of the activities under this programme connect European universities with Israeli arms manufacturers and others who profit from the occupation of Palestine. A call for actionsigned by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urged third-level students and teachers in Europe to devise a strategy for ending cooperation between their colleges and Israel.

Palestine solidarity activists based in King’s College London have already begun acampaign against an EU nanotechnology project linking their university with Ahava, a firm producing cosmetics in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. The campaign has drawn support from the renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky and the poet Remi Kanazi.

Details of EU-funded science projects can be found on a database called Cordis. If you work or study in a university, enter the name of your college into its search engine, along with the word “Israel.” There is every likelihood that the resulting information can be used to challenge your university’s authorities about their links with Israel. Don’t be shy in kicking up a fuss on campus. Institutions that cooperate with Israeli apartheid must be confronted.

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